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15. The Divinization of the King — 2. In Mesopotamian and Egyptian Sources (§§104-114)

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15. The Divinization of the King — 2. In Mesopotamian and Egyptian Sources (§§104-114)




104. The despotic kings of the First Dynasty of Uruk were treated as gods by their descendants. In the Sumerian King List, the first king whose name was preceded by the determinative for divinity (a star symbol which identified him as a god) was Lugal-banda, i.e. Canaan, son of Ham. His son Dumuzi (Tammuz) was likewise designated a god in the Sumerian King List and so was his other son, Gilgamesh. Lugal-banda was identified with the god Ninurta. Another name of this deity was Ningirsu. Ninurta was the hero god of the Early Dynastic period, the fighter of demons. Later he was replaced by “Bel,” the Lord. In his various roles Ninurta was identified with various astral bodies. As chief captain of the army of the gods he was the star Sirius, the brightest of the fixed stars, otherwise known as the “Arrow.” Ninurta was the divine archer. As the oldest of the deities which presided over mundane affairs, he was identified with the planet Saturn, the most remote of the outer (= external, mundane) planets. As the attendant “Son” of the supreme god (the “Father”) he was the planet Mercury, which is an inner planet, symbolizing familial or spiritual relationship, the nearest planet “attending” the Sun and only and always appearing close to that body in the twilight near the horizon. Mercury in a later age was known as Nabu (Nabû), called Nebo in the Bible, the “younger Bel.” He was the son of the “elder Bel,” Marduk, or Merodach, the sun-god, and chief god of Babylon, whose name was interpreted to mean “Amar-Utu,” “Young bull Utu (the sun-god).”


105. Whilst Ninurta as Mercury was replaced by Nabu, Ninurta as the hero-god, the fighter of demons, was replaced by Marduk in Babylon and by Asshur in Assyria. On the astral level Ninurta the supplanted god was identified with the planet Saturn, and Marduk or Asshur, his supplanter, with the largest and brightest of the outer planets, Jupiter, representing the supreme authority in mundane affairs, the “king of the gods.” The Sumerian myth describing how Ninurta conquered the storm-bird, Anzu, recovered the Tablet of Destinies he had stolen, and was awarded multiple divine names on his return from battle (including the name “Lugal-banda”) was transferred to Marduk and then to Asshur. (See §888.2, below, >>, on this theme.) The names of the demons or hostile gods fought by the hero-god, as well of the god himself, were liable to variation. In the Epic of Creation, Enuma Elish, the chief rebel god from whom Marduk retrieved the Tablet of Destinies was Kingu. Another name for the defeated power was Asakku. In an earlier phase of the tradition the chief rebel god was Enmesharra (see §80 note, above, >>, with cross-references), and he was the father of seven similarly rebellious sons. He was god of the Underworld, the realm of departed spirits and ousted divinities, and also of the planet Mars, being more commonly known as Nergal. (On Enmesharra in roles equivalent to Anzu, Asakku and Kingu, see Lambert, Babylonian Creation Myths, 2013, p. 281ff.) The maleficent god of the planet Mars was seen in duplicate in the two brightest stars of the constellation Gemini, which was given for the first time in ancient Mesopotamia the name “Twins,” since the birth of twins was held to be an omen of evil. There was, however, a more recondite reason why this asterism came to represent those powers who rebelled against the king of the gods, on which see §346, below, >>, note, with cross-references.


106. Canaan-Lugal-banda was the earliest listed “god-king.” Ham himself, the ancestor of the whole line, was identified with the sun-god, the divine “Father.” Ham (Puzur, Utu), however, did not appear in the King List as a king, merely in a scribal note as the father of Mes-kianga-sher (Cush), who did rule as the first king of the dynasty of the Temple Tower Eana before the building of the surrounding suburbs of Uruk. Lugal-banda’s incorporation into the dynasty founded by Mes-kianga-sher seems to have had something to do with his deification, since the earliest kings of this dynasty, and Mes-kianga-sher first, were termed “son of Utu” (i.e. of the sun-god Ham), and in epic were depicted as calling on their divinized “father” for aid and blessing. Enmerkar (Nimrod), too, was called in epic literature the “son of the sun-god.” Up to that point in time, the Tower building kings, Cush and Nimrod, were considered “sons” of the divinity, perhaps merely in the sense of mortals imbued with an element of divinity, rather than as gods per se. Canaan (Lugal-banda) subsequently assumed the throne of the dynasty of Cush and, in his case, deification was explicit: Lugal-banda was not merely “son of the sun-god,” he was a god in his own right, and listed as such in the Sumerian King List. In later literature he was identified with the god Ninurta and his wife, Nin-sumun, with Ninurta’s divine spouse, Gula. However, there seems to have been some doubt about the legitimacy of this commoner’s claim to the throne, as evidenced by the epics which were composed to explain it. The Biblical curse on Canaan had doomed him to servitude to his brethren. A claim to divinity would be an obvious way to buttress his authority. It is perhaps also for this reason that in later tradition his children, Dumuzi and Gilgamesh, were believed to have been fathered, not by Lugal-banda himself, but either by an incestuous affair of their mother Nin-sumun with her own father (i.e. the earlier legitimate claimant) or by a spirit, or otherwise in an irregular fashion.


106.1. Reverting to an earlier passage (§88, above, >>) and the cross-references there cited, we find the kings Enmerkar, Lugal-banda and Gilgamesh identified respectively with Nimrod (Nimrod A, deified as Kronos, Saturnus, etc.), Belus (Zeus, Jupiter, etc., son of the preceding) and Ninus (Nimrod B, Ares, Mars, Hercules etc., son of the preceding). In post-Biblical tradition it is recorded this particular Ninus, who flourished in the lifetime of the Semitic patriarch Serug (BC 2272 to BC 2042, contemporary with the First Dynasty of Uruk), that is Amraphel-Gilgamesh, otherwise known as Nimrod son of Canaan, introduced idolatry, meaning the worship of idolatrous images, when he made an idol of his deceased father Belus and worshiped it. The deified father was Canaan (Lugal-banda, Ninurta, Bel, Jupiter). This according to Jerome’s commentary on Ezekiel ch. 23: “The idol Baal, or Bel, is an object of worship of the Assyrians, consecrated by Ninus son of Belus in honor of his father.” And on Hosea ch. 2: “Ninus rose to such a pitch of self-glorification that he promoted his father Belus to the status of a god, called Bel in Hebrew in many of the prophets and particularly in Daniel; and, according to Theodotion, it is this person who is so called under the aspect of the Idol of Babylon. Him the Sidonians and Phoenicians call Baal.” Joseph Mede, commenting long ago on the evidence of the ancient authorities (Apostasy of the Latter Times, 1836, p. 17-21), noted idolatry began with the worship of images of ancestors, who were then identified with celestial gods (e.g., as in this case, with Jupiter). It is not by inference alone we conclude Amraphel-Gilgamesh, that is, Ninus B or Nimrod son of Canaan, was responsible for this invention. In the Sumerian Epic known as the Death of Gilgamesh, which is extant in various fragmentary versions, it is stated Gilgamesh was fearful of dying, and invented, in consequence, the practice of setting up images of his ancestors (father and grandfather are mentioned in this context), with lights burning before them, in order, as it were, to prolong their lives after death. This transpired after the visit he paid to his far-away ancestor Naggu-napishti (Noah, Ziusudra). The purpose of that visit was to discover how Naggu-napishti won immortality. The patriarch informed Gilgamesh he was unable to pass the gift on to him: it was the special events surrounding the Flood which resulted in his own exaltation by “the gods.” Gilgamesh subsequently tried, but failed, to win possession of the plant that could bestow immortality, of which Naggu-napishti informed him. He returned to Uruk (Erech) with a feeling of despair, only alleviated, in a measure, by his invention of the cult of funerary images. Doubtless this reflects notions current in that period, when patriarchs and prophets of older times, having god-like status in the eyes of their descendants, were succeeded by men of more modest stature. Death of Gilgamesh (translation online as at 06-13 at http://​etcsl.​orinst.​ox.ac.uk), Segment E, lines 1-11: “[3 lines fragmentary] “Sisig (a god of dreams), the son of Utu, will provide light for him in the nether world, the place of darkness. When a funerary statue is made in honor of someone, whoever they may be, for future days, mighty youths and …… will form (?) a semicircle at the door-jambs and perform wrestling and feats of strength before them (?). In the month Nenejar, at the festival of the ghosts, no light will be provided before them without him [i.e. Gilgamesh] .” Fragment K. lines 3ff.: “Lord Gilgamesh despaired and felt depressed. For all the people, whoever they may be, funerary statues are made for future days, and set aside in the temples of the gods. Their names, once uttered, do not sink into oblivion. Aruru, the older sister of Enlil, provides them with offspring for that purpose (?). Their statues are made for future days and they are mentioned in the Land.” Here is the cult of ancestors referred to in the post-Biblical tradition. The earliest deified king in the Sumerian King List is, accordingly, Lugal-banda, the father of Gilgamesh. In the Ninurta myth, also, we find Lugal-banda identified with a “celestial” god, Ninurta, or Bel, precisely as described in the same tradition: Ninurta was identified with Bel of Babylon, that is, Jupiter according to the planetary interpretation, and with Adad or Baal Hadad, the Jupiter-figure of the Canaanites.

Joseph Mede ut cit. supra, pp. 19-23. {Mede has just explained how demons, daemones, were deified mortals.} Philo Byblius, the translator of Sanchoniathon {Sanchuniathon} … in a preface to his translation of this author, setteth down what he had observed and learned out of the same story, and might serve to help the understanding of those who should read it: namely, that all the barbarians, chiefly the Phoenicans and Egyptians, of whom the rest had it, accounted of those for the greatest Gods, who had found out any thing profitable for the life of men, or had deserved well of any nation; and that they worshipped these as Gods, erecting statues, images, and temples unto them. And more especially they gave the names of their Kings (as to the elements of the world, so also) to these their reputed Gods; for they esteemed the natural deities of the sun, moon, and planets, and those which are in these, to be only and properly Gods; so that they had two sorts of Gods: some were immortals, and others were (as we may term them) mortalists.

Thus saith Philo Byblius, out of the Phoenician history; from which testimony we may borrow some more light concerning those Baalims in Scripture. For Baal, or Belus, whose worship Jezebel, the daughter of Ithobaal, King of Tyre, brought into Israel, was a deified Phoenician King of that name, as Virgil will tell us, in the verse concerning the Phoenician Queen Dido. {Here, footnote, Mede cites Virgil’s verse: “She [Dido] filled with wine the bowl, which Belus and all her ancestors from Belus used.”}

Nay, Baal, or, in the Chaldee dialect, Bel, (for all is one,) was the first King of Babel after Nimrod; and the first (as it is written) that ever was deified. and reputed a God after death, whence afterwards they called all other demons Baalim, even as because the first Roman Emperor was called Caesar, thence were all the Emperors after him styled Caesars. And it may be that this is part of that which Philo Byblius, out of Sachoniathon, would tell us, that the barbarians, especially the Phoenicians, &c. gave names from their Kings to such as were canonized after death. For so we see here, that the Babylonians, and the neighbouring countries, which spoke the Hebrew tongue, or some dialect thereof, called all demons Baalim, from the first demon or deified King in the world, Baal or Belus. For at the time when Belus reigned in Babel, Phoenicia, with the neighbouring people, was under the kingdom of Babel, whence may seem also to have come their community of language and ceremonies. And here note a wonderful mystery—that old Babel, the first pattern in the world of ambitious dominion, was also the foundress of idols, and the mother of the fornication and abominations of the earth.

And because we have fallen upon the naming of Demons, let us observe another mystery of names, out of Plutarch (De defect. orac.) which may help us out of, or prevent some difficulties, namely, that “demons are sometimes called by the names of those celestial Gods whose ministers and proctors they are, and from whom they receive their power and divinity; as Apollo’s demon, Apollo; Jupiter’s demon, Jupiter; and so the rest.” To which is agreeable what Eusebius {PE III. iii.} quotes out of Diodorus, viz., that “the Egyptians affirmed such as had been great benefactors when they lived, to be deified after their death, and some of these to be called by the very names of the celestial Gods.”

The same Plutarch in the same place doth acquaint us with this pretty conceit, which being to the purpose, I will not omit; namely, that the souls of men took degrees after death; first they commenced heroes who were as Probationers to a demonship; then after a suitable time demons; and after that, if they deserved well, to a more sublime degree. Howsoever it be, demons and heroes differed but in more and less antiquity; the more ancient heroes being called demons, and the younger demons, heroes.

But that we may return again more close to the matter in hand, this order of demons, or soul-gods, as I may call them, found place in the religion of the elder Romans, who called them Penates, Lares, and Manii Dii; and when once they began to canonize their deceased Emperors (which was from the time of Augustus) they called them divi, or gods, which word before that time was more general. Tully {Cicero}, in his second book concerning laws {De Legibus}, shall be my witness, that his countrymen acknowledged this distinction of sovereign gods, and soul-deified powers; for there you shall find this law. “Let them worship the gods; both those who were ever accounted celestial, and those whom their own merits have advanced to heaven.” And again, “let the rights of separate souls be kept inviolable, and let them account the deceased worthies as gods.” Would God the present Christian Romans had not renewed this law.

Yea so strongly was this doctrine embraced amongst the Gentiles, that some of their latter Theologists thought that even the souls of wicked men and tyrants had a power after death, and that of these came evil demons which hurt men; and yet to these they ordained temples and sacrifices to keep them from hurting them, as well as to the good demons for helping them. But the ancients gave this honour to the souls of virtuous men only.

Thus have you heard the original of demons according to the ancient and general opinion of the Gentiles. But besides these demons whose original you have heard, (I mean besides soul-demons and canonized mortals) their Theologists bring in another kind of demons more high and sublime, which never had been the souls of men, nor ever were linked to a mortal body, but were from the beginning, or without beginning always the same. So Apuleius tells us in his book on the god of Socrates, saying, “there is another and a higher kind of demons, who always having been unconnected with bodies may be regarded as peculiar powers. Plato thinks, that from these more exalted demons men are supplied with witnesses and guardians.” This sort of demons doth fitly answer and parallel that sort of spiritual powers which we call Angels, as the former of soul-demons those which, with Roman Catholics, are called saints.


107. Canaan-Lugal-banda came to prominence during Nimrod-Enmerkar’s campaign against Aratta. Some time before that campaign, according to the Sumerian epic “Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta” (see §611.1, below, >>), a single language was employed throughout the whole world, until it was confused by divine intervention. The similarity with the Biblical account of the confusion of tongues at Babel (Gen. 11. 1-9) is unmistakable. Enmerkar is said to have sent the following message to the eastern kingdom of Aratta in order to induce its submission: it represented an unrealistic, and, in the circumstances, a very ironic, plea on the part of Enmerkar for concord in the new discordant times (Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta, lines 136-155, italics mine): “Once, then, there was no snake, there was no scorpion, there was no hyena, there was no lion, there was no wild dog, no wolf, there was no fear, no terror: human had no rival. Once, then, the lands Shubur-Hamazi [representing the lands of the North], polyglot Sumer, that land great with the me [divine attribute] of overlordship, Uri, the land with everything just so [Sumer and Uri, or the lands of Sumer and Akkad, representing the South], the land Martu, resting securely [representing the West], the whole world, the people as one, to Enlil [“Lord Spirit”] in one tongue gave voice. Then did the contender, the en [“lord”] the contender, the master the contender, the king Enki [the Divine Wisdom], the contender, the en the contender, the master the contender, the king the contender, the en the contender, the master the contender, the king Enki, en of hegal [abundance], the one with the unfailing words, en of cunning, the shrewd one of the land, sage of the gods, gifted in thinking, the en of Eridu [Babel], change the speech of their mouths, he having set up contention in it, in the human speech that had been one.”


108. Enki was otherwise known as Mummu, the Logos, the Word, the Divine Creative Wisdom. The name Mummu (“Moumis” in Greek), identified as the Neoplatonic Logos, or “Intelligible World,” in Damascius, Quaestiones de primis principiis (De Principiis, cap. 125, ed. Kopp, p. 384), came from a Sumerian word Umun variously translated “Raw Form, Idea, Knowledge Source, Life-giving Force,” in a word, the “Logos.” Enki or Mummu was the third member in the Sumerian Trinity of gods, which comprised An (“God,” the Father of all the gods), Enlil (“Lord Spirit”) and Enki (Mummu, the “Logos”). These were appropriately identified with natural elements, the respective spheres of the gods themselves: An meant “Heaven,” the heaven of the stars and planets, as well as “God;” En-lil meant “Lord of the Air, or, Atmosphere,” as well as “Lord Spirit;” and En-ki, the more usual name of Mummu, meant “Lord (of the) Earth.” (For the real origin of the divine names Enki and Enlil, see §415, below, >> and §452, below, >>.) So the three members of the Trinity were lords of the three cosmic spheres of heaven, air, and earth, in descending order. Heaven encompassed everything, as did the supreme god, air was appropriately symbolic of the spirit, and earth was the lowest material realm, representing the bodily “form” of the deity signified in the name Mummu. All the gods of the Mesopotamian pantheon, these three being the most prominent, were so many different forms of An himself, and the star sign representing An’s name was prefixed to each of theirs. The name An alone had no such prefix. He was God in an absolute sense. Indeed, An was translated Ilu in the Babylonian dialect, precisely corresponding to the Hebrew El, “God.” Each attribute of An was resolved into a distinct divine being. An was the sum of all the gods and every god was An. A consequence of this theology was that, in a way confusing to the modern, compartmentalized, mind, any given god might be found absorbed into, identified, or connected genealogically with, any other (though in practice only certain patterns of identification and divine generational series were favored) or gods might be treated as so many titles or body-parts of one supreme deity. This demonstrates, as Marston following Langdon long ago pointed out, that Mesopotamian polytheism was the bastard product of an earlier monotheistic system, and that An was originally the Supreme God. Thus the Temple Tower Eana was first the “House of An,” of God Himself, and only later of Inana, Venus, the “consort” or “daughter” of An.


109. The godhead was divided mathematically into three, and into numerically larger groups. Social patternings were a further development, for example, triads of Father, Mother and Son. One early grouping was Enlil, his wife Ninlil, and their son Ninurta. The later triad Enki, his wife Damkina, and their son Marduk, replaced the Ninurta triad in the Epic of Creation. In these groupings the Son represented the “executive power” of the godhead: he was the hero-god, who championed the cause of his divine family and the divine council against rebel deities or demons. He was also termed the “Bull (= husband) of His Mother.” This meant he embodied the essence of his divine Father and was heir to his role as spouse of the Mother goddess. When the family of Lugal-banda was deified the effect was a divine triad of this type: Ninurta = Lugal-banda, his wife Gula, the goddess of healing = Nin-sumun, and their son, Damu, the god of healing = Dumuzi or Tammuz, Damu (“the Son”) being an alternative name for the latter.


110. Enki himself became in time, by a perverse misrepresentation of the functions of the Logos, a trickster figure. Cunning and deceitful, he either, as in the episode cited, confused and confounded the plans of gods and mortals, or, as in the case of Ziusudra (Noah), aided them by revealing the divine secrets — though usually only at the cost of some other god or gods. As the Logos, he was also the god of prophetic wisdom, and that function was symbolized on the astral level by the planet Mercury.


111. The first kings of the First Dynasty of Uruk represented the generation of the dispersion. The dichotomy between the overtly deified kings Lugal-banda (Canaan) and his successors, who were identified with the hero-god Ninurta, and the earlier kings, Mes-kianga-sher (Cush) and Enmerkar (Nimrod), who were called “son of the god Utu (the sun-god, Ham),” falls significantly at the hiatus in which the migration of the Hamites to Egypt took place. The earlier kings were those who migrated. Some texts of the Sumerian King List marked a break at this point by designating Mes-kianga-sher and Enmerkar as members of “the dynasty of Mes-kianga-sher” with a separate regnal total of its own within the larger Dynasty of Uruk. The Egyptian religion made more of the sun than Mesopotamian religion and typically Egyptian kings were called precisely “son of the sun-god.” There was a difference in religious outlook between the two phases. This difference was reflected not only in native Mesopotamian tradition, as illustrated hereafter and in the following paragraphs, but also in the mythology of Canaan which was dependent on that of Mesopotamia, and in the mythology of Greece which was dependent on that of Canaan and neighboring cultures. The difference was between an earlier generation of gods, typified by El in Canaan, and by Kronos and the Titans in Greece, and a later, dominant generation, typified by Baal or Hadad in Canaan, and by Zeus and the Olympian gods in Greece. The second phase (represented in these mythologies by the second generation of gods) was one of military power centered in Uruk in the original Mesopotamian tradition. It began with the reign of Lugal-banda and continued through the reigns of Dumuzi and Gilgamesh. Hence the importance of the myth of the hero-god Ninurta (corresponding to Baal, Hadad or Zeus) and the fight against demon enemies. The earlier phase, including the reigns of Mes-kianga-sher and Enmerkar, was one of filial dependency on the deity, as of a minister to the divinity he represented. Hence the less exalted designation “son” of the god. The kings of this phase migrated to Egypt and took with them, in the eyes of their enemies, their “lesser” form of religion. Egypt became the land of the dead, of the “older” generation of gods, the supplanted generation. Lugal-banda and his successors became, on the other hand, the hero-gods, first of Uruk, later of Canaan, and then of Greece and Rome, and these were seen as having successfully usurped the earlier generation, being the gods currently in power.


112. This is the background of Thallus’ account (apud Theophilus, Ad Autolycum III. 29): “Thallus makes mention of Belos who ruled the Assyrians and of Kronos the Titan, saying that Belos, along with the Titans, made war against Zeus, and the so-called gods on his side, whereupon, he goes on to say, Ogugos also was worsted in the fray and fled to Tartessos [= Spain].” Here Belos is the father of Ninos, i.e. Belos is Cush, Mes-kianga-sher; Kronos the Titan is Nimrod-Enmerkar, the descendant of Ham = Utu, Titan, titled likewise “the Titan” in Mar Abas Catina (§945ff., below, >>); Zeus is Lugal-banda, Canaan, and his allies, the “gods,” are those who followed him; on Ogugos see infra. Theophilus (ibid.) notes many did not know the difference between Kronos and Belos, since Kronos was also called Bel and Bal in the eastern lands (as, e.g., in Mar Abas Catina, according to Moses of Khorene, Bel the Titan = Nimrod = Khronos). Similarly, Castor (in the Armenian translation of Eusebius’ Chronicle, Chronicorum lib. I. cap. XIII, Migne PG XIX, col. 132): “Belus, he [viz. Castor] says, was king of the Assyrians, and under him the Cyclopes brought aid to Jupiter in his struggle against the Titans, by means of thunderbolts and lightnings. At that period kings of the Titans were recognized, one of whom was the king Ogygus. After a short digression he proceeds to say, that the giants made an attack on the gods, but they were slain with the help afforded to the gods by Hercules and Dionysus, who were themselves of the stock of the Titans.” Here Belus and Jupiter are the same as in Thallus, viz. Belus = Cush-Mes-kianga-sher, Jupiter = Canaan-Lugal-banda. The reference to thunderbolts and lightning seems to be a reference to the fiery destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah: note the mention of Amraphel, whose attack shortly preceded the catastrophe. Hercules = Amraphel-Gilgamesh, Dionysus = Dumuzi (Tammuz), see further §140, below, >>, and on Ogygus infra. The picture gathered from these sources is of a conflict between two Titanic parties: on the one side are Cush (Belos) and Nimrod (Kronos), representing the older generation of Titans, i.e. Mes-kianga-sher and Enmerkar, the “sons of the sun-god [Titan];” on the other side are the later generation of “gods,” Canaan (Zeus), Tammuz (Dionysus) and Amraphel (Hercules), i.e. Lugal-banda, Dumuzi and Gilgamesh. The earliest and most important of the kings of the First Dynasty of Uruk are all referred to here and the conflict is precisely at the hiatus marking the migration to Egypt after the “Wind Flood” and the Tower episode. However, it should be noted the “Dionysus,” that is “Tammuz,” referred to in Castor was a later incarnation of the original Tammuz: he was named after the king of Uruk, who perished somewhat earlier (see §626.3 sub fin., below, >>), and was, in fact, the Armenian eponymus Haig or Hayk, otherwise “Orion” (= Tammuz). This Armenian eponymus was the Biblical Chedorlaomer, leader of the expedition into the land of Canaan against the cities of the Plain, and the Sumerian En-sukish-ana, lord of Aratta (“Armenia”), who was deified as Ama-ushumgal-ana (= Tammuz, Orion). On the latter identification, see §335f., below, >>. The subsequent destruction of the cities of the Plain by fire is interpreted in Castor as a boon for the “gods” (of Mesopotamia) against the Hamites, or Titans (of Egypt). The historical fact is that the Egyptian Old Kingdom collapsed at that time. In the course of the conflict between the two parties, an attack on the Mesopotamian “gods” is said to have been made by some “giants.” This is a reference to the assault on Amraphel’s forces by Abraham and Mamre, the Amorite chief of the Anakites (= Nephilim = “giants”) of Hebron (see infra). Artapanus (apud Eusebius, Praeparatio Evangelica IX. xviii. 2) says Abraham at that time “took up against” certain Babylonians, whom he describes likewise as “giants,” namely the remnant who had survived the Flood sent by the gods as punishment upon their iniquitous race. One of these Babylonian giants was Belos, the builder of the Tower after whom the temple (in Babylon) was named, i.e. Bel Marduk, Cush. The same episode is described by Theophilus (Ad Autolycum II. 31) as the first of all wars. His reference is to the conflict mentioned in the Sibylline Oracles, which he cites ibid., between the “Titans,” the Hamites, and the “sons of Kronos,” the Semites. (Kronos, Shem, in the Oracles is a different character from Kronos, known as Bel or Bal, who is Nimrod, and the latter is specifically called “the Titan” in Thallus to distinguish him as a Hamite.) There was a grove of terebinths at Hebron at the time of Amraphel’s expedition, known as the “oaks [terebinths] of Mamre” (Gen. 13. 18, 18. 1). Mamre, the “city of Arba” and Hebron were all names for the same place. Mamre was the Amorite chief of the Anakites of Hebron who aided Abraham in his razzia against Amraphel, whilst Arba was the “father of Anak” (Josh. 15. 13, 21. 11) and Hebron a topographical name for the city. One of the terebinths is called in Josephus the “Oak of Oguges [= Ogygus]” (Antiquities I. 186 = I. x. 4, cf. Wars IV. 529-533 = IV. ix. 7). From this we conclude Ogygus represents Mamre/Arba/Hebron (and its “Anakite” inhabitants) in Josephus and in the account of the Titan War. The name of the giant Ogygus has been etymologically derived from the same root as the Hebrew Og, and Og from the same root as Anak. (See further on this root and the names Ogugos, Og and Anak, §354.3, below, >>.) In that case Ogygus is the eponymus of the Anakites, viz. Arba, the “father of Anak.” Abraham is a contemporary of Ogugos and Ninos (Ninos B = Amraphel) in the period immediately after the Confusion in a fragment ascribed to Chaeremon published by Sathas. (Greek MS. no. 1182, Bibliothèque nationale du Paris, f. 97 recto, Sathas, in Bulletin correspondance hellénique, t. I, 1877, p. 131. Chaeremon flourished in the 1st century AD.) According to Thallus and Castor, Ogygus was defeated on that occasion by the “gods” in alliance with Hercules and Dionysus, as the giant races of the Levant in Genesis Chapter 14 were defeated by Amraphel (Hercules) and his allies prior to the razzia of Abraham and Mamre, and thereafter fled across the Mediterranean. In the common Greek tradition Ogygus was the most ancient king of Attica. A migration to the West is connected with the Titan War similarly in a Graeco-Libyan tradition found in its Classical form in Diodorus Siculus (III. 68. 1ff.), and modified to accommodate Biblical traditions in the late medieval Sibylline excerpts comprising the Defloratio Berosi of Giovanni Nanni. (See §889.33, below, >>, §889.35, below, >>, §889.51, below, >>.) The modified form identifies Zeus as the Libyan Hammon (Amun/Zeus), the father of Dionysius (Dionysus), the latter being accompanied by his protégé Pallas (Athena), and represents father and son as coming into conflict with the Egyptian founding patriarch Chemesenuus (Ham) and his Titan allies. Chemesenuus ends up in the Iranian highlands east of Mesopotamia, in this account, identified with the anti-Assyrian Iranian rebel chief, Zoroaster (as in the pseudo-Clementines), and Hammon flees to Crete. This scheme interprets the conflict between the House of Ninus (viz. the Assyrian royal line, descended from the House of Uruk, and identified with Hammon/Zeus), on the one hand, and its eastern foes (Iranians and Kassites, the latter descended from Kushan/Cush the son of Ham), on the other, in terms of the Titan War, as a continuation of the earlier phase of that conflict, and implicitly explains the migration of Ninus (Picus) to Crete as a consequence of the same.


113. Reverting now to the period in Mesopotamia immediately before the hiatus and the dispersion: kingship as an institution had not then fully developed, and the leader was more of a priest than a king. The priests of Mesopotamia believed the moon had a higher divine ranking than the sun. The moon enabled them to determine months and seasons, and therefore the times of their religious festivals, by the regularity and observability of its movements and phases. In the Mesopotamian theogonic system, accordingly, the sun-god was junior to, a son of, the moon-god. The moon’s name was written with two signs EN and ZU meaning in combination “Lord (EN) of Wisdom (ZU).” The name was actually pronounced “Zu’en,” later “Sin,” but it was written in this reverse order. In the most ancient city of Eridu the god Enki had a chief son called Asari (variously written Asar, Asaru, etc.). He was called “the light of the gods” and was the god of magic and spells. Asari, the divine son of Enki, was identified with both major heavenly lights. In one aspect he was the moon-god Sin (CT 25, 32. 9). Eventually his functions and identity were taken over by the chief god of Babylon, which was the “new Eridu,” viz. the sun-god Bel, Marduk or Merodach. One of the most important, if not the most important, of Bel’s fifty names was Asari. Bel Marduk became the chief son of Enki, replacing and absorbing the earlier divinity. We shall find that this god Bel, earlier Asari, was identified with a human culture-hero, and that culture-hero was the patriarch Cush son of Ham. He was believed to be the instructor both of the Babylonians and Egyptians in astrology. The first two elements in Cush’s Sumerian name, Mes-kiang(a)-sher, are titular and mean “beloved (kiang[a]) man (mes)” or “comrade.” Compare the more common titular element enme-, as in Enme-kar, meaning “lord, or, priest.” They appear in other royal names in the Sumerian King List: Mes-kiang-nuna, Mes-kiang-nanna. The last element “sher” (also pronounced “shir” and “sir”) carries the meaning of the name: “reddened as of sunburn,” or “bound, fettered.” The root meaning is to “mark the skin” either with fetters or surface reddening. Sumerian “sher” is translated into the Semitic dialect spoken in Mesopotamia (Akkadian) as kasû, “to bind,” or as a noun, Kasu (Kasû), “the bound one.” The equivalent Aramaic and Hebrew root is k-s-h, cognate to Hebrew k-w-sh (from which the name Cush is derived), meaning to “mark” and also “to cover” (from the idea of “binding”). The Sumerian signs with which the word “sher” is written (sher2 and sher3) can also be read “kesh” (sher3, kesh2) and “guz” (sher2, guz2), both of which mean “binding,” and have an obvious phonetic similarity to the Hebrew “Cush.” This word “guz” appears to be a simple transcription of an equivalent Semitic word formed from the root k-s-h, since the Akkadian kussû, a (“covered”) seat, or throne (from the identical root), is transliterated similarly “guza” in Sumerian. Amongst other things the Aramaic root k-s-h is used to describe the act of marking (= counting) days of the new moon, hence also the noun keseh, “new moon” (Jastrow, Talmudic Dictionary, s.v.). The same Sumerian sign read “sher,” preceded by the sign for “god,” was a name of the moon-god, which may explain why Cush was identified with Asari, who was also, in one aspect, the moon. The name Cush, in other words, meaning “bound” or “marked,” might be represented as Kasu (Kasû) in Akkadian, meaning identically “bound, or, marked,” and by the sign read “kesh” or “guz” and “sher” in Sumerian, which was also a name of the moon-god in his capacity of celestial “time-marker.” Asari son of Enki was called “Asalluhi,” written dASAR.LU2.I, which means literally “Asari (dASAR) the Man (LU2) of Confusion (I).” He was principally the god of spells. His function was to “bind” also, but in his case by the means of enchantments and by the utterance of confused and jumbled phrases.


114. Traditions relating to the moon-god in Egypt, whither Cush migrated after the Tower episode, illustrate his connection with the confusion of languages. The Egyptian name for the moon-god was Khensu. His name was written Hensu with an aspirated “h,” and note the similarity to the Sumerian name of the moon-god (as written) EN.ZU. Doubtless, originally, the name was intended to echo the sound of the root k-n-sh = k-sh of the patriarch’s name, Cush, denoting the “marking” of lunar months. Khensu was also known as Thoth, the god of wisdom. The Greeks called Thoth “Hermes” and the Romans called him “Mercury” (Latin Mercurius). Hyginus (Fabulae 143) wrote that for many centuries men “lived without town or laws, speaking one tongue under the rule of Jove. But after Mercury explained the languages of men (whence he is called hermeneutes, “interpreter,” for Mercury in Greek is called Hermes; he, too, divided the nations) then discord arose among mortals ….” Here Jove or Jupiter corresponds to Enlil in the epic Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta (see §611.1ff., below, >>), standing for the patriarchal Holy Spirit, under whose “rule” unity and peace predominated, and the world enjoyed a single language. Enlil was anciently equated with the god Dagon, and Dagon with Zeus or Jupiter (the god referred to here), whilst the role of the god-man Dagon in Canaanite myth corresponded to that of Ham, the father of Cush, in the Biblical account of the humiliation of Noah after the Flood. Dagon was known as Baal Hamon, the latter word being formed from the same root as the personal name Ham. (See §307, below, >>, §319, below, >>.) Hyginus’ reference, therefore, was to the unity, peace and simplicity of mankind, in the primitive, patriarchal, system under the dominion of Ham before the Tower episode.


114.1. The Hebrews’ Scriptural belief that Jehovah worked through His chosen patriarchs and prophets in the immediate post-diluvian period to achieve His particular divine purpose might be, and was, reinterpreted in paganism to accommodate a multiplicity of gods and the apotheosis of pagan heroes. The process can be demonstrated from the following oracular response of the Apollo of Claros which was intended to reveal the true identity of IAO (Jehovah):

Regard IAO as supreme above,
In winter Hades, in spring’s opening Zeus:
Helios through blazing summer rules the day,
Whilst autumn owns the mild IAO’s sway.”

(Macrobius, Saturnalia, I. 18. 20.) Here the supreme god IAO, identified with the sun in autumn (in reference to Dionysus, god of the autumn vintage, Macrobius ibid. 21), was represented as having three subordinate phases or aspects, identified with the three gods, Hades, Zeus, and Helios, that is, with the sun in its winter, spring and summer phases, respectively. The cosmic realms over which they presided were, from lowest to highest: underworld (Hades), air (Zeus), and heaven (Helios). In the pagan euhemeristic interpretation, the world was allotted to the sons of Noah, as the universe was to these gods: the supreme god Iao represented Noah (Dionysus [Osiris], §125, below, >>, drunk on the fruit of the vine), and the three subordinate gods, his three sons, Helios = Shem, Zeus = Japheth, and Hades = Ham, though Ham, or rather the House of Ham, Ham’s recalcitrant descendants, eventually usurped Japheth’s role as the air-god (in the Greek scheme Zeus, in the earlier Mesopotamian scheme, Enlil). For examples of this process, go to §338, below, >>, §314f., below, >>.


114.2. Ham’s son Cush, as we have seen, was identified with the moon-god, Sin. Sin was the son of Enlil in Mesopotamia, as Cush was the son of Ham. Appropriately Hyginus introduced at this juncture the Egyptian “Mercury,” meaning Thoth or Khensu, the moon-god of Egypt. Khensu was the son of Amun, the supreme god in the later Egyptian pantheon, whose role was equivalent to that of Enlil in the Sumerian, and Zeus in the Greek, pantheon. The Egyptian Khensu son of Amun corresponded to the Mesopotamian Sin son of Enlil, or Asari son of Enki in his lunar aspect, and to the Greek Hermes son of Zeus, or the Latin Mercury son of Jupiter. The historical figure alluded to under these titles of divinity was Cush, son of Ham. Hyginus made him responsible for the confusion of languages. Diodorus Siculus wrote along similar lines that it was by the Egyptian Hermes (Thoth) “that the common language of mankind was first further articulated” (I. 16. 1). A native Egyptian hymn called Thoth the deity that “made different the tongue of one country from another.” Another text said this god “distinguished (or separated) the tongue of country from country.” Yet another related that he “distinguished the tongue of every foreign land.” One Egyptologist pointed out that the words “made different” or “distinguished” or “separated” were “past participles alluding probably to some lost myth or legend according to which Thoth differentiated the languages of the various countries.” Modern scholars have noted the obvious parallel between these traditions, relating to Mercury, Hermes and Thoth, and the Biblical account of the Tower and confusion of tongues. Cush was identified with two Egyptian gods: 1) Amun-Ra, the supreme god of the later Egyptian period (New Kingdom onwards), whose role corresponds to that of Asari’s avatar, Bel, the supreme sun-god of Babylon and Assyria; 2) Thoth, whose role corresponds to that of Asari as a form of the moon-god.