Babylonian Penitential Psalms/II
A “PRAYER OF THE RAISING OF THE HAND” TO ISHTAR
I pray unto thee, lady of ladies, goddess of goddesses,
O Ishtar, queen of all men, directress of mankind.
O Irnini, O exalted one, mistress of the Igigi,
Thou art mighty, thou hast sovereign power, exalted is thy name!
Thou art the light of heaven and earth, O valiant daughter of Sin.
Bearing arms, establishing battle!
Framing all decrees, wearing the crown of dominion!
O lady, majestic is thy rank, exalted above all the gods!
Star of lamentation, who makest hostility among brethren who are at peace,
Making them abandon friendship,
For a friend. O lady of defeat, who disturbs my peace,
O Gushea, who art girt with battle, who art clothed with terror,
Thou dost perfect destiny and decision, the law of earth and heaven.
Sanctuaries, shrines, divine dwellings, and temples worship thee!
Where is thy name not [heard]? Where not thy decrees?
Where are thy images not made? Where art thy temples not founded?
Where art thou not great? Where art thou not exalted?
Anu, Enlil, and Ea have exalted thee, among the gods have they increased thy dominion.
They have exalted thee among the Igigi, they have made thy place great.
At the thought of thy name the heaven and earth quake,
The gods tremble, the Anunaki falter.
Mighty is thy name, mankind payeth homage thereto,
For thou art great, and thou art exalted.
All the black-headed race, all mankind, adore thy power.
Thou judgest the cause of men with justice and righteousness;
Thou regardest with mercy the despised man, thou settest right the downtrodden every morning.
How long wilt thou tarry, O lady of heaven and earth, shepherdess of pale-faced men?
How long will thou tarry, O lady of the holy E-anna, the pure storehouse?
How long wilt thou tarry, O lady whose feet are unwearied, whose knees are vigorous?
How long wilt thou tarry, O lady of conflict and all battles?
O thou glorious one, that ragest among the Igigi, that subduest angry gods,
That hast power over all princes, that holdest the sceptre of kings,
That openest the bonds of all handmaids,
That art raised on high, that art firmly established—
O valiant Ishtar, great is thy might!
Brilliant torch of heaven and earth, light of all dwellings,
Terrible in the fight, without a rival, strong in battle!
Flame that roarest against the foe, and cuttest off the mighty!
O furious Ishtar, summoner of armies!
O goddess of men, O goddess of women, whose counsel none may learn!
Where thou dost regard, the dead lives, the sick arises.
The unjust becomes just when he beholdeth thy face!
I, thy servant, sorrowful, sighing, suffering, invoke thee.
Look upon me, O my lady, accept my supplication.
In truth pity me, and hearken unto my prayer.
Speak deliverance unto me, let thy soul be appeased!
Deliverance for my suffering body, full of troubles and disorders!
Deliverance for my afflicted heart, full of sorrow and sighing!
Deliverance for my suffering bowels, troubled and confused!
Deliverance for my troubled house, full of lamentation!
Deliverance for my spirit, full of sorrow and sighing!
O . . . Irnini, fierce lioness, may thy heart be appeased!
Raging wild ox, may thy heart be appeased!
May thine eyes rest with favour upon me!
In thy glorious appearance, in truth look upon me!
Put an end to the evil bewitchments of my body; let me behold thy clear light!
How long, O my lady, shall mine enemies persecute me?
How long shall they devise evil in rebellion and wickedness,
My persecutor, my pursuer, shall spy after me?
How long, O my lady, shall the crippled and diseased seek me?
He hath prepared me a mourner’s garment, but I appear joyfully before thee.
The weak have become strong, but I am weak.
I am troubled like a flood which the evil wind maketh to rage (?).
My heart hath taken wing, and hath flown away like a bird of the heavens.
I moan like a dove, night and day.
I am made desolate, and I weep bitterly.
With grief and woe my soul is distressed.
What have I done, O my god and my goddess?
Is it because I feared not my god or my goddess that trouble hath befallen me?
Sickness, headache, ruin, and destruction are come upon me;
Troubles, turning away of the countenance, and fulness of anger are my lot,
Indignation, wrath, anger of gods and men.
I behold, O my lady, days of affliction, months of sorrow, years of misfortune;
I behold, O my lady, judgment of disorder and violence.
Death and misery make an end of me.
Desolate is my sanctuary, my shrine is desolate;
Over my house, my gate, and my fields is affliction poured forth.
As for my god, his face is turned elsewhere;
My family is scattered, my walls are broken into.
But unto my lady do I give heed, my ear is turned toward her;
My prayer is unto thee, dissolve my ban!
Dissolve my sin, my fault, my mockery, and my offence!
Forgive my mockery, accept my supplication!
Free my breast, send me comfort!
Guide my footsteps, that happily and proudly among the living I may pursue my way!
Speak the word, that at thy command the angry god may be favourable,
And that the goddess, who is angry, may be gracious!
My gloomy, smoking brazier may shine,
My quenched torch may be relighted.
May my scattered family be collected!
May the fold be wide, and the enclosures spacious!
Receive the abasement of my countenance, give ear unto my prayer,
In truth look upon me favourably, and [accept my supplication]!
How long, O my lady, wilt thou be angry, and thy face be turned away?
How long, O my lady, wilt thou rage, and thy soul be in anger?
Incline thy neck, which [is turned] away, let a word of race be before thy face;
As by the solving waters of the river, may thy soul be dissolved!
My oppressors, may I trample them like the clay;
And they that are wroth with me, subdue them, and crush them beneath my feet!
Let my prayer and supplication come unto thee,
And let thy great mercy be upon me,
That they who see me in the street may magnify thy name,
And I will glorify thy godhead and thy might before men.
Ishtar is exalted! Ishtar is queen!
The lady is exalted! The lady is queen!
Irnini, the valiant daughter of Sin, hath no rival.
PRAYER OF THE RAISING OF THE HAND TO ISHTAR
This is the (magical) ritual; thou shalt kneel at the foot, a green bow shalt thou sprinkle with pure water; four bricks saḫḫu shalt thou set up;
A lamb shalt thou take; with ṣarbatu-wood shalt thou fill [the censer], and thou shalt set fire [thereto]; sweet-scented unguents, fine meal (?) and some cypress-wood,
Shalt thou heap thereon; a drink-offering shalt thou offer, but thou shalt not bow thyself down. This incantation before the goddess Ishtar. Three times shalt thou recite . . . and thou shalt not look behind thee.
Incantation. “O exalted Ishtar, that givest light unto the four quarters of the world.”
[This] copy from Borsippa, like unto its archetype, has Nergal-balāṭsu-iḳbi, the son of Atarad-kalme, magician,
Written for [the preservation of] his life, and has revised it, and deposited it in the temple of E-sagila.
- The text is published and translated by L. W. King, The Seven Tablets of Creation, vol. i., pp. 222 f., ii., Plates 75 f.; Zimmern, Hymnen, pp. 19 f; Dhorme, Choix de Textes Religieux Assyro-Babyloniens, pp. 356 f.; Jastrow, Die Religion Babyloniens und Assyriens, ii., pp. 66 f.; Ungnad in Gressmann, Altorientalische Texte und Bilder, i., pp. 85 f.; and most recently by R. W. Rogers in his monumental work, Cuneiform Parallels to the Old Testament, pp. 153 f.
- Ishtar, to whom the prayer is offered, is identified here with Irnini, and later on with Gushea. In course of time the Babylonians and Assyrians acquired the habit of identifying Ishtar with other goddesses, whose attributes and titles she assumed, and whose independent importance she tended to eclipse. Other examples of goddesses with whom Ishtar was identified are: Nanâ, Anunitum, and Bêlit.
- I.e., the Temple of Marduk in Babylon.