Equal vs. Unequal Marriages
The protest by the Babylonian King at having his chariots mixed up with those of the small kings (see Chapter 26) has a parallel (in the same letter) with the protest over his sister having been lumped together with the other women in the pharaonic harem. The fate of the princess (daughter of the previous Babylonian king, and sister of the present one) is of course relevant in the frame of a negotiation for a second princess (daughter of the present king) to be sent to Egypt.
Since you wrote to me: ‘You told my messengers, while your wives were standing all together at your presence: “Look your lady who stays in your presence”. But my messengers did not recognize her, whether she was (really) my sister (the person) who was with you.’ You also wrote: ‘My messengers did not recognize her, who could recognize her?’ So you said. Why don't you send a man of value who can tell you a word of truth, and the greetings of your sister who is here, and order (him) to enter and look her house and her position by the king? And since you wrote: ‘Perhaps she is the daughter of a dependant, or else of a Kashkean, or else a woman of Hanigalbat, or perhaps she is from Ugarit, whom my messengers have seen: who told them that she was with you? She did not open her mouth and did not say anything to them’ . . . 1
The polemic between the two kings deteriorates further in the rest of the letter, focusing on gifts. In the Babylonian view the son-in-law should send more of them, while in the Egyptian view he need only send gifts by way of reciprocation of those received from the father-in-law. Pharaoh can even ask sarcastically: ‘Is it nice, that you give away your daughters in order to obtain the gift of your neighbours?’ 2