Babylonia and Near Eastern Resources

Until Israel's exodus from Egypt we have no evidence that they had any written history. However, because mankind had been writing from the earliest history of the Ancient Near East, Israel would have possessed records of their past. Traditions say that written material survived the flood. At least, they had oral history which was a collective memory of their lives for the people of Mesopotamia which included both truth and myth.

The Last book of the Bible, Revelation, uses many highly symbolic figures and specificially warns that the end-time religion will look just like the beginning religion in the very first part of the book of Genesis. As in the New Testament, the Old Testament reveals a True God of right living and social justice within history and often explained by the use of stories invented by human composers. The natural phenomena and natural ideas of right and wrong led some people to live in harmony with what they knew, while most people were not mentally or spiritually aware of the spirit realm. The entire Bible is the story of God looking for "the few good men and women." To the masses, God spoke in parables. When asked why this was, Jesus told the Apostles:

Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not;
and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. Mt. 13:13
All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables;
and without a parable spake he not unto them: Mt.13:34
That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet,
saying, I will open my mouth in parables;
I will utter things which have been kept secret
from the foundation of the world. Mt.13:35

A vital part of that parable history was the evil which resulted following the destruction of their fruitful lands (earth) by the flood. The surviving people followed a system of beliefs and practices in their religion which allowed a few as "god's agents" to use the many as slaves in a communistic system until the "capitalists" woke up about 2000 B.C.

God called Abraham out of that environment to make him a blessing to all of the nations. His descendants finally went into Egypt to escape a famine. During the Exodus from Egypt and before the wilderness wandering, Israel lived under a covenant and did not need a complicated system of laws. Righteousness was measured by living a personally right life and treating others with social justice. God was approached on a personal basis and not through a central priesthood and temple. Only when a society totally fails the spiritual test, do they need laws, human priests and temples.

When the oral covenant was rejected at Mount Sinai, a written law and history was produced. A national priesthood was established and the Levites assigned to keep the people away from the Tabernacle as symbol of God's presence -- just like the nations. Moses began to write a very unique record of creation and history based on this righteousness and justice. In this story of a spiritual dimension of mankind, two things are Holy: The One Yahweh who is the only elohim, and His Word which reaches into the human heart as His voice or Arm. or Spirit.

In the Babylonian and other accounts, the gods were both good and evil and there was no place for righteousness and justice. Mankind was created to be slaves so that the lazy, lower-level gods could take their ease. Yahweh, on the other hand, decreed that mankind had a right to rest. From understanding the ancient accounts we can recognize when false gods are worshipped and the people are again deprived of the rest of God and spiritual understanding. Jesus identified the clergy as a "Baal-like" tribe doing battle with John the Baptist as "Elijah." Christ's mission was to remove the burden which was "anxiety created by religious ritual."

Where evil results in Israel's history it is because people who reject God's common sense, righteous rules are doomed to have to be ruled like the nations, make war like the nations, worship like the nations and cease to exist like the nations. Therefore, the Biblical record of the period of the kingdom or Monarchy is a record of them living much like their old Mesopotamian and Canaanite neighbor nations. Many of the gods and rituals Israel fell into were taken directly from the myths of the nations. However, this should not disturb us because this is a faithful record of what God's people should not do.

Therefore, the Mesopotamian accounts are absolutely required reading if we are to understand the Bible as contrasted to the myths people compose like modern songs and sermons.

The Bible makes rich use of Babylonian myths as the known foundation upon which to build a contrasting, non-mythical story of God, creation and religion. These stories are used by Job, Jesus and others as parables to reveal the spiritual message.


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Maps Resource

Further Resources - Britannica Members

Theogony: Deals with the origin of the gods. Hesoid's Theogony is the fullest record of the Greek myths which have parallels in Babylonia.

Cosmogony: Studies the origin and evolutionary behaviour of the universe: planets, nebula, etc. The myth makers viewed it as being: the result of the conscious or unconscious emanation from the transcendent realm; the result of the fall of a deity from the Beyond; the creation of a hostile, ignorant, or evil deity; or a joke or mistake. Hesoid addresses this also.

Cosmology: deals with the ordering of the world. It deals primarily with astronomy and physics to understand the universe as an ordered system. In the 6th century BC the Phythagoreans taught a spherical Earth and a harmonius relationship with the planets. Hesoid addresses this also. A course. Modern Cosmology Hubble Photos.

Many of the ancient myths overlap many areas covered by the Bible and are a vivid contrast between religion based upon the external body and a religion of the mind or spirit.

The Creation of the Gods

The "earth" in Genesis is not the cosmos of the globe. Rather, Genesis speaks of God using pillars (buckling of the land) to raise the earth or fruitful place up between the liquid waters and the gaseous waters. This fruitful place or earth created a place where animal and plant life could exist. If man can evolve then the ancient mind would say that the gods can evolve. And they do, based upon the "survival of the fitest."

The Eridu Genesis is a Sumerian text. It covers the creation of the world, invention of cities and the flood. After the universe was created out of the chaos of the sea, the gods evolved and they in turn created mankind to farm, herd and worship them. Cities and kingship was created but the gods decided to destroy mankind with a flood. Ziusudra (Upnapishtim) from Eridu was instructed by Enki (Ea) to build a boat to survive the flood blown up by Enlil. After the flood he worshipped (prostrated) himself before An (Anu) and Enlil (Bel) and was given immortality for his godly life.

Enuma Elish Babylonian c. 2000 B.C.

Begins when all was a watery chaos and only the sea, Tiamat, and the sweet waters under ground, Apsu the salt waters. They mingled their waters together in a sexual union. Mummu personified the watery form like a womb and served as Apsu's page. In their midst the gods were born or brought fouth in pairs. The first pair, Lahmu and Lahamu, represented the powers in silt; the next, Anshar and Kishar, those in the horizon. They brought forth the god of heaven, Anu, and he in turn brought forth the god of the flowing sweet waters, Ea.

The "younger" gods got on the nerves of the Father God but the wise Ea plotted his murder. After defeating Apsu and Tiamat through Marduk, the divine mother was divided into two parts, one forming heaven, the other, earth. The primal stuff (considered as beings) had to be organized out of the chaos or vain and empty state. Tiamat is tehom in Hebrew. This is a mass of waters but Genesis does not consider it a supernatural being. In Genesis, the "spirit" or wind hovered or copulated or brooded upon the face of the waters. In the Babylonian account the waters which were female and male embraced. Jesus and Job use the language of "parable" and do not agree with the Babylonian literal account. The accounts agree in that the waters had to be separated into a sea and a "covering" or firmament which literally "holds up" the waters so that the earth (fruitful place) could be created above the lower waters supported by "pillars" of the buckled land.

In Genesis, the word "day" can also mean a journal (as in "day log") or seven chronicle;

in the epic the story is organized in seven tablets or cantos.or cantus or chants of a long poem divided into parts.

The epic ends in praise of Marduk by the lesser gods and Marduk begans to organize temples and a religion to force the people to serve the lazy gods. Genesis ends in God giving man rest. The heavens were created in the fourth period by both and the creation of man on the sixth. Marduk is identified with the sun and its creation is not therefore described. In Genesis, the effects of the sun are assumed but it is only on the fourth "day" that the sun and moon are ordained (Heb. nathan) to be the timekeepers and regulators of life. That is, they become visible on the fourth day. Enuma Elish is mythological and polytheistic and describes the condition of religion when Moses wrote a version dictated by Yahweh Who is described as the one and only Elohim.

The Babylonian Creation Epic TOTAL: N.K.Sandars

The Babylonian Creation Epic: Enuma Elish Stephanie Dally

Tablet I, Tablet II, Tablet III, Tablet IV, Tablet V, Tablet VI, Tablet VII

Fragment describing the creation of animals.

From George A. Barton, Archaeology and the Bible

Tablet I, Tablet II, Tablet III, Tablet IV, Tablet V, Tablet VI, Tablet VII

From E. A. Speiser

Enuma Elish, The Fifty Names of Marduk, Tablet VIb - VII

Tablet I, Tablet II, Tablet III, Tablet IV, Tablet V, Tablet VI, Tablet VII

Gods and Demons

Shamash, the sun god, rising in the morning from the eastern mountains between (left) Ishtar (Sumerian Inanna), the goddess of the morning star, and (far left) Ninurta, the god of thunderstorms, with his bow and lion, and (right) Ea (Sumerian Enki), the god of fresh water, with (far right) his vizier, the two-faced Usmu. By courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum

The gods were the clergy. They owned the land or means of production. Each had their lands and temple controlled by a city-state. This was the model of Jerusalem after Israel rejected God's direct rule and demanded a king like the nations so that they could worship like the nations. The gods met in "the assembly of the gods" to make and depose kings. They also controlled the cosmic offices. For example, Utu, the sun god, was the judge of the gods, in charge of justice and righteousness generally.

Highest in the pantheon--and presiding in the divine assembly--ranked An (Akkadian Anu), god of heaven, who was responsible for the calendar and the seasons as controlled by certain stars. Next came Enlil of Nippur, god of winds and of agriculture, creator of the hoe. In the modern trinity of three Beings (required because the pagans had a trinity), the Holy Spirit is the executive "person" who cleans up the totally worthless mess left over after the "father god" and "song god" got through. This is clearly borrowed from Babylonia. For instance, Enlil executed the verdicts of the divine assembly.

Equal in rank to An and Enlil was the goddess Ninhursag (also known as Nintur and Ninmah), goddess of stony ground: the close mountain ranges in the east as well as the stony desert in the west with its wildlife--wild asses, gazelles, wild goats, etc. She was also the goddess of birth. With these was joined--seemingly secondarily--Enki (Ea), god of the sweet waters of rivers and marshes; he was the cleverest of the gods and a great "fixer." Enlil's sons were the moon god Nanna or Sin; the god of thunderstorms, floods, and the plough, Ninurta; and the underworld figures Meslamtaea, Ninazu, and Ennugi. Sin's sons were the sun god and judge of the gods, Utu (the Akkadian Shamash); the rain god Ishkur (the Akkadian Adad); and his daughter, the goddess of war, love, and morning and evening star, Inanna (the Akkadian Ishtar). Inanna's luckless young husband was the herder god Dumuzi (the Akkadian Tammuz worshipped in the temple in Jerusalem, Eze 8). The dread netherworld was ruled by the goddess Ereshkigal and her husband Nergal, who are much like Meslamtaea and Ninurta. Earlier tradition mentions Ninazu as her husband.

Meslamtaea, in Mesopotamian religion, city god of Cuthah in Akkad. His temple in Cuthah was called Emeslam, or Meslam ("Luxuriant Mesu Tree"). His name, which means "He Who Issues from Meslam," perhaps indicates that he was originally a tree god, which would agree with his general chthonian, or underworld, character. He was the son of Enlil (Akkadian: Bel), god of the atmosphere, and of Ninlil (Belit), goddess of grain, and he appears in hymns as a warrior similar to the war god Ninurta. Meslamtaea's weapons, however, sometimes seem to be turned against his own people and their herds, when he kills them in great plagues.

Demons (mediators) played little or no role in the myths or lists of the Mesopotamian pantheon. Their domain was that of incantations. Mostly, they were depicted as outlaws; the demoness Lamashtu, for instance, was hurled from heaven by her father An because of her wickedness. The demons attacked man by causing all kinds of diseases and were, as a rule, viewed as wind and storm beings. Consonant with the classical view of the universe as a cosmic state, it was possible for a person to go to the law courts against the demons--i.e., to seek recourse before Utu and obtain judgments against them. Various rituals for such procedures are known.

Creation of the Earth

When the supreme being created the world and that there was no matter prior to his creation, then the destiny of the world is in the mind and will of the God. This means that the destiny of the world and man and all meaning is not determined by the original matter but by the God who did the creating. God alone determines the preservation, maintenance, and end of the world.

The Eridu Genesis

Creation by Philo


The Toil of the Gods and Creation of Man

The Sumerian texts indicate that the first men grew from the earth in the manner of grass and herbs. One of these texts, the "Myth of the Creation of the Hoe," adds a few details: Enlil removed heaven from earth in order to make room for seeds to come up, and after he had created the hoe he used it to break the hard crust of earth in Uzumua ("the flesh-grower"), a place in the Temple of Inanna in Nippur. Here, out of the hole made by Enlil's hoe, man grew forth.

The other view was that man was created from "ingredients" by Enki, or by Enki and his mother Nammu, or by Enki and the birth goddess called variously Ninhursag, Nintur, and Ninmah. In the myth of "Enki and Ninmah." Enki had man sired by the "engendering clay of the Apsu"--i.e., of the waters underground--and borne by Nammu. The Akkadian tradition, as represented by the "Myth of Atrahasis," had Enki advise that a god--presumably a rebel--be killed and that the birth goddess Nintur mix his flesh and blood with clay. This was done, after which 14 womb goddesses gave birth to 7 human pairs. A similar account is found in Enuma elish, in which Enki (Ea) molded man out of the blood of the slain rebel leader Kingu. The creation of man from the blood shed by two slain gods is yet another version in a myth from Ashur.

Therefore, is part clay (earthly) and part god (divine). The divine aspect, however, is not that of a living god but rather that of a slain, powerless divinity. The Atrahasis story relates that the etemmu (ghost) of the slain god was left in man's flesh and thus became part of man. It is this originally divine part of man, his etemmu, that was believed to survive at his death and to give him a shadowy afterlife in the netherworld. There is no other hint of divine essence in man. Man by himself was viewed as being utterly powerless to act effectively or to succeed in anything. For anything he wanted to do he needed the help of a personal god or goddess, some oe who had taken them on as a "project." "Without his personal god a man eats not."

It really didn't matter how mankind came into existence, he was designed to work in order to provide food, clothing, housing, and service for the gods, so that they, relieved of all manual labour, could live the life of a governing upper class, a landed nobility. In the scheme of existence man was thus never an end, always just a means.

The Creation of the Pickax by Enlil, the Babylonian Holy Spirit

The Creation Account From Ashur

Anunnki - Anu, Enlil, Shamash, Ea - The Creation of Man

Enki and Ninmah. Without mankind the gods had to produce their own food, dig irrigation ditches and all tasks. They complained to Enki's mother, Nammu (womb or "mother of the god") and she interceded with Enki. From clay of the Apsu (fresh underground waters, his father) and with the help of the womb goddesses and eight midwife goddesses led by Ninmah (Ninhursag), his mother became pregnant and gave birth to man to relieve the burden of the gods. Ninmah (perhaps like Lilith) became drunk and impaired all of the newborn creating seven freaks. Enki, however found a job for each. However, some were created beyond help. Also known as Ninmah, she was given the title Ninhursag - "Lady of the Hursag (The stoney foothills)" by her son Ninurta in the myth Lugal-e. She was an ancient Sumerian form of the mother-goddess, known as 'mother of the gods,' and 'mother of all children.' It was Ninhursag who was said to have been midwife to Nammu at the creation of man.


Atrahasis and Human Creation And The Flood -This Akkadian story tells that mankind was created to relieve the gods of their labor. Enki advised that a rebel god be killed and that Nintur mix his flesh and blood with clay. 14 womb goddesses gave birth to 7 human pairs similar to the story of Enuma Elish. Elil cannot stand the noise of people, tried to eleminate them and finally sends Enki to open the floodgates to drown civilization witha flood. Enki rescues them by telling Atrahasis how to build a boat. See the flood below

The Sabbath

Scholars have not succeeded in tracing the origin of the seven-day week, nor can they account for the origin of the Sabbath. A seven-day week does not accord well with either a solar or lunar calendar. Some scholars, pointing to the Akkadian term shapattu, suggest a Babylonian origin for the seven-day week and the Sabbath. But shapattu, which refers to the day of the Full Moon and is nowhere described as a day of rest, has little in common with the Jewish Sabbath. It appears that the notion of the Sabbath as a holy day of rest, linking God to his people and recurring every seventh day, was unique to ancient Israel. Britannica Members

The Feast of Marduk and Zarpanit - the Sabbath, Shabbat, Shabatum


The Celestial Garden in Dilmun

Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta



Enki and Ninhursanga

Because Dilmun has no fresh sparkling water ENKI orders UTU, the sun god, to fill it with fresh water brought up from the earth. Dilmun is thus turned into a divine garden. In this garden 8 plants are created and grown by NINHURSAG only to be eaten by ENKI. NINHURSAG becomes so angry that she places the curse of death on ENKI whose eight organs then begin to fail. NINHURSAG leaves Dilmun although the other gods eventually convince NINHURSAG to return to cure ENKI. She does so by creating eight healing gods including NINTI:

The Fall of Man

Adapa Myth Ea gave Adapa great wisdom but in spite of this he was denied immortality. While fishing, the south wind belw him into the sea. He became enraged and broke the wings of the south wind, which ceased to blow. Anu (Sumerian: An), the sky god, called Adapa on the carpet to be punished. However, Ea warned him not to touch the bread and water when offered. The two heavenly doorkeepers Tammuz and Ningishzida interceded with his omniscience Adapa needed only immortality to become a god. Anu offered Adapa the bread and water of eternal life but Adapa refused them. Thus at the advise of Ea mankind became mortal.

Expulsion From the Garden



Long-Lived Patriarchs 317



Search for Immortality

epic of gilg


The Flood Story



Sumerian Epics



ANEOutline.html file 2


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Flood Account From Nineveh 7th Century B.C.

The Flood Narrative From the Gilgamesh Epic 11th tablet

Another Flood Narrative From the Gilgamesh Epic Version 3, 11th tablet extra ninevah?

Sumerian Flood Narrative From the Gilgamesh Epic Version 4, 11th tablet

A single short Sumerian epic tale, "Gilgamesh and Agga of Kish," is told in the style of primary epic. It deals with Gilgamesh's successful rebellion against his overlord and former benefactor, Agga of Kish. More in the style of romantic epic are the stories of "Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta," "Enmerkar and Ensuhkeshdanna," and the "Lugalbanda epic," all of which have as heroes rulers of the 1st dynasty of Uruk (c. 3500 BC) and deal with wars between that city and the fabulous city of Aratta in the eastern highlands. Gilgamesh, also of that dynasty, figures as the hero of a variety of short tales; some, such as "Gilgamesh and Huwawa" and "Gilgamesh and the Bull of Heaven," are in romantic epic style, and others, such as "The Death of Gilgamesh" and "Gilgamesh, Enkidu and the Netherworld," concern the inescapable fact of death and the character of afterlife.

The Epic of Gilgamesh tells of Gilgamesh who was part divine and part human. He was a great building and warrior. Anu created Enkidu as a wild man who lived among animals to control Gilgamesh. However, Enkidu was diverted by city life and went to Uruk to find Gilgamesh. and of course Gilgamesh won. After he killed the wild bull Ishtar had sent to destroy him. He travelled in search of Utnapishtim, who survived the Babylonian flood, to learn how to gain immortality. He was told about the flood and the plant which would renew youth. Gilgamesh obtained the plant but it was stoken by a serpent and Gilgamesh returned to Uruk.


Gilgamesh Prologue This is similar to the Atrahasis story. This adds the story of a Noah-like figure, Utnaphishtim, who survived the flood and became immortal. This is a Neo-Assyrian version.

Girgamesh Epic, Tablet I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII


Setting the World in Order

The ordering, rather than the creation, of the world is the subject of another myth about Enki, called "Enki and World Order." Beginning with long praises and self-praises of Enki, it tells how he blessed Nippur (Sumer), Ur, Meluhha (Ethiopia), and Dilmun (Bahrain) and gave them their characteristics, after which he turned his attention to the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, to the marshes, the sea, and the rains, and then to instituting one facet after another of the economic life of Sumer: agriculture, housebuilding, herding, and so forth. The story ends with a complaint by Enki's granddaughter Inanna that she has not been given her due share of offices, at which he patiently pointed to various offices she had in fact been given and kindly added a few more. (See cosmology.)

Another myth about the world order but dealing with it from a very different point of view concerns Enlil's son, the rain god Ninurta, called from its opening word Lugal-e ("O King"). This myth begins with a description of the young king, Ninurta, sitting at home in Nippur when, through his general, reports reach him of a new power that has arisen in the mountains to challenge him--i.e., Azag, son of Anu (Sky) and Ki (Earth), who has been chosen king by the plants and is raiding the cities with his warriors, the stones. Ninurta sets out in his boat to give battle, and a fierce engagement ensues, in which Azag is killed. Afterward Ninurta reorganizes his newly won territory, builds a stone barrier, the near mountain ranges or foothills (the hursag), and gathers the waters that used to go up into the mountains and directs them into the Tigris to flood it and provide plentiful irrigation water from Sumer. The hursag he presents as a gift to his mother, who had come to visit him, naming her Ninhursag (Lady of the hursag). Lastly he sits in judgment on the stones who had formed the Azag's army. Some of them, who had shown special ill will toward him, he curses, and others he trusts and gives high office in his administration. These judgments give the stones their present characteristics so that, for example, the flint is condemned to break before the much softer horn, as it indeed does when the horn is pressed against it to flake it. Noteworthy also is the way in which order in the universe, the yearly flood and other seasonal events, is seen--consonantly with Ninurta's role as "king" and leader in war--under the pattern of a reorganization of conquered territories.

Other myths about Ninurta are An-gim dím-ma and a myth of his contest with Enki. The first of these tells how Ninurta, on returning from battle to Nippur, was met by Enlil's page Nusku, who ordered him to cease his warlike clamour and not scare Enlil and the other gods. After long speeches of self-praise by Ninurta, further addresses to him calmed him and made him enter his temple gently. The second tale relates how he conquered the Thunderbird Ansud with Enki's help but missed the powers it had stolen from him, and how, resentful at this, he plotted against Enki but was outsmarted and trapped. Another Sumerian myth, the "Eridu Genesis," tells of the creation of man and animals, of the building of the first cities, and of the flood.


Sumerian King List

The Emergence of Kingship: Inscription of Umma and Lagash, c. 2500BCE

Umma and Lagash


Enki and Enlil Establish order at Nippur With the Grain Goddess Ezinu


Enki and The World Order describes the organization of the creation which had been created a freak or "empty and void." After a lot of self-praises he blessed Nippur (Sumer), Ur, Meluhha (Ethiopia) and Dilumn which may be Bahrain. He organized the Tigris and Euphrates, the marshes, the sea and the rains. He created Sumerian economic life of farming, housebuilding, herding, and etc. Inanna, Enki's grandaughter, did not receive her share of offices and authority (the MES). However, Inanna determins to dominate, gets Enki drunk and just takes the MES:


Inanna - Ea - Gift of Wisdom and Music


Origin of a City p. 337 above

tower of bable

Confusion of Languages


Institutions and practices

City-state and national state

In early dynastic times, probably as far back as historians can trace its history,Mesopotamia was divided into small units, the so-called city-states, consisting of amajor city with its surrounding lands. The ruler of the city--usually entitled ensi--wasalso in charge of the temple of the city god. The spouse of the ensi had charge of the temple of the city goddess, and the children of the ensi administered the temples of the deities who were regarded as children of the city god and the city goddesses. Afterthe foundation of larger political units, such as leagues or empires, contributions were made to a central temple of the political unit, such as the temple of Enlil at Nippur inthe Nippur league. On the other hand, however, the king or other central ruler mightalso contribute to the shrines of local cults. When, in the 2nd and 1st millennia, Babylonia and Assyria emerged as national states, their kings had responsibility for thenational cult, and each monarch supervised the administration of all temples in hisdomain.


Epic of Paradise, Mountain Dilmun / Tilmun, Flood, Fall of Man

Column I , II-III IV V VI


Abraham, Ur of Chaldees, Babylonian Tablets


Code of Hammurabi


Marriage Contracts




Code of Hammurabi 378

Hittite Cod of Law 407

Asserian Code of Laws 427

Carthaginian Law of Sacrifices 439


Palestine in the Patriarchal Age


Tale of Sinuhe


Egyptian Exile

Tale of Two Brothers - Anpu and Bata 8/5/99

Letters to Dudu or David -Joseph in Egypt 8/5/99

Egyptian Famine - Baba of El-Kab - Joseph


Moses and the Exodus

The Legend of Sargon of Agade


Period of Hebrew Judges

Wenamon - Wenamun - Amun-Re - Lucifer at Tyre





-Creation of the Pickax 7/5/99


The Origin of Kings




The Prophets - Ritual Descent into the Underworld


Journey to the Netherworld


The genre of myths in ancient Mesopotamian literature centres on praises that recount and celebrate great deeds. The doers of the deeds (creative or otherwise decisive acts), and thus the subjects of the praises, are the gods. In the oldest myths, the Sumerian, these acts tend to have particular rather than universal relevance, which is understandable since they deal with the power and acts of a particular god with a particular sphere of influence in the cosmos. An example of such myths is the myth of "Dumuzi's Death," which relates how Dumuzi (Producer of Sound Offspring), the power in the fertility of spring, dreamed of his own death at the hands of a group of deputies from the netherworld and how he tried to hide himself but was betrayed by his friend after his sister had resisted all attempts to make her reveal where he was.


A similar, very complex myth, "Inanna's Descent," relates how the goddess Inanna (Lady of the Date Clusters) set her heart on ruling the netherworld and tried to depose her older sister, the queen of the netherworld, Ereshkigal (Lady of the Greater Earth). Her attempt failed, and she was killed and changed into a piece of rotting meat in the netherworld. It took all the ingenuity of Enki (Lord of Sweet Waters in the Earth) to bring Inanna back to life, and even then she was released only on condition that she furnish a substitute to take her place. On her return, finding her young husband Dumuzi feasting instead of mourning for her, Inanna was seized with jealousy and designated him as that substitute. Dumuzi tried to flee the posse of deputies who had accompanied Inanna, and with the help of the sun god Utu (Sun), who changed Dumuzi's shape, he managed to escape, was recaptured, escaped again, and so on, until he was finally taken to the netherworld. The fly told his little sister Geshtinanna where he was, and she went in search of him. The myth ends with Inanna rewarding the fly and decreeing that Dumuzi and his little sister could alternate as her substitute, each of them spending half a year in the netherworld, the other half above with the living.


A third myth built over the motif of journeying to the netherworld is the myth of "The Engendering of the Moongod and his Brothers," which tells how Enlil (Lord Wind), when still a youngster, came upon young Ninlil (goddess of grain) as she--eager to be with child and disobeying her mother--was bathing in a canal where he would see her. He lay with her in spite of her pretending to protest and thus engendered the moon god Suen. For this offense Enlil was banished from Nippur and took the road to the netherworld. Ninlil, carrying his child, followed him. On the way Enlil took the shape first of the Nippur gatekeeper, then of the man of the river of the netherworld, and lastly of the ferryman of the river of the netherworld. In each such disguise Enlil persuaded Ninlil to let him lie with her to engender a son who might take Suen's place in the netherworld and leave him free for the world above. Thus three further deities, all underworld figures, were engendered: Meslamtaea (He Who Comes Out of the Meslam Temple), Ninazu (Water Sprinkler [?]), and Ennugi (the God Who Returns Not). The myth ends with a paean to Enlil as a source of abundance and to his divine word, which always comes true.


Most likely all of these myths have backgrounds in fertility cults and concern the disappearance of nature's fertility with the onset of the dry season or with the underground storage of food.


As Enlil is celebrated for engendering other gods that embody other powers in nature, so also was Enki in the myth of "Enki and Ninhursag," in which myth Enki lay down with Ninhursag (Lady of the Stony Ground) on the island of Dilmun (modern Bahrain), which had been allotted to them. At that time all was new and fresh, inchoate, not yet set in its present mold. There Enki provided water for the future city of Dilmun, lay with Ninhursag, and left her. She gave birth to a daughter, Ninshar (Lady Herb), on whom Enki in turn engendered the spider Uttu, goddess of spinning and weaving. Ninhursag warned Uttu against Enki, but he, proffering marriage gifts, persuaded her to open the door to him. After Enki had abandoned Uttu, Ninhursag found her and removed Enki's semen from her body. From the semen seven plants sprouted forth. These plants Enki later saw and ate and so became pregnant from his own semen. Unable as a male to give birth, he fell fatally ill, until Ninhursag relented and--as birth goddess--placed him in her vulva and helped him to give birth to seven daughters, whom Enki then happily married off to various gods. The story is probably to be seen as a bit of broad humour.

Not only the birth of gods but also the birth, or creation, of man is treated in the myths. The myth of "Enki and Ninmah" relates how the gods originally had to toil for their food, dig irrigation canals, and perform other menial tasks until, in their distress, they complained to Enki's mother, Nammu, who took the complaints to Enki. Enki remembered the engendering clay of the Apsu (i.e., the fresh underground waters that fathered him), and from this clay, with the help of the womb goddesses and eight midwife goddesses led by Ninmah (another name for Ninhursag), he had his mother become pregnant with and give birth to man so that he could relieve the gods of their toil. At the celebration of the birth, however, Enki and Ninmah both drank too much beer and began to quarrel. Ninmah boasted that she could impair man's shape at will, and Enki countered that he could temper even the worst that she might do. So she made seven freaks, for each of which Enki found a place in society and a living. He then challenged her to alleviate the mischief he could do, but the creature he fashioned--a prematurely aborted fetus--was beyond help. The moral drawn by Enki was that both male and female contribute to the birth of a happy child. The aborted fetus lacked the contribution of the birth goddess in the womb.


text from


5. Ipuwer


6-Ishtar Descent to the Nether world (The 7 Gates of Hell)

Dumuzi's Death

"The Engendering of the Moongod and his Brothers,"


7-Tammuz, Lament on the Flute

8 - Death of Alen Baal - Poem from Ras Shamra

9 - Resurrection of Alein Baal - Poem from Ras Shamra to do

10 Daniel in North Syria




In the cultic practices, humans fulfilled their destiny: to take care of the gods' material needs. They therefore provided the gods with houses (the temples) that were richly supplied with lands, which people cultivated for them. In the temple the god was present in--but not bounded by--a statue made of precious wood overlaid with gold. For this statue the temple kitchen staff prepared daily meals from produce grown or raised on the temple's fields, in its orchards, in its sheepfolds, cattle pens, and game preserves, brought in by its fishermen, or delivered by farmers owing it as a temple tax. The statue was also clad in costly raiment, bathed, and escorted to bed in the bedchamber of the god, often on top of the temple tower, or ziggurat. To see to all of this the god had a corps of house servants--i.e., priests trained as cooks, bakers, waiters, and bathers, or as encomiasts (singers of praise) and musicians to make the god's meals festive, or as elegists to soothe him in times of stress and grief. Diversions from the daily routine were the great monthly festivals and also a number of special occasions. Such special occasions might be a sudden need to go through the elaborate ritual for purifying the king when he was threatened by the evils implied in an eclipse of the Moon, or in extreme cases there might be a call for the ritual installation of a substitute king to take upon himself the dangers threatening, and various other nonperiodic rituals.

Partly regular, partly impromptu, were the occasions for audiences with the god in which the king or other worshipers presented their petitions and prayers accompanied by appropriate offerings. These were mostly edibles, but not infrequently the costly containers in which they were presented, stone vases, golden boat-shaped vessels, etc., testified to the ardour of the givers. Appropriate gifts other than edibles were also acceptable--among them cylinder seals for the god's use, superhuman in size, and weapons for him, such as maceheads, also outsize.

To the cult, but as private rather than as part of the temple cult, may be counted also the burial ritual, concerning which, unfortunately, little is known. In outgoing Early Dynastic times in Girsu two modes of burial were current. One was ordinary burial in a cemetery; the nature of the other called laying the body "in the reeds of Enki," is not understood. It may have denoted the floating of the body down the river into the canebrakes. Elegists and other funerary personnel were in attendance and conducted the laments seeking to give full expression to the grief of the bereaved and propitiate the spirit of the dead. In later times burial in a family vault under the dwelling house was frequent.


Sacred Time



Sacred Places


The Magical Arts



Codes of Law

The Baal Epic

-Babylonia Catholic Encyclopedia -

-Domestication of Enkidu ---8/4/98

-Dumuzi is Presented to Inanna

-Enlil and Ninlil


-The Courtship of Inanna and Dumuzi

-Inanna and Bilulu


-The Sleep of Ishtar

-Magian Version of the Descent of Ishtar

-Istar Descent Babylon


The Praiser


Babylonian Psalms 497


-Hymn to Ishtar

-Hymn to Sin - Moon God

-Shamash (Sun god), Hymn To

-Hymn to Nannar/Sin

-Hymn from Inanna to Tammuz

-Hymn of Love from Inanna to Tammuz



-Ludlul Bel Nimeqi, Tabu-utul-Bel (Job)

-Tammuz, Lament on the Flute



-Prayer of Lamentation to Ishtar

-Prayer to Sin - The Moon God

-Prayer of Ashurbanipal to Shamash (the sun god)

-Prayer to Ishrar (B)

-Prayer to Ishtar 2 (B)


-Proverbs - Precepts

-Babylonian Proverbs and Precepts- Ashurbanipal's Library - Ancient Education 7/4/99




Hymn to Sin, the Moon God (B)

Hymn to Bell (B)

Hymn to the Sun God (E)

Hymn in Praise of Aton (E)



Psalm to Marduk

Marriage of Nergal and Ereshkigal


Ninurta and the Turtle

The Huluppu Tree

Lament for the Destruction of Ur



Assyria (c.1350- 612 BCE)

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