Friday, January 17, 2014

What to Buy for a Wedding Gift?

The custom of giving wedding gifts stretched back into antiquity. Here is an example from the Old Babylonian Period (about 1800-1600 BC) from Mesopotamia (modern Iraq):
Speak to Sin-eribam: Thus says Shamash-magir.

May Shamash keep you in good health for 3600 years for my sake! I will give my daughter to a husband, but I do not have anything that I can give. Now I have dispatched to you Shamash-hazir, Sin-malik and Bitum-rabi together with Puzur-Ishtar. On the day that you see their faces, take the silver (that is) on hand, and buy and send me two slaves (and) three slave-girls; please!
(M. Stol, Letters from Yale [Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1981], 7.)
It gives new meaning to the saying that if you don't know what to give someone, give of yourself. I guess in this case, if you don't know what to give someone, give someone else.