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A. Maps of Israel and Ancient Near East
B. Hebrew Language and Writing
Hebrew is a Semitic language and is related to many of the languages that were used in the ancient world. Unlike Akkadian cuneiform, it is alphabetic rather than syllabic (i.e., each sign is a letter rather than a syllable). It is written from right to left using only consonants. A system of marks above and below the consonants was developed during the first millennium AD to fill in vowels and thus preserve the pronunciation of what was at that time a dying language.
C. Ten Key Bridges to the Ancient Near East
* Enuma Elish-Babylonian praise hymn to their chief God, recounting his ascension to the head of the pantheon. Dates to about 1200 BC and contains an account of creation
* Gilgamesh-Epic from second millennium BC that records the exploits of Gilgamesh, king of Uruk, and his companion, Enkidu, and ultimately the king's search for immortality. Includes an account of a devastating flood that destroyed humanity
* Treaty/Covenant-Hittite treaties from second millennium BC and Assyrian treaties from first millennium that use a literary format similar to that which the Old Testament uses for the covenant
* Ugaritic Texts-Archive from 13th century BC that provides literary texts that would have been familiar to the Canaanites of the Judges period
* Sumerian Proverbs-Several collections of proverbial sayings that date back to a millennium before Solomon and often deal with topics similar to biblical Proverbs
* Egyptian Instructions-Wisdom literature offered as instruction from a father to his son to prepare him for life and often for rule
* Neo-Assyrian Royal Inscriptions-Record of the activities of the Assyrian kings that provides many details illuminating the Old Testament historical context
* Atrahasis Epic-Akkadian text from early in second millennium BC that has an account of creation, followed by population growth and then a flood that destroys the human race
Excerpted from A Survey of the Old Testament by John H. Walton Copyright © 2007 by John H. Walton. Excerpted by permission.
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