The Ideology of Protection
Pharaoh, as the ‘wall’ or the ‘shield’ of his own army, as the ‘sleepless’ watcher over the security of the country, is a person who himself needs no help from any human but whose protection is necessary to everyone else. The separation between king and common mankind is sharp: fear, and anxiety for protection or assistance, are quite extraneous to Pharaoh's character. Besides being a ‘lone attacker’ (Chapter 11), he is also a ‘lone defender’, while his people and country can relax and sleep.
The Asiatic system is different, since political relations are an enlargement of the mechanisms of mutual support and protection that are typical of the family and local community. The idea of protection (Akkadian nasāru) is fundamental, and it is a reciprocal concept: protection goes out and comes in from every direction; each element in the system can sustain itself only through a generalized acceptance and support by the others. The king is the centre of the system, all the two-sided relations of protection spring from and converge on him. But his position is dependent on the whole network: he protects but he is also protected, he grants the throne to his vassals in order to secure his own throne, he grants a post to his officials and subjects in order to obtain their loyalty. A passage in the Talmi-Sharruma treaty is most insistent on the reciprocal character of protection and help:
The sons of Talmi-Sharruma shall protect the sons of my Sun Murshili, king of Hatti; and the sons of my Sun shall not depose the sons of Talmi-Sharruma. My Sun, the great king, shall be the aid for Talmi-Sharruma king of Aleppo; and Talmi-Sharruma king of Aleppo, shall be the aid for my Sun, the great king, king of Hatti. The sons of my Sun Murshili shall be the aid for the sons of Talmi-Sharruma; and the sons of Talmi-Sharruma shall be the aid for the sons of my Sun. All of us, we