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Posts tagged “Babylonian

Flood stories: Fact or fiction?

Michael Jordan 4 400pxDid Michael Jordan walk away from Nike? No. This rumor was debunked by FactCheck.org. This story was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. And snops.com also investigates American urban legends. While, Fact Check determines the accuracy of claims by politicians, public figures, advocacy groups and institutions engaged in the public debate in Australia. Bruce Masse, an environmental archaeologist says “Myths are largely event-based, in that they are triggered to a large part by an event, or combination of events, that catastrophically impact society”.

In this post we look at ancient legendary flood stories. Are they entirely imaginary, fictional and mythical or is there some factual reality or truth behind them? And could the Biblical account of the flood be based on ancient mythology like the Gilgamesh flood myth?

Hebrew account of the flood

The book of Genesis 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. It begins with the creation of the world and the universe (Gen. 1-2). Then there is the fall into sin (Gen. 3-5) and the flood (Gen. 6-9). The sources of Genesis are 12 family documents. The account of the flood is in the record of the descendants of Noah (Gen. 6:9-9:29). According to the Bible, the Flood occurred about 2350BC and Noah died about 2000BC (these are rounded numbers). So the original account (which was edited by Moses) would have been dated to before 2000BC.

God created a universe that was good and free from sin. God created humanity to have a personal relationship with Him. Adam and Eve sinned and thereby brought evil and death into the world. Evil increased steadily in the world until there was only one family in which God found anything good. God sent the flood to wipe out evil, but delivered Noah and his family along with the animals in the Ark. After the flood, humanity began again to multiply and spread throughout the world.

The biblical account of the flood is summarized below.
God commanded Noah to build an ark (boat) about 135m long, 23m wide and 14m high. It had three decks, a roof and a door. Noah and his three sons and their wives entered the ark. God made a male and female of very kind of bird and animal go into the ark. Then God shut the door and after seven days subterranean water gushed out of the earth and rain fell for 40 days. The flood waters rose to a depth of at least 7m above the mountains that existed at that time (which were lower than today’s mountains). There was much erosion and sedimentation, followed by more erosion, associated with the global flood. The earth was flooded for another 150 days before the waters receded until the ark rested on the Ararat mountains. All the other birds and animals on earth were drowned in the catastrophe. Tectonic forces raised mountains and there was much erosion as massive amounts of  flood water flowed to lower levels (Ps. 104:6-9). After another 74 days the tops of the mountains became visible. After another 40 days Noah sent out a raven, and then 7 days later he sent out a dove, but it returned to the ark. Seven days later he sent out the dove again and it returned with an olive leaf. Seven days later he sent out the dove again, but it didn’t return. After about 370 days in the ark, God commanded Noah to come out of the ark with his family and all the animals. Noah then built and altar to sacrifice an offering to God for protecting them. God made a covenant with Noah and promised that those who were on the ark will repopulate the earth. And never again will there be such a flood that destroys the earth. And the rainbow in the sky will be the sign (symbol) of this covenant.

Gilgamesh flood tablet 11 - 3 400pxBabylonian account of the flood

The Gilgamesh flood myth is found in the Epic of Gilgamesh, which was written on 12 clay tablets. A copy of Tablet 11 was found in Nineveh and is dated in the 7th century BC. This was the Babylonian account of the Flood, which was inscribed in cuneiform text on a baked clay tablet. Many scholars believe that the flood myth was added to Tablet 11 in the “standard version” of the Gilgamesh Epic by an editor who utilized the flood story from the Epic of Atrahasis (Appendix E). Tablet 11 has the following clue, “It was not I who revealed the secret of the Great Gods, I only made a dream appear to Atrahasis, and thus he heard our secret”. The oldest copy of the Epic of Atrahasis is dated 1650BC and scholars reckon the time of its first compilation in the Akkadian language is around 2,000 B.C. But some editorial changes were made to the text in the Epic of Gilgamesh. It’s believed that the Epic of Atrahasis utilized the flood story from The Eridu Genesis, which contains a Sumerian flood story (Appendix F).

The Babylonian flood account has been summarized as follows.
Gilgamesh 3 400pxThe Sumerian hero Gilgamesh traveled the world in search of a way to cheat death. On one of his journeys, he came across an old man, Utnapishtim, who told Gilgamesh a story from centuries past. The gods brought a flood that swallowed the earth. The gods were angry at humanity so they sent a flood to destroy them. The god Ea, warned Utnapishtim and instructed him to build an enormous boat to save himself, his family, and “the seed of all living things.” He does so, and the gods brought rain which caused the water to rise for many days. When the rains subsided, the boat landed on a mountain, and Utnapishtim set loose first a dove, then a swallow, and finally a raven, which found land. The god Ishtar created the rainbow and placed it in the sky, as a reminder to the gods and a pledge to mankind that there would be no more floods.

Comparison

The text of the flood from Genesis is given in Appendix A and the text from Gilgamesh is given in Appendix B. Can we tell if one was influenced by the other? Or are they separate accounts of the same event? There are similarities and differences between these accounts.

Similarities

In both Genesis and Gilgamesh, the flood is global in extent and after the flood is announced Noah and Utnapishtim are both instructed to build a boat coated in pitch, with many compartments, one door and at least one window. After the flood they both released birds to test for dry land. The boats both landed on mountains. Noah and Utnapishtim both offered sacrifices after the flood and they were both promised blessings.

Many of the similarities between the Genesis and Gilgamesh would be expected to be found in any ancient flood account. The landing of the boats on a mountain and the use of birds to determine when the flood subsided are probably the most unusual similarities.

Differences

There are also significant differences between Genesis and Gilgamesh. The theme of the Gilgamesh Epic is the quest for immortality. This isn’t mentioned in the Genesis flood story. Genesis is occupied with relating early history in the overarching plan of redemption of the true and living God.

The Bible says that the reason for the flood was that the earth was corrupt and full of violence; there was great wickedness and “the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time” (Gen. 6:5, 11-13). Whereas in Gilgamesh there is no clear reason for the flood: He says is was because Ištar said “evil things in the Assembly of the Gods” and mentioned “Charge the violation to the violator, charge the offense to the offender”. And the Sumerian flood story says that the gods were irritated by the noise of mankind (Appendix F). Noah was saved from the flood because he “was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God” (Gen. 6:9). But no reason is given in Gilgamesh for Utnapishtim being saved from the flood.

Noah urged the people to repent (maybe for 120 years; Gen. 6:3) to avoid God’s judgment, whereas Utnapishtim escaped death by deception (Gen. 6:3; 1 Pt. 3:19-20; 2 Pt. 3:9).

Noah is instructed directly by God, whereas Utnapishtim is instructed indirectly via dream. In Genesis the boat is rectangular, which is stable, whereas in Gilgamesh it is square, which is unstable. The Gilgamesh boat was an unseaworthy cube which would immediately flip over or roll around in the water. In contrast, the ark had dimensions that were ideal for a seaworthy ship. Noah’s boat had 3 decks, but Utnapishtim’s boat had 6 decks. In Genesis the passengers were all family members, whereas in Gilgamesh it was family members and the craftsmen. In Genesis the animals came to Noah and entered the ark, whereas in Gilgamesh, Utnapishtim loaded the animals into the boat. In Genesis God shut the door, whereas in Gilgamesh Utnapishtim shut the door. In Genesis the water is subterranean plus rainfall, whereas in Gilgamesh it is only rainfall. In Genesis the storm lasted 40 days, whereas in Gilgamesh it lasted 6 days. When Utanapishtim looked out, “all the human beings had turned to clay”, but no such statement is attributed to Noah. Noah was on the boat for over a year, whereas Utnapishtim was on the boat for only a few weeks. Noah released a raven first and then a dove was released three times, whereas Utnapishtim released a dove first, then a swallow and a raven last. Noah’s boat landed on Mt Ararat, whereas Utnapishtim’s boat landed on Mt Nisir. When Noah sacrificed he burnt clean animals and clean birds. Whereas Utnapishtim burned incense from the oil of reeds, cedar, and myrtle.

Noah’s blessing was that he would have many descendants who would repopulate the earth, people would now be able to eat animals for food (as well as plants) and God promised to never destroy the earth again with a flood. Whereas Utnapishtim and his wife were turned into gods that lived for ever.

The God in Genesis is monotheistic, while Gilgamesh has many gods – it’s polytheistic. Enlil, who mainly decreed the flood, is not omnipotent or omniscient because a fellow god Ea thwarted him. Ea tells Utnapishtim to deceive the rest of the people so they would not realize a flood was coming even when the huge ship was being built. The polytheistic gods are fallible and not ethical or moral. They are constantly fighting amongst each other, plotting and deceiving each other.

These differences illustrate the differences between the Hebrew and Babylonian worldviews. They are completely different worldviews. The Mesopotamian story reflects the world-view of continuity whereby the worlds of humanity, nature, and the divine have no definite borders and so interact with each other. The world-view of the Bible, by contrast, is that of transcendence; where humanity and nature is not God, but instead, God is other than, and not bound by, the world and humanity.

Monotheism and polytheism in the Bible

The Bible (the most reliable source on ancient history for the God who is sovereign over human history) teaches that humanity was originally monotheistic and monotheism preceded polytheism. It says that the one true God created the earth and the universe. The first couple, Adam and Eve communicated with the one true God, who banished them from the garden of Eden. So the world was monotheistic at the beginning. In the next generation, Cain and Abel, offered sacrifices to the one true God. God communicated with Cain and Cain was banished for murdering Abel. We are not told when polytheism began, but it is said that in Seth’s generation “people began to call on the name of the Lord” (Gen. 4:26). The implication seems to be that the descendants of Cain weren’t following God. For example, Lamech practiced polygamy and was violent (Gen. 4:19-24). Presumably he also followed another god(s).

The fact that Enoch “walked faithfully with God”, probably means that there were others who were not following God. (Gen. 5:21-24). Presumably they also followed other gods. Before the flood, Noah “walked faithfully with God” and he “did everything just as God commanded him” (Gen. 6:9, 22). The rest of humanity “had corrupted their ways” and “every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time” (Gen. 6:5, 12). This probably means that the other people were not following God. Presumably they followed other gods. All those who worshipped other gods drowned in the flood and the earth was repopulated by Noah’s family. So the world was monotheistic again immediately after the flood.

Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. The nations that descended from them are given in Genesis 10. Shem, Ham, and Japheth were monotheistic because they followed the one true God. But their descendants forgot the true God and followed false gods. In the following paragraphs we see how the Bible says that the following Hamites were polytheistic: Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians, and the Canaanite clans (Gen. 10:6-20).

The first specific mention of a person that practiced polytheism in the Bible relates to Terah, the father of Abraham, who lived about 2000BC. God told Joshua, “Long ago your ancestors, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the Euphrates River and worshiped other gods” (Josh. 24:2). So after the flood and the dispersion from Babel, those who lived in Mesopotamia were polytheistic. After God revealed himself to Abram, Abram forsook the gods of his ancestors and followed the God who created the world. He obeyed God and travelled to Canaan where he offered sacrifices to the one true God. So he is an example of someone who converted from polytheism to monotheism. In about 1900BC his nephew Lot lived near Sodom. The Bible says, “the people of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord” (Gen. 13:13). God destroyed Sodom because there were less than ten righteous people in the city (Gen. 18:32 – 19:29). This probably means that they were not following God. Presumably they followed other gods.

The first specific mention of a person that practiced polytheism in the Bible is when “Rachel stole her father’s household gods” at Harran in Paddan Aram in about 1750BC (Gen. 31:19). Later Jacob buried all the foreign gods (idols) in his household at Shechem because he was monotheistic and not polytheistic (Gen. 35:2-4).

The ten plagues in about 1450BC were God’s “judgment on all the gods [idols] of Egypt” (Ex. 12:12). The Egyptians were polytheistic; they worshipped many idols. The land of Egypt is mentioned first in the Bible when Abram visited during a famine in about 1900BC (Gen. 12:12-20). Presumably the Egyptians were also polytheistic then as they were 450 years later.

In about 1450BC God warned the Israelites not to worship the gods of “the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites and Jebusites” (Ex. 23:23-24, 33) because that would draw them away from the true God. When God made a covenant with Abram in about 1900BC, He said “the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure” (Gen. 15:16). This probably means that they were not following God. Presumably they followed other gods as they were 450 years later.

When Abraham was living in Canaan in about 1900BC, “the Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land” (Gen. 13:7). Presumably they also followed other gods as they were 450 years later. In about 1875BC, God promised Abram to give his descendants “the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites” (Gen. 15:19-21). Presumably they also followed other gods as they were 425 years later.

As we can see, polytheism was prevalent in the ancient world. But it began as a rebellion against the one true God. So monotheism originated earlier than polytheism.

Evidence for the global flood

A global flood would leave geological, geomorphic, and cultural evidence. Sarfati (2015) summarized the physical evidence for the global flood in terms of two stages: inundation, followed by recession. Evidence of the flood inundation is:
– The huge horizontal extent of many rock layers. For example, the Great Artesian Basin in Australia.
– The rapid formation of the main rock layers. This includes: rapidly buried fossils (which we discover today in their sequence of burial); thick sandstones formed under water (like the 96 meter thick Coconino sandstone at the Grand Canyon); rapidly formed landscsapes and their rapid repopulation in the present (like the island of Surtsey near Iceland, and the Mt St Helens eruption); and rapid rock layering (many layers were formed quickly at Mt St Helens).
– Very little time between the rock layers. This includes: lack of erosion above and below; preservation of animal tracks, raindrop marks and ripple marks; and fossil tree trunks penetrating multiple layers.

Evidence of the flood recession is:
– Massive erosion (like around the 275 meter high Devils Tower in Wyoming).
– Planation surfaces – huge flat areas (by a giant sheet of water eroding freshly deposited rock layers). For example, the plateau of the Blue Mountains in Australia.
– Water gaps where rivers flow through mountains rather than around them (by channelized water flow). For example, the Heavitree Gap in the MacDonnell Ranges near Alice Springs in Australia.
– Rapidly formed canyons by channelized water flow (like at Mt St Helens).

Sarfati (2015) also claimed that all people groups across the world remember a global flood in their flood legends. These stories often have a common root that relates to a real event, not just a myth. The best explanation is that they have a common memory of the real event that’s described in Genesis. But the account became distorted over time.

Discussion

Many assume that Gilgamesh is the older of the two flood stories. But they assume that Genesis was edited during the Jewish exile in the 6th century BC. And the assumed date for the compilation of the Epic of Atrahasis is about 2000BC. That’s a difference of about 1,500 years! As mentioned above, the Bible says that Genesis was edited by Moses in about 1450BC. And the material he edited was from the record of the descendants of Noah, which dates to before 2000BC. For example, the directions in Genesis 10:19 include “toward Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboyim”. These were the cities of the plain God destroyed for their extreme wickedness 500 years before the time of Moses. When this is taken into account, it’s clear that both of the flood accounts are ancient and it’s not clear which is the oldest.

At the time of the flood, Noah’s family was monotheistic. Therefore, the record of the flood by his family should be more accurate that other polytheistic records. The Genesis account of the flood is written as a historical event and contains better explanations for what happened. It also makes more sense. For example, in the Gilgamesh epic, the ark is a cube, a terrible design for rough waters. Whereas Noah’s Ark was built to be tremendously stable. Gilgamesh’ flood account starts with an apparently arbitrary destruction of life and ends with an equally arbitrary extension of life into eternity. And Gilgamesh is clearly mythological, but Genesis is not mythological. It is common to make legends out of historical events, but not history from legends.

Evidently, the Genesis account came first, and the human writers of the Gilgamesh Epic rewrote the true account, and made their gods in their own image. This means that if one borrowed from the other, it was the Babylonian account that was influenced by the Genesis account. And it’s highly unlikely that Moses would have borrowed flood history from a foreign polytheistic civilization.

A clear flood tradition existed in ancient Mesopotamia from very early times and the fact that such ancient flood stories are common across the world indicate that it’s based on a real event. But with time this was corrupted and garbled by polytheistic and mythological superstition as seen in the accounts copied in this post.

Many scholars assume that Gilgamesh is the older of the two flood stories and that the Biblical account has been derived from the Gilgamesh account. We have shown that this is incorrect. We need to be aware of the bias and poor exegesis demonstrated by many scholars who just follow current trends and don’t realize that their presuppositions are wrong.

God’s message to polytheists

Many people who lived in the Roman Empire during the first century AD were polytheistic. Although they were religious, they followed many false gods (idols); they didn’t know about the true God. So Paul told them about “the God who made the world and everything in it” (Appendix G). The one true God sustains the world, “He Himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else”. And this God controls history, “From one man He 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”.

Then Paul told them about the true God and “the good news about Jesus and the resurrection”. He would have explained how humanity’s sin separated them from God and that Jesus was going to return to judge them. And He said, “He [God] commands all people everywhere to repent”. They were to turn around from following false gods and confess their sinfulness to the true God, and acknowledge that Jesus paid for their sins when He died and rose again.

Conclusion

Ancient flood stories can have elements of fact and fiction. Both the Biblical flood and the Gilgamesh flood are accounts of the global flood that occurred in the 3rd millennium BC. The Genesis flood account is an accurate historical record of the flood event, whereas the Gilgamesh flood account lost historical accuracy and was distorted over time. Other accounts of an ancient flood would have also been derived from this global flood. So ancient flood stories are not entirely imaginary, fictional and mythical because there some factual reality or truth behind them. But see Genesis in the Bible for the best account of this event.

According to this evidence, the biblical version of the flood isn’t based on ancient mythology like the Gilgamesh flood. Let’s be sceptical of those who assume that the Bible’s account was derived from Mesopotamian flood accounts.

Also, let’s remember that the good news about Jesus is for all those who don’t follow the one true God, whether they are polytheists or monotheists, or atheists.

Reference

Jona Lendering, Dutch historian, website on ancient history: http://www.livius.org

Sarfati J D (2015) The Genesis account. Creation Book Publishers. p. 509-510, 525-550.

Appendix A: Genesis 6:9-9:17 (NIV)
Jewish account of the flood

Chapter 6

This is the account of Noah and his family.

Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God. 10 Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth.

11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. 12 God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. 13 So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. 14 So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. 15 This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high. 16 Make a roof for it, leaving below the roof an opening one cubit high all around. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks. 17 I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you. 19 You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. 20 Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive. 21 You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them.”

22 Noah did everything just as God commanded him.

Chapter 7

1The Lord then said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and one pair of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, and also seven pairs of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth. Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.”

And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him.

Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters came on the earth. And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood. Pairs of clean and unclean animals, of birds and of all creatures that move along the ground, male and female, came to Noah and entered the ark, as God had commanded Noah. 10 And after the seven days the floodwaters came on the earth.

11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. 12 And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.

13 On that very day Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, together with his wife and the wives of his three sons, entered the ark. 14 They had with them every wild animal according to its kind, all livestock according to their kinds, every creature that moves along the ground according to its kind and every bird according to its kind, everything with wings. 15 Pairs of all creatures that have the breath of life in them came to Noah and entered the ark. 16 The animals going in were male and female of every living thing, as God had commanded Noah. Then the Lord shut him in.

17 For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth. 18 The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. 19 They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered. 20 The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than fifteen cubits. 21 Every living thing that moved on land perished—birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind. 22 Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. 23 Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; people and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.

24 The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days.

Chapter 8

1But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded. Now the springs of the deep and the floodgates of the heavens had been closed, and the rain had stopped falling from the sky. The water receded steadily from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the water had gone down, and on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. The waters continued to recede until the tenth month, and on the first day of the tenth month the tops of the mountains became visible.

After forty days Noah opened a window he had made in the ark and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth. Then he sent out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground. But the dove could find nowhere to perch because there was water over all the surface of the earth; so it returned to Noah in the ark. He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought it back to himself in the ark. 10 He waited seven more days and again sent out the dove from the ark. 11 When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth. 12 He waited seven more days and sent the dove out again, but this time it did not return to him.

13 By the first day of the first month of Noah’s six hundred and first year, the water had dried up from the earth. Noah then removed the covering from the ark and saw that the surface of the ground was dry. 14 By the twenty-seventh day of the second month the earth was completely dry.

15 Then God said to Noah, 16 “Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives. 17 Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you—the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground—so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number on it.”

18 So Noah came out, together with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives. 19 All the animals and all the creatures that move along the ground and all the birds—everything that moves on land—came out of the ark, one kind after another.

20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. 21 The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.

22 “As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.”

Chapter 9

1Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. The fear and dread of you will fall on all the beasts of the earth, and on all the birds in the sky, on every creature that moves along the ground, and on all the fish in the sea; they are given into your hands. Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.

“But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being.

“Whoever sheds human blood,
by humans shall their blood be shed;
for in the image of God
has God made mankind.

As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.”

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you 10 and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. 16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

17 So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.”

Appendix B: Tablet 11 of the Epic of Gilgamesh
Sumerian Flood Story

A translation from Jona Lendering of Tablet 11 of this epic is given below.

[1] Gilgameš spoke to Ut-napištim, the Faraway:
“I have been looking at you,
but your appearance is not strange – you are like me!
You yourself are not different – you are like me!
My mind was resolved to fight with you,
but instead my arm lies useless over you.
Tell me,
how is it that you stand in the Assembly of the Gods, and have found life?”

[8] Ut-napištim spoke to Gilgameš, saying:
“I will reveal to you, Gilgameš, a thing that is hidden,
a secret of the gods I will tell you!
Šuruppak, a city that you surely know,
situated on the banks of the Euphrates,
that city was very old, and there were gods inside it.

[14] The hearts of the Great Gods moved them to inflict the Flood.
Their Father Anu uttered the oath,
Valiant Enlil was their Adviser,
Ninurta was their Chamberlain,
Ennugi was their Minister of Canals.

[19] Ea, the Prince, was under oath with them
so he repeated their talk to the reed house:
‘Reed house, reed house! Wall, wall!
O man of Šuruppak, son of Ubar-Tutu [Ut-napištim]
Tear down the house and build a boat!
Abandon wealth and seek living beings!
Spurn possessions and keep alive living beings!
Make [the seed of] all living beings go up into the boat.
The boat which you are to build,
its dimensions must measure equal to each other:
its length must correspond to its width.
Roof it over like the Apsu.’ [the firmament in the primordial waters]

[32] I understood and spoke to my lord, Ea:
‘My lord, thus is the command which you have uttered
I will heed and will do it.
But what shall I answer the city, the populace, and the Elders?’

[36] Ea spoke, commanding me, his servant:
‘You, well then, this is what you must say to them:
“It appears that Enlil is rejecting me
so I cannot reside in your city,
nor set foot on Enlil’s earth.
I will go down to the Apsu to live with my lord, Ea,
and upon you he will rain down abundance,
a profusion of fowl, myriad fishes
He will bring to you a harvest of wealth,
in the morning he will let loaves of bread shower down,
and in the evening a rain of wheat!”‘

[48] Just as dawn began to glow
the people assembled around me.
The carpenter carried his hatchet,
the reedworker carried his flattening stone,

[two lines destroyed]

[54] The child carried the pitch,
the weak brought whatever else was needed.
On the fifth day I had laid out her exterior.
It was a field in area,
its walls were each 10 times 12 cubits in height,
the sides of its top were of equal length, 10 times 12 cubits each [the boat was cubic].

[58] Then I designed its interior structure as follows:
I provided it with six decks,
thus dividing it into seven levels.
The inside of it I divided into nine compartments.
I drove plugs to keep out water in its middle part.
I saw to the punting poles and laid in what was necessary.

[65] Three times 3,600 units of raw bitumen I poured into the bitumen kiln,
three times 3,600 units of pitch […] into it,
there were three times 3,600 porters of casks who carried vegetable oil.
Apart from the 3,600 units of oil for the dedication,
the boatsman stored away two times 3,600 units of oil.

[70] I butchered oxen for the carpenters,
and day upon day I slaughtered sheep.
I gave the workmen beer, ale, oil, and wine,
as if it were river water,
and they made a party like the New Year’s Festival!

[75] I set my hand to the finishing of the ship.
The boat was finished by sunset.
The launching was very difficult:
They had to keep carrying a runway of poles front to back,
until two-thirds of it had gone under water.

[80] Whatever I had I loaded on it:
whatever silver I had I loaded on it,
whatever gold I had I loaded on it.
All the living beings that I had I loaded on it,
I had all my kith and kin go up into the boat,
all the beasts and animals of the field and the craftsmen I had go up.

[87] [The sun god] Šamaš had set a stated time:
‘In the morning I will let loaves of bread shower down,
and in the evening a rain of wheat!
Go inside the boat, seal the entry!’

[89] That stated time had arrived.
In the morning he let loaves of bread shower down,
and in the evening a rain of wheat.
I watched the appearance of the weather:
the weather was frightful to behold!

[93] I went into the boat and sealed the entry.
For the caulking of the boat, to Puzur-Amurri, the boatman,
I gave the palace together with its contents [A cynical joke. Puzur-Amurri must have though he had concluded a good deal].

[96] Just as dawn began to glow
there arose from the horizon a black cloud.
[the storm god] Adad rumbled inside of it,
before him went Šhullat and Haniš [Sack and Suppression],
heralds going over mountain and land.

[101] [The god of destruction] Erragal pulled out the mooring poles,
forth went [the war god] Ninurta and made the dikes overflow.

[103] The gods lifted up the torches,
setting the land ablaze with their flare.

[105] Stunned shock over Adad’s deeds overtook the heavens,
and turned to blackness all that had been light.
He shattered the land like a raging bull, broke it into pieces like a pot.

[108] All day long the South Wind blew,
blowing fast – and then the Flood came,
overwhelming the people like an attack.

[111] No one could see his fellow,
they could not recognize each other in the torrent.

[113] Even the gods were frightened by the Flood,
and retreated, ascending to the heaven of Anu.
The gods were cowering like dogs, crouching by the outer wall.

[116] Ištar shrieked like a woman in childbirth,
the sweet-voiced Mistress of the Gods wailed:
‘The olden days have alas turned to clay,
because I said evil things in the Assembly of the Gods!
How could I say evil things in the Assembly of the Gods,
ordering a catastrophe to destroy my people?
No sooner have I given birth to my dear people
than they fill the sea like so many fish!’

[124] The gods -those of the Anunnaki- were weeping with her,
the gods humbly sat weeping, sobbing with grief,
their lips burning, parched with thirst.
Six days and seven nights
came the wind and flood,
the storm flattening the land.

[129] When the seventh day arrived,
the storm was pounding.
She who had been struggling with itself like a woman writhing in labor,
the sea, calmed; the whirlwind fell still; the flood stopped.

[133] I looked around all day long – quiet had set in
and all the human beings had turned to clay!
The terrain was as flat as a roof.

[136] I opened a vent and daylight fell upon my cheek.
I fell to my knees and sat weeping,
tears streaming down my cheeks.
I looked around for coastlines in the expanse of the sea,
and at twelve leagues there emerged a region of land.

[141] On Mount Nimuš the boat lodged firm,
Mount Nimuš held the boat, allowing no sway.
One day and a second Mount Nimuš held the boat, allowing no sway.
A third day, a fourth, Mount Nimuš held the boat, allowing no sway.
A fifth day, a sixth, Mount Nimuš held the boat, allowing no sway.

[146] When a seventh day arrived
I sent forth a dove and released it.
The dove went off, but came back to me;
no perch was visible so it circled back to me.

[150] I sent forth a swallow and released it.
The swallow went off, but came back to me;
no perch was visible so it circled back to me.

[153] I sent forth a raven and released it.
The raven went off, and saw the waters slither back.
It eats, it scratches, it bobs, but does not circle back to me.

[156] I sacrificed: I offered a libation to the four corners of the world,
I burned incense in front of the rising mountain.
Seven and seven cult vessels I put in place,
and into the bowls I poured [the oil of] reeds, cedar, and myrtle.

[160] The gods smelled the savor,
the gods smelled the sweet savor,
and collected like flies over a sacrifice [An almost insulting comparison].

Just then the Mistress of the Gods arrived.
She lifted up the large fly-shaped beads which Anu had made for their engagement:

You gods, as surely as I shall not forget this lapis lazuli around my neck,
may I be mindful of these days, and never forget them!
The gods may come to the incense offering,
but Enlil may not come to the incense offering,
because without considering he brought about the Flood
and consigned my people to annihilation.’

[171] Just then Enlil arrived.
He saw the boat and became furious,
he was filled with rage at the Igigi gods:
‘Where did a living being escape?
No man was to survive the annihilation!’

[176] Ninurta spoke to Valiant Enlil, saying:
‘Who else but Ea could devise such a thing?
It is Ea who knows every machination!’

[180] Ea spoke to Valiant Enlil, saying:
‘It is yours, O Valiant One, who is the Sage of the Gods.
How, how could you bring about a Flood without consideration
Charge the violation to the violator,
charge the offense to the offender,
but be compassionate lest (mankind) be cut off,
be patient lest they be killed.

[187] Instead of your bringing on the Flood,
would that a lion had appeared to diminish the people!
Instead of your bringing on the Flood,
would that a wolf had appeared to diminish the people!
Instead of your bringing on the Flood,
would that famine had occurred to slay the land!
Instead of your bringing on the Flood,
would that Pestilent Erra had appeared to ravage the land!

[196] It was not I who revealed the secret of the Great Gods,
I only made a dream appear to Atrahasis, and thus he heard our secret [This is a strange line: the hero is not called Atrahasis, but Ut-napištim, and Ea had used another trick].
Now then! The deliberation should be about him!’

[198] Enlil went up inside the boat
and, grasping my hand, made me go up.
He had my wife go up and kneel by my side.
He touched our forehead and, standing between us, he blessed us:

[202] ‘Previously Ut-napištim was a human being.
But now let Ut-napištim and his wife become like us, the gods!
Let Ut-napištim reside far away, at the Mouth of the Rivers.’

[205] They took us far away and settled us at the Mouth of the Rivers.

[To Gilgameš] Now then, who will convene the gods on your behalf,
that you may find the life that you are seeking!
Wait! You must not lie down for six days and seven nights.”

[209] Soon as Gilgameš sat down (with his head) between his legs
sleep, like a fog, blew upon him.
Ut-napištim said to his wife:
“Look there! The man, the youth who wanted (eternal) life!
Sleep, like a fog, blew over him.”

Appendix C: Summary of the Babylonian Flood Story

Because Gilgamesh fears death, he determines to find immortality. During this search that he meets Utnapishtim, the character most like the Biblical Noah. Utnapishtim had become immortal after building a ship to weather the Great Deluge that destroyed mankind. He brought all of his relatives and all species of creatures aboard the vessel. Utnapishtim released birds to find land, and the ship landed upon a mountain after the flood.

Here is a summary of the poem according to Wikipedia.

Ea leaks the secret plan

  1. Utnapishtim tells Gilgamesh a secret story that begins in the old city of Shuruppak on the banks of the Euphrates River.
  2. The “great gods” Anu, Enlil, Ninurta, Ennugi, and Ea were sworn to secrecy about their plan to cause the flood.
  3. But the god Ea (Sumerian god Enki) repeated the plan to Utnapishtim through a reed wall in a reed house.
  4. Ea commanded Utnapishtim to demolish his house and build a boat, regardless of the cost, to keep living beings alive.
  5. The boat must have equal dimensions with corresponding width and length and be covered over like Apsu boats.
  6. Utnapishtim promised to do what Ea commanded.
  7. He asked Ea what he should say to the city elders and the population.
  8. Ea tells him to say that Enlil has rejected him and he can no longer reside in the city or set foot in Enlil’s territory.
  9. He should also say that he will go down to the Apsu “to live with my lord Ea”.
  10. Note: ‘Apsu’ can refer to a fresh water marsh near the temple of Ea/Enki at the city of Eridu.
  11. Ea will provide abundant rain, a profusion of fowl and fish, and a wealthy harvest of wheat and bread.

Building and launching the boat

  1. Carpenters, reed workers, and other people assembled one morning.
  2. [missing lines]
  3. Five days later, Utnapishtim laid out the exterior walls of the boat of 120 cubits.
  4. The sides of the superstructure had equal lengths of 120 cubits. He also made a drawing of the interior structure.
  5. The boat had six decks [?] divided into seven and nine compartments.
  6. Water plugs were driven into the middle part.
  7. Punting poles and other necessary things were laid in.
  8. Three times 3,600 units of raw bitumen were melted in a kiln and three times 3,600 units of oil were used in addition to two times 3,600 units of oil that were stored in the boat.
  9. Oxen and sheep were slaughtered and ale, beer, oil, and wine were distributed to the workmen, like at a new year’s festival.
  10. When the boat was finished, the launching was very difficult. A runway of poles was used to slide the boat into the water.
  11. Two-thirds of the boat was in the water.
  12. Utnapishtim loaded his silver and gold into the boat.
  13. He loaded “all the living beings that I had.”
  14. His relatives and craftsmen, and “all the beasts and animals of the field” boarded the boat.
  15. The time arrived, as stated by the god Shamash, to seal the entry door.

The storm

  1. Early in the morning at dawn a black cloud arose from the horizon.
  2. The weather was frightful.
  3. Utnapishtim boarded the boat and entrusted the boat and its contents to his boatmaster Puzurammurri who sealed the entry.
  4. The thunder god Adad rumbled in the cloud and storm gods Shullar and Hanish went over mountains and land.
  5. Erragal pulled out the mooring poles and the dikes overflowed.
  6. The Annunnaki gods lit up the land with their lightning.
  7. There was stunned shock at Adad’s deeds which turned everything to blackness. The land was shattered like a pot.
  8. All day long the south wind blew rapidly and the water overwhelmed the people like an attack.
  9. No one could see his fellows. They could not recognize each other in the torrent.
  10. The gods were frightened by the flood, and retreated up to the Anu heaven. They cowered like dogs lying by the outer wall.
  11. Ishtar shrieked like a woman in childbirth.
  12. The Mistress of the gods wailed that the old days had turned to clay because “I said evil things in the Assembly of the Gods, ordering a catastrophe to destroy my people who fill the sea like fish.”
  13. The other gods were weeping with her and sat sobbing with grief, their lips burning, parched with thirst.
  14. The flood and wind lasted six days and six nights, flattening the land.
  15. On the seventh day, the storm was pounding [intermittently?] like a woman in labor.

Calm after the storm

  1. The sea calmed and the whirlwind and flood stopped. All day long there was quiet. All humans had turned to clay.
  2. The terrain was as flat as a roof top. Utnapishtim opened a window and felt fresh air on his face.
  3. He fell to his knees and sat weeping, tears streaming down his face. He looked for coastlines at the horizon and saw a region of land.
  4. The boat lodged firmly on mount Nimush which held the boat for several days, allowing no swaying.
  5. On the seventh day he released a dove which flew away, but came back to him. He released a swallow, but it also came back to him.
  6. He released a raven which was able to eat and scratch, and did not circle back to the boat.
  7. He then sent his livestock out in various directions.

The sacrifice

  1. He sacrificed a sheep and offered incense at a mountainous ziggurat where he placed 14 sacrificial vessels and poured reeds, cedar, and myrtle into the fire.
  2. The gods smelled the sweet odor of the sacrificial animal and gathered like flies over the sacrifice.
  3. Then the great goddess arrived, lifted up her flies (beads), and said
  4. “Ye gods, as surely as I shall not forget this lapis lazuli [amulet] around my neck, I shall be mindful of these days and never forget them! The gods may come to the sacrificial offering. But Enlil may not come, because he brought about the flood and annihilated my people without considering [the consequences].”
  5. When Enlil arrived, he saw the boat and became furious at the Igigi gods. He said “Where did a living being escape? No man was to survive the annihilation!”
  6. Ninurta spoke to Enlil saying “Who else but Ea could do such a thing? It is Ea who knew all of our plans.”
  7. Ea spoke to Enlil saying “It was you, the Sage of the Gods. How could you bring about a flood without consideration?”
  8. Ea then accuses Enlil of sending a disproportionate punishment, and reminds him of the need for compassion.
  9. Ea denies leaking the god’s secret plan to Atrahasis (= Utnapishtim), admitting only sending him a dream and deflecting Enlil’s attention to the flood hero.

The flood hero and his wife are granted immortality and transported far away

  1. He then boards a boat and grasping Utnapishtim’s hand, helps him and his wife aboard where they kneel. Standing between Utnapishtim and his wife, he touches their foreheads and blesses them. “Formerly Utnapishtim was a human being, but now he and his wife have become gods like us. Let Utnapishtim reside far away, at the mouth of the rivers.”
  2. Utnapishtim and his wife are transported and settled at the “mouth of the rivers”.

Appendix D: Summary of Tablet 11

According to Wikipedia, the first half of the Epic of Gilagamesh discusses Gilgamesh, king of Uruk, and Enkidu, a wild man created by the gods to stop Gilgamesh from oppressing the people of Uruk. After Enkidu becomes civilized through sexual initiation with a prostitute, he travels to Uruk, where he challenges Gilgamesh to a test of strength. Gilgamesh wins and the two become friends. Together, they make a six-day journey to the legendary Cedar Forest, where they plan to slay the Guardian, Humbaba the Terrible, and cut down the sacred Cedar. Later they kill the Bull of Heaven, which the goddess Ishtar sends to punish Gilgamesh for spurning her advances. As a punishment for these actions, the gods sentence Enkidu to death.

In the second half of the epic, distress over Enkidu’s death causes Gilgamesh to undertake a long and perilous journey to discover the secret of eternal life. He eventually learns that “Life, which you look for, you will never find. For when the gods created man, they let death be his share, and life withheld in their own hands”. However, because of his great building projects, his account of Siduri’s advice, and what the immortal man Utnapishtim told him about the Great Flood, Gilgamesh’s fame survived his death.

Here’s a summary of Tablet 11 of the Epic of Gilgamesh according to Wikipedia.

Gilgamesh observes that Utnapishtim seems no different from himself, and asks him how he obtained his immortality. Utnapishtim explains that the gods decided to send a great flood. To save Utnapishtim the god Ea told him to build a boat. He gave him precise dimensions, and it was sealed with pitch and bitumen. His entire family went aboard together with his craftsmen and “all the animals of the field”. A violent storm then arose which caused the terrified gods to retreat to the heavens. Ishtar lamented the wholesale destruction of humanity, and the other gods wept beside her. The storm lasted six days and nights, after which “all the human beings turned to clay”. Utnapishtim weeps when he sees the destruction. His boat lodges on a mountain, and he releases a dove, a swallow, and a raven. When the raven fails to return, he opens the ark and frees its inhabitants. Utnapishtim offers a sacrifice to the gods, who smell the sweet savor and gather around. Ishtar vows that just as she will never forget the brilliant necklace that hangs around her neck, she will always remember this time. When Enlil arrives, angry that there are survivors, she condemns him for instigating the flood. Ea also castigates him for sending a disproportionate punishment. Enlil blesses Utnapishtim and his wife, and rewards them with eternal life. This account matches the flood story that concludes the Epic of Atra-Hasis (see also Gilgamesh flood myth).

The main point seems to be that when Enlil granted eternal life it was a unique gift. As if to demonstrate this point, Utnapishtim challenges Gilgamesh to stay awake for six days and seven nights. Gilgamesh falls asleep, and Utnapishtim instructs his wife to bake a loaf of bread on each of the days he is asleep, so that he cannot deny his failure to keep awake. Gilgamesh, who is seeking to overcome death, cannot even conquer sleep. After instructing Urshanabi the ferryman to wash Gilgamesh, and clothe him in royal robes, they depart for Uruk.

As they are leaving, Utnapishtim’s wife asks her husband to offer a parting gift. Utnapishtim tells Gilgamesh that at the bottom of the sea there lives a boxthorn-like plant that will make him young again. Gilgamesh, by binding stones to his feet so he can walk on the bottom, manages to obtain the plant. Gilgamesh proposes to investigate if the plant has the hypothesized rejuvenation ability by testing it on an old man once he returns to Uruk.

There is a plant that looks like a box-thorn, it has prickles like a dogrose, and will prick one who plucks it. But if you can possess this plant, you’ll be again as you were in your youth

This plant, Ur-shanabi, is the “Plant of Heartbeat”, with it a man can regain his vigor. To Uruk-the-sheepfold I will take it, to an ancient I will feed some and put the plant to the test!

Unfortunately, when Gilgamesh stops to bathe, it is stolen by a serpent, who sheds its skin as it departs. Gilgamesh weeps at the futility of his efforts, because he has now lost all chance of immortality. He returns to Uruk, where the sight of its massive walls prompts him to praise this enduring work to Urshanabi.

Appendix E: Epic of Atrahasis flood story

Epic of Atrahasis 2 400pxTablet III of the Atrahasis Epic contains the flood story. It tells how the god Enki warns the hero Atrahasis (“Extremely Wise”) of Shuruppak, speaking through a reed wall (suggestive of an oracle) to dismantle his house (perhaps to provide a construction site) and build a boat to escape the flood planned by the god Enlil to destroy humankind. The boat is to have a roof “like Apsu” (a subterranean, fresh water realm presided over by the god Enki), upper and lower decks, and to be sealed with bitumen. Atrahasis boards the boat with his family and animals and seals the door. The storm and flood begin. Even the gods are afraid. After seven days the flood ends and Atrahasis offers sacrifices to the gods. Enlil is furious with Enki for violating his oath. But Enki denies violating his oath and argues: “I made sure life was preserved.” Enki and Enlil agree on other means for controlling the human population.

A translation from Jona Lendering of the flood portion of this epic is given below.

[After the creation of humanity, the human population increases and their noise disturbs the gods, who decide to wipe out mankind. The god Enki, however, sends a dream to Atrahasis. When the text resumes, Enki is still speaking.]

Enki explains Atraḥasis’ dream

[i.b35] “Enlil committed an evil deed against the people.”

[i.c11] Atraḥasis made ready to speak,
and said to his lord:
“Make me know the meaning of the dream.
let me know, that I may look out for its consequence.”

[i.c15] Enki made ready to speak,
and said to his servant:
“You might say, ‘Am I to be looking out while in the bedroom?’
Do you pay attention to message that I speak for your:

[i.c20] ‘Wall, listen to me!
Reed wall, pay attention to all my words!
Flee the house, build a boat,
forsake possessions, and save life.

[i.c25] The boat which you build
… be equal …


Roof her over like the depth,

[i.c30] so that the sun shall not see inside her.
Let her be roofed over fore and aft.
The gear should be very strong,
the pitch should be firm, and so give the boat strength.
I will shower down upon you later

[i.c35] a windfall of birds, a spate of fishes.'”
He opened the water clock and filled it,
he told it of the coming of the seven-day deluge.

Atraḥasis and the Elders

Atraḥasis received the command.
He assembled the Elders at his gate.

[i.c40] Atraḥasis made ready to speak,
and said to the Elders:
“My god does not agree with your god,
Enki and Enlil are constantly angry with each other.
They have expelled me from the land.

[i.c45] Since I have always reverenced Enki,
he told me this.
I can not live in …
Nor can I set my feet on the earth of Enlil.
I will dwell with my god in the depths.

[i.c50] This he told me: …”

Construction of the Ark

[ii.10] The Elders …
The carpenter carried his axe,
the reedworker carried his stone,
the rich man carried the pitch,
the poor man brought the materials needed.

[About fifteen lines missing; the word Atraḥasis can be discerned.]

Boarding of the Ark

[ii.29] Bringing …

[ii.30] whatever he had …
Whatever he had …
Pure animals he slaughtered, cattle …
Fat animals he killed. Sheep …
he choose and and brought on board.

[ii.35] The birds flying in the heavens,
the cattle and the … of the cattle god,
the creatures of the steppe,
… he brought on board

[ii.40] he invited his people
… to a feast
… his family was brought on board.
While one was eating an another was drinking,

[ii.45] he went in and out; he could not sit, could not kneel,
for his heart was broken, he was retching gall.

Departure

The outlook of the weather changed.
Adad [The storm god] began to roar in the clouds.

[ii.50] The god they heard, his clamor.
He brought pitch to seal his door.
By the time he had bolted his door,
Adad was roaring in the clouds.
The winds were furious as he set forth,

[ii.55] He cut the mooring rope and released the boat.

[Lines missing]

The Great Flood

[iii.5] … the storm
… were yoked
Anzu rent the sky with his talons,
He … the land

[iii.10] and broke its clamor like a pot.
… the flood came forth.
Its power came upon the peoples like a battle,
one person did not see another,
they could not recognize each other in the catastrophe.

[iii.15] The deluge bellowed like a bull,
The wind resounded like a screaming eagle.
The darkness was dense, the sun was gone,
… like flies.

[iii.20] the clamor of the deluge.

[Lines missing. The gods find themselves hungry because there are no farmers left and sacrifices are no longer brought. When they discover that Atrahasis has survived, they make a plan to make sure that the noise will remain within limits: they invent childbirth, infant mortality, and celibacy]

Mankind Punished

[iii.45] Enki made ready to speak,
and said to Nintu the birth goddess:
“You, birth goddess, creatress of destinies,
establish death for all peoples!

[iii.d1] “Now then, let there be a third woman among the people,
among the people are the woman who has borne
and the woman who has not borne.
Let there be also among the people the pasittu (she-demon):

[iii.d5] Let her snatch the baby from the lap who bore it.
And establish high priestesses and priestesses,
let them be taboo, [celibate]and so cut down childbirth.”

The Eridu GenesisAppendix F: Sumerian flood story

The earliest record of a Sumerian creation myth, called The Eridu Genesis was written in the Sumerian language and dated to around 1600 BC. After a missing section in the tablet, we learn that the gods have decided not to save mankind from an impending flood. Zi-ud-sura, the king and gudug priest, learns of this. A section is missing that probably has instructions for the ark. When the tablet resumes, it is describing the flood. A terrible storm rocks the huge boat for seven days and seven nights, then Utu (the Sun god) appears and Zi-ud-sura creates an opening in the boat, prostrates himself, and sacrifices oxen and sheep. After another break, the text resumes: the flood is apparently over, the animals disembark and Zi-ud-sura prostrates himself before An (sky-god) and Enlil (chief of the gods), who give him eternal life and take him to dwell in Dilmun for “preserving the animals and the seed of mankind”. The remainder of the poem is lost.

The Eridu Genesis is written on a Sumerian cuneiform tablet of which about two thirds are now lost. It us claimed that the missing parts can be reconstructed from texts like the Sumerian King List and “Babylonian History” by Berossus. A translation from Jona Lendering is given below.

The Creator Goddess thinks about humankind

[1′-9′] Nintur [The creator goddess.] was paying attention:
“Let me bethink myself of my humankind, all forgotten as they are;
and mindful of mine, Nintur’s, creatures let me bring them back,
let me lead the people back from their trails.
Let they come and build cities and cult places,
that I may cool myself in their shade;
may they lay the bricks for the cult cities in pure spots,
and may they found places for divination in pure spots!”

She gave directions for purification, and cries for clemency,
the things that cool divine wrath,

[10’ff] perfected the divine service and the august offices,
said to the surrounding regions: “Let me institute peace there!”

When An, Enlil, Enki, and Ninhursaga
fashioned the dark-headed people,
they had made the small animals that came up from out of the earth
come from the earth in abundance and had let there be, as befits it,
gazelles, wild donkeys, and four-footed beasts in the desert.

[large part lost; perhaps a story of a failed attempt to build a city]

Creation of kingship

[32′-40′] … “and let me have him advise;
let me have him oversee their labor,
and let him teach the nation to follow like unerringly like cattle!”

When the royal scepter was coming down from heaven,
the august crown and the royal throne being already down from heaven,
the king regularly performed to perfection
the august divine services and offices,
and laid the bricks of those cities in pure spots.
They were named by name and allotted half-bushel baskets.

The first cities

[41’ff] The firstling of the cities, Eridu, she gave to the leader Nudimmud,
the second, Bad-Tibira, she gave to the Prince and the Sacred One,
the third, Larak, she gave to Pahilsag,
the fourth, Sippar, she gave to the gallant Utu,
the fifth, Šuruppak, she gave to Ansud.

These cities, which had been named by names,
and had been alloted half-bushel baskets,
dredged the canals, which were blocked with purplish
wind-borne clay, and they carried water,
Their cleaning of the canals established abundant growth

[Large part lost, in which the antediluvian kings must have been mentioned. Working in the canals and on the fields, they produced so much noise, that the supreme god Enlil persuaded the other gods to destroy humankind.]

[81′-89′] That day, Nintur wept over her creatures
and holy Inanna was fill of grief over her people;
but Enki took counsel with his own heart.
An, Enlil, Enki, and Ninhursaga
had the gods of heaven and earth swear by the names of An and Enlil.

Ziusudra’s Vision

At that time Ziusudra was king and lustration priest.
He fashioned, being a seer, the god of giddiness [A statue is meant.]
and stood in awe beside it, wording his wishes humbly.
As he stood there regularly day after day

[90′-99′] something that was not a dream was appearing: conversation,
a swearing of oaths by heaven and earth, a touching of throats, [Ziusudra witnesses in a vision how the gods are discussing the fate of humanity. The touching of throats is a gesture to indicate that if someone breaks his oath, he allows himself to be beheaded. The Kiur mentioned in the next line was a part of the temple of Enlil in Nippur.]
and the gods bringing their thwarts up to Kiur.

Enki’s advice

And as Ziusudra stood there beside it, he went on hearing:
“Step up to the wall to my left and listen!
Let me speak a word to you at the wall and may you grasp what I say,
may you heed my advice! By our hand a flood will sweep over
the cities of the half-bushel baskets, and the country;
the decision, that mankind is to be destroyed, has been made.
A verdict, a command of the assembly, can not be revoked,

[100’ff] no order of An and Enlil is known  to have been countermanded,
their kingship, their term, has been uprooted; they must bethink themselves …
Now …
What I have to say to you …”

[Lines missing; Enki orders Ziusudra to build the ark and load it with pairs of animals.]

The Flood

[132’f] All the evil winds, all stormy winds gathered into
one and with them, them, the Flood was sweeping over the cities of the half-bushel baskets,
for seven days and seven nights.
After the flood had swept over the country,
after the evil wind had tossed the big boat about on the great waters,
the sun came out spreading light over heaven and earth.

Ziusudra’s sacrifice

[138′-139′] Ziusudra then drilled an opening in the big boat
and the gallant Utu sent his light into the interior of the big boat.

[140′] Ziusudra, being the king,
stepped up before Utu kissing the ground before him.
The king was butchering oxen, was being lavish with the sheep,
barley cakes, crescents together with …
… he was crumbling for him

juniper, the pure plant of the mountains he filled on the fire
and with a … clasped to
the breast he …

[Lines missing; Enlil is angry at finding survivors, but Enki explains himself]

End of Enki’s speech

[175′-178′] “You here have sworn by the life’s breath of heaven, the life’s breath of earth that he verily is allied with you yourself;
you there, An and Enlil, have sworn by the life’s breath of heaven, the life’s breath of earth, that he is allies with all of you.
He will disembark the small animals that come up from the earth!”

Reward of Ziusudra

[179′] Ziusudra, being king, stepped up before An and Enlil, kissing the ground,
and An and Enlil after honoring him

[180’ff] were granting life like a god’s,
were making lasting breath of life, like a god’s, descend into him.
That day they made Ziusudra, preserver, as king,
of the small animals and the seed of mankind,
live toward the east over the mountains of Dilmun. [Dilmun was a legendary place, far away on the edges of the earth. It was later identified with present Bahrain]

Appendix G Paul preaching to polytheists

The Bible gives the following summary of Paul preaching to polytheists in Athens (Acts 17:16-34).

16While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols [they were polytheistic]. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. 18 A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. 19 Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean.” 21 (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)

22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.

24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything. Rather, He himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man He 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. 27 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. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the man He has appointed [Jesus]. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising Him [Jesus]from the dead.”

32 When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” 33 At that, Paul left the Council. 34 Some of the people became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.

Written, September 2018

Also see: Noah: Fact or fiction?
Evidence of Noah’s flood
Visiting Noah’s ark
Why was Noah’s family saved while the rest died in the flood?


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 Genesis 1-2 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?