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Ancient Mesopotamia
Assyria Nineveh
Arslan Tash Til Barsip
Iran Palace of Darius
Phoenicia Arabia Palmyra
Syrian coast
Ougarit Byblos

Worshipper of Larsa
Statuette Known as ‘The Worshipper of Larsa’
AO 15704
Richelieu room 3 showcase 1
This bronze statuette shows a figure
kneeling in the attitude of prayer.
The face and hands have been covered in gold leaf.
On one side of the base there is an animal figure,
on the other a cuneiform inscription.
The front features a small bowl, serving as
a libation receptacle. The worshipper is
without doubt King Hammurabi.
He is on bended knee before the divinity with
one hand in front of his mouth.

 Worshipper of Larsa

Job apparently alludes to this practice. He speaks of the danger of letting an object of worship, such as the sun or the moon, seduce one’s heart to the point of making a gesture of worship. "If my hand proceeded to kiss my mouth, I should have denied the [true] God above." (Job 31:27, 28). Hosea 13:2 and 1 Kings 19:18 also give an account of persons who offer kisses to idols.

 “If my hand proceeded to

kiss my mouth,[…]
 I should have denied
the [true] God above.”
Job 31:27
Thus God declares to Eli that he will spare seven thousand men "all the knees that have not bent down to Ba´al, and every mouth that has not kissed him."
Among Hebrews, there was no particular attitude
of prayer. All the attitudes adopted were extremely respectful. Standing or on bended knee, palms were sometimes held aloft towards the heavens or hands were raised. - 1 Kings 8:22.
It should be noted that although 'lifting the right hand' before the divinity was an attitude of prayer in the Assyro-Babylonian world, this biblical custom is associated with an oath. God speaks of himself as making this gesture symbolically. - Isaiah 62:8.

 “All the knees that have not

bent down to Ba´al, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”
1 Kings 19:18 

To kiss the mouth with the hand, a cult practice?

Solomon kneeled when he prayed for the nation at the inauguration of the temple (1 Kings 8:54). Jesus Christ himself ‘bowed his knees and began to pray' (Luke 22:41). Nowhere in the Christian Greek Scriptures is support given to facial expressions or other bodily attitudes which denote sanctimoniousness and false devotion. Neither do they prescribe any posture such as joining palms or putting hands together; one may do so in silence. Jesus condemned the ostentation of those who said long prayers. - Luke 20:47.
It should finally be noted that in Babylon, in an extension to the act of worship, believers often placed smiling effigy figurines on benches.
“The statue, like a candle in
Catholicism today, was really a
substitute for the believer.”
André Parrot A147

 Statue, Candle and Substitute

It was very fitting that the psalmist addressed this exhortation to his Israelite brothers "Come let us worship, and just pander our knees and faces to YHWH, our creator!" - Psalm 95:6.
The Golden Worshipper
Sb 2758
Richelieu room 10 showcase 8
This statuette from Susa shows a figure
in the attitude of prayer, the right hand lifted,
and a goat under the left arm.
The tenon beneath the base allowed
it to be held upright by pushing it into a support.
In Susa as in Mesopotamia,
the supreme act of piety consisted of
bringing divinities an offering,
and then preserving the eternal memory
of this act by depositing a figurine
of the believer himself A148
Conversely, the Bible stresses the personal commitment of the one who offers a sacrifice, for example by laying a hand on the head of the animal (Leviticus 3:12). Hosea 14:2 asks God to be offered 'the young bulls of our lips'.
An active and continuous approach which is also that of Christians. “Through him [Jesus Christ] let us always offer to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips which make public declaration to his name.” - Hebrews 13:14


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