It's a pick axe-
Whose "tooth is a one-horned ox ascending a large Wall"!
Whose "tooth is a one-horned ox ascending a large Wall"!
|From a stela found at a tophet. Now in The British Museum.|
|From a late 'Babylonian' kudduru.|
Eventually it may morph into a symbol of Resheph- Hebrew: the Burner or the Ravager/ flame or the fire bolt- a West Semitic god of the plague and of the underworld...
But not yet.
The oldest story concerning this symbol is Sumerian-3rd millennium B.C.
Enlil uses the pick axe to create human beings-
"The Creation of the pick axe."
First Enlil separated heaven and earth.In the hole which he had made was humankind.
Then he brought the Pick axe into being, the Day came forth..
Next Enlil introduced labour, decreed the fate,
Upon the Pick axe and Basket he directs the Power,
Enlil made his Pick axe exalted...
Whose tooth is a one-horned ox ascending a large Wall.
Enlil sang the praises of his pick axe.
He drove his pick axe into the earth.
Enlil handed the pick axe to the gods, who gave it to the Black-headed People (the Sumerians).
Various deities add to its powers and usefulness...So the pick axe is a symbol representing hard work; creation, steadfastness, prosperity and order.
Move forwards in time about a thousand years.
The story of Artrahasis was recorded by Ipic-Aya writing during the reign of Ammi-Saduqa, king of Babylon- 1700 B.C.
The mother goddess Mami with the help of Ea, creates men out of clay mixed with the blood of a slain god called Ilawela: man's purpose is to work for the the gods.
When gods instead of manThe gods made the land and dug out the channels- the life-lines of the land. They set up the Apsu. They raised mountains and marshes. They toiled for 3,600 years and then they decided no more!
Did the work, bore the loads,
The god's load was too great...
The great Anunnaku, the Seven,
Were making the Igigu undertake the toil...
They broke their spades and gathered up their weapons.
They surrounded the Ekur -the mountain house of the Annanuki- and complained:
"Every single one of us gods has declared war. We have put a stop to the digging. The load is excessive, it is killing us, our work is too hard, the trouble too much..."Enlil out of anger replies:
"Show your strength! Call up one god and cast him for destruction..."Enlil demands that the head of the rabble dies.
It is his fault for causing disorder!
Enki feels sorry for them, he understands how the work was too much and suggests the creation of some lesser beings to do all the work.
Enki speaks up and says:The god chosen was washed on the first, the seventh and the fifteenth day.
On the first, seventh and fifteenth of the month
I shall make a purification by washing.
Then one god should be slaughtered.
And the gods can be purified by immersion.
Nintu shall mix clay
With his flesh and his blood.
then a god and man
will be mixed together in clay.
Let us hear the drumbeat forever after,
Let a ghost come into existence from the god's flesh,
Let her proclaim it as his living sign,
And let the ghost exist so as not to forget the slain god.
They chose Ilawela who had intelligence.
In the house of fate in the presence of the womb-goddesses, Nintu called the ghost into being. The Igigi spat into the clay and Mami pinched off fourteen pieces....this was the beginning of mankind.
After less than 600 years had passed mankind became too much!
The gods had not given mankind death...
Trying to reduce their numbers.
The gods bolted the heavens, sent disease and famine.
Less than another 600 years passed and the noise and confusion of the human beings drove the gods mad.
Finally the gods decreed a flood to wash all the troublesome humans away...
Atrahasis was warned, and built a boat.
From the few humans left over, new rules were decreed about life and death.
Humans were now mortal and some were given infertility..
The next story is The Enuma Elish. It could have been inspired by a myth from Ugarit. It could be an Amorite story, it was probably in existence around the same time as the story of Atrahasis.
I really don't know.
The point is that Marduk's rise from being a god to the god echoes the story of the pick axe.
As the gods invest power into the pick axe, so when the time comes for a hero to go out and defeat the forces of chaos, the gods pass their power to Marduk.
Marduk is the first hero, but more importantly he is the metaphor for kingship.
The king rules only if all the lords entrust him with their power.
The pick axe is in his name:
The 'god' of the pick axe is Marru.
It comes from mar meaning create.
Marru means hammer, spade, axe or weapon.
Marutuk is a Standard Babylonian name for Marduk.
Marukka- the god who creates.
Marutukku- the god who helps and protects his city and people.
The story begins with the younger gods acting as the humans had in Atrahasis; there are too many, they are too noisy.
The elder parents are angry.
Their father, Apsu plots to kill his children.
But the gods hear of the plan.
They send Apsu to sleep- Ea recites a prayer and stills the waters- Ea takes away Apsu's crown, his mantle of radiance and puts them on.
Then he holds Apsu down and kills him.
Ea builds a palace over his body...
Ea and Damkina have a son called Marduk.
Ea gave him the four winds as play things.
Eventually there is war between the mother of the gods, Tiamat and the younger gods. Mother Hubbar fashions monsters, demons and dragons and weapons.
Tiamat gives leadership to Kingu.
After the great battle and after Marduk has created the earth, heavens and starry sky and decreed time into existence Marduk promises the gods that they shall be free from work for ever...
"Let the one who started the war be given up to me" demands Marduk.
"It was Kingu who started the war, he who incited Tiamat and gathered an army!"
"They bound Kingu and held him in front of Ea, imposed the penalty on him and cut off his blood. Ea created mankind from Kingu's blood, imposed the toil of the gods onto man and released the gods from it"This time there is no need for a flood...humans were made mortal and The Enuma Elish ends with the fifty names of Marduk.
The story we were told as children, the bible version seems to have lost a lot of details. It doesn't explain why god created Adam, leaving hundreds of people for hundreds of years desperately seeking some kind of meaning to it all. We are told why there was a woman; Eve exists because Adam is lonely.
Latter on, the story of Eden and Adam's expulsion is so close to the story of wild-man Enkidu's conversion from 'Nature-boy' to civilised, washed, best friend of Gilgamesh because he sleeps with Shamhat that I can't see why so few people have noticed this!
Shamhat 'Eve' in the Mesopotamian story brings civilisation -soap, clean clothes, beer and books- whilst Eve in the bible fails to follow orders, listens to what she is not meant to hear, and involves Adam.
The Mesopotamian s regarded disorder as a real problem.
Knowledge gleaned from centuries of living in cities I guess!
The bible explains things in terms of God's emotional state.
When god is angry.
Mankind suffers expulsion from the Garden of Eden as a consequence of Eve eating from the tree of Knowledge..
Latter the story of the flood turns up in the bible, and Atrahasis becomes Noah.
The original flood happened because the gods forgot to ordain death for humans.
There were too many.
They were too noisy.
In the second story- The Enuma Elish -the gods were too many.
The bible stories change the emphasis away from noise and mess to:
First to a hint that there were monsters- a half-remembered trope from the Enuma Elish?
Then wickedness as the cause of the flood.
"There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare [children] to them, the same [became] mighty men which [were] of old, men of renown.
And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." (Genesis 6:5)
And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. (Genesis 6:7)
But more to the point...where has the pick axe gone?