Ancient Texts – Part 2: Enuma Elish & Atrahasis

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Enuma Elish – Mesopotamia

One of the biggest and earliest questions mankind has tried to deal with is “How did we get here?” The question we Americans tend to have today is “Why am I here?” with little concern for the bigger issues. One of the earliest attempts to answer that question was mythologized by the Mesopotamians in Enuma Elish. King Ashurbanipal (of Ezra 4:10) had this text copied and placed in the Assyrian library in the 7th century B.C.

There are several polemics against pagan “gods” in the Old Testament. Some of them are found in the psalms (psalm 148:8 – Yahweh is God of the storm, not Baal). Others are found in our earliest biblical texts, such as Genesis. Genesis tells us how the one true God created everything. In Genesis we learn something of God and we learn something of man. God is eternal, without beginning. He made order out of chaos. He made humanity with a purpose.

The Mesopotamian story of creation starts with nothing except for father and mother gods Apsu and Tiamat. The gods start with two bodies of water and make them one (in contrast to the Genesis account of separating the water – Gen 1:2-6). Unlike our God, their “gods” had origin from the “Divine womb.” Marduk is god of the storm and fills the divine warrior motif by taking on bow and arrows. The earth and the heavens were formed from the two halves of Tiamat’s corpse, whom Marduk slayed. These gods were granted their divinity and some were made more divine than others. Quite a contrast to our God.

Mankind – They believed that mankind was created to do work for the gods. In essence, mankind was an afterthought to keep the gods from having to labor. “The Aborigines will do the god’s work. The savages will set the gods free.” This is not the kind of relationship between humanity and divinity that is found in scripture.

Atrahasis – Sumeria:

Mankind aleviating the work of the gods is also echoed in the Sumerian flood story of Atrahasis. The Sumerians believed mankind was made by the gods from a mixture of clay (Gen 2:7), flesh, and blood. Soon mankind multiplies out of control and makes so much noise it disturbs the gods’ sleep! The gods decide to send a plague to kill mankind. But the gods fail. So they send drought and famine on the land to make the noisey humans quiet. But the gods’ plan fails. In fact it turns out that, “the people are not diminished. They are more numerous than ever.” So the gods decide a flood is the only option (Gen 6-8). The plan is revealed to Atrahasis and he is told to build a boat and fill it with animals. The gods are saddened, not because of the loss of life but because there are no more people to carry out their work! The flood subsides and Atrahasis emerges from the boat and makes a sacrifice to the gods. Their reaction? “The gods smelled the aroma. They swarmed like flies around his sacrifice.” Not a very pleasing or picturesque portrait of the gods. In Genesis 8, God’s reaction to the sacrifice is a promise to mankind.

What do we learn from these tails? When cultures attempt to answer questions about their origin and about the nature of divinity they end up creating gods that look a lot like themselves. When we open the Bible and read about God – we find someone not like us. He is not having relations with other gods. He does not have a beginning. He was not bestowed divinity. Our God does not resemble mankind and that is what gives us hope!

For more on these texts see:

14 Responses

  1. I think it’s safe to say you have drastically simplified and misinterpreted these two texts. I would go more into depth at my point but I would have to write a significant post to explain.

    If you dare, go buy the Zecharia Sitchin book: There Were Giants Upon the Earth and read it very carefully. This will explain my point.

  2. “And God said, Let us make man (Adam) in our image, after our likeness: and let them (Adama or Adamu) have dominion over the …” –Genesis 1:27

    What’s intriguing here is God’s use of the pronouns “us” and “our”. This implies plurality, more than one. Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…

    I submit to you Mr. Dabbs that your statement “When cultures attempt to answer questions about their origin and about the nature of divinity they end up creating gods that look a lot like themselves.” is false. Men don’t create Gods that look like themselves, just the opposite. Gods made man to resemble them.

    1. Hillbilly,

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I think you may have missed my point. The reality is we are created in the image of God. That is a truth affirmed by scripture that is undeniable and we are in agreement on. The point I was making is if you look at other cultures and examine the stories/myths they made up in order to make sense of their world and explain where mankind came from you end up with stories about “gods” murdering each other, raping each other, and the most extreme violence. My point in this post is that is the exact opposite of our God. How did they come up with gods who did such detestable things? They made their “god” in their own image. Hope that makes sense with some clarification. God bless

  3. The Els cast down the heavens and earth: and so can Genesis be read. Isaiah 45 Christ said that God did NOT Create the earth empty and void. We are to build on the prophets and apostles and not on what seems to be Moses’ inverted account of Babylon to try to keep the Israelites from commingling with the Canaanites: the temple was a Ziggurat. Tehum is Tiamat.

    Here is my Atrahasis

    Hislop quoting Layard:

    “In the unity of that one Only God of the Babylonians, there were three persons, and to symbolise that doctrine of the Trinity, they employed, as the discoveries of Layard prove, the equilateral triangle, just as it is well known the Romish Church does at this day. *

    * LAYARD’s Babylon and Nineveh. The Egyptians also used the triangle as a symbol of their “triform divinity.”

    In both cases such a comparison is most degrading to the King Eternal, and is fitted utterly to pervert the minds of those who contemplate it, as if there was or could be any similitude between such a figure and Him who hath said,

    “To whom will ye liken God, and what likeness will ye compare unto Him?”

    The Papacy has in some of its churches, as, for instance, in the monastery of the so-called Trinitarians of Madrid, an image of the Triune God, with three heads on one body. * The Babylonians had something of the same. Mr. Layard, in his last work, has given a specimen of such a triune divinity, worshipped in ancient Assyria. “

  4. I had to take out time for a nap! There were many Elohim but Jehovah was the only TRUE Elohim. I should note that your statement is true about a mother and father as the beginning “gods” of Babylon but a father and mother have children. That was true in Egypt and all triads as far as I can find out: there was father Osiris, Mother Isis and infant child Horus. The Catholic mother and child is copied from Egyptian pottery. The Catholic trinity is at the heart Father, Mary and infant and helpless son.

    Isaiah 45:18 For thus saith the LORD [Jehovah] that created the heavens;
    God [Elohim] HIMself that formed the earth and made it;
    HE hath established it,
    HE created it not in vain [Tohu], he formed it to be inhabited:
    ……..I am the LORD; and there is none else.

    Isaiah 45:19 I have not spoken in secret,
    …..Spoken is Dabar which is the same as the Logos which was with God and WAS God.

    in a DARK place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: [tohu]
    I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.
    Isaiah 45:20 Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations: they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save.
    Isaiah 45:21 Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together:
    ……who hath declared this from ancient time?
    ……who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? [Jehovah]
    ……and there is no God else beside me
    ……a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.

    1Corinthians 8:5 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,)

    1Corinthians 8:6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

    1. “The Catholic mother and child is copied from Egyptian pottery”

      Can you back that up with solid evidence? I would be interested in seeing solid/irrefutable evidence of that. Sounds a little sketchy on the front end.

    2. They say that Jesus was the son of God and therefore God.
      Mary is the “mother of god”
      Officially they would say that trinity is Father, Son, Spirit. However, there are other views.

      “HAIL, White Lily, of the ever-peaceful and glorious Trinity!

      Hail, Vermilion Rose, the delight of Heaven, of whom the King of Heaven was born and by whose milk He was nourished! Do thou feed our souls with the effusions of thy Divine influences.

      Prayer of St. Gertrude the Great

      Prayer to Our Lady of Good Counsel

      “Most Glorious Virgin, chosen by the Eternal Counsel to be the Mother of the Eternal Word made flesh, thou who art the treasurer of Divine graces, and the advocate of sinners, I, thy most unworthy servant, have recourse to thee; be thou pleased to be my guide and counselor in this vale of tears.

      Obtain for me through the Most Precious Blood of thy Divine Son, the forgiveness of my sins, the salvation of my soul, and the means necessary to obtain it.

      In like manner, obtain for Holy Mother the Church victory over her enemies, and the spread of the kingdom of Jesus Christ upon the whole earth. Amen.

      Imprimatur: + Patrick A. O’Boyle

      However, there is no classical trinitarian who taught the neo-trinity (H.Leo.Boles 1942) that God is three persons each with their own centers of consciousness. This is the view of many of the “progressives.”

    3. That didn’t prove the connection. You might prove similarity but to say the Catholics actually got that doctrine from Egyptian worship of their gods is a huge stretch as far as I can tell it. I will be blown away if you can prove a direct connection, that they actually “copied from Egyptian pottery”…their views on Jesus and Mary.

    4. The Jews assuredly brought their doctrines from Egypt. I can’t think of any Biblical evidence which would make them think of ‘Mary the mother of God.” If you read the Catholic Encyclopedia on “Candles” you will see them readily confess that they got things like lights, candles and music from the pagans: because they were common to all pagan cults.

      I have attached a couple of many images to my collection of “trinity” passages.

      I can’t “prove” much of anything but here is another one.

    5. While I don’t completely agree with Barna and Viola in Pagan Christianity they make a few good points about things like this. There are many other things that influence what is done in Christianity than the Holy Bible. But I think it is important to not make big assertions like that if we cannot connect the dots. I would have felt different about your comment regarding Catholic doctrine if you said it might be that they got it from there. Instead you said they did when you really don’t have any direct proof. Last, I appreciate your appeal to scripture over tradition, especially tradition borrowed from pagan sources 🙂 That is extremely important!

  5. 1Peter 1:10 Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently,
    ……who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:
    1Peter 1:11 Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify,
    ……when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.

    2Corinthians 3:12 Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech:
    2Corinthians 3:13 And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face,
    …… that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished:
    2Corinthians 3:14 But their minds were blinded:
    ……for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away
    ……in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.
    2Corinthians 3:15 But even unto this day, when Moses is READ, the vail is upon their heart.

    2Corinthians 3:16 Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.
    2Corinthians 3:17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
    2Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord,
    ……are changed into the same image from glory to glory,
    ……even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

    Peter defined that as the Prophets and the prophecies made more certain by Jesus.

    Revelation 19:10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant,
    and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus:
    worship God:
    for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

    Ephesians 2:20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets
    ……Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

    God anoints whatever or whomever will to be His prophet.

    1Corinthians 10:4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink:
    ……for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them:
    ……and that Rock was Christ.

    Sometimes parables can be tricky.

    1. I agree with what you are saying about inspiration. I guess I would say Isaiah spoke it via inspiration of God/Christ rather than saying Christ said…and then quote a chapter in Isaiah. Technicalities and really not that big of a deal.

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