By Levi Clancy for Student Reader on
Noted for the Amarna Letters. What these letters reveal is that Egypt controlled this region. What it masks is that from our perspective reading these texts is that a small site has as much importance as a large site. The Egyptian kings divided and conquered, wedging themselves and fracturing them so that individual cities report to the Egyptians instead of the older power bases.
Amarna Letter 244
To the king, my lord, and my Sun-god, say: Thus Biridiya [ruler of Megiddo], the faithful servant of the king. At the two feet of the king, my lord, and my Sun-god, seven and seven times I fall. Let the king know that ever since the archers returned to Egypt, Lab'ayu [ruler of Shechem] has carried on hostilities against me, and we are not able to pluck the wool, and we are not able to go outside the gate in the presence of Lab'ayu, since he learned that you have not given us the archers.Now his face is set against Megiddo, but let the king protect his city, lest Lab'ayu seize it. Verily, the city is destroyed by death from pestilence and disease. Let the king give 100 garrison troops to guard the city lest Lab'ayu seize it. Verily, there is no other purpose in Lab'ayu. He seeks to destroy Megiddo.
Amarna Letter 254
To the king, my lord, and my Sun-god, say: Thus Lab'ayu [ruler of Shechem], your servant and the dirt upon which you tread. At the feet of the king, my lord, and my Sun-god, seven and seven times I fall. I have heard the words which the king wrote to me, and who am I that the king should lose his land because of me? Behold, I am a faithful servant of the king, and I have not rebelled and I have not sinned, and I do not withhold my tribute, and I do not refuse the requests of my commissioner. Now they wickedly slander me, but let the king, my lord, not impute rebellion to me!
Further, my crime is namely that I entered Gezer and said publicly: "Shall the king take my property, and not likewise the property of Milkilu [ruler of Gezer]?" I know the deeds which Milkilu has done against me! Further, the king wrote concerning my son. I did not know that my son associates with the ‘Apiru, and I have certainly delivered him into the hand of Addaya [Egyptian governor in Gaza].
Amarna Letter 290
To the king, my lord, say: Thus ‘Abdi-Kheba [king of Jerusalem], your servant. At the two feet of the [king,] my lord, seven times and seven times I fall. Behold the deed which Milkilu and Shuwardata did to the land of the king, mylord! They rushed troops of Gezer, troops of Gath, and troops of Keilah; they took the land of Rubutu; the land of the king went over to the ‘Apiru people. But now even a town in the land of Jerusalem, Bit-Lahmi [Bethlehem] by name, a town belonging to the king, has gone over to the side of the people of Keilah. Let my king listen to ‘Abdi-Kheba, your servant, and let him send archers to recover the royal land for the king! But if there are no archers, the land of the king will pass over to the ‘Apiru people. This was done at the command of Milkilu [and at] the command of Shuwardata[... ] so let my king take care of his land!