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3 essentials of Christian leadership

Cardianl McCarrick 1 400pxPope Francis has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, DC following allegations of sexual abuse. This is the latest in a series of sex abuse scandals involving leaders in the Roman Catholic Church. So, what does the Bible say about the behavior of Christian leaders?

The letter of 1 Peter in the Bible shows us how God can help us get through hardship, trials and suffering. In chapter 5, it includes instructions to the elders of churches, which would apply to the leaders of any Christian ministry. This passage is written in the context of suffering. It is preceded by a passage on suffering for being a Christian (4:12-19) and is followed by a reminder to have an eternal viewpoint when they are suffering (5:10).

The passage says “To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away” (1 Pt. 5:1-4NIV).

It’s a message to those living between the two advents of Christ. The first was when Christ suffered and the second is when He will come in great glory. We live in this time period.

When churches (and ministries) experience persecution and suffering, it is primarily the responsibility of the leaders to provide help, comfort, strength and guidance. Peter urges them to do this in view of the persecution they were enduring. He supports this by saying that he is also a Christian leader (elder). So he’s speaking from experience. He also saw Christ’s crucifixion at the first advent and he told others about it. And he knew that there will be no more suffering when Christ returns in great power and glory to rule over the earth at the second advent and he told others about it.

Main message

The main message was that they were to “be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them” (5:2). Here leaders are likened to shepherds and those they lead are likened to sheep. This is a common biblical metaphor. The shepherd is the dominant leadership metaphor in the Old Testament. As sheep need a shepherd, people need leaders. And Jesus was “the Good Shepherd” (Jn. 10:11).

Peter says to take care of and watch over those you lead like shepherds take care of and watch over their sheep. A shepherd’s care is physical, while a Christian leader’s care is spiritual. Leaders are “shepherds of God’s flock” who do this work for the Good Shepherd. Then he gives them three important characteristics of a Christian leader (or church elder). These are given as three negatives (“not because you must”; “not pursuing dishonest gain “; and “not lording it over those entrusted to you”), each of which is followed by a positive (“but because you are willing”; “but eager to serve”; and “but being examples to the flock”). So Christian leaders are to be:
– willing leaders
– eager leaders, and
– examples to follow.

  1. A willing leader

The Bible says, “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be” (5:2). There’s a wrong way and a right way to lead. In this case, not reluctantly or under coercion or compulsion, but voluntarily. This is like Paul’s advice on giving, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7). Our attitude is important to God. It’s wrong to lead because there seems to be no alternative or because of exerted pressure.

When Paul was in prison, he sent Onesimus back to his master rather than have Onesimus’ help without the approval of his master; “I did not want to do anything without your (Philemon’s) consent, so that any favor you do would not seem forced but would be voluntary” (Phile. 14). Paul sought the help of volunteers, not those who had no choice in the matter. Likewise, God wants those who lead Christian ministries to do this voluntarily, and not out of a feeling of obligation or a desire of recognition or status. It’s not just a job to do, but a calling from God.

Nehemiah led the project to restore the walls of Jerusalem after they had been ruined for 150 years. His team faced mockery, attacks, distraction and temptation to sin (Neh. 4:3, 8; 6:10-12). Nehemiah understood that God had appointed him to the task and his sense of purpose invigorated the people to follow his leadership despite incredible opposition. God equips Christian leaders to overcome the challenges and obstacles and complete the tasks He’s given them to do.

  1. An eager leader

The Bible also says, “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them— … not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve” (5:2). Not greedily looking for reward or recognition or some other benefit, but eager to serve others. They are “not a lover of money” (1 Ti. 3:3). 83% (5/6) of the warnings to the church about greed and the love of money are addressed to leaders (1 Tim. 3:3, 8; Tit. 1:7, 11; Heb. 13:5; 1 Pt. 5:2). They gladly serve without reward or recognition. They are outwardly focused, not self-focused. They desire to give, not get.

In this verse “eager” means ready, prepared, passionate and enthusiastically willing to lead. They anticipate the needs of the people and gladly initiate action to address these. They are eager to lead in a way that Paul was eager to preach the good news about Jesus to the Romans (Rom. 1:15). And in the way that the Christians in Corinth were eager to help needy believers in Jerusalem (2 Cor. 9:2).

  1. An example to follow

The Bible says, “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them— … not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock” (5:3). Not as a dictator, tyrant or bully with a desire for power and control. Not like a boss who commands, dominates, intimidates, manipulates and coerces his people. Not like the leaders of Israel who “ruled them harshly and brutally” (Ezek. 34:4). They were interested in themselves and not in the welfare of the people. And not like Diotrephes who loved prominence and expelled from the church those he disagreed with (3 Jn. 9-10). Christian leaders must not abuse their authority.

Recently Hun Sen was re-elected to lead Cambodia in a sham election. The leaders of Cambodia’s main opposition were jailed or exiled, and their party was dissolved and was banned from competing in the election. And independent media in Cambodia is largely silenced. So Cambodia is governed by a dictatorship, not a democracy. And its neighbors (Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Myanmar) are also governed by repressive regimes.

Instead Christian leaders were to be a model or pattern to follow. Paul told young believers to “set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Ti. 4:12). And he told the Corinthians to “follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). Paul’s example was not to lord it over others (2 Cor. 1:24). Christian leaders are not to drive God’s people, but to lead them by their examples of mature Christian character. The ancient shepherd walked in front of his sheep and called them to follow him. They showed the sheep which direction to walk.

Jesus told His disciples, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man [Jesus]did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mt. 20:25-28). Christian leaders are to serve and give, not demand and get. It’s self-giving, not self-serving.

“Those entrusted to you” are the people that God has given the leader to lead. God specially assigns people to leaders. They are the leader’s sphere of service. The leader is to manage these people for Jesus Christ who is the Chief Shepherd (1 Pt. 5:4).

Lessons for us

If we are a Christian leader, let’s be willing and eager to care for people and be an example they can follow. This means not abusing others like Cardinal McCarrick is alleged to have done or any other form of abuse.

If we are under the authority of Christian leaders, let’s accept their leadership, accept their care, and follow their example (1 Pt. 5:5).

Written, July 2018

Also see:
Old Testament shepherds
New Testament shepherds
The Good Shepherd

The Good Shepherd is always near


Jesus is like royalty

Duchess of Sussex 2 400pxWhen Megan Markle married Prince Harry, she was given the royal title (Her Royal Highness) the Duchess of Sussex. Did you know that Jesus Christ is given royal titles in the Bible like “Lord”, “King”, “Lord of lords” and “King of kings”?

In the New Testament, the Greek noun kurios (Strongs #2962) is translated “Lord” when it is used for deity. It is a title of God the Father (Mt. 1:20; 9:38; 11:25; Acts 17:24; Rev. 4:11) and of Jesus Christ (Lk. 2:11; Jn. 20:28; Acts 10:36; 1 Cor. 2:8; Phil. 2:11; Jas. 2:1; Rev. 19:16). And in some instances, it is uncertain as to whether God Father or God the Son is meant (Acts 9:31; 13:10-12; 20:19). Likewise, in the Bible, the title “Lord of lords” is given to God the Father (Dt. 10:17; Ps. 136:3; 1 Ti. 6:15) and to Jesus Christ (Rev. 17:14; 19:16). It refers to someone who has absolute dominion over all their realm. A supreme ruler.

A lord is a master, or ruler who has authority, control, or power over others. They are an important person like, a boss, a chief or an owner. After the resurrection, when the apostles said “Jesus is Lord”, they meant “Jesus is God”. Thomas said, “My Lord and my God!” (Jn. 20:28). Peter said Jesus was “both Lord and Messiah” and “Lord of all” (Acts 2:36; 10:36).

The Roman soldiers mocked Jesus as the “king of the Jews” (Mt. 27:27-31). They didn’t realize that as the Creator, Sustainer and Savior, He was the King of the earth and the King of the universe. But are we any better? What’s our opinion of Jesus?

Today believers have the privilege of voluntarily acknowledging that Jesus is Lord. They praise and worship God individually and corporately for what He has done for us through Jesus Christ. In particular, through Christ’s sacrificial death we can have our sins forgiven by God. There is no other way to heaven and peace with God.

But in the future, everyone else will be compelled to “acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Phil. 2:9-11NIV). It’s much better to avoid this by accepting the good news now and believing that Jesus died for your sins and recognizing Him as Lord of your life.

The statement “Jesus is Lord” means that Jesus is God. Like God the Father, He owns everything. If Jesus is Lord, then He owns us; and He has the right to tell us what to do. Are we obedient to the commands given in the Bible to His church?

Reference
Erickson M J (2013) “Christian Theology”, 3rd Ed. Baker Academic, p. 631

Written, July 2018


God’s mercy is bigger

July-18_God'sMercy_JPG 400pxIf you look in a newspaper or history book you won’t find the real history of the world. You see our version of history is so different from what matters to God. When we think of great battles in history we probably think of the Napoleonic Wars or World Wars I & II.

But to God, the great battles of history are those waged each day inside a person. The struggle we have to either resist or give in to temptation. God notices when we’re not kind to others or we boast or steal or slander or decide to acknowledge Him as our creator and sustainer… or not. These decisions are, by far, the most significant battles in history.

In the Bible, one of the first Christian leaders, Paul of Tarsus, spoke of his own personal battle with temptation. He said this in a letter he wrote to the church in Rome,

I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway (Romans 7:18-19).

We can all identify with these words. So, can there be any hope when the catalogue of our mistakes is so long and when the cost of our bad decisions to others, ourselves and the honor of God – is so great? The answer is ‘Yes – because God’s mercy is bigger than our mistakes!’ He is willing to forgive.

There’s another way in which our version of history is different to God’s. We keep thinking certain people are more valuable than others. Perhaps those of a particular race, or class or those with wealth, fame, power or good looks. But God cares about every person equally. And He’s prepared to forgive the sin of anyone – no matter how much baggage is in their life.

In a letter to Christians on the island of Crete, Paul spoke with wonder about why Jesus’s death on the cross was such good news. He explained that it means that we can be forgiven by God. He wrote,

When God our Savior revealed His kindness and love, He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.

So, no matter how many your mistakes, take them to Jesus and the cross where He is willing and able to deal with them.

Bible verse: Titus 3:4-5, “… When God our Savior revealed His kindness and love, He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit”.

Prayer: Dear God, please help me to trust that your mercy really is big enough to deal with all my mistakes.

Acknowledgement: This article was sourced from Outreach Media, Sydney, Australia.
Images and text © Outreach Media 2018


Following Jesus in a hostile world

Floods 4 400pxIn the last few days, millions of people were evacuated due to floods and landslides in Japan. Tough times come to everyone at some point. Serious illness, disability, unemployment, financial problems, family strife, conflict at work, the death of a loved one. Life doesn’t always work out the way we would like it to. We find ourselves thinking, why is this happening to me? How could a loving God allow this hardship? Why aren’t you doing something about this, God?

And we wonder, how can we get through such difficult times? In particular, how can God help us get through hardship? In this article we’re going to answer this question from the letter of 1 Peter in the Bible. There will be three main  points:
– God helps us through the privileges of salvation.
– God helps us through Christ’s example.
– And God helps us through godly living.

Context

Peter was a disciple of Jesus and an eyewitness of Jesus’ ministry. He was put in jail more than once for proclaiming that Jesus had risen from the dead (Acts 4:3; 5:18; 12:4). He knew that Christians had faced opposition since the beginning of the church. They were jailed and interrogated by the Jewish leaders and commanded not to speak about Jesus (Acts 4:1-22; 5:17-42). These leaders seized Stephen and made false accusations against him and stoned him to death (Acts 6:8-7:60). Then “a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria” (Acts 8:1NIV). Some went to Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch (Acts 11:19). Saul made “murderous threats” against the Christians and went to Damascus to arrest them and take them as prisoners to Jerusalem (Acts 9:1-2, 21). Then king Herod arrested some Christians “intending to persecute them” and he executed James the brother of John who was an apostle like Peter (Acts 12:1-2). Paul also suffered for following Jesus (2 Cor. 11:23-26).

1 Peter is a letter from the Apostle Peter to Christians living in provinces of Asia Minor (now Turkey). It was written about AD 62, in the middle of the reign of Emperor Nero, who persecuted Christians. You can see this on Peter’s timeline. These Christians faced threats, slander and the possibility of having to “suffer for what is right” and to “suffer for doing good” (1 Pt. 3:13-17). And they were being persecuted, which is described as to “suffer grief in all kinds of trials”, “abuse”, a “fiery trial”, “the sufferings of Christ”, being “insulted because of the name of Christ”, to “suffer as a Christian”, unjust suffering, and being wrongfully accused of wrong doing (1:6, 17; 2:121; 4:3-4, 12-16). This hostility towards Christians was being experienced across the Roman Empire: “the family of believers throughout the [known] world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings” (5:9).

Peter timeline 700px

The purpose of the letter is to encourage them to persevere and endure in their trials and suffering and not give up.

1 Peter’s themes

Peter says that those following Jesus will face trials and suffering. It’s inevitable. They will “suffer for what is right” and “suffer for doing good”. They lived in a world that was hostile to Jesus. And so do we. Do you notice how often Christians are ridiculed in the media? So we will look at this letter as though it was written to us.

Responses to suffering 400pxThemes in 1 Peter 400pxIf trials and suffering are inevitable in the life of a Christian, what do we do about it? We have a choice to trust God and endure the suffering or go our own way into bitterness and resentment. Will we draw near to God or turn away from Him? These two responses are shown in the schematic diagram.

Peter says we are to prepare for suffering and hostility beforehand, and endure it by persevering in the Christian faith. He gives three ways to ensure endurance. These are: the privileges of salvation, Christ’s example, and godly living. We will look at these themes in turn and they are shown in the schematic diagram.

Prepare for suffering

Some people stumble in their faith when they are impacted by suffering. They think how can a good God allow such suffering?

Peter tells them how to get ready to face suffering because it’s coming (3:13-17; 4:2-6). When they face criticism and hostility they should, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. And do this with gentleness and respect” (3:15-16).

If we live in a wildfire (bushfire) zone, we need a wildfire (bushfire) emergency plan. If we live in a flood zone, we need a flood emergency plan. We need to get ready and be prepared. Likewise. Christians need to be ready to face criticism, ridicule and hardship. This means being ready to answer questions like. How can anyone believe in God after a disaster? Hasn’t science disproved God? Why would you read the Bible? Why do you go to church? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why don’t you sleep with your girlfriend or boyfriend?

We don’t know when this situation will occur. Can we say why we are a Christian? Are there good reasons for what we believe? Have we thought through what we believe so we can testify to others? We need to know why we believe what we believe. Do we respect those we are witnessing to? Is what we say supported by a consistent life? We need to both show and tell.

So it’s good to prepare for suffering. But what should we do when trials and suffering appear?

Endure suffering

Peter also tells them how to cope with suffering (4:12-19):

  1. He says, don’t be surprised about suffering as a Christian. It’s not unusual. It’s the normal Christian experience.
  2. “All kinds of trials” can test our faith (1:6-7). Traffic jams, the slow queue at the supermarket, cancer, depression, mental illness, marriage problems, and hostility from others because of our faith, all test our Christian faith. Some of these things happen to us sooner or later. Hard times prove our faith is genuine. James says that the testing of our faith by “trials of many kinds” produces perseverance (Jas. 1:2-3).
  3. Also, suffering can train us and mould our character. Those who endure suffering are strengthened and become more spiritually mature (5:10).
  4. And suffering is temporary; “for a little while” (1:6; 5:10). It’s only for this life. “And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast” (5:10).
  5. Peter also says, “it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God … But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God” (2:19-20). God is pleased when we endure undeserved suffering without retaliation. “Endure” means to hang in there. To carry a heavy load without complaining. To be strong. God gives that ability. He does not want us to suffer from a sense of duty but from a conviction about His purpose for us. He wants us to patiently endure suffering even when we do good. How much hostility can we take? Are we resilient?

At the end of the letter, Peter says, “I wanted to encourage you and tell you how kind God really is, so that you will keep on having faith in Him” (5:12CEV). It was written to encourage them to endure and persevere in trials and suffering and not give up trusting God.

The summary statement for Christian suffering is, “So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good” (4:19). Nothing can happen to us without God allowing it. He wants us to put our trials into His care. He will sustain us. “Doing good” means to the benefit others. Hardship isn’t an excuse for wrongdoing.

So it’s good to prepare for suffering, and to endure during trials. But Peter also reminds them of some other reasons for enduring and persevering in trials and suffering.

God helps us through the privileges of salvation

The first way that God helps us through hardships is through the privileges of salvation. Peter focuses on three of these: our secure future (1:3-12), our direct access to God (2:4-8), and the fact we are special to God (2:9-10).

We have a secure future

The Bible says that “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” Christians have “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade” (1:3-4). And “this inheritance is kept in heaven [by God] for you”.

It‘s human nature to break promises. Governments make and break promises. Advertisers and politicians make and break promises. And people make promises to each other which are often broken. Many of these promises do not materialize. Thankfully, God’s promises are not like ours. Every promise He makes, He keeps. The promise of a secure future is certain to be fulfilled.

So Christians should be confident about their future. Their inheritance is guaranteed.
And God is protecting them until it’s revealed when Jesus comes back. This promise gives them joy even “though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials” (1:6). They have inner peace despite these trials.

We have direct access to God

Peter says that each Christian is like a “living stone” in a new building and Jesus is like the cornerstone. God builds this spiritual building by adding Christians to the global church. One day this building will be finished, then Jesus will come again. This spiritual house is like the temple in the Old Testament, where the priests had access to God. Today Christians are like these priests: they have direct access to God. They are “to be a holy priesthood offering spiritual sacrifices” to God.

When a relationship breaks down and the couple have children, the Family Court may deny one parent contact with a child if there is a serious physical or emotional risk for the child. In this case, one parent has direct access to the child, but the other doesn’t. In the same way, Christians have direct access to God, they are no longer separated from Him. This means they can pray to God anytime. We can confess our sins to God, pray for others and offer ourselves to God.

We are God’s people

The Bible also says that Christians are God’s special people (2:9-10). They are “a chosen people”. Like the Israelites were God’s chosen people in Old Testament times, Christians are His chosen people today. They are “God’s special possession”. They are safe because of His protection. And their purpose is to praise God.

At the Australian State of Origin Rugby League Football game this week, supporters were praising their teams. And Queenslanders even think they are chosen people, but those from New South Wales don’t agree! Anyhow, this gives people an identity, a purpose and something to celebrate. In the same way, Christians have a special identity, a purpose and something to celebrate. So we can feel safe and represent God in our world.

So their secure future, their direct access to God, and their identity as God’s people helps believers to endure and persevere in trials and suffering. They don’t worry about ridicule or persecution. Besides these privileges of salvation, Christ’s example can also help.

God helps us through Christ’s example

The second way that God helps us through hardships is through the example of Jesus who suffered when He was unjustly crucified (1:11; 2:24; 3:18; 4:1, 13; 5:1). It’s mentioned in every chapter of this letter.

Jesus was a model for how to deal with a hostile work situation (2:21-25). After commending those who bear up “under the pain of unjust suffering”, and who “suffer for doing good” under harsh employers, Peter says, “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps. ‘He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth’. When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted himself to Him [God] who judges justly” (2:21-23). Peter also says, “since Christ suffered in His body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude [as Jesus], because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin” (4:1).

In Peter’s day, retaliating to a personal insult or injury was considered a virtue. Non- retaliation was interpreted as a sign of weakness. Our society is much the same. Our heroes tend to be those who fight back with physical strength or litigation. But Jesus didn’t do that when He suffered unjustly and for doing good. Instead He prayed for His killers, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Lk. 23:34). When He was falsely accused, insulted and abused, He didn’t retaliate. Instead, He left these things in the Father’s hands.

Christians should expect hostility because they follow Jesus. They should be prepared to endure trials and suffering. Believers have a choice between sin and suffering. If we live like an unbeliever, we can avoid hostility and suffering. But if we live in a godly way and not under the power of sin, we will face hostility. Do our friends know that we follow Jesus? Are we willing to endure ridicule because of this?

So the privileges of salvation and Christ’s example can help us to endure and persevere in trials and suffering. Godly living can also help.

God helps us through godly living

The third way that God helps us through hardships is through godly living. The previous helps were what to know (doctrine), now they are told what to do (practice). They are instructed how to live and behave in a pagan society where they were misunderstood and insulted for their faith.

First, they are urged to be holy (1:13-2:3). God says, “for it is written [in the Old Testament]: ‘be holy, because I [God] am holy’”. This would have reminded them of the Israelites who were to be devoted to God and different from the other nations by following God’s laws for them (Lev. 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7, 26; 21:8). Now Christians are to be holy and live for God and so be different to unbelievers.

The hippies who dropped out of society in the 1960s were counter-cultural. Today it might be those who aren’t online watching things like Facebook or Youtube. Or those home schooling. Or those in an outlaw bikie club. These ways of life and attitudes are completely different from those accepted by most of society. Likewise, God wants Christians to be different from our pagan society.

Christians are like foreigners on earth because our ultimate allegiance is to a heavenly kingdom (2:11). We are to behave differently to our previous sinful lifestyle. God wants us to be like Him and He gives us the Holy Spirit to empower us. We are to be driven by the Holy Spirit and not the sinful nature (Gal. 5:16). The standard for distinguishing what’s sinful and what’s holy is the Bible, because it’s God’s message to us.

An example of holiness is the fruit of the Spirit which is “ love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23NLT). What do we do with our sexual desires and how to we use our money? We are regularly bombarded with temptations by the media. How do we react to these?

Second, Peter urges them to show godly behavior in their relationships with others.
He mentions at least four areas of life where we should be humble, submissive and respect others. These are: towards governing authorities (2:13-17), at work (2:18-20), in the family (3:1-7), and in the church (3:8-12; 5:1-10).

The media often depict those in positions of authority as incompetent, disrespected, and corrupted. And if we criticize a teacher, a cop, or a spouse, it shows our lack of respect for authority figures. If we want our kids to respect us, we need to demonstrate that we respect others.

So the privileges of salvation and Christ’s example and godly living can help us to endure and persevere in trials and suffering.

Enduring hostility today

Jesus faced hostility. Peter faced hostility. The Christians that Peter wrote to faced hostility. And today Christians face hostility. Since the times of Jesus, the world has been hostile to Christ and His representatives.

In our postmodern world, Christians are viewed as intolerant and unloving bigots because of their view on marriage, abortion and euthanasia. They are characterized by hate, fear, oppression, abuse, power, and violence. And Christianity is misrepresented and ridiculed. While non-Christians are seen as being tolerant and compassionate because of their love, justice and mercy.

How resilient are we? When trials and suffering come our way, do we choose sin or suffering? Trouble is meant to draw us closer to the Lord, not push us further away.

Peter quotes from the Old Testament to prove his point. We need to substantiate what we believe from the Bible. That’s why it’s important to read and study the Bible.

Summary

Our original question was, “How can God help us get through hardship?” To answer this we have looked at the letter of 1 Peter. And we’ve seen three ways that God helps us get through trials and suffering. He helps us through:
– The privileges of salvation – like our secure future, our direct access to God and being God’s people.
– Christ’s example, of enduring unjust suffering.
– And godly living, by being holy and respecting others.

Conclusion

Trials and suffering can cause us to sin and give up following Jesus. But God offers us the privileges of salvation, Christ’s example and godly living. Now we must use these to persevere in hard times and not give up.

Cave rescue 1 500pxIt’s the Football (Soccer) World Cup once again. But the team getting most attention last week was the one rescued from a flooded cave in Thailand. It was a great example of perseverance, hope, heartbreak, and victory. Just like the way Christians should respond to a hostile world. They escaped a dangerous situation. But the Bible says that those who don’t follow Jesus are in a more dangerous situation. The letter of 1 Peter was written to those who followed Jesus. As we have seen, they have plenty of resources to endure tough times. To get these resources we need to realize that our relationship with God the Father is broken. And if we trust in Jesus’ death for us, we can be reconciled with God. And He can become the cornerstone of our life.

Written, July 2018


The chicken or the egg?

chicken and egg 1 409pxWhich came first, the chicken or the egg? This is an old riddle. All chickens hatch from eggs, and all chicken eggs are laid by hens, which are adult chickens. It’s a way of describing situations where It’s not clear which of two events should be considered the cause and which should be considered the effect. In the case of literature, which came first? And did the earlier influence the later?

Some scholars claim that Biblical writers drew upon the cultural and religious legacy of the ancient Near East, its stories and its imagery. For example, could the Biblical account of creation be based on ancient mythology like Enuma Elish?

Hebrew account of creation

The first two chapters of Genesis describe the creation of the universe, earth and humanity. This book was edited by Moses in about 1450BC and the earliest copies available today are from the 2nd century BC found in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Genesis 1-2 is summarized below:
In the beginning of time God created the universe over a period of six days. On day one light, water and the earth were created. On day two, the atmosphere. On day three, land with vegetation. On day four, the solar system and stars. On day five, animals and birds. On day six, the first people (Adam and Eve). And God rested on the seventh day. Before this, God was all that existed. God created a universe that was good and free from sin. And God created humanity to have a personal relationship with Him.

More detail about the creation of Adam (“from the dust of the ground”) and Eve (from Adam’s rib) is given in Genesis 2. This includes establishing the relationship of heterosexual marriage. They lived in the garden of Eden and were to “work it and take care of it”.

Marduk 400pxBabylonian account of creation

The “Enuma Elish (EE)” is a Babylonian poem that tells the story of how the universe came into being, a great struggle among the gods, and the creation of the earth and humanity. The main purpose of this epic was to explain the elevation of the chief Babylonian god Marduk to the top of the Mesopotamian pantheon and the legitimization of his superiority over the other gods. It says that Babylon is the pre-eminent city in the world. And it puts more emphasis on explaining the origin of gods than the origin of the universe. The oldest copies of this poem are written on seven tablets from the 7th century BC found in the ruined Library of Ashurbanipal at Nineveh (Mosul, Iraq). The text on each tablet is between about 138 and 166 lines long and is comprised of two-line verses (sentence units).

Enuma Elish tablet 400pxThe translation of these texts is not exact. In some cases, badly damaged tablets make reading the text difficult. Some translators leave the gaps, while others attempt to reconstruct the text based on what remains. In other cases, there are differing interpretations of the meaning of words or the reading of the cuneiform itself. Many translations of the tablets try to capture the sense of the text rather than a literal translation.

Marduk chasing after Tiamat, the sea serpent 400pxEnuma Elish (EE) has been summarized as follows. “The two original gods Apsu, the male, and Tiamat, the female, are created from water. They then beget all other gods, but these “children” make so much noise that Apsu is unable to sleep and decides to kill them. However, before he can, one of the offspring puts a spell on him and kills him. Tiamat, to avenge his death, takes up the cudgels, but Marduk (another offspring) eliminates her, splitting her in two, and the two parts of her corpse become the heavens and the Earth. Marduk relieves the other gods of all manual work by creating man (from the blood vessels of a defeated giant god), and Marduk then becomes the chief god” (Masters, 2004). A longer summary is given in Appendix C.

Comparison

The text of Genesis 1-2 is given in Appendix A and the text of EE is given in Appendix B. Can we tell if one  was influenced by the other? There are similarities and differences between these accounts.

Similarities

There are some similarities between Genesis1-2 and EE. In both, darkness precedes the creative acts; light exists before the creation of the sun, moon, and stars; there is a division of the waters above and below; and the sequence of creation is similar, including the division of waters, dry land, luminaries, and humanity, all followed by rest. There are also some similarities in the structure and terminology in their original languages because they came from similar cultural backgrounds.

Differences

There are also significant differences between Genesis1-2 and EE. All the text (100%) of Genesis is about creation, but only 9% of EE is about creation – the rest is about the Babylonian gods. This 9% is: Tablet 4:138-146; Tablet 5:1-77; and Tablet 6:32-38, 90-91. So creation is only a minor aspect of EE. EE is mainly a hymn of praise to Marduk, whereas Genesis is an account of creation. And EE is clearly mythological, but Genesis is not mythological.

The God in Genesis is monotheistic, while EE has many gods – it’s polytheistic. The God in Genesis is eternal, and not the result of sexual union like Marduk. The God in Genesis is distinct from nature (His creation), whereas the gods of EE are part of nature. The God in Genesis is organized and peaceful, while the gods in EE are warlike and violent. The God in Genesis creates by His spoken word without conflict, melodrama or a lengthy plot. And in Genesis the earth and sky aren’t deities.

In Genesis, humanity was created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27). Whereas, in EE humans were created to relieve the gods of their labors – they are given the work once assigned to the gods. In Genesis, Adam is created from the soil of the ground to rule over the creation. In EE, man is created from a god’s blood to be slaves of the gods.

These differences illustrate the differences between the Hebrew and Babylonian worldviews.

Textural criticism

In the Ancient Near East, the rule is that simple accounts or traditions may give rise (by accretion and embellishment) to elaborate legends, but not vice versa. A shorter text can lead to a more verbose text, but not vice-versa. So, the simple Hebrew account of creation can lead to the embellished Babylonian creation legend, but not vice-versa.

EE is usually compared to Genesis 1. EE (1097 lines) is much longer than Genesis 1 (33 verses, including Gen. 2:1-2). This means that if one borrowed from the other, it was the Babylonian account that was influenced by the older Genesis account. And it’s highly unlikely that Moses would have borrowed creation history from a foreign polytheistic civilization.

Conclusion

Genesis 1 is not a Hebrew version of EE. But EE could be a Babylonian version of Genesis 1. According to this evidence, the Biblical account of creation isn’t based on ancient mythology like Enuma Elish.

References

Lambert W G (2007) “Mesopotamian Creation Stories”, in M.J. Geller and M. Schipper (eds), Imagining Creation (IJS Studies in Judaica 5; Brill Academic Publisher

Masters P (2004) “Heritage of evidence: In the British Museum”, Walkman Trust, p.85-86.

Appendix A: Genesis 1-2 (NIV)
Jewish account of creation

Chapter 1

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. God called the vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.

And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.

11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.

14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day [the sun] and the lesser light to govern the night [the moon]. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.

20 And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” 23 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.

24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

27 So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.

31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.

Chapter 2

1Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, when the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.

Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground, but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground. Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

10 A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.) 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush 14 The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Ashur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

19 Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.

But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

23 The man said,

“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”

24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

25 Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

Appendix B: Enuma Elish
Babylonian epic of creation

Translation by W G Lambert (2007)

Tablet 1

1   When the heavens above did not exist,
2   And earth beneath had not come into being —
3   There was Apsû, the first in order, their begetter,
4   And demiurge Tia-mat, who gave birth to them all;
5   They had mingled their waters together
6   Before meadow-land had coalesced and reed-bed was to he found —
7   When not one of the gods had been formed
8   Or had come into being, when no destinies had been decreed,
9   The gods were created within them:
10   Lah(mu and Lah(amu were formed and came into being.
11   While they grew and increased in stature
12   Anšar and Kišar, who excelled them, were created.
13   They prolonged their days, they multiplied their years.
14   Anu, their son, could rival his fathers.
15   Anu, the son, equalled Anšar,
16   And Anu begat Nudimmud, his own equal.
17   Nudimmud was the champion among his fathers:
18   Profoundly discerning, wise, of robust strength;
19   Very much stronger than his father’s begetter, Anšar
20   He had no rival among the gods, his brothers.
21   The divine brothers came together,
22   Their clamour got loud, throwing Tia-mat into a turmoil.
23   They jarred the nerves of Tia-mat,
24   And by their dancing they spread alarm in Anduruna.
25   Apsû did not diminish their clamour,
26   And Tia-mat was silent when confronted with them.
27   Their conduct was displeasing to her,
28   Yet though their behaviour was not good, she wished to spare them.
29   Thereupon Apsû, the begetter of the great gods,
30   Called Mummu, his vizier, and addressed him,
31   “Vizier Mummu, who gratifies my pleasure,
32   Come, let us go to Tia-mat!”
33   They went and sat, facing Tia-mat,
34   As they conferred about the gods, their sons.
35   Apsû opened his mouth
36   And addressed Tia-mat
37   “Their behaviour has become displeasing to me
38   And I cannot rest in the day-time or sleep at night.
39   I will destroy and break up their way of life
40   That silence may reign and we may sleep.”
41   When Tia-mat heard this
42   She raged and cried out to her spouse,
43   She cried in distress, fuming within herself,
44   She grieved over the (plotted) evil,
45   “How can we destroy what we have given birth to?
46   Though their behaviour causes distress, let us tighten discipline graciously.”
47   Mummu spoke up with counsel for Apsû—
48   (As from) a rebellious vizier was the counsel of his Mummu—
49   “Destroy, my father, that lawless way of life,
50   That you may rest in the day-time and sleep by night!”
51   Apsû was pleased with him, his face beamed
52   Because he had plotted evil against the gods, his sons.
53   Mummu put his arms around Apsû’s neck,
54   He sat on his knees kissing him.
55   What they plotted in their gathering
56   Was reported to the gods, their sons.
57   The gods heard it and were frantic.
58   They were overcome with silence and sat quietly.
59   Ea, who excels in knowledge, the skilled and learned,
60   Ea, who knows everything, perceived their tricks.
61   He fashioned it and made it to be all-embracing,
62   He executed it skilfully as supreme—his pure incantation.
63   He recited it and set it on the waters,
64   He poured sleep upon him as he was slumbering deeply.
65   He put Apsû to slumber as he poured out sleep,
66   And Mummu, the counsellor, was breathless with agitation.
67   He split (Apsû’s) sinews, ripped off his crown,
68   Carried away his aura and put it on himself.
69   He bound Apsû and killed him;
70   Mummu he confined and handled roughly.
71   He set his dwelling upon Apsû,
72   And laid hold on Mummu, keeping the nose-rope in his hand.
73   After Ea had bound and slain his enemies,
74   Had achieved victory over his foes,
75   He rested quietly in his chamber,
76   He called it Apsû, whose shrines he appointed.
77   Then he founded his living-quarters within it,
78   And Ea and Damkina, his wife, sat in splendour.
79   In the chamber of the destinies, the room of the archetypes,
80   The wisest of the wise, the sage of the gods, Be-l was conceived.
81   In Apsû was Marduk born,
82   In pure Apsû was Marduk born.
83   Ea his father begat him,
84   Damkina his mother bore him.
85   He sucked the breasts of goddesses,
86   A nurse reared him and filled him with terror.
87   His figure was well developed, the glance of his eyes was dazzling,
88   His growth was manly, he was mighty from the beginning.
89   Anu, his father’s begetter, saw him,
90   He exulted and smiled; his heart filled with joy.
91   Anu rendered him perfect: his divinity was remarkable,
92   And he became very lofty, excelling them in his attributes.
93   His members were incomprehensibly wonderful,
94   Incapable of being grasped with the mind, hard even to look on.
95   Four were his eyes, four his ears,
96   Flame shot forth as he moved his lips.
97   His four ears grew large,
93   And his eyes likewise took in everything.
99   His figure was lofty and superior in comparison with the gods,
100   His limbs were surpassing, his nature was superior.
101   ‘Mari-utu, Mari-utu,
102   The Son, the Sun-god, the Sun-god of the gods.’
103   He was clothed with the aura of the Ten Gods, so exalted was his strength,
104   The Fifty Dreads were loaded upon him.
105   Anu formed and gave birth to the four winds,
106   He delivered them to him, “My son, let them whirl!”
107   He formed dust and set a hurricane to drive it,
108   He made a wave to bring consternation on Tia-mat.
109   Tia-mat was confounded; day and night she was frantic.
110   The gods took no rest, they . . . . . . .
111   In their minds they plotted evil,
112   And addressed their mother Tia-mat,
113   “When Apsû, your spouse, was killed,
114   You did not go at his side, but sat quietly.
115   The four dreadful winds have been fashioned
116   To throw you into confusion, and we cannot sleep.
117   You gave no thought to Apsû, your spouse,
113   Nor to Mummu, who is a prisoner. Now you sit alone.
119   Henceforth you will be in frantic consternation!
120   And as for us, who cannot rest, you do not love us!
121   Consider our burden, our eyes are hollow.
122   Break the immovable yoke that we may sleep.
123   Make battle, avenge them!
124   [ . . ] . . . . reduce to nothingness!
125   Tia-mat heard, the speech pleased her,
126   (She said,) “Let us make demons, [as you] have advised.”
127   The gods assembled within her.
128   They conceived [evil] against the gods their begetters.
129   They . . . . . and took the side of Tia-mat,
130   Fiercely plotting, unresting by night and day,
131   Lusting for battle, raging, storming,
132   They set up a host to bring about conflict.
133   Mother H(ubur, who forms everything,
134   Supplied irresistible weapons, and gave birth to giant serpents.
135   They had sharp teeth, they were merciless . . . .
136   With poison instead of blood she filled their bodies.
137   She clothed the fearful monsters with dread,
138   She loaded them with an aura and made them godlike.
139   (She said,) “Let their onlooker feebly perish,
140   May they constantly leap forward and never retire.”
141   She created the Hydra, the Dragon, the Hairy Hero
142   The Great Demon, the Savage Dog, and the Scorpion-man,
143   Fierce demons, the Fish-man, and the Bull-man,
144   Carriers of merciless weapons, fearless in the face of battle.
145   Her commands were tremendous, not to be resisted.
146   Altogether she made eleven of that kind.
147   Among the gods, her sons, whom she constituted her host,
148   She exalted Qingu, and magnified him among them.
149   The leadership of the army, the direction of the host,
150   The bearing of weapons, campaigning, the mobilization of conflict,
151   The chief executive power of battle, supreme command,
152   She entrusted to him and set him on a throne,
153   “I have cast the spell for you and exalted you in the host of the gods,
154   I have delivered to you the rule of all the gods.
155   You are indeed exalted, my spouse, you are renowned,
156   Let your commands prevail over all the Anunnaki.”
157   She gave him the Tablet of Destinies and fastened it to his breast,
158   (Saying) “Your order may not be changed; let the utterance of your mouth be firm.”
159   After Qingu was elevated and had acquired the power of Anuship,
160   He decreed the destinies for the gods, her sons:
161   “May the utterance of your mouths subdue the fire-god,
162   May your poison by its accumulation put down aggression.”

Tablet 2

1   Tia-mat gathered together her creation
2   And organised battle against the gods, her offspring.
3   Henceforth Tia-mat plotted evil because of Apsû
4   It became known to Ea that she had arranged the conflict.
5   Ea heard this matter,
6   He lapsed into silence in his chamber and sat motionless.
7   After he had reflected and his anger had subsided
8   He directed his steps to Anšar his father.
9   He entered the presence of the father of his begetter, Anšar,
10   And related to him all of Tia-mat’s plotting.
11   “My father, Tia-mat our mother has conceived a hatred for us,
12   She has established a host in her savage fury.
13   All the gods have turned to her,
14   Even those you (pl.) begat also take her side
15   They . . . . . and took the side of Tia-mat,
16   Fiercely plotting, unresting by night and day,
17   Lusting for battle, raging, storming,
18   They set up a host to bring about conflict.
19   Mother H(ubur, who forms everything,
20   Supplied irresistible weapons, and gave birth to giant serpents.
21    They had sharp teeth, they were merciless.
22   With poison instead of blood she filled their bodies.
23   She clothed the fearful monsters with dread,
24   She loaded them with an aura and made them godlike.
25    (She said,) “Let their onlooker feebly perish,
26   May they constantly leap forward and never retire.”
27   She created the Hydra, the Dragon, the Hairy Hero,
28   The Great Demon, the Savage Dog, and the Scorpion-man,
29   Fierce demons, the Fish-man, and the Bull-man,
30   Carriers of merciless weapons, fearless in the face of battle.
31   Her commands were tremendous, not to be resisted.
32   Altogether she made eleven of that kind.
33   Among the gods, her sons, whom she constituted her host,
34   She exalted Qingu and magnified him among them.
35   The leadership of the army, the direction of the host,
36   The bearing of weapons, campaigning, the mobilization of conflict,
37   The chief executive power of battle supreme command,
38   She entrusted to him and set him on a throne.
39   “I have cast the spell for you and exalted you in the host of the gods,
40   I have delivered to you the rule of all the gods.
41   You are indeed exalted, my spouse, you are renowned,
42   Let your commands prevail over all the Anunnaki.”
43   She gave him the tablet of Destinies and fastened it to his breast,
44   (Saying) “Your order may not he changed; let the utterance of your mouth be firm.”
45   After Qingu was elevated and had acquired the power of Anuship
46   He decreed the destinies for the gods. her sons:
47   “May the utterance of your mouths subdue the fire-god,
48   May your poison by its accumulation put down aggression.”
49   Anšar heard; the matter was profoundly disturbing.
50    He cried “Woe!” and bit his lip.
51    His heart was in fury, his mind could not be calmed.
52   Over Ea his son his cry was faltering.
53   “My son, you who provoked the war,
54   Take responsibility for whatever you alone have done!
55   You set out and killed Apsû,
56   And as for Tia-mat, whom you made furious, where is her equal?”
57   The gatherer of counsel, the learned prince,
58    The creator of wisdom, the god Nudimmud
59   With soothing words and calming utterance
60   Gently answered [his] father Anšar
61   “My father, deep mind, who decrees destiny,
62   Who has the power to bring into being and destroy,
63   Anšar, deep mind, who decrees destiny,
64   Who has the power to bring into being and to destroy,
65   I want to say something to you, calm down for me for a moment
66   And consider that I performed a helpful deed.
67   Before I killed Apsû
68   Who could have seen the present situation?
69   Before I quickly made an end of him
70   What were the circumstances were I to destroy him?”
71   Anšar heard, the words pleased him.
72   His heart relaxed to speak to Ea,
73   “My son, your deeds are fitting for a god,
74   You are capable of a fierce, unequalled blow . . [ . . . ]
75   Ea, your deeds are fitting for a god,
76   You are capable of a fierce, unequalled blow . . [ . . . ]
77   Go before Tia-mat and appease her attack,
78   . . [ . . . ] . . . her fury with [your] incantation.”
79   He heard the speech of Anšar his father,
80   He took the road to her, proceeded on the route to her.
81   He went, he perceived the tricks of Tia-mat,
82   [He stopped], fell silent, and turned back.
83   [He] entered the presence of august Anšar
84   Penitently addressing him,
85   “[My father], Tia-mat’s deeds are too much for me.
86   I perceived her planning, and [my] incantation was not equal (to it).
87   Her strength is mighty, she is full of dread,
88   She is altogether very strong, none can go against her.
89   Her very loud cry did not diminish,
90   [I became afraid] of her cry and turned back.
91   [My father], do not lose hope, send a second person against her.
92   Though a woman’s strength is very great, it is not equal to a man’s.
93   Disband her cohorts, break up her plans
94   Before she lays her hands on us.”
95   Anšar cried out in intense fury,
96   Addressing Anu his son,
97   “Honoured son, hero, warrior,
98   Whose strength is mighty, whose attack is irresistible
99   Hasten and stand before Tia-mat,
100   Appease her rage that her heart may relax
101   If she does not harken to your words,
102   Address to her words of petition that she may be appeased.”
103   He heard the speech of Anšar his father,
104   He took the road to her, proceeded on the route to her.
105   Anu went, he perceived the tricks of Tia-mat,
106   He stopped, fell silent, and turned back.
107   He entered the presence of Anšar the father who begat him,
108   Penitently addressing him.
109   “My father, Tia-mat’s [deeds] are too much for me.
110   I perceived her planning, but my [incantation] was not [equal] (to it).
111   Her strength is mighty, she is [full] of dread,
112   She is altogether very strong, no one [can go against her].
113   Her very loud noise does not diminish,
114   I became afraid of her cry and turned back.
115   My father, do not lose hope, send another person against her.
116   Though a woman’s strength is very great, it is not equal to a man’s.
117   Disband her cohorts, break up her plans,
118   Before she lays her hands on us.”
119   Anšar lapsed into silence, staring at the ground,
120   He nodded to Ea, shaking his head.
121   The Igigi and all the Anunnaki had assembled,
122   They sat in tight-lipped silence.
123   No god would go to face . . [ . . ]
124   Would go out against Tia-mat . . . . [ . . ]
125   Yet the lord Anšar, the father of the great gods,
126   Was angry in his heart, and did not summon any one.
127   A mighty son, the avenger of his father,
128   He who hastens to war, the warrior Marduk
129   Ea summoned (him) to his private chamber
130   To explain to him his plans.
131   “Marduk, give counsel, listen to your father.
132   You are my son, who gives me pleasure,
133   Go reverently before Anšar,
134   Speak, take your stand, appease him with your glance.”
135   Be-l rejoiced at his father’s words,
136   He drew near and stood in the presence of Anšar.
137   Anšar saw him, his heart filled with satisfaction,
138   He kissed his lips and removed his fear.
139   “My [father] do not hold your peace, but speak forth,
140   I will go and fulfil your desires!
141   [Anšar,] do not hold your peace, but speak forth,
142   I will go and fulfil your desires!
143   Which man has drawn up his battle array against you?
144   And will Tia-mat, who is a woman, attack you with (her) weapons?
145   [“My father], begetter, rejoice and be glad,
146   Soon you will tread on the neck of Tia-mat!
147   [Anšar], begetter, rejoice and be glad,
148   Soon you will tread on the neck of Tia-mat!
149   [“Go,] my son, conversant with all knowledge,
150   Appease Tia-mat with your pure spell.
151   Drive the storm chariot without delay,
152   And with a [ . . ] which cannot be repelled turn her back.”
153   Be-l rejoiced at his father’s words,
154   With glad heart he addressed his father,
155   “Lord of the gods, Destiny of the great gods,
156   If I should become your avenger,
157   If I should bind Tia-mat and preserve you,
158   Convene an assembly and proclaim for me an exalted destiny.
159   Sit, all of you, in Upšukkinakku with gladness,
160   And let me, with my utterance, decree destinies instead of you.
161   Whatever I instigate must not be changed,
162   Nor may my command be nullified or altered.”

Tablet 3

1   Anšar opened his mouth
2   And addressed Kaka, his vizier,
3   “Vizier Kaka, who gratifies my pleasure,
4   I will send you to Lah(mu and Lah(amu.
5   You are skilled in making inquiry, learned in address.
6   Have the gods, my fathers, brought to my presence.
7   Let all the gods be brought,
8   Let them confer as they sit at table.
9   Let them eat grain, let them drink ale,
10   Let them decree the destiny for Marduk their avenger.
11   Go, be gone, Kaka, stand before them,
12   And repeat to them all that I tell you:
13   “Anšar, your son, has sent me,
14   And I am to explain his plans.
15-52   = Tablet 2, 11*-48   (* instead of  ‘My father,’ put ‘ ‘Thus,’ )
53   I sent Anu, but he could not face her.
54   Nudimmud took fright and retired.
55   Marduk, the sage of the gods, your son, has come forward,
56   He has determined to meet Tia-mat.
57   He has spoken to me and said,
58-64   = Tablet 2, 156*-162   (* begin with quotation marks: “If )
65   Quickly, now, decree your destiny for him without delay,
66   That he may go and face your powerful enemy.”
67   Kaka went. He directed his steps
68   To Lah(mu and Lah(amu, the gods his fathers.
69   He prostrated himself, he kissed the ground before them,
70   He got up, saying to them he stood,
71-124 = Tablet 2, 13-66
125   When Lah(h(a and Lah(amu heard, they cried aloud.
126   All the Igigi moaned in distress,
127   “What has gone wrong that she took this decision about us?
128   We did not know what Tia-mat was doing.”
129   All the great gods who decree destinies
130   Gathered as they went,
131   They entered the presence of Anšar and became filled with [joy],
132   They kissed one another as they . [ . . ] in the assembly.
133   They conferred as they sat at table,
134   They ate grain, they drank ale.
135   They strained the sweet liquor through their straws,
136   As they drank beer and felt good,
137   They became quite carefree, their mood was merry,
138   And they decreed the fate for Marduk, their avenger.

Tablet 4

1   They set a lordly dais for him
2   And he took his seat before his fathers to receive kingship.
3   (They said,) “You are the most honoured among the great gods,
4   Your destiny is unequalled, your command is like Anu’s.
5   Marduk, you are the most honoured among the great gods,
6   Your destiny is unequalled, your command is like Anu’s.
7   Henceforth your order will not be annulled,
8   It is in your power to exalt and abase.
9   Your utterance is sure, your command cannot be rebelled against,
10   None of the gods will transgress the line you draw.
11   Shrines for all the gods needs provisioning,
12   That you may be established where their sanctuaries are.
13   You are Marduk, our avenger,
14   We have given you kingship over the sum of the whole universe.
15   Take your seat in the assembly, let your word be exalted,
16   Let your weapons not miss the mark, but may they slay your enemies.
17   Be-l, spare him who trusts in you,
18   But destroy the god who set his mind on evil.”
19   They set a constellation in the middle
20   And addressed Marduk, their son,
21   “Your destiny, Be-l, is superior to that of all the gods,
22   Command and bring about annihilation and re-creation.
23   Let the constellation disappear at your utterance,
24   With a second command let the constellation reappear.”
25   He gave the command and the constellation disappeared,
26   With a second command the constellation came into being again.
27   When the gods, his fathers, saw (the effect of) his utterance,
28   They rejoiced and offered congratulation: “Marduk is the king!”
29   They added to him a mace, a throne, and a rod,
30   They gave him an irresistible weapon that overwhelms the foe:
31   (They said,) “Go, cut Tia-mat’s throat,
32   And let the winds bear up her blood to give the news.”
33   The gods, his fathers, decreed the destiny of Be-l,
34   And set him on the road, the way of prosperity and success.
35   He fashioned a bow and made it his weapon,
36    He set an arrow in place, put the bow string on.
37   He took up his club and held it in his right hand,
38   His bow and quiver he hung at his side.
39   He placed lightning before him,
40   And filled his body with tongues of flame.
41   He made a net to enmesh the entrails of Tia-mat,
42   And stationed the four winds that no part of her escape.
43   The South Wind, the North Wind, the East Wind, the West Wind,
44   He put beside his net, winds given by his father, Anu.
45   He fashioned the Evil Wind, the Dust Storm, Tempest,
46   The Four-fold Wind, the Seven-fold Wind, the Chaos-spreading Wind, the . . . . .Wind.
47   He sent out the seven winds that he had fashioned,
48   And they took their stand behind him to harass Tia-mat’s entrails.
49   Be-l took up the Storm-flood, his great weapon,
50   He rode the fearful chariot of the irresistible storm.
51   Four steeds he yoked to it and harnessed them to it,
52   The Destroyer, The Merciless, The Trampler, The Fleet.
53   Their lips were parted, their teeth bore venom,
54   They were strangers to weariness, trained to sweep forward.
55   At his right hand he stationed raging battle and strife,
56   On the left, conflict that overwhelms a united battle array.
57   He was clad in a tunic, a fearful coat of mail,
58   And on has head he wore an aura of terror.
59   Be-l proceeded and set out on his way,
60   He set his face toward the raging Tia-mat.
61   In his lips he held a spell,
62   He grasped a plant to counter poison in his hand,
63   Thereupon they milled around him, the gods milled around him,
64   The gods, his fathers, milled around him, the gods milled around him.
65   Be-l drew near, surveying the maw of Tia-mat,
66   He observed the tricks of Qingu, her spouse.
67   As he looked, he lost his nerve,
68   His determination went and he faltered.
69   His divine aides, who were marching at his side,
70   Saw the warrior, the foremost, and their vision became dim.
71   Tia-mat cast her spell without turning her neck,
72   In her lips she held untruth and lies,
73   “[ . ] . . . . . . . . . . . . .
74   In their [ . ] . they have assembled by you.”
75   Be-l [lifted up] the Storm-flood, his great weapon,
76   And with these words threw it at the raging Tia-mat,
77   “Why are you aggressive and arrogant,
78   And strive to provoke battle?
79   The younger generation have shouted, outraging their elders,
80   But you, their mother, hold pity in contempt.
81   Qingu you have named to be your spouse,
82   And you have improperly appointed him to the rank of Anuship.
83   Against Anšar, king of the gods, you have stirred up trouble,
84   And against the gods, my fathers, your trouble is established.
85   Deploy your troops, gird on your weapons,
86   You and I will take our stand and do battle.”
87   When Tia-mat heard this
88   She went insane and lost her reason.
89   Tia-mat cried aloud and fiercely,
90   All her lower members trembled beneath her.
91   She was reciting an incantation, kept reciting her spell,
92   While the (battle-)gods were sharpening their weapons of war.
93   Tia-mat and Marduk, the sage of the gods, came together,
94   Joining in strife, drawing near to battle.
95   Be-l spread out his net and enmeshed her;
96   He let loose the Evil Wind, the rear guard, in her face.
97   Tia-mat opened her mouth to swallow it,
98   She let the Evil Wind in so that she could not close her lips.
99   The fierce winds weighed down her belly,
100   Her inwards were distended and she opened her mouth wide.
101   He let fly an arrow and pierced her belly,
102   He tore open her entrails and slit her inwards,
103   He bound her and extinguished her life,
104   He threw down her corpse and stood on it.
105   After he had killed Tia-mat, the leader,
106   Her assembly dispersed, her host scattered.
107   Her divine aides, who went beside her,
108   In trembling and fear beat a retreat.
109    . . . . to save their lives,
110   But they were completely surrounded, unable to escape.
111   He bound them and broke their weapons,
112   And they lay enmeshed, sitting in a snare,
113   Hiding in corners, filled with grief,
114   Bearing his punishment, held in a prison.
115   The eleven creatures who were laden with fearfulness,
116   The throng of devils who went as grooms at her right hand,
117   He put ropes upon them and bound their arms,
118   Together with their warfare he trampled them beneath him.
119   Now Qingu, who had risen to power among them,
120   He bound and reckoned with the Dead Gods.
121   He took from him the Tablet of Destinies, which was not properly his,
122   Sealed it with a seal and fastened it to his own breast.
123   After the warrior Marduk had bound and slain his enemies,
124   Had . . . . the arrogant enemy . . . ,
125   Had established victory for Anšar over all his foes,
126   Had fulfilled the desire of Nudimmud,
127   He strengthened his hold on the Bound Gods,
128   And returned to Tia-mat, whom he had bound.
129   Be-l placed his feet on the lower parts of Tia-mat
130   And with his merciless club smashed her skull.
131   He severed her arteries
132   And let the North wind bear up (her blood) to give the news.
133   His fathers saw it and were glad and exulted;
134   They brought gifts and presents to him.
135   Be-l rested, surveying the corpse,
136   In order to divide the lump by a clever scheme.
137   He split her into two like a dried fish:
138   One half of her he set up and stretched out as the heavens.
139   He stretched the skin and appointed a watch
140   With the instruction not to let her waters escape.
141   He crossed over the heavens, surveyed the celestial parts,
142   And adjusted them to match the Apsû, Nudimmud’s abode.
143   Be-l measured the shape of the Apsû
144   And set up Ešarra, a replica of Ešgalla.
145   In Ešgalla, Ešarra which he had built, and the heavens,
146   He settled in their shrines Anu, Enlil, and Ea.

Tablet 5

1   He fashioned heavenly stations for the great gods,
2   And set up constellations, the patterns of the stars.
3   He appointed the year, marked off divisions,
4   And set up three stars each for the twelve months.
5   After he had organized the year,
6   He established the heavenly station of Ne-beru to fix the stars’ intervals.
7   That none should transgress or be slothful
8   He fixed the heavenly stations of Enlil and Ea with it.
9   Gates he opened on both sides,
10   And put strong bolts at the left and the right.
11   He placed the heights (of heaven) in her (Tia-mat’s) belly,
12   He created Nannar, entrusting to him the night.
13   He appointed him as the jewel of the night to fix the days,
14   And month by month without ceasing he elevated him with a crown,
15   (Saying,) “Shine over the land at the beginning of the month,
16   Resplendent with horns to fix six days.
17   On the seventh day the crown will be half size,
18   On the fifteenth day, halfway through each month, stand in opposition.
19   When Šamaš [sees] you on the horizon,
20   Diminish in the proper stages and shine backwards.
21   On the 29th day, draw near to the path of Šamaš,
22   . [ . . ] the 30th day, stand in conjunction and rival Šamaš.
23   I have ( . . . . ] . the sign, follow its track,
24   Draw near . . ( . . . . . ) give judgment.
25   . [ . . . . ] . Šamaš, constrain [murder] and violence,
26   . [ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ] . me.
*   *   *   *   *   *
35   At the end [ . . .
36   Let there [be] the 29th day [ . . . ”
37   After [he had . . . . ] the decrees [ . . .
38   The organization of front and . [ . . .
39   He made the day [ . . .
40   Let the year be equally [ . . .
41   At the new year [ . . .
42   The year . . . . . [ . . .
43   Let there be regularly [ . . .
44   The projecting bolt [ . . .
45   After he had [ . . .
46   The watches of night and day [ . . .
47   The foam which Tia-mat [ . . .
48   Marduk fashioned [ . . .
49   He gathered it together and made it into clouds.
50   The raging of the winds, violent rainstorms,
51   The billowing of mist—the accumulation of her spittle—
52   He appointed for himself and took them in his hand.
53   He put her head in position and poured out . . [ . . ] .
54   He opened the abyss and it was sated with water.
55   From her two eyes he let the Euphrates and Tigris flow,
56   He blocked her nostrils, but left . .
57   He heaped up the distant [mountains] on her breasts,
58   He bored wells to channel the springs.
59   He twisted her tail and wove it into the Durmah(u,
60   [ . . . ] . . the Apsû beneath his feet.
61   [He set up] her crotch—it wedged up the heavens—
62   [(Thus) the half of her] he stretched out and made it firm as the earth.
63   [After] he had finished his work inside Tia-mat,
64   [He spread] his net and let it right out.
65   He surveyed the heavens and the earth . . [ . ] .
66   [ . . ] their bonds . . . . . . .
67   After he had formulated his regulations and composed [his] decrees,
68   He attached guide-ropes and put them in Ea’s hands.
69   [The Tablet] of Destinies which Qingu had taken and carried,
70   He took charge of it as a trophy (?) and presented it to Anu.
71   [The . ] . of battle, which he had tied on or had put on his head,
72   [ . ] . he brought before his fathers.
73   [Now] the eleven creatures to which Tia-mat had given birth and . . . ,
74   He broke their weapons and bound them (the creatures) to his feet.
75   He made images of them and stationed them at the [Gate] of the Apsû,
76   To be a sign never to be forgotten.
77   [The gods] saw it and were jubilantly happy,
78   (That is,) Lah(mu, Lah(amu and all his fathers.
79   Anšar [embraced] him and published abroad his title, “Victorious King,”
80   Anu, Enlil and Ea gave him gifts.
81   Mother Damkina, who bore him, hailed him,
82   With a clean festal robe she made his face shine.
83   To Usmû, who held her present to give the news,
84   [He entrusted] the vizierate of the Apsû and the care of the holy places.
85   The Igigi assembled and all did obeisance to him,
86   Every one of the Anunnaki was kissing his feet.
87   They all [gathered] to show their submission,
88   [ . . . ] . they stood, they bowed down, “Behold the king!”
89   His fathers [ . . . ] . and took their fill of his beauty,
90   Be-l listened to their utterance, being girded with the dust of battle.
91   . [ . . . . . . . . . . . . ] . . . . . . .
92   Anointing his body with . [ . . . ] cedar perfume.
93   He clothed himself in [his] lordly robe,
94   With a crown of terror as a royal aura.
95   He took up his club and held it in his right hand,
96      . . . ] . he grasped in his left.
97   [ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ]
98      . . . ] . he set his feet.
99   He put upon . [ . . .
100   The sceptre of prosperity and success [he hung] at his side.
101   After [he had . . . ] the aura [
102   He adorned(?) his sack, the Apsû, with a fearful [ . . ]
103   Was settled like . [ . . .
104   In [his] throne room [ . . .
105   In his cella [ . . .
106   Every one of the gods [ . . .
107   Lah(mu and Lah(amu . [ . . . . . . . ] .
108   Opened their mouths and [addressed] the Igigi gods,
109   “Previously Marduk was our beloved son,
110   Now he is your king, heed his command!”
111   Next, they all spoke up together,
112   “His name is Lugaldimmerankia, trust in him!”
113   When they had given kingship to Marduk,
114   They addressed to him a benediction for prosperity and success,
115   “Henceforth you are the caretaker of our shrine,
116   Whatever you command, we will do!”
117   Marduk opened his mouth to speak
118   And addressed the gods his fathers,
119   “Above the Apsû, the emerald (?) abode,
120   Opposite Ešarra, which I built for you,
121   Beneath the celestial parts, whose floor I made firm,
122   I will build a house to be my luxurious abode.
123   Within it I will establish its shrine,
124   I will found my chamber and establish my kingship.
125   When you come up from the Apsû to make a decision
126   This will be your resting place before the assembly.
127   When you descend from heaven to make a decision
128   This will be your resting place before the assembly.
129   I shall call its name ‘Babylon’, “The Homes of the Great Gods”,
130   Within it we will hold a festival: that will be the evening festival.
131   [The gods], his fathers, [heard] this speech of his,
132   . [ . . . . . . . . . . . . ] . they said,
133   “With regard to all that your hands have made,
134   Who has your [ . . . ]?
135   With regard to the earth that your hands have made,
136   Who has your [ . . . ]?
137   In Babylon, as you have named it,
138   Put our [resting place] for ever.
139   . [ . . . . . . . . . ] let them our bring regular offerings
140   . [ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ] . .
141   Whoever [ . . . ] our tasks which we . [ . . .
142   Therein [ . . . . . ] its toil . [ . . .
143   [ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ]
144   They rejoiced [ . . . . . . . . . . . ] . . [ . . .
145   The gods . [ . . . . . . . . . . . . . ]
146   He who knows [ . . . . . . . . . ] . them
147   He opened [his mouth showing] them light,
148   . . [ . . . . . . . . . ] his speech . [ . ]
149   He made wide [ . . . . . . . . ] . them [ . . .
150   And . [ . . . . . . . . . . . . ] . . . . .
151   The gods bowed down, speaking to him,
152   They addressed Lugaldimmerankia, their lord,
153   “Formerly, lord, [you were our beloved] son,
154   Now you are our king, . . [ . . . ]
155   He who . [ . ] . [ . ] preserved [us]
156   . . [. . . ] the aura of club and sceptre.
157   Let him conceive plans [ . . . . ] . . [ . . . ]
158   [ . ] . . [ . . . . . . that] we . [ . . .”

Tablet 6

1   When Marduk heard the gods’ speech
2   He conceived a desire to accomplish clever things.
3   He opened his mouth addressing Ea,
4   He counsels that which he had pondered in his heart,
5   “I will bring together blood to form bone,
6   I will bring into being Lullû, whose name shall be ‘man’.
7   I will create Lullû—man
8   On whom the toil of the gods will be laid that they may rest.
9   I will skilfully alter the organization of the gods:
10   Though they are honoured as one, they shall be divided into two.”
11   Ea answered, as he addressed a word to him,
12   Expressing his comments on the resting of the gods,
13   “Let one brother of theirs be given up.
14   Let him perish that people may be fashioned.
15   Let the great gods assemble
16   And let the guilty one be given up that they may be confirmed.”
17   Marduk assembled the great gods,
18   Using gracious direction as he gave his order,
19   As he spoke the gods heeded him:
20   The king addressed a word to the Anunnaki,
21   “Your former oath was true indeed,
22   (Now also) tell me the solemn truth:
23   Who is the one who instigated warfare,
24   Who made Tia-mat rebel, and set battle in motion?
25   Let him who instigated warfare be given up
26   That I may lay his punishment on him; but you sit and rest.
27   The Igigi, the great gods, answered him,
28   That is, Lugaldimmerankia, the counsellor of the gods, the lord,
29   “Qingu is the one who instigated warfare,
30   Who made Tia-mat rebel and set battle in motion.”
31   They bound him, holding him before Ea,
32   They inflicted the penalty on him and severed his blood-vessels.
33   From his blood he (Ea) created mankind,
34   On whom he imposed the service of the gods, and set the gods free.
35   After the wise Ea had created mankind
36   And had imposed the service of the gods upon them—
37   That task is beyond comprehension
38   For Nudimmud performed the creation with the skill of Marduk—
39   King Marduk divided the gods,
40   All the Anunnaki into upper and lower groups.
41   He assigned 300 in the heavens to guard the decrees of Anu
42   And appointed them as a guard.
43   Next he arranged the organization of the netherworld.
44   In heaven and netherworld he stationed 600 gods.
45   After he had arranged all the decrees,
46   And had distributed incomes among the Anunnaki of heaven and netherworld,
47   The Anunnaki opened their mouths
48   And addressed their lord Marduk,
49   “Now, lord, seeing you have established our freedom
50   What favour can we do for you?
51   Let us make a shrine of great renown:
52   Your chamber will be our resting place wherein we may repose.
53   Let us erect a shrine to house a pedestal
54   Wherein we may repose when we finish (the work).”
55   When Marduk heard this,
56   He beamed as brightly as the light of day,
57   “Build Babylon, the task you have sought.
58   Let bricks for it be moulded, and raise the shrine!”
59   The Anunnaki wielded the pick.
60   For one year they made the needed bricks.
61   When the second year arrived,
62   They raised the peak of Esagil, a replica of the Apsû.
63   They built the lofty temple tower of the Apsû
64   And for Anu, Enlil, and Ea they established its . . as a dwelling.
65   He sat in splendour before them,
66   Suveying its horns, which were level with the base of Ešarra.
67   After they had completed the work on Esagil
68   All the Anunnaki constructed their own shrines.
69   300 Igigi of heaven and 600 of the Apsû, all of them, had assembled.
70   Be-l seated the gods, his fathers, at the banquet
71   In the lofty shrine which they had built for his dwelling,
72   (Saying,) “This is Babylon, your fixed dwelling,
73   Take your pleasure here! Sit down in joy!
74   The great gods sat down,
75   Beer-mugs were set out and they sat at the banquet.
76   After they had enjoyed themselves inside
77   They held a service in awesome Esagil.
78   The regulations and all the rules were confirmed:
79   All the gods divided the stations of heaven and netherwor1d.
80   The college of the Fifty great gods took their seats,
81   The Seven gods of destinies were appointed to give decisions.
82   Be-l received his weapon, the bow, and laid it before them:
83   His divine fathers saw the net which he had made.
84   His fathers saw how skilfully wrought was the structure of the bow
85   As they praised what he had made.
86   Anu lifted it up in the divine assembly,
87   He kissed the bow, saying, “It is my daughter!”
88   Thus he called the names of the bow:
89   “Long Stick” was the first; the second was, “May it hit the mark.”
90   With the third name, “Bow Star”, he made it to shine in the sky,
91   He fixed its heavenly position along with its divine brothers.
92   After Anu had decreed the destiny of the bow,
93   He set down a royal throne, a lofty one even for a god,
94   Anu set it there in the assembly of the gods.
95   The great gods assembled,
96   They exalted the destiny of Marduk and did obeisance.
97   They invoked a curse on themselves
98   And took an oath with water and oil, and put their hands to their throats.
99   They granted him the right to exercise kingship over the gods,
100   They confirmed him as lord of the gods of heaven and netherworld.
101   Anšar gave him his exalted name, Asalluh(i
102   “At the mention of his name, let us show submission!
103   When he speaks, let the gods heed him,
104   Let his command be superior in upper and lower regions.
105   May the son, our avenger, be exalted,
106   Let his lordship be superior and himself without rival.
107   Let him shepherd the black-heads, his creatures,
108   Let them tell of his character to future days without forgetting.
109   Let him establish lavish food offerings for his fathers,
110   Let him provide for their maintenance and be caretaker of their sanctuaries,
111   Let him burn incense to rejoice their sanctums.
112   Let him do on earth the same as he has done in heaven:
113   Let him appoint the black-heads to worship him.
114   The subject humans should take note and call on their gods,
115   Since he commands they should heed their goddesses,
116   Let food offerings be brought [for] (?) their gods and goddesses,
117   May they (?) not be forgotten, may they remember their gods,
118   May they . . . their . . , may they . . their shrines.
119   Though the black-heads worship some one, some another god,
120   He is the god of each and every one of us!
121   Come, let us call the fifty names
122   Of him whose character is resplendent, whose achievement is the same.
123   (1) MARDUK
As he was named by his father Anu from his birth,
124   Who supplies pasturage and watering, making the stables flourish.
125   Who bound the boastful with his weapon, the storm flood,
126   And saved the gods, his fathers, from distress.
127   He is the son, the sun-god of the gods, he is dazzling,
128   Let them ever walk in his bright light.
129   On the peoples that he created, the living beings,
130   He imposed the service of the gods and they took rest.
131   Creation and annihilation, forgiveness and exacting the penalty
132   Occur at his command, so let them fix their eyes on him.
133   (2) Marukka: he is the god who created them
134   Who put the Anunnaki at ease, the Igigi at rest.
135   (3) Marutukku: he is the support of land, city, and its peoples,
136   Henceforth let the peoples ever heed him.
137   (4) Meršakušu: fierce yet deliberating, angry yet relenting,
138   His mind is wide, his heart is all-embracing.
139   (5) Lugaldimmerankia is the name by which we all called him,
140   Whose command we have exalted above that of the gods his fathers.
141   He is the lord of all the gods of heaven and netherworld,
142   The king at whose injunctions the gods in upper and lower regions shudder.
143   (6) Narilugaldimmerankia is the name we gave him, the mentor of every god,
144   Who established our dwellings in heaven and netherworld in time of trouble,
145   Who distributed the heavenly stations between Igigi and Anunnaki,
146   Let the gods tremble at his name and quake on their seats.
147   (7) Asalluh(i is the name by which his father Anu called him,
148   He is the light of the gods, a mighty hero,
149   Who, as his name says, is a protecting angel for god and land,
150   Who by a terrible combat saved our dwelling in time of trouble.
151   (8) Asalluh(i-Namtilla they called him secondly, the life-giving god,
152   Who, in accordance with the form (of) his (name), restored all the ruined gods,
153   The lord, who brought to life the dead gods by his pure incantation,
154   Let us praise him as the destroyer of the crooked enemies.
155   (9) Asalluh(i-Namru, as his name is called thirdly,
156   The pure god, who cleanses our character.”
157   Anšar, Lah(mu, and Lah(amu (each) called him by three of his names,
158   Then they addressed the gods, their sons,
159   “We have each called him by three of his names,

160   Now you call his names, like us.”
161   The gods rejoiced as they heard their speech,
162   In Upšuukkinaki they held a conference,
163   “Of the warrior son, our avenger,
164   Of the provisioner, let us extol the name.”
165   They sat down in their assembly, summoning the destinies,
166   And with all due rites they called his name:

Tablet 7

1   (10)Asarre, the giver of arable land who established plough-land,
2   The creator of barley and flax, who made plant life grow.
3   (11)Asaralim, who is revered in the counsel chamber, whose counsel excels,
4   The gods heed it and grasp fear of him.
5   (12)Asaralimnunna, the noble, the light of the father, his begetter,
6   Who directs the decrees of Anu, Enlil, and Ea, that is Ninšiku.
7   He is their provisioner, who assigns their incomes,
8   Whose turban multiplies abundance for the land.
9   (13) Tutu is he, who accomplishes their renovation,
10   Let him purify their sanctuaries that they may repose.
11   Let him fashion an incantation that the gods may rest,
12   Though they rise up in fury, let them withdraw.
13   He is indeed exalted in the assembly of the gods, his [fathers],
14   No one among the gods can [equal] him.
15   (14) Tutu-Ziukkinna, the life of [his] host,
16   Who established, the pure heavens for the gods,
17   Who took charge of their courses, who appointed [their stations],
16   May he not be forgotten among mortals, but [let them remember] his deeds.
19   (15) Tutu-Ziku they called him thirdly, the establisher of purification,
20   The god of the pleasant breeze, lord of success and obedience,
21   Who produces bounty and wealth, who establishes abundance,
22   Who turns everything scant that we have into profusion,
23   Whose pleasant breeze we sniffed in time of terrible trouble,
24   Let men command that his praises be constantly uttered, let them offer worship to
him.
25   As (16) Tutu-Agaku, fourthly, let humans extol him,
26   Lord of the pure incantation, who brought the dead back to life,
27   Who showed mercy on the Bound Gods,
28   Who threw the imposed yoke on the gods, his enemies,
29   And to spare them created mankind.
30   The merciful, in whose power it is to restore to life,
31   Let his words be sure and not forgotten
32   From the mouths of the black-heads, his creatures.
33   As (17) Tutu-Tuku, fifthly, let their mouth give expression to his pure spell,
34   Who extirpated all the wicked by his pure incantation.
35   (18) Šazu, who knew the heart of the gods, who saw the reins,
36   Who did not let an evil-doer escape from him,
37   Who established the assembly of the gods, who rejoiced their hearts,
38   Who subjugated the disobedient, he is the gods’ encompassing protection.
39   He made truth to prosper, he uprooted perverse speech,
40   He separated falsehood from truth.
41   As (19) Šazu-Zisi, secondly, let them continually praise him, the subduer of aggressors,
42   Who ousted consternation of from the bodies of the gods, his fathers.
43   (20) Šazu-Suh(rim, thirdly, who extirpated every foe with his weapons,
44   Who confounded their plans and turned them into wind.
45   He snuffed out all the wicked who came against him,
46   Let the gods ever shout acclamations in the assembly.
47   (21) Šazu-Suh(gurim, fourthly, who established success for the gods, his fathers,
48   Who extirpated foes and destroyed their offspring,
49   Who scattered their achievements, leaving no part of them,
50   Let his name be spoken and proclaimed in the land.
51   As (22) Šazu-Zah(rim, fifthly, let future gererations discuss him,
52   The destroyer of every rebel, of all the disobedient,
53   Who brought all the fugitive gods into the shrines,
54   Let this name of his be established.
55   As (23) Šazu-Zah(gurim, sixthly, let them altogether and everywhere worship him,
56   Who himself destroyed all the foes in battle.
57   (24) Enbilulu is he, the lord who supplies them abundantly,
58   Their great chosen one, who provides cereal offerings,
59   Who keeps pasturage and watering in good condition and established it for the land,
60   Who opened watercourses and distributed plentiful water.
61   (25) Enbilulu-Epadun, lord of common land and . . ., let them [call him] secondly,
62   Canal supervisor of heaven and netherworld, who sets the furrow,
Who establishes clean arable land in the open country,
63   Who directs irrigation ditch and canal, and marks out the furrow.
64   As (26) Enbilulu-Gugal, canal supervisor of the water courses of the gods, let them praise him thirdly,
65   Lord of abundance, profusion, and huge stores (of grain),
66   Who provides bounty, who enriches human habitations,
67   Who gives wheat, and brings grain into being.
68   (27) Enbilulu-H(egal, who accumulates abundance for the peoples . . . .
69   Who rains down riches on the broad earth, and supplies abundant vegetation.
70   (28) Sirsir, who heaped up a mountain on top of Tia-mat,
71   Who plundered the corpse of Tia-mat with [his] weapons,
72   The guardian of the land, their trustworthy shepherd,
73   Whose hair is a growing crop, whose turban is a furrow,
74   Who kept crossing the broad Sea in his fury,
75   And kept crossing over the place of her battle as though it were a bridge.
76   (29) Sirsir-Malah( they named him secondly—so be it—
77   Tia-mat was his boat, he was her sailor.
78   (30) Gil, who ever heaps up piles of barley, massive mounds,
79   The creator of grain and flocks, who gives seed for the land.
80   (31) Gilima, who made the bond of the gods firm, who created stability,
81   A snare that overwhelmed them, who yet extended favours.
82   (32) Agilima, the lofty, who snatches off the crown, who takes charge of snow,
83   Who created the earth on the water and made firm the height of heaven.
84   (33) Zulum, who assigns meadows for the gods and divides up what he has created,
85   Who gives incomes and food-offerings, who administers shrines.
86   (34) Mummu, creator of heaven end underworld, who protects refugees,
87   The god who purifies heaven and underworld, secondly Zulummu,
88   In respect of whose strength none other among the gods can equal him.
89   (35) Gišnumunab, creator of all the peoples, who made the world regions,
90   Who destroyed Tia-mat’s gods, and made peoples from part of them.
91   (36) Lugalabdubur, the king who scattered the works of Tia-mat, who uprooted her weapons,
92   Whose foundation is secure on the “Fore and Aft”.
93   (37) Pagalguenna, foremost of all lords, whose strength is exalted,
94   Who is the greatest among the gods, his brothers, the most noble of them all.
95   (38) Lugaldurmah(, king of the bond of the gods, lord of Durmah(u,
96   Who is the greatest in the royal abode, infinitely more lofty than the other gods.
97   (39) Aranunna, counsellor of Ea, creator of the gods, his fathers,
98   Whom no god can equal in respect of his lordly walk.
99   (40) Dumuduku, who renews for himself his pure abode in Duku,
100   Dumuduku, without whom Lugalduku does not make a decision.
101   (41) Lugalšuanna, the king whose strength is exalted among the gods,
102   The lord, the strength of Anu, he who is supreme, chosen of Anšar.
103   (42) Irugga, who plundered them all in the Sea,
104   Who grasps all wisdom, is comprehensive in understanding.
105   (43) Irqingu, who plundered Qingu in . . . battle,
106   Who directs all decrees and establishes lordship.
107   (44) Kinma, the director of all the gods, who gives counsel,
108   At whose name the gods bend down in reverence as before a hurricane.
109   (45) Dingir-Esiskur—let him take his lofty seat in the House of Benediction,
110   Let the gods bring their presents before him
111   Until he receives their offerings.
112   No one but he accomplishes clever things
113   The four (regions) of black-heads are his creation,
114   Apart from him no god knows the measure of their days.
115   (46) Girru, who makes weapons hard (?),
116   Who accomplished clever things in the battle with Tia-mat,
117   Comprehensive in wisdom, skilled in understanding,
118   A deep mind, that all the gods combined do not understand.
119   Let (47) Addu be his name, let him cover the whole span of heaven,
120   Let him thunder with his pleasant voice upon the earth,
121   May the rumble fill (?) the clouds
And give sustenance to the peoples below.
122   (48) Aša-ru, who, as his name says, mustered the Divine Fates
123   He indeed is the warden of absolutely all peoples.
124   As (49) Ne-beru let him hold the crossing place of heaven and underworld,
125   They should not cross above or below, but should wait for him.
126   Ne-beru is his star, which he caused to shine in the sky,
127   Let him take his stand on the heavenly staircase that they may look at him.
128   Yes, he who constantly crosses the Sea without resting,
129   Let his name be Ne-beru, who grasps her middle,
130   Let him fix the paths of the stars of heaven,
131   Let him shepherd all the gods like sheep,
132   Let him bind Tia-mat and put her life in mortal danger,
133   To generations yet unborn, to distant future days,
134   May he continue unchecked, may he persist into eternity.
135   Since he created the heavens and fashioned the earth,
136   Enlil, the father, called him by his own name, (50) ‘Lord of the Lands’.
137   Ea heard the names which all the Igigi called
138   And his spirit became radiant.
139   “Why! He whose name was extolled by his fathers
140   Let him, like me, be called (51) ‘Ea’.
141   Let him control the sum of all my rites,
142   Let him administer all my decrees.”
143   With the word “Fifty” the great gods
144   Called his fifty names and assigned him an outstanding position.
145   They should be remembered; a leading figure should expound them,
146   The wise and learned should confer about them,
147   A father should repeat them and teach them to his son,
148   One should explain them to shepherd and herdsman.
149   If one is not negligent to Marduk, the Enlil of the gods,
150   May one’s land flourish, and oneself prosper,
151   (For) his word is reliable, his command unchanged,
152   No god can alter the utterance of his mouth.
153   When he looks in fury, he does not relent,
154   When his anger is ablaze, no god can face him.
155   His mind is deep, his spirit is all-embracing,
156   Before whom sin and transgression are sought out.
157   Instruction which a leading figure repeated before him (Marduk):
158   He wrote it down and stored it so that generations to come might hear it.
159   [ . . ] . Marduk, who created the Igigi gods,
160   Though they diminish . . . let them call on his name.
161   . . . the song of Marduk,
162   Who defeated Tia-mat and took kingship

Appendix C: Summary of Enuma Elish

Enuma Elish is centered on the supremacy of Marduk, a late generation god from ancient Mesopotamia and the patron deity of Babylon city. The main theme is the elevation of the chief god of Babylon ‘Marduk’ above other Mesopotamian gods. It says that humanity was created for the service of the gods.

Here is the summary of the poem according to Wikipedia.

Tablet 1

The tale begins before the advent of anything, when only the primordial entities Apsu and Tiamat existed, co-mingled together. No other things or gods are said to exist, nor had any future destinies been foretold .. then from the mixture of Apsu and Tiamat two gods where made – Lahmu and Lahamu; next Anshar and Kishar were created. From Anshar came a firstly the god Anu, and from Anu, came Nudimmud (also known as Ea).

Then these new gods disturbed Tiamat through their motions, and Apsu could not calm them. Further Tiamat found this abhorrent – Apsu called Mummu so that they might speak with Tiamat – he proposed to destroy them, but Tiamat was reticent on destroying what they had made. Mummu advised Apsu to destroy them, and he took it to do so, and embraced Mummu. The new gods heard of this and were worried – Ea however crafted a spell against Apsu’s plan, and put Apsu to sleep with it.

Mummu sought to wake Apsu but could not – Ea took Apsu’s halo and wore it himself, slew Apsu, and chained Mummu. Apsu became the dwelling place of Ea, together with his wife Damkina. Within the heart of Apsu, Ea and Damkina created Marduk. Marduk exceeded Ea and the other gods in his godliness – Ea called him “My son, the Sun!”. Anu creates four winds.

Other gods then say to Tiamat – ‘when your consort (Apsu) was slain you did nothing’, and complain about the wind which disturbs them. Tiamat then proposed to make ‘Monsters’ and do battle with the other gods. She creates eleven chimeric creatures armed with weapons, and makes the god Kingu chief of the war party, and her new consort too. The ‘Tablet of Destinies’ is then given to Kingu, making his command unchallengeable.

Tablet 2

Ea heard of Tiamat’s plan to fight and avenge Apsu. He speaks to his grandfather Anshar – he tells that many gods have gone to Tiamat’s cause, and that she has created eleven monstrous creatures fit for war, and made Kingu their leader, given him the ‘Tablet of Destinies’. Anshar is troubled. Eventually Anshar tells Anu so go speak with Tiamat, see if he can calm her, but is too weak to face her and turns back. Anshar becomes more worried, thinking no god can or will stand against Tiamat.

After thinking he proposes Marduk as their champion, Marduk is called and asks what (god) he must fight – Anshar replies it is not a god but a goddess – Tiamat. Anshar confidently assures he will soon beat down Tiamat. Marduk then asks to be proclaimed supreme god if he vanquishes Tiamat, and to have authority even over Anshar.

Tablet 3

Anshar speaks to Gaga his advisor, tells him to fetch Lahmu and Lahamu – tell them of Tiamat’s war plans, of the eleven monsters she has created, and so on, telling also of Marduk’s willingness to fight, and his demands for overlordship if he wins. Lahmu and Lahamu and other Igigi (heavenly gods) are distressed by this tale. The gods then drank together, becoming drowsy, whilst agreeing to the contract with Marduk.

Tablet 4

Marduk is given a throne, and sits presiding over the other gods – the other gods honor him, agreeing to his overlordship.

Marduk is given both the throne, as well as sceptre and vestments. He is given weapons, and sent to fight Tiamat – bow, quiver, and mace, plus bolts of lightning, together with the four winds – his body was aflame.

Using the four winds Marduk made a trap so that Tiamat could not escape – he added a whirlwind, a cyclone, and Imhullu (“the Evil Wind”) – together the seven winds stirred up Tiamat. In his war chariot drawn by four creatures he advanced. He challenges Tiamat stating she has unrightfully made Kingu her consort, accusing her of being the source of the trouble. Tiamat becomes enraged and single combat begins.

Marduk uses a net, a gift from Anu, to entrap Tiamat; Tiamat attempts to swallow Marduk, but ‘the Evil Wind’ enters her mouth, preventing this. With the winds swirling within her she becomes distended – Marduk then fires his arrow, hitting her heart – she is slain. The other gods attempt to flee but cannot, and Marduk captures them, breaks their weapons, and are trapped in the net. Her eleven monsters are also captured and chained; whilst Kingu is taken to Uggae (the Angel of Death) – the ‘Tablet of Destinies’ is taken from Kingu. Marduk then smashes Tiamat’s head with the mace, whilst her blood is carried off by the North Wind.

Marduk then splits Tiamat’s remains in two – from one half he makes the sky – in it he made places for Anu, Enlil, and Ea.

Tablet 5

Marduk makes likenesses of the gods in the sky, creating constellations, and defines the days of the year from them. He creates night and day, and the moon also. He creates clouds, causes them to rain, and their water to make the Tigris and Euphrates. He gives the ‘Tablet of Destinies’ to Anu.

Statues of the eleven monsters of Tiamat are made and installed at the gate of Apsu

Tablet 6

Marduk then speaks to Ea – saying he will use his blood to create man – and that man will serve the gods. Ea advises one of the gods be chosen as a sacrifice – the Igigi advice that Kingu be chosen – his blood is then used to create man.

Marduk then divides the gods into “above” and “below” – three hundred are placed in the heavens, and six hundred on earth. The gods then propose that they should build a throne or shrine for him – Marduk tells them to construct Babylon. The gods then spend a year making bricks – they build the Esagila (Temple to Marduk) to a great height, making it a place for Marduk, Ea, and Enlil.

A banquet is then held, with fifty of the great gods taking seats. Anu praises Enlil’s bow, then Marduk is praised.

The first nine names or titles of Marduk are given.

Tablet 7

Continuation of praise of Marduk as chief of Babylon and head of the Babylonian pantheon because of his role in creation. The rest of Marduk’s fifty throne names declaring his dominion are recited. Final blessings on Marduk and instructions to the people to remember and recite Marduk’s deeds.

Written, June 2018

Also see: Genesis 1-11: Fact or fiction?


As the Bible says

world cup 4 400pxThe World Cup is being played in Russia under the FIFA Regulations and the International Football Association’s laws of the game. Disobeying the laws can result in a yellow card or a red card. So far there have been three red cards in the 2018 World Cup. The Bible contains God’s laws for humanity. It tells us about our world and shows us the best way to live. And it tells us what God has done for us.

Paul summarized the good news in the Bible about Jesus as:
“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for (because of) our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3-4NIV). He says that Christ’s death, burial and resurrection occurred in the way they were foretold in the Old Testament. Likewise, we will see that believers are to follow the New Testament.

Christ’s death

In Isaiah 52:12 – 53:12 the prophet Isaiah describes a righteous suffering servant who will bear people’s sins so they can be spiritually healed. It’s clear that the servant will die:
“By oppression and judgment he was taken away (an unjust death).
Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living (a death before reaching old age);
for the transgression of my people he was punished …
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth” (Isa. 53:8, 9b).
It will be an unjust death administered as punishment for an alleged crime.

The reason for his death is given as:
“But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed (spiritually).
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:5-6).
The servant dies so that people can receive spiritual healing and peace because he takes the punishment for their sins, iniquities and transgressions.

These predictions were fulfilled when Jesus was crucified. His alleged crimes were blaspheme (Mt. 26:65), subversion and opposing Caesar (Lk. 23:2). Clearly, Jesus died for (because of) our sins. And His death was confirmed by His burial.

Christ’s burial

The servant’s burial is described as:
“He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death” (Isa. 53:9a).

These predictions were fulfilled when Jesus was crucified together with two criminals. And He was buried in a new tomb by Joseph, “a rich man from Arimathea” (Mt. 27:57). The Jewish religious leaders planned to have Him buried as a criminal, but God over-ruled and He was buried in a tomb prepared by “a prominent member of the Council (the Jewish Sanhedrin)” (Mk. 15:43).

In our experience death is terminal and permanent. But the Bible says that Christ’s death was temporary. It was interrupted by His resurrection, which is the reversal of death.

Christ’s resurrection

In a song expressing his trust in God for safety when he faced death, David said:
“Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
nor will you let your faithful one see decay” (Ps. 16:9-10).
Peter explained that David was referring to the resurrection of Jesus:
“Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. For David did not ascend to heaven …” (Acts 2:29-34).

Jesus also said that Jonah’s three days in the belly of a huge fish was sign that He would be in the grave for three days (Mt. 12:40). So Jonah’s near-death experience symbolized Christ’s death and resurrection, including the time frame involved.

These predictions were fulfilled when Jesus was raised back to life. Paul says that people could verify this with eyewitnesses because Jesus appeared to the apostles and to more than 500 people at the same time (1 Cor. 15:5-6).

According to Jesus

Jesus also said that His life was a fulfilment of the Old Testament. He told the Jewish leaders, “These are the very Scriptures (the Old Testament) that testify about me” (Jn. 5:39). Before His death He told the disciples, “It is written (in the Old Testament): ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me (in the Old Testament) is reaching its fulfillment” (Lk. 22:37). This is a quotation from Isaiah 53:12.

And after His resurrection He told the two on the way to Emmaus, ‘”How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter His glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures (the Old Testament) concerning Himself’ (Lk. 24:25-27).

And He told the disciples, ‘”This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” Then He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written (in the Old Testament): The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things” (Lk. 24:44-48). In this passage, “the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms” means all the old Testament as Psalms was the first book in the writings category of the Jewish Scriptures.

Discussion

There are three aspects to the good news about Jesus: the death of Christ for our sins, His burial that confirms His death, and His resurrection that shows His victory over death and that God accepted Christ’s sacrifice for sin. We have seen that each of these happened as the Old Testament predicted. The phrase “according to the Scriptures” occurs twice in this short passage, indicating the importance of these Old Testament prophecies (1 Cor. 15:3-4). They are mentioned before the eyewitnesses (v.5-7). So what the Bible says is more important than what someone else says.

The Old Testament prophecies are also important because they show that Christ’s work for us was planned long ago. Likewise, God’s plan for us was recorded in the New Testament many years ago. Because we are under the new covenant instead of the law of Moses, the Scriptures that we are to follow are those written to the church (Acts to Revelation).

The other instance of “according to the Scriptures” in the Bible is, ‘If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well’ (Jas. 2:8ESV). This is the fourth reason that James gives for condemning favoritism.  If we really loved our neighbors as ourselves, we would treat them as we want to be treated. We learn from the parable of the Good Samaritan that our neighbor is anyone who has a need which we can help to meet (Lk. 10:29-37). And this is “according to the Scripture” because it’s a quotation from Leviticus 19:18.

Lessons for us

What the Bible says is more important than the laws of football. Jesus lived, died, was buried and rose again “according to the Scriptures” or as the Bible predicted. What about us? Do we live as the Bible (God) says we should? Do we believe Jesus Christ is who the Bible says He is? Do we trust and rely on Him for our salvation? Do we recognize our sinfulness and separation from God? Have we confessed our sinfulness to God? Are we living for God or just for ourselves?

Written, June 2018


Massacres and miracles at Jericho

Jericho 1 400pxSome places are associated with massacres (like Srebrenica) and some with miracles (like Lourdes), but both occurred at ancient Jericho. Jericho in the Middle East is said to be one of the oldest settlements in the world. It’s also the lowest city in the world, being in the Jordan rift valley.

Jericho was a strategic location on the route from the fords of the Jordan river to Jerusalem. This route is part of an ancient route between the Kings Highway to the east and the Via Maris (way of the sea) to the west. These were the major ancient routes between Egypt and Mesopotamia. Jericho was one of the gateways to the land of Canaan. It was the access point to the hill country of Palestine from the Trans-Jordan, being 8km (5 miles) west of the Jordan river and 22km (14 miles) east-northeast of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem experiences a Mediterranean climate, but due to the “rain-shadow” effect, Jericho on a plain in the Jordan valley has low rainfall. Because of a spring it’s an oasis in a desert which has been called “the city of the palms” (Dt. 34:3; Jud. 1:16; 3:13; 2 Chr. 28:15NIV).

In this post we look at some historical events that have occurred at Jericho.

The promised land

The exodus was when the Israelites journeyed from Egypt to the promised land of Canaan. The first mention of Jericho in the Bible is near the end of the journey when “the Israelites travelled to the plains of Moab and camped along the Jordan across from Jericho” (Num. 22:1). At this time Jericho was a fortified city occupied by the Canaanites.

Before their leader, Moses, died, he viewed the promised land from Mount Nebo, including  “the valley of Jericho, the city of palms” (Dt. 34:1-4). Jericho was central in the land that was occupied by the Israelites: between Hazor in the north and the Negev in the south and the Trans-Jordan towards  the east and the Cis-Jordan towards the west.

When the tribes of Israel were allocated land in Canaan, Jericho was in the territory occupied by the tribe of Benjamin. Jericho was near the boundary of Benjamin with Ephraim to the north (Josh. 18:12, 21). And the southern boundary of Benjamin was the Pass of Adummim (Josh 15:7) – the road from Jericho to Jerusalem goes up this ridge.

The Bible explains why the Canaanites were invaded and driven from their land. God told Abram that his descendants would be enslaved in Egypt for 400 years and after this “your descendants will come back here (Canaan), for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure” (Gen. 15:13-16). The peoples of Canaan were dispossessed of their land as an act of God’s judgement when their sin had reached God’s limit (Dt. 9:4-6). They were guilty of idolatry, sexual immorality, religious prostitution, witchcraft, and child sacrifice (Lev. 18:24-27; Dt. 9:4-6; 18:9-12).

Joshua at Jericho (1410BC)

The Israelites entered the promised land by crossing the Jordan River near Jericho. Because Joshua and the Israelites followed the Lord’s instructions, God gave them a great victory over the fortified city of Jericho. It was a miracle that the walls of the city fell down when the army shouted. Jericho was destroyed and lacked walls and gates for centuries after this because Joshua placed a curse on whoever would rebuild them (Josh.6:26). Only Rahab and her family, who cared for the spies, were rescued and saved from the massacre (Josh. 6:22-23, 25).

So the city and its occupants were destroyed because of their wickedness. And God gave it to Israel as their first possession west of the Jordan river. This incident reminds us: that Joshua had faith in the true God but the Canaanites didn’t, that God judges people’s sin, and that salvation is available to the repentant.

Israel destroys Jericho (1375BC)

But later on Jericho was destroyed by the Israelites themselves! When the Israelites punished the Benjamites because of a rape and murder at Gilead, 25,000 of the Benjamites died in battle and the Israelites “put all the (Benjamite) towns to the sword, including the animals and everything else they found. All the towns they came across they set on fire” (Jud. 20:48).

So there was another massacre in Jericho and the town was burnt once again. In this instance, God’s people also experienced God’s judgement.

Ehud at Jericho (1316BC)

When the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, Jericho was attacked and captured by the Moabites (Jud. 3:12-30) and Jericho was ruled by the Moabites for 18 years. After the Israelites cried out the Lord, He gave them a deliverer named Ehud. Ehud assassinated Eglon the king of Moab and “took possession of the fords of the Jordan that led to Moab” (Jud. 3:28). So the Moabites were defeated and Jericho was ruled by the Israelites once again.

So, when the Israelites turned away from God, Jericho was captured and ruled by foreigners. But the city was regained by Israel after they repented and prayed.

Up to this time, Jericho was a place of battles, massacres and destruction.

David’s men at Jericho (995BC)

When king David sent some men to the king of the Ammonites, the king shaved their heads and cut off half of their beards, humiliating David’s men (2 Sam. 10:1-5). So David instructed them to stay at Jericho until their beards had grown back. This means that Jericho was still occupied at this time although it had no city walls or gates.

Fortification of Jericho (850BC)

When the kingdom was split into Judah and Israel, they became more vulnerable to foreign invasion. Two such enemies were Moab and Ammon, just east of the Jordan river. That’s probably why the city walls and gates of Jericho were rebuilt (1 Ki. 16:34) as a fortified city in the time of King Ahab (about 850 BC). Jericho had lacked such fortifications for about 560 years. Was the fact that Jericho was now fortified why Moab and Ammon attacked Judah from the south rather than from the east (2 Chr. 20:1-26)?

Elisha at Jericho (850BC)

Idolatry was prevalent in the 9th century BC in the kingdom of Israel. Even king Ahab worshipped Baal (Canaanite storm god) and Asherah (Canaanite goddess of love and fertility) (1 Ki. 18:18-19). But there were 7,000 Israelites who didn’t worship Baal (1 Ki. 19:18). These people who worshipped the true God were probably led by prophets. Besides Elijah and Elisha, there were groups of prophets at Bethel and Jericho (2 Ki. 2:3, 5). The prophets from Jericho went with Elijah and Elisha to the Jordan river to witness the miracle by which Elijah and Elisha crossed the river. But only Elisha returned and he had Elijah’s coat which symbolized that he was succeeding Elijah. Elisha began his ministry at Jericho with a miracle turning brackish spring water into pure water (2 Ki. 2:18-22).

So at this time there was a group of godly people living at Jericho and the prophet Elisha performed a miracle there.

David and king Zedekiah at Jericho (976BC & 586BC)

In God’s covenant with Israel, if they disobeyed God they were to be driven from their land (Dt. 28:32-37). And this is what happened 680 years later (when the Assyrians conquered the kingdom of Israel) and 820 years later (when the Babylonians conquered the kingdom of Judah).

Two Jewish kings fled from Jerusalem to Jericho. When the Babylonians invaded Judah and destroyed Jerusalem, the army and king Zedekiah escaped at night and fled towards the east. But the Babylonian army chased them and captured the king in the plains of Jericho (2 Ki. 25:3-6; Jer. 39:4-5; 52:8).  David made a similar trip when he escaped from Absalom in 976BC by travelling from Jerusalem to the Jordan river (2 Sam. 15:28-16:14).

After the Babylonian exile, in about 537BC, 345 men of Jericho returned to Judah (Ezra 2:34). And in 444BC, men from Jericho helped to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem (Neh. 3:2). This showed that there were still godly people living at Jericho 260 years after Elisha began his ministry and that they returned to live in Jericho after the exile.

Jesus at Jericho (AD30)

The Jericho of New Testament times was built by Herod about 2.4 km south of the ancient site. It was at the mouth of Wadi Qilt, which is the valley north of the Pass of Adummim. In the middle ages the crusaders built a town about 2 km east of the ancient site and the modern town has expanded to include the ancient site.

Jericho was on the route between Galilee and Jerusalem if you wanted to avoid travelling through Samaria. It is supposed that the sites of Christ’s baptism (at the Jordan river) and temptation (at a mountain west of Jericho) are near Jericho.

In the parable of the good Samaritan (Lk. 10:29-37), the traveller was attacked as he was going down from Jerusalem (797m above sea level) to Jericho (250m below sea level). The distance was about 29 km (18 miles) and the difference in altitude about 1050m. At that time, it was a narrow, winding mountainous trail or footpath through rocky desert terrain. And there were plenty of hiding places and escape routes for bandits. Robberies in the wild and lonely terrain were so frequent that a Roman garrison had to be stationed there to protect travellers.

On the trip to Jerusalem before His death, Jesus stayed at Jericho. This was where the tax collector Zacchaeus was converted (Lk. 19:1-10) and Bartimaeus was healed of blindness (Mk. 10:46-52). This healing seemed to have occurred after Jesus left ancient Jericho (Mt. 20:29; Mk. 10:46) and before He reached Herodian Jericho (Lk. 18:35). After this Jesus climbed the ascent to Bethany, Bethphage and Jerusalem.

Discussion

This history of Jericho began with a fortified city that was destroyed by God and ended with a fortified city that witnessed miracles of God. Between these times the city lacked fortifications and was destroyed and conquered. During this time period, Jericho was occupied by the Canaanites, the Israelites, the Moabites, the Israelites, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks, the Seleucids and the Romans.

This reminds me of what Paul told the Athenians, “From one man He (God) made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from any one of us” (Acts 17:26-27). God determines the beginning and end of nations and the lands that they would occupy.

The incidents that happened at Jericho illustrate God’s supernatural power. The city walls fell when the army shouted. Ehud was able to assassinate Eglon. And Elisha and Jesus did miracles.

The people of Jericho were punished when their sins had reached God’s limit. In a coming day God will punish our sinful world because, “her sins are piled as high as heaven, and God remembers her evil deeds” (Rev. 18:5NLT). Meanwhile, on which side of the walls of Jericho are we?

Some of the occupants of Jericho were ungodly (the Canaanites, the Moabites, and the Israelites who disobeyed God by practicing idolatry) and some were godly (Elisha and the prophets, and the Jews who returned from the Babylonian exile). And some changed from being ungodly to godly (Rahab, the Israelites who repented of their idolatry, and Zacchaeus).

Lessons for us

Over the centuries, many things happened at Jericho – massacres, rescues and miracles. But it was always under God’s control. Likewise, many things happen in our lives. But we can be assured that God is in control.

Let’s trust God like Joshua, and change from our ungodly ways like Rahab and Zacchaeus. Paul told the Athenians how to do this by repenting of their ungodly ways by trusting in Jesus because “He (God) has set a day when He will judge the world (at the second coming of Christ) with justice by the man (Jesus) He has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising Him (Jesus) from the dead” (Acts 17:31).

Written, June 2018

Also see other articles on places in the Bible:
Bethlehem, God’s solution to our crises
Gehenna – Where’s hell?
Where’s Zion?
Babylon, center of humanism and materialism
Lessons from Egypt
Lessons from Sodom