CCP 2.1.C - Tummu bītu, Šurpu 2 C

Catalogue information
Vorderasiatisches Museum
VAT 13846
Ass 13956 he
AššurAššur, House of the Exorcist
AfO 12 pl. xiii-xiv
Ph. Ass. 4585

Meier, 1937bG. Meier, Kommentare aus dem Archiv der Tempelschule in Assur, Archiv für Orientforschung, vol. 12, pp. 237-246, 1937.: 241-246

MagicŠurpu, Maqlû, Tummu bītu


Base text: 
Tummu bītu, Šurpu 2
Commentary no: 
Tablet information
Complete tablet
obv 29, rev 29
7th cent (Assurbanipal libraries and other Assyrian cities)
Kiṣir-Nabû s. Šamaš-ibni (d. Nabû-bēssunu)

Frahm, 2010bE. Frahm, Hochverrat in Assur, in Assur-Forschungen. Arbeiten aus der Forschungsstelle »Edition literarischer Keilschrifttexte aus Assur« der Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften, S. M. Maul and Heeßel, N. P. , Eds. Harrassowitz, 2010, pp. 89-137.
[On line 41-42]
: 98 fn. 18

Frahm, 2011E. Frahm, Babylonian and Assyrian Text Commentaries. Origins of Interpretation. Ugarit-Verlag, 2011.: 32, 121-23, 269, 396

Hunger, 1968H. Hunger, Babylonische und assyrische Kolophone. Neukirchener Verlag, 1968.: 73 no. 210

Krebernik, 2006aM. Krebernik, Philologische Aspekte elamisch-mesopotamischer Beziehungen im Überblick, Babel und Bibel, vol. 3, pp. 59-99, 2006.: 81-82

Meier, 1937bG. Meier, Kommentare aus dem Archiv der Tempelschule in Assur, Archiv für Orientforschung, vol. 12, pp. 237-246, 1937.
: 241-246

Pearce, 1993L. E. Pearce, Statements of Purpose: Why the Scribes Wrote, in The Tablet and the Scroll. Near Eastern Studies in Honour of W.W. Hallo, M. E. Cohen, Snell, D. C. , and Weisberg, D. B. , Eds. CDL Press, 1993, pp. 185-193.
[ana amāri, pedagogical?]
: 188a

Pedersén, 1986O. Pedersén, Archives and Libraries in the City of Assur. A Survey of the Material from the German Excavations. Almqvist & Wiksell, 1986.: 69 no. 438

Reiner, 1958E. Reiner, Šurpu. A Collection of Sumerian and Akkadian Incantations. Selbtverlag, 1958.
[On line 22-55]
: 51

Frahm, 08/2008 (Transliteration)
Frahm, 08/2008 (Translation)
Frahm, 08/2008 (Annotation)
Jiménez, 08/2016 (ATF Transliteration)
Jiménez, 08/2016 (Commentary markup)
Frahm, 08/2018 (Introduction)
By Eckart Frahm | Make a correction or suggestion
How to cite
Frahm, E., 2018, “Commentary on Tummu bītu, Šurpu 2 (CCP 2.1.C),” Cuneiform Commentaries Project (E. Frahm, E. Jiménez, M. Frazer, and K. Wagensonner), 2013–2020; accessed August 12, 2020, at DOI: 10079/qjq2c7m
© Cuneiform Commentaries Project (Citation Guidelines)

A fairly well preserved one-column tablet found among numerous other tablets in a private house in Aššur explains portions from Tummu bītu, an Akkadian incantation preventing evil spirits from entering the house, and from the second tablet of the magical compendium Šurpu, an eight-tablet series of rituals and incantations accompanying the magical rubbing of a patient, and the burning (šurpu) of the skin particles removed in the process.

The commentary was written by Kiṣir-Nabû from the Baba-šumu-ibni family, who was active during the last third of the seventh century BCE, in the years preceding the destruction of Aššur by the Medes in 614 BCE.1 Like the other members of his family, Kiṣir-Nabû was a ritual healer/exorcist (Akkadian mašmaššu/āšipu), and the texts he wrote in the course of his education and career reflect his profession. Among them were at least four commentaries. Apart from the one edited here, Kiṣir-Nabû produced the short commentary JRL 1053 (CCP 2.2.1.A.b), on individual lines from Marduk’s Address, Muššu’u, and Udug-ḫul; the fairly long commentary Ass. 13955fx+ (CCP 2.2.1.A.a), on Marduk’s Address; and the commentary Ass. 13955ii (CCP 2.1.A), whose first seventeen lines, on Tummu bītu, duplicate lines 1-17 of the present commentary, while its last portion explores the magical series Maqlû. The Aššur commentaries KAR 94 (CCP 2.1.D), on Maqlû and Šurpu, and LKA 82, on Udug-ḫul (CCP 2.2.2), may likewise be works of Kiṣir-Nabû, even though there are no colophons to confirm this. Why Kiṣir-Nabû copied certain commentary segments twice, and what exactly prompted him to write commentary entries dealing with different texts on one and the same tablet remains unclear, and it is also hard to gauge why he often quotes lemmata in an order that differs from their sequence in the base texts. Most likely, these choices were governed by pedagogical considerations.

The commentary follows the indentation format. Each of its entries quotes a line from the base text and provides explanations of individual words or expressions from it in the following, indented line(s). In two cases, ll. 45 and 49, the explanations begin in the line that includes the quote. Subscripts introduced by ina libbi “from” indicate in ll. 21 and 55 the incipits of the texts explained in the previous sections.

Many explanations in the commentary part on Tummu bītu deal with realia: technical terms for windows and doors. The explanations in the section on Šurpu mostly aim at clarifying the nature of the misdeeds described in Tablet II of the series as leading to divine punishment. Two entries on deities invoked in the base text to absolve the sinner complete this second part of the commentary.

Like other Aššur commentaries, the present one includes a few Assyrianizing features, such as an Assyrian subjunctive in l. 26 and the use of in l. 41. The Šurpu section of the commentary shares some explanations with the tabular commentary CCP 2.1.B from Nineveh (e.g., l. 48 // CCP 2.1.B 2.1.B, o i 10).


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AfO 12, 240 pl. 13-14 [Commentary (Magic)]


ÉN tùm-me É qaq-qa-ru šu-ta-as-⸢suk/suq

(1) “The house is bewitched, the floor has been cleaned / prepared / drawn upon.” GIŠ.ḪUR means “to draw,” “to draw” refers to a sketch.


    GIŠ.ḪUR : e-se-qu : e-se-qu : iṣ-ṣur- 1


[ina] ap⸣-ti ṣe-li la te-rab-šú

(3) “You (the demon) shall not enter to him [through] the window of the side wing” (this refers to) the window of the bathroom.


    ap-tu šá É ra-ma-ki 2


ina ap-ti ṣe⸣-li a-ḫe-e KIMIN<(la)> te-rab-šú

(5) “Through the window of the other side wing ditto (i.e., you shall not enter to him) (this refers to) the courtyard window.


    ap-tu šá tar⸣-ba-ṣi


ina ap-ti kar-⸢ra⸣-ti KIMIN<(la)> te-rab-šú

(7) “Through the karratu-window ditto” (this refers to) the second(?) window.


    ap-tu ṭu-bu-su 3


ina ap-ti mu-šir₉-ti KIMIN<(la)> te-rab-šú 4

(9) “Through the mušīrtu-window ditto” (this refers to) the upper window.


    ap-ti muḫ-ḫi


ina GISSU pu-uz-ri KIMIN<(la)> te-rab-šú

(11) “Hidden under the shadow of a man ditto” (this means:) secretly.


    ina pi-i-ši-ri


ina NU.KÚŠ.Ù AN.TA KIMIN<(la)> te-rab-šú

(13) “Through the upper door fitting ditto” [(this means:) through] ....


    [ina? (x)] tar ba zi? ni? 5


[ina NU.KÚŠ].⸢Ù KI.⸢TA KIMIN<(la)> te-rab-šú

(15) [Through the] lower [door fit]ting ditto” (this means:) [...] ....


    x [x x] x ni ki


ina ṣer⸣-[ri AN].TA KIMIN<(la)> te-rab-šú

(17) “Through the [upp]er so[cket (for the doorpost)] ditto” (this refers to) what [...] is placed [] the door bolt.


    šá [x x] gišSAG.KUL šak-nu


ina ṣer⸣-[ri KI].TA KIMIN<(la)> te-rab-šú

(19) “Through the [lo]wer soc[ket (for the doorpost)] ditto” (this refers to) ... [...] between the doors.


    x [x x] bi⸣-rit gišIG-MEŠ


    ina [ŠÀ] ÉN tùm-mi É

(21) Fr[om]: “Incantation: The house is bewitched (Tummu bītu)."


[bar-ru pa-ar-šu] pi-i-šú

(22) “His mouth (i.e., the mouth of the patient who needs to be ritually cleansed) [is ... (barru) and lying] (Šurpu II 63) [“lying”(?)] (refers to) a mendacious speaker. [... (barru)]: this is a rebel (bārā/ūnû).


    [pa?-ar?-šu?] da-bi-bu par-ri-ṣu


    [ba-ar]-ri : ba-ru-<<ru?>>-nu-u šu-u 6


[ina a-ḫi ú]-re-e šá-ʾi-il

(25) “He (the patient) is being questioned(?) [at the side of the st]able” (Šurpu II 114) [(refers to someone) who] stands [in the stabl]e(?) in the midst of the cattle. [...] accordingly ....


    [šá? ina? ú-re]-e? i-za-zu-u-ni ina ŠÀ ú-ma-me 7


    [x x x x] x ki-i an-ni-i x x (x) ra x 8


[im-i-ru ú-ri-iḫ]-ḫu i-ku-lu

(28) [(Since) he went(?) (imʾiru) and sav]ed (something) (for the gods)], but then ate (it himself) (Šurpu II 77) [...]; imru means “regular offering (ginû) and nīqu-offering, (respectively).


    [x x x x] : im-ru gi-nu-u SIŠKUR 9


[-ru-ru]-⸢ma ni- ŠU-MIN ir-šu-ú

(30) [(Since) he went ahead (?)] and performed (lit., obtained) a hand-lifting (prayer?) (Šurpu II 78) ["to g]o ahead(?) (šarāru) means “to go,” [(referring to someone) who] raises his hands in order to hit something. [...] ... ŠÀ.GÍD.GÍD (corresponds to) šarāru (and is to be interpreted literally as) “to consider (earnestly in) one’s heart."


    [šá]-⸢ra⸣-ru : a-la-ku


    [šá] ŠU⸣-MIN-su ana ma-ḫaṣ mim-ma i-dak-ku-u


    [(x)] x ŠÀ.GÍD.GÍD šá-ra-ru šá-da-ad lìb-bi 10


[dáb]-da-šu uk-ta-bi-is

(34) “He trampled in [blood]shed he had caused(?) (Šurpu II 93) “bloodshed” (refers to) the blood [of] someone killed.


    dáb-du-ú da-⸢me? [šá?] di-i-ki 11


iḫ-te-si-ma it-ta-mi

(36) “He had covered something up and swore (that he was innocent(?)) (Šurpu II 84) “to cover up” means “to hide,” (referring to someone) who hides something.


    ḫe-su-ú : pa-za-ru


    šá mim-ma ú-pa-za-ru


a-na an-na ul-la iq-bu-u

(39) (Who) said no instead of yes and said yes instead of no” (Šurpu II 6) this means, he said nothing about things better be spoken of, and he said something [about] things better not be sp[oken of] (?).


a-na ul-la an-na iq-bu-u


    ma-⸢a a⸣-na qa-bi-ti la qa-bi-tu iq-ta-bi


    [(ma-a) a-na] la qa-⸢bi⸣-[ti?] qa-bi-tu iq-ta-bi 12


la na-ṭa⸣-tu da-⸢a⸣-a-[nu] ú⸣-šá-ḫi-zu

(43) [(Who)] incited the judg[e] to inappropriate actions” (Šurpu II 15) KA.NU.GAR.RA corresponds to “inappropriate acti[ons] (and) “maliciousness."


    KA.⸢NU⸣.GAR.RA : la na?-⸢ṭa?⸣-[tu?] nu?-la- 13


šá-ʾi-il šá-⸢ʾi-il : šá iq?⸣-bu-[u]

(45) “He is being questioned, he is being questioned (?) (Šurpu II 104) what is said (is the following): ... [...] ... [...].


    an giš x [x x x] ma ad?/ṣi? [(x)] 14


ina IGI ši-pa-⸢ri [iz-za-az-zu-ma] la šal-ma-te i?-⸢tam?⸣-[mu?]-u?

(47) [(Since) he stood] in front of the congregation and sp[ok]e insincere words” (Šurpu II 81) “congregation” [means] “assembly."


    ši-pa-⸢ru [(x) :] pu⸣-uḫ-ru 15


dLAMMA DINGIR u LUGAL it-ta⸣-[mi? :] dUTU u dIŠKUR i?-tam?-mu-u

(49) (Since) he sw[ore] by the protective deity of god and king” (Šurpu II 91) [(this means)] he swore by Šamaš and Adad.


da-nu-ni-tu₄ lip-ṭur ina a-ga-ki URU ta-šil-ti-šá

(50) “May (the goddess) Anunītu release (the patient) in Akkad, the city that celebrates her” (Šurpu II 170) Anunitu is the Ištar of Bubê. The (term) Eulmaš refers to a sanctuary in Akkad.


da-nu-ni-tu₄ d15 šá KU₇ki : É.UL.MAŠ : pa-paḫ a-ga-ki 16


dia-ab-ru dḫum-ba nap-ru-ši lip-ṭur DINGIR-MEŠ šu?-⸢pu?-te?

(52) “May Yabru, Ḫumba, and Napruši, the most famous deities, release (the patient) (cf. Šurpu II 163-64) Yabru is Anu, Ḫumba is Enlil, and Napruša is Ea.


    dia-ab-ru da-nu dḫum-ba den-líl


    nap-ru-šá dé-a 17


    ina ŠÀ ÉN lu paṭ-ṭir DINGIR-MEŠ GAL-MEŠ

(55) From: “Incantation: May it be released, o great gods!” (Šurpu II 1).


    ina pu-ut SUMUN-šú SAR-ma -

(56) Written and checked according to its original. For the reading of Kiṣir-Nabû, junior-exorcist, son of Šamaš-ibni, exorcist of the Aššur temple. Whoever removes the tablet, may Nabû order that he perish.


    a-na IGI.DU₈.A-šú mki-ṣir-dMUATI MAŠ.MAŠ TUR




    ša IR dAG ZÁḪ!-šú DUG₄.GA 18

1CAD E 331 suggests that the commentator mistakenly derived šutassuk from esēqu (“to incise”) instead of the correct nasāku (“to throw down”). CAD N2 20, however, does not include the passage sub nasāku (despite suggesting for šussuku in connection with qaqqaru the meaning "to clear the ground"), and on p22f. also not sub nasāqu A, which renders šutassuqu as "to put in order, to make ready, to prepare" (see also p23a, where it is left open whether šutassuk/qu derives from nasāku or nasāqu). AHw 753 lists most of the attestations (but not the one from the commentary) sub nasāqu. The derivation from esēqu suggested by the commentary is not that unreasonable, however, since AMT, pl. 34, 2 (K 6390, Bīt mēseri) mentions the tummu-bītu incantation together with a reference to the drawing of magic circles within a ritual (ll. 1-7, see Wiggermann, Protective Spirits, p. 111-12). Note that A 163(+) (CCP 2.2.1.A.a), the Aššur commentary on “Marduk’s Address” and another Kiṣir-Nabû tablet, includes the rare iṣ-ṣur-tu₂ as well, in an entry that explains giš-hur-ri (ll. 46-47).

2For the house type described here, see Meier, AfO 12, p243.

3Both AHw 1393b und CAD Ṭ 120-21 consider ṭu-bu-su as unclear; a possible connection with d/tuppussû "younger brother, second in rank" remains highly conjectural. karratu in l. 7 is likewise poorly attested. The entry explains obscurum per obscurius.

4AHw 683a translates mušē/īrtu as “Ort des Herabbeugens” (“a place to bow down”) and considers it a kind of window (“eine Art Fenster”). The explanation given for mušē/īrtu in CAD M2 271a (“a demon, lit. she who leans into the window”) fits this context less well.

5The partial duplicate Ass. 13955 ii (CCP 2.1.C), o 14 provides the explanation: [ina? (x)]tar pa zi n[i?]. The word may be another hapax.

6The exact meaning of barru is unclear (see AHw 107), and whether the explanation ba-ru-<<ru?>>-nu-u is really to be derived from bārānû remains uncertain as well. Provided the lines are correctly restored, the commentary would explain the words in a sequence that deviates from that in the base text.

7Note the Assyrian subjunctive ending in izzazzūni.

8The restoration suggested by Meier and Reiner for the signs after kī annî, lu gam?-ra-k[u], seems not very plausible; for the time being, the passage remains obscure.

9The two available Šurpu manuscripts render the first word of the line as im-i-ru and i-me-ru, respectively. Reiner does not translate this, but CAD A2 319a is probably right in deriving the word from âru “to go.” The commentator, however, apparently takes it to be a noun, possibly immeru "sheep," and associates it with two very common terms for sacrifices. CAD I 138a lists the passage under imru A "offering."

10The line commented on is again rather obscure. šarāru is also elsewhere equated with alāku, and furthermore with SAG.GÍD.GÍD, inter alia in a commentary from Uruk (for references, see CAD Š/2 57b). The equation in the commentary with ŠÀ.GÍD.GÍD may go back to a mistaken replacement of SAG with ŠÀ; the final šadād libbi (compare ana libbi šadādu) is a literal translation of the individual components of the logogram. The reference to “hitting something” may be an attempt to find a negative meaning in the line, which must indeed refer to some kind of misconduct on the part of the patient.

11Note that the possessive suffix -šu is missing in the Šurpu manuscripts.

12For the Šurpu line, compare Matthew 5:37 and James 5:12; a similar phrase, probably inspired by the verse from Šurpu, is attested in an Esarhaddon inscription (Leichty, RINAP 4, p195 (no. 104), I 21-24). qabītu is otherwise only attested with a preceding . CAD Q 3b quotes the commentary entry without offering a translation.

13Meier and Reiner read in l. 44 la qa-bi-[ti/tú], but in light of the Šurpu line commented on (II 15, restored after II 64), a reading lā naṭâtu – which is not excluded by the meager traces – seems to make better sense. Note that KA.NU.GAR.RA is nowhere attested in connection with lā qabītu (see CAD Q 3), while the very similar NÍG.NU.GAR.RA does occur together with lā naṭâtu (see CAD N/2 130b); both logograms are, moreover, attested for nullâtu (see CAD N2 333-34). Compare nullâtu = lā kittu in the Theodicy commentary (CCP 1.4) r 35’.

14The explanation remains unclear; it seems unlikely, but is not entirely excluded, that the line begins with a reference to Gilgameš.

15In the Šurpu commentary CCP 2.1.B from Nineveh (o i 10), šipāru, which is rare and only attested in literary and religious texts, is likewise equated with the more common puḫru.

16The city of Bubê, located in the border region to Elam (note the Elamite gods mentioned in the following line), is poorly known; the deity most often associated with it is Sakkud. The goddess Anunītu was worshipped in Sippar and Akkad; why she is linked in the commentary to Bubê remains unclear. The Eulmaš was the traditional Ištar sanctuary in Akkad.

17The two available manuscripts of the base text have šur-bu-tu₂ instead of šu?-pu?#-te. The three Elamite deities mentioned in this line are also known from the Underworld Vision of an Assyrian Prince (SAA 3, p74, r 25), where they guard an Assyrian ruler, apparently Sennacherib, in the netherworld. Hinz, JNES 24 (1965), 353-54 has argued that the missing divine determinative in napruš indicates a knowledge on the part of the scribe that napru/ was an Elamite epithet of Ḫumba(n) and meant “great god,” but the commentary clearly considers it a divine name, to be identified with Ea. The names of the three deities are also explained in CCP 2.1.B, o i 1-3, with the same equations but an additional note indicating that they are all Elamite.

18For the colophon, see Hunger, BAK, no. 210. The phraseology used is not entirely clear as to whether Kiṣir-Nabû actually wrote the commentary, but since no other scribe is mentioned, it seems likely that he did. The colophon of the partial duplicate Ass. 13955 ii (CCP 2.1.A) refers to Kiṣir-Nabû as well and is very similar; the syllabic writing a-na a-ma-ri-šú that it provides instead of a-na IGI.DU₈.A-šú indicates that the latter is not to be read ana tāmartišu.