CCP 3.5.25 - Ālu 25

Catalogue information
Private Collection
AfO 21 pl. ix-x [Delitzsch]

Freedman, 2006bS. M. Freedman, If a City is set on a Height. The Akkadian omen series šumma ālu ina mēlê šakin. Volume 2: Tablets 22-40. The University of Pennsylvania Museum, 2006.: 72-76, 82-84, 99-100

Landsberger, 1934B. Landsberger, Die Fauna des alten Mesopotamien nach der 14. tafel der serie Ḫar-ra = ḫubullu. Hirzel, 1934.: 50-52 [obv]

DivinationTerrestrial omens (Šumma Ālu)

ṣâtu 3b

Base text: 
Ālu 25
Tablet information
Complete tablet
obv 18, rev 22
11 × 7 × 2 cm
Nabû-balāssu-iqbi s. Marduk-zēru-ibni d. Egibatila
Babylon (?)

Borger, 1967R. Borger, Handbuch der Keilschriftliteratur. Band I. Repertorium der sumerischen und akkadischen Texte. de Gruyter, 1967.
[p50ff. Funck 2 Vs.) Šumma ālu-Kommentar.]
: 270

Borger, 1975R. Borger, Handbuch der Keilschriftliteratur. Band II. Supplement zu Band I. de Gruyter, 1975.
[AfO 21 46. Ein Kommentar zu den Schlangen-Omina. F(unck) 2 (tIX-X), Kommentar zu Šumma ālu XXV. Vs. Landsberger Fauna 50ff. (Funck 1 = Delitzsch AL 106f. usw.)]
: 315

Frahm, 2011E. Frahm, Babylonian and Assyrian Text Commentaries. Origins of Interpretation. Ugarit-Verlag, 2011.: 31, 51, 194, 197, 308

Freedman, 1998S. M. Freedman, If a City is set on a Height. The Akkadian omen series šumma ālu ina mēlê šakin. Volume 1: Tablets 1-21. The University of Pennsylvania Museum, 1998.: 10, 330-331

Freedman, 2006bS. M. Freedman, If a City is set on a Height. The Akkadian omen series šumma ālu ina mēlê šakin. Volume 2: Tablets 22-40. The University of Pennsylvania Museum, 2006.
: 72-76, 82-84, 99-100

Gabbay, 2016U. Gabbay, The Exegetical Terminology of Akkadian Commentaries. Brill, 2016.: 59 (22), 75 (7, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15), 77 (11–15), 88 (8–10), 108 (6), 139 (r 1, r 14), 196 (r 4–5), 291 (r 20), 75, 77 (r 7), 109–110 (3, 13), 109–110, 121 (14)

Landsberger, 1934B. Landsberger, Die Fauna des alten Mesopotamien nach der 14. tafel der serie Ḫar-ra = ḫubullu. Hirzel, 1934.
[Partial transliteration. "Delitzsch bemerkt zu seiner Abschrift: 'Mein erster Kopierversuch!' (1874)."]
: 50-52

Steinkeller, 1990P. Steinkeller, The Value surₓ of ÉREN in Third Millennium Sources, N.A.B.U. Nouvelles Assyriologiques Brèves et Utilitaires, vol. 1990/12, 1990.
[On line r 4-5: ÉREN = surx?]

Weidner, 1966aE. F. Weidner, Ein Kommentar zu den Schlangen-Omina, Archiv für Orientforschung, vol. 21, p. 46 and pl. ix-x, 1966.
: 46 and pl. ix-x

Jiménez, 05/2014 (ATF Transliteration)
Jiménez, 05/2014 (Translation)
Jiménez, 05/2014 (Lemmatization)
Jiménez, 05/2014 (Introduction)
Gabbay, 03/2015 (Introduction fn. 1)
Jiménez, 08/2016 (Commentary markup)
By Enrique Jiménez |
Cite this edition
Jiménez, E., “Commentary on Ālu 25 (CCP no. 3.5.25),” Cuneiform Commentaries Project (2017), at (accessed October 22, 2017)
Make a correction or suggestion

This tablet contains a commentary on Šumma Ālu 25, one of the tablets of terrestrial omens that deals with snakes. The base text is very fragmentary and consequently it is difficult to identify the explanandum of most of the commentary's entries: only three or four of them can be identified with certainty.

Two main types of commentary entries can be found in this tablet. The first one is philological glosses: e.g. in the first line the logogram šub is explained as nadû, "to throw;" and in l. 2 the verb ittanapraš, "it flutters," is explained as išaʾʾa, "it flies about." Occasionally the explanations display some creativity. This is the case of ll. 6-7, where, after the name of the snake muš.túm.túm (= muš.du.du) has been explained via its Akkadian equivalent, asqūdu, the commentator proceeds by explaining the name etymologically: muš.du.du means, he claims, "the wandering snake" (muttalliku).

The second kind of explanation used in this commentary begin with a relative pronoun (ša) and try to explain the base text by elaborating more freely on its possible meaning. Thus, e.g. in ll. 12-13 the "wine snake" is explained as the snake "whose eyes are dark" (sc. like the wine) and, alternatively, as the snake "whose skin resembles wine." These free glosses are usually introduced after the philological, literal ones, normally preceeded by šanîš, "alternatively." In this tablet šanîš precedes not only the second, but all the subsequent alternative explanations.1

When the glosses limit themselves to the syllabic rendering of a logogram, they are occasionaly introduced immediately after the quotation of the base text without any colon or terminus technicus, as if they were phonetic glosses. This is the case e.g. of l. 22 (sá-meš ik-kaš-šá-du) or 25 (bar-meš i-zu-zu).

A peculiar terminus technicus used by this commentary is ana muḫḫi, which apparently introduces the lemma from which the explanandum is derived, a function fulfilled in other commentaries by ana. It occurs in l. 20 and 33.


This tablet belonged, according to its colophon, to Nabû-balāssu-iqbi son of Marduk-zēru-ibni, of the Egibatila family. This scribe appears in the colophons of nine other commentary tablets, one of which (CCP 3.8.2.B), dated to 103 BC, is the latest datable commentary. He owned three other commentaries on Šumma Ālu (CCP 3.5.31, CCP 3.5.48, and CCP 3.5.49). As in the case of the first of them, CCP 3.5.31, the colophon of the present tablet states that the continuation (arkīšu) of the tablet (i.e., Šumma Ālu 26) was written on a leather roll (magallatu).

This tablet once belonged to Adolphe Funck, from Roubaix (France), who was also the owner of a LB exemplar of Syllabary B ("Funck 1," see AL4 pp. 102-103), and of a N/LB tablet of omens ("Funck 3," see AfO 18 p. 72). The current whereabouts of these three tablets are unknown and so it has not been possible to collate the copy, which was made by F. Delitzsch in 1874. He apparently wrote in the margin that this was his "erster Kopierversuch,"2 which probably explains several obscure points of the autograph, especially in the lower part of the obverse. The transliteration of the tablet contains several reading proposals that should be checked against the original when it resurfaces.


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AfO 21, 046 pl. 09-10[Delitzsch] [commentaries]

o 1 o 1

* MUŠ SI ina É NA IGI-ma SI-MEŠ-šú ŠUBdi : ŠUB : na-⸢du⸣-[ú x x x x x x]

(o 1) "If a snake with horns is seen in a man's house and it drops (ŠUB) its horns" (= Šumma Ālu 25 1), ŠUB means "to drop." [...].

o 2 2

it-ta-nap-raš : i-šá-ʾa : ina É NA !?iṣ-ma x [x x x x x x x]

(o 2) "It flutters" (= Šumma Ālu 25 unknown) means "it flies about." "It lies recumbent in the man's house and [...]" (= Šumma Ālu 25 unknown) refers to the (snake) that sheds its horns.

o 3 3

šá qar-ni-šú i-šá-ḫa-ṭu : MUŠ.ḪUL : ḫul-mit-[ x x x x x x]

(o 3) "Evil snake" (MUŠ.HUL) (= Šumma Ālu 25 unknown) means ḫulmiṭṭu-snake [...] "If the snake ḫulmiṭṭu is seen in a man's house, the owner of the house will die" [...].

o 4 4

* MUŠ ḫul-mitmi-it-tu₄ <<:>> ina É NA IGI EN!? É ÚŠ [x x x x x x x] 1

o 5 5

RA : da-a-ku : MUŠ.IGI.NU.TUKU <:> up-pu-ut-ti ⸢:⸣ [x x x x x x x] 2

(o 5) RA means "to kill." MUŠ.IGI.NU.TUKU ("snake without eyes") (cf. Šumma Ālu 25 3) means "blind snake" (upputtu). [...].

o 6 6

MUŠ.TÚM.TÚM : as-qu-du : MUŠ šá ana É NA i-⸢x⸣-[x (x) : šá-niš MUŠ.TÚM.TÚM] 3

(o 6) MUŠ.TÚM.TÚM (= Šumma Ālu 25 unknown) is the asqūdu-snake, it refers to the snake that [...] against a man's house. [Alternatively, MUŠ.TÚM.TÚM can mean] "wandering snake."

o 7 7

mut-tal-lik : MUŠ ur-nu : ṣe-ru ár-qa : šá [x x x x x x x]

(o 7) The "urnu-snake" (= Šumma Ālu 25 unkown) is a green snake, it refers to (the snake) that [...].

o 8 8

x x MUŠ ru-up-pu-<du> : ra-pa-du : šá--e [ṭe-e-me x x x x] 4

(o 8) [...] is the ruppudu-snake, (from the verb) rapādu ("to roam"), which means "to change one's [mind" ... it refers to (the snake) that] runs about tearing its cloths [...]. Its name is rapādu-disease.

o 9 9

[i]-⸢la⸣-as-su-um lu-bu-ši-šú ú-šar-ra-⸢aṭ [x x x x x x x]

o 10 10

ra-pa-du MU⸣-šú : SI-BI im-niš IGI-ma : x [x x x x x x x]

(o 10) "Its horn is seen to the right" (= Šumma Ālu 25 unknown) [...].

o 11 11

* MUŠ.MAŠ. šá man-ma i-⸢x⸣-[x]-⸢x šá-niš šá x [x x x x x x x]

(o 11) "If a gazelle-snake" (= Šumma Ālu 25 unknown) refers to (the snake) which no one can [...]; alternatively, it can refer to (the snake) that [...]; alternatively, it refers to (the snake) that wears the hide of a gazelle; alternatively, it can refer to a mušgallu-snake [...].

o 12 12

[(x)] šá!?⸣-niš šá maš-ku šá MAŠ!?. šak!?-nu šá-niš muš-gal-[lu₄ x x : MUŠ gišGEŠTIN]

(o 12) [The MUŠ GIŠ.GEŠTIN (?)] (= Šumma Ālu 25 unknown) is the "vine snake;" alternatively, it is the snake whose eyes are dark; alternatively, [...]; alternatively, it refers to (the snake) whose skin is similar to wine; [...].

o 13 13

MUŠ ka-ra-nu šá-niš šá IGI-MIN-šú ṣal-mu šá-[niš x x x x x x]

o 14 14

šá-niš šá ma-šak!?-šú ana ka-ra-nu maš⸣-[lu x x : MUŠ.A] 5

(o 14) [The ...] (= Šumma Ālu 25 unknown) is the snake of the river; alternatively, it can mean the snake that [...]. [...] on his wife [...] river [...]

o 15 15

MUŠ šá ÍD!? : šá-niš MUŠ šá [x x]-si šá [x x x x x x]

o 16 16

[x] UGU!? DAM-šú [x x x x x] ÍD ḫi-[x x x x x x x]

o 17 17

[x x] me-ḫu-ú : [x x x x x]-ri : šu⸣-[x x x x x x x]

(o 17) [...] storm [...].

o 18 18

[x x x x x x x x x x x]-ka-lu ⸢:⸣ [x x x x x x x]

(o 18) ...

o 19 19

[x x x x x x x x x x] : * x ma x [x x x x x x x] 6

r 20 r 20

[x] x ḫa-ṭe-e ana UGU ḫi-ṭi-tu₄ : É BI [x x x x x x x]

(r 20) [...] "to sin" (ḫaṭê) (= Šumma Ālu 25 unknown) derives from "sin" (ḫiṭītu). "That house will [..." means ...].

r 21 21

kiš-šá-tu₄ : sar!?-tu₄ : ZÍZzi-iz : kiš-šá-[tu₄ x x x x x] 7

(r 21) "Indemnity" (kiššatu) means "penalty," the sign ÁŠ, when read /ziz/, means "emmer" (kiššatu).

r 22 22

-šá-bu É -šá-bu -MEŠik-kaš-šá-du [x x x x x x x] 8

(r 22) "Residents will live in the house and they will be defeated" (= Šumma Ālu 25 Sm.532 7') [...].

r 23 23

ṣi-mi-it- šá É.GAL ip-par-ra-as ÉRIN-[MEŠ x x x x x x] 9

(r 23) "The yoke of the palace will be cut, the army [will ...]" (= Šumma Ālu 25 unknown). [...] KU.UR means "yoke," hence umma also means yoke; alternatively [...].

r 24 24

KU.UR : ṣi-mit- : um-ma ṣi-mit- šá-[niš x x x x x x] 10

r 25 25

a-ḫe-e BAR-MEŠi-zu-zu : a-ḫe-e : ŠEŠ-MEŠ : BAR-[MEŠ : za-a-zu šá-niš]

(r 25) In "Brothers (aḫḫê) will divide (BAR-MEŠ) (a property)" (= Šumma Ālu 25 unknown), aḫḫê means "brothers;" and BAR-[MEŠ] means "to divide." Alternatively], BAR can mean "to leave fallow;" alternatively, since the sign BE, read /be/, means "to divide," (BAR-MEŠ) can also mean [...].

r 26 26

BAR : -šu-ru : šá-niš BEbé-e : za-a-zu : x [x x x x x x] 11

r 27 27

INIM.É.GAL <:> šil-la- : * MUŠ-MEŠ MIN-ma lu-⸢x [x x x x x x]

(r 27) "Rumors of the palace" (INIM ÉGAL) (= Šumma Ālu 25 unknown) means "slander." "If snakes ditto and [...]" (= Šumma Ālu 25 unknown) [...].

r 28 28

izi-šub-ba-a ina É NA GÁL : izi-šub-bu-ú [: i-šá- ma-aq-] 12

(r 28) In "There will be a stroke of lightning on the man's house" (= Šumma Ālu 25 Sm.532 13'), "stroke of lightning" (izišubbû) means ["fallen fire,"] because IZI means "fire" and ŠUB means "to fall."

r 29 29

IZI : i-šá- : ŠUB : ma-qa- : ina lìb-bi šá [x x x x x x x]

(r 29) In "In the center of [...]" (= Šumma Ālu 25 unknown), [... snakes] inside of the house.

r 30 30

bit!?-ta-nu-ti : * MUŠ-MEŠ MIN-ma kit-pu-[lu-(tu) x x x x x]

(r 30) In "If snakes ditto and are entwined [...]" (= Šumma Ālu 25 unknown) [...].

r 31 31

it-ta-nag-ra-ra : DIRI : na-gar-ru-⸢ru :⸣ [DIRI : x x x x]

(r 31) "(The snakes) roll over once and again" (= Šumma Ālu 25 Sm.532 14' (?)), DIRI means "to roll over;" [it also means ...].

r 32 32

šu-ta-tu-su-nu NU ez-bu-ma <:> la ez-bu-⸢ma [x x x x x x]

(r 32) In "Facing each other (šutātûssunu) without being left (NU ezbū-ma)" (= Šumma Ālu 25 unknown) is to be read as "without being left" ( ezbū-ma), [...] derived from "to leave" (ezēbu); (it means) "they have been separated" [...].

r 33 33

ana muḫ-ḫi e-ze-bu <:> it-tap-ra-su UD [x x x x x x]

(r 33) [...] refers to (the snake) that kills wife and wife. "His hunger" (= Šumma Ālu 25 unknown) means [...].

r 34 34

šá DAM u DAM <i>-nar-ru-ma : -ru-su!? : x [x x x x x x x]

r 35 35

un-nu-tu : un-nu-šú : * MUŠ-MEŠ GAL-MEŠ !?⸣-[MEŠ-ma È-MEŠ : -MEŠ :] 13

(r 35) "To be faint" (unnutu) (= Šumma Ālu 25 unknown) means "to weaken" (unnušu). "If great snakes [create confusion (LÙ-MEŠ) and become wild (È-MEŠ)" (= Šumma Ālu 25 unknown), LÙ-MEŠ] means "they will create confusion," È-MEŠ means "they will become wild" [...].

r 36 36

ú-dal-li-ḫu-ma <:> È-MEŠ <:> -še-gu-⸢ú [x x x x x x x] 14

r 37 37

ṣa-a- u šu-ut KA šá * MUŠ SI ina É NA [IGI-ma SI-MEŠ-šú ŠUBdi]

(r 37) Lemmata and oral explanations relating to (the tablet) "If a snake with horns [is seen in a man's house and it drops its horns"] (= Šumma Ālu 25).

r 38 38

DUB šá EGIR-šú * MUŠ.ḪUŠ IGI i-šár-ri : [ŠÁR : x x x] 15

(r 38) The tablet with the continuation (of the present tablet), entitled "In 'If a mušḫuššu-snake is seen, he will become rich (i-šár-ri)' (= ŠĀ 26 1 (?)),[the sign ŠÁR means ...], the same can also mean 'to be great'," is written on a parchment scroll, (copied) from a Babylonian original.

r 39 39

MIN<(ŠÁR)> : GALú ina kušma-gal-lat GABA.RI Eki [SAR imDUB] 16

r 40 40

m!?dAG-DIN-su-E A šá mdAMAR.UTU-NUMUN- A mde₄-[gi₇-ba-ti-la]

(r 40) Tablet of Nabû-balāssu-iqbi son of Marduk-zēru-ibni, descendant of Egibatila. He who reveres Šamaš and Marduk (should not take it away)!

r 41 41

pa!?⸣-liḫ!? dUTU u d[AMAR.UTU]

1It is uncertain whether this line belongs to the same explanation as the previous one, although it seems likely. Not that the first line of this tablet comments on K.3674 o 1 (ŠĀ 25), and l. 5 seems to refer to K.3674 o 3. However, ll. 2-4 do not seem to be a commentary on K.3674 o 2.

2Note that ŠĀ 25 3 (= K.3674 o 3) reads, pace Freedman OPKF 19 (2006) p. 76, MUŠ.IGI.NU.TUKU (no SI!).

3The first entry of the next line refers in all likelihood still to the MUŠ.TÚM.TÚM, which is playfully rendered as the "wandering snake" (DU = alāku).

4The restoration of the end is tentative, it follows CAD R 147a. Compare SpTU 1 32 r 8 (CCP 4.1.7.A): rapādu sudduršu / [šan]ê ṭēme sadiršu.

5The restoration of the end is tentative.

6The sign before ma is not APIN in Delitzsch's copy, pace Freedman OPKF 19 (2006) p. 74.

7The last equation, read with CAD K 459, probably derives from Ea I 329.

8The interpretation of ikkaššadū as a glosse on SÁ-MEŠ is uncertain.

9The reading of Steinkeller NABU 1990/12 and CAD I/J 198a (ER[ÍN : ṣimittu] / ŠU.UR : ṣimittu) is in all likelihood wrong, firstly because both equations would be unattested; secondly because there is space at the end of this line for ca. seven signs; and thirdly because the first sign of l. 24, as copied by Delitzsch, is KU, not ŠU.

10The reading of the first two signs is uncertain. Compare perhaps Sm.532 5” (Freedman OPKF 19 [2006] p. 82): GIM ŠU.SAR!

11It is very unlikely that the last word of the line is to be restore as uššuru, pace CAD Z 77a, since the commentary has already proven the equivalence of the verbs zâzu and uššuru via the fact that both share the logogram BAR. A different verb equated in some lexical list with the sign BE, or with some other sign with the reading /be/, must have been intended (cf. e.g. bé-e = BA = našāru, "to expropriate," in Ea II 302).

12The restoration at the end is tentative.

13The restoration of the end of the line is tentative.

14Note È = šegû in Diri I 206.

15Note that the catchline cites what is probably the incipit of ŠĀ 26 together with its commentarial glosses, which seems to be of the notariqon type.

16Compare the similar colophon in BM 41586 r 5'-6' (CCP 3.5.31): EGIR-šu ina magallatu gabari bābilu šaṭir.