|Length:||55 lines of writing:|
|Approx. Date of Letter:||BCE|
|Place of Discovery:||Kouyunjik, Iraq|
|Date of Discovery:||c. 1900?|
|Inventory Number:||Harper K. 31|
|Tablet Number:||RCAE 716|
Harper VII. 716 (1902)
Ashurbanipal on horseback with bow
(from Waterman 1930:4)
(adapted from Waterman 1930:5)
|1||To the king, my lord,|
|2||[from] your servant Nabulbalatsuibki.|
|3||May Nabu and Marduk be gracious to the king, my lord.|
|4||May Nabu, the lord of the tablet stylus, the god who takes possession of heaven and earth,|
|5||cause your reign to extend to old age.|
|6||Why have I come before|
|7||the king, my lord, once or twice and no one has inquired of me?|
|8||If the name of the land of Akkad is odious before the king, my lord, and I had committed|
|9||an offense against the king, my lordas for me|
|10||I have not committed an offense against the king. Prior to "the hostility" when I came,|
|11||I declared the king's word to Arrabi, saying|
|12||"My message is for the palace."|
|13||He was not afraid. He confiscated my possessions.|
|14||When he seized (them), he put me in his power. And now|
|15||before all the people, when I come, I prostrate myself|
|16||at the feet of the king, my lord; I bow down|
|17||my face today unto deaththe people|
|18||who are dead are at rest.|
|19||Since the time that no one would give me my necessary food,|
|20||hunger and thirst have befallen me.|
|21||I would come, and from a well of waters|
|22||I would drink and bathe my feet and do service, and the watch|
|23||of the king, my lord, I would keep. There they stand at his head when I write|
|24||to the king, my lord. I have sent (a message),|
|25||saying, "The men there are my enemies,|
|26||because without (consulting) the king they shut me up,|
|27||and because they speak a word of violence before the king,|
|28||urging the king to kill me.|
|1||Two men have received gold to destroy me.|
|2||Daily to kill|
|3||and destroy me, there is plotting (and) because they have caused a word of violence|
|4||to come near before the king, my lord, may the king, my lord, understand it."|
|5||A second matter is before the king that is not good.|
|6||Sharruludaru stated this as the king's word, saying,|
|7||"No one who is not weak sends the tribute of the land of Akkad."|
|8||The one whose daughter is (married) to a Babylonian,|
|9||the son of a shepherd, is guilty of an offense|
|10||against the king, my lord, more than all the lands.|
|11||I sent; and when I restored a field,|
|12||he gave it away. The minister and the sartenu-official|
|13||the king appointed in the land, saying, "Judge (according to) truth|
|14||(and) righteousness in my land. Judge according to the established facts."|
|15||Before they appointed Sharruludaru to the city prefecture,|
|16||the sartenu-official exercised judgment.|
|17||When Sharruludaru arrived, he overthrew|
|18||As soon as he had seized the power of imprisonment, he released the servants of my father's house.|
|19||justice. Behold the servants are scattered|
|20||in terror and I am dying of hunger and thirst.|
|21||I have spoken against him, and there are twenty or thirty|
|22||ikkata, which I have not seen|
|23||or heard of nor known about since that time.|
|24||He has appointed over me one who constantly plots against me in the assembly of the servants|
|25||of the king, my lord, and goes about.|
|26||May Marduk whose strength is the tempest strike him with lightning. I wait, being weak. You are the lord of kings.|
|27||According as the sartenu-official divided my property|
|28||and the property of my father's house, let them give it back. And, as a consequence, my he fear the king.|
To the king. The king's name is not mentioned anywhere in the letter; but this was not uncommon. Waterman deduces that the king addressed here is Ashurbanipal, based on the use of the epithet "lord of kings" in line R26.
Nabulbalatsuibki. He is also the sender of the letter RCAE #176. Waterman translates his name as "Nabu has commanded his life."
Nabu. One of the primary deities of Assyria. One of his epithets was "Ruler of the whole of heaven and earth" (see RCAE #1105, R7).
Marduk. One of the primary deities of Assyria. One of his epithets was "King of the gods, lord of the lands" (see, e.g., RCAE#1105, R6).
"Heaven and earth."
"The hostility." This may refer to the Assyrian war with Babylon.
"The king's watch."
Gold. As a commodity of trade between individuals, it was rare. So it may be that Nabulbalatsuibki is speaking metaphorically about payment..
Sharruludaru. This is an official of the highest rank since the year 664 BCE was his "eponymn year" (the Assyrian practice of naming a year after a senior official, since they didn't have a numbered calendar).
"The established facts." Literally this metaphor is "tablet to tablet."
"Truth and righteousness."
"Hunger and thirst."
Lord of kings. Waterman identifies this as a indicator that Ashurbanipal is the king addressed in this letter, since that epithet is used predominantly for him..
1. Describe the two key issues that Nabubalatsuikbi raises in his letter to the king.
2. What are Nabubalatsuikbi's accusations against Arrabi and Sharruludaru? How does he want these situations resolved?
3. Why does Nabubalatsuikbi raise the issue of judging by "truth and righteousness" and "according to the established facts"?
4. What elements of the Assyrian social hierarchy can be established based on this letter alone? What can one conclude about Nabulbalatsuibki's social status relative to Arrabi and Sharruludaru?
5. What functions do the gods Nabu and Marduk serve in this letter?
Albright, W. F. "Akkadian Letters." In Ancient Near Eastern Text Relating to the Old Testament, edited by James B. Pritchard, 482-90. 3rd ed. Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1969.|
Oppenheim, A. Leo. Letters from Mesopotamia. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1967.
Waterman, Leroy. Royal Correspondence of the Assyrian Empire: Translated into English, with a Transliteration of the Text and Commentary. University of Michigan Studies. Humanistic Series 18. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1930.
kchanson [at] wipf and stock [dot] com|