The Commentary to Ludlul Bēl Nēmeqi: A Closer Look

Document Type

Conference Presentation


Religious Studies

Conference Title

American Oriental Society Annual Meeting


American Oriental Society


Portland, OR

Conference Dates

March 15-18, 2013

Date of Presentation



Ludlul B¯el N¯emeqi is one of only five Akkadian literary compositions that attracted the exegetical attention of ancient Assyrian and Babylonian scholarly commentators. The text’s commentary, preserved in K.3291 (a hand copy appears in Lambert’s BWL, pls. 15–17), has typically been viewed as a work that was primarily intended to clarify rare Akkadian words by equating them with words more commonly known to first millennium scribes (see E. Frahm, Babylonian and Assyrian Text Commentaries: Origins of Interpretation [Miinster: Ugarit-Verlag, 2011], 119). I take this useful characterization as a starting point for further investigation into two matters, an understanding of which will refine and deepen our characterization of the nature of the commentary. First, I explore potential connections between the various lexical equations offered in the Ludlul commentary and the broader lexical tradition. And second, I investigate whether the Ludlul commentator used exegetical techniques in the Ludlul commentary that are known from other commentary texts. Although several lexical equations in the commentary remain opaque with regard to the two points of investigation, several lines of evidence support the fact that, despite its straight-forward manner of presentation, the Ludlul commentary drew on lexical equations known from many other lexical texts and utilized several of the same exegetical and philological techniques that are found in commentaries exhibiting a more sophisticated presentation. The study rests on an investigation of every lexical equation in the commentary, but time will only permit an offering of representative examples as evidence.

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