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LUDLUL-BEL-NIMEQI. -/- THE POEM OF THE RIGHTEOUS SUFFERER -/- סומריאן איוב

Ludlul-Bel-Nimeqi

1. I advanced in life, I attained to the allotted span
Wherever I turned there was evil, evil---
Oppression is increased, uprightness I see not.
I cried unto god, but he showed not his face.

5. I prayed to my goddess, but she raised not her head.
The seer by his oracle did not discern the future
Nor did the enchanter with a libation illuminate my case
I consulted the necromancer, but he opened not my understanding.
The conjurer with his charms did not remove my ban.

10. How deeds are reversed in the world!
I look behind, oppression encloses me
Like one who the sacrifice to god did not bring
And at meal-time did not invoke the goddess
Did not bow down his face, his offering was not seen;

15. (Like one) in whose mouth prayers and supplications were locked
(For whom) god's day had ceased, a feast day become rare,
(One who) has thrown down his fire-pan, gone away from their images
God's fear and veneration has not taught his people
Who invoked not his god when he ate god's food;

20. (Who) abandoned his goddess, and brought not what is prescribed
(Who) oppresses the weak, forgets his god
Who takes in vain the mighty name of his god, he says, I am like him.
But I myself thought of prayers and supplications---
Prayer was my wisdom, sacrifice, my dignity;

25. The day of honoring the gods was the joy of my heart
The day of following the goddess was my acquisition of wealth
The prayer of the king, that was my delight,
And his music, for my pleasure was its sound.
I gave directions to my land to revere the names of god,

30. To honor the name of the goddess I taught my people.
Reverence for the king I greatly exalted
And respect for the palace I taught the people---
For I knew that with god these things are in favor.
What is innocent of itself, to god is evil!

35. What in one's heart is contemptible, to one's god is good!
Who can understand the thoughts of the gods in heaven?
The counsel of god is full of destruction; who can understand?
Where may human beings learn the ways of God?
He who lives at evening is dead in the morning;

40. Quickly he is troubled; all at once he is oppressed;
At one moment he sings and plays;
In the twinkling of an eye he howls like a funeral-mourner.
Like sunshine and clouds their thoughts change;
They are hungry and like a corpse;

45. They are filled and rival their god!
In prosperity they speak of climbing to Heaven
Trouble overtakes them and they speak of going down to Sheol.

[At this point the tablet is broken. The narrative is resumed on the reverse of the tablet.]

46 Into my prison my house is turned.
Into the bonds of my flesh are my hands thrown;
Into the fetters of myself my feet have stumbled.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

47. With a whip he has beaten me; there is no protection;
With a staff he has transfixed me; the stench was terrible!
All day long the pursuer pursues me,
In the night watches he lets me breathe not a moment
Through torture my joints are torn asunder;

48. My limbs are destroyed, loathing covers me;
On my couch I welter like an ox
I am covered, like a sheep, with my excrement.
My sickness baffled the conjurers
And the seer left dark my omens.

49. The diviner has not improved the condition of my sickness-
The duration of my illness the seer could not state;
The god helped me not, my hand he took not;
The goddess pitied me not, she came not to my side
The coffin yawned; they [the heirs] took my possessions;

50. While I was not yet dead, the death wail was ready.
My whole land cried out: "How is he destroyed!"
My enemy heard; his face gladdened
They brought as good news the glad tidings, his heart rejoiced.
But I knew the time of all my family

51. When among the protecting spirits their divinity is exalted.
........................................
........................................
Let thy hand grasp the javelin
Tabu-utul-Bel, who lives at Nippur,
52. Has sent me to consult thee
Has laid his............upon me.
In life........has cast, he has found. [He says]:
"[I lay down] and a dream I beheld;
This is the dream which I saw by night:

53 . [He who made woman] and created man
Marduk, has ordained (?) that he be encompassed with sickness (?)."
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

54. And...........in whatever.............
He said: "How long will he be in such great affliction and distress?
What is it that he saw in his vision of the night?"
"In the dream Ur-Bau appeared
A mighty hero wearing his crown

55. A conjurer, too, clad in strength,
Marduk indeed sent me;
Unto Shubshi-meshri-Nergal he brought abundance;
In his pure hands he brought abundance.
By my guardian-spirit (?) he stopped (?) ,"

56. By the seer he sent a message:
"A favorable omen I show to my people."
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
...he quickly finished; the.........was broken
........of my lord, his heart was satisfied;


57. .................his spirit was appeased
......my lamentation....................
................good ..........


58. ........................................
......................................
 
................like............ ......
He approached (?) and the spell which he had pronounced (?),


59. He sent a storm wind to the horizon;
To the breast of the earth it bore a blast
Into the depth of his ocean the disembodied spirit vanished (?);
Unnumbered spirits he sent back to the under-world.
The...........of the hag-demons he sent straight to the mountain.


60. The sea-flood he spread with ice;
The roots of the disease he tore out like a plant.
The horrible slumber that settled on my rest
Like smoke filled the sky..........
With the woe he had brought, unrepulsed and bitter, he filled the earth like a storm.


61. The unrelieved headache which had overwhelmed the heavens
He took away and sent down on me the evening dew.
My eyelids, which he had veiled with the veil of night
He blew upon with a rushing wind and made clear their sight.
My ears, which were stopped, were deaf as a deaf man's


62. He removed their deafness and restored their hearing.
My nose, whose nostril had been stopped from my mother's womb---
He eased its defonnity so that I could breathe.
My lips, which were closed he had taken their strength---
He removed their trembling and loosed their bond.


63. My mouth which was closed so that I could not be understood---
He cleansed it like a dish, he healed its disease.
My eyes, which had been attacked so that they rolled together---
He loosed their bond and their balls were set right.
The tongue, which had stiffened so that it could not be raised


64. He relieved its thickness, so its words could be understood.
The gullet which was compressed, stopped as with a plug---
He healed its contraction, it worked like a flute.
My spittle which was stopped so that it was not secreted---
He removed its fetter, he opened its lock.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

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1 I survived to the next year, | the appointed time passed.

2 As I turned around, | it was more and more terrible;
3 My ill luck was on the increase, | I could find no good fortune.

4 I called to my god, | but he did not show me his face,
5 I prayed to my goddess, | but she did not raise her head.

6 The diviner with his inspection | did not get to the bottom of it,
7 *Nor did the dream priest with his incense | clear up my case

 
8 I beseeched a dream spirit, | but it did not enlighten me;
9 And the incantation priest with his ritual | did not appease the divine wrath against me.

10 What bizarre actions | there were everywhere!
11 I looked behind, | there was persecution, trouble.

12 *Like one who has not | made libations to his god,
13 *nor with a food offering | invoked his goddess,

14 who is not wont to prostrate himself, | nor has been seen to bow down,
15 from whose mouth there has been no issue | of prayer or supplication
16 who has skipped holy days | and despised festivals,
17 who has been neglectful | and scorned the god's rites,
18 who has not taught his people | reverence and worship,
19 who has not invoked his god | but eaten his food offering,
20 who has snubbed his goddess | by not bringing a flour offering,
21 like one possessed | who has forgotten his lord,
22 who has casually sworn | a solemn oath by his god,
22a (like such a one) did I seem!
23 I, for my part, was mindful | of supplication and prayer:
24 to me prayer was the natural recourse, | sacrifice my rule.
25 The day for reverencing the gods | was a joy to my heart;
26 The day of the goddess's procession | was my profit and return.
27 Praying for the king, | that was my joy,
28 His fanfare | was as if for (my own) good omen.
29 I instructed my land | to observe the god's rites,
30 the goddess's precious name | did I teach my people to value.
31 Praise for the king | I made like a god's
32 And reverence for the palace | I taught the populace.
33 *I wish I knew that these things | were pleasing to a god!
34 What seems good to oneself | could be an offence to a god,
35 What in one's own heart seems abominable | could be good to a god!

36 *Who can learn the reasoning | of the gods in heaven?
37 *Who understands the plans | of the underworld gods?
38 *Where might humans | have learned the way of a god?
39 He who was alive yesterday | is dead today.
40 For a minute someone is downcast, | then suddenly full of cheer.
41 One moment | he sings in exaltation,
42 Another | he groans like a professional mourner.
43 *The people's condition changes | like opening and shutting (the legs) (i.e. in a twinkling).

44 *When starving they become like corpses,
45 *When sated they rival their gods.
46 In good times they speak | of scaling heaven
47 When it goes badly, they complain | of going down to hell.
48 [The line is fragmentary; not read]
49 As for me, the exhausted one, | a whirlind is driving me!
50 Debilitating Disease | is let loose upon me;
51 *An evil wind has blown | [from the ends] of the sky,
52 *Headache has surged upon me | from the breast of the underworld,
53 An malignant spectre | has come forth from its hidden depth.
54-59 [These lines are fragmentary; not read]
60 [My face] was gloomy, | my eyes were in flood.
61 They wrenched my neck muscles | made my neck limp.
62 They thwacked my chest, | pounded my breast.
63 They affected my flesh | and caused convulsions,
64 [In] my epigastrium | they kindled a fire.
65 They churned up my bowels, | they tw[isted] my fingers
66 With coughing and hacking | they infected [my lungs].
67 They wasted my limbs | and made my fat quake.
68 My lofty stature | they toppled like a wall,
69 My robust figure | they laid down like a bulrush,
70 I was throw down like a dried fig, | I was tossed onto my face.
71 *The alû-demon had clothed himself | in my body for a garment.
72 *Drowsiness covered me | like a net.
73 *My eyes stared, but did not see,
74 *My ears were open, but did not hear.
75 *Numbness had grasped my whole body,
76 Paralysis | had fallen | upon my flesh
77 Stiffness | had seized | my arms,
78 Impotence | had fallen | on my loins,
79 *My feel had forgotten their motion.
80-83 [These lines are fragmentary; not read]
84 *A snare was laid on my mouth,
85 And a bolt | barred | my lips,
86 My way in was barred, | my 'drinking place' blocked,
87 My hunger was chronic, | my gullet constricted.
88 When grain is served, | I choke it down like stinkweed.
89 Beer, the sustenance of mankind, | is sickening to me.
90 Truly, | the malady drags on.
91 Through lack of food | my features changed,
92 My flesh was wasted, | my blood had run dry.
93 My bones were loose, | they were covered (only) with my skin.
94 My tissues were inflamed, | they had caught the uriqtum-disease.
95 I took to a bed of bondage; | going out was exhausting;
96 *My house turned into a prison
97 My flesh was a shackle, | my arms being useless;
98 My self was a fetter, | my feet being limp.
99 My afflictions were grievous, | the blow was severe.
100 A scourge has whipped me, | one full of barbs.
101 A crop pierced me, | one covered in stings.
102 All day long | the tormentor tormented [me],
103 (Even) in the middle of the night | he would not let me breathe freely for an instant.
104 From writhing, | my joints were separated
105 My limbs were splayed | and knocked about.

106 *I spent the night in my dung like an ox,
107 *Like a sheep I wallowed in my excrement.

108 *The exorcist recoiled from my symptoms,
109 *And the diviner has been perplexed by my omens.

110 The exorcist could not diagnose | the nature of my illness,
111 *Nor could the diviner | put a time limit on my illness.

112 My god has not come to the rescue | nor taken me by the hand,
113 My goddess has not shown me pity | nor gone at my side.

114 My grave was open, | my funerary goods were ready,
115 (Even) before I was dead, | laments for me were over.
116 All of my country | said "How he was crushed!".

117 When anyone who gloated at me heard, | his features lit up,
118 *The tidings reached her who gloated at me, and her heart rejoiced.
119 But I know the day | for my whole family,
120 When, among my friends, | their Sun-god will have mercy.

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