The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion The epic of Gilgamesh at Hobby Lobby

A portion of the Epic of Gilgamesh that was looted from Iraq and sold for $1.6 million to Hobby Lobby for display in the Museum of the Bible. A federal judge in New York has approved the forfeiture of the 3,500-year-old clay tablet. (Immigration and Customs Enforcement-ICE via AP) (AP)
Placeholder while article actions load

I found the following engraved in ancient Sumerian on a tablet recently seized from Hobby Lobby by the Justice Department. A translation follows!

Behold the wall of Hobby Lobby which gleams like copper!

Take hold of the threshold-stone, which dates to 1972!

Hear the tale of United States of America v. Approximately Four Hundred Fifty Ancient Cuneiform Tablets and Approximately Three Thousand Ancient Clay Bullae.

This was the Hobby Lobby, the gathering place of many crafts

And briefly high-end cookwares but only briefly

Follow Alexandra Petri's opinionsFollow

Where men might come from many leagues distance and say in wonder, “This is a Hobby Lobby!”

And obtain many cubits of fabric for crafts projects ordained by Ea or by Ishtar

Where the CEO’s heart was hardened against the health-care needs of its employees

He sat in his place of honor and uttered a curse

“No contraception shall you receive, employees of Hobby Lobby

And may you . . .

The scorpion-beings . . .

Neither through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

Nor through the will of Ea shall you obtain any contraception”

And the Supreme Court ruled in accordance with the wishes of the CEO

And furthermore, the CEO did utter a command that Hobby Lobby throw open its doors during the pandemic

And among the employees of Hobby Lobby some tore their nametag badges in grief

And they uttered a curse against the CEO of Hobby Lobby

“May the vultures seize upon you, CEO of Hobby Lobby!

May they pulverize you and render you into dust!

And as for your Museum of the Bible

May owls nest in its shoddy brickwork

May the cuneiform tablets and approximately three thousand ancient clay bullae you procure be obtained under false pretenses

And may they be defective as a glitter container whose lid is not adequately secured which pours forth its glitter upon all below

As an automatic door that lets in the winter blast and sets off the automatic bell repeatedly to the annoyance of all

May they be more useless to you than a glue stick that is dry

Or a sewing machine whose bobbin is repeatedly stuck

May our words rise to the ears of the gods in punishment for your wrong-doing, David Green CEO of Hobby Lobby!”

And their words rose to the heavens and [the next 60 lines are missing]

And the Museum of the Bible was constructed numerous cubits high and several cubits in width

And many goodly artifacts were gathered by the people to be placed within its high doors

Strong doors wrought of glass the color of clear crafting glue

But they had not done what is seemly to do in the obtaining of the artifacts

And things began to disorder themselves

First, the Bible that said with false tongue that it had been to the moon

Then, the Dead Sea Scrolls that weren’t

And all began to fall apart into a big mess

Like a shoe to which a pompom has been ambitiously but inadequately secured with hot glue

And it was revealed unto the Federal Prosecutors that there were 5,500 artifacts that needed to be returned

And they did pay a fine of many talents of gold

And in July of 2021 a dream came to the Department of Justice of a tablet of stone

A cuneiform tablet, that bore upon it the Dream of Gilgamesh

And in the dream a great bull came from heaven and snorted with its nostrils at the tablet

And the DOJ sat up in great alarm and said, "do I wake or do I sleep?

What is this dream that has come to me?"

But the Eastern District of New York interpreted the dream

And said, this dream signifies that, once again, Hobby Lobby has been At It

Hobby Lobby has yet again obtained an artifact by false and guileful means

An artifact that belongs to Iraq and ought to travel over the wind-lapped sea back whence it came

And so the DOJ set out from within the walls of their dwelling-places

And descended upon Hobby Lobby

And seized the tablet in their hands as the eagle seizes the rabbit in its clutches

Or the early-bird shopper seizes the highlighters during a back-to-school deal

And they bore the tablet among them in triumph

And a great shout went up:

The curse is fulfilled! Mark the words of the Hobby Lobby employees!

No tablets shall the Museum of the Bible obtain through legitimate means, and their enterprise shall not prosper!

May this exploit be remembered, and many other deeds besides!

Look upon Hobby Lobby, the shining letters, the cement structure!

Lay hands upon the corner-stone, laid in 1972!

Surely this is a place where craft supplies are sold!

No man can say anything but, “This is a Hobby Lobby!”