And if a noun, which meaning should I adopt?
Take a look at the colophon at the end of KTU 1.6, lines vi 54-58. KTU 1.6 is part of the Ba’al myth. I offer three options on how to understand the first line. That’s the line I’m most interested in just now.
spr . ilmlk . šbny
a) Ilimalku the Shubanite wrote (it)
b) The scribe is Ilimalku the Shabanite
c) Document of Ilimalku the Shabanite
lmd . atn . prin . rb
student of ‘Attanu the diviner(?), the chief of the
khnm rb . nqdm
priests, the chief of the shepherds;
ṯʿy . nqmd . mlk ugrt
officer/sacrificer(?) of Niqmaddu, King of Ugarit
adn . yrgb . bʿl .ṯrmn
Lord of Yargub, Master of Sharuman
One of these understandings (c) is rather supportive of a larger thesis I’m trying to develop, one (b) is less so and one (a) is not helpful at all.
Option a): Wyatt, 145, among others, translated the first line “Ilimilku the Shubanite wrote (it).” This option has a rather long history. For example, Driver, 115, understood the line this way in 1956. But Driver also saw two other verbs in the colophon that I doubt anyone sees today. This option suffers from the infrequent, if not completely undocumented, use of spr as a verb meaning “write.” As a verb it most commonly means “count” in Ugaritic. And then there’s the problem with the missing pronoun. However, the ellipsis of a pronoun is at worst a minor problem for this understanding. Neither of these concerns makes it pernicious to support this option. Remember, this option is the least supportive of my prejudice. It doesn’t destroy my thesis; it only makes it a little more difficult to maintain.
Option b): Gordon, 111, for example, took up this way of reading the line but the idea goes all the way back to Virolleaud’s editio princeps in 1934. One might worry about the word order. Compare bṣmn . spr, “Bṣmn (is) the scribe,” in KTU 4:183:29. But the extended identification of Ilimilku may account for the word order in KTU 1.6 vi 54.
Option c): I more or less pulled this option out of my ear. Here I take the grammatical relationship between spr and ilmlk to be genitive but with an instrumental function. I’m not sure there is an instrumental genitive of this kind in Ugaritic. The closest thing to it might be something like hwty, “my word,” KTU 1.4 vi:15 or perhaps rgm mlk, “message of the king,” in KTU 2:26:1-2, for example. But . . . I suppose I need to spend some more time with Tropper’s fat grammar and Pardee’s almost as fat review. While I like this approach and it is the most supportive of the larger thesis I am working on, I think it is the least likely.
Is this all that important? No. Even if I can make up my mind about it, nothing more than a footnote is likely. It’s more that I started down this path and got a little lost somewhere along the way.
By the way, most of the scholarly worry over this colophon, including Wyatt’s, has to do with the question of the king of Ugarit’s royal titles. On other days, I find this abnormally interesting, even, in the larger context of Egyptian royal titles, somewhat supportive my thesis. Also, but not for today, there is the question of whether or not Ilimalku was still in training when he prepared this text. On this, see van Soldt, 188. And we can discuss the vocalization of Ilimalku’s name later, but not in this post.
Gordon, Cyrus, Ugaritic Textbook, Rome, Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1965.
Pardee, Dennis, “Josef Tropper. Ugaritische Grammatik. 1056 pp. Münster, Ugarit-Verlag, 2000. (Alter Orient und Altes Testament 273),” Archiv für Orientforschung 50 (2003/2004), 1- 404 online version
Tropper, Josef, Ugaritische Grammatik, Alter Orient und Altes Testament, 273, Münster: Ugarit-Verlag, 2000.
van Soldt, W. H., “Babylonian Lexical, Religious and Literary Texts, and Scribal Education at Ugarit and its Implications for the Alphabetic Literary Texts,” Ugarit: ein ostmediterranes Kulturzentrum in Alten Orient: Ergebnisse und Perspektiven der Forshung, Dietrich and Loretz eds., Abhandlungen zur Literatur Alt-Syrien-Palästinas; Bd. 7, Münster: Ugarit-Verlag, 1995, 171-212
Virolleaud, Charles, “Fragment Nouveau du poème de Môt et Aleyn-Baal (I AB),” Syria, 15:3 (1934),. 226-243
Wyatt, Nick, Religious Texts from Ugarit, ed. 2, London: Sheffield Academic Press, 2002, 145-146