Ishbi-Erra (Akkadian: Išbi-erra, name was written phonetically in cuneiform: ddiš-bi-èr-ra, in contemporary inscriptions; fl. c. 1953 BCE — c. 1920 BCE by the short chronology of the ancient Near East) was the founder of the dynasty of Isin. Ishbi-Erra was preceded by Ibbi-Sin of the third dynasty of Ur in ancient Lower Mesopotamia, and then succeeded by Šu-ilišu.
- Letter from Ishbi-Erra to Ibbi-Suen about the purchase of grain, Correspondence of the Kings of Ur, Old Babylonian period, ca. 1800-1600 BCE, at The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature; their original date of composition and their historical accuracy are debated.
- I heard news that the hostile Martu have entered inside your territories. [...] They are stronger than me, while I am condemned to sitting around.
- If you have not got enough grain, I myself shall have grain brought in to you. My lord has become distressed about the battles in Elam. But the Elamites' grain rations have quickly been exhausted, so do not slacken your forces! Do not fall head first into their slavery, nor follow at their heels!
- My lord, I am without fear!
- Urim, your holy city, rivalling heaven and earth, whose great prince you are, [...] which dispenses the divine powers and makes the foundations and the plans firm both in the south and in the uplands, will surely escape from the grasp.
- Elam, a raging dog, a destroyer, will not defile E-kic-nu-jal, the sanctuary which covers heaven and earth. [...] Its protective spirits shall not be split apart!
- My lord: the loudest roarer.
Quotes about Ishbi-Erra
- Correspondence of the Kings of Ur, Old Babylonian period, ca. 1800-1600 BCE, at The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature; their original date of composition and their historical accuracy are debated.
- Say to Icbi-Erra: this is what your lord, Ibbi-Suen, says: As long as Enlil was my lord, what course were you following? And is this how you alter your word? Today Enlil detests me, he detests his son Suen (the principal deity of Urim), and is handing Urim over to the enemy. Its central part is gone, the enemy has risen up, and all the lands are thrown into disarray. But on the day when Enlil turns again towards his son Suen, you and your word will be marked out!
- How could you allow Puzur-Numucda, the commander of the fortress Igi-hursaja, to let the hostile Martu penetrate into my Land? Until now he has not sent to you word about engaging in battle. There are puny men in the Land! Why has he not faced the Martu?
- Say to Puzur-Culgi, the governor of Kazallu: this is what Ibbi-Suen, your lord, says: [...] [A]s in my own case, are not your troops proof of your importance? Why have you sent me somebody saying: "Icbi-Erra has got his eyes upon me -- so let me come to you when he falls upon me"? [...] How come you did not know how long it would take to make Icbi-Erra return to the mountain lands? Why have you and Girbubu, the governor of Jirikal, not confronted him with the troops which you had at hand? Today Enlil loathes Sumer and has elevated to the shepherdship of the Land an ape which has descended from those mountain lands. Now Enlil has given kingship to an idiot, a seller of asafoetida -- to Icbi-Erra, who is not of Sumerian origin.
- See, the assembly where the gods are and Sumer itself have been dispersed! Father Enlil, whose words prevail, said: "Until the enemy has been expelled from Urim, Icbi-Erra, the man from Mari, will tear out Urim's foundations. He will indeed measure out Sumer like grain." He has spoken just so.
- The others will defect to Icbi-Erra, in accordance with Enlil's word. Should you hand over your city to the enemy like your companions, Icbi-Erra will not recognise you as his faithful and agreeable servant? May it now be brought about that good words should be restored and treason extinguished. Let Icbi-Erra participate in the harvest among the people there; but you yourself, do not turn back, and do not come to me! His grasp should not get hold of the city! This man from Mari, with the understanding of a dog, should not exercise lordship!
- Say to Ibbi-Suen, my lord: this is what Puzur-Culgi, the governor of Kazallu, your servant, says:
A messenger of Icbi-Erra came to me. He presented himself before me announcing: "Icbi-Erra, my lord, sends you a message: Enlil, my lord, [...] has told me to bring before Ninisina the cities, deities and troops of the region of the Tigris, Euphrates, Ab-gal and Me-Enlila watercourses, from the province of Hamazi to the sea of Magan, so as to make Isin the storehouse of Enlil, to make it famous, and to make those regions its spoils of war and to make Isin's citizens occupy their cities. Why do you oppose me? I swear by the name of my lord Enlil and by Dagan, my personal god, that I will indeed get hold of Kazallu! The cities and the province which Enlil has promised me I want to build up within Isin. [...] I want to perform at their ecec festivals. I want to install my statues, my emblems, my en priests and nindijir priestesses in their jipar shrines. And as for you, I want to remove from within his country the man in whom you placed your trust! I want to rebuild the fortification of Isin and name it Idil-pacunu!"
- Just as he said he would, he has rebuilt the fortification of Isin and named it Idil-pacunu. He has captured Nibru and installed his garrison there. Also he has captured Nijdugani, the chief administrator of Nibru. He has imprisoned Zinnum, the governor of Subir. He has plundered Hamazi. He has made Nur-ahi, the governor of Ecnunna, Cu-Enlil, the governor of Kec, and Puzur-Tutu, the governor of Bad-ziaba, return to their posts. At his cry of victory [...] Icbi-Erra is constantly at the head of his soldiers! Just as he said he would, he has captured the regions of the Tigris, Euphrates, the Ab-gal and Me-Enlila watercourses. He has made Iddin enter Malgium. Opposing Girbubu, the governor of Jirikal, he cut off his strap and captured him. His cry of victory lies heavily upon us. Now Icbi-Erra is looking in my direction. I have no ally, nobody with whom I can align myself. Since he has not yet been able to get me in his grasp, let me come to you when he falls upon me. My lord should know this!
- You have made me so happy with the news and everything. Who could give me a house-born slave such as you are? Who has such a capable man, so beneficial to his lord? [...] From today, you are my son who makes me happy. The cities of the province, the land of the Martu, Elam -- all of them I have placed before you: you are just as important as I am. So sit before them on a throne on a golden dais! [...] Let their messengers prostrate themselves in front of you! [...] Remove a governor -- appoint a governor! Appoint a commander! Designate a captain-general! Certainly you should put a man to death, a man who has killed: blind the man who has killed! Build your house of manhood for an attendant who has been favourably looked upon! Make sure your recompense is great! Now, you should not suddenly alter your word about all that I have been sending to you.