The Eridu Genesis

The following excerpt is taken from "The Harps That Once...: Sumerian Poetry in Translation" by Thorkild Jacobsen. Yale University Press, Publishers; Copyright 1987. It is related here for educational purposes only.

The Creation of the Gods

The "earth" in Genesis is not the globe. Rather, Genesis speaks of God using pillars (buckling of the land) to raise the earth or fruitful place up between the liquid waters and the waters in the atmosphere. This fruitful place or earth created a place where animal and plant life could exist. If man can evolve from matter, then the ancient mind would say that the gods can also evolve. And in the ancient literature they do, based upon the "survival of the fitest."

The Eridu Genesis is a Sumerian text. It covers the creation of the world, invention of cities and the flood. After the universe was created out of the chaos of the sea, the gods evolved and they in turn created mankind to farm, herd and worship them. Cities and kingship was created but the gods decided to destroy mankind with a flood. Ziusudra (Upnapishtim) from Eridu was instructed by Enki (Ea) to build a boat to survive the flood blown up by Enlil. After the flood he worshipped (prostrated) himself before An (Anu) and Enlil (Bel) and was given immortality for his godly life.

 
Nintur was paying attention:
Let me bethink myself of my humankind,
all forgotten as they are;
and mindful of mine,
Nintur's creatures let me bring them back
let me lead the people back from their trails.
 
May they come and build cities and cult places,
that I may cool myself in their shade;
may they lay the bricks for the cult cities in pure spots
and may they found places for divination in pure spots!
 
She gave directions for purification and cries for clemency,
the things that cool divine wrath,
perfected the divine service and the august offices,
said to the surrounding regions: "Let me institute peace there!"
When An, Enlil, Enki and Ninhursaga
fashioned the dark-headed people
they had made the small animals that come up from out of the earth,
come from the earth in abundance
and had let there be, as it befits it, gazelles
wild donkeys, and four-footed beasts in the desert.
 
...and let me have him advise;
let me have him oversee their labor,
and let him teach the nation to follow along
unerringly like cattle!
 
When the royal scepter was coming down from heaven,
the august crown and the royal throne being already
down from heaven,
he (the king) regularly performed to perfection
the august divine services and offices,
laid the bricks of those cities in pure spots.
They were named by name and allotted half-bushel baskets.
 
The firstling of those cities, Eridu,
she gave to the leader Nudimmud,
the second, Bad-Tibira, she gave to the prince and the sacred one,
the third, Larak, she gave to Pabilsag,
the fourth, Sippar, she gave to the gallant Utu.
The fifth, Shuruppak, she gave to Ansud.
 
These cities, which had been named by names,
and had been allotted half-bushel baskets,
dredged the canals, which were blocked with purplish
wind-borne clay, and they carried water.
Their cleaning of the smaller canals
established abundant growth.
 

[lost account of the antediluvian rulers, and how human noise vexed the chief god Enlil so much that he persuaded the divine assembly to vote the destruction of man by the deluge] ...

 
That day Nintur wept over her creatures
and holy Inanna was full of grief over their people;
but Enki took counsel with his own heart.
An, Enlil, Enki, and Ninhursaga
had the gods of heaven and earth swear
by the names of An and Enlil.
 
At that time, Ziusudra was king
and lustration priest.
He fashioned, being a seer, the god of giddiness
and stood in awe beside it, wording his wishes humbly.
 
As he stood there regularly day after day
something that was not a dream was appearing:
conversation
a swearing of oaths by heaven and earth,
a touching of throats
and the gods bringing their thwarts up to Kiur.
 
And as Ziusudra stood there beside it, he went on hearing:
Step up to the wall to my left and listen!
Let me speak a word to you at the wall
and may you grasp what I say,
may you heed my advice!
By our hand a flood will sweep over
the cities of the half-bushel baskets, and the country;
the decision, that mankind is to be destroyed
has been made.
A verdict, a command of the assembly cannot be revoked,
an order of An and Enlil is not known
ever to have been countermanded,
their kingship, their term, has been uprooted
they must bethink themselves of that.
Now...
What I have to say to you...
...
[lost account of Enki's advice to build a boat and load it with pairs of living things, and Ziusudra's compliance]

"The 'Eridu Genesis'...described the creation of man by the four great gods [the Anunnaki]: An ['Sky', the source of rain and most powerful of the gods], Enlil ['Lord Wind', the power in 'Growing Weather', creator of the hoe], Ninhursaga ['Lady of the Stony Ground', mother of wildlife], and Enki [rival of Ninhursaga]. After Nintur [Ninhursaga] had decided to turn man from his primitive nomadic camping grounds toward city life the period began when animals flourished on earth and kingship came down from heaven. The earliest cities were built, were named, had the measuring cups, emblems of a redistributional economic system, allotted to them, and were divided between the gods. Irrigation agriculture was developed and man thrived and multiplied. However, the noise made by man in his teeming settlements began to vex Enlil sorely, and, driven beyond endurance, he persuaded the other gods to wipe out man in an great flood. Enki, thinking quickly, found a way to warn his favorite, one Ziusudra. He told him to build a boat in which to survive the flood with his family and representatives of the animals."      - Thorkild Jacobsen, The Treasures of Darkness

     "Tear down the house, build a ship!
     Give up possessions, seek thou life!
     Forswear belongings, keep soul alive!
     Aboard ship take thou the seed of all living things.
     That ship thou shalt build;
     Her dimensions shall be to measure."
     - Sumerian Text

"Ziusudra wisely followed Enki's instructions and after the flood had abated Enki was able to persuade the other gods not only to spare Ziusudra but to give him eternal life as a reward for having saved all living things from destruction."

Enki "persuades, tricks, or evades to gain his ends. He is the cleverest of the gods, the one who can plan and organize and think of ways out when no one else can. He is the counselor and adviser, the expert and the trouble-shooter, or manipulator, of the ruler; not the ruler himself. He organizes and runs the world, but at the behest of An and Enlil, not for himself; he save mankind and the animals from extinction in the flood, but does not challenge Anlil's continued rule. His aim is a workable compromise, avoiding extremes." Thorkild Jacobsen, The Treasures of Darkness

 
All the evil winds, all stormy winds gathered into one
and with them, then, the flood was sweeping over the cities of
the half-bushel baskets
for seven days and seven nights.
After the flood had swept over the country,
after the evil wind had tossed the big boat
about on the great waters,
the sun came out spreading light
over heaven and earth.
 
Ziusudra then drilled an opening in the big boat.
And the gallant Utu sent his light
into the interior of the big boat.
Ziusudra, being king,
stepped up before Utu kissing the ground
before him.
The king was butchering oxen,
was being lavish with the sheep
Barley cakes, crescents together with...
...he was crumbling for him
juniper, the pure plant of the
mountains, he filled on the fire
and with a ...clasped to
the breast he...
 

[lost account of Enlil's wrath at finding survivor's and his mollification by Enki]

 
You here have sworn
by the life's breath of heaven
the life's breath of earth
that he verily is allied with yourself;
you there, An and Enlil,
have sworn by the life's breath of heaven,
the life's breath of earth.
that he is allied with all of you.
He will disembark the small animals
that come up from the earth!
 
Ziusudra, being king,
stepped up before An and Enlil
kissing the ground.
And An and Enlil after honoring him
were granting him life like a god's,
were making lasting breath of life, like a god's,
descend into him.
That day they made Ziusudra,
preserver, as king, of the name of the small
animals and the seed of mankind,
live toward the east over the mountains
in mount Dilmun.
 

The story of the Bible is often the conflict between the pagan views and those of the One True God. In paganism, the king was the agent of the gods. Mankind was created to serve the gods, to feed, clothe, house, honor and entertain them.

In Judaism, after they rejected the rule of God, the kings again demanded that the people serve God by serving the king.

However, God created mankind to serve them. It is easy for modern religion to revert back to the ancient Babylonian form of worship where ritual and the people's resources go to the temple which is the property of the king.

Christ came to reject the Babylonian system, free mankind to serve Him individually "beside still waters" and turn their service to helping those who truly need to be helped..

 
Other flood stories:

Gilgamesh Prologue This is similar to the Atrahasis story. This adds the story of a Noah-like figure, Utnaphishtim, who survived the flood and became immortal. This is a Neo-Assyrian version.

Girgamesh Epic,

Tablet I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII

Flood Account From Nineveh 7th Century B.C.

The Flood Narrative From the Gilgamesh Epic 11th tablet

Another Flood Narrative From the Gilgamesh Epic Version 3, 11th tablet extra ninevah?

Sumerian Flood Narrative From the Gilgamesh Epic Version 4, 11th tablet

 
 
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