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Inanna and Enki (1.161)

(2,974 words)

Author(s): Farber, Gertrud
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Sumerian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Myths Commentary The exact date of the origin of this composition is unknown. It has come down to us in only very few sources, all of which stem from the Old Babylonian scribal school of Nippur.1 The main topic of the myth is the love goddess Inanna’s attempt to increase her city Uruk’s and her own power and influence. She therefore wants to bring into her possession the ME, the cultural norms which are the basis of Sumerian civilization and all aspects of life.2 These cultural norms…

The Exaltation of Inanna (1.160)

(2,340 words)

Author(s): Hallo, William W.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Sumerian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Myths Commentary This is one of three hymns to the goddess Inanna attributed to Enheduanna in its own text. All three are listed together at the beginning of a literary catalogue, with this composition last (Cohen 1976:131f.). The cycle is a counterpart to The Collection of the Temple Hymns, another cycle attributed to the same author (Sjöberg and Bergmann 1969). If the latter reflects on Sargon, the autho…

Nergal and Ereshkigal (1.110)

(818 words)

Author(s): Dalley, Stephanie
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Akkadian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Myths Nergal and Ereshkigal When the gods organized a banquet,1They sent a messengerTo their sister Ereshkigal.“We cannot come down to you,And you cannot come up to us.So send someone to fetch a share of the food for you!”Ereshkigal sent Namtar her vizier,“Go up, Namtar, to high heaven!”He went into [where] the gods were [sitting],( 10) And they [bowed (?)] and greeted Namtar,The messenger of their eldest sister.They bowed respectfully (?) when they saw him and …The high gods …

The Storm-god and the Serpent (illuyanka) (1.56)

(1,258 words)

Author(s): Beckman, Gary
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Hittite Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Myths Commentary The conflict between the Storm-god and the forces of chaos represented by the serpent (illuyanka- in Hittite) was the focus of two different tales known in second-millennium Anatolia, both of which served as etiological cult myths of the important Hittite festival called purulli, a term whose precise meaning remains unknown. The Storm-god and the Serpent (illuyanka) (1.56) Subject: Esth 4:7; 9:26 (A i 1–4) (This is) the text of the purulli (festival) for the […

The Descent of Ishtar to the Underworld (1.108)

(2,521 words)

Author(s): Dalley, Stephanie
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Akkadian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Myths Commentary The Akkadian story is first attested in Late Bronze Age texts, in both Babylonia and Assyria, and later from the palace library at Nineveh. It is a short composition of some 140 lines, and seems to end with ritual instructions for the taklimtu, an annual ritual known from Assyrian texts, which took place in the month of Dumuzi (Tammuz = June/July) and featured the bathing, anointing, and lying-in-state of a statue of Dumuzi in Nineveh, Arbela, Assur and Kalah.1 Weep…

Appu and His Two Sons (1.58)

(1,212 words)

Author(s): Hoffner, Harry A., Jr.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Hittite Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Myths Commentary This text has been translated here as an independent story. According to Güterbock (1946), the text is continued in the tale of the Sun God, the Cow, and the Fisherman. Although the extant copies of the Appu story are New Hittite, archaic language indicates an archetype composed in the Old or Middle Hittite period. The story has a moral, which is stated in the proemium. The unnamed deity wh…

The Song of the Hoe (1.157)

(1,956 words)

Author(s): Farber, Gertrud
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Sumerian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Myths Commentary The ancient scribe seemingly had a humorous purpose in mind when composing this text. It should probably be categorized as a satirical school text composed for use in the Edubba (= school) and for other learned people.1 The composition has no coherent topic or theme. The thread winding through the whole text is the syllable /al/ which is a Sumerian logogram meaning hoe but which also occurs as part of other words or as a gra…

Epic of Creation (1.111)

(7,491 words)

Author(s): Foster, Benjamin R.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Akkadian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Myths Commentary The so-called epic of Creation preserves a relatively late Babylonian conception of the creation of the physical world (including humanity), but its real focus is on the elevation of Marduk to the top of the pantheon in return for taking up the cause of the embattled gods, who build his great temple of Esagila in Babylon in recognition of his leadership. The composition could therefore be as readily called “The Exaltation of Marduk.” As such it provi…

Erra and Ishum (1.113)

(8,540 words)

Author(s): Dalley, Stephanie
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Akkadian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Myths Commentary In the extant text known to us at present, Erra and Ishum may date no earlier than the eighth century bce, but it almost certainly incorporates older elements. It consists of five tablets comprising some 750 lines; the final tablet is shorter than the others. Tablets with the text come from both Assyria (Nineveh, Assur, Sultantepe) and Babylonia (Babylon, Ur, Tell Haddad). The main tablet, from Assur, takes the form of an amulet. The introductory lines belong to…

Nergal and Ereshkigal (1.109)

(3,560 words)

Author(s): Dalley, Stephanie
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Akkadian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Myths Commentary Two very different versions of this story are extant. The earlier one was found at Tell el-Amarna in Egypt, dating from the fifteenth or fourteenth centuries bce, and is told in a highly abbreviated manner in about ninety lines. Nergal visits the Underworld accompanied by demons, seizes the throne of Ereshkigal, queen of the Underworld, by force, and remains thereafter as king. The version known from Sultantepe of the seventh century bce and from Uruk in the L…

The Wrath of Telipinu (1.57)

(1,927 words)

Author(s): Beckman, Gary
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Hittite Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Myths Commentary In the Hittite view, the operation of the universe required that each deity and human conscientiously perform his or her proper function within the whole. Calamity manifested in some sector of the cosmos was an indication that the god or goddess responsible for it had become angry and had abandoned his or her post. The remedy for this evil situation was the performance by both human and divi…

Enki and Ninmaḫ (1.159)

(2,537 words)

Author(s): Klein, Jacob
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Sumerian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Myths Commentary This archaic and still partly incomprehensible myth praises Enki, the god of the subterranean fresh waters, wisdom and magic, for having planned and directed the creation of mankind and for having devised ways in which the physically handicapped could adjust to society. The myth seems to consist of two originally independent stories. The first part tells the story of the creation of man rat…

The Eridu Genesis (1.158)

(1,377 words)

Author(s): Jacobsen, Thorkild
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Sumerian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Myths Commentary The fragment here translated was written at some time around 1600 B.C. It constitutes the lower third of a six–column tablet, the upper part of which, containing roughly some 36 lines per column, is lost. The content of the lost sections can be restored to some extent from other versions of the same tradition, most of which are of later date. By the time of the Assyrian Empire the tradition…

The Sun God and the Cow (1.59)

(989 words)

Author(s): Hoffner, Harry A., Jr.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Hittite Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Myths The Sun God and the Cow (1.59) [Güterbock believes that this story is a continuation of Appu and his Two Sons. Beginning of the preserved portion is too broken for connected translation.] The cow thrived and … -ed. The Sun God looked down from the sky, and his desire leaped forward upon the cow. [He became] a young man, came down from the sky, and began to speak to the cow: “Who do you think you are, that you continually graze on o…

Elkunirša and Ašertu (1.55)

(719 words)

Author(s): Beckman, Gary
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Hittite Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Myths Commentary Although the particular events of this tale are not known from the mythological tablets recovered at Ugarit, the story certainly belongs to the corpus of northern Syrian myths which they represent. This composition has come down to us in a number of fragments which originally belonged to two or three separate manuscripts, but only two portions of the text are well-enough preserved for connec…

The Theogony of Dunnu (1.112)

(982 words)

Author(s): Hallo, William W.
Subject: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World; Akkadian Canonical Compositions; Divine Focus; Myths Commentary The city of Dunnu (m), whose name is a generic term for “fort, fortress,” is equated in a lexical text with the “pristine heavenly city” (URU-SAG-AN-NA), and in a date formula with the “ancient capital city” or rather perhaps the “bolt” (URU-SAG-MAH) of the kingdom of Isin. Its fall in 1795 bce ushered in the fall of Isin to Larsa in the following year. In the present text, it is even called an “eternal city” (ālu ṣātu; line 6), built by…