Early Israel and Surrounding Nations

By Sayce, A. H. (Archibald Henry)

Appendix 12

 

THE BABYLONIAN EPIC OF THE CREATION

TABLET I.

When the heaven above was not yet named

or the earth beneath had recorded a name,

the primval (rist) deep was their generator,

Mummu-Tiamat (the chaos of the sea) was the mother of them all.

Their waters were embosomed together, and

the corn-field was unharvested, the reed-bed was ungrown.

When the gods had not yet appeared, any one of them,

by no name were they recorded, no destiny [was fixed].

Then the great gods were created,

Lakhmu and Lakhamu issued forth [the first],

until they grew up [when]

Ansar and Kisar (the upper and lower firmaments) were created.

Long were the days, extended [was the time, till]

the gods [Anu, Bel, and Ea were born],

Ansar [and Kisar gave them birth].


The deep [opened] its mouth [and said,]

to [Tiamat], the glorious, [it spake]:

While their path ...

I will overthrow their path ...

Let lamentations arise, let complaining [be made]

[When] Tiamat [undertakes] this [work]


Their way shall be difficult ...

[Then] the god Mummu answered [his] father the deep:


Their way [shall be overthrown],

the light shall be darkened, let [it be] as the night!

The deep [heard] him and [his] countenance was lightened;

evil planned they against the gods.


Tiamat, the mother of the gods, lifted up herself against them,

gathering her forces, madly raging.

The gods united themselves together with her,

until (all) that had been created marched at her side.

Banning the day they followed Tiamat,

wrathful, devising mischief, untiring (?) day and night,

prepared for the conflict, fiercely raging,

they gathered themselves together and began the battle.

The mother of the deep (?) (Khubur), the creatress of them all,

added victorious weapons, creating monstrous serpents,

with sharp fangs, unsparing in their attack.

With poison for blood she filled their bodies.

Horrible adders she clothed with terror,

she decked them with fear, and raised high their ...

'May their appearance ...

Make huge their bodies that none may withstand their breast!'

She created the adder, the horrible serpent, the Lakhamu,

the great monster, the raging dog, the scorpion-man,

the dog-days, the fish-man and the (Zodiacal) ram,

who carry weapons that spare not, who fear not the battle,

insolent of heart, unconquerable by the enemy.

Moreover that she might create (?) eleven such-like monsters,

among the gods, her sons, whom she had summoned together,

she raised up Kingu, and magnified him among them:

'To march before the host, be that thy duty!

Order the weapons to be uplifted and the onset of battle!'

That he might be the first in the conflict, the leader in victory,

she took his hand and set him on a throne:

'I have uttered the spell for thee; exalt thyself among the gods,

assume dominion over all the gods!

Highly shalt thou be exalted, thou that art alone my husband;

thy name shall be magnified over [all the world]!'

Then she gave to him the tablets of destiny, and laid them on his breast:

'Let thy command be obeyed, let the word of thy mouth be established!'

When Kingu had exalted himself, and made himself like Anu (the god of heaven),

she determined for the gods her sons their destiny:

'The opening of your mouth shall quench the fire;

The exalted of Kidmuri (i.e. Kingu) shall dissolve its flame.'


TABLET II.

(Begins with a speech of Ansar to Merodach.)

"Tiamat our mother has risen up against us,

gathering her forces, madly raging.

The gods have united themselves together with her,

until (all) that has been created marches at her side.

Banning the day they have followed Tiamat,

wrathful, devising mischief, untiring (?) day and night,

prepared for the conflict, fiercely raging,

they have gathered themselves together and begun the battle.

The mother of the deep (?), the creatress of them all,

has added victorious weapons, creating monstrous serpents,

with sharp fangs, unsparing in their attack.

With poison for blood she has filled their bodies.

Horrible adders she has clothed with terror,

she has decked them with fear, and raised high their ...

'May their appearance ...

may their bodies be huge so that none may withstand their breast!'

She has created the adder, the horrible serpent, the Lakh-amu,

the great monster, the raging dog, the scorpion-man,

the dog-days, the fish-man (Aquarius), and the (Zodiacal) ram,

who carry weapons that spare not, who fear not the battle,

insolent of heart, unconquerable by the enemy.

Moreover that she may create (?) eleven such-like monsters,

among the gods, her sons, whom she has summoned together,

she has raised up Kingu and magnified him among them.

'To march before the host,' (she has said,) 'be that thy duty!

Order the weapons to be uplifted and the onset of battle!'

That he may be the first in the conflict, the leader in victory,

she has taken his hand and seated him on a throne:

'I have uttered the spell for thee; exalt thyself among the gods,

assume dominion over all the gods!

Highly shalt thou be exalted, thou that art alone my husband;

thy name shall be magnified over [all the world]!'

Thereupon she has given him the tablets of destiny and laid

them on his breast:

'Let thy command be obeyed, let the word of thy mouth be established!'

When Kingu had exalted himself, and made himself as Anu,

she determined for the gods her sons their destiny:

'The opening of your mouth shall quench the fire;

the exalted of Kidmuri shall dissolve its flame!'

[When Merodach heard this, his heart] was grievously troubled,

he ... ... and his lips he bit;

.....his heart grew angry

......his cry.

......[he determined on] battle.

[Then spake he to] his father (Ea): 'Be not troubled;

......thou shalt become the lord of the deep.

......with Tiamat will I contend.'


Merodach [heard] the words of his father,

in the fulness (?) of his heart he said to his father:

'O lord of the gods, offspring (?) of the great gods,

if indeed I am your avenger,

Tiamat to overpower and you to rescue,

make ready an assembly, prepare a banquet(?).

Enter joyfully into Ubsugina (the seat of oracles) all together.

With my mouth like you will I give the oracle.

What I create shall never be changed,

the word of my lip shall never go back or be unfulfilled!'


TABLET III.

Thereupon Ansar opened his mouth,

to [Gg] his [messenger] he uttered the word:

'O angel [Gg] who rejoicest my heart,

[to Lakhmu and Lakh]amu will I send thee;

[the command of my heart] thou shalt gladly hear(?):

'Ansar, your son, has sent me,

the wish of his heart he has caused me to know.

Tiamat our mother has risen up against us,

gathering her forces, madly raging.

The gods, all of them, have united themselves unto her,

all whom she has created march at her side.

Banning the day they have followed Tiamat,

wrathful, devising mischief, untiring (?) day and night,

prepared for the conflict, fiercely raging,

they have gathered themselves together and begin the fray.

The mother of the deep (?), the creatress of them all,

has given them victorious weapons, creating monstrous serpents

with sharp fangs, unsparing in the onset.

With poison for blood she has filled their bodies.

Horrible adders she has clothed with terror,

she has decked them with fear, and raised high their ...

'May their appearance ...

May their bodies grow huge so that none may stand before them!'

She has created the adder, the horrible serpent, the Lakhamu,

the great monster, the raging dog, the scorpion-man,

the dog-days, the fish-man and the ram,

who carry weapons that spare not, who fear not the conflict,

insolent of heart, unconquerable by the enemy.

Moreover that she may have eleven such monsters,

among the gods, her sons, whom she has summoned together,

she has raised up Kingu and magnified him among them:

'To march before the host, be that thy duty!

Order the weapons to be uplifted and the onset of battle!'

That he may be first in the conflict, the leader in victory,

she has taken his hand and set him on a throne:

'I have uttered the spell for thee, exalt thyself among the gods,

assume dominion over all the gods!

Highly shalt thou be exalted, thou that art alone my husband;

thy name shall be magnified over [all the world]!'

Then she gave him the tablets of destiny, and laid them on his breast:

'Let thy command be obeyed; let the word of thy mouth be established!'

When Kingu had exalted himself and made himself as Anu

she determined for the gods her sons their destiny:

'The opening of your mouth shall quench the fire,

the exalted of Kidmuri shall dissolve its flame.'

I sent forth Anu, but he would not meet her;

Ea was terrified and turned back.

Then I bade Merodach, the counsellor of the gods, your son;

to attack Tiamat his heart urged him.

He opened his mouth and spake unto me:

'If I am indeed your avenger,

Tiamat to overpower, you to rescue,

make ready an assembly, prepare a banquet (?).

Enter joyfully into Ubsugina, all together.

With my mouth, like you, will I then pronounce an oracle,

what I create shall never be changed;

the word of my lip shall never go back or be unfulfilled.'

Hasten therefore and determine at once for him his destiny

that he may go forth and meet your mighty foe!'

Lakhmu and Lakhamu heard this and lamented,

the gods of heaven, all of them, bitterly grieved:

'Foolish are they who thus desire battle (?);

nor can we understand the [design] of Tiamat.'

Then they came together and marched ...

the great gods, all of them, who determine [destinies].

They came before (?) Ansar, they filled [his abode],

they crowded one on the other in the gathering ...

they sat down to the feast, [they devoured] the food;

they eat bread, they drank [wine],

with sweet honey wine they filled themselves,

they drank beer, and delighted their soul (?)

....they ascended into their [seats],

to determine the destiny of Merodach their avenger.


TABLET IV.

Then they set him on a princely throne;

before his fathers he seated himself as ruler.

'Yea, thou art glorious among the great gods,

thy destiny has no rival, thy name (?) is Anu;

from this day forward unchanged be thy command,

high and low entreat thy hand!

Let the word of thy mouth be established, thy judgment never be violated,

let none among the gods overpass thy bounds!

as an adornment has (thy hand) founded the shrine of the gods,

may the place of their gathering (?) become thy home.

O Merodach, thou art he that avenges us,

we give unto thee the sovereignty over the multitudes of the universe.

Thou givest counsel, let thy word be exalted;

may thy weapons be victorious, may thine enemies tremble!

O lord, be gracious to the soul of him who putteth his trust in thee,

but pour out the soul of the god who has hold of evil.'

Then place they in their midst a robe;

they spake to Merodach their first-born:

'May thy destiny, O lord, excel that of the gods;

command destruction and creation, and so it shall be done.

Set thy mouth that it may destroy the robe;

bid it return and the robe shall be restored!'

He spake and with his mouth destroyed the robe;

he spake to it again, and the robe was re-created.

When the gods his fathers beheld (the power) of the word of his mouth,

they rejoiced, they saluted Merodach the king,

they bestowed upon him the sceptre, the throne and reign,

they gave him a weapon unrivalled, consuming the hostile:

'Go,' (they said,) 'and cut off the life of Tiamat,

let the winds carry her blood to secret places.'

(Thus) the gods, his fathers, determined for Bel his destiny,

they showed his path, and they bade him listen and take the road.

He made ready the bow and used it as his weapon;

he made the club swing, he fixed its seat;

then he lifted up the weapon which he caused his right hand to hold;

the bow and the quiver he hung at his side.

He set the lightning before him,

with glancing flame he filled its body.

He made also a net to enclose the dragon Tiamat.

He seized the four winds that they might not issue out of it,

the south wind, the north wind, the east wind (and) the west wind;

he made them enter the net, the gift of his father Anu.

He created the evil wind, the hostile wind, the storm, the tempest,

the four winds, the seven winds, the whirlwind, the unending wind:

he caused the winds he had created to issue forth, seven in all,

confounding the dragon Tiamat, as they swept after him.

Then Bel lifted up the Deluge, his mighty weapon:

he rode in a chariot incomparable, (and) terrible.

He stood firm, and harnessed four horses to its side,

[steeds] that spare not, spirited and swift,

[with sharp] teeth, that carry poison,

which know how to sweep away [the opponent].

[On the right] ... mighty in battle,

on the left they open ...

......before thee.

[Bring to the feast] the gods, all of them,

[let them sit down and] satisfy themselves with food,

[let them eat bread], let them drink wine,

[let them ascend to their seats?] and determine the future.

[Go now,] Gg, approach before them,

deliver unto them [the message I entrust to] thee:

'Ansar, your son, has sent me,

the wish of his heart he has caused me to know.

Tiamat, our mother, has risen up against us,

gathering her forces, madly raging.

The gods, all of them, have united themselves unto her,

even those who created you march at her side.

Banning the day they have followed Tiamat,

wrathful, devising mischief, untiring(?) day and night,

prepared for the conflict, fiercely raging,

they have gathered themselves together and begin the battle.

The mother of the deep(?), the creatress of them all,

has given them victorious weapons, creating monstrous serpents,

with sharp fangs, unsparing in their attack.

With poison for blood she has filled their bodies.

Horrible adders she has clothed with terror,

she has decked them with fear, and raised high their....

'May their appearance,' (she has said)....

'Let their bodies grow huge so that none may stand before them!'

She has created the adder, the horrible serpent, the Lakh-amu,

the great monster, the raging dog, the scorpion-man,

the dog-days, the fish-man and the ram,

who carry weapons that spare not, who fear not the fight,

insolent of heart, unconquerable by the enemy.

Moreover that she may have eleven such monsters,

among the gods, her sons, whom she has summoned together,

she has raised up Kingu and magnified him among them.

'To march before the host, be that thy duty!

Order the weapons to be uplifted and the onset of battle!'

That he may be the first in the conflict, the leader in victory,

she has taken his hand and set him on a throne:

'I have uttered the spell for thee,' (she has said); 'exalt thyself among the gods,

assume dominion over all the gods!

Highly shalt thou be exalted, thou that art alone my husband;

thy name shall be magnified over [all the world]!'

Thereupon she has given him the tablets of destiny, and laid them on his breast:

'Let thy command be obeyed, let the word of thy mouth be established!'

When Kingu had exalted himself and made himself like Anu

she fixed for the gods, her sons, their destiny

'The opening of your mouth shall quench the fire;

the exalted of Kidmuri shall dissolve its flame.'

I sent forth Anu, but he would not meet her;

Ea was terrified and turned back.

Then I sent forth Merodach, the counsellor of the gods, your son;

to attack Tiamat his heart urged him.

He opened his mouth and said unto me:

'If I indeed am your avenger,

Tiamat to overpower and you to rescue,

make ready an assembly, prepare a banquet (?).

Enter joyfully into Ubsugina all together.

With my mouth like you will I pronounce the oracle.

What I create shall never be changed,

the word of my lip shall never go back or be unfulfilled!'

Hasten therefore and determine for him at once his destiny,

that he may go forward and meet your powerful foe!'

Then went Gg and completed his journey

unto Lakhmu and Lakhamu the gods, his fathers,

he prostrated himself and kissed the ground at their feet,

he bowed himself and stood up and spake unto them:

... clothed with fear;

with lustre and terror he covered his head.

He directed also his way, he made his path descend,

to the place where Tiamat [stood] he turned his countenance;

with his lip he kept back ...

his finger holds the....

On that day they extolled him, the gods extolled him,

the gods, his fathers, extolled him, the gods extolled him.

Then Bel drew near, eager for the struggle with Tiamat,

looking for victory over Kingu her husband.

When she beheld him, her resolution was destroyed,

her understanding was overthrown, her plans confounded.

And the gods, his helpers, who marched beside him

beheld (how Merodach) the prince amazes their eyes.

He laid judgment on Tiamat, yet she turned not her neck;

with her hostile lips she uttered defiance:

'Let the gods, O Bel, enter on battle behind thee,

[behold,] they are gathered together to where thou art.'

Bel [launched] the Deluge, his mighty weapon;

against Tiamat, who had raised herself (?), thus he sent it.

'Thou wert mighty [below,' he cries,] 'exalted above,

yet thy heart [has urged thee] to begin the strife,

[to lead the gods from] their fathers to [thy side];

[thou hast gathered them around thee] and raisest thyself [against us],

[thou hast made] Kingu thy husband

[and hast bestowed on] him divine power.

... thou hast devised evil,

[against the] gods, my fathers, hast thou directed thy enmity.

[May] thy host be fettered, thy weapons be restrained!

Stand up, and I and thou will fight together.'

When Tiamat heard this,

she uttered her former spells, she repeated her command.

Tiamat also cried out vehemently with a loud voice.

From her roots she rocked herself completely.

She uttered an incantation, she cast a spell,

and the gods of battle demand for themselves their arms.

Then Tiamat attacked Merodach the counsellor of the gods;

in combat they joined; they engaged in battle.

Then Bel opened his net and enclosed her;

the evil wind that seizes behind he sent before him.

Tiamat opened her mouth to swallow it;

he made the evil wind to enter so that she could not close her lips.

The violence of the winds tortured her stomach, and

her heart was prostrated, and her mouth was torn open.

He swung the club; he shattered her stomach;

he cut out her entrails; he divided her heart;

he overpowered her and ended her life;

he threw down her corpse; he stood upon it.

When Tiamat who marched before them was conquered,

he dispersed her forces, her host was overthrown,

and the gods her allies who marched beside her

trembled and feared and turned their backs.

They fled away to save their lives;

they clung to one another, fleeing helplessly.

He followed them and broke their arms;

he flung his net and they are caught in the snare.

Then filled they the world with their lamentations;

they bear their sin and are shut up in prison,

and the elevenfold creatures are troubled with fear.

The host of spirits (?) who marched beside them (?)

he throws into fetters and [binds] their hands,

and [tramples] their opposition under him.

And the god Kingu who [had been made leader over] them,

he bound him also and did to him as to the [other] gods.

And he took from him the tablets of destiny [that were on] his breast;

he sealed them with his pen and hung them from his own breast.

From the time he had bound and overmastered his foes

he led the illustrious foe captive like an ox,

bringing to full completion the victory of Ansar over his antagonists.

The warrior Merodach (thus) performed the purpose of Ea.

Over the gods in bondage he strengthened his watch, and

he turned backwards Tiamat whom he had overpowered.

Then Bel trampled on the body of Tiamat;

with his club that spares not he smote her skull,

he broke it and caused her blood to flow;

the north wind bore it away to secret places.

Then his fathers beheld, they rejoiced and were glad;

they bade peace-offerings to be brought to him.

And Bel rested; his body he fed;

he strengthened his mind (?), he formed a clever plan,

and he stripped her like a fish of her skin in two halves;

one half he took and with it overshadowed the heavens;

he stretched out the skin, he appointed watchers

bidding them that her waters should not issue forth;

he lit up the sky, the sanctuary rejoiced,

and he set it over against the deep, the seat of Ea.

Then Bel measured the form of the deep;

as a palace like unto it he made E-Sarra (the upper firmament).

The palace of the upper firmament, which he created as heaven,

he caused Anu, Bel and Ea to inhabit as their stronghold.

TABLET V.

He made the stations of the great gods;

he fixed the stars, even the twin-stars, to correspond with them;

he ordained the year, appointing the signs of the Zodiac over it;

for each of the twelve months he fixed three stars,

from the day when the year issues forth to its close.

He established the station of Jupiter that they might know their bounds,

that they might not err, that they might not go astray in any way.

He established the station of Bel and Ea along with himself.

He opened also the gates on either side,

the bolts he strengthened on the left hand and on the right,

and in their midst he set the zenith.

He illuminated the Moon-god that he might watch over the night,

and ordained him for a guardian of the night that the time might be known,

(saying): 'Month by month, without break, make full thine orb;

at the beginning of the month, when the night begins,

shine with thy horns that the heaven may know.

On the seventh day, halve thy disk;

stand upright on the Sabbath with the [first] half.

At the going down of the sun [rise] on the horizon;

stand opposite it [on the fourteenth day] in full splendour (?).

[On the 15th] draw near to the path of the sun;

[on the 21st] stand upright against it for the second time."

TABLET VI. (?)

The gods in their assembly created [the beasts],

they made perfect the mighty [monsters];

they caused the living creatures of the [field] to come forth,

the cattle of the field, the wild beasts of the field, and the creeping things of the [field];

[they fixed their habitations] for the living creatures [of the field]

[and] adorned [the dwelling-places] of the cattle and creeping things of the city;

[they created] the multitude of creeping things, all the offspring [of the earth]!