An Akkadian prayer to the gods of the night (Psalm 134)

Bilderesultat for ancient gods of the night

Illustration: The Mesopotamian queen of the night

There are several short Akkadian liturgies known as Prayers to the gods of the night. These poems, which are prayers to the celestial stars, were recited at night. One example describes the silence of the city when doors were bolted, the palace was quiet and the people were asleep. Even the major deities (e.g. the sun god) had retreated into the lap of heaven, meaning that they were not visible at that time. The petitioner addressed the night gods, represented by the various constellations, asking for a favourable omen. He then performed a ritual of extipicy (seeking an answer to his inquiry through en interpretation of the form of the animal organs).

It may be that Psalm 134 is also an evening liturgy, but it is vastly different from the Akkadian poems. Psalm 134 may be a dialogue of praise sung between Yahweh’s worshipers as they left the temple in the evening and the Levites who would guard it by the night. The worshipers exhorted the Levites to continue to praise the Lord throughout the night, while the Levites in turn pronounced a benediction upon the congregants. Yahweh does not cease to work simply because it is nighttime; indeed, the Protector of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps (Psalm 121:4). The Israelites were not to worship the heavenly bodies as the surrounding nations did, for they are not divine beings but simply part of God’s creation that also glorify Him (Genesis 1:14-18, Psalms 8:3, 136:7-9, 148:3). Worship of the Lord is to continue uninterrupted by day and night.


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