Babylonian Proverbs and Precepts Ashurbanipal's Library

Some Babylonian Proverbs from the Library of Ashurbanipal -- compared with Biblical passages

1. A hostile act thou shalt not perform, that fear of vengeance (?) shall not consume you.

2. You shalt not do evil, that life (?) eternal you may obtain.

3. Does a woman conceive when a virgin, or grow great without eating?

4. If I put anything down it is snatched away; if I do more than is expected, who will repay me?

5 He has dug a well where no water is, he has raised a husk without kernel.

6. Does a marsh receive the price of its reeds, or fields the price of their vegetation?

7. The strong live by their own wages; the weak by the wages of their children.

8. He is altogether good, but he is clothed with darkness.

9. The face of a toiling ox thou shalt not strike with a goad.

10. My knees go, my feet are unwearied; but a fool has cut into my course.

11. His ass I am; I am harnessed to a mule; a wagon I draw, to seek reeds and fodder I go forth.

12. The life of day before yesterday has departed today.

13. If the husk is not right, the kernel is not right; it will not produce seed.

14. The tall grain thrives, but what do we understand of it? The meager grain thrives, but what do we understand of it?

15. The city whose weapons are not strong the enemy before its gates shall not be thrust through.

16. If thou goest and takest the field of an enemy, the enemy will come and take your field.

17. Upon a glad heart oil is poured out of which no one knows.

18. Friendship is for the day of trouble; posterity for the future.

19. An ass in another city becomes its head.

The idea is similar to Matthew 13:57: "A prophet is not without honor, save in his own country, and in his own house."

20. Writing is the mother of eloquence and the father of artists.

21. Be gentle to your enemy as to an old oven.

Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice, Proverbs 24:17

22. The gift of the king is the nobility of the exalted; the gift of the king is the favor of governors.

A king delights in a wise servant, but a shameful servant incurs his wrath. Proverbs 14:35

23. Friendship in days of prosperity is servitude forever.

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24

24. There is strife where servants are, slander where anointers anoint.

Fear the LORD and the king, my son, and do not join with the rebellious, Proverbs 24:21

25. When you see the gain of the fear of god, exalt god and bless the king.

Precepts from the Library of Ashurbanipal

Thou shalt not slander, (but) speak kindly;

Thou shalt not speak evil, (but) show mercy.

Him who slanders (and ) speaks evil,

With its recompense will Shamash visit (?) his head.

Thou shalt not make large thy mouth, but guard thy lip;

In the time of thine anger thou shalt not speak at once.

If thou speakest quickly, thou wilt repent (?) afterward,

And in silence wilt thou sadden thy mind.

Daily present to thy god

Offering and prayer, appropriate to incense.

Before thy god mayest thou have a pure heart,

For that is appropriate to deity.

I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the Lord; and I will heal him. Isaiah 57:19
By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name. Hebrews 13:15

And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. Revelation 5:8

Prayer, petition, and prostration.

Early in the morning shalt thou render him; he will judge thy burdens (?),

And with the help of god thou wilt be abundantly prosperous.

And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the Lord, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not Jeremiah 7:13
Therefore will I do unto this house, which is called by my name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh. Jeremiah 7:14

Woe to those who rise early in the morning to run after their drinks, who stay up late at night till they are inflamed with wine. Isaiah 5:11

They have harps and lyres at their banquets, tambourines and flutes and wine, but they have no regard for the deeds of the LORD, no respect for the work of his hands. Isaiah 5:12 

In thy wisdom learn of the tablet;

The fear (of god) begets favor,

Offering enriches life,

And prayer brings forgiveness of sins.

(The text of the rest is too broken for connected translation).

Source:

From: George A. Barton, Archaeology and The Bible, 7th Edition revised, (Philadelphia: American Sunday School, 1937), pgs 506-507  

 


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