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Šubši-mašrâ-Šakkan (sometimes given as Šubši-mešrê-šakkan), inscribed mšub-ši-maš-ra-a-dGÌR, was the narrator of the poem "Ludlul bēl nēmeqi" ("I Will Praise the Lord of Wisdom"), known as The Poem of the Righteous Sufferer and thought to have been composed during the reign of Kassite king of Babylon Nazi-Maruttaš (ca. 1307–1282 BC), who is mentioned on line 105 of tablet IV. According to the text, he occupied high office, had slaves and fields, a family and spoke of the city as if it were subject to his rule. An official of the same name appears in two other documents dated to his reign.

The sources[edit]

A tablet recovered in Nippur lists grain rations given to the messenger of a certain Šubši-mašrâ-Šakkan during Nazi-Marrutaš’ fourth year (1304 BC).[1] There is a court order found in Ur, dated to the sixteenth year of Nazi-Maruttaš (1292 BC), in which Šubši-mašrâ-šakkan is given the title šakin māti, GAR KUR, “governor of the country.” It is an injunction forbidding harvesting reeds from a certain river or canal.[2]

The poetic work, Ludlul bēl nēmeqi, describes how the fortunes of Šubši-mašrâ-Šakkan, a rich man of high rank, turned one day. When beset by ominous signs, he incurred the wrath of the king, and seven courtiers plotted every kind of mischief against him. This resulted in him losing his property, “they have divided all my possessions among foreign riffraff,” friends, “my city frowns on me as an enemy; indeed my land is savage and hostile,” physical strength, “my flesh is flaccid, and my blood has ebbed away,” and health, as he relates that he “wallowed in my excrement like a sheep.”[3] While slipping into and out of consciousness on his death bed, his family already conducting his funeral, Urnindinlugga, a kalû, or incantation priest, was sent by Marduk to presage his salvation. The work concludes with a prayer to Marduk.[4] The text is written in the first person, leading some to speculate that the author was Šubši-mašrâ-Šakkan himself. Perhaps the only certainty is that the subject of the work, Šubši-mašrâ-Šakkan, was a significant historical person during the reign of Nazi-Maruttaš when the work was set. Of the fifty eight extant fragmentary copies of Ludlul bēl nēmeqi the great majority date to the neo-Assyrian and neo-Babylonian periods.[5]


  1. ^ Alan Lenzi, Amar Annus (2011). "A Six-Column Babylonian Tablet of Ludlul Bēl Nēmeqi and the Reconstruction of Tablet IV". JNES. 70 (2): 190–191.  originally published as PBS II/2 20 31.
  2. ^ O. R. Gurney (1983). The Middle Babylonian Legal and Economic Texts from Ur. – British School of Archeology in Iraq. pp. 187–188.  No. 76 U. 30506.
  3. ^ Robert D. Biggs (1975). "Ludlul bēl nēmeqi, "I Will Praise the Lord of Wisdom"". In James B. Pritchard. The Ancient Near East, Volume II. Princeton University Press. pp. 148–154. 
  4. ^ Takayoshi Oshima (2007). "The Babylonian God Marduk". In Gwendolyn Leick. The Babylonian World. Routledge. pp. 352–355. 
  5. ^ W. G. Lambert (1996). Babylonian Wisdom Literature. Eisenbrauns. p. 26.