Prayer to the Gods of the Night

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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 somewhat fragmentary.


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.