Treaty of Esarhaddon with Ba'al I of Tyre

Tyre (Phoenician רצṣūr, "rock"; Greek Τύρος; Latin Tyrus): port in Phoenicia and one of the main cities in the eastern Mediterranean.

Esarhaddon (Nahr al-Kalb)

The Assyrian king Esarhaddon (r.680-669 BCE) was very interested in the western provinces of his empire. In 677/676, he conquered Sidon (according to the Esarhaddon Chronicle) and in 671-669, he waged war against Egypt, which he managed to subdue.

In this context, we must see the treaty that he concluded with king Ba'al I of Tyre. The Assyrians needed a Tyre that was either an ally or, if this was not possible, at least neutral: if the city would support the Egyptians, they could strike at the Assyrian lines of communication along the Mediterranean shores and obstruct the invasion. (The text is known as ANET3 533-534.)

After two columns that are too damaged to be really comprehensible, the third column of the cuneiform tablet makes it clear that the Tyrian ruler is not supposed to behave too independently and will have to recognize that the cities along the Mediterranean shore are Assyrian (read: not Egyptian). The fourth and final column offers the usual curses for those who break their promises.

Treaty of Esarhaddon with Ba'al I of Tyre

Column I

[i] Treaty of Esarhaddon, king of Assyria, eldest son of Sennacherib, with Ba'al, king of Tyre


Column II

[ii] [too damaged to be comprehensible]

Column III

[Column iii] Esarhaddon, king of Assyria, these cities which…

The royal deputy whom I have appointed over you, … the elders of your country, … the royal deputy … with them … the ships … do not listen to him, do not … without the royal deputy; nor must you open a letter which I send you without the presence of the royal deputy. If the royal deputy is absent, wait for him and then open it, do not …

If a ship of Ba'al or of the people of Tyre is shipwrecked off the coast of the land of the Philistines or anywhere on the borders of Assyrian territory, everything that is on the ship belongs to Esarhaddon, king of Assyria, but one must not do any harm to any person on board ship, they should list their names and inform the king of Assyria.

These are the ports of trade and the trade roads which Esarhaddon, king of Assyria, granted to his servant Ba'al; toward Acre, Dor, in the entire district of the Philistines, and in all the cities within Assyrian territory, on the seacoast, and in Byblos, across the Lebanon, all the cities in the mountains, all the cities of Esarhaddon, king of Assyria, which Esarhaddon, king of Assyria gave to Ba'al …, to the people of Tyre, in their ships or all those who cross over, in the towns of Ba'al, his towns, his manors, his wharves, which …, to …, as many as lie in the outlying regions, as in the past … they…, nobody should harm their ships. Inland, in his district, in his manors …


Column IV

[Column iv] [beginning lost]

May Ninlil, who resides in Nineveh, tie you to a swift dagger.

May Ištar, who resides in Arbela, no grant you mercy and forgiveness.

May Gula, the great physician, put illness and weariness in your hearts, an unhealing sore in your body, bathe in your own blood as if in water.

May the seven gods, the warrior gods, cause your downfall with their fierce weapons.

May Bethel and Anath-Bethel deliver you to a man-eating lion.

May the great gods of heaven and earth, the gods of Assyria, the gods of Akkad, and the gods of Eber-Nari curse you with an indissoluble curse.

May Ba'al-šamem, Ba'al-Malage and Ba'al-Saphon raise an evil wind against your ships, to undo their moorings, tear out their mooring pole, may a strong wave sink them in the sea, a violent tide … against you.

May Melqart and Eshmun deliver your land to destruction, your people to be deported; from your land …

May they make food to disappear from your mouth and clothes from your body, oil for your ointment.

May Astarte break your bow in the thick of battle, and have you crouch at the feet of your enemy, may a foreign enemy divide your belongings.

Column of the treaty established with Ba'al of Tyre

This page was created in 2012; last modified on 13 October 2020.