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Μάρκος Αυρήλιος

Τρίτη, 4 Δεκεμβρίου 2012

THE RELIGION OF THE BABYLONIANS AND ASSYRIANS

 The Sumero-Akkadians and the Semites.

For the history of the development of the religion of the Babylonians
and Assyrians much naturally depends upon the composition of the
population of early Babylonia. There is hardly any doubt that the
Sumero-Akkadians were non-Semites of a fairly pure race, but the
country of their origin is still unknown, though a certain
relationship with the Mongolian and Turkish nationalities, probably
reaching back many centuries--perhaps thousands of years--before the
earliest accepted date, may be regarded as equally likely. Equally
uncertain is the date of the entry of the Semites, whose language
ultimately displaced the non-Semitic Sumero-Akkadian idioms, and
whose kings finally ruled over the land. During the third millennium
before Christ Semites, bearing Semitic names, and called Amorites,
appear, and probably formed the last considerable stratum of tribes of
that race which entered the land. The name Martu, the Sumero-Akkadian
equivalent of Amurru, "Amorite", is of frequent occurrence also before
this period. The eastern Mediterranean coast district, including
Palestine and the neighbouring tracts, was known by the Babylonians
and Assyrians as the land of the Amorites, a term which stood for the
West in general even when these regions no longer bore that name. The
Babylonians maintained their claim to sovereignty over that part as
long as they possessed the power to do so, and naturally exercised
considerable influence there. The existence in Palestine, Syria, and
the neighbouring states, of creeds containing the names of many
Babylonian divinities is therefore not to be wondered at, and the
presence of West Semitic divinities in the religion of the Babylonians
need not cause us any surprise.


               The Babylonian script and its evidence.

In consequence of the determinative prefix for a god or a goddess
being, in the oldest form, a picture of an eight-rayed star, it has
been assumed that Assyro-Babylonian mythology is, either wholly or
partly, astral in origin. This, however, is by no means certain, the
character for "star" in the inscriptions being a combination of three
such pictures, and not a single sign. The probability therefore is,
that the use of the single star to indicate the name of a divinity
arises merely from the fact that the character in question stands for
/ana/, "heaven." Deities were evidently thus distinguished by the
Babylonians because they regarded them as inhabitants of the realms
above--indeed, the heavens being the place where the stars are seen, a
picture of a star was the only way of indicating heavenly things. That
the gods of the Babylonians were in many cases identified with the
stars and planets is certain, but these identifications seem to have
taken place at a comparatively late date. An exception has naturally
to be made in the case of the sun and moon, but the god Merodach, if
he be, as seems certain, a deified Babylonian king, must have been
identified with the stars which bear his name after his worshippers
began to pay him divine honours as the supreme deity, and naturally
what is true for him may also be so for the other gods whom they
worshipped. The identification of some of the deities with stars or
planets is, moreover, impossible, and if Κa, the god of the deep, and
Anu, the god of the heavens, have their representatives among the
heavenly bodies, this is probably the result of later development.[*]

[*] If there be any historical foundation for the statement that
    Merodach arranged the sun, the moon, the planets, and the stars,
    assigning to them their proper places and duties--a tradition
    which would make him the founder of the science of astronomy
    during his life upon earth--this, too, would tend to the
    probability that the origin of the gods of the Babylonians was not
    astral, as has been suggested, but that their identification with
    the heavenly bodies was introduced during the period of his reign.


         Ancestor and hero-worship. The deification of kings.

Though there is no proof that ancestor-worship in general prevailed at
any time in Babylonia, it would seem that the worship of heroes and
prominent men was common, at least in early times. The tenth chapter
of Genesis tells us of the story of Nimrod, who cannot be any other
than the Merodach of the Assyro-Babylonian inscriptions; and other
examples, occurring in semi-mythological times, are /En-we-dur-an-ki/,
the Greek Edoreschos, and /Gilgameš/, the Greek Gilgamos, though
Aelian's story of the latter does not fit in with the account as given
by the inscriptions. In later times, the divine prefix is found before
the names of many a Babylonian ruler--Sargon of Agadι,[*] Dungi of Ur
(about 2500 B.C.), Rim-Sin or Eri-Aku (Arioch of Ellasar, about 2100
B.C.), and others. It was doubtless a kind of flattery to deify and
pay these rulers divine honours during their lifetime, and on account
of this, it is very probable that their godhood was utterly forgotten,
in the case of those who were strictly historical, after their death.
The deification of the kings of Babylonia and Assyria is probably due
to the fact, that they were regarded as the representatives of God
upon earth, and being his chief priests as well as his offspring (the
personal names show that it was a common thing to regard children as
the gifts of the gods whom their father worshipped), the divine
fatherhood thus attributed to them naturally could, in the case of
those of royal rank, give them a real claim to divine birth and
honours. An exception is the deification of the Babylonian Noah,
Ut-napištim, who, as the legend of the Flood relates, was raised and
made one of the gods by Aa or Ea, for his faithfulness after the great
catastrophe, when he and his wife were translated to the "remote place
at the mouth of the rivers." The hero Gilgameš, on the other hand, was
half divine by birth, though it is not exactly known through whom his
divinity came.

[*] According to Nabonidus's date 3800 B.C., though many
    Assyriologists regard this as being a millennium too early.


            The earliest form of the Babylonian religion.

The state of development to which the religious system of the
Babylonians had attained at the earliest period to which the
inscriptions refer naturally precludes the possibility of a
trustworthy history of its origin and early growth. There is no doubt,
however, that it may be regarded as having reached the stage at which
we find it in consequence of there being a number of states in ancient
Babylonia (which was at that time like the Heptarchy in England) each
possessing its own divinity--who, in its district, was regarded as
supreme--with a number of lesser gods forming his court. It was the
adding together of all these small pantheons which ultimately made
that of Babylonia as a whole so exceedingly extensive. Thus the chief
divinity of Babylon, as has already been stated, as Merodach; at
Sippar and Larsa the sun-god Šamaš was worshipped; at Ur the moon-god
Sin or Nannar; at Erech and Dκr the god of the heavens, Anu; at Muru,
Ennigi, and Kakru, the god of the atmosphere, Hadad or Rimmon; at
Κridu, the god of the deep, Aa or Κa; at Niffur[*] the god Bel; at
Cuthah the god of war, Nergal; at Dailem the god Uraš; at Kiš the god
of battle, Zagaga; Lugal-Amarda, the king of Marad, as the city so
called; at Opis Zakar, one of the gods of dreams; at Agadι, Nineveh,
and Arbela, Ištar, goddess of love and of war; Nina at the city Nina
in Babylonia, etc. When the chief deities were masculine, they were
naturally all identified with each other, just as the Greeks called
the Babylonian Merodach by the name of Zeus; and as Zer-panξtum, the
consort of Merodach, was identified with Juno, so the consorts, divine
attendants, and children of each chief divinity, as far as they
possessed them, could also be regarded as the same, though possibly
distinct in their different attributes.

[*] Noufar at present, according to the latest explorers. Layard
    (1856) has Niffer, Loftus (1857) Niffar. The native spelling is
    Noufer, due to the French system of phonetics.


            How the religion of the Babylonians developed.

The fact that the rise of Merodach to the position of king of the gods
was due to the attainment, by the city of Babylon, of the position of
capital of all Babylonia, leads one to suspect that the kingly rank of
his father Κa, at an earlier period, was due to a somewhat similar
cause, and if so, the still earlier kingship of Anu, the god of the
heavens, may be in like manner explained. This leads to the question
whether the first state to attain to supremacy was Dκr, Anu's seat,
and whether Dκr was succeeded by Κridu, of which city Κa was the
patron--concerning the importance of Babylon, Merodach's city, later
on, there is no doubt whatever. The rise of Anu and Κa to divine
overlordship, however, may not have been due to the political
supremacy of the cities where they were worshipped--it may have come
about simply on account of renown gained through religious enthusiasm
due to wonders said to have been performed where they were worshipped,
or to the reported discovery of new records concerning their temples,
or to the influence of some renowned high-priest, like En-we-dur-an-ki
of Sippar, whose devotion undoubtedly brought great renown to the city
of his dominion.


                    Was Animism its original form?

But the question naturally arises, can we go back beyond the
indications of the inscriptions? The Babylonians attributed life, in
certain not very numerous cases, to such things as trees and plants,
and naturally to the winds, and the heavenly bodies. Whether they
regarded stones, rocks, mountains, storms, and rain in the same way,
however, is doubtful, but it may be taken for granted, that the sea,
with all its rivers and streams, was regarded as animated with the
spirit of Κa and his children, whilst the great cities and
temple-towers were pervaded with the spirit of the god whose abode
they were. Innumerable good and evil spirits were believed in, such as
the spirit of the mountain, the sea, the plain, and the grave. These
spirits were of various kinds, and bore names which do not always
reveal their real character--such as the /edimmu/, /utukku/, /šκdu/,
/ašakku/ (spirit of fevers), /namtaru/ (spirit of fate), /βlϋ/
(regarded as the spirit of the south wind), /gallu/, /rabisu/,
/labartu/, /labasu/, /ahhazu/ (the seizer), /lilu/ and /lilithu/ (male
and female spirits of the mist), with their attendants.

All this points to animism as the pervading idea of the worship of the
peoples of the Babylonian states in the prehistoric period--the
attribution of life to every appearance of nature. The question is,
however, Is the evidence of the inscriptions sufficient to make this
absolutely certain? It is hard to believe that such intelligent
people, as the primitive Babylonians naturally were, believed that
such things as stones, rocks, mountains, storms, and rain were, in
themselves, and apart from the divinity which they regarded as
presiding over them, living things. A stone might be a /bξt ξli/ or
bethel--a "house of god," and almost invested with the status of a
living thing, but that does not prove that the Babylonians thought of
every stone as being endowed with life, even in prehistoric times.
Whilst, therefore, there are traces of a belief similar to that which
an animistic creed might be regarded as possessing, it must be
admitted that these seemingly animistic doctrines may have originated
in another way, and be due to later developments. The power of the
gods to create living things naturally makes possible the belief that
they had also power to endow with a soul, and therefore with life and
intelligence, any seemingly inanimate object. Such was probably the
nature of Babylonian animism, if it may be so called. The legend of
Tiawthu (Tiawath) may with great probability be regarded as the
remains of a primitive animism which was the creed of the original and
comparatively uncivilised Babylonians, who saw in the sea the producer
and creator of all the monstrous shapes which are found therein; but
any development of this idea in other directions was probably cut
short by the priests, who must have realised, under the influence of
the doctrine of the divine rise to perfection, that animism in general
was altogether incompatible with the creed which they professed.


                   Image-worship and Sacred Stones.

Whether image-worship was original among the Babylonians and Assyrians
is uncertain, and improbable; the tendency among the people in early
times being to venerate sacred stones and other inanimate objects. As
has been already pointed out, the {diopetres} of the Greeks was
probably a meteorite, and stones marking the position of the Semitic
bethels were probably, in their origin, the same. The boulders which
were sometimes used for boundary-stones may have been the
representations of these meteorites in later times, and it is
noteworthy that the Sumerian group for "iron," /an-bar/, implies that
the early Babylonians only knew of that metal from meteoric ironstone.
The name of the god Nirig or Κnu-rκštu (Ninip) is generally written
with the same group, implying some kind of connection between the two
--the god and the iron. In a well-known hymn to that deity certain
stones are mentioned, one of them being described as the "poison-
tooth"[*] coming forth on the mountain, recalling the sacred rocks at
Jerusalem and Mecca. Boundary-stones in Babylonia were not sacred
objects except in so far as they were sculptured with the signs of the
gods.[†] With regard to the Babylonian bethels, very little can be
said, their true nature being uncertain, and their number, to all
appearance, small. Gifts were made to them, and from this fact it
would seem that they were temples--true "houses of god," in fact--
probably containing an image of the deity, rather than a stone similar
to those referred to in the Old Testament.

[*] So called, probably, not because it sent forth poison, but on
    account of its likeness to a serpent's fang.

[†] Notwithstanding medical opinion, their phallic origin is doubtful.
    One is sculptured in the form of an Eastern castellated fortress.


                                Idols.

With the Babylonians, the gods were represented by means of stone
images at a very early date, and it is possible that wood was also
used. The tendency of the human mind being to attribute to the Deity a
human form, the Babylonians were no exception to the rule. Human
thoughts and feelings would naturally accompany the human form with
which the minds of men endowed them. Whether the gross human passions
attributed to the gods of Babylonia in Herodotus be of early date or
not is uncertain--a late period, when the religion began to
degenerate, would seem to be the more probable.


                   The adoration of sacred objects.

It is probable that objects belonging to or dedicated to deities were
not originally worshipped--they were held as divine in consequence of
their being possessed or used by a deity, like the bow of Merodach,
placed in the heavens as a constellation, etc. The cities where the
gods dwelt on earth, their temples, their couches, the chariot of the
sun in his temple-cities, and everything existing in connection with
their worship, were in all probability regarded as divine simply in so
far as they belonged to a god. Sacrifices offered to them, and
invocations made to them, were in all likelihood regarded as having
been made to the deity himself, the possessions of the divinity being,
in the minds of the Babylonians, pervaded with his spirit. In the case
of rivers, these were divine as being the children and offspring of
Enki (Aa or Κa), the god of the ocean.


                             Holy places.

In a country which was originally divided into many small states, each
having its own deities, and, to a certain extent, its own religious
system, holy places were naturally numerous. As the spot where they
placed Paradise, Babylonia was itself a holy place, but in all
probability this idea is late, and only came into existence after the
legends of the creation and the rise of Merodach to the kingship of
heaven had become elaborated into one homogeneous whole.


                         An interesting list.

One of the most interesting documents referring to the holy places of
Babylonia is a tiny tablet found at Nineveh, and preserved in the
British Museum. This text begins with the word Tiawthu "the sea," and
goes on to enumerate, in turn, Tilmun (identified with the island of
Bahrein in the Persian Gulf); Engurra (the Abyss, the abode of Enki or
Κa), with numerous temples and shrines, including "the holy house,"
"the temple of the seer of heaven and earth," "the abode of Zer-
panξtum," consort of Merodach, "the throne of the holy place," "the
temple of the region of Hades," "the supreme temple of life," "the
temple of the ear of the corn-deity," with many others, the whole list
containing what may be regarded as the chief sanctuaries of the land,
to the number of thirty-one. Numerous other similar and more extensive
lists, enumerating every shrine and temple in the country, also exist,
though in a very imperfect state, and in addition to these, many holy
places are referred to in the bilingual, historical, and other
inscriptions. All the great cities of Babylonia, moreover, were sacred
places, the chief in renown and importance in later days being the
great city of Babylon, where Κ-sagila, "the temple of the high head,"
in which was apparently the shrine called "the temple of the
foundation of heaven and earth," held the first place. This building
is called by Nebuchadnezzar "the temple-tower of Babylon," and may
better be regarded as the site of the Biblical "Tower of Babel" than
the traditional foundation, Κ-zida, "the everlasting temple," in
Borsippa (the Birs Nimroud)--notwithstanding that Borsippa was called
the "second Babylon," and its temple-tower "the supreme house of
life."


                         The Tower of Babel.

Though quite close to Babylon, there is no doubt that Borsippa was a
most important religious centre, and this leads to the possibility,
that its great temple may have disputed with "the house of the high
head," Κ-sagila in Babylon, the honour of being the site of the
confusion of tongues and the dispersion of mankind. There is no doubt,
however, that Κ-sagila has the prior claim, it being the temple of the
supreme god of the later Babylonian pantheon, the counterpart of the
God of the Hebrews who commanded the changing of the speech of the
people assembled there. Supposing the confusion of tongues to have
been a Babylonian legend as well as a Hebrew one (as is possible) it
would be by command of Merodach rather than that of Nebo that such a
thing would have taken place. Κ-sagila, which is now the ruin known as
the mount of Amran ibn Ali, is the celebrated temple of Belus which
Alexander and Philip attempted to restore.

In addition to the legend of the confusion of tongues, it is probable
that there were many similar traditions attached to the great temples
of Babylonia, and as time goes on, and the excavations bring more
material, a large number of them will probably be recovered. Already
we have an interesting and poetical record of the entry of Bel and
Beltis into the great temple at Niffer, probably copied from some
ancient source, and Gudea, a king of Lagaš (Telloh), who reigned about
2700 B.C., gives an account of the dream which he saw, in which he was
instructed by the gods to build or rebuild the temple of Nin-Girsu in
his capital city.


                   Κ-sagila according to Herodotus.

As the chief fane in the land after Babylon became the capital, and
the type of many similar erections, Κ-sagila, the temple of Belus,
merits just a short notice. According to Herodotus, it was a massive
tower within an enclosure measuring 400 yards each way, and provided
with gates of brass, or rather bronze. The tower within consisted of a
kind of step-pyramid, the stages being seven in number (omitting the
lowest, which was the platform forming the foundation of the
structure). A winding ascent gave access to the top, where was a
chapel or shrine, containing no statue, but regarded by the
Babylonians as the abode of the god. Lower down was another shrine, in
which was placed a great statue of Zeus (Bel-Merodach) sitting, with a
large table before it. Both statue and table are said to have been of
gold, as were also the throne and the steps. Outside the sanctuary (on
the ramp, apparently) were two altars, one small and made of gold,
whereon only unweaned lambs were sacrificed, and the other larger, for
full-grown victims.


                      A Babylonian description.

In 1876 the well-known Assyriologist, Mr. George Smith, was fortunate
enough to discover a Babylonian description of this temple, of which
he published a /prιcis/. According to this document, there were two
courts of considerable extent, the smaller within the larger--neither
of them was square, but oblong. Six gates admitted to the temple-area
surrounding the platform upon which the tower was built. The platform
is stated to have been square and walled, with four gates facing the
cardinal points. Within this wall was a building connected with the
great /zikkurat/ or tower--the principal edifice--round which were
chapels or temples to the principal gods, on all four sides, and
facing the cardinal points--that to Nebo and Tašmξt being on the east,
to Aa or Κa and Nusku on the north, Anu and Bel on the south, and the
series of buildings on the west, consisting of a double house--a small
court between two wings, was evidently the shrine of Merodach (Belos).
In these western chambers stood the couch of the god, and the golden
throne mentioned by Herodotus, besides other furniture of great value.
The couch was given as being 9 cubits long by 4 broad, about as many
feet in each case, or rather more.

The centre of these buildings was the great /zikkurat/, or temple-
tower, square on its plan, and with the sides facing the cardinal
points. The lowest stage was 15 /gar/ square by 5 1/2 high (Smith, 300
feet by 110), and the wall, in accordance with the usual Babylonian
custom, seems to have been ornamented with recessed groovings. The
second stage was 13 /gar/ square by 3 in height (Smith, 260 by 60
feet). He conjectured, from the expression used, that it had sloping
sides. Stages three to five were each one /gar/ (Smith, 20 feet) high,
and respectively 10 /gar/ (Smith, 200 feet), 8 1/2 /gar/ (170 feet),
and 7 /gar/ (140 feet) square. The dimensions of the sixth stage are
omitted, probably by accident, but Smith conjectures that they were in
proportion to those which precede. His description omits also the
dimensions of the seventh stage, but he gives those of the sanctuary
of Belus, which was built upon it. This was 4 /gar/ long, 3 1/2 /gar/
broad, and 2 1/2 /gar/ high (Smith, 80 x 70 x 50 feet). He points out,
that the total height was, therefore, 15 /gar/, the same as the
dimensions of the base, i.e., the lowest platform, which would make
the total height of this world-renowned building rather more than 300
feet above the plains.


                         Other temple-towers.

Towers of a similar nature were to be found in all the great cities of
Babylonia, and it is probable that in most cases slight differences of
form were to be found. That at Niffer, for instance, seems to have had
a causeway on each side, making four approaches in the form of a
cross. But it was not every city which had a tower of seven stages in
addition to the platform on which it was erected, and some of the
smaller ones at least seem to have had sloping or rounded sides to the
basement-portion, as is indicated by an Assyrian bas-relief. Naturally
small temples, with hardly more than the rooms on the ground floor,
were to be found, but these temple-towers were a speciality of the
country.


                            Their origin.

There is some probability that, as indicated in the tenth chapter of
Genesis, the desire in building these towers was to get nearer the
Deity, or to the divine inhabitants of the heavens in general--it
would be easier there to gain attention than on the surface of the
earth. Then there was the belief, that the god to whom the place was
dedicated would come down to such a sanctuary, which thus became, as
it were, the stepping-stone between heaven and earth. Sacrifices were
also offered at these temple-towers (whether on the highest point or
not is not quite certain), in imitation of the Chaldζan Noah,
Ut-napištim, who, on coming out of the ark, made an offering /ina
zikkurat šadκ/, "on the peak of the mountain," in which passage, it is
to be noted, the word /zikkurat/ occurs with what is probably a more
original meaning.



                             CHAPTER III

                 THE BABYLONIAN STORY OF THE CREATION

This is the final development of the Babylonian creed. It has already
been pointed out that the religion of the Babylonians in all
probability had two stages before arriving at that in which the god
Merodach occupied the position of chief of the pantheon, the two
preceding heads having been, seemingly, Anu, the god of the heavens,
and Κa or Aa, also called Enki, the god of the abyss and of deep
wisdom. In order to show this, and at the same time to give an idea of
their theory of the beginning of things, a short paraphrase of the
contents of the seven tablets will be found in the following pages.


                      An Embodiment of doctrine.

As far as our knowledge goes, the doctrines incorporated in this
legend would seem to show the final official development of the
beliefs held by the Babylonians, due, in all probability, to the
priests of Babylon after that city became the capital of the federated
states. Modifications of their creed probably took place, but nothing
seriously affecting it, until after the abandonment of Babylon in the
time of Seleucus Nicator, 300 B.C. or thereabouts, when the deity at
the head of the pantheon seems not to have been Merodach, but Anu-Bκl.
This legend is therefore the most important document bearing upon the
beliefs of the Babylonians from the end of the third millennium B.C.
until that time, and the philosophical ideas which it contains seem to
have been held, in a more or less modified form, among the remnants
who still retained the old Babylonian faith, until the sixth century
of the present era, as the record by Damascius implies. Properly
speaking, it is not a record of the creation, but the story of the
fight between Bel and the Dragon, to which the account of the creation
is prefixed by way of introduction.


                       Water the first creator.

The legend begins by stating that, when the heavens were unnamed and
the earth bore no name, the primζval ocean was the producer of all
things, and Mummu Tiawath (the sea) she who brought forth everything
existing. Their waters (that is, of the primζval ocean and of the sea)
were all united in one, and neither plains nor marshes were to be
seen; the gods likewise did not exist, even in name, and the fates
were undetermined--nothing had been decided as to the future of
things. Then arose the great gods. Lahmu and Lahame came first,
followed, after a long period, by Anšar and Kišar, generally
identified with the "host of heaven" and the "host of earth," these
being the meanings of the component parts of their names. After a
further long period of days, there came forth their son Anu, the god
of the heavens.


                              The gods.

Here the narrative is defective, and is continued by Damascius in his
/Doubts and Solutions of the First Principles/, in which he states
that, after Anos (Anu), come Illinos (Ellila or Bel, "the lord" /par
excellence/) and Aos (Aa, Ae, or Κa), the god of Eridu. Of Aos and
Daukι (the Babylonian Aa and Damkina) is born, he says, a son called
Belos (Bel-Merodach), who, they (apparently the Babylonians) say, is
the fabricator of the world--the creator.


                      The designs against them.

At this point Damascius ends his extract, and the Babylonian tablet
also becomes extremely defective. The next deity to come into
existence, however, would seem to have been Nudimmud, who was
apparently the deity Aa or Κa (the god of the sea and of rivers) as
the god of creation. Among the children of Tauthι (Tiawath) enumerated
by Damascius is one named Moumis, who was evidently referred to in the
document at that philosopher's disposal. If this be correct, his name,
under the form of Mummu, probably existed in one of the defective
lines of the first portion of this legend--in any case, his name
occurs later on, with those of Tiawath and Apsu (the Deep), his
parents, and the three seem to be compared, to their disadvantage,
with the progeny of Lahmu and Lahame, the gods on high. As the ways of
these last were not those of Tiawath's brood, and Apsu complained that
he had no peace by day nor rest by night on account of their
proceedings, the three representatives of the chaotic deep, Tiawath,
Apsu, and Mummu, discussed how they might get rid the beings who
wished to rise to higher things. Mummu was apparently the prime mover
in the plot, and the face of Apsu grew bright at the thought of the
evil plan which they had devised against "the gods their sons." The
inscription being very mutilated here, its full drift cannot be
gathered, but from the complete portions which come later it would
seem that Mummu's plan was not a remarkably cunning one, being simply
to make war upon and destroy the gods of heaven.


                       Tiawath's preparations.

The preparations made for this were elaborate. Restlessly, day and
night, the powers of evil raged and toiled, and assembled for the
fight. 'Mother Hubur," as Tiawath is named in this passage, called her
creative powers into action, and gave her followers irresistible
weapons. She brought into being also various monsters--giant serpents,
sharp of tooth, bearing stings, and with poison filling their bodies
like blood; terrible dragons endowed with brilliance, and of enormous
stature, reared on high, raging dogs, scorpion-men, fish-men, and many
other terrible beings, were created and equipped, the whole being
placed under the command of a deity named Kingu, whom she calls her
"only husband," and to whom she delivers the tablets of fate, which
conferred upon him the godhead of Anu (the heavens), and enabled their
possessor to determine the gates among the gods her sons.


                         Kingu replaces Absu.

The change in the narrative which comes in here suggests that this is
the point at which two legends current in Babylonia were united.
Henceforward we hear nothing more of Apsu, the begetter of all things,
Tiawath's spouse, nor of Mummu, their son. In all probability there is
good reason for this, and inscriptions will doubtless ultimately be
found which will explain it, but until then it is only natural to
suppose that two different legends have been pieced together to form a
harmonious whole.


                            Tiawath's aim.

As will be gathered from the above, the story centres in the wish of
the goddess of the powers of evil and her kindred to retain creation--
the forming of all living things--in her own hands. As Tiawath means
"the sea," and Apsu "the deep," it is probable that this is a kind of
allegory personifying the productive power seen in the teeming life of
the ocean, and typifying the strange and wonderful forms found
therein, which were symbolical, to the Babylonian mind, of chaos and
confusion, as well as of evil.


                   The gods hear of the conspiracy.

Aa, or Κa, having learned of the plot of Tiawath and her followers
against the gods of heaven, naturally became filled with anger, and
went and told the whole to Anšar, his father, who in his turn gave way
to his wrath, and uttered cries of the deepest grief. After
considering what they would do, Anšar applied to his son Anu, "the
mighty and brave," saying that, if he would only speak to her, the
great dragon's anger would be assuaged, and her rage disappear. In
obedience to this behest, Anu went to try his power with the monster,
but on beholding her snarling face, feared to approach her, and turned
back. Nudimmud was next called upon to become the representative of
the gods against their foe, but his success was as that of Anu, and it
became needful to seek another champion.


                And choose Merodach as their champion.

The choice fell upon Merodach, the Belus (Bel-Merodach) of Damascius's
paraphrase, and at once met with an enthusiastic reception. The god
asked simply that an "unchangeable command" might be given to him--
that whatever he ordained should without fail come to pass, in order
that he might destroy the common enemy. Invitations were sent to the
gods asking them to a festival, where, having met together, they ate
and drank, and "decided the fate" for Merodach their avenger,
apparently meaning that he was decreed their defender in the conflict
with Tiawath, and that the power of creating and annihilating by the
word of his mouth was his. Honours were then conferred upon him;
princely chambers were erected for him, wherein he sat as judge "in
the presence of his fathers," and the rule over the whole universe was
given to him. The testing of his newly acquired power followed. A
garment was placed in their midst:

  "He spake with his mouth, and the garment was destroyed,
  He spake to it again, and the garment was reproduced."


                      Merodach proclaimed king.

On this proof of the reality of the powers conferred on him, all the
gods shouted "Merodach is king!" and handed to him sceptre, throne,
and insignia of royalty. An irresistible weapon, which should shatter
all his enemies, was then given to him, and he armed himself also with
spear or dart, bow, and quiver; lightning flashed before him, and
flaming fire filled his body. Anu, the god of the heavens, had given
him a great net, and this he set at the four cardinal points, in order
that nothing of the dragon, when he had defeated her, should escape.
Seven winds he then created to accompany him, and the great weapon
called /Abubu/, "the Flood," completed his equipment. All being ready,
he mounted his dreadful, irresistible chariot, to which four steeds
were yoked--steeds unsparing, rushing forward, rapid in flight, their
teeth full of venom, foam-covered, experienced in galloping, schooled
in overthrowing. Being now ready for the fray, Merodach fared forth to
meet Tiawath, accompanied by the fervent good wishes of "the gods his
fathers."


                       The fight with Tiawath.

Advancing, he regarded Tiawath's retreat, but the sight of the enemy
was so menacing that even the great Merodach (if we understand the
text rightly) began to falter. This, however, was not for long, and
the king of the gods stood before Tiawath, who, on her side, remained
firm and undaunted. In a somewhat long speech, in which he reproaches
Tiawath for her rebellion, he challenges her to battle, and the two
meet in fiercest fight. To all appearance the type of all evil did not
make use of honest weapons, but sought to overcome the king of the
gods with incantations and charms. These, however, had not the
slightest effect, for she found herself at once enclosed in Merodach's
net, and on opening her mouth to resist and free herself, the evil
wind, which Merodach had sent on before him, entered, so that she
could not close her lips, and thus inflated, her heart was
overpowered, and she became a prey to her conqueror. Having cut her
asunder and taken out her heart, thus destroying her life, he threw
her body down and stood thereon. Her followers then attempted to
escape, but found themselves surrounded and unable to get forth. Like
their mistress, they were thrown into the net, and sat in bonds, being
afterwards shut up in prison. As for Kingu, he was raised up, bound,
and delivered to be with Ugga, the god of death. The tablets of fate,
which Tiawath had delivered to Kingu, were taken from him by Merodach,
who pressed his seal upon them, and placed them in his breast. The
deity Anšar, who had been, as it would seem, deprived of his rightful
power by Tiawath, received that power again on the death of the common
foe, and Nudimmud "saw his desire upon his enemy."


                           Tiawath's fate.

The dismemberment of Tiawath then followed, and her veins having been
cut through, the north wind was caused by the deity to carry her blood
away into secret places, a statement which probably typifies the
opening of obstructions which prevent the rivers flowing from the
north from running into the southern seas, helped thereto by the north
wind. Finally her body was divided, like "a /mašdκ/-fish," into two
parts, one of which was made into a covering for the heavens--the
"waters above the firmament" of Genesis i. 7.


                   Merodach orders the world anew.

Then came the ordering of the universe anew. Having made a covering
for the heavens with half the body of the defeated Dragon of Chaos,
Merodach set the Abyss, the abode of Nudimmud, in front, and made a
corresponding edifice above--the heavens--where he founded stations
for the gods Anu, Bel, and Ae. Stations for the great gods in the
likeness of constellations, together with what is regarded as the
Zodiac, were his next work. He then designated the year, setting three
constellations for each month, and made a station for Nibiru--
Merodach's own star--as the overseer of all the lights in the
firmament. He then caused the new moon, Nannaru, to shine, and made
him the ruler of the night, indicating his phases, one of which was on
the seventh day, and the other, a /šabattu/, or day of rest, in the
middle of the month. Directions with regard to the moon's movements
seem to follow, but the record is mutilated, and their real nature
consequently doubtful. With regard to other works which were performed
we have no information, as a gap prevents their being ascertained.
Something, however, seems to have been done with Merodach's net--
probably it was placed in the heavens as a constellation, as was his
bow, to which several names were given. Later on, the winds were bound
and assigned to their places, but the account of the arrangement of
other things is mutilated and obscure, though it can be recognised
that the details in this place were of considerable interest.


                         The creation of man.

To all appearance the gods, after he had ordered the universe and the
things then existing, urged Merodach to further works of wonder.
Taking up their suggestion, he considered what he should do, and then
communicated to his father Ae his plan for the creation of man with
his own blood, in order that the service and worship of the gods might
be established. This portion is also unfortunately very imperfect, and
the details of the carrying out of the plan are entirely wanting.


                  Berosus' narrative fills the gap.

It is noteworthy that this portion of the narrative has been preserved
by Abydenus, George the Syncellus, and Eusebius, in their quotations
from Berosus. According to this Chaldζan writer, there was a woman
named Omoroca, or, in Chaldζan, Thalatth (apparently a mistake for
Thauatth, i.e. Tiawath), whose name was equivalent to the Greek
Thalassa, the sea. It was she who had in her charge all the strange
creatures then existing. At this period, Belus (Bel-Merodach) came,
and cut the woman asunder, forming out of one half the earth, and of
the other the heavens, at the same time destroying all the creatures
which were within her--all this being an allegory, for the whole
universe consists of moisture, and creatures are constantly generated
therein. The deity then cut off his own head, and the other gods mixed
the blood, as it gushed out, with the earth, and from this men were
formed. Hence it is that men are rational, and partake of divine
knowledge.


                          A second creation.

This Belsus, "who is called Zeus," divided the darkness, separated the
heavens from the earth, and reduced the universe to order. The animals
which had been created, however, not being able to bear the light,
died. Belus then, seeing the void thus made, ordered one of the gods
to take off his head, and mix the blood with the soil, forming other
men and animals which should be able to bear the light. He also formed
the stars, the sun, the moon, and the five planets. It would thus seem
that there were two creations, the first having been a failure because
Belus had not foreseen that it was needful to produce beings which
should be able to bear the light. Whether this repetition was really
in the Babylonian legend, or whether Berosus (or those who quote him)
has merely inserted and united two varying accounts, will only be
known when the cuneiform text is completed.


                        The concluding tablet.

The tablet of the fifty-one names completes the record of the tablets
found at Nineveh and Babylon. In this Merodach receives the titles of
all the other gods, thus identifying him with them, and leading to
that tendency to monotheism of which something will be said later on.
In this text, which is written, like the rest of the legend, in
poetical form, Merodach is repeatedly called /Tutu/, a mystic word
meaning "creator," and "begetter," from the reduplicate root /tu/ or
/utu/--which was to all appearances his name when it was desired to
refer to him especially in that character. Noteworthy in this portion
is the reference to Merodach's creation of mankind:--

Line 25. "Tuto: Aga-azaga (the glorious crown)--may he make the crowns
         glorious.
     26. The lord of the glorious incantation bringing the dead to
         life;
     27. He who had mercy on the gods who had been overpowered;
     28. Made heavy the yoke which he had laid on the gods who were
         his enemies,
     29. (And) to redeem(?) them, created mankind.
     30. 'The merciful one,' 'he with whom is salvation,'
     31. May his word be established, and not forgotten,
     32. In the mouth of the black-headed ones[*] whom his hands have
         made."

[*] I.e. mankind.


                          Man the redeemer.

The phrase "to redeem them" is, in the original, /ana padi-šunu/, the
verb being from /padϋ/, "to spare," "set free," and if this rendering
be correct, as seems probable, the Babylonian reasons for the creation
of mankind would be, that they might carry on the service and worship
of the gods, and by their righteousness redeem those enemies of the
gods who were undergoing punishment for their hostility. Whether by
this Tiawath, Apsu, Mummu, Kingu, and the monsters whom she had
created were included, or only the gods of heaven who had joined her,
the record does not say. Naturally, this doctrine depends entirely
upon the correctness of the translation of the words quoted. Jensen,
who first proposed this rendering, makes no attempt to explain it, and
simply asks: "Does 'them' in 'to redeem(?) them' refer to the gods
named in line 28 or to mankind and then to a future--how meant?--
redemption? Eschatology? Zimmern's 'in their place' unprovable.
Delitzsch refrains from an explanation."


     The bilingual account of the creation. Aruru aids Merodach.

Whilst dealing with this part of the religious beliefs of the
Babylonians, a few words are needed concerning the creation-story
which is prefixed to an incantation used in a purification ceremony.
The original text is Sumerian (dialectic), and is provided with a
Semitic translation. In this inscription, after stating that nothing
(in the beginning) existed, and even the great cities and temples of
Babylonia were as yet unbuilt, the condition of the world is briefly
indicated by the statement that "All the lands were sea." The renowned
cities of Babylonia seem to have been regarded as being as much
creations of Merodach as the world and its inhabitants--indeed, it is
apparently for the glorification of those cities by attributing their
origin to Merodach, that the bilingual account of the creation was
composed.. "When within the sea there was a stream"--that is, when the
veins of Tiawath had been cut through--Κridu (probably = Paradise) and
the temple Κ-sagila within the Abyss were constructed, and after that
Babylon and the earthly temple of Κ-sagila within it. Then he made the
gods and the Annunnaki (the gods of the earth), proclaimed a glorious
city as the seat of the joy of their hearts, and afterwards made a
pleasant place in which the gods might dwell. The creation of mankind
followed, in which Merodach was aided by the goddess Aruru, who made
mankind's seed. Finally, plants, trees, and the animals, were
produced, after which Merodach constructed bricks, beams, houses, and
cities, including Niffer and Erech with their renowned temples.

We see here a change in the teaching with regard to Merodach--the gods
are no longer spoken of as "his fathers," but he is the creator of the
gods, as well as of mankind.


            The order of the gods in the principal lists.

It is unfortunate that no lists of gods have been found in a
sufficiently complete state to allow of the scheme after which they
were drawn up to be determined without uncertainty. It may,
nevertheless, be regarded as probable that these lists, at least in
some cases, are arranged in conformity (to a certain extent) with the
appearance of the deities in the so-called creation-story. Some of
them begin with Anu, and give him various names, among them being
Anšar and Kišar, Lahmu and Lahame, etc. More specially interesting,
however, is a well-known trilingual list of gods, which contains the
names of the various deities in the following order:--

                  EXTRACTS FROM THE TRILINGUAL LIST
                              /Obverse/

    Sumer. Dialect      Sumer. Standard     Common              Explanation
                                            (Semit. or Sumer.)

 1. Dimmer              Dingir              Ξlu                 God.
 2. U-ki                En-ki               Κ-a                 Κa or Aa.
 3. Gašan(?)-ki         Nin-ki              Dawkina             Daukι, the consort of Κa.
 4. Mu-ul-lil           En-lil-la           Bκl                 The God Bel.
 5. E-lum               A-lim               Bκl
 6. Gašan(?)-lil        Nin-lil-la          dam-bi sal          Bel's consort.
 7. U-lu-a              Ni-rig              Κnu-rκštu           The god of Niffer.
 8. U-lib-a             Ni-rig              Κnu-rκštu

9-12 have Κnu-rκštu's consort, sister, and attendant.

13. U-šab-sib           En-šag-duga         Nusku               Nusku

14-19 have two other names of Nusku, followed by three names of his
    consort. A number of names of minor divinities then follow. At
    line 43 five names of Κa are given, followed by four of
    Merodach:--

48. U-bi-lu-lu          En-bi-lu-lu         Marduk              Merodach
49. U-Tin-dir ki        En-Tin-dir ki       Marduk              Merodach as "lord of Babylon."
50. U-dimmer-an-kia     En-dinger-an-kia    Marduk              Merodach as "lord god of heaven and earth."
51. U-ab-šar-u          En-ab-šar-u         Marduk              Merodach, apparently as "lord of the 36,000 steers."
52. U-bar-gi-si         Nin-bar-gi-si       Zer-panξtum         Merodach's consort.
53. Gašan-abzu          Nin-abzu            dam-bi sal          "the Lady of the Abyss," his consort.

The remainder of the obverse is mutilated, but gave the names of Nebo
in Sumerian, and apparently also of Tašmκtum, his consort. The
beginning of the reverse also is mutilated, but seems to have given
the names of the sun-god, Šamaš, and his consort, followed by those of
Kξttu and Mκšarum, "justice and righteousness," his attendants. Other
interesting names are:

                              /Reverse/

 8. U-libir-si          En-ubar-si          Dumu-zi             Tammuz
 9. Sir-tumu            Sir-du              ama Dumuzi-gi       the mother of Tammuz
12. Gašan-anna          Innanna             Ištar               Ištar (Venus) as "lady of heaven."
20.                     Nin-si-anna         Innanna mul         Ištar the star (the planet Venus).
21. Nin                 Nin-tag-taga        Nanaa               a goddess identified with Ištar.
23. U-šah               Nina-šah            Pap-sukal           the gods' messenger.
24. U-banda             Lugal-banda         Lugal-banda
26. U-Mersi             Nin-Girsu           Nin-Girsu           the chief god of Lagaš.
27. Ma-sib-sib          Ga-tum-duga         Bau                 Bau, a goddess identified with Gula.

Four non-Semitic names of Gula follow, of which that in line 31 is the
most interesting:--

31. Gašan-ti-dibba      Nin-tin-guua        Gula                "the lady saving from death."
33. Gašan-ki-gal        Ereš-ki-gala        Allatu              Persephone.
36. U-mu-zi-da          Nin-giš-zi-da       Nin-giš-zida        "the lord of the everlasting tree."
37. U-urugal            Ne-eri-gal          Nerigal             Nergal.
42. Mulu-hursag         Galu-hursag         Amurru              the Amorite god.
43. Gašan-gu-edina      Nin-gu-edina                            (apparently the consort of Amurru).

In all probability this list is one of comparatively late date, though
its chronological position with regard to the others is wholly
uncertain--it may not be later, and may even be earlier, than those
beginning with Anu, the god of the heavens. The important thing about
it is, that it begins with /ξlu/, god, in general, which is written,
in the standard dialect (that of the second column) with the same
character as that used for the name of Anu. After this comes Aa or Κa,
the god of the earth, and his consort, followed by En-lilla, the older
Bel--Illinos in Damascius. The name of Κa is repeated again in line 43
and following, where he is apparently re-introduced as the father of
Merodach, whose names immediately follow. This peculiarity is also
found in other lists of gods and is undoubtedly a reflection of the
history of the Babylonian religion. As this list replaces Anu by
/ξlu/, it indicates the rule of Enki or Κa, followed by that of
Merodach, who, as has been shown, became the chief divinity of the
Babylonian pantheon in consequence of Babylon having become the
capital of the country.

  THE RELIGION OF
                        BABYLONIA AND ASSYRIA

                                  BY

                     THEOPHILUS G. PINCHES, LL.D.
 
 http://www.sacred-texts.com/index.htm

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