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THE LITERARY STRUCTURE
OF THE BOOK OF EXODUS 1–18
AND THE LITERARY STRUCTURE
OF ANCIENT HITTITE TREATIES
introduction

Thousands of clay tablets with record of political treaties between Hittites and other nations were discovered in Bogazkoy, Turkey in 1876–1906.

As a result of the investigations it was found that the structure of six consecutive pericopes (literary elements) of the Book of Exodus 1–18 fulfills the requirements imposed by the literary scheme… of the Hittite alliance treaties discovered on the clay tablets.

Alliance treaties are official political documents, written by scribes, specially prepared for this task, after the alliance between two countries is made. These treaties, being preserved in sanctuaries of both allied countries, had to testify about the fact of contracting the pact – the alliance – in this case between Hittites and other countries.

In the period from the sixteenth to the twelfth century before Christ, the treaties had to have six consecutive parts, namely:

  1. The historic prologue showing a contribution of a stronger partner to the life of a weaker partner in their hitherto existing history – that is until the day when they met to perform the four–element ceremonial of covenant making, what had to be accomplished in four consecutive steps: 2, 3, 4 and 5.
  2. Presentation of partners, in this the show, full of eastern exaggeration, of majesty of a stronger one and of his magnanimous promise of a gift–giving for a weaker one (for example: bestowal of territory).
  3. Presentation of the basic covenant law, whose aim was to make the weaker partner remembering about the undertaken allegiance relation (here it was determined how often and in which solemnity the weaker partner is obligated to read publicly the covenant treaty and to remind himself and his servants of the duties in relation to the stronger partner).
  4. Undertaking of the already irrevocable act of the covenant making (cutting). It was performed in the following way: two parters passed between halves of split animals; going on the ground soaked with their blood they were passing as if through the sphere of death – in fact the alliance had to be indissoluble, for life–and–death.
  5. The recording of the fact of the covenant making and of its stipulation, whereat often a mound was piled up or a tree was planted; also a hymn was composed.
  6. description of the laws governing the daily relationships between partners.

As a clamp, the external elements of the literary structure of the document (of the treaty) embraced the four central elements.

The central elements were not only a fruit of the literary talent, but a report of the covenant ratification ceremony really accomplished by both partners. This ceremony was composed exactly according to the four consecutive elements 2, 3, 4 i 5 – it was performed according to the universally binding political–religious ceremonial.

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