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Gilgamesh (1.132)

(2,176 words)

Author(s): Foster, Benjamin R.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Akkadian Canonical Compositions; Royal Focus; Epic Commentary The Gilgamesh Epic is deservedly the most famous literary relic of ancient Mesopotamia. Its evolution can be traced from episodic Sumerian beginnings (“The Tale of Ziusudra”) through successive Akkadian translations and adaptations to a final canonical version in twelve tablets (chapters) (see Tigay 1982), and serves as an empirical model for testing hypotheses about the evolution of the Bibl…

The Descent of Ishtar to the Underworld (1.108)

(2,521 words)

Author(s): Dalley, Stephanie
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Akkadian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Myths Commentary The Akkadian story is first attested in Late Bronze Age texts, in both Babylonia and Assyria, and later from the palace library at Nineveh. It is a short composition of some 140 lines, and seems to end with ritual instructions for the taklimtu, an annual ritual known from Assyrian texts, which took place in the month of Dumuzi (Tammuz = June/July) and featured the bathing, anointing, and lying-in-state of a statue of Dumuzi in Nineveh, Arbela, Assur and Kalah.1 Weep…

“At the Cleaners” (1.156)

(483 words)

Author(s): Livingstone, Alasdair
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Akkadian Canonical Compositions; Individual Focus; Humorous Texts “At the Cleaners” (1.156) (1) “Come on fuller, let me give you instructions! Wash my garment! Don’t ignore my instructions anddon’t carry out your own methods!You should set the hem and the lining in place; ( 5) you should stitch the front to the inside; you should pick the thread of the border;you should soak the thin part in beer;you should carry out a filtering operation with a sieve;you should loosen the hem of the lining; ( 10) you should … it in clean water; you sho…

Assurbanipal’s Coronation Hymn (1.142)

(648 words)

Author(s): Livingstone, Alasdair
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Akkadian Canonical Compositions; Royal Focus; Royal Hymns Commentary This text should be read together with the Middle Assyrian Coronation Ritual Prayer and the Late Piece of Constructed Mythology (see text COSB.1.146 below). Assurbanipal’s Coronation Hymn (1.142) ( 1) May Shamash, king of heaven and earth, raise you to shepherdship over the four regions! May Assur, who gave you the [scepter], prolong your days and years!Spread your land wide at your feet!May Sherua extol your name to your personal god!1 ( 5) Just as grain …

The Weidner Chronicle (1.138)

(1,682 words)

Author(s): Millard, Alan
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Akkadian Canonical Compositions; Royal Focus; Historiography Commentary Excavations at Ashur yielded a damaged tablet which was announced by E. F. Weidner in 1926 and so is called after him. Since then four smaller pieces of other copies have been identified and recently an almost complete tablet was recovered from Sippar, adding greatly to the interpretation of the text, although many uncertainties and gaps remain. The composition is set in the form of a letter from a king of Babylon to a king of Isin in the 19th century bce, but p…

The Dynastic Prophecy (1.150)

(662 words)

Author(s): Longman III, Tremper
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Akkadian Canonical Compositions; Royal Focus; Fictional Royal Autobiography Commentary The Dynastic Prophecy is the most recent addition to the growing corpus of Akkadian prophecy texts. A. K. Grayson provided an edition of the text in 1975. The text is in a poor state of preservation, not having a single complete line. The Dynastic Prophecy has only one certain exemplar although, as Grayson points out, BM 34903 (= CT 51:122) could possibly be part of the text. The following excerpt excludes the fragmentary in…

Diurnal Prayers of Diviners (1.116)

(372 words)

Author(s): Foster, Benjamin R.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Akkadian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Hymns and Prayers Commentary As with the immediately preceding selection (above, Text COSB.1.115, note 1), divination (here again by means of the entrails) demanded and relied on a “truthful” answer from the deity. To secure such an answer, the divination priest invoked Shamash and Adad, patrons of divination, here in the company of other great deities. [WWH] Diurnal Prayers of Diviners (1.116) Subject: Exod 40:23; Lev 24:5f; 1 Sam 14:41 O Shamash, I hold up to you seven …

A Neo-Babylonian Lament for Tammuz (1.118)

(761 words)

Author(s): Hallo, William W.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Akkadian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Lamentations and Elegies Commentary This text, of Seleucid date, laments the destruction of the cities of Sumer and Akkad at the hand of the Gutians, a theme strangely out of place two millennia after their historic incursions. So it either represents a late version of a much earlier original or, more likely, a case of deliberate archaizing. A Neo-Babylonian Lament for Tammuz (1.118) Subject: Gen 10:10; Mic 5:4; Eccl 11:2 “Oh grieving women of Uruk, (a) oh grieving women of Akkad, a …

Epic of Creation (1.111)

(7,491 words)

Author(s): Foster, Benjamin R.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Akkadian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Myths Commentary The so-called epic of Creation preserves a relatively late Babylonian conception of the creation of the physical world (including humanity), but its real focus is on the elevation of Marduk to the top of the pantheon in return for taking up the cause of the embattled gods, who build his great temple of Esagila in Babylon in recognition of his leadership. The composition could therefore be as readily called “The Exaltation of Marduk.” As such it provi…

Assyrian King Lists (1.135)

(1,646 words)

Author(s): Millard, Alan
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Akkadian Canonical Compositions; Royal Focus; Historiography Commentary Lists of Assyrian kings have been found at Assur, Nineveh and Dur-Sharrukin (Khorsabad). The ‘Assyrian King List’ is known in five copies, none complete, two being only small fragments; there are slight variants between them. It begins with names of nomadic kings who lived about 2000 bce, which some scholars think may be names of tribes rather than persons because there are similarities between them and names in the Genealogy o…

The Installation of the Storm God’s High Priestess (1.122)

(4,046 words)

Author(s): Fleming, Daniel
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Akkadian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Rituals The Installation of the Storm God’s High Priestess1 (1.122)2 Subject: Exod 29; Lev 8; Lev 8:33–35; 9:1, 23; Ezek 23:1–5; Joel 4:6; Isa 14:12; Lev 16:8; Num 26:55; 34:13; Josh 14:2; 18:6; Esth 3:7; 9:24; 1 Sam 8:12; 2 Kgs 1:9; Exod 29:7; Lev 8:12; 1 Sam 10:1; 16:13; Num 6:19; Deut 32:51; Isa 30:29; Lev 3:4–5; Num 6:9, 18; Gen 24:65; Ezek 46:4, 6; Neh 5:18; Judg 11:37; Ps 45:15; Josh 6:4, 8; Ps 68:26; Isa 49:18; 61:10; Lev 8:4; Gen 15:17; 2 Chr 32:33; 2 Kgs 4:10; Exod 29:40; Lev 23:13; Isa…

Erra and Ishum (1.113)

(8,540 words)

Author(s): Dalley, Stephanie
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Akkadian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Myths Commentary In the extant text known to us at present, Erra and Ishum may date no earlier than the eighth century bce, but it almost certainly incorporates older elements. It consists of five tablets comprising some 750 lines; the final tablet is shorter than the others. Tablets with the text come from both Assyria (Nineveh, Assur, Sultantepe) and Babylonia (Babylon, Ur, Tell Haddad). The main tablet, from Assur, takes the form of an amulet. The introductory lines belong to…

The Poem of the Righteous Sufferer (1.153)

(3,623 words)

Author(s): Foster, Benjamin R.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Akkadian Canonical Compositions; Individual Focus; Just Sufferer Compositions Commentary This is the most elaborate treatment of the theme of theodicy. It includes a veritable thesaurus of medical symptoms (Tablet II) and their cure (Tablet III). Because the sufferer protests not so much innocence as ignorance of his sins, his modern designation could well be “pious sufferer” rather than “just sufferer.”1 He is identified by name in the text (Tablet III, line 43) and was possibly its author. The ancient…

Two Months Joined by the Underworld, with Barring and Opening of Doors (1.125)

(2,209 words)

Contributor(s): Hallo, William W.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Akkadian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Rituals Commentary1 Emar’s tablet of rites for the month of Abî focuses on observances at the middle and end of the moon’s cycle, set in a frame of offerings through the remaining intervals. The largest section of the text addresses rites at various abû shrines, with a central event on the 26th day, when “they bar the doors.” This act is carried out with the last visibility of the lunar crescent and has its complement in the first line of a se…

A Psephomancy Ritual From Assur (1.127)

(809 words)

Author(s): Hurowitz, Victor
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Akkadian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Rituals Commentary This text was found by the German excavations at Assur.1 It is an incantation recited while performing a ritual for divination by use of black (hematite) and white (alabaster) stones (psephomancy). The ritualist, while pronouncing the liturgy, tells which cultic manipulations he is performing, thus permitting the reader to follow his actions. The type of divination described has general similarit…

A Hymn Celebrating Assurnasirpal Ii’s Campaigns to the West (1.139)

(1,631 words)

Author(s): Hurowitz, Victor
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Akkadian Canonical Compositions; Royal Focus; Royal Hymns Commentary This text was found by the German excavations at Assur in the house of a nargallu (chief singer).1 It begins as a hymn to Enlil (Assur),2 but then praises Assurnasirpal II (883–859 bce) for his campaigns to the mountains in the west and for contributing to various temples the wood taken on the campaigns. It ends with a blessing of the king.3 The events referred to are described in detail in the king’s annals and mentioned briefly in his royal titles.4 A Hymn Celebrating Assurnasirpal Ii’s Campaigns to the West (1.139) Subject: Ps 140:12; …

The Babylonian Theodicy (1.154)

(1,853 words)

Author(s): Foster, Benjamin R.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; …

An Assurbanipal Prayer for Mullissu (1.144)

(520 words)

Author(s): Livingstone, Alasdair
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Akkadian Canonical Compositions; Roya…

Dialogue of Pessimism or the Obliging Slave (1.155)

(861 words)

Author(s): Livingstone, Alasdair
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Akkadian Canonical Compositions; Individual Focus; Dialogue Dialogue of Pessimism or the Obliging Slave (1.155) (1)…
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