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Prophecy in the Old Babylonian period (1)

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01 Religious and ideological doctrines and imagery

03 Religious festivals, cults, rituals and practices

11 Language, communication, libraries and education

Old Assyrian and Old Babylonian Empires
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Cuneiform prophecies probably all stem from royal archives and have been found grouped into two separate periods. Earliest is the text of an oracle from the goddess Nanaya in Uruk. Slightly later, to the time of Hammurapi of Babylon, belong oracles of various male and female deities from Mari on the middle Euphrates, and one oracle of the goddess Kitītum from Ešnunna. These oracles are all addressed to kings. Some are reported in, or written as, letters, others were collected together as a group on a single document. Occasionally they accompanied acts of divination by examining entrails, but this was not always the case. The language is often metaphorical and sometimes proverbial. Various words are used to describe the men and women whose utterances were accepted as the word of a deity: in a Mari text the word nābûm is applied to members of the semi-nomadic Hanean tribe, and it is also found in a twelfth-century text from Emar. It is cognate with the Hebrew nābīˀ ‘prophet’.


Dalley 1998, 72Dalley, Stephanie. “The Influence of Mesopotamia upon Israel and the Bible.” In: S. Dalley (ed.). The Legacy of Mesopotamia. Oxford: Oxford University Press 1998, 57-83.

Stephanie Dalley

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