The East India House Inscription
The Inscription of Nebuchadnezzar
from the East India House slab
(referred to by Massey, and other scholars, in its abbreviated form as E.I.H.)
Neo-Babylonian dynasty, about 604-562 BC
From Babylon, southern Iraq
(Height: 56.510 cm/Width: 50.160 cm/Thickness: 9.520 cm)
First published as:
Copy in the ordinary Babylonian character of the great Nebuchadnezzar Inscription (Hieratic) on the East India House Slab, London, 1801.
Also published in:
Rawlinson's Cuneiform Inscriptions of Western Asia, (1861) vol. 1, pls. 53-8 (SEE PLATES BELOW).
The religious devotion and building works of Nebuchadnezzar II
[Extracted from the British Museum website.]
After the fall of Nineveh in 612 BC to the armies of Media and Babylonia, the
Neo-Babylonian Empire eventually stretched from the border of Egypt to the Gulf.
The Neo-Babylonian dynasty was founded by Nabopolassar (625-605 BC), but it was
his son, Nebuchadnezzar II (604-562 BC), who was mainly responsible for this
expansion. He rebuilt the capital city on a grand scale to glorify his reign and
the supreme god of Babylon, Marduk. He rebuilt the great temples called Esagila
and Ezida, along with various smaller temples, the city walls and royal palaces
The chief building material was mud-brick, and baked bricks, some of which were glazed. It has been estimated that 15 million baked bricks were used in the construction of official buildings. Today, Babylon has disappeared, except for some remains which cover some 850 hectares (2100 acres). The city may have originally been twice that size.
This stone block with finely carved cuneiform was found in the ruins of Babylon before 1801, when it was presented to the representative of the East India Company in Baghdad, hence its modern name. It records Nebuchadnezzar's wish to glorify Marduk through his many building works in the capital and the nearby city of Borsippa.
See R.F. Harper, Assyrian and Babylonian litera (London, D. Appleton and Co., 1901) and D.J. Wiseman, Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon (London, Published for the British Academy by Oxford University Press, 1985) for further details.
Rev. J. M. Rodwell, M.A.
[Extracted from Babylonian and Assyrian Literature, ed. Wilson, Epiphanius, 1901, p. 250-66.]
BABYLONIAN inscriptions are by no means so replete with interest as the
Assyrian. The latter embrace the various expeditions in which the Assyrian
monarchs were engaged, and bring us into contact with the names and locality of
rivers, cities, and mountain-ranges, with contemporary princes in Judea and
elsewhere, and abound in details as to domestic habits, civil usages, and the
implements and modes of warfare. But the Babylonian inscriptions refer mainly to
the construction of temples, palaces, and other public buildings, and at the
same time present especial difficulties in their numerous architectural terms
which it is often impossible to translate with any certainty. They are, however,
interesting as records of the piety and religious feelings of the sovereigns
of Babylon, and as affording numerous topographical notices of that famous city;
while the boastful language of the inscription will often remind the reader of
Nebuchadnezzar's words in Dan. iv. 30: "Is not this great Babylon, that I have
built for the house of the kingdom, by the might of my power, and for the honour
of my majesty?" Compare column vii, line 32.
The reign of Nebuchadnezzar extended from B.C. 604 to 561. In B.C. 598 he laid siege to Jerusalem (2 Kings xxiv.) and made Jehoiachin prisoner, and in 588 again captured the city, and carried Zedekiah, who had rebelled against him, captive to Babylon (2 Kings xxv.). Josephus gives an account of his expeditions against Tyre and Egypt, which are also mentioned with many details in Ezek. xxvii.-xxix.
The name Nebuchadnezzar, or more accurately Nebuchadrezzar (Jer. xxi. 2, 7, etc.), is derived from the Jewish Scriptures. But in the inscriptions it reads Nebo-kudurri-ussur, i.e., "may Nebo protect the crown"; a name analogous to that of his father Nebo(Nabu)-habal-ussur. ("Nebo protect the son") and to that of Belshazzar, i.e., "Bel protect the prince." The phonetic writing of Nebuchadnezzar is "An-pa-sa-du-sis," each of which syllables has been identified through the syllabaries. The word "kudurri" is probably the כתר of Esther vi. 8, and the κιδαρις of the Greeks. The inscriptions of which a translation follows was found at Babylon by Sir Harford Jones Bridges, and now forms part of the India House Collection. It is engraved on a short column of black basalt, and is divided into ten columns, containing 619 lines.
It may be worth while to remark that in the name given to the prophet Daniel, Belteshazzar, i.e., Balat-su-ussur ("preserve thou his life "), and in Abednego ("servant of Nebo"), we have two of the component parts of the name of Nebuchadnezzar himself.
Inscription of Nebuchadnezzar
2 King of Babylon,
3 glorious Prince,
4 worshipper of Marduk,
5 adorer of the lofty one,
6 glorifier of Nabu,
7 the exalted, the possessor of intelligence,
8 who the processions of their divinities
9 hath increased;
10 a worshipper of their Lordships,
11 firm, not to be destroyed;
12 who for the embellishment
13 of Bit-Saggatu and Bit-Zida1
14 appointed days hath set apart, and
15 the shrines of Babylon
16 and of Borsippa
17 hath steadily increased;
18 exalted Chief, Lord of peace,
19 embellisher of Bit-Saggatu and Bit-Zida,
20 the valiant son
21 of Nabopolassar
22 King of Babylon am I.
23 When he, the Lord god my maker made me,
24 the god Merodach, he deposited
25 my germ in my mother's (womb):
26 then being conceived
27 I was made.
28 Under the inspection of Assur my judge
29 the processions of the god I enlarged,
30 (namely) of Merodach great Lord, the god my maker.
31 His skilful works
32 highly have I glorified;
33 and of Nebo his eldest son
34 exalter of My Royalty
35 the processions (in honour of)2 his exalted deity
36 I firmly established.
37 With all my heart firmly
38 (in) worship of their deities I uprose
39 in reverence for Nebo their Lord.
40 Whereas Merodach, great Lord,
41 the head of My ancient Royalty,
42 hath empowered me over multitudes of men,
43 and (whereas) Nebo bestower of thrones in heaven and earth,
44 for the sustentation of men,
45 a sceptre of righteousness I
46 hath caused my hand to hold;
47 now I, that sacred way
48 for the resting-place of their divinities,
49 for a memorial of all their names,
50 as a worshipper of Nebo, Yav and Istar,
51 for Merodach my Lord I strengthened.
52 Its threshold I firmly laid, and
53 my demotion of heart he accepted, and
54 him did I proclaim
|55 .... Lord of all beings, and3
56 as Prince of the lofty house, and
57 thou, (O Nebuchadnezzar) hast proclaimed the name of him
58 who has been beneficent unto thee.
59 His name, (O god,) thou wilt preserve,
60 the path of righteousness thou hast prescribed to him.
61 I, a Prince, and thy worshipper
62 am the work of thy hand;
63 thou hast created me, and4
64 the empire over multitudes of men
65 thou hast assigned me,
66 according to thy favour, O Lord,
67 which thou hast accorded
68 to them all.5
69 May thy lofty Lordship be exalted!
70 in the worship of thy divinity
71 may it subsist! in my heart
72 may it continue, and my life which to thee is devoted
|1 mayest thou bless!
2 He, the Chief, the honourable,
3 the Prince of the gods, the great Merodach,
4 my gracious Lord, heard
5 and received my prayer;
6 he favoured it, and by his exalted power,
7 reverence for his deity
8 placed he in my heart:
9 to bear his tabernacle
10 he hath made my heart firm,
11 with reverence for thy power,
12 for exalted service,
13 greatly and eternally.
14 The foundation of his temple it was
15 which from the upper waters
16 to the lower waters
17 in a remote way,
18 in a spot exposed to winds,
19 in a place whose pavements had been broken,
20 low, dried up,
21 a rugged way,
22 a difficult path,
23 I extended.
24 The disobedient I stirred up,
25 and I collected the poor and
26 gave full directions (for the work) and
27 in numbers I supported them.
28 Wares and ornaments
29 for the women I brought forth,
30 silver, molten gold, precious stones,
31 metal, umritgana and cedar woods,
32 (however their names be written)
33 a splendid abundance,
34 the produce of mountains,
|35 sea clay,6
36 beautiful things in abundance,
37 riches and sources of joy,
38 for my city Babylon,
39 into his presence have I brought
40 for Bit-Saggatu
41 the temple of his power,
42 ornaments for Dakan7
43 Bit-Kua, the shrine
44 of Merodach, Lord of the house of the gods,
45 I have made conspicuous with fine linen8
46 and its seats
47 with splendid gold,
48 as for royalty and deity,
49 with lapis lazuli and alabaster blocks9
50 I carefully covered them over;
51 a gate of passage, the gate Beautiful,10
52 and the gate of Bit-Zida and Bit-Saggatu
53 I caused to be made brilliant as the sun.
54 A fulness of the treasures of countries I accumulated;11
55 around the city it was placed as an ornament,
56 when at the festival of Lilmuku at the beginning of the year,
57 on the eighth day (and) eleventh day,
58 the divine Prince, Deity of heaven and earth, the Lord god,
59 they raised within it.
60 (The statue) of the god El, the beauty of the sphere,
61 reverently they bring;
62 treasure have they displayed before it,
63 a monument to lasting days,
64 a monument of my life.
65 They also placed within it
|1 his altar, an altar of Royalty;
2 an altar of Lordship,
3 (for) the Chief of the gods, the Prince Merodach,
4 whose fashion the former Prince
5 had fashioned in silver,
6 with bright gold accurately weighed out
7 I overlaid.
8 Beautiful things for the temple Bit-Saggatu
9 seen at its very summit,
10 the shrine of Merodach, with statues and marbles
11 I embellished
12 as the stars of heaven.
13 The fanes of Babylon
14 I built, I adorned.
15 Of the house, the foundation of the heaven and earth,
16 I reared the summit
17 with blocks of noble lapis lazuli:
18 to the construction of Bit-Saggatu
19 my heart uplifted me;
20 in abundance I wrought
|21 the best of my pine trees
22 which from Lebanon
23 together with tall Babil-wood I brought.
24 for the portico of the temple of Merodach:
25 the shrine of his Lordship
26 I made good, and interior walls
27 with pine and tall cedar woods:
28 the portico of the temple of Merodach,
29 with brilliant gold I caused to cover,
30 the lower thresholds, the cedar awnings,
31 with gold and precious stones
32 I embellished:
33 in the erection of Bit-Saggatu
34 I proceeded: I supplicated
35 the King of gods, the Lord of Lords:
36 in Borsippa, the city of his loftiness,
37, 38 I raised Bit-Zida: a durable house
39 in the midst thereof I caused to be made.
40 With silver, gold, precious stones,
41 bronze, ummakana and pine woods,
42 those thresholds I completed:
43 the pine wood portico
44 of the shrine of Nebo
45 with gold I caused to cover,
46 the pine wood portico of the gate of the temple of Merodach
47 I caused to overlay with bright silver.
48 The bulls and columns of the gate of the shrine
49 the thresholds, the sigari of ri-wood, conduits
50 of Babnaku wood and their statues
51 with cedar wood awnings
52 of lofty building,
53 and silver, I adorned.
54 The avenues of the shrine
55 and the approach to the house,
56 of conspicuous brick
57 sanctuaries In its midst
58 with perforated silver work.
59 Bulls, columns, doorways,
60, 61 in marble beautifully I built;
62, 63 I erected a shrine and with rows
64 of wreathed work I filled it:
65 the fanes of Borsippa
66 I made and embellished:
67 the temple of the seven spheres
69 with bricks of noble lapis lazuli
70 I reared its summit:
71 the tabernacle of Nahr-kanul
72 the chariot of his greatness
|1 the tabernacle, the shrine Lilmuku,
2 the festival of Babylon,
3, 4 his pageant of dignity
5 within it, I caused to decorate
6 with beryls and stones,
7 A temple for sacrifices, the lofty citadel
8 of Bel and Merodach, god of gods,
9 a threshold of joy and supremacy
10 among angels and spirits,
11 with the stores of Babylon,
12 with cement and brick,
13 like a mountain I erected.
14 A great temple of Ninharissi12
15 in the centre of Babylon
16 to the great goddess the mother who created me,
17 in Babylon I made.
18 To Nebo of lofty intelligence
19 who hath bestowed (on me) the sceptre of justice,
20 to preside over all peoples,
21 a temple of rule over men, and a site for this his temple
22, 23 in Babylon, of cement and brick
24 the fashion I fashioned.
25, 26 To the Moon-god, the strengthener of my hands
27 a large house of alabaster as his temple
28 in Babylon I made.
29 To the sun, the judge supreme
30 who perfects good in my body,
31 a house for that guide of men, even his house,
32, 33 in Babylon, of cement and brick,
34 skilfully did I make.
35 To the god Yav, establisher of fertility
36 in my land, Bit-Numkan as his temple
37 in Babylon I built.
38 To the goddess Gula, the regulator
39 and benefactress of my life,
40 Bit-Samit, and Bit-haris the lofty,
41, 42 as fanes in Babylon, in cement and brick
43 strongly did I build.
44 To the divine Lady of Bit Anna,
45 my gracious mistress,
46 Bit-Kiku in front of her house
47 so as to strengthen the wall of Babylon
48 I skilfully constructed.
49, 50 To Ninip the breaker of the sword of my foes
51 a temple in Borsippa I made;
52 and to the Lady Gula13
53 the beautifier of my person14
54 Bit-Gula, Bit-Tila, Bit-Ziba-Tila,
55 her three temples
|56 in Borsippa I erected:
57 to the god Yav who confers
58 the fertilizing rain upon my land,
59, 60 his house (also) in Borsippa I strongly built:
61 to the Moon-god who upholds
62 the fulness of my prosperity
63 Bit-ti-Anna15 as his temple,
64 on the mound near Bit-Ziba
65 I beautifully constructed:
66, 67 Imgur-Bel and Nimetti-Belkit
68 the great walls of Babylon,
69 ....... he built,
70 which Nabopolassar
71 King, King of Babylon, the father who begat me,
72 had commenced but not completed their beauty
|1 Its fosse he dug
2 and of two high embankments
3 in cement and brick
4 he finished the mass:
5, 6 an embankment for pathways he made,
7, 8 Buttresses of brick beyond the Euphrates
9, 10 he constructed, but did not complete:
11, 12 the rest from ......
13 the best of their lands I accumulated:
14 a place for sacrifice, as ornament,
15, 16 as far as Aibur-sabu16 near Babylon
17 opposite the principal gate
18 with brick and durmina-turda stone
19 as a shrine of the great Lord, the god Merodach
20 I built as a house for processions.
21, 22 I his eldest son, the chosen of his heart,
23, 24 Imgur-Bel and Nimetti-Bel
25, 26 the great walls of Babylon, completed:
27 buttresses for the embankment of its fosse,
28 and two long embankments
29 with cement and brick I built, and
30 with the embankment my father had made
31, 32 I joined them; and to the city for protection
33 I brought near an
34 embankment of enclosure
35 beyond the river, westward.
|36 The wall of Babylon
37, 38 I carried round Aibur-sabu
39 in the vicinity of Babylon:
40 for a shrine of the great Lord Merodach
41, 42 the whole enclosure I filled (with buildings)
43 with brick made of kamina-turda stone
44 and brick of stone cut out of mountains.
45, 46 Aibur-sabu from the High gate,
47, 48 as far as Istar-Sakipat I made,
49 for a shrine for his divinity
50 I made good,
51 and with what my father had made
52, 53 I joined, and built it;
54, 55, 56 and the access to Istar-Sakipat I made,
57, 58 which is Imgur-Bel and Nimetti-Bel,
59 the great gates, the whole temple of the gods,
60 in completeness
61 near to Babylon
62 I brought down;
63 the materials
64 of those great gates
65 I put together and
|1 their foundations opposite to the waters
2, 3 in cement and brick I founded,
4 and of strong stone of samat-hati,
5 bulls and images,
6 the building of its interior
7 skilfully I constructed:
8, 9, 10 tall cedars for their porticos I arranged,
11 ikki wood, cedar wood,
12 with coverings of copper,
13 on domes and arches:
14, 15 work in bronze I overlaid substantially on its gates,
16, 17 bulls of strong bronze and molten images
18 for their thresholds, strongly.
19 Those large gates
20 for the admiration of multitudes of men
21 with wreathed work I filled:
22 the abode of Imzu-Bel
23 the invincible castle of Babylon,
|24 which no previous King had effected,
25 4,000 cubits complete,
26 the walls of Babylon
27 whose banner is invincible,
28 as a high fortress by the ford of the rising sun,
29 I carried round Babylon.
30 Its fosse I dug and its mass
31 with cement and brick
32, 33 I reared up and a tall tower at its side
34 like a mountain I built.
35, 36 The great gates whose walls I constructed
37 with ikki and pine woods and coverings of copper
38 I overlaid them,
39 to keep off enemies from the front
40 of the wall of unconquered Babylon.
41, 42 Great waters like the might of the sea
43 I brought near in abundance
44 and their passing by
45 was like the passing by of the great billows
46 of the Western ocean:
47, 48 passages through them were none,
49, 50 but heaps of earth I heaped up,
51 and embankments of brickwork
52 I caused to be constructed.
53, 54 The fortresses I skilfully strengthened
55 and the city of Babylon
56 I fitted to be a treasure-city.
57 The handsome pile
58, 59 the fort of Borsippa I made anew:
60, 61 its fosse I dug out and in cement and brick
62 I reared up its mass
|1 King of Babylon
2 whom Merodach, the Sun, the great Lord,
3 for the holy places of his city
4 Babylon hath called, am I:
5 and Bit-Saggatu and Bit-Zida
6 like the radiance of the Sun I restored:
7 the fanes of the great gods
8 I completely brightened.
9, 10 At former dates from the days of old to the days ......
11 of Nabopolassar King of Babylon
12 the exalted father who begat me,
13 many a Prince who preceded me
|14, 15 whose names El had proclaimed for royalty
16 for the city, my city, the festivals of these gods
17 in the perfected places
18 a princely temple, a large temple did they make
19 and erected it as their dwelling-places.
20, 21 Their spoils in the midst they accumulated,
22 they heaped up, and their treasures
23 for the festival Lilmuku
24 of the good Lord, Merodach god of gods
25 they transferred into the midst of Babylon;
26 when at length Merodach
27 who made me for royalty
28 and the god Nero his mighty son,
29 committed his people to me
30 as precious lives.
31 Highly have I exalted their cities;
32 (but) above Babylon and Borsippa
33 I have not added a city
34 in the realm of Babylonia
35 as a city of my lofty foundation.
36 A great temple, a house of admiration for men,
37, 38 a vast construction, a lofty pile,
39, 40 a palace of My Royalty for the land of Babylon,
41 in the midst of the city of Babylon
42, 43 from Imgur Bel to Libit-higal
44 the ford of the Sun-rise,
45 from the bank of the Euphrates
46 as far as Aibur-sabu
47 which Nabopolassar
48 King of Babylon the father who begat me
49, 50 made in brick and raised up in its midst,
51 but whose foundation was damaged
52 by waters and floods
53, 54 at Bit-Imli near Babylon,
55, 56 and the gates of that palace were thrown down,
57, 58 of this the structure with brickwork I repaired
59 with its foundation and boundary wall,
60 and a depth of waters I collected:
61, 62 then opposite the waters I laid its foundation
63 and with cement and brick
|1, 2 I skilfully surrounded it;
3, 4 tall cedars for its porticos I fitted;
5, 6 ikki and cedar woods with layers of copper,
7 on domes and arches
8 and with bronze work, I strongly
9 overlaid its gates
10 with silver, gold, precious stones,
11, 12 whatsoever they call them, in heaps;
13 I valiantly collected spoils;
14 as an adornment of the house were they arranged,
15 and were collected within it;
16, 17 trophies, abundance, royal treasures,
18 I accumulated and gathered together.
19 As to the moving of My Royalty
20 to any other city,
21 there has not arisen a desire:
22 among any other people
23 no royal palace have I built:
24 the merchandise and treasures of my kingdom
25, 26 I did not deposit within the
27 provinces of Babylon:
28 a pile for my residence
29, 30 to grace My Royalty was not found:
31 Therefore with reverence for Merodach my Lord,
32, 33 the exterior and interior in Babylon
34 as his treasure city
35 and for the elevation of the abode
36 of My Royalty
37 his shrine I neglected not:
38 its weak parts which were not completed,
39 its compartments that were not remembered,
40 as a securely compacted edifice
41, 42 I dedicated and set up as a preparation for war
43, 44 by Imgur Bel, the fortress of invincible Babylon,
45 400 cubits in its completeness,
46 a wall of Nimitti-Bel
47 an outwork of Babylon
48, 49 for defence. Two lofty embankments,
50 in cement and brick,
|51 a fortress like a mountain I made,
52 and in their sub-structure
53 I built a brickwork;
54 then on its summit a large edifice
55 for the residence of My Royalty
56, 57 with cement and brick I skilfully built
58 and brought it down by the side of the temple:
59 and in the exact middle, on the second day
60 its foundation in a solid depth
61, 62 I made good and its summit I carried round;
63 and on the 15th day its beauty
|1 I skilfully completed
2 and exalted as an abode of Royalty.
3, 4 Tall pines, the produce of lofty mountains,
5 thick asuhu wood
6, 7 and surmati wood in choice pillars
8 for its covered porticos I arranged.
9 ikki and musritkanna woods
10 cedar and surman woods
11, I brought forth, and in heaps,
12 with a surface of silver and gold
13 and with coverings of copper,
14, 15 on domes and arches, and with works of metal
16 its gates I strongly overlaid
17 and completely with zamat-stone
18 I finished off its top.
19, 20 A strong wall in cement and brick
21 like a mountain I carried round
22, 23 a wall, a brick fortress, a great fortress
24 with long blocks of stone
25, 26 gatherings from great lands I made
27, 28 and like hills I upraised its head.
29, 30 That house for admiration I caused to build
31 and for a banner to hosts of men:
32 with carved work I fitted it;
33 the strong power of reverence for
34 the presence of Royalty
35 environs its walls;
|36, 37 the least thing not upright enters it not,
38 that evil may not make head.
39 The walls of the fortress of Babylon
40, 41 its defence in war I raised
42 and the circuit of the city of Babylon.
43, 44 I have strengthened skilfully.
45 To Merodach my Lord
46 my hand I lifted:
47 O Merodach the Lord, Chief of the gods,
48, 49 a surpassing Prince thou hast made me,
50 and empire over multitudes of men,
51, 52 hast intrusted to me as precious lives;
53 thy power have I extended on high,
54 over Babylon thy city,
55 before all mankind.
56 No city of the land have I exalted
57 as was exalted the reverence
58 of thy deity:
59 I caused it to rest: and may thy power
60, 61 bring its treasures abundantly to my land.
62 I, whether as King and embellisher,
63 am the rejoicer of thy heart
64 or whether as High Priest appointed,
65 embellishing all thy fortresses,
|1, 2 For thy glory, O exalted Merodach
3 a house have I made.
4 May its greatness advance!
5 May its fulness increase!
6, 7 in its midst abundance may it acquire!
8 May its memorials be augmented!
9 May it receive within itself
10 the abundant tribute
11 of the Kings of nations and
12 of all peoples!17
13, 14 From the West to the East by the rising sun
15 may I have no foemen!
16 May they not be multiplied
17, 18 within, in the midst thereof, forever,
19 Over the dark races may he rule!
1 Two of the principal temples of epithet, "Temple of his power." Dr. Babylon. The former occurs below, Oppert always renders it la Pyramide Col. ii. 40, where it is followed by the et la Tour.
2 Literally, "the goings." Compare Ps. lxviii. 24: "They have seen thy goings, O God," i.e., processions.
3 Of this line Mr. Norris (Diet., p. 166) states "that he cannot suggest any rendering."
4 It seems as if the hand were addressed.
5 I.e., "in making me their ruler."
6 Mr. Norris conjectures "amber."
8 "Sassanis." The root is probably identical with the Hebrew "shesh," "fine linen"; thus in Ex. xxvi. i: "Thou shalt make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen."
9 These are found still in the ruins of Babylon.
10 Compare the Beautiful Gate of the Jewish Temple.
11 Mr. Norris in his Dictionary professes his inability to master the first words of this line, p. 580. The same remark applies to line 58. The above rendering is suggested to me by Mr. G. Smith.
12 Wife of the sun.
13 In I Mich. iv. 5. Gula is said to be the wife of the southern sun.
14 Or, "the favourer of my praises."
15 The goddess Anna is identical with the Nana whose image was by her own command restored by Assurbanipal to the temple of Bit-Anna after an absence in Elam of 1,635 years. See Smith's "Assurb.," pp. 234, 235.
16 An ornamental piece of water near Babylon.
17 Compare Dan. i. 2, "He brought the vessels into the treasure-house of his god."