Izdubar.—Meaning of the name.—A solar hero.—Prototype of Herakles.—Age of Legends.—Babylonian cylinders.—Notices of Izdubar.—Surippak.—Ark City.—Twelve tablets.—Extent of Legends.—Description.—Introduction.—Meeting of Hea-bani and Izdubar.—Destruction of tyrant Khumbaba.—Adventures of Istar.—Illness and wanderings of Izdubar.—Description of Deluge and conclusion.—First Tablet.—Kingdom of Nimrod.—Traditions.—Identifications.—Translation.—Elamite conquest—Dates.
E now come to the great Epic of early Chaldea, first discovered by Mr. Smith in 1872. The hero of this Epic is provisionally called Izdubar, though this is certainly not the right reading of his name. The first and last characters which compose it together form a compound ideograph signifying “fire,” and pronounced gibil in Accadian, isatu in Assyrian, while the middle character, dhu or dhun, meant “a mass” or “a going.” “A mass of fire” would have been by no means an inappropriate name for a hero, who, as we shall see, was originally the Accadian fire-god, and then a per176sonified form of the sun-god. The two last characters of the name, however, when used as a compound ideograph, denoted “the under-lip,” and the first character symbolizes “wood.”
Mr. Smith believed that Izdubar was the Biblical Nimrod, and was almost inclined to think that this was the way in which the name ought to be phonetically rendered. One passage, however, in which the last syllable is followed by the syllable ra seems to imply that the final letter was r.
The originally solar character of the hero was still remembered at the time when the great Epic of the Accadians was put together. As was pointed out by Sir Henry Rawlinson shortly after Mr. Smith’s first discovery of it, it is arranged upon an astronomical principle, its twelve books or tablets corresponding with the twelve signs of the Zodiac, through which the sun passes in his yearly course. Thus the eleventh tablet, which contains the episode of the Deluge, answers to Aquarius the eleventh sign of the Zodiac, and the eleventh month of the Accadian year called “the rainy;” and the sixth tablet, describing his courtship by Istar, answers to Virgo the sixth sign of the Zodiac, and the sixth Accadian month called that “of the errand of Istar.” It is in the second month, that of “the directing bull,” and under the sign of Taurus, that Hea-bani, half-man, half-bull, is brought to Izdubar in the second tablet; the lion is slain by Izdubar under the Zodiacal Leo, and the lamentation he makes over the corpse of his friend and seer Hea177-bani is made in “the dark month” of Adar, as it was termed, at the end of the year. Like the autumnal sun, too, Izdubar sickens in the eighth book corresponding with the month of October, and only recovers his health and brilliance after bathing in the waters of the eastern ocean at the beginning of the new year.
If anything were needed to confirm the solar character of Izdubar and his history, it would be afforded by a comparison with the legends of the Greek solar hero, Herakles. Like much else of Greek mythology, the twelve adventures of Herakles were brought to Greece from Babylonia through the hands of the Phœnicians, and it has long been recognized that Herakles is but a form of Baal Melkarth, the sun-god of Tyre. Hea-bani reappears in Cheiron, the centaur, the friend and instructor of Herakles, and just as Hea-bani was created by Hea, Cheiron was said to be the son of Kronos, who is identified by Berosus with Hea in the account of the Deluge. The lion slain by Izdubar is the lion of Nemea slain by Herakles; the winged bull made by Anu is the famous bull of Krete; the tyrant Khumbaba is the tyrant Geryon; the gems borne by the trees of the forest beyond the gateway of the sun are the apples of the Hesperides; and the deadly sickness of Izdubar himself is but the fever of Herakles, caused by the poisoned tunic of Nessus.
A very slight inspection of the Epic is sufficient to show that it has been pieced together out of a number of previously existing and independent materials. Thus the history of the Deluge, which is itself but an178 episode somewhat violently foisted into the legend of Izdubar in order to preserve the astronomical arrangement of the Epic, may be shown to have consisted of at least two older poems on the subject; and a careful examination of other portions of the Epic brings the same fact to light elsewhere.
As, however, there is clear proof that the Epic was originally composed in Accadian, our present text being merely the Semitic translation of the Accadian original, it must have existed in the form in which we now have it before the age of Sargon and the extinction of the Accadian language in Chaldea. We shall not be far wrong, therefore, in ascribing its composition to about b.c. 2000, or a little earlier. The older lays or poems out of which it was formed must therefore date before this period. There seems to have been a considerable number of them, each incident in the cycle of ancient Accadian mythology having been the subject of various poems. Many of these originated in different parts of the country, so that a long period of time must be allowed for their growth and subsequent reduction to a literary form. But as the legends they celebrated were traditions in the country before they were embodied in poems and committed to writing, we must go back to quite a remote epoch for their first starting-point.
The earliest evidence we have of them is in the carvings on early Babylonian cylindrical seals. Among the earliest known devices on these seals we have scenes from the legends of Izdubar, and from179 the story of the Creation. The seals mostly belong to the age of the kings of Ur, and some of them are a good deal older than b.c. 2000. The principal incidents represented on them are the struggles of Izdubar and his companion Hea-bani with the lion and the bull, the journey of Izdubar in search of Xisuthrus, Noah or Xisuthrus in his ark, and the war between Tiamtu the sea-dragon and the god Merodach. There is a fragment of a document in the British Museum which claims to be copied from an omen tablet belonging to the time of Izdubar himself, but it is probably not earlier than b.c. 1600, when many similar tablets were written.
There is an incidental notice of the ship or ark of “the god Izdubar” in a tablet printed in “Cuneiform Inscriptions,” vol. ii. p. 46. He is here called “the king who bears the sceptre.” This tablet, which contains lists of wooden objects, was written in the time of Assur-bani-pal, but is copied from an original, which must have been written at least eighteen hundred years before the Christian era. The geographical notices on this tablet suit the period before the rise of Babylon. Surippak is called in it the ship or ark city, this name forming another reference to the Flood legends. Izdubar is also mentioned in a series of tablets relating to witchcraft, and on a tablet containing prayers to him as a god; this last showing that he was deified, which, however, was an honour also given to several Babylonian kings.
As already stated, the legends of Izdubar are in180scribed on twelve tablets, of which there are remains of at least four editions. All the tablets are in fragments, and none of them are complete; but it is a fortunate circumstance that the most perfect tablet is the eleventh, which describes the Deluge, this being the most important of the series. In the first chapter the successive steps in the discovery of these legends have been already described, and we may now therefore pass on to the description and translation of the various fragments. All the fragments of our present copies belong to the reign of Assur-bani-pal, king of Assyria, in the seventh century b.c. From the mutilated condition of many of them it is impossible at present to gain an accurate idea of the whole scope of the legends, and many parts which are lost have to be supplied by conjecture; the order even of some of the tablets cannot be determined, and it is uncertain if we have fragments of the whole twelve in what follows. Mr. Smith has, however, conjecturally divided the fragments into groups corresponding roughly with the subjects of the tablets. Each tablet when complete contained six columns of writing, and each column had generally from forty to fifty lines of writing, there being in all about 3,000 lines of cuneiform text. The divisions adopted by Mr. Smith will be seen by the following summary, which exhibits our present knowledge of the fragments.
Tablet I.—Number of lines uncertain, probably181 about 240. First column initial line preserved, second column lost, third column twenty-six lines preserved, fourth column doubtful fragment inserted, fifth and sixth columns lost.
Probable subjects: conquest of Babylonia by the Elamites, birth and parentage of Izdubar.
Part II.—Meeting of Hea-bani and Izdubar.
Tablet II.—Number of lines uncertain, probably about 240. First and second columns lost, third and fourth columns about half-preserved, fifth and sixth columns lost.
Tablet III.—Number of lines about 270. First column fourteen lines preserved, second, third, fourth, and fifth columns nearly perfect, sixth column a fragment.
Probable subjects: dream of Izdubar, Hea-bani invited comes to Erech, and explains the dream.
Part III.—Destruction of the tyrant Khumbaba.
Tablet IV.—Number of lines probably about 260. About one-third of first, second, and third columns, doubtful fragments of fourth, fifth, and sixth columns.
Tablet V.—Number of lines about 260. Most of first column, and part of second column preserved, third, fourth, and fifth columns lost, fragment of sixth column.
Probable subjects: contests with wild animals, Izdubar and Hea-bani slay the tyrant Khumbaba.
Part IV.—Adventures of Istar.
Tablet VI.—Number of lines about 210. Most of first column preserved, second column nearly perfect, third and fourth columns partly preserved, fifth and sixth columns nearly perfect.
Tablet VII.—Number of lines probably about 240. First line of first column preserved, second column lost, third and fourth column partly preserved, fifth and sixth columns conjecturally restored from tablet of descent of Istar into Hades.
Probable subjects: Istar loves Izdubar, her amours, her ascent to heaven, destruction of her bull, her descent to Hades.
Part V.—Illness and wanderings of Izdubar.
Tablet VIII.—Number of lines probably about 270. Conjectured fragments of first, second, and third columns, fourth and fifth columns lost, conjectured fragments of sixth column.
Tablet IX.—Number of lines about 190. Portions of all six columns preserved.
Tablet X.—Number of lines about 270. Portions of all six columns preserved.
Probable subjects: discourse to trees, dreams, illness of Izdubar, death of Hea-bani, wanderings of Izdubar in search of the hero of the Deluge.
Part VI.—Description of Deluge, and conclusion.
Tablet XI.—Number of lines 294. All six columns nearly perfect.
Tablet XII.—Number of lines about 200. Portions of first four columns preserved, two lines of fifth column, sixth column perfect.
Probable subjects: description of Deluge, cure of Izdubar, his lamentation over Hea-bani.
The opening words of the first tablet are preserved, and form as usual the title of the series, but the expressions used are obscure from want of any context to explain them. There are two principal or key-words, naqbi and kugar; the first of which means “a channel,” and is more particularly applied to the canals with which Babylonia was intersected and watered, while the second is the compound ideograph which literally signifies “minister” or “servant of work.” It was the special title of Izdubar, who, like his Greek double Herakles, was celebrated for ‘the twelve labours’ he successfully undertook. The title had no doubt been originally given to the fire-god, in whom primitive man sees his most useful servant and workman. The first line of the Epic would consequently have run: “The canals, the toiling hero, the god Izdubar, had seen.” Elsewhere, however, the title of Izdubar is written Zicar, that is, “the male” or “hero.”
After the heading and opening line there is a considerable blank in the story, two columns of writing being entirely lost. It is probable that this part contained the account of the parentage and184 previous history of Izdubar, forming the introduction to the story. In the subsequent portions of the history there is very little information to supply the loss of this part of the inscription; but it appears that the mother of Izdubar was named Dannat, which signifies “the powerful lady.” His father is not named in any of our present fragments, but he is referred to in the third tablet. He was no doubt a deity, possibly the Sun-god, who is supposed to interfere very much in his behalf. When Izdubar, the old god of fire, after first becoming a form of the solar deity, was finally personified and regarded as a mighty leader, strong in war and hunting, he was turned into a giant, one of the mythical monarchs who had ruled in Babylonia in long-past days, and had subdued the many petty kingdoms into which the valley of the Euphrates was then divided.
The centre of the empire of Izdubar is laid in the region of Shinar, or Sumir, Erech “the lofty” being the chief seat of his power, and thus agrees with the site of the kingdom of Nimrod, according to Genesis x. 8, 9, 10, where we read: “And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord: wherefore it is said, even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.” We cannot overlook the fact that the character of Izdubar as hunter, leader, and king, corresponds with that of Nimrod. Cush, the father of185 Nimrod, may be identified with Cusu, Cusi or Cus, the Accadian deity of sunset and night. The word in Accadian signified “rest” and “darkness,” and is translated by the Assyrian nakhu “to rest,” and nukhu or nukh “rest.” This latter word is identical with the Biblical Noah. It is very possible, therefore, that Cush, the father of Nimrod, has nothing to do with Cush or Ethiopia, the son of Ham, the two being set side by side in Genesis merely on account of the similarity of their names. In this case all the ethnological difficulties occasioned by the belief that the Accadians of Babylonia were Cushites, and connected with Egypt or Ethiopia, will be avoided. It is curious to find the Christian writers identifying Nimrod with Evechous, the first king of Babylon, according to Berosus, after the flood.
The next passage in Genesis after the one describing Nimrod’s dominion may also refer to Nimrod, if we read with the margin, “Out of that land he went forth to Assyria,” instead of “Out of that land went forth Assur.” These verses will then read (Genesis x. 11, 12): “Out of that land he went forth to Assyria, and builded Nineveh, and the suburbs of the city, and Calah, and Resen, between Nineveh and Calah: the same is a great city.” It must be remembered, however, that Assur was regarded by the Assyrians as their supreme god and eponymous founder, and that in Micah v. 6, “the land of Assur” and “the land of Nimrod” seem to be contrasted with one another. But it is possible to consider the two186 expressions in the latter passage to be both applied to the same country.
After the date of the later books of the Old Testament we know nothing of Nimrod for some time; it is probable that he was fully mentioned by Berosus in his history, but his account of the giant hunter has been lost. The reason of this appears to be, that a belief had grown up among early Christian writers that the Biblical Nimrod was the first king of Babylonia after the Flood, and looking at the list of Berosus they found that after the Flood according to him Evechous first reigned in Babylonia, and at once assumed that the Evechous of Berosus was the Nimrod of the Bible; but as Evechous has given to him the extravagant reign of four ners or 2,400 years, and his son and successor, Chomasbelus, four ners and five sosses, or 2,700 years, this identification gives little hope of our finding an historical Nimrod.
It is possible that this identification of Nimrod with Evechous, made by the early chronologists, has caused them to overlook his name and true epoch in the list of Berosus, and has thus lost to us his position in the series of Babylonian sovereigns.
Belonging to the first centuries of the Christian era are the works of various Jewish and Christian writers, who have made us familiar with a number of later traditions concerning Nimrod. Josephus declares that he was a prime mover in building the Tower of Babel, an enemy of God, and that he reigned at Babylon during the dispersion. Later writers make187 him a contemporary with Abraham, the inventor of idol worship, and a furious worshipper of fire. At the city of Orfa, in Syria, he is said to have cast Abraham into a burning fiery furnace because he would not bow down to his idols. These legends have been taken up by the Arabs, and although his history has been lost and replaced by absurd and worthless stories, Nimrod still remains the most prominent name in the traditions of the country; everything good or evil is attributed to him, and the most important ruins are even now called after his name. From the time of the early Christian writers down to to-day, men have been busy framing systems of general chronology, and since Nimrod was always known as a famous sovereign it was necessary to find a definite place for him in each chronological scheme. Africanus and Eusebius held that he was the Evechous of Berosus, and reigned first after the Flood. Moses of Khorene identified him with Bel, the great god of Babylon; and he is said to have extended his dominions to the foot of the Armenian mountains, falling in battle there when attempting to enforce his authority over Haic, king of Armenia. Other writers identified Nimrod with Ninus, the mythical founder of the city of Nineveh. These remained the principal identifications before modern research took up the matter; but so wide a door was open to conjecture, that one writer actually identified Nimrod with the Alorus of Berosus, the first king of Babylonia before the Flood.
One of the most curious theories about Nimrod, suggested in modern times, was grounded on the “Book of Nabatean Agriculture.” This work is a comparatively modern forgery, pretending to be a literary production of the early Chaldean period. In this work Nimrod heads a list of Babylonian kings called Canaanite, and a writer in the “Journal of Sacred Literature” has argued with considerable force in favour of these Canaanites being the Arabs of Berosus, who reigned about b.c. 1550 to 1300. The southern half of Arabia is known as Cush in the Old Testament like the opposite coast of Africa, and, as Nimrod is called a Cushite in Genesis, there was a great temptation to identify him with the leader of the Arab dynasty. This idea, however, gained little favour, and has not been held by any section of inquirers as fixing the position of Nimrod. The discovery of the cuneiform inscriptions threw a new light on the subject of Babylonian history, and soon after the decipherment of the inscriptions attention was directed to the question of the identity and age of Nimrod. Sir Henry Rawlinson, the father of Assyrian discovery, first seriously attempted to fix the name of Nimrod in the cuneiform inscriptions, and he endeavoured to find the name in that of the second god of the great Chaldean triad. (See Rawlinson’s “Ancient Monarchies,” vol. i. p. 117.) The names of this deity are really Enu, Elum, and Bel, and he was evidently worshipped at the dawn of Babylonian history, and is in fact represented as one189 of the creators of the world; time, moreover, has shown that the cuneiform characters on which the identification was grounded do not bear the phonetic values then supposed.
Sir Henry Rawlinson also suggested (“Ancient Monarchies,” p. 136) that the god Nergal was a deification of Nimrod. Nergal, however, which means literally “the illuminator of Hades,” was a god of the lower world, and even if Nimrod was deified under the name of Nergal this does not explain his position or epoch.
Canon Rawlinson, brother of Sir Henry, in the first volume of his “Ancient Monarchies,” p. 153, and following, makes some judicious remarks on the chronological position of Nimrod, and suggests that he may have reigned a century or two before b.c. 2286; he asserts the historical character of his reign, and supposes him to have founded the Babylonian monarchy, but does not himself identify him with any king known from the inscriptions. At the time when this was written (1871), the conclusions of Canon Rawlinson were the most satisfactory that had been advanced since the discovery of the cuneiform inscriptions. Since this time, however, some new theories have been started, with the idea of identifying Nimrod; one of these, brought forward by Professor Oppert, makes the word a geographical term, but such an explanation is evidently quite insufficient to account for the traditions attached to the name.
Another theory brought forward by the Rev. A. H. Sayce and Josef Grivel, “Transactions of Society of Biblical Archæology,” vol. ii. part 2, p. 243, and vol. iii. part 1, p. 136, identifies Nimrod with Merodach, the god of Babylon; partly on the ground of the similarity of name, Merodach being Amar-utuci or Amar-ud in Accadian, partly because Merodach the patron-deity of Babylon stood in the same relation to that city that Asshur did to Assyria (see Micah v. 6), and partly since we find Merodach called “a hero” like Nimrod in Genesis, and assigned “four divine dogs” as though he were a hunter. These dogs are Uccumu “the despoiler,” Acculu “the devourer,” Icsuda “the capturer,” and Iltebu “the carrier away.” Merodach, it must be remembered, is always represented as a man, and is armed with weapons of war.
Mr. Smith first fancied that Nimrod might be Khammuragas, whom he identified with the first Arab king of Berosus, as this line of kings appeared to be connected with the Cossæans. This identification failing, after the discovery of the Deluge tablet in 1872, he conjectured that the hero whose name is provisionally read Izdubar is the Nimrod of the Bible, a conjecture which has since been adopted by several other scholars.
The supposition that Nimrod was an ethnic or geographical name, which was at one time favoured by Sir Henry Rawlinson, and has since been urged by Professor Oppert, is quite untenable, for it would191 be impossible on this theory to account for certain features in what we are told of the hero.
Mr. Smith’s opinion that he was the hero of the Izdubar Epic was first founded on the discovery that the latter formed the centre of the national historical poetry, and was the hero of Babylonian legend—in fact, occupies much the same place as Nimrod in later Arab tradition.
Izdubar, moreover, agrees exactly in character with Nimrod; he was a hunter, according to the cuneiform legends, who contended with and destroyed the lion, tiger, leopard, and wild bull or buffalo, animals the most formidable in the chase in any country. He ruled first in Babylonia over the region which from other sources we know to have been the centre of Nimrod’s kingdom. The principal scene, too, of his exploits and triumphs was the city of Erech, which, according to Genesis, was the second capital of Nimrod.
There remains the fact that the cuneiform name of this hero is undeciphered, the name Izdubar being a mere makeshift. It is possible that when the phonetic reading of the characters is found it will turn out to correspond with the name Nimrod. At all events it is noteworthy that Izdubar seems to have been specially connected with the town of Marad, the original Accadian name of which was Amarda, and that the Accadian an Amarda or “god of Amarda,” closely corresponds with the Biblical name of Nimrod. The translations and notes given in this book will lead,192 perhaps, to the general admission of the identity of the hero Izdubar with the traditional Nimrod; but this result can be firmly established only when more evidence is before us than that which we have at present.
At the time of the opening of the Epic, the great city of the south of Babylonia, and the capital of this part of the country, was Uruk, called in Genesis, Erech. Erech was devoted to the worship of Anu, the god of heaven, and his wife, the goddess Anatu, as well as of Istar, the Phœnician Ashtoreth, or Astarte, the myth of whose love for the Sun-god Dumuzi or Tammuz, the Adonis of Greek story, is alluded to in the course of the poem. The worship of Anatu, however, was subsequent to the Semitic occupation of the country, since the necessity of providing a female deity by the side of every male one was not felt until the Accadians, whose language was unacquainted with genders, were succeeded by the Semites with their nouns either masculine or feminine.
Here may provisionally be placed the first fragment of the Izdubar legends, K 3200. This fragment consists of part of the third column of a tablet, which is probably the first; and it gives an account of a conquest of Erech by its enemies. The fragment reads:—
- 1. his ….. he left
- 2. ……. and he goes down to the river,
- 3. …. in the river his ship is made good.
- 4. …. he is …. and he weeps bitterly
- 5. …. placed, the city of Ganganna which had (suffered) destruction.
- 6. …. their samuri (were) she asses
- 7. …. their raburi (were) great wild bulls.
- 8. Like cattle the people fears,
- 9. like doves the slaves mourn.
- 10. The gods of Erech the lofty
- 11. turned to flies and brood in swarms.
- 12. The spirits (sedu) of Erech the lofty
- 13. turned to cocks and went forth in outposts.
- 14. For three years the city of Erech does the enemy besiege,
- 15. the great gates were thrown down and trampled upon,
- 16. the goddess Istar before its enemies could not lift her head.
- 17. Bel his mouth opened and speaks,
- 18. to Istar the queen a speech he makes:
- 19. ….. in the midst of Nipur my hands have placed,
- 20. …. my country? Babylon (Din-tir) the house of my delight,
- 21. my …. I gave my hands.
- 22. ….. he was favourable to the sanctuaries
- 23. ….. in the day ….
- 24. ….. the great gods. ….
Here we have a graphic account of the condition of Erech, when the enemy overran the country, and the first question which occurs is, who were these conquerors? Conjecture is idle in the want of evi194dence. They may have been the Semitic successors of the Accadians, they may have been the Medes of Berosus, or they may have been tribes who belong only to the realm of mythology. Mr. Smith believed that they were the subjects of Khumbaba, the tyrant whose death is related in the fourth book of the Epic, and who ruled over the land of Elam.
The name of Khumbaba, or Khubaba, as it is occasionally written, is probably a compound of “Khumba,” or “Khumbume,” the name of one of the chief Elamite gods. Many other Elamite names compounded with Khumba are mentioned in the inscriptions: Khumba-sidir, an early chief; Khumba-undasa, an Elamite general opposed to Sennacherib; Khumba-nigas, an Elamite monarch opposed to Sargon; Tul-khumba, an Elamite city, &c.
The notice of foreign dominion, and particularly of Elamite supremacy at this time, may, perhaps, form a clue from which to ascertain the approximate age of the poems as we have them. We know that myths are localized in the country of those who hand them down to posterity, and assigned to an age which has made an impression on their narrators. There must have been some reason for the legendary siege and capture of Erech, some actual event around which the story of Izdubar has entwined itself.
Looking at the fragments of Berosus and the notices of Greek and Roman authors, we may ask whether there is any epoch of conquest and foreign dominion which can be fixed upon as representing195 such an actual event? Let us glance for a moment at the earlier history of Babylonia so far as it is known to us.
The earlier part of the list of dynasties quoted from Berosus gives the following periods from the Flood downwards:—
86 Chaldean kings from the Flood down to the Median conquest, reigning for 34,080 or 33,091 years.
8 Median kings who conquered and held Babylon, 234, or 224, or 190 years.
11 other kings, race and duration unknown.
49 Chaldean kings, for 458 years.
The last of these dynasties preceded a dynasty of kings called Arabian by the copyists of Berosus, and though neither the number of the reigns nor the length of time assigned to the dynasty agrees with what the monuments tell us of the Cassite or Cossæan line of kings, there is no other line which can in any way be identified with the Arabians of the Babylonian historian. The 49 Chaldean kings must, therefore, have reigned before Khammuragas, that is before b.c. 2000-1750. Now an inscription of Nabonidus informs us that Lig-bagas, the first monarch of all Chaldea of whom we know, flourished 700 years anterior to the reign of Khammuragas; he would, therefore, come among the 11 nameless kings of Berosus, supposing any reliance can be placed on the statements of the latter, and about 250 years before the accession of the Chaldean dynasty. But the engraved cylinders196 and seals of the age of Lig-bagas show that the legend of Izdubar was already popular, and we must accordingly seek a still older period in which to place its origin and attachment to a particular historical event. Hence it may well be that the siege of Erech, the memory of which is preserved in the first book of the Izdubar Epic, was the work of those foreign invaders whom the Babylonian historian has termed Median.
Now it is not improbable that the Median dynasty was really Elamite; or at all events belonged to the same race as the primitive inhabitants of Elam. This race was closely allied to the Accadians; and it was spread over the whole range of country which stretched from the southern shores of the Caspian to the Persian Gulf. The Protomedes, as they are sometimes called, were not conquered and supplanted by Aryan invaders from the east till the ninth century b.c. It was in their country that Kharsak-kurra, “the Mountain of the East,” was localized whereon the Accadians and their kinsfolk in Elam and Media believed the ark to have rested after the Flood, and which they regarded as the cradle of their race. It was therefore pre-eminently “the land,” mada in Accadian, and from this mada there is every reason to think the name of Media has been derived. Consequently, the Medians of Berosus, the inhabitants of mada “the land” of the east, need not have been more than one of the many Elamite swarms that from time to time descended into the fertile plains of Babylonia, and not unfrequently obtained a settlement197 there. Such were the Accadians, or “Highlanders” themselves; such, too, the two Cassite or Cossæan dynasties which we learn from the monuments long held sway over Chaldea.
An early Babylonian cylinder, which came from Erech and originally belonged to a member of the royal family of that city, presents us with a curious picture of a rude nomad tribe apparently arriving in Babylonia. The chief marches in front armed with bow and arrows, and wearing the same kind of boots with turned-up ends as distinguished the Hittites in ancient times and are still worn in Asia Minor and Greece. They indicate that the wearer came from a cold and mountainous country. The animals’ skins which compose the dresses of his three retainers also point to a similar conclusion. Besides the retainers, the wife of the chief is depicted, as well as two slaves who carry some objects on their shoulders. Unfortunately no light is cast upon the group by the inscription, which simply states that the cylinder belonged198 to “Gibil-dur (or Ne-Zicum), the brother of the king of Erech, the librarian, thy servant.” All we can gather from it is that the famous library of Erech, which furnished Assur-bani-pal and his scribes with the original texts of the Izdubar Epic, was already in existence, and that the office of librarian was considered honourable enough to be borne by a brother of the reigning monarch.
If the legendary siege of Erech is not to be referred to the epoch of the Median conquest, it may have fallen at the time when the image of the goddess Nana was carried away from Erech by the Elamite king Kudur-nankhundi, 1635 years before the capture of Shushan, the capital of Elam, by the Assyrians (about b.c. 645), and consequently about b.c. 2280. A fragment which refers to this period in “Cuneiform Inscriptions,” vol. iii. p. 38, relates the destruction wrought in the country by the Elamites, and makes Kudur-nankhundi follow one of the other monarchs of an Elamite dynasty and exceed his predecessors in the injury he did to the country.
Putting together the detached notices of this period, the following may approximately represent the chronology, the dates being understood as round numbers.
? b.c. 2750, Elamites (Medes) overrun Babylonia.
b.c. 2280, Kudur-nankhundi, king of Elam, ravages Erech.
b.c. 1800, Khammuragas conquers Babylonia.
Although the dates transmitted through ancient199 authors are as a rule vague and doubtful, there are many independent notices which seem to point to somewhere about the twenty-third century before the Christian era for the foundation of the Babylonian and Assyrian power. Several of these dates are connected either directly or by implication with Nimrod, who first formed a united empire over these regions.
The following are some of these notices:—
Simplicius relates that Callisthenes, the friend of Alexander, sent to Aristotle from Babylon a series of stellar observations reaching back 1,903 years before the taking of Babylon by Alexander. This would make 1903 + 331 = b.c. 2234.
Berosus and Critodemus are said by Pliny to have made the inscribed stellar observations reach to 480 years before the era of Phoroneus; as the latter date was supposed to be about the middle of the eighteenth century b.c., 480 years before it comes also to about the period of Kudur-nankhundi.
Diodorus makes the Assyrian empire commence a thousand years or more before the Trojan war.
Ctesias and Cephalion make its foundation early in the twenty-second century b.c.
The two last statements, however, are probably derived from Ctesias, whose so-called history has been shown by cuneiform decipherment to have been a mere fiction put together out of misunderstood myths and fragments of theology. In any case, too, they apply only to the foundation of the Assyrian power,200 which was modern as compared with that of Babylonia, in spite of the assertion of Sargon, who boasts of having been preceded on the throne by 350 kings.
Of the latter part of the first tablet of the Izdubar Epic we have as yet no knowledge.
Dream of Izdubar.—Hea-bani.—His wisdom.—His solitary life.—Izdubar’s petition.—Zaidu.—Kharimtu and Samkhat.—Tempt Hea-bani.—Might and fame of Izdubar.—Speech of Hea-bani.—His journey to Erech.—The midannu or tiger.—Festival at Erech.—Dream of Izdubar.—Friendship with Hea-bani.
N this chapter are included the fragments of what appear to be the second and third tablets or books. In this section of the story Izdubar comes prominently forward, and meets with Hea-bani. The notice of his mother Dannat appears in one of the tablets given in this chapter.
Izdubar, in the Babylonian and Assyrian sculptures, is always represented with a marked physiognomy, and his peculiarities can be seen by noticing the photograph from a Babylonian gem at the beginning of the book, the engraving from an Assyrian sculpture in the last chapter, and the engraving in page 249202 showing Izdubar and Hea-bani struggling with wild animals. In all these cases, and in every other instance where Izdubar is represented, he is indicated as a man with masses of curls over his head and a large curly beard. The type is so marked and so distinct from either the Assyrian or the Babylonian one that it is hard to say to what race it should be attached.
The deity of Izdubar was Lugal-turda, the god who was changed into the bird of storm according to the old myth, from which it may be supposed that he was a native of the district of Amarda or Marad, where that god was worshipped. This district Mr. Smith thought was probably the Amordacia or Mardocæa of Ptolemy, but its situation is uncertain.
The fragments of the second and third tablets assume by their notices that Izdubar was already known as a mighty hunter, and it appears a little later that he claimed descent from the old Babylonian heroes, as he calls Xisuthrus, the Chaldean Noah, his “father.”
A single fragment which Mr. Smith believed to belong to this tablet has been found; it is K 3389, and contains part of the third and fourth columns of writing. It appears from this that Izdubar was then at Erech, and had a curious dream. He thought he saw the stars of heaven fall to the ground, and in their descent they struck upon his back. He203 then saw standing over him a terrible being, the aspect of whose face was fierce, and who was armed with claws, like the claws of lions. The greater part of the description of the dream is lost; it probably occupied Columns I. and II. of the second tablet. Thinking that the dream portended some fate to himself, Izdubar calls on all the wise men to explain it, and offers a reward to any one who can interpret the dream. Here the fragment K 3389 comes in:
- 1. …. ru kili I ….
- 2. …. he and the princes may he …
- 3. …. in the vicinity send him,
- 4. …. may they ennoble his family,
- 5. …. at the head of his feast may he set thee
- 6. …. may he array thee in jewels and gold
- 7. …. may he enclose thee
- 8. …. in his …. seat thee
- 9. into the houses of the gods may he cause thee to enter
- 10. …. seven wives
- 11. …. cause illness in his stomach
- 12. …. went up alone
- 13. …. his heaviness to his friend
- 14. …. a dream I dreamed in my sleep
- 15. …. the stars of heaven fell to the earth
- 16. …. I stood still
- 17. …. his face
- 18. …. his face was terrible
- 19. …. like the claws of a lion, were his claws.
- 20. …. the strength in me
- 21. …. he slew
- 22. …. me
- 23. …. over me
- 24. …. corpse ….
The first part of this fragment appears to recount the honours offered by Izdubar to any one who should interpret the dream. These included the ennobling of his family, his recognition in assemblies, his being invested with jewels of honour, and his wives being increased. A description of the dream of the hero, much mutilated, follows. The conduct of Nebuchadnezzar in the Book of Daniel, with reference to his dreams, bears some resemblance to that of Izdubar.
After this fragment we have again a blank in the story, and it would appear that in this interval application was made to a nondescript creature named Hea-bani that he would go to the city of Erech and interpret the dream of Izdubar.
Hea-bani appears, from the representations on seals and other objects on which he is figured, to have been a satyr or faun. He is always drawn with the feet and tail of an ox, and with horns on his head. He is said to have lived in a cave among the wild animals of the forest, and was supposed to possess wonderful knowledge both of nature and human affairs. In appearance he resembles the se’irim or hairy demons, half men, half goats, who inhabited the205 deserts and were a terror to passers-by. Reference is made to them in Lev. xvii. 7, 2 Chron. xi. 15, Is. xiii. 21, xxxiv. 14, from which we learn that worship was paid to them, and that they were supposed to be specially connected with the neighbourhood of Babylon. Hea-bani was angry at the request that he should abandon his solitary life for the friendship of Izdubar, and where our narrative reopens the god Samas is persuading him to accept the offer. It may be added that the name Hea-bani signifies “Hea created me,” from which we may infer that the monster was believed to have originally ascended like Oannes out of the abysses of the sea.
- 1. … me
- 2. … on my back
- 3. And Samas opened his mouth
- 4. and spake and from heaven said to him:
- 5. …. and the female Samkhat thou shalt choose
- 6. they shall array thee in trappings of divinity
- 7. they shall give thee the insignia of royalty
- 8. they shall make thee become great
- 9. and Izdubar thou shalt call and incline him towards thee
- 10. and Izdubar shall make friendship unto thee
- 11. he shall cause thee to recline on a grand couch
- 12. on a beautiful couch he shall seat thee
- 13. he will cause thee to sit on a comfortable seat a seat on the left
- 14. the kings of the earth shall kiss thy feet
- 15. he shall enrich thee and the men of Erech he shall make silent before thee
- 16. and he after thee shall take all ….
- 17. he shall clothe thy body in raiment and ….
- 18. Hea-bani heard the words of Samas the warrior
- 19. and the anger of his heart was appeased
- 20. …. was appeased
Here we are still dealing with the honours which Izdubar promises to the interpreter of his dream, and these seem to show that Izdubar had some power at Erech at this time; he does not, however, appear to have been an independent king, and it is probable that the next two columns of this tablet, now lost, contain negotiations for bringing Hea-bani to Erech, the subject being continued on the third tablet.
This tablet is far better preserved than the two previous ones; it gives the account of the successful mission to bring Hea-bani to Erech, opening with a broken account of the wisdom of Hea-bani.
- 1. …. knows all things
- 2. …. and difficult
- 3. …. wisdom of all things
- 4. …. the knowledge that is seen and that which is hidden
- 5. …. bring word of peace to ….
- 6. from a far off road he will come and I rest and ….
- 7. …. on tablets and all that rests ….
- 8. …. and tower of Erech the lofty
- 9. …. beautiful
- 10. …. which like ….
- 11. …. I strove with him not to leave ….
- 12. …. god? who from ….
- 13. …. carry ….
- 14. …. leave ….
- (Many lines lost.)
- 1. Izdubar did not leave …..
- 2. Daughter of a warrior …….
- 3. their might ……
- 4. the gods of heaven, lord ……
- 5. thou makest to be sons and family? …..
- 6. there is not any other like thee ……
- 7. in the depth made ……
- 8. Izdubar did not leave, the son to his father day and night ……
- 9. he the ruler also of Erech ……
- 10. he their ruler and ……
- 11. made firm? and wise ……
- 12. Izdubar did not leave Dannat, the son to his mother ……
- 13. Daughter of a warrior, wife of …..
- 14. their might the god …. heard and …
- 15. Aruru strong and great, thou Aruru hast made ……
- 16. again making his strength, one day his heart ……
- 17. he changed and the city of Erech ……
- 18. Aruru on hearing this, the strength of Anu made in the midst ……
- 19. Aruru put in her hands, she bowed her breast and lay on the ground
- 20. … Hea-bani she made a warrior, begotten of the seed of the soldier Ninip
- 21. …… covered his body, retiring in companionship like a woman,
- 22. the features of his aspect were concealed like the corn god
- 23. possessing knowledge of men and countries, in clothing clothed like the god Ner
- 24. with the gazelles he ate food in the night
- 25. with the beasts of the field he consorted in the day
- 26. with the creeping things of the waters his heart delighted
- 27. Zaidu catcher of men
- 28. in front of that field confronted him
- 29. the first day the second day and the third in the front of that field the same,
- 30. the courage of Zaidu dried up before him
- 31. and he and his beast entered into his house and
- 32. …. fear dried up and overcome
- 33. …. his courage grew before him
- 34. …. his face was terrible
- 1. Zaidu opened his mouth and spake and said to ……
- 2. My father the first leader who shall go ….
- 3. in the land of ……
- 4. like the soldier of Anu ……
- 5. shall march over the country ……
- 6. and firmly with the beast ……
- 7. and firmly his feet in the front of the field …
- 8. I feared and I did not approach it
- 9. he filled the cave which he had dug
- 10. …..
- 11. I ascended on my hands to the ….
- 12. I did not reach to the …..
- 13. …. and said to Zaidu
- 14. …. Erech, Izdubar
- 15. …. ascend his field
- 16. …. his might
- 17. …. thy face
- 18. …. the might of a man
- 19. ……
- 20. …. like a chief
- 21. …… field
- 22 to 24. three lines of directions.
- 25. According to the advice of his father ….
- 26. Zaidu went …..
- 27. he took the road and in the midst of Erech he halted
- 28. …. Izdubar ….
- 29. the first leader who shall go ….
- 30. in the land of ….
- 31. like the soldier of Anu ….
- 32. shall march over the country ….
- 33. and firmly with the beast ….
- 34. and firmly his feet ….
- 35. I feared and I did not approach it
- 36. he filled the cave which he had dug
- 37. ……
- 38. I ascended on my hands …..
- 39. I was not able to reach to the covert.
- 40. Izdubar to him also said to Zaidu:
- 41. go Zaidu and with thee Kharimtu, and Samkhat take,
- 42. and when the beast … in front of the field
- 43 to 45. directions to the women how to entice Hea-bani.
- 46. Zaidu went and with him Kharimtu, and Samkhat he took, and
- 47. they took the road, and went along the path.
- 48. On the third day they reached the land where the flood happened.
- 49. Zaidu and Kharimtu in their places sat,
- 50. the first day and the second day in front of the field they sat,
- 51. the land where the beast drank of drink,
- 1. the land where the creeping things of the water rejoiced his heart.
- 2. And he Hea-bani had made for himself a mountain
- 3. with the gazelles he ate food,
- 4. with the beasts he drank of drink,
- 5. with the creeping things of the waters his heart rejoiced.
- 6. Samkhat the enticer of men saw him
- 7 to 26. details of the actions of the female Samkhat and Hea-bani. —–———–———–———–
- 27. And Hea-bani approached Kharimtu then, who before had not enticed him.
- 28. And he listened …. and was attentive,
- 29. and he turned and sat at the feet of Kharimtu.
- 30. Kharimtu bent down her face,
- 31. and Kharimtu spake; and his ears heard
- 32. and to him also she said to Hea-bani:
- 33. Famous Hea-bani like a god art thou,
- 34. Why dost thou associate with the creeping things in the desert?
- 35. I desire thy company to the midst of Erech the lofty,212
- 36. to the temple of Elli-tardusi the seat of Anu and Istar,
- 37. the dwelling of Izdubar the mighty giant,
- 38. who also like a bull towers over the chiefs.
- 39. She spake to him and before her speech,
- 40. the wisdom of his heart flew away and disappeared.
- 41. Hea-bani to her also said to Kharimtu:
- 42. I join to Samkhat my companionship,
- 43. to the temple of Elli-tardusi the seat of Anu and Istar,
- 44. the dwelling of Izdubar the mighty giant,
- 45. who also like a bull towers over the chiefs.
- 46. I will meet him and see his power,
- 1. I will bring to the midst of Erech a tiger,
- 2. and if he is able he will destroy it.
- 3. In the desert it is begotten, it has great strength,
- 4. …… before thee
- 5. …. everything there is I know
- 6. Hea-bani went to the midst of Erech the lofty
- 7. …. the chiefs … made submission
- 8. in that day they made a festival
- 9. ….. city
- 10. ….. daughter213
- 11. ….. made rejoicing
- 12. ….. becoming great
- 13. ….. mingled and
- 14. ….. Izdubar rejoicing the people
- 15. went before him
- 16. A prince thou becomest glory thou hast
- 17. …. fills his body
- 18. …. who day and night
- 19. …. destroy thy terror
- 20. …. the god Samas loves him and
- 21. …. and Hea have given intelligence to his ears
- 22. he has come from the mountain
- 23. to the midst of Erech he will ponder thy dream
- 24. Izdubar his dream revealed and said to his mother
- 25. A dream I dreamed in my sleep
- 26. …. the stars of heaven
- 27. …. struck upon my back
- 28. …. of heaven over me
- 29. …. did not rise over it
- 30. …. stood over …..
- 31. …… him and
- 32. ….. over him
- 33. …. his ….
- 34. ……. princess
- 35. ……. me
- 36. ….. I know
- 37. ….. to Izdubar
- 38. ….. of heaven
- 39. ….. over thy back
- 40. ….. over thee
- 41. ….. did not rise over it
- 42. ….. my …..
- 43. ….. thee
There is one other mutilated fragment of this and the next column with part of a relation respecting beasts and a fragment of a conversation between Izdubar and his mother.
The whole of this tablet is curious, and it certainly gives the successful issue of the attempt to bring Hea-bani to Erech, and in very fragmentary condition the dream of the monarch.
It appears that the females Samkhat and Kharimtu prevailed upon Hea-bani to come to Erech and see the exploits of the giant Izdubar, and he declared that he would bring a Midannu, most probably a tiger, to Erech, in order to make trial of the strength of Izdubar, and to see if he could destroy it.
The Midannu is mentioned in the Assyrian texts as a fierce carnivorous animal allied to the lion and leopard; it is called Midannu, Mindinu, and Mandinu. In a list of animals it is associated with the dumamu or cat.
In the fifth column, after the description of the festivities which followed the arrival of Hea-bani, there appears a break between lines 15 and 16, some part of the original story being probably omitted here. The Assyrian copy probably is here de215fective, at least one line being lost. The portion here omitted seems to have stated that the following speech was made by the mother of Izdubar, who figures prominently in the earlier part of these legends.
Mythical geography.—Forest region.—Khumbaba.—Conversation.—Petition to Samas.—Journey to forest.—Dwelling of Khumbaba.—Entrance to forest.—Meeting with Khumbaba.—Death of Khumbaba.—Izdubar king.
HE wretchedly mutilated condition of the fragments that belong to the two next tablets or books of the Epic makes it impossible to ascertain their correct order and arrangement. The arrangement given here, accordingly, must be regarded as merely provisional. It may, however, be taken as certain that they all form part of the fourth and fifth tablets, and relate the contest between Izdubar and Khumbaba.
Khumbaba, the Kombabos of the Greeks, was the prototype of Geryon. He dwelt far away in the forest of pines and sherbin cedars, where the gods and spirits had their abode. It was, consequently, in the cold region of the Accadian Olympus, now Mount Elwend, that he was placed by the old mythology, and the similarity of his name to that of the Elamite217 god Khumba or Khumbume makes it possible that he was originally identical with the latter. In this case the antagonism between Khumbaba and Izdubar would have been merely a reflection of the antagonism that existed between the inhabitants of Babylonia and the subjects of the Elamite empire. Mr. Smith even thought that the overthrow of Khumbaba might have been an echo of the overthrow of some Elamite dynasty by a Chaldean one.
In the case of the fourth tablet Mr. Smith believed that he had found fragments of all six columns, but some of these fragments are useless until we have further fragments to complete them.
- 1. …. mu ….
- 2. …. thy ….
- 3. …. me, return
- 4. …. the birds shall rend him
- 5. …. in thy presence
- 6. …. of the forest of pine trees
- 7. …. all the battle
- 8. …. may the birds of prey surround him
- 9. …. that, his carcass may they destroy
- 10. …. to me and we will appoint thee king,
- 11. …. thou shalt direct after the manner of a king
- 12. [Izdubar] opened his mouth and spake,
- 13. and said to Hea-bani:
- 14. … he goes to the great palace
- 15. …. the breast of the great queen
- 16. ….. knowledge, everything he knows
- 17. …… establish to our feet
- 18. ……. his hand
- 19. ……. I to the great palace
- 20. ……… the great queen
- (Probably over twenty lines lost here.)
- 1. …. enter
- 2. …. he raised
- 3. …. the ornaments of her ….
- 4. …. the ornaments of her breast
- 5. …. and her crown I divided
- 6. …. of the earth he opened
- 7. he …. he ascended to the city
- 8. he went up to the presence of Samas he made a sacrifice?
- 9. he built an altar. In the presence of Samas he lifted his hands:
- 10. Why hast thou established Izdubar, in thy heart thou hast given him protection,
- 11. when the son …. and he goes
- 12. on the remote path to Khumbaba.
- 13. A battle he knows not he will confront,
- 14. an expedition he knows not he will ride to,
- 15. for long he will go and will return,
- 16. to take the course to the forest of pine trees,
- 17. to Khumbaba of [whom his city may] he destroy,
- 18. and every one who is evil whom thou hatest …
- 19. In the day of the year he will ….
- 20. May she not return at all, may she not …
- 21. him to fix ….
(About ten lines lost here.)
Here we see that Izdubar, impressed with the magnitude of the task he had undertaken, makes a prayer and sacrifice to Samas to aid him in his task. The next fragment appears also to belong to this column, and may refer to preliminaries for sacrificing to Istar, with a view also to gain her aid in the enterprise.
This fragment of Column II. reads
- 1. …. neighbourhood of Erech ….
- 2. …. strong and …
- 3. he burst open the road ….
- 4. and that city ….
- 5. and the collection ….
- 6. placed the people together ….
- 7. the people were ended ….
- 8. like of a king ….
- 9. which for a long time had been made ….
- 10. to the goddess Istar the bed ….
- 11. to Izdubar like the god Sakim ….
- 12. Hea-bani opened the great gate of the house of assembly ….
- 13. for Izdubar to enter ….
- 14. …. in the gate of the house …………
- 1. the corpse of ….
- 2. to ….
- 3. to the rising of ….
- 4. the angels ….
- 5. may she not return ….
- 6. him to fix ….
- 7. the expedition which he knows not ….
- 8. may he destroy also ….
- 9. of which he knows ….
- 10. the road ….
Five more mutilated lines, the rest of the column being lost.
This fragment shows Izdubar still invoking the gods for his coming expedition. Under the next column Mr. Smith placed a fragment, the position and meaning of which are quite unknown.
Column IV.—Uncertain Fragment.
- 1. he was heavy ….
- 2. Hea-bani was ….
- 3. Hea-bani strong not rising ….
- 4. When ….
- 5. with thy song? ….
- 6. the sister of the gods faithful ….
- 7. wandering he fixed to ….
- 8. the sister of the gods lifted ….
- 9. and the daughters of the gods grew ….
- 10. I Hea-bani …. he lifted to ….
Somewhere here should be the story, now lost, of the starting of Izdubar on his expedition accompanied by his friend Hea-bani. The sequel shows they arrive at the palace or residence of Hea-bani, which is surrounded by a forest of pine and cedar, the whole being enclosed by some barrier or wall, with a gate for entrance. Hea-bani and Izdubar open this gate where the story reopens on the fifth column.
- 1. the sharp weapon
- 2. to make men fear him ….
- 3. Khumbaba poured a tempest out of his mouth ….
- 4. he heard the gate of the forest [open]
- 5. the sharp weapon to make men fear him [he took]
- 6. and in the path of his forest he stood and [waited]
- 7. Izdubar to him also [said to Hea-bani]
Here we see Khumbaba waiting for the intruders, but the rest of the column is lost; it appears to have principally consisted of speeches by Izdubar and Hea-bani on the magnificent trees they saw, and the work before them. A single fragment of Column VI., containing fragments of six lines, shows them still222 at the gate, and when the next tablet, No. V., opens, they had not yet entered.
The fifth tablet is more certain than the last; it appears to refer to the conquest of Khumbaba. Only fragments of this tablet, which opens with a description of the retreat of Khumbaba, have as yet been discovered.
- 1. He stood and surveyed the forest
- 2. of pine trees, he perceived its height,
- 3. of the forest he perceived its approach,
- 4. in the place where Khumbaba went his step was placed,
- 5. on a straight road and a good path.
- 6. He saw the land of the pine trees, the seat of the gods, the sanctuary of the angels,
- 7. in front? of the seed the pine tree carried its fruit,
- 8. good was its shadow, full of pleasure,
- 9. an excellent tree, the choice of the forest,
- 10. …. the pine heaped ….
- 11. …. for one kaspu (7 miles) …
- 12. …. cedar two-thirds of it …
- 13. …. grown ….
- 14. …. like it …
- (About 10 lines lost here.)
- 25. …. he looked ….
- 26. …. he made and he ….
- 27. …. drove to ….
- 28. …. he opened and ….
- 29. Izdubar opened his mouth and spake, [and said to Hea-bani]:
- 30. My friend ….
- 31. …. with their slaughter ….
- 32. …. he did not speak before her, he made with him ….
- 33. …. knowledge of war who made fighting,
- 34. in entering to the house thou shalt not fear …
- 35. …. and like I take her also they ….
- 36. to an end may they seat ….
- 37. …. thy hand ….
- 38. …. took my friend first ….
- 39. …. his heart prepared for war, that year and day also
- 40. …. on his falling appoint the people
- 41. …. slay him, his corpse may the birds of prey surround
- 42. …… of them he shall make
- 43. …. going he took the weight
- 44. they performed it, their will they established
- 45. …. they entered into the forest
(Five lines mutilated.)
- 6. they passed through the forest ….
- 7. Khumbaba ….
- 8. he did not come ….
- 9. he did not ….
- (Seven lines lost.)
- 17. heavy ….
- 18. Hea-bani opened his mouth ….
- 19. …. Khumbaba in ….
- 20. …. one by one and ….
(Many other broken lines.)
There are a few fragments of Columns III., IV., and V., and a small portion of Column VI., which reads:
- 1. …. cedar to ….
- 2. …. he placed and ….
- 3. …. 120 …. Hea-bani ….
- 4. …. the head of Khumbaba ….
- 5. …. his weapon he sharpened ….
- 6. …. tablet of the story of fate of ….
It appears from the various mutilated fragments of this tablet that Izdubar and Hea-bani conquer and slay Khumbaba and take his goods, but much is wanted to connect the fragments.
The conclusion of this stage of the story and triumph of Izdubar are given at the commencement225 of the sixth tablet. The conquest of Khumbaba gave Izdubar the crown and attributes of his fallen rival, who seems to have been a sun-god, and this caused Istar, who already appears as the bride of the sun in the myth of Tammuz, to woo the triumphant hero.
Triumph of Izdubar.—Istar’s love.—Her offer of marriage.—Her promises.—Izdubar’s answer.—Tammuz.—Amours of Istar.—His refusal.—Istar’s anger.—Ascends to Heaven.—The bull.—Slain by Izdubar.—Istar’s curse.—Izdubar’s triumph.—The feast.—Istar’s despair.—Her descent to Hades.—Description.—The seven gates.—The curses.—Atsu-sunamir the Sphinx.—Release of Istar.—The dog of the dawn.—Lament for Tammuz.
N this chapter are included the sixth and seventh tablets, which both primarily refer to the doings of Istar.
The sixth tablet is in better condition than any of the former ones, and allows of something like a connected translation.
- 1. …. his weapon, he made bright his weapon.
- 2. Like a bull his mountain he ascended after him.
- 3. He destroyed him and clothed himself with his spoils.
- 4. The … he put on and the fastening of the crown he tore.
- 5. Izdubar his crown put on (and the fastening of the crown he tore).
- 6. For the favour of Izdubar the princess Istar lifted the eyes:
- 7. I will make thee also Izdubar my husband,18
- 8. thy oath to me shall be thy bond,
- 9. thou shalt be husband and I will be thy wife.
- 10. I will make (thy) chariot glisten with crystal and gold,
- 11. of which the body is gold and its horns are strong.
- 12. I will cause thy days to find gifts, O judge (?) of the great.
- 13. Into our house enter, mid the scent of the pines.
- 14. When thou enterest our house
- 15. may the river Euphrates kiss thy feet.
- 16. There shall be under thee kings, lords, and princes.
- 17. The tribute of the mountains and plains may they bring to thee as an offering.
- 18. May thy herds and flocks bring forth twins,
- 19. may the increase of the cows come unto (thee),
- 20. may thy (horse) be strong, without ceasing, in the chariot,
- 21. may (thy steed) in the yoke never have a rival.
- 22. (Izdubar) opened his mouth and speaks;
- 23. (he says) to the princess Istar:
- 24. …. to thee thy possession
- 25. …. body and rottenness (?)
- 26. …. baldness and famine
- 27. …. I keep back the instruments of divinity
- 28. …. instruments of royalty
- 29. …. storm (?)
- 30. …… he poured (?)
- 31. …… I lingered
- 32. …… I took thee
- 33. …… caused to enter
- 34. the door afterwards …. ended wind and showers
- 35. palace …. the hero
- 36. mouth …. check her
- 37. that sign …. carry her
- 38. body glorious (?) …. carry her
- 39. grand …. tower of stone
- 40. they have dwelt (in) the land of the enemy
- 41. may she …. her lord
- 42. never may he woo thee for ever
- 43. never may a god praise thee
- 44. I took also the torch? …. I loved thee
- 1. Rest thee and …..
- 2. as for Tammuz the lover of (thy) youth
- 3. year after year thou hast wearied him with thy love.
- 4. Allala the eagle also thou lovest and
- 5. thou didst strike him, and his wings thou didst break;
- 6. he stood in the forest, he begged for wings.
- 7. Thou lovest also a lion lusty in might,
- 8. thou didst tear out by sevens his claws.
- 9. Thou lovest also a horse glorious in war,
- 10. he yielded himself and thou didst weary his love overmuch.
- 11. For seven kaspu (fourteen hours) thou didst weary his love without ceasing,
- 12. troubled and thirsting thou didst weary him.
- 13. To his mother Silele thou didst send him wearied with thy love.
- 14. Thou lovest also the shepherd Tabulu,
- 15. of whom continually thou didst ask for thy stibium.
- 16. Every day he propitiated thee with offerings,
- 17. thou didst strike him and to a hyena thou didst change him;
- 18. his own village drove him away;
- 19. his dogs tore his wounds.
- 20. Thou lovest also Isullanu the husbandman of thy father,
- 21. who continually was subject to thy order;
- 22. each day had he made bright thy dish.
- 23. The eyes thou didst take from him and didst put him in chains,
- 24. (saying): O Isullanu, cut thy hand, eat (thy) eyes!
- 25. And thy hand thou didst bring out and thou didst strike? ….
- 26. Isullanu says to thee:
- 27. As for me what dost thou ask of me?
- 28. My mother, thou art not beautiful, and I eat not.
- 29. The food I have eaten is plentiful, even pain and waking;
- 30. trembling and faintness overcome me (?)
- 31. Thou didst hear also this ….
- 32. thou didst strike him; to a pillar19 thou didst change him,
- 33. thou didst place him also in the midst of the land ….
- 34. that he rise not up, that he go not ….
- 35. And as for me dost thou love me, and like to him wilt thou [serve me]?
- 36. When Istar (heard) this,
- 37. Istar was angry and to heaven she ascended;
- 38. Istar went also to the presence of Anu her father,
- 39. to the presence of Anatu her mother she went and says:
- 40. My father, Izdubar hates me, and
- 1. Izdubar despises my beauty,
- 2. my beauty and my charms.
- 3. Anu opened his mouth and spake, and
- 4. says to the princess Istar:
- 5. My daughter thou shalt remove ….
- 6. and Izdubar will count thy beauty,
- 7. thy beauty and thy charms.
- 8. Istar opened her mouth and spake, and
- 9. says to Anu her father:
- 10. My father, create the bull of Anu20 and
- 11. Izdubar ….
- 12. when he is filled ….
- 13. I will strike ….
- 14. I will join ….
- 15. ……..
- 16. over ….
- 17. Anu opened his mouth and spake, and
- 18. says to the princess Istar:
- 19. …. thou shalt join ….
- 20. …. of noble names
- 21. …. maskhi ….
- 22. …. which is magnified ….
- 23. Istar opened her mouth and spake, and
- 24. says to Anu her father:
- 25. …. I will strike
- 26. …. I will break
- 27. …. of noble names
- 28. …. reducer
- 29. …. of foods
- 30. …. of him
(Some lines lost here.)
(Some lines lost.)
- 1. …. warriors
- 2. …. to the midst
- 3. …. three hundred warriors
- 4. …. to the midst
- 5. …. slay Hea-bani
- 6. in two divisions he parted in the midst of it
- 7. two hundred warriors …. made, the bull of Anu ….
- 8. in the third division …. his horns
- 9. Hea-bani struck? …. his might
- 10. and Hea-bani pierced ……..
- 11. the bull of Anu by his head he took hold of ….
- 12. by the thickness of his tail ….
- 13. Hea-bani opened his mouth and spake, and
- 14. says to Izdubar:
- 15. My friend, we have strengthened ….
- 16. when we overthrow …
- 17. My friend, I see ….
- 18. and the might ….
- 19. may I destroy ….
- (Three lines lost.).
- 23. …. hands …. to Rimmon and Nebo
- 24. …. tarka …. um ….
- 25. …. Hea-bani took hold …. the bull of Anu
- 26. …. he …. also …. by his tail
- 27. …….. Hea-bani
- 1. And Izdubar like a ….
- 2. the hero and (his friend)
- 3. in the vicinity of the middle of his horns ….
- 4. from the city they destroyed, the heart ….
- 5. to the presence of Samas ….
- 6. they had gone to the presence of Samas ….
- 7. he placed at the side the bulk (?) ….
- 8. And Istar ascended over the fortress of Erech the lofty,
- 9. she destroyed the bull, she uttered a curse:
- 10. Woe to Izdubar who has overthrown me, has slain the bull of Anu.
- 11. Hea-bani also heard this speech of Istar,
- 12. and he cut off the member of the bull of Anu and before her he laid it;
- 13. And what of it? since I conquered thee when him also (i.e. Izdubar)
- 14. I caused thee to listen to;
- 15. its skin also I have hung up at thy side.
- 16. Istar gathered her maidens
- 17. Samkhati and Kharimati,21
- 18. over the member of the bull of Anu a mourning she made.
- 19. Izdubar called on the people, the multitude
- 20. all of them:
- 21. with the thickness of his horns the young men were glorious,
- 22. 30 manehs of crystal (was) their substance,
- 23. the sharpness of the points was destroyed,
- 24. 6 gurs its mass altogether.
- 25. For the food of his god Lugal-turda he cut it up;
- 26. he seethed it and hangs it up in the rising of his fire;
- 27. in the river Euphrates they washed their hands.
- 28. They had been taken and gone
- 29. through the street of Erech riding,
- 30. the assembly of the warriors of Erech put trust in them.
- 31. Izdubar to the inhabitants of Erech
- 32. …. a proclamation made.
- 1. “If anyone is of ability among the chiefs,235
- 2. if any is noble among the men,
- 3. Izdubar is able among the chiefs,
- 4. Izdubar is noble among the men,
- 5. …. our strength
- 6. …. he has not
- 7. …. his ….”
- 8. Izdubar in his palace made a rejoicing,
- 9. the chiefs reclining lie on couches at night.
- 10. Hea-bani lies down, a dream he dreams.
- 11. Hea-bani came and the dream he explains,
- 12. and says to Izdubar.
The seventh tablet opens with the words, “My friend, what is this counsel the great gods are taking?” It is uncertain if any other portion of this tablet has been found, but part of a remarkable fragment, with a continuation of the story of Istar, has been placed here. It appears that the goddess, failing in her attempt in heaven to avenge herself on Izdubar for his slight, resolved to descend to hell, to search out, if possible, new modes of attacking him.
Columns I. and II. are lost, the fragments recommencing on Column III.
- 1. …. people? to destroy his hand approached
- 2. …. raise in thy presence
- 3. …. like before
- 4. …. Zaidu (shall accomplish) the wish of his heart
- 5. with the female Samkhat …. he brought
- 6. …. thee, the female Samkhat will expel thee
- 7. (homage) they did not perform ……
- 8. assemble thou a great assembly;
- 9. …. the strong one has caused thee to be struck, even thee.
- 10. … goods of the house of thy fulness
After many lines destroyed, the story recommences in the fourth column.
- 1. [To Hades the country whence none return] I turn myself,
- 2. I spread like a bird my hands.
- 3. I descend, I descend to the house of darkness, the dwelling of the god Irkalla:
- 4. to the house out of which there is no exit,
- 5. to the road from which there is no return:
- 6. to the house from whose entrance the light is taken,
- 7. the place where dust is their nourishment and their food mud.
- 8. Its chiefs also are like birds covered with feathers;
- 9. the light is never seen, in darkness they dwell.
- 10. In the house, O my friend, which I will enter,
- 11. for me is treasured up a crown;
- 12. with those wearing crowns who from days of old ruled the earth,
- 13. to whom the gods Anu and Bel have given names of rule.
- 14. Water (?) they have given to quench the thirst they drink limpid waters.
- 15. In the house, O my friend, which I will enter,
- 16. dwell the lord and the unconquered one,
- 17. dwell the priest and the great man,
- 18. dwell the worms of the deep of the great gods;
- 19. there dwells Etana, there dwells the god Ner,
- 20. (there dwells) the queen of the lower regions, Allat,
- 21. the mistress of the fields the mother of the queen of the lower regions before her submits,
- 22. and there is not any one that stands against her in her presence.
- 23. I will approach her and she will see me
- 24. … and she will bring me to her
Here the story is again lost, Columns V. and VI. being absent. It would seem that Hea-bani is here telling his friend how he must die and descend into the house of Hades. Mr. Smith, however, thought that in the third column some one is speaking to Istar, trying to persuade her not to descend to Hades, while in the fourth column the goddess, who is suffering all the pangs of jealousy and hate, revels in the dark details of the description of the lower regions, and declares her determination to go there.
If this view is correct, this part of the legend would be connected with the beautiful story of the Descent of Istar into Hades which describes how the goddess descended into the lower world in search of her husband Tammuz, the Sun-god, who had been slain by the boar’s tusk of winter. Tammuz became Adonis, the Phœnician adonai “lord,” among the Greeks, to whom the story of Aphroditê and Adonis had been carried by the Phœnicians. The story is one which meets us in the mythologies of many races and nations throughout the world, and has grown in each case out of the winter-sleep of the sun and his resurrection in the spring. Its last echo in our own European folklore may be heard in the tale of the Sleeping Beauty. A calendar found among the banking records of the Egibi firm in Babylonia notes on the 15th day of the month Tammuz or June “an eclipse of the Moon,” apparently in reference to the descent of the Moon-goddess Istar into Hades. The legend survives in a changed form in the Talmud (Yoma 69b, Sanhedrim 60a). Here it is said that after the Captivity the elders of the nation, headed by Ezra and Nehemiah, besought God that the demon of lust might be delivered into their hands. In spite of a prophetic voice which warned them of the consequences of their request, it was persisted in, and the demon was given up to them and imprisoned. But before three days were over, the whole course of the world was thrown into disorder. No eggs even were to be had, and the Jewish elders were obliged239 to confess their mistake and release the demon from his fetters.
The descent of Istar into Hades from K 162.
- 1. To Hades the land whence none return, the land (of darkness),
- 2. Istar daughter of Sin (the moon) her ear (inclined);
- 3. inclined also the daughter of Sin her ear,
- 4. to the house of darkness the dwelling of the god Irkalla,
- 5. to the house out of which there is no exit,
- 6. to the road from which there is no return,
- 7. to the house from whose entrance the light is taken,
- 8. the place where dust is their nourishment and their food mud.
- 9. Light is never seen, in darkness they dwell.
- 10. Its chiefs also are like birds covered with feathers,
- 11. over the door and bolts is scattered dust.
- 12. Istar on her arrival at the gate of Hades,
- 13. to the keeper of the gate a command she addresses:
- 14. Keeper of the waters, open thy gate,
- 15. open thy gate that I may enter.
- 16. If thou openest not the gate that I may enter,
- 17. I will strike the door, the bolts I will shatter,
- 18. I will strike the threshold and will pass through the doors;
- 19. I will raise up the dead to devour the living,
- 20. above the living the dead shall exceed in numbers.
- 21. The keeper opened his mouth and speaks,
- 22. he says to the princess Istar:
- 23. Stay, lady, thou dost not glorify her,
- 24. let me go and thy name repeat to the queen Allat.
- 25. The keeper descended and says to Allat:
- 26. This water (of life) thy sister Istar (comes to seek).
- 27. The queen of the great vaults (of heaven) ….
- 28. Allat on hearing this says:
- 29. Like the cutting off of the herb has (Istar) descended (into Hades),
- 30. like the lip of a deadly insect (?) she has …
- 31. What will her heart bring me (i.e. matter to me), what will her anger (bring me)?
- 32: (Istar replies:) This water with (my husband)
- 33. like food would I eat, like beer would I drink.
- 34. Let me weep over the strong who have left their wives.
- 35. Let me weep over the handmaids who (have lost) the embraces of their husbands.
- 36. Over the only son let me mourn, who ere his days are come is taken away.
- 37. (Allat says:) Go keeper open thy gate to her,
- 38. bewitch her also according to the ancient rules.
- 39. The keeper went and opened his gate:
- 40. Enter, O lady, let the city of Cutha22 receive thee;
- 41. let the palace of Hades rejoice at thy presence.
- 42. The first gate he caused her to enter and touched her, he threw down the great crown of her head.
- 43. Why, O keeper, hast thou thrown down the great crown of my head?
- 44. Enter, O lady, of Allat thus is the order.
- 45. The second gate he caused her to enter and touched her, he threw away the earrings of her ears.
- 46. Why, keeper, hast thou thrown away the earrings of my ears?
- 47. Enter, O lady, of Allat thus is the order.
- 48. The third gate he caused her to enter and touched her, he threw away the necklace23 of her neck.
- 49. Why, keeper, hast thou thrown away the necklace of my neck?
- 50. Enter, O lady, of Allat thus is the order.
- 51. The fourth gate he caused her to enter and touched her, he threw away the ornaments of her breast.
- 52. Why, keeper, hast thou thrown away the ornaments of my breast?
- 53. Enter, O lady, of Allat thus is the order.
- 54. The fifth gate he caused her to enter and touched her, he threw away the gemmed girdle of her waist.
- 55. Why, keeper, hast thou thrown away the gemmed girdle of my waist?
- 56. Enter, O lady, of Allat thus is the order.
- 57. The sixth gate he caused her to enter and touched her, he threw away the bracelets of her hands and her feet.
- 58. Why, keeper, hast thou thrown away the bracelets of my hands and my feet?
- 59. Enter, O lady, of Allat thus is the order.
- 60. The seventh gate he caused her to enter and touched her, he threw away the covering robe of her body.
- 61. Why, keeper, hast thou thrown away the covering robe of my body?
- 62. Enter, O lady, of Allat thus is the order.
- 63. When for a long time Istar into Hades had descended,
- 64. Allat saw her and at her presence was arrogant;
- 65. Istar did not take counsel, at her she swore.
- 66. Allat her mouth opened and speaks,
- 67. to Namtar (the plague-demon) her messenger a command she addresses:
- 68. Go Namtar [take Istar from] me and
- 69. take her out to …. even Istar
- 70. diseased eyes (strike) her with,
- 71. diseased side (strike) her with,
- 72. diseased feet (strike) her with,
- 73. diseased heart (strike) her with,
- 74. diseased head (strike) her with,
- 75. strike her, the whole of her [strike with disease].
- 76. After Istar the lady [into Hades had descended],
- 77. with the cow the bull would not unite, and the ass the female ass would not approach;
- 78. the female slave in the streets would not let herself be touched.
- 79. The freeman ceased to give his command,
- 80. the female slave ceased to give her gift.
- 1. Papsukul, the messenger of the great gods bowed his face before (Samas);
- 2. …………..
- 3. Samas (the sun-god) went and in the presence of his father the moon-god he stood,
- 4. into the presence of Hea the king he went in tears:
- 5. Istar into the lower regions has descended, she has not ascended back;
- 6. for a long time Istar into Hades has descended,
- 7. with the cow the bull will not unite, the ass the female ass will not approach;
- 8. the female slave in the street will not let herself be touched;
- 9. the freeman has ceased to give his command,
- 10. the female slave has ceased to give her gift.
- 11. Hea in the wisdom of his heart formed a resolution,
- 12. and made Atsu-sunamir24 the sphinx:25
- 13. Go Atsu-sunamir towards the gates of Hades set thy face;
- 14. may the seven gates of Hades be opened at thy presence;
- 15. may Allat see thee and rejoice at thy presence;
- 16. when she shall be at rest in her heart, and her liver be appeased.
- 17. Conjure her by the name of the great gods.
- 18. Raise thy heads, to the roaring stream set thy ear;
- 19. may the lady (Istar) overmaster the roaring stream, the waters in the midst of it may she drink.
- 20. Allat on hearing this,
- 21. beat her breast, she bit her thumb,
- 22. she turned again, a request she asked not:
- 23. Go, Atsu-sunamir, may I imprison thee in the great prison,
- 24. may the garbage of the foundations of the city be thy food,
- 25. may the drains of the city be thy drink,
- 26. may the darkness of the dungeon be thy dwelling,
- 27. may a stake be thy seat,
- 28. may hunger and thirst strike thy offspring.
- 29. Allat her mouth opened and speaks,
- 30. to Namtar her messenger a command she addresses:
- 31. Go, Namtar, strike the firmly-fixed palace,
- 32. the ashêrim26 adorn with stones of the dawn,
- 33. bid the spirits of earth come forth, on a throne of gold seat (them),
- 34. unto Istar give the waters of life and bring her before me.
- 35. Namtar went, he struck the firmly-fixed palace,
- 36. the ashêrim he adorned with stones of the dawn,
- 37. he brought forth the spirits of earth, on a throne of gold he seated (them).
- 38. To Istar he gave the waters of life and took her.
- 39. The first gate he passed her out of, and he restored to her the covering robe of her body.
- 40. The second gate he passed her out of, and he restored to her the bracelets of her hands and her feet.
- 41. The third gate he passed her out of, and he restored to her the gemmed girdle of her waist.
- 42. The fourth gate he passed her out of, and he restored to her the ornaments of her breast.
- 43. The fifth gate he passed her out of, and he restored to her the necklace of her neck.
- 44. The sixth gate he passed her out of, and he restored to her the earrings of her ears.
- 45. The seventh gate he passed her out of, and he restored to her the great crown of her head.
- 46. Since thou hast not paid, (he says) a ransom for thy deliverance to her (i.e. Allat), so to her again turn back
- 47. for Tammuz the husband of (thy) youth;
- 48. the glistening waters pour over (him), the drops (sprinkle upon him);
- 49. in splendid clothing dress him, with a ring of crystal adorn (him).
- 50. May Samkhat appease the grief (of Istar),
- 51. and, Kharimat,27 give to her comfort.
- 52. The precious eye-stones also she destroyed not,
- 53. the wound of her brother (Tammuz) she heard, she smote (her breast), she, even Kharimat, gave her comfort;
- 54. the precious eye-stones, her amulets, she commanded not,
- 55. (saying): O my only brother, thou dost not lament for me.
- 56. In the day that Tammuz adorned me, with a ring of crystal, with a bracelet of emeralds, together with himself he adorned me,
- 57. with himself he adorned me; may men mourners and women mourners
- 58. on a bier place (him), and assemble the wake.
This remarkable text shows Istar fulfilling her threat and descending to Hades, but it does not appear that she had as yet accomplished her vengeance against Izdubar.
At the opening of the sixth tablet we have the247 final scene of the contest with Khumbaba. Izdubar, after slaying Khumbaba, takes the crown from the head of the monarch and places it on his own head, thus signifying that he assumed the empire. There were, as we are informed in several places, kings, lords, and princes, merely local rulers, but these generally submitted to the greatest power; and just as they had bowed to Khumbaba, so they were ready now to submit to Izdubar. The kingdom promised to Izdubar when he started to encounter Khumbaba now became his by right of superior force, and he entered the halls of the palace of Erech and feasted with his heroes.
We are thus brought to a curious part of the story, the romance of Izdubar and Istar. One of the strange and dark features of the Babylonian religion was the Istar or Venus worship, which was an adoration of the reproductive power of nature, accompanied by ceremonies which were a reproach to the country. The city of Erech, originally a seat of the worship of Anu, was now one of the foremost cities in this Istar worship. Tammuz, the young and beautiful Sun-god, the dead bridegroom of Istar, seems to be also spoken of as the brother of her handmaid Kharimat. This explains, as M. Lenormant has pointed out, the passage in Jeremiah xxii. 18, which preserves a portion of the wailing cry uttered by the worshippers of Tammuz or Adonis when celebrating his untimely death. This should be rendered:248 “Ah me, my brother, and ah me, my sister! Ah me, Adonis, and ah me, his lady!” Reference is made to the worship of Tammuz, which was carried on within the Temple itself at Jerusalem, in Ezek. viii. 14, Amos viii. 10, (where we should translate “as at the mourning for the only son” Tammuz), and Zech. xii. 10, 11. Tammuz is the Semitic form of the Accadian Dumuzi which signified in that language “the only son.”
The struggle with a bull on the part of Izdubar and Hea-bani, represented on the Babylonian cylinder figured on the next page, and numerous similar representations, refer to the struggle with the bull created by Anu to avenge the slight offered to Istar.
It would appear from the broken fragments of Column IV. that Hea-bani laid hold of the bull by the head and tail while Izdubar killed it, and Hea249-bani in the engraving is represented holding the bull by its head and tail.
At the close of the sixth tablet the story is again lost, only portions of the third and fourth columns of the next tablet being preserved, but light is thrown on this portion of the narrative by the remarkable tablet describing the descent of Istar into Hades. It is possible that this tablet formed an episode in the sixth tablet of the Izdubar legends.
This tablet containing the descent of Istar into Hades was first noticed by Mr. Fox Talbot in the “Transactions of the Royal Society of Literature,” but his attempt at a translation was a failure. Mr. Smith subsequently published a short notice of it in the “North British Review,” and afterwards a translation of it in the “Daily Telegraph.” Prof. Schrader brought out a monograph upon it in 1874, and both M. Lenormant and Dr. Oppert have worked at it. The most recent translation is one made into Italian by M. Lenormant in a publication entitled250 “Il mito di Adone-Tammuz,” 1879, upon the basis of the one made by Dr. Oppert.
The story of the descent of Istar into Hades is one of the most beautiful myths in the Assyrian inscriptions; it has, however, received so much attention, and been so fully commented upon by various scholars, that little need be said on the subject here.
It is evident that we are dealing with the same goddess as the Istar, daughter of Anu, in the Izdubar legends, although she is here called daughter of Sin (the moon-god).
The description of the region of Hades is most graphic, and vividly portrays the sufferings of the prisoners there. Atsu-sunamir, created by Hea to deliver Istar, is described as a composite animal, half bitch and half man, with more than one head, and corresponds with the two dogs of the Hindu Rig-Veda, which have four eyes and broad snouts, and guard the road to the abode of Yama the king of the departed. They are also said to move among men, feasting on their lives, as the messengers of Yama; and as the offspring of Saramâ, the dawn, they are called Sârameyas, which Prof. Max Müller compares with the Greek Hermês. At any rate, the same conception of a dog of the dawn which guards the approach to the realm of Hades is found in the Greek Kerberos with his fifty heads (or three heads, according to later writers), as well as in the dog of Geryon named Orthros or “the dawn,” who seems to be identical with the Vedic Vritra the demon of251 night. It would appear, therefore, that in the primitive mythology both of the Hindus and of the Accadians the “fleet” dawn was likened to a dog, sometimes regarded as carrying men away to the dark under-world, sometimes as bringing light to the under-world itself.
The latter part of the tablet is somewhat obscure, but refers to the custom of lamenting for Dumuzi or Tammuz.
Hea-bani and the trees.—Illness of Izdubar.—Death of Hea-bani.—Journey of Izdubar.—His dream.—Scorpion men.—The Desert of Mas.—Siduri and Sabitu.—Nes-Hea the pilot.—Water of death.—Mua.—The conversation.—Xisuthrus.
F the three tablets in this section, the first one is very uncertain, and is put together from two separate sources: the other two are more complete and satisfactory.
It is again uncertain if any of this tablet has been discovered; provisionally some fragments of the first, second, third, and sixth columns of a tablet which may belong to it are placed here, but the only fragment worth translating at present is one given in Mr. Smith’s “Assyrian Discoveries,” p. 176. In some portions of these fragments there are references to the story of Khumbaba, but as the fragment appears253 to refer to the illness of Izdubar it probably belongs here.
- 1. ….
- 2. Hea-bani (his mouth opened and spake and)
- 3. said to ….
- 4. I went (?) ….
- 5. in the ….
- 6. the door ….
- 7. of ….
- 8 and 9. ….
- 10. in ….
- 11. Hea-bani ……….
- 12. with the door …. thy …
- 13. the door on its sides does not …
- 14. the creation of her ears they are not …
- 15. for twenty kaspu (140 miles) I climbed up …
- 16. as far as the pine tree a shrub (?) I had seen …
- 17. thy tree (?) has not another …
- 18. Six gars (120 feet) is thy height, two gars (40 feet) is thy breadth ….
- 19. thy street, thy blackness (?) thy rain …
- 20. I made thee, I raised thee in the city of Nipur ….
- 21. yea I knew thy door like this …
- 22. and this …
- 23. I raised its face, I …
- 24. I will fill thy bank (?) …..
- 25. …..
- 26. for he took …
- 27. the pine tree, the cedar, …
- 28. in its cover …
- 29. thou also ….
- 30. may take …
- 31. in the collection of everything …
- 32. a great destruction …
- 33. the whole of the trees ..
- 34. in thy land of the tree manubani …
- 35. thy bush? is not strong …
- 36. thy shadow is not great …
- 37. and thy smell is not agreeable …
- 38. The manubani tree was angry …
- 39. made a likeness?
- 40. like the tree …
The second, third, fourth and fifth columns appear to be entirely absent, the inscription reappearing on a fragment of the sixth column.
(Many lines lost.)
- 1. The dream which I saw ….
- 2. the tops of the mountain ….
- 3. … he struck ….
- 4. he struck when thy royal raiment ….
- 5. he begat also in ….
- 6. He recounted to his friend Hea-bani the dream …
- 7. My friend, the good omen of the dream ….
- 8. the dream was deceptive ….
- 9. My friend, the mountain which thou didst see ….
- 10. when I captured Khumbaba we ….
- 11. … of his helpers Nitakh-garri ….
- 12. at the time of dawn ….
- 13. For twenty kaspu they journeyed a stage
- 14. at thirty kaspu they fixed
- 15. in the presence of Samas they dug out a pit (?) ….
- 16. Izdubar ascended also over ….
- 17. by the side of his house he crossed over ….
- 18. … he brought the dream ….
- 19. he made it and the god ….
- 1. … he brought the dream ….
- 2. he made it and the god ….
- 3. … turban? ….
- 4. he cast him down and ….
- 5. the mountain like corn of the field ….
- 6. Izdubar at the destruction (?) set up ….
- 7. Anatu the troubler of men upon him struck,
- 8. and in the struggle his going he stayed.
- 9. He spake and said to his friend:
- 10. My friend thou dost not ask me why I am naked,
- 11. thou dost not inquire of me why I am spoiled,
- 12. because the god passed over, wherefore my limbs are hot.
- 13. My friend I saw a third dream;
- 14. that dream which I saw entirely disappeared.
- 15. They prayed; the god thunders on the ground.
- 16. He burnt up the exit of the darkness;
- 17. the lightning struck; a fire was kindled;
- 18. …. they took away; it rained death.
- 19. The glow also (disappeared), the fire sank,
- 20. …. they struck; it turned to a palm tree,
- 21. in the desert also thy lord took (his) path (?).
- 22. And Hea-bani his dream considered; he said to Izdubar:
- 23. …. Samas thy lord, the creator ….
The fourth and fifth columns of this tablet are lost. This part of the legend appears to refer to the illness of Izdubar.
- 1. My friend … the dream which is not …
- 2. the day he dreamed the dream, the end …
- 3. Hea-bani lay down also one day …
- 4. which Hea-bani on (his) bed …
- 5. the third day and the fourth day which …
- 6. the fifth, and sixth, and seventh (days) …
- 7. the eighth (and ninth, and tenth days) ….
- 8. when Hea-bani was sick …
- 9. the eleventh and twelfth (days) …
- 10. Hea-bani on (his) bed …
- 11. Izdubar read also …
- 12. Did my friend defend me …
- 13. whenever in the midst of fight …
- 14. I turn (?) to battle and …
- 15. my friend who in battle …
- 16. I in ……
It must here be noted that Mr. Smith’s grounds for making this the eighth tablet were extremely doubtful, and it is possible that the fragments are of different tablets; but they fill up an evident blank in the story here, and they are consequently inserted pending further discoveries as to their true position.
In the first column Hea-bani appears to be addressing certain trees, and they are supposed to have the power of hearing and answering him. Hea-bani praises one tree and sneers at another, but from the mutilation of the text it does not appear why he acts so. We may conjecture he was seeking a charm to open a door he mentions, and that according to the story this charm was known to the trees. The fragment of the sixth column shows Hea-bani unable to interpret a dream, while Izdubar asks his friend to fight.
After this happened the violent death of Hea-bani, which added to the misfortunes of Izdubar; but no fragment of this part of the story is preserved.
This tablet is in a somewhat better state than the others, and all the narrative is clearer from this point, not a single column of the inscription being entirely lost. The ninth tablet commences with the sorrow of Izdubar at the death of Hea-bani.
- 1. Izdubar over Hea-bani his friend
- 2. bitterly weeps, and traverses the desert.
- 3. I have no judgment like Hea-bani here;
- 4. sickness entered into my stomach;
- 5. death I feared, and traverse the desert.
- 6. To the majesty of Xisuthrus, son of Ubara-tutu,
- 7. the road I am taking, and quickly I go;
- 8. to the lowlands of the mountains I take (my way) at night.
- 9. …. a (dream) I saw, and I feared.
- 10. I (bow) on my face, to Sin (the moon god) I pray;
- 11. and into the presence of the gods came my supplication;
- 12. Grant thou (health) to me, even unto me!
- 13. ……. dream.
- 14. (Through) the dream (sent by) Sin (my) life had been gladdened.
- 15. Precious stones (?) … to his hand.
- 16. He pulled out ….. his girdle
- 17. like a … their … he struck
- 18. he struck …. he smote, he broke
- 19. and …. they rejoiced, and
- 20. he threw (?) ….
- 21. he removed ….
- 22. the former name ….
- 23. the new name ….
(About eight lines lost here.)
The second column shows Izdubar in some fabulous region, whither he has wandered in search of Xisuthrus. Here he sees composite monsters with their feet resting in Hades and their heads reaching heaven. These beings are supposed to guide and direct the sun at its rising and setting. This passage is as follows:—
- 1. Of the mountains hearing him as many as ….
- 2. To the mountain of Masu in his course ….
- 3. who all day long guard the rising (sun).
- 4. Their crown was at the lattice of heaven,
- 5. below Hades was their footing.
- 6. Scorpion-men guard its gate,
- 7. burning with terribleness, and their appearance was death,
- 8. the greatness of their bulk overthrows the forests.
- 9. At the rising of the sun and the setting of the sun, they guard the sun, and
- 10. Izdubar saw them and fear and terror seized his face.
- 11. He took his counsel and approached before them.
- 12. The scorpion-man of his female asked:
- 13. Who has gone to us with his body the flesh of the gods?
- 14. To the scorpion-man his female answered:
- 15. His going (is) that of a god, but his feeble gait (is) that of a man.
- 16. The scorpion-man of the hero asked,
- 17. …. of the gods the word he recounts:
- 18. …. distant road
- 19. …. up to the presence
- 20. …. of which the passage is difficult.
- 21. …. thy …. thou puttest on.
- 22. …. mountains situated.
- 23. …. thou puttest on.
The rest of this column is lost. In it Izdubar converses with the monsters, and where the third column begins he is telling them his purpose of seeking Xisuthrus.
- (1 and 2 lost.)
- 3. He Xisuthrus my father …..
- 4. who has been established also in the assembly (of the gods)
- 5. death and life [are known to him].
- 6. The scorpion-man opened his mouth (and spake);
- 7. they say to Izdubar:
- 8. Izdubar was not ….
- 9. of the mountain ….
- 10. for twelve kaspu (84 miles) [is the journey];
- 11. on the boundary of the field did he carry himself, and (there is) no light.
- 12. To the rising sun ….
- 13. to the setting sun ….
- 14. to the setting sun ….
- 15. they descended ….
In this mutilated passage, the monster describes the journey to be taken by Izdubar; there are now many lines wanting, until we come to the fourth column.
- 1. In (his) sickness ….
- 2. in difficulty and ….
- 3. in lamentation and ….
- 4. again thou ….
- 5. the scorpion-man ….
- 6. (said) to Izdubar ….
- 7. Go Izdubar ….
- 8. the mountains of Mas ….
- 9. the mountains, the path (of the Sun) ….
- 10. may the women ….
- 11. the great gate of the land ….
- 12. Izdubar ….
- 13. for a memorial ….
- 14. the road of the sun ….
- 15. 1 kaspu (he went) ….
- 16. on the boundary of the field ….
- 17. he was not able (to look behind him).
- 18. 2 kaspu (he went) ….
This is the bottom of the fourth column; there are five lines lost at the top of the fifth column, and then the narrative reopens; the text is, however, mutilated and doubtful.
- 6. 4 (kaspu he went) ….
- 7. on the boundary (of the field)….
- 8. he was not able (to look behind him).
- 9. 5 kaspu (he went) ….
- 10. on the boundary of the field ….
- 11. he was not able (to look behind him).
- 12. 6 kaspu he went ….
- 13. on the boundary of the field did he carry himself (and there is no light).
- 14. He was not able (to look behind him).
- 15. 7 kaspu (he went) ….
- 16. on the boundary of the field was it situated and not ….
- 17. he was not able to look behind him.
- 18. 8 kaspu like a …. he mounts up;
- 19. on the boundary of the field (did he carry himself and) there is no light.
- 20. He was not able to look behind him.
- 21. 9 kaspu he went …. to the north
- 22. …. his face
- 23. (on the boundary of the field did he carry himself and) there is no light;
- 24. (he was not able) to look behind him.
- 25. (10 kaspu he went) …. him
- 26. …. a meeting
- 27. …. 4 kaspu
- 28. …. from the shadow of the sun
- 29. …. sight was established
- 30. to the forest of the trees of the gods in appearance it was equal.
- 31. Emeralds it carried as its fruit,
- 32. the branch refuses not to support a canopy.
- 33. Crystals they carry as shoots (?)
- 34. fruit they carry, and to the sight it is glistening.
Some of the words in this fragment are obscure, but the general meaning is clear. In the next column the wanderings of Izdubar are continued, and he comes to a country near the sea. Fragments of several lines of this column are preserved, but too mutilated to translate with certainty. The fragments are:—
(About six lines lost.)
- 1. the pine tree ….
- 2. its nest of stone ….
- 3. not sweeping away the sea …. jet stones
- 4. like the tree of Elam and the tree of the prince …. emeralds
- 5. a locust ….
- 6. jet stone, ka stone …. the goddess Istar
- 7. like bronze and …. he carried
- 8. like …. obstacles
- 9. which …. the sea
- 10. it has, and …. may he raise
- 11. Izdubar [saw this] in his travelling,
- 12. on this sea he carried ….
- 13. Colophon. The women Siduri and Sabitu (who on the shore) of the sea dwelt.
- 14. …. tablet of the series: “When the hero Izdubar saw the fountain.”
This tablet brings Izdubar to the region of the sea-coast, but his way is then barred by two women, one named Siduri and the other Sabitu. His further adventures are given on the tenth tablet, which opens:
- 1. Siduri and Sabitu (who in the land beside the sea)
- 2. dwelt and ….
- 3. it was the moon, it was the moon ….
- 4. a covering of fire (?) ye accomplish.
- 5. Izdubar approached and ….
- 6. the ulcer covering (his) skin
- 7. he had the brand of the gods on (his) ….
- 8. there is shame of face on ….
- 9. to go on the distant path his face (was set).
- 10. Sabitu afar off pondered,
- 11. she counselled to her heart (this) plan.
- 12. Within herself also she (considered):
- 13. What is this message ….
- 14. May no one come straight in (his path).
- 15. When Sabitu saw him she entered (her gate);
- 16. her gate she entered and entered her ….
- 17. And he Izdubar had ears to (hear her);
- 18. he had struck his hands and made ….
- 19. Izdubar to her also even said (to Sabitu:)
- 20. Sabitu what didst thou see (that)
- 21. thy gate thou barrest ….
- 22. I force the door ….
The rest of this column is lost, but it must have described the meeting of Izdubar with a boatman named Ur-Hea or Lig-Hea, called Nes-Hea “the lion” or “dog of Hea” in Assyrian. In the second column they commence a journey by water together in a boat. But little of this column is preserved; two fragments only are given here.
- 1. …. he the word of his friend ….
- 2. …. the word of Hea-bani ….
- 3. …. I traverse (the desert).
- 4. …. (in) the dust he had ….
- 5. (the friend whom I have loved declared) lovingly; Hea-bani the friend whom I have loved made ….
- 6. (I am not as he) and would we had never gone up ….
- 7. (I did not make) the fortress of ….
- 8. (Izdubar to) her also speaks, even to Sabit:
- 9. (Again) O Sabit what is the way to Xisuthrus?
- 10. Explain the tokens of it to me; yea, explain the tokens of it to me.
- 11. If it be suitable the sea let me cross,
- 12. if it be not suitable the desert let me traverse.
- 13. Sabit to him also speaks, even to Izdubar:
- 14. There was no crossing (of the sea), O Izdubar, at any time,
- 15. and no one from remote times onwards has crossed the sea.
- 16. From crossing the sea Samas the hero I the mother prevented; (yet) Samas crossed, whoever
- 17. his mouth the passage …. its road,
- 18. and the well of the waters of death which extend before it
- 19. I approach, and, Izdubar, thou crossest the sea.
- 20. When thou hast come round to the waters of death, thou contrivest how
- 21. for Izdubar there is Ur-Hea the boatman of Xisuthrus.
- 22. Precious stones with him in the midst of the forest ….
- 23. …. may they see thy face.
- 24. …. and to cross with him if it is not suitable hasten behind him
- 25. …. upon hearing this,
- 26. …. an axe in the hand.
- 27. …. to their well he returns.
- 28, 29, 30. ….
- 31. …. Izdubar
- 32. …. and his lower part
- 33. …. the ship
- 34. …. (the waters) of death
- 35. …. wide
- 36. …. the field
- 37. …. to the river
- 38. …. ship
- 39. …. the well
- 40. …. the boatman
- 41. …. he descended
- 42. …. to thee
Here there are many lines lost, then recommencing the story proceeds on the third column.
- 1. my friend whom I have loved made ….
- 2. I am not as he and would we had never gone up ….
- 3. Izdubar to him also speaks, even to Ur-Hea;
- 4. Again, Ur-Hea, what (is the way to Xisuthrus?)
- 5. what are its signs explain to me; yea, explain (to me its signs).
- 6. If it be suitable the sea let me cross; if it be not suitable the desert let me traverse.
- 7. Ur-Hea to him also speaks, even to (Izdubar):
- 8. Thy hand, Izdubar, it prevents ….
- 9. thou hidest among the precious stones thou …
- 10. the precious stones (are) a hiding-place [or canopy] and they are not …
- 11. Take, Izdubar, an axe in (thy hands) ….
- 12. go down to the forest and a clearing of five gar (make).
- 13. Bury and make a tumulus; carry ….
- 14. Izdubar on his hearing this,
- 15. took the axe in his hand ….
- 16. he went down to the forest and a clearing of five gar (made):
- 17. he buried and made a tumulus; he carried ….
- 18. Izdubar and Ur-Hea rode (in the ship);
- 19. the ship the waves took and they ….
- 20. a journey of one month and fifteen days. On the third day in their course
- 21. Ur-Hea also reached the waters of death ….
- 1. Ur-Hea to him also speaks, even to Izdubar:
- 2. The tablets O Izdubar ….
- 3. The waters of death smite; never mayest thou >enter the dome of the house (of the abyss).
- 4. The second time, the third time, and the fourth time go, O Izdubar ….
- 5. the fifth, sixth, and seventh time go, O Izdubar ….
- 6. the eighth, ninth, and tenth time go, O Izdubar ….
- 7. the eleventh and twelfth time go, O Izdubar ….
- 8. on the one hundred and twentieth time Izdubar finished ….
- 9. and he struck the middle of it ….
- 10. Izdubar seized the …….
- 11. on his wings an embankment he completed …
- 12. Xisuthrus over him afar off pondered,
- 13. he counselled (this) plan within his heart.
- 14. With himself also he considered:
- 15. Why is the hiding-place of the ship ….
- 16. and the pilot ….
- 17. the man who went also is not; and ….
- 18. I ponder, and I do not ….270
- 19. I ponder, and I do not….
- 20. I ponder, and I do not….
Here there is a blank, the extent of which is uncertain, and where the narrative recommences it is on a small fragment of the third and fourth columns of another copy. It appears that the lost lines record the meeting between Izdubar and a female being named Mu-seri-ina-namari, or the “Waters of dawn at daylight.” In the account of the Deluge, Mu-seri-ina-namari is mentioned as bringing the black clouds from the horizon of heaven. It was here, beyond the circular boundary of the earth, and on the shores of the ocean which surrounded it, that Izdubar is now supposed to be.
It is curious that, whenever Izdubar speaks to this being, the name Mua is used, while, whenever Izdubar is spoken to, the full name Mu-seri-ina-namari occurs. Where the story reopens Izdubar is informing Mua of his first connection with Hea-bani and his offers to him when he desired him to come to Erech.
Column III. (fragment).
- 1. for my friend….
- 2. free thee….
- 3. weapon….
- 4. bright star….
Column IV. (fragment).
- 1. On a beautiful couch I will seat thee,
- 2. I will cause thee to sit on a comfortable seat on the left,
- 3. the kings of the earth shall kiss thy feet.
- 4. I will enrich thee and the men of Erech I will make silent before thee,
- 5. and I after thee will take all….
- 6. I will clothe thy body in raiment and….
- 7. Mu-seri-ina-namari on hearing this
- 8. his fetters loosed ….
The speech of Mua to Izdubar and the rest of the column are lost, the narrative recommencing on Column V. with another speech of Izdubar.
Column V. (fragment).
- 1. …. to me
- 2. …. my … I wept
- 3. …. bitterly I spoke
- 4. …. my hand
- 5. …. ascended to me
- 6. …. to me
- 7. …. hyæna of the desert
- 1. Izdubar opened his mouth and said to Mu
- 2. …. my presence?
- 3. …. not strong
- 4. …. my face
- 5. …. lay down in the field,
- 6. …. of the mountain, the hyæna of the field,
- 7. Hea-bani my friend …. the same.
- 8. No one else was with us, we ascended the mountain.
- 9. We took it and the city we destroyed.
- 10. We conquered also Khumbaba who in the forest of pine trees dwelt.
- 11. Again why did his fingers lay hold to slay the lions?
- 12. Thou wouldst have feared and thou wouldst not have .. all the difficulty.
- 13. And he did not succeed in slaying the same;
- 14. his heart failed, and he did not strike …. over him I wept,
- 15. he covered also my friend like a corpse in a grave,
- 16. like a lion? he tore? him
- 17. like a lioness? placed …. field
- 18. he was cast down to the face of the earth
- 19. he broke? and destroyed his defence? ….
- 20. he was cut off and given to pour out? ….
- 21. Mu-seri-ina-namari on hearing this
Here the record is again mutilated, but Izdubar further informs Mua what he did in conjunction with Hea-bani. Where the story reopens on Column VI. Izdubar relates part of their adventure with Khumbaba.
- 1. …. taking
- 2. …. to thee
- 3. …. thou art great
- 4. …. all the account
- 5. …. forest of pine trees
- 6. …. went night and day
- 7. …. the extent of Erech the lofty
- 8. …. he approached after us
- 9. …. he opened the land of forests
- 10. …. we ascended
- 11. …. in the midst like thy mother
- 12. …. cedar and pine trees
- 13. …. with our strength
- 14. …. silent
- 15. …. he of the field
- 16. …. by her side
- 17. …. the Euphrates
Here again our narrative is lost, and where we again meet the story Izdubar is conversing with Xisuthrus. The conversation is contained in the broken fifth column of K 3382, first noticed and copied by Mr. Pinches.
- 1. …. Mua
- 2. …. my …
- 3. …. they are not like.
- 4. …. before me.
- 5. …. traversed the desert.
- 6. …. the glare of the desert.
- 7. …. the same.
- 8. …. the mountain.
- 9. …. we destroy.
- 10. …. (among) the royal tree (and) the pine they dwell.
- 11. …. lions.
- 12. …. times to come.
- 13. …. were slain, the same.
- 14. …. over him I wept.
- 15. …. burial.
- 16. …. him.
- 17. …. the desert.
- 18. …. over me; thou hast gone round ….
- 19. …. I turned back; the ship (?) I ….
- 20. (my friend) whom I have loved declared lovingly; Hea-bani my friend (made) ….
- 21. (I) am not as he, and would we had never gone up; I did not make a fortress ….
- 22. Izdubar to him also speaks, even to Xisuthrus:
- 23. Thus may I go and Xisuthrus afar off, who has conversed with him, may I see.
- 24. I went round, I went through all countries;
- 25. I passed through difficult lands;
- 26. I crossed all seas.
- 27. A good …. they did not dwell before me.
- 28. I exhausted myself through weakness; with my …. the crown I filled.
- 29. …. the house I did not reach, and my clothing was decayed.
- 30. …. of a leopard, a tiger, a raging winged bull ….
- 31. their (lairs) I approached; their skins I stripped off ….
- 32. …. may they bar its gate; with much bitumen ….
- 33. …. the contents ….
- 34. …. the sides ….
- 35. (Xisuthrus) to him speaks, even to Izdubar:
- 36. …. O Izdubar, sickness ….
- 37. …. gods and men ….
- 38. …. thy (father) and thy mother made ….
We now come to a fragment which forms the reverse of the tablet already translated, and recounts the visit of Izdubar to the two women Siduri and Sabitu. This reads as follows:—
- 1. I was angry (?) ….
- 2. If at any time we built a house, if ever we establish ….
- 3. If ever brothers fixed ….
- 4. If ever hatred is in ….
- 5. If ever the river makes a (great) flood.
- 6. (If ever) reviling within the mouth ….
- 7. the face that will bow before Samas ….
- 8. from of old is not ….
- 9. Spoiling and death together ….
- 10. of death the image they guarded not ….
- 11. The man or servant on approaching (death),
- 12. the spirits of the earth the great gods are they.
- 13. The goddess Mammetu maker of fate, to them their fate brings,
- 14. she has fixed death and life;
- 15. of death its days are not known.
This statement closes the tenth tablet and leads to the next question of Izdubar and its answer, which includes the story of the Flood.
The present division of the legends has its own peculiar difficulties; in the first place it does not appear how Hea-bani was killed. Possibly he fell in an attempt to slay a lion.
The land of Mas or desert of Mas over which Izdubar travels in this tablet is the desert on the277 west of the Euphrates, and the name reminds us of the Biblical Mash who is called a son of Aram in Genesis x. 23; on the sixth column the fragments appear to refer to some bird with magnificent feathers like precious stones, seen by Izdubar on his journey.
Eleventh tablet.—The gods.—Sin of the world.—Command to build the ark.—Its contents.—The building.—The Flood.—Destruction of people.—Fear of the gods.—End of Deluge.—Nizir.—Resting of ark.—The birds.—The descent from the ark.—The sacrifice, covenant, and rainbow.—Speeches of gods.—Translation of Adra-Khasis.—Cure of Izdubar.—His return.—Lament over Hea-bani.—Resurrection of Hea-bani.—Burial of warrior.—Age and composition of the Deluge tablet.—Comparison with Genesis.—Syrian nation.—Connection of legends.—Points of contact.—Duration of Deluge.—Mount of descent.—Ten generations.—Early cities.
HE eleventh tablet of the Izdubar series is the one which first attracted attention, and is certainly the most important on account of its containing the story of the Flood. This tablet is the most perfect in the series, scarcely any line being entirely lost. A new fragment of it, belonging to another edition of the story, has been recently brought to the museum by Mr. Hormuzd Rassam.
- 1. (Izdubar) to him also speaks even to Xisuthrus afar off:
- 2. O Xisuthrus,
- 3. (why) dost thou not again (to me) as I (to thee)?
- 4. (why) dost thou not again (to me) as I (to thee)?
- 5. …. my heart to make war
- 6. …. I come up after thee,
- 7. when thou didst take, and in the assembly of the gods didst obtain life.
- 8. Xisuthrus to him also speaks, even to Izdubar:
- 9. Let me reveal to thee (Izdubar) the story of my preservation,
- 10. and the judgment of the gods let me relate to thee.
- 11. The city Surippak the city which thou knowest on the Euphrates is placed,
- 12. that city is ancient and the gods are within it.
- 13. To make a deluge [or whirlwind] the great gods have brought their heart;
- 14. even he their father, Anu,
- 15. their king, the warrior Bel,
- 16. their throne-bearer, Ninip,
- 17. their minister, the lord of Hades, Nin-si-kha (wife of) Hea with them sat, and
- 18. their will he (i.e. Hea) repeated: to his minister280 the minister of the city of Kis, he declared what he had (in mind);28
- 19. his minister heard and proclaimed attentively:
- 20. Man of Surippak, son of Ubara-tutu,
- 21. build a house, make a ship to preserve the sleep of plants (and) living beings;
- 22. store the seed and vivify life,
- 23. cause also the seed of life of every kind to go up into the midst of the ship.
- 24. The ship which thou shalt make,
- 25. 600 cubits (shall be) its measure in length,
- 26. 60 cubits the amount of its breadth and its height.
- 27. … and on the deep cover it, even it, with a roof.
- 28. I understood and say to Hea my lord:
- 29. The building of the ship which thou commandest thus,
- 30. …. I shall have made,
- 31. …. the sons of the host and the old men.
- 32. (Hea opened his mouth and) speaks and says to me his servant:
- 33. …… thou shalt say unto them,
- 34. …… he has rejected me and
- 35. …… it is upon me
- 36. …. like caves ….
- 37. … may I judge above and below ….
- 38. … close the ship …
- 39. … at the season which I will make known to you,
- 40. into it enter and the door of the ship turn.
- 41. Into the midst of it thy grain, thy furniture, thy goods,
- 42. thy wealth, thy woman slaves, thy handmaids, and the sons of the host,
- 43. (the beasts) of the field, the wild animals of the field, as many as I would protect,
- 44. I will send to thee, and thy door shall guard (them).
- 45. Adrakhasis29 his mouth opened and speaks, and
- 46. says to Hea his lord:
- 47. No one a ship has made …
- 48. in the lower part of the ship has shut up ….
- 49. …. and may I see the ship ….
- 50. …. in the lower part of the ship ….
- 51. the building of the ship which thou commandest me (thus),
- 52. which in ….
- 1. strong ….
- 2. on the fifth day …. it rose.
- 3. In its circuit 14 in all (were) its girders.
- 4. 14 in all it contained … above it
- 5. I placed its roof; it …. I enclosed it.
- 6. I rode in it the sixth time; I divided its passages the seventh time;
- 7. its interior I divided the eighth time.
- 8. Leaks for the waters within it I cut off.
- 9. I saw the rents and the wanting parts I added.
- 10. 330 sari of bitumen I poured over the outside.
- 11. 330 sari of bitumen I poured over the inside.
- 12. 3 sari of men carrying baskets, who carried on their heads food.
- 13. I added a saros of food which the people should eat;
- 14. two sari of food the boatmen shared.
- 15. To …. I sacrificed oxen
- 16. I (established) …….. each day
- 17. I (established) …….. beer, food, and wine;
- 18. (I collected them) like the waters of a river, and
- 19. (I collected) like the dust of the earth, and
- 20. (in the ship) the food with my hand I placed.
- 21. (Through the help of) Samas the seaworthiness of the ship was accomplished.
- 22. … they were strong and
- 23. the tackling of the ship I caused to bring above and below.
- 24. …….. they went in two-thirds of it.
- 25. All I possessed I collected it, all I possessed I collected it in silver,
- 26. all I possessed I collected it in gold,
- 27. all I possessed I collected it in the seed of life of all kinds.
- 28. I caused everything to go up into the ship, my slaves and my handmaids,
- 29. the beast of the field, the wild animal of the field, the sons of the people all of them, I caused to go up.
- 30. The season Samas fixed and
- 31. he spake saying: In the night I will cause it to rain from heaven heavily,
- 32. enter into the midst of the ship and shut thy door.
- 33. That season came round (of which)
- 34. he spake saying: In the night I will cause it to rain from heaven heavily.
- 35. Of the day I reached its evening,
- 36. the day of watching fear I had.
- 37. I entered into the midst of the ship and shut my door.
- 38. On closing the ship to Buzur-sadi-rabi the boatman
- 39. the habitation I gave with its goods.
- 40. Mu-seri-ina-namari
- 41. arose, from the horizon of heaven a black cloud.
- 42. Rimmon in the midst of it thundered, and
- 43. Nebo and the Wind-god went in front,
- 44. the throne-bearers went over the mountain and plain,284
- 45. Nergal the mighty removes the wicked,
- 46. Ninip goes in front, he casts down,
- 47. the spirits of earth carried destruction,
- 48. in their terror they shake the earth;
- 49. of Rimmon his flood reached to heaven.
- 50. The darkened (earth to a waste) was turned,
- 1. the surface of the earth like …. they covered,
- 2. (it destroyed all) living beings from the face of the earth;
- 3. the raging (deluge) over the people, reached to heaven.
- 4. Brother saw not his brother, men did not know one another. In heaven
- 5. the gods feared the whirlwind and
- 6. sought a refuge; they ascended to the heaven of Anu.
- 7. The gods like dogs were fixed, in a heap did they lie down.
- 8. Spake Istar like a child,
- 9. the great goddess uttered her speech:
- 10. All to clay are turned and
- 11. that which I in the presence of the gods prophesied (even evil has happened).
- 12. As I prophesied in the presence of the gods evil,
- 13. to evil (were devoted) all my people, the trouble I prophesied thus:
- 14. I the mother have begotten my people, and
- 15. like the young of the fishes they fill the sea. And
- 16. the gods because of the spirits of earth are weeping with me.
- 17. The gods on seats are seated in lamentation,
- 18. covered were their lips for the coming evil.
- 19. Six days and nights
- 20. passed, the wind, the whirlwind, (and) the storm, overwhelmed.
- 21. On the seventh day at its approach the rain was stayed, the raging whirlwind
- 22. which had smitten like an earthquake,
- 23. was quieted. The sea began to dry, and the wind and deluge ended.
- 24. I watched the sea making a noise,
- 25. and the whole of mankind was turned to clay,
- 26. like reeds the corpses floated.
- 27. I opened the window, and the light smote upon the fortress of my nostrils.
- 28. I was grieved and sat down; I weep,
- 29. over the fortress of my nostrils went my tears.
- 30. I watched the regions at the boundary of the sea,
- 31. towards all the twelve points of the compass (there was) no land.
- 32. In the country of Nizir rested the ship;
- 33. the mountain of Nizir stopped the ship, and to pass over it it was not able.
- 34. The first day, the second day, the mountain of Nizir stopped the ship.
- 35. The third day, the fourth day, the mountain of Nizir stopped the ship.
- 36. The fifth day, the sixth day, the mountain of Nizir stopped the ship.
- 37. On the seventh day at its approach
- 38. I sent forth a dove and it left. The dove went, it returned, and
- 39. a resting-place it did not find, and it came back.
- 40. I sent forth a swallow and it left. The swallow went, it returned, and
- 41. a resting-place it did not find, and it came back.
- 42. I sent forth a raven and it left.
- 43. The raven went, and the carrion on the water it saw, and
- 44. it did eat, it swam, and turned away, it did not come back.
- 45. I sent (the animals) forth to the four winds, I sacrificed a sacrifice,
- 46. I built an altar on the peak31 of the mountain,
- 47. by sevens vessels I placed,
- 48. at the bottom of them I spread reeds, pines, and juniper.
- 49. The gods smelt the savour, the gods smelt the good savour;
- 50. the gods like flies over the sacrificer gathered.
- 51. From afar also the great goddess at her approach
- 52. lifted up the mighty arches (i.e. the rainbow) which Anu had created as his glory.
- 53. The crystal of those gods before me (i.e. the rainbow) never may I forget;
- 1. those days I devised with longing that I might never forget.
- 2. ‘May the gods come to my altar,
- 3. may Bel never come to my altar,
- 4. for he did not consider and had made a whirlwind,
- 5. and my people he consigned to the abyss.’
- 6. From afar also Bel at his approach
- 7. saw, the ship he stopped; Bel was filled with anger against the gods and the spirits of heaven:
- 8. ‘Let no one come out alive, never may a man live in the abyss.’
- 9. Ninip his mouth opened, and spake; he says to the warrior Bel:
- 10. ‘Who is it except Hea that forms a resolution?
- 11. and Hea knows and all things he …’
- 12. Hea his mouth opened and spake, he says to the warrior Bel:
- 13.288 ‘Thou messenger of the gods, warrior,
- 14. as thou didst not consider a deluge thou madest.
- 15. The doer of sin bore his sin, the blasphemer bore his blasphemy.
- 16. Never may the just prince be cut off, never may the faithful (be destroyed).
- 17. Instead of thy making a deluge, may lions come and men be diminished;
- 18. instead of thy making a deluge, may hyænas come and men be diminished;
- 19. instead of thy making a deluge, may a famine happen and the country be (destroyed);
- 20. instead of thy making a deluge, may pestilence come and men be destroyed.
- 21. I did not reveal the judgment of the gods.
- 22. To Adrakhasis (Xisuthrus) a dream I sent, and the judgment of the gods he heard.’
- 23. Again also Bel considers, (literally, again consideration was considered); he approaches the midst of the ship.
- 24. He took my hand and caused me to ascend up,
- 25. he caused (me) to ascend; he united my wife to my side;
- 26. he turned unto us and fixes himself in covenant with us; he approaches us:
- 27.289 ‘Formerly Adrakhasis (was) mortal, but
- 28. again also Adrakhasis and his wife to live as gods are taken away, and
- 29. Adrakhasis also dwells in a remote place at the mouth of the rivers.’
- 30. They took me, and in a remote place at the mouth of the rivers they caused me to dwell.
- 31. Again also as for thee whomsoever the gods have chosen also,
- 32. for the health which thou seekest and askest,
- 33. the bulwarks shall be mounted six days and seven nights,
- 34. like one who sits in the vicinity of his nest,
- 35. a way like a storm shall be laid upon him.
- 36. Adrakhasis to her also says, even to his wife:
- 37. I announce that the chief who has sought health
- 38. the way like a storm shall be laid upon him.
- 39. His wife to him also says even to Adrakhasis afar off:
- 40. Turn him, and let the man be sent away;
- 41. by the road that he came may he return in peace,
- 42. thro’ the great gate going forth let him return to his country.
- 43. Adrakhasis to her also says, even to his wife:
- 44. The pain of the man pains thee,
- 45. mount the bulwarks; his baldness place on his head.
- 46. And the day when he had mounted the side of the ship,
- 47. she mounted, his baldness she placed on his head.
- 48. And the day when he had mounted the side of the ship,
- 49. first the sabusat of his baldness,
- 50. second the mussukat, third the radbat, fourth she opened his zikaman,
- 51. fifth the sibu she placed, sixth the bassat,
- 1. seventh in the outlet she turned him and let the man go free.
- 2. Izdubar to him also says even to Xisuthrus afar off:
- 3. In this way thou wast compassionate (?) over me,
- 4. quickly thou hast begotten me, and thou hast set eyes (on me).
- 5. Xisuthrus to him also says even to Izdubar.
- 6. ……. thy baldness,
- 7. ……. I separated thee,
- 8. ……. thy baldness,
- 9. second the mussukat, third the radbat,
- 10. fourth I opened thy zikaman,
- 11. fifth the sibu I placed, sixth the bassat,
- 12. seventh in the opening I turned thee.
- 13. Izdubar to him also says even to Xisuthrus afar off:
- 14. …… Xisuthrus whither may I go?
- 15. …… they shipped
- 16. …… dwelling in death,
- 17. …… his tail dies also.
- 18. Xisuthrus to him also says even to Nis-Hea the boatman:
- 19. Nis-Hea, may thy (oar) accomplish a passage for thee.
- 20. He who ….. on the shore of (the gods) ….
- 21. the man whom thou goest before, disease has covered his body;
- 22. illness has overmastered the strength of his limbs.
- 23. Take him, Nis-Hea, to cleanse carry him,
- 24. may he cleanse his disease in the water like purity,
- 25. may he cast off his illness, and may the sea carry it away, may health cover his skin,
- 26. may it restore the hair of his head,
- 27. the hair clothing, the covering of his loins.
- 28. That he may go to his country, that he may take his road,
- 29. never may the hair become old and alone may he be alone (i.e. unrivalled).
- 30. Nis-Hea took him, to cleanse he carried him,
- 31. his disease in the water like purity (beauty) he cleansed,
- 32. he cast off his illness, and the sea carried it away, health covered his skin,
- 33. the hair of his head was restored, the hair clothing the covering of his loins.
- 34. That he might go to his country, that he might take his road,
- 35. the hair he did not cast off, but alone he was alone.
- 36. Izdubar and Nis-Hea rode in the ship,
- 37. where he had placed them they rode.
- 38. His wife to him also says even to Xisuthrus afar off:
- 39. Izdubar goes away, he is at rest, he performs
- 40. what thou hast given (him to do), and returns to his country.
- 41. And he even Izdubar lifted up the oar (?);
- 42. the ship touched the shore.
- 43. Xisuthrus to him also says even to Izdubar:
- 44. Izdubar, thou goest away, thou art at rest, thou performest
- 45. what I gave thee (to do), and thou returnest to thy country.
- 46. Let the story of my preservation be revealed, O Izdubar,
- 47. and let the judgment of the gods be related to thee.
- 48. This account (?) like ……..
- 49. its renown (?) like the Amurdin tree ….
- 50. if he takes the whole of it in the hand ….
- 51. To Izdubar he revealed this in his hearing, and ….
- 52. he bound together heavy stones ….
- 1. they dragged it and to the deep ….
- 2. he even Izdubar took the animal ….
- 3. he cut the heavy stones ….
- 4. one homer he poured out in libation to it for his ship.
- 5. Izdubar to him also says even to Nis-Hea, the boatman:
- 6. O Nis-Hea, the whole of this, even the whole of the story,
- 7. of which a man in his heart shall take its story,
- 8. may he bring it to the midst of Erech the lofty, may he complete (it) like ….
- 9. …. splendour (which) is diminished ….
- 10. May I record and return to perform my vengeance (?).
- 11. For 10 kaspu (70 miles) they journeyed the stage, for 20 kaspu (140 miles) they made hostility;
- 12. Izdubar saw a well which the waters were excavating.
- 13. He turned to the bright waters and smells (?) the waters; …. grant me thy image (?)
- 14. …. the men he approached and (their) goods he took away (?)
- 15. at his return they tore the hair.
- 16. Izdubar approached (?) ….
- 17. over the fortress of his nostrils coursed his tears, and he says to Nis-Hea the boatman:
- 18. What is it to me, Nis-Hea, that my hands rest?
- 19. What is it to me that my heart lives?
- 20. I have not done good to my own self;
- 21. and yet the lion of the earth does good (to himself).
- 22. Again for 20 kaspu (140 miles) alone I take the way, and
- 23. when I had opened the …. I heaped up the tackling,
- 24. the sea against its long wall I urged.
- 25. And he left the ship by the shore, 20 kaspu (140 miles) they journeyed the stage.
- 26. For 30 kaspu (210 miles) they performed the labour, they came into the midst of Erech the lofty.
- 27. Izdubar to him also says, even to Nis-Hea the boatman:
- 28. Ascend, Nis-Hea, over the fortress of Erech go;
- 29. the foundation-stone is scattered, the bricks of its interior are not made,
- 30. and its foundation is not laid to thy height (?);
- 31. 1 saros (is) thy city, 1 saros the plantations, 1 saros the boundary of the temple of Nantur the house of Istar,
- 32. 3 sari together the city of Erech …
The opening line of the next tablet is preserved, it reads: “The gad-fly in the house of the serving-man was left.” After this the story is again lost for several lines, and where it reappears Izdubar is mourning for Hea-bani.
The fragments of this tablet are:—
- 1. The gad-fly in the house of the serving-man was left.
(Several lines lost.)
- 1. Izdubar (lamented thus over Hea-bani his friend:)
- 2. If to ….
- 3. to happiness thou (art not admitted);
- 4. a shining cloak (thou dost not wear),
- 5. like a misfortune (?) thou ….
- 6. Fat (and) goodly food thou dost not share;
- 7. to (come to) its savour they do not choose thee.
- 8. The bow against the ground thou dost not aim,
- 9. what the bow has struck escapes thee:
- 10. the staff to thy hands thou dost not lift,
- 11. the captive will not curse thee:
- 12. sandals to thy feet thou dost not bind,
- 13. a thrust against the ground thou dost not make.
- 14. Thy wife whom thou lovest thou dost not kiss,
- 15. thy wife whom thou hatest thou dost not strike;
- 16. thy child whom thou lovest thou dost not kiss,
- 17. thy child whom thou hatest thou dost not strike.
- 18. The destruction of the earth has seized thee.
- 19. Ninazu, of darkness the mother, of darkness, of darkness,
- 20. her illustrious stature as his mantle covers him, and
- 21. her feet like a deep well beget [or darken] him.
This is the bottom of the first column. The next column has lost all the upper part: it appears to have contained the remainder of this lament, an appeal to one of the gods on behalf of Hea-bani, and a repetition of the lamentation, the third person being used instead of the second. The fragments commence in the middle of this:
- 1. his wife whom he hates he strikes,
- 2. his child whom he loves he kisses;
- 3. his child whom he has hated he strikes,
- 4. the destruction of the earth takes him.
- 5. Ninazu, of darkness the mother of darkness, of darkness!
- 6. Her illustrious stature as a mantle covers him,
- 7. her feet like a deep well beget him.
- 8. Lo! Hea-bani from the earth to …..
- 9. The plague-demon did not take him, fever did not take him, the earth took him.
- 10. The resting-place of Nergal the unconquered did not take him, the earth took him.
- 11. The place of the battle of heroes did not strike him, the earth took him.
- 12. Lo! …. ni son of the goddess Ninsun32 for his servant Hea-bani wept;
- 13. to the house of Bel alone he went.
- 14. “Father Bel, a gad-fly to the earth struck me,
- 15. a deadly wound to the earth struck me,”
- 1. Hea-bani who to rest (was not admitted),
- 2. the plague-demon did not take him, (the earth took him);
- 3. the resting-place of Nergal the unconquered did not take him, (the earth took him).
- 4. In the place of the battle of heroes they did not (strike him, the earth took him).
- 5. Father Bel, a judgment did not take him.
- 6. Father Sin, the gad-fly (struck him);
- 7. a deadly wound (to the earth struck him).
- 8. Hea-bani who to rest (was not admitted),
- 9. the plague-demon did not take him, (the earth took him);
- 10. the resting-place of Nergal (the unconquered did not take him).
- (About 12 lines lost, containing a repetition of this passage.)
- 23. The plague-demon ….
- 24. the resting-place of Nergal the unconquered (did not take him);
- 25. the place of the battle of heroes did not (take him).
- 26. Father Hea ….
- 27. To the warrior Merodach ….
- 28. Heroic warrior (Merodach) ….
- 29. he created him the word ….
- 30. the spirit ….
- 31. To his father ….
- 32. the heroic warrior Merodach (son of Hea)
- 33. created him the word, the earth opened, and
- 34. the spirit (or ghost) of Hea-bani like dust from the earth (arose):
- 35. ….. and thou explainest,
- 36. he pondered and repeated this:
- 1. Tell, my friend, tell, my friend,
- 2. the secrets of the earth which thou hast seen, tell (me).
- 3. I cannot tell thee, my friend, I cannot tell thee,
- 4. (how) can I tell thee the secrets of the earth which I have seen?
- 5. ….. I sit weeping
- 6. ….. may I sit and may I weep
- 7. ….. of growth and thy heart rejoiced
- 8. ….. thou growest old, the worm entered
- 9. ….. of youth and thy heart rejoiced
- 10. ….. dust filling
- 11. ….. he passed over
- 12. ….. he passed over
- 13. ….. I saw
Here there is a serious blank in the inscription, about twenty lines being lost, and Mr. Smith has conjecturally inserted a fragment which appears to belong to this part of the narrative. It is very curious from the geographical names it contains.
- 1. …. I poured out ….
- 2. …. which thou trusted ….
- 3. …. city of Babylon ri ….
- 4. …. which he was blessed ….
- 5. …. may he mourn for my fault ….
- 6. …. may he mourn for him and for ….
- 7. …. Kisu and Kharsak-kalama, may he mourn …..
- 8. …. his …. Cutha ….
- 9. …. Eridu? and Nipur ….
The rest of Column IV. is lost, and of the next column there are only remains of the first two lines.
- 1. like a good prince who ….
- 2. like ….
Here there are about thirty lines missing, the story recommencing with Column VI., which is perfect.
- 1. On a couch he reclines and
- 2. pure water drinks.
- 3. He who in battle is slain, thou seest and I see.
- 4. His father (and) his mother (support) his head,
- 5. (and) his wife addresses the corpse.
- 6. His friends in the field (are standing),
- 7. thou seest and I see.
- 8. His spoil on the ground is uncovered,
- 9. of his spoil he has no oversight.
- 10. Thou seest and I see.
- 11. His tender orphans long for bread; the food
- 12. which in the tents is placed is eaten.
- 13. The twelfth tablet of the legends of Izdubar.
- 14. Like the ancient copy written and made clear.
This passage closes the great Epic of the ancient Chaldeans, which even in its present mutilated form is of the greatest importance in relation to the civilization, manners, and customs of that early people. The main feature in this part of the Izdubar legends is the description of the Flood in the eleventh tablet, which evidently refers to the same event as the Flood of Noah in Genesis.
The episode of the Flood has been introduced into the Izdubar Epic in accordance with the principle upon which it has been formed. The eleventh tablet or book answers to the sign of Aquarius and the month called “the rainy” by the Accadians, and it was therefore rightly occupied by the story of the Flood. The compiler of the Epic seems to have used for this purpose two independent poems relating to the event; at least it is otherwise difficult to account for the repetitions observable in certain lines which sometimes differ slightly from one another, as well as for certain inconsistencies which the skill of the compiler has not been able entirely to remove. Thus according to I. 13, the Deluge was caused by all “the great gods;” according to II. 30, by Samas only; according to IV. 4, 5, by Bel. There is little doubt that many independent versions of the history of the Deluge were current in a poetical form; indeed, a fragment of one of these, containing the original Accadian text along with the Assyrian translation has been preserved, and the version found in Berosus differs in several notable points from the version embodied in the great Chaldean Epic.
The fragment of the variant version of which the Accadian text has been preserved is as follows:—
- 1. …. then like a bowl of sacrificial wine the mountain ….
- 2. …. country to country ran together.
- 3. The female-slave to her mother (?) it had caused to ascend.
- 4. The freeman from the house of his fecundity it had caused to go forth.
- 5. The son from the house of his father it had caused to go forth
- 6. The doves from their cotes had fled away.
- 7. The raven on its wing it had caused to ascend.
- 8. The swallow from his nest it had caused to depart.
- 9. The oxen it had scattered, the lambs it had scattered.
- 10. (It was) the great days when the evil spirits hunt.
- 11. The universe they subjected unto themselves.
- 12. Among the bricks of the foundations (they dealt destruction).
- 13. The earth like a potsherd (they shattered).
- 14. Bel and Beltis the supreme ones the mighty tablets (of destiny consulted).
- 15. The foot to the earth they did not (put).
- 16. The highways of the earth they did not (tread).
If we compare the Babylonian account of the Deluge contained in the Epic with the account in Genesis we shall find some differences between them; but if we consider the differences that existed between the two countries of Palestine and Babylonia these variations do not appear greater than we should expect. Chaldea was essentially a mercantile and maritime country, well watered and flat, while Palestine was a hilly region with no great rivers, and the Jews were shut out from the coast, the maritime303 regions being mostly in the hands of the Philistines and Phœnicians. There was a total difference between the religious ideas of the two peoples, the Jews believing in one God, the creator and lord of the Universe, while the Babylonians worshipped gods and lords many, every city having its local deity, and these being joined by complicated relations in a poetical mythology, which was in marked contrast to the severe simplicity of the Jewish system. With such differences it was only natural that, in relating the same stories, each nation should colour them in accordance with its own ideas, and stress would naturally in each case be laid upon points with which they were familiar. Thus we should expect beforehand that there would be differences in the narrative such as we actually find, and we may also notice that the cuneiform account does not always coincide even with the account of the same events given by Berosus from Chaldean sources, from which, as already observed, we may infer that there was more than one version of the story of the Deluge current in Babylonia itself.
The great value of the inscriptions describing the Flood consists in the fact that they form an independent testimony to the Biblical narrative at a much earlier date than any other evidence. The principal points in the two narratives compared in their order will serve to show the correspondences and differences between the two. It must, however, be remembered that the Biblical narrative is composed of304 two different accounts of the Flood, generally known as the Elohistic and Jehovistic, and, as M. Lenormant has observed, it is with the union of the two in our present Hebrew text rather than with either one of them alone that the Babylonian version corresponds. The repetitions observable in the Hebrew text are not to be found in the cuneiform text.
|1.||Announcement of the Deluge||vi. 11-13.||vi. 5-8.||i. 12-23.|
|2.||Command to build the ark||vi. 14-16.||i. 20-27.|
|3.||What was to enter the ark||vi. 19-21.||vii. 2, 3.||i. 41-43.|
|4.||Size of the ark||vi. 15, 16.||i. 25, 26.|
|5.||Speech of Xisuthrus||i. 45-52.|
|6.||The building of the ark||vi. 22.||vii. 5.||ii. 2-24.|
|7.||The coating within and without with bitumen.||vi. 14.||ii. 10, 11.|
|8.||Food taken in the ark.||vi. 21.||ii. 12-20.|
|9.||The coming of the Flood||vii. 10-12.||vii. 10.||ii. 14, &c.|
|10.||Destruction of the people||vii. 21, 22.||vii. 23.||iii. 2-15.|
|11.||Duration of the Deluge||vii. 12, 24.||vii. 17.||iii. 19-21.|
|12.||Assuaging of the waters||viii. 1.||viii. 2.||iii. 21-23.|
|13.||Opening of window||viii. 6.||iii. 27.|
|14.||Ark rests on a mountain||viii. 4.||iii. 33-36.|
|15.||Sending forth of the birds||viii. 6-12.||iii. 38-44.|
|16.||Order to leave the ark||viii. 15-17.|
|17.||Leaving the ark||viii. 18, 19.||iii. 45.|
|18.||Building the altar and sacrifice||viii. 20.||iii. 46-48.|
|19.||The savour of the offering||viii. 21.||iii. 49.|
|20.||A deluge not to happen again||ix. 11.||viii. 21, 22.||iv. 15-20.|
|21.||The Covenant||ix. 9-11.||iv. 26.305|
|22.||The rainbow a pledge of the covenant||ix. 13-17.||iii. 51, 52.|
|23.||The Deluge caused by the sin of men||vi. 11-13.||vi. 5-7.||iv. 14, 15.|
|24.||Noah saved by his righteousness||vi. 8., vii. 1.||iv. 16.|
|25.||The translation of the patriarch (in Genesis of Enoch)||v. 24.||iv. 28-30.|
One of the first points that strike us on comparing the Biblical and cuneiform accounts together is that they both agree in representing the Flood as a punishment for the sins of mankind. This agreement is rendered remarkable by the absence of such a moral cause in the legends of a deluge current among other nations; it is wanting even in the version of the Babylonian account given by Berosus. Equally remarkable is the agreement of the two accounts in the narrative of the sending forth of the birds, two of which, the raven and the dove, are the same in both. Some of the actual phrases and words found in Genesis are also found in the cuneiform tablet; though sometimes they are modified, as when Genesis says of the entrance of Noah into the ark: “The Lord shut him in;” whereas in the Babylonian narrative the closing of the door is ascribed to Xisuthrus himself.
Positive discrepancies, however, occur between the two records. Thus they differ as regards the size of the ark. According to the cuneiform account, its length and breadth were in the proportion of ten to306 one and the height and breadth were the same; but the Bible makes the proportion as six to one, and describes the height as being thirty cubits and the breadth fifty. The version of the story given by Berosus, on the other hand, agrees in this matter neither with Genesis nor with the tablet from Erech. It measures the ark by stadia and not by cubits, makes the proportion of its length and breadth as five to two, and says nothing of the height.
Another difference may be found in the description of the patriarch who escapes the Flood. Xisuthrus is a king who enters the ark with his servants, people, and pilot, while in the Bible only Noah and his family are saved. So, too, no reference is made in the Babylonian account to the distinction between the clean and unclean animals mentioned by the Jehovist, though seven was a sacred number among the Babylonians. The most remarkable difference, however, between the two accounts is with respect to the duration of the Deluge. On this point the inscription gives seven days for the Flood, and seven days for the resting of the ark on the mountain, while the Elohist puts the commencement of the Flood on the 17th day of the second month (Marchesvan) and its termination on the 27th day of the second month in the following year, making a total duration of one lunar year and eleven days. This exactly accords with the climatic conditions of Babylonia, where the rains begin at the end of November. The Euphrates and Tigris then begin to rise, the country is inundated in March, the307 seventh month of the Hebrew narrative, and from the end of May onwards the waters go down. According to the Jehovist, however, the Deluge is announced to Noah only seven days before it takes place; the waters are at their height for forty days and then decrease during another forty days, after which the patriarch sends out the birds at intervals of seven days, so that it was not till twenty-one days after he has first opened the window that he finally leaves the ark. This is in practical agreement with the cuneiform account, since seven was a sacred number among the Babylonians just as forty is in the Old Testament. As M. Lenormant points out, the date of the 15th of Dæsius (or May) given by Berosus must be due to a scribe’s error, since this would place the Flood at a time when the waters were going down. There is again a difference as to the mountain on which the ark rested; Nizir, the place mentioned in the cuneiform text, being east of Assyria, and its mountain, also called “the mountain of the world” where the gods were supposed to dwell, being the present peak of Elwend, while the mountains of Ararat mentioned in the Bible were north of Assyria, near Lake Van. It is evident that different traditions have placed the mountain of the ark in totally different positions, and there is not positive proof as to which is the earlier traditionary spot. The word Ararat is connected with a word Urdhu, meaning “highland,” and might be a general term for any part of the hilly country to the north-east of Assyria.
It is interesting to find references in the Jehovistic account to the sacred Babylonian number seven and the seven-day week. Just as Xisuthrus set vessels by sevens on the altar of sacrifice, so Noah offered clean beasts and fowls which had been taken by sevens into the ark. And the narrative of the sending-out of the birds contains a clear reference to the seven-day week, which was known from very early times to the Accadians, who had named each day after one of the seven planets. The Sabbath also, which occurred on the 7th, 14th, 19th, 21st and 28th days of the lunar month, was rigorously observed by them. They called it “a day of completion of labours,” or “a day unlawful to work upon,” and a sort of saints’ calendar for the month of the intercalatory Elul says that upon it “the shepherd of many peoples may not eat the flesh of birds (?) or cooked fruit. The garments of his body he must not change. White robes he may not put on. Sacrifice he may not offer. The king in his chariot may not ride. He may not legislate in royal fashion. A place of garrison the general by word of mouth may not appoint. Medicine for the sickness of the body one may not apply.” The very word Sabattu or Sabbath was used by the Assyrians, and a bilingual tablet explains it as “a day of rest for the heart.”
One striking difference between the descriptions of the Deluge given in the Old Testament and in the Epic of Izdubar is due to the fact that the Hebrews were an inland people, whereas the Accadians were a309 maritime, or rather fluviatile one. Hence it is that while the ark is called in the Babylonian version “a ship,” it is called têbâh, that is, “a coffer” in Genesis. In Genesis, too, nothing is said about launching the ark, testing its seaworthiness, or entrusting it to a pilot. However, the narrative in Genesis preserves a recollection of the bitumen for which the Babylonian plain was famous, and like the cuneiform narrative states that the ark was pitched.
Some of the other differences observable in the two accounts are evidently due to the opposite religious systems of the two countries, but there is again a curious point in connection with the close of the Chaldean legend: this is the translation of the hero of the Flood.
In the Book of Genesis it is not Noah but the seventh patriarch Enoch who is translated, three generations before the Flood.
There appears to have been some connection or confusion between Enoch and Noah in ancient tradition; both are holy men, and Enoch is said, like Noah, to have predicted the Flood.
It is a curious fact that the dynasty of gods, with which Egyptian mythical history commences, resembles in some respects the list of antediluvian kings of Babylonia given by Berosus as well as the list of antediluvian patriarchs in Genesis.
This dynasty has sometimes seven, sometimes ten reigns, and in the Turin Papyrus of kings, which gives ten reigns, there is the same name for the310 seventh and tenth kings, both being called Horus, and the seventh king is stated to have reigned 300 years, which is the length of life of the seventh patriarch Enoch after the birth of his son.
Here are the three lists of Egyptian gods, Hebrew patriarchs, and Chaldean kings.
|Set.||Jared.||Daonus. (Dun in the inscriptions.)|
It is well known that Enos, like Adam, signifies “man;” hence some writers have supposed that the list of Noah’s ancestors was originally counted from Enos, so that Lamech, Noah’s father, would have been the seventh in descent. There is, moreover, a curious resemblance between the names of the descendants of Seth and those of the descendants of Cain, Methuselah, indeed, being apparently more correctly written Methusael (Gen. iv. 18), which is the Assyrian Mutu-sa-ili, “Man of God.” Now Lamech, the descendant311 of Cain, is the seventh from Adam. It may be noticed that Irad or Jared is the same word as the Assyrian Arad, “servant,” and Arad or Ardutu is the Assyrian rendering of the Accadian Ubara, the first part of the name of the father of Xisuthrus, who is actually called Ardates by Abydenus.
Mr. George Smith believed that the real connection between the traditions of Babylonia and Palestine would never be cleared up until the literature of the Syrian population which intervened is recovered. It is very possible that light may be thrown upon the question by the excavations now being made at Jerablus, the site of Carchemish, the capital of the ancient Hittites. Terah may be the same word as Tarkhu, who seems to have been worshipped as a god by the Hittites; and Lucian has preserved a legend of the Flood and the patriarch Sisythes, who is evidently the Xisuthrus of the Babylonians, which was current at Hierapolis or Mabug, a little to the south of Jerablus. In this legend the ark has become a coffer, Sisythes and his family are alone preserved, and the Flood was sent to punish the wickedness of mankind.
There is one point which still deserves notice: these traditions are not fixed to any localities in or near Palestine, but even on the showing of the Jews themselves, belong to the neighbourhood of the Euphrates valley, and Babylonia in particular; this of course is clearly stated in the Babylonian inscriptions and traditions.
Eden, according even to the Jews, was by the312 Euphrates and Tigris; the cities of Babylon, Larancha, and Sippara were supposed by the Babylonians to have been founded before the Flood. Surippak was the city of the ark, the mountains east of the Tigris were the resting-place of the ark, Babylon was the site of the tower, and Ur of the Chaldees the birthplace of Abraham. These facts and the further statement that Abraham, the father and first leader of the Hebrew race, migrated from Ur to Harran in Syria, and from thence to Palestine, are all so much evidence in favour of the hypothesis that Chaldea was the original home of these stories, and that the Jews received them originally from the Babylonians; but on the other hand there are such striking differences in some parts of the legends, particularly in the names of the patriarchs before the Flood, that it is evident further information is required before we can determine how or when they were received by the Jews.
To pass, now, to the twelfth tablet of the Izdubar Epic, a curious fragment has been provisionally placed by Mr. Smith in the fourth column, in which Izdubar appears to call on his cities to mourn with him for his friend. This tablet is remarkable for the number of cities mentioned as already existing in the time of Izdubar. Combining this notice with other early inscriptions, the statements of Berosus and the notice of the cities of Nimrod in Genesis, we get the following list of the oldest known cities in the Euphrates valley:—
- 1. Babylon and its suburb
- 2. Borsippa.
- 3. Cutha.
- 4. Larsa.
- 5. Surippak, called Larancha by Berosus.
- 6. Eridu.
- 7. Nipur.
- 8. Erech.
- 9. Calneh.
- 10. Sippara. (Sepharvaim.)
- 11. Kisu (or Kis).
- 12. Ganganna.
- 13. Amarda or Marad.
- 14. Ur
- 15. Nisin or Karrak.
- 16. Agané.
- 17. Duban or Duran.
- 18. Abnunna or Mullias.
- 19. Zirghul.
To these we may also add the great cities of Assyria:—
- 20. Assur, the primitive capital.
- 21. Ninua or Nineveh.
- 22. Calah.
- 23. Resen (Assyrian Res-eni, “the head of the spring.”)
So far as the various statements go, all these cities and probably many others were in existence in the time of Nimrod, and some of them even before the Flood; the fact that the Babylonians four thousand years ago believed their cities to be of such antiquity, shows that they were not recent foundations, and the attainments of the people at that time in the arts and sciences prove that their civilization had already known ages of progress. The legendary epoch of Izdubar must be considered at present as the commencement of the united monarchy in Babylonia, and314 as marking the first of the series of great conquests in Western Asia; but how far back we have to go from our earliest known monuments to reach this era we cannot now tell.
Every nation has its hero, and it was only natural that when the Accadian kings of Ur at last succeeded in establishing an united empire throughout Babylonia, the legends of the national hero should be coloured by the new conception of imperial unity.
Notices of Genesis.—Correspondence of names.—Abram.—Ur of Chaldees.—Ishmael.—Sargon of Agané.—His birth.—Concealed in ark.—Creation.—Garden of Eden.—Oannes.—Berosus.—Izdubar legends.—Babylonian seals.—Egyptian names.—Assyrian sculptures.
CATTERED through various cuneiform inscriptions are other notices, names, or passages, connected with the Book of Genesis. Although the names of the Genesis patriarchs are not in the inscriptions which give the history of the mythical period, nevertheless some of the patriarchal names of Genesis are found here and there in the inscriptions.
The name Adam is in the Creation legends, but only in a general sense as man, as in Gen. i. 26, 27, 28.; v. 1, not as a proper name. Several of the other names of antediluvian patriarchs correspond with Babylonian words and roots, such as Methusael (Gen. iv. 18), which is the Assyrian mutu-sa-ili, “man of God,” and has been changed into Methuselah (Gen. v. 21) in order to assimilate it to the genius316 of the Hebrew language, or Noah, the Assyrian nukhu, “rest;” but, besides these, certain names appear as proper names also in Babylonia, among them Cainan, Lamech, and Laban.
Cainan is found as the name of a Babylonian town Kan-nan; the inhabitants of which were sometimes called Kanunai, which must not be confounded with the name of the Canaanites or “lowlanders,” originally the inhabitants of the coastland of Phœnicia and then, by extension, of all Palestine.
Lamech has already been pointed out by Palmer (“Egyptian Chronicles,” vol. i. p. 56), in the name of the deified Phœnician patriarch Diamich; this name is found in the cuneiform texts as Dumugu and Lamga, two forms of the Accadian name of the moon.
The two wives of Lamech, Adah and Zillah, seem to be the Assyrian edhutu or edhatu “darkness,” and tsillatu “the shades of night;” and the names of his two sons Jabal and Jubal are but varying forms of the Assyrian abil “son.” Dr. Oppert long ago pointed out that this Assyrian word was the origin of the name Abel which has been assimilated in spelling to a Hebrew word signifying “mere breath.”
Some of the names of the patriarchs after the Flood are found as names of towns in Syria, but not in Babylonia; among these are Reu or Ragu, Serug, and Harran.
Laban, on the other hand, as was first noticed by Dr. Delitzsch, is mentioned in a list of gods given in317 a cuneiform tablet (published in the “Cuneiform Inscriptions of Western Asia,” iii. 66, 6.)
The name of Abramu or Abram is found in the Assyrian inscriptions in the time of Esarhaddon. After the captivity of the ten tribes, some of the Israelites prospered in Assyria, and rose to positions of trust in the empire. Abram was one of these, he was sukulu rabu or “great attendant” of Esarhaddon, and was eponym in Assyria, b.c. 677. Various other Hebrew names are found in Assyria about this time, including Pekah, Hoshea, and several compounded with the two Divine names Elohim and Jehovah, showing that both these names were in use among the Israelites. The presence of proper names founded on the Genesis stories, like Abram, and the use at this time of these forms of the Divine name,318 should be taken into consideration in discussing the evidence of the antiquity of Genesis.
Ur, now represented by the mounds of Mugheir, on the western bank of the Euphrates to the south of Babylon, was the capital of the earliest Accadian dynasty with which we are acquainted. It was specially devoted to the worship of the moon-god, the ruins of whose temple have been discovered there. Ur was the birthplace of Abraham, in whom we must see one of those Semitic intruders who settled among the Accadians, and after adopting their culture and civilization finally succeeded in overcoming and supplanting them. It is probable that it is called Ur Casdim, “Ur of the Casdim,” in Genesis only proleptically, since Casdim appears to be the representative of an Assyrian word meaning “conquerors”—a suitable epithet for the Semitic tribes after their conquest of Babylonia. The Greek names Chaldean and Chaldea are of much later date, being derived from the Kaldai, a small tribe settled on the Persian Gulf and first mentioned in the ninth century b.c., who under Merodach-Baladan (b.c. 721-709) possessed themselves of Babylonia and became so integral a portion of its inhabitants as to give their name to the whole of them in classical times.
Some of the Genesis names are found at a comparatively early date, the first which appears on a contemporary monument being Ishmael. In the reign of Khammuragas among the witnesses to some319 documents at Larsa in Babylonia, appears a man named “Abuha son of Ishmael.”
After the time of Abraham the book of Genesis is concerned with the affairs of Palestine, and of the countries in its immediate vicinity, and it has no connection with Babylonian history and traditions; however, the cuneiform records contain one story which has a striking likeness to that of Moses in the ark, and which, although not within the period covered by Genesis, is of great interest in connection with the early history of the Jews.
Sargina or Sargon I. was a Babylonian monarch who reigned in the city of Agané about B.C. 1800. The name of Sargon signifies the right, true, or legitimate king, and may have been assumed on his ascending the throne. Sargon was probably of obscure origin, and hence the myth that attached itself to him in later popular belief. This curious story is found on fragments of tablets from Kouyunjik, and reads as follows:
- 1. Sargina the powerful king the king of Agané am I.
- 2. My mother was a princess, my father I did not know, a brother of my father chose the mountains.
- 3. In the city of Azupiranu which by the side of the river Euphrates is situated
- 4. (my) mother the princess conceived me; in an inaccessible place she brought me forth.
- 5. She placed me in a basket of rushes, with bitumen my exit she sealed up.
- 6. She launched me on the river which did not drown me.
- 7. The river carried me, to Akki the irrigator it brought me.
- 8. Akki the irrigator in tenderness of bowels lifted me up;
- 9. Akki the irrigator as his child brought me up,
- 10. Akki the irrigator as his woodman set me,
- 11. and in my woodmanship Istar loved me.
- 12. 45? years the kingdom I ruled,
- 13. the people of the black heads I governed, I ..
- 14. over rugged countries in many chariots of bronze I rode,
- 15. I governed the upper countries,
- 16. I ruled? over the chiefs of the lower countries.
- 17. To the sea coast three times I advanced, Dilvun (in the Persian Gulf) submitted,
- 18. Durankigal bowed, &c. &c.
After this follows an address to any king who should at a later time notice the inscription.
This myth is but a repetition of the oft-told story, how the hero of noble birth is born in secret, is exposed to death, but is rescued and brought up in a humble sphere of life until the time comes when his true origin and character are revealed, and he becomes a mighty prince and conqueror. The legend was told of Perseus in Greece, of Romulus in Italy, of Cyrus in Persia. But just as Cyrus was a real personage upon whom the legend was fastened, so too Sargon was a real personage, who founded the great321 library of Agané, and extended his conquests as far as the island of Cyprus, which he conquered in the third year of his reign.
The most hazardous of the theories put forward in the preceding chapters is the one which identifies Izdubar with Nimrod, and makes him reign in the legendary period of Babylonian history. This theory is founded on several plausible, but probably merely superficial grounds; and if any one accepts Mr. Smith’s view on the
This theory is founded on several plausible, but probably merely superficial grounds; and if any one accepts Mr. Smith’s view on the point, it will be only for similar reasons to those which caused him to propose it; namely, because, failing this, we have no clue whatever to the age and position of the most famous hero in Oriental tradition.
We must never lose sight of the fact that, apart from the more perfect and main parts of these texts, both in the decipherment of the broken fragments and in the various theories projected respecting them, the Assyrian scholar must change his opinions many times, and no doubt any accession of new material would change again our views respecting the parts affected by it. These theories and conclusions, however, although not always correct, have, on their way, assisted the inquiry, and have led to the more accurate knowledge of the texts; for certainly in cuneiform matters we have often had to advance through error to truth.
In adopting Mr. Smith’s theory for the position of Nimrod, one thing is certainly clear: he is placed as low in the chronology as it is possible to make him.
The stories and myths given in the foregoing pages have, probably, very different values; some are genuine traditions—some compiled to account for natural phenomena, and some pure romances. At the head of their history and traditions the Babylonians placed an account of the creation of the world; and, although different forms of this story were current, in certain features they all agreed. Beside the account of the present animals, they related the creation of legions of monster forms which disappeared before the human epoch, and they accounted for the great problem of humanity—the presence of evil in the world—by making out that it proceeded from the original chaos, the spirit of confusion and darkness, which was the origin of all things, and which was even older than the gods.
The principal story of the Creation, given in Chapter V., substantially agrees, as far as it is preserved, with the Biblical account. According to it, there was a chaos of watery matter before the Creation, and from this all things were generated.
We have then a considerable blank, the contents of which we can only conjecture, and after this we come to the creation of the heavenly orbs.
The fifth tablet in the series relates how God created the constellations of the stars, the signs of the zodiac, the planets and other stars, the moon and the sun. After another blank we have a fragment which relates to the creation of wild and domestic animals; it is curious here that the original taming of323 domestic animals was even then so far back in the history of the race that all knowledge of it was lost, and the “animals of the city,” or domestic animals, were considered different creations from the “animals of the desert,” or “field,” or wild animals.
We next come to the war between the dragon and powers of evil, or chaos, on one side and the gods on the other. The gods have weapons forged for them, and Merodach undertakes to lead the heavenly host against the dragon. The war, which is described with spirit, ends of course in the triumph of the principle of good, and the overthrow of primeval anarchy.
In Chapter V. another account of the Creation is given which differs materially from the first. The principal feature in the second account is the description of the eagle-headed men with their family of leaders—this legend clearly showing the origin of the eagle-headed figures represented on the Assyrian sculptures.
It is probable that some of these Babylonian legends contained detailed descriptions of the Garden of Eden, which seems to have been the district of Eridu in the south of Babylonia, as Sir Henry Rawlinson believes.
There are coincidences in respect to the geography of the region and its name which render the identification very probable; of the four rivers in each case, two, the Euphrates and Tigris, are identical; then, again, the known fertility of the region, its name324 sometimes Gan-duni, so similar to Gan-eden (the Garden of Eden), and other considerations, all tend towards the view that it is the Paradise of Genesis.
There are evidences of the belief in the tree of life, which is one of the most common emblems on the seals and larger sculptures, and is even used as an ornament on dresses; a sacred tree is also several times mentioned in the legends and hymns, but at present there is no direct connection known between the tree and the Fall, although the gem engravings render it very probable that there was a legend of this kind like the one in Genesis.
In the history of Berosus mention is made of a composite being, half man, half fish, named Oannes, who was supposed to have appeared out of the sea and to have taught the Babylonians all their learning. The Babylonian and Assyrian sculptures have made us familiar with the figure of Oannes, and have so far given evidence that Berosus has truly described this mythological figure; but it is a curious fact that the legend of Oannes, which must have been one of the Babylonian stories of the Creation, has not yet been recovered. In fact, as previously noticed (p. 12), there is only one fragment which can be at all referred to it, and this has been accidentally preserved among a series of extracts from various Accadian works in a bilingual reading-book compiled for the use of Assyrian students of Accadian. The fragment is as follows:—
- 1. To the waters their god
- 2. has returned:
- 3. to the house of bright things
- 4. he descended (as) an icicle:
- 5. on a seat of snow
- 6. he grew not old in wisdom.
The legend of Oannes, whose name may possibly be the Accadian Hea-khan, “Hea the fish,” concerned the Babylonians only, and so did not interest the Assyrians, who did not care to have it in their libraries.
Besides the legend of Oannes, however, there are evidently many stories of early times still unknown, or only known by mere fragments or allusions.
The fables given in Chapter IX. form a series quite different in character from the legends, and the only excuse for inserting them here is the need of exhibiting as clearly and fully as possible the literature of the great epoch which produced the Genesis tablets.
Most of the other stories apparently relate to the great period before the Flood, when celestial visitors came to and from the earth, and the inhabitants of the world were very distinctly divided into the good and bad, but the stories are only fables with a moral attached, and have little connection with Babylonian history.
Two of these stories are very curious, and may hereafter turn out to be of great importance; one is326 the story of the sin committed by the god Zu, and the other the story of Atarpi.
Berosus in his history has given an account of ten Chaldean kings who reigned before the Flood, and the close of this period is well known from the descriptions of the Deluge in the Bible, the Deluge tablet, and the work of the Greek writer. According to Berosus several of the Babylonian cities were built before the Flood, and various arts were known, including writing. The enormous reigns given by Berosus to his ten kings, making a total of 432,000 years, force us to discard the idea that the details are historical, although there may be some foundation for his statement of a civilization before the Deluge. The details given in the inscriptions describing the Flood leave no doubt that both the Bible and the Babylonian story describe the same event, and the Flood becomes the starting-point for the modern world in both histories. According to Berosus 86 kings reigned for 34,080 years after the Flood down to the Median conquest. If these kings are historical, it is doubtful if they formed a continuous line, and they could scarcely cover a longer period than 2,000 years. The Median or Elamite conquest took place about b.c. 2700, and, if we allow the round number 2,000 years for the previous period, it will make the Flood fall about b.c. 4700. In a fragmentary inscription with a list of Babylonian kings, some names are given which appear to belong to the 86 kings of Berosus, but our information about this period is so scanty that nothing can be said327 about this dynasty, and a suggestion as to the date of the Deluge must be received with more than the usual grain of salt.
We can see, however, that there was a civilized race in Babylonia before the Median Conquest, the progress of which must have received a rude shock when the country was overrun by the uncivilized Eastern borderers.
Among the fragmentary notices of this semi-mythical period is the portion of the inscription describing the building of the Tower of Babel and the dispersion.
It is probable from the fragments of Berosus that the incursions and dominion of the Median Elamites lasted about two hundred years, during which the country suffered greatly from them.
The legends of Izdubar or Nimrod commence with a description of the evils brought upon Babylonia by foreign invasion, the conquest and sacking of the city of Erech being one of the incidents in the story. Izdubar, a famous hunter, who claimed descent from a long line of kings, reaching up to the time of the Flood, now comes forward; he has a dream, and after much trouble a half-human creature named Hea-bani is persuaded by Zaidu, the hunter, and two females, to come to Erech and interpret the dream of Izdubar. Hea-bani, having heard the fame of Izdubar, brings to Erech a midannu or tiger to test his strength, and Izdubar slays it. After these things, Izdubar and Hea-bani become friends, and, having invoked the328 gods, they start to attack the tyrant Khumbaba. Khumbaba dwelt in a thick forest, surrounded by a wall, and here he was visited by the two friends, who slew him and carried off his spoils.
Izdubar was now proclaimed king, and extended his authority over the Babylonian world, his court and palace being at Erech. The goddess Istar, daughter of Anu according to one myth, of Bel according to another, of Sin, the moon god, according to a third, who had loved the shepherd Tammuz, the Sun-god, fell in love with Izdubar. He refused her offers, and the goddess, angry at his answer, ascended to heaven and petitioned her father Anu to create a bull for her, to be an instrument of her vengeance. Anu complied, and created the bull, on which Izdubar and Hea-bani collected a band of warriors and went against it. Hea-bani took hold of the animal by its head and tail, while Izdubar slew it.
Istar on this cursed Izdubar, and descended to Hades to attempt once more to summon unearthly powers against the hero. She descends to the infernal regions, which are vividly described, and, passing through their seven gates, is ushered into the presence of the queen of the dead. The world of love goes wrong in the absence of Istar, and on the petition of the gods she is once more brought to the earth, ultimately Anatu, her mother, satisfying her vengeance by striking Izdubar with a loathsome disease.
Hea-bani, the friend of Izdubar, is now killed, and329 Izdubar, mourning his double affliction, abandons his kingdom and wanders into the desert to seek the advice of Xisuthrus his ancestor, who had been translated for his piety and now dwelt with the gods.
Izdubar now had a dream, and after this wandered to the region where gigantic composite monsters held and controlled the rising and setting sun: from these he learned the road to the region of the blessed, and, passing across a great waste of sand, arrived at a region where splendid trees were laden with jewels instead of fruit.
Izdubar then met two females, named Siduri and Sabitu, after an adventure with whom he found a boatman named Nes-Hea, who undertook to navigate him to the region where Xisuthrus dwelt.
Coming near the dwelling of the blessed, he found it surrounded by the waters of death, which he had to cross in order to reach the land of which he was in search.
On arriving at the other side, Izdubar was met by Mu-seri-ina-namari, “the waters of dawn at daybreak,” who engaged him in conversation about Hea-bani, and then Xisuthrus, taking up the conversation, described to him the Deluge. Izdubar was afterwards cured of his illness and returned with Nes-Hea to Erech, where he mourned anew for his friend Hea-bani, and on intercession with the gods the ghost of Hea-bani arose from the ground where the body had lain.
The details of this story, and especially the accounts of the regions inhabited by the dead, are very striking, and illustrate, in a wonderful manner, the religious views of the people.
It is worth while here to pause, and consider the evidence of the existence of the legends recounted in the preceding pages from the close of the mythical period down to the seventh century b.c.
We have first the seals: of these there are some hundreds in European museums, and among the earliest are many specimens carved with scenes from the Genesis legends; some of these are a good deal older than b.c. 2000, others may be ranged at various dates down to b.c. 1500.
With three exceptions, which are of Assyrian origin, all the seals engraved in the present volume are Babylonian. One very fine and early example is photographed as the frontispiece of the book. The character and style of the cuneiform legend which accompanies this shows it to be one of the most ancient specimens; it is engraved on a hard jasper cylinder in bold style, and is a remarkable example of early Babylonian art. Many other similar cylinders of the same period are known; the relief on them is bolder than on the later seals, on which from about b.c. 1600 or 1700, a change in the inscriptions becomes general.
The numerous illustrations to the present work, which have been collected from these early Babylonian seals, will serve to show that the legends331 were well known, and formed part of the literature of the country before the second millennium b.c.
After b.c. 1500, the literature of Babylonia is unknown, and we lose sight of all evidence of its legends for some centuries. In the meantime Egypt supplies a few notices bearing on the subject, which serve to show that knowledge of them was still kept up. Nearly thirteen hundred years before the Christian era one of the Egyptian poems likens a hero to the Assyrian chief, Kazartu, a great hunter. Kazartu probably means a “strong” or “powerful” one, and it has already been suggested that the reference is to the hero Nimrod. A little later, in the period extending from b.c. 1000 to 800, we have in Egypt several persons named Namurot, which seems to be an echo of the name of the mighty hunter.
On the revival of the Assyrian empire, about b.c. 990, we come again to numerous references to the Genesis legends, and these continue through almost every reign down to the close of the empire. The Assyrians carved the sacred tree and cherubim on their walls, they depicted in the temples the struggle between Merodach and the dragon, they decorated their portals with the figure of Izdubar strangling a lion, and carved the struggles of Izdubar and Hea-bani with the lion and the bull even on their stone vases.
Just as the sculptures of the Greek temples, the paintings on the vases and the carving on their gems332 were taken from their myths and legends, so the series of myths and legends belonging to the valley of the Euphrates furnished materials for the sculptor, the engraver, and the painter, among the ancient Babylonians and Assyrians.
In this way we have continued evidence of the existence of these legends down to the time of Assur-bani-pal, b.c. 673 to 626, who caused the present known copies to be made for his library at Nineveh.
Search in Babylonia would, no doubt, yield much earlier copies of all these works, but that search has not yet been instituted, and for the present we have to be contented with our Assyrian copies. Looking, however, at the world-wide interest of the subjects, and at the important evidence which perfect copies of these works would undoubtedly give, there can be no doubt that further progress will be made in research and discovery, and that all that is here written will one day be superseded by newer texts and fuller and more perfect light.
- Abram, 317.
- Abydenus, 40.
- Accad or Akkad, 20.
- Adam, 83, 315.
- Adrakhasis, 288.
- Agané, 313.
- Age of documents, 21.
- Alaparus, 39.
- Alexander Polyhistor, 32, 43.
- Alexander the Great, 1.
- Alorus, 39, 40, 187.
- Amarda, 313.
- Amempsin, 40.
- Amillarus, 40.
- Ammenon, 41.
- Anatu, 49.
- Anementus, 41.
- Animals, creation of, 71.
- Antiquity of legends, 22.
- Anu, 48, 49, 108, 120.
- Anus, 44.
- Apason, 43.
- Apollodorus, 39.
- Ararat, 307.
- Ardates, 36, 311.
- Arioch, 172.
- Ark, 42, 280, 281, 309, 319.
- Armenia, 42.
- Arnold, Mr. E., 6.
- Arrangement of tablets, 14, 15.
- Asherim, 244.
- Assorus, 44.
- Assur, 26, 313.
- Assur-bani-pal, 6, 27.
- Assur-nazir-pal, 36.
- Assyrian excavations, 6.
- Atarpi, story of, 155, 156.
- Aus, 44.
- Babel, 161, 163, 168.
- Babil mound, 171.
- Babylon, 39, 42, 313.
- Babylonia, 38.
- Babylonian cities, 293.
- legends, 3.
- seals, 178, 330.
- sources of literature, 16.
- Bel, 47, 53, 113.
- Belat, 53.334
- Belus, 36, 44.
- Berosus, 1, 32.
- Birs Nimrud, 167.
- Borsippa, 313.
- Bull, destruction of, 231.
- Cainan, 316.
- Calah, 313.
- Calneh, 75, 313.
- Cara-indas, 18.
- Casdim, 318.
- Cedars, 216.
- Chaldean account of deluge, 6.
- astrology, 20.
- dynasties, 195.
- Change in Assyrian language, 17.
- Chaos, 60.
- Chedor-laomer, 172.
- Chronology, 18, 198, 199.
- Clay records, 16.
- Coming of deluge, 279.
- Comparison of accounts of creation, 66-69.
- of deluge, 284-289.
- Composite creatures, 34, 35, 93, 97.
- Conclusion, 295.
- Conquest of Babylon, 19, 195.
- of Erech, 198.
- of Khumbaba, 224.
- Constellations, creation of, 64.
- Contents of library, 28-30.
- Copies of texts, 305.
- Cory, translations of, 31-43.
- Creation, 1, 7, 11, 56, 92, 323.
- Creation of animals, 71.
- of man, 36, 72, 81, 93.
- Creation of moon, 65.
- of stars, 64.
- of sun, 70.
- Cure of Izdubar, 291.
- Cush, 185.
- Cutha, 23, 92, 299, 313.
- Dache, 44, 60.
- Dachus, 44, 60.
- Dæsius, month, 41.
- “Daily Telegraph,” 6.
- Damascius, 43.
- Dannat, 207.
- Daonus, 39.
- Daos, 41.
- Date of Nimrod, 302.
- Davce, 44.
- Davkina, 52.
- Death of Hea-bani, 276.
- Delitzsch, Dr., 316.
- Deluge, 1, 4, 5, 37, 41, 177, 301.
- tablet, 9.
- predicted, 279.
- commencement of, 283.
- destruction wrought by, 284.
- end of, 285.
- variant accounts of, 301.
- comparison with Genesis, 302, &c.
- length of, 306.
- Descent to Hades, 239.
- Description of Hades, 239.
- of Izdubar legends, 180-183.
- Dibbara, 11.
- exploits of, 125.
- Domestic animals, 323.335
- Dragon, 112, 113.
- Dreams of Izdubar, 204, 258.
- Eagle, 11.
- Eagle-headed men, 97.
- Eagle, fable of, 141.
- Eden, 3, 72, 84, 311.
- Elamites, 18, 138, 196.
- Eneuboulus, 41.
- Eneugamus, 41.
- Enoch, 309.
- Enos, 310.
- Erech, 130, 192, 313.
- Eridu, 46, 72, 80, 85, 105, 313.
- Esarhaddon, 27.
- Etana, 11, 141, 146.
- Euedocus, 41.
- Euedorachus, 39.
- Euedoreschus, 41.
- Evil spirits, legend of, 99, 104.
- Expedition to Assyria, 7.
- Exploits of Dibbara, 125.
- Fables, 140.
- Fall, 8, 72, 75.
- Filling the ark, 282.
- First tablet of the creation, 57.
- Flaming sword, 86.
- Folk-lore, Babylonian, 160.
- Forest of Khumbaba, 222, 272.
- Fox, fable of, 147.
- Fox Talbot, Mr., 249.
- Ganganna, 193, 313.
- Generation of the gods, 61.
- Genesis, 1, 3, 304.
- stories, 155.
- Hea, 51, 106, 177.
- Hea-bani, 6, 204, 205.
- Hea-bani comes to Erech, 206.
- Herakles, 177.
- Hesperides, 177.
- Hittites, 311.
- Horse and ox, fable of, 150.
- Illinus, 44.
- Ishmael, 318.
- Istar, 11, 49, 51, 137, 226.
- loves Izdubar, 227.
- amours of, 229.
- anger of, 230.
- descent to Hades, 239.
- in Hades, 243.
- return of, 245.
- Itak, 125, 138.
- Izdubar, 5, 175, &c.
- legends, 6, 11, 21, 175, &c.
- same as Nimrod, 176.
- parentage, 183.
- exploits of, 184, &c.
- conquers Khumbaba, 217.
- loved by Istar, 227.
- struck with disease, 253.
- meets scorpion men, 259.
- meets Sabitu and Siduri, 265.
- meets Nis-Hea, 265.
- sees Xisuthrus, 269.
- hears the story of the flood, 279.
- cured of his illness, 290.
- returns to Erech, 294.
- mourns for Hea-bani, 295.
- author of Epic, 12.336
- Jared, 311.
- Jewish traditions, 303.
- Karrak, 25, 128, 313.
- Kazartu, 331.
- Khammuragas, 19, 190, 198.
- Kharsak-kalama, 299.
- Khumbaba, 216, &c.
- Kissare, 44.
- Kisu, 299, 313.
- Kouyunjik, 2, 13.
- Kudur-mabuk, 25.
- Laban, 316.
- Lamech, 310, 316.
- Lament of Izdubar, 295.
- Language of inscriptions, 17, 21.
- Larancha, 40, 313.
- Larsa, 25, 313.
- Layard, Sir A. H., 2.
- Lecture on the deluge, 5.
- Lenormant, M. F., 59, 249, 307.
- Libraries, 15.
- Library of Assur-bani-pal, 27.
- Lig-Bagas, 24, 195.
- Literature, Babylonian and Assyrian, 13.
- Local mythology, 46.
- Lot, 174.
- Lugal-turda, 121, 124, 202, 234.
- Mammetu, 276.
- Man, creation of, 72.
- Mas, mountain of, 259, 261, 276.
- Media, 196.
- Megalarus, 39.
- Merodach, 52, 86, 103, 190.
- Methuselah, 310, 315.
- Moon, creation of, 65.
- Moymis, 43.
- Mummu-tiamatu, 59.
- Müller, Prof. Max, 250.
- Mu-seri-ina-namari or Mua, 270, &c., 283.
- Mythology, 45.
- Nabu-bal-idina, 26.
- Names in Genesis, 295.
- Naram-Sin, 19.
- Natural history, 29.
- Nebo, 52, 120.
- Nebuchadnezzar, 30, 171.
- Ner, 141.
- Nergal, 47, 54.
- Nes-Hea or Ur-Hea, 265, 267, 268, 291, &c.
- Nimrod, 176, 184-186, 321.
- Nineveh, 313.
- Ninip, 47, 54.
- Ninsun, 297.
- Nipur, 313.
- Nis-Sin, 141.
- Nizir, 4, 137, 285, 307.
- Noah, 316.
- Nusku, 48.
- Oannes, 12, 33, 39, 40, 106, 324.
- Odacon, 40.
- Omoroca, 35.
- Oppert, Prof., 65, 76, 249, 316.
- Orion, 64.
- Otiartes, 40.337
- Pantibiblon, 39.
- Paradise, 72, 84.
- Patriarchs, 290.
- Pinches, Mr., 273.
- Pine trees, 216.
- Prometheus, 43, 123.
- Rassam, Mr. Hormuzd, 7, 278.
- Rawlinson, Sir H. C., 2, 3, 84, 85, 137, 169, 171, 176, 188, 246, 323.
- Resen, 185, 313.
- Resurrection of Hea-bani, 298.
- Riddle of the wise man, 159.
- Rim-Agu, 17.
- Sabbath, 89, 308.
- Sabitu, 264.
- Sacrifice, 286.
- Samas, 47, 54, 100, 205, 301.
- Sargon, 19, 27, 82, 319.
- saved in ark, 319.
- Sar-tuli-elli, 74, 75, 164, 166.
- Satyrs, 204.
- Scorpion men, 259.
- Semitic race, 19, 83.
- Senaar, 42.
- Sending out birds, 286.
- Sennacherib, 27.
- Serpent, 88, 141, 142.
- Seven evil spirits, 99, 104.
- Shalmaneser II., 26.
- Sibyl, 43.
- Siduri, 264.
- Sin, 47, 53.
- Sin of Zu, 123.
- Sin-lici-unnini, 12.
- Sinuri, 160.
- Sippara, 37, 39, 313.
- Sisithrus, 41.
- Sisythes, 311.
- Society of Biblical Archæology, 5.
- Sodom and Gomorrah, destruction of, 172, 173.
- Sons of God, 83.
- Speaking trees, 257.
- Stars, creation of, 64.
- Sumir, 20.
- Sun, creation of, 70.
- Surippak, 313.
- Table of gods, 55.
- Tablets, mutilation of, 9.
- Tammuz, 64, 85, 192, 229, 238, 245, 246, 247.
- Tauthe, 43.
- Thalassa, 35.
- Thalatth, 35.
- Tiamat, 11, 43, 59, 60, 109, 113.
- Tiglath Pileser, 26.
- Titan, 43, 146.
- Tower in stages, 169, 170.
- Tower of Babel, 7, 42, 161-172.
- Ur, 20, 24, 313, 318.
- War in heaven, 113.
- Xisuthrus, 36, 37, 40, 279, &c.
- Zaidu, 208, 209.
- Zibanit, 156.
- Zillah, 316.
- Zirat-banit, 52.
- Zirghul, 313.
- Zodiac, 68, 176, 301.
- Zu, 115, 123.
A NEW EDITION NOW READY OF
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1The native account of the Deluge shows that this name must be corrected to Opartes, the native name being Ubara-Tutu.
2A common title of the early Accadian kings is “shepherd,” pointing to the fact that the Accadians had led a pastoral life before their settlement and organization in the Babylonian plain.
3Assyrian, Tiamtu, “the deep.”
4Assyrian, Apsu, “the ocean.”
5Assyrian, Mummu, “chaos.”
6Assyrian, Lakhmu or Lakhvu; and Lakhama or Lakhva.
7Though Lakhmu properly represented Anu or Anatu, he sometimes takes the place of the Solar hero Ninip as husband of Gula, “the great” goddess.
8The seven “sheep (or oxen) of the hero” Tammuz (Orion), of which the first was “the plough-handle,” perhaps Benelnash. One of the others was “the shepherd of the heavenly flock” or Arcturus.
9This is Dr. Oppert’s rendering of a line which is so mutilated as to make any attempt at translation extremely doubtful.
10The word used here is Accadian (ba-an-an-me).
11Since, however, a bilingual tablet states that the pronunciation of the Accadian word for “the desert” which lay on the west side of the Euphrates (where Ur was built) was edinna, it is possible that “the Garden of Eden” of Genesis may be the cultivated portion of edinna, “the desert,” in the neighbourhood of Eridu.
12The seven mustakridhât of Syria, the seven days between February the 25th and March 3rd, when evil spirits are supposed to have special power.
13This is the Assyrian translation. The Accadian original has simply “men of death.” The lightnings are still regarded as serpents by the Canadian Indians who call the thunder their hissing (Baring-Gould, “Curious Myths,” ii. p. 146).
14A constellation which rose heliacally in Marchesvan or October. The word means “Dog of death.”
15Compare Jer. li. 34.
16This is the reading of the original Accadian text. The Assyrian translation has, “was his establisher.”
17Itak had his worshippers as well as Dibbara. Thus an Accadian seal in the possession of Dr. Huggins bears a legend stating that it belonged to “Ruru-lukh, the servant of Itak, the street-traverser.” The god is represented on this seal as a man in a flounced dress, to whom a kid is being offered, and is symbolized by two animals one of which looks like a locust, the other like a monkey.
18Another copy of the legend reads “lover.”
19Literally, “a thing hung up.”
20Or “bull of heaven.” It was a constellation, perhaps Taurus.
21“Joy” and “Seduction.”
22A great necropolis seems to have existed in Cutha.
23Literally “precious stones.”
24That is, “Go forth, cause it to be light!”
25Literally “the man who is a female dog,” or “lion.”
26Literally “stone stakes” or “cones,” the symbols of the goddess Ashêrah. Cf. 1 Kings vii. 15-22.
27Tillili, the Accadian name of Kharimat, is here used. Tillili was the wife of the Sun-god Alala symbolized by the eagle, which we are told was “the symbol of the southern” or “meridian sun.” What Sir H. Rawlinson calls the monotheistic party among the Babylonians resolved Tillili into Anatu and Alala into Anu.
28This last sentence is found only in the fragment discovered by Mr. Rassam.
29Or: He then intelligently.
30The fragment brought to England by Mr. Rassam reads 6.
31The word used here is ziggurrat, which is employed to denote the towers attached to Babylonian temples. These towers were commonly used as observatories.
32Bricks have been found at Warka or Erech bearing the name of a certain king Sin-kudur, who calls himself the son of this same goddess, and describes himself as the builder of the temple of Anu at Erech.
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