CCP 3.5.59 - Ālu 59

Catalogue information
Yale Babylonian Collection
NBC 7696
Nippur(Nippur) (?)
DivinationTerrestrial omens (Šumma Ālu)

ṣâtu 7c

Base text: 
Ālu 59
Tablet information
Complete tablet (some portions lost)
obv. 24, rev. 14
Neo/Late Babylonian, specifics unknown
Na’id-Enlil s. Šamaš-aḫḫē-iddin d. m.DIR-d.UTU

Frahm, 2011E. Frahm, Babylonian and Assyrian Text Commentaries. Origins of Interpretation. Ugarit-Verlag, 2011.: 52, 197, 199-200, 303-04

Gabbay, 03/2015 (Suggestions)
Frahm, 05/2016 (Transliteration)
Frahm, 05/2016 (Annotation)
Stadhouders, 08/2016 (Note [l. 12])
Jiménez, 08/2016 (Commentary markup)
Frahm, 09/2016 (Translation)
Jiménez, 09/2016 (Lemmatization)
Frahm, 11/2016 (Introduction)
By Eckart Frahm | Make a correction or suggestion
How to cite
Frahm, E., 2015, “Commentary on Ālu 59 (CCP 3.5.59),” Cuneiform Commentaries Project (E. Frahm, E. Jiménez, M. Frazer, and K. Wagensonner), 2013–2024; accessed July 18, 2024, at DOI: 10079/djh9wcr
© Cuneiform Commentaries Project (Citation Guidelines)

NBC 7696, housed in the Yale Babylonian Collection, is a fairly well preserved one-column tablet, probably from Nippur, with a commentary on the 59th Tablet (called malsûtu) of the terrestrial omen series Šumma ālu. The commentary has been previously unpublished, but based on a transliteration provided by the present author, most of its entries are quoted in the notes of Sally Freedman’s PDF edition of Šumma ālu, Tablet 59, posted at Freedman’s page (accessed 11/16/2016).


Šumma ālu 59 deals with the appearance of various plants, at least some of which seem to be weeds growing abundantly in a field under cultivation. The commentary explains lemmata from about half of its 50 lines, for the most part following their sequence within the base text. Among other things, it provides Akkadian equivalents for Elamite month names (line 3), synonyms for difficult Akkadian words (e.g., lines 5, 19), and Akkadian readings of uncommon logograms used in the base text (e.g., lines 4, 18). Numerous entries, especially in the section following the horizontal ruling after line 17, provide information on the often obscure plant names mentioned in Šumma ālu 59. Line 11 explains the mythologizing apodosis “The god Ea will become obscured in the Apsû” in naturalistic terms, arguing that it means that “the waters of the river will be yellowish and disturbed.” The elaborate entry in lines 12-17 seeks to account for the link provided in one of the omens between the sudden appearance of grapevine and the nefarious actions of the god Ningišzida by quoting from the lexical series Diri (V 233-37) and an unidentified bilingual text, both adduced to demonstrate that Ningišzida was in charge of alcoholic beverages.

Both in lines 28 and 29, the commentator seems to have misunderstood the base text, reading i-šu-uṭ instead of i-kat₇(šu)-tam(ud) and i-tál(pi)tal-li instead of i-pe-te (taking the te as a la?) and, consequently, furnishing problematic explanations.


According to its colophon, the commentary was written by one “Naʾid-Enlil, son of Šamaš-aḫḫē-iddin, and descendant of mdir-dutu.” Both the theophoric element in the name Naʾid-Enlil and the fact that the commentary was acquired in 1942 as part of a group of tablets that included some Nippur texts suggest that NBC 7696 originates from Nippur. Naʾid-Enlil is known to have copied yet another commentary on Šumma ālu, BM 129092 (CCP 3.5.22.A.b), which covers the 22nd and 23rd malsûtu-portion of the series (and was copied sign by sign on a tablet found at Uruk, SpTU 5, 259 = CCP 3.5.22.A.a). BM 129092 entered the British Museum together with a tablet written in Nippur in 394 BCE, which suggests that Naʾid-Enlil was active during the Achaemenid period. It is worth noting that BM 129092, in line 44, likewise includes an entry in which the explanation draws on the theology and cult of the god Ningišzida.


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NBC 07696[via ccpo]





[... i?-ḫar?]-ra?-aṣ :? [x] x su?-ú? :? [x x]

[“The furrow] will decrease (?) [its yield] (= Šumma Ālu LIX 2?): means [].


[... ina itiše-bu-ti?] ina itiAPIN [(: ina)] itiši-ir-i-BURU₁₄ : [(ina) itiSIG₄?]1

[ (in) Šebuti (an Elamite month name) (= Šumma Ālu LIX 3)] (means) “in the month of Araḫsamna (VIII); [(in)] Šer’i-ebūri (another Elamite month name) means [(in) the month of Simānu (III)].”


[...] : ú-ḫi-nu x [x] IGI? : ŠÀ.SUD -eb-ri?-2

[]; “unripe date(s) (= Šumma Ālu LIX 3) refers to the imḫur-līm-plant (?), (the logogram) ŠÀ.SUD (= Šumma Ālu LIX 4) denotes nebrītu (“hunger”).


[... UGU mi-na-ti-šú -ši : mi?-na?-? :] mi?-ṣa-tu₄ šá-niš UGU? mi-na-ti-šú a-tar3

[() “it (the acacia) bears beyond measure” (?) (= Šumma Ālu LIX 5?): “measure (minâtu) (?) refers to] “few (mīṣātu) (?); alternatively, (it means): it is abundant beyond measure.


[... KI in-neš]-ši : KI id-dal-làḫ

[; “the ground] will become confused” (= Šumma Ālu LIX 6) means: the ground will be disturbed,


e-šu-ú [: da?-la?-ḫu? : x x x] x ŠUB ERIM[ni? (x x) :] GIG-MEŠ i-man-du :

(because) “to confuse” [means “to disturb.” ] . “Fall of the army” (?) (= Šumma Ālu LIX 10) [() means that(?)] there will be many illnesses.


gišGEŠTIN.KA₅.A : x [x] x [x x x x] x DINGIR-[šú/x] NU TE4

“Fox-grape” (= Šumma Ālu LIX 10) means [] will not approach (?) [his(?)] god(?).


úx (x x) : úḪAŠḪUR-giš?GI? [x x] x x -šum di-il-ḫu5

The …-plant (= Šumma Ālu LIX 12?) corresponds to the “reed-apple-plant” [] regarding a disturbance (dilḫu, perhaps explaining diʾu-disease” in Šumma Ālu LIX 12);


di-il-ḫu ina KUR GARan : gišESI : [x x x x x] ku? ki an x x x6

(it means that) a disturbance will take place in the land. ušû-tree (Dalbergia melanoxylon?) (= Šumma Ālu LIX 19) refers to [] .


dIDIM ina ABZU ia-a-dar : A?-MEŠ? [x x (x)] ḫab?-me-ma7

“The god Ea will become obscured in the Apsû” (= Šumma Ālu LIX 20) means that the waters(?) [] and(?)


A-MEŠ ÍD SIG₇ u dal-ḫa AN.GE₆ [x x] x x KURUN : gišGEŠTIN8

the waters of the river will be yellowish and disturbed; an eclipse [] . KURUN (“alcoholic beverage”) means “grapevine (giš.GEŠTIN) (= Šumma Ālu LIX 21);


KURUN : da-me -šum dnin-giš-zi-da a-ri d[a?]-nu? : dMIN<(dnin-giš-zi-da)> šá ri-ḫu-ut da-nu9

KURUN (also) means “blood,” because of the (Sumerian) line “d.nin-giš-zi-da a-ri d.[a-n]u(?),” (which) means (in Akkadian) “ditto (i.e., Ningizzida) (= Šumma Ālu LIX 21), engendered (lit., poured out) by Anu.”


šá-niš MU.TIN : gišGEŠTIN : MU.TIN : ši-kar : mu₆(PA)-te-en mu-kil? niNISAGga ni-sag-ga10

Secondly, (Emesal) MU.TIN (“wine”) means “grapevine”; MU.TIN (also) means “alcoholic drink (šikaru); (it can also be written) mu(PA)-te-en, (which refers to (?)) the one who holds (mukil, cf. aklu) the first fruits (nisakku);


mu₆(PA)-tin-ni šá ni--i : mu₆(PA)-tin-nu : dnin-giš-zi-da : UGULA(PA) : ak-lu11

(regarding) the wine (mu(PA)-tin-ni) for the libation, mu(PA)-tin-nu refers to Ningizzida, because UGULA (= PA) means “overseer (aklu)


TIN : ši-ka-ri : dsíraš(ŠIM×A) kaš-kaš-bi-ir sig₅ : si-ra-šu-ú šá ši-kar-šú dam-qa12

(and) TIN means “alcoholic drink” (and because, consequently, the Sumerian line) “d.siráš(ŠIM×A) kaš-kaš-bi-ir sig₅,” (which means in Akkadian) “the (divine) brewer whose alcoholic drink is good,”


    a-na dnin-giš-zi-da iq-ta-bi

is said with reference to Ningizzida.


* [UD] ú[ḫa]-ab-bu-ru pe-ṣe-e it-tab-ši : UD šum-ma : * UD úkàs-si-bi i-te-bi : 13

“If (DIŠ UD) a white shoot appears” (= Šumma Ālu LIX 30): UD (is to be read as) šumma (“if”). “If the kassību-plant becomes thick” (= Šumma Ālu LIX 32): (this) means,


[úka]-si-ia ik-te-ṣir : e-bu-ú : ka-ṣa-ri : šá i-ti-ru-ma i-mi-du14

the kasīya-plant (mustard?) has gathered; for “to be thick” means “to gather” (a plant) that is overly plentiful and abundant;


[x x x] x bi : in?-de-ʾi-IZ : A.ŠÀ BI i-wa-bi- : A.ŠÀ BI im-maš?-šá-15

[alternatively, (it means), it has become] thick (?); it has . “That field will be full of weeds” (= Šumma Ālu LIX 33) means: that field will be plundered.


[úu₅-ra-nu :] úa-ra-an- : an-da-ma-tu₄ : it-tab-ši : in-de-ʾi-id : 16

[urânu-plant” (= Šumma Ālu LIX 34) is (another name form of)] the arantu-plant, (which) is (identical with) the a(n)damatu-plant. “It has appeared” (= Šumma Ālu LIX 34) means: it has become abundant.


[úsa-as-su : úsa]-as-sa-tu₄ : úà(PI)a-mi-ra-nu : úa-na-mi-ru17

[sassu-plant” (= Šumma Ālu LIX 36) is (another name form of) the] sassatu-plant. amiranu-plant” is (another name form of) the anamiru-plant (= Šumma Ālu LIX 37);


[x x x x x x] a?à(PI)-mi-ra-nu : ú-er-gi-re-e-nu ki-ma ḫu? x as-ḫar? du?18

[] the amiranu-plant is (identical with?) the mirgirēnu-plant; like asḫar-plant(?) .


[i]-te-bi : in-de-ʾi-IZ šá-niš ik-te-ṣir : it-tab-ši : im-te-du19

“It has become thick” (= Šumma Ālu LIX 37/38) means: it has ; alternatively, (it means) it has gathered. “It has appeared” (= Šumma Ālu LIX 39ff.) means: it has become abundant.


[ú]IM.MAN.DU : úsu-ma-[du : ú]ip-tu₄ : úan-da-ma-tu₄20

(The logogram) ú.IM.MAN.DU (= Šumma Ālu LIX 41) is (to be read as) sumādu/suādu (a plant name). The iptu-plant (= Šumma Ālu LIX 42) is (identical with) the a(n)damatu-plant.


[EN-šú NU] TE-šú : EN-šú ul i-qar-ru-ba-áš-šú : úa-la-pu-ú : úḫa-am-mu21

[Its owner] will not approach it (the field) (= Šumma Ālu LIX 42) means: its owner will not come near to it. The alapû-plant (seaweed?) (= Šumma Ālu LIX 45) is (identical with) the ḫammu-plant (algae?);


[ú]a-na-pa-a il-lab-ba-áš : i-ma-du : i-ma-a-du : -bab-tu₄ : 22

(it means the field) is draped in anapû (= alapû)-plants. i-ma-du (lit., “they will be abundant”) can (also) be (written) i-ma-a-du (apparently a commentarial misunderstanding of bēlšu i-ma-at “its owner will die” in Šumma Ālu LIX 45). išbabtu-grass (= Šumma Ālu LIX 46) is (identical with)


mul-làḫ-tu₄ : úla-ár-du : EN-šú IGI-šu i-kat₇(ŠU)-tam(UD) : i-šu-uṭ-ṭu23

(salty) ma/ullaḫtu-grass (and with) lardu-grass. “Its (the field’s) owner will close (lit., “will cover,” i-kat(ŠU)-tam(UD), apparently misunderstood by the commentator as i-šu-uṭ) his eye(s) (= Šumma Ālu LIX 46) means: “he(?) will pull(?) (them) (i-šu-uṭ-ṭu).


EN-šú IGI-šu i-tál(PI)tal-li : ta-la-lu : šá-qu-ú : úa-ra-KI-ra-nu : 24

“Its owner will (i-tál(PI)tal-li) his face” (cf. Šumma Ālu LIX 47, which has bēlšu īn(ē)šu i-pe-te? “its owner will open his eye(s); the commentator seems to have misunderstood the last word, reading it as i-tál(PI)-la): talālu (“to stretch out”?) means “to be high” (or: “to irrigate”?). The a-ra-KI-ra-nu-plant (mistake for arariyānu in Šumma Ālu LIX 48) is (identical with) the


úza?/a?-lu/ur?-zi-lu-zu : ŠU EN-šú NU GURár : bil- be-li-šú ul ú-ta-ri25

za?/a?-lu/ur?-zi-lu-zu-plant. “The (ŠU) of its (the field’s) owner will not turn back (?) (= Šumma Ālu LIX 48) means: the yield (?) will not pay back (?) its owner,


[ŠU] : bil-tu₄ šá gišKIRI₆ šá-niš ŠU-MIN EN-šú ul GURár : gišKIRI₆ .UN-su26

[(because) ŠU] means “yield,” of a garden; alternatively, (it means): the hand(s) of its owners will not turn back (?); that is (?), the garden will not hold back


[(x)] ul i-kil-la-áš-šú : * UD útu-ud-du-mu-um : šum-ma ṭu-uṭ-ṭu-um27

[()] its yield from him. “If (DIŠ UD) the tuddumum-plant” (= Šumma Ālu LIX 49?) means: “If (šumma) the ṭuṭṭum(-plant);


[ṭu-uṭ]-ṭu-um : da-ad-da-ri : ṭu-uṭ-ṭu-um : mar-ru-tu

the ṭuṭṭum(-plant) is (identical with) the daddaru(-plant); the ṭuṭṭum(-plant) is a bitter (plant).


A.ŠÀ a-pi?pu-um ina -re-šu u Ú-ḪI.A i-ta-ri : A.ŠÀ -re-šú28

“The field there will be a reed-bed during cultivation (?) and plants will return (?) (= Šumma Ālu LIX 49?) means: a cultivated field


    a-na ap-pa-ri i-tar-ma in-na-an-di

will turn into a swamp and will be ruined.


ṣa-a- šu-ut pi-i ù maš-a-a-al- šá KA um-man-nu

Lemmata, oral explanations, and (materials for) a “questioning” by a (master-)scholar


šá ŠÀ * KIRI₆ ma-du-u gišḪAB ma-gal i-te-ši-ir

relating to (the text with the incipit) “If vegetables are plentiful and the ḫuratu-tree grows very well” (= Šumma Ālu LIX 1).


59 mál-su-ut * URU ina SUKUD GARin NU AL.TIL : * KI KUR ÚŠ i-ḫi-il

59th “lecture” of “If a City is Set on a Height,” not finished. (Catchline:) “If the soil of the land exudes blood” (= Šumma Ālu LX).


im.DA mI-den-líl A-šú mdUTU-ŠEŠ-MEŠ-MU A mDIR-dUTU

Single-column tablet of Naʾid-Enlil, son of Šamaš-aḫḫē-iddin, descendant of m.DIR-d.UTU.

1For the equations of the Elamite month names, see HeBAI 4/3, 338-39, §3 and 8.

2Perhaps ú[IGI]-lim.

3Šumma Ālu 59: 5?, cf. 4. Or: [i?]-mi?-ṣa EGIR x (cf. 59: 4) UGU? mi-na-ti-šú a-tar. šá possibly written over erased :. One would have expected the double horizontal ruling after this line and not before it. But perhaps the restoration is wrong and the line explains A.DIR (line 6) instead. UGU is uncertain.

4Šumma Ālu 59: 10 (gišGEŠTIN.KA₅.A). At the end, perhaps an-[x]-nu-te?. For possible equations of the karān-šēlibi-plant (which can be written as here), see CAD K, 201f.

5Beginning resembles úgiš-sa₄-x; one would expect úÙZ.SAR (59: 12). úḪAŠḪUR according to CAD M/2 in Uruanna III 429 identified with me/ikû, but the reading with attached gišGI is more likely. The note at the end a reference to diʾu in 59: 12?

6Šumma Ālu 59: 19 (gišESI). At the end perhaps dIDIM : x GAL?.

7Šumma Ālu 59: 20 (dIDIM ina ZU.AB ia-a-dar). Perhaps the waters at the source?

8Šumma Ālu 59: 21 (DIŠ gišGEŠTIN A.DIR dnin-giš-zi-da di--a ina KUR GARan, “If grapevine grows, Ningišzida will put diʾu-disease in the land”). As noted by H. Stadhouders (email 7/2016), in lines 12ff the commentator refers to Diri V 233-237 (MSL 15, 176): ku-ru-unKAŠ.DIN = kurunnu, šikaru, sību, karānu, damu. As further suggested by Stadhouders, “blood” is a nickname of wine because of its color; Stadhouders points to the “Bulls Blood” wine from Eger in Hungary.

9Šumma Ālu 59: 21 (dnin-giš-zi-da). Possibly quotation from a bilingual text. One would rather expect the Sumerian version of the name of the sky god in the first half of the quotation. Note that Ningišzida is also referred to in the other DIR-utu commentary!

10Difficult to understand; quotation? Apparently, MU.TIN is read mu₆(PA)-te-en, PA is then explained as mukil (cf. UGULA(PA) = aklu in the next line), and te-en is linked to nisakku “first fruits” (Ningišzida as provider of fertility?). Or should one read: mu-tinₓ(KIL)?-ni NISAG-ga? In the next line, the word is associated with sacrifices.

11Note that there is also an Akkadian word patinnu (a headband), but this is probably not what is meant here. The commentator equates mu₆(PA)-tin-nu with dnin-giš-zi-da by arguing that PA = UGULA means “overseer” and TIN “alcohol beverage,” and pointing out that Ningišzida is identical with the beer god, who is in charge of alcoholic beverages. [Alternatively, one might interpret ak-lu as “food”; if this is the case, the commentary would interpret the name of “wine” as containing both “food and drink,” i.e., as the ultimate wholesome beverage, EJ].

12One BI-sign too many? Apparently another quotation

13Šumma Ālu 59: 30 (⸢¶⸣ [UD] ú[ḫa]-ab-bu-ru pe-ṣe-e it-tab-ši) and Šumma Ālu 59: 32 (¶ UD úkàs-si-bi i-te-bi).

14The equation between kassibu and kasia (NB for kasû), not attested elsewhere, is probably based on their phonetic similarity.

15Šumma Ālu 59: 33 (A.ŠÀ BI i-wa-bi-). Read at the beginning: [šá-niš i]-te-bi? Cf. line 24. Verb derived from wiāṣu?? The sign read as maš? looks more like šá.

16Šumma Ālu 59: 34 (úu₅-ra-nu and it-tab-ši). The equation between urânu and arantu also attested in Ḫg; see CAD U/W, 207a. an-da-ma-tu₄ is a (so far unattested?) form of the plant name adamatu (for which see CAD A/1, 94). The verb at the end probably derived from mâdu; cf. NA in-ta-ʾi-id in ABL 463: 13 (CAD M/1, 27a), as well as the equation it-tab-ši : im-te-du in line 24.

17Šumma Ālu 59: 36 (úsa-as-su). Cf. Šumma Ālu 59: 37 (úà(PI)a-mi-ra-nu). See CAD S, 194-96. The plant name sassu attested only here. The base text has úà(PI)-mi-ra-nu in line 37.

18One could consider restoring úmur-ra-nu at the beginning (59: 39), but perhaps it is more likely to assume this is the continuation of the explanation provided in the previous line. See CAD M/2, 106b s. v. mirgirānu; in Uruanna II 370 explained as úMIN<(as-ḫar)>.

19Šumma Ālu 59: 37/38 ([i]-te-bi) and Šumma Ālu 59: 39ff. (it-tab-ši)

20Šumma Ālu 59: 41 ([ú]IM.MAN.DU) and Šumma Ālu 59: 42 ([ú]ip-tu₄). For the reading of úIM.MAN.DU as suādu/sumādu, see CAD 338-39 and MZL, 404, no. 708. The second plant name probably not to be read as [ú]ṭu-ṭu₄(TUM), despite lines 32-33; the reading ip-tu₄ in the base text (K 2882) seems certain (collated from photo).

21Šumma Ālu 59: 42 ([EN-šú NU] TE-šú) and Šumma Ālu 59: 45 (úa-la-pu-ú).

22Šumma Ālu 59: 45 (cf. i-ma-du) and Šumma Ālu 59: 46 (-bab-tu₄). The commentator apparently misunderstand (or reinterpreted) the base text, where it seems one must read EN-šu i-ma-at “its (the field’s) owner will die.”

23Šumma Ālu 59: 46 (EN-šú IGI-šu i-kat₇(ŠU)-tam(UD)). Var. of mallaḫtu (a type of saline grass). At the end of the line, the commentator seems to have misunderstood the sign sequence I ŠU UD (actually: i-kat₇-tam) as representing a (fictitious) verb išūṭ.

24Misunderstanding of ipette in the base text (K 2882)? Note, however, that the reading of the last sign there as te is not completely certain; on the photo, it looks more like (not la, though). úa-ra-KI-ra-nu apparently an otherwise unattested variant of arariānu (or another mistake?).

25The first word might be a form of the plant name alluzu. The apodosis in the base text (K 2882) is to be read as A.ŠÀ BI ŠU-MIN EN-šu NU GURár.

26The equation ŠU = biltu is attested in the lexical tradition, see CAD B, 229b.

27The plant names útu-ud-du-mu-um and úṭu-uṭ-ṭu-um are apparently not attested anywhere else.

28The assumption that this entry deals with 59: 49 is based on the possibility that K 2882, rev. 29 (= 49) is to be read as [... a?-pi?]pu-um. The rest of the entry might have been included in the following line (perhaps to be read as [ina mi-ri-šu u Ú-ḪI.A i]-ta-[ri]).

Photos by Mary Frazer

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