Murashu family

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The house of Murashu were a family discovered in archaeological findings dating to the late 19th century. The family were alive during the fifth century BC in Nippur, participating in early economic activities.[1]

Family name[edit]

Murašû and Murashu, both mean wild cat. The words are transliterated from mršw, as originally written in cuneiform script. The house is named after the head of the family.[2][3][4][5][6]

Evidence of archaeology[edit]

A large proportion of archaeological evidence on the family is from a house in Nippur, found within the remains of a twenty by ten foot room of the building. It was initially found during 1893 within the third expedition of the University of Pennsylvania at the site, at the time directed by JH Haynes. Known as the Murashu archive, these consist of clay tablets, 879 in total (numbering 879 during 2005 Provan,Long,Longman; 835 during 2001Greenfield, Paul, Stone, Pinnick; 800 during 1999 Mieroop; and 650 during 1995 in Schramm) written in the languages Aramaic and Akkadian. The archive includes 657 different seal types (Bregstein).[6][7][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19]

Murashu tablets[edit]

The Murashu tablets provide a glimpse into what life was like for fifth-century Jewish descendants of the Babylonian Exile and captivity. After the Persian king Cyrus the Great captured Babylon in 539 BCE, he allowed and helped finance the return of Jews to Judea with the Edict of Cyrus in 538. The Murashu tablets are dated to this period after Jews were allowed to return to Judea. The fact that the banking house "Murashu & Sons" conducted business with Jews who decided to remain in Nippur rather than return to Judea suggests that life in Persian-controlled Nippur was at least somewhat tolerable for Jews.[20]

The tablets discuss one such Jew, Udarna, son of Rahim-ili. Some of Udarna's property was stolen by his brother and nephew. To see that he might reacquire his property, Udarna brought his complaint to Bel-nadin-shumu, one of the sons of "Murashu & Sons." Udarna did have his property returned. In addition, no charges were brought against his brother or nephew. They also agreed that no offspring of Udarna would ever bring charges against Udarna's brother or nephew or their offspring.[20] This act of forbidding any suit being brought against Udarna's brother and nephew or the generations after, was seemingly implemented to prevent a blood feud that might last generations.


HV Hilprecht considers the group ("firm") to be bankers and brokers, who were engaged in money-lending and trading operations in southern and central Babylonia for a period of 50 years from the end of the 5th century (Dandamaev, Lukonin,Kohl).[6][15]

Three generations of the family are attested to in the Nippur documents. The archives ("legal" documentation) include matters concerning the less wealthy of Nippur living in the outer areas of the city, although also the interests of both royalty (the renting of fields - Dandamaev, Lukonin, Kohl) and those associated with these, participating as officials within their estate. The artifacts are dated to the time of the reign of the kings Artaxerxes I and Darius II, (otherwise dated 465, 464 or 455 to 404 or 403 BCE).[6][21][22][23][24][25][26][27][28][29]

The core activity of the family was fief and estate land management, with members primarily active as creditors for workers of agricultural enterprises, in the lending and provision of equipment,seed, tools, irrigation and animals for this purpose, to individuals including Jews, these relevant as to the book of Ezekiel. The archive gives information on interaction and agreement and the like with 100 Jewish families. The family employed more than 60 agents. The house leased plots of land owned by civil servants (23 high court officials) and warriors (bow-lands, horse-lands and chariot lands) transferring rental payments and also subsequent taxes to the royal family. The government used the family for the purposes of the collection of tax on land (harāka [OP]) (the family "farmed out" taxes). The family had dealings with 2500 separate individuals, at least as evidenced by the archive document when Schniedewind states this includes in total an "...onomasticon of some 2500 names...".[6][30][31][32][33][34][35][36][37][38][39][40][41][42][43][44][45][46]

The family had no role in foreign exchange (international trade). Although members did travel to Susa (in Elam, about 200 kilometres distance) where they remained for months involved in financial businesses.[6][47][48][49][50][51][52]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ is a secondary reference retrieved 2012-07-31 showing a view from a ziggurat in Nippur on page 17 of Early Mesopotamia: Society and Economy at the Dawn of History by N Postgate 1994 (Reader in Mesopotamian Studies at the University of Cambridge and fellow of the British Academy)
  2. ^ MW Stopler referenced 24. in DI Block & D Bodi - The Book of Ezekiel and the Poem of Erra - Saint-Paul publishing, 1991 ISBN 3525537360 Retrieved 2012-07-28
  3. ^ K Moore, D Lewis - The Origins of Globalization - Taylor & Francis, 16 Apr 2009 ISBN 0415805988 Retrieved 2012-07-28
  4. ^ B Sass, J Marzahn - Aramaic and Figural Stamp Impressions on Bricks of the Sixth Century B.C. from Babylon Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, 2010 ISBN 3447061847 Retrieved 2012-07-28
  5. ^ M Coogan - The Biblical Archaeologist Vol. 37, No. 1 (Mar., 1974), pp. 6-12 Retrieved 2012-07-28
  6. ^ a b c d e f MA Dandamaev; VG Lukonin; PL Kohl (2004-11-11). The Culture And Social Institutions Of Ancient Iran. Cambridge University Press, 11 Nov 2004. ISBN 0521611911. Retrieved 2012-07-28.
  7. ^ a b DG Brinton. "Review of Business Documents of Murashu Sons, of Nippur by HV Hilprecht". - American Anthropologist Vol. 11, No. 7, Jul., 1898. JSTOR 658414.
  8. ^ JC Greenfield, SM Paul, ME Stone (Gail Levin de Nur, A Pinnick - ʻAl Kanfei Yonah: Collected Studies of Jonas C. Greenfield on Semitic Philology, Volume 1 BRILL, 1 Sep 2001 ISBN 9004121706 Retrieved 2012-07-28
  9. ^ "1893" originally sourced at EC Erickson - [1] Retrieved 2012-07-30
  10. ^ LB Bregstein - repository AAI9413807 - upenn - Retrieved 2012-07-30
  11. ^ library.upenn Retrieved 2012-07-30
  12. ^ (secondary) [R Silverberg ed.] - - University of Nebraska Press, 28 Jul 1997 ISBN 0803292473 Retrieved 2012-07-30
  13. ^ DI Block - The Book of Ezekiel: Chapters 1-24 - Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1997 ISBN 0802825354 Retrieved 2012-07-28
  14. ^ ("clay") G Leick - The Babylonian world (page 120) Routledge 2007 ISBN 1134261284 Retrieved 2012-07-28
  15. ^ a b HV Hilprecht (2011-02-17). The Excavations in Assyria and Babylonia. Cambridge University Press, 2011. ISBN 1108025641. Retrieved 2012-07-31.
  16. ^ IW Provan, VP Long, T Longman (Robert H. Gundry - A Biblical History of Israel - Westminster John Knox Press, 2003 Retrieved 2012-07-28 ISBN 0664220908
  17. ^ WM Schniedewind - How the Bible Became a Book: The Textualization of Ancient Israel Cambridge University Press, 2005 ISBN 0521536227 Retrieved 2012-07-28
  18. ^ LB Bregstein, University of Pennsylvania
  19. ^ (secondary) A Kuhrt - page showing a drawing and description (P Briant) of a seal Routledge, 2007 - Retrieved 2012-07-29
  20. ^ a b William W. Hallo, David B. Ruderman and Michael Stanislawski eds (1984). Heritage: Civilization and the Jews: Source Reader. New York: Praeger. pp. 48–49. ISBN 0275916081.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  21. ^ MA Sweeney, DW Cotter, JT Walsh, C Franke - The Twelve Prophets: Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, Volume 2 - Liturgical Press, 2000 ISBN 0814650910 Retrieved 2012-07-28
  22. ^ 2nd - WM Schniedewind
  23. ^ JP Nielsen - Sons and Descendants: A Social History of Kin Groups and Family Names in the Early Neo-Babylonian Period - ProQuest, 2008 ISBN 054956926X Retrieved 2012-07-29
  24. ^ Lewis & Boardman page 251
  25. ^ "equerry" -cambridge
  26. ^ O Lipschitz, M Oeming - Judah and the Judeans in the Persian Period - Eisenbrauns, 2006 ISBN 157506104X Retrieved 2012-07-28
  27. ^ M Van De Mieroop - Cuneiform Texts and the Writing of History Routledge, 8 Jul 1999 ISBN 0415195330 Retrieved 2012-07-28
  28. ^ SE Alcock p.94
  29. ^ B Schramm - The Opponents of Third Isaiah: Reconstructing the Cultic History of the Restoration Continuum International Publishing Group, 1995 ISBN 1850755388 Retrieved 2012-07-28
  30. ^ Mieroop
  31. ^ E Yamouchi (MW Chavalas) - Mesopotamia and the Bible Continuum International Publishing Group, 2004 ISBN 0567082318 Retrieved 2012-07-28
  32. ^ Davies, Finkelstein p.337
  33. ^ LM Wills - The Jewish Novel in the Ancient World - Cornell University Press, 1995 ISBN 0801430755 Retrieved 2012-07-28
  34. ^ A Mein - Ezekiel And the Ethics of Exile - Oxford University Press, 23 Feb 2006 ISBN 019929139X Retrieved 2012-07-28
  35. ^ M Price May 12, 2000 this is presumed a fact from the 13th paragraph stating - " ... In the fifth century BC, in Nippur documents, 100 such Jewish families are identified ... "
  36. ^ M Price - A brief history of Iranian Jews iranonline Retrieved 2012-07-31
  37. ^ SE Alcock - Empires: Perspectives from Archaeology and History Cambridge University Press, 2001 ISBN 0521770203 Retrieved 2012-07-28
  38. ^ DM Lewis, J Boardman - The Cambridge Ancient History: The Fourth Century B.C. Cambridge University Press, 1994 ISBN 0521233488 Retrieved 2012-07-28
  39. ^ A Farazmand - Handbook of Comparative and Development Public Administration (Volume 94 of Public Administration and Public Policy) - CRC Press, 29 Jun 2001 ISBN 0824704363 Retrieved 2012-07-29
  40. ^ (secondary) MP Maidman - Nuzi Texts and Their Uses As Historical Evidence - Society of Biblical Lit, 2010 ISBN 1589832132 Retrieved 2012-07-29
  41. ^ HWM van de Sandt - Matthew and the Didache: Two Documents from the Same Jewish-Christian Milieu? - Uitgeverij Van Gorcum, 2005 ISBN 9023240774 Retrieved 2012-07-29
  42. ^ R Bieringer - The New Testament and Rabbinic Literature (Volume 136 of Journal for the study of Judaism / Supplements) BRILL, 2010 ISBN 9004175881 Retrieved 2012-07-29
  43. ^ (secondary) I Gershevitch - The Cambridge History of Iran: The Median and Achaemenian periods Cambridge University Press, 1985 ISBN 0521200911 Retrieved 2012-07-29
  44. ^ IP Loken - Ezra - Xulon Press, 2007 ISBN 1604774428 Retrieved 2012-07-28
  45. ^ J Blenkinsopp (John A. O'Brien - Ezra-Nehemiah: A Commentary Westminster John Knox Press, 1988 ISBN 0664221866 Retrieved 2012-07-28
  46. ^ WM Schniedewind - Society and the Promise to David:The Reception History of 2 Samuel 7:1-17: The Reception History of 2 Samuel 7:1-17 Oxford University Press, 1999 ISBN 0195126807 Retrieved 2012-07-31
  47. ^ PL Kessler - historyfiles Retrieved 2012-07-31
  48. ^ DT Potts citing Stolper; Joannés and Dandamaev - The Archaeology of Elam: Formation and Transformation of an Ancient Iranian State Cambridge University Press, 1999 ISBN 0521564964 Retrieved 2012-07-29
  49. ^ MB Garrison, M Cool Root, CE Jones -Seals on the Persepolis fortification tablets: Volume 1, Part 1 - Oriental Institute, University of Chicago, 2001 ISBN 1885923120
  50. ^ MB Garrison, M Cool Root - Persepolis seal studies: an introduction with provisional concordances of seal numbers and associated documents on fortification tablets 1-2087 Retrieved 2012-07-29 Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten, 1996 [2] & [3]
  51. ^ S Kurinsky - The eighth day: the hidden history of the Jewish contribution to civilization Jason Aronson, 1994 "Susa the gateway to India" - Retrieved 2012-07-29
  52. ^ (secondary) W Horowitz - Mesopotamian Cosmic Geography Eisenbrauns, 1998 - ISBN 0931464994 Retrieved 2012-07-31

Original sources[edit]


External links[edit]