Ludlul bēl nēmeqi ("Let me praise the lord of wisdom!")

This composition, probably dating from the second half of the second millennium BC, has sometimes been called "The poem of the Righteous Sufferer". This is because at first glance, it bears some similarity to the Biblical book of Job, especially in its fundamental topic: suffering.

Ludlul is a monologue, written in Akkadian on four Tablets of 120 lines each, in the voice of a Babylonian nobleman called Šubši-mešre-Šakkan (lit. "Create Wealth, O Šakkan!"). Although once rich and powerful, he was forsaken by the god Marduk and suffered all kinds of pains as a result, both moral and physical, before being finally saved by the gods and restored to his former position. Apart from an account of the narrator's suffering, it is also a hymn of praise to Marduk and a justification to exalt him.

Manuscripts of this composition have been found all over Mesopotamia, so that it clearly seems to belong to the "classic" scribal curriculum of the first millennium, as Petra Gesche has suggested. It is thus not surprising to find it in both Kalhu and Huzirina; the colophon of the Huzirina manuscript even states that it is a copy by a scribal apprentice (lu2ŠAB.TUR), named Iddi-Meslamtaea PGP .

The sophisticated language and vocabulary used in the text also tend to indicate that it belonged to the second phase of scribal education. The work contains many rare and uncommon words, as well as some puns. Moreover, it has many stylistic features, such as semantic, grammatical and phonological parallelisms. It is thus an example of a composition written by and for a scribal elite, even perhaps serving the interest of the ritual experts' community, as Alan Lenzi has been recently suggested.

Further reading

Marie-Françoise Besnier

Marie-Françoise Besnier, 'Ludlul bēl nēmeqi ("Let me praise the lord of wisdom!")', The Geography of Knowledge, The GKAB Project, 2019 []

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