The Babylonian Legends of Creation, by E. A. Wallis Budge, , at sacred-texts.com
In the beginning nothing whatever existed except APSÛ, which may be described as a boundless, confused and disordered mass of watery matter; how it came into being is unknown. Out of this mass there were evolved two orders of beings, namely, demons and gods. The demons had hideous forms, even as Berosus said, which were part animal, part bird, part reptile and part human. The gods had wholly human forms, and they represented the three layers of the comprehensible world, that is to say, heaven or the sky, the atmosphere, and the underworld. The atmosphere and the underworld together formed the earth as opposed to the sky or heaven. The texts say that the first two gods to be created were LAKHMU and LAKHAMU . Their attributes cannot at present be described, but they seem to represent two forms of primitive matter. They appear to have had no existence in popular religion, and it has been thought that they may be described as theological conceptions containing the notions of matter and some of its attributes.
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Terra-cotta figure of a Babylonian Demon. [No. 22,458.]
After countless aeons had passed the gods ANSHAR and KISHAR came into being; the former represents the "hosts of heaven," and the latter the "hosts of earth."
After another long and indefinite period the independent gods of the Babylonian pantheon came into being, e.g., ANU , EA , who is here called NUDIMMUD , and others.
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Bronze figure of a Babylonian Demon. [No. 93,078.]
As soon as the gods appeared in the universe "order" came into being. When APSÛ, the personification of confusion and disorder of every kind, saw this "order," he took counsel with his female associate TIÂMAT with the object of finding some means of destroying the "way" (al-ka-at) or "order" of the gods. Fortunately the Babylonians and Assyrians have supplied us with representations of Tiâmat, and these show us what form ancient tradition assigned to her. She is depicted as a ferocious monster with wings and scales and terrible claws, and her body is sometimes that of a huge serpent, and sometimes that of an animal. In the popular imagination she represented all that was physically terrifying, and foul, and abominable; she was nevertheless the mother of everything, 8 and was the possessor of the DUP SHIMATI or "TABLET OF DESTINIES" . No description of this Tablet or its contents is available, but from its name we may assume that it was a sort of Babylonian Book of Fate. 9 Theologically, Tiâmat represented to the Babylonians the same state in the development of the universe as did tôhû wâ-bhôhû (Genesis i. 2), i.e., formlessness and voidness, of primeval matter, to the Hebrews She is depicted both on bas-reliefs and on cylinder seals in a form which associates her with LABARTU, 10 a female devil that prowled about the desert at night suckling wild animals but killing men. And it is tolerably certain that she was the type, and symbol, and head of the whole community of fiends, demons and devils.
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Terra-cotta plaque with a Typhonic animal in relief. [No. 103,381.]
In the consultation which took place between APSÛ and TIÂMAT, their messenger MU-UM-MU took part; of the history and attributes of this last-named god nothing is known. The result of the consultation was that a long struggle began between the demons and the gods, and it is clear that the object of the powers of darkness was to destroy the light. The whole story of this struggle is the subject of the Seven Tablets of Creation. The gods are deifications of the sun, moon, planets and other stars, and APSÛ, or CHAOS, and his companions the demons, are personifications of darkness, night and evil. The story of the fight between them is nothing more nor less than a picturesque allegory of natural phenomena. Similar descriptions are found in the literatures of other primitive nations, and the story of the great fight between Her-ur, the great god of heaven, and Set, the great captain of the hosts of darkness, may be quoted as an example. Set regarded the "order" which Ḥer-ur was bringing into the universe with the same dislike as that with which APSÛ contemplated the beneficent work of Sin, the Moon-god, Shamash, the Sun-god, and their brother gods. And the hostility of Set and his allies to the gods, like that of Tiâmat and her allies, was everlasting.
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Battle between Marduk (Bel) and the Dragon. Drawn from a bas-relief from the Palace of Ashur-nasir-pal, King of Assyria, 885-860 B.C., at Nimrûd. [Nimrûd Gallery, Nos. 28 and 29.]
At this point a new Text fills a break in the First Tablet, and describes the fight which took place between Nudimmud or Ea, (the representative of the established "order" which the rule of the gods had introduced into the domain of Apsû and Tiâmat) and Apsû and his envoy Mummu. Ea went forth to fight the powers of darkness and he conquered Apsû and Mummu. The victory over Apsû, i.e., the confused and boundless mass of primeval water, represents the setting of impassable boundaries to the waters that are on and under the earth, i.e., the formation of the Ocean. The exact details of the conquest cannot be given, but we know that Ea was the possessor of the "pure (or white, or holy) incantation" and that he overcame Apsû and his envoy by the utterance of a powerful spell. In the Egyptian Legend of Rā and Āapep, the monster is rendered spell-bound by the god Ḥer-Ṭuati, who plays in it exactly the same part as Ea in the Babylonian Legend.
When Tiâmat heard of Ea's victory over Apsû and Mummu she was filled with fury, and determined to avenge the death of Apsû, her husband.
The first act of TIÂMAT after the death of Apsû was to increase the number of her allies. We know that a certain creature called "UMMU-KHUBUR" at once spawned a brood of devilish monsters to help her in her fight against the gods. Nothing is known of the origin or attributes of UMMU-KHUBUR, but some think she was a form of TIÂMAT. Her brood probably consisted of personifications of mist, fog, cloud, storm, whirlwinds and the blighting and destroying powers which primitive man associated with the desert. An exact parallel of this brood of devils is found in Egyptian mythology where the allies of Set and Āapep are called "Mesu beṭshet" i.e., "spawn of impotent revolt." They are depicted in the form of serpents, and some of them became the "Nine Worms of Ȧmenti" that are mentioned in the Book of the Dead (Chap. Ia).
Not content with Ummu-Khubur's brood of devils, Tiâmat called the stars and powers of the air to her aid, for she "set up" (1) the Viper, (2) the Snake, (3) the god Lakhamu, (4) the Whirlwind, (5) the ravening Dog, (6) the Scorpion-man, (7) the mighty Storm-wind, (8) the Fish-man, and (9) the Horned Beast. These bore (10) the "merciless, invincible weapon," and were under the command of (11) Kingu, whom Tiâmat calls "her husband." Thus Tiâmat had Eleven mighty Helpers besides the devils spawned by Ummu-Khubur. We may note in passing that some of the above-mentioned Helpers appear among the Twelve Signs of the Zodiac which Marduk "set up" after his conquest of Tiâmat, e.g., the Scorpion-man, the Horned Beast, etc. This fact suggests that the first Zodiac was "set up" by Tiâmat, who with her Eleven Helpers formed the Twelve Signs; the association of evil with certain stars may date from that period. That the Babylonians regarded the primitive gods as powers of evil is clear from the fact that Lakhamu, one of them, is enumerated among the allies of Tiâmat.
The helpers of Tiâmat were placed by her under the command of a god called KINGU who is TAMMUZ. He was the counterpart, or equivalent, of ANU, the Sky-god, in the kingdom of darkness, for it is said in the text "Kingu was exalted and received the power of Anu," i.e., he possessed the same power and attributes as Anu. When Tiâmat appointed Kingu to be her captain, she recited over him a certain spell or incantation, and then she gave him the TABLET OF DESTINIES and fastened it to his breast, saying, "Whatsoever goeth forth from thy mouth shall be established." Armed with all the magical powers conferred upon him by this Tablet, and heartened by all the laudatory epithets which his wife Tiâmat heaped upon him, Kingu went forth at the head of his devils.
When Ea heard that Tiâmat had collected her forces and Was determined to continue the fight against the gods which Apsû and Mummu had begun, and that she had made her husband Kingu her champion, he was "afflicted" and "sat in sorrow." He felt unable to renew the fight against the powers of darkness, and he therefore went and reported the new happenings to Anshar, representative of the "host of heaven," and took counsel with him. When Anshar heard the matter he was greatly disturbed in mind and bit his lips, for he saw that the real difficulty was to find a worthy antagonist for Kingu and Tiâmat. A gap in the text here prevents us from knowing exactly what Anshar said and did, but the context suggests that he summoned Anu, the Sky-god, to his assistance. Then, having given him certain instructions, he sent him on an embassy to Tiâmat with the view of conciliating her. When Anu reached the place where she was he found her in a very wrathful state, and she was muttering angrily; Anu was so appalled at the sight of her that he turned and fled. It is impossible at present to explain this interlude, or to find any parallel to it in other ancient Oriental literature.
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Shamash the Sun-god rising on the horizon, flames of fire ascending from his shoulder. The two portals of the dawn, each surmounted by a lion, are being drawn open by attendant gods. From a Babylonian seal cylinder in the British Museum. [No. 89,110.]
When Anu reported his inability to deal with Tiâmat, a council of the gods was called, and Ea induced his son, Marduk to be present. We next find Anshar in converse with the god Marduk, who offers to act as the champion of the gods and to fight Tiâmat and her allies. Marduk being a form of the Sun-god, the greatest of all the powers of light, thus becomes naturally the protagonist of the gods, and the adversary of Tiâmat and her powers of darkness. Then Anshar summoned a great council of the gods, who forthwith met in a place called "Upshukkinaku" , which may be described as the Babylonian Olympus. It was all-important for Marduk to appear at the council of the gods before he undertook his task, because it was necessary for him to be formally recognised by them as their champion, and he needed to be endowed by them with magical powers. The primitive gods Lakhmu and Lakhamu, and the Igigi (or ), who may be regarded as star-gods, were also summoned. A banquet was prepared, and the gods attended, and having met and kissed each other they sat down, and ate bread and drank hot and sweet sesame wine. The fumes of the wine confused their senses, but they continued to drink, and at length "their spirits were exalted." They appointed Marduk to be their champion officially, and then they proceeded to invest him with the power that would cause every command he spake to be followed immediately by the effect which he intended it to produce. Next Marduk, with the view of testing the new power which had been given him, commanded a garment to disappear and it did so; and when he commanded it to reappear it did so.
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Shamash the Sun-god setting (?) on the horizon.
In his right he holds a tree (?), and in his left a ... with a serrated edge. Above the horizon is a goddess who holds in her left hand an ear of corn. On the right is a god who seems to be setting free a bird from his right hand. Round him is a river with fish in it, and behind him is an attendant god; under his foot is a young bull. To the right of the goddess stand a hunting god, with a bow and lasso, and a lion. From the seal-cylinder of Adda ..., in the British Museum. About 2500 B.C. [No. 89,115.]
Then the gods saluted him as their king, and gave him the insignia of royalty, namely, the sceptre, the throne and the pala, , whatever that may be. And as they handed to him these things they commanded him to go and hack the body of Tiâmat in pieces, and to scatter her blood to the winds. Thereupon Marduk began to arm himself for the fight. He took a bow, a spear, and a club; he filled his body full of fire and set the lightning before him. He took in his hands a net wherewith to catch Tiâmat, and he placed the four winds near it, to prevent her from escaping from it when he had snared her. He created mighty winds and tempests to assist him, and grasped the thunderbolt in his hand; and then, mounting upon the Storm, which was drawn by four horses, he went out to meet and defeat Tiâmat. It seems pretty certain that this description of the equipment of Marduk was taken over from a very ancient account of the Fight with Tiâmat in which the hero was Enlil, i.e., the god of the air, or of the region which lies between heaven and hell. Marduk approached and looked upon the "Middle" or "Inside" or "Womb" of Tiâmat 11 , and divined the plan of Kingu who had taken up his place therein. In the Seventh Tablet (l. 108) Marduk is said to have "entered into the middle of Tiâmat," and because he did so he is called "Nibiru," i.e., "he who entered in," and the "seizer of the middle." What the words "middle of Tiâmat" meant to the Babylonian we are not told, but it is clear that Marduk's entry into it was a signal mark of the triumph of the god. When Kingu from the "middle of Tiâmat" saw Marduk arrayed in his terrible panoply of war, he was terrified and trembled, and staggered about and lost all control of his legs; and at the mere sight of the god all the other fiends and devils were smitten with fear and reduced to helplessness. Tiâmat saw Marduk and began to revile him, and when he challenged her to battle she flew into a rage and attempted to overthrow him by reciting an incantation, thinking that her words of power would destroy his strength. Her spell had no effect on the god, who at once cast his net over her. At the same moment he made a gale of foul wind to blow on her face, and entering through her mouth it filled her body; whilst her body was distended he drove his spear into her, and Tiâmat split asunder, and her womb fell out from it. Marduk leaped upon her body and looked on her followers as they attempted to escape. But the Four Winds which he had stationed round about Tiâmat made all their efforts to flee of no effect. Marduk caught all the Eleven allies of Tiâmat in his net, and he trampled upon them as they lay in it helpless. Marduk then took the TABLET OF DESTINIES from Kingu's breast, and sealed it with his seal and placed it on his own breast.
Then returning to the dead body of Tiâmat he smashed her skull with his club and scattered her blood to the north wind, and as a reward for his destruction of their terrible foe, he received gifts and presents from the gods his fathers.
The text then goes on to say that Marduk "devised a cunning plan," i.e., he determined to carry out a series of works of creation. He split the body of Tiâmat into two parts; out of one half he fashioned the dome of heaven, and out of the other he constructed the abode of Nudimmud, or Ea, which he placed over against Apsu, i.e., the deep. He also formulated regulations concerning the maintenance of the same. By this "cunning plan" Marduk deprived the powers of darkness of the opportunity of repeating their revolt with any chance of success. Having established the framework of his new heaven and earth Marduk, acting as the celestial architect, set to work to furnish them. In the first place he founded E-Sharra , or the mansion of heaven, and next he set apart and arranged proper places for the old gods of the three realms--Anu, Bel and Ea.
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Tablet sculptured with a scene representing the worship of the Sun-god in the Temple of Sippar.
The Sun-god is seated on a throne within a pavilion holding in one hand a disk and bar which (like in Egyptian) may symbolize eternity. Above his head are the three symbols of the Moon, the Sun, and the planet Venus. On a stand in front of the pavilion rests the disk of the Sun, which is held in position by ropes grasped in the hands of two divine beings who are supported by the roof of the pavilion. The pavilion of the Sun-god stands on the Celestial Ocean, and the four small disks indicate either the four cardinal points or the tops of the pillars of the heavens. The three figures in front of the disk represent the high priest of Shamash, the king (Nabu-aplu-iddina, about 870 B.C.) and an attendant goddess. [No. 91,000.]
The text of the Fifth Tablet, which would undoubtedly have supplied details as to Marduk's arrangement and regulations for the sun, the moon, the stars, and the Signs of the Zodiac in the heavens is wanting. The prominence of the celestial bodies in the history of creation is not to be wondered at, for the greater number of the religious beliefs of the Babylonians are grouped round them. Moreover, the science of astronomy had gone hand in hand with the superstition of astrology in Mesopotamia from time immemorial; and at a very early period the oldest gods of Babylonia were associated with the heavenly bodies. Thus the Annunaki and the Igigi, who are bodies of deified spirits, were identified with the stars of the northern and southern heaven, respectively. And all the primitive goddesses coalesced and were grouped to form the goddess Ishtar, who was identified with the Evening and Morning Star, or Venus. The Babylonians believed that the will of the gods was made known to men by the motions of the planets, and that careful observation of them would enable the skilled seer to recognize in the stars favourable and unfavourable portents. Such observations, treated from a magical point of view, formed a huge mass of literature which was being added to continually. From the nature of the case this literature enshrined a very considerable number of facts of pure astronomy, and as early as the period of the First Dynasty (about 2000 B.C.), the Babylonians were able to calculate astronomical events with considerable accuracy, and to reconcile the solar and lunar years by the use of epagomenal months. They had by that time formulated the existence of the Zodiac, and fixed the "stations" of the moon, and the places of the planets with it; and they had distinguished between the planets and the fixed stars. In the Fifth Tablet of the Creation Series (l. 2) the Signs of the Zodiac are called Lumashi 12 , but unfortunately no list of their names is given in the context. Now these are supplied by the little tablet (No. 77,821) of the Persian Period of which a reproduction is here given. It has been referred to and discussed by various scholars, and its importance is very great. The transcript of the text, which is now published (see p. 68) for the first time, will be acceptable to the students of the history of the Zodiac. Egyptian, Greek, Syriac and Arabic astrological and astronomical texts all associate with the Signs of the Zodiac twelve groups, each containing three stars, which are commonly known as the "Thirty-six Dekans." 13 The text of line 4 of the Fifth Tablet of the Creation Series proves that the Babylonians were acquainted with these groups of stars, for we read that Marduk "set up for the twelve "months of the year three stars apiece." In the List of Signs of the Zodiac here given, it will be seen that each Sign is associated with a particular month.
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Tablet inscribed with a list of the Signs of the Zodiac. [No. 77,821.]
At a later period, say about 500 B.C., the Babylonians made some of the gods regents of groups of stars, for Enlil ruled 33 stars, Anu 23 stars, and Ea 15 stars. They also possessed lists of the fixed stars, and drew up tables of the times of their heliacal risings. Such lists were probably based upon very ancient documents, and prove that the astral element in Babylonian religion was very considerable.
The accompanying illustration, which is reproduced from the Boundary Stone of Ritti-Marduk (Brit. Mus., No. 90,858), supplies much information about the symbols of the gods, and of the Signs of the Zodiac in the reign of Nebuchadnezzar I, King of Babylon, about 1120 B.C.. Thus in Register 1, we have the Star of Ishtar, the crescent of the Moon-god Sin, and the disk of Shamash the Sun-god. In Reg. 2 are three stands (?) surmounted by tiaras, which represent the gods Anu, Enlil (Bel) and Ea respectively. In Reg. 3 are three altars (?) or shrines (?) with a monster in Nos. 1 and 2. Over the first is the lance of Marduk, over the second the mason's square of Nabû, and over the third is the symbol of the goddess Ninkharsag, the Creatress. In Reg. 4 are a standard with an animal's head, a sign of Ea; a two-headed snake = the Twins; an unknown symbol with a horse's head, and a bird, representative of Shuḳamuna and Shumalia. In Reg. 5 are a seated figure of the goddess Gula and the Scorpion-man; and in Reg. 6 are forked lightning, symbol of Adad, above a bull, the Tortoise, symbol of Ea (?), the Scorpion of the goddess Ishkhara, and the Lamp of Nusku, the Fire-god. Down the left-hand side is the serpent-god representing the constellation of the Hydra.
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The mutilated text of the Fifth Tablet makes it impossible to gain further details in connection with Marduk's work in arranging the heavens. We are, however, justified in assuming that the gaps in it contained statements about the grouping of the gods into triads. In royal historical inscriptions the kings often invoke the gods in threes, though they never call any one three a triad or trinity. It seems as if this arrangement of gods in threes was assumed to be of divine origin. In the Fourth Tablet of Creation, one triad "Anu-Bel-Ea" is actually mentioned, and in the Fifth Tablet, another is indicated, "Sin-Shamash-Ishtar." In these triads Anu represents the sky or heaven, Bel or Enlil the region under the sky and including the earth, Ea the underworld, Sin the Moon, Shamash the Sun, and Ishtar the star Venus. When the universe was finally constituted several other great gods existed, e.g., Nusku, the Fire-god, Enurta, 14 a solar god, Nergal, the god of war and handicrafts, Nabu, the god of learning, Marduk of Babylon, the great national god of Babylonia, and Ashur, the great national god of Assyria.
When Marduk had arranged heaven and earth, and had established the gods in their places, the gods complained that their existence was barren, because they lacked worshippers at their shrines and offerings. To make a way out of this difficulty Marduk devised another "cunning plan," and announced his intention of creating man out of "blood and bone" DAMI IṢṢIMTUM . We have already quoted (see p. 11) the statement of Berosus that man was created out of the blood of a god mixed with earth; here, then, is the authority for his words. Marduk made known to Ea his intention of creating man, and Ea suggested that if one of the gods were sacrificed the remainder of them should be set free from service, presumably to Marduk. Thereupon Marduk summons a council of the gods, and asks them to name the instigator of the fight in which he himself was the victor. In reply the gods named Kingu, Tiâmat's second husband, whom they seized forthwith, and bound with fetters and carried to Ea, and then having "inflicted punishment upon him they let his blood." From Kingu's blood Ea fashioned mankind for the service of the gods.
Now among the texts which have been found on the tablets at Ḳal'at Sharḳât is an account of the creation of man which differs from the version given in the Seven Tablets of Creation, but has two features in common with it. These two features are: (1) the council of the gods to discuss the creation of man; (2) the sacrifice which the gods had to make for the creation of man. In the variant version two (or more) gods are sacrificed, , Ilu Nagar Ilu Nagar, i.e., "the workmen gods," about whom nothing is known. The place of sacrifice is specified with some care, and it is said to be "Uzu-mu-a, or the bond of heaven and earth." Uzu-mu-a may be the bolt with which Marduk locked the two halves of Tiâmat into place.
The Anunnaki, wishing to give an expression of their admiration for Marduk's heroism, decided to build him a shrine or temple. To this Marduk agreed, and chose Babylon, i.e., the "Gate of God," for its site. The Anunnaki themselves made the bricks, and they built the great temple of E-Sagila at Babylon. When the temple was finished, Marduk re-enacted the scene of creation; for, as he had formerly assigned to each god his place in the heavens, so now he assigned to each god his place in E-Sagila. The tablet ends with a long hymn of praise which the Anunnaki sang to Marduk, and describes the summoning of an assembly of the gods to proclaim ceremonially the great Fifty Names of this god. Thus the gods accepted the absolute supremacy of Marduk.
From the above it is clear that a dispute broke out between Marduk and the gods after he had created them, and the tradition of it has made its way into the religious literatures of the Hebrews, Syrians, Arabs, Copts and Abyssinians. The cuneiform texts tell us nothing about the cause of the dispute, but tradition generally ascribes it to the creation of man by the supreme God; and it is probable that all the apocryphal stories which describe the expulsion from heaven of the angels who contended against God under the leadership of Satan, or Satnael, or Iblîs, are derived from a Babylonian original which has not yet been found. The "Fifty Names," or laudatory epithets mentioned above, find parallels in "Seventy-five Praises of Rā," sung by the Egyptians under the XIXth dynasty, 15 and in the "Ninety-nine Beautiful Names of Allâh," which are held in such great esteem by the Muḥammadans. 16 The respect in which the Fifty Names were held by the Babylonians is well shown by the work of the Epilogue on the Seventh Tablet, where it is said, "Let them be held in remembrance, let the first-comer (i.e., any and every man) proclaim them; let the wise and the understanding consider them together. Let the father repeat them and teach them to his son. Let them be in the ears of the herdsman and the shepherd."
The object of the writer of the Fifty Names was to show that Marduk was the "Lord of the gods," that the power, qualities and attributes of every god were enshrined in him, and that they all were merely forms of him. This fact is proved by the tablet (No. 47,406), 17 which contains a long list of gods who are equated with Marduk in his various forms. 18 The tendency in the later Babylonian religion to make Marduk the god above all gods has led many to think that monotheistic conceptions were already in existence among the Babylonians as early as the period of the First Dynasty, about 2000 B.C. It is indisputable that Marduk obtained his pre-eminence in the Babylonian Pantheon at this early period. But some authorities deny the existence of monotheistic conceptions among the Babylonians at that time, and attribute Marduk's kingship of the gods to the influence of the political situation of the time, when Babylon first became the capital of the country, and mistress of the greater part of the known world. Material for deciding this question is wanting, but it may be safely said that whatever monotheistic conceptions existed at that time, their acceptance was confined entirely to the priests and scribes. They certainly find no expression in the popular religious texts.
Both the source of the original form of the Legend of the Fight between Ea and Apsu, and Marduk and Tiâmat, and the period of its composition are unknown, but there is no doubt that in one form or another it persisted in Mesopotamia for thousands of years. The apocryphal book of "Bel and the Dragon" shows that a form of the Legend was in existence among the Babylonian Jews long after the Captivity, and the narrative relating to it associates it with religious observances. But there is no foundation whatsoever for the assertion which has so often been made that the Two Accounts of the Creation which are given in the early chapters in Genesis are derived from the Seven Tablets of Creation described in the preceding pages. It is true that there are many points of resemblance between the narratives in cuneiform and Hebrew, and these often illustrate each other, but the fundamental conceptions of the Babylonian and Hebrew accounts are essentially different. In the former the earliest beings that existed were foul demons and devils, and the God of Creation only appears at a later period, but in the latter the conception of God is that of a Being Who existed in and from the beginning, Almighty and Alone, and the devils of chaos and evil are His servants.
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Marduk destroying Tiâmat, who is here represented in the form of a huge serpent. From a seal-cylinder in the British Museum. [No. 89,589.]
Among the primitive Semitic peoples there were probably many versions of the story of the Creation; and the narrative told by the Seven Tablets is, no doubt, one of them in a comparatively modern form. It is quite clear that the Account of the Creation given in the Seven Tablets is derived from very ancient sources, and a considerable amount of literary evidence is now available for reconstructing the history of the Legend. Thus in the Sumerian Account the narrative of the exploits of the hero called ZIUSUDU 19 begins with a description of the Creation and then goes on to describe a Flood, and there is little doubt that certain passages in this text are the originals of the Babylonian version as given in the Seven Tablets. In the Story of ZIUSUDU, however, there is no mention of any Dragon. And there is reason to think that the Legend of the Dragon had originally nothing whatever to do with the Creation, for the texts of fragments of two distinct Accounts 20 of the Creation describe a fight between a Dragon and some deity other than Marduk. In other Accounts the Dragon bears a strong resemblance to the Leviathan of Psalm civ, 26; Job xli, 1. In the one text he is said to be 50 biru 21 in length, and 1 biru in thickness; his mouth was 6 cubits (about 9 feet) wide, and the circumference of his ears 12 cubits (18 feet). He was slain by a god whose name is unknown, and the blood continued to flow from his body for three years, three months, one day and one night. In the second text the Dragon is 60 biru long and his thickness is 30 biru; the diameter of each eye is half a biru, and his paws are 20 biru long. Thus there is every reason for believing that the Legend as it is given in the Seven Tablets is the work of some editor, who added the Legend of the Creation to the Legend of the Dragon in much the same way as the editor of the Gilgamish Legends included an account of the Deluge in his narrative of the exploits of his hero. All forms of the Legend of the Creation and of the Dragon were popular in Babylonia, and one of them achieved so much notoriety that the priest employed recited it as an incantation to charm away the toothache.
The literary form of the text of the Seven Tablets fulfils the requirements of Semitic poetry in general. The lines usually fall into couplets, the second line being the antiphon of the first, e.g.:--
"When in the height heaven was not named,
And the earth beneath did not yet bear a name."
Each line, or verse, falls into two halves, and a well-marked caesura divides each line, or verse, into two equally accented parts. And the half-lines can be further resolved into two halves, each containing a single accented word or phrase. This is proved by tablet Spartali ii, 265A, where the scribe writes his lines and spaces the words in such a way as to show the subdivision of the lines. Thus we have:--
|enuma||| elish|||| lâ nabû||| shamamu|
|shaplish||| ammatum|||| shuma||| lâ zakrat|
Here there is clearly a rhythm which resembles that found in the poems of the Syrians and Arabs, but there are many instances of its inconsistent use in several parts of the text. Both rhyme and alliteration appear to be used occasionally.