Ludlul Bel Nemeqi

LUDLUL BEL NEMEQI lud’ lul bel ne’me qĭ, the first line and title of the greatest hymn to Marduk, the god of Babylon, yet discovered. The line means, “Let us praise the god of wisdom.” The poem on four tablets, all in damaged condition, tells the personal lament of a pious man who is smitten by disease and later restored. It is in the most erudite dialect and form of Middle Babylonian and written in cuneiform. The superficial similarity to the theme of the Biblical Book of Job has brought the text to the attention of Bible students. It contains some of the finest self-conscious insights into the mood and philosophy of ancient paganism extant from the ancient Near E. Of special interest are the lines expressing the suppliant’s despair, “Who has learned the plan of the heavenly gods, Who knows the scheme of the Nether World, Where have mortals comprehended the way of the gods?” Such depths of agnostic melancholy are not equaled in ancient documents.

Bibliography

W. G. Lambert, Babylonian Wisdom Literature (1960), 21-62; W. White, A Babylonian Anthology (1966), 30-34.