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The Dialogue Between Two Scribes (1.184)

(956 words)

Author(s): Vanstiphout, H. L. J.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Sumerian Canonical Compositions; Individual Focus; School Dialogues Commentary This provisionally fragmentary1 composition focuses on the competition between two scribes, one being more advanced than the other, and using his seniority to bully and insult the younger one — after which the teacher, apparently a stickler for school tradition, takes the side of the senior student (the “Big Brother”). But in the meantime we learn a number of practical and meth…

Dumuzi-Inanna Songs (1.169)

(302 words)

Author(s): Sefati, Yitschak
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Sumerian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Love Poems Commentary The three poems translated below belong to the Sumerian love poetry composed during the Third Dynasty of Ur and early Old Babylonian periods (ca. 2100–1800 BCE). This poetry which is mainly cultic deals with the love affair and marriage of the divine couple, the gods of love and fertility, Dumuzi (the Sumerian name for Tammuz) and Inanna (the Sumerian name for Ishtar). This symbolic mar…

The Storm God At LiḫzinaThe name of the town in this text is twice spelled Li ḫzina and twice Ziḫzina. An explanation for this alternation of consonants is not easily forthcoming. (1.69)

(1,085 words)

Author(s): Collins, Billie Jean
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Hittite Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Incantations Commentary This is a mythological text belonging to the group of Anatolian myths known as the missing deity myths. The original composition dates to the period of the Hittite Old Kingdom. The supreme Storm God is the deity whose absence is the focus of this particular narrative. Presumably the Storm God absented himself in the first column of the tablet, after which chaos ensued for man and live…

Ritual and Prayer to Ishtar of Nineveh (1.65)

(1,057 words)

Author(s): Collins, Billie Jean
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Hittite Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Rituals Commentary The beginning of this text, containing a ritual for the goddess, is broken. In §4, where the text becomes legible, the officiant is reciting an invocation. Ritual and Prayer to Ishtar of Nineveh (1.65) Subject: Deut 18:9–12; 22:5; 1 Sam 28:8–15; Isa 8:19; 29:4 §3 […] they cover [her?] with a cloth […] all the singers play [the … –instruments] and sin[g]. […] outside on seven paths […] they go to […] and […]. The diviner [sets (?)] do…

The Great Cairo Hymn of Praise to Amun-Re (1.25)

(1,841 words)

Author(s): Ritner, Robert K.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Hymns Commentary While the initial sections of this universalist hymn are carved on a statue of the Second Intermediate Period (12th-17th Dynasties; see Hassan 1928:157–193), the best preserved manuscript is a Theban papyrus of the early 18th Dynasty (Amenhotep II). The papyrus text is published in Mariette (1872: pls. xi–xiii) and excerpted in Möller (1927:33–34). Commentary, bibliography, and translations are found in Grébaut 1874; Wilson  ANET ; Assmann 1975b:199–…

Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta (1.170)

(1,525 words)

Author(s): Jacobsen, Thorkild
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Sumerian Canonical Compositions; Royal Focus; Epic Commentary The story of Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta begins in legendary times, before many of the inventions of civilization — such as written communication by letter. Enmerkar ruled in Uruk as “priest-king” (en), and was the human husband of Inanna, with whom he united yearly in the rite of the sacred marriage. The lord of Aratta ruled in the fabled city of Aratta which lay in the mountains far away to the east. He also was the sp…

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 Great Hymn to Aten (1.28)

(1,538 words)

Author(s): Lichtheim, Miriam
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Hymns Commentary The texts in the tomb of the courtier Ay have yielded the most extensive statements of Aten worship. Here we have not only several short hymns and prayers but, above all, the long text which has come to be known as “The Great Hymn to the Aten.” The east wall of the tomb is inscribed with three hymns and prayers to the Aten and to the king, and the west wall contains the great hymn. The long text columns begin at the top of the wall. Below the text are th…

From the “Book of Nut” (1.1)

(1,472 words)

Author(s): Allen, James P.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Cosmologies Commentary This text consists of a series of captions accompanying the image of the goddess Nut stretched out as a representation of the sky, held off the earth by the atmosphere (Shu). Originally perhaps of Middle Kingdom composition, it appears on ceilings of the cenotaph of Seti I (Dynasty 19, ca. 1291–1279 bce) at Abydos and the tomb of Ramesses IV (Dynasty 20, ca. 1163–1156 bce) at Thebes; the texts were also copied, with exegesis, in two Demotic papyri…

Ugaritic Incantation Against Sorcery (1.96)

(802 words)

Author(s): Fleming, Daniel
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; West Semitic Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Incantations and Rituals Commentary This Ugaritic magical text was found in 1978 not at Ras Shamra but at nearby Ras Ibn Hani, though it should be the same age.1 The extant tablet is neatly inscribed but broken from the 16th line at the left edge across to the 22nd at the right. In spite of the good condition of the first 15 lines, interpretation is hindered by previously unknown terms. Clear references to sorcery and expulsion …

The Patrons of the Ugaritic Dynasty (KTU 1.161) (1.105)

(1,435 words)

Author(s): Levine, Baruch A. | Tarragon, Jean-Michel de | Robertson, Anne
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; West Semitic Canonical Compositions; Royal Focus; Rephaʾim Texts Commentary  KTU 1.161 is a canonical liturgy, commemorating the accession of the last king of Ugarit, Ammurapi (III), and his queen, Tharyelli. It was first published by Caquot (1975), working only from a cast of the uncleaned tablet. Subsequently, six photographs appeared in Ugaritica7, plates VII-IX. Bordeuil and Pardee (1982) prepared a new edition of  KTU 1.161 based, for the first time, on a careful examination of the tablet in Aleppo.…

From Pyramid Texts Spell 527 (1.3)

(294 words)

Author(s): Allen, James P.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Cosmologies Commentary The Pyramid Texts were inscribed on the walls of the substructures of royal pyramids at the end of the Old Kingdom, with the same purpose as their descendants, the Coffin Texts. This spell begins by describing the material derivation of the first two elements of the world — the atmospheres above and below the earth (Shu and Tefnut) — from the single source of all matter (Atum), as a “mythological precedent” for the daily rebirth of the deceased king. From Pyrami…

Appu and His Two Sons (1.58)

(1,212 words)

Author(s): Hoffner, Harry A., Jr.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Hittite Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Myths Commentary This text has been translated here as an independent story. According to Güterbock (1946), the text is continued in the tale of the Sun God, the Cow, and the Fisherman. Although the extant copies of the Appu story are New Hittite, archaic language indicates an archetype composed in the Old or Middle Hittite period. The story has a moral, which is stated in the proemium. The unnamed deity wh…

Love by the Light of the Moon (1.169C)

(1,151 words)

Contributor(s): Hallo, William W.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Sumerian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Love Poems Commentary This poem1 is a dialogue between Inanna and Dumuzi/Ama-ushumgalanna, who woo each other as a young couple prior to their marriage. The song opens with Inanna’s monologue, in which she tells of her chance meeting with Dumuzi and about Dumuzi holding her hand and embracing her (obverse lines 1–8) when spending the previous day in song and dance. Then a dialogue with Dumuzi develops (obverse lines 9–22): Inan…

Hittite Proverbs (1.80)

(507 words)

Author(s): Beckman, Gary
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Hittite Canonical Compositions; Individual Focus; Proverbs Commentary The sayings and generalizing anecdotes by which the Hittites expressed the received wisdom of their civilization were not collected for use in scribal instruction as was the practice in earlier Mesopotamia, but are rather to be found scattered throughout texts of various types. The following is a selection of proverbs and proverbial allusions: Hittite Proverbs (1.80) Subject: Jer 31:29; Ezek 18:2 1. [ In a prayer, a queen addresses the chief godd…

Merikare (1.35)

(4,346 words)

Author(s): Lichtheim, Miriam
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Royal Focus; Instructions Commentary The text is preserved in three fragmentary papyri which only partly complement one another. They are Papyrus Leningrad 1116A, dating from the second half of the 18th Dynasty; P. Moscow 4658, from the very end of the 18th Dynasty; and P. Carlsberg 6, from the end of the 18th Dynasty or later. Unfortunately, the most complete manuscript, P. Leningrad, is also the most corrupt. The numer…

Ugaritic Lunar Omens (1.91)

(1,451 words)

Author(s): Pardee, Dennis
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; West Semitic Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Divination Commentary Like the texts for divination by misformed births, the Ugaritic collection of lunar omens corresponds directly to a Mesopotamian series, in this case Sin, the name of the Mesopotamian lunar deity. This text, which was discovered in 1978 at the site of Ras Ibn Hani, only a few kilometers from Ras Shamra, is badly damaged, only the upper portion having been preserved and that incomple…

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…

A Ugaritic Incantation Against Serpents and Sorcerers (1.100)

(1,109 words)

Author(s): Pardee, Dennis
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; West Semitic Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Incantations and Rituals Commentary A new Ugaritic incantation text, similar in many respects to RIH 78/20 (text COSB.1.96), was discovered in 1992 in the archive that has since been identified as belonging to Urtenu (Bordreuil and Pardee 1995), a high official in the city shortly before its demise (Arnaud 1982:106). The incantation was prepared especially for Urtenu (see lines 14–15) and shows a concern for venomo…

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…
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