The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria HTML version
Chapter 3. The Babylonian Story Of The Creation
This is the final development of the Babylonian creed. It has already been pointed out
that the religion of the Babylonians in all probability had two stages before arriving at
that in which the god Merodach occupied the position of chief of the pantheon, the two
preceding heads having been, seemingly, Anu, the god of the heavens, and Ea or Aa, also
called Enki, the god of the abyss and of deep wisdom. In order to show this, and at the
same time to give an idea of their theory of the beginning of things, a short paraphrase of
the contents of the seven tablets will be found in the following pages.
An Embodiment of doctrine.
As far as our knowledge goes, the doctrines incorporated in this legend would seem to
show the final official development of the beliefs held by the Babylonians, due, in all
probability, to the priests of Babylon after that city became the capital of the federated
states. Modifications of their creed probably took place, but nothing seriously affecting it,
until after the abandonment of Babylon in the time of Seleucus Nicator, 300 B.C. or
thereabouts, when the deity at the head of the pantheon seems not to have been
Merodach, but Anu-Bel. This legend is therefore the most important document bearing
upon the beliefs of the Babylonians from the end of the third millennium B.C. until that
time, and the philosophical ideas which it contains seem to have been held, in a more or
less modified form, among the remnants who still retained the old Babylonian faith, until
the sixth century of the present era, as the record by Damascius implies. Properly
speaking, it is not a record of the creation, but the story of the fight between Bel and the
Dragon, to which the account of the creation is prefixed by way of introduction.
Water the first creator.
The legend begins by stating that, when the heavens were unnamed and the earth bore no
name, the primaeval ocean was the producer of all things, and Mummu Tiawath (the sea)
she who brought forth everything existing. Their waters (that is, of the primaeval ocean
and of the sea) were all united in one, and neither plains nor marshes were to be seen; the
gods likewise did not exist, even in name, and the fates were undetermined--nothing had
been decided as to the future of things. Then arose the great gods. Lahmu and Lahame
came first, followed, after a long period, by Ansar and Kisar, generally identified with the
"host of heaven" and the "host of earth," these being the meanings of the component parts
of their names. After a further long period of days, there came forth their son Anu, the
god of the heavens.
Here the narrative is defective, and is continued by Damascius in his /Doubts and
Solutions of the First Principles/, in which he states that, after Anos (Anu), come Illinos
(Ellila or Bel, "the lord" /par excellence/) and Aos (Aa, Ae, or Ea), the god of Eridu. Of
Aos and Dauke (the Babylonian Aa and Damkina) is born, he says, a son called Belos