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20. The End of the Dynasty of Nimrod-Enmerkar (§§185-240)

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20. The End of the Dynasty of Nimrod-Enmerkar (§§185-240)




185. A legend preserved by Aelian, most probably via Juba of Mauretania from Berossus, and drawing on genuinely early Mesopotamian tradition, records that it was prophesied Enmerkar’s daughter would give birth to a son who would deprive his grandfather of the kingdom. Enmerkar locked up his daughter to circumvent the divine decree, but somehow, from an “obscure” presence, the daughter begot a son anyway:

Aelian, De Natura Animalium, XII. 21: “When Euechoros [= Enmerkar] was king of the Babylonians, the Chaldaeans [= Babylonian astrologers] foretold that the son born of his daughter would cause his grandfather to be deprived of the kingdom. What was said by the Chaldaeans had the status of a prophecy. This made him shiver with fear and (if I may be allowed the small jest) he played Acrisius to his daughter [Akrisios in Greek myth locked up Danae his daughter but she begot Perseus by impregnation from a “shower of gold”]: he put the strictest of watches upon her. Yet the daughter gave birth to a child (for fate outwitted the Babylonian), being pregnant by some obscure man. So the guards, from fear of the king, hurled the infant from the citadel, for that was where the aforementioned daughter was imprisoned. Now the eagle which saw with its piercing eye the child while still falling, before the baby would be dashed to the earth, flew beneath it and flung its back under it, and conveyed it to some garden and set it down with the utmost care. Well, the caretaker of the place, on seeing the pretty baby, fell in love with it and reared it, and he was called Gilgamos [= Gilgamesh] and became king of the Babylonians.”


186. The interest of this legend for the present purposes is that it reveals Gilgamesh was responsible, indirectly or in part, at least, for the fall of the dynasty of Enmerkar. (On the historical context, see §335.0.0.2, below, >>, according to which Nimrod son of Canaan [Gilgamesh] was incorporated within the confederacy of Chedorlaomer, which destroyed Nimrod son of Cush [Enmerkar].) Aelian’s story is based on authentic Sumerian tradition, as is demonstrated by the fact that the Sumerian King List from the early second millennium BC already notes Gilgamesh was begotten by a “lil,” which might mean a demon, a spirit or phantom, or a “fool,” that is, in a social context, a person of inferior status and of limited intellectual consideration (§591, below, >>, and see further §207.2 #7, below, >>). This clearly is the “obscure” man of Aelian’s account. Gilgamesh is the Nimrod son of Canaan of Arabic legend, and the Biblical Amraphel of Genesis 14. This Nimrod’s father Canaan is the Sumerian Lugal-banda, and he was, indeed, the husband of Gilgamesh’s mother Nin-sumun, though not Gilgamesh’s literal father, if the note in the Sumerian King List is taken seriously. The motif of the foundling who toppled his predecessor is, accordingly, found attached in Arabic legend to Nimrod son of Canaan in Al-Kisa’i and at greater length in the introduction to the Romance of Antar (I. 13 sq.). The identity between the Arabic story and the account of Aelian is obvious. Nimrod’s father Canaan has a dream which troubles him. It is interpreted to mean that his son will kill him. The child is born and a snake enters his nose, an omen of evils to follow. Canaan wants to kill the child, but his mother, Sulkha, entrusts him secretly to a herdsman. The flocks scatter at the sight of the black flat-nosed infant. The herdsman’s wife throws the child into the water. The waves wash him to the bank, where he is suckled by a tigress (as though the name Nimrod, Arabic Namrud, means “reared by a tigress [Arabic namra]”). Already dangerous when a boy, as a young man he becomes a bandit chief, attacks Canaan, kills him (without knowing he is his father), marries his wife Sulkha, his own mother, and becomes king of the country, and eventually lord of the world.


187. Nimrod son of Canaan was commonly identified with the Persian Zohak by Arabic chroniclers. Alternatively Zohak was identified with Nebuchadrezzar. Nimrod, like Zohak, became a title applied to the descendants of Nimrod son of Cush, that is, to the kings of Babylon, and especially to prominent or villainous ones like Nebuchadrezzar. (The complete fusion of these figures, Nimrod son of Canaan and Nebuchadrezzar, is demonstrated by the following anachronous Arabic genealogy: Nimrod son of Canaan, son of Senacherib, son of Nimrod son of Cush son of Ham son of Noah. Here “Nimrod son of Canaan” has replaced the original Nebuchadrezzar, Nebuchadrezzar being similarly, and more commonly, referred to as son of the Assyrian king Senacherib, and the latter’s genealogy being traced back in the usual way to Nimrod son of Cush.) It is not surprising, therefore, to find the foundling story in medieval legend attached to Nebuchadrezzar. According to a legend of Byzantine origin translated into Russian, the “Saga of the Kingdom of Babylon,” Nebuchadrezzar was found in the woods as a child abandoned to the care of a large owl-like predatory bird (analogous to the eagle in Aelian) and a female ungulate. It is interesting to note that the mother of Gilgamesh was Nin-sumun, or Nin-suna, whose name could be translated literally “Mistress female ungulate.”


188. The divine roles in the myth of Perseus, which Aelian compares with the Gilgamos story, are as follows. Akrisios is a by-name of the god Kronos. Euechoros (Euechios) is equated with Kronos in Peri Theon. The father of Perseus is Zeus (appearing as a shower of gold, i.e. a glittering light). The father​(-in-law) of Gilgamesh is Lugal-banda, Nin-sumun’s husband, who is equated with the Zeus-like god Ninurta. The eagle is a symbol of Ninurta in Sumerian mythology, as well as of Zeus in Greek mythology, and Zeus usurps his father Kronos. Here the eagle’s protegé (= Zeusprotegé), Gilgamos (Perseus), usurps his Kronos-like grandfather. Perseus is a form of Herakles (Hercules), both Perseus and Herakles being sons of Zeus, and Herakles is the Chaldaean name for the planet Mars, i.e. Eragal, Nergal. In Arabic chronicles a figure called Mars, Azar or Azer (a Persian word meaning “Mars” and “fire”) is the son of a daughter of the Kronos-like Nimrod (Euechoros/Euechios in Peri Theon). Azar’s father is the Biblical patriarch Terah. According to Rabbinic legend similarly Terah marries a daughter of Nimrod son of Cush. This daughter is variously named, but one of her Rabbinic names, Hamat-le’i, is the precise equivalent of the Sumerian Nin-sumun, understood in the sense “Producer of wild cows:” amat = “She who produces,” le’i (cf. Heb. le’ah, Akkadian lû) = Sumerian sumun2/sun2, “wild cattle” (from the root l-’-h, “to labor [e.g. like a beast]”). Hamat-le’i is otherwise called a daughter of Karnebo. This last name looks like a transmogrification of the name Qarnabil, of the Japhethite wife of Cush (Tabari, trans. Brinner, vol. II, p. 11 [212]), who would be the mother of Nimrod (Enme-kar, Euechoros). Since Nimrod son of Cush is equated with Euechoros (Euechios) in Peri Theon, there is a perfect analogy between these figures and those of Aelian’s story:


Sumerian

Aelian

Perseus Myth

Greek Gods

Arabic (Rabbinic) Legend

Enmerkar

Euechoros

Akrisios

Kronos

Nimrod

Nin-sumun m. a “lil”

daughter m. obscure man

Danae m. Zeus

Zeus

Hamat-le’i m. Terah

Gilgamesh

Gilgamos

Perseus

Herakles (Mars)

Azar (Mars)



In the Arabic legend Azar is said to have been either the “father,” or alternatively the “uncle” or “foster-father,” of the patriarch Abraham, who was exposed as a child and hidden in the wilds to escape death at the hands of Nimrod, since Nimrod had been warned in a dream that a child would be born who would usurp him. This is the identical story of the foundling, but in this version the Mars-like figure is the one who rears the foundling, rather than being the foundling himself, and thus indirectly brings about the destruction of his ancestor’s kingdom. (The Rabbinic and Arabic stories represent many other infants as having suffered under the king’s decree, therefore the role of the hero-god was attached to different children in different mythologies.) The tradition that Azar was Abraham’s “father” led, rather confusingly, to his identification with Abraham’s Biblical father Terah. Herbélot thus distinguished correctly two Azars: 1. Azar-Terah, the literal father of Abraham, and 2. Azar, the son of Terah and foster-father of Abraham. As Euechios-Nimrod-Kronos was husband to Semiramis (§101.11, above, >>), Abraham, son of Azar-Terah by the daughter of Nimrod, might be considered a descendant of Semiramis, and this explains the belief that Iouda and Idoumaia, i.e. Judah and Esau, the great-grandson and grandson, respectively, of Abraham, were children of Semiramis (Stephanus Byz. s.n. Ioudaia). See further on the identification both of Terah himself and of a close relative of his with Azer-Mars (Nergal) §207.2 #7, below, >> and §207.3, below, >>.


189. The Persian Azar or Azer, meaning “Mars” or “fire,” is the Avestan Atar, “fire.” Atar was a divinity in ancient Aryan paganism, and was the opponent of Azi Dahaka, i.e. Zohak. Another name of Azi Dahaka’s opponent was Thraetaona, the Feridun of later Iranian legend. Thraetaona, Trita son of Aptya (hence Feridun “son of Abtin” in later legend), and Verethraghna (the Armenian Vahagn, identified with Hercules), were different forms of the god of fire and light, Atar or Agni, who fought and conquered the power of storm and darkness, Vritra or Azi Dahaka. Some writers, especially Jewish ones, according to Mirkhond, identified Feridun with Nimrod, meaning in this case Nimrod son of Canaan, treated as an innocent victim of Zohak (the latter being the wicked Nimrod son of Cush). The more usual identification of Feridun was with Noah (Tabari, §668, below, >>); but Feridun, like his progenitor Jamshid, was the immortal Al Khidr or Dhu’l Karnaim, and thus had multiple incarnations. (§274, below, >>). In the Pahlavi Mainu-i-Khrat (ch. VIII. 27) Jamshid, Feridun and Kai Kaus (a king dateable to the end of the second millennium BC) are said to have been created immortal and full of glory by Ahura Mazda, but by following the bad advice of the Satanic Ahriman, each did something wicked, and became mortal: Jamshid made himself a god, Feridun divided up the world amongst his three sons, two of whom rebelled and slew the third, and Kai Kaus attempted to scale heaven on the wings of eagles. These three were animated by the same spirit, that of a righteous king who fell into error, and thus, by a merging of identities, Kai Kaus, as well as Feridun, is found equated with Nimrod, despite the chronological difficulty. Feridun is represented elsewhere as a companion of Al Khidr, rather than being identified with him: different historical figures have been granted, in this instance, one only of the titles of divinity, which might equally be applied to both. Now Feridun stands for the Biblical Noah (Ziusudra, Naggu-napishti) and Al Khidr for Nimrod son of Canaan or Amraphel (Gilgamesh). By the advice of Ziusudra, according to the Mesopotamian legend, Gilgamesh sought the plant which bestowed immortality in the waters on the border of the southern Ocean, but a snake stole it from him when he was off guard. According to an Arabic story, Al Khidr (= Nimrod son of Canaan, Amraphel, Gilgamesh) went in the company of Feridun (= Noah, Ziusudra, Naggu-napishti) in search of the fountain of life. They wandered to the southern parts of the globe for days together, but observed no trace of the fountain. One day, being wholly destitute, they caught a fish or water-creature (corresponding to the snake in the Mesopotamian legend) in the sea, and Khidr took the fish to a fountain to clean it. As soon as some of the water from the fountain went into the mouth of the fish in the course of cleaning, the fish became alive and slipped out of Khidr’s hands into the fountain. This was an indication that the fountain held the water of life, of which Khidr drank enough to invigorate and refresh him. In a short time he found himself wholly young. Hence the Arabic name Khidr, “fresh, green growth.” In the Iranian version of the foundling myth, by contrast, Feridun takes the role of Al Khidr (= Nimrod son of Canaan, Gilgamesh). He is said to have been reared by his mother secretly in the wilds because Zohak intended to wipe out all members of her family to secure his throne. The name of Feridun’s mother is Faranuk, which denotes a large cat, the caracal or lynx, comparable to the namra (large cat with markings) which reared Nimrod son of Canaan (§186, above, >>). Elements of the myth are first found in the fifth-century AD in the Armenian History of Moses of Khorene (lib. I. cap. XXXII, §1018, below, >>). There Zohak is already connected with Nimrod son of Cush, as a prince subject to his authority, and is finally bound with chains and destroyed by Feridun in a sulphurous pit on Mount Demavend. Moses of Khorene provides the interesting detail that in a “Chaldaean” book he found Zohak’s true name was “the Centaur Puretos.” Puretos means “fever.” Centaur means here “monster, compound demonic being.” That Zohak was originally a demon of sickness is indicated by the description of him as afflicted by noisome ulcers on his shoulders in the form of serpents, which required to be fed each day with the brains of slaughtered humans to assuage the torment they caused him. It is remarkable that the earliest form of this mythic theme is the Sumerian (“Chaldaean”) myth of the combat of the hero-god Ninurta with the serpentine monster Asakku, and Asakku is, in fact, a fever demon. Note the similarity between the name Zohak, or Azi Dahaka in its earlier form, and Asakku (earlier form Asag). It could well be that the Iranian name of the demon arose as an adoption and adaptation of the Sumerian, passed down to the Chaldaeans. The Sumerian myth was used in application to the kings of Kish (who were identified with the demon Asakku) and the later kings of the First Dynasty of Uruk (who were identified with the hero-god Ninurta). Only in the days of the later kings was power transferred from Kish (Asakku) to Uruk (Ninurta). In the days of Enmerkar (Nimrod son of Cush) himself, in the earlier days of the dynasty, Kish (Asakku) was still technically dominant, though Enmerkar was a rising political force. Hence it would be mythologically legitimate to identify Enmerkar with the demonic Asakku, or to represent Asakku as allied to him, and the same would hold true of other prominent figures of the time, as long as they were considered to be under the influence of Enmerkar. Thus, for example, Gilgamesh seen as a victim of Enmerkar (as in Aelian’s story), was identifiable with the hero-god, the opponent of the demon (e.g. Azar the foster-father of Abraham). But Gilgamesh seen as an ally of Enmerkar in his persecution of the righteous (Abraham), was identifiable, along with Enmerkar, as the demon Zohak, as in the Arabic legend of Nimrod son of Canaan. A fuller account of the story of Zohak and Feridun is found in Firdausi’s Shah-nama, the epic of the kings of Persia:


190. “The career of Zohak himself, however, was not unvisited by terrors. One night he dreamt that he was attacked by three warriors; two of them of large stature, and one of them small. The youngest struck him a blow on the head with his mace, bound his hands, and casting a rope round his neck, dragged him along in the presence of crowds of people. Zohak screamed, and sprung up from his sleep in the greatest horror. The females of his harem were filled with amazement when they beheld the terrified countenance of the king, who, in reply to their inquiries, said, trembling: ‘This is a dream too dreadful to be concealed.’ He afterwards called together the Mubids, or wise men of his court; and having communicated to them the particulars of what had appeared to him in his sleep, commanded them to give him a faithful interpretation of the dream. The Mubids foresaw in this vision the approaching declension of his power and dominion, but were afraid to explain their opinions, because they were sure that their lives would be sacrificed if the true interpretation was given to him. Three days were consumed under the pretence of studying more scrupulously all the signs and appearances, and still not one of them had courage to speak out. On the fourth day the king grew angry, and insisted upon the dream being interpreted. In this dilemma, the Mubids said, ‘Then, if the truth must be told, without evasion, thy life approaches to an end, and Feridun, though yet unborn, will be thy successor.’ — ‘But who was it,’ inquired Zohak impatiently, ‘that struck the blow on my head?’ The Mubids declared, with fear and trembling, ‘it was the apparition of Feridun himself, who is destined to smite thee on the head.’ — ‘But why,’ rejoined Zohak, ‘does he wish to injure me?’ — ‘Because, his father’s [Jamshid’s] blood being spilt by thee, vengeance falls into his hands.’ Hearing this interpretation of his dream, the king sunk senseless on the ground; and when he recovered, he could neither sleep nor take food, but continued overwhelmed with sorrow and misery. The light of his day was forever darkened.


191. “Abtin was the name of Feridun’s father, and that of his mother Faranuk, of the race of Tahumers {Tahmurath, traditionally identified with Nimrod}. Zohak, therefore, stimulated to further cruelty by the prophecy, issued an order that every person belonging to the family of the Kais, wherever found, should be seized and fettered, and brought to him. Abtin had long avoided discovery, continuing to reside in the most retired and solitary places; but one day his usual circumspection forsook him, and he ventured beyond his limits. This imprudent step was dreadfully punished, for the spies of Zohak fell in with him, recognized him, and carrying him to the king, he was immediately put to death. When the mother of Feridun heard of this sanguinary catastrophe, she took up her infant and fled. It is said that Feridun was at that time only two months old. In her flight, the mother happened to arrive at some pasturage ground. The keeper of the pasture had a cow named Pur’maieh, which yielded abundance of milk, and he gave it away in charity. In consequence of the grief and distress of mind occasioned by the murder of her husband, Faranuk’s milk dried up in her breasts, and she was therefore under the necessity of feeding the child with the milk from the cow. She remained there one night, and would have departed in the morning; but considering the deficiency of milk, and the misery in which she was involved, continually afraid of being discovered and known, she did not know what to do. At length she thought it best to leave Feridun with the keeper of the pasture, and resigning him to the protection of God, went herself to the mountain Alberz. The keeper readily complied with the tenderest wishes of the mother, and nourished the child with the fondness and affection of a parent during the space of three years. After that period had elapsed, deep sorrow continuing to afflict the mind of Faranuk, she returned secretly to the old man of the pasture, for the purpose of reclaiming and conveying Feridun to a safer place of refuge upon the mountain Alberz. The keeper said to her: ‘Why dost thou take the child to the mountain? he will perish there;’ but she replied that God Almighty had inspired a feeling in her heart that it was necessary to remove him. It was a divine inspiration, and verified by the event.


192. “Intelligence having at length reached Zohak that the son of Abtin was nourished and protected by the keeper of the pasture, he himself proceeded with a large force to the spot, where he put to death the keeper and all his tribe, and also the cow which had supplied milk to Feridun, whom he sought for in vain.

He found the dwelling of his infant-foe,
And laid it in the dust; the very ground
Was punished for the sustenance it gave him.

The ancient records relate that a dervish happened to have taken up his abode in the mountain Alberz, and that Faranuk committed her infant to his fostering care. The dervish generously divided with the mother and son all the food and comforts which God gave him, and at the same time he took great pains in storing the mind of Feridun with various kinds of knowledge. One day he said to the mother: ‘The person foretold by wise men and astrologers as the destroyer of Zohak and his tyranny, is thy son!’”


193. On maturity, Feridun put an end to Zohak’s blood-drenched reign, bound him with chains, and thrust him into Hell. This is the same story of the foundling, and it explains how the name Azar (= Atar = Thraetaona = Feridun) came to appear in the post-Biblical Abraham legend. It accords with the more ancient traditions examined here, in which Gilgamesh (Nimrod son of Canaan) is the Mars-like usurper of Enmerkar (Nimrod son of Cush). The role of Zohak in the Iranian legend corresponds to that of the earlier Nimrod, Nimrod son of Cush. Zohak’s death at the hands of Feridun is identical to that of Nimrod son of Cush, Bel Titan, at the hands of the Armenian hero Haig, and the latter was appropriately identified with the planet Mars, as well as with the constellation Orion: Feridun suspended Zohak by the feet in a pit on Mount Demavend, and ordered his children to be exterminated. (Some of the latter escaped and founded the line of the Sultans of Ghor: see on this and the death of Zohak, Ni’mat Allah, History of the Afghans, vol. IV. p. 47.) Note details in Firdausi’s account like the cow Pur’maieh which suckles Feridun, reflecting, as in other versions, the meaning of the name of the mother of Gilgamesh, Nin-sumun, “Mistress wild cow.” The same reference is found in the extended genealogy of Feridun separating him from his ancestor Jamshid by ten generations, each progenitor in the duration of which is named Aptya, “Of the Waters,” followed by the epithet “Possessor of [such-and-such, black, white, fat etc.] oxen.” (Tabari.) Here is reflected, not only the meaning of the name Nin-sumun, but also the ten generations between the Flood (traditionally the era of Jamshid) and Abraham (the era of Nimrod son of Canaan, viz. Gilgamesh), and the multiple incarnations of Feridun, from Noah to Nimrod son of Canaan, over those ten generations, with a dual patronymic indicating the two identities of Feridun as Noah and Nimrod.


193.1. Note: on the hero and god Perseus. The role of the foundling, and his identification with the god of fire and the planet Mars passed on to different figures, such as Nimrod son of Canaan, Azar, and Haig, on the grounds that they, along with innumerable infants and others, fell victim to the threats and savagery of Nimrod-Enmerkar. Javan son of Japheth was counted as one of the “giants” present at the Tower of Babel (Joannes Antiochenus, ed. Müller, FHG IV. 546a, fr. 8), and it would not be surprising, therefore, to find his offspring identified in this way with the god of fire and the planet Mars. The two sons of Javan in Genesis 10. 4 are Elishah and Tarshish (the other named descendants of the Japhethite patriarch being collective national names, Kittim and Dodanim). Elishah is the ancient Alashiya (Cyprus), the Egyptian Irs (pronounced “Alash” or something similar), and, according to Josephus, the ancestor of the Aeolians of the Greek mainland. Aiolos, the eponymus of the Aeolians, appears to be an abbreviation, representing the first element only, of the Biblical eponymus. (Semitic yl = l, viz. Eyal [whence Aiol-os] = El [whence El-ishah], “power, might.”) Josephus informs us (Antiquities I. vi. 1 = I. 127) that the other son of Javan, Tarshish (Josephus: Tharsos), was the eponymus of the country in Asia Minor known as Cilicia amongst the Greeks, and, accordingly “Tarshishi” appears in a chronicle of the Assyrian king Esarhaddon (Borger, Inschriften Asarhaddons, BAfO 9 [1967(2)], 86, §57. 10-11) as a designation of a land named alongside “Iadanan” (Cyprus or somewhere thereabouts) and “Iaman” (a district settled by Javanites), and presumably in the vicinity of those regions. The Spanish Tartessus, traditionally a Phoenician colony, received its name from the Cilician Tarshish, which was itself settled in an earlier age by Canaanites (Phoenicians). So in Sefer ha-Zikhronot (Jerahmeel, ed. trans. Gaster, XXXI. 13) Tarshish is explained to mean “Tarcesiani” (Heb. t-r-q-y-s-y--n-y, for Tarcessiani = Tartessiani, a common scribal error in medieval MSS., see §886.2.1, below, >>): these are said also to have inhabited Tarsus, and to have migrated to Greece, when the Ishmaelites occupied the latter region. Similarly in Yosippon ([Book I] Pereq 1): “Tarshish, they came to the people of Macedonia, one part of them being [the inhabitants of] Tarsus. And it so happened that when the Ishmaelites captured the land of Tarsus, its inhabitants fled to the border of the sons of Javan. They entered into battle with the Ishmaelites in Tarsus.” Cilicia was a Greek representation of the new name given by the Canaanite immigrants to the earlier Japhethite Tarshish. Josephus says the city of Tarsus was the metropolis of the land of Tarshish (Cilicia), named likewise after the Biblical patriarch. (The same identification is found in the Targums and in the Arabic translation.) In this case also, the common Greek name and the native form, spelled with the consonants trz, represent an abbreviation of the fuller name of the land (Tarshish, Tarshishi). “Tarsha” is the name of the Cilician city already in the Hittite literature of the era of the Egyptian New Kingdom (Kümmel in Reallexikon der Assyriologie, Bd. 5, p. 627, s.n. Kizzuwatna). When the Canaanites settled in the area, the city acquired a patron deity, the “Baal of Tarsus,” the “Lord, or Numen, of Tarsus,” or, more simply, “Lord Tarshish,” viz. the Biblical eponymus, son of Javan. As commonly in such cases, the patron deity was treated as a local manifestation of the Canaanite god of the underworld, of fire, and of the planet Mars, the Tyrian High-god, Melqart. In Tarsus he was known as Sandan (Sandas, Sandes, Sandon etc., an Anatolian name), and as Perseus and Herakles (= Melqart) amongst the Greeks, or otherwise as Zeus (= Baal) or Apollo (= Resheph, Nergal). Triptolemos was also held to have founded Tarsus (Strabo, Geog. XVI. ii. 5), whilst searching for Io, but Triptolemos is another name for Herakles-Melqart (§349, below, >>). The Greek Apollo Tarsios represents the Baal of Tarsus (Tarshish). Similarly Apollo Alasiotes represents the Baal of Alashiya (Elishah). Tarshish being one of the two named sons of Javan, it is as expected that “Perseus” (Baal Tarshish, the Baal of Tarsus) played an important part in the traditions of the Greek Heroic Age. As in the case of the Greek Herakles, in which a local hero Alkaios was identified with the much earlier Oriental god Herakles, so in this instance a king of Argos called Eurymedon (Apoll. Rhod. 4. 1514, Hesychius, s.n. Eurymedon, Orus in Etym. Mag. 665. 45) was identified with the Oriental sun-god Perseus (that is, Parsi = Nergal, see §80, above, >>). Far-flung eastern and African traditions thus became attached to the local Greek hero. Tarshish means “(Man of) Destruction” and Perseus likewise means “Destroyer” (if taken, as it was traditionally, to be formed from Gk. perthô [> pers-], “plunder, destroy, kill”); the consonants r-s of the former, the root consonants of the Semitic name, or r-z in the city-name trz (Tarsus), are nicely echoed in the r-s of the latter. Tarsus itself is named Persea in Lucanus (Pharsalia iii. 225), after Perseus the founder of the city (Solinus 38, Marcellinus, XIV. 25). The same Semitic root r‑s is found in the Hebrew name “peres” (see Gesenius-Tregelles, s.vv. Tarshish, peres [from prs with a final samekh], pr, prd etc.) of the ossifrage or marine eagle, which is noted for “destroying, dismembering, dividing,” snakes, turtles, marrow-filled bones, etc., by dropping them onto rocks. This word looks remarkably similar to the Greek personal noun, and is probably its ultimate source. It is formed from the same three Hebrew consonants as the ethnic name Paras, “Persia,” which was thought in antiquity to be present in the name Perseus (Isidore, Etymologiae IX. ii. 47, §677.14ff., below, >>, and cf. §80, above, >>). In Aramaic the ossifrage, peres, is known as Uzza and Uzzya (Jastrow, Talmudic Dictionary, s.vv. Uzza I, and II[2], and Azzael), which is otherwise the name of the fallen angel (the “son of God”) who, in company with the Angel of Death, Azzael or Uzzyel (viz. his alter ego), attempted to seduce Esther (= Eshterah, Ishtar, the “daughter of Man”) in the pre-diluvian era (cf. Gen. 6, and in detail, §423ff., below, >>), but whom she resisted and eluded to ascend to heaven as kimah (constellation), that is kimah Ash, the Pleiades. This is a Talmudic version of the Babylonian myth in which Ishtar was held captive in the underworld realm of Nergal (= Parsi, Peres, Uzza), but was finally released to ascend to heaven as the planet Venus, the brightest astral body in the night-sky, and/or as one of the assorted constellations, including the Pleiades, with which the goddess was identified. (See further §346, below, >>.) In Aramaic the same bird Peres or Uzza is known as Ar (‛-r) or Arya (‛-r-y-’), on which see §626.17.4 (Further Observations), below, >>. In the Defloratio Berosi (§889.58, below, >>) “Perus” meaning “Griffin” (= Heb. peres, translated grups, “vulture, griffin” in the LXX), is the eponymus of Perugia (anciently Perusia) in Italy, and of the “Armenian Janigenes Griphonii.” This tribe, named the “Griffins” from the eponymus “Perus, Griffin,” traced their descent from Janus-Noa (and thus are called “Janigenes”), and inhabited “Armenia” before their migration to Italy. The city of Perugia is in Etruscan territory and features amongst its antiquities, as is the case throughout Etruria generally, a plethora of Medusa heads and of Apollo’s griffins, combining the features of an eagle and a lion, as, for example, in the tomb of the Volumnii. Janus in the Defloratio is Janus I (Noah) of the “Fourth Son” tradition, a duplicate or earlier avatar of Janus II = Javan (or Ion), the son of Japheth. Thus “Perus” of Perugia might equally be considered the son of Javan (Janus). The genealogical relationship between these two of son to father is then identical to that of Tarshish and Javan in Genesis 10: and “Perseus” similarly is the eponymus of Persea-Tarshish in “Armenia,” strictly, Cilicia, whose later associations were with Javan, that is, Greece and the Greek colonies in Italy. In the fragment of Pausanias of Damascus referred to at §354.3, below, >>, Perseus is specifically the son of the Italian Picus-Zeus, “picus” meaning “griffin” as well as “woodpecker,” and Perseus saves the people of Ione-Iopolis (named after the eponymus Ion or Io = Javan/Janus) from the raging Drakon River (the Orontes at Antioch), founds Tarsus in Cilicia and institutes fire-worship amongst the Persians. Perseus may in that case, too, be the eponymus Perus = Peres, the “Vulture, Griffin,” that is, the sun-god, Apollo, etc. The elder Horus (Apollo in the interpretatio Graeca, the Baal of Tarsus), the “destroyer” and “breaker” of snakes and marine creatures, was equipped with the wings of what we would call a vulture, and the Greeks termed a grups or an aetos, “eagle,” viz. a peres-like bird, by which he was enabled to fly across the heavens as the sun-disk. His iconography, like that of the griffins of Apollo, and of Nergal (Parsi) in Mesopotamia, combined the features of an eagle and a lion. The Mesopotamian name Parsi, “Breaker,” may originally have been the name of this griffin of Nergal (= Heb. peres). From Nergal, in that case, it passed on to Horus in Egypt and Baal in Canaan, and then onto the Baal of Tarsus, and finally (along with the people of Tarshish/Tarsus, descended from Javan) into Greece as Perseus. Perseus (explained in antiquity as helios, the “sun,” Tzetzes in Lyc., ver. 17) was equipped with wings, in his case, on his sandals, by which he could fly through the heavens. There was a temple to the Greek Perseus at Chemmis in Upper Egypt in the time of Herodotus (Hdt. II. 91), where his bigger than human sandal was believed to appear on occasions, and Chemmis was the center of the cult of Min assimilated to the Winged Horus of Edfu. This Horus was the Egyptian Mars or Hercules (Perseus), who fought (in his martial sandals, like Perseus) in Libya and the Eastern Mediterranean coastlands in primeval times against foes represented as marine monsters, crocodiles and hippopotami. (See further and in detail, §124, above, >>, §626.1.1, below, >>, §884.5.6, below, >>, with cross-references.) In the alternative tradition referred to by Ammianus Marcellinus, Sandan, rather than Perseus, was credited with the founding of Tarsus, and Ammianus noted that Sandan “proceeded” thither from Ethiopia to found the city, viz. from the environs of Upper Egypt. The name Perseus identifies the Javanite patriarch Tarshish as the god of underworld fire and the planet Mars, like the foundlings threatened by Nimrod-Enmerkar. The story in Aelian draws that comparison explicitly, and confirms the application of the role of the foundling to the Javanite eponymus Tarshish (Perseus = Baal Tarshish). One of these foundlings was Sanchuniathon’s Ieoud (the Biblical Heth, son of Canaan), who was offered up as an holocaust by Elos-Kronos (Nimrod-Enmerkar), in a fate reminiscent of that of Herakles in the more gruesome, oriental, strand of the Greek tradition. Heth was the ancestor of the Hittites of Syria and Asia Minor, that is of those very Canaanites who occupied the site of Tarshish. His mythology formed the groundwork for that of the Egyptian Mars, and the Libyan Hercules, that is, of the Winged Horus in Egypt (see the references supra), as well as of the solar Baal Melqart in Canaan, and of Baal Tarshish (Perseus) in Tarshish itself. The Greek myth of Perseus was a parallel development, rather than an alternative version merely, of the earlier oriental story.


194. Other traditions relating to the First Dynasty of Uruk confirm the possibility of actual or perceived conflict between its members. The mother of Gilgamesh was Nin-sumun. Nin-sumun, the mother of Gilgamesh, was also the mother of Dumuzi (Tammuz). In Phoenician myth Adonis (Tammuz) was the son of Alphesiboea (= Nin-sumun) likewise, but in the common version of the story Adonis was begotten by incest of his mother with her own father. Some doubt about Nin-sumun’s partner, and about the legitimacy of her other son, is reflected in the Sumerian King List, crediting the “obscure man,” otherwise the demon or phantom, with the begetting of Gilgamesh. There is traditional evidence that tension arose in the household of Enmerkar between the children of Nin-sumun respecting their several rights to the throne. In the Phoenician story Tammuz the hunter-fisher was slain by Ares (Mars) in the form of a boar (the symbol of Ares) because of rivalry between Tammuz and Ares for the love of Aphrodite. Ares here is the Phoenician Melqart (= the Sumerian Nergal or Eragal, the god of the Underworld and of the planet Mars). But we have already seen how Gilgamesh was identified with Nergal-Melqart. The rivalry between the Phoenician Tammuz and Ares, therefore, may be held to refer to a perceived difference or conflict between Tammuz and Gilgamesh of the kind we have suggested here. Both were known in Sumerian myth to have been courted by Inana (= Venus, Ishtar, Aphrodite in the Phoenician story). Tammuz perished as a consequence but, according to the Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh rejected her advances and survived.


195. We can reconstruct a scheme, in which the figures are identified with Egyptian and corresponding Phoenician and Mesopotamian divinities, to illustrate the difference or conflict in the household of Enmerkar as follows:


Osiris = Adonis = Tammuz = (1) Enmerkar
(and/or Horus) = (2) Tammuz

Isis = Hathor
= Eshterah = Ishtar = Nin-sumun

Seth
= Melqart = Nergal = Gilgamesh (brother and rival of Tammuz)



196. The conflict is represented in Egyptian myth as a struggle between Seth (= Gilgamesh), on the one hand, whose symbol was a boar, and Osiris and/or Horus son of Osiris (= Enmerkar and/or his son Tammuz). In Mesopotamian mythology identification with Tammuz applied whether the king so identified was dead or alive, but in Egypt the dead king was identified with the god Osiris, and the living king with Osiris’ son Horus. Effectively Egyptian myth split the role of the Sumerian Tammuz into two: Tammuz as a dead king of the past was Osiris, Tammuz as a living king was Horus. Osiris was “reincarnated” in his posthumous son Horus, and Horus, on death, became Osiris. It was believed that Horus was conceived by intercourse of his mother with the spirit of Osiris, when Osiris was dead, which is reminiscent of the legend referred to in the Sumerian King List that a demon consorted with Nin-sumun, the mother of Gilgamesh. The god Seth was particularly identified with Asiatics in Egyptian myth because of Seth’s identification with Melqart, the god of the Canaanites, as also, in this light, because of the important role played by Gilgamesh-Amraphel (= Nergal, Melqart, Seth) in the history of the Levant in the Early Bronze Age.


197. In the abundant material relating to Gilgamesh in the native Mesopotamian sources, there is no indication that Gilgamesh himself was rescued, in the way Aelian describes, as a child, or that he was directly responsible for depriving Enmerkar of the kingdom. Only his birth from an “obscure man” or “spirit” is mentioned, and that in the briefest of references in the Sumerian King List


198. There can be no doubt, furthermore, that any literate Babylonian, on hearing Aelian’s story, would recognize the theme of the ascent on the back of an eagle as that he already knew well from the legend of Etana of Kish, and the theme of the child rescued in the garden as the story of the birth of king Sargon of Agade. Etana was famed for having ascended to heaven on the back of a divine eagle to obtain the plant of birth by which he could beget a son. This eagle was the symbol of Etana’s city Kish. Sargon was said to have been set adrift on a river when he was a baby and rescued by a gardener. (Compare the Arabic legend of Nimrod son of Canaan, who was similarly set adrift.) Historically Sargon rose to power in the same city of Kish. Aelian’s story may, in that case, be associating Gilgamesh in some way with the dynastic line or “seed” of Kish, first persecuted by Enmerkar of Uruk and his successors, then finally triumphant under Sargon of Agade.


199. If the Etana and Sargon motifs in Aelian represent, at the minimum, historical events which resulted in the fall of the dynasty of Enmerkar, then they point to Kish as the focus of those events. And according to the Sumerian King List, Kish was indeed involved in, and responsible for, the final wresting of power, by divine decree, from the dynasty of Enmerkar. In the reign of Lugal-zagesi, the last of a string of insignificant kings of Uruk following Gilgamesh (§603, below, >>), the currently dominant city of Kish, under the successors of king Ur-Zababa, was laid waste. It was at this time that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed and concurrently centers of civilization throughout the Near East collapsed. Migrations of population were set in motion and political life was thrown into turmoil. In Kish Ur-Zababa’s cup-bearer, Sargon, rose to power and routed Lugal-zagesi. He set up a Semitic-speaking Empire in Mesopotamia, with its center at Agade (Akkad, Accad), which extirpated the Sumerian power-bases in the land. (Dynasty of Agade c. 2000-1850 BC, roughly coterminous with the First Intermediate Period in Egypt.) The reactionary and despotic Ur III Sumerian revival, in turn, followed the dynasty of Sargon, first weakened and finally overwhelmed by “barbaric” hordes from the East known as Gutians. (See further on the identity of the Gutians, or army of Gutium, §814ff., below, >>. The Ur III Dynasty flourished c. 1850-1750 BC, the beginning of this period roughly coinciding with the commencement of the Middle Kingdom and Dynasty XII in Egypt.) The Ur III dynasty, however, was unable to counteract for the long term the political effects of Sargon’s coup: Mesopotamia, after the Ur III interlude, remained largely in the hands of non-Sumerian, and usually Semitic-speaking, peoples. In Biblical terms, this was a crisis which witnessed the ousting of the Hamitic descendants of the Tower-builders, and the return of Mesopotamia to its legitimate inheritors of the line of Shem. For the Sumerians it was a disaster of unparalleled proportions, and a theme worthy of wistful remembrance long afterwards in myth and legend, as, according to this interpretation, in the story of Gilgamos preserved by Aelian.


199.1. Note: on Semites and Sumerians. The earliest historical sources in a Semitic language, which can be read as connected accounts, occur in the Old Akkadian period of the First Dynasty of Akkad (Agade), that is from c. 2000 BC (Biblical and uncalibrated radiocarbon chronology). The language is Old Akkadian, which is an early Semitic dialect. These texts preserve fossilized within them, particularly in personal names, remnants of an earlier Semitic dialect, in which the words lacked grammatical endings and mimation (the nominative ending -um, etc.). The same is evidenced in the Semitic kings’ names in the early section of the First Dynasty of Kish, the first after the Flood in the Sumerian King List (that is, from c. 2435 BC), e.g. Zuqaqip (a personal name meaning “Scorpion,” not Zuqaqipum). This earlier dialect, therefore, had features reminiscent of Classical Hebrew. There are traces also of nouns with a final -a, which looks like an Aramaic emphatic. (Cf. Etana, “the mighty one.”) According to Rabbinic tradition “Hebrew” was the original universal language, the sacred language, and “Aramaic” the popular dialectal variation, spoken before the Tower episode. The writing system of the Old Akkadians had been developed amongst a different language-group, the Sumerians (Calnites), who were concentrated in Southern Mesoptamia (Calneh = Kiengi, Sumer) around the head of the Persian Gulf. The surrounding areas spoke predominantly Akkadian. The linguistic dichotomy, and the location of the Sumerians on an overseas trade route, the Persian Gulf, suggests the Sumerians were a foreign implant. Sumerian epic literature makes much of the connection between the Mesopotamian cities in Sumer and the land of Aratta in Afghanistan, where metals and lapis lazuli were mined and traded, and no difference in language is noticed in the transactions therein related. This suggests the Sumerians were immigrants from Aratta. The same is indicated by the following statement in the Epic Enme(r)kar and the Lord of Aratta (§173, above, >>): “They [the people of Aratta, before the rise of Enmerkar’s Uruk] are people whom she [Inana] has separated from other people, they are people whom Dumuzid [= Dumuzi, Tammuz] has made step forth from other people, who firmly establish the holy words of Inana …. After the flood had swept over, Inana, the lady of all the lands, from her great love of Dumuzid, has sprinkled the water of life upon those who had stood in the face of the flood and made the Land [= Sumer] subject to them.” This tells us that the goddess Inana made Sumer subject to the people of Aratta immediately after the Flood because they were devotees of her beloved, Dumuzi(d). The location of Aratta was “Scythia” in later terminology. Sumerian was identified as “Scythian” when it was first discovered in the nineteenth century, and has frequently thereafter been compared, and thought to be similar in significant respects, to what were anciently termed “Scythian” languages (e.g. Turkish). As merchants and traders it would be natural for the people of Aratta to have developed a system of notation (picture-writing in its most primitive phase) to list goods for sale etc., and this is precisely the kind of thing evidenced in the earliest texts. In the (mostly Sumerian) tablets from Abu Salabikh near Nippur in the very heart of Sumer “approximately half the names in the colophons to the lexical and literary texts are Semitic” (Biggs), showing Semitic scribes played an important part in their production. These tablets are coeval with those from Fara, which likewise contain largely undecipherable Sumerian, but among the decipherable portions the earliest form of the name Gilgamesh. In this context it is understandable how two signs read bil and mesh (Bil-mesh > Bilga-mesh > Gilgamesh) by Sumerians were read niplu or upillû and maru by Semites (Maru-niplu/Maru-upillû > Amraphel). Considering Mesopotamia was the Semitic homeland, the writing-system was probably invented by Semites, and employed by Semites to write Sumerian for the influential Sumerian merchants and artificers in the South. This was in the Early Dynastic period, after the dispersal from the Tower (in the Jemdet Nasr period). The Aratta stories were the basis of the later Armenian accounts of the Japhethite line, of Haig, Ara, etc., in Ararat, and hence it can be concluded the Sumerians were Japhethites. This explains how in Genesis 11. 2 it is said “As they journeyed [lit. migrated, or traveled as migrant tent-dwellers] from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled down there ….” etc., later building the city and Tower. Aratta was in the “east” and traders were migrants. The account in Genesis seems to be describing the arrival of Japhethite traders in Southern Mesopotamia. These were the prime movers in the building of the city (Babel = Eridu) and the Tower (E-ana) in Shinar The project was taken up and directed by the Hamites, Cush and Nimrod, who traced their descent from Shem deliberately in order to authenticate their rule in the territory of Shem (the central Asian zone, including Mesopotamia). After the Tower episode, the Japhethites were scattered. In their homelands further east, in and around Aratta, they developed over the next few hundred years a distinctive dialect, “Sumerian,” so called in Mesopotamia after the land (Calneh = Kiengi = Sumer) in Southern Mesopotamia where the offspring of their colonies still outnumbered the Semitic natives. They remained defiantly independent in Aratta itself of Nimrod’s expansionist ambitions. Nimrod was “Enmerkar” in their language. They first developed the writing-system (invented, apparently, by Semites), to manage their trading accounts, and began to record also in more connected narratives the stories of their dealings with the Tower generation and its immediate successors in their own native tongue. Since the developed writing-system passed down to the Semites of the First Dynasty of Akkad c. 2000 BC, the earliest written accounts of those generations were in Sumerian. This has led to the false assumption that the earliest population of Mesopotamia spoke Sumerian, and that the Sumerians invented the script. The three major languages and language groupings were: Semitic (proto-Semitic developing into Old Akkadian), Hamitic (Old Kingdom Egyptian) and Japhethite (Sumerian). A few other minority dialects are evidenced in Old Akkadian texts, three hundred years or so (Biblical chronology and uncalibrated radiocarbon chronology) after the dispersion from the Tower in the Jemdet Nasr period. Before the later Early Dynastic period the writing is too primitive to be sure what language or languages are represented by the pictographs, though it may be presumed, in most cases, to be Sumerian, given that Sumerians developed the script.


200. The hubris of Gilgamesh is highlighted in Sumerian epic, particularly his rejection of the goddess Inana. Since Inana was believed to bestow the throne on her favorites, it would have been thought unwise of Gilgamesh, to say the least, for him to have flouted her, and this would provide an explanation ready to hand, for those who wished to maintain the reputation of the religion introduced by Enmerkar, of the final collapse of the latter’s political, as opposed to his religious, creation. On the basis of his visit to Ziusudra (Noah) in the faraway land across the Ocean, Gilgamesh was also held to have reformed the religious rites of his native land by introducing images of dead ancestors for worship and lamps and games at their tombs. This, in combination with the tradition that he rejected Inana, suggests a move on his part towards the acceptance of a higher view of the divinity of earlier patriarchs like Ziusudra, if not to a faith on the patriarchal model. It may have marked him, similarly, as a religious ally of the patriarchs of the line of Shem.


201. A more historically oriented view would be that Gilgamesh provoked the ultimate demise of his own dynasty at the hands of Kish and its allies by his conflict with the House of Kish, under Enmebaragesi and his son Aga, which is so well documented in Sumerian epic. In fact, Gilgamesh captured, but did not kill Aga of Kish, and this might explain why Gilgamesh was held responsible, as in Aelian’s story, for the later revival of the Kish dynasty. One of the most renowned scions of the House of Kish in the era of Gilgamesh — the first post-diluvian dynasty — was the very Etana who features implicitly in the story of Aelian as a cause of the downfall of the line of Enmerkar. Though he is separated by several reigns in the Sumerian King List from Enmebaragesi, the arrangement of the list is not sequential, and it is commonly accepted that the kings of Kish preceding Enmebaragesi, including Etana, were roughly contemporary with the first kings of the First Dynasty of Uruk. (See the translation of the Sumerian King List at §590f., below, >>.) The First Dynasty of Kish opens the post-diluvian section in the Sumerian King List, features Etana approximately half way down the list of royal names, then ends with Aga the contemporary of Gilgamesh. The First Dynasty of Kish is followed immediately in the Sumerian King List by the First Dynasty of Uruk. Gilgamesh is the fifth king in the Dynasty of Uruk. Therefore Gilgamesh’s four predecessors (Mes-kianga-sher, Enmerkar, Lugal-banda and Dumuzi, in order from earliest to latest) were contemporary with Aga’s predecessors of the First Dynasty of Kish. But in an alternative tradition attested in Berossus (§241.1, below, >>), Enmerkar of the First Dynasty of Uruk is the first king after the Flood. That being granted, the kings from Enmerkar to Gilgamesh inclusive will have spanned roughly the same time as the whole of the First Dynasty of Kish. Etana, half way down the Kish list, would then be a contemporary of the generation following Enmerkar, or of the one following that. Gilgamesh of Uruk, according to the Epic recounting his exploits, traveled a long distance in the direction of the sun’s diurnal rotation in order to have an interview with the Flood-hero Naggu-napishti (= Ziusudra, Noah). The latter had received “eternal life” and was removed to a foreign land in the east by the blessing of “the gods.” Since the normal lifespan then, both in Sumerian tradition and in the Bible, was longer than the average today, it is possible the Flood-hero was, in fact, alive in some remote location in the earlier phase of the lifetime of Gilgamesh. This tradition implies a single lifespan, if only the greater than average one of the Flood-hero, 350 post-diluvian years, according to Genesis 9. 28 covered the whole of the First Dynasty of Kish and the first five reigns of the First Dynasty of Uruk. Another epic tradition represents Etana of Kish as the first (post-diluvian) king of all. This, in combination with Berossus’ tradition, would make Etana a contemporary of Enmerkar. If the two dynasties were roughly contemporaneous, and the more primitive, and presumably more authoritative, Sumerian King List is taken as the basis for the chronological framework, then Etana, at a point mid-way between the Flood and Aga, will, as in the other calculation, have been contemporary with the generation following Enmerkar, say with Nin-sumun, the mother of Dumuzi and Gilgamesh, or with Aelian’s daughter of Euechoros (Enmerkar), at a similar position in the First Dynasty of Uruk. The birth of the son to this daughter would likewise synchronize with the era of Etana. That makes more understandable the incorporation of elements of the Etana legend in Aelian’s story.


202. The tradition preserved by Aelian is commonly, and credibly, derived from Berossus via Juba of Mauretania. Berossus seems to have known Etana, even though he commences his post-diluvian king list with Euechoios (Enmerkar) of Uruk. The following passage of Berossus is quoted by Josephus (Antiquities I. 158 = I. vii. 2): “In the tenth generation after the Flood, there lived a certain man amongst the Chaldaeans, a righteous man and of great influence, one who had experience of heavenly things.” Berossus used native Babylonian sources and in these there is only one figure who matches this description, that is, Etana. Firstly, he was “experienced in heavenly things,” as he was believed to have ascended to heaven on the wings of the divine eagle, Anzu. Secondly, he was noted for his piety, in particular, for his humane treatment of the eagle, for which he was rewarded with the flight to heaven and ultimately (it is implied) with the birth of the son for which he yearned. Thirdly, he was a king of Kish, and therefore “influential” in the way Berossus asserts. Furthermore, using one recension of the Sumerian King List (a Pennsylvanian Expedition tablet, Jacobsen’s P2 from Nippur), ten reigns precisely can be deduced to have intervened between Etana and the Flood: six kings of Kish immediately following the Flood in the Weld-Blundell prism, the major source for the king list, and other texts (though not all the names are complete in the prism), and these are followed by four kings from the Pennsylvania tablet up to Etana, viz. Galibum (= Kalibum), Aba-Atabba-Kalum (= Qalumum), Zugagip (= Zuqaqip), and Arwi (= Arwium) son of Mashda, this tablet being defective for the preceding reigns. Though, from a strict historical viewpoint, the Pennsylvania tablet is an inferior source, and may have conflated some reigns in this section, it is evidence nonetheless of a traditional scheme which could have been available to Berossus and spawned his reference to ten generations from the Flood to the one “who had experience of heavenly things.” For an analysis of the early post-diluvian section of the King List, and the location of Etana in the 10th generation after the Flood in the source(s) underlying it, see further §207.1ff., below, >>.


203. Josephus does not tell us what else, if anything, Berossus had to say about this person. The reference seems rather isolated as it stands. It is possible that the story continued with the account of how he was born secretly in the house of Euechoios/Euechoros, as implied of other children in Aelian’s story, rescued by the eagle, and brought up to manhood under the aegis of Gilgamos. Following the logic of Aelian’s introduction to the story, his account would then, presumably, have proceeded to relate how precisely the foundling brought about the downfall of the kingdom of Euechoros.


204. Beyond that, there is little that can be extracted from the fragments of Berossus. But Josephus introduces the passage with the following, astounding, assertion: “Berossus makes mention of our father Abraham, without naming him, as follows: In the tenth generation … etc.” Berossus’ reference to the “righteous” man was taken by Josephus to be a reference to the Biblical Abraham. This might, without reflection, be dismissed as a mere mistake on the part of Josephus. There would seem to be no reason why Berossus should have had in his native Babylonian records a mention of the Hebrew patriarch Abraham. But further consideration suggests other possibilities. The name Etana can, as we shall see, be made to make sense in Sumerian, but it is an odd formation for that language. Some have speculated there might be a connection with the Semitic name Ethan (Heb. Eytan), meaning (Jastrow, Talmudic Dictionary s.v.) “Mighty one,” used to describe a patriarch. Ethan was also a word used of “sheer” or “relentless” rock-faces and was hence translated “ascent” (Latin robustus sive ascensus, Jerome, De Nominibus Hebraicis [following Origen], De Regnorum Liber III s.n.). A relatively common phenomenon in Sumerian is the use or preservation of such Semitic words, personal names, etc., superficially altered to give the appearance of native Sumerian forms. Ethan in this case will have been represented in Sumerian as Etana. But Ethan, according to post-Biblical Rabbinic tradition, was an alternative name for the patriarch Abraham. “Ethan the Ezrahite” mentioned in the superscription of Psalm 89, “Ethan the native,” is said to have been Abraham under another name (Fabricius, Codex Pseudepigraphus, Hamburg, 1722, p. 405, referring to Baba Bathra Chapter 1 [Gemara] “David wrote the Psalms,’ etc. But why did the Boraitha not enumerate also Ethan the Ezrahite? Said Rabh: ‘The latter and Abraham are identical.’” The same is found in Quaestiones Hebraicae in Libros Regum et Paralipomenon, written by an Hebrew Christian no later than the first quarter of the ninth-century AD, on I Kings 4. 31: “Ethan means ‘very firm’ [durissimus] and Ezrahi [Esraita] ‘eastern.’ This Ethan is Abraham the easterner [Abraam orientalis].”) The epithet “native” may be presumed to be a reference to the native land of Ethan: Ethan “so called in his native land,” which, in Abraham’s case, was Mesopotamia. Ethan, the “Mighty one,” would be Ethana in Aramaic, and therefore Etana transcribed into Sumerian. Beyond mere semantics, there is a curious similarity between the Mesopotamian story of Etana and the Biblical account of Abraham-Ethan. Both were herders or “shepherds.” Both spent a major part of their life in Southern Mesopotamia (Kish in Etana’s case, the land of Ur of the Chaldaeans in Abraham’s case), and in the latter period of their life rose to a prominent position in society. (Nicolaus of Damascus [apud Josephus, Antiquities I. 159f. = I. vii. 2] actually describes Abraham, like Etana, as having reigned as a king [ebasileusen] over the city and land of “Damascus,” after arriving there as a stranger from the land of the Chaldaeans north of Babylon on his way to the land of Canaan. Damascus might here merely be the name of the native land and city of “Damascus” Eliezer, so called, as the Sefer ha-Zikhronot of Elazar ben Levi relates the background of this event [ed. trans. Gaster, Jerahmeel, XXXV. 2] as follows: “Now it came to pass when Abram came from Babylon i.e., Ur of the Chaldees — he betook himself to Damascus, he and his household, and was made king over that city; for Eliezer was then the ruler of Damascus; but when he saw that the Lord was with Abram he presented him with the kingdom and surrendered himself to his service.” See infra on the name Damascus-Eliezer in relation to the region of Harran.) Both Etana and Abraham-Ethan were noted for the fact they had at first no child. Both were given divine help to address the problem. Both, finally, succeeded in begetting a child. The number of generations between the Flood and Abraham is of the same order of magnitude. Abraham represents the ninth (or tenth inclusive) generation after the Flood in the Hebrew text, the tenth (or eleventh inclusive) in the Septuagint, and in a post-Biblical tradition (Eupolemus apud Alexander Polyhistor, in Eusebius’ Praeparatio Evangelica IX. xvii. 3) the thirteenth (perhaps fourteenth inclusive). Similarly in different recensions of the Sumerian King List Etana represents the generation between the eleventh position (twelfth inclusive) and the thirteenth position (fourteenth inclusive) after the Flood.


205. Furthermore, the Sumerian King List makes mention of a son of Etana called “Balih.” This need not be the son he is said to have obtained by divine intervention in the legend — presumably his first child it could be some later offspring or a dependent male relative. But Balih (otherwise written Balikh) is the name of the river on which is located the city Harran, whither Abraham himself migrated from the land of Ur, and in the locality of which his near relatives settled and multiplied (Gen. 22. 20-24). Abraham subsequently directed his sons by Keturah to settle there also (Gen. 25. 6, cp. Gen. 29. 1 on the location). Thus, both Etana and Abraham were associated with the region of Harran, in the north of Mesopotamia, as well as with the southern plains. Note what Berossus says concerning the “righteous man:” “In the tenth generation after the Flood, there lived a certain man amongst the Chaldaeans ….” The Chaldaeans were an Aramaean tribe, and Abraham’s nephew, Kemuel, — one of his relatives who lived in the area of the Balih river, — was the “father [ancestor] of Aram [the Aramaeans]” according to Gen. 22. 21. Kemuel’s brother Cesed (Gen. 22. 22), was, according to Jerome (Quaestiones hebraicae in libro Geneseos in loc. [following Origen]), the eponymous ancestor of the Casdim or Chaldaeans. The neighboring reference to the “father of Aram” (Gesenius-Tregelles, s.v.), lends credence to this tradition. “Caseth quoque quartus est, a quo Casdim, id est Chaldaei, postea uocati sunt.” “Cesed was the fourth [child] from whom the Casdim, that is the Chaldaeans, later received their appellation.” The personal name Balih of the son of Etana is found attached to a river in the zone inhabited by the Chaldaean relatives of Abraham. As a river-name Balih means “Awesome, fearful” (from the root palahu, also written with an initial “b,” cf. Chicago Assyrian Dictionary s.v. mng. [3], and, for its application to raging waters, s.v. palhu, “to fear, be in awe, be reverent, serve, provide reverential service, perform filial duties, to, etc.”). As a personal name Balih (Palih) means rather “Reverent, god-fearing, servile, providing services.” Lexical texts equate the verb palahu with the verb adaru, meaning similarly “to fear, be troubled,” etc. This word adaru merges into the form ederu, and this is the equivalent of the Hebrew word “ezer” (“d” and “z” being often exchanged for one another in Semitic dialects): the Hebrew “ezer” similarly means “the provision of services, help, support,” etc. The same word Balih was represented in Sumerian as BALIKHA, written with two signs (1) KASKAL + (2) KUR, representing (1) a road and (2) mountains. One copy of the Sumerian King List (Jacobsen’s K, fragments of a tablet from Kuyunjik) spells the name of Etana’s “son” Balih in that manner, employing the two signs. The same two signs can be read ILLAT as well as BALIKHA. ILLAT conveys a similar meaning to BALIKHA (= Balih), that is, “the providing of support, help, etc.” ILLAT is a Sumerian representation by adaptation of the Semitic noun illatu, meaning “reinforcements, help, support, caravan, donkey-caravan, band of confederates,” etc. The same two signs (road + mountains) are used to represent a divine name, which is otherwise written more fully AN.ILLAT (AN = “God” or “a god,” ILLAT = “help”). The name, therefore, means “divine service/help,” or, more specifically, “God [my] help.” This is precisely the meaning of the Hebrew name Eliezer, of the “servant” and adopted “son” of Abraham: Hebrew El[i] = “God/divine” ezer = “help, service, reinforcements.” AN in Sumerian corresponds to the Akkadian (Babylonian) ilu, “god,” and ilu to the Hebrew El. ILLAT in Sumerian = BALIKHA, which is the Akkadian palahu, whilst palahu = adaru, merging into ederu, equivalent to the Hebrew ezer. BALIKHA alone (ILLAT without the initial AN), is equivalent to the combination of both elements, Eli+ezer, if understood in the sense “divine service.” Thus, Balih (ILLAT), the son of Etana, is the Biblical Eliezer, the adopted son of Abraham. In Arabic tradition Eliezer is identified with the immortal Al Khidr (otherwise El Khidr), whose name looks suspiciously like that of the Biblical figure himself. The significant element in the Arabic name, khidr, comes from a root cognate to the Hebrew -r, “to enclose” and hence ḥaṣer, “enclosed garden,” from which the Arabic acquires the meaning “green, verdant (as of a fertile enclosed garden).” It was as a direct consequence of this that Al Khidr was equated with the Greek personal name Georgios (George), as this likewise means in Greek “He of the garden.” The bi-consonantal root of the Arabic Khidr is -r = d-r, “bind, enclose,” whence the words referred to above in relation to ILLAT, adaru, “to be enclosed in darkness, gloom,” and ederu (cf. Hebrew ezer), “gird (in support).” Thus the Arabic name Al Khidr is likely to be, in origin, a dialectical variation or mystical transformation of the personal name Eliezer. Al Khidr was commonly identified with the prophet-god Hermes Trismegistos, and through this identification traditions relating originally to Eliezer became intertwined with the pagan cult of Hermes (Egyptian Thoth, Min, Amun), and with those of the many other gods with whom Hermes was identified, and vice versa; this probably on account of the fact that ILLAT or AN.ILLAT, that is “Eli-ezer,” was the name of a god (of traveling and fertilizing waters, like the Egyptian Hermes) in the homeland of the tradition. It is unlikely to be coincidence, therefore, that Al Khidr’s personal name is said to have been Baliya (b-l-y-): this has been thought to be a corruption of the name Elijah (Arabic Ilya), Al Khidr being also identified with Elijah, but is better explained as a survival of the earlier Semitic name Balih (= Sumerian BALIKHA). Baliya is effectively identified with Melchizedek (another form of Al Khidr) in this tradition, as he is described as the son of Malkan (= Melchi), which is the patronymic of Melchizedek (§349.0.3.2, below, >>), §211, below, >>). Baliya’s descent is then traced through Peleg back to Shem. The genealogy Shem through Peleg is that of Nimrod in some accounts (§884.4.5.8, below, >>), and Eliezer is said to have been originally a son of Nimrod later adopted by Abraham (§140, above, >>). Thus Baliya, presuming he is Eliezer, and secondarily Melchizedek as another form of Al Khidr, might come to share Nimrod’s alternative genealogy descending from Shem through Peleg.


205.1 Note: The sign ILLAT is also, more commonly, read tillatu (from the same root as illatu); and this latter word, as well as meaning “help, reinforcements, support,” also means “vine,” presumably because the vine needs “support” (a trellis or similar) to grow. The association of Eliezer with wine in Classical myth has already been illustrated and explained. As regards the city-name Damascus, and its connection with Eliezer in Genesis 15. 2, Damascus might be interpreted to mean “He of [da-] the strengthening, support, banding together [meshek/meseq],” by way of translation of the name ILLAT. (Cf. Gesenius-Tregelles s.v. m-sh-q on the equivalence of the Hebrew forms meshek and mesheq/meseq in the city-name, and s.v. m-sh-k, [1] [f], for the meaning “strengthen.” The verb m-sh-k means “to draw” when used in relation to a bow, as does the Akkadian verb alalu from which the words illatu and tillatu are formed. In the city-name the root meaning is likely to be “banding together.”) Likewise, the transformation of the latter element Meshek/Mesheq into a river-name in Syria and Anatolia (Marsyas, Masses etc.) is understandable in the light of its application to the river Balih in neighboring Mesopotamia, and in the zone occupied by Abraham’s relatives. The god whose name was spelled with the signs of the road and mountains, Illat (AN.ILLAT), was, as the signs imply, a god of the mountains presiding over the sources of rivers. This was the role of Marsyas in Greek and Roman myth. Finally, and for an hitherto unexplained reason, the Assyrians called Damascus “Sha-imerishu,” meaning “The donkey caravaneer;” but this, surely, is another translation of the ancient name ILLAT, “[he of] the donkey-caravan.”


206. The names Abram/Abraham and Etana have — or could have — equivalent meanings. As argued supra, Etana is a Sumerian representation of the Hebrew Ethan, “Mighty one,” used to describe a great patriarch. Abraham’s original name, Abram, likewise means “powerful [ram, lit. high, see Gesenius-Tregelles s.v. rûm) patriarch [ab].” The common practice of Sumerian scribes was to play on the meaning of words and personal names. In this case, what passed for a Sumerian transcription of the Hebrew Ethan, viz. Etana, could be made to reflect the richer meaning of the form Abram. The literal translation of the Sumerian name E-ta-na is “Male [child] (na) from (ta) a high mound, levée or embankment (e).” Its form is similar to that of the personal name Ti-e2-mah-ta: “(The child obtained?) life (ti) from (ta) the great (mah) house (e2).” The origin of the child seems to be ascribed, in some way, to a high mound, levée or embankment of the type employed in ancient Mesopotamia to shore up irrigation canals. Ethan is translated similarly “ascent” (supra), of a sheer or relentless height, implying the male child so named was of lofty origin. The Hebrew name Ab-ram could likewise mean “The source [lit. father] (of the child) (is) a high mound” or “(The child is) the male occupant of a high mound” (ab = lit. father, hence originator, progenitor, occupant etc., followed by ram = “lifted up [place]” i.e. a high mound, levée or embankment). The exact nuance of Hebrew names constructed in the manner ab + noun or ab + adjective is difficult to determine. If, in this instance, the element ram is indeed a noun (= high place, mound), rather than an adjective (high, exalted), Abram might mean: the child has inherited the qualities of a high mound or levée, or the child is a magnificent example of an individual (lit. father) with levée-like qualities. A similar Hebrew name, in the latter case, is Abishur, composed of the elements abi (= ab), father, and shur, wall, which appears to mean: the child is a magnificent example of an individual with wall-like qualities of strength and stability. But the most probable meaning, given the ancient propensity to name children from incidental occurrences at or around their birth, is as given supra, that the male child Ab-ram, ab, was the occupant of, ram, a “high mound,” meaning carried high by the pregnant mother, which is commonly taken to be a sign of a female, not a male, baby. The legend of Abram’s birth given in summary form below explains how his pagan father Terah, wishing to kill the fetus if it was male, examined the pregnant mother’s stomach with his hand, but the child was miraculously raised up high in the womb from his touch. This is an etiology of the patriarch’s name, explaining the element ram as a reference to the fact he was carried high in the womb, as postulated here, and was therefore thought to be female not male (though the legend in its current form evidently misunderstands the “raising up” as a total disappearance of the swelling of the womb, and the element ab as a reference to the child’s own “father” Terah). Either way the meaning of the Sumerian E-ta-na corresponds to that of the Hebrew Ab-ram. The child “originated from a high mound.” An alternative, or secondary, spelling E3-ta-na means “male [child] (na) from (ta) an ascension (e3),” rather than the humbler mound or levée (e). In this case the meaning precisely corresponds to Hebrew Ethan, “ascent.” The Sumerian name seems to have been traditionally understood to mean “he who ascended (e3 or ed) up to heaven (ana)” as though it was written Ed-ana. However, this form is never attested. Occurrences of the name are sometimes followed, as in the Sumerian King List (infra), by a note to this effect, which looks like an interpretation of, or pun on, the name itself. The myth of the ascent of a child on the back of an eagle in Aelian’s story, rather than a grown man as in the Mesopotamian Etana legend, may depend on some such interpretation of the name Etana, along with the idea that, in Etana’s case, aging processes were reversed by his acquisition of the plant of birth. The longer Hebrew form of the patriarch’s name Abraham is a modification (Gen. 17. 5) of the short form by the insertion of an h into the second element ram. The Hebrew is there interpreted to signify “I (God) make (you, viz. the patriarch) to produce [abra, an Aramaicizing Aphel-like form from the root b-r-] a multitude (of noisy people) [h-m].” It is remarkable that two notes are appended to the name Etana in the Sumerian King List (§590, s.n. Etana, below, >>), and that these notes parallel precisely the common interpretations of the two forms of the name of the Biblical patriarch. The first reads: “Etana the shepherd [literally, a herder, and/or figuratively, a ruler, a king] who ascended to heaven” (… sipa lu2 an-še3 ba-ed3-de3). This corresponds to the Biblical name Ethan in the sense “ascent,” and the name Ab-ram interpreted as “exalted father/chief” (adjectival ram). The second reads: “… the one who founded many countries” (… lu2 kur-kur mu-un-gen6-na), corresponding generally to Heb. Ethan in the sense “mighty patriarch (by number of offspring),” and in a precise verbal match to the Biblical interpretation of the name Abraham as “father/founder of many nations” (Genesis 17. 5f.).


207. The myth of Etana is preserved in several fragmentary versions. The part which describes the birth of Etana’s son has not survived, but the event itself followed a series of visionary or dream experiences with a symbolic meaning, which are extant, though in a fragmentary state. These, in turn, followed an incident in which Etana restored an eagle (Anzu) to its native aerial realm, having found it in the carcase of a bovine, on which it had landed to feed. The eagle, whose habitation was at the top of a poplar tree, had been trapped in the carcase because it broke a covenant it had made with the snake at the base of the tree, regarding the sharing of their prey. Similarly, in the Bible (Gen. 16. 4) Abram (Abraham) begot his first son (Ishmael), when previously he had been infertile, immediately after a series of visionary experiences with a symbolic meaning (Gen. 15. 12-21). These, in turn, followed an incident in which Abram “placed back” (the literal translation of Gen. 15. 11) the pieces of a covenant sacrifice, including those of the carcase of a bovine, after an eagle (Heb. lit. “the eagle,” viz. a particular eagle) disrupted the ritual to feed on them (Gen. 15. 9f.). In a symbolic sense, the eagle might be held to have “broken the covenant.” The word “eagle” here is commonly taken to be collective (= eagles), but almost certainly it is singular: the reference, in the context, is to Pharaoh, who was symbolized by an eagle in Egypt, as the eagle scattered the pieces of the sacrifice, which then had to be returned to their original place by Abram, as the Israelites were prophesied in the immediately subsequent vision to be exiles in a foreign land for 400 years (Egypt), and then to return to the promised land. A notable difference between the two accounts is that the Bible represents the presence of the eagle on the carcases as a natural event with a spiritual significance, whereas the Mesopotamian myth explains the presence of the eagle in the carcase by the introductory fable.


207.0.1. The post-Biblical Apocalypse of Abraham, preserved only in a Slavonic translation (ed. trans. G. H. Box, SPCK, 1919) but going back probably to an Aramaic or Hebrew original around the turn of the Christian era, provides an exact parallel to the ancient Mesopotamian myth, employing Biblical terminology within a Gnostic theological framework. In the Apocalypse of Abraham the ascension of Abraham to heaven on the wings of a bird follows his sacrifice (which is probably an interpretation of his visionary experiences), and in the myth of Etana, the ascension of Etana to heaven on the wings of the eagle follows the incident of the eagle, snake and carcase. In the Etana myth the hero is taken high into heaven but then descends back to earth (death), and in Genesis Abram’s vision includes a prophecy of his death (Gen. 15. 15).


207.0.2. The parallelism between the Gnostic Apocalypse and the Etana myth is more exact than that, however, and stands out in a rather remarkable manner once the Gnostic overlay has been removed from the account of Abraham’s ascension. The Gnostic theology effectively, and confusingly, identifies the eagle embodying the spirit of evil, Azazel (Satan), with the God of Israel, called Jaoel, or rather with the latter’s Angelic representative, also called Jaoel (because the Name of God is “in” the Angel, Apocalypse ch. x, cf. Exodus 23. 21). It is the Angel Jaoel who carries Abraham up to heaven, he himself ascending with Abraham on the wings of the two doves used in the sacrifice, but the eagle Azazel, according to the underlying Gnostic theory, might equally be taken to have thus effected the ascension. There follows a summary of the references in the Apocalypse which demonstrates the fusion of these roles:

In the Slavonic Apocalypse of Abraham:

ch. xiii Azazel is the unclean bird (eagle) which descends on the sacrificial carcases of the account in Gen. xv: the (immortal) garments in heaven that were once Azazel’s are said to have been transferred to Abraham, and the latter’s mortality, contrariwise, to Azazel.

ch. xvii: Jaoel is God Himself, but His name (Jaoel) is in the Angel who ministers to Abraham (ch. x), and with whom he ascends on the wings of the sacrificial doves of Gen. xv to heaven.

ch. xx: God (Jaoel) is said to have “constituted” Himself “with” Azazel, and God’s heritage, the people of Israel on earth, is likewise described as being “with Azazel.” This is the Gnostic theory that the God of Israel (Jaoel), being in reality an inferior angel (the Angel Jaoel in the Apocalypse), is actually Satan (Azazel).


207.0.3. Thus Abraham might be taken to have ascended to heaven on bird-wings by the power of Azazel (the predatory bird or eagle of Gen. xv) and to have taken on the form (garment) of Azazel there, Azazel being otherwise known as Jaoel, the God of Israel. The power of rejuvenation (otherwise immortality) given to Abraham in order to beget a “seed” (son) is contrasted with the loss of immortality experienced by Azazel in the form of the eagle which descended on the covenant sacrifice (viz. into the mortal realm). Abraham ascends to the “eagle’s” position in heaven, whilst Azazel takes up the “snake’s” position in hell, and, indeed Azazel in the Apocalypse is described both as an eagle (at the sacrifice supra), and as a snake (ch. xxiii). This snake is said to be the serpent who caused the fall by the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (the Tree of Moral Extremes), a vision and understanding of which is given to Abraham on his ascension to heaven (ibid.). We thus have a symbolic tree with the Eagle Azazel at the top of it in heaven and a Snake at its base in hell, representing Azazel in his original unfallen and in his fallen state respectively. Abraham reverses the process of the fall of Azazel by his ascension to heaven. Whilst he is in heaven he sees the Throne of God and notices, amongst the more curious events, a conflict between the four cherubim at its base. He returns to earth to beget his son, the ancestor of the Israelite nation.


207.0.4. This ascension and the experiences associated with it constitute the sole episode in the life of Abraham after leaving Mesopotamia celebrated in the Apocalypse (chs. ix-xxxii), but that account is preceded (chs. i-viii) by the story of how Abraham in his earlier days attempted to gain the favor of the false gods of his father Terah’s house in order to beget a son, but realized their futility in that regard. He was then called by Jaoel to go to the land of Horeb (which would be literally Sinai, and figuratively, according to the Pauline interpretation in Gal. 4. 25, Jerusalem), where the incidents and experiences described supra immediately follow.

Likewise in the Etana myth, two episodes in Etana’s life are highlighted: first, his various unsuccessful attempts to acquire an heir by making offerings to the Mesopotamian gods, second, the divine promise of a son in a faraway foreign land following his release of the eagle and his ascent on its back to heaven.

Trans. B. R. Foster, Before the Muses, 3rd ed., CDL Press, Bethesda Maryland, 2005.

Foster p. 549f.

Etana kept on beseeching Shamash {god of the sun and of righteousness and justice} day after day,
“O Shamash, you have dined from my fattest sheep!
“O Netherworld, you have drunk of the blood of my (sacrificed) lambs!
“I have honored the gods and revered the spirits,
“Dream interpreters have used up my incense,
“Gods have used up my lambs in slaughter.
“O lord, give the command!
“Grant me the plant of birth!
“Reveal to me the plant of birth!
“Relieve me of my disgrace, grant me an heir!”
Shamash made ready to speak and sa[id] to Etana,
“Go (your) way, cross the mountain,
“Find a pit, [look insi]de,
“An eagle is cast within it.
“He will reveal to you the plant [of birth].”
According to the command of the warrior Shamash,
Etana went (his) way, [he crossed the mountains].
He found the pit, he looked inside,
[The eagle was cast] with[in it].
There he was for him to bring up!”


207.0.5. Etana is thus divinely instructed to travel far away “over the mountains” to receive the boon for which he longs. He does so, and finds the Eagle Anzu trapped in the carcase, as described, at the base of the poplar tree beside the shrine of “Kish” (cf. Kish = Salem, Jerusalem). He releases him from his bondage and ascends on his back to heaven, where he has a vision of the throne of the sun-god Shamash, and notices a threatening disturbance amongst the lions at its base comparable to the conflict between the cherubim seen by Abraham in his vision (Apocalypse, ch. x, and ch. xviii).

Trans. Foster p. 551f.

E[tana made ready to speak and said to the eagle],
“[My] fr[iend], that god let me have a dream.
“[We] passed through the gates of Anu, Enlil, [and] Ea.
“We did obeisance [together], yo[u] and I.
“We passed through the gates of Sin, Shamash, Adad, and Ishtar,
….

A throne was set out, [worthy of?] divinity,
“Under the throne lions were [c]rou[ching].
“As I went in, the lions [sprang at me?].
“I awoke with a start and shuddered [ ].”

Etana then descends back to earth and in the lost final portion of the myth, we can safely assume, begets the son he was granted in the main portion by the release of Anzu. Shamash, the sun-god, is Etana’s personal god in this myth, which may be dependent on the symbolism of the eagle descending on the carcases of the sacrifice in the historical event. The eagle in Genesis represents Pharaoh, the oppressor of the “seed” in Egypt, and Pharaoh was identified with the eagle-winged sun-god Ra of Egypt, whose iconography was borrowed by Shamash in Mesopotamia. When the roles of the eagle, of Etana himself, and of the divinity who transported him to heaven became confused, the latter would most naturally be envisaged to be the same eagle-winged sun-god.


207.0.6. The names Anzu and Azazel seem, on their face, to be related: Anzu is preceded by the sign for divinity (which is read in Akkadian ilu, “god” = Hebrew el, “god”), and the infixed “n” in Anzu represents the doubling of the “z” in the Hebrew name (Azza, Azaz, etc.), so ilAnzu (Anzu preceded by the sign for divinity) = Az-zu-il = Azazel. Probably the Chaldaeans of the immediate pre-Christian era preserved a version of the Etana myth which was drawn on and reworked by Gnosticizing Jews and/or Christians sympathetic to the pagan theology of the Chaldaeans. Like Berossus, these must have been aware that the Etana of the Chaldaean myth was the Ethan (Abraham) of the Bible.




207.1. Note on Etana = Ethan-Abraham and the earliest kings of the First Dynasty of Kish. For the patriarchs of the line of Shem listed here, see the Chart at 71.1, above, >>.

Kings of Kish (Salem)

1. Gar [?] (Shali’u) = Shelah, founder of Salem (Kish), son of Arphaxad, son of Shem, son of Noah.

2. Sila (Eberu) = Eber

3. Nanga (Puluggu) = Peleg

4. Aba = (Ru‛u) Reu

5. Atab = (Shurruhu) Serug

6. Mashda = (Nahiru) Nahor

7. Arwium = (Turahu) Terah

8. Etana = Ethan a.k.a. Abraham (10th post-diluvian generation)


207.2. Explanation of the names:


1. Gar [?] (Shali’u) = Shelah. Shelah, the father of Eber, is traditionally the eponymous founder of Salem (Kish), Shelah with final heth being treated as a synonym of Salem with final mem. (See §209.2.3, below, >>, and ibid. for Salem, the mother of Shelah [“Salaad”]. See also §884.4.5.8, below, >>, for the Heb. Shelah represented in Latin in the form Salem. “Arphaxad son of Shem was the father of Sala, from whom originated the ancient Salamitae or Medes [var. Indi],” Isidore, ed. Rome 1803, Chronicon, s.n. Arphaxad.) It is a remarkable fact that the usual spelling of the name Jerusalem is Yeru+shalaim (sometimes more fully Yeru+shalayim, spelled y-r-w+sh-l-y-m), not Yeru+shalem. The last would mean “Foundation of Salem (= Kish),” so named, perhaps, after the mother of Shelah, but the more usual form has not been satisfactorily explained. If the Biblical Shelah = Shali’u, then the glottal stop, replacing heth in the latter, would suggest an ethnic name Shali’iym, “the people of Shali’u/Shelah, and y-r-w+sh-l-y-m would be “the foundation of the people of Shali’u/Shelah” (with disappearance of the weak glottal stop and defective spelling of the final vowels). Such a toponym is referred to in an anonymous Syriac chronicle, Anon. Chron. Ad An. 1234, ed. trans. Chabot, ms. p. 46: “And all the years of Shelah [“Sala”] were 470 years, and he died and his son Eber [“Heber”] buried him in Beth Shelahim [“Šelaim”], the settlement which he built named after him.” Here Shelahim is the plural of the name Shelah as in the hypothetical Shali’iym > Shalayim. Beth Shelahim would mean the “Tribal area (lit. House, Household, Beth) of the people of Shelah.” This may have been the original name of the region which included the site of Salem. Salem itself is said to have been founded somewhat later by Melchizedek on the hill of Zion (§349.0.3.2, below, >>), that is, we may further presume, within the already-existing wider territory of the “Foundation of the people of Shali’u/Shelah.” Standing here at the head of the First Dynasty of Kish is the predecessor of Eberu (= Eber, see #2), as Shelah is the predecessor of Eber in Genesis. The entry begins with the name of the city, Kish (= Salem), “(In) Kish … (personal name) became king.” The signs with which the personal name is written are broken, so it is not possible to be certain about the reading. However the first sign ga2 is pretty clear, and the ur3 following it, there being uncertainty only about the faint traces of wedges between them. Most experts in the field think the original read Gushur, spelled with two signs, gana2.ur3, on the understanding that other wedges, not now visible in the break, formed originally part of the first sign, making it into the sign gana2 rather than ga2. The two signs gana2.ur3, or, alternatively, the sign ur3 on its own, or the two signs gish.ur3 (perhaps the now effaced wedges in between originally spelled gish), or the three signs gish.gana2.ur3 are all different ways of writing this word gushur, and ur3 at least is clearly visible. If that conjecture is correct there would be an equivalence between the meanings of the Sumerian Gushur and the Hebrew Shelah: gushur means “to abandon or dismiss a claim,” and similarly Shelah could be interpreted “dismissal.” There are two difficulties with that construction. Gushur more usually means “beam” or “harrow” (an unlikely personal name), and the initial sign ga2 must be read gana2 instead, which necessitates the theory that other wedges not now visible were originally an integral part of the sign. Retaining, for the sake of the argument, the reading ga2: the sign ga2 (or the same sign duplicated) represents the Sumerian word ĝar and can mean “hurl weapons, shoot,” etc., Akkadian shala’u or shalû. (See online Sumerian Dictionary: psd.museum.upenn.edu/epsd/​​illl/html/Group/RA_16_165ff.htm, psd.museum.upenn.edu/epsd/psl/html/extra/x1c9.html, and psd.museum.upenn.edu/epsd/epsd/e2042.html, online as at 10/2015, Chicago Assyrian Dictionary s. šalû A.) This is the same as the Hebrew root sh-l-h of the name Shelah (“hurled weapon”). The suggested name represented by the sign ga2, therefore, would be Shali’u, the “hurled weapon” = Heb. Shelah. The sign ga2 is followed after a short break by the sign ur3, which may be read in Akkadian, amongst other things, as shakaku, “to harrow,” or as kaparu, “wipe clean,” and the latter may also mean “clear away, dismiss a claim etc.” (so also ur3, when read gushur, can mean “dismiss a claim”). The broken wedges in the middle of the entry, between the initial ga2 and the final ur3, could represent part of the preceding, or the following, sign or combination of signs, or alternatively, may represent a lost word. Presuming, as seems probable, that the first sign ga2 should be read Shali’u (= Shelah), the full phrase may have been something like: Shali’u(GA2) <…> kapiru(UR3), meaning “Shali’u (GA2) … the pure (UR3) <one?>;” or the entry represented originally the personal name followed by a phrase (see the next name for a similar case) relating to the founding of Kish, e.g. “Shali’u (GA2) harrowed out (UR3) <the foundation [of the city]?>.” Arabic tradition (Abulfeda, ed. trans. Fleischer, p. 20f.) records Shelah was a prophet who preached to the people of Thamud in Arabia Petraea in order to turn them away from their religious and moral iniquities. When they refused his message they were overwhelmed by a desert storm sent against them by God. Thereafter Shelah retired into Palestine (where he was believed to have founded Jerusalem, ut cit. supra), and then into the Hejaz. He was buried in the Sinai peninsula and his tomb is still frequented by the Bedouin not far from St. Katherine’s monastery. Shelah was titled “Cainan” (Schedel, Nuremberg Chronicle, fol. XVI verso, and Nauclerus in his Chronicon, 1564, tom. I, gen. xiii, p. 15, see also §209.2.3, below, >>), meaning the “son” (in this case “son” = “disciple”), of the pre-diluvian Cainan. Cf. the genealogy in Luke 3. 35f., which calls Shelah “son of Cainan,” and the LXX, which latter, however, contrary to the Hebrew text, inserts Cainan into the post-diluvian genealogy as if he was a literal son of Arphaxad and the literal father of Shelah. Cainan was identified with the Egyptian god Hermes. So too was Enoch. (See §448, sub fin., below, >>.) The pre-diluvian Enoch (Hermes) was called Iraj by the Iranians, as was the post-diluvian Arphaxad, and this led to the fusion of their traditional histories. (§670, below, >>.) Thus, Shelah son of Arphaxad might be titled “Cainan,” meaning (literal) son of Arphaxad (Arphaxad = Iraj = Hermes = Cainan), or the disciple (“son”) of the spirit incarnate in those figures (Hermes = Enoch and/or Cainan = Iraj) according to the theory of metempsychosis. The post-diluvian “Cainan, son of Arphaxad” viz. Shelah-Cainan son of Arphaxad, was believed to have discovered occult writings from before the Flood, and to have sinned on account of them (Jubilees 8. 1-5), — an idea derived from his identification with the god Hermes, who was the founder of the occult Hermetic philosophy. An additional observation is that as Arphaxad could be fused with Cainan-Shelah in this stream of tradition (Arphaxad = Iraj = Hermes = Cainan-Shelah), and Arphaxad and his descendants in the line of Shem were commonly identified with the Iranian Jamshid, it is likely that the other traditional identification of Jamshid with Solomon, the eponymus, as well as the king of Jerusalem (Solomon = “man of peace,” Shalem, “city of peace”), was a secondary development, explained by the earlier equation of Shelah, the original eponymus of Jerusalem (Yeru-shalayim), with the Iranian figure. For “Solomon” in this case we should read “Shelah.”


2. Sila = Eber. The name is written in the Sumerian King List with two signs, usually read gul.la or kul2.la, but more rarely the first sign is read si (si23), and when read this way the name that results is Sila. That this is the correct pronunciation is demonstrated by the following signs (in WB) dEZEN (or EZINA etc.), as EZEN can also be read “sila” (also asila or asilala, etc.). The god’s name dEZINA is intended to show that the preceding signs, with the rather rare reading si (si23) for the first of them, are to be read as the god’s name Sila, otherwise Ezina. This was the god of the new moon, and of festivals, and the celebratory joy associated with those events. He was a form of the moon-god Nanna (Sin). In Civil-Hallo’s L2 text similarly the signs si23.la (read kul2.la by them) are followed by the signs zi-na. This is a phonetic complement showing the preceding signs were read Ezina. The king’s name, therefore is Sila or Ezina, and the Sumerian sila translates into Akkadian as eberu, “joy,” which explains the Hebrew patriarch’s name Eber. Note also the first sign GUL (kul2) means “plant” and, if read GUL, the following LA might be a grammatical suffix to show the word was pronounced Gula (without affecting the meaning). But the same sign GUL can be read “isin” or “isina” etc. (isim2), meaning “stalk.” Thus the sign GUL might equally be understood to represent the word isina, “stalk.” The name EZINA bears an obvious similarity to this word isina. It may be surmised the god’s name was variously pronounced Isina, Ezina, Asila, Sila etc.; and here GUL, representing the word Isina, was to be read Asila or Sila, as intimated by the following sign LA. Verdure and fertility (“sprouting plants”) were blessings of the moon-god, and were celebrated with great joy at the new moon festival: hence the Akkadian translation of Asila or Sila as Eberu, “Joy.” The latter signifies a “surplus” of emotion, from the Semitic root -b-r, “surpass, flow over.” In Civil-Hallo’s L2 the full name is: “Sila/Ezina-bel,” viz. Ezina(SI23.LA)zi-na-be-el, meaning “Sila/Ezina is lord.” In WB the name written with the same two signs (variously read gul.la, kul2.la, or, as suggested supra, si23.la) is followed, not by a phonetic complement and the title “bel,” but by the alternative reading of the signs, viz. “dEZINA,” followed by “ibel(ANA)ib-el.” (The last two signs here [ib-el] reflect Hallo’s reconstruction of the damaged text.) The whole name, “Sila/Ezina-ibel,” then means similarly “Sila/Ezina is lord.” The word “belu” in Civil-Hallo’s L2 and in WB may be a play on the Sumerian signs with which the name Sila (Ezina) is spelled, viz. GUL.LA, since the first sign GUL, when read gul, means “destroy, overwhelm, flatten,” and might here be interpreted as “he who masters, or overlords” (belu). The “children of Eber” (“Hebrews”) are referred to in Genesis 10. 21, which means Eber was the ancestral head of a clan. The Sumerian ana and Akkadian belu are titles applied to tribal chiefs of this sort.


3. na-anNan(NISH2ni8-ishi)-ĝa = Nanga = Peleg. The unusual spelling of the name may be taken to indicate that the name read originally Nishiga (or Nishima) was pronounced later Nanga. (For nigin = nishima see ePSD s. nigin5, Lexical.) Heb. peleg = region and/or watercourse, Sumerian nanga, nigin or nishiga (or, nishima), Akkadian nagu, nangu = region, or more specifically an irrigation region. (The peculiar way the name is written, viz. with the signs na.an.gish[or: nish2].ni8[or: li].ish[i]-ma[or: ĝa], has led to the idea that the name is “Na-an-gish li-ish-ma” [“May he listen (lishma) joyfully (nangish)”], as nish2 is more commonly read gish, and ni8, more commonly read li.) The word nigin (otherwise nanga or nishiga etc.) is also written with the sign BULUG (in which case it means a boundary of a region or a boundary marker), Akkadian puluggu or pulukku, which is the same as the Heb. peleg. According to Genesis 10. 25, it was in the days of this patriarch that the “earth was divided,” which implies the creation of geographical (“earth”) regions, as well as the dispersion of tribes. The Hebrew root p-l-g means not only “divide (regionally)” but also “divide (linguistically).” Peleg means “(man of) different regions” and “(man of) different languages.” The historical context is the dispersion of nations and consequent confusion of language at the Shinar Tower.


4. [In place of the king called En-tarah-ana in Civil-Hallo’s L2 text, see the note subjoined at §207.3, below, >>,] Aba = Reu. (Sum. aba = Akk. mannu, “anyone, someone, whoever” = Heb. reu [re‛û = rēa, “any other person, whoever”]). Akkadian mannu is also written with the Sumerian sign read lu2 (denoting a “person, man, master,” etc.), and the meanings conveyed by the latter are conveyed identically by the sign UR, read lu6. This last can also be read “ru-u” (ru7 [pronounced rû, ruû or ru‛û] ePSD, lexical section s. ru7 from Aa VII/2 line 90), and conveys the same range of meanings, “person, man” etc., which is doubtless the origin of the Hebrew personal name Reu. The Sumerian “ru-u” may in fact be a borrowing from the Semitic re‛û (= rēa), “any other person, whoever.” Aba (Reu) is the immediate predecessor of Atab in P2. New territorial boundaries had recently been drawn (see the preceding name and the comment in Genesis 10.25 relating to Peleg), and tribal hierarchies, no doubt, adjusted accordingly, therefore it is not surprising to find a split in the traditions at this point: viz. one tradition lists En-tarah-ana as the successor of Nanga, according to the present reconstruction, and the other Aba, and similarly in the case of the succeeding reigns.


5. [In place of the king called Ba’um… or Babum… in Civil-Hallo’s L2 text, see the note subjoined at §207.3, below, >>,] Atab = Serug, “Festooned, shot forth.” The name Atab is formed of two signs, a2 = “side, arm, skill” etc., and tab, which latter is synonymous with shar in the sense “shoot forth, grow, begin to sprout, make splendid, luxuriant” (CAD s.vv. shurrû and sharahu, lexical sections): Sumerian shar = Akkadian shurruhu = Hebrew/Aramaic s-r-, “festoon, shoot forth tendrils, be luxuriant” which Jastrow compares with s-r-g (whence the personal name Serug) = “interweave, plait, festoon,” g (gimel) being interchangeable with h (heth) in Hebrew (Gesenius-Tregelles, s. gimel). Thus Serug = Akkadian Shurruhu = Sumerian Atab, “Shooting forth (tab = shurruhu) of the arm (a2 = idu).” The initial a2 in the Sumerian can mean “arm,” but also “skill, power” so the name could otherwise be interpreted “skillfully (a2) made splendid (tab),” or “powerfully (a2) shot forth (tab).”


6. [In place of the king called Pu-annum in Civil-Hallo’s L2 text, see the note subjoined at §207.3, below, >>,] Mashda = Nahor, Akkadian Nahiru. (Mashda = HAR = naharu, whence Nahor.) Mashda is translated amongst other ways as uuratu, “a scratching, a scratched, or etched item,” spelled alternatively with the sign HAR. HAR can also mean to “snuff, snort, smell,” a scratching or rasping sound, rather than a visible phenomenon, being in that case translated into Akkadian as eenu (smell) and naharu (snort). (CAD, s.vv., lexical sections.) For these two meanings of Sumerian HAR, cf. the Semitic root -r, which means “to pierce, to make, emit, or pass through, a hole,” the hole in the case under consideration being the nose. The latter Akkadian verb (naharu = snort, snuff) gives rise to the personal noun Nahiru, the “snorter,” and to the common noun nahiru applied to whales (which “spout”) and wild goats (attested for the female of the species, Sumerian lahar/dara4) which “snort.” Akkadian Nahiru is identical to the Hebrew personal noun Nahor (from the same Semitic root -r). Mashda means more commonly “gazelle,” and comes to mean “scratching” evidently on account of that animal’s horns, which “scratch” and “pierce.” Gazelle being a wild herd animal the Sumerian mashda also acquires the transferred meaning “commoner” (mushkenu), that is, an ordinary member, or uncouth (wild) member, of the human herd. The name Mashda in one text (P3) of the King List is written in a way that can only mean the scribe understood it to denote mushkenu. Doubtless the person #6 in the King List was called Mashda, because he was, in fact, of lowly origin, a “commoner,” mushkenu. Mashda’s son is:


7. Arwium = Terah (Akkadian arwiu[m] = Sumerian mashda = HAR = -r, “pierce,” whence Terah). Akkadian arwiu(m) (or armu[m]) is Sumerian mashda as supra #6. For the connection of mashda with the sign HAR, and the Semitic root -r, pierce, see ibid. Fürst (Lexikon, s.v.) says the Hebrew root t-r-, whence the personal noun Terah, was formed out of the root -r-, “go through, travel, lodge” which, in turn, Jastrow (Talmudic Dictionary, s.v.) derives from the bi-consonantal root -r, “pierce, go through,” etc., the latter being cognate to the root -r, “pierce,” as supra on name #6. Similarly the wild goat known in Akkadian as the turahu (and its equivalent in Sumerian dara, durah, tarah etc., probably a borrowing from the Semitic), would be so named on account of its “piercing” horns and/or its “emission” of snorting sounds “through” its nostrils. There is a confusion of nomenclature in relation to these creatures: the names dara (= turahu) and mashda (otherwise mash and mashdu), were applied in combination to the wild goat known as the dara-mashdu, or mash-dara. Steinkeller in his study of “An Archaic ‘Prisoner Plaque’ From Kiš” (RA 2013/1 vol 107, pp. 131-157, ibid. p. 151) takes the signs DÀRA.MAŠ.DÀ (dara.mashda) in the Ebla Early Dynastic Names and Professions List” to be equivalent to, and perhaps even the source of, the royal name Arwium in the Sumerian King List. Hence Arwium = Mashda = Terah (Turahu). Arwium is called “dumu mashda” in the King List, and this means “son of Mashda” (Mashda = Nahor #6); but also the phrase can mean “of the species mashda,” that is, Arwium is a “wild goat, gazelle” (mashda) himself. For the reasons outlined in #6 the word mashda denotes a boorish person, a simpleton or commoner. The phrase “dumu mashda,” might be translated “of the class of a commoner (mushkenu[m]).” A synonym of mushkenu is Akkadian lillu, Sumerian lil, a fool. The statement in the Sumerian King List that the father of Gilgamesh was a “lil” is most likely a reference to the social status of his father that is, he was “a commoner (mushkenu).” Aelian (§185, above, >>) describes Gilgamos’ father as an “obscure man,” which is a good translation of mashda = mushkenu (= lillu). As Aelian’s story combines motifs from the native Mesopotamian legend of Etana (Ethan-Abraham), in effect fusing the roles of Gilgamesh and Etana, it is remarkable that Terah the father of Abraham here corresponds to Arwium, viz. mashda (or dumu mashda) = mushkenu (“an obscure man”) or lillu (lil). Terah is said to have consorted with Hamat-lei = Nin-sumun (the mother of Gilgamesh). This is not improbable in light of the fact that Nin-sumun was a hierodule (cultic prostitute). Hence Etana-Abraham’s mother and the mother of Gilgamesh-Amraphel could have been the same person, viz. Nin-sumun, and Arwium-Terah, the literal father of Abraham, the father(-in-law) also of Amraphel-Gilgamesh, viz. the “lil” of the Sumerian King List and the “obscure man” of Aelian’s story.


8. Etana = Abraham, as explained supra.


207.3. Note on the order of names in the Sumerian King List. The order of the first 4 names supra is as in Civil-Hallo’s L2. Treating now of the later names in the list: #7 Arwium is at that position for the following reasons: in P2 he is the son of (sic) Mashda <son of> Atab. One Aba is the predecessor of Atab (“Ataba”) also in P2. Aba and Atab (“Ataba”) immediately follow Kalibum in P2 and P5, but Atab (“Ataba”) alone (without Aba, who is omitted) in Su1. According to Jacobsen’s analysis, Arwium was son of Mashda, son of Atab. There are therefore 4 generations: Arwium son of Mashda son of Atab (son of? or merely successor of?) Aba. However, Mashda does not appear as a king in his own right in P2, only as father of Arwium who did rule as king. Also in P2 Aba and Atab (“Ataba”) are not listed as kings or with regnal figures. Therefore, the hypothetical text underlying P2 originally represented a set of four kings including Kalibum as the last of them as kings #4-#7 inclusive (#4 En-tarah-ana, #5 Ba’[b]um…, #6 Pu-annum and #7 Kalibum), followed shortly thereafter by Arwium, son of Mashda <son of> Atab, son of Aba, viz. 4 generations. Evidently there were two lines: one a line of patriarchs (Aba, Atab, and his son Mashda, followed by the latter’s son Arwium, the last alone listed as a king), the other a line of persons, none of whom are stated to have been related to one another, but who are all listed as kings (En-tarah-ana, Ba’[b]um…, Pu-annum, followed by Kalibum). According to Jacobsen’s convincing analysis the form Ataba (a genitive, not Atab, the nominative form) is evidence of an original phrase “<Mashda dumu> Ataba,” meaning “<Mashda son> of Atab [genitive].” As the name Ataba appears anomalously in that same genitive form in other texts of the King List, but in those with regnal figures added, as though it was a nominative, we may conclude, contrary to Jacobsen’s theory in this regard, that the generational form found in P2 is more original (a series of patriarchs), and the other form (a series of kings with regnal figures) secondary. That is why the generational series is preferred here. As also this is evidence that generations became reigns in later forms of the text, the earlier form was probably a list of generations, not reigns. Four generations (positions in the king-list) back from Arwium and Kalibum the lines split. One line was treated as “kings” (En-tarah-ana, Ba’[b]um…, Pu-annum, Kalibum), the other as predecessors merely, in a generational sense, of king Arwium. The generations descended from Arphaxad in Genesis, father and son, one following on from the next, are precisely a list of generations of this latter type, and the meaning of each name in the series matches the proposed Sumerian and/or Semitic forms found in the Sumerian King List of the generational predecessors of Arwium, as demonstrated supra. Additional note: Mashda (“wild goat”) is also a name of the god Nergal (Mars, Iranian Azer), the god of the underworld fires beneath the mountains wild goats inhabit, so Mashda may be the Azer of Iranian legend, the “uncle” (sic) of Abraham, as opposed to Terah-Azer (Arwium [arwium = mashda]), the father of Abraham.


208. The parallels exist, independent of the evidence adduced in this inquiry, which further identifies Enmebaragesi, of the same dynasty as Etana, with the Biblical Melchizedek of S(h)alem. According to the account in Genesis Melchizedek was acquainted with, and his priestly kingship acknowledged by, Abraham. This is a relationship that might be expected to have existed between two figures who served as kings of the same dynasty, one (Abraham/Etana) somewhat earlier than the other (Melchizedek/​Enmebaragesi).


209. It is thought, in fact, that the kings of Kish listed in this first post-diluvian dynasty were not actually kings of any particular city, nor even of the city Kish itself, but rather “universal kings,” which is what the title “King of Kish” meant in later usage. The early post-diluvian period was one in which kingship as an institution or social mechanism was in the first stages of development. The literary evidence suggests the council of city elders, with more spiritual than political authority, was the original institution of government and only later did individuals rise to prominence (lugal, “king,” means literally “big man”) perhaps in times of emergency, as military commanders. The “en” was first a charismatic, spiritual, leader, who subsequently acquired the trappings of secular authority. He was originally a “priest” more than a “lord,” but the word had both meanings in later Sumerian. Kings lived in temples in the earliest period, like chief priests, and only later were palaces built for their specific use. So it is likely Etana and Enmebaragesi were historically spiritual, more than secular, authorities, and the dynastic framework within which their names are found enshrined in the Sumerian King List, is just that — a framework, fabricated to reflect later realities. According to the Cave of Treasures and related Syriac Christian sources, all the kings of the world in the immediate post-diluvian generation assembled in conference to elect Melchizedek king because of his spiritual eminence. This story nicely combines the idea of “universal” kingship with the notion of charismatic leadership and the authority of the council of elders in relation to Melchizedek’s position — all factors which were paramount in the Protoliterate, pre-dynastic, period which is represented in the Sumerian King List by the First Dynasty of Kish. Like Enmebaragesi, Melchizedek’s (original) home was in the East: the oriental tradition (Book of Adam and Eve, Malan, Bk. III, c. xiii ff.) was that Melchizedek left his home in the Kurdish mountain where the container grounded, and where the city Semanan was built, and migrated to the land of Canaan, specifically to Salem (Jerusalem), accompanied by his ancestor Shem. Shem then returned to the East. His purpose was to devote his time to the service of God at the supposed tomb of Adam in that city. Another reason given for his departure was that he was horror-struck at the intended sacrifice of his brother to the seven planetary gods by members of his immediate family, who had fallen into idolatry (Apocryphal history of Melchizedek found amongst the writings of Athanasius, vol ii. p. 7f., apud Malan, op. cit., p. 287a, Bk. III, note 9).


209.1. Note on Melchizedek and the other kings of the First Dynasty of Kish. The First Dynasty of Kish comprises three sections, as demonstrated by the fact it commences with (1) an initial list of kings, followed by (2) the “Dynasty of Enme-nuna,” followed by (3) the “Dynasty of Enme-baragesi.” The initial list of kings (1) comprises Ethan-Abraham (Etana) and his genealogical predecessors; the final section (3) comprises Melchizedek (Enme-baragesi) and his “son” (who were opposed by the next succeeding First Dynasty of Uruk); and the middle section (2) comprises a series of kings beginning with Enme-nuna and ending with Ilta-Sadum. As it is the Dynasty of “Kish,” viz. Salem, that we are dealing with here, which is only mentioned in the Bible in Genesis 14, and in that chapter three parties precisely form an alliance against a rival alliance including a principal member of the First Dynasty of Uruk/Erech (Amraphel = Gilgamesh), then the three parties of the “Salem Alliance” of Genesis 14 may be presumed to be the three components of the “First Dynasty of Kish” (latterly opposed by the succeeding First Dynasty of Uruk). In Genesis 14 the party which forms a threefold alliance with the accomplices of Abraham, on the one hand, and Melchizedek, on the other, is the confederation of kings under Bera king of Sodom. Straightaway we notice the element “Sadum” (an early form of the name Sodom?) in the name of the last king in section (2) of the Kish Dynasty, viz. Ilta-Sadum: that section is located appropriately between the line of Etana-Abraham, on the one hand, and the dynasty of Enme-baragesi-Melchizedek, on the other. Sadum (s-d-w-m) is the Arabic form of the city-name. Ilta-Sadum might mean “(The) Goddess (Iltu) Sadum.” That is, Sadum may have been a divine name, the eponymous patron-deity of the city, perhaps a goddess of the Pasture (sadu).


209.2. The kings of Sodom seem to have been “Hittites,” otherwise Hivites or Horites of the family of Seir and Zibeon (see §181.4.0.1, above, >>). As section (2) of the Dynasty of Kish includes at the beginning a series of generations, father followed by son, we might suspect these to be members of the immediately post-diluvian clan of Seir. This deduction is confirmed by the presence amongst them of a king whose name is written with the sign DUB, immediately followed by the signs ZA and MUG, which latter Jacobsen takes to be a gloss on the sign DUB, that is ZA.MUG = samug or zamug, which stands for samag, sumug (written with the same sign DUB): sumug is translated shullu, and denotes a bodily defect of some sort, probably a marking with dark spots, whence shullanu, meaning a person having that defect, otherwise termed a she’ru, one “covered with hair, shaded, obscured, discolored,” in Akkadian (Chicago Assyrian Dictionary, esp. lex. sections, s.vv. shullu, shullanu, she’ru), which last is identical to the Heb. “Seir.” The sign DUB is commonly translated into Akkadian as saharu, to “turn, go round, swirl about,” and this corresponds to the Hebrew s--r, the root of the Hebrew name Seir, in the sense, “toss about, swirl round.” Presumably therefore the original name of this king was DUB read Sahiru, “He who tosses about,” and a negative gloss was added interpreting the name in the sense She’ru, “one marked with a swirl of discoloration, a birth-defect.” The Sumerian sumug is translated also as adaru in Akkadian (ibid., s.v. adaru A), which means “to be troubled, disturbed, obscured, clouded, etc.;” this is the root from which the month-name Adar is formed, the month of clouded weather and water, symbolized by the two fishes of Pisces, §330, below, >>. Thus, Seir = Triton, §337.5, below, >>, the fish-tailed god of troubled water, similar to the hippocentaurs of Pisces.


209.2.1. In Genesis 36. 20, Seir is termed Hori (“the Horite”), that is, a son or descendant of Hor. Also in Gen. 36. 21, one Hori (“the Horite”) is differentiated from Seir. In Sefer ha-Yashar (§140.2, above, >>) Seir is son of Hor son of Hivi (Hivi being the “Hivite,” viz. the eponymous ancestor of the Hivites, and a son [descendant] of Canaan). In the First Dynasty of Kish, Samug is the son of Barsal-nuna, the son of Enme-nuna. If Samug = Seir, Barsal-nuna, Samug’s father, should correspond to Hor, Seir’s father, and Enme-nuna, Barsal-nuna’s father, to Hivi, “the Hivite,” Hor’s father. Taking first the name Barsal-nuna: the element bar in bar-sal means “hollow, cavity, hole,” etc., Sumerian bar = Akkadian hurru, cavity, and the element sal means, “female, woman” or “spread out” (Sumerian sal = Akkadian uṣṣû, “spread out”). Together these components convey the sense “spread out (or, woman’s) cavity,” perhaps in reference to an incident at birth from which the (larger than average?) baby received its name. The Akkadian word hurru is the same precisely as the Classical Hebrew hor (-r), “cavity, hollow, hole, cave,” and this is the personal name Hor or Hur. It is formed from the bi-consonantal root -r, which means “to go through a cavity, or release, emit through a cavity, pierce through,” and hence secondarily “to go free, be liberated, noble,” and also “to pierce through (of light),” and thus “to be bright, light.”


209.2.2. Barsal-nuna’s father, Enme-nuna, should, as explained supra, correspond to Hivi father of Hor. Hivi is a gentilic, meaning literally “the Hivite,” and is the eponymus of the Canaanite tribe called Hivites. The Hivites included Minaeans, or Sabaeans. The Amorites named after Amer Shams Saba of the line of Joktan seem to have merged at some point with the Cushite Sabaeans (hence Amer’s title Saba). Thus the Hivite alluded to in this genealogy may have been of Amorite stock. The term Amorite was also applied to the giant Anakites who were allies of Abraham (Abraham = Etana of the first section of this same First Dynasty of Kish), along with Melchizedek (Enme-baragesi of the third section of the same) in the war initiated against the House of Erech (Amraphel). It would make sense, in this light, for Enme-nuna, at the head of the second or middle section of the same Dynasty, to have been of Anakite or Amorite stock.

If, further, as suggested in the following sections (§209.2.3, below, >>, and §211, below, >>), Melam-Kishi, the offspring of Enme-nuna, is the female Salem (II), the mother of Melchizedek (Enme-baragesi), who was raped by the Canaanites and subsequently deified as Nanshe (Saida-Side, Astaroth), then Aga, who is the Biblical Anak (§354.3, below, >>), the “son” (disciple) of Enme-baragesi (Melchizedek) was also the “grandson” of Melam-Kishi (Salem) and the “great-grandson” of Enme-nuna. This implies the founder of the second sub-dynasty of Kish, Enme-nuna, was the founder of the Anakite line. This is confirmed by the identification of Salem’s father with Gomer/Gayomart (infra), as Gomer/Gayomart was equated in Arabic/Iranian tradition with Emim the son of Lud, son of Aram son of Shem, who was the eponymus of the giant line of the Emim or Zamzummim. The latter were considered “Rephaim” along with the Nephilite Anakites. (See Num. 13. 33, Deut. 2. 11, 20.) The Anakites were the prototypical Rephaim, “giants” or “Titans” (according to the LXX translation of Rephaim), and in the Ammonite territory neighboring Sodom and Gomorrah these Rephaim were known as Zamzummim (Deut. 2. 20). In Hebrew and Aramaic (Gesenius-Tregelles, s.v., Jastrow, Talmudic Dictionary, s.v. zamzumey), Zamzummim would mean the “humming” or “tinkling” ones, this word’s bi-consonantal root z-m being equivalent to d-m (Jastrow, ibid.), “hum, muse, shut the mouth with a humming sound.” In respect of water, the meaning would be “to tinkle,” and this supplies the name Zamzam in Arabic tradition, which was the spring of water opened up miraculously for Hagar and Ishmael in the wilderness of Paran. In respect of an insect, it would be “to hum, to buzz.” As Salem (II), infra, is the daughter of “Gomer” (= Emim, the eponymus of the Emim or Zamzummim), and Salem II hypothetically = Melam-Kishi, whose father was Enme-nuna, Enme-nuna should correspond to Gomer/Gayomart, viz. Emim, the ancestor of the Emim/Zamzummim. It is remarkable, therefore, that the Akkadian wasp known as the adamummu, adammumu, or mar admummu, the name formed from this same root d-m = z-m (the “hummer”), was known in Sumerian as the “offspring of Enme-nuna.” (There is included here a play on the similar sound of the Sumerian personal and insect names, the insects being termed in Sumerian “i3.nuna flies,” that is “ghee [i3.nuna] flies,” and otherwise the “offspring of Enme-nuna,” the word “nuna” being prominent in both.) That is, as we may conclude, the descendants of Enme-nuna who were the Rephaim called Anakites in the Hebrew Scriptures, were titled Zamzummim by the Ammonites, “the hummers,” because they stung and raided like a swarm of wasps.

Emim and Zamzummim are gentilics not personal names. Hivite (“Hivi” the father of Hor) also is a gentilic. The man’s Semitic personal name must have been something else, being represented in Sumerian as Enme-nuna. Whoever he was, he was, according to the evidence outlined supra, the founder of the Anakite line, which was also termed Amorite, that is Minaean or Sabaean, being a branch of the stock of Amer Shams Saba. The element nun(a) carries the meaning of this name, and Sumerian nun(a) can also be read “rab” (ePSD NUN = rabx), being the sign most commonly employed to write Akkadian rubû, “prince, leader.” This is a title applied to men and divinities, Ea/Ae in the latter case, for example, being termed Nun = Rubû, “Leader,” literally “great one,” from rabû, “be great, increase, multiply, reproduce.” In Aramaic the verb (from the bi-consonantal root r-b, with a final aleph) is spelled identically to the word “reproduce, copulate, lie foursquare,” as in animal reproduction, but the latter is more commonly spelled in Aramaic, as always in Classical Hebrew, with a final ayin instead of final aleph. From the same bi-consonantal root r-b (in the sense “lie foursquare”) arose the numeral arba (final ayin), “four.” Thus the Sumerian Enme-nuna might be represented in Aramaic by the name Arba (final aleph or ayin), “He who manifests greatness (in size, power, reproductive capacity, etc.).” The personal name “Arba” (final ayin) features in the Hebrew Scriptures as the name of the “father of Anak” or the “ancestor of the Anakites.” The Anakites were Amorites, viz. the people of Amer Shams Saba, that is, Sabaeans or Minaeans, who formed part of the Hivite tribal grouping. Thus “Hivi,” the “Hivite” eponymus, could well be “Arba” the Anakite (Sumerian Nun = Semitic root r-b): Arba = “He who manifests greatness/fertility,” or, if understood in a numeric sense, “four” in Classical Hebrew and “forty” in Akkadian.

According to the evidence adduced here, the same name was applied to Ea/Ae, the god of fertilizing water. It is significant, therefore, that the divine name Ea/Ae is found written alternatively with a glyph formed of four wedge-shaped signs, variously arranged, read limmu in Sumerian, meaning “four,” otherwise nimin, nin (nin5) and shanabi (šanabi2) in Sumerian, or in Akkadian “arba” or “erba” (the numeral “forty”): Shanabi (Arba, “forty”) is a numeric title of Ea/Ae. The numeric title may be presumed to have arisen as a result of a play on the name Nin, which in Semitic dialects means “fish,” the fish being a symbol of Ea/Ae as god of the watery deep, but in Sumerian means “forty.” Nun likewise means “fish” in Semitic dialects, but “leader, director” in Sumerian, which is rubû in the Semitic Akkadian dialect, from the same bi-consonantal root r-b as arba “forty.” The Sumerian word nimin/nin (“forty”) can also mean “Kish” (nimin 40 = kiššatu, which is the city-name Kish [Salem], CAD, s.v. erba, lexical section). This is apposite in the circumstances. Arba means “four” in Classical Hebrew, but here in the Hebrew Scriptures, if understood in a numeric sense, is more probably a simple transcription of Akkadian Arba, “forty” = Shanabi = Ea/Ae.

Employing a peculiar phraseology Arba is called in the Hebrew Scriptures (Joshua 14. 15) “the Great Adam among the Anakites.” Certainly this implies he had an ancestral role as the founding patriarch of the Anakite line, similar to that of Enme-nuna as head of a sub-dynasty of Kish. But it is likely more is implied in light of the identification of the “offspring of Enme-nuna” with the “offspring of adammumu (or, admummu),” that is the “wasps.” The name of the wasp lends itself to being broken down into two components, adamu, and umu. The first component is reminiscent of the name of the founding patriarch of the human race, Adam, and indeed the presumed bi-consonantal root of the insect name, d-m, “hum,” is identical to the presumed root of the name Adam, d-m, “hum, meditate, design.” (§448, below, >>.) The second component, umu, means “monstrous storm-demon” in Akkadian, but is used in a positive sense also as an epithet of gods and powerful leaders, “monster great.” Thus Enme-nuna, as Adam(m)um(m)u, could be understood to be “Adam (adamu) the great (umu),” precisely in accord with the Anakite tradition recorded in the Scriptures. This would explain perfectly why the eponymus of the Emim/Zamzummim was equated with Adam/Gayomart/Gomer in Arabic/Iranian tradition. Are not the Emim, in fact, the umu or “storm-demons,” otherwise those pestilential “wasps,” the descendants of Arba (Enme-nuna), who harassed and caused havoc amongst the more sedentary inhabitants of Canaan? The “buzzing” referred to in their name is most probably an allusion to the buzzing of wood-wasps, rather than of wasps in general. Wood-wasps make a persistent kind of buzzing when constructing their nests, and this would would be an apt simile of the buzzing of saws of the Hivites, who were a race of carpenters, as they procured timber for their dwellings and ships in Lebanon.

A simple and understandable confusion of the man Nun (Enme-nuna) and the god Nun (Ea/Ae) could have led also to the deification of Arba as the god of the subterranean Ocean, as suggested at §318.0.2, below, >>. This nicely explains the form of the Egyptian divine name, Nun, for the subterranean Ocean and the waters of the Nile, who was the ultimate ancestor of the Egyptian god-kings: the connection with the Nile is brought out in the Defloratio Berosi (§889.3, below, >>), according to which Oceanus the Titan (Titan = Nephilite = Anakite), that is, we may presume, Arba-Enme-nuna (Arba-Nun deified as the water-god Nun, Ea), was the first patriarch after the Inundation to reach the banks of the Nile. Generally in Arabic/Coptic tradition the earliest inhabitants of the Nile valley are said to have been the giant Ludites of the line of Lud son of Aram son of Shem, and in Arabic/Iranian tradition Emim (the eponymus of the Emim/Zamzummim, viz. Arba, Enme-nuna) similarly is described as a son of Lud son of Aram son of Shem. In the Defloratio Oceanus is one of the Ianili, the post-diluvian Titanic “sons” (disciples) of Noa-Janus, who are said to have accompanied and otherwise supported the patriarch on his post-diluvian missions. Arba is the “father [ancestor] of Anak” in the Bible, and in the Sumerian King List Enme-nuna is the dynastic predecessor of Aga (= Anak, §354.3, below, >>). The daughter of Okeanos (= Oceanus = Arba father of Anak supra) in Greek myth who married Inachos and begot Io by him was, accordingly, called Melia (the “honey-bee”), and the Melian (“bee”) nymphs were those who reared on Ida the Cretan Zeus (the Zeus of Nysa-Sinai, Dionysus, Huas), that is Ayyah the Seirite of the line of the Hivites/Horites. “Daughter of Okeanos” is equivalent to the Sumerian “offspring of Enme-nuna.” She received the name Melia, evidently, because she was of the line of the Zamzummim, the “hummers, wasps,” that is, of the Rephaim or children of Anak. By analogy the same name was applied to nymphs of the “honey-tree” (melia = manna-ash) from which a honey-like sugar extract was obtained, these the offspring, along with the giants (Nephilim, Rephaim), of the castrated Ouranos.


209.2.3. Barsal-nuna, the son of Enme-nuna, has a sibling in the King List Melam-Kishi (or Melem-Kish, “Glory of Kish”) whose name includes the name of the city Kish itself (Heb. Shalem, Gk. Salem). There was a female figure called Salem in post-Biblical tradition, the eponymus of Salem (Jerusalem), and this may be the figure alluded to here. (The Sumerian King List treats the few females who occupied the throne as “kings,” alongside the men.) Note the “Hittite/Hivite” = “Horite” origin of Jerusalem, referred to at §181.4.0.1, above, >>, whereby we might expect the eponymus Salem to be a descendant of Hivi (Enme-nuna) and Hor (Barsal-nuna). Heb. Shalem, Gk. Salem, according to an apocryphal story, was the mother of “Salaad.” Salaad begot Melchi: Melchi took a wife of the same name, Salem (II), who bore two sons to him, Melchi (II) and Melchizedek. (Fabricius, Codex Pseudepigraphus, Hamburg, 1722, p. 311ff. from an Apocryphal Narration concerning Melchizedek from Athanasius T. 3, ed. Montfaucon, p. 239.) The name Salaad = Salaa = Shelah son of Arphaxad, Shelah similarly being the eponymous builder of Salem in the medieval sources drawn on by Schedel in the Nuremberg Chronicle, fol. XVI verso, and by Nauclerus in his Chronicon, 1564, tom. I, gen. xiii, p. 15: see Friedlaender, Chadhirlegende, 1913, p. 260, n. 8, for Salaa = Salaad, otherwise Salathiel, the mother of Melchizedek, instead of mother Salem (II) of the apocryphal Athanasius genealogy, Salaa-Salaad being the wife of “Malak” brother of Shelah. Salathiel daughter of Gomer, son of Japheth, the mother of Melchizedek in the alternative tradition, §211, below, >>, is likewise, most probably, this same Salem II, Melam-Kishi, the daughter of Enme-nuna (her father Enme-nuna being the proposed eponymus of the Emim/​Zamzummim); for Emim, the eponymus of the Emim in Arabic/Iranian tradition, was equated with Gayomart, §448 sub fin., below, >>, the Iranian Adam, and Gayomart with Gomer son of Japheth (§670, below, >>). For Salathiel = Shelah (otherwise Salem), cf. the list of nations in Syncellus, Chonographica, ed. Mosshammer, p. 49, note to line 5, in which Salathiel is a variant for Shelah (“Sala” also “Sasan”) son of Cainan (son of Arphaxad, sic), and father of Eber.

In this account, then, we find all three sections of the Kish (Salem) dynasty connected genealogically, Shelah (Salaad) being present in the first section, Salem II in the second and Melchizedek in the third and last section. Presumably the compilers of the King List worked back from Enme-baragesi (Melchizedek) in section 3. His mother was known to be the “Hivite/Horite” Salem II, therefore the middle section (section 2) descended from Hivi (Enme-nuna) and Hor (Barsal-nuna) was inserted above Enme-baragesi. This Salem II was known to be descended from Salem I the mother of Shelah, therefore the list of pre-Abrahamic kings going back to Shelah was inserted (section 1) above Enme-nuna.


209.2.4. Returning to the line of Barsal-nuna: following Samug (Seir) we find his son Dish-eqli (di3-ish6-eqli[gana2]), bearing a name which means “Threshing (dish [or di, di3-i]) of the field (eqli).” (This name is read Tizkar [ti-iz-kar2] in most modern editions of the text. Here instead of ti-iz- we read di3-ish6– or di3-i-. On kar2 see infra.) Dish-eqli corresponds either to Dishon or to Dishan (the sons of Seir, Gen. 36. 21, 26, 30). Both mean “Threshing.” Hebrew d-y-/d-w-ṣ/d-y-sh/d-w-sh means “pound with the feet, thresh, leap” (Gesenius-Tregelles s.vv. d-w-ṣ and d-y-sh, d-w-sh, Dishon, Dishan), and the same word appears in Akkadian, dâshu or diashu, “thresh, pound” etc., the precise equivalent of the initial element dish- or diṣ- in the name in the King List. The last element (gana2 = eqli) in the name Dish-eqli is related and similar to the sign kar2, and Jacobsen read it kar2 (Ti-iz-kar[kar2]), but there appears to be a difference in the form of this sign and that rightly and commonly read kar2 in the name En-me-kar (en-me-kar2) in line 7 col. iii of the King List (WB 444). Langdon understood them to be different signs altogether (kar3, the modern sign qar, in his transcription of this name, and kar, the modern sign gana2, in his transcription of the name Enmekar, employing the values of an old orthographic system). Without going as far as Langdon, and modifying his reading somewhat in the direction of Jacobsen’s identification, we can assume the two signs are variations on a single sign. The sign gana2 is horizontal, whilst the sign kar2 is an angled version of the same sign. The angling of the sign is visible in the name Enmekar, but no angling is apparent here, at least in Langdon’s transcription, and the sign is horizontal, so it should be read gana2. Sumerian gana2 = Akkadian eqlu, “field,” and this complements the “threshing” referenced in the initial element.


209.3. At that point the genealogy, but not the list of kings, ceases in the Sumerian King List. Given the descent of the kings of Sodom from the Horites and the conclusions drawn supra, we may presume this line represents the genealogy of the clan to which the kings of Sodom belonged, viz. the Horite clan of Dishon/Dishan son of Seir. After Dish-eqli is Il-Shubat-riti. This name is usually read Ilkû [il-ku-u2] in modern editions of the text, but the first sign il is identical to the initial sign in the following name (il-ta-), which there appears to mean “goddess” or “princess” (iltu), and this would be the male form of the same noun (ilu), meaning “god” or “prince;” the Sumerian sign ku can represent the Akkadian word shubtu, “dwelling;” and the Sumerian sign u2, ritu, “pasturage;” so the name means “the God (or, prince, il) whose Abode (ku = shubat) is in the Pasture (u2 = ritu).” This corresponds to the name Bera of the king of Sodom in the days of Lot, whose name traditionally was broken down into two elements: 1) be, “[abiding, dwelling] in,” the preposition be in Hebrew being shortened from bey and beyt, “house, dwelling” (Gesenius-Tregelles, s. be, note sub fin.; and 2) ra, from the bi-consonantal root r-, which can mean “be tumultuous, evil,” but can also mean “to feed, pasture;” the latter sense corresponds precisely to the second element in the divine name in the King List, ritu, “pasture,” which comes from the same root. Thus Bera would mean “He who abides where (be-) one pastures (yera),” meaning the god (or, prince) who abides in the pasture, equating with the King List’s Il-Shubat-riti. Shubtu is a synonym of ashru and bitu in Akkadian, which all mean place, location, bitu being the same as Hebrew bayit, beyt, be, and there is therefore an exact affinity between the names: Shubat = bitu = be(yt),”Dwelling (in),” and ritu = ra, “pasture.” The interpretation “He who abides in evil” (the alternative sense of Hebrew ra, r- = “be tumultuous, evil”) is perhaps referenced in the alternative form of the royal name in one text of the King List (Jacobsen’s P5), Il-Shubat-ume, (il-KU-um-e) which means “God (or, prince, il) whose Abode (shubat) is that of the Storm-demons (ume).” The word ume denotes evil demons of the tumultuous storm, equivalent to the Hebrew ra, “evil one(s).” Bera was slain in the Battle of the Kings (Genesis 14. 10).


209.3.1. The next king of Sodom was the one who met Abraham and Melchizedek in the Valley of Shaveh near Sodom, when Abraham returned from his razzia on the army of Amraphel, bringing the restored captives and booty with him (Gen. 14. 17, 21, 22). The text calls him melek Sedom which may mean “king of Sodom,” but may equally mean “king Sodom.” As Melchizedek only appears at this point in the narrative and Melchizedek = Enme-baragesi, it is noticeable that we find Enme-baragesi appearing next after Ilta-Sadum, the successor of Il-Shubat-riti (Bera) in the First Dynasty of Kish, and the significant element in the name Ilta-Sadum is the presumed eponymous divine appellative Sadum-Sodom. The king would in that case be named after the divinity: “(The goddess) Sadum.” The name could also mean “Queen (of) Sodom,” iltu being the female equivalent of ilu, god, leader, prince, mighty one. Queens are treated like kings in the Sumerian King List, and thus the Biblical “king (of) Sodom” may actually have been a queen, which is understandable in light of the fact the previous king had been slain, along with, we may safely assume, the male nobility who accompanied him to battle.




209.4. The middle section of the First Dynasty of Kish, the Dynasty of Enme-nuna, therefore, is as follows (with suggested Biblical equations or identifications):



The Dynasty of Enme-nuna (preceded by the line of Etana)

Enme-nuna = Belu-Rubu (Nuna = Rubu) = Arba, otherwise Hivi, the “Hivite.”

Bar-sal-nuna = Hurru-ussu-Rubu = (Bar = Hurru) = Hor (son of the preceding), with a sibling, Melam-Kishi (presumed to be the traditional figure “Salem II”).

Samug = Sheeru = Seir (son of the preceding).

Dish-eqli = Dishon/Dishan (son of the preceding).

Il-Shubat-riti = Be-ra.

Ilta-Sadum = the successor of Be-ra, “king [of] Sodom,” who met Abraham and Melchizedek.

[followed by the Dynasty of Enme-baragesi = Melchizedek].


The First Dynasty of Kish therefore may be tabulated as follows (reconstructed):


Kings of the First Dynasty of Kish

1. Gar [?] (Shali’u) = Shelah, founder of Salem (Kish), son of Arphaxad, son of Shem, son of Noah.


2. Sila (Eberu) = Eber


3. Nanga (Puluggu) = Peleg


Aba (Ruû) = Reu

4. En-tarah-ana

[n] Atab (Shurruhu) = Serug (successor of the preceding)

5. Ba’[b]um

[n] Mashda (Nahiru) = Nahor (son of the preceding)

6. Pu-annum

10. Arwium (Turahu) = Terah (son of the preceding)

7. Kalibum

11. Etana (Ethan) = Abraham (10th post-diluvian generation)

8. Kalumum

12. Balih son of Etana (= Eliezer, the adopted son of Abraham)

9. Zuqaqip


Dynasty of Enme-nuna


13. Enme-nuna = Arba, otherwise Hivi


14. Melam-Kishi (presumed to be the traditional figure “Salem” II) sibling of:


15. Bar-sal-nuna = Hor (son of Enme-nuna)


16. Samug = Seir (son of the preceding)


17. Dish-eqli = Dishon/Dishan (son of the preceding)


18. Il-Shubat-riti = Be-ra


19. Ilta-Sadum = “king [of] Sodom,” the successor of Be-ra who met Abraham and Melchizedek

Dynasty of Enme-baragesi


20. Enme-baragesi (Melchizedek)


21. Aga (Anak)


(Total of “23 kings” includes Atab and Mashda, variously placed)




210. According to a tradition in the early Syrian Church, Melchizedek was the “rightful king” because he was the representative, and bore the name of, the patriarch Shem: (Gregory of Dathev, a celebrated Armenian divine of the 14th century, in Kirk hartsmants, c. xvii, p. 300, ed Const., explaining the teaching of Ephrem, Opp. Syr. vol. i., c. xiii, p. 60, cited in Malan, Book of Adam and Eve, p. 237b, Bk. III, note 9, square brackets mine) “But why does S. Ephrem in his writings say that Melchizedek was Shem? He had not two names neither is he a different person. But Irinos gives the reason which is difficult to understand. Noah blessed Shem, but Shem had no son like himself to bless. Abraham, however, was of the family of Shem, and worthy of a blessing. But Shem was not then living to bless him [sic according to the chronology of the Septuagint, Ephrem himself followed the Hebrew in which Shem was a contemporary of Abraham]; and Terah could not bless [being an idolater]. So Melchizedek took Shem’s place and did what Shem would have done, he blessed Abraham, and was called Shem.” Shem (which means “Name”) was a representative of God. In the blessing of Noah (Gen. 9. 26), the “Name” Shem is understood as a reference to the “Name” (or Son) of God. Note the Messianic allusion to Melchizedek in Ps. 110. 4 and the comparison made there between Melchizedek and the Messiah, the Son of God. Melchizedek was, according to Chrysostom, “perhaps self-ordained as priests were in those days.” (Hom. xxxv. in Gen. apud Malan, op. cit., p. 238a.) We should understand “God-ordained” where Chrysostom says “self-ordained.” The Messiah Jesus was a priest of this type, not a Levitical priest, and of an order superior to the Levitical, according to Paul in Hebrews (Heb. 7). The nature of this priesthood is described by Eutychius (Nazam. al-j., p. 33, apud Malan, op. cit. 236b f., Bk. III, note 8) as follows: (Lamech prophesying to his son Noah) “Then appoint from among thy sons one man to minister there [in Salem, Jerusalem]; a man devoted to God all the days of his life; without a wife; who shall shed no blood, and bring no offering, neither bird nor beast, but only bread and wine; for from thence shall come the salvation of Adam (or, of man). His raiment shall be of the skin of beasts; he shall not shave his hair, neither pare his nails; but remain alone [single]; for he shall be called priest of God, that is, Melchizedek.” The apocryphal history of Melchizedek already referred to says he lived for a while on Mount Tabor in Canaan in a thick forest, almost naked, until his back became like the “back of a tortoise.” (Apud Malan, op. cit. p. 237a, Bk. III, note 9.) In Cedrenus, Melchizedek is called a “virgin (parthenos, i.e. unmarried) priest.” (Hist. Comp. p. 49, ed. Bekker). Such characteristics might explain why Gilgamesh in the epic story of his conflict with the monster Huwawa, suggests offering his own “sister” Enmebaragesi to Huwawa in order to appease him. The only other occurrence of the name Enmebaragesi in the history of Gilgamesh is in application to his opponent, the king of Kish. Hence it has been suggested the word “sister” here is a demeaning reference on the part of Gilgamesh to the king of Kish. If Enmebaragesi (Melchizedek) was indeed a virgin devoted to the service of God, as the Syriac tradition describes him, the boastful warrior Gilgamesh’s intolerance and mockery of him is understandable. The fact that Enmebaragesi is described as the father of a son Aga or Aka in the Sumerian King List is not opposed to the tradition that he was a virgin priest, as he may have fathered this son before his call to divine service, or have been his “father” in the ancient, indirect, genealogical sense of the term (uncle, or equivalent superior male relative), or in a spiritual sense (instructor, master).


211. There was another tradition in the early Church that Melchizedek was a “son of,” or “of the race of,” Sidos (Cedrenus, Hist. Comp., ed. Bekker, p. 49), or Sidon, who was, in turn, the son of Canaan. That is Sidon’s genealogy in Genesis, but Cedrenus, loc. cit., and other Greek authorities represent Melchizedek’s father Sidos, the eponymus of Sidon, as a “son of Aiguptos.” Aiguptos, in turn, is described as the son, alternatively brother, of Side, the female eponymus of Sidon, the wife, alternatively daughter, of Belos son of Poseidon. (Roscher, Lexikon, s.v. Side. See also §334ff., below, >>.) Melchizedek son of Canaan was brother to Amraphel son of Canaan. Given the equation of Gilgamesh son of Lugal-banda with Amraphel, and of Enmebaragesi with Melchizedek, the two figures will have been, in a real sense, close relatives of the same family: hence, perhaps, the sibling term “sister.” The eponymus Sidon is in Sanchuniathon female in gender, and the daughter of Pontos (“Sea”). The names Side and Sidon are interchangeable (Eustathius ad Dionys. Per. 912). Pontos stands for Yam, “Sea,” the opponent of Baal, and Yam is the Canaanite equivalent of Tiamat, “Sea,” the opponent of Marduk, or otherwise, in an earlier version of the myth, of Asag, the opponent of Ninurta. But Asag is identified with Enmebaragesi of Kish in epic fragments celebrating Gilgamesh’s triumph over that dynasty. So this is an independent witness of the connection suggested here between the family of Sidon and Enmebaragesi of Kish. Similarly, the tradition in Epiphanius of Salamis (Haer. LV [or XXXV]. 2) that Melchizedek was a son of “Heraklas,” i.e. of (the Phoenician) Herakles, and “Astaroth, who is also Asteria,” i.e. a form of Eshterah, Astarte, connects him with the sons of Lugal-banda. According to Bar Hebraeus Melchizedek was actually of Semitic descent: Melchizedek, the son of Peleg, son of Eber, son of Salah, son of Arphaxad, son of Shem, son of Noah. According to an Arabic Catena, Melchizedek was a son of “Heraklim” (Herakles), the son of Peleg, etc., or, alternatively, son of Heraklim, son of Eber, etc. The wife of Heraklim and mother of Melchizedek, according to that same Catena, was Salathiel daughter of Gomer, son of Japheth, son of Noah. (Arabic Catena, cap. 31. fol. 67.a., marginal note on the name Peleg, Gen. 10. 25, and both genealogies, including Salathiel, ibid., cap. 30. fol. 66.a., quoted in John Gregory, Notes and Observations upon Some Passages of Scripture, London, 1684, Preface “To the Reader,” n.p., ad init. See §209.2.3, above, >>: Salathiel = Salaah = Shalem, the female eponymus of Jerusalem.) On the insertion of Herakles at this point in the genealogical line, see §884.4.5.8, below, >>. The descent of Melchidedek might thus be traced from all three Noachide patriarchs: from Shem, via Eber and Peleg; from Ham, via Canaan and Sidon; and from Japheth, via Gomer and Salathiel. But here, clearly, Herakles has been inserted into the Semitic genealogy between Peleg (or Eber) and Melchizedek. The name Herakles (= Melqart) bespeaks his Canaanite origin: elsewhere Melchizedek’s father (described as a practitioner of child-sacrifice of the race of Sidos son of Aiguptos) is called “Melchi,” meaning “king:” cf. the god Molech (root mlk, “king’’), to whom children were sacrificed, and Melqart, meaning “king [mlk] of the city [qrt].” The name of the father (otherwise brother) of Melchizedek is variously spelled, Melchi, Melchel, Melchiel, Malak, Malach, and Malkan (Friedlaender, Die Chadhirlegende, Leipzig 1913, p. 260f.), the forms ending in -el, being another indication he was the god (el) Molech. The likely setting for the merger of the Semitic and Hamitic lines, illustrated in the Catena by the insertion of Herakles into the genealogical line of Eber and Peleg, is the overthrow and subjection of the House of Kish (Salem) by the House of Uruk. That will have included the rape of the daughters of the former by the latter. Specifically, as hinted at in Sanchuniathon’s account of the war with Pontos, it will have involved the transfer of the female eponymus of Sidon (Sidon/Side) from Kish (Pontos) to Uruk (Demarous = Lugal-banda in Sanchuniathon). A similar scenario is envisaged in the account of the imprisonment of a pregnant woman, and the intended slaughter of her offspring, by Euechoros-Enmerkar in Aelian, and in the variations on that theme in other traditions, extending it to a plurality of mothers-to-be, including the story of the confinement of multiple pregnant females of the line of Kronos (Shem), and the destruction of their male offspring, by the Titans (Hamites, Rephaim of Canaan), in the Erythraean Sibyl (infra). Sidon/Side thus became, not only the grandmother or aunt of Sidos, but also the ancestress (or “mother”) of Melchizedek, the son of Sidos, on the Canaanite side. Consideration should be given to the comments made at §334ff., below, >>, regarding the female eponymus Sidon/Side as one of the seven Ashtaroth or Hathors, otherwise seven daughters of Astarte, that is, secondary forms of Eshterah-Astarte. Epiphanius’ Astaroth is the Hebrew Ashtaroth, the pluralis excellentiae of Eshterah/Astarte, the “Great Eshterah.” “Asteria” means literally “the Asterian,” viz. “one member of the class of, or, one form of, Aster, Ishtar, Astarte, Eshterah, the Star, Venus.” As these seven goddesses in the Mesopotamian scheme include Nigin (otherwise Nanshe, Nina), who is Saida = Side/Sidon, and Nigin is an alternative way of spelling Kishshatu = Kish = S(h)alem (Chic. Ass. Dict., s.v. kiššatu, lexical section), it is possible, if not probable, that the Salem who was the mother of Melchizedek “of the race of Sidon,” was actually Side/Sidon herself, viz. Nanshe. The figure thus designated might first have been the mother of Melchizedek, whilst still a member of the House of Salem-Kish, then, when enslaved, a cult-prostitute in the service of the House of Uruk, and the consort, amongst others, of Herakles. The Phoenician Herakles is Melqart, or Nergal, who was identified with Gilgamesh, the conqueror of the House of Kish. However, Melqart was also a High-god, the Canaanite equivalent of Bel of Babylon, and thus might be identified with the High-god Baal, Bel, Adad, Ninurta, Hadad, etc., in any, and all, of his incarnations, including particularly Cush-Mes-kianga-sher, Nimrod-Enmerkar, Canaan-Lugal-banda, and Sidon-Tammuz (see on the last §334ff., below, >>), the other scions of the House of Uruk. As the cult-prostitutes of Uruk associated indiscriminately with members of the royal House, if not also with the general public, it is understandable that confusion arose in later times regarding the paternity of individual figures who featured prominently in the mythology of the “Golden Age.”


212. Substituting, then, Biblical for pagan Babylonian names, according to the principles and identifications already established, we can reconstruct the story as follows:

Nimrod (= Euechoros-Enmerkar) was king of the Babylonians. It was prophesied that a child born in his house would cause him to be deprived of the kingdom. He locked up a daughter of his house in a citadel under guard but she begot a son, Abraham (= Etana), unbeknown to Nimrod, thus circumventing his decree. (The father is named Terah in the Bible). The child was protected from the wrath of Nimrod by a more-than-humanly wise eagle, which carried the child on its back. When Abraham grew up, he was involved in a conflict with Nimrod, and defeated him in battle.


213. Thus reconstructed we find precisely such a story told of Abraham. It appears in Arabic sources first and thence enters medieval Jewish tradition, but its roots go back, as explained by Ginzberg (Legends of the Jews), to pre-Arabic, native Jewish, post-Biblical midrash and haggadah. Its ultimate roots must be sought in traditions common to both Jews and Babylonians concerning the earliest generations after the Flood. The only major difference between this story and the reconstruction offered here is the substitution of the specifically winged (Daniel 9. 21) Angel Gabriel for the more-than-humanly wise eagle, and the understandable merger of the two Nimrods (Nimrod son of Cush and Nimrod son of Canaan, viz. Amraphel) into one. The following is Ginzberg’s version of the medieval Jewish account:


214. SUMMARY: NIMROD IS TOLD BY PROPHECY OF A MANCHILD WHO WILL TRIUMPH OVER HIM. HE BUILDS A CITADEL WHERE ALL MALE BABIES WILL BE KILLED AS SOON AS BORN, BUT TERAH, NIMROD’S COURTIER, BEGETS A SON UNKNOWN TO HIM, AND THE CHILD IS HIDDEN IN A WILDERNESS CAVE. HE GROWS MIRACULOUSLY QUICKLY BY THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE ANGEL GABRIEL.


215. Terah married Emtelai [Hamat-le’i], the daughter of Karnabo [Karnebo], and the offspring of their union was Abraham. His birth had been read in the stars by Nimrod, for this impious king was a cunning astrologer, and it was manifest to him that a man would be born in his day who would rise up against him and triumphantly give the lie to his religion. In his terror at the fate foretold him in the stars, he sent for his princes and governors, and asked them to advise him in the matter. They answered, and said: “Our unanimous advice is that thou shouldst build a great house, station a guard at the entrance thereof, and make known in the whole of thy realm that all pregnant women shall repair thither together with their midwives, who are to remain with them when they are delivered. When the days of a woman to be delivered are fulfilled, and the child is born, it shall be the duty of the midwife to kill it, if it be a boy. But if the child be a girl, it shall be kept alive, and the mother shall receive gifts and costly garments, and a herald shall proclaim, “Thus is done unto the woman who bears a daughter!””


216. The king was pleased with this counsel, and he had a proclamation published throughout his whole kingdom, summoning all the architects to build a great house for him, sixty ells high and eighty wide. After it was completed, he issued a second proclamation, summoning all pregnant women thither, and there they were to remain until their confinement. Officers were appointed to take the women to the house, and guards were stationed in it and about it, to prevent the women from escaping thence. He furthermore sent midwives to the house, and commanded them to slay the men children at their mothers’ breasts. But if a woman bore a girl, she was to be arrayed in byssus, silk, and embroidered garments, and led forth from the house of detention amid great honors. No less than seventy thousand children were slaughtered thus. Then the angels appeared before God, and spoke, “Seest Thou not what he doth, yon sinner and blasphemer, Nimrod son of Canaan, who slays so many innocent babes that have done no harm?” God answered, and said: “Ye holy angels, I know it and I see it, for I neither slumber nor sleep. I behold and I know the secret things and the things that are revealed, and ye shall witness what I will do unto this sinner and blasphemer, for I will turn My hand against him to chastise him.”


217. It was about this time that Terah espoused the mother of Abraham, and she was with child. When her body grew large at the end of three months of pregnancy, and her countenance became pale, Terah said unto her, “What ails thee, my wife, that thy countenance is so pale and thy body so swollen?” She answered, and said, “Every year I suffer with this malady.” But Terah would not be put off thus. He insisted: “Show me thy body. It seems to me thou art big with child. If that be so, it behooves us not to violate the command of our god Nimrod.” When he passed his hand over her body, there happened a miracle. The child rose until it lay beneath her breasts, and Terah could feel nothing with his hands. He said to his wife, “Thou didst speak truly,” and naught became visible until the day of her delivery.


218. When her time approached, she left the city in great terror and wandered toward the desert, walking along the edge of a valley, until she happened across a cave. She entered this refuge, and on the next day she was seized with throes, and she gave birth to a son. The whole cave was filled with the light of the child’s countenance as with the splendor of the sun, and the mother rejoiced exceedingly. The babe she bore was our father Abraham.


219. His mother lamented, and said to her son: “Alas that I bore thee at a time when Nimrod is king. For thy sake seventy thousand men children were slaughtered, and I am seized with terror on account of thee, that he hear of thy existence, and slay thee. Better thou shouldst perish here in this cave than my eye should behold thee dead at my breast.” She took the garment in which she was clothed, and wrapped it about the boy. Then she abandoned him in the cave, saying, “May the Lord be with thee, may He not fail thee nor forsake thee.”


220. Thus Abraham was deserted in the cave, without a nurse, and he began to wail. God sent Gabriel down to give him milk to drink, and the angel made it to flow from the little finger of the baby’s right hand, and he sucked at it until he was ten days old. Then he arose and walked about, and he left the cave, and went along the edge of the valley. When the sun sank, and the stars came forth, he said, “These are the gods!” But the dawn came, and the stars could be seen no longer, and then he said, “I will not pay worship to these, for they are no gods.” Thereupon the sun came forth, and he spoke, “This is my god, him will I extol.” But again the sun set, and he said, “He is no god,” and beholding the moon, he called her his god to whom he would pay Divine homage. Then the moon was obscured, and he cried out: “This, too, is no god! There is One who sets them all in motion.”


221. He was still communing with himself when the angel Gabriel approached him and met him with the greeting, “Peace be with thee,” and Abraham returned, “With thee be peace,” and asked, “Who art thou?” And Gabriel answered, and said, “I am the angel Gabriel, the messenger of God,” and he led Abraham to a spring of water near by, and Abraham washed his face and his hands and feet, and he prayed to God, bowing down and prostrating himself.


222. Meantime the mother of Abraham thought of him in sorrow and tears, and she went forth from the city to seek him in the cave in which she had abandoned him. Not finding her son, she wept bitterly, and said, “Woe unto me that I bore thee but to become a prey of wild beasts, the bears and the lions and the wolves!” She went to the edge of the valley, and there she found her son. But she did not recognize him, for he had grown very large. She addressed the lad, “Peace be with thee!” and he returned, “With thee be peace!” and he continued, “Unto what purpose didst thou come to the desert?” She replied, “I went forth from the city to seek my son.” Abraham questioned further, “Who brought thy son hither?” and the mother replied thereto: “I had become pregnant from my husband Terah, and when the days of my delivery were fulfilled, I was in anxiety about my son in my womb, lest our king come, the son of Canaan, and slay him as he had slain the seventy thousand other men children. Scarcely had I reached the cave in this valley when the throes of travailing seized me, and I bore a son, whom I left behind in the cave, and I went home again. Now am I come to seek him, but I find him not.”


223. Abraham then spoke, “As to this child thou tellest of, how old was it?” The mother: “It was about twenty days old.” Abraham: “Is there a woman in the world who would forsake her new-born son in the desert, and come to seek him after twenty days?” The mother: “Peradventure God will show Himself a merciful God!” Abraham: “I am the son whom thou hast come to seek in this valley!” The mother: “My son, how thou art grown! But twenty days old, and thou canst already walk, and talk with thy mouth!”Abraham: “So it is, and thus, O my mother, it is made known unto thee that there is in the world a great, terrible, living, and ever-existing God, who doth see, but who cannot be seen. He is in the heavens above, and the whole earth is full of His glory.” The mother: “My son, is there a God beside Nimrod?” Abraham: “Yes, mother, the God of the heavens and the God of the earth, He is also the God of Nimrod son of Canaan. Go, therefore, and carry this message unto Nimrod.”


224. The mother of Abraham returned to the city and told her husband Terah how she had found their son. Terah, who was a prince and a magnate in the house of the king, betook himself to the royal palace, and cast himself down before the king upon his face. It was the rule that one who prostrated himself before the king was not permitted to lift up his head until the king bade him lift it up. Nimrod gave permission to Terah to rise and state his request. Thereupon Terah related all that had happened with his wife and his son. When Nimrod heard his tale, abject fear seized upon him, and he asked his counsellors and princes what to do with the lad. They answered, and said: “Our king and our god! Wherefore art thou in fear by reason of a little child? There are myriads upon myriads of princes in thy realm, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens, and overseers without number. Let the pettiest of the princes go and fetch the boy and put him in prison.” But the king interposed, “Have ye ever seen a baby of twenty days walking with his feet, speaking with his mouth, and proclaiming with his tongue that there is a God in heaven, who is One, and none beside Him, who sees and is not seen?” All the assembled princes were horror struck at these words.


225. SUMMARY: NIMROD SENDS AN ARMY TO ARREST THE BOY-PROPHET ABRAHAM BUT THE ANGEL GABRIEL BLOCKS THEIR WAY WITH DARK CLOUDS AND FLIES WITH ABRAHAM ON HIS BACK TO NIMROD AT BABYLON WHERE HE PREACHES THE ONE GOD


226. At this time Satan in human form appeared, clad in black silk garb, and he cast himself down before the king. Nimrod said, “Raise thy head and state thy request.” Satan asked the king: “Why art thou terrified, and why are ye all in fear on account of a little lad? I will counsel thee what thou shalt do: Open thy arsenal and give weapons unto all the princes, chiefs, and governors, and unto all the warriors, and send them to fetch him unto thy service and to be under thy dominion.”


227. This advice given by Satan the king accepted and followed. He sent a great armed host to bring Abraham to him. When the boy saw the army approach him, he was sore afraid, and amid tears he implored God for help. In answer to his prayer, God sent the angel Gabriel to him, and he said: “Be not afraid and disquieted, for God is with thee. He will rescue thee out of the hands of all thine adversaries.” God commanded Gabriel to put thick, dark clouds between Abraham and his assailants. Dismayed by the heavy clouds, they fled, returning to Nimrod, their king, and they said to him, “Let us depart and leave this realm,” and the king gave money unto all his princes and his servants, and together with the king they departed and journeyed to Babylon.


228. Now Abraham, at the command of God, was ordered by the angel Gabriel to follow Nimrod to Babylon. He objected that he was in no wise equipped to undertake a campaign against the king, but Gabriel calmed him with the words: “Thou needest no provision for the way, no horse to ride upon, no warriors to carry on war with Nimrod, no chariots, nor riders. Do thou but sit thyself upon my shoulder, and I shall bear thee to Babylon.”


229. Abraham did as he was bidden, and in the twinkling of an eye he found himself before the gates of the city of Babylon. At the behest of the angel, he entered the city, and he called unto the dwellers therein with a loud voice: “The Eternal, He is the One Only God, and there is none beside. He is the God of the heavens, and the God of the gods, and the God of Nimrod. Acknowledge this as the truth, all ye men, women, and children. Acknowledge also that I am Abraham His servant, the trusted steward of His house.”


230. Abraham met his parents in Babylon, and also he saw the angel Gabriel, who bade him proclaim the true faith to his father and his mother. Therefore Abraham spake to them, and said: “Ye serve a man of your own kind, and you pay worship to an image of Nimrod. Know ye not that it has a mouth, but it speaks not; an eye, but it sees not; an ear, but it hears not; nor does it walk upon its feet, and there is no profit in it, either unto itself or unto others?”


231. When Terah heard these words, he persuaded Abraham to follow him into the house, where his son told him all that had happened — how in one day he had completed a forty days’ journey. Terah thereupon went to Nimrod and reported to him that his son Abraham had suddenly appeared in Babylon. The king sent for Abraham, and he came before him with his father. Abraham passed the magnates and the dignitaries until he reached the royal throne, upon which he seized hold, shaking it and crying out with a loud voice: “O Nimrod, thou contemptible wretch, that deniest the essence of faith, that deniest the living and immutable God, and Abraham His servant, the trusted steward of His house. Acknowledge Him, and repeat after me the words: The Eternal is God, the Only One, and there is none beside; He is incorporeal, living, ever-existing; He slumbers not and sleeps not, who hath created the world that men might believe in Him. And confess also concerning me, and say that I am the servant of God and the trusted steward of His house.”


232. While Abraham proclaimed this with a loud voice, the idols fell upon their faces, and with them also King Nimrod. For a space of two hours and a half the king lay lifeless, and when his soul returned upon him, he spoke and said, “Is it thy voice, O Abraham, or the voice of thy God?” And Abraham answered, and said, “This voice is the voice of the least of all creatures called into existence by God.” Thereupon Nimrod said, “Verily, the God of Abraham is a great and powerful God, the King of all kings,” and he commanded Terah to take his son and remove him, and return again unto his own city, and father and son did as the king had ordered.


233. Setting aside the fabulous elements of these varied accounts, we can summarize the historical scenario as follows:

Some time between the reign of Nimrod (Sumerian: Enmerkar) of the First Dynasty of Erech (Uruk) and the reign two generations later of Amraphel (Sumerian: Gilgamesh), Abra(ha)m (Sumerian: Etana) was born in Shinar (Southern Mesopotamia). His religious beliefs and his personal faith in the One God separated him off from his idolatrous contemporaries. He was known for his righteousness and personal devotion to his God. Some of his relatives and descendants settled permanently in Northern Mesopotamia around Harran on the Balikh river. The Aramaeans originated from these relatives of Abra(ha)m. He migrated subsequently to the Levant where he set up residence. In the reign of Amraphel he helped defeat a coalition of kings under the leadership of Amraphel himself and the king of Elam. Tithes of spoil from that engagement were given by him to Melchizedek (Sumerian: Enmebaragesi) who was known as the king of Salem (Kish). Supernaturally he recovered his ability to beget a child.


234. It is noticeable that Abraham was in alliance with Amorite princes from the Hebron area, Mamre, Aner and Eshcol, when he attacked and defeated Amraphel’s forces (Gen. 14. 13, 24). Soon after that incident the catastrophe which destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah brought the dynastic line of Nimrod-Enmerkar to an end. From that point in time, Amorites became an ever more evident presence in the north, and latterly, in more southerly parts, of Mesopotamia. The dynasty which rose to power in the region after the hiatus at the end of the Early Bronze Age was, too, a Semitic-speaking one. The rise of the empire of Sargon of Agade represented, in broad terms, the triumph of the Semitic kinsfolk of Abraham and their culture over the Mesopotamian dynasty with which Abraham had come into conflict. In terms more familiar to the Sumerians, it represented the vengeance of the House of Kish for the seizure of power by the First Dynasty of Uruk.


235. Since this conflict was viewed by the Sumerians as a conflict between opposing religious forces, e.g. between the god Ninurta, representing the House of Uruk, on the one hand, and the demon Asag or Anzu (representing the House of Kish), on the other, and since the religion of Enmerkar can be proved to have spread far and wide over the Near East, it is to be expected that the conflict was symbolized similarly in other Near Eastern traditions. The Ninurta myth is an early form of the so-called “Kingship in Heaven” theme, which was employed throughout the Near East and beyond as a dramatic representation of, or theological justification for, the hegemony of the current ruling élite. In Babylon the Jupiter-figure and sun-god Marduk, and in Assyria Asshur, replaced Ninurta as the hero-god, and his demon opponent was transformed into the monster Kingu, offspring of the River Khabur in the north, representing the home territory of Babylon’s traditional Semitic foes. In Egyptian myth the conflict was between Osiris (identified with the sun-god Amun-Ra, whose winged disk was adopted by Asshur) and his son Horus, on the one hand, representing the ruling élite of Egypt, and the god of the Levantine Amorites, Seth, on the other. The Egyptian élite traced its descent from Djer and the other kings of the First Dynasty.


236. The early history of Mesopotamia, as summarized in chronographical form in the Sumerian King List, explains the various components of the Kingship in Heaven Theme. In the days of Ziusudra (Noah), at the time of the Flood, kingship was “in heaven (An),” since immediately after the Flood, according to the Sumerian King List, kingship “descended from heaven (An)” and was “first in Kish.” The dynasty of Kish in Sumerian tradition was identified with the demon-god (Asag, Anzu) who was defeated by the hero-god, Ninurta. The hero-god, in turn, was identified with the kings of the succeeding, victorious, dynasty of Uruk (Lugal-banda, Gilgamesh etc.) So kingship passed from 1) Heaven, An (the reign of Ziusudra, Noah), to 2) the demon-god Asag/Anzu (the First Dynasty of Kish), to 3) the hero-god Ninurta (the First Dynasty of Uruk). In the Babylonian Epic of Creation, Enuma Elish, the name of the demon-god was changed to Kingu, and the name of the hero-god to Marduk, but otherwise the succession was the same: divine kingship passed from 1) Anu (An) “Heaven,” to 2) the usurping demon-god Kingu and his demonic allies, to 3) the avenging hero-god Marduk. In Greek myth, the names were changed to 1) Ouranos (“Heaven”) 2) Tuphon and/or the giants and/or Titans (the demon-god[s]), and 3) Zeus (the hero-god).


237. The Greek version of the theme which follows represents, in large measure, a reversion to the primitive, historical, interpretation. 1) It identifies the “Heaven” figure, Ouranos, with the Biblical Noah (Ziusudra): 2) it represents the succeeding family of Kronos, viz. the family of Shem, as holding supremacy in a mere technical sense, whilst in fact being under the power of the demonic Titans (the Hamites): the male members of this family include in the tenth generation the infant Abraham, the “righteous man” of Berossus, i.e. Etana of Kish: 3) it envisages the Cretan and Phrygian Zeus, Zeus Sabazius, as the hero-god, and victor over the descendants of Titan. Sabazius was equated with the Egyptian Serapis or Osiris, and Osiris was originally the soul of King Djer of the First Dynasty (i.e. of Enmerkar/Tammuz of the First Dynasty of Uruk). He was later identified with Ninus I of Assyria (c. 1800 BC), who was believed to have migrated from Assyria to Crete and to have been worshiped under the name of Zeus by the Idaeans of Crete and Phrygia. (See §292f., below, >>.) The interest of Jews in the Cretan Zeus arose from the belief that the Idaei (Idaeans) were Iudaei (Judaeans), or, otherwise, from the identification of the Minoans or Minyans with the Minaeans of Jerusalem, the “Solumoi,” that is, the Hivite Nethinim who served in the Temple at Jerusalem. (See §140.5, above, >>.) This version of the Kingship in Heaven Theme appears in the “Oracles” ascribed to the Erythraean Sibyl Sambethe, who is described variously as the wife of one of Noah’s sons or as the “daughter of Berossus” (Sibylline Oracles Book III, 97-158, comments in square brackets added):

But when the threatenings of the mighty God
Are fulfilled, which he threatened mortals once,
When in Assyrian land they built a tower; —
(And they all spoke one language, and resolved
To
mount aloft into the starry heaven;
But on the air the Immortal straightway put
A mighty force; and then winds from above
Cast down the great tower and stirred mortals up
To wrangling with each other; therefore men
Gave to that city the name of Babylon); —
Now when the tower fell and the tongues of men
Turned to all sorts of sounds, straightway all earth
Was filled with men and kingdoms were divided;
And then the generation tenth appeared
Of mortal men, from the time when the flood
Came upon earlier men.

[I.e. the generation of Abraham, of Berossus’ “righteous man.”]

And Kronos [Shem] reigned,
And Titan [Ham] and Iapetos [Japheth]; and men called them
Best offspring of Gaia [Noah’s wife] and of Ouranos [Noah],
Giving to them names both of earth [= Gk. Gaia] and heaven [= Gk. Ouranos],
Since they were very first of mortal men.
So there were three divisions of the earth
According to the allotment of each man,
And each one having his own portion reigned
And fought not; for a father’s oaths were there
And equal were their portions. But the time
Complete of old age on the father came,
And he died;

[the death of Noah-Ouranos is indicated here, that is, 350 years after the Flood and immediately before the war of Amraphel against Sodom: this is the first war between the Hamites and the Semites, recorded in the Bible, and the Sibyl’s account of that war follows:]

and the sons infringing oaths
Stirred up against each other bitter strife,
Which one should have the royal rank and rule
Over all mortals; and against each other
Kronos and Titan fought. But Rhea and Gaia,
And Aphrodite fond of crowns, Demeter,
And Hestia and Dione of fair locks
Brought them to friendship, and together called
All who were kings, both brothers and near kin,
And others of the same ancestral blood,
And they judged Kronos should reign king of all,
For he was oldest and of noblest form.
But Titan laid on Kronos mighty oaths
To rear no male posterity, that he
Himself might reign when age and fate should come
To Kronos. And whenever Rhea bore
Beside her sat the Titans, and all males
In pieces tore, but let the females live
To be reared by the mother.

[This refers to the destruction of male children by the Hamites under Nimrod at the time of the birth of Abraham.]

But when now
The third generation the august Rhea bore,

[that is, the third generation, via Jacob and Isaac, from the tenth generation of Abraham, and therefore the generation of the twelve sons of Israel-Jacob c. 1800 BC, which was the era of Ninus I (Shamshi-Adad I) of Assyria, who was identified with the Cretan and Phrygian Zeus, see §292, below, >>.]

She brought forth Hera first; and when they saw
A female offspring, the fierce Titan men
Betook them to their homes. And thereupon
Rhea a male child bore, and having bound
Three men of Crete by oath she quickly sent
Him into Phrygia to be reared apart
In secret; therefore did they name him Zeus [“Di’”],
For he was sent away.

[“Di-epemphthê” — a strange etymology but understandable from the point of view of Sabazius syncretists, who identified Zeus with Sabazius and interpreted Sabazius as Heb. Shabbati (“of the Sabbath”) one of the meanings of the Heb. verb shabat (in the hiphil) is precisely “remove, take away” (Gesenius-Tregelles s.v. HIPHIL §3).]

And thus she sent
Poseidon also secretly away.
And Plouto, third, did Rhea yet again,
Noblest of women, at Dodona bear,
Whence flows Europus’ river’s liquid course,
And with Peneus mixed pours in the sea
Its water, and men call it Stygian.
But when the Titans heard that there were sons
Kept secretly, whom Kronos and his wife
Rhea begat, then Titan sixty youths
Together gathered, and held fast in chains
Kronos and his wife Rhea, and concealed
Them in the earth and guarded them in bonds.
And then the sons of powerful Kronos heard,
And a great war and uproar they aroused.
And this is the beginning of dire war
Among all mortals. (For it is indeed
With mortals the prime origin of war.)
And then did God award the Titans evil.
And all of Titans and of Kronos born
Died.



238. The identifications of Kronos with Shem, Titan with Ham, and Iapetos with Japheth, were recognized already by Mar Abas Catina at the end of the second century BC, as cited by the Armenian historian Moses of Khorene. (§918ff., below, >>, §934ff., below, >>.) This Kronos Mar Abas Catina called Zervan, the Magian Kronos, or rather Khronos, “Unending Time.” He knew him only under the name Zervan, however, and made no explicit connection between him and the Egyptian K(h)ronos (i.e. Geb), also known as Bel the Titan, king of Babylon, whom he identified with Nimrod. Peri Theon implies the latter received the name Kronos as a title (= Semite) from the patriarch Shem, tracing his descent anomalously from Shem, rather than from Ham-Titan.


239. The Semitic resurgence which followed the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, represented in Mesopotamia by the rise of Agade, lasted around a century. It was at this point in time, in the middle of the 20th century before Christ, that some Phoenician princes seized power in the Egyptian Delta. They were known by the Egyptians as the “Hyksos,” the “sheikhs from foreign countries,” and their god, for reasons which are now obvious, was identified with the Egyptian Seth. When the dynasty of Agade was, in turn, supplanted by the Sumerian Ur III Dynasty, the ancient battle was recommenced in Mesopotamia. The Semites were defeated in northern Mesopotamia as well as in the South and even the great city of Byblos on the Phoenician coast, in the western Amorite heartland, was forced to pay tribute to the rising dynasty of Ur. The Phoenician princes felt threatened in Egypt, too, according to the native Egyptian historian, Manetho, by the rising power of the “Assyrians”which denotes, in later parlance, the inhabitants of Mesopotamia. There can be little doubt that it was the rising power of Ur III initially that Manetho meant here. The dominance of the first few kings of Ur over Byblos, the main city of the coastal region from which they originated, seems to have spurred the Phoenician princes on to fortify their power-base in Egypt. They built in the eastern Delta area a citadel and town called Avaris, in order specifically to meet any threat from the “Assyrians” in the east.


240. They need not have been overly concerned. After a brief blaze of glory the Sumerian revival of the Ur III dynasty faded into obscurity. Ur III was followed by the dynasties of Isin and Larsa, which had a significant Amorite component, and then by the First Dynasty of Babylon, a thoroughly Amorite, Semitic-speaking, line of powerful despots, including the famous Hammurabi, whose capital was located at Babylon.