Combination 1

The Deir ‘Allā plaster texts were discovered in 1967 at the site of Tell Deir 'Allā in Jordan.  They were originally written in black and red ink on a plaster covered column or plaque in a small room, but were subsequently destroyed by an earthquake.  Excavators have reassembled two main sections of the text called ‘combinations’.  The texts are written in an 7th century form of the Aramaic script, but the language of the texts forms a separate subgroup of Northwest Semitic according to John Huehnergard.   

The Deir ‘Allā plaster texts provide important comparative data for the study of Israelite religious and literary traditions.  The first combination indentifies itself as a revelation of Balaam son of Beor, known primarily from Numbers 22-24.  In this section, Balaam reports a vision of the divine council: the šaddayyin gods (known from Deut 32:7 and Ps 106:7) command the goddess Šagar-wa-‘Aštart (cf. Deut 7:13; 28:4; 18, 51) to close up the heavens because the natural order has been upended.  The second combination is harder to interpret.


Hackett, Jo Ann.  The Balaam Text from Deir 'Allā.  HSM 31.  Chico: Scholars press, 1984. 

Huehnergard, John.  “Remarks on the Classification of the Northwest Semitic Languages.” In The Balaam Text from Deir ‘Allā Re-evaluated: Proceedings of the International Symposium Held at Leiden, 21-24 August, 1989, edited by J. Hoftijzer, and G. van der Kooij, 282-293.  Leiden: Brill, 1991.

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