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The Legend of Astarte and the Tribute of the Sea (1.23)

(1,146 words)

Author(s): Ritner, Robert K.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Other Myths Commentary The tattered remains of a once magnificent manuscript, the “Astarte Papyrus” nevertheless provides tantalizing evidence of Egyptian traditions regarding the Asiatic goddess who had been adopted into cult and mythology by the beginning of the New Kingdom. While this legend has been shown to have an indigenous Egyptian setting, it is yet parallel to, and likely inspired by, the Ugaritic …

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 …

The Song From the Tomb of Neferhotep (1.31)

(729 words)

Author(s): Lichtheim, Miriam
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Harpers’ Songs Commentary When they first appeared in the Middle Kingdom, the texts known as Harper’s Songs were designed to praise death and the life after death. But in the famous Harper’s Song from the Tomb of King Intef, preserved in a papyrus copy, the praises of the afterlife were replaced by anxious doubts about its reality, and by the advice to make merry while alive and to shun the thought of death.…

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…

Ugaritic Liturgy Against Venomous Reptiles (1.94)

(4,442 words)

Author(s): Pardee, Dennis
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; West Semitic Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Incantations and Rituals Commentary Three Ugaritic texts dealing specifically with the problem of venomous serpents have been discovered: this one, a very fragmentary text found along with this one (RS 24.251+), and RS 1992.2014 (translated below as text COSB.1.100). The first two texts (editio princeps by Virolleaud 1968:564–580) were found in the archive of the “prêtre aux modèles de poumon et de foies” (on this building, see i…

From A Ramesside Stela (1.13)

(441 words)

Author(s): Allen, James P.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Cosmologies Commentary In the Middle Kingdom Coffin Texts, the creative role of Ptah is clearly secondary to that of Atum, the material source of creation. In the New Kingdom, however, it evolved into a full cosmogony in its own right, combining the intellectual principle of Ptah with the material role of Ta-tenen (“Rising Land”), the deified Primeval Hill representing the first instance of created matter. …

The Repulsing of the Dragon (1.21)

(747 words)

Author(s): Ritner, Robert K.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Other Myths Commentary During the course of each day’s journey, the sun god confronted a serpent adversary a whom he vanquished with the assistance of the militant god Seth and the force of divine magic. Within the following Coffin Text spell, this battle with the “dragon” is located at Bakhu, the mountainous western support of heaven where the sun sets. Elsewhere the serpent is styled Apep (Apopis), who threatens to dev…

Ugaritic Dream Omens (1.93)

(1,493 words)

Author(s): Pardee, Dennis
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; West Semitic Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Divination Commentary This text, discovered in 1954 in the palace, is in a very poor state of preservation and its interpretation is uncertain (editio princeps by Virolleaud 1965, text 158). The presence of the word “dreams” in the first line and the variety of terms that have been preserved in the following lines make it at least plausible that we have here a rough catalogue of items that may be seen in…

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…

The Great Hymn to Osiris (1.26)

(1,491 words)

Author(s): Lichtheim, Miriam
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Hymns Commentary A round–topped limestone stela, 1.×.62 m, of fine workmanship dating from the 18th Dynasty. In the lunette there are two offering scenes showing, on the left, the official Amenmose and his wife Nefertari seated before an offering table and, on the right, a lady named Baket, whose relationship to Ame…

From “Evil Spirits” (1.168)

(328 words)

Author(s): Hallo, W. W.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Sumerian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Incantations Commentary The formation of systematic (“canonical”) series of incantations began as early as Old Babylonian times in the case of the “Evil Spirits” (UDUG-HUL = utukku lemnūtu). Again, the concern was with improper burial and its baneful consequences. The present example is a brief incantation out of a reconstruction of second millennium forerunners running to nearly 1000 lines, and these in turn are vastly exceeded in size by the canonical versions of the first millennium. From “Evil Spirits” (1.168) Oh evil spirit, ghost appearing in the desert,Oh Namtar, when you touch something evil,…

The Prayer of Nabonidus (4QPrNab) (1.89)

(1,599 words)

Author(s): Levine, Baruch A. | Robertson, Anne
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World…

From Coffin Texts Spell 75 (1.5)

(1,667 words)

Author(s): Allen, James P.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Egyptian …

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 second tablet, which begins on “the day of opening the doors.” Although the second tablet does not…

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…

To Nanshe (1.162)

(4,058 words)

Author(s): Heimpel, Wolfgang
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; …
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