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Full text of "The Religion Of Babylonia And Assyria"

RELIGIONS ANCIENT AND MODERN 



THE RELIGION OF 
BABYLONIA AND ASSYRIA 



THE RELIGION* OF 
BABYLONIA AND ASSYRIA 



By 

THEOPHILUS G. PINCHES, LL.D. 

LECTURER IN ASSYRIAN AT UNIVERSITY COLLEGE, LONDON, 

AUTHOR OF C THE OLD TESTAMENT IN THE LIGHT OF THE 

RECORDS OF ASSYRIA AND BABYLONIA * 5 ' THE BRONZE 

ORNAMENTS OF THE PALACE GATES OF BALEWAT ' 

ETC. ETC. 



LONDON 
ARCHIBALD CONSTABLE &r CO LTD 

16 JAMES STREET HAYMARKET 
1906 



Edinburgh : T. and A CONSTABLE, Printers to His Majesty 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

CHAPTER i. FOREWORD, . . 1-9 

Position and period of the Babylonian and 
Assyrian Religion ; by whom followed ; and 
the importance of the study. 

CHAPTER n. THE NATURE OF THE BABYLONIAN 

AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION, .... 10-29 

The people, their script, and its evidence. The 
earliest form of their creed. Idols and 
sacred objects. Holy places. Temples and 
temple-towers, The Tower of Babel. 

CHAPTER in. THE BABYLONIAN STORY OF THE 

CREATION, 30-49 

Water the first creator. The gods. Tiawath 
and her followers make war against them. 
Merodach, made king of the gods, overcomes 
Tiawath, and becomes the great Creator, 
Man the redeemer. The bilingual account 
of the Creation. The order of the gocE-Tin 
the principal lists. 

CHAPTER iv THE PRINCIPAL GODS OF THE 

BABYLONIANS AND ASSYRIANS, . . . 50-106 

Anu, Bel, Beltis, Merodach, Zer-panitu m , Nebo, 
Tas*mtu m , Samas* and his consort, Tammuz 



vi CONTENTS 

PAGE 

and IStar, Ere3-ki-gal and Nergal, Sin 
or Nannara, Addu or Rammanu, A&sur, 
etc , etc. The minor divinities. The gods 
and the heavenly bodies. 

CHAPTER v. TEE DEMONS : EXORCISMS AND 

CEREMONIES, 107-116 

UttuJcka, dlti, fidimmu, gallu. Lilu and Ullthu. 
Namtaru, etc. An incantation. Eites 
and ceremonies 

CHAPTER vi. PROBLEMS WHICH THE STUDY 

OFFERS, . . . ,117-125 

Monotheism, Dualism, Monism. The future 
life. 



PRONUNCIATION OF BABYLONIAN DIVINE 

NAMES 

Vowels as in Italian. G- always hard, ."= Scotch ch 
P often pronounced as / (ph\ and t as th. T emphatic. 8 is 
a hissing s (sometimes transcribed as $). S is the Heb. sh 
and s the Heb. 5, but were probably pronounced conversely. 
M and w are expressed by the same characters Twwath or 
Tiamat, Dawkina, or DamUna t etc. (the G-reek and other 
transcriptions favour w). 



THE RELIGION OF THE 

BABYLONIANS AND ASSYRIANS 

CHAPTER I 

FOBEWORD 

Position, and Period. The religion of the 
Babylonians and Assyrians was the polytheistic 
faith professed by the peoples inhabiting the 
Tigris and Euphrates valleys from what may be 
regarded as the dawn of history until the Chris- 
tian era began, or, at least, until the inhabitants 
were brought under the influence of Christianity. 
The chronological period covered may be roughly 
estimated at about 5000 years. The belief of 
the people, at the end of that time, being 
Babylonian heathenism leavened with Judaism, 
the country was probably ripe for the reception 
of the new faith. Christianity, however, by no 
means replaced the earlier polytheism, as is 
evidenced by the fact, that the^worship of Nebo 



BABYLONIAN" AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION 

and tlie gods associated with, him continued until 
the fourth century of the Christian era. 

By whom followed. It was the faith of two 
distinct peoples the Sumero- Akkadians, and the 
Assyro-Babylonians. In what country it had its 
beginnings is unknown it comes before us, even 
at the earliest period, as a faith already well- 
developed, and from that fact, as well as from 
the names of the numerous deities, it is clear 
that it began with the former race the Sumero- 
Akkadians who spoke a non-Semitic language 
largely affected by phonetic decay, and in which 
the grammatical forms had in certain cases become 
confused to such an extent that those who study 
it ask themselves whether the people who spoke 
it were able to understand each other without 
recourse to devices such as the ' tones ' to which 
the Chinese resort. With few exceptions, the 
names of the gods which the inscriptions reveal 
to us are all derived from this non-Semitic 
language, which furnishes us with satisfactory 
etymologfe for such names as Merodach, Nergal, 
Sin, and the divinities mentioned in Berosus and 
Damascius (see pp. 32, 41, 42), as well as those of 
hundreds of deities revealed to us by the tablets 
and slabs of Babylonia and Assyria. 

The documents. Outside the inscriptions of 
2 



FOREWORD 

Babylonia and Assyria, there is but little bearing 
upon the religion of those countries, the most im- 
portant fragment being the extracts from Berosus 
and Daraascius referred to above. Among the 
Babylonian and Assyrian remains, however, we 
have an extensive and valuable mass of material, 
dating from the fourth or fifth millennium before 
Christ until the disappearance of the Babylonian 
system of writing about the beginning of the 
Christian era. The earlier inscriptions are mostly 
of the nature of records, and give information 
about the deities and the religion of the people 
in the course of descriptions of the building and 
rebuilding of temples, the making of offerings, 
the performance of ceremonies, etc. Purely re- 
ligious inscriptions are found near the end of the 
third millennium before Christ, and occur in con- 
siderable numbers, either in the original Sumeriaa 
text, or in translations, or both, until about the 
third century before Christ. Among the more 
recent inscriptions those from the library of the 
Assyrian king Assur-bani-apli and "the later 
Babylonian temple archives, there are many 
lists of deities, with numerous identifications with 
each other and with ths heavenly bodies, and 
explanations of their nature. It is needless to say 
that all this material is of enormous value for 
3 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN KELIGION 

the study of tlie religion of the Babylonians and 
Assyrians, and enables us to reconstruct at first 
hand their mythological system, and note the 
changes which took place in the course of their 
long national existence. Many interesting and 
entertaining legends illustrate and supplement 
the information given by the bilingual lists of 
gods, the bilingual incantations and hymns, and 
the references contained in the historical and 
other documents A trilingual list of gods (see 
pp. 46-48) enables us also to recognise, in some 
cases, the dialectic forms of their names. 

The importance of the subject. Of equal 
antiquity with the religion of Egypt, that of 
Babylonia and Assyria possesses some marked 
differences as to its development. Beginning 
among the non-Semitic Sumero-Akkadian popu- 
lation, it maintained for a long time its uninter- 
rupted development, affected mainly by influences 
from within, namely, the homogeneous local cults 
which acted and reacted upon each other. The 
religious systems of other nations did not greatly 
affect the development of the early non-Semitic 
religious system of Babylonia. A time at last 
came, however, when the influence of the Semitic 
inhabitants of Babylonia and Assyria was not to 
be gainsaid, and from that moment, the develop- 
4 



FOREWORD 

ment of their religion took another turn. In all 
probability this augmentation of Semitic religious 
influence was due to the increased numbers of 
the Semitic population, and at the same period 
the Sumero-Akkadian language began to give 
way to the Semitic idiom which they spoke. 
When at last the Semitic Babylonian language 
came to be used for official documents, we find 
that, although the non-Semitic divine names are 
in the main preserved, a certain number of them 
have been displaced by the Semitic equivalent 
names, such as Samag for the sun-god, with 
KiUu and M$$a/nL ('justice and righteousness 7 ) 
his attendants; Nabfi, ( f the teacher * = Nebo) with 
his consort TasmStu ( c the hearer ') ; Addu, Adad, 
or Dadu, and Ramwianu, Ramimu, or Ragimu = 
Hadad or Rimmon ('the thunderer'), B$l and 
Beltu (J?e^='the lord' and 'the lady' par 
excellence), with some others of inferior rank In 
place of the chief divinity of each state at the 
head of each separate pantheon, the tendency was 
to make Merodach, the god of the capital city 
Babylon, the head of the pantheon, and he seems 
to have been universally accepted in Babylonia, 
like Assur in Assyria, about 2000 B.C. or earlier. 

The uniting of two pantheons.- We thus find 
two pantheons, the Sumero-Akkadian with its 
5 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION 

many gods, and the Semitic Babylonian with 
its comparatively few, united, and forming one 
apparently homogeneous whole. But the creed 
had taken a fresh tendency. It was no longer a 
series of small, and to a certain extent antagonistic, 
pantheons composed of the chief god, his consort, 
attendants, children, and servants, but a pantheon 
of considerable extent, containing all the elements 
of the primitive but smaller pantheons, with a 
number of great gods who had raised Merodach 
to be their king. 

In Assyria. Whilst accepting the religion of 
Babylonia, Assyria nevertheless kept herself dis- 
tinct from her southern neighbour by a very 
simple device, namely, by placing at the head 
of the pantheon the god Assur, who became for 
her the chief of the gods, and at the same time 
the emblem of her distinct national aspirations 
for Assyria had no intention whatever of casting 
in her lot with her southern neighbour. Never- 
theless, Assyria possessed, along with the language 
of Babylonia, all the literature of that country 
indeed, it is from the libraries of her kings that 
we obtain the best copies of the Babylonian 
religious texts, treasured and preserved by her 
with all the veneration of which her religious 
mind was capable, and the religious fervour of 
6 



FOKEWOBD 

the Oriental in most cases leaves that of the 
European, or at least of the ordinary Briton, far 
behind 

The later period in Assyria. Assyria went to 
her downfall at the end of the seventh century 
before Christ worshipping her national god Assur, 
whose cult did not cease with the destruction of 
her national independence. In fact, the city of 
Assur, the centre of that worship, continued to 
exist for a considerable period ; but for the history 
of the religion of Assyria, as preserved there, we 
wait for the result of the excavations being carried 
on by the Germans, should they be fortunate 
enough to obtain texts belonging to the period 
following the fall of Nineveh 

In Babylonia Babylonia, on the other hand, 
continued the even tenor of her way. More 
successful at the end of her independent political 
career than her northern rival had been, she 
retained her faith, and remained the unswerving 
worshipper of Merodach, the great god of Babylon, 
to whom her priests attributed yet greater powers, 
and with whom all the other gods were to all 
appearance identified. This tendency to mono- 
theism, however, never reached the culminating 
point never became absolute except, naturally, 
in the minds of those who, dissociating them- 
7 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYKIAN EELIGION 

selves, for philosophical reasons, from, the super- 
stitious teaching of the priests of Babylonia, 
decided for themselves that there was but one 
God, and worshipped Him. That orthodox Jews 
at that period may have found, in consequence 
of this monotheistic tendency, converts, is not 
by any means improbable indeed, the names 
met with during the later period imply that 
converts to Judaism were made. 

The picture presented by tlie study. Thus we 
see, from the various inscriptions, both Babylonian 
and Assyrian the former of an extremely early 
period the growth and development, with at least 
one branching off, of one of the most important 
religious systems of the ancient world. It is not 
so important for modern religion as the develop- 
ment of the beliefs of the Hebrews, but as the 
creed of the people from which the Hebrew 
nation sprang, and from which, therefore, it had 
its beginnings, both corporeal and spiritual, it is 
such as no student of modern religious systems 
can afford to neglect. Its legends, and therefore 
its teachings, as will be seen in these pages, 
ultimately permeated the Semitic West, and may 
in some cases even have penetrated Europe, not 
only through heathen Greece, but also through 
the early Christians, who, being so many centuries 



FOREWORD 

nearer the time of the Assyro-Babylonians, and 
also nearer the territory which they anciently 
occupied, than we are, were far better acquainted 
than the people of the present day with the 
legends and ideas which they possessed. 



CHAPTER II 

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 likely. Equally un- 
certain 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 
10 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION 

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 t i Amorite,' is of frequent occurrence also 
before this period. The eastern Mediterranean 
coast district, including Palestine and the neigh- 
bouring 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 contain- 
ing the names of many Babylonian divinities is 
therefore not to be wondered at, and the pre- 
sence 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 its origin. This, however, is 
ii 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION 

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, more- 
over, impossible, and if Ea, the god of the deep, 
and Anu, the god of the heavens, have their 
12 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION 

representatives among the heavenly bodies, this 
is probably the result of later development l 

Ancestor and hero-worship. The deification 
of kings. Though there is no proof that ancestor- ~ 
worship in general prevailed at any time in Baby- 
lonia, 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-Baby Ionian 
inscriptions ; and other examples, occurring in 
semi-mythological times, are En-we-dur-an-ki, 
the Greek Edoreschos, and Gilgame, the Greek 
Gilgamos, though Aelian's story of the latter does 
not fit in with the account as given by the inscrip- 
tions. In later times, the divine prefix is found 
before the names of many a Babylonian ruler 
Sargon of Agade, 2 Dungi of Ur (about 2500 B.C.), 
Rim-Sin or Eri-Aku (Arioch of ELlasar, about 

1 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 identifica- 
tion with the heavenly bodies was introduced during the 
period of his reign. 

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

13 



BABYLONIAN" AND ASSYEIAN RELIGION 

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 deifica- 
tion 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-napistim, 
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 Gilgames, 
on the other hand, was half divine by birth, 
though it is not exactly known through whom 
his divinity came. 

The earliest form of the Babylonian religion. 
The state of development to which the religious 
14 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION 

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, was Merodach , at Sippar and Larsa 
the sungod &amas was worshipped, at Ur the 
moongod Sin or Nannar; at Erech and D6r the 
god of the heavens, Anu; at Muru, Ennigi, and 
Kakru, the god of the atmosphere, Hadad or 
Rimmon ; at firidu, the god of the deep, Aa or Ea ; 
at Niffur l the god Bel ; at Cuthah the god of war, 
Nergal, at Dailem the god Uras; at Kis the god 
of battle, Zagaga; Lugal-Amarda, the king of 

1 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. 

15 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION 

Marad, at the city so called, at Opis Zakar, 
one of the gods of dreams, at Agade, Nineveh, 
and Arbela, Istar, 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-panltu m , 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. 

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 Ea, 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 Der, Ami's seat, and 
whether Der was succeeded by firidu, of which 
city Ea was the patron concerning the import- 
ance of Babylon, Merodaeh's city, later on, there 
16 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION 

Is no doubt whatever. The rise of Anu and Ea 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 con- 
cerning 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 Baby- 
lonians 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 rivers and streams, was regarded 
as animated with the spirit of Ea 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, 
B 17 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION 

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 ecfommik, utukku, sedu, aiakku (spirit of 
fevers), namtaru (spirit of fate), 6JA (regarded as 
the spirit of the south wind), gallu, rabisu, lalartu, 
labasu, a^azy,, (the seizer), lilu and Ulftthu 
(male and female spirits of the mist), with their 
attendants. 1 

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 btt tti 
or bethel a f 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 pre- 
historic times. Whilst, therefore, there are traces 

1 See Chapter v. 

18 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYEIAN RELIGION 

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 haye 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 Baby- 
lonians, 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 
19 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYEIAN RELIGION 

objects. As lias been already pointed out, the 
$L07reTpr)<; 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 representa- 
tives 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 Enu-restu (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' 1 
coming forth on the mountain, recalling the 
sacred rocks at Jerusalem and Mecca Boundary- 
stones in Babylonia were not sacred objects ex- 
cept in so far as they were sculptured with the 
signs of the gods. 2 With regard to the Baby- 
lonian bethels, very little can be said, their true 
nature being uncertain, and their number, to 

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

2 Notwithstanding medical' opinion, their phallic origin is 
doubtful. One is sculptured in the form of an Eastern castel- 
lated fortress. 

20 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYEIAN BELIGION 

all appearance, small. Gifts were made to them, 
and from this fact it would seem that they were 
temples true ' houses of god/ in factprobably 
containing an image of the deity, rather than a 
stone similar to those referred to in the Old 
Testament. 

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 Baby- 
lonians 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 pas- 
sions attributed to the gods of Babylonia in 
Herodotus be of early date or not is uncertain 
a late period, when the religion began to de- 
generate, would seem to be the more probable. 

The adoration of sacred objeets.-It is prob- 
able 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 constella- 
tion, etc. The cities where the gods dwelt on 
earth, their temples, their couches, the chariot of 

21 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYKIAN RELIGION 

the sun In his temple-cities, and everything exist- 
ing 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 fia), the god of the ocean. 

Holy places. In a country which was origin- 
ally 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 homo- 
geneous whole. 

An interesting list, One of the most interest- 
ing 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 

22 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION 

on to enumerate, in turn, Tilmun (identified with 
the island of Bahrein in the Persian Gulf) ; En- 
gurra (the Abyss, the abode of Enki or Ea), with 
numerous temples and shrines, including ' the 
holy house/ 'the temple of the seer of heaven 
and earth/ 'the abode of Zer-panitu m / 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 Baby- 
lonia, moreover, were sacred places, the chief in 
renown and importance in later days being the 
great city of Babylon, where E-sagila, c 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 
23 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION 

traditional foundation, E-zida 'the everlasting 
temple/ in Borsippa (the Birs Nimroud) not- 
withstanding 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/ 
fi-sagila in Babylon, the honour of being the 
site of the confusion of tongues and the disper- 
sion of mankind. There is no doubt, however, 
that fi-sagila has the prior claim, it being the 
temple of the supreme god of the later Baby- 
lonian pantheon, the counterpart of the God of 
the Hebrews who commanded the changing of 
the speech of the people assembled there. Sup- 
posing 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. E-sagila, which is now the 
ruin known as the mound of Amran ibn AH, is 
the celebrated temple of Belus which Alexander 
and Philip attempted to restore. 

In addition to the legend of the confusion of 
24 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYEIAN RELIGION 

tongues, it is probable that there were many 
similar traditions attached to the great temples 
of Babylonia, and as time goes on, and the excava- 
tions 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 Lagas (Telloh), who reigned 
about 2700 BC., 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, 

ll-saglla according to Herodotus. As the 
chief fane in the land after Babylon became the 
capital, and the type of many similar erections, 
fi-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 struc- 
ture). A winding ascent gave access to the top, 
where was a chapel or shrine, containing no 
statue, but regarded by the Babylonians as the 
25 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION 

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 pub- 
lished a precis. 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 zikkwat 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 Tasmit being on the east, to Aa or 
Ea and Nusku on the north, Anu and Bel on the 
26 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN BELIGION 

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 
zikJcurat, or temple-tower, square on its plan, 
and with the sides facing the cardinal points 
The lowest stage was 15 gar square by 5J high 
(Smith, 300 feet by 110), and the wall, in accord- 
ance 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), 8J gar (170 feet), and 7 gar (140 feet) 
square. The dimensions of the sixth stage are 
omitted, probably by accident, but Smith con- 
jectures that they were in proportion to those 
which precede. His description omits also the 
dimensions of the seventh stage, but he gives 
27 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYKIAN RELIGION 

those of the sanctuary of Belus, which was built 
upon it. This was 4 gar long, 3J gar broad, and 
2J 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. t 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 cause- 
way 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 

28 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION 

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 Sacri- 
fices were also offered at these temple-towers 
(whether on the highest point or not is not quite 
certain) in imitation of the Chaldaean Noah, Ut- 
napisti m , who, on coming out of the ark, made 
an offering l ina zikkurat $add, c on the peak of 
the mountain/ in which passage, it is to be noted, 
the word zihJcurat occurs with what is probably 
a more original meaning. 

1 Seep. 113. 



29 



CHAPTER II 

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 likely. Equally un- 
certain 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 
10 



BABYLONIAN STORY OF CREATION 

federated states. Modifications of their creed 
probably took place, but nothing seriously affect- 
ing it, until after the abandonment of Babylon in 
the time of Seleucus Nicator, 300 B.C. or there- 
abouts, when the deity at the head of the 
pantheon seems not to have been Merodach, but 
Ami- Bel. This legend is therefore the most 
important document bearing upon the beliefs of 
the Babylonians from the end of the third mil- 
lennium 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 un- 
named and the earth bore no name, the 
primaeval ocean was the producer of all things, 
and Mummu Tiawath (the sea) she who brought 
forth everything existing. Their waters (that is, 
of the primaeval ocean and of the sea) were all 
united in one, and neither plains nor marshes 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION 

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 Lal^mii and 
La^ame came first, followed, after a long period, by 
Ansar and Kisar, generally identified with the 'host 
of heaven ' and the c 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 Ea), the god of Eridu (see p. 52). Of 
Aos and Dauke (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 
Damaseius 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 appar- 
ently the deity Aa or Ea (the god of the sea and 
of rivers) as the god of creation. Among the 
32 



BABYLONIAN STOEY OF CREATION 

children of Tauthe (Tiawath) enumerated by 
Damascius is one named Moumis, who was evi- 
dently referred to in the document at that 
philosopher's disposal. If this be correct, his 
name, under the form of Munmm, 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 Lafemu and La^ame, 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 of 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 
1 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 Mumniu's plan was not a 
remarkably cunning one, being simply to make 
war upon and destroy the gods of heaven, 
c 33 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION 

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 bril- 
liance, 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 fates among the gods her sons. 

Kingn replaces Apsu. 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 Muimnu, their son. In 
all probability there is good reason for this, and 
inscriptions will doubtless ultimately be found 
34 



BABYLONIAN STOEY OF CBEATION 

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 typi- 
fying 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 ifia, 
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 Ansar, his father, who in his turn gave 
way to his wrath, and uttered cries of the deepest 
grief. After considering what they would do, 
Ansar 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 
35 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION 

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 Ami, 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 com- 
mand' 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 : 

36 



BABYLONIAN STORY OF CREATION 

* He spake with liis mouth, and the garment was destroyed, 
He spake to it again, and the garment was reproduced J 

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 accom- 
pany him, and the great weapon called Abubu, 
1 the Flood,' completed his equipment. All being 
ready, he mounted his dreadful, irresistible chariot, 
to which four steeds were yoked steeds unspar- 
ing, rushing forward, rapid in flight, their teeth 
full of venom, foam- covered, experienced in gal- 
loping, 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 re- 
garded Tiawath's retreat, but the sight of the 
37 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION 

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 re- 
proaches 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 over- 
come 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 in- 
flated, 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. 

38 



BABYLONIAN STORY OF CREATION 

The tablets of fate, winch Tiawath had delivered 
to Kingu, were taken from him by Merodacb, who 
pressed his seal upon them, and placed them in 
his breast. The deity Ansar, 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 c saw his 
desire upon his enemy.' 

Tiawatfc's fate. The dismemberment of Tia- 
wath 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 ma^-fish/ into two 
parts, one of which was made into a covering for 
the heavens the c 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, 
39 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION 

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 constella- 
tions for each month, and made a station for 
Nibiru Merodach's own star 1 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 abattu, 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 muti- 
lated, 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 

1 See p. 60. 
40 



BABYLONIAN STORY OF CREATION 

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 com- 
municated 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 note- 
worthy that this portion of the narrative has been 
preserved by Abydenus, George the Syneellus, 
and Eusebius, in their quotations from Berosus. 
According to this Chaldsean writer, there was a 
woman named Omoroca, or, in Chaldsean, Thalatth 
(apparently a mistake for Thauatth, i.e. Tiawath), 
whose name was equivalent to the Greek Tha- 
lassa, 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 
4* 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION 

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 know- 
ledge. 

A second creation. This Belus, '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 
42 



BABYLONIAN STORY OF CREATION 

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, Mero- 
dach is repeatedly called Tutu, a mystic word 
meaning c creator ' and ' begetter,' from the re- 
duplicate root tu or utu which was to all appear- 
ance 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. ' Tutu : Aga-azaga (the glorious crown) may he 
make the crowns glorious 

26. The lord of the glorious incantation bringing the 
dead to life ; 

2*7. He who had mercy on the gods who had been over- 
powered ; 

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 l whom his 

hands have made.' 

Man the redeemer. The phrase 'to redeem 
them ' is, in the original, ana padi-wnu, the verb 
being from paM, ' to spare/ f set free/ and if this 

I.e. mankind. 

43 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYKIAN RELIGION 

rendering be correct, as seems probable, the Baby- 
lonian 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 under- 
going punishment for their hostility. Whether 
by this Tiawath, Apsu, Mumrnu, 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 
1 [28] or to mankind and then to a future how 
meant ? redemption ? Eschatology ? Zimmern's 
"in their place" unprovable. Delitzsch refrains 
from an explanation/ 

Tlie 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 
44 



BABYLONIAN STOEY OF CREATION 

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 (see p. 39) firidu (probably = Para- 
dise) and the temple E-sagila within the Abyss 
were constructed, and after that Babylon and the 
earthly temple of E-sagila (see pp. 23-28) 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 fol- 
lowed, in which Merodach was aided by the god- 
dess 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. 
45 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION 

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, never- 
theless, 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 Ansar and Kisar, 
La^rnu and Lahame, etc. (see p 32). More 
specially interesting, however, is a well-known 
trilingual list of gods, which contains the names 
of the various deities in the following order : 

EXTBACTS FROM THE TRILINGUAL LlST. 

Obverse. 
Sumerian Columns. Explanatory Column. 1 

1. Dimmer Dingir flu God 

2. U-ki En-Id &a a or Aa 

1 The first column is in the 'dialect,' the second in that 
which is called the standard tongue. The explanatory column 
contains the common equivalents of the names, which are 
sometimes Sumenan, sometimes Semitic. 



BABYLONIAN STORY OF CREATION 

Sumerian Columns. Explanatory Column. 

3. Gaan(?)-ki Nin-ki Dawkina Dauke, the consort 



4. Mu-ul-hl En-til-la BSl The god Bel. 

5. E-lum A-lim B&l Do. 

6. (ra$an(?}-lil Nin-hl-la dam-bi sal his consort 

7. U-lu-a Ni-rig ^nu-r^tiL the god of Niffer 
8 U-lib-a Ni-rig $nu-rtu Do. 

9-12 have Elnu-r^tu's consort, sister, and attendant. 

13. U-$ab-sib En-&a,g-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 a are given, 
followed by four of Merodach : 

48. U-fa-lu-lu En-bi-lu-lu Marduk Merodach. 

49. U-Tm-dirki En-Tin-dirh Marduk Merodach as ' lord 

of Babylon. J 

50. U^mmer- En-diiigir- Marduk Merodach as 'lord 

an-lda an-ha god of heaven 

and earth.' 

51. U-ab-ar-u En-ab-Zar-u Marduk Merodach, appar- 

ently as * lord 
of the 36,000 
steers. 3 

52. U-bar-gi-si Nin-bar-gi-si Zer-panttu m Merodach's con- 

sort. 

53. Gaian-abzu Nin-abzu dam-bi sal f the Lady of the 

Abyss,' his con- 
sort. 

The remainder of the obverse is mutilated, but 
gave the names of Nebo in Sumerian, and ap- 
parently also of Tasmetu m , his consort. The 
beginning of the reverse also is mutilated, but 
seems to have given the names of the sun-god, 
Samas, and his consort, followed by those of Kittu 
47 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION 

and Msaru m , 'justice and righteousness/ his 
attendants. Other interesting names are : 

Heverse. 
Sumenan Columns. Explanatory Column. 

8. V-hbir-si En-ubar-si Dumu-zi Tammuz. 

9. Sir-tumu Sir-du ama Dumu- the mother of 

zi-gi Tammuz. 

12. Gasan -anna Innanna I$tar IStar (Venus) as 

'lady of heaven/ 
20. . . Nin-si-anna Innanna IStar the star (the 

mul planet Venus). 

21 Nm . . . Nm-tag-taga, Nanaa a goddess identi- 

with IStar. 

23. U-saljt Nin'&afy Pap-sukal the gods' messen- 

ger. 

24. U-banda Lugal-banda Lugal- (see p 94). 

banda 
26. U'M&rsi Nm-Girsu Nin-Girsu the chief god of 



27. Ma-sib-sib Ga-tum-duga Ban Ban, a goddess 

identified with 
G-ula. 

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

31. G-aZan-ti- Nin-tin-ugga Gula 'the lady saving 

dibba from death. 3 

33. Gra$ct,n-h~gal EreZ-ld-gala, Allatu Persephone. 

36. lf-mu-zi-da Nin-gi-zi-da Nin-gib-zida 'the lord of the 

everlasting tree. * 

37. U-urugal Ne-eri-gal Nerigal Nergal, 

42. MvZu-jiursag Galu-faursag Amurru the Amorite god. 

43. Gascm-gu- Ntn-gu-edina (apparently the consort of 

edina Amurru). 

4 8 



BABYLONIAN STORY OF CREATION 

In all probability this list is one of compara- 
tively late date, 1 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 Ann, the god of the 
heavens. The important thing about it is, that 
it begins with ttu, 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 fia, the god 
of the earth, and his consort, followed by En-lilla, 
the older Bel Illinos in Damascius. The name of 
lla 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 ttu, it indicates the rule of Enki or a, 
followed by that of Merodach, who, as has been 
shown, became the chief divinity of the Baby- 
lonian pantheon in consequence of Babylon having 
become the capital of the country. 

1 See pp. 80-81 (Amurru, end of paragraph). 



CHAPTER IY 

THE PKINCIPAL GODS OF THE BABYLONIANS 
AND ASSYRIANS 

Arm. The name of this divinity is derived 
from the Sumero-Atkadian ana, 'heaven/ of 
which he was the principal deity. He is called 
the father of the great gods, though, in the 
creation-story, he seems to be described as the 
son of Ansar and Kisar. In early names he is 
described as the father, creator, and god, pro- 
bably meaning the supreme being. His consort 
was Anatu, and the pair are regarded in the lists 
as the same as the Lahmu and Lafeame of the 
creation-story, who,' with other deities, are also 
described as gods of the heavens. Anu was wor- 
shipped at Erech, along with Istar. 

Ea is given as if it were the Semitic equivalent 
of Enki, 'the lord of the earth/ but it would 
seem to be really a Sumerian word, later written 
Ae, and certain inscriptions suggest that the true 
reading was Aa. His titles are 'king of the 
50 



GODS OF BABYLONIANS AND ASSYEIANS 

Abyss, creator of everything, lord of all, 3 the first 
being seemingly due to the fact that Aa is a 
word which may, in its reduplicate form, mean 
' waters/ or if read $a, l house of water.' He also 
like Anu, is called ' father of the gods.' As this 
god was likewise ' lord of deep wisdom/ it was to 
him that his son Merodach went for advice when- 
ever he was in doubt On account of his know- 
ledge, he was the god of artisans in general 
potters, blacksmiths, sailors, builders, stone-cutters, 
gardeners, seers, barbers, farmers, etc. This is 
the Aos (a form which confirms the reading Aa) 
of Damascius, and the Oannes of the extracts 
from Berosus, who states that he was ' a creature 
endowed with reason, with a body like that of a 
fish, and under the fish's head another head, with 
feet below, like those of a man, with a fish's tail.' 
This description applies fairly well to certain bas- 
reliefs from Nimroud in the British Museum. 
The creature described by Berosus lived in the 
Persian Gulf, landing during the day to teach the 
inhabitants the building of houses and temples, 
the cultivation of useful plants, the gathering of 
fruits, and also geometry, law, and letters. From 
him, too, came the account of the beginning of 
things referred to on pp. 41-42, which, in the 
original Greek, is preceded by a description of 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION 

the composite monsters said to have existed before 
Merodach assumed the rule of the universe. 

The name of his consort, Damkina or Dawkina, 
probably means 'the eternal spouse/ and her 
other names, Gasan-ki (Sumerian dialectic) and 
Nin-k% (non-dialectic), 'Lady of the earth,' suffi- 
ciently indicate her province. She is often 
mentioned in the incantations with fia. 

The forsaking of the worship of Ea as chief 
god for that of Merodach seems to have caused 
considerable heartburning in Babylonia, if we 
may judge from the story of the Iflood, for it 
was on account of his faithfulness that TJt- 
nipisti m , the Babylonian Noah, attained to salva- 
tion from the Flood and immortality afterwards. 
All through this adventure it was the god a 
who favoured him, and afterwards gave him im- 
mortality like that of the gods. There is an 
interesting Sumerian text in which the ship of 
fia seems to be described, the woods of which its 
various parts were formed being named, and in 
it, apparently, were Enki (Ea), Damgal-nunna 
(Damkina), his consort, Asari-lu-duga (Merodach), 
In-ab (or Ines), the pilot of Eridu (fia's city), and 
Nin-igi-nagar-sir, * the great architect of heaven' : 
* May the ship before thee bring fertility, 
May the ship after thee bring joy, 
In thy heart may it make joy of heart. 
52 



GODS OF BABYLONIANS AND ASSYRIANS 

Ea was the god of fertility, hence this ending to 
the poetical description of the ship of 6a. 

Bel. The deity who is mentioned next in 
order in the list given above is the 'older Bel,' 
so called to distinguish him from Bel-Merodach. 
His principal names were Mullil (dialectic) or En- 
lillci l (standard speech), the Illinos of Damascius. 
His name is generally translated ' lord of mist/ 
so-called as god of the underworld, his consort 
being Ga&m-Ul or Mn-lilla, ' the lady of the 
mist,' in Semitic Babylonian Hffitu,' the Lady/ 
par excellence. Bel, whose name means 'the 
lord/ was so called because he was regarded as 
chief of the gods. As there was considerable 
confusion in consequence of the title Bel having 
been given to Merodach, Tiglath-pileser i. (about 
1200 B.C.) refers to him as the ' older Bel ' in de- 
scribing the temple which he built for him at 
Assur. Numerous names of men compounded 
with his occur until the latest times, implying 
that, though the favourite god was Merodach, 
the worship of Bel was not forgotten, even at 
Babylon that he should always have been adored 
at his own city, Niffur, and at Dur-Kuri-galzu, 
where Kuri-galzu I. built a temple for 'Bel, the 

1 Ordinarily pronounced Illila, as certain glosses and Damas- 
cms's Ilhnos (for Ittilos] show. 

53 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION 

lord of the lands/ was naturally to be expected. 
Being, like iSa, a god of the earth, he is regarded 
as having formed a trinity with Ann, the god of 
heaven, and fia, the god of the deep, and prayer 
to these three was as good as invoking all the 
gods of the universe. Classification of the gods 
according to the domain of their power would 
naturally take place in a religious system in 
which they were all identified with each other, 
and this classification indicates, as Jastrow says, 
a deep knowledge of the powers of nature, and 
a more than average intelligence among the 
Babylonians indeed, he holds it as a proof that, 
at the period of the older empire, there were 
schools and students who had devoted themselves 
to religious speculation upon this point. He also 
conjectures that the third commandment of the 
Law of Moses was directed against this doctrine 
held by the Babylonians. 

Beltis. This goddess was properly only the 
spouse of the older Bel, but as Bdltu, her Baby- 
lonian name, simply meant 'lady' in general 
(just as Ml or lelu meant 'lord'), it became a 
title which could be given to any goddess, and 
was in fact borne by Zer-panitu m , Istar, Nanaa, 
and others. It was therefore often needful to 
add the name of the city over which the special 
54 



GODS OF BABYLONIANS AND ASSYRIANS 



presided, in order to make clear which of 
them was meant Besides being the title of the 
spouse of the older Bel, having her earthly seat 
with him in Niffur and other less important 
shrines, the Assyrians sometimes name Beltu the 
spouse of Assur, their national god, suggesting an 
identification, in the minds of the priests, with 
that deity. 

Enii-re&ttt or Mrig. 1 Whether $nu-r$tu be 
a translation of Nirig or not, is uncertain, but 
not improbable, the meaning being 'primaeval 
lord/ or something similar, and f lord ' that of the 
first element, ni, in the Sumerian form. In 
support of this reading and rendering may be 
quoted the fact, that one of the descriptions of 
this divinity is asarid ttani dfyS-gu, 'the eldest 
of the gods his brothers.' It is noteworthy that 
this deity was a special favourite among the 
Assyrians, many of whose kings, to say nothing 
of private persons, bore his name as a component 
part of theirs. In the bilingual poem entitled 
Ana-kime gimma? he is described as being the 

1 J?hiu-r$tu is the reading which I have adoped as the 
Semitic Babylonian equivalent of the name of this divinity, in 
consequence of the Aramaic transcription given by certain 
contract-tablets discovered by the American expedition to 
Niffer, and published by Prof. Clay of Philadelphia. 

2 'Formed like Ann.' 

55 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION 

son of Bel (hence his appearance after Bel in the 
list printed above), and in the likeness of Ann, 
for which reason, perhaps, his divinity is called 
' Anuship.' Beginning with words praising him, 
it seems to refer to his attitude towards the gods 
of hostile lands, against whom, apparently, he 
rode in a chariot of the sacred lapis-lazuli. Anu 
having endowed him with terrible glory, the gods 
of the earth feared to attack him, and his onrush 
was as that of a storm-flood. By the command 
of Bel, his course was directed towards l-kur, the 
temple of Bel at Niffur. Here he was met by 
Nusku, the supreme messenger of Bel, who, with 
words of respect of and praise, asks him not to 
disturb the god Bel, his father, in his seat, nor 
make the gods of the earth tremble in Upsuken- 
naku, 1 and offers him a gift. 2 It will thus be 
seen that fCnu-restu was a rival to the older Bel, 
whose temple was the great tower in stages called 
ll-kura, in which, in all probability, &-su-me-du, 
the shrine of Enu-rstu, was likewise situated. 
The inscriptions call him 'god of war, 3 though, 
unlike Nergal, he was not at the same time god 
of disease and pestilence. To all appearance he 

1 The heavenly festival-hall of the gods. 

2 The result of this request is not known, in consequence of 
the defective state of the tablets. 

56 



GODS OF BABYLONIANS AND ASSYRIANS 

was the god of the various kinds of stones, of 
which another legend states that he * determined 
their fate/ He was 'the hero, whose net over- 
throws the enemy, who summons his army to 
plunder the hostile land, the royal son who 
caused his father to bow down to him from 
afar/ ' The son who sat not with the nurse, and 
eschewed (?) the strength of milk/ ' the offspring 
who did not know his father/ ' He rode over 
the mountains and scattered seed unanimously 
the plants proclaimed his name to their dominion, 
among them like a great wild bull he raises his 
horns/ 

Many other interesting descriptions of the 
deity Nirig (generally read Nin-ip) occur, and 
show, with those quoted here, that his story was 
one of more than ordinary interest. 

Nusku. This deity was especially invoked by 
the Assyrian kings, but was in no wise exclusively 
Assyrian, as is shown by the fact that his name 
occurs in many Babylonian inscriptions. He was 
the great messenger of the gods, and is variously 
given as ' the offspring of the abyss, the creation 
of a,' and ' the likeness of his father, the first- 
born of Bel/ As Gibil, the fire-god, has likewise 
the same diverse parentage, it is regarded as 
likely that these two gods were identical. Nusku 
57 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION 

was the god whose command is supreme, the 
counsellor of the great gods, the protector of the 
Igigi (the gods of the heavens), the great and 
powerful one, the glorious day, the burning one, 
the founder of cities, the renewer of sanctuaries, 
the provider of feasts for all the Igigi, without 
whom no feast took place in E-kura. Like Nebo, 
he bore the glorious sceptre, and it was said of 
him that he attacked mightily in battle. With- 
out him the sun-god, as judge, could not give 
judgment 

All this points to the probability, that Nusku 
may not have been the fire-god, but the brother 
of the fire-god, i.e. either flame, or the light of 
fire. The sun-god, without light, could not see, 
and therefore could not give judgment : no feast 
could be prepared without fire and its flame. 
As the evidence of the presence of the shining 
orbs in the heavens the light of their fires - 
he was the messenger of the gods, and was 
honoured accordingly. From this idea, too, he 
became their messenger in general, especially of 
Bel-Merodach, the younger Bel, whose requests 
he carried to the god fia in the Deep. In one 
inscription he is identified with Nirig or Enu- 
restii, who is described above. 

Merodach. Concerning this god, and how he 
58 



GODS OF BABYLONIANS AND ASSYEIANS 

arose to the position of king of all the gods 
of heaven, has been fully shown on pp. 36-46. 
Though there is but little in his attributes to 
indicate any connection with oamas, there is 
hardly any doubt that he was originally a sun- 
god, as is shown by the etymology of his name. 
The form, as it has been handed down to us, 
is somewhat shortened, the original pronuncia- 
tion having been Amar-udu/c, 'the young steer 
of day/ a name which suggests that he was the 
morning sun. Of the four names given in the 
extract on p. 47, two ' lord of Babylon/ and 
' lord god of heaven and earth/ may be regarded 
as expressing his more well-known attributes. 
En-ab-ar-u, however, is a provisional, though 
not impossible, reading and rendering, and if 
correct, the ' 36,000 wild bulls ' would be a meta- 
phorical way of speaking of ' the 36,000 heroes/ 
probably meaning the gods of heaven in all 
their grades. The signification of Un-bilulu is 
unknown. Like most of the other gods of the 
Babylonian pantheon, however, Merodach had 
many other names, among which may be men- 
tioned Asari, which has been compared with 
the Egyptian Osiris, Asari-lu-duga,, ( Asari who 
is good/ compared with Osiris Unnefer; Nam- 
tila, 'life/ Tutu, 'begetter (of the gods), renewer 
59 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYKIAN RELIGION 

(of the gods)/ $ar-azaga, 'the glorious incanta- 
tion/ Mu-azaga, ' the glorious charm/ and many 
others. The last two refer to his being the god 
who, by his kindness, obtained from his father !Ea, 
dwelling in the abyss, those charms and incanta- 
tions which benefited mankind, and restored the 
sick to health. In this connection, a frequent 
title given to him is ' the merciful one/ but most 
merciful was he in that he spared the lives of 
the gods who, having sided with Tiawath, were 
his enemies, as is related in the tablet of the 
fifty-one names (p. 43). In connection with the 
fight he bore also the names, 'annihilator of 
the enemy/ 'rooter out of all evil/ 'troubler of 
the evil ones/ 'life of the whole of the gods.' 
From these names it is clear that Merodach, in 
defeating Tiawath, annihilated, at the same time, 
the spirit of evil, Satan, the accuser, of which she 
was, probably, the Babylonian type. But unlike 
the Saviour in the Christian creed, he saved 
not only man, at that time uncreated, but the 
gods of heaven also. As ' king of the heavens/ 
he was identified with the largest of the planets, 
Jupiter, as well as with other heavenly bodies. 
Traversing the sky in great zigzags, Jupiter 
seemed to the Babylonians to superintend the 
stars, and this was regarded as emblematic of 
60 



GODS OF BABYLONIANS AND ASSYRIANS 

Merodach shepherding them e pasturing the gods 
like sheep/ as the tablet has it. 

A long list of gods gives as it were the court 
of Merodach, held in what was apparently a 
heavenly $-sagila, and among the spiritual 
beings mentioned are Mind-iJcul-beli and MWI&- 
it$,-beh, ' what has my lord eaten,' and ' what 
has my lord drunk/ Ncufrin-md-gati, 'he who 
gives water for the hands/ also the two door- 
keepers, and the four dogs of Merodach, wherein 
people are inclined to see the four satellites of 
Jupiter, which, it is thought, were probably 
visible to certain of the more sharpsighted star- 
gazers of ancient Babylonia These dogs were 
called Ukkuwiu, Akkulu, Ikuda, and Iltebu, 
' Seizer/ ' Eater/ ' Grasper/ and ' Holder.' Images 
of these beings were probably kept in the temple 
of fi-sagila at Babylon. 

Zer-panitu m . This was the name of the con- 
sort of Merodach, and is generally read Sar- 
p(b)anitu m a transcription which is against the 
native orthography and etymology, namely, 
' seed-creatress ' (Zer-banitu m ). The meaning 
attributed to this word is partly confirmed by 
another name which Lehmann has pointed out 
that she possessed, namely, Erua, or Aru'a, who, 
in an inscription of Antiochus Soter (280-260 
61 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYEIAN EELIGION 

B.C.), is called 'the queen who produces birth/ 
but more especially by the circumstance, that 
she must be identical with Aruru, who created 
the seed of mankind along with Merodach (see 
the bilingual creation- story, p. 45). Why she 
was called 'the lady of the abyss/ as in the 
extract (p. 47, line 53), and elsewhere ' the voice 
of the abyss' (Me-abzu), is not known. Zer- 
panitu m was no mere reflection of Merodach, 
but one of the most important goddesses in the 
Babylonian pantheon. The tendency of scholars 
has been to identify her with the moon, Merodach 
being a solar deity, and the meaning ' silvery ' 
Sarpanitu, from sarpu, one of the words for 
' silver/ was regarded as supporting this idea. 
She was identified with the Elamite goddess 
named Elagu, and with the La^amun of the 
island of Bahrein, the Babylonian Tilmun. 

Nebo and Tametu m . As 'the teacher' and 
' the hearer/ these were among the most popular 
of the deities of Babylonia and Assyria. Nebo 
(in Semitic Babylonian Nabii) was worshipped 
at the temple-tower known as fe-zida, ' the ever- 
lasting house/ at Borsippa, now the Birs Nimroud, 
traditionally regarded as the site of the Tower 
of Babel, though that title, as has already been 
shown (pp. 23-24), would best suit the similar 
62 



GODS OF BABYLONIANS AND ASSYRIANS 

structure known as -sagila, 'the house of the 
high head,' in Babylon itself, In composition 
with men's names, this deity occurs more than 
any other, even including Merodach himself a 
clear indication of the estimation in which the 
Babylonians and Assyrians held the possession 
of knowledge. The character with which his 
name is written means, with the pronunciation 
of ak, 'to make/ 'to create, 3 'to receive/ 'to 
proclaim/ and with the pronunciation of me, 
c to be wise/ 'wisdom/ 'open of ear/ 'broad of 
ear/ and ' to make, of a house/ the last probably 
referring to the design rather than to the actual 
building. Under the name of Dim-$ara he was 
'the creator of the writing of the scribes/ as 
Ni-zu, 'the god who knows 5 (zu t 'to know'), 
as Mermer, 'the speeder ( 2 ) of the command of 
the gods ' on the Sumerian side indicating some 
connection with Addu or Rimmon, the thunderer 
(see p. 83), and on the Semitic side with Enu~resfru, 
who was one of the gods' messengers. A small 
fragment in the British Museum gave his attri- 
butes as god of the various cities of Babylonia, 
but unfortunately their names are lost or incom- 
plete. From what remains, however, we see 
that Nebo was god of ditching (?), commerce (?), 
granaries ( ? ), fasting (?), and food; it was he who 

63 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYEIAN RELIGION 

overthrew the land of the enemy, and who 
protected planting; and, lastly, he was god of 
Borsippa. 

The worship of Nebo was not always as popular 
as it became in the later days of the Babylonian 
empire and after its fall, and Jastrow is of opinion 
that Hammurabi intentionally ignored this deity, 
giving the preference to Merodach, though he 
did not suppress the worship. Why this should 
have taken place is not by any means certain, 
for Nebo was a deity adored far and wide, as 
may be gathered from the fact that there was 
a mountain bearing his name in Moab, upon 
which Moses also an ' announcer/ adds Jastrow 
died. Besides the mountain, there was a city in 
Moab so named, and another in Judaea. That it 
was the Babylonian Nebo originally is implied by 
the form the Hebrew corresponding word is nabi. 

How old the worship of Tasmtu m , his consort, 
is, is doubtful, but her name first occurs in a 
date of the reign of |Jammurabi. Details con- 
cerning her attributes are rare, and Jastrow 
regards this goddess as the result of Babylonian 
religious speculations. It is noteworthy that her 
worship appears more especially in later times, 
but it may be doubted whether it is a product 
of those late times, especially when we bear in 
64 



GODS OF BABYLONIANS AND ASSYRIANS 

mind the remarkable seal-Impression on an 
early tablet of 3500-4500 B.C., belonging to Lord 
Amherst of Hackney, in which we see a male 
figure with wide-open mouth seizing a stag by 
his horns, and a female figure with no mouth at 
all, but with very prominent ears, holding a bull 
in a similar manner. Here we have the ' teacher ' 
and the ' hearer ' personified in a very remarkable 
manner, and it may well be that this primitive 
picture shows the idea then prevailing with 
regard to these two deities. It is to be noted 
that the name of Tasmetu m has a Sumerian 
equivalent, namely, Kurntin, and that the ideo- 
graph by which it is represented is one whose 
general meaning seems to be ' to bind, 7 perhaps 
with the additional signification of ' to accom- 
plish/ in which case ' she who hears ' would also 
be ' she who obeys.* 

&ama and Ms consort. At all times the 
worship of the sun in Babylonia and Assyria was 
exceedingly popular, as, indeed, was to be expected 
from his importance as the greatest of the 
heavenly bodies and the brightest, without whose 
help men could not live, and it is an exceedingly 
noteworthy fact that this deity did not become, 
like Ra in Egypt, the head of the pantheon. 
This place was reserved for Merodach, also a sun- 
E 65 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION 

god, but possessing attributes of a far wider scope. 
Hamas is mentioned as early as the reign of 
E-anna-tum, whose date is set at about 4200 B.C., 
and at this period his Semitic name does not, 
naturally, occur, the character used being Utu, or, 
in its longer form, Utuki. 

It is worthy of note that, in consequence of 
the Babylonian idea of evolution in the creation 
of the world, less perfect beings brought forth 
those which were more perfect, and the sun was 
therefore the offspring of Nannara or Sin, the 
moon. In accordance with the same idea, the 
day, with the Semites, began with the evening, 
the time when the moon became visible, and thus 
becomes the offspring of the night. In the in- 
scriptions $amas is described as ' the light of 
things above and things below, the illuminator 
of the regions/ ' the supreme judge of heaven and 
earth/ ' the lord of living creatures, the gracious 
one of the lands/ Dawning in the foundation of 
the sky, he opened the locks and threw wide 
the gates of the high heavens, and raised his head, 
covering heaven and earth with his splendour. 
He was the constantly righteous in heaven, the 
truth within the ears of the lands, the god 
knowing justice and injustice, righteousness he, 
supported upon his shoulders, unrighteousness he 
66 



GODS OF BABYLONIANS AND ASSYRIANS 

burst asunder like a leather bond, etc. It will 
thus be seen, that the sun-god was the great god 
of judgment and justice indeed, he is con- 
stantly alluded to as 'the judge/ the reason in 
all probability being, that as the sun shines upon 
the earth all day long, and his light penetrates 
everywhere, he was regarded as the god who 
knew and investigated everything, and was there- 
fore best in a position to judge aright, and deliver 
a just decision. It is for this reason that his 
image appears at the head of the stele inscribed 
with gammurabi's laws, and legal ceremonies 
were performed within the precincts of his 
temples. The chief seats of his worship were 
the great temples called fi-babbara, 'the house 
of great light/ in the cities of Larsa and Sippar. 

The consort of Samas was Aa, whose chief 
seat was at Sippar, side by side with Samas. 
Though only a weak reflex of the sun-god, her 
worship was exceedingly ancient, being mentioned 
in an inscription of Man-is tusu, who is regarded 
as having reigned before Sargon of Agade. From 
the fact that, in one of the lists, she has names 
formed by reduplicating the name of the sun- 
god, Utu, she would seem once to have been 
identical with him, in which case it may be 
supposed that she personified the setting sun 
67 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION 

'the double sun/ from the magnified disc 
which he presents at sunset, when, according 
to a hymn to the setting sun sung at the 
temple at Borsippa, Aa, in the Sumerian line 
Kur-nirda, was accustomed to go to receive him. 
According to the list referred to above, Aa, with 
the name of Burida in Sumerian, was more 
especially the consort of Sa-zu, f him who knows 
the heart/ one of the names of Merodach, who, 
as suggested on p. 59, was probably the morning 
sun, and therefore the exact counterpart of the 
sun at evening. 

Besides Samas and Utu, the latter his ordinary 
Sumerian name, the sun-god had several other 
non-Semitic names, including Gi^nu, 1 ' the light/ 
Ma-banda-anna, e the bark of heaven/ U-4, ' the 
rising sun/ Mitra, apparently the Persian Mithra ; 
Ume-gimas and Najiunda, Elamite names, and 
Sahi, the Kassite name of the sun. He also 
sometimes bears the names of his attendants 
Kittu and Mesaru, 'Truth 5 and 'Righteousness/ 
who guided him upon his path as judge of the 
earth. 

1 It is the group expressing this word which is used for feamaS 
in the name of 3ama8-8um-uk!n (Saosduchinos), the hrother of 
Ail&ur-bani-apli (Assurbanipal). The Greek equivalent implies 
the pronunciation Sawas, as well as tiamag* 

68 



GODS OF BABYLONIANS AND ASSYEIANS 

Tanmmz and Is'tar. -The date of the rise of 
the myth of Tammuz is uncertain, but as the 
name of this god is found on tablets of the time 
of Lugal-anda and Uru-ka-gina (about 3500 B.C.), 
it can hardly be of later date than 4000 B.C., and 
may be much earlier. As he is repeatedly called 
' the shepherd/ and had a domain where he 
pastured his flock, Professor Sayce sees in 
Tammuz 'Daonus or Daos, the shepherd of 
Pantibibla/ who, according to Berosus, ruled 
in Babylonia for 10 sari, or 36,000 years, and 
was the sixth king of the mythical period. 
According to the classic story, the mother of 
Tammuz had unnatural intercourse with her 
own father, being urged thereto by Aphrodite 
whom she had offended, and who had decided 
thus to revenge herself. Being pursued by her 
father, who wished to kill her for this crime, she 
prayed to the gods, and was turned into a tree, 
from whose trunk Adonis was afterwards born. 
Aphrodite was so charmed with the infant that, 
placing him in a chest, she gave him into the 
care of Persephone, who, however, when she dis- 
covered what a treasure she had in her keeping, 
refused to part with him again. Zeus was 
appealed to, and decided that for four months 
in the year Adonis should be left to himself, four 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYKIAN RELIGION 

should be spent with. Aphrodite, and four with 
Persephone; or, as a variant account makes it, 
he should spend six months with Persephone, 
and six with Aphrodite on earth. He was after- 
wards slain, whilst hunting, by a wild boar 

Nothing has come down to us as yet concern- 
ing this legend except the incident of his dwell- 
ing in Hades, whither Is tar, the Babylonian 
Venus, went in search of him. It is not by any 
means unlikely, however, that the whole story 
existed in Babylonia, and thence spread to 
Phoenicia, and afterwards to Greece. In Phoe- 
nicia it was adapted to the physical conditions 
of the country, and the place of Tammuz's en- 
counter with the boar was said to be the 
mountains of Lebanon, whilst the river named 
after him, Adonis (now the Nahr Ibrahim), which 
ran red with the earth washed down by the 
autumn rains, was said to be so coloured in con- 
sequence of being mingled with his blood. The 
descent of Tammuz to the underworld, typified 
by the flowing down of the earth-laden waters 
of the rivers to the sea, was not only celebrated 
by the Phoenicians, but also by the Babylonians, 
who had at least two series of lamentations which 
were used on this occasion, and were probably 
the originals of those chanted by the Hebrew 
70 



GODS OF BABYLONIANS AND ASSYRIANS 

women in the time of Ezekiel (about 597 B c ). 
Whilst on earth, he was the one who nourished 
the ewe and her lamb, the goat and her kid, and 
also caused them to be slain probably in sacri- 
fice. 'He has gone, he has gone to the bosom 
of the earth,' the mourners cried, ' he will make 
plenty to overflow for the land of the dead, for 
its lamentations for the day of his fall, in the 
unpropitious month of his year.' There was also 
lamentation for the cessation of the growth of 
vegetation, and one of these hymns, after address- 
ing him as the shepherd and husband of Istar, 
' lord of the underworld/ and ' lord of the shep- 
herd's seat/ goes on to liken him to a germ which 
has not absorbed water in the furrow, whose bud 
has not blossomed in the meadow ; to the sapling 
which has not been planted by the watercourse, 
and to the sapling whose root has been removed. 
In the 'Lamentations' in the Manchester Museum, 
Istar, or one of her devotees, seems to call for 
Tammuz, saying 'Return, my husband/ as she 
makes her way to the region of gloom in quest 
of him. Eres-e-gala, 'the lady of the great 
house ' (Persephone), is also referred to, and the 
text seems to imply that Istar entered her domain 
in spite of her. In this text other names are 
given to him, namely, Tumu-giba 3 'son of the 
71 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION 

flute/ Ama-elaggi, and Si-umunnagi, 'life of the 
people.' 

The reference to sheep and goats in the British 
Museum fragment recalls the fact that in an 
incantation for purification the person using it 
is told to get the milk of a yellow goat which 
has been brought forth in the sheep-fold of 
Tarn muz, recalling the flocks of the Greek sun- 
god Helios. These were the clouds illuminated 
by the sun, which were likened to sheep 
indeed, one of the early Sumerian expressions 
for ' fleece ' was : sheep of the sky.' The name of 
Tammuz m Suinerian is Duimi-zi, or in its rare 
fullest form, Dumu - zida ? meaning true ' or 
' faithful son/ There is probably some legend 
attached to this which is at present unknown. 
For his identification with En-Mersi, see p. 77. 

In all probability Istar, the spouse of Tammuz, 
is best known from her descent into Hades in 
quest of him when with Persephone (Eres-ki-gal) 
in the underworld. In this she had to pass 
through seven gates, and an article of clothing 
was taken from her at each, until she arrived in 
the underworld quite naked, typifying the teaching, 
that man can take nothing away with him when 
he departs this life During her absence, things 
naturally began to go wrong upon the earth, and 
72 



GODS OF BABYLONIANS AND ASSYRIANS 

the gods were obliged to intervene, and demand 
her release, which was ultimately granted, and at 
each gate, as she returned, the adornments which 
she had left were given back to her. It is un- 
certain whether the husband whom she sought 
to release was set free, but the end of the inscrip- 
tion seems to imply that Istar was successful in 
her mission. 

In this story she typifies the faithful wife, but 
other legends show another side of her character, 
as in that of Gilgames, ruler of her city Erech, 
to whom she makes love. Gilgames, however, 
knowing the character of the divine queen of his 
city too well, reproaches her with her treatment 
of her husband and her other lovers Tammuz, 
to whom, from year to year, she caused bitter 
weeping; the bright coloured Allala bird, whom 
she smote and broke his wings ; the lion perfect 
in strength, in whom she cut wounds c by sevens'; 
the horse glorious in war, to whom she caused 
hardship and distress, and to his mother Silili 
bitter weeping ; the shepherd who provided for 
her things which she liked, whom she smote 
and changed to a jackal; Isullanu, her father's 
gardener, whom she tried, apparently, to poison, 
but failing, she smote him, and changed him to 
a statue ( ? ). On being thus reminded of her 
73 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION 

misdeeds, Istar was naturally angry, and, ascend- 
ing to heaven, complained to her father Anu and 
her mother Anatu, the result being, that a divine 
bull was sent against G-ilgames and Enki-du, his 
friend and helper. The bull, however, was killed, 
and a portion of the animal having been cut off, 
Enki-du threw it at the goddess, saying at the 
same time that, if he could only get hold of her, 
he would treat her similarly. Apparently Istar 
recognised that there was nothing further to be 
done in the matter, so, gathering the hand- 
maidens, pleasure-women and whores, in their 
presence she wept over the portion of the divine 
bull which had been thrown at her. 

The worship of Istar, she being the goddess of 
love and war, was considerably more popular than 
that of her spouse, Tamrnuz, who, as among the 
western Semitic nations, was adored rather by 
the women than the men. Her worship was in 
all probability of equal antiquity, and branched 
out, so to say, in several directions, as may be 
judged by her many names, each of which had 
a tendency to become a distinct personality. 
Thus the syllabaries give the character which 
represents her name as having also been pro- 
nounced Innanna (see the line numbered 12 on 
p. 48), Ennen, and Nin, whilst a not uncommon 
74 



GODS OP BABYLONIANS AND ASSYRIANS 

name in other inscriptions is Ama - Innanna, 
'mother Istar.' The principal seat of her wor- 
ship in Babylonia was at Erech, and in Assyria 
at Nineveh also at Arbela, and many other 
places. She was also honoured (at Erech and 
elsewhere) under the Elamite names of Tispak 
and $usinak, ' the Susian goddess/ 

Nina From the name Nin, which Istar bore, 
there is hardly any doubt that she acquired the 
identification with Nina, which is provable as 
early as the time of the Lagasite kings, Lugal- 
anda and Uru-ka-gina (see p. 69). As identified 
with Aruru, the goddess who helped Merodach 
to create mankind, Istar was also regarded as the 
mother of all, and in the Babylonian story of the 
Flood, she is made to say that she had begotten 
man, but like ' the sons of the fishes/ he filled 
the sea. Nina, then, as another form of Istar, 
was a goddess of creation, typified in the teeming 
life of the ocean, and her name is written with a 
character standing for a house or receptacle, with 
the sign for ' fish' within. Her earliest seat was 
the city of Nina in southern Babylonia, from 
which place, in all probability, colonists went 
northwards, and founded another shrine at Nine- 
veh in Assyria, which afterwards became the 
great centre of her worship, and on this account 
75 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION 

the city was called after her Ninaa or Ninua. 
As their tutelary goddess, the fishermen in the 
neighbourhood of the Babylonian Nina and Lagas 
were accustomed to make to her, as well as to 
Jnnanna or Istar, large offerings of fish. 

As the masculine deities had feminine forms, 
so it is not by any means improbable that the 
goddesses had masculine forms, and if that be 
the case, we may suppose that it was a masculine 
counterpart of Nina who founded Nineveh, which, 
as is well known, is attributed to Ninos, the same 
name as Nina with the Greek masculine termina- 
tion. 

Mn-Girsu. This deity is principally of im- 
portance in connection with the ancient Baby- 
lonian state of Lagas, the home of an old and 
important line of kings and viceroys, among the 
latter being the celebrated Gudea, whose statues 
and inscribed cylinders now adorn the Babylonian 
galleries of the Louvre at Paris. His name means 
'Lord of Girsu,' which was probably one of the 
suburbs, and the oldest part, of Lagas. This deity 
was son of En-lila or Bl, and was identified with 
Nirig or finu-restu. To all appearance he was a 
sun-deity. As indicated on p. 48, in the line 
marked 26, the dialectic form of his name was 
U-Mersi, of which a variant, En-Mersi, occurs in 



GODS OF BABYLONIANS AND ASSYRIANS 

an incantation published in the fourth volume 
of the Cuneiform Inscriptions of Western Asia, 
pi. 27, where, for the Sumerian 'Take a white 
kid of En-Mersi/ the Semitic translation is 'of 
Tammuz/ showing that he was identified with 
the latter god. In the second volume of the 
same work Nin-Girsu is given as the pronuncia- 
tion of the name of the god of agriculturalists, 
confirming this identification, Tammuz heing also 
god of agriculture. 

Ban. This goddess at all times played a 
prominent part in ancient Babylonian religion, 
especially with the rulers before the dynasty of 
Hammurabi. She was the 'mother' of Lagas, 
and her temple was at Uru-azaga, a district of 
Lagas, the chief city of Nin-Girsu, whose spouse 
she was. Like Nin-Girsu, she planted (not only 
grain and vegetation, but also the seed of men). 
In her character of the goddess who gave life 
to men, and healed their bodies in sickness, she 
was identified with Gula, one of whose titles is 
' the lady saving from death' (see p. 48, line num- 
bered 31). Ga-tum-duga, whose name probably 
means ' making and producing good/ was also 
exceedingly popular in ancient times, and though 
identified with Bau in line 27, is regarded by 
Jastrow as having been originally distinct from her. 
77 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION 

Eres-ki-gal or Allatu. As the prototype of 
Persephone, this goddess is one of much im- 
portance for comparative mythology, and there 
is a legend concerning her of considerable interest. 
The text is one of those found at Tel-el- Amarna, 
in Egypt, and states that the gods once made a 
feast, and sent to Eres-ki-gal, saying that, though 
they could go down to her, she could not ascend 
to them, and asking her to send a messenger to 
fetch away the food destined for her. This she did, 
and all the gods stood up to receive her messenger, 
except one, who seems to have withheld this token 
of respect. The messenger, when he returned, 
apparently related to Eres-ki-gal what had 
happened, and angered thereat, she sent him 
back to the presence of the gods, asking for the 
delinquent to be delivered to her, that she might 
kill him. The gods then discussed the question 
of death with the messenger, and told him to 
take to his mistress the god who had not stood 
up in his presence. When the gods were brought 
together, that the culprit might be recognised, 
one of them remained in the background, and on 
the messenger asking who it was who did not 
stand up, it was found to be Nerigal. , This god 
was duly sent, but was not at all inclined to be 
submissive, for instead of killing him, as she had 
78 



GODS OF BABYLONIANS AND ASSYRIANS 

threatened, Eres-ki-gal found herself seized by 
the hair and dragged from her throne, whilst 
the death-dealing god made ready to cut off her 
head. < Do not kill me, my brother, let me speak 
to thee,' she cried, and on his loosing his hold 
upon her hair, she continued, ' thou shalt be my 
husband, and I will be thy wife I will cause 
you to take the dominion in the wide earth. I 
will place the tablet of wisdom in thine- hand 
thou shalt be lord, I will be lady/ Nerigal there- 
upon took her, kissed her, and wiped away her 
tears, saying, ' Whatever thou hast asked me for 
months past now receives assent.' 

Eres-ki-gal did not treat her rival in the affec- 
tions of Tammuz so gently when Istar descended 
to Hades in search of the ' husband of her youth/ 
According to the story, not only was Istar de- 
prived of her garments and ornaments, but by 
the orders of Eres-ki-gal, Namtar smote her with 
disease in all her members. It was not until the 
gods intervened that Istar was set free. The 
meaning of her name is ' lady of the great region/ 
a description which is supposed to apply to Hades, 
and of which a variant, Eres--gal, 'lady of the 
great house/ occurs in the Hymns to Tammuz in 
the Manchester Museum. 

Nergal. This name is supposed to mean f lord 
79 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION 

of the great habitation/ which, would be a parallel 
to that of his spouse Eres-ki-gal. He was the 
ruler of Hades, and at the same time god of war 
and of disease and pestilence. As warrior, he 
naturally fought on the side of those who wor- 
shipped him, as in the phrase which describes 
him as * the warrior, the fierce storm-flood over- 
throwing the land of the enemy/ As pointed 
out by Jastrow, he differs from Nirig, who was 
also a god of war, in that he symbolises, as god 
of disease and death, the misery and destruction 
which accompany the strife of nations. It is in 
consequence of this side of his character that he 
appears also as god of fire, the destroying element, 
and Jensen says that Nerigal was god of the 
midday or of the summer sun, and therefore of 
all the misfortunes caused by an excess of his heat 

The chief centre of his worship was Cuthah 
(Rutti, Sumerian Gudua) near Babylon, now re- 
presented by the mounds of Tel Ibrahim. The 
identity with the Greek Aries and the Roman 
Mars is proved by the fact that his planet was 
Mugtabarrd-mtitanU; 'the death-spreader/ which is 
probably the name of Mars in Semitic Babylonian. 

Amuim Although this is not by any means 
a frequent name among the deities worshipped , 
in Babylonia, it is worthy of notice on account 
80 



GODS OF BABYLONIANS AND ASSYRIANS 

of its bearing upon the date of the compilation 
of the tablet which has been taken as a basis of 
this list of gods. He was known as { Lord of the 
mountains/ and his worship became very popular 
during the period of the dynasty to which Ham- 
murabi belonged say from 2200 to 1937 BO., 
when Amurrii was much combined with the names 
of men, and is found both on tablets and cylinder- 
seals The ideographic manner of writing it is 
Mar-tu, a word that is used for Amwrru, the 
land of the Amorites, which stood for the West 
in general. Amorites had entered Babylonia in 
considerable numbers during this period, so that 
there is but little doubt that his popularity was 
largely due to their influence, and the tablet 
containing these names was probably drawn up, 
or at least had the Semitic equivalents added, 
towards the beginning of that period. 

Sin or Nannara. The cult of the moon-god 
was one of the most popular in Babylonia, the 
chief seat of his worship being at Uru (now 
Muqayyar 1 ) the Biblical Ur of the Chaldees. The 
origin of the name Sin is unknown, but it is 
thought that it may be a corruption of Zu-ena, 
* knowledge-lord,' as the compound ideograph ex- 
pressing his name may be read and translated. 

1 Or, according to the vulgar pronunciation, Mugheir. 
F Si 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYKIAN EELIGION 

Besides this compound ideograph, the name of the 
god Sin was also expressed by the character for 
'30,' provided with the prefix of divinity, an 
ideograph which is due to the thirty days of the 
month, and is thought to be of late date. With 
regard to Nannar, Jastrow explains it as being for 
Narnar, and renders it 'light-producer.' In a 
long hymn to this god he is described in many 
lines as * the lord, prince of the gods, who in 
heaven alone is supreme/ and as ' father Nannar.' 
Among his other descriptive titles are ' great Anu ' 
(Sum. ana gale, Semitic Bab. Anu rabil) another 
instance of the identification of two deities. He 
was also 'lord of Or/ c lord of the temple Gis- 
nu-gala/ 'lord of the shining crown/ etc. He 
is also said to be ' the mighty steer whose horns 
are strong, whose limbs are perfect, who is bearded 
with a beard of lapis-stone, 1 who is filled with 
beauty and fullness (of splendour) ' 

Besides Babylonia and Assyria, he was also 
worshipped in other parts of the Semitic east, 
especially at JJarran, to which city Abraham 
migrated, scholars say, in consequence of the 
patron-deity being the same as at Ur of the 
Chaldees, where he had passed the earlier years 

1 Probably of the colour of lapis only, not made of the 
stone itself 

82 



GODS OF BABYLONIANS AND ASSYRIANS 

of his life. The Mountain, of Sinai and the 
Desert of Sin, both bear his name. 

According to king Dungi (about 2700 B a), the 
spouse of Sin or Nannara was Nin-Uruwa, 'the 
lady of Ur.' Sargon of Assyria (722-705 B.C.) calls 
her Nin-gala. 

Addu or Rammanu. The numerous names 
which Hadad bears in the inscriptions, both 
non- Semitic and Semitic, testify to the popu- 
larity which this god enjoyed at all times in 
Babylonia. Among his non-Semitic names may 
be mentioned Mer, Mermer, Muru, all, it may 
be imagined, imitative. Addu is explained as 
being his name in the Araorite language, and 
a variant form, apparently, which has lost its 
first syllable, namely, Dadu, also appears the 
Assyrians seem always to have used the termina- 
tionless form of Addu, namely, Adad. In all pro- 
bability Addu, Adad, and Dadu are derived from 
the West Semitic Hadad, but the' other name, 
Rammanu, is native Babylonian, and cognate with 
Eimmon, which is thus shown by the Babylonian 
form to mean 'the thunderer/ or something 
similar. He was the god of winds, storms, and 
rain, feared on account of the former, and wor- 
shipped, and his favour sought, on account of the 
last. In his name Birqu, he appears as the god 

83 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION 

of lightning, and Jastrow is of opinion, that he 
is sometimes associated on that account with 
Sainas, both of them being (though in different 
degrees) gods of light, and this is confirmed by 
the fact that, in common with the sun-god, he 
was called 'god of justice' In the Ass t yrian 
inscriptions he appears as a god of war, and the 
kings constantly compare the destruction which 
their armies had wrought with that of ' Adad the 
inundator.' For them he was ' the mighty one, 
inundating the regions of the enemy, lands and 
houses, 3 and was prayed to strike the land of 
the person who showed hostility to the Assyrian 
king, with evil-working lightning, to throw want* 
famine, drought, and corpses therein, to order 
that he should not live one day longer, and to 
destroy his name and his seed in the land. 

The original seat of his worship was Muru in 
South Babylonia, to which the patesi of Girsu in 
the time of Ibi-Sin sent grain as an offering. Its 
site is unknown. Other places (or are they other 
names of the same?) where he was worshipped 
were Ennigi and Kakru. The consort of Addu 
was $ala, whose worship was likewise very popular, 
and to whom there were temples, not only in 
Babylonia and Assyria, but also in Elain, seem- 
ingly always in connection with Addu. 



GODS OF BABYLONIANS AND ASSYKIANS 



r. In all the deities treated of above, we 
see the chief gods of the Babylonian and Assyrian 
pantheon, which were worshipped by both peoples 
extensively, none of them being specifically 
Assyrian, though worshipped by the Assyrians 
There was one deity, however, whose name will 
not be found in the Babylonian lists of gods, 
namely, Assur, the national god of Assyria, who 
was worshipped in the city of Assur, the old 
capital of the country. 

From this circumstance, it may be regarded as 
certain, that Assur was the local god of the city 
whose name he bore, and that he attained to the 
position of chief god of the Assyrian pantheon in 
the same way as Merodach became king of the 
gods in Babylonia namely, because Assur was 
the capital of the country. His acceptance as 
chief divinity, however, was much more general 
than that of Merodach, as temples to him were 
to be found all over the Assyrian kingdom a 
circumstance which was probably due to Assyria 
being more closely united in itself than Babylonia, 
causing his name to arouse patriotic feelings 
wherever it might be referred to. This was pro- 
bably partly due to the fact, that the king in 
Assyria was more the representative of the god 
than in Babylonia, and that the god followed him 
35 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION 

on warlike expeditions, and when engaged in re- 
ligions ceremonies indeed, it is not by any 
means improbable that he was thought to follow 
him wherever he went. On the sculptures he is 
seen accompanying him in the form of a circle 
provided with wings, in which is shown some- 
times a full-length figure of the god in human 
form, sometimes the upper part only, facing 
towards and drawing his bow against the foe. In 
consequence of its general appearance, the image 
of the god has been likened to the sun in eclipse, 
the far-stretching wings being thought to resemble 
the long streamers visible at the moment of 
totality, and it must be admitted as probable 
that this may have given the idea of the symbol 
shown on the sculptures. As a sun-god, and at 
the same time not the god Samas, he resembled 
the Babylonian Merodach, and was possibly iden- 
tified with him, especially as, in at least one text, 
Beltu (Beltis) is described as his consort, which 
would possibly identify Assur's spouse with Zer- 
panitu m . The original form of his name would" 
seem to have been Au$ar, 'water-field/ probably 
from the tract where the city of Assur was built. 
His identification with Merodach, if that was ever 
accepted, may have been due to the likeness of 
the word to Asari, one of that deity's names. The 
86 



GODS OF BABYLONIANS AND ASSYRIANS 

pronunciation Assur, however, seems to have led 
to a comparison with the Ansar of the first tablet 
of the Creation-story (see p. 32), though it may 
seem strange that the Assyrians should have 
thought that their patron-god was a deity sym- 
bolising the ' host of heaven.' Nevertheless, the 
Greek transcription of Ansar, namely, Assoros, 
given by Dainascius, certainly strengthens the indi- 
cations of the ideograph in this matter. Delitzsch 
regards the word Assur, or Asur, as he reads it, 
as meaning ' holy/ and quotes a list of the gods 
of the city of Nineveh, where the word Assur 
occurs three times, suggesting the exclamation 
'holy, holy, holy, 5 or 'the holy, holy, holy one/ 
In all probability, however, the repetition of the 
name three times simply means that there were 
three temples dedicated to Assur in the cities in 
question. 1 Jastrow agrees with Delitzsch in re- 
garding Asur as another form of Asir (found in 
early Cappadocian names), but he translates it 
rather as ' overseer ' or ' guardian ' of the land and 
the people the terminationless form of a$/ru, 
which has this meaning, and is applied to 
Merodach. 
As the use of the characters An-a/r for the 

1 Or there may have been three shrines to Assur in each 
temple referred to. 

87 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION 

god Assur only appears at a late date (Jastrow 
says the eighth century B.C.), this would seem to 
have been the work of the scribes, who wished to 
read into the name the earlier signification of 
Ansar, c the host of heaven/ an explanation fully 
in accord with Jastrow's reasonings with regard 
to the nature of the deity. As he represented 
no personification or power of nature, he says, 
but the general protecting spirit of the land, the 
king, the army, and the people, the capital of 
the country could be transferred from Assur to 
Calah, from there back to Assur, and finally to 
Nineveh, without affecting the position of the 
protecting god of the land in any way. He 
needed no temple though such things were 
erected to him he had no need to fear that 
he should suffer in esteem by the preference for 
some other god As the embodiment of the 
spirit of the Assyrian people the personal side of 
his being remained to a certain extent in the 
background. If he was the ' host of heaven/ all 
the deities might be regarded as having their 
being in him. 

Such was the chief deity of the Assyrians a 
national god, grafted on to, but always distinct 
from, the rest of the pantheon, which, as has been 
shown, was of Babylonian origin, and always 



GODS OF BABYLONIANS AND ASSYRIANS 

maintained the characteristics and stamp of its 
origin. 

The spouse of Assur does not appear in the 
historical texts, and her mention elsewhere under 
the title of Beltu, ' the lady/ does not allow of 
any identification being made. In one in- 
scription, however, Assuritu is called the goddess, 
and Assur the god, of the star Sib-zi-anna, identi- 
fied by Jensen with Regulus, which was apparently 
the star of Merodach in Babylonia. This, how- 
ever, brings us no nearer, for Assuritu would 
simply mean ' the Assurite (goddess) J 

The minor divinities. Among the hundreds 
of names which the lists furnish, a few are 
worthy of mention, either because of more than 
ordinary interest, or in consequence of their 
furnishing the name of some deity, chief in its 
locality, but identified elsewhere with one of the 
greater gods. 

Aa. This may be regarded either as the god 
fia (though the name is written differently), or as 
the sun-god assuming the name of his consort; 
or (what is, perhaps, more probable) as a way of 
writing A'u or Ya'u (the Hebrew Jah), without 
the ending of the nominative. This last is also 
found under the form. Aa'u, ya'u, yau, and ya. 

Abil-Addu, This deity seems to have attained 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYEIAN BELIGION 

a certain popularity in later times, especially 
among immigrants from the "West. As ' the son 
of Hadad,' he was the equivalent of the Syrian 
Ben-Hadad. A tablet in New York shows that 
this name was weakened in form to Ablada. 
For Addu or Adad (Hadad or Kimmon), see p. 83. 

Aku, the moon-god among the heavenly bodies. 
It is this name which is regarded as occurring 
in the name of the Babylonian king Eri-Aku, 
'servant of the moon-god/ the biblical Arioch 
(Gen. xiv.). 

Amma-an-ki, a or Aa as lord of heaven and 
earth (see pp. 50-51). 

Amna. A name only found in a syllabary, and 
assigned to the sun-god, from which it would 
seem that it is a form of the Egyptian Ammon. 

Anunitu m , the goddess of one of the two 
Sippars, called Sippar of Anunitu m , who was 
worshipped in the temple fi-ulmas within the 
city of Agade (Akkad). Sayce identifies, on this 
account, these two places as being the same. In 
a list of stars, Anunitu ni is coupled with Sinunu- 
tu m , which are explained as (the stars of) the 
Tigris and Euphrates. These were probably 
names of Venus as the morning and evening (or 
evening and morning) star. 

Apsu. The deep dissociated from the evil con- 
90 



GODS OF BABYLONIANS AND ASSYRIANS 

nection with Tiawath (see pp. S3, 34), and regarded 
as ' the house of deep wisdom,' i e. the home of 
the god Ea or Aa. 

Aruru. One of the deities of Sippar and Aram 
(in the time of the dynasty of Hammurabi called 
Ya'ruru), of which she was chief goddess. Aruru 
was one of the names of the ' lady of the gods,' 
and aided Merodach to make the seed of man- 
kind (see p 45). 

BL As this name means 'lord/ it could be 
applied, like the Phoenician Baal, to the chief 
god of any city, as Bel of Niffur, Bel of Hursag- 
kalama, Bel of Aratta, Bel of Babylon, etc. This 
often indicates also the star which represented 
the chief god of a place. 

Beltu In the same way B&ltu, meaning ' lady,' 
meant also the chief goddess of any place, as 
'Aruru, lady of the gods of Sippar of Aruru/ 
'Nin-mah, lady of the gods of fi-majj/ a cele- 
brated temple within Babylon, recently excavated 
by the Germans, ' Nin-hur-saga, lady of the gods 
of Kes/ etc. 

Bunene. A god associated with Samas and 
Istar at Sippar and elsewhere. He ' gave ' and 
' renewed * to his worshippers. 

Dagan. This deity, whose worship extends 
back to an exceedingly early date, is generally 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION 

identified with the Phoenician Dagon. JEfam- 
murabi seems to speak of the Euphrates as being 
'the boundary of Dagan/ whom he calls his 
creator. In later inscriptions the form Daguna, 
which approaches nearer to the West Semitic form, 
is found in a few personal names. The Phoenician 
statues of this deity showed him with the lower 
part of his body in the form of a fish (see 1 Sam. 
Y. 4). Whether the deities clothed in a fish's 
skin in the Nimroud Gallery of the British 
Museum be Dagon or not is uncertain they 
may be intended for fia or Aa, the Oannes of 
Berosus, who was represented in this way. Pro- 
bably the two deities were regarded as identical. 

Damu. A goddess regarded as equivalent to 
Gula by the Babylonians and Assyrians. She 
was goddess of healing, and made one's dreams 
happy. 

Dumu-zi-abzu, ' Tammuz of the Abyss.' This 
was one of the six sons of Ea or Aa, according 
to the lists. His worship is exceedingly ancient, 
and goes back to the time of E-anna-tum of 
Lagas (about 4000 B.C.). What connection, if 
any, he may have with Tammuz, the spouse of 
Is tar, is unknown. Jastrow apparently regards 
him as a distinct deity, and translates his name 
' the child of the life of the water-deep/ 
92 



GOJ3S OF BABYLONIANS AND ASSYRIANS 

Elali. A deity identified with the Hebrew 
Helal, the new moon. Only found in names of 
the "time of the |Jarnmurabi dynasty, in one of 
which he appears as ' a creator.' 

En-nugi is described as 'lord of streams and 
canals/ and ' lord of the earth, lord of no-return/ 
This last description, which gives the meaning 
of his name, suggests that he was one of the 
gods of the realm of Eres-ki-gal, though he may 
have borne that name simply as god of streams, 
which always flow down, never the reverse. 

Gibil. One of the names of the god of fire, 
sometimes transcribed Girru by Assyriologists, 
the meaning apparently being c the fire-bearer ' or 
' light-bearer.' Girru is another name of this deity, 
and translates an ideographic group, rendered 
by Delitzsch 'great' or 'highest decider/ suggest- 
ing the custom of trial by ordeal He was 
identified with Nirig, in Semitic fjnu-r&stu. 

Gusqi-banda or Kuski-banda, one of the names 
of Ea, probably as god of gold- workers. 

Isum, ' the glorious sacrificer/ seemingly a name 
of the fire-god as the means whereby burnt offer- 
ings were made. Nur-Isum, ' light of Isum/ is 
found as a man's name 

Kaawanu, the planet Saturn (see pp. 99-100). 

Lagamal. A god identified with the Elamite 
93 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYKIAN RELIGION 

Lagamar, whose name is regarded as existing in 
Chedorlaoiner (cf. Gen. xiv. 2). He was the chief 
god of Mair, c the ship-city.' 

Lugal-Amarada or Lugal-Marad. This name 
means ' king of Marad,' a city as yet unidentified. 
The king of this place seems to have been Nerigal, 
of whom, therefore, Lugal-Marad is another name. 

Lugal-banda. This name means f the powerful 
king/ or something similar, and the god bearing 
it is supposed to be the same as Nerigal. His 
consort, however, was named Nin-sun (or Nin- 
gul). 

Lugal-Du-azaga, ' the king of the glorious seat/ 
The founder of Eridu, 'the good city within 
the Abyss/ probably the paradise (or a paradise) 
of the world to come. As it was the aim of 
every good Babylonian to dwell hereafter with 
the god whom he had worshipped upon earth, it 
may be conjectured that this was the paradise in 
the domain of Ea or Aa. 

Mama, Mami. Names of 'the lady of the 
gods/ and creatress of the seed of mankind, 
Aruru. 1 Probably so called as the 'mother' of 
all things. Another name of this goddess is 
Ama, f mother. 5 

Mammitu m , Mamitu m , goddess of fate. 

1 See p. 62 (Zer-panitu^). 

94 



GODS OF BABYLONIANS AND ASSYRIANS 

Mur, one of the names of Addu or Rainmanu 
(Hadad or Eimmon). 

Nana or Nanaa was the consort of Nebo at 
Borsippa, but appears as a form of Istar, wor- 
shipped, with Anu her father, at Erech. 

Nin-a]ia-kudu, a name of Ea or Aa and of his 
daughter as deity of the rivers, and therefore of 
gardens and plantations, which were watered by 
means of the small canals leading therefrom. As 
daughter of Ea, this deity was also 'lady of the 
incantation.' 

Nin-azu, the consort of Eres-ki-gal, probably as 
' lord physician/ He is probably to be identified 
with Nerigal. 

Nin-igi-nagar-sir, a name somewhat more doubt- 
ful as to its reading than the others, designates 
Ea or Aa as e the god of the carpenter.' He 
seems to have borne this as 'the great con- 
structor of heaven ' or ' of Anu.' (See p. 52). 

Nin-rna^, chief goddess of the temple 6-ma^i 
in Babylon. Probably to be identified with 
Aruru, and therefore with Zer-panitu m . 

Nin-sa^, a deity whose name is conjectured to 
mean c lord of the wild boar.' He seems to have 
been a god of war, and was identified with Nirig 
or fenu-restu and Pap-sukal. 

Nin-sirsir, Ea as the god of sailors. 
95 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYEIAN RELIGION 

Nin-sun, as pointed out by Jastrow, was pro- 
bably the same as Istar or Nana of Erech, 
where she had a shrine, with them, in E-anna, 
' the house of Anu.' He renders her name < the 
annihilating lady/ 1 'appropriate for the consort 
of a sun-god/ for such he regards Lugal-banda 
her spouse. King Sin-gasid of Erech (about 
3000 EC) refers to her as his mother. 

Nun-urra. Ea, as the god of potters. 

Pap-sukal A name of Nin-sah, as the ' divine 
messenger/ who is also described as god c of 
decisions/ Nin-sa^ would seem to have been 
one of the names of Pap-sukal rather than the 
reverse. 

Qarradu, ' strong/ ' mighty/ * brave/ This 
word, which was formerly translated c warrior/ is 
applied to several deities, among them being Bel, 
Nergal, Nirig (finu-restu), and $amas, the sun-god. 

Ragimu and Ramimu, names of Rimmon or 
Hadad as 'the thunderer. 5 The second comes 
from the same root as Rammanu (Rimmon). 

uqamumi. A deity regarded as 'lord of 
watercourses/ probably the artificial channels dug 
for the irrigation of fields. 

Ura-gala, a name of Nerigal. 

1 This is due to the second element of the name having, with 
another pronunciation, the meaning of { to destroy.' 



GODS OF BABYLONIANS AND ASSYRIANS 

Uras, a name of Nirig, under which he was 
worshipped at Dailem, near Babylon. 

Zagaga, dialectic Zamama. This deity, who 
was a god of war, was identified with Nirig. One 
of his titles was bdl parakki, 'lord of the royal 
chamber/ or ' throne-room.' 

Zaraqu or Zariqu. As the root of this name 
means ' to sprinkle/ he was probably also a god 
of irrigation, and may have presided over cere- 
monial purification. He is mentioned in names 
as the ( giver of seed ' and ( giver of a name * fy e, 
offspring). 

These are only a small proportion of the 
names found in the inscriptions, but short as 
the list necessarily is, the nature, if not the full 
composition, of the Babylonian pantheon will 
easily be estimated therefrom. 

It will be seen that besides the identifications 
of the deities of all the local pantheons with each 
other, each divinity had almost as many names 
as attributes and titles, hence their exceeding 
multiplicity. In such an extensive pantheon, 
many of the gods composing it necessarily over- 
lap, and identifications with each other, to which 
the faith, in its primitive form, was a stranger, 
were inevitable. The tendency to monotheism 
which this caused will be referred to later on. 
G 97 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION 

The gods and the heavenly bodies. It has 

already been pointed out that, from the evidence 
of the Babylonian syllabary, the deities of the 
Babylonians were not astral in their origin, 
the only gods certainly originating in heavenly 
bodies being the sun and the moon. This leads 
to the supposition that the Babylonians, bearing 
these two deities in mind, may have asked them- 
selves why, if these two were represented by 
heavenly bodies, the others should not be so 
represented also Be this as it may, the other 
deities of the pantheon were so represented, and 
the full planetary scheme, as given by a bilingual 
list in the British Museum, was as follows 

Aku Sin the moon. Sm. 



BiSebi 


gamaS 


the sun. 


v 

Samas. 


Dapinu 


Umun-sig-ea 


Jupiter. 


Merodach. 


Zib 1 


Dele-bat 


Venus. 


I&tar. 


Lu-lim 


Lu-bat-sag-u& 


Satarn. 


Nirig (ace. to 








Jensen). 


Bibbu 


Lubat-gud 


Mercury. 


Nebo. 


Simutu 


/MuStabarru 
\ mutanu 


j-Mars 


Nergal 



All the above names of planets have the prefix 
of divinity, but in other inscriptions the deter- 
minative prefix is that for ' star/ kakkabu. 

1 This is apparently a Sumerian dialectic form, the original 
word having seemingly been Zig. 



GODS OF BABYLONIANS AND ASSYRIANS 

Moon and Sun. Unfortunately, all the above 
identifications of tlie planets with the deities in 
the fourth column are not certain, namely, those 
corresponding with Saturn, Mercury, and Mars. 
With regard to the others, however, there is no 
doubt whatever. The reason why the moon is 
placed before the sun is that the sun, as already 
explained, was regarded as his son. It was note- 
worthy also that the moon was accredited with two 
other offspring, namely, Masu and Mastu son and 
daughter respectively. As mau means 'twin/ 
these names must symbolise the two halves, or, 
as we say, ' quarters ' of the moon, who were thus 
regarded, in Babylonian mythology, as his ' twin 
children/ 

Jupiter and Saturn. Concerning Jupiter, who 
is in the above called Dapinu (Semitic), and 
Umun-sig-6a (Sumerian), it has already been 
noted that he was called Nibiru according to 
Jensen, Merodach as he who went about among 
the stars ' pasturing ' them like sheep, as stated in 
the Babylonian story of the Creation (or Bel and 
the Dragon). 1 This is explained by Mm as being 
due to the comparatively rapid and extensive 
path of Jupiter on the ecliptic, and it would seem 
probable that the names of Saturn, 

1 See p. 40. 

99 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION 

and Sag-u$ (the former, which, is Semitic Baby- 
lonian, meaning ' steadfast/ or something similar, 
and the latter, in Suinerian, ' head-firm ' or ' stead- 
fast' 'phlegmatic'), to all appearance indicate in 
like manner the deliberation of his movements 
compared with those of the planet dedicated to 
the king of the gods. 

Venus at sunrise and sunset. A fragment of 
a tablet published in 1870 gives some interesting 
particulars concerning the planet Venus, probably 
explaining some as yet unknown mythological 
story concerning her. According to this, she was 
a female at sunset, and a male at sunrise ; Istar of 
Agade (Akad or Akkad) at sunrise, and Istar of 
Erech at sunset . Istar of the stars at sunrise, and 
the lady of the gods at sunset. 

And in the various months. Istar was identi- 
fied with Nin-si-anna in the first month of the 
year (Nisan= March- April), with the star of the 
bow in Ab (August-September), etc. In Sebat 
(January-February) she was the star of the water- 
channel, Iku, which was Merodach's star in Sivan 
(May-June), and in Marcheswan her star was 
Rabbu, which also belonged to Merodach in the 
same month. It will thus be seen, that Baby- 
lonian astronomy is far from being as clear as 
would be desired, but doubtless many difficulties 
100 



GODS OF BABYLONIANS AND ASSYRIANS 

will disappear when further inscriptions are 
available. 

Stars identified with Merodack The same 
fragment gives the celestial names of Merodach 
for every month of the year, from which it would 
appear, that the astrologers called him Umun- 
sig-ea in Nisan (March-April), Dapinu in Tammuz 
(June-July), Nibiru in Tisri (September-October), 
ami (the star Regulus), in Tebet (December- 
January), etc. The first three are names by which 
the planet Jupiter was known 

As for the planets and stars, so also for the 
constellations, which are identified with many 
gods and divine beings, and probably contain 
references, in their names and descriptions, to 
many legends. In the sixth tablet of the Creation- 
series, it is related of Merodach that, after creating 
the heavens and the stations for Anu, Bel, and 
Ae, 

* He built firmly the stations of the great gods 
Stars their likeness he set up the LumaM, 
He designated the year, he outlined the (heavenly) forms. 
He set for the twelve months three stars each, 
From the day when the year begins, ... for signs.' 

As pointed out by Mr Robert Brown, jr., who 
has made a study of these things, the 'three 
stars ' for each month occur on one of the remains 
101 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION 



of planispheres in the British Museum, and are 
completed by a tablet which gives them in list- 
form, in one case with explanations. Until these 
are properly identified, however, it will be im- 
possible to estimate their real value. The signs 
of the Zodiac, which are given by another tablet, 
are of greater interest, as they are the originals of 
those which are in use at the present time : 

Month. 

1. Kisan (March- April) 
2 lyyar (April-May) 

3. Sivan (May- June) 

4. Tammuz (June- 

July) 

5. Ab (July -August) 

6. Elul (August- 

September) 

7. Tisri (September- 

October) 

8. Marcheswan (October- The Scorpion 

November) 

9. Chialeu (November- 

December) 

10. Tebet (December- 

January) 

11. Sebat (January - 

February) 

12. Adar ^February - 
March) 

Parallels in Babylonian legends. The 'bull 
of heaven' probably refers to some legend such 
102 



Sign. 


Equivalent. 


The Labourer 


The Ram. 


Mulmula and the 


The Bull. 


Bull of heaven 




Sib-zi-anna and the 


The Twins. 


great Twins 
Allul or Nagar 


The Crab. 


The Lion (or dog) 
The Ear of corn (?) 

The Scales 


The Lion. 
The ear of 

Corn (Virgo). 
The Scales. 



kid 

Gula 

The Water-Channel 
and the Tails 



The Scorpion. 



The Archer. 



t the Fish- The Goat. 



The Water- 

bearer. 
The Fishes. 



GODS OF BABYLONIANS AND ASSYEIANS 

as that of the story of Gilgames in his conflict 
with the goddess Istar when the divine bull was 
killed ; Sib-zi-annci, ' the faithful shepherd of 
heaven/ suggests that this constellation may refer 
to Tammuz, the divine shepherd, whilst 'the 
scorpion' reminds us of the scorpion-men who 
guarded the gate of the sun (Samas), when 
Gilgames was journeying to gain information 
concerning his friend Enki-du, who had departed 
to the place of the dead. Sir Henry Eawlinson 
many years ago pointed out that the story of 
the Flood occupied the eleventh tablet of the 
Gilgames series, corresponding with the eleventh 
sign of the Zodiac, Aquarius, or the Water-bearer. 
Other star-names. Other names of stars or 
constellations include ' the weapon of Merodach's 
hand,' probably that with which he slew the 
dragon of Chaos ; ' the Horse/ which is described 
as ' the god Zu/ Simmon's storm-bird Pegasus ; 
' the Serpent/ explained as Eres-ki-gal, the queen 
of Hades, who would therefore seem to have been 
conceived in that form ; ' the Scorpion/ which is 
given as Bhara tdmti, 'Isjiara of the sea/ a 
description difficult to explain, unless it refer to 
her as the goddess of the Phoenician coast. Many 
other identifications, exceedingly interesting, await 
solution. 

103 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYEIAN RELIGION 

How the gods were represented. On cylinder- 
seals. Many representations of the gods occur, 
both on bas-reliefs, boundary-stones, and cylindrical 
and ordinary seals. Unfortunately, their identi- 
fication generally presents more or less difficulty, 
on account of the absence of indications of their 
identity. On a small cylinder-seal in the possession 
of the Rev. Dr. W. Hayes Ward, Merodach is 
shown striding along the serpentine body of 
Tiawath, who turns her head to attack him, 
whilst the god threatens her with a pointed 
weapon which he carries. Another, published by 
the same scholar, shows a deity, whom he regards 
as being Merodach, driven in a chariot drawn by 
a winged lion, upon whose shoulders stands a 
naked goddess, holding thunderbolts in each hand, 
whom he describes as Zer-panitu m . Another 
cylinder-seal shows the corn -deity, probably 
Nisaba, seated in flounced robe and horned hat, 
with corn-stalks springing out from his shoulders, 
and holding a twofold ear of corn in his hand, 
whilst an attendant introduces, and another with 
a threefold ear of corn follows, a man carrying a 
plough, apparently as an offering. On another, a 
beautiful specimen from Assyria, Istar is shown 
standing on an Assyrian lion, which turns his 
head as if to caress her feet. As goddess of war, 
104 



GODS OF BABYLONIANS AND ASSYJ0&NS 

she is armed with bow and arrows, and heAsTrar is 
represented upon the crown of her tiara. 

On boundary-stones, etc On the boundary- 
stones of Babylonia and the royal monoliths of 
Assyria the emblems of the gods are nearly always 
seen. Most prominent are three horned tiaras, em- 
blematic, probably, of Merodach, Anu, and Bel (the 
older). A column ending in a ram's head is used 
for Ea or Ae , a crescent for Sin or Nannar, the 
moon-god ; a disc* with rays for Samas, the sun-god ; 
a thunderbolt for Kimmon or Hadad, the god of 
thunder, lightning, wind, and storms ; a lamp for 
Nusku, etc A bird, perhaps a hawk, stood for 
Utu-gisgallu, a deity whose name has been trans- 
lated ' the southern sun,' and is explained in the 
bilingual inscriptions as Samas, the sun-god, and 
Nirig, one of the gods of war (see p. 55 f). The 
emblem of Gal-alim, who is identified with the 
older Bel, is a snarling dragon's head forming the 
termination of a pole, and that of Dun-asaga is 
a bird's head similarly posed. On a boundary- 
stone of the time of Nebuchadnezzar L, about 
1120 BC., one of the signs of the gods shows a 
horse's head in a kind of shrine, probably the 
emblem of Rimmon's storm-bird, Zu, the Baby- 
lonian Pegasus. 

Other divine figures. One of the finest of all 
105 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYEIAN RELIGION 

the representations of divinities is that of the 
( Sun-god-stone/ found by Mr. Hormuzd Rassam 
at Abu-habbah (the ancient Sippar), which was 
one of the chief seats of his worship. It repre- 
sents him, seated in his shrine ; holding in 
his hand a staff and a ring, his usual emblems, 
typifying his position as judge of the world and 
his endless course The position of Merodach as 
sun-god is confirmed by the small lapis-lazuli 
relief found by the German expedition at the 
mound known as Amran ibn 'Ali, as he also 
carries a staff and a ring, and his robe is covered 
with ornamental circles, showing, in all probability, 
his solar nature. In the same place another 
small relief representing Rimmon or Hadad was 
found. His robe has discs emblematical of the 
five planets, and he holds in each hand a thunder- 
bolt, one of which he is about to launch forth. 
Merodach is accompanied by a large two-horned 
dragon, whilst Hadad has a small winged dragon, 
typifying the swiftness of his course, and another 
animal, both of which he holds with cords. 



CHAPTEK V 

THE DEMONS: EXORCISMS AND CEREMONIES 

GOOD and evil spirits, gods, and demons, were 
fully believed in by the Babylonians and Assyrians, 
and many texts referring to them exist. Naturally 
it is not in some cases easy to distinguish well 
between the special functions of these super- 
natural appearances which they supposed to exist, 
but their nature is, in most cases, easily ascertained 
from the inscriptions. 

To all appearance, the Babylonians imagined 
that spirits resided everywhere, and lay in wait to 
attack mankind, and to each class, apparently, 
a special province in bringing misfortune, or 
tormenting, or causing pain and sickness, was 
assigned. All the spirits, however, were not evil, 
even those whose names would suggest that their 
character was such there were good 'liers in 
wait/ for instance, as well as evil ones, whose 
attitude towards mankind was beneficent. 
107 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYKIAN RELIGION 

The utfuMu. This was a spirit which was 
supposed to do the will of Ann, the god of the 
heavens. There was the utukku of the plain, the 
mountains, the sea, and the grave 

The cU4. Regarded as the demon of the storm, 
and possibly, in its origin, the same as the divine 
bull sent by Istar to attack Gilgames, and killed 
by Enld-du. It spread itself over a man, over- 
powering him upon his bed, and attacking his 
breast. 

The ddimmu. This is generally, but wrongly, 
read Mmmu, and translated 'the seizer/ from 
Skemu, ' to seize/ In reality, however, it was an 
ordinary spirit, and the word is used for the 
wraiths of the departed. The c evil ddimmu ' was 
apparently regarded as attacking the middle part 
of a man. 

The gcdlu. As this word is borrowed from the 
Sumerian galla, which has a dialectic form, mulla, 
it is not 'improbable that it may be connected 
with the word mufa, meaning ' star,' and suggest- 
ing something which is visible by the light it 
gives possibly a will-o'-the-wisp, though others 
are inclined to regard the word as being connected 
with gala,, ' great.' In any case, its meaning seems 
to have become very similar to 'evil spirit' or 
' devil' in general, and is an epithet applied by 
1 08 



THE DEMONS 

the Assyrian king Assur-bani-apli to Te-umman, 
the Elamite king against whom he fought. 

The ttu hmnu, ' evil god/ was probably origin- 
ally one of the deities of Tiawath's brood, upon 
whom Merodach's redemption had had no effect. 

The rabisu is regarded as a spirit which lay in 
wait to pounce upon his prey 

The labartu, in Sumerian d-imme, was a female 
demon. There were seven evil spirits of this 
kind, who were apparently regarded as being 
daughters of Anu, the god of the heavens. 

The labasu, in Sumerian dimmea, was appar- 
ently a spirit which overthrew, that being the 
meaning of the root from which the word comes. 

The dhhazu, in Sumerian dimme-kur, was 
apparently so called as : the seizer/ that being the 
meaning indicated by the root. 

The lilu, in Sumerian lila, is generally regarded 
as the night-monster/ the word being referred to 
the Semitic root Ul or layl, whence the Hebrew 
la/yil, Arabic layl, ' night/ Its origin, however, is 
Sumerian, from lila, regarded as meaning ' mist/ 
To the word lilu the ancient Babylonians formed 
a feminine, liltthu, which entered the Hebrew 
language under the form of lilith, which was, 
according to the rabbins, a beautiful woman, who 
lay in wait for children by night. The lilu 
109 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION 

had a companion who is called his handmaid or 
servant 

The namtaru was apparently the spirit of fate, 
and therefore of greater importance than those 
already mentioned. This being was regarded as 
the beloved son of Bel, and offspring of Eres-lci-gal 
or Persephone, and he had a spouse named gu- 
bi-aga. Apparently he executed the instructions 
given him concerning the fate of men, and could 
also have power over certain of the gods. 

The Md/u, were apparently deities in the form of 
bulls. They were destructive, of enormous power, 
and unsparing. In a good sense the edu was a 
protecting deity, guarding against hostile attacks. 
Erech and the temple fi-kura were protected by 
spirits such as these, and to one of them Isum, 
' the glorious sacrificer,' was likened. 

The lamassu, from the Sumerian lama, was 
similar in character to the sddu, but is thought to 
have been of the nature of a colossus a winged 
man-headed bull or lion. It is these creatures 
which the kings placed at the sides of the doors 
of their palaces, to protect the king's footsteps. 
In early Babylonian times a god named Lama 
was one of the most popular deities of the Baby- 
lonian pantheon. 

A specimen incantation. Numerous inscrip- 
no 



THE DEMONS 

tions, which, may be regarded as dating, in their 
origin, from about the middle of the third 
millennium before Christ, speak of these super- 
natural beings, and also of others similar. One 
of the most perfect of these inscriptions is 
a large bilingual tablet of which a duplicate 
written during the period of the dynasty of 
Hammurabi (before 2000 B.C ) exists, and which 
was afterwards provided with a Semitic Baby- 
lonian translation. This inscription refers to the 
evil god, the evil utukTcu, the utukku of the 
plain, of the mountain, of the sea, and of the 
grave , the evil &du, the glorious dM, or divine 
bull, and the evil unsparing wind. There was 
also that which takes the form of a man, the 
evil face, the evil eye, the evil mouth, the evil 
tongue, the evil lip, the evil breath, also the 
afflicting asakku (regarded as the demon of fever), 
the asakJcu which does not leave a man : the 
afflicting namtaru (fate), the severe namtaru, 
the namtaru which does not quit a man. After 
this are mentioned various diseases, bodily pains, 
annoyances, such as ' the old shoe, the broken 
shoe-lace, the food which afflicts the body of a 
man, the food which turns in eating, the water 
which chokes in drinking/ etc. Other things to 
be exorcised included the spirit of death, people 
in 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION 

who had died of hunger, thirst, or in other ways ; 
the handmaid of the hlu who had no husband, 
the prince of the lilu who had no wife, whether 
his name had been recorded or unrecorded. 

The method of exorcising the demons causing 
all these things was curious. White and black 
yarn was spun, and fastened to the side and 
canopy of the afflicted person's bed the white to 
the side and the top or canopy, the black to the 
left hand and then, apparently, the following 
words were said : 

' Evil utuklcu, evil did, evil edimmu, evil gallu, 
evil god, evil rabisu, labartu, labasu, dhfyazu, 
lilu, liUthu, handmaid of hlu, sorcery, enchant- 
ment, magic, disaster, machination which is not 
good may they not set their head to his head, 
their hand to his hand, their foot to his foot 
may they not draw near. Spirit of heaven, mayest 
thou exorcise, spirit of earth, mayest thou exorcise ' 

But this was only the beginning of the real 
ceremony. The god Asari-alim-nunna (Mero- 
dach), 'eldest son of J&ridu,' was asked to wash 
him in pure and bright water twice seven times, 
and then would the evil lier-in-wait depart, and 
stand aside, and a propitious &du and a propi- 
tious labartu reside in his body The gates right 
and left having been thus, so to say, shut close, 
112 



THE DEMONS 

the evil gods, demons, and spirits would be un- 
able to approach him, wherever he might be. 
* Spirit of heaven, exorcise, spirit of earth, exor- 
cise.' Then, after an invocation of Erei-ki-gal 
and Isum, the final paragraph was pronounced : 

* The afflicted man, "by an offering of grace 
In health like shining bronze shall be made bright. 
As for that man, 
ama$ shall give him life. 
Merodach, first-born son of the Abyss, 
It is thine to purify and glorify. 
Spirit of heaven, mayest thou exorcise, spirit of 
earth, mayest thou exorcise.' 

Rites and ceremonies. As may be expected, 
the Babylonians and Assyrians had numerous 
rites and ceremonies, the due carrying out of 
which was necessary for the attainment of the 
grace demanded, or for the efficacy of the thanks 
tendered for favours received. 

Perhaps the oldest ceremony recorded is that 
which Ut-napisti m , the Chaldsean Noah, made on 
the zikkurat or peak of the mountain after the 
coming forth from the ship which had saved 
him and his from the Flood. The Patriarch's 
description of this ceremony is short : 

' I sent forth to the four winds, I poured out a libation 
I made an offering on the peak of the mountain : 
SeVen and seven I set incense-vases^there,* 

H 113 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION 

Into their depths I poured cane, cedar, and scented 

wood (9) 

The gods smelled a savour, 
The gods smelled a sweet savour, 
The gods gathered like flies over the sacrificer * 

Following in the footsteps of their great pro- 
genitor, the Babylonians and Assyrians became a 
most pious race, constantly rendering to their 
gods the glory for everything which they suc- 
ceeded in bringing to a successful issue. Prayer, 
supplication, and self-abasement before their gods 
seem to have been with them a duty and a plea- 
sure : 

{ The time for the worship of the gods was my heart's 

delight, 
The time of the offering to IStar was profit and riches,' 

sings Ludlul the sage, and all the people of his 
land were one with him in that opinion. 

It is noteworthy that the offering of the 
Chaldsean Noah consisted of vegetable produce 
only, and there are many inscriptions referring 
to similar bloodless sacrifices, and detailing the 
ritual used in connection therewith. Sacrifices 
of animals, however, seem to have been con- 
stantly made in any case, offerings of cattle and 
fowl, in list-form, are fairly numerous. Many a 
cylinder-seal has a representation of the owner' 
114 



THE DEMONS 

bringing a young animal a kid or a lamb as 
an offering to the deity whom he worshipped, 
and in the inscriptions the sacrifice of animals 
is frequently referred to. One of the bilingual 
texts refers to the offering of a kid or some 
other young animal, apparently on behalf of a 
sick man. The text of this, where complete, runs 
as follows : 

' The fatling which is the "head-raiser" of mankind 
He has given the fatling for his life. 
He has given the head of the fatling for his head, 
He has given the neck of the fatling for his neck, 
He has given the breast of the fatling for his breast.' 

Whether human sacrifices were common or not 
is a doubtful point. Many cylinder-seals exist in 
which the slaying of a man is depicted, and the 
French Assyriologist Menant was of opinion that 
they represented a human offering to the gods. 
Hayes Ward, however, is inclined to doubt this 
explanation, and more evidence would seem, 
therefore, to be needed. He is inclined to think 
that, in the majority of cases, the designs referred 
to show merely the victims of divine anger or 
vengeance, punished by the deity for some mis- 
deed or sin, either knowingly or unknowingly 
committed. 

In the Assyrian galleries of the British Museum, 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION 

Assur-nasir-apli, king of Assyria, is several times 
shown engaged in religious ceremonies either 
worshipping before the sacred tree, or about to 
pour out, apparently, a libation to the gods before 
departing upon some expedition, and priests 
bringing offerings, either animal or vegetable, 
are also represented. Assur-bani-apli, who is 
identified with 'the great and noble Asnapper,' 
is shown, in bas-reliefs of the Assyrian Saloon, 
pouring out a thank-offering over the lions which 
he has killed, after his return from the hunt. 



116 



CHAPTEE VI 

PROBLEMS WHICH THE STUDY OFFERS 

Monotheism. As the matter of Babylonian 
monotheism has been publicly touched upon by 
Fried. Delitzsch in his ' Babel und Bibel ' lectures, 
a few words upon that important point will be 
regarded in all probability as appropriate. It 
has already been indicated (see p. 43) that the 
giving of the names of 'the gods his fathers' 
to Merodach practically identified them with 
him, thus leading to a tendency to monotheism. 
That tendency is, perhaps, hinted at in a letter 
of Assur-bani-apli to the Babylonians, in which 
he frequently mentions the Deity, but in doing 
so, uses either the word Uu, ' God,' Merodach, the 
god of Babylon, or Bl, which may be regarded 
as one of his names. The most important docu- 
ment for this monotheistic tendency, however 
(confirming as it does the tablet of the fifty-one 
names), is that in which at least thirteen of the 
117 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION 

Babylonian deities are identified with Merodaeh, 
and that in such a way as to make them merely 
forms in which he manifested himself to men. 
The text of this inscription is as follows : 

is Merodacli of planting. 

Lugal-dki- . is Merodaeh of the water-course 

Nirig is Merodaeh of strength. 

Nergal is Merodaeh of "war. 

Zagaga is Merodaeh of battle. 

Bel is Merodaeh of lordship and domination. 

Nebo is Merodaeh of trading (?). 

Sin is Merodaeh the illuminator of the night. 

Sama is Merodaeh of righteous things. 

Addu is Merodaeh of rain. 

Tispak is Merodaeh of frost (?}. 

Sig is Merodaeh of green things (?). 

Saqamumi is Merodaeh of the irrigation-channel. 7 

Here the text breaks off, but must have 
contained several more similar identifications, 
showing how at least the more thoughtful of the 
Babylonians of old looked upon the host of gods 
whom they worshipped. What may be the date 
of this document is uncertain, but as the colophon 
seems to describe it as a copy of an older inscrip- 
tion, it may go back as far as 2000 years B.C. 
This is the period at which the name Yau^-ttu 
'Jah is God,' is found, together with numerous 
references to ilu as the name for the one great 
god, and is also, roughly, the date of Abraham, 
118 



PROBLEMS WHICH THE STUDY OFFERS 

who, it may be noted, was a Babylonian of Ur 
of the Chaldees. It will probably not be thought 
too venturesome to say that his monotheism 
was possibly the result of the religious trend of 
thought in his time. 

Dualism. Damascius, in his valuable account 
of the belief of the Babylonians concerning the 
Creation (see p. 32), states that, like the other 
barbarians, they reject the doctrine of the one 
origin of the universe, and constitute two, Tauthe 
(Tiawath) and Apason (Apsu). This twofold prin- 
ciple, however, is only applicable to the system in 
that it makes of the sea and the deep (for such 
are the meanings of the two words) two personages 
the female and the male personifications of 
primaeval matter, from which all creation sprang, 
and which gave birth to the gods of heaven them- 
selves. As far as the physical constituents of 
these two principals are concerned, their tenets 
might be described as having 'materialistic 
monism' as their basis, but inasmuch as they 
believed that each of these two principals had a 
mind, the description c idealistic monism ' cannot 
be applied to it it is distinctly a dualism. 

And Monism. Divested of its idealistic side, 
however, there would seem to be no escape from 
regarding the Babylonian idea of the origin of 
119 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION 

things as monistic. 1 This idea has its reflection, 
though not its reproduction, in the first chapter 
of Genesis, in which, verses 2, 6, and 7, water is 
represented as the first thing existing, though 
not the first abode of life. This divergency from 
the Babylonian view was inevitable with a 
monotheistic nation, such as the Jews were ? 
regarding as they did the Deity as the great 
source of everything existing. What effect the 
moving of the Spirit of God upon the face of 
the waters (v. 2) was supposed by them to have 
had, is uncertain, but it is to be noted that it 
was the land (vv. 11, 12) which first brought 
forth, at the command of God. 

The future life. The belief in a future life is 
the natural outcome of a religious belief such as 
the Babylonians, Assyrians, and many of the 
surrounding nations possessed. As has been 
shown, a portion of their creed consisted in hero- 
worship, which pre-supposes that the heroes in 
question continued to exist, in a state of still 
greater power and glory, after the conclusion of 
their life here upon earth 

1 Monism. The doctrine which holds that in the universe 
there is only a, single element or principle from which every- 
thing is developed, this single principle being either mind 
(idealistic monism) or matter (materialistic monism}. (Annan- 
dale.) 

120 



PEOBLEMS WHICH THE STUDY OFFEES 

' The god Bel hates me I cannot dwell in this 
land, and in the territory of Bel I cannot set my 
face. I shall descend then to the Abyss ; with 
Aa my lord shall I constantly dwell/ It is with 
these words that, by the counsel of the god Aa, 
Ut-napisti m explained to those who questioned 
him the reason why he was building the ship 
or ark which was to save him and his from the 
Flood, and there is but little doubt that the 
author of the story implied that he announced 
thereby his approaching death, or his departure 
to dwell with his god without passing the dread 
portals of the great leveller. This belief in the 
life beyond the grave seems to have been that 
which was current during the final centuries of 
the third millennium before Christ when a man 
died, it was said that his god took him to himself, 
and we may therefore suppose, that there were 
as many heavens places of contentment and 
bliss as there were gods, and that every good 
man was regarded as going and dwelling 
evermore with the deity which he had wor- 
shipped and served faithfully during his life- 
time. 

G-ilgames, the half-divine king of Erech, who 
reigned during the half -mythical period, on 
losing his friend and counsellor, Enki-du, set out 
121 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION 

to find him, and to bring him back, if possible, 
from the underworld where he was supposed to 
dwell. His death, however, had not been like 
that of an ordinary man ; it was not Namtara, the 
spirit of fate, who had taken him, nor a mis- 
fortune such as befalls ordinary men, but NerigaFs 
unsparing lier-in-wait yet though Nerigal was 
the god of war, Enki-du had not fallen on 
the battlefield of men, but had been seized 
by the earth (apparently the underworld 
where the wicked are is meant) in conse- 
quence, seemingly, of some trick or trap which 
had been laid for him 

The gods were therefore prayed, in turn, to 
bring him back, but none of them listened except 
Ea, who begged him of Nerigal, whereupon the 
latter opened the entrance to the place where he 
was the hole of the earth and brought forth 
' the spirit (utukku) of Enki-du like mist.' Im- 
mediately after this come the words 'Tell, my 
friend, tell, my friend the law of the land which 
thou sawest, tell/ and the answer ' I will not tell 
thee, friend, I will not tell thee if I tell thee the 
law of the land which I saw, ... sit down, weep/ 
Ultimately, however, the person appealed to 
apparently the disembodied Enki-du reveals 
something concerning the condition of the souls 

122 



PEOBLEMS WHICH THE STUDY OFFERS 

in the place of his sojourn after death, as 
follows : 

1 Whom thou sawest [die] the death (?) [of] l . . . [I see] 
la the resting-place of ... reposing, pure waters he 

drinketh. 

Whom, in the battle thou sawest killed, I see 
His father and his mother raise his head, 

And his wife upon [him leaneth ?]. 
Whose corpse thou hast seen thrown down in the plain, 

I see 

His edimmu in the earth reposeth not. 
Whose edimmu thou sawest without a caretaker, I see 
The leavings of the dish, the remains of the food, 
Which in the street is thrown, he eateth J 

It is naturally difficult to decide/jn a passage 
like this, the difference existing between a man's 
utukku and his edimmu, but the probability is, 
that the former means his spiritual essence, whilst 
the latter stands for the ghostly shadow of his 
body, resembling in meaning the Jca of the 
Egyptians. To all appearance the abode described 
above is not the place of the punishment of the 
wicked, but the dwelling of those accounted good, 
who, if lucky in the manner of their death, "and 
the disposal of their bodies, enjoyed the highest 
happiness in the habitation of the blest. The 
other place, however, is otherwise described (it 
occurs in the account of Istar's descent into 

1 (?) f The death of the righteous,' or something similar? 
123 



BABYLONIAN AND ASSYRIAN RELIGION 

Hades, and in the seventh tablet of the Gilgames 
series the latter differing somewhat) : 

' Upon the land of No-return, the region of . 
[Set] Istar, daughter of Sin, her ear. 
The daughter of Sin set then her ear . . 
Upon the house of gloom, the seat of Irkalla l 
Upon the house whose entrance hath no exit, 2 
Upon the path whose way hath no return, 
Upon the house whose enterers are deprived of light, 
Where dust is their nourishment, their food mud, 
Light they see not, in darkness they dwell, 
Clothed also, like a bird, in a dress of feathers. 
Upon the door and bolt the dust hath blown.' 

Seven gates gave access to this place of gloom, 
and the porter, as he let the visitor in, took from 
her (the goddess Istar in the narrative) at each 
an article of clothing, until, at the last, she 
entered quite naked, apparently typifying the fact 
that a man can take nothing with him when he 
dieth, and also, in this case, that he has not even 
his good deeds wherewith to clothe himself, for 
had they outweighed his evil ones, he would not 
have found himself in that dread abode. 

On the arrival of Istar in Hades, Eres-ki-gal 
commanded Namtaru, the god of fate, to smite 
Istar with disease in all her members eyes, sides, 
feet, heart, and head. As things went wrong on 

1 One of the names of Nergal. 

2 Or * whose enterer goeth not forth.' 

124 



PROBLEMS WHICH THE STUDY OFFERS 

the earth in consequence of the absence of the 
goddess of love, the gods sent a messenger to 
effect her release. When he reached the land of 
No-return, the queen of the region threatened 
him with all kinds of torments the food of the 
gutters of the city were to be his food, the oil-jars 
of the city (naphtha ? ) his drink, the gloom of the 
castle his resting-place, a stone slab his seat, and 
hunger and thirst were to shatter his strength. 
These were evidently the punishments inflicted 
there, but as the messenger threatened was a 
divine one, they were probably not put into 
execution, and he obtained his demand, for Istar 
was set free, receiving back at each gate, in 
reverse order, the clothing and ornaments which 
had been taken from her when she had descended 
thither. It is uncertain whether Tammuz, for 
whom she had gone down, was set free also, but 
as he is referred to, it is not improbable that this 
was the case.