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Mesopotamia / Myths and Legends /
Enuma Elish

Tablets of the Enuma Elish.

Creation myth used in Amorite, Akkadian, Sumerian, Babylonian and Assyrian religion. Enuma Elish was used in connection with the New Years celebrations.
Its name comes from the two first words in the myth text, which can be translated as "then (enuma) up there (elish)".
Enuma Elish is more than a cosmogonic myth (explaining the world's creation), it is also a teogonic myth (explaining the gods' creation). The myth explains that the gods were created prior to the creation of the world.

Book 1
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In those times when there still was no heaven, Apsu and Tiamat procreated by mixing their respective waters. From this, the first gods and goddesses came: Lahmu, Lahamu, Anshar, Kishar and all the rest.
When the gods got together, they created much turbulence, something that disturbed Apsu, but not Tiamat. Apsu wanted to destroy the gods, but instead the god Ea brought a sleep over Apsu, and destroyed him.
Marduk is appointed to be the highest of the gods — he was born as a full-grown man with four eyes and four ears.
There are more conflicts between the gods and their creators. Tiamat is threatened by the gods, and answers by creating Kingu. Kingu was intended to reign over all gods and be Tiamat's lover.

Book 2
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Ea wants to fight Tiamat's forces, but is afraid. Anu also tries, but has to give in. Finally, Marduk is sent out to fight.

Book 3
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All gods are gathering in order to determine the destiny of Marduk. His parents, Lahmu and Lahamu are terrified.

Book 4
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Marduk's destiny is determined: He should become invincible.
Marduk prepares to fight; he equips himself with the strongest powers in nature. With their help, he defeats Tiamat, but uses no more than an arrow for the actual killing.
Then he defeats her helpers, and gives Kingu to the death god, Uggu. Tiamat is cut in two halves. One was used to make the heaven, and the other half was used to make the earth.

Book 5
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The text explains how the world is organized, about star signs, the moon, and how the days are arranged into groups of 6 with a 7th day when the sun meets the moon in its middle.

Book 6 and 7
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Detailed articleFull text of Book 7
Inspired from making the world, Marduk wants to embark on a new great endeavour: creating man, who should be in the service of the gods. Kingu is sacrificed as a punishment for his involvement in the war between the gods and Tiamat.
The text explains that 300 gods in heaven and 300 gods on earth should be guards. Further, it tells that the Tower of Babel is created by the will of Marduk.
Humans are instructed how to conduct themselves. They should give the gods large offerings, and build large temples.
Book 7 ends by listing Marduk's 50 names. Name 49 is Ea, which indicates that Marduk usurps the role of this god. Name 50 is "fifty", the holy number of the god Enlil, so that Marduk is identified with him as well.

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By Tore Kjeilen