Legends of Babylonia and Egypt

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Legends of Babylonia and Egypt

By Leonard W. King

Lecture III

In our discussion of the new Sumerian version of the Deluge story we
came to the conclusion that it gave no support to any theory which
would trace all such tales to a single origin, whether in Egypt or in
Babylonia. In spite of strong astrological elements in both the
Egyptian and Babylonian religious systems, we saw grounds for
regarding the astrological tinge of much ancient mythology as a later
embellishment and not as primitive material. And so far as our new
version of the Deluge story was concerned, it resolved itself into a
legend, which had a basis of historical fact in the Euphrates Valley.
It will be obvious that the same class of explanation cannot be
applied to narratives of the Creation of the World. For there we are
dealing, not with legends, but with myths, that is, stories
exclusively about the gods. But where an examination of their earlier
forms is possible, it would seem to show that many of these tales
also, in their origin, are not to be interpreted as nature myths, and
that none arose as mere reflections of the solar system. In their more
primitive and simpler aspects they seem in many cases to have been
suggested by very human and terrestrial experience. To-day we will
examine the Egyptian, Sumerian, and Babylonian myths of Creation, and,
after we have noted the more striking features of our new material, we
will consider the problem of foreign influences upon Hebrew traditions
concerning the origin and early history of the world.

In Egypt, as until recently in Babylonia, we have to depend for our
knowledge of Creation myths on documents of a comparatively late
period. Moreover, Egyptian religious literature as a whole is
textually corrupt, and in consequence it is often difficult to
determine the original significance of its allusions. Thanks to the
funerary inscriptions and that great body of magical formulae and
ritual known as "The Chapters of Coming forth by Day", we are very
fully informed on the Egyptian doctrines as to the future state of the
dead. The Egyptian's intense interest in his own remote future,
amounting almost to an obsession, may perhaps in part account for the
comparatively meagre space in the extant literature which is occupied
by myths relating solely to the past. And it is significant that the
one cycle of myth, of which we are fully informed in its latest stage
of development, should be that which gave its sanction to the hope of
a future existence for man. The fact that Herodotus, though he claims
a knowledge of the sufferings or "Mysteries" of Osiris, should
deliberately refrain from describing them or from even uttering the
name,[1] suggests that in his time at any rate some sections of the
mythology had begun to acquire an esoteric character. There is no
doubt that at all periods myth played an important part in the ritual
of feast-days. But mythological references in the earlier texts are
often obscure; and the late form in which a few of the stories have
come to us is obviously artificial. The tradition, for example, which
relates how mankind came from the tears which issued from Ra's eye
undoubtedly arose from a play upon words.

[1] Herodotus, II, 171.

On the other hand, traces of myth, scattered in the religious
literature of Egypt, may perhaps in some measure betray their relative
age by the conceptions of the universe which underlie them. The
Egyptian idea that the sky was a heavenly ocean, which is not unlike
conceptions current among the Semitic Babylonians and Hebrews,
presupposes some thought and reflection. In Egypt it may well have
been evolved from the probably earlier but analogous idea of the river
in heaven, which the Sun traversed daily in his boats. Such a river
was clearly suggested by the Nile; and its world-embracing character
is reminiscent of a time when through communication was regularly
established, at least as far south as Elephantine. Possibly in an
earlier period the long narrow valley, or even a section of it, may
have suggested the figure of a man lying prone upon his back. Such was
Keb, the Earth-god, whose counterpart in the sky was the goddess Nut,
her feet and hands resting at the limits of the world and her curved
body forming the vault of heaven. Perhaps still more primitive, and
dating from a pastoral age, may be the notion that the sky was a great
cow, her body, speckled with stars, alone visible from the earth
beneath. Reference has already been made to the dominant influence of
the Sun in Egyptian religion, and it is not surprising that he should
so often appear as the first of created beings. His orb itself, or
later the god in youthful human form, might be pictured as emerging
from a lotus on the primaeval waters, or from a marsh-bird's egg, a
conception which influenced the later Phoenician cosmogeny. The
Scarabaeus, or great dung-feeding beetle of Egypt, rolling the ball
before it in which it lays its eggs, is an obvious theme for the early
myth-maker. And it was natural that the Beetle of Khepera should have
been identified with the Sun at his rising, as the Hawk of Ra
represented his noonday flight, and the aged form of Attun his setting
in the west. But in all these varied conceptions and explanations of
the universe it is difficult to determine how far the poetical imagery
of later periods has transformed the original myths which may lie
behind them.

As the Egyptian Creator the claims of Ra, the Sun-god of Heliopolis,
early superseded those of other deities. On the other hand, Ptah of
Memphis, who for long ages had been merely the god of architects and
craftsmen, became under the Empire the architect of the universe and
is pictured as a potter moulding the world-egg. A short poem by a
priest of Ptah, which has come down to us from that period, exhibits
an attempt to develop this idea on philosophical lines.[1] Its author
represents all gods and living creatures as proceeding directly from
the mind and thought of Ptah. But this movement, which was more
notably reflected in Akhenaton's religious revolution, died out in
political disaster, and the original materialistic interpretation of
the myths was restored with the cult of Amen. How materialistic this
could be is well illustrated by two earlier members of the XVIIIth
Dynasty, who have left us vivid representations of the potter's wheel
employed in the process of man's creation. When the famous Hatshepsut,
after the return of her expedition to Punt in the ninth year of her
young consort Thothmes III, decided to build her temple at Deir
el-Bahari in the necropolis of Western Thebes, she sought to emphasize
her claim to the throne of Egypt by recording her own divine origin
upon its walls. We have already noted the Egyptians' belief in the
solar parentage of their legitimate rulers, a myth that goes back at
least to the Old Kingdom and may have had its origin in prehistoric
times. With the rise of Thebes, Amen inherited the prerogatives of Ra;
and so Hatshepsut seeks to show, on the north side of the retaining
wall of her temple's Upper Platform, that she was the daughter of Amen
himself, "the great God, Lord of the sky, Lord of the Thrones of the
Two Lands, who resides at Thebes". The myth was no invention of her
own, for obviously it must have followed traditional lines, and though
it is only employed to exhibit the divine creation of a single
personage, it as obviously reflects the procedure and methods of a
general Creation myth.

[1] See Breasted, /Zeitschrift fur Aegyptische Sprache/, XXXIX, pp. 39
    ff., and /History of Egypt/, pp. 356 ff.

This series of sculptures shared the deliberate mutilation that all
her records suffered at the hands of Thothmes III after her death, but
enough of the scenes and their accompanying text has survived to
render the detailed interpretation of the myth quite certain.[1] Here,
as in a general Creation myth, Amen's first act is to summon the great
gods in council, in order to announce to them the future birth of the
great princess. Of the twelve gods who attend, the first is Menthu, a
form of the Sun-god and closely associated with Amen.[2] But the
second deity is Atum, the great god of Heliopolis, and he is followed
by his cycle of deities--Shu, "the son of Ra"; Tefnut, "the Lady of
the sky"; Keb, "the Father of the Gods"; Nut, "the Mother of the
Gods"; Osiris, Isis, Nephthys, Set, Horus, and Hathor. We are here in
the presence of cosmic deities, as befits a projected act of creation.
The subsequent scenes exhibit the Egyptian's literal interpretation of
the myth, which necessitates the god's bodily presence and personal
participation. Thoth mentions to Amen the name of queen Aahmes as the
future mother of Hatshepsut, and we later see Amen himself, in the
form of her husband, Aa-kheperka-Ra (Thothmes I), sitting with Aahmes
and giving her the Ankh, or sign of Life, which she receives in her
hand and inhales through her nostrils.[3] God and queen are seated on
thrones above a couch, and are supported by two goddesses. After
leaving the queen, Amen calls on Khnum or Khnemu, the flat-horned ram-
god, who in texts of all periods is referred to as the "builder" of
gods and men;[4] and he instructs him to create the body of his future
daughter and that of her /Ka/, or "double", which would be united to
her from birth.

[1] See Naville, /Deir el-Bahari/, Pt. II, pp. 12 ff., plates xlvi ff.

[2] See Budge, /Gods of the Egyptians/, Vol. II, pp. 23 ff. His chief
    cult-centre was Hermonthis, but here as elsewhere he is given his
    usual title "Lord of Thebes".

[3] Pl. xlvii. Similar scenes are presented in the "birth-temples" at
    Denderah, Edfu, Philae, Esneh, and Luxor; see Naville, op. cit.,
    p. 14.

[4] Cf. Budge, op. cit., Vol. II, p. 50.

The scene in the series, which is of greatest interest in the present
connexion, is that representing Khnum at his work of creation. He is
seated before a potter's wheel which he works with his foot,[1] and on
the revolving table he is fashioning two children with his hands, the
baby princess and her "double". It was always Hatshepsut's desire to
be represented as a man, and so both the children are boys.[2] As yet
they are lifeless, but the symbol of Life will be held to their
nostrils by Heqet, the divine Potter's wife, whose frog-head typifies
birth and fertility. When Amenophis III copied Hatshepsut's sculptures
for his own series at Luxor, he assigned this duty to the greater
goddess Hathor, perhaps the most powerful of the cosmic goddesses and
the mother of the world. The subsequent scenes at Deir el-Bahari
include the leading of queen Aahmes by Khnum and Heqet to the birth-
chamber; the great birth scene where the queen is attended by the
goddesses Nephthys and Isis, a number of divine nurses and midwives
holding several of the "doubles" of the baby, and favourable genii, in
human form or with the heads of crocodiles, jackals, and hawks,
representing the four cardinal points and all bearing the gift of
life; the presentation of the young child by the goddess Hathor to
Amen, who is well pleased at the sight of his daughter; and the divine
suckling of Hatshepsut and her "doubles". But these episodes do not
concern us, as of course they merely reflect the procedure following a
royal birth. But Khnum's part in the princess's origin stands on a
different plane, for it illustrates the Egyptian myth of Creation by
the divine Potter, who may take the form of either Khnum or Ptah.
Monsieur Naville points out the extraordinary resemblance in detail
which Hatshepsut's myth of divine paternity bears to the Greek legend
of Zeus and Alkmene, where the god takes the form of Amphitryon,
Alkmene's husband, exactly as Amen appears to the queen;[3] and it may
be added that the Egyptian origin of the Greek story was traditionally
recognized in the ancestry ascribed to the human couple.[4]

[1] This detail is not clearly preserved at Deir el-Bahari; but it is
    quite clear in the scene on the west wall of the "Birth-room" in
    the Temple at Luxor, which Amenophis III evidently copied from
    that of Hatshepsut.

[2] In the similar scene at Luxor, where the future Amenophis III is
    represented on the Creator's wheel, the sculptor has distinguished
    the human child from its spiritual "double" by the quaint device
    of putting its finger in its mouth.

[3] See Naville, op. cit., p. 12.

[4] Cf., e.g., Herodotus, II, 43.

The only complete Egyptian Creation myth yet recovered is preserved in
a late papyrus in the British Museum, which was published some years
ago by Dr. Budge.[1] It occurs under two separate versions embedded in
"The Book of the Overthrowing of Apep, the Enemy of Ra". Here Ra, who
utters the myth under his late title of Neb-er-tcher, "Lord to the
utmost limit", is self-created as Khepera from Nu, the primaeval
water; and then follow successive generations of divine pairs, male
and female, such as we find at the beginning of the Semitic-Babylonian
Creation Series.[2] Though the papyrus was written as late as the year
311 B.C., the myth is undoubtedly early. For the first two divine
pairs Shu and Tefnut, Keb and Nut, and four of the latter pairs' five
children, Osiris and Isis, Set and Nephthys, form with the Sun-god
himself the Greater Ennead of Heliopolis, which exerted so wide an
influence on Egyptian religious speculation. The Ennead combined the
older solar elements with the cult of Osiris, and this is indicated in
the myth by a break in the successive generations, Nut bringing forth
at a single birth the five chief gods of the Osiris cycle, Osiris
himself and his son Horus, with Set, Isis, and Nephthys. Thus we may
see in the myth an early example of that religious syncretism which is
so characteristic of later Egyptian belief.

[1] See /Archaeologia/, Vol. LII (1891). Dr. Budge published a new
    edition of the whole papyrus in /Egyptian Hieratic Papyri in the
    British Museum/ (1910), and the two versions of the Creation myth
    are given together in his /Gods of the Egyptians/, Vol. I (1904),
    Chap. VIII, pp. 308 ff., and more recently in his /Egyptian
    Literature/, Vol. I, "Legends of the Gods" (1912), pp. 2 ff. An
    account of the papyrus is included in the Introduction to "Legends
    of the Gods", pp. xiii ff.

[2] In /Gods of the Egyptians/, Vol. I, Chap. VII, pp. 288 ff., Dr.
    Budge gives a detailed comparison of the Egyptian pairs of
    primaeval deities with the very similar couples of the Babylonian

The only parallel this Egyptian myth of Creation presents to the
Hebrew cosmogony is in its picture of the primaeval water,
corresponding to the watery chaos of Genesis i. But the resemblance is
of a very general character, and includes no etymological equivalence
such as we find when we compare the Hebrew account with the principal
Semitic-Babylonian Creation narrative.[1] The application of the Ankh,
the Egyptian sign for Life, to the nostrils of a newly-created being
is no true parallel to the breathing into man's nostrils of the breath
of life in the earlier Hebrew Version,[2] except in the sense that
each process was suggested by our common human anatomy. We should
naturally expect to find some Hebrew parallel to the Egyptian idea of
Creation as the work of a potter with his clay, for that figure
appears in most ancient mythologies. The Hebrews indeed used the
conception as a metaphor or parable,[3] and it also underlies their
earlier picture of man's creation. I have not touched on the grosser
Egyptian conceptions concerning the origin of the universe, which we
may probably connect with African ideas; but those I have referred to
will serve to demonstrate the complete absence of any feature that
presents a detailed resemblance of the Hebrew tradition.

[1] For the wide diffusion, in the myths of remote peoples, of a vague
    theory that would trace all created things to a watery origin, see
    Farnell, /Greece and Babylon/, p. 180.

[2] Gen. ii. 7 (J).

[3] Cf., e.g., Isaiah xxix. 16, xlv. 9; and Jeremiah xviii. 2f.

When we turn to Babylonia, we find there also evidence of conflicting
ideas, the product of different and to some extent competing religious
centres. But in contrast to the rather confused condition of Egyptian
mythology, the Semitic Creation myth of the city of Babylon, thanks to
the latter's continued political ascendancy, succeeded in winning a
dominant place in the national literature. This is the version in
which so many points of resemblance to the first chapter of Genesis
have long been recognized, especially in the succession of creative
acts and their relative order. In the Semitic-Babylonian Version the
creation of the world is represented as the result of conflict, the
emergence of order out of chaos, a result that is only attained by the
personal triumph of the Creator. But this underlying dualism does not
appear in the more primitive Sumerian Version we have now recovered.
It will be remembered that in the second lecture I gave some account
of the myth, which occurs in an epitomized form as an introduction to
the Sumerian Version of the Deluge, the two narratives being recorded
in the same document and connected with one another by a description
of the Antediluvian cities. We there saw that Creation is ascribed to
the three greatest gods of the Sumerian pantheon, Anu, Enlil, and
Enki, assisted by the goddess Ninkharsagga.

It is significant that in the Sumerian version no less than four
deities are represented as taking part in the Creation. For in this we
may see some indication of the period to which its composition must be
assigned. Their association in the text suggests that the claims of
local gods had already begun to compete with one another as a result
of political combination between the cities of their cults. To the
same general period we must also assign the compilation of the
Sumerian Dynastic record, for that presupposes the existence of a
supreme ruler among the Sumerian city-states. This form of political
constitution must undoubtedly have been the result of a long process
of development, and the fact that its existence should be regarded as
dating from the Creation of the world indicates a comparatively
developed stage of the tradition. But behind the combination of cities
and their gods we may conjecturally trace anterior stages of
development, when each local deity and his human representative seemed
to their own adherents the sole objects for worship and allegiance.
And even after the demands of other centres had been conceded, no
deity ever quite gave up his local claims.

Enlil, the second of the four Sumerian creating deities, eventually
ousted his rivals. It has indeed long been recognized that the /role/
played by Marduk in the Babylonian Version of Creation had been
borrowed from Enlil of Nippur; and in the Atrakhasis legend Enlil
himself appears as the ultimate ruler of the world and the other gods
figure as "his sons". Anu, who heads the list and plays with Enlil the
leading part in the Sumerian narrative, was clearly his chief rival.
And though we possess no detailed account of Anu's creative work, the
persistent ascription to him of the creation of heaven, and his
familiar title, "the Father of the Gods", suggest that he once
possessed a corresponding body of myth in Eanna, his temple at Erech.
Enki, the third of the creating gods, was naturally credited, as God
of Wisdom, with special creative activities, and fortunately in his
case we have some independent evidence of the varied forms these could

According to one tradition that has come down to us,[1] after Anu had
made the heavens, Enki created Apsu or the Deep, his own dwelling-
place. Then taking from it a piece of clay[2] he proceeded to create
the Brick-god, and reeds and forests for the supply of building
material. From the same clay he continued to form other deities and
materials, including the Carpenter-god; the Smith-god; Arazu, a patron
deity of building; and mountains and seas for all that they produced;
the Goldsmith-god, the Stone-cutter-god, and kindred deities, together
with their rich products for offerings; the Grain-deities, Ashnan and
Lakhar; Siris, a Wine-god; Ningishzida and Ninsar, a Garden-god, for
the sake of the rich offerings they could make; and a deity described
as "the High priest of the great gods," to lay down necessary
ordinances and commands. Then he created "the King", for the equipment
probably of a particular temple, and finally men, that they might
practise the cult in the temple so elaborately prepared.

[1] See Weissbach, /Babylonische Miscellen/, pp. 32 ff.

[2] One of the titles of Enki was "the Potter"; cf. /Cun. Texts in the
    Brit. Mus., Pt. XXIV, pl. 14 f., ll. 41, 43.

It will be seen from this summary of Enki's creative activities, that
the text from which it is taken is not a general Creation myth, but in
all probability the introductory paragraph of a composition which
celebrated the building or restoration of a particular temple; and the
latter's foundation is represented, on henotheistic lines, as the main
object of creation. Composed with that special purpose, its narrative
is not to be regarded as an exhaustive account of the creation of the
world. The incidents are eclective, and only such gods and materials
are mentioned as would have been required for the building and
adornment of the temple and for the provision of its offerings and
cult. But even so its mythological background is instructive. For
while Anu's creation of heaven is postulated as the necessary
precedent of Enki's activities, the latter creates the Deep,
vegetation, mountains, seas, and mankind. Moreover, in his character
as God of Wisdom, he is not only the teacher but the creator of those
deities who were patrons of man's own constructive work. From such
evidence we may infer that in his temple at Eridu, now covered by the
mounds of Abu Shahrain in the extreme south of Babylonia, and regarded
in early Sumerian tradition as the first city in the world, Enki
himself was once celebrated as the sole creator of the universe.

The combination of the three gods Anu, Enlil, and Enki, is persistent
in the tradition; for not only were they the great gods of the
universe, representing respectively heaven, earth, and the watery
abyss, but they later shared the heavenly sphere between them. It is
in their astrological character that we find them again in creative
activity, though without the co-operation of any goddess, when they
appear as creators of the great light-gods and as founders of time
divisions, the day and the month. This Sumerian myth, though it
reaches us only in an extract or summary in a Neo-Babylonian
schoolboy's exercise,[1] may well date from a comparatively early
period, but probably from a time when the "Ways" of Anu, Enlil, and
Enki had already been fixed in heaven and their later astrological
characters had crystallized.

[1] See /The Seven Tablets of Creation/, Vol. I, pp. 124 ff. The
    tablet gives extracts from two very similar Sumerian and Semitic
    texts. In both of them Anu, Enlil, and Enki appear as creators
    "through their sure counsel". In the Sumerian extract they create
    the Moon and ordain its monthly course, while in the Semitic text,
    after establishing heaven and earth, they create in addition to
    the New Moon the bright Day, so that "men beheld the Sun-god in
    the Gate of his going forth".

The idea that a goddess should take part with a god in man's creation
is already a familiar feature of Babylonian mythology. Thus the
goddess Aruru, in co-operation with Marduk, might be credited with the
creation of the human race,[1] as she might also be pictured creating
on her own initiative an individual hero such as Enkidu of the
Gilgamesh Epic. The /role/ of mother of mankind was also shared, as we
have seen, by the Semitic Ishtar. And though the old Sumerian goddess,
Ninkharsagga, the "Lady of the Mountains", appears in our Sumerian
text for the first time in the character of creatress, some of the
titles we know she enjoyed, under her synonyms in the great God List
of Babylonia, already reflected her cosmic activities.[2] For she was
known as

  "The Builder of that which has Breath",
  "The Carpenter of Mankind",
  "The Carpenter of the Heart",
  "The Coppersmith of the Gods",
  "The Coppersmith of the Land", and
  "The Lady Potter".

[1] Op. cit., p. 134 f.

[2] Cf. /Cun. Texts in the Brit. Mus./, Pt. XXIV, pl. 12, ll. 32, 26,
    27, 25, 24, 23, and Poebel, /Hist. Texts/, p. 34.

In the myth we are not told her method of creation, but from the above
titles it is clear that in her own cycle of tradition Ninkhasagga was
conceived as fashioning men not only from clay but also from wood, and
perhaps as employing metal for the manufacture of her other works of
creation. Moreover, in the great God List, where she is referred to
under her title Makh, Ninkhasagga is associated with Anu, Enlil, and
Enki; she there appears, with her dependent deities, after Enlil and
before Enki. We thus have definite proof that her association with the
three chief Sumerian gods was widely recognized in the early Sumerian
period and dictated her position in the classified pantheon of
Babylonia. Apart from this evidence, the important rank assigned her
in the historical and legal records and in votive inscriptions,[1]
especially in the early period and in Southern Babylonia, accords
fully with the part she here plays in the Sumerian Creation myth.
Eannatum and Gudea of Lagash both place her immediately after Anu and
Enlil, giving her precedence over Enki; and even in the Kassite
Kudurru inscriptions of the thirteenth and twelfth centuries, where
she is referred to, she takes rank after Enki and before the other
gods. In Sumer she was known as "the Mother of the Gods", and she was
credited with the power of transferring the kingdom and royal insignia
from one king to his successor.

[1] See especially, Poebel, op. cit., pp. 24 ff.

Her supreme position as a goddess is attested by the relative
insignificance of her husband Dunpae, whom she completely overshadows,
in which respect she presents a contrast to the goddess Ninlil,
Enlil's female counterpart. The early clay figurines found at Nippur
and on other sites, representing a goddess suckling a child and
clasping one of her breasts, may well be regarded as representing
Ninkharsagga and not Ninlil. Her sanctuaries were at Kesh and Adab,
both in the south, and this fact sufficiently explains her comparative
want of influence in Akkad, where the Semitic Ishtar took her place.
She does indeed appear in the north during the Sargonic period under
her own name, though later she survives in her synonyms of Ninmakh,
"the Sublime Lady", and Nintu, "the Lady of Child-bearing". It is
under the latter title that Hammurabi refers to her in his Code of
Laws, where she is tenth in a series of eleven deities. But as Goddess
of Birth she retained only a pale reflection of her original cosmic
character, and her functions were gradually specialized.[1]

[1] Cf. Poebel, op. cit., p. 33. It is possible that, under one of her
    later synonyms, we should identify her, as Dr. Poebel suggests,
    with the Mylitta of Herodotus.

From a consideration of their characters, as revealed by independent
sources of evidence, we thus obtain the reason for the co-operation of
four deities in the Sumerian Creation. In fact the new text
illustrates a well-known principle in the development of myth, the
reconciliation of the rival claims of deities, whose cults, once
isolated, had been brought from political causes into contact with
each other. In this aspect myth is the medium through which a working
pantheon is evolved. Naturally all the deities concerned cannot
continue to play their original parts in detail. In the Babylonian
Epic of Creation, where a single deity, and not a very prominent one,
was to be raised to pre-eminent rank, the problem was simple enough.
He could retain his own qualities and achievements while borrowing
those of any former rival. In the Sumerian text we have the result of
a far more delicate process of adjustment, and it is possible that the
brevity of the text is here not entirely due to compression of a
longer narrative, but may in part be regarded as evidence of early
combination. As a result of the association of several competing
deities in the work of creation, a tendency may be traced to avoid
discrimination between rival claims. Thus it is that the assembled
gods, the pantheon as a whole, are regarded as collectively
responsible for the creation of the universe. It may be added that
this use of /ilani/, "the gods", forms an interesting linguistic
parallel to the plural of the Hebrew divine title Elohim.

It will be remembered that in the Sumerian Version the account of
Creation is not given in full, only such episodes being included as
were directly related to the Deluge story. No doubt the selection of
men and animals was suggested by their subsequent rescue from the
Flood; and emphasis was purposely laid on the creation of the
/niggilma/ because of the part it played in securing mankind's
survival. Even so, we noted one striking parallel between the Sumerian
Version and that of the Semitic Babylonians, in the reason both give
for man's creation. But in the former there is no attempt to explain
how the universe itself had come into being, and the existence of the
earth is presupposed at the moment when Anu, Enlil, Enki, and
Ninkharsagga undertake the creation of man. The Semitic-Babylonian
Version, on the other hand, is mainly occupied with events that led up
to the acts of creation, and it concerns our problem to inquire how
far those episodes were of Semitic and how far of Sumerian origin. A
further question arises as to whether some strands of the narrative
may not at one time have existed in Sumerian form independently of the
Creation myth.

The statement is sometimes made that there is no reason to assume a
Sumerian original for the Semitic-Babylonian Version, as recorded on
"the Seven Tablets of Creation";[1] and this remark, though true of
that version as a whole, needs some qualification. The composite
nature of the poem has long been recognized, and an analysis of the
text has shown that no less than five principal strands have been
combined for its formation. These consist of (i) The Birth of the
Gods; (ii) The Legend of Ea and Apsu; (iii) The principal Dragon Myth;
(iv) The actual account of Creation; and (v) the Hymn to Marduk under
his fifty titles.[2] The Assyrian commentaries to the Hymn, from which
considerable portions of its text are restored, quote throughout a
Sumerian original, and explain it word for word by the phrases of the
Semitic Version;[3] so that for one out of the Seven Tablets a Semitic
origin is at once disproved. Moreover, the majority of the fifty
titles, even in the forms in which they have reached us in the Semitic
text, are demonstrably Sumerian, and since many of them celebrate
details of their owner's creative work, a Sumerian original for other
parts of the version is implied. Enlil and Ea are both represented as
bestowing their own names upon Marduk,[4] and we may assume that many
of the fifty titles were originally borne by Enlil as a Sumerian
Creator.[5] Thus some portions of the actual account of Creation were
probably derived from a Sumerian original in which "Father Enlil"
figured as the hero.

[1] Cf., e.g., Jastrow, /Journ. of the Amer. Or. Soc./, Vol. XXXVI
    (1916), p. 279.

[2] See /The Seven Tablets of Creation/, Vol. I, pp. lxvi ff.; and cf.
    Skinner, /Genesis/, pp. 43 ff.

[3] Cf. /Sev. Tabl./, Vol. I, pp. 157 ff.

[4] Cf. Tabl. VII, ll. 116 ff.

[5] The number fifty was suggested by an ideogram employed for Enlil's

For what then were the Semitic Babylonians themselves responsible? It
seems to me that, in the "Seven Tablets", we may credit them with
considerable ingenuity in the combination of existing myths, but not
with their invention. The whole poem in its present form is a
glorification of Marduk, the god of Babylon, who is to be given
pre-eminent rank among the gods to correspond with the political
position recently attained by his city. It would have been quite out
of keeping with the national thought to make a break in the tradition,
and such a course would not have served the purpose of the Babylonian
priesthood, which was to obtain recognition of their claims by the
older cult-centres in the country. Hence they chose and combined the
more important existing myths, only making such alterations as would
fit them to their new hero. Babylon herself had won her position by
her own exertions; and it would be a natural idea to give Marduk his
opportunity of becoming Creator of the world as the result of
successful conflict. A combination of the Dragon myth with the myth of
Creation would have admirably served their purpose; and this is what
we find in the Semitic poem. But even that combination may not have
been their own invention; for, though, as we shall see, the idea of
conflict had no part in the earlier forms of the Sumerian Creation
myth, its combination with the Dragon /motif/ may have characterized
the local Sumerian Version of Nippur. How mechanical was the
Babylonian redactors' method of glorifying Marduk is seen in their use
of the description of Tiamat and her monster brood, whom Marduk is
made to conquer. To impress the hearers of the poem with his prowess,
this is repeated at length no less than four times, one god carrying
the news of her revolt to another.

Direct proof of the manner in which the later redactors have been
obliged to modify the original Sumerian Creation myth, in consequence
of their incorporation of other elements, may be seen in the Sixth
Tablet of the poem, where Marduk states the reason for man's creation.
In the second lecture we noted how the very words of the principal
Sumerian Creator were put into Marduk's mouth; but the rest of the
Semitic god's speech finds no equivalent in the Sumerian Version and
was evidently inserted in order to reconcile the narrative with its
later ingredients. This will best be seen by printing the two passages
in parallel columns:[1]

[1] The extract from the Sumerian Version, which occurs in the lower
    part of the First Column, is here compared with the Semitic-
    Babylonian Creation Series, Tablet VI, ll. 6-10 (see /Seven
    Tablets/, Vol. I, pp. 86 ff.). The comparison is justified whether
    we regard the Sumerian speech as a direct preliminary to man's
    creation, or as a reassertion of his duty after his rescue from
    destruction by the Flood.

        SUMERIAN VERSION                    SEMITIC VERSION

  "The people will I cause to . . .   "I will make man, that man may
    in their settlements,               [. . .].
  Cities . . . shall (man) build,     I will create man who shall
    in their protection will I cause    inhabit [. . .],
    him to rest,
  That he may lay the brick of our    That the service of the gods may
    house in a clean spot,              be established, and that
                                        [their] shrines [may be
  That in a clean spot he may         But I will alter the ways of the
    establish our . . . !"              gods, and I will change [their
                                      Together shall they be
                                        oppressed, and unto evil shall
                                        [they . . .]!"

The welding of incongruous elements is very apparent in the Semitic
Version. For the statement that man will be created in order that the
gods may have worshippers is at once followed by the announcement that
the gods themselves must be punished and their "ways" changed. In the
Sumerian Version the gods are united and all are naturally regarded as
worthy of man's worship. The Sumerian Creator makes no distinctions;
he refers to "our houses", or temples, that shall be established. But
in the later version divine conflict has been introduced, and the
future head of the pantheon has conquered and humiliated the revolting
deities. Their "ways" must therefore be altered before they are fit to
receive the worship which was accorded them by right in the simpler
Sumerian tradition. In spite of the epitomized character of the
Sumerian Version, a comparison of these passages suggests very
forcibly that the Semitic-Babylonian myth of Creation is based upon a
simpler Sumerian story, which has been elaborated to reconcile it with
the Dragon myth.

The Semitic poem itself also supplies evidence of the independent
existence of the Dragon myth apart from the process of Creation, for
the story of Ea and Apsu, which it incorporates, is merely the local
Dragon myth of Eridu. Its inclusion in the story is again simply a
tribute to Marduk; for though Ea, now become Marduk's father, could
conquer Apsu, he was afraid of Tiamat, "and turned back".[1] The
original Eridu myth no doubt represented Enki as conquering the watery
Abyss, which became his home; but there is nothing to connect this
tradition with his early creative activities. We have long possessed
part of another local version of the Dragon myth, which describes the
conquest of a dragon by some deity other than Marduk; and the fight is
there described as taking place, not before Creation, but at a time
when men existed and cities had been built.[2] Men and gods were
equally terrified at the monster's appearance, and it was to deliver
the land from his clutches that one of the gods went out and slew him.
Tradition delighted to dwell on the dragon's enormous size and
terrible appearance. In this version he is described as fifty
/bzru/[3] in length and one in height; his mouth measured six cubits
and the circuit of his ears twelve; he dragged himself along in the
water, which he lashed with his tail; and, when slain, his blood
flowed for three years, three months, a day and a night. From this
description we can see he was given the body of an enormous

[1] Tabl. III, l. 53, &c. In the story of Bel and the Dragon, the
    third of the apocryphal additions to Daniel, we have direct
    evidence of the late survival of the Dragon /motif/ apart from any
    trace of the Creation myth; in this connexion see Charles,
    /Apocrypha and Pseudopigrapha/, Vol. I (1913), p. 653 f.

[2] See /Seven Tablets/, Vol. I, pp. 116 ff., lxviii f. The text is
    preserved on an Assyrian tablet made for the library of Ashur-

[3] The /bzru/ was the space that could be covered in two hours'

[4] The Babylonian Dragon has progeny in the later apocalyptic
    literature, where we find very similar descriptions of the
    creatures' size. Among them we may perhaps include the dragon in
    the Apocalypse of Baruch, who, according to the Slavonic Version,
    apparently every day drinks a cubit's depth from the sea, and yet
    the sea does not sink because of the three hundred and sixty
    rivers that flow into it (cf. James, "Apocrypha Anecdota", Second
    Series, in Armitage Robinson's /Texts and Studies/, V, No. 1, pp.
    lix ff.). But Egypt's Dragon /motif/ was even more prolific, and
    the /Pistis Sophia/ undoubtedly suggested descriptions of the
    Serpent, especially in connexion with Hades.

A further version of the Dragon myth has now been identified on one of
the tablets recovered during the recent excavations at Ashur,[1] and
in it the dragon is not entirely of serpent form, but is a true dragon
with legs. Like the one just described, he is a male monster. The
description occurs as part of a myth, of which the text is so badly
preserved that only the contents of one column can be made out with
any certainty. In it a god, whose name is wanting, announces the
presence of the dragon: "In the water he lies and I [. . .]!"
Thereupon a second god cries successively to Aruru, the mother-
goddess, and to Pallil, another deity, for help in his predicament.
And then follows the description of the dragon:

  In the sea was the Serpent cre[ated].
  Sixty /bzru/ is his length;
  Thirty /bzru/ high is his he[ad].[2]
  For half (a /bzru/) each stretches the surface of his ey[es];[3]
  For twenty /bzru/ go [his feet].[4]
  He devours fish, the creatures [of the sea],
  He devours birds, the creatures [of the heaven],
  He devours wild asses, the creatures [of the field],
  He devours men,[5] to the peoples [he . . .].

[1] For the text, see Ebeling, /Assurtexte/ I, No. 6; it is translated
    by him in /Orient. Lit.-Zeit./, Vol. XIX, No. 4 (April, 1916).

[2] The line reads: /30 bzru ?a-ka-a ri-[?a-a-?u]/. Dr. Ebeling
    renders /ri-?a-a/ as "heads" (Köpfe), implying that the dragon had
    more than one head. It may be pointed out that, if we could accept
    this translation, we should have an interesting parallel to the
    description of some of the primaeval monsters, preserved from
    Berossus, as {soma men ekhontas en, kephalas de duo}. But the
    common word for "head" is /kakkadu/, and there can be little doubt
    that /ri?a/ is here used in its ordinary sense of "head, summit,
    top" when applied to a high building.

[3] The line reads: /a-na 1/2 ta-am la-bu-na li-bit zn[a-?u]/. Dr.
    Ebeling translates, "auf je eine Hälfte ist ein Ziegel [ihrer]
    Auge[n] gelegt". But /libittu/ is clearly used here, not with its
    ordinary meaning of "brick", which yields a strange rendering, but
    in its special sense, when applied to large buildings, of
    "foundation, floor-space, area", i.e. "surface". Dr. Ebeling reads
    /zna-?u/ at the end of the line, but the sign is broken; perhaps
    the traces may prove to be those of /uzna ?u/, "his ears", in
    which case /li-bit uz[na-?u]/ might be rendered either as "surface
    of his ears", or as "base (lit. foundation) of his ears".

[4] i.e. the length of his pace was twenty /bzru/.

[5] Lit. "the black-headed".

The text here breaks off, at the moment when Pallil, whose help
against the dragon had been invoked, begins to speak. Let us hope we
shall recover the continuation of the narrative and learn what became
of this carnivorous monster.

There are ample grounds, then, for assuming the independent existence
of the Babylonian Dragon-myth, and though both the versions recovered
have come to us in Semitic form, there is no doubt that the myth
itself existed among the Sumerians. The dragon /motif/ is constantly
recurring in descriptions of Sumerian temple-decoration, and the twin
dragons of Ningishzida on Gudea's libation-vase, carved in green
steatite and inlaid with shell, are a notable product of Sumerian
art.[1] The very names borne by Tiamat's brood of monsters in the
"Seven Tablets" are stamped in most cases with their Sumerian descent,
and Kingu, whom she appointed as her champion in place of Apsu, is
equally Sumerian. It would be strange indeed if the Sumerians had not
evolved a Dragon myth,[2] for the Dragon combat is the most obvious of
nature myths and is found in most mythologies of Europe and the Near
East. The trailing storm-clouds suggest his serpent form, his fiery
tongue is seen in the forked lightning, and, though he may darken the
world for a time, the Sun-god will always be victorious. In Egypt the
myth of "the Overthrowing of Apep, the enemy of Ra" presents a close
parallel to that of Tiamat;[3] but of all Eastern mythologies that of
the Chinese has inspired in art the most beautiful treatment of the
Dragon, who, however, under his varied forms was for them essentially
beneficent. Doubtless the Semites of Babylonia had their own versions
of the Dragon combat, both before and after their arrival on the
Euphrates, but the particular version which the priests of Babylon
wove into their epic is not one of them.

[1] See E. de Sarzec, /Découvertes en Chaldée/, pl. xliv, Fig. 2, and
    Heuzey, /Catalogue des antiquités chaldéennes/, p. 281.

[2] In his very interesting study of "Sumerian and Akkadian Views of
    Beginnings", contributed to the /Journ. of the Amer. Or. Soc./,
    Vol. XXXVI (1916), pp. 274 ff., Professor Jastrow suggests that
    the Dragon combat in the Semitic-Babylonian Creation poem is of
    Semitic not Sumerian origin. He does not examine the evidence of
    the poem itself in detail, but bases the suggestion mainly on the
    two hypotheses, that the Dragon combat of the poem was suggested
    by the winter storms and floods of the Euphrates Valley, and that
    the Sumerians came from a mountain region where water was not
    plentiful. If we grant both assumptions, the suggested conclusion
    does not seem to me necessarily to follow, in view of the evidence
    we now possess as to the remote date of the Sumerian settlement in
    the Euphrates Valley. Some evidence may still be held to point to
    a mountain home for the proto-Sumerians, such as the name of their
    early goddess Ninkharsagga, "the Lady of the Mountains". But, as
    we must now regard Babylonia itself as the cradle of their
    civilization, other data tend to lose something of their apparent
    significance. It is true that the same Sumerian sign means "land"
    and "mountain"; but it may have been difficult to obtain an
    intelligible profile for "land" without adopting a mountain form.
    Such a name as Ekur, the "Mountain House" of Nippur, may perhaps
    indicate size, not origin; and Enki's association with metal-
    working may be merely due to his character as God of Wisdom, and
    is not appropriate solely "to a god whose home is in the mountains
    where metals are found" (op. cit., p. 295). It should be added
    that Professor Jastrow's theory of the Dragon combat is bound up
    with his view of the origin of an interesting Sumerian "myth of
    beginnings", to which reference is made later.

[3] Cf. Budge, /Gods of the Egyptians/, Vol. I, pp. 324 ff. The
    inclusion of the two versions of the Egyptian Creation myth,
    recording the Birth of the Gods in the "Book of Overthrowing
    Apep", does not present a very close parallel to the combination
    of Creation and Dragon myths in the Semitic-Babylonian poem, for
    in the Egyptian work the two myths are not really combined, the
    Creation Versions being inserted in the middle of the spells
    against Apep, without any attempt at assimilation (see Budge,
    /Egyptian Literature/, Vol. I, p. xvi).

We have thus traced four out of the five strands which form the
Semitic-Babylonian poem of Creation to a Sumerian ancestry. And we now
come back to the first of the strands, the Birth of the Gods, from
which our discussion started. For if this too should prove to be
Sumerian, it would help to fill in the gap in our Sumerian Creation
myth, and might furnish us with some idea of the Sumerian view of
"beginnings", which preceded the acts of creation by the great gods.
It will be remembered that the poem opens with the description of a
time when heaven and earth did not exist, no field or marsh even had
been created, and the universe consisted only of the primaeval water-
gods, Apsu, Mummu, and Tiamat, whose waters were mingled together.
Then follows the successive generation of two pairs of deities, Lakhmu
and Lakhamu, and Anshar and Kishar, long ages separating the two
generations from each other and from the birth of the great gods which
subsequently takes place. In the summary of the myth which is given by
Damascius[1] the names of the various deities accurately correspond to
those in the opening lines of the poem; but he makes some notable
additions, as will be seen from the following table:

        DAMASCUS                            "SEVEN TABLETS" I

     {'Apason---Tauthe}                       Apsu---Tiamat
          {Moumis}                               Mummu
      {Lakhos---Lakhe}[2]                   Lakhmu---Lakhamu
    {'Assoros---Kissare}                    Anshar---Kishar
   {'Anos, 'Illinos, 'Aos}              Anu, [ ], Nudimmud (= Ea)

[1] /Quaestiones de primis principiis/, cap. 125; ed. Kopp, p. 384.

[2] Emended from the reading {Dakhen kai Dakhon} of the text.

In the passage of the poem which describes the birth of the great gods
after the last pair of primaeval deities, mention is duly made of Anu
and Nudimmud (the latter a title of Ea), corresponding to the {'Anos}
and {'Aos} of Damascius; and there appears to be no reference to
Enlil, the original of {'Illinos}. It is just possible that his name
occurred at the end of one of the broken lines, and, if so, we should
have a complete parallel to Damascius. But the traces are not in
favour of the restoration;[1] and the omission of Enlil's name from
this part of the poem may be readily explained as a further tribute to
Marduk, who definitely usurps his place throughout the subsequent
narrative. Anu and Ea had both to be mentioned because of the parts
they play in the Epic, but Enlil's only recorded appearance is in the
final assembly of the gods, where he bestows his own name "the Lord of
the World"[2] upon Marduk. The evidence of Damascius suggests that
Enlil's name was here retained, between those of Anu and Ea, in other
versions of the poem. But the occurrence of the name in any version is
in itself evidence of the antiquity of this strand of the narrative.
It is a legitimate inference that the myth of the Birth of the Gods
goes back to a time at least before the rise of Babylon, and is
presumably of Sumerian origin.

[1] Anu and Nudimmud are each mentioned for the first time at the
    beginning of a line, and the three lines following the reference
    to Nudimmud are entirely occupied with descriptions of his wisdom
    and power. It is also probable that the three preceding lines (ll.
    14-16), all of which refer to Anu by name, were entirely occupied
    with his description. But it is only in ll. 13-16 that any
    reference to Enlil can have occurred, and the traces preserved of
    their second halves do not suggestion the restoration.

[2] Cf. Tabl. VII, . 116.

Further evidence of this may be seen in the fact that Anu, Enlil, and
Ea (i.e. Enki), who are here created together, are the three great
gods of the Sumerian Version of Creation; it is they who create
mankind with the help of the goddess Ninkharsagga, and in the fuller
version of that myth we should naturally expect to find some account
of their own origin. The reference in Damascius to Marduk ({Belos}) as
the son of Ea and Damkina ({Dauke}) is also of interest in this
connexion, as it exhibits a goddess in close connexion with one of the
three great gods, much as we find Ninkharsagga associated with them in
the Sumerian Version.[1] Before leaving the names, it may be added
that, of the primaeval deities, Anshar and Kishar are obviously
Sumerian in form.

[1] Damkina was the later wife of Ea or Enki; and Ninkharsagga is
    associated with Enki, as his consort, in another Sumerian myth.

It may be noted that the character of Apsu and Tiamat in this portion
of the poem[1] is quite at variance with their later actions. Their
revolt at the ordered "way" of the gods was a necessary preliminary to
the incorporation of the Dragon myths, in which Ea and Marduk are the
heroes. Here they appear as entirely beneficent gods of the primaeval
water, undisturbed by storms, in whose quiet depths the equally
beneficent deities Lakhmu and Lakhamu, Anshar and Kishar, were
generated.[2] This interpretation, by the way, suggests a more
satisfactory restoration for the close of the ninth line of the poem
than any that has yet been proposed. That line is usually taken to
imply that the gods were created "in the midst of [heaven]", but I
think the following rendering, in connexion with ll. 1-5, gives better

  When in the height heaven was not named,
  And the earth beneath did not bear a name,
  And the primaeval Apsu who begat them,[3]
  And Mummu, and Tiamat who bore them[3] all,--
  Their waters were mingled together,
  . . .
  . . .
  . . .
  Then were created the gods in the midst of [their waters],[4]
  Lakhmu and Lakhamu were called into being . . .

[1] Tabl. I, ll. 1-21.

[2] We may perhaps see a survival of Tiamat's original character in
    her control of the Tablets of Fate. The poem does not represent
    her as seizing them in any successful fight; they appear to be
    already hers to bestow on Kingu, though in the later mythology
    they are "not his by right" (cf. Tabl. I, ll. 137 ff., and Tabl.
    IV, l. 121).

[3] i.e. the gods.

[4] The ninth line is preserved only on a Neo-Babylonian duplicate
    (/Seven Tablets/, Vol. II, pl. i). I suggested the restoration
    /ki-rib ?[a-ma-mi]/, "in the midst of heaven", as possible, since
    the traces of the first sign in the last word of the line seemed
    to be those of the Neo-Babylonian form of /?a/. The restoration
    appeared at the time not altogether satisfactory in view of the
    first line of the poem, and it could only be justified by
    supposing that /?amamu/, or "heaven", was already vaguely
    conceived as in existence (op. cit., Vol. I, p. 3, n. 14). But the
    traces of the sign, as I have given them (op. cit., Vol. II, pl.
    i), may also possibly be those of the Neo-Babylonian form of the
    sign /me/; and I would now restore the end of the line in the Neo-
    Babylonian tablet as /ki-rib m[e-e-?u-nu]/, "in the midst of
    [their waters]", corresponding to the form /mu-u-?u-nu/ in l. 5 of
    this duplicate. In the Assyrian Version /mé(pl)-?u-nu/ would be
    read in both lines. It will be possible to verify the new reading,
    by a re-examination of the traces on the tablet, when the British
    Museum collections again become available for study after the war.

If the ninth line of the poem be restored as suggested, its account of
the Birth of the Gods will be found to correspond accurately with the
summary from Berossus, who, in explaining the myth, refers to the
Babylonian belief that the universe consisted at first of moisture in
which living creatures, such as he had already described, were
generated.[1] The primaeval waters are originally the source of life,
not of destruction, and it is in them that the gods are born, as in
Egyptian mythology; there Nu, the primaeval water-god from whom Ra was
self-created, never ceased to be the Sun-god's supporter. The change
in the Babylonian conception was obviously introduced by the
combination of the Dragon myth with that of Creation, a combination
that in Egypt would never have been justified by the gentle Nile. From
a study of some aspects of the names at the beginning of the
Babylonian poem we have already seen reason to suspect that its
version of the Birth of the Gods goes back to Sumerian times, and it
is pertinent to ask whether we have any further evidence that in
Sumerian belief water was the origin of all things.

[1] {ugrou gar ontos tou pantos kai zoon en auto gegennemenon
    [toionde] ktl}. His creatures of the primaeval water were killed
    by the light; and terrestrial animals were then created which
    could bear (i.e. breathe and exist in) the air.

For many years we have possessed a Sumerian myth of Creation, which
has come to us on a late Babylonian tablet as the introductory section
of an incantation. It is provided with a Semitic translation, and to
judge from its record of the building of Babylon and Egasila, Marduk's
temple, and its identification of Marduk himself with the Creator, it
has clearly undergone some editing at the hands of the Babylonian
priests. Moreover, the occurrence of various episodes out of their
logical order, and the fact that the text records twice over the
creation of swamps and marshes, reeds and trees or forests, animals
and cities, indicate that two Sumerian myths have been combined. Thus
we have no guarantee that the other cities referred to by name in the
text, Nippur, Erech, and Eridu, are mentioned in any significant
connexion with each other.[1] Of the actual cause of Creation the text
appears to give two versions also, one in its present form impersonal,
and the other carried out by a god. But these two accounts are quite
unlike the authorized version of Babylon, and we may confidently
regard them as representing genuine Sumerian myths. The text resembles
other early accounts of Creation by introducing its narrative with a
series of negative statements, which serve to indicate the preceding
non-existence of the world, as will be seen from the following

  No city had been created, no creature had been made,
  Nippur had not been created, Ekur had not been built,
  Erech had not been created, Eanna had not been built,
  Apsu had not been created, Eridu had not been built,
  Of the holy house, the house of the gods, the habitation had not
    been created.
  All lands[3] were sea.
  At the time when a channel (was formed) in the midst of the sea,
  Then was Eridu created, Esagila built, etc.

Here we have the definite statement that before Creation all the world
was sea. And it is important to note that the primaeval water is not
personified; the ordinary Sumerian word for "sea" is employed, which
the Semitic translator has faithfully rendered in his version of the
text.[4] The reference to a channel in the sea, as the cause of
Creation, seems at first sight a little obscure; but the word implies
a "drain" or "water-channel", not a current of the sea itself, and the
reference may be explained as suggested by the drainage of a flood-
area. No doubt the phrase was elaborated in the original myth, and it
is possible that what appears to be a second version of Creation later
on in the text is really part of the more detailed narrative of the
first myth. There the Creator himself is named. He is the Sumerian god
Gilimma, and in the Semitic translation Marduk's name is substituted.
To the following couplet, which describes Gilimma's method of
creation, is appended a further extract from a later portion of the
text, there evidently displaced, giving additional details of the
Creator's work:

  Gilimma bound reeds in the face of the waters,
  He formed soil and poured it out beside the reeds.[5]
  [He][6] filled in a dike by the side of the sea,
  [He . . .] a swamp, he formed a marsh.
  [. . .], he brought into existence,
  [Reeds he form]ed,[7] trees he created.

[1] The composite nature of the text is discussed by Professor Jastrow
    in his /Hebrew and Babylonian Traditions/, pp. 89 ff.; and in his
    paper in the /Journ. Amer. Or. Soc./, Vol. XXXVI (1916), pp. 279
    ff.; he has analysed it into two main versions, which he suggests
    originated in Eridu and Nippur respectively. The evidence of the
    text does not appear to me to support the view that any reference
    to a watery chaos preceding Creation must necessarily be of
    Semitic origin. For the literature of the text (first published by
    Pinches, /Journ. Roy. Asiat. Soc./, Vol. XXIII, pp. 393 ff.), see
    /Sev. Tabl./, Vol. I, p. 130.

[2] Obv., ll. 5-12.

[3] Sum. /nigin-kur-kur-ra-ge/, Sem. /nap-har ma-ta-a-tu/, lit. "all
    lands", i.e. Sumerian and Babylonian expressions for "the world".

[4] Sum. /a-ab-ba/, "sea", is here rendered by /tamtum/, not by its
    personified equivalent Tiamat.

[5] The suggestion has been made that /amu/, the word in the Semitic
    version here translated "reeds", should be connected with
    /ammatu/, the word used for "earth" or "dry land" in the
    Babylonian Creation Series, Tabl. I, l. 2, and given some such
    meaning as "expanse". The couplet is thus explained to mean that
    the god made an expanse on the face of the waters, and then poured
    out dust "on the expanse". But the Semitic version in l. 18 reads
    /itti ami/, "beside the /a./", not /ina ami/, "on the /a./"; and
    in any case there does not seem much significance in the act of
    pouring out specially created dust on or beside land already
    formed. The Sumerian word translated by /amu/ is written /gi-dir/,
    with the element /gi/, "reed", in l. 17, and though in the
    following line it is written under its variant form /a-dir/
    without /gi/, the equation /gi-a-dir/ = /amu/ is elsewhere
    attested (cf. Delitzsch, /Handwörterbuch/, p. 77). In favour of
    regarding /amu/ as some sort of reed, here used collectively, it
    may be pointed out that the Sumerian verb in l. 17 is /ke?da/, "to
    bind", accurately rendered by /raka?u/ in the Semitic version.
    Assuming that l. 34 belongs to the same account, the creation of
    reeds in general beside trees, after dry land is formed, would not
    of course be at variance with the god's use of some sort of reed
    in his first act of creation. He creates the reed-bundles, as he
    creates the soil, both of which go to form the first dike; the
    reed-beds, like the other vegetation, spring up from the ground
    when it appears.

[6] The Semitic version here reads "the lord Marduk"; the
    corresponding name in the Sumerian text is not preserved.

[7] The line is restored from l. 2 o the obverse of the text.

Here the Sumerian Creator is pictured as forming dry land from the
primaeval water in much the same way as the early cultivator in the
Euphrates Valley procured the rich fields for his crops. The existence
of the earth is here not really presupposed. All the world was sea
until the god created land out of the waters by the only practical
method that was possible in Mesopotamia.

In another Sumerian myth, which has been recovered on one of the early
tablets from Nippur, we have a rather different picture of beginnings.
For there, though water is the source of life, the existence of the
land is presupposed. But it is bare and desolate, as in the
Mesopotamian season of "low water". The underlying idea is suggestive
of a period when some progress in systematic irrigation had already
been made, and the filling of the dry canals and subsequent irrigation
of the parched ground by the rising flood of Enki was not dreaded but
eagerly desired. The myth is only one of several that have been
combined to form the introductory sections of an incantation; but in
all of them Enki, the god of the deep water, plays the leading part,
though associated with different consorts.[1] The incantation is
directed against various diseases, and the recitation of the closing
mythical section was evidently intended to enlist the aid of special
gods in combating them. The creation of these deities is recited under
set formulae in a sort of refrain, and the divine name assigned to
each bears a magical connexion with the sickness he or she is intended
to dispel.[2]

[1] See Langdon, Univ. of Penns. Mus. Publ., Bab. Sect., Vol. X, No. 1
    (1915), pl. i f., pp. 69 ff.; /Journ. Amer. Or. Soc./, Vol. XXXVI
    (1916), pp. 140 ff.; cf. Prince, /Journ. Amer. Or. Soc./, Vol.
    XXXVI, pp. 90 ff.; Jastrow, /Journ. Amer. Or. Soc./, Vol. XXXVI,
    pp. 122 ff., and in particular his detailed study of the text in
    /Amer. Journ. Semit. Lang./, Vol. XXXIII, pp. 91 ff. Dr. Langdon's
    first description of the text, in /Proc. Soc. Bibl. Arch./, Vol.
    XXXVI (1914), pp. 188 ff., was based on a comparatively small
    fragment only; and on his completion of the text from other
    fragments in Pennsylvania. Professor Sayce at once realized that
    the preliminary diagnosis of a Deluge myth could not be sustained
    (cf. /Expos. Times/, Nov., 1915, pp. 88 ff.). He, Professor
    Prince, and Professor Jastrow independently showed that the action
    of Enki in the myth in sending water on the land was not punitive
    but beneficent; and the preceding section, in which animals are
    described as not performing their usual activities, was shown
    independently by Professor Prince and Professor Jastrow to have
    reference, not to their different nature in an ideal existence in
    Paradise, but, on familiar lines, to their non-existence in a
    desolate land. It may be added that Professor Barton and Dr. Peters
    agree generally with Professor Prince and Professor Jastrow in
    their interpretation of the text, which excludes the suggested
    biblical parallels; and I understand from Dr. Langdon that he very
    rightly recognizes that the text is not a Deluge myth. It is a
    subject for congratulation that the discussion has materially
    increased our knowledge of this difficult composition.

[2] Cf. Col. VI, ll. 24 ff.; thus /Ab/-u was created for the sickness
    of the cow (/ab/); Nin-/tul/ for that of the flock (u-/tul/); Nin-
    /ka/-u-tu and Nin-/ka/-si for that of the mouth (/ka/); Na-zi for
    that of the /na-zi/ (meaning uncertain); /Da zi/-ma for that of
    the /da-zi/ (meaning uncertain); Nin-/til/ for that of /til/
    (life); the name of the eighth and last deity is imperfectly

We have already noted examples of a similar use of myth in magic,
which was common to both Egypt and Babylonia; and to illustrate its
employment against disease, as in the Nippur document, it will suffice
to cite a well-known magical cure for the toothache which was adopted
in Babylon.[1] There toothache was believed to be caused by the
gnawing of a worm in the gum, and a myth was used in the incantation
to relieve it. The worm's origin is traced from Anu, the god of
heaven, through a descending scale of creation; Anu, the heavens, the
earth, rivers, canals and marshes are represented as each giving rise
to the next in order, until finally the marshes produce the worm. The
myth then relates how the worm, on being offered tempting food by Ea
in answer to her prayer, asked to be allowed to drink the blood of the
teeth, and the incantation closes by invoking the curse of Ea because
of the worm's misguided choice. It is clear that power over the worm
was obtained by a recital of her creation and of her subsequent
ingratitude, which led to her present occupation and the curse under
which she laboured. When the myth and invocation had been recited
three times over the proper mixture of beer, a plant, and oil, and the
mixture had been applied to the offending tooth, the worm would fall
under the spell of the curse and the patient would at once gain
relief. The example is instructive, as the connexion of ideas is quite
clear. In the Nippur document the recital of the creation of the eight
deities evidently ensured their presence, and a demonstration of the
mystic bond between their names and the corresponding diseases
rendered the working of their powers effective. Our knowledge of a
good many other myths is due solely to their magical employment.

[1] See Thompson, /Devils and Evil Spirits of Babylonia/, Vol. II, pp.
    160 ff.; for a number of other examples, see Jastrow, /J.A.O.S./,
    Vol. XXXVI, p. 279, n. 7.

Perhaps the most interesting section of the new text is one in which
divine instructions are given in the use of plants, the fruit or roots
of which may be eaten. Here Usmu, a messenger from Enki, God of the
Deep, names eight such plants by Enki's orders, thereby determining
the character of each. As Professor Jastrow has pointed out, the
passage forcibly recalls the story from Berossus, concerning the
mythical creature Oannes, who came up from the Erythraean Sea, where
it borders upon Babylonia, to instruct mankind in all things,
including "seeds and the gathering of fruits".[1] But the only part of
the text that concerns us here is the introductory section, where the
life-giving flood, by which the dry fields are irrigated, is pictured
as following the union of the water-deities, Enki and Ninella.[2]
Professor Jastrow is right in emphasizing the complete absence of any
conflict in this Sumerian myth of beginnings; but, as with the other
Sumerian Versions we have examined, it seems to me there is no need to
seek its origin elsewhere than in the Euphrates Valley.

[1] Cf. Jastrow, /J.A.O.S./, Vol. XXXVI, p. 127, and /A.J.S.L./, Vol.
    XXXIII, p. 134 f. It may be added that the divine naming of the
    plants also presents a faint parallel to the naming of the beasts
    and birds by man himself in Gen. ii. 19 f.

[2] Professor Jastrow (/A.J.S.L./, Vol. XXXIII, p. 115) compares
    similar myths collected by Sir James Frazer (/Magic Art/, Vol. II,
    chap. xi and chap. xii, § 2). He also notes the parallel the
    irrigation myth presents to the mist (or flood) of the earlier
    Hebrew Version (Gen. ii. 5 f). But Enki, like Ea, was no rain-god;
    he had his dwellings in the Euphrates and the Deep.

Even in later periods, when the Sumerian myths of Creation had been
superseded by that of Babylon, the Euphrates never ceased to be
regarded as the source of life and the creator of all things. And this
is well brought out in the following introductory lines of a Semitic
incantation, of which we possess two Neo-Babylonian copies:[1]

  O thou River, who didst create all things,
  When the great gods dug thee out,
  They set prosperity upon thy banks,
  Within thee Ea, King of the Deep, created his dwelling.
  The Flood they sent not before thou wert!

Here the river as creator is sharply distinguished from the Flood; and
we may conclude that the water of the Euphrates Valley impressed the
early Sumerians, as later the Semites, with its creative as well as
with its destructive power. The reappearance of the fertile soil,
after the receding inundation, doubtless suggested the idea of
creation out of water, and the stream's slow but automatic fall would
furnish a model for the age-long evolution of primaeval deities. When
a god's active and artificial creation of the earth must be portrayed,
it would have been natural for the primitive Sumerian to picture the
Creator working as he himself would work when he reclaimed a field
from flood. We are thus shown the old Sumerian god Gilimma piling
reed-bundles in the water and heaping up soil beside them, till the
ground within his dikes dries off and produces luxuriant vegetation.
But here there is a hint of struggle in the process, and we perceive
in it the myth-redactor's opportunity to weave in the Dragon /motif/.
No such excuse is afforded by the other Sumerian myth, which pictures
the life-producing inundation as the gift of the two deities of the
Deep and the product of their union.

But in their other aspect the rivers of Mesopotamia could be terrible;
and the Dragon /motif/ itself, on the Tigris and Euphrates, drew its
imagery as much from flood as from storm. When therefore a single
deity must be made to appear, not only as Creator, but also as the
champion of his divine allies and the conqueror of other gods, it was
inevitable that the myths attaching to the waters under their two
aspects should be combined. This may already have taken place at
Nippur, when Enlil became the head of the pantheon; but the existence
of his myth is conjectural.[1] In a later age we can trace the process
in the light of history and of existing texts. There Marduk,
identified wholly as the Sun-god, conquers the once featureless
primaeval water, which in the process of redaction has now become the
Dragon of flood and storm.

[1] The aspect of Enlil as the Creator of Vegetation is emphasized in
    Tablet VII of the Babylonian poem of Creation. It is significant
    that his first title, Asara, should be interpreted as "Bestower of
    planting", "Founder of sowing", "Creator of grain and plants", "He
    who caused the green herb to spring up" (cf. /Seven Tablets/, Vol.
    I, p. 92 f.). These opening phrases, by which the god is hailed,
    strike the key-note of the whole composition. It is true that, as
    Sukh-kur, he is "Destroyer of the foe"; but the great majority of
    the titles and their Semitic glosses refer to creative activities,
    not to the Dragon myth.

Thus the dualism which is so characteristic a feature of the Semitic-
Babylonian system, though absent from the earliest Sumerian ideas of
Creation, was inherent in the nature of the local rivers, whose varied
aspects gave rise to or coloured separate myths. Its presence in the
later mythology may be traced as a reflection of political
development, at first probably among the warring cities of Sumer, but
certainly later in the Semitic triumph at Babylon. It was but to be
expected that the conqueror, whether Sumerian or Semite, should
represent his own god's victory as the establishment of order out of
chaos. But this would be particularly in harmony with the character of
the Semitic Babylonians of the First Dynasty, whose genius for method
and organization produced alike Hammurabi's Code of Laws and the
straight streets of the capital.

We have thus been able to trace the various strands of the Semitic-
Babylonian poem of Creation to Sumerian origins; and in the second
lecture we arrived at a very similar conclusion with regard to the
Semitic-Babylonian Version of the Deluge preserved in the Epic of
Gilgamesh. We there saw that the literary structure of the Sumerian
Version, in which Creation and Deluge are combined, must have survived
under some form into the Neo-Babylonian period, since it was
reproduced by Berossus. And we noted the fact that the same
arrangement in Genesis did not therefore prove that the Hebrew
accounts go back directly to early Sumerian originals. In fact, the
structural resemblance presented by Genesis can only be regarded as an
additional proof that the Sumerian originals continued to be studied
and translated by the Semitic priesthood, although they had long been
superseded officially by their later descendants, the Semitic epics. A
detailed comparison of the Creation and Deluge narratives in the
various versions at once discloses the fact that the connexion between
those of the Semitic Babylonians and the Hebrews is far closer and
more striking than that which can be traced when the latter are placed
beside the Sumerian originals. We may therefore regard it as certain
that the Hebrews derived their knowledge of Sumerian tradition, not
directly from the Sumerians themselves, but through Semitic channels
from Babylon.

It will be unnecessary here to go in detail through the points of
resemblance that are admitted to exist between the Hebrew account of
Creation in the first chapter of Genesis and that preserved in the
"Seven Tablets".[1] It will suffice to emphasize two of them, which
gain in significance through our newly acquired knowledge of early
Sumerian beliefs. It must be admitted that, on first reading the poem,
one is struck more by the differences than by the parallels; but that
is due to the polytheistic basis of the poem, which attracts attention
when compared with the severe and dignified monotheism of the Hebrew
writer. And if allowance be made for the change in theological
standpoint, the material points of resemblance are seen to be very
marked. The outline or general course of events is the same. In both
we have an abyss of waters at the beginning denoted by almost the same
Semitic word, the Hebrew /tehom/, translated "the deep" in Gen. i. 2,
being the equivalent of the Semitic-Babylonian /Tiamat/, the monster
of storm and flood who presents so striking a contrast to the Sumerian
primaeval water.[2] The second act of Creation in the Hebrew narrative
is that of a "firmament", which divided the waters under it from those
above.[3] But this, as we have seen, has no parallel in the early
Sumerian conception until it was combined with the Dragon combat in
the form in which we find it in the Babylonian poem. There the body of
Tiamat is divided by Marduk, and from one half of her he constructs a
covering or dome for heaven, that is to say a "firmament", to keep her
upper waters in place. These will suffice as text passages, since they
serve to point out quite clearly the Semitic source to which all the
other detailed points of Hebrew resemblance may be traced.

[1] See /Seven Tablets/, Vol. I, pp. lxxxi ff., and Skinner,
    /Genesis/, pp. 45 ff.

[2] The invariable use of the Hebrew word /tehom/ without the article,
    except in two passages in the plural, proves that it is a proper
    name (cf. Skinner, op. cit., p. 17); and its correspondence with
    /Tiamat/ makes the resemblance of the versions far more
    significant than if their parallelism were confined solely to

[3] Gen. i. 6-8.

In the case of the Deluge traditions, so conclusive a demonstration is
not possible, since we have no similar criterion to apply. And on one
point, as we saw, the Hebrew Versions preserve an original Sumerian
strand of the narrative that was not woven into the Gilgamesh Epic,
where there is no parallel to the piety of Noah. But from the detailed
description that was given in the second lecture, it will have been
noted that the Sumerian account is on the whole far simpler and more
primitive than the other versions. It is only in the Babylonian Epic,
for example, that the later Hebrew writer finds material from which to
construct the ark, while the sweet savour of Ut-napishtim's sacrifice,
and possibly his sending forth of the birds, though reproduced in the
earlier Hebrew Version, find no parallels in the Sumerian account.[1]
As to the general character of the Flood, there is no direct reference
to rain in the Sumerian Version, though its presence is probably
implied in the storm. The heavy rain of the Babylonian Epic has been
increased to forty days of rain in the earlier Hebrew Version, which
would be suitable to a country where local rain was the sole cause of
flood. But the later Hebrew writer's addition of "the fountains of the
deep" to "the windows of heaven" certainly suggests a more intimate
knowledge of Mesopotamia, where some contributary cause other than
local rain must be sought for the sudden and overwhelming catastrophes
of which the rivers are capable.

[1] For detailed lists of the points of agreement presented by the
    Hebrew Versions J and P to the account in the Gilgamesh Epic, see
    Skinner, op. cit., p. 177 f.; Driver, /Genesis/, p. 106 f.; and
    Gordon, /Early Traditions of Genesis/ (1907), pp. 38 ff.

Thus, viewed from a purely literary standpoint, we are now enabled to
trace back to a primitive age the ancestry of the traditions, which,
under a very different aspect, eventually found their way into Hebrew
literature. And in the process we may note the changes they underwent
as they passed from one race to another. The result of such literary
analysis and comparison, so far from discrediting the narratives in
Genesis, throws into still stronger relief the moral grandeur of the
Hebrew text.

We come then to the question, at what periods and by what process did
the Hebrews become acquainted with Babylonian ideas? The tendency of
the purely literary school of critics has been to explain the process
by the direct use of Babylonian documents wholly within exilic times.
If the Creation and Deluge narratives stood alone, a case might
perhaps be made out for confining Babylonian influence to this late
period. It is true that during the Captivity the Jews were directly
exposed to such influence. They had the life and civilization of their
captors immediately before their eyes, and it would have been only
natural for the more learned among the Hebrew scribes and priests to
interest themselves in the ancient literature of their new home. And
any previous familiarity with the myths of Babylonia would undoubtedly
have been increased by actual residence in the country. We may perhaps
see a result of such acquaintance with Babylonian literature, after
Jehoiachin's deportation,, in an interesting literary parallel that
has been pointed out between Ezek. xiv. 12-20 and a speech in the
Babylonian account of the Deluge in the Gilgamesh Epic, XI, ll. 180-
194.[1] The passage in Ezekiel occurs within chaps. i-xxiv, which
correspond to the prophet's first period and consist in the main of
his utterances in exile before the fall of Jerusalem. It forms, in
fact, the introduction to the prophet's announcement of the coming of
"four sore judgements upon Jerusalem", from which there "shall be left
a remnant that shall be carried forth".[2] But in consequence, here
and there, of traces of a later point of view, it is generally
admitted that many of the chapters in this section may have been
considerably amplified and altered by Ezekiel himself in the course of
writing. And if we may regard the literary parallel that has been
pointed out as anything more than fortuitous, it is open to us to
assume that chap. xiv may have been worked up by Ezekiel many years
after his prophetic call at Tel-abib.

[1] See Daiches, "Ezekiel and the Babylonian Account of the Deluge",
    in the /Jewish Quarterly Review/, April 1905. It has of course
    long been recognized that Ezekiel, in announcing the punishment of
    the king of Egypt in xxxii. 2 ff., uses imagery which strongly
    recalls the Babylonian Creation myth. For he compares Pharaoh to a
    sea-monster over whom Yahweh will throw his net (as Marduk had
    thrown his over Tiamat); cf. Loisy, /Les mythes babyloniens et les
    premiers chaptires de la Gencse/ (1901), p. 87.

[2] Ezek. xiv. 21 f.

In the passage of the Babylonian Epic, Enlil had already sent the
Flood and had destroyed the good with the wicked. Ea thereupon
remonstrates with him, and he urges that in future the sinner only
should be made to suffer for his sin; and, instead of again causing a
flood, let there be discrimination in the divine punishments sent on
men or lands. While the flood made the escape of the deserving
impossible, other forms of punishment would affect the guilty only. In
Ezekiel the subject is the same, but the point of view is different.
The land the prophet has in his mind in verse 13 is evidently Judah,
and his desire is to explain why it will suffer although not all its
inhabitants deserved to share its fate. The discrimination, which Ea
urges, Ezekiel asserts will be made; but the sinner must bear his own
sin, and the righteous, however eminent, can only save themselves by
their righteousness. The general principle propounded in the Epic is
here applied to a special case. But the parallelism between the
passages lies not only in the general principle but also in the
literary setting. This will best be brought out by printing the
passages in parallel columns.

        Gilg. Epic, XI, 180-194             Ezek. xiv. 12-20

  Ea opened his mouth and spake,      And the word of the Lord came
  He said to the warrior Enlil;         unto me, saying,
  Thou director of the gods! O        Son of man, when a land sinneth
    warrior!                            against me by committing a
  Why didst thou not take counsel       trespass, and I stretch out
    but didst cause a flood?            mine hand upon it, and break
  On the transgressor lay his           the staff of the bread
    transgression!                      thereof, and send /famine/
  Be merciful, so that (all) be not     upon it, and cut off from it
    destroyed! Have patience, so        man and beast; though these
    that (all) be not [cut off]!        three men, Noah, Daniel, and
  Instead of causing a flood,           Job, were in it, they should
  Let /lions/[1] come and diminish      deliver but their own souls by
    mankind!                            their righteousness, saith the
  Instead of causing a flood,           Lord God.
  Let /leopards/[1] come and          If I cause /noisome beasts/ to
    diminish mankind!                   pass through the land, and
  Instead of causing a flood,           they spoil it, so that it be
  Let /famine/ be caused and let it     desolate, that no man may pass
    smite the land!                     through because of the beasts;
  Instead of causing a flood,           though these three men were in
  Let the /Plague-god/ come and         it, as I live, saith the Lord
    [slay] mankind!                     God, they shall deliver
                                        neither sons nor daughters;
                                        they only shall be delivered,
                                        but the land shall be
                                      Or if I bring a /sword/ upon
                                        that land, and say, Sword, go
                                        through the land; so that I
                                        cut off from it man and beast;
                                        though these three men were in
                                        it, as I live, saith the Lord
                                        God, they shall deliver
                                        neither sons nor daughters,
                                        but they only shall be
                                        delivered themselves.
                                      Or if I send a /pestilence/ into
                                        that land, and pour out my
                                        fury upon it in blood, to cut
                                        off from it man and beast;
                                        though Noah, Daniel, and Job,
                                        were in it, as I live, saith
                                        the Lord God, they shall
                                        deliver neither son nor
                                        daughter; they shall but
                                        deliver their own souls by
                                        their righteousness.

[1] Both Babylonian words are in the singular, but probably used
    collectively, as is the case with their Hebrew equivalent in Ezek.
    xiv. 15.

It will be seen that, of the four kinds of divine punishment
mentioned, three accurately correspond in both compositions. Famine
and pestilence occur in both, while the lions and leopards of the Epic
find an equivalent in "noisome beasts". The sword is not referred to
in the Epic, but as this had already threatened Jerusalem at the time
of the prophecy's utterance its inclusion by Ezekiel was inevitable.
Moreover, the fact that Noah should be named in the refrain, as the
first of the three proverbial examples of righteousness, shows that
Ezekiel had the Deluge in his mind, and increases the significance of
the underlying parallel between his argument and that of the
Babylonian poet.[1] It may be added that Ezekiel has thrown his
prophecy into poetical form, and the metre of the two passages in the
Babylonian and Hebrew is, as Dr. Daiches points out, not dissimilar.

[1] This suggestion is in some measure confirmed by the /Biblical
    Antiquities of Philo/, ascribed by Dr. James to the closing years
    of the first century A.D.; for its writer, in his account of the
    Flood, has actually used Ezek. xiv. 12 ff. in order to elaborate
    the divine speech in Gen. viii. 21 f. This will be seen from the
    following extract, in which the passage interpolated between 
    verses 21 and 22 of Gen. viii is enclosed within brackets: "And
    God said: I will not again curse the earth for man's sake, for the
    guise of man's heart hath left off (sic) from his youth. And
    therefore I will not again destroy together all living as I have
    done. [But it shall be, when the dwellers upon earth have sinned,
    I will judge them by /famine/ or by the /sword/ or by fire or by
    /pestilence/ (lit. death), and there shall be earthquakes, and
    they shall be scattered into places not inhabited (or, the places
    of their habitation shall be scattered). But I will not again
    spoil the earth with the water of a flood, and] in all the days of
    the earth seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and autumn,
    day and night shall not cease . . ."; see James, /The Biblical
    Antiquities of Philo/, p. 81, iii. 9. Here wild beasts are
    omitted, and fire, earthquakes, and exile are added; but famine,
    sword, and pestilence are prominent, and the whole passage is
    clearly suggested by Ezekiel. As a result of the combination, we
    have in the /Biblical Antiquities/ a complete parallel to the
    passage in the Gilgamesh Epic.

It may of course be urged that wild beasts, famine, and pestilence are
such obvious forms of divine punishment that their enumeration by both
writers is merely due to chance. But the parallelism should be
considered with the other possible points of connexion, namely, the
fact that each writer is dealing with discrimination in divine
punishments of a wholesale character, and that while the one is
inspired by the Babylonian tradition of the Flood, the other takes the
hero of the Hebrew Flood story as the first of his selected types of
righteousness. It is possible that Ezekiel may have heard the
Babylonian Version recited after his arrival on the Chebar. And
assuming that some form of the story had long been a cherished
tradition of the Hebrews themselves, we could understand his intense
interest in finding it confirmed by the Babylonians, who would show
him where their Flood had taken place. To a man of his temperament,
the one passage in the Babylonian poem that would have made a special
appeal would have been that quoted above, where the poet urges that
divine vengeance should be combined with mercy, and that all,
righteous and wicked alike, should not again be destroyed. A problem
continually in Ezekiel's thoughts was this very question of wholesale
divine punishment, as exemplified in the case of Judah; and it would
not have been unlikely that the literary structure of the Babylonian
extract may have influenced the form in which he embodied his own

But even if we regard this suggestion as unproved or improbable,
Ezekiel's reference to Noah surely presupposes that at least some
version of the Flood story was familiar to the Hebrews before the
Captivity. And this conclusion is confirmed by other Babylonian
parallels in the early chapters of Genesis, in which oral tradition
rather than documentary borrowing must have played the leading
part.[1] Thus Babylonian parallels may be cited for many features in
the story of Paradise,[2] though no equivalent of the story itself has
been recovered. In the legend of Adapa, for example, wisdom and
immortality are the prerogative of the gods, and the winning of
immortality by man is bound up with eating the Food of Life and
drinking the Water of Life; here too man is left with the gift of
wisdom, but immortality is withheld. And the association of winged
guardians with the Sacred Tree in Babylonian art is at least
suggestive of the Cherubim and the Tree of Life. The very side of Eden
has now been identified in Southern Babylonia by means of an old
boundary-stone acquired by the British Museum a year or two ago.[3]

[1] See Loisy, /Les mythes babyloniens/, pp. 10 ff., and cf. S.
    Reinach, /Cultes, Mythes et Religions/, t. II, pp. 386 ff.

[2] Cf. especially Skinner, /Genesis/, pp. 90 ff. For the latest
    discussion of the Serpent and the Tree of Life, suggested by Dr.
    Skinner's summary of the evidence, see Frazer in /Essays and
    Studies presented to William Ridgeway/ (1913), pp. 413 ff.

[3] See /Babylonian Boundary Stones in the British Museum/ (1912), pp.
    76 ff., and cf. /Geographical Journal/, Vol. XL, No. 2 (Aug.,
    1912), p. 147. For the latest review of the evidence relating to
    the site of Paradise, see Boissier, "La situation du paradis
    terrestre", in /Le Globe/, t. LV, Mémoires (Geneva, 1916).

But I need not now detain you by going over this familiar ground. Such
possible echoes from Babylon seem to suggest pre-exilic influence
rather than late borrowing, and they surely justify us in inquiring to
what periods of direct or indirect contact, earlier than the
Captivity, the resemblances between Hebrew and Babylonian ideas may be
traced. One point, which we may regard as definitely settled by our
new material, is that these stories of the Creation and of the early
history of the world were not of Semitic origin. It is no longer
possible to regard the Hebrew and Babylonian Versions as descended
from common Semitic originals. For we have now recovered some of those
originals, and they are not Semitic but Sumerian. The question thus
resolves itself into an inquiry as to periods during which the Hebrews
may have come into direct or indirect contact with Babylonia.

There are three pre-exilic periods at which it has been suggested the
Hebrews, or the ancestors of the race, may have acquired a knowledge
of Babylonian traditions. The earliest of these is the age of the
patriarchs, the traditional ancestors of the Hebrew nation. The second
period is that of the settlement in Canaan, which we may put from 1200
B.C. to the establishment of David's kingdom at about 1000 B.C. The
third period is that of the later Judaean monarch, from 734 B.C. to
586 B.C., the date of the fall of Jerusalem; and in this last period
there are two reigns of special importance in this connexion, those of
Ahaz (734-720 B.C.) and Manasseh (693-638 B.C.).

With regard to the earliest of these periods, those who support the
Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch may quite consistently assume that
Abraham heard the legends in Ur of the Chaldees. And a simple
retention of the traditional view seems to me a far preferable
attitude to any elaborate attempt at rationalizing it. It is admitted
that Arabia was the cradle of the Semitic race; and the most natural
line of advance from Arabia to Aram and thence to Palestine would be
up the Euphrates Valley. Some writers therefore assume that nomad
tribes, personified in the traditional figure of Abraham, may have
camped for a time in the neighbourhood of Ur and Babylon; and that
they may have carried the Babylonian stories with them in their
wanderings, and continued to preserve them during their long
subsequent history. But, even granting that such nomads would have
taken any interest in traditions of settled folk, this view hardly
commends itself. For stories received from foreign sources become more
and more transformed in the course of centuries.[1] The vivid
Babylonian colouring of the Genesis narratives cannot be reconciled
with this explanation of their source.

[1] This objection would not of course apply to M. Naville's suggested
    solution, that cuneiform tablets formed the medium of
    transmission. But its author himself adds that he does not deny
    its conjectural character; see /The Text of the Old Testament/
    (Schweich Lectures, 1915), p. 32.

A far greater number of writers hold that it was after their arrival
in Palestine that the Hebrew patriarchs came into contact with
Babylonian culture. It is true that from an early period Syria was the
scene of Babylonian invasions, and in the first lecture we noted some
newly recovered evidence upon this point. Moreover, the dynasty to
which Hammurabi belonged came originally from the north-eastern border
of Canaan and Hammurabi himself exercised authority in the west. Thus
a plausible case could be made out by exponents of this theory,
especially as many parallels were noted between the Mosaic legislation
and that contained in Hammurabi's Code. But it is now generally
recognized that the features common to both the Hebrew and the
Babylonian legal systems may be paralleled to-day in the Semitic East
and elsewhere,[1] and cannot therefore be cited as evidence of
cultural contact. Thus the hypothesis that the Hebrew patriarchs were
subjects of Babylon in Palestine is not required as an explanation of
the facts; and our first period still stands or falls by the question
of the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, which must be decided on
quite other grounds. Those who do not accept the traditional view will
probably be content to rule this first period out.

[1] See Cook, /The Laws of Moses and the Code of Hammurabi/, p. 281
    f.; Driver, /Genesis/, p. xxxvi f.; and cf. Johns, "The Laws of
    Babylonia and the Laws of the Hebrew Peoples/ (Schweich Lectures,
    1912), pp. 50 ff.

During the second period, that of the settlement in Canaan, the
Hebrews came into contact with a people who had used the Babylonian
language as the common medium of communication throughout the Near
East. It is an interesting fact that among the numerous letters found
at Tell el-Amarna were two texts of quite a different character. These
were legends, both in the form of school exercises, which had been
written out for practice in the Babylonian tongue. One of them was the
legend of Adapa, in which we noted just now a distant resemblance to
the Hebrew story of Paradise. It seems to me we are here standing on
rather firmer ground; and provisionally we might place the beginning
of our process after the time of Hebrew contact with the Canaanites.

Under the earlier Hebrew monarchy there was no fresh influx of
Babylonian culture into Palestine. That does not occur till our last
main period, the later Judaean monarchy, when, in consequence of the
westward advance of Assyria, the civilization of Babylon was once more
carried among the petty Syrian states. Israel was first drawn into the
circle of Assyrian influence, when Arab fought as the ally of Benhadad
of Damascus at the battle of Karkar in 854 B.C.; and from that date
onward the nation was menaced by the invading power. In 734 B.C., at
the invitation of Ahaz of Judah, Tiglath-Pileser IV definitely
intervened in the affairs of Israel. For Ahaz purchased his help
against the allied armies of Israel and Syria in the Syro-Ephraimitish
war. Tiglath-pileser threw his forces against Damascus and Israel, and
Ahaz became his vassal.[1] To this period, when Ahaz, like Panammu II,
"ran at the wheel of his lord, the king of Assyria", we may ascribe
the first marked invasion of Assyrian influence over Judah. Traces of
it may be seen in the altar which Ahaz caused to be erected in
Jerusalem after the pattern of the Assyrian altar at Damascus.[2] We
saw in the first lecture, in the monuments we have recovered of
Panammu I and of Bar-rekub, how the life of another small Syrian state
was inevitably changed and thrown into new channels by the presence of
Tiglath-pileser and his armies in the West.

[1] 2 Kings xvi. 7 ff.

[2] 2 Kings xvi. 10 ff.

Hezekiah's resistance checked the action of Assyrian influence on
Judah for a time. But it was intensified under his son Manasseh, when
Judah again became tributary to Assyria, and in the house of the Lord
altars were built to all the host of heaven.[1] Towards the close of
his long reign Manasseh himself was summoned by Ashur-bani-pal to
Babylon.[2] So when in the year 586 B.C. the Jewish exiles came to
Babylon they could not have found in its mythology an entirely new and
unfamiliar subject. They must have recognized several of its stories
as akin to those they had assimilated and now regarded as their own.
And this would naturally have inclined them to further study and

[1] 2 Kings xxi. 5.

[2] Cf. 2 Chron. xxxiii. 11 ff.

The answer I have outlined to this problem is the one that appears to
me most probable, but I do not suggest that it is the only possible
one that can be given. What I do suggest is that the Hebrews must have
gained some acquaintance with the legends of Babylon in pre-exilic
times. And it depends on our reading of the evidence into which of the
three main periods the beginning of the process may be traced.

So much, then, for the influence of Babylon. We have seen that no
similar problem arises with regard to the legends of Egypt. At first
sight this may seem strange, for Egypt lay nearer than Babylon to
Palestine, and political and commercial intercourse was at least as
close. We have already noted how Egypt influenced Semitic art, and how
she offered an ideal, on the material side of her existence, which was
readily adopted by her smaller neighbours. Moreover, the Joseph
traditions in Genesis give a remarkably accurate picture of ancient
Egyptian life; and even the Egyptian proper names embedded in that
narrative may be paralleled with native Egyptian names than that to
which the traditions refer. Why then is it that the actual myths and
legends of Egypt concerning the origin of the world and its
civilization should have failed to impress the Hebrew mind, which, on
the other hand, was so responsive to those of Babylon?

One obvious answer would be, that it was Nebuchadnezzar II, and not
Necho, who carried the Jews captive. And we may readily admit that the
Captivity must have tended to perpetuate and intensify the effects of
any Babylonian influence that may have previously been felt. But I
think there is a wider and in that sense a better answer than that.

I do not propose to embark at this late hour on what ethnologists know
as the "Hamitic" problem. But it is a fact that many striking
parallels to Egyptian religious belief and practice have been traced
among races of the Sudan and East Africa. These are perhaps in part to
be explained as the result of contact and cultural inheritance. But at
the same time they are evidence of an African, but non-Negroid,
substratum in the religion of ancient Egypt. In spite of his proto-
Semitic strain, the ancient Egyptian himself never became a Semite.
The Nile Valley, at any rate until the Moslem conquest, was stronger
than its invaders; it received and moulded them to its own ideal. This
quality was shared in some degree by the Euphrates Valley. But
Babylonia was not endowed with Egypt's isolation; she was always open
on the south and west to the Arabian nomad, who at a far earlier
period sealed her Semitic type.

To such racial division and affinity I think we may confidently trace
the influence exerted by Egypt and Babylon respectively upon Hebrew



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