Epilogue

…Seven years after the Evil Wind had desolated Sumer, life began to stir again in the land. But instead of an empire ruling others, Sumer itself was now an occupied land, with a semblance of order maintained by Elamite troops in the south and Gutian soldiers in the north.

Isin, a city never a capital before, was selected as a temporary administrative center, and a former governor of Mari was brought over to rule the land. Documents from that time recorded a complaint that one "who is not of Sumerian seed" was given the reins over Sumer. As his Semite nameIshbi-Erra – attested, he was a follower of Nergal, and his appointment must have been part of the arrangement between Nergal and Ninurta.

…Some scholars called the decades that followed the demise of Ur a Dark Age in Mesopotamian history. Little is known of those trying times except for what is gleaned from the yearly date formulas.

…A year or two later (after Ishbi-Erra dismissed the foreign garrison that controlled Ur and by extending his reign to that city) he sought to add the central religious authority to his powers by assuming the guardianship of Nippur, raising there the sacred emblems of Enlil and Ninurta. But the permission for that came from Ninurta alone, and the great gods of Nippur remained aloof and alienated. Seeking other support, Ishbi-Erra appointed priests and priestesses to restore the worship of Nannar, Ningal and Inanna. But it seems that the hearts of the people belonged elsewhere: as numerous Shurpu ("Purification") texts suggest, it was Enki and Marduk – using Enki’s immense scientific knowledge ("magical powers" in the eyes of the people) – who cured the afflicted, purified the waters, and made the soil grow edible vegetation again.

…But it was only after the passage of seventy years since its defilement – the same interval that later on applied to the desecrated temple in Jerusalem – that the temple of Nippur could be rebuilt by the third successor on the throne of Isin, Ishme-Dagan. In a long poem of twelve stanzas dedicated to Nippur, he described how its divine couple responded to his appeals to restore the city and its great temple, so that "Nippur’s brick work be restored" and "the divine tablets be returned to Nippur."

…There was great jubilation in the land when the great temple was rededicated to Enlil and Ninlil, in the year 1953 B.C.; it was only then that the cities of Sumer and Akkad were officially declared habitable again.

…The official return to normalcy, however, only served to stir old rivalries among the gods. The successor to Ishme-Dagan bore a name indicating his allegiance to Ishtar. Ninurta put a quick end to that, and the next ruler at Isin – the last one ever to bear a Sumerian name – was one of his followers. But this claim of Ninurta to the restored land could not be upheld: after all, he had caused, even if indirectly, Sumer‘s destruction. As the next successor’s name suggests, Sin then sought to reassert his authority; but the days of his and Ur’s supremacy were over.

…And so, by the authority vested in them, Anu and Enlil finally accepted Marduk’s claim to supremacy at Babylon.

Commemorating the fateful decision in the preamble to his law code, the Babylonian king Hammurabi put it in this words:

Lofty Anu, lord of the
gods who from Heaven came to Earth,
and Enlil, lord of Heaven and Earth
who determined the destinies of the land,
Determined for Marduk, the firstborn of Enki,
the Enlil-functions over all mankind;
made him great among the gods who watch and see,
Called Babylon by name to be exalted,
made it supreme in the world;
and established for Marduk, in its midst,
an everlasting kingship.

…"Babylon, then Assyria, rose to greatness. Sumer was no more; but in a distant land, the baton of its legacy passed from the hand of Abraham and Isaac his son unto the hand of Jacob, the one renamed Isra-El.

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