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Records of the Past, 2nd Series, Vol. IV , ed. by A.H. Sayce, [1890], at

p. 109


Translated by the Editor

The text of the following curious document has been published by Dr. Strassmaier in his Inschriften von Cambyses König von Babylon, Part I, No. 273 (Leipzig, 1890). It has unfortunately been injured in one or two places, though in each case the reading can be restored with more or less probability. The text describes the dedication of three young men by their mother, Ummu-dhabat, to the service of the Sun-god of Sippara, and thus offers an interesting parallel to the history of the dedication of Samuel by his mother Hannah (1 Sam. i.) Samuel, however, was "brought unto the house of the Lord in Shiloh" as soon as he had been weaned, whereas the Babylonian mother waited until her sons were grown up and had been "counted among the men," before she presented them to Samas the Sun-god.

They then became attached to "the house of the males" (bit zikari), of which we hear several times in the tablets published by Dr. Strassmaier.

p. 110

[paragraph continues] Thus we are told that on the 6th day of the month Iyyar, in the 5th year of Kambyses, a large quantity of dates were conveyed from the sutummu or "storehouse" of the king for the support of "the males" and their superintendant Takh-Gula, on account of their ministry in the temple during the preceding month of Nisan; while ten measures of dates were delivered to a certain Arduya for their use in the service of the goddess Anunit during the month of Iyyar. 1 So, again, on the 21st day of the month Ab in the same year, sixty measures of tribute (makka´su, Heb. meke´s, Numb. xxxi. 28) were registered as having been provided for them and their superintendent on account of the "daily sacrifice" during the month Elul. 2 It would therefore seem that a Babylonian temple had attached to it a sort of college of priests, who lived together apart from women, under a head or president, and who were called upon to perform certain religious functions in the services of the temple. It is possible that the priests, who are specially distinguished by the title of "males," were celibates. At all events they could be dedicated to the service of the gods by their mothers, just as Samuel was by Hannah.

The college or "house of the males" reminds us of the Roman collegia, as well as of the cells inhabited by the celibate monks who were attached to the Serapeum at Alexandria. It also reminds us of the

p. 111

account given in the book of Daniel of the education of Daniel and his three companions, though in their case it was a temporary isolation from female society and not a perpetual dedication to divine worship, and was, moreover, intended to fit them for the service of the king and not of the gods.


110:1 Strassmaier l.c. No. 274. The sutummu, over which an officer called the satam presided, is the Egyptian larit, for which see Records of the Past, new series, vol. iii. pp. 7 sq.

110:2 Strassmaier, No. 281.

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