Relief showing Nabonidus,
praying to the moon, sun,
and Venus (British Museum)
account of Nabonidus
The question what
was doing in Tem‚ will
probably remain unsolved
for ever. From the following text, we may deduce that during his life
there were strong rumors that the king suffered from a mental illness
proposed a religious reform (preferring the Moon god Sin to all other
These rumors were used by the author of theVerse
account to explain Nabonidus' stay abroad: being mad, he
supreme god Marduk and went away. We will discuss the truth of the
Nabonidus' devotion to the Moon is a historical fact, proven by an
found in Harran
(in 1956). That he blasphemed against Marduk, however, must be an
[As to Nabonidus:] law and order are not promulgated by
him, he made
perish the common people through want, the nobles he killed in war, for
the trader he blocked the road.
For the farmer he made rare the
there is no [lacuna], the harvester does not sing
any more, he does not fence in any more the arable territory. [lacuna]
He took away their property, scattered
he ruined completely,
their corpses remaining on a dark place, decaying.
Their faces became hostile, they do not
the wide street, you do not see happiness anymore, [lacuna] is
unpleasant, they decided.
As to Nabonidus, his protective deity
to him. And he, the former favorite of the gods is now seized by
Against the will of the gods he performed an unholy action, he thought
out something worthless:
he had made the image of a deity which
ever seen in this country, he introduced it into the temple, he placed
it on a pedestal; he called it by the name of Moon. It is adorned with
a necklace of lapis lazuli, crowned with a tiara,
its appearance is that of the eclipsed
gesture of its hand is like that of the god Lugal-[unintelligible],
its head of hair reaches to the pedestal, and in front of it are placed
the Storm Dragon and the Wild Bull.
When he worshipped it, its appearance
that of a demon crowned with a tiara, his face turned hostile [lacuna].
His form not even Eamummu could have
even the learned Adapa knows his name.
Nabonidus said: 'I shall build a temple
I shall construct his holy seat, I shall form its first brick for him,
I shall establish firmly its foundation, I shall make a replica even of
the temple Ekur. I shall call its name Ehulhul for all days to come.
When I will have fully executed what I
I shall lead him by the hand and establish him on his seat. Yet till I
have achieved this, till I have obtained what is my desire, I shall
all festivals, I shall order even the New
Year's festival to cease!'
And he formed its first brick, did lay
out the outlines,
he spread out the foundation, made high its summit, by means of wall
made of gypsum and bitumen he made its facing brilliant, as in the
he made a ferocious wild bull stand on guard in front of it.
After he had obtained what he desired, a
utter deceit, had built this abomination, a work of unholiness -when
third year was about to begin- he entrusted the army [?] to his oldest
son, his first born, the troops in the country he ordered under his
He let everything go, entrusted the
him, and, himself, he started out for a long journey. The military
marching with him, he turned to Tem‚ deep in the west.
He started out the expedition on a path
to a distant region. When he arrived there, he killed in battle the
of Tem‚, slaughtered the flocks of those who dwell in the
well as in the countryside. And he, himself, took residence in
the forces of Akkad were also stationed there.
He made the town beautiful, built there
like the palace in Babylon.
He also built walls for the fortification of the town and he surrounded
the town with sentinels.
The inhabitants became troubled. The
and the brick basket he imposed upon them. Through the hard work they [lacuna]
killed the inhabitants, women and youngsters included. Their prosperity
he brought to an end. All the barley that he found therein [lacuna]
His tired army [lacuna]
[About one third of the text is missing. In the
lacuna, words like
'stylus' and 'the king is mad' can be discerned; the sequel suggests
a Persian official made an insulting remark on Nabonidus'
to write with a stylus, that war broke out, that Nabonidus had some
of hallucinatory vision, boasted a victory over Cyrus that he actually
had not won, and was ultimately defeated. The texts continues with a
of the pious Cyrus and the blasphemous liar Nabonidus.]
... the praise of the Lord of Lords and the names of the
Cyrus has not conquered he wrote upon this stela, while Cyrus is the
of the world whose triumphs are true and whose yoke the kings of all
countries are pulling. Nabonidus has written upon his stone tablets: 'I
have made him bow to my feet, I personally have conquered his
his possessions I took to my residence.'
It was he who once stood up in the
assembly to praise
himself, saying: 'I am wise, I know, I have seen what is hidden. Even
I do not know how to write with the stylus, yet I have seen secret
The god Ilte'ri has made me see a vision, he has shown me everything. I
am aware of a wisdom which greatly surpasses even that of the series of
insights which Adapa has composed!'
Yet he continues to mix up the rites, he
the hepatoscopic oracles. To the most important ritual observances, he
orders an end; as to the sacred representations in Esagila
which Eamumma himself had fashioned- he looks at the representations
When he saw the usar-symbol
of Esagila, he makes an [insulting?] gesture. He assembled the priestly
scholars, he expounded to them as follows: 'Is not this the sign of
indicating for whom the temple was built? If it belongs really to BÍl,
it would have been marked with the spade. Therefore the Moon himself
marked already his own temple with the usar-symbol!'
And Zeriya, the šatammu
who used to crouch as his secretary in front of him, and Rimut, the
who used to have his court position near to him, do confirm the royal
stand by his words, they even bare their heads to pronounce under oath:
'Now only we understand this situation, after the king has explained
In the month of Nisannu,
the eleventh day, till the god was present on his seat [lacuna]
[lacuna] for the
inhabitants of Babylon,
Cyrus declared the state of peace. His troops he kept away from Ekur.
cattle he slaughtered with the ax, he slaughtered many aslu-sheep,
incense he put on the censer, the regular offerings for the Lord of
he ordered increased, he constantly prayed to the gods, prostrated on
face. To act righteously is dear to his heart.
To repair the city of Babylon he
conceived the idea
and he himself took up hoe, spade and water basket and began to
the wall of Babylon. The original plan of Nebuchadnezzar
the inhabitants executed with a willing heart. He built the
on the Imgur-Enlil-wall.
The images of the gods of Babylon, male
he returned to their cellas, the gods who had abandoned their chapels
returned to their mansions. Their wrath he appeased, their mind he put
at rest, those whose power was at a low he brought back to life because
their food is served to them regularly.
Nabonidus' deeds Cyrus effaced and
constructed, all the sanctuaries of his royal rule Cyrus has
the ashes of the burned buildings the wind carried away.
Nabonidus' picture he effaced, in all
the inscriptions of that name are erased. Whatever Nabonidus had
Cyrus fed to the flames!
To the inhabitants of Babylon a joyful
now given. They are like prisoners when the prisons are opened. Liberty
is restored to those who were surrounded by oppression. All rejoice to
look upon him as king!
translation was made by A. Leo Oppenheim
and is copied from James B. Pritchard's Ancient Near Eastern
relating to the Old Testament, 1950 Princeton. Some minor