Origin/Historian/Author: Babylonian
Source: Records of the Past, 2nd Series, Vol. IV (1890) by A. H. Sayce

Intro By Sayce
The inscription appears to have been frequently copied and widely circulated. Four versions are preserved in the British Museum (Nos. 62, 63, 64, 65), and a fifth was discovered at Tartûs (the ancient Antarados) in 1885, of which the text, with a translation, was communicated by Professor Sayce to the Society of Biblical Archæology, and published in their Proceedings (vii. 142). It has further been published and translated by George Smith (History of Assurbp., p. 303), and S. A. Smith (Keilschriftexte Asurbanipals, ii. 10), while a German version by Jensen will be found on p. 264 of the second volume of Schrader’s Keilinschriftliche Bibliothek. [5]

This Babylonian text, as Archibald Henry Sayce stated above, was widely copied and distributed throughout the Babylonian and Assyrian cultures. The version referenced below is a later Assyrian copy recorded during or after the reign of Ashurbanipal. Consisting of three tablets, it features the goddess Beltis, who was the wife of Bel in the Akkadian and Babylonian traditions.

Beltis is described here as the first born of Anu, while in other traditions, Bau or Baba was considered Anu’s first born. It is possible these deities are one in the same, however it is also possible that the Anu referenced here is different from the Anu referenced as the father of Bau. With so many discrepancies due to the conflations of various deities, our only hope is that more archaeological evidence in the form of literature is gathered and deciphered to help us draw a more definitive conclusion.

Like Bel, Beltis was highly revered. She was elevated above and described as mightier than her offspring. She is also identified here as an Ishtar, or a lady of heaven. Her level of influence can be understood from lines 5 and 6 of the first tablet. Without her blessing, a king was unable to rule and his subordinates were unable to follow.

Full Text Below

Tablet I
1. To Beltis, the great lady, chief of heaven and earth, queen of all the gods, the mighty one
2. of all lands, whose festival is honored among the Ishtars, who surpasses in power her offspring, a shining form,
3. who, like the sun her brother, the ends of heaven and earth together enlightens, the strong one of the Anunnaki, [1]
4. first-born of Anu, great one of the gods, queen over her enemies, who goes before, troubler of the seas,
5. who tramples the wooded mountains under foot, [2] the mighty one of the Igigi, lady of fight and battle, [3] without whom in E-sarra the sceptre
6. they would not obey, who causes to receive strength, who causes to find the fulness of the heart [4] of him who loves truth,
7. hearer of prayers, receiver of supplication, who accepts entreaty, Ishtar, the perfect light,
8. all-powerful, who enlightens heaven and earth, whose name is proclaimed in the regions of all countries,
9. who bestows life, the merciful goddess, to whom it is good to pray, who dwells
10. in Calah, my lady.

Tablet II
1. To Beltis, lady of the lands, who dwells in E-barbar, [6]
2. Assur-bani-pal, King of Assyria, the great one, her worshiper,
3. the governor, the work of her hands, who by her great command
4. in the onset of battle had cut off
5. the head of Teumman, King of Elam;
6. and Ummanigas, Tammaritu, Pa’e,
7. Ummanaldas, who after Teumman had exercised
8. royalty over Elam, with her great help
9. my hands took them, and to the chariot, [7]
10. the car of my kingship I fastened them,
11. and in her mighty name in all countries I went to and fro,
12. and rival had I none. In those days the pavement of the house of Ishtar,
13. my lady, with squared stone well-hewn [8] its fabric
14. I made great for ever. Beltis,
15. may this pavement be accepted before thee!
16. On me, Assur-bani-pal, the worshiper of thy great godhead,
17. a life of long days, wholeness of heart bestow,
18. and going to and fro in E-barbar may my feet grow old!

Tablet III
1. Assur-natsir-pal, vicar [9] of Bel, high-priest of Assur, son of Tukulti-Uras, vicar of Bel, high-priest of Assur, son of Rimmon-nirari, vicar of Bel, high-priest of Assur,
2. when E-barbar, the house of Ishtar of Nineveh, my lady, which Samsi-Rimmon, high-priest of Assur [10] the great one who went before me, had made,
3. fell into decay, from its foundations to its roof I restored (it), I completed (it), I strengthened (it) more than before, I repaired (it) … [11]
4. An inscription I wrote in the midst … May some later monarch that which has fallen of it renew; the name written to its place [may he restore!] [12]

Footnotes by Sayce
[1] The spirits of the under world opposed to Igigi, the spirits of the upper air.
[2] In an inscription of Assur-natsir-pal on a small altar brought from Balawât by Mr. Rassam, and numbered 71 in the Nimrud Gallery of the British Museum, the same epithet is applied to Bel. Ana Beli … mu-na-ri-id khur-sâ-ni a-sib E-kid-mu-ri, etc.—”To Bel, … trampling the wooded mountains under foot, dwelling in E-kid-mu-ri,” etc.
[3] Or, as Mr. Pinches suggests, “without whom … the herd or tribe would not obey,” taking sibdhu as a collective expressing literally “that which is driven together.” Cf. Ex. xxiv. 4. ‏שׁבטי ישׂראל‎ “the tribes of Israel.” Jensen translates: “ohne die … ein Strafgericht (?) nicht günstig ist.” (!) E-sarra is the temple of heaven, opposed to E-kur, the temple of the earth.
[4] Or, “who causes to attain the heart’s desire of him,” etc.
[5] The text will be found in the second volume of W. A. I., plate 66, No. 2; but the arrangement of the present translation is different, being that of No. 64, as edited by S. A. Smith.
[6] It is uncertain whether the name of this temple should be read E-barbar or E-masmas, and the meaning of the name is also obscure. However, in W. A. I., ii. 48, 26, barbar (or masmas) is explained by the Assyrian phrase kis-su sa mu-’sa-ri-e, which is interpreted to mean “library” (Sayce, Hibbert Lectures, p. 149), in which case E-barbar would be “the temple of the library.” The original meaning of mu’sarû seems to have been “furrow”; cp. W. A. I., iv. 27, I: bi-i-nu sa ina mu-’sa-ri-e me-e lâ is-tu-u (“seed which in the furrows drinks not water”). Hence, through the idea of what is traced or indented, it comes to mean an inscribed character, an inscription. The temple in question is the temple of Ishtar at Nineveh, which was also restored by Assur-natsir-pal. See W. A. I., iii. 3, 40.
[7] The words translated “chariot” (itsi sa sa-da-di) mean literally “the wood of drawing,” or “the draught-wood.”
[8] iski, translated “well-hewn,” I take as an adjective, and connect with the root ‏שּׂכה‎, of which “primaria potestas fortasse est in secando.” The meaning “strong” has also been suggested; in any case it is difficult to see how it can be made (as by S. A. Smith) into a preterite of the first person.
[9] I venture, on an obvious model, to introduce the phrase, “vicar of Bel,” as more expressive than such terms as “viceroy,” of the combination of functions in a ruler who was not only a king but also a pope.
[10] The son of Isme-Dagon, cir. B.C. 1820.
[11] At the end of line 3 I restore u-sa-tir; cp. Tiglath-Pileser, viii. 49, a-na as-ri-su-nu u-tir.
[12] I restore lu-tir; cp. W. A. I., iii. 3, 23, ana as-ri-su lu-tir.