GREAT HYMN TO SHAMASH
of the longest and most beautiful of the hymns that have come down to us in
cuneiform, this ranks as one of the best products of Mesopotamian religious
writing. Unlike most compositions of this kind, it seems never to have been
used as an incantation and lacks the én (Incantation) at the beginning.
Undoubtedly thought the hymn had a liturgical role and was presumably composed
with this end in view.
Shamash, the Sun god of Babylon and Assyria, never reached the importance of
His Sumerian counterpart Utu, He was always held in respect as the god of Justice,
the all-seeing light from whom no one could hide.
by W. G. Lambert, in his book "Babylonian
Wisdom Literature" (Oxford, 1960,)I, 127 ff.
- 21. You climb to the mountains
surveying the earth,
- 22. You suspend from the heavens
the circle of the lands.
- 23. You care for all the peoples
of the lands,
- 24. And everything that Ea, king
of the counsellors, had created is entrusted to you.
- 25. Whatever has breath you shepherd
- 26. You are their keeper in upper
and lower regions.
- 27. Regularly and without cease
you traverse the heavens,
- 28. Every day you pass over the
broad earth. . . .
- 33. Shepherd of that beneath,
keeper of that above,
- 34. You, Shamash, direct, you
are the light of everything.
- 35. You never fail to cross the
wide expanse of sea,
- 36. The depth of which the Igigi
- 37. Shamash, your glare reaches
down to the abyss
- 38. So that monsters of the deep
behold your light. . . .
- 45. Among all the Igigi there
is none who toils but you,
- 46. None who is supreme like you
in the whole pantheon of gods.
- 47. At your rising the gods of
the land assemble,
- 48. Your fierce glare covers the
- 49. Of all the lands of varied
- 50.. You know their plans, you
scan their way.
- 51.. The whole of mankind bows
- 52. Shamash, the universe longs
for your light. . . .
- 88. A man who covets his neighbour's
- 89. Will [ . . .] before his appointed
- 90.. A -nasty snare is prepared
for him. [ . . .]
- 91. Your weapon will strike at
him, and there will be none to save him.
- 92. [His] father will not stand
for his defense,
- 93. And at the judge's command
his brothers will not plead.
- 94. He will be caught in a copper
trap that he did not foresee.
- 95. You destroy the horns of a
- 96. A zealous [. . .] his foundations
- 97. You give the unscrupulous
judge experience of fetters,
- 98. Him who accepts a present
and yet lets justice miscarry you make bear his punishment.
- 99. As for him who declines a
present but nevertheless takes the part of the weak,
- 100.. It is pleasing to Shamash,
and he will prolong his life. . . .
- 124. The progeny of evil-doers
- 125. Those whose mouth says 'No'-their
case is before you.
- 126. In a moment you discern what
- 127. You hear and examine them;
you determine the lawsuit of the wronged.
- 128. Every single person is entrusted
to your hands;
- 129. You manage their omens; that
which is perplexing you make plain.
- 130. You observe, Shamash, prayer,
supplication, and benediction,
- 131. Obeisance, kneeling, ritual
murmurs, and prostration.
- 132. The feeble man calls you
from the hollow of his mouth,
- 133. The humble, the weak, the
afflicted, the poor,
- 134. She whose son is captive
constantly and unceasingly confronts you.
- 135. He whose family is remote,
whose city is distant,
- 136. The shepherd [amid) the terror
of the steppe confronts you,
- 137. The herdsman in warfare,
the keeper of sheep among enemies.
- 138. Shamash, there confronts
you the caravan, those journeying in fear,
- 139. The travelling merchant,
the agent who is carrying capital.
- 140. Shamash, there confronts
you the fisherman with his net,
- 141. The hunter, the bowman who
drives the game,
- 142. With his bird net the fowler
- 143. The prowling thief, the enemy
- 144. The marauder along the tracks
of the steppe confronts you.
- 145. The roving dead, the vagrant
- 146. They confront you, Shamash,
and you hear all.
- 147. You do not obstruct those
that confront you. . . .
- 148. For my sake, Shamash, do
not curse them!
- 149. You grant revelations, Shamash,
to the families of men,
- 150. Your harsh face and fierce
light you give to them. . . .
- 154. The heavens are not enough
as the vessel into which you gaze,
- 155. The sum of the lands is inadequate
as a seer's bowl.......
- 159. You deliver people surrounded
by mighty waves,
- 160. In return you receive their
pure, clear libations. . . .
- 165. They in their reverence laud
the mention of you,
- 166. And worship your majesty
for ever. . . .
- 174. Which are the mountains not
clothed with your beams?
- 175. Which are the regions not
warmed by the brightness of your light?
- 176. Brightener of gloom, illuminator
- 177. Dispeller of darkness, illuminator
of the broad earth.
- 178. ...
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