Prayer to the Gods of the Night
|This page used to be on the now either defunct or
lost site "Grimoire".
The occasion for this prayer is a divination ceremony carried on
at night. The great gods who ordinarily control the affairs of the
world are regarded as resting in sleep; and therefore the gods
represented by several of the constellations of fixed stars are
asked to witness the performance and to guarantee that truth will be
revealed. The place from which this text comes is not known, but it
was written int he Old Babylonian period, in the first half of the
second millennium BC. It is written in the Akkadian language and the
Babylonian cursive script. Two slightly variant copies of the text
are known, one of which is on a tablet giving tow additional prayers
of similar nature. These latter are not given here because they are
- "The great ones" in line one literally means "princes" and is an
epithet of the gods.
- The second copy of the text has "Adad and Ea, Shamash and
Ishtar" instead of "Shamash, Sin, Adad, and Ishtar".
- The second copy of the text, instead of "calls on his god", has
"prays to the god Nergal". The cuneiform signs involved are enough
alike that one may have been mistakenly copied for the other.
- The litigant is contrasted with the traveler of the previous
line. The reference in both cases is probably to tradespeople. When
a trader entered a twon he was frequently haled into court to settle
some legal matter connected with his transactions.
- The second copy of the text has "truth" instead of "fatherless"
in line 14.
- Gibil is the fire-god. Irra is a god of the nether world.
- The second copy of the text replaces "bow (star) and yoke
(star)" with "the Elamite bow"
- The first text omits the Pleiades in line 19, and has "prayer"
instead of "lamb" in line 23.
They are lying down, the great ones.
The bolts are fallen; the fastenings are placed.
The crowds and people are quiet.
The open gates are (now) closed.
The gods of the land and the goddesses of the land,
Shamash, Sin, Adad, and Ishtar,
Have betaken themselves to sleep in heaven.
They are not pronouncing judgment;
They are not deciding things.
Veiled is the night;
The temple and the most holy places are quiet and dark.
The traveler calls on (his) god;
And the litigant is tarrying in sleep.
1The judge of truth, the father of the fatherless,
Shamash, has betaken himself to this chamber.
O great ones, gods of the night,
O bright one, Gibil, O warrior, Irra,
O bow (star) and yoke (star),
O Pleiades, Orion, and the dragon,
O Ursa major, goat (star), and the bison,
Stand by, and then,
In the divination which I am making,
In the lamb which I am offering,
Put truth for me.