“I will praise the Lord of wisdom” (Job 12)

Bilderesultat for Subs Hi-meshre-Shakkan

Illustration: Akkadian prayers

From the Kassite period of Babylon (the second half of the second millennium B.C.) comes an Akkadian poem titled “I will praise the Lord of wisdom”. Because it concerns a pious sufferer, it is often compared to Job, although it is formally more similar to certain Bible psalms in which an individual describes some illness or calamity he has suffered but praises God for having delivered hom (e.g. Psalm 30, 116). In this Akkadian text the poet (named Shubshi-meshre-Sakkan) says much that is similar to Job’s lammentation:

  • Shubshi-meshre-Shakkan considers himself helpless before his god, Marduk, who is merciful but whose anger is like a raging storm (see Job 12:13-25).
  • Shubshi-meshre-Shakkan  laments about friends and family having abandoned him (see 12:4, 19:13-20).
  • Like Job, he exhaustively describes his physical afflictions (see 7:5) prior to his healing.
  • Shubshi-meshre-Shakkan was delivered after having seen three godlike persons – two men and a woman – in his dreams (Job 38-42).

In other respects, however, the Akkadian psalm is very different from Job. It focuses on omens, magical spells and dreams, as well as listing rituals of healing at the gates of the temple of Marduk. In contrast, the book of Job contains no ritual or magic elements. Instead, its protagonist is a righteous sufferer, and it wrestles with fundamental issues of God’s governance of the world. Job is not healed by magic but by God himself after he has heard and understood God’s answers to the questions he has raised.


 

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