Source: Lambert, W. G. (1996) Babylonian Wisdom Literature, Eisenbrauns, Winona Lake, Indiana
A debate involving two trees, the tamarisk and the date palm. Basically, it follows the pattern of Sumerian fables, beginning with the mythological introduction, which leads up to the planting of the two trees in the first king´s courtyard. The time referred to is when the gods were giving kingship to men, which occurred twice according to Sumerian history: right at the beginning of civilized life and again after the flood. It is not clear which ocasion the fable refers to, though the statement When the newly appointed king has planted the two trees, he puts on a banquet in the shade of the Tamarisk and does something else in the shade of the date palm. The two trees debate their superiority, the one over the other. I tend to favour the victory of the tamarisk over the date palm because the king chose its shade first to rest and second, based on the fact that out of the tamarisk trunk figurines of the gods were also made, implications being that the tamarisk was noble enough to be used for the making of sacred images.
1. In former days, in far-off years when... The heavens were grieved and the earth groaned at evening time, the gods... To mankind, they became appeased and granted them abundance
2. To guide the land and establish the peoples they appointed a king. ... To rule the black-headed, the many peoples,
3. The king planted the palm in his courtyard... He planted the tamarisk. In the shade of the tamarisk he arranged a banquet
4. A banquet; in the shade of the palm....
5-10 The Tamarisk opened his mouth and spoke. He addressed the Date Palm: "My body ...... the bodies of the gods. (The reference is to statues of tamarisk wood.) You grow your fruits but someone places them before me like a maid approaching her mistress. You do not provide the measuring vessels. You are ...... minor crops, but I ....... Your attendants ...... before me for you."
In his anger the Date Palm answered him. He addressed his brother the
Tamarisk: "You say: "If people build daises for me and beautify them
too, they certainly do not swear by the gods before clay (?)." -- You may
be the body of the gods in their shrines and people may name with a good name
the daises of the gods, but it is silver that can pride itself as the overlay
of the gods. ......, describe your beauty!"
unknown no. of lines missing
Back To Disputations
Back To Myths