Front Page Titles (by Subject) VII: LETTERS REGARDING AFFAIRS IN SOUTHERN BABYLONIA - Babylonian and Assyrian Laws, Contracts and Letters
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VII: LETTERS REGARDING AFFAIRS IN SOUTHERN BABYLONIA - Rev. Claude Hermann Walter Johns, Babylonian and Assyrian Laws, Contracts and Letters 
Babylonian and Assyrian Laws, Contracts and Letters (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1904).
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LETTERS REGARDING AFFAIRS IN SOUTHERN BABYLONIA
Their character that of forecasts or omensAnother group refers to the events at Ur, in the far south of Babylonia. Sin-tabni-uṣur, son of Ningal-iddina, was governor there during the time of Shamash-shum-ukîn’s great rebellion. This we learn from some of the forecast tablets, published in George Smith’s Assurbanipal.1 The greater part of these tablets is unintelligible, containing a record of the omens observed, probably on inspection of the entrails of the slaughtered sacrifices. What these symptoms were cannot yet be determined. Much has been done by Boissier in his Textes Assyriens relatifs au Présage, and many articles contributed to various journals. The omens are generally such as also occur in the tablets published by Dr. Knudtzon in his Gebete an den Sonnengott, and ably discussed by him there. The tablet evidently was meant to submit these omens to some oracle that a prediction might be given on their authority. The king also usually stated his cause of anxiety and asked for guidance and direction. These forecast tablets, many of which are dated,Their great value are of the greatest service for the chronology of the period. They have been partly discussed by the present writer.2 Thus the two, which refer to Sin-tabni-uṣur, announce that he is governor of Ur, and seem to inquire whether he can be relied upon to prove faithful. We may conclude that his appointment took place in Ab, bc 648.
A letter of the governor of ErechFrom a letter,1 which G. Smith2 ascribes to Kudur, governor of Erech, we learn that he had heard from Sin-tabni-uṣur, who reports that a messenger had arrived from Shamash-shum-ukîn, inciting the people to rebel against Ashurbânipal. As a result,
“the Gurunammu have rebelled against me. Re-enforce me at once.”
The good Kudur sent five or six hundred archers and joined Aplîa, the governor of Arrapa, and Nûrêa, governor of Ṣameda, and went to Ur. He was able to seize the leaders of the revolt, among them Nabû-zêr-iddin. But someone had captured Sin-tabni-uṣur. Bêl-ibnî is named, and later Nabû-ushêzib, the archer, but the text is too mutilated to make out a clear account. But it seems likely that Sin-tabni-uṣur was rescued, and being re-enforced, held out well for his master. Ashurbânipal writes to assure him of his continued confidence.3
The king’s replyMessage of the king to Sin-tabni-uṣur: It is well with me. May thy heart be cheered. Concerning Sin-shar-uṣur, what thou didst send. How could he say evil words of thee and I hear anything of them? Shamash perverted his heart and Ummanigash slandered thee before me and would give thee to death. Ashur, my god, withholds me. I would not willingly slay my servant, and the support of my father’s house. In that case, thou wouldst perish with thy lord’s house. I would not see that. He and Ummanigash have compassed thy death, but because I know thy faithfulness I have increased my favor and bestowed honor upon thee. Is it not so? For these two years thou hast not caused hostility or want to thy lord’s house. What could they say against a servant who has loved his lord’s house and I believe it? And with respect to the service which thou and the Assyrians, thy brothers, have done, what thou sendest, all that thou hast done and the guard thou hast kept, . . . which is pleasing before me [I will reward] and return thee favors to thy children’s children.
The persons mentionedIt is clear that Sin-shar-uṣur and Ummanigash had been intriguing against Sin-tabni-uṣur. There are several persons of the name Sin-shar-uṣur about this time. No less than three Eponyms bear the name after bc 648. The aba mâti, or governor of Hindana, or the arû might be meant here. But there was a brother of Sin-tabni-uṣur, of this name, who perhaps coveted his post. Among the many unpublished texts which refer to him one may, perhaps, be found to explain the hostility. Nor is it clear which Ummanigash is meant. There was one of the three sons of Urtaku, who took refuge at the court of Ashurbânipal, when their father was murdered and dethroned by his brother, Teumman. When the Assyrian king espoused his cause, he was enabled by Assyrian troops to defeat and slay the usurper Teumman and take the throne of Elam. But he was faithless and allied himself with Shamash-shum-ukîn. He was dethroned by his cousin, Tammaritu, shortly before the fall of Shamash-shum-ukîn. That he, while at the Assyrian Court, should have slandered the governor of Ur, is quite in accordance with his character, but what was his purpose, or what he alleged, we do not know. There was another Ummanigash, brother of Urtaku; another, son of Umbadara; another, a son of Amedirra. The latter raised a rebellion against Ummanaldash, as we learn from a report by Bêl-ibnî.1 After his usual salutations, Bêl-ibnî reports,
Bê-libni’s letter about UmmanigashWhen I left the Sealand, I sent five hundred soldiers, servants of my lord, the king, to the city Ṣabdânu, saying, “Hold a fort in Ṣabdânu and make raids into Elam, slay and make prisoners.” When they went against Irgidu, a city two leagues this side of Susa, they slew Ammaladin, the sheik of Iashi’ilu, his two brothers, three brothers of his father, two of his brother’s sons, Dalâ-ilu, son of Abi-iadi’, and two hundred well-born citizens of that city. They had a long journey before them. They took one hundred and fifty prisoners. The sheiks of Lairu and the people of Nugû’, when they saw that my raiders had extended on their farther side, were full of fear, sent word and took the oath to Mushêzib-Marduk, my sister’s son, a servant of the king, my lord, whom I had appointed over the fort, saying, “We will be servants of the King of Assyria.” When they had gathered their bowmen, as many as they had, they went with Mushêzib-Marduk, and marched into Elam.
Here follows a bad break in the narrative, but Iḳisha-aplu is named, and Bêl-ibnî promised to send on to the king whatever they captured and brought to him. The letter then resumes:
News from Elam: they say that Ummanigash, son of Amedirra, has rebelled against Ummanaldash. From the river udud as far as the city a’adânu they have sided with him. Ummanaldash has gathered his forces, and they are now encamped on the river opposite one another. Iḳisha-aplu, whom I have sent to the palace, has penetrated their designs. Let one question him in the palace.
Kudur’s letters about the king’s favoriteKudur, governor of Erech, who sent news of the outbreak of rebellion in the south, gives us further information about Mushêzib-Marduk, who was a favorite with the king. After a long salutation occupying nearly the whole of the obverse, with a short reference to a certain Upaḳu, the reverse side goes on:1
Mushêzib-Marduk, Bêl-ibnî’s sister’s son, who has come two or three times into the presence of the king, my lord, on a message from Bêl-ibnî, Bêl-ibnî has appointed him concerning it (the case in hand). The gate-keepers have told him that those soldiers are not lovers of the house of my lord. It is not good for them to cross over to our midst. They will give news of the land of the king, my lord, to Elam, and if there be a famine in Elam, they will furnish them provisions. To the king, my lord, I have sent; let the king, my lord, do what he sees fit.
The king’s replyThe king himself writes to Bêl-ibnî2 in a most friendly way about Mushêzib-Marduk:
Message of the king to Bêl-ibnî: I am well. May thy heart be cheered. Mushêzib-Marduk, about whom thou didst send, in the fulness of time he shall enter my presence, I will appoint the paths for his feet (i.e., make a way for his advancement). The holiday in Nineveh is not finished.
Mushêzib-Marduk is also mentioned by Nabû-zêr-ukîn, in a letter to the king,1 in close connection with Shum-iddin, the governor of Dûr-ilu. It is not clear what the writer had to say of him, but farther on in the letter Bêl-ibnî is named. The same Nabû-zêr-ukîn is mentioned in a tablet of epigraphs,2 where he is associated with Shamash-shum-ukîn, Tammaritu and Indabigash. He is there said to be son of Nabû-mushêṣi. In another letter he writes with Adadi-shum-uṣur, Nabû-shum-iddin, Ardi-Ea, and Ishtar-shum-êresh to the king,3 but hardly anything remains except a mention of Nineveh. The same group of writers is elsewhere associated with Nabû-mushêṣi. Of another letter4 from him to the king only the introduction is found.
Kudur’s letters about the rebellionKudur, governor of Erech, was a frequent correspondent with the king. A score of letters from him to the king, or from the king to him, are preserved. They are nearly all concerned, more or less, with the events during the great rebellion. There were several others of the name, one an Elamite prince, son of Ummanaldash. The name itself may be Elamite and may point to a strong admixture of Elamite blood in Erech. The element Kudur occurs in such names as Kudur-Mabug, Kudur-Naunte, and Kudur-lagamar, the prototype of Chedorlaomer. There was another Kudur, son of Dakkuri, who was brought captive to Assyria with Shum-iddin. We may take as one example:5
To the king of countries, my lord, thy servant Kudur. May Bêl and Nabû decree peace, health, and length of days for the king, my lord, forever. Since I was in the enemy’s country the Puḳudu have made an end of the Bît-Amuḳâni, servants of my lord, the king, by their attacks. The cities which were to be held for the king, my lord, they captured. Let the servants of the king, my lord, march. They have occupied the cities, killed the men and ravished the women. Also they have attacked Ṣâbâ, the body-guard. The day they reached Bît-Amuḳâni, it is said, the attackers attacked the body-guard. I sent soldiers, saying, “Go, slay ’Ala’ with the pike, save the garrison and take them captive.” When on the king’s canal they attacked Nabû-shar-uṣur, the colonel, he took them captive. Let the king, my lord, inquire of them, as he can. The king, my lord, knows how Bît-Amuḳâni is destroyed. The Puḳudu keep their land. The soldiers with us have not set out, and they are the attackers, and we abhor the alienation of territory. Let the king, my lord, give orders and the soldiers shall set out against the cities, where they dwell.
It seems that the men of Pekod (see Jer. i. 21, Ez. xxiii. 23) had made an attack upon Bît-Amuḳâni and nearly destroyed the country. Kudur moved into the country, but sent for explicit orders as to what he should do. He changes his subject rather abruptly at times and it is not quite clear always of whom he is speaking. The most obscure sentence is where he says that “we abhor the alienation of territory,” literally “the sin of the land.” It seems that a land sinned when it was occupied by an enemy.
Ashurbânipal was deeply attached to his faithful servant, as the following letter shows:1
His affectionate letter of thanks for the king’s favorsTo the king of countries, my lord, thy servant Kudur. Erech and E-anna (the temple there) be gracious to the king of countries, my lord. Daily I pray to Ishtar of Erech and Nanâ for the health of the king, my lord’s life. Iḳîsha-aplu, the doctor, whom the king, my lord, sent to heal me, has restored me to life. The great gods of heaven and earth make themselves gracious to the king, my lord, and establish the throne of the king, my lord, in the midst of heaven forever. I was one who was dead and the king, my lord, has restored me to life. The benefits of the king, my lord, toward me are manifold. I will come to see the king, my lord. I say to myself, I will go and I will see the face of the king, my lord; then I will return and live. The chief baker made me return to Erech from the journey, saying, “A special messenger has brought a sealed despatch to thee from the palace, thou must return with me to Erech.” He sent me this order and made me return to Erech. The king, my lord, must know this.
The king had sent a doctor who had restored Kudur, when he had despaired of himself. Then he started to come and thank the king in person, but when on the road the chief baker (if that was his right title) recalled him, because a sealed despatch had reached Erech addressed to him from the king. He sends at once this letter, not having reached Erech again; at any rate, he does not refer to the contents of the despatch.
[1 ] Pages 184, 185.
[2 ] In , etc.
[1 ] H. 754.
[2 ] Page 201.
[3 ] H. 290.
[1 ] H. 280.
[1 ] H. 277.
[2 ] H. 399.
[1 ] H. 412.
[2 ] K. 4453.
[3 ] H. 332.
[4 ] H. 513.
[5 ] H. 275.
[1 ] H. 274.