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CAT 1.115, a trial run

November 18, 2008

I realized earlier this week that I needed a translation of CAT 1.115 in my handout for the Society of Biblical Literature meeting. While I spend my days reading obscure Ugaritic ritual texts, I imagine that most of my audience won’t know this text — even at the Ugaritic and Northwest Semitic Epigraphy section. So I needed a quick translation. Here’s a trial cut:

1. id. ydbḥ mlk
2. l ušḫr ḫlmẓ
3. l b bt . il bt
4. š l ḫlmẓ
5. w tr . l qlḥ
6. w šḥll . ydm
7. b qdš il bt
8. w tlḥm aṯt
9. š l il bt . šlmm
10. kl l ylḥm bh
11. w l b bt šqym
12. š l u<š>ḫr ḫlmẓ
13. w tr l qlḥ

14. ym aḥd

1. When the king sacrifices
2. to ʾUšḫarâ Ḫulmiẓẓi
3. inside the temple of the god of the palace,
4. a ram for Ḫulmiẓẓi
5. and a dove for QLḤ.
6. and you shall cause the desacralization of the hands
7. in the sanctuary of the god of the palace,
8. and the woman/women may eat.
9. A ram for the god of the palace as a communion offering;
10. all may eat of it.
11. And within the temple: libations,
12. a ram for U<š>ḫarâ Ḫulmiẓẓi,
13. And a dove for QLḤ.
14. One day.

For the paper at SBL, what is most important are lines 1-2. However, probably the most intersting facet of the text is in lines 6-8. The translation above is awkward but gets across the meaning as I see it. It appears that the king is desacralized and then is able to partake of a meal with a woman or group of women. However, a dove doesn’t really provide a lot to eat. Is the following communal sacrifice of a ram what is actually consumed? It’s difficult to tell….

  1. November 19, 2008 12:29 pm

    Is šḥll “cause to desecrate” or is it “cause to purify” as Pardee seems to think? Take a look at the Arabic cognate, “untie,” sometimes “remit sin.”

  2. November 19, 2008 2:01 pm


    I’m aware of Pardee’s translation, but I’m not convinced by the reasoning.

    Del Olmo Lete takes Pardee to task on the rendering in his UF review of Les Textes Rituels. I tend to side with del Olmo Lete on this one.

    Arabic is notorious for holding contradictory meanings of the same root given its long history as a language. Ugaritic hasn’t proven to have that kind of semantic diversity. If ḥll usually means “to desecrate” or “to profane” in Ugaritic ritual texts, I don’t see much of a reason why it shouldn’t mean that here.

  3. November 19, 2008 9:58 pm

    You are so right about contradictory meanings in Arabic. You and Del Olma may even be right about ḥll.

  4. November 19, 2008 11:42 pm

    One other thing: I’ve never been completely sure what ḥl mlk means in those other ritual texts.

  5. November 20, 2008 11:12 pm

    A good hunk of my dissertation focuses on what ḥl mlk means. I think I might have it down at this point.

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