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Ahiqar [Fragment] (Porten-Yardeni) (Researcher: Alexander Samely):
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1.1 [The text refers to itself as verbal entity (with implied or explicit boundaries): because of the fragmentary nature of the evidence, it is not clear whether the initial statement, which contains a meta-communicative announcement, is meant to cover the narrative as well as the proverbs, or only the narrative which it immediately precedes. If it is meant to be a heading covering both parts, category 10.1, used in this Profile, is inapplicable, as this indicates the presence of two mutually independent part-texts. If the heading is taken to cover both parts, this would create a certain kind of discursive framework for the whole (i.e., an overall category 5 text), within which both a narrative and a thematic discourse are contained. See 1.1.1 option C. These alternatives cannot be decided without going beyond the evidence, and in particular without drawing upon versions of the story preserved in other languages, attested only much later than the Aramaic.]

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1.1 [The text refers to itself as verbal entity (with implied or explicit boundaries): because of the fragmentary nature of the evidence, it is not clear whether the initial statement, which contains a meta-communicative announcement, is meant to cover the narrative as well as the proverbs, or only the narrative which it immediately precedes. If it is meant to be a heading covering both parts, category 10.1, used in this Profile, is inapplicable, as this indicates the presence of two mutually independent part-texts. If the heading is taken to cover both parts, this would create a certain kind of discursive framework for the whole (i.e., an overall category 5 text), within which both a narrative and a thematic discourse are contained. See 1.1.1 option C. These alternatives cannot be decided without going beyond the evidence, and in particular without drawing upon versions of the story preserved in other languages, attested only much later than the Aramaic.]

1.1.1 [The text refers to itself using a genre term, speech act term, verb or other term implying verbal constitution: the phrase "words of Ahiqar...which he taught his son..." in line 1, perhaps preceded by the discourse deixis "these are" (אלה); see 1.1 for the uncertainties of scope for this announcement. I see three possibilities: (A) The phrase "words...which he taught his son" could refer to the proverbs, some of which are explicitly addressed to "my son", and this would also fit the word "teach" (חכם לברה). In that case case the narrative which actually starts a few sentences later would not be the "words", and the relationship of the narrative to the heading is problematical. (B) Alternatively, "words" refers to Ahiqar being the narrator of his own tale (see 2.2). In that case the statement introduces the narrative first-person voice, and also situates the telling of the tale in a "real" situation (itself characterized as narrative in a pared-down manner) in which Ahiqar's "son" would be the first projected addressee of an act of telling which presents the narrative. It is not clear who this "son" is, however. If it is Nadin, the adopted son, and the tale is one of his betrayal, then the act of telling the narrative (which the projected reader is invited to witness) would probably have to be understood as constituting a kind of rebuke; a summary of what happened before a judgment is delivered (cp. the ending of the Slavonic version where Nadin effectively dies from being rebuked). This would provide an explanation of the word choice "teach", namely in the sense of confronting Nadin with his betrayal in narration, for the verb seems not a natural choice for referring to the telling a narrative alone. If "son" refers to someone else, the question arises who that can be, for Ahiqar being childless is a constitutive part of the plot. One cannot exclude the possibility that the end of the narrative, now missing, would have supplied an answer to these questions. (C) Another possibility is that "words" refers to both the narrative and the proverbs, in which case its ambiguity (and that of the term "teach") may be intentional. The heading would then claim unity for the two parts, and the text would have to be interpreted as a kind of discourse within which the narrative is subservient (e.g., a kind of "historical" or scholarly treatment of Ahiqar giving his "autobiography" as well as his "work"), or a narrative that frames an extensive discourse (for the latter possibility, see options 4.4 or 5.1). Both these variations of option C are a theoretical possibility in the shape of the text as arranged by Porten-Yardeni and most scholars. If the proverbs were to constitute an extended speech act, integrated with the narrative, this might require a re-arrangement of the columns as in the suggestion of Grelot, and in the manner of some of the later versions. But depending on the transition (now lost) between narrative and proverbs this may not have been necessary, as the category 4.4 (exemplified in 1 Baruch) shows. These alternatives to the text shape here profiled (10.1, two part-texts in a compound) are indicated hypothetically in categories 4.4 and 5.1 in this Profile, but marked by square brackets. On the ambiguity of the physical evidence, see 1.7.]

1.1.2 [The text speaks of itself as dealing with an overall theme (subject matter) or purpose, or as consisting of coordinated parts making a whole: if the heading is meant for the whole text, then it claims that the contents are a kind of "teaching", or can be used as a teaching, constitute the substance of something taught. This is also true if one of the other possibilities apply: the heading is for the proverbs alone (the most straightforward candidate for a "teaching") or the heading is for the narrative alone.]

1.1.4 [The text introduces the governing voice, thereby indirectly marking its own boundedness: the phrase "words of Ahiqar" in line 1: see 1.1. on the question of the scope of that governing voice.]

1.6 The approximate word count or other indication of comparative size is: c. 2000 words. This is a very approximate measure, using the words the Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon (, accessed 29 January 2012) copied and pasted into a word document minus an estimate of the line number information.

1.7 The text’s Inventory profile should be seen in the light of the following further information on completeness, thematic progression, aesthetic effects, etc.: The version of Ahiqar here profiled is the Aramaic text found at the Elephantine Jewish settlement. It contains both a narrative and an aggregate of proverbs. The transition between these two main parts is not preserved, but in the Porten-Yardeni version here described, the two parts are taken to have been successive part-texts, not integrated with each other as in some later versions and some earlier reconstructions (Grelot). Unless the heading is interpreted as unambiguously claiming unity for the whole verbal entity (which appears impossible, see 1.1, 1.1.1), there is no evidence to show that the verbal entity presents itself as one continuous texts (a kind of synthesis of narrative and proverbs, which would require an overall discursive framework). It may well have presented itself in that way in its full form, but the fragments that survive leave that question undecided. If one chooses to interpret that absence of evidence for an all-inclusive textual boundary, accidental as it may be, as starting point for thinking through the original text shape, then Ahiqar has to be interpreted as a compound consisting of two part-texts which are not integrated with each other and do not form a whole producing a higher-level text. This possibility is what the present Profile describes. It therefore classifies the verbal entity as a case of 10.1, and each of the two part-texts are described further in the appropriate sections of the Profile: the narrative under 4, and the proverbs under 5 (it is spelled out explicitly which part-text each point relates to). The actual sequence of text parts is also uncertain, except to say that the narrative comes first (as it is connected to the heading). There is no physical evidence of continuity for the whole. The text is preserved on parts of 14 columns and Porten-Yardeni assume there may have been another seven columns text for which there is now no evidence. The columns are on 11 photographic plates, whose sequence is debated. The sequence Porten-Yardeni adopt is the one here described, providing a narrative section which only contains narrative, preceding a proverb section which has no narrative contents. The plates originally named A–D, E–H, J–K (and already rearranged by Sachau and more recently by Kottsieper) are ordered by Porten-Yardeni as: A–D (the narrative), G, K, J, E–F, H, L. I will add the Sachau plate numbers to the Porten-Yardeni line numbering to make it easier to find passages in other editions/translations. Porten and Yardeni they assume further gaps between the columns so ordered, in particular after D, G, J and L. Relying on this sequence of columns, the lines are numbered 1 to 78 (the narrative) and 79–222 (the proverbs). None of the columns containing proverbs is entirely intact; and the restorations of lines in the narrative by Porten-Yardeni are suggested by them as indications of the story line only. (See for all this, Porten-Yardeni, p. 23; also figure 2 p. 283 which is a concordance giving columns, line numberings and proverb numberings of earlier editions.) This Profile will, for corroborating evidence of any feature, usually not rely on restored wordings at all, and where it does, this will be marked clearly. For a feature of the Proverbs part-text not adequately represented by any Inventory category, see 9.4.1. NB: The Narrative part-text occupies lines 1–78; the Proverbs part-texts lines 79–222.

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2.1 The information conveyed in the text defines the perspective of the governing voice in the following way:

2.1.1 The text does not thematize how the governing voice comes to know the text’s contents (or its right to command obedience from the addressee), but suggests that its knowledge (or authority) is unlimited.

2.1.2 Narrative part-text: The governing voice thematizes how it comes to know the text’s contents or its right to command obedience from the text’s addressee. Its perspective is presented as limited, referring either to evidence, or to personal experience (mere human knowledge): the perspective is limited to the personal point of view. Proverbs part-text: This point probably also applies to the perspective of the proverbs, even though there is no evidence to say that the same persona, Ahiqar, is projected as the speaking voice of that part-text (see 2.1.7). The governing voice suggests its information or advice is based on his or her own experiences, or on other knowledge filtered by reflections on personal experience.

2.1.7 Proverbs part-text only: The governing voice (whether first or third person) is anonymous, that is, is not presented as tied to a specific personal identity (or to personhood in general): unless one reads the Proverbs as in the voice of Ahiqar, for which in the current version of the tale (in its admittedly fragmentary state) there is no convincing evidence, the references to "my son" have no identifying force, but could be taken to preserve the anonymity (and generalizable outlook) of the speaking subject, although it speaks in the first person (also manifest in occasional first person verb forms, as in line 89 ("I have tasted the bitter medlar..."), 105 f., 109–111, etc.

2.2 Narrative part-text and Proverbs part-text: A first-person voice imposes its perspective on all (or almost all) knowledge or norms conveyed in the text: both part-texts have a first person governing voice. The first person voice of the narrative is explicitly identified several times as Ahiqar (by an anonymous introduction and by himself as speaking voice), while that of the Proverbs part-text is anonymous, unless the two texts are read as continuous and forming one unit, which the extant evidence gives insufficient reason to do. (See 2.1.7.)

2.2.1 Narrative part-text: The first-person governing voice is identified by an anonymous voice through a proper name or unique description. Points–3 are devoted to the anonymous voice; all other points presuppose the knowledge horizon of the first-person voice, unless otherwise indicated: the opening lines are: "[These are] the words of Ahiqar by name, wise and fluent scribe, whom he taught to his son. [He did not have a son, but] he said: I will indeed have a son". Before his words Ahiqar was [g]reat and [was] cou[nselor of all Assyria and] bearer of the seal of Sennacherib, King of Assy[ria. And he said:] I [have] indeed not sons..." (lines 1–3). Whether this introduces (only) the narrative part-text or more is discussed in 1.1.1/1.7, but for the purposes of this Profile this is assumed to be the case. Narrative part-text: The anonymous voice presents the first-person utterance as a situation-unspecific “text”, not as uttered in a unique situation of the past: this is not clear given the fragmentary state of the text, but the words "whom he taught to his son" in line 1 might point in the other direction (see [The text is introduced as the first-person voice’s extended direct speech, having taken place on a unique narrative occasion: this is an alternative possibility which cannot be excluded (see and which could be seen to open up a different interpretation of the text as a whole, i.e., 5.1 rather than 10.1. See the explanation under 5.1.] The introduction of the first-person governing voice of the text has the following characteristics (also applies to self-identification 2.2.2): Narrative part-text: It consists of minimal or merely formal information (e.g. name and genre/generic contents): this is possible but not certain, and depends on how the options under are determined. Otherwise, rather than would apply. [It is found at the beginning of the text only: this is where it is found at the moment (if the ordering of plates as beginning with the narrative is correct, but there is no evidence to say that it was not also found in other places.]

2.2.2 Narrative part-text: The first person voice identifies itself by name or uniquely identifying expression (once or repeatedly): the combination "I, Ahiqar" or similar occurs several times, e.g., 45.

2.2.4 Narrative part-text and Proverbs part-text: The number and gender of the first-person governing voice are as follows: Narrative part-text and Proverbs part-text: The first person singular is used: this person occurs in the Proverbs part-text in the address "my son". Narrative part-text: The first person forms are marked for gender: male.

2.4 The governing voice defines a horizon of knowledge as shared with the projected addressee by taking for granted the following linguistic usages or references (in selection):

2.4.1 Persons or unique objects referred to by proper name or by technical expression: for persons mentioned or presented in narrative usage; as characters; or topics, for example: in the narrative part-text, names are largely restricted to those who are central characters: Ahiqar himself, Nadin, Nabusumiskun; Sennacherib, King of Assyria, Esarhaddon, King of Assyria; in the Proverb part-text: a "Yemenite" virgin is mentioned line 134, although other scholars interpret the term differently; "an Arabian", "a Sidonian" (line 207); there seem to be no personal names for humans in the Proverbs part-text. for Gods/mythical figures/supernatural beings, etc., for example: Proverbs part-text (starting with line 79): El (lines 91, 97, 109 (directly addressed), perhaps 153, 154, 156); Shamash (lines 107, 187–8, partially restored in 197); "gods" generically (אלהן, lines 79, 96, 126, 128, 135, 163, 172, 189); "the Lord of the holy ones" (בעל קדשן), line 79. One mention of "from heaven" in a fragmentary line could also refer to divine beings, line 189; also line 79. There appears to be no reference to a named or generic god in the extant narrative part-text. It is possible that the word רחמן (line 91) is meant to be the name of a divinity (the merciful one; suggested by Porten-Yardeni). for locations, for example: for the Proverbs part-text, see the persons referred to by nationality in; there appear to be no locations mentioned in narrative part-text apart from Assyria (as part of collocations, not as the direct name of location of the action). for times or calendar dates (specific to a language or culture), for example: . There appear to be no specific calendar times mentioned in the narrative part-text.

2.6 Proverb part-text: The text presents itself as speaking to certain persons, groups or entities, explicitly projecting a certain image of its addressee.

2.6.1 Proverbs part-text: The governing voice uses apostrophe, second-person grammatical forms or first-person exclusive or inclusive “we”: a number of proverbs use second person suffixes, imperatives, or the address "my son" (e.g., 127).

2.6.3 Proverbs part-text: The governing voice uses verbs of epistemic or moral exhortation or employs a “focus marker": the use of second person forms, imperatives, etc. is common, and exhorts the projected addressee to understand things, watch his behaviour, hurry, etc. There is a cluster of imperatives in lines 142–8 (Sachau 53/44).

2.6.4 Proverbs part-text: The governing voice directs questions at the projected addressee which are marked as rhetorical or as suggesting the audience assume a particular epistemic or moral stance: rhetorical questions are occasionally part of the pronouncements (e.g. lines lines 88, 91).

2.6.5 Proverbs part-text: The governing voice employs exclamatory or declamatory modes of speech (cf. 8.1.13).

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3.6 Proverbs part-text: The language of a text whose boundaries are not determined by poetic formation or by contrast in adjacency (3.2–4 does not apply) exhibits poetic formation as follows:

3.6.2 Proverbs part-text: There is pervasive use of parallelism: while the degree to which parallelism is used is far from clear, as many lines are damaged (and partly restored by modern scholarship on the assumption of parallelism), it seems to be a manifest feature of many sayings (for example, lines 92 and 93 (each constituting one saying within which parallelism is used).

3.6.3 Proverbs part-text: There is pervasive use of other features that can be interpreted as defining poetic formation, such as heightened or figurative language, repetitions of key phrases, short or otherwise poetically defined lines, etc.: similes and metaphors, as well figurative use of animal behaviour and speech, constitute further poetic features, and these poetic features (in particular 3.6.2) also conveys a poetic quality to the very fact that, in the part-text as a whole, apparently self-contained statements are juxtaposed without explicit connection (5.7). Like certain kinds of parallelism itself, the abruptness of transitions itself can produce a poetic quality.

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4.1 [Narrative part-text: The text narrates events which are strongly emplotted, making reference to interlocking happenings, characters, motivations, causes, times or locations: this appears to be the case, but is impossible to verify given the fragmentary evidence. Importing the story line of versions in other languages whose provenance is much later than the Aramaic would simply beg the question. The uncertainty of what kind of narrative the Aramaic Ahiqar actually constitutes is therefore indicated by the square brackets employed in the current and several other points under 4.]

4.1.2 [Narrative part-text: All subordinate events are presented as preparing one crisis and its solution, or as addressing one unified timespan/location, or as telling the fate of one character or a group of characters: it appears (but see 4.1) that the plot has one central starting point (Ahiqar adopting and promoting Nadin), crisis (Nadin betrays him, he is pursued, found and saved by Nabusumiskun) and eventual resolution (Ahiqar is reinstated in some manner). It is, however, only by anticipation of a story line of a certain shape (and to some extent on the basis of conversations between Ahiqar and Nabusumiskun which anticipate a certain course of action) that one can guess at the resolution from the evidence of this Aramaic text alone. The text of column 5 (plate D) breaks off in mid-narrative as King Esarhaddon probes Nabusumiskun's companions to make sure the report of Ahiqar's death (known to be untrue by the reader) is correct. Column 6 (plate E) begins in the middle of a sentence which is clearly not narrative, followed in the next line, 80, by the address "My son", and the proverb "Do not curse the day until you see [night]". There is thus at least one column missing on which the narrative was concluded and the proverbs began; but Porten-Yardeni surmise that four columns of text are missing altogether between the two surviving columns.] [Narrative part-text: The narrative builds up one central narrative tension as having special intrinsic interest, or unites in some other way a number of narrative strands: if the assumption in 4.1.2 is correct.] Narrative part-text: The action pivots around one character or a small set of inter-connected character: although even this is not totally certain, it seems likely enough even on the basis of the fragmentary evidence; a sudden great expansion of the casts of characters in the final section of the narrative appears extremely unlikely. Narrative part-text: The narrative emphasizes personal, private or domestic aspects of lives: this too, appears safe to say even without knowledge of the end of the narrative. Ahiqar's conflict is with his immediate family (adopted son) into which his king, with whom he has a personal relationship as trusted advisor, gets drawn. Even his captor is someone known to him from earlier personal contact, and the intimacy of all these acquaintances is significant for how the plot develops.

4.1.3 [Narrative part-text: The narrative provides a clear closure, or dwells on the closure: there is no evidence to say that this is the case, except that the story as preserved lends itself to a denouement that produces a clear closure: reinstatement of Ahiqar and punishment of Nadin, if a "happy ending" is anticipated. But there is no way to say that this was the case for this particular version of the tale.]

4.2 Narrative part-text: The event sequence is projected as related to the sequence of text parts as follows:

4.2.1 Narrative part-text: The report sequence mirrors the projected chronological sequence of events mostly or wholly, not precluding 4.2.2–5: this is strongly suggested by the extant parts, reinforced by the occasional temporal conjunction (אחר in the sense of "then", e.g., lines 10 and 36; perhaps קרבתא meaning "thereupon", line 45, etc.).

4.2.2 Narrative part-text: There is use of prolepsis or analepsis: the effect of an analepsis is produced in one passage where the voice of the character Ahiqar (not the voice of the narrator Ahiqar!) tells another character of events unmentioned earlier, in lines 46–51; see

4.4 [Narrative part-text, alternative explanation to 10.1: The narrative tells the story of the creation or reception of a separate text which is presented verbatim within the narrative framework, or at its end: if the whole verbal entity called now "Ahiqar" were to be interpreted, not as a compound of two independent part-texts (so that 10.1 applies as in this Profile), but as an integrated continuum (for which there is no physical or sufficient literary evidence), then this feature could constitute the overall framework: the narrative would provide tell how Ahiqar told, at one point of the story, the proverbs to Nadin prior to exacting revenge from him (or a variation on this). The proverbs would thus become the "text" whose story of delivery is told by the larger text. This remains a hypothetical possibility as alternative to the 10.1 structure here described. See also 5.1 and 1.1.1.]

4.9 Narrative part-text: There is prominent or sustained characterization of key figures in the narrative.

4.9.2 Narrative part-text: All characterization is achieved only through reporting the actions, speech or thoughts of the characters ("dramatic"): as far as one can tell without having the missing parts: the skill as a scribe and advisor of Ahiqar is put into the mouth of the king and other speakers, including Nabusumiskun calling him "father of Assyria" and "great" (as well as in the introduction of him as the narrator, lines 2–3).

4.9.3 Narrative part-text: A figure is characterized by her or his moral or religious traits: the loyalty of Nabusumiskun which saves Ahiqar was acquired by Ahiqar being merciful and just (preventing the killing of an innocent, line 46–7). It is perhaps also noteworthy that the killing of the (innocent) eunuch by which Nabusumiskun procures a body to show to the king is presented as the latter's idea, not Ahiqar's, although there is no trace of a condemnation of the act in the extant parts of the narrative. Narrative part-text: Moral/religious traits are not manifestly linked to the ethnicity and/or gender of the figure.

4.9.4 Narrative part-text: A figure is characterized by her or his intellectual gifts or understanding: Ahiqar's qualities as wise person, advisor and skilled counselor are attached to his name or his being mentioned; they are a component of the plot, in that they describe the height of position from which he falls, the danger to the king which emanates from him because of his former power once his loyalty is suspected (line 35–36), and the ruse that allows Nabusumiskun to save him (being a copy of the earlier ruse he implemented to save Nabusumiskun).

4.13 Narrative part-text: Narrative part-text: The narrative pace is slowed down or changed by frequent or prominent quotation of speech, thought or text.

4.13.1 Narrative part-text: The quotation constitutes a plot-driving event in its own right: much of the action moves through conversations. Narrative part-text: The quotation divulges earlier events which the governing voice had left out of its own account of the earlier period: this is true in particular of Ahiqar the character telling Nabusumiskun how he rescued him (lines 46–51), something Ahiqar the narrator has not told earlier as part of his tale. It seems quite clear from the elaborate manner in which this tale is told (which is psychologically somewhat clumsy, as Nabusumiskun is likely to need detailed reminding) that this is not a recap of events the narrator has told earlier (in a piece of text now lost, although Porten-Yardeni do not assume any loss of columns within the narrative plates sequence A-D), but that this is genuine "back story" device, of the kind that occurs (in equally clumsy manner) in hundreds of episodes of contemporary TV drama serials.

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5.1 [Narrative part-text, alternative explanation to 10.1: The bulk of the text is constituted by thematic discourse/description, albeit presented as speech/wording quoted from a narrative setting: if the whole verbal entity called now "Ahiqar" were to be interpreted, not as a compound of two independent part-texts (so that 10.1 applies as in this Profile), but as an integrated continuum (for which there is no physical or sufficient literary evidence), then this feature could constitute the overall framework: an extended narrative framework would tell the tale of how Ahiqar delivered what is effectively a discourse of aggregated thematic units (the proverbs), perhaps prior to exacting revenge from Nadin. This remains a hypothetical possibility as alternative to the 10.1 structure here described. See also 4.4 and 1.1.1.] [Narrative part-text, alternative explanation to 10.1: The quotation forms a substantial continuous part of the overall text, but not its bulk, as there is also extended narration concerning its setting. See 5.1.]

5.7 Proverbs part-text: Adjacent text parts constituting themes are merely juxtaposed or weakly conjoined, while there is no indication of an overall objective relationship (so no 5.6, 5.2.1, 5.3.1, 5.4.1 or–3): unless one would wish to argue for the presence of a thematic heading for the Proverbs part-text (see 1.1.2) which would provide an overall indication of the relationship of thematic units, the following applies: units in a variety of forms, but often apparently self-sufficient in theme even when they are larger than the single grammatical sentence, are placed next to each other without forming a thematic hierarchy or sequential order. However, the nature of their subject matter, addressing the nature of the world man lives in, provides an underlying coherence, 5.7.6. See also 9.4.1.

5.7.6 Proverbs part-text: The juxtaposed thematic units are concerned with universal claims to accuracy/validity and thereby tacitly project an objective interrelatedness, as parts of a unified projected world: the wide variety of specific topics is marked, by their mode as well as thematic links, as addressing the human condition in a world which is partly hostile, partly indifferent (and which contains other human beings also potentially indifferent or hostile), partly raising the very question of how this world and the human condition is known (a certain aspect of the notion of "wisdom") and what one should "know" or be aware of. This produces a unifying, if quite vague, discursive background which is different from most other cases of a text having a thematic focus. The entirely unrestricted, general, nature of the text's statements or values make them cohere as universal statements about the nature of reality. (Cp. also Fox, 2007.)

5.8 Proverbs part-text: The bulk of the text consists of small forms and patterns drawn from a limited set of formats for thematic articulation or for discussion (further section 8): although the grammatical and literary formats used vary quite a lot, including single indicative sentences, imperative sentences, rhetorical questions and first-person declarations on past, present and future, they appear to come from a stock of formats linked to a certain thematic perspective (5.7.6). But it is perhaps useful to stress that the language is far from genuinely stereotypical or formulaic. It is partly the regular apparent lack of thematic continuity between neighbouring sentences which creates the impression of self-contained thematic units, not so much boundaries between self-contained forms.

5.9 Proverbs part-text: The text’s governing voice projects the accuracy or validity of its statements as:

5.9.1 [Proverbs part-text: Being taken for granted or being self-evident: a considerable number of sayings, in particular those in imperative form, appear to be presented in this way. However, there are also a number of sayings which refer to personal experience, etc., and the effect of their presence in the text may be taken to change the character of the apparently apodictic statements also, so that overall option 5.9.2 appears to be more accurate for the part-text overall. But clearly the dichotomy between 5.9.1 and 5.9.2 does not quite fit the text.]

5.9.2 Proverbs part-text: Admitting discussion or disagreement, or the need for argument and evidence in principle: the very nature of knowing and not knowing ("My soul will not know the way...", line 122; Sachau 57/48), as well as personal experience ("I have carried sand..", lines 159–60, Sachau 55/46) or even disappointment (lines 139–40, Sachau 56/47), as well as the use of questions (even if they are rhetorical), all point to a discursive, rather than apodictic mode of speaking.

5.10 Proverbs part-text: The governing voice ascribes statements about the text’s thematic substance pervasively or prominently to speaker characters as utterances.

5.10.4 Proverbs part-text: Hypothetical speech is routinely or prominently put into the mouth of hypostasized or generic characters: this applies to the sayings which present animals as speaking (see 8.3.6), as well as to rare passages like "Let the rich not say, 'In my riches I am glorious'" (line 206, Sachau 58/49; see also line 193 on the same plate).

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7.1 Proverbs part-text: Narrative or thematic correspondences, or overlap of specific wording, occur between a non-biblical text and one or more biblical texts in a manner that is prominent or pervasive: the narrative correspondences are minimal; also, there are a few, but perhaps striking, correspondences between individual sayings.

7.1.1 Characters correspond between the non-biblical narrative and the narrative of a biblical text or texts: Sennacherib is mentioned, e.g., in 2Kgs 18:13, and Esarhaddon in 2Kgs 19:37 (= Is. 37:38). Only minor character(s) of the text correspond to character(s) in a biblical text(s), whether minor or major.

7.1.2 Chronology, physical setting or emplotment correspond between the non-biblical narrative and the narrative of a biblical text or texts:

7.1.4 The text shares features of language with the Hebrew Bible, or exhibits tacit overlap with specific biblical wording, whether narrative or not: a small number of proverb themes and wordings are very close to sayings also found in the the biblical book of Proverbs, including Prov. 13:24, 23:13–14 and line 12:176 (disciplining children; Sachau 53/44; cp. Weigl, Die aramäischen Achikar-Sprüche, pp. 451–63, including comparison with Sir. 30:1–13), Jer. 9:22 [23] and line 14:207 (riches; Sachau 58/49); for the topic of honouring father and mother (9:137) considered as overlapping with Prov. 20:20 and Sir 3:10, 16, see Weigl, Die aramäischen Achikar-Sprüche, pp. 321–4; see also ibid., pp. 733–56. The tacit overlap of wording takes place across language boundaries, with respect to the current language of the text (this point does not apply to 6.13 cases): Aramaic in the current text, Hebrew in the biblical one.

7.1.5 The projected persona of the governing voice of the text, whether a narrative or not, is also known from a biblical text, or the governing voice assumes an epistemic stance similar to that of a biblical text. The epistemic stance of the governing voice (narrative or not, first person or not) can be interpreted as falling into the same generic category as one of the following stances also adopted in biblical texts: The conveyance of wisdom on the basis of personal experience or learning, as in Proverbs, Qohelet.

7.2 Narrative or thematic correspondences, or overlap of specific wording, occur between the non-biblical text under discussion and other non-biblical texts in a manner that is prominent or pervasive.

7.2.2 The overall chronological and spatial framework of the narrative, as well as certain events, are substantially or prominently co-extensive with that of a non-biblical narrative or with some extended part of it: while the setting is left vague, the mention of Assyrian kings Esaraddon and Sennacherib implies a grid of reference related to those also used in the book of Tobit, and some biblical books (e.g., Tob. 1:15 mentions Sennacherib).

7.2.4 The wording or specific theme of self-contained thematic units is occasionally identical to those of another non-biblical text (or part-text), without being marked as quotations from that other text (does not apply if 7.2.6, 7.2.8 or 7.2.9 applies; not applied to Mishnah/Tosefta Tractates): see 7.1.4 for one example of a thematic point of contact with Sirach; there are many more, for which consult the index of Weigl, Die aramäischen Achikar-Sprüche and pp. 749–53.

7.2.7 The projected first-person persona of the governing voice of the text, whether narrative or not, is also known from another non-biblical text: The projected first-person persona is identical with a character in another non-biblical text: Tobit 1:21 ff. mentions Ahiqar as a kinsman of Tobit, and in Tob. 14:10 the story of Ahiqar and his adoptive son is presupposed as known to Tobias (and the reader), with exemplary behaviour and its reward being ascribed to him.

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8.1 Standard forms or contents formulated in set phrases, set sentence formats, or clauses in a standard syntactic connection. See also 5.8. For a detailed classification of statements types in the proverb section, see Weigl, "Die aramäischen Achikar-Sprüche", pp. 543–600.

8.1.3 Proverbs part-text: Sentence with theme anticipated to the beginning and repeated in a pronoun or by ellipsis: this may occur, although often depends on specific restorations of missing line beginnings, e.g., line 103 (col. 7).

8.1.9 Proverbs part-text: The a fortiori argument: there is a possible example in line 139 (trans. Porten-Yardeni, "The son of my belly spied out my house and (so) what shall I say to the strangers?") and perhaps also in the surrounding lines.

8.1.14 Proverbs part-text: Prayer, doxology, valediction or blessing: at least one saying appears to be directed to "El" and makes a request from him, line 109.

8.1.19 Proverbs part-text: Prediction of reward or punishment of behaviour in a “wisdom” or similar formulation: a large proportion of sayings are concerned with the bad or good consequences of actions, or their punishment by god or king. For mentions of wisdom, see 8.1.20.

8.1.20 Proverbs part-text: Recommendation of a particular behaviour or statement of an ideal type of person in a “wisdom” or similar formulation: this makes up a large proportion of the sayings, with "wisdom" occasionally mentioned as such (e.g., lines 105, 146, 189; cp. 114). Many statements recommend a certain behaviour for self-preservation, while others speak of moral qualities. Terms for "good" and "bad" (or wicked) occur in a proportion of the sayings. For an approximate list themes and their frequencies, see 11.1.2.

8.1.21 Proverbs part-text: Statement describing a reality (nature, creation, human nature) in a “wisdom” or similar formulation: the general attitude of the sayings is to describe the way things are, that is, a kind of realism of cause and effect, or motivation and consequence, mostly with respect to human nature. For mentions of wisdom, see 8.1.20.

8.3 Forms with internal emplotment relationships, or character-centred small literary forms or motifs:

8.3.6 Proverbs part-text: The narrative motif of humanized animals or animals as agents: some of the animal proverbs depict animals as speaking, e.g., lines 94 (lion and ass), 166–7 (leopard and goat), 168–70 (bear and lambs), 203–4 (wild ass and another animal), 209 (goats); plants too are depicted as conversing (lines 101 f.).

8.3.8 Narrative part-text: A narrative motif that can be interpreted as humorous or ironic: One cannot exclude the possibility that the contrast between Ahiqar's oft-declared wisdom and his disastrous error of judgment in promoting his sister's unworthy son are meant to create an ironic tension in the narrative. However, if the proverbs were to be taken as part of the same text (not the model followed in this Profile), on the other hand, this would be unlikely, as this would undermine their value (by undermining their "author's" authority).

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9.4 Proverbs part-text: For an extended passage there is a juxtaposition of thematic units (sentences or groups of sentences) capable of being interpreted in the following manner:

9.4.1 Proverbs part-text: As thematic cluster: the sentence themes of an extended passage have a stronger homogeneity/family resemblance with each other than with the preceding or succeeding co-text, but there is no clear beginning or cut-off point: this seems to apply to certain thematic groupings of sayings. While the earlier research has tended not to find thematic order or formal coherence in the topics and sequence of the proverbs (a problem shared with the interpretation of the biblical book of Proverbs), more recent research (see Weigl "Compositional" and the literature quoted there) has been more sensitive to structural, thematic and linguistic signals of groupings of sayings. Weigl in particular have taken such signals to indicate that neighbouring sayings are meant to be read together, and thus influence each other's meaning in proximity. One aspect of this (acknowledged already in earlier scholarship to some extent) is that there are thematic clusters of sayings which clearly are closer to each other in theme than they are to other, preceding or succeeding proverbs in adjacency. Thus loosely defined groups of sayings about reticence in speech (81-3), the king (84–8, again 91–2) and treachery by a son or someone inside the household (139–40) are found (and one might argue that the Porten-Yardeni ordering of the columns, taken as basis of this Profile, separates one such cluster on wisdom, with line 79 being in effect a continuation of what is now line 187–9). However, since recognition of the group's theme influences how a "peripheral" saying (peripheral in theme, and at the edge of the cluster so far established by the reader) is interpreted, the boundaries of such clusters are self-expanding or self-limiting, depending on how the reader identifies the common thread to start with. If one makes the theme abstract and comprehensive enough, every theme being addressed in the single saying could be so accommodated. Nevertheless, it is clear that, regardless where precisely one draws the boundaries of individual clusters, some groupings of sayings form thematic concentrations, and others do not, but move more freely from topic to topic. THERE IS ALSO ANOTHER PHENOMENON: Use of lexical repetition as a signal for formal continuity or inclusion without thematic continuity: for example, lines 95, 98–9, 105 (Sachau 57/48) all mention “heart”, but in clearly quite different senses (it may even have figured in some of the quite fragmentary line 9). Is the word used as a kind of “leitmotif” to connect sayings which are either adjacent to each other, or separated by others but still in proximity? In contrast to the thematic clusters (9.4.1), it is very difficult to be confident about this (pace Weigl), in particular given the fragmentary state of the evidence.

9.13 Physical evidence from antiquity potentially shows non-verbal signals indicating (an interpretation of) the text’s thematic division: in the Proverbs columns, two kinds of dividers, in addition to leaving the remainder of a line blank, are used apparently to separate proverbs (sayings): the use of an "aleph" sign (which Porten-Yardeni characterize as lapidary in form), and a short horizontal line coming from the right margin and going to just under the first letter's bottom right hand corner. Both signs are apparently attested (the horizontal line in particular) as dividers, see Porten-Yardeni p. xv.

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10.1 The text consists of the juxtaposition of large constituent part-texts, each of which has its own thematic, lemmatic or narrative structure: the current Profile assumes that the verbal entity known as Aramaic Ahiqar is a compound of two independent part-texts, not a text of a higher order. For the alternatives to this interpretation, and the evidence situation, see 1.1.1 and 1.7. The narrative part-text, lines 1–78, is explained under section 4 of this Profile; the proverbs part-text, lines 79–222, is explained under sections 5 and 8 of this Profile. Their relationship within the compound, without forming a higher-level unity, is explained in the following points.

10.1.2 The text juxtaposes one narrative and one thematic part-text: the compound consists of one part-text which is narrative and one part-text which is an aggregate of proverbial sayings. Apparently the narrative part-text precedes the proverb part-text. If the heading found at the beginning of the narrative were to be interpreted as covering both parts, then one would have to read the whole text as one, in which case this point would not apply (see 1.1.1 and 1.7). The same would be true if the point of transition between narrative and proverbs (not preserved) would contain a passage explaining their relationship, or even acknowledging their simultaneous existence in the overall text. The ending of the proverbs part-text, also not preserved, might have been another strategic point at which the unity of the overall text as a text (not merely as a compound of texts) could have been expressed. In the absence of evidence of these textual positions, however, it appears marginally more speculative, later versions of the tale in other languages notwithstanding, to assume one text rather than to assume, as this Profile and this point in the Profile does, the mere juxtaposition of two mutually independent texts. Their sequential relationship suggests that they complement each other, at least weakly (e.g., as “biography –utterances”): this appears to be the case, in that the sequence may suggest that the wise man Ahiqar, whose adventures are told in the narrative part-text, is the (anonymous) voice and "author" of the proverbs, or that they were indeed the proverbs which he taught to his adopted son, who is mentioned in the heading of the narrative as addressee of the narrative, and may be tacitly identified as the "my son" addressed in specific proverbs. The narrative could also be seen as providing specific context for a number of proverbs which are about betrayal, in particular betrayal by a son (or "house"), as in lines 139–40. See also Porten-Yardeni, p. xv.

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11.1 Proverbs part-text: The non-narrative text projects its thematic concern as being mainly one or more of the following:

11.1.2 Proverbs part-text: Moral values or value judgments, including practical instructions on proper behaviour or self-preservation: this accounts for a large proportion of the sayings. Porten-Yardeni classify the themes of those 80 sayings whose state of preservation allows categorization in the following way (numbers indicate frequency): 19 "Deity and Man" (of which 4 wisdom, 7 determinism, 8 retribution), 12 "Animal Proverbs", 11 "Household" (1 number of sons, 3 discipline of sons, 1 pride in parents, 4 family treachery, 1 discipline of slave, 1 acquisition of slave), 8 "Obedience to King", 6 "Verbal Discretion", 6 "Anthropological Observations", 4 "Golden Mean", 3 "Poverty and Wealth", 3 "Truth and Falsehood", 2 "Ingratitude", 2 "Borrowing", 2 "Caution", 1 "Opposition to Wicked", 1 "Plant Proverb", 1 "Dilligence", 1 "Acceptance of Lot", 1 "Serving a Master". (See Porten-Yardeni, p. xv). These themes are of course not treated together, although there are clusters (see 5.7).

11.2 Narrative part-text: The text is dominated by the reporting of emplotted events, whether or not in an overarching narrative format (4).

11.2.3 Narrative part-text: The reported events have no strong links to biblical events.

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12.1 Sampling of genre labels applied to the text in secondary literature: Narrative part-text: narrative; Proverbs part-text: wisdom; collection of "sayings" or "proverbs"; "wisdom".

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B. Porten and A. Yardeni, Textbook of Aramaic Documents from Ancient Egypt, Vol. III: Literature, Accounts, Lists (Winona Lake, In.: Eisenbrauns, 1993); M. Weigl, Die aramäischen Achikar-Sprüche aus Elephantine und die alttestamentliche Weisheitsliteratur (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2010) (only the proverbs, in the order Porten-Yardeni, pp. 863–878; concordance of numbering of proverbs in earlier editions, pp. 851–860); J. M. Lindenberger, The Aramaic Proverbs of Ahiqar (Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983) [Weigl and Lindenberger deal only with the text of the proverbs]; see also Kottsieper below under "Studies"; A. E. Cowley, Aramaic Papyri of the Fifth Century B. C. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1923; repr. Osnabrück: O. Zeller, 1967), pp. 204–248. E. Sachau, Aramäische Papyrus und Ostraka au seiner jüdischen Militärkolonie zu Elephantine, 2 vols. [text, plates] (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1911) vol. 1, pp. 147–82; plates 40-50; N.B. Sachau's plates can be accessed via:, and: (accessed 13/03/2012); see also the fold-out fascimiles in Kottsieper for the Proverbs part-text.

Online critical edition: "23600: TAD C1.1 (Ahiqar)", in: Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon, under "Imperial/Official Aramaic, Formal Egyptian": (accessed 29 January 2012; following Porten-Yardeni); and see above under Sachau.


See editions Porten and Yardeni; Cowley; H. L. Ginsberg, "The Words of Ahiqar", in J. B. Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, 3rd edn. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1969), pp. 427–30; J. M. Lindenberger, "Ahiqar. A New Translation and Introduction", in J. H. Charlesworth (ed.), The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, vol. 2 (Garden City: Doubleday, 1985) , pp. 479–507; J. M. Lindenberger, The Aramaic Proverbs of Ahiqar (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983).

Selected Studies:

In addition to the editions and translations (in particular Porten-Yardeni and Lindenberger), see also: M. Weigl, "Compositional Strategies in the Aramaic Sayings of Ahikar: Columns 6-8”, in P. M. M. Daviau, J. W. Wevers and M. Weigl (eds.), The World of the Aramaeans III, Studies in Language and Literature in Honour of Paul-Eugène Dion (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001), pp. 22–82; M. V. Fox, Proverbs 1-9 (New York: Doubleday, 2000), pp. 332–333; J. C. Greenfield, “The Wisdom of Ahiqar”, in J. Day, R. Gordon, H. G. M. Williamson (eds.), Wisdom in Ancient Israel: Essays in Honour of J. A. Emerton (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), pp. 43–52; P. Grelot, “Les proverbs araméens d’Ahiqar”, Revue Biblique, 68 (1971) pp. 178–94; idem, Documents araméens d’Égyptes (Paris: Cerf, 1972), pp. 427–52; idem, “Les proverbes d’Ahiqar”, Revue Biblique, 108 (2001) pp. 511–528; I. Kottsieper, Die Sprache der Ahiqarsprüche (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1990); idem, “‘Weisheitstexte’ in aramäischer Sprache. Die Geschichte und die Sprüche des weisen Achiqar”, in Texte aus der Umwelt des Alten Testaments. Weisheitstexte, Mythen und Epen. 2 Weisheitstexte II (ägyptisch, aramäisch) (Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlagshaus, 1991), vol. 3, pp. 320–347; idem, “The Aramaic Tradition: Ahikar”, in L. G. Perdue (ed.), Scribes, Sages and Seers. The Sage in the Mediterranean World (Göttingen: Vandenhoek & Ruprecht, 2008), pp. 109–24; idem, “Aramaic Literature”, in C. S. Ehrlich (ed.), From an Antique Land: An Introduction to Ancient Near Eastern Literature (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2009), pp. 393–444; 487-492; C. Grottanelli, “The Ancient Novel and Biblical Narrative” Quaderni Urbinati di Cultura Classica, NS 27 (1987), pp. 7–34; B. Lang, “Wisdom חכמה Σοφία”, in K. van der Toorn, B. Becking, P. W. van der Horst (eds.), Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, 2nd edn. (Leiden: Brill; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999), p. 900; D. Schwiderski (ed.), Die alt- und reichsaramäischen Inschriften, vol. 2: Texte und Bibliographie (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2004), pp. 83–93; M. V. Fox, “The Epistemology of the Book of Proverbs”, Journal of Biblical Literature, 126 (2007), pp. 669–84. For the later versions of the text in other languages, see F. C. Conybeare, J. R. Harris, A. Smith Lewis (eds.), The Story of Ahikar From the Aramaic, Syriac, Arabic, Armenian, Ethiopic, Old Turkish, Greek and Slavonic Versions, 2nd edn. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1913).

NB: The Narrative part-text occupies lines 1–78; the Proverbs part-texts lines 79–222.

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