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Ancient History Sourcebook:
A Collection of Babylonian Prayers, c. 1600 BCE


To Ishtar, Begetress of All

1. O fulfiller of the commands of Bel..........

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. .

Mother of the gods, fulfiller of the commands of Bel
You who brings forth verdure, you O lady of mankind,---

5. Begetress of all, who makes all offspring thrive
Mother Ishtar, whose might no god approaches,
Majestic lady, whose commands are powerful
A request I will proffer, which---may it bring good to me!
O lady, from my childhood I have been exceedingly hemmed in by trouble!

10. Food I did not eat, I was bathed in tears!
Water I did not quaff, tears were my drink!
My heart is not glad, my soul is not cheerful;
....................I do not walk like a man.
........................................

15. ...........painfully I wail!
My sighs are many, my sickness is great!
O my lady, teach me what to do, appoint me a resting-place!
My sin forgive, lift up my countenance!
.......................................................

20. My god, who is lord of prayer, ----may he present my prayer to you!
My goddess, who is mistress of supplication, ---may she present my prayer to you!
God of the deluge, lord of Harsaga, ---may he present my prayer to you!
The god of pity, the lord of the fields, ---may he present my prayer to you!
God of heaven and earth, the lord of Eridu,---may he present my prayer to you!

21. The mother of the great water, the dwelling of Damkina,---
may she present my prayer to you!
Marduk, lord of Babylon, ---may he present my prayer to you!
His spouse, the exalted offspring (?) of heaven and earth,---
may she present my prayer to you!
The exalted servant, the god who announces the good name,---
may he present my prayer to you!

22. The bride, the first-born of Ninib, ---may she present my prayer to you!
The lady who checks hostile speech, ---may she present my prayer to you!
The great, exalted one, my lady Nana, ---may she present my prayer to you!

 

To Ishtar, He Raises to You a Wail

1. ...........He raises to you a wail;
....................He raises to you a wail
On account of his face which for tears is not raised, he raises to you a wail;
On account of his feet on which fetters are laid, he raises to you a wail;

5. On account of his hand, which is powerless through oppression, he raises to you a wail;
On account of his breast, which wheezes like a bellows, he raises to you a wail;
O lady, in sadness of heart I raise to you my piteous cry, "How long?"
O lady, to your servant---speak pardon to him, let your heart be appeased!
To your servant who suffers pain---favor grant him!

10. Turn your gaze upon him, receive his entreaty!
To your servant with whom you are angry---be favorable unto him!
O lady, my hands are bound, I turn to you!
For the sake of the exalted warrior, Shamash, your beloved husband,
take away my bonds!

15. Through a long life let me walk before you!
My god brings before you a lamentation, let your heart be appeased!
My goddess utters to you a prayer, let your anger be quieted!
The exalted warrior, Anu, your beloved spouse,---may he present my prayer to you!
Shamash, god of justice, may he present my prayer to you!

20. .............the exalted servant, ---may he present my prayer to you!
..........the mighty one of Ebarbar, ---may he present my tears to you!
"Your eye turn truly to me," may he say to you!
"Your face turn truly to me," may he say to you!
"Let your heart be at rest", may he say to you!

25. ALet your anger be pacified", may he say to you!
Your heart like the heart of a mother who has brought forth, may it rejoice!
Like a father who has begotten a child, may it be glad!

 

To Nanna, Lord of the Moon.

1. O brilliant barque of the heavens, ruler in your own right,
Father Nanna, Lord of Ur,
Father Nanna Lord of Ekishshirgal,
Father Nanna, Lord of the brilliant rising,

5. O Lord, Nanna, firstborn son of Bel,
You stand, you stand
Before your father Bel. You are ruler,
Father Nanna; you are ruler, you are guide.
O barque, when standing in the midst of heaven, you are ruler.

10. Father Nanna, you yourself ride to the brilliant temple.
Father Nanna, when, like a ship, you go in the midst of the deep,
You got, you go, you go,
You go, you shine anew, you go,
You shine anew, you live again, you go.

15. Father Nanna, the herd you restore.
When your father looks on you with joy, he commands your waxing;
Then with the glory of a king brilliantly you rise.
Bel a scepter for distant days for your hands has completed.
In Ur as the brilliant barque you ride,

20. As the Lord, Nudimmud, you are established;
In Ur as the brilliant boat you ride.
........................................
. . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . .. . . .. .. .
The river of Bel (?) Nanna fills with water.

21. The brilliant (?) river Nanna fills with water.
The river Diglat [Tigris] Nanna fills with water.
The brilliance of the Purattu [Euphrates] Nanna fills with water.
The canal with its gate Lukhe, Nanna fills with water.
The great marsh and the little marsh Nanna fills with water. 

To Bel, Lord of Wisdom.

1. O Lord of wisdom ruler...............in your own right,
O Bel, Lord of wisdom.............ruler in your own right,
O father Bel, Lord of the lands,
O father Bel, Lord of truthful speech,

5. O father Bel, shepherd of the Sang-Ngiga [black-headed ones, or Babylonians],
O father Bel, who yourself opens the eyes,
O father Bel, the warrior, prince among soldiers,
O father Bel, supreme power of the land,
Bull of the corral, warrior who leads captive all the land.

10. O Bel, proprietor of the broad land,
Lord of creation, you are chief of the land,
The Lord whose shining oil is food for an extensive offspring,
The Lord whose edicts bind together the city,
The edict of whose dwelling place strikes down the great prince

15. From the land of the rising to the land of the setting sun.
O mountain, Lord of life, you are indeed Lord!
O Bel of the lands, Lord of life you yourself are Lord of life.
O mighty one, terrible one of heaven, you are guardian indeed!
O Bel, you are Lord of the gods indeed!

20. You are father, Bel, who cause the plants of the gardens to grow!
O Bel, your great glory may they fear!
The birds of heaven and the fish of the deep are filled with fear of you.
O father Bel, in great strength you go, prince of life, shepherd of the stars!
O Lord, the secret of production you open, the feast of fatness establish, to work you call!

25. Father Bel, faithful prince, mighty prince, you create the strength of life!


Source:

From: George A. Barton, Archaeology and The Bible, 3rd Ed., (Philadelphia: American Sunday School, 1920), pp. 398-401.


This text is part of the Internet Ancient History Sourcebook. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

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© Paul Halsall, Janaury 1999
halsall@murray.fordham.edu