Step 5 of 5

O lengthener of days!

Fig. 4 - The sun in Iraq, 1932 – Library of Congress – [Wikimedia Commons](,_Muslims)._A_narrow_street._The_noonday_sun_filtering_through_awnings_LOC_matpc.16157.jpg)

Fig. 4 - The sun in Iraq, 1932 – Library of Congress – Wikimedia Commons

Here you see a star-shaped sign, and below it, a circular kind of sign. These two spell out the name of the sun god Shamash. The rest of the king’s message is a long prayer to this god, whose temple is the subject of the text. I will let the king speak for himself.The star sign stands for the word ‘god’, but in this case is not meant to be read out loud. It tells us that we should read the next sign, which stands for the word ‘sun’, as the name of a god, in this case Shamash. Such reading help is needed because the same sign can have different meanings and different uses depending on context. Apart from helping signs and word signs, cuneiform also uses sound signs: above the star and the sun, there are two signs which spell out the syllables be and li. Beli means ‘my lord’.

Shamash, great lord—look joyfully onto my good deeds, and give me a long life, a fulfilling old age, a firm throne and a long reign as gifts. Accept my praying firmly, and by your supreme command, which is unalterable, may I make my deeds, the work of my hands, last forever. May my descendants flourish in kingship. May it endure in the land. Wherever my hands are raised at you, my lord Shamash, may my way to smite my enemies be open. You are Shamash! May your furious weapons, which cannot be held back, go at my side to make my enemies fall. Like the bricks of the Ebabbar, which are firmly placed for eternity, may my years be long forever.

Not even a mighty king can do everything on his own. To live our life, we need the sun as much as we need other people. If the Mesopotamians teach you one thing today, let it be this: when the sun is out, put yourself in its shining light. May your days in its generous warmth be long.