Table of Contents
A Dialogue Between a Man and His God
This text comes from Tablet AO 4462 among a collection of Old Babylonian literary texts at the Louvre. Scholars generally date this text to the late Old Babylonian period, no later than the fall of the First Dynasty of Babylon.
The structure of "A Dialogue Between a Man and His God" is broken into 10 clear strophes, each of varying length. The purpose and lay-out of the text's structure is still debated among scholars. Due to the broken and fragmented middle section, a significant portion of the text and its intent is lost, making many aspects of this tablet irretrievable.
The text itself moves between narrative and speech throughout. The appeal begins by describing the dismal situation of the man, followed by his specific complaints. In the latter half of the text is the god's speech of hope and assistance.
The credit for this text is attributed to a scribe by the name of Kalbanum, whose name was erased from the end of the document.
Transliteration and Translation
1. et,-lu-um ru-i-isz a-na i-li-szu i-ba-ak-ki u2-te-ne-en-ne-en iq-[bi? …] szu
:: A young man was weeping to his god like a friend, constantly praying, he […] his […] (Notes)
2. ha-mi-it, li#-ib-bu-usz du-ul-la-szu ma-ru-is,!?-ma
:: His heart was aflame, his toil grim. (Notes)
3. i-ta-a'-da-ar ka-ba-at-ta-szu i-ni-in-hi
:: His liver was grieving from its suffering. (Notes)
4. i-ni-isz-ma ik-ta-mi-us i-pa-al-si20-ih
:: He is bent over in suffering; he is prostrate. (Notes)
5. ik-pi2-us,!?-ma um-ma du-ul-la-szu ba-ka-i-isz iq-ra-ab#
:: His toil has become too heavy for him, he has drawn near to weep. (Notes)
6. ki-ma bu-ri-im pa-ar-si-im ša i-me-ri i-na-ag-ga-ag</i>
He brays like the weaned foal of a donkey, (Notes)
7. iš-ta#-pu ma-ha-ar i-li-[im] re-ši-[…]-šu#
He has got loud in the god's presence, his chief, (Notes)
8. ri-mu-um pu-šu-u2 la-al-la-ra-ma ri-gi-im#-[šu]
A bull is his speech, [his] voice two lamenters, (Notes)
9. be-li-iš-šu qu2-ba-am ub-ba-la ša-ap-ta-aš#-[šu]
His lips bear a lament to his lord. (Notes)
10. be-li-iš-šu# du-ul-li# ih-bu-tu i#-ma#-an-nu
He recounts to his lord the toil he has gone through, (Notes)
11. in-hu i-na-hu#-u2# i-pa-aš-ša-ar et,-lu-um#
The man explains the suffering he is enduring: (Notes)
12. be-li-am-ta-al#-ka#-am#-ma i-na ka#-ba#-at#-ti-ia#
"My lord, I have reflected within my reins, (Notes)
13. […] i# li-ib-bim še-et, i-pu-šu la i-di#
…in (my) heart. I do not know what sin I have committed. (Notes)
14. […] an-zi-il#-la-ka a-na-ku# ik#-ki-ba-am le-em-na-ma am-ma#-[…] ar#
Have I…a very evil forbidden fruit? (Notes)
15. u2-ul da#-[a]-gi#-il a-hu# [a]-hi-iš-šu ka-ar-s,i2 ib-ri-im ib-ra-šu la a#-ki-il
Does brother look down on brother? (Notes)
16. u2-ul […] an-ni […] na šu# ša-ap-li-ka be-lu bi-it ri-a-ši-im#
…has not…me, …beneath you, the lord of the house of rejoicing… (Notes)
17. ši-mi#-[…] pi# […] ra-na-ba-iz-za be-lu mi-ša-ri mu-[ši?<sup>-im<sup>?]
. . . there is present for me the lord of judtice who decrees… (Notes)
18. […] i# […] am#-ma li-ib-ba-šu na-as-qu2-um li#
. . . may his choice intelligence . . . (Notes)
19. […] i# […] ra#-ma-an-šu us,-s,u2-ra a-na#
. . . to guard himself for . . . (Notes)
20. […] tu […]-ni-tu-a ti-ib-ta
. . . my . . . (Notes)
21. […]-še ša ku-[… tu]-ul-li-da-an-ni u3 be-[…]
. . . [you] begot me and . . . (Notes)
22. [….] x-ar# a-ta-szu#-x[………]
… I got distressed…
23. [….] ki#-ma sza x pa?#-[…..] ri#-sze-pi2 x…
… like/when …
24. [….] UR#? x iq#-ta-ti ka-ba-at#-ti# szi#? ma x […] da#?-ar U4-mi-ia
… my spirit came to an end, … of my days.
25. [isz-tu s,]e-eh,2-re-ku a-di# ra#-bi-ya-ku ur-ri# im-ma-ti mu-[…]
[From] my childhood to my maturity, the days have lengthened
26. [im-ma]-ti# ma-la tu#-da#-mi#-qa2-an-ni-ma ma-la tur-tab-ba […] la am-szi
27. i#-na# x du-um-qi2 tu-ka-al-li-ma lu-um-na be-li-ma# x tu#-sza-an-me-er iq-[qi2]-ib#-bi
In…of grace you have shown me evil, my lord, you have caused x … it will be said.
28. ru-ub-bu mu-usz-qi2 sze-pi2-isz wa-ta-ti-ma me-eh,2-s,e-tim […] ma-h,i-ia
My misfortune has increased, it attaches itself to (my) feet, [it has inflicted] blows upon me.
29. pi2-ya-am-ma at-ta# tu-ma-ar-ri-ra-am da-an-ni-isz […] x-tu-szu i-wi da-da-ar-szu
You are making the mouth (filled with food) bitter to me, its […] ha become like stinkwort.
30. […] tu-ur2-ri-x ta-ad#-lu-uh,-ma-mi pi2-isz-ri […]-wi-ir isz-tu s,e2-eh,-re-ku
You have…, you have muddied the water, …since my childhood.
31. […] x-le-et sza-di-i asz#-x-mu# lu-u2 mu-ri-da la i-szu-ni
…the side of the mountain, …the ascent has no descent.
[…] x ta#-ka-qa2-ar-szu tu-szu-mi-da sze-pi2-ia
… You have set my feet on the earth.
[…] x-asz-szi-sza-e-li tu-sza-az-ni-in a-ta
… you have made to bear, you have made my …care for me.
… you have filled up.
[…] pi2-sza-tim ta-ag-ru-un
…you have heaped up.
[…] bi#-ti-ia a-bi mu-ti ki-im-ti-ia
… of my house, my father, the man of my clan.
… of his slave.
[…] x-ar-szu tu-ma-i-szu
[…] x-szu-li-wa-szu ka-qa2-ar-szu
…, he raised him to the earth.
[…] ta-x […] sza-ma-an a-si-im
… with a physician's oil.
[…] a-ak-la u3 li-bi-us-su2 ik-tu-um
…, he gave(?) food and his garments.
[…] x-s,u2#-um-ma li-ib-ba-su2 u2-sza/ta?-an-me-er
…, he cheered his spirit.
i-ta-u2-szu ta-ap-sze-h,a-at t,u2-ub szi-ri-szu
and spoke to him of the relief his good health (would bring).
1. (= 48) <i>ši-ib-bu-uk e-de-el li-ib-bu-uk la i-le-em-mi-in</i> :: "Gird your loins, do not be dispirited,
2. (= 49) <i>ga-am-ra ša-na-tu u4-mu ša# am-la-u2-ni du-ul-la</i> :: the years are finished, the days I filled with toil.
3. (= 50) <i>šu-um-ma-ma-an la qa2-bi-ya-at a-na ba-la-t,i-im</i> :: If you had not been ordained to life,
4. (= 51) <i>ki-ma-ma-an te-le-'i di-ya-am ka-ab-ta ku-ul-la-ti-iš-šu ta-aš-du-ud</i> :: how possibly could you have suffered the severe malady to its end?
52. ta-mu-ur pu-usz-qa2-am i-s,a-bi ka#-li-ma
:: You experienced distress, but my … is withdrawn:
53. tu-usz-ta-ag-me-er-ma bi-il-ta-szu ka-bi-it-ta ta-asz-szi
:: You have borne its heavy load to its completion.
54. isz-ti-i-qu2-uk pa-da-nu-um pe2-ti-i-ku#
:: People have …ed you, but (now) the way is open for you,
55. isz-ra-at-ku t,u2-du-um u3 sza-ki-in-ku# re-mu-um#
:: Your path is straight and compassion is bestowed on you,
56. ah,-re-ti-isz u4-mi la ta-ma-asz-szu-u2# il-ka#
:: You who in future days will not forget [your] god,
57. ba-ni-ka ki ta-da-am-mi-qu2-nim a-at-ta
:: Your creator, and that you are well favored.
58. a-na il-ka ba-nu-uk tu-ku-ul-tu-uk
:: I am your god, your creator, your help.
e-ru-kum ma-as,-s,a-ru-ia u3 da-an-nu-ku-[um]
:: My guards are watching over you with power for your (protection).
60. _a-sza3_ ma-ar-qi2-us-su2 i-pe2-et-ti-[ku-um]
:: I will open for you a place of refuge,
61. a-pa-al-la-asz-ku-um-ma da-ri-isz ba-la-t,a#-[am]
:: eternal life I will provide for you.
62. u3 a-at-ta e-te-ep-s,i ub-bu-la-am pu-szu-usz#
:: As for you, unblenchingly anoint the parched,
63. em-s,a szu-ki-il szi-qi2 s,a-mi-ia ma-mi
:: feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty to drink.
64. u3 sza usz-pu-ma isz-ta-ab-bu-ba i-[…]
:: But he who has cast sorceries, [whose] … have…,
65. li-it,-t,u2-ul ak-li-isz-ka li-zu-ub li-h,u-ur u3 li-ih,-[h,a-ra-mi-it,]
:: May he stare at your food as he melts, flowers down and dis[solves].
66. pa-ti-ye-et-ku a-bu-ul szu-ul-mi-im u3 ba-la-t,i-im
:: For you the gate of prosperity and life is open,
67. mu-um-ma qe2-er-bu-usz e-ru-ub s,i-i lu sza-al-ma-a-at#
:: … go in and out of it and prosper."
68. szu-sze-er pa-da-nu-usz pe2-te t,u2-du-usz un-ne-en a-ar-di-ka li-ri-id a-na li-bi-ka#
:: Make straight his way, open his path, may the prayer of your servant sink into your mind.
1. u2-te-ne-en-ne-en: see AHw under utnēnu(m) II “flehen, beten” = “to plea, to pray” (AHw 1444b). (Return to text)
3. i-ta-a’-da-ar: see AHw under adāru, “finster sein; (sein) fürchten” = “to be dark; to be afraid,” Ntn-stem (AHw 11b-12a); although the precise derivational meaning of i-ta-a’-da-ar is somewhat unclear, Foster's translation seems to capture the idea of the darkness of the liver as a metaphor for a negative emotional state: “His feelings were somber from misery” (Foster 2005, 148); the libbum “heart” and kabattum “liver” often appear together as the two seats of human emotion; the same pair in more or less the same function also regularly appear in Sumerian literature as ša3 “heart” and ur5 “liver” respectively. (Return to text)
4. i-ni-iš-ma ik-ta-mi-us: presumably verbal hendiadys in which the first of the two verbs describes the manner in which the second takes place; this would able reinforce the reading of ik-ta-mi-us as a Gt preterite rather than a G perfect. (Return to text)
- Bottéro, J., Annuaire, ÉPHÉ 4e Section (1964-65), 128-130.
- Lambert, W.G., Studies Reiner, 187-202 (edition, with collations)
- Lambert, W.G., BWL, 10.
- Lambert, W.G., OrNS 40 (1971), 96.
- Nougayrol, Revue Biblique 59 (1952), pl. vii and viii (text)
- von Soden, TUAT III/2, 135-149 (translation)
- von Soden, MDOG 96 (1965), 46-48.
- von Soden, OrNS 26 (1957), 315-319 (with collations)
(return to Old Babylonian Akkadian Literature)