Psalm 134 – Worship in the Sanctuary & An Akkadian Prayer to the Gods of the Night

A Song of degrees.

Tashmetum is the Akkadian  Goddess of supplication.
She is called upon to listen to prayers and to grant requests.

Her husband, Nabu, is the God of writing and wisdom; where Nabu speaks, Tashmetum listens.

1 Behold, bless ye the LORD, all ye servants of the LORD, which by night stand in the house of the LORD.

Lama is the Sumerian Goddess of intercession and protection.
Also known as Lamassu by the Akkadians, she acted as an intermediary between people and the Gods.

Lama was usually depicted in human form, often appearing on seals introducing a king to a God or Goddess.

In this form, she wore a long tiered robe and sometimes a horned tiara.

As Lamassu, she was more often portrayed as a winged bull or lion with a woman’s face, and served to protect temples and palaces.

Lamassu is often confused with Lamaštu, an Akkadian demon Goddess.

Lama’s name means “protective spirit.”

2 Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the LORD.

3 The LORD that made heaven and earth bless thee out of Zion.

An exhortation to praise God: the vanity of idols.  Enjoying the  worship in the house of the Lord and flowing out to bless others because of it.

An Akkadian Prayer
to the Gods 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 favorable omen.  He then performed a ritual of extispicy (seeking an answer to his inquiry through an 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 worshippers as they left the temple in the evening and the Levites who would guard it by night. 

Tiamat is the Babylonian Goddess of the primeval saltwater sea.
In the beginning there was only Tiamat and Apsu, God of the freshwater.

Tiamat surrounded Apsu, and their waters mingled to produce Lahmu and Lahamu, who in turn produced Anshar and Kishar.

Anshar and Kishar mated to produce the God Anu, who was the father of the Gods Enlil and Ea (known as Enki in Sumerian).

The worshipers exhorted the Levities to continue to praise the Lord throughout the night, while the Levites in turn pronounced a benediction upon the congregants.  

Yahweh doesn’t cease to work simply because it is nighttime; indeed, the Protector of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps (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 (Gen 1:14-18; Ps 8:3; 136:7-9; 148:3).  Worship of the Lord is to continue uninterrupted by day and night.