Amorite (Sumerian MAR.TU, Akkadian Tidnum or Amurrūm, Egyptian Amar, Hebrew ’emōrî אמורי) refers to a Semitic people [ [http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9007224/Amorite Amorite] Brittanica] [ [http://www.crystalinks.com/amorites.html Amorites] ] who occupied the country west of the
Euphratesfrom the second half of the third millennium BC. The term Amurrurefers to them, as well as to their principal deity.
In the earliest Sumerian sources, beginning about 2400 BC, the land of the Amorites ("the "Mar.tu" land") is associated with the West, including
Syriaand Canaan, although their ultimate origin may have been Arabia. They appear as nomadic people in the Mesopotamian sources, and they are especially connected with the mountainous region of Jebel Bishriin Syria called as the "mountain of the Amorites". The ethnic terms "Amurru" and "Amar" were used for them in Assyriaand Egyptrespectively. Amorites seem to have worshipped the moon-god Sin, and Amurru.
21st century BCand likely triggered by the 22nd century BC drought, a large-scale migration of Amorite tribes infiltrated Mesopotamia, precipitating the downfall of the Neo-Sumerian Third Dynasty of Ur, and acquiring a series of powerful kingdoms, culminating in the triumph under Hammurabiof one of them, that of Babylon.
Known Amorites (mostly those of Mari) wrote in a dialect of Akkadian found on tablets dating from 1800–
1750 BCshowing many northwest Semitic forms and constructions. The Amorite languagewas presumably a northwest Semiticdialect. The main sources for our extremely limited knowledge about the language are proper names, not Akkadian in style, that are preserved in such texts. Many of these names are similar to later Biblical Hebrew names.
From inscriptions and tablets
In early inscriptions, all western lands, including Syria and Canaan, were known as "the land of the Amorites". "The "MAR.TU" land" appears in the earliest
Sumerian texts, such as " Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta", as well as early tablets from Ebla; and for the Akkadian kings Mar.tu was one of the "Four Quarters" surrounding Akkad, along with Subartu, Sumer and Elam. The Akkadian king Naram-Sinrecords campaigns against them in northern Syria ca. 2240 BC, and his successor Shar-Kali-Sharrifollowed suit.
By the time of the Neo-Sumerian
Ur-IIIempire, immigrating Amorites had become such a force that kings such as Shu-Sinwere obliged to construct a 170 mile wall from the Tigristo the Euphratesto hold them off [William H. Stiebing Jr. "Ancient Near Eastern History And Culture" Longman: New York, 2003: 79] . These Amorites appear as nomadic clans ruled by fierce tribal chiefs, who forced themselves into lands they needed to graze their herds. Some of the Akkadian literature of this era speaks disparagingly of the Amorites, and implies that the neo-Sumerians viewed their nomadic way of life with disgust and contempt, for example:
:"The MAR.TU who know no grain.... The MAR.TU who know no house nor town, the boors of the mountains.... The MAR.TU who digs up truffles... who does not bend his knees (to cultivate the land), who eats raw meat, who has no house during his lifetime, who is not buried after death..." [Chiera 1934: 58 and 112]
:"They have prepared wheat and gú-nunuz (grain) as a confection, but an Amorite will eat it without even recognizing what it contains!" [Chiera 1934: 3]
As the centralized structure of the neo-Sumerian empire of
Urslowly collapsed, the component regions began to reassert their former independence, and places where Amorites resided were no exception. Elsewhere, armies of Elam were attacking and weakening the empire, making it vulnerable. Some Amorites aggressively took advantage of the failing empire to seize power for themselves. There was not an Amorite invasion as such, but Amorites did ascend to power in many locations, especially during the reign of the last king of the Ur-III Dynasty, Ibbi-Sin. Leaders with Amorite names assumed power in various places, including Isin, Larsa, and Babylon. The Elamites finally sacked Ur in ca. 2004 BC. Some time later, the most powerful ruler in Mesopotamia (immediately preceding the rise of Hammurabiof Babylon) was Shamshi-Adad I, another Amorite.
Effects on Mesopotamia
The rise of the Amorite kingdoms in Mesopotamia brought about deep and lasting repercussions in its political, social and economic structure.
The division into kingdoms replaced the Sumerian
city-state. Men, land and cattle ceased to belong physically to the gods or to the temples and the king. The new monarchs gave, or let out for an indefinite period, numerous parcels of royal or sacerdotal land, freed the inhabitants of several cities from taxes and forced labour, and seem to have encouraged a new society to emerge, a society of big farmers, free citizens and enterprising merchants which was to last throughout the ages. The priest assumed the service of the gods, and cared for the welfare of his subjects, but the economic life of the country was no longer exclusively (or almost exclusively) in their hands.
In general terms, Mesopotamian civilization survived the arrival of Amorites, as it had survived the Akkadian domination and the restless period that had preceded the rise of the Third Dynasty of Ur. The religious, ethical, and artistic directions in which Mesopotamia had been developing since earliest times, were not greatly impacted by the Amorites' hegemony. They continued to worship the Sumerian gods, and the older Sumerian myths and epic tales were piously copied, translated or adapted, generally with only minor alterations. As for the scarce artistic production of the period, there is little to distinguish it from the preceding Ur-III era.
The era of the Amorite kingdoms, ca. 2000-1600 BC, is sometimes known as the "Amorite period" in Mesopotamian history. The principal Amorite dynasties arose in Mari,
Yamkhad, Qatna, Assur(under Shamshi-Adad I), Isin, Larsa, and Babylon. This era ended with the Hittitesack of Babylon (c. 1595 BC) which brought new ethnic groups - particularly Kassitesand Hurrians- to the forefront in Mesopotamia. From the 15th century BConward, the term "Amurru" is usually applied to the region extending north of Canaan as far as Kadeshon the Orontes.
The term "Amorites" is used in the
Bibleto refer to certain highland mountaineers who inhabited the land of Canaan, described in Gen. 10:16 as descendants of Canaan, son of Ham
They are described as a powerful people of great stature "like the height of the cedars," who had occupied the land east and west of the Jordan; their king,
Og, being described as the last "of the remnant of the giants" (Deut. 3:11).
The terms "Amorite" and "Canaanite" seem to be used more or less interchangeably, "Canaan" being more general, and "Amorite" a specific component among the Canaanites who inhabited the land.
The Biblical Amorites seem to have originally occupied the region stretching from the heights west of the
Dead Sea(Gen. 14:7) to Hebron(13:8; Deut. 3:8; 4:46-48), embracing "all Gileadand all Bashan" (Deut. 3:10), with the Jordan valleyon the east of the river (4:49), the land of the "two kings of the Amorites," Sihonand Og (Deut. 31:4; Josh. 2:10; 9:10). Both Sihon and Og were independent kings.
These Amorites seem to have been linked to the
Jerusalemregion, and the Jebusites may have been a subgroup of them. The southern slopes of the mountains of Judeaare called the "mount of the Amorites" (Deut. 1:7, 19, 20). One possible etymology for "Mount Moriah" is "Mountain of the Amorites," with loss of the initial syllableFact|date=November 2007.
Five kings of the Amorites were first defeated with great slaughter by
Joshua(10:10). They were said to have been utterly destroyed at the waters of Meromby Joshua (Josh. 11:8). It is mentioned that in the days of Samuel, there was peace between them and the Israelites (1 Sam. 7:14). The Gibeonites were said to be their descendants, being an offshoot of the Amorites that made a covenant with the Hebrews; when Saul would break that vow and kill some of the Gibeonites, God sent a famine to Israel.
Amorites in Antisemitism
The view that Amorites were fierce nomads led to an idiosyncratic theory among some writers in the 19th Century that they were a tribe of "Germanic" warriors who at one point dominated the Israelites. This was because the evidence fitted then-current models of Indo-European migrations. This theory originated with
Felix von Luschan, who later abandoned it. Luschan's speculation was taken up by antisemites, notably Houston Stewart Chamberlain, who claimed that King Davidand Jesus were both of Amorite extraction. This argument was repeated by the Nazi ideologist Alfred Rosenberg. [ [http://www.nybooks.com/articles/6962] Hans Jonas, "New York Review of Books", 1981]
* [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=1422&letter=A "Jewish Encyclopedia"]
* E. Chiera, "Sumerian Epics and Myths", Chicago, 1934, Nos.58 and 112;
* E. Chiera, "Sumerian Texts of Varied Contents", Chicago, 1934, No.3.;
* H. Frankfort, "AAO", pp. 54-8;
* F.R. Fraus, "FWH", I (1954);
* G. Roux, "Ancient Iraq", London, 1980.
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Amorite — [am′ə rīt΄] n. [Heb emori] a member of an ancient Semitic people of c. 2000 B.C.: in the Bible, regarded as descended from Canaan, son of Ham: Gen. 10:16 … English World dictionary
Amorite — noun Etymology: Hebrew Ĕmōrī Date: 1535 a member of one of various Semitic peoples living in Mesopotamia, Syria, and Palestine during the third and second millennia B.C. • Amorite adjective … New Collegiate Dictionary
Amorite — /am euh ruyt /, n. 1. a member of one of the principal tribes, or nations, of Canaan before its conquest by the Israelites. II Sam. 12:26 31. 2. the Semitic language of the Amorites. [1600 10; < Heb emor(i) Amorites + ITE1] * * * ▪ people… … Universalium
Amorite — 1. noun a) A member of an ancient Semitic people who lived to the west of the Euphrates b) The language of this people 2. adjective a) Of or pertaining to this people or language … Wiktionary
amorite — am·o·rite … English syllables
Amorite — Am•o•rite [[t]ˈæm əˌraɪt[/t]] n. 1) peo anh a member of a culturally diverse population of western Semites prominent in the history of ancient Syria and adjacent areas, c2600–1200 b.c. 2) peo the language of this population … From formal English to slang
amorite — I. ˈaməˌrīt, usu īd.+V noun ( s) Usage: usually capitalized Etymology: Hebrew ĕmōrī + English ite 1. in the Bible … Useful english dictionary
Amorite language — language name=Amorite states=ancient Mesopotamia, by the Amorites extinct=2nd millennium BC familycolor=Afro Asiatic fam2=Semitic fam3=West Semitic fam4=Central Semitic fam5=Northwest SemiticAmorite is an early Northwest Semitic language, spoken… … Wikipedia
Amorite language — one of the most ancient of the archaic Semitic languages, which are part of the Afro Asiatic language (Afro Asiatic languages) phylum. Amorite was spoken in an area that is now northern Syria. It is known almost exclusively from glosses and … Universalium
HEBREW LANGUAGE — This entry is arranged according to the following scheme: pre biblical biblical the dead sea scrolls mishnaic medieval modern period A detailed table of contents precedes each section. PRE BIBLICAL nature of the evidence the sources phonology… … Encyclopedia of Judaism