This tablet is a commentary concerned with explicating words and phrases belonging to the šumma immeru (‘If a sheep’) omen series and possibly also to non-canonical or extraneous omens of the šumma izbu (‘If a foetus’) omen series. The colophon states that the tablet was written by Anu-ikṣur, a member of the Šangû-Ninurta family, who lived circa 400 BCE.
The šumma immeru omens observe the behavior of the sacrificial animal, a male lamb or young sheep, before and at the time of its slaughter and immediately following its killing. The protases of the omens observe the sheep’s general behavior as well as the appearance of its particular body parts, upon which the results are drawn in the apodoses. There are a few recensions of the series, but the commentary edited here obviously comments on its latest and final version, sometime designated as the ‘standard’ or ‘canonical’ recension. This recension is known to us from a few Neo-Assyrian and Late Babylonian manuscripts.
The šumma izbu omens observe the appearances and characteristics of a still-born foetus of (usually) sheep. The standard recension of the series contains twenty-four tablets. Omens relating, but not belonging, to the series were also collected on individual tablets (of which scarce evidence exists).
A large portion of the commentary can be seen to explicate lines preserved in a Neo-Assyrian manuscript of the šumma immeru standard recension (K 2180+). However, since both the opening lines of the commentary and a large chunk of the beginning of the Neo-Assyrian manuscript are broken, a correspondence between the commentary and the base-text can be observed for only sixteen lines (obv. 15–rev. 7). Thus, it is not clear whether the very broken obv. ll. 1–14 indeed comment on the šumma immeru omen series or on another composition. Likewise, although in a good condition, rev. ll. 8–20 cannot find a clear correspondence with the standard šumma immeru recension because of gaps in the reconstruction of the base-text. Since, according to the colophon, the commentary includes explanations on šumma izbu non-canonical omens, these lines perhaps comment on compositions or collections other than šumma immeru.
The commentary is concerned with the philological explanation of difficult words and signs in the base text. The main source of the explanations is the lexical tradition, but the commentator also makes occasional use of some creative philology. Thus, in l. 21 the rare verb iṣarrar, ‘it drops’ is given its infinitive ṣarāru ‘to flow, drip.’ However, note the oddly written infinitive form ṣar-a-ra, instead of the customary ṣa-ra-ru. This infinitive form is then said to mean alāku, ‘to go’, an explanation that is based on the common lexical equation between the Sumerian verb a-rá and the Akkadian alāku: by spelling out the verb as ṣar-a-ra, the commentator provides the rationale behind his equation.
Lines r 5-7 comment on the omen “(If) its (sc. the sheep’s) neck (gú) is in the place where its tail should be, the prince’s country will revolt against him.” The first commentarial explanation provides a clarification for an ambiguous description: in the protasis “(If) its (sc. the sheep’s) neck (gú) is in the place of its tail,” the logogram gú, which usually means “neck,” is said to also mean “head.” The commentary then explains that gú can also mean “country,” thus providing a link between protasis and apodosis and demonstrating the internal consistency of the omen.
Lines r 10-11 contain a curious notarikon analysis of the rare word áb.zà.mí (in Akkadian apsammikku), which is some sort of concave-sided tetragon in the exta. According to the commentary, it means “the sound hole” (lit., “the ear”), because “the sound hole” is the “window” (ab) of a “lyre” (zà.mí).
Photographs of the tablet were kindly made available by H. Hunger for the Cuneiform Commentaries Project. A few new readings were obtained after collation using these photos by E. Jiménez: the new readings are marked with an asterisk in the edition below.