Front Page Titles (by Subject) X: LETTERS OF THE SECOND BABYLONIAN EMPIRE - Babylonian and Assyrian Laws, Contracts and Letters
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X: LETTERS OF THE SECOND BABYLONIAN EMPIRE - 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 OF THE SECOND BABYLONIAN EMPIRE
Business lettersSome Babylonian letters of the Second Empire are to be found in the great collections published by Strassmaier. For the most part they are of a business nature, asking for some payment to be made or some object sent on.
Thus,1 one reads:
Order for seedNote from Nabû-shum-lîshir to Bêl-uballiṭ and Ki . . . my brothers. Bêl and Nabû decree the well-being of my brothers. Two gur of dates to Bêl-nâṣir, two gur to Shamash-pir’-uṣur, from the store for seed let my brothers give. Adar the ninth, year eleven, Nabonidus, King of Babylon.
Another for suppliesNote from Shamash-erba to âr-ibnî, my brother: When I send Shamash-uballiṭ to thy presence, do thou send ninety a of meal by his hand. Verily thou knowest. Besides the twelve a of meal before is this. Adar the thirteenth.
A somewhat longer but imperfect letter3 reads:
Explanation of the filling of an orderNote of Nadinu to the priest of Sippara, my brother: Verily, peace be with thee. To my brother, may Bêl and Nabû decree the well-being of my brother. When to my brother I [send], to the presence of my lord. . . . Thou, my lord, knowest why seeds for the képu of Raza I sent, and money for the seeds I gave him. He received it. Let me hear news and the welfare of my brother.
Of some interest for the nature of public works is:1
Note from Shâpik-zêr to âr-ibnî, my brother: The gods decree thy well-being. Give ninety-six a of meal to the men who are digging the canal. Kislîmnu, the twentieth, fifth year, Cyrus, King of Babylon, king of lands.
Requisition for supplies for canal diggingNote from the priests to âr-ibnî, our brother: The gods decree thy welfare. Give thirty-six a of meal to Ardi-âr, for the king’s men who dig the canal. Kislîmnu the twenty-fifth, year five, Cyrus, King of Babylon, king of lands.
The following is another of the best-preserved letters of this period:3
Request for some moneyNote from Nêrgal-a-iddin to Iddin-Marduk, my father: Bêl and Nabû decree the health and well-being of my father. Concerning the money my father sent; the money is little, which has been given for dates. Two minas of silver is needed. Let my father send it. Concerning that (?), as it is good to thee. I have none. See, Nabûmattûa I have sent to my father. The governor has gone to Babylon. As long as he is not here (?) at his side, he demands. Let me hear news of my father. Whether it be corn or whether it be anything that is with me, I will give to my father. Thy word is indisputable with me.
Fragmentary notesFor the most part the others are fragmentary and of no special interest. It is noteworthy that they all begin with much the same form of greeting.
Dr. T. G. Pinches published the text of three letters of this period in Recueil des Travaux.4 Two are very fragmentary; the third reads thus:
Note from Suḳâ to Bêl-zêr-ibnî, my father: May Bêl and Nabû decree health and wealth to my father. Now I am going without the ass. Give the ass to Shamash-eṭir; let him send it. Give him the clothes (?).
Here is an interesting letter:1
Note from Daian-bêl-uṣur to Shirḳu, my lord: Every day I pray to Bêl and Nabû for the health of my lord’s life. Concerning the lambs, which my lord sent, Bêl and Nabû know that there is a lamb from before thee. I have set the crop and fixed the stable. I have seen thy servant with the sheep; send thy servant with the lambs, and direct that one lamb from among them be offered as a gift to Nabû. I have not turned so much as one sheep into money. On the twentieth I worked [or sacrificed] for Shạmash. I saw fifty-six. From his hands I sent twenty head to my lord. The garlic which the governor received from my lord, the owners of the field, when they came, took possession of; the governor of fields sold it for money. I am deprived of the yoke of the harrow (?). As to what my lord said to me, saying, “Wherefore hast thou not sent a messenger and measured out the crop?” Forthwith (?) I will send to thee, let a messenger of thy appointing (?) take it and keep it.
Several words in this text are not found elsewhere, but very strangely we know much about the persons. Shirḳu, whose other name was Marduk-nâṣir-aplu, son of Iddinâ, was of the important commercial house of Egibi, and lived in the reign of Darius. He was a great ship-owner, and had the tolls of a certain bridge. He travelled to Elam in the fifth year of Darius. A great many of his business transactions are detailed by Dr. Pinches.2 Daian-bêl-uṣur and his wife Nanâ-bêl-uṣri were slaves of Shirḳu, who pledged them with their six children, at one time. In the sixteenth year of Darius their master gave them as part of her dowry, to Amat-Bau, daughter of Kalbâ. They lived in the town of Suppatum.
The reader has now before him a few specimens of this extremely valuable but very obscure class of literature. As time and study avail to clear up the obscurities, much more will be learned of the life and customs of these ancient peoples. Enough may have been given to stimulate research, and interest a wider circle of readers. It is the writer’s hope that many may be led, even by these scattered and disjointed specimens, to undertake such studies as may render more perfect his slight contribution and rescue from oblivion the heroes of a bygone civilization.
[1 ] 574.
[2 ] 1134.
[3 ] 460.
[1 ] 207.
[2 ] 209.
[3 ] 376.
[4 ] XIX., p. 104 f.
[1 ] Peek-Pinches, No. 22.
[2 ] Peek-Pinches, pp. 85 ff.