Epistolary Form in the Book of Mormon

Epistolary Form in the Book of Mormon

Robert F. Smith

Some years ago, Mark D. Thomas
made several hasty claims about Hellenistic letters and about the letter of
Mormon to his son Moroni found in Moroni 8:2–30. Thomas overstated the
degree of flexibility apparent in most Hellenistic letters (ca. 300 BC–AD 300) and even misrepresented their normal pattern.1 Having made
the claim that there are but “three types of letters in the Book of Mormon:
1) war epistles; 2) narrative letters; 3) doctrinal letters,” Thomas
stated that only Moroni 8 fits into the latter category and that “it follows
the pattern of the Greco-Roman letter of antiquity (a widely used Hellenistic
form).” 2 Perhaps this means that Thomas does not regard Moroni 10 as a kind of catholic,
doctrinal epistle (among others in the Book of Mormon), nor Ether 5 as a letter
to Joseph Smith Jr.3 However, if we leave the latter two problematic instances aside (and any of a
related type), we do have at least eight letters extant in the Book of Mormon,
with mere mention of about ten others. Five of the extant letters are
purportedly from the mid-first century BC,
one from the early first century AD,
and two others from the mid-fourth century AD.
We can list these eight as follows:

1. Moroni I to Ammoron, ca. August 67 BC4 (Alma 54:5–14)

2. Ammoron to Moroni I, ca. August 67 BC (Alma 54:16–24)

3. Helaman I to Moroni I, ca. August 66 BC (Alma 56:2–58:41)

4. Moroni I to Pahoran I, ca. 66–65 BC (Alma 60:1–36)

5. Pahoran I to Moroni I, ca. 66–65 BC (Alma 61:2–21)

6. Giddianhi to Lachoneus I, ca. 12–13 AD (3 Nephi 3:2–10)

7. Mormon II to Moroni II, mid-fourth century AD (Moroni 8:2–30)

8. Mormon
II to Moroni II, ca. 366 AD (Moroni 9:1–26)

The first six of these letters stem from a particular
cultural era of less than a century, are written by high officials during
wartime, and seem to follow a standard format. That any letter might be
expected to have an introduction, a main body, and a conclusion is, of course,
not to the point. Only a further breakdown of a letter can provide meaningful
comparative data.5 Let us then make a close examination.

The most noticeable thing about the first six Book of Mormon
letters—despite the possible absence of the formal address due to the
narrative context in which they are embedded—is that they never violate
the ancient Hittite-Syrian, Neo-Assyrian, Amarna, and Hebrew format in which
the superior correspondent is always listed first.6 This is not a
feature of letter writing in either the Hellenistic letters 7 cited by Thomas or in letters contemporary with Joseph Smith, even though the
rule continued to apply in Jewish letters down to the time of Bar Kokhba in the
second century AD.8 Moreover, even though Brent Knutson’s thorough 1970 analysis demonstrated that
no assured preexilic biblical letter can be shown to unambiguously follow this
part of the form (no doubt due to the narrative context into which the letters
were placed),9 preexilic nonbiblical Hebrew examples from Lachish and Tel Arad do show
adherence to this requirement.10 More examples have since been discovered,11 which merely
serve to verify the strength of this traditional form throughout the Hittite
Empire and beyond. The upshot is, of course, that Joseph Smith had no way of
knowing about this ancient epistolary form.

In the Book of Mormon
letters, of course, some changes in epistolary form took place in the more than
five hundred years since Lehi left Jerusalem, but certain essentials remained.
Rather than have the superior-inferior sequence always at the formal opening,
five of the first six letters simply have the superior at the beginning and
list the inferior at the close (regardless of sender-recipient order).12 Thus King Ammoron is listed at the outset of both the letter from General Moroni (1) as
well as the letter he writes in answer to General Moroni (2), although he goes out of his
way to show his superiority again at the close of his own letter.13 As commanding general of the Nephite armies, Moroni receives the deference of
his elder brother, Helaman, at both the opening and close of Helaman’s long
narrative war epistle (3). Governor Pahoran is listed at the outset of letters to and from him (4 and 5), though
his letter to General Moroni follows the full traditional opening that Knutson
describes (“I, Pahoran . . . unto Moroni”),14 mentioning
the addressee again at the close (5). Finally, Chief Judge/Governor Lachoneus
receives a correct but unfriendly letter from the robber baron Giddianhi, which
follows the same deferential protocol by listing Lachoneus at the outset and
himself at the close (6).

Naturally, some of the
war epistles delete any sort of nice greeting or blessing—even
substituting invective or threats. None of this seems to be the case for the
much later letters sent from Mormon to his son, Moroni (7 and 8). Whether this
is due to removal of the formal address for insertion into the plates, to
changes in form during the intervening centuries, or to the very personal
nature of these letters is not known. Mormon’s first letter to his son does not
even list his own name, but opens with that of his son (7). The second letter
merely addresses Moroni as “My beloved son” (8). Neither letter
closes with a name. Were we to include Moroni’s epistle to the Lamanites and
all the ends of the earth (Moroni 10:1, 24), we might conclude that this letter
at least conforms to something like a New Testament catholic (i.e., universal)
epistle,15 though it equally well conforms to much older biblical forms in which a prophet
of God delivers a strong message of repentance.16

Opening greetings may be
distinguished in at least three of these letters (3, 6, and 7),17 depending on the criteria applied (does letter 5 speak of “joy” in
ironic fashion?), although similar salutation formulae were as common during
Old Testament times as during the later intertestamental 18 and New Testament periods. The Hellenistic
greeting was often immediately followed by a remembrance and/or wish for good
health, but this was often combined with the following thanksgiving/blessing
formula in Pauline letters.19 “The thanksgiving or blessing form is used by Paul in all his letters
except Galatians,” 20 yet this form seems to be present in only letter 7
of the Book of Mormon.

Closing greetings appear to be present in only letters 5 and
7 (compare Greek Erroso and Latin Vale, “Farewell”),
while a doxology and benediction seem present at the close of letters 3, 5, and
8 (perhaps mercy and grace in the latter might be construed as part of closing greetings).21 This appears to be far more than the Pauline “flexibility” claimed by
Thomas as his excuse for the noncompliance of letter 7.22

These Book of Mormon letters frequently use certain
transition words to indicate the beginning and various divisions of the body of
the letter, as do the ancient Near Eastern examples studied by Knutson. The
primary transition words are And now, although Now, Also,
and the like are also used.23 All of the letters we list from the Book of Mormon (except letter 6) contain And now,
including Moroni 10:34. This specifically Hebrew and Aramaic characteristic is
commonly used to signal the beginning of the body of the letter (as in 2 Kings
5:6; 10:2; and TAD A3.10).24

Letter 8 (Moroni 9) is also an example of the epistolary genre that can
be directly compared with the same basic material from the same event presented
as past narrative only.25 The points of correspondence are highlighted in the following chart. Although
the substance communicated is the same in both genres, note that the narrative
account contains no hint of the epistle that appears later in the Book of Mormon.

4 (narrative)
9 (epistle)

v. 9 many Nephites and Lamanites slain


v. 2 many Nephites slain

v. 10 “the Nephites repented not of the evil
they had done, but persisted in their wickedness continually”


v. 3 the Nephites “do not repent, and Satan
stirreth them up continually”

v. 11 “every heart was hardened, so that [the
Nephites and the Lamanites] delighted in the shedding of blood continually”


v. 4 the Nephites “harden their hearts”
(cf. vv. 6, 10)
v. 5 the Nephites “thirst after blood and
revenge continually” (cf. v. 23)

v. 14 the Lamanites “did take many prisoners
both women and children”


v. 7 “the Lamanites have many prisoners . . .
men, women, and children”
v. 9 “many of the daughters of the Lamanites
have [the Nephites] taken prisoners”

v. 14 the Lamanites “did
offer [many prisoners] up as sacrifices unto their idol gods” (cf. vv.
15, 21)
v. 15 “exceedingly great anger”


v. 8 “the husbands and fathers . . . [the
Lamanites] have slain”
v. 10 the Nephites “did murder [the daughters
of the Lamanites] in a most cruel manner, torturing their bodies even unto
vv. 3, 4 anger

v. 12 “there never had been so great wickedness
among all the children of Lehi”


v. 11 “without civilization” (cf. v. 20)
v. 13 “delight . . .  in so much abomination”
v. 15 “their sins, and wickedness, and
vv. 17–19 brutality, depravity, perversion

v. 21 “the Nephites were . . . slaughtered with
an exceedingly great slaughter; their women and their children were again
sacrificed unto idols”
v. 12 “there never had been so great wickedness
among all the children of Israel”


v. 19 “the suffering of our women and our
v. 20 “horrible scene . . . wickedness . . .
doth exceed that of the Lamanites”

Since both the Book of Mormon and the brass (bronze) plates
of Laban were written in Egyptian, it might be worthwhile for future
researchers to also compare ancient Egyptian epistolography to Book of Mormon
letters.26 Moreover, it is the conclusion of Anson F. Rainey (Tel Aviv University) and
John S. Thompson (Brigham Young University) that professional,
Egyptian-speaking Hebrew scribes wrote the hieratic found at Tel Arad VII, at
Kadesh-Barnea, and at Lachish (all contemporary with Lehi).27 Antonio
Loprieno of the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of
Basel added recently that, beginning in the tenth century BC, the Egyptian hieratic used by
Israelite scribes followed its own developmental path.28 The same
professional Israelite scribes probably were responsible for the Hebrew letters
found at Tel Arad.

Since Israelites (and Canaanites) had had close political,
commercial, and cultural ties with Egypt during much of the previous thousand
years or so, and since this included Hebrew settlements in Egypt, it should not
seem odd that the brass plates of Laban were engraved in Egyptian or that Nephi
and his successors kept their records in Egyptian (1 Nephi 1:2; Enos 1:1;
Mosiah 1:2–6; Mormon 9:32–34).29 After all,
foreigners had been learning Egyptian since at least the time of the Twelfth
Dynasty.30 The Eighteenth Dynasty text of the Maxims of Any (10:5–6) is very clear:

One teaches Nubians to speak Egyptian, and Khorians
[people of Syro-Palestine], and all foreigners likewise.31

So strong were the long-term Jewish ties with Egypt
that Jeremiah had to inveigh against those ties in the harshest and most uncompromising
of terms. Yet Jeremiah himself ended his days in forced exile in Egypt
(Jeremiah 43–44), as had King Jehoahaz-Shallum of Judah decades earlier
(2 Kings 23:34).

Egypt and Canaan, Egypt and Israel—why is the
connection so important for the Book of Mormon? It should be clear from Mormon
9:32–34 that a type of reformed or shorthand Egyptian was inscribed on
the final redaction of the Book of Mormon plates. To repeat the recent
observation of Antonio Loprieno, hieratic (shorthand) Egyptian was used by
professional Israelite scribes beginning in the tenth century BC and continued to develop separately
from the Egyptian tradition.32 Even though the Bible never directly states that archaeological fact, the Book
of Mormon claims dovetail remarkably well with the implications to be drawn
from hieratic ostraca created by Israelite scribes. As Frank Moore Cross has
said of a similar context:

A Canaanite scribe who was bilingual or trilingual, who
could write in more than one writing system, evidently was freer to let his
imagination range, to contemplate the possibility of other, simpler alternates
to the writing systems he knew.33


1. Mark Thomas, “Listening
to the Voice from the Dust: Moroni 8 as Rhetoric,” Sunstone,
January–February 1979, 22–23 (the Sunstone typesetter obviously
misplaced items 1 and 2 in Thomas’s chart). See particularly William G. Doty, Letters in
Primitive Christianity
(Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1973),
12–14, which shows the pattern to have been quite rigid. Raymond E.
Brown, The
Epistles of John
, Anchor Bible 30 (Garden City, NY: Doubleday,
1982), 788ff., discusses the general epistolary format of Jewish letters
(1–2 Maccabees, Dead Sea documents), New Testament letters, Greco-Roman
letters, and private and business letters in Egypt during this period.

2. Thomas, “Moroni 8 as
Rhetoric,” 22 and n. 4 (wherein the name of Norman Perrin is misspelled),
pointing out that the Hellenistic form “was not . . . in use until well
after Lehi’s departure from Jerusalem.” Though he attempts here and
elsewhere to dodge the issue, this is merely part of Thomas’s much larger
effort to demonstrate that Moroni 8 (and the remainder of the Book of Mormon)
is early-19th-century rhetoric and can only be interpreted in that “original
modern” mimetic light (p. 24 and n. 5).

3. The late J. N. Washburn
listed and analyzed the letters in his book The Contents, Structure and Authorship of
the Book of Mormon
(Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954), 108–11.
See also Robert K. Thomas, “A Literary Analysis of the Book of Mormon”
(BA thesis, Reed College, 1947), 80–82 (while he was BYU Academic
Vice-President, the late Dr. Thomas urged me to do this analysis of Book of
Mormon letters).

4. I here follow the precision
dating employed throughout FARMS’s Book of Mormon Critical Text, 2nd
ed., 3 vols. (Provo, UT: FARMS, 1986–87), and fully explained at
3:1321–30 (appendixes 7 and 8).

5. Doty, Letters in
Primitive Christianity
, 27, specifically argues that any communication must have such divisions and that only by further subdividing
these features can any sort of analysis be made. Had Mark Thomas tried the more
detailed analysis offered by Doty, he might have reached more accurate
conclusions (see especially Doty’s chart of Pauline letters on p. 43).

6. The few letters of King
Rib-Addi of Byblos to the Pharaoh (Amarna letters 74–76, 78–79, 81,
83, 89, 91–92) listed by F. Brent Knutson in “Literary Parallels
between the Texts of Le Palais Royal d’Ugarit IV and the Hebrew Bible”
(PhD diss., Claremont Graduate School, 1970), 184 n. 2, are not really an
exception since Rib-Addi no doubt pretended to be an equal of the Pharaoh. The
format allowed a sender to be listed first if he were equal in rank to the
recipient. Shifts of person are also important in ancient Hittite and Aramaic
treaties (Moshe Greenberg, “The Design and Themes of Ezekiel’s Program of
Restoration,” Interpretation 38/2 [1984]: 186–87). Otherwise,
Lachish Letter 3 is the only Hebrew letter not following this standard format,
but only because it was written by a nearly illiterate soldier (William
Schniedewind, “Sociolinguistic Reflections on the Letter of a ‘Literate’
Soldier,” Zeitschrift für Althebräistik 13 [2000]:
157–67). The non-Semitic Sumerian form was always “To . . . from”
regardless of rank, as can be seen in Samuel Noah Kramer, The
Sumerians: Their History, Culture, and Character
University of Chicago, 1963), 331–35. The same is true of most
Mesopotamian and Hellenistic letters. See Howard M. Teeple, The
Historical Approach to the Bible
(Evanston, IL: Religion and Ethics
Institute, 1982), 188, citing G. Adolf Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East (London, 1910), and Bible Studies (Edinburgh, 1901), 24.

7. Compare Stanley K. Stowers, Letter
Writing in Greco-Roman Antiquity
(Philadelphia: Westminster, 1986),
41 and passim;
and Robert Ussher, “Letter Writing,” in Civilization of the Ancient
Mediterranean: Greece and Rome
, ed. Michael Grant and Rachel
Kitzinger (New York: Scribner’s, 1988), 3:1576.

8. Knutson, “Literary
Parallels,” 182–83, 185–86, and n. 1 on 183 and 186, includes
Ezra 4:11 and 7:12, Daniel 3:31, 1 Maccabees 15:2, 2 Maccabees 11:27 (etc.),
Jewish letters found in Egypt (citing Godfrey R. Driver, ed. Aramaic
Documents of the Fifth Century B.C.
[Oxford: Clarendon Press,
1965]), and some Elephantine letters (citing James B. Pritchard, ed., Ancient Near
Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament
, 3rd ed. [Princeton, NJ:
Princeton University Press, 1969], 491–92); compare also Revelation
2–3 versus the Hellenistic pattern in Revelation 1:4–6 (Biblical
Archaeology Review
19/3 [May–June 1993]: 33).

9. Compare Genesis 32:4–5;
Numbers 20:14; Judges 11:14–15; 1 Samuel 25:6–7; 2 Samuel
11:14–15; 12:27–28; 1 Kings 5:16–17; 20:2–3, 9;
21:9–10; 2 Kings 5:6–7; 10:2–3, 6; 19:10–13 (= Isa
37:10–13); 2 Chronicles 2:11–15; 21:12–15; 30:1;
32:9–10; Jeremiah 2:5–9; 29:1–23, 24–32; Nehemiah
6:6–7; Esther 1:22; 3:13; 9:21. See the analyses of Jack R. Lundbom, Jeremiah: A
Study in Ancient Hebrew Rhetoric
(Missoula, MT: Society of Biblical
Literature, 1975), 70, 104–7; Meindert Dijkstra, “Prophecy by Letter
(Jeremiah Xxix 24–32),” Vetus Testamentum 33 (1983):
319–22; William L. Holladay, “God Writes a Rude Letter (Jeremiah
29:1–23),” Biblical Archaeologist 46/3 (1983): 145–46; and
Dennis Pardee, “Letters (Hebrew),” in Anchor Bible Dictionary,
ed. David Noel Freedman (New York: Doubleday, 1992), 4:282–85.

10. See Knutson, “Literary
Parallels,” 178–94, for the full analysis; also available in Loren
R. Fisher, ed., Ras Shamra Parallels: The Texts from Ugarit and the Hebrew Bible
(Rome: Pontificium Institutum Biblicum, 1975), 6:5–14.
Knutson cites Yohanan Aharoni, “Hebrew Ostraca from Tel Arad,” Israel
Exploration Journal
16 (1966): 5–6, for the Tel Arad letter.
He also cites Lachish letters 2 and 6 in Harry Torczyner (Tur-Sinai), Lachish I
(Tell Ed Duweir): The Lachish Letters
(London: Oxford University
Press, 1938). See also Dennis Pardee, “Letters from Tel Arad,” Ugarit-Forschungen 10 (1978): 289–336. Compare Joseph A. Fitzmyer, “Some Notes on
Aramaic Epistolography,” Journal of Biblical Literature 93
(1974): 201–25, including the contemporary nonbiblical Aramaic example
from ʾAdon “to the Lord of Kings, the Pharaoh”
(addressed in demotic Egyptian on outside), ca. 604 BC (Saqqara Letter, Cairo Museum 86984); John Bright, “A
New Letter in Aramaic, Written to a Pharaoh of Egypt,” Biblical
12 (1949): 46–52; Bezalel Porten, “The
Identity of King Adon,” Biblical Archaeologist 44 (1981):
36–52; and H. Donner and W. Röllig, Kanaanäische und aramäische Inschriften (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1973), 2:312–15 (no. 266).

11. Dennis Pardee, Handbook of
Ancient Hebrew Letters
, with J. David Whitehead and Paul E. Dion
(Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1982), reviewed by Brent Knutson in Journal of
Biblical Literature
103 (1984): 459–60; Dennis Pardee, “An
Overview of Ancient Hebrew Epistolography,” Journal of Biblical Literature 97 (1978): 321–46; Yohanan Aharoni, Arad Inscriptions, rev. ed.
(Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1981); and Debra A. Chase, “A Note
on an Inscription from Kuntillet ʿAjrud,” Bulletin of
the American Schools of Oriental Research
246 (Spring 1982):
63–67; compare the Meṣad Ḥashavyahu
Inscription in Joseph Naveh, “A Hebrew Letter from the Seventh Century
B.C.,” Israel
Exploration Journal
10 (1960): 129–39.

12. The sender-recipient sequence
is rigidly adhered to in the Hellenistic letter form, and even in the more
flexible New Testament usage, regardless of rank (compare Acts 23:26). See
Doty, Letters
in Primitive Christianity
, 29–30, 70–71.

13. The repetition of the
superior-inferior address at beginning and end can be found in several Amarna
letters (nos. 286 and 287, with variations in nos. 288–90) and in Jewish
letters at Elephantine (Passover Papyrus), as published in Pritchard, Ancient Near
Eastern Texts
, 483–91, and The Ancient Near East, Volume 1: An Anthology
of Texts and Pictures
(Princeton: NJ: Princeton University Press,
1958), 1:269–74, 278. Compare the Bar Kokhba Letters from Wadi Murabbaʿat
with Simeon ben Kosebah (Bar Kokhba) placed at the beginning and end.

14. Alma 61:2, “I, Pahoran,
who am the chief governor of this land, do send these words unto Moroni,”
resembles the Neo-Assyrian letters from the king that begin with “The word
of the king . . . to B” and the like.

15. Compare Doty, Letters in
Primitive Christianity
, 18, 70.

16. Among others noted above, see
Holladay, “God Writes a Rude Letter,” 145–46; see also Daniel

17. Thomas admits, however, that “the
typical form of greeting is missing in Moroni 8″ (“Moroni 8 as
Rhetoric,” 23).

18. Knutson, “Literary
Parallels,” 178–83, showing that even the letters in Maccabees
follow Hittite practice. Compare the Bar Kokhba letters with Shalom “Peace!” (charis, ave), which Paul also used as
part of his ancient Jewish heritage. Doty, Letters in Primitive Christianity,
22, 29–30.

19. Doty, Letters in
Primitive Christianity
, 14, 30–31.

20. Doty, Letters in Primitive Christianity, 31; and Thomas, “Moroni 8 as Rhetoric,” 23.

21. Compare letter 4, “I
seek not for honor of the world, but for the glory of my God, and the freedom
and welfare of my country” (Alma 60:36).

22. Thomas, “Moroni 8 as
Rhetoric,” 23.

23. Knutson, “Literary
Parallels,” 186–94. These are the literal (and KJV) translations of
the typical Akkadian, Hebrew, and Greek (LXX) terms. Another method sometimes
used by cuneiform scribes was the simple drawing of a line between the
introduction and body.

24. Pardee, “Letters
(Hebrew),” 284–85, citing especially his own review comments in Journal of
Near Eastern Studies
44/2 (1985): 148. Aramaic examples are
discussed in Paul E. Dion, “Letters (Aramaic),” in Freedman, Anchor Bible
, 4:287–89, citing Bezalel Porten and Ada Yardeni, Textbook of
Aramaic Documents from Ancient Egypt
(Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns,
1986), 1:48–49 (Aramaic letter A3.10).

25. Following V. Garth Norman, “Book-of-Mormon
Geography Study on the Narrow Neck of Land Region,” unpublished Book of
Mormon Working Paper No. 1 (1966, 1972, 1974), 88–89. It is, by the way,
not uncommon biblically to find parallel accounts of the same event in separate
literary genres—e.g., prose and poetic accounts in Exodus
13:17–14:30 and 15:1–21, as well as in Judges 4 and 5.

26. See, for example, ʿAbd
el-Mohsen Bakir, Egyptian Epistolography from the Eighteenth to the Twenty-first
(Cairo: Institut Français d’archeologie orientale, 1970);
see especially his résumé on pp. 86–93; compare Edward F. Wente, trans., Letters from
Ancient Egypt
, ed. Edmund S. Meltzer (Atlanta: Scholars Press,
1990). The letter from Apy the Steward of Memphis to King Amenhotep IV, for
example, shows the superior-inferior order in the verso address. See the
translation by William J. Murnane, trans., Texts from the Amarna Period in Egypt,
ed. Edmund S. Meltzer (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1995), 50–51.

27. Anson F. Rainey, “The
Saga of Eliashib,” Biblical Archaeology Review 13/2 (March/April 1987):
37, 39; John S. Thompson, “Lehi and Egypt,” in Glimpses of
Lehi’s Jerusalem
, ed. John W. Welch, David Roph Seely, and Jo Ann H.
Seely (Provo, UT: FARMS, 2004), 267, citing Orly Goldwasser, “An Egyptian
Scribe from Lachish and the Hieratic Tradition of the Hebrew Kingdoms,” Tel Aviv
(Journal of the Tel Aviv University Institute of Archaeology)
(1991): 248.

28. Antonio Loprieno, Q&A
response during UCLA Extension Symposium entitled “Egypt and the Biblical
World,” 6 March 2004. During his symposium presentation, “Impact of
Egyptian Scribes and Culture on the Bible,” William Schniedewind noted
that four of the Arad ostraca using both Hebrew and Egyptian hieratic date to
the tenth century BC. This was the
stratum destroyed by Pharaoh Shishaq I (compare the Karnak reliefs with 1 Kings
14:25 and 2 Chronicles 12:2). Moreover, the Egyptian loanword šîšāʾ, which is glossed with Hebrew sōfĕrîm “scribes” in 1 Kings 4:3, clearly comes from Egyptian “scribe” or sš šʿt “secretary, scribe-of-king’s-letter” (compare 1 Chronicles 18:16 שושא = סופר),
which reflects the Solomonic admininstration, and perhaps even Davidic practice
(2 Samuel 20:25 שיא, LXX σoύσα,
Targum šiš).

29. Genesis 12:10; Exodus
12:40–42; Deuteronomy 26:5–8; 1 Kings 3:1; 7:8; 9:16, 24;
10:28–11:1, 40; 14:25–26; 2 Kings 25:26; 2 Chronicles 12:2–9;
35:20–24; Isaiah 30:1–7; 31:1; Nahum 3:8–9; and Jeremiah 24:8
all show close Hebrew-Egyptian relations. John Bright argues that Hebrew Sînîm in Isaiah 49:12 = Syene, Aswan, Egypt, and that Jewish military contingents
possibly aided Pharaoh Psammetichus II in his Nubian campaign; see  John Bright, A History of Israel,
3rd ed. (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1981), 346–47 nn. 11 and 13,
citing Moshe Greenberg, “The Hebrew oath particle ḥay/ḥê,” Journal
of Biblical Literature
76 (1957): 34–39; E. C. B. MacLaurin, “Date
of the Foundation of the Jewish Colony at Elephantine,” Journal of
Near Eastern Studies
27 (1968): 89–96; Alberto R. Green, “Israelite
Influence at Shishak’s Court?” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental
233 (Winter 1979): 59–62. For extensive Jewish use of
Egyptian hieratic and glyptic art, see Yohanan Aharoni, “A Royal Israelite
Seal and the Royal Jar Handle Stamps,” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental
201 (February 1971): 35, figs. 1–2; Morton Smith, “The
Case of the Gilded Staircase,” Biblical Archaeology Review 10/5
(September–October 1984): 54 (illustration); David Ussishkin, “Answers
at Lachish,” Biblical Archaeology Review 5/6 (November–December 1979): 38–39; William W. Hallo, “ ’As
the Seal upon Thy Heart': Glyptic Roles in the Biblical World,” Bible Review 1/1 (February 1985): 22; Stefan Wimmer, Palästinisches Hieratisch: Die Zahl- und Sonderzeichen in der
alathebräischen Schrift
(Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2008); John A.
Tvedtnes, “Linguistic Implications of the Tel-Arad Ostraca,” Society for
Early Historic Archaeology
(BYU newsletter) 127 (October 1971):
1–5; Tvedtnes, “The Language of My Father,” New Era,
May 1971, 19. In the former article, Tvedtnes notes the use of Egyptian words
written in both hieratic and in Hebrew, along with Hebrew words written in
Hebrew, all on the same seventh-century-BC ostracon (citing Shmuel Yeivin, “An Ostracon from Tel Arad Exhibiting a
Combination of Two Scripts,” Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 55 [1969]: 98–102).

30. Prince ʾAbi-shemu
of Byblos (Syria), and his son Yp-shemu-ʾabi after him,
had close relations with Pharaohs Amenemhet III and IV, visited ʾIt-Towey
(then capital of Egypt), and even spoke Egyptian well. Pierre Montet, Lives of the
(London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1968), 62, 67; and Edith
Porada, “Notes on the Sarcophagus of Ahiram,” Journal of
the Ancient Near Eastern Society of Columbia University
5 (1973):

31. Text and translation of the
parallel lines in Papyrus Boulaq IV (Twenty-first or Twenty-second Dynasty) and
Berlin Tablet 8934 appear in Emile Suys, La sagesse d’Ani: Texte, traduction et
(Rome: Pontificio Instituto Biblico, 1935), xx, 101;
compare Adolf Erman, Literature of the Ancient Egyptians, trans. A. M.
Blackman from 1923 German ed. (New York: Harper and Row, 1966), 241; and Miriam
Lichtheim, Ancient
Egyptian Literature
, Volume II: The New Kingdom (Berekely and Los
Angeles: University of California Press, 1976), 144.

32. Loprieno, response in “Egypt
and the Biblical World” Q&A.

33. Frank Moore Cross, “Frank
Moore Cross—An Interview, Part III: How the Alphabet Democratized
Civilization,” Bible Review 8/6 (December 1992): 21.