Chapter 4: Of Gods and Demigods

The decision of Marduk to stay in or near the contested lands and to involve his son in the struggle for Mankind’s allegiance persuaded the Enlilites to return Sumer’s central capital to Ur, the cult center of Nannar (Su-en or Sin in Akkadian). It was the third time that Ur was chosen to serve in that capacity—hence the designation “Ur III” for that period.

The move linked the affairs of the contending gods to the biblical tale—and role—of Abraham, and the intertwined relationship changed Religion to this day.

Among the many reasons for the choice of Nannar/Sin as the Enlilite champion was the realization that contending with Marduk has expanded beyond the affairs of the gods alone, and has become a contest for the minds and hearts of the people—of the very Earthlings whom the gods had created, who now made up the armies that went to war on behalf of their creators…

Unlike other Enlilites, Nannar/Sin was not a combatant in the Wars of the Gods; his selection was meant to signal to people everywhere, even in the “rebel lands,” that under his leadership an era of peace and prosperity would begin. He and his spouse Ningal (Fig. 23) were greatly beloved by the people of Sumer, and Ur itself spelled prosperity and wellbeing; its very name, which meant “urban, domesticated place,” came to mean not just “city” but The City—the urban jewel of the ancient lands.

Nannar/Sin’s temple there, a skyscraping ziggurat, rose in stages within a walled sacred precinct where a variety of structures served as the gods’ abode and the residences and functional buildings of a legion of priests, officials, and servants who attended to the divine couple’s needs and arranged the religious observances by king and people.

Figure 23

Figure 23

Beyond those walls there extended a magnificent city with two harbors and canals linking it to the Euphrates river (Fig. 24), a great city with the king’s palace, administrative buildings (including for scribes and recordkeeping as well as for tax collecting), multilevel private dwellings, workshops, schools, merchants’ warehouses, and stalls—all in wide streets where, at many intersections, prayer shrines open to all travelers were built. The majestic ziggurat with its monumental stairways (Reconstruction, Fig. 25), though long in ruins, still dominates the landscape even after more than 4,000 years.

But there was another compelling reason. Unlike the contending Ninurta and Marduk, who were both “immigrants” to Earth from Nibiru, Nannar/Sin was born on Earth. He was not only Enlil’s Firstborn on Earth—he was the first of the first generation of gods to be born on Earth. His children, the twins Utu/Shamash and Inanna/Ishtar, and their sister Ereshkigal, who belonged to the gods’ third generation, were all born on Earth. They were gods, but they were also Earth’s natives. All that was without doubt taken into consideration in the coming struggle for the loyalties of the people.

Figure 24

Figure 24

Figure 25

Figure 25

The choice of a new king, to restart afresh kingship in and from Sumer, was also carefully made. Gone was the free hand given to (or assumed by) Inanna/Ishtar, who chose Sargon the Akkadian to start a new dynasty because she liked his lovemaking. The new king, named Ur-Nammu (“The joy of Ur”), was carefully selected by Enlil and approved by Anu, and he was no mere Earthling: He was a son—”the beloved son”—of the goddess Ninsun; she had been, the reader will recall, the mother of Gilgamesh. Since this divine genealogy was restated in numerous inscriptions during Ur-Nammu’s reign, in the presence of Nannar and other gods, one must assume that the claim was factual. This made Ur-Nammu not only a demigod but—as was the case of Gilgamesh—”two-thirds divine.” Indeed, the claim that the king’s mother was the goddess Ninsun placed Ur-Nammu in the very same status as that of Gilgamesh, whose exploits were well remembered and whose name remained revered. The choice was thus a signal, to friends and foes alike, that the glorious days under the unchallenged authority of Enlil and his clan are back.

All that was important, perhaps even crucial, because Marduk had his own attributes of appeal to the masses of Mankind. That special appeal to the Earthlings was the fact that Marduk’s deputy and chief campaigner was his son Nabu— who not only was born on Earth, but was born to a mother who herself was an Earthling, for long ago—indeed, in the days before the Deluge—Marduk broke all traditions and taboos and took an Earthling woman to be his official wife.

That young Anunnaki took Earthling females as wives should not come as a shocking surprise, for it is recorded in the Bible for all to read. What is little known even to scholars, because the information is found in ignored texts and has to be verified from complex God Lists, is the fact that it was Marduk who set the example that the “Sons of the gods” followed:

And it came to pass
when the Earthlings began to increase in number
upon the Earth
and daughters were born unto them—
That the sons of the Elohim
saw the daughters of The Adam
that they were compatible;
And they took unto themselves wives
of whichever they chose.

—Genesis 6: 1–2

The biblical explanation of the reasons for the Great Flood in the first eight enigmatic verses of chapter 6 of Genesis clearly points to the intermarriage and its resulting offspring as the cause of the divine wrath:

The Nefilim were on the Earth
in those days and thereafter too,
When the sons of the Elohim
came unto the daughters of The Adam
and had children by them.

(My readers may recall that it was my question, as a schoolboy, of why Nefilim—which literally means “Those who have come down,” who descended [from heaven to Earth]—was usually translated “giants.” It was much later that I realized and suggested that the Hebrew word for “giants,” Anakim, was actually a rendering of the Sumerian Anunnaki.)

The Bible clearly cites such intermarriage—the “taking as wives”—between young “sons of the gods” (sons of the Elohim, the Nefilim) and female Earthlings (“daughters of The Adam“) as God’s reason for seeking Mankind’s end by the Deluge: “My spirit shall no longer dwell in Man, for in his flesh they erred…And God repented that He had fashioned the Adam on Earth, and was distraught, and He said: Let me wipe the Adam that I have created off the face of the Earth.”

The Sumerian and Akkadian texts telling the story of the Deluge explained that two gods were involved in that drama: it was Enlil who sought Mankind’s destruction by the Deluge, while it was Enki who connived to prevent it by instructing “Noah” to build the salvaging ark. When we delve into the details, we find that Enlil’s “I’ve had it up to here!” anger on one hand, and Enki’s counter efforts on the other hand, were not just a matter of principles. For it was Enki himself who began to copulate with female Earthlings and have children by them, and it was Marduk, Enki’s son, who led the way to and set the example for actual marriages with them…

By the time their Mission Earth was fully operative, the Anunnaki stationed on Earth numbered 600; in addition, 300 who were known as the IGI.GI (“Those who observe and see”) manned a planetary Way Station—on Mars!—and the spacecraft shuttling between the two planets. We know that Ninmah, the Anunnaki’s chief medical officer, came to Earth at the head of a group of female nurses (Fig. 26). It is not stated how many they were or whether there were other females among the Anunnaki, but it is clear that in any event females were few among them. The situation required strict sexual rules and supervision by the elders, so much so that (according to one text) Enki and Ninmah had to act as matchmakers, decreeing who should marry whom.

Enlil, a strict disciplinarian, himself fell victim to the shortage of females and date-raped a young nurse. For that even he, the Commander in Chief on Earth, was punished with exile; the punishment was commuted when he agreed to marry Sud and make her his official consort, Ninlil. She remained his sole spouse to the very end.

Enki, on the other hand, is described in numerous texts as a philanderer with female goddesses of all ages, and managing to get away with it. Moreover, once “daughters of The Adam” proliferated, he was not averse to having sexual flings with them, too… Sumerian texts extolled Adapa, “the wisest of men” who grew up at Enki’s household, was taught writing and mathematics by Enki, and was the first Earthling to be taken aloft to visit Anu on Nibiru; the texts also reveal that Adapa was a secret son of Enki, mothered by an Earthling female.

Figure 26

Figure 26

Apocryphal texts inform us that when Noah, the biblical hero of the Deluge, was born, much about the baby and the birth caused his father, Lamech, to wonder whether the real father had not been one of the Nefilim. The Bible just states that Noah was a genealogically “perfect” man who “Walked with the Elohim”; Sumerian texts, where the Flood’s hero is named Ziusudra, suggest that he was a demigod son of Enki.

It was thus that one day Marduk complained to his mother that while his companions were assigned wives, he was not: “I have no wife, I have no children.” And he went on to tell her that he had taken a liking to the daughter of a “high priest, an accomplished musician” (there is reason to believe that he was the chosen man Enmeduranki of Sumerian texts, the parallel of the biblical Enoch). Verifying that the young Earthling female—her name was Tsarpanit—agreed, Marduk’s parents gave him the go-ahead.

The marriage produced a son. He was named EN.SAG, “Lofty Lord.” But unlike Adapa, who was an Earthling demigod, Marduk’s son was included in the Sumerian God Lists, where he was also called “the divine MESH”—a term used (as in GilgaMESH) to denote a demigod. He was thus the first demigod who was a god. Later on, when he led the masses of humans in his father’s behalf, he was given the epithet-name Nabu—The Spokesman, The Prophet—for that is what the literal meaning of the word is, as is the meaning of the parallel biblical Hebrew word Nabih, translated “prophet.”

Nabu was thus the god-son and an Adam-son of ancient scriptures, the one whose very name meant Prophet. As in the Egyptian prophecies earlier quoted, his name and role became linked to the Messianic expectations.

And so it was, in the days before the Deluge, that Marduk set an example to the other young un-espoused gods: find and marry an Earthling female… The breach of the taboo appealed in particular to the Igigi gods who were away on Mars most of the time, with their principal station on Earth being the Landing Place in the Cedar Mountains. Finding an opportunity—perhaps an invitation to come and celebrate Marduk’s wedding—they seized Earthling females and carried them off as wives.

Several extra-biblical books, designated The Apocrypha, such as the Book of Jubilees, the Book of Enoch, and the Book of Noah, record the incident of the intermarriage by the Nefilim and fill in the details. Some two hundred “Watchers” (“Those who observe and see”) organized themselves in twenty groups; each group had a named leader. One, called Shamyaza, was in overall command. The instigator of the transgression, “the one who led astray the sons of God and brought them down to Earth and led them astray through the Daughters of Man,” was named Yeqon… It happened, these sources confirmed, during the time of Enoch.

In spite of their efforts to fit the Sumerian sources (that told of rival and contradicting Enlil and Enki) into a monotheistic framework—the belief in only one Almighty God— the compilers of the Hebrew Bible ended that section in chapter 6 of Genesis with a recognition of the factual outcome. Speaking of the offspring of those intermarriages, the Bible makes two admissions: the first, that the intermarrying took place in the days before the Deluge, “and thereafter too”; and secondly, that from the offspring “came the heroes of old, the men of renown.” The Sumerian texts indicate that post-Diluvial heroic kings were indeed such demigods.

But they were the offspring not only of Enki and his clan: sometimes kings in the Enlilite region were sons of Enlilite gods. For example, The Sumerian King Lists clearly state that when kingship began in Uruk (an Enlilite domain), the one chosen for kingship was a MESH, a demigod:

Meskiaggasher, a son of Utu,
became high priest and king.

Utu was of course the god Utu/Shamash, grandson of Enlil. Further down the dynastic line there was the famed Gilgamesh, “two-thirds of him divine,” son of the Enlilite goddess Ninsun and fathered by the High Priest of Uruk, an Earthling. (There were several more rulers down the line, both in Uruk and in Ur, who bore the title “Mesh” or “Mes”.)

In Egypt, too, some Pharaohs claimed divine parentage. Many in the 18th and 19th Dynasties adopted theophoric names with a prefix or suffix MSS (rendered Mes, Mose, Meses), meaning “Issue of ” this or that god—such as the names Ah-mes or Ra-mses (RA-MeSeS—”issue of,” offspring of, the god Ra). The famed queen Hatshepsut, who though a female seized the title and privileges of a Pharaoh, claimed that right by virtue of being a demigod—the great god Amon, she claimed in inscriptions and depictions in her immense temple at Deir el Bahri, “took the form of his majesty the king,” the husband of her queen-mother, “had intercourse with her,” and caused Hatshepsut to be born as his semidivine daughter. Canaanite texts included the tale of Keret, a king who was the son of the god El.

An interesting variant on such demigod-as-king practices was the case of Eannatum, a Sumerian king in Ninurta’s Lagash during the early “heroic” times. An inscription by the king on a well-known monument of his (the “Stela of the Vultures”) attributes his demigod status to artificial insemination by Ninurta (the Lord of the Girsu, the sacred precinct), and to help from Inanna/Ishtar and Ninmah (here called by her epithet Ninharsag):

The Lord Ningirsu, warrior of Enlil,
implanted the semen of Enlil for Eannatum
in the womb of […].
Inanna accompanied his [birth],
named him “Worthy in the Eanna temple,”
set him on the sacred lap of Ninharsag.
Ninharsag offered him her sacred breast.
Ningirsu rejoiced over Eannatum—
semen implanted in the womb by Ningirsu.

While the reference to the “semen of Enlil” leaves unclear whether Ninurta/Ningirsu’s own semen is here considered “semen of Enlil” because he was Enlil’s firstborn, or actually used Enlil’s semen for the insemination (which is doubtful), the inscription clearly claims that Eannatum’s mother (whose name is illegible on the stela) was artificially impregnated, so that a demigod was conceived without actual sexual intercourse—a case of immaculate conception in third millennium B.C.E. Sumer!

That the gods were no strangers to artificial insemination is corroborated by Egyptian texts, according to which after Seth killed and dismembered Osiris, the god Thoth extracted semen from the phallus of Osiris and impregnated with it the wife of Osiris, Isis, bringing about the birth of the god Horus. A depiction of the feat shows Thoth and birth goddesses holding the two strands of DNA that were used, and Isis holding the newborn Horus (Fig. 27).

Clearly, then, after the Deluge the Enlilites too accepted both the mating with Earthling females and considered the offspring “heroes, men of renown,” suitable for kingship.

Royal “bloodlines” of demigods were thus begun.

Figure 27

Figure 27

One of the first tasks of Ur-Nammu was to carry out a moral and religious revival. And for that, too, a former revered and remembered king was emulated. It was done through the promulgation of a new Code of Laws, laws of moral behavior, laws of justice—of adherence, the Code said, to the laws that Enlil and Nannar and Shamash had wanted the king to enforce and the people to live by.

The nature of the laws, a list of do’s and don’ts, can be judged by Ur-Nammu’s claim that due to those laws of justice, “the orphan did not fall prey to the wealthy, the widow did not fall prey to the powerful, the man with one sheep was not delivered to the man with one ox…justice was established in the land.” In that he emulated—sometimes using the exact same phrases—a previous Sumerian king, Urukagina of Lagash, who three hundred years earlier had promulgated a law code by which social, legal, and religious reforms were instituted (among them the establishment of women’s safehouses under the patronage of the goddess Bau, Ninurta’s spouse). These, it ought to be pointed out, were the very same principles of justice and morality that the biblical prophets demanded of kings and people in the next millennium.

As the era of Ur III began, there was obviously a deliberate attempt to return Sumer (now Sumer & Akkad) to its olden days of glory, prosperity, and morality and peace—the times that preceded the latest confrontation with Marduk.

The inscriptions, the monuments, and the archaeological evidence attest that Ur-Nammu’s reign, which began in 2113 B.C.E., witnessed extensive public works, restoration of river navigation, and the rebuilding and protection of the country’s highways: “He made the highways run from the lower lands to the upper lands,” an inscription stated. Greater trade and commerce followed. There was a surge in arts, crafts, schools, and other improvements in social and economic life (including the introduction of more accurate weights and measures). Treaties with neighboring rulers to the east and northeast spread the prosperity and well-being. The great gods, especially Enlil and Ninlil, were honored with renovated and magnified temples, and for the first time in Sumer’s history, the priesthood of Ur was combined with that of Nippur, leading a religious revival.

All scholars agree that in virtually every way the Ur III period begun by Ur-Nammu attained new heights in the Sumerian civilization. That conclusion only increased the puzzlement caused by a beautifully crafted box that was uncovered by archaeologists: its inlaid panels, front and back, depicted two contradicting scenes of life in Ur. While one of the panels (now known as the “Peace Panel”) depicted banqueting, commerce, and other scenes of civil activities, the other (the “War Panel”) depicted a military column of armed and helmeted soldiers and horse-drawn chariots marching to war (Fig. 28).

Figure 28

Figure 28

A close examination of the records from that time reveals that indeed while under the leadership of Ur-Nammu Sumer itself flourished, the hostility to the Enlilites by the “rebel lands” increased rather than diminished. The situation apparently demanded action, for according to Ur-Nammu’s inscriptions Enlil gave him a, “divine weapon that heaps up the rebels in piles” with which to attack “the hostile lands, destroy the evil cities and clear them of opposition.” Those “rebel lands” and “sinning cities” were west of Sumer, the lands of Marduk’s Amorite followers; there, the “evil”—the hostility against Enlil—was fanned by Nabu, who moved about from city to city proselytizing for Marduk. Enlilite records called him “The Oppressor,” of whose influence the “sinning cities” had to be rid.

There is reason to believe that the Peace and War panels actually depicted Ur-Nammu himself—one showing him banqueting and celebrating peace and prosperity, the other in the royal chariot, leading his army to war. His military expeditions took him well beyond Sumer’s borders into the western lands. But Ur-Nammu—great reformer, builder, and economic “shepherd” that he was—failed as a military leader. In the midst of battle his chariot got stuck in the mud; Ur-Nammu fell off it, but “the chariot like a storm rushed along,” leaving the king behind, “abandoned like a crushed jug.” The tragedy was compounded when the boat returning Ur-Nammu’s body to Sumer, “in an unknown place had sunk; the waves sank it down, with him on board.”

When news of the defeat and the tragic death of Ur-Nammu reached Ur, a great lament went up there. The people could not understand how such a religiously devout king, a righteous shepherd who only followed the gods’ directives with weapons they put in his hands, could perish so ignominiously. “Why did the Lord Nannar not hold him by the hand?” they asked; “Why did Inanna, Lady of Heaven, not put her noble arm around his head? Why did the valiant Utu not assist him?”

The Sumerians, who believed that all that happens had been fated, wondered, “Why did these gods step aside when UrNammu’s bitter fate was decided?” Surely those gods, Nannar and his twin children, knew what Anu and Enlil were determining; yet they said nothing to protect Ur-Nammu. There could be only one plausible explanation, the people of Ur and Sumer concluded as they cried out and lamented:

The great gods must have gone back on their word—
How the fate of the hero had been changed!
Anu altered his holy word.
Enlil deceitfully changed his decree!

These are strong words, accusing the great Enlilite gods of deceit and double-crossing! The ancient words convey the extent of the people’s disappointment.

If that was so in Sumer & Akkad, one can imagine the reaction in the rebellious western lands.

In the struggle for the hearts and minds of Mankind, the Enlilites were faltering. Nabu, the “spokesman,” intensified the campaign in behalf of his father Marduk. His own status was enhanced and changed: his own divinity was now glorified by a variety of venerating epithets. Inspired by Nabu— the Nabih, the Prophet—prophecies of the Future, of what is about to happen, began to sweep the contested lands.

We know what they said because a number of clay tablets on which such prophecies were inscribed have been found; written in Old Babylonian cuneiform, they are grouped by scholars as Akkadian Prophecies or Akkadian Apocalypses. Common to all of them is the view that Past, Present, and Future are parts of a continuous flow of events; that within a preordained Destiny there is some room for free will and thus a variated Fate; that for Mankind, both were decreed or determined by the gods of Heaven and Earth; and that therefore events on Earth reflect occurrences in the heavens.

To grant the prophecies believability, the texts sometimes anchored the prediction of future events in a known past historic occurrence or entity. What is wrong in the present, why change is needed, is then recounted. The unfolding events are attributed to decisions by one or more of the great gods. A divine Emissary, a Herald, will appear; the prophetic text might be his words, written down by the scribe, or expected pronouncements; as often as not, “a son will speak for his father.” The predicted event(s) will be linked to omens—the death of a king, or heavenly signs: a celestial body will appear and make a frightful sound; “a burning fire” will come from the skies; “a star shall flash from the height of the sky to the horizon as a torch;” and most significantly, “a planet will appear before its time.”

Bad things, Apocalypse, shall precede the final event. There would be calamitous rains, huge devastating waves— or droughts, the silting of canals, locusts, and famines. Mother will turn against daughter, neighbor against neighbor. Rebellion, chaos, and calamities will occur in the lands. Cities will be attacked and depopulated; kings will die, be toppled, and captured: “one throne will overthrow another.” Officials and priests will be killed; temples will be abandoned; rites and offerings will cease. And then the predicted event—a great change, a new era, a new leader, a Redeemer— will come. Good will prevail over evil, prosperity will replace sufferings; abandoned cities will be resettled, the remnants of the dispersed people will return to their homes. Temples will be restored, and the people will perform the correct religious rites.

Not unexpectedly, these Babylonian or pro-Marduk prophecies pointed the accusing finger of wrongdoing at Sumer & Akkad (and also their allies Elam, Hattiland, and the Sealands), and named the Amurru Westerners as the instrument of divine retribution. The Enlilite “cult centers” Nippur, Ur, Uruk, Larsa, Lagash, Sippar, and Adab are named; they will be attacked, plundered, their temples abandoned. The Enlilite gods are described as confused (“unable to sleep”). Enlil is calling out to Anu, but ignores Anu’s advice (some translators read the word as “command”) that Enlil issue a misharu edict—a “putting things straight” order. Enlil, Ishtar, and Adad will be forced to change kingship in Sumer & Akkad. The “sacred rites” will be transferred out of Nippur. Celestially, “the great planet” will appear in the constellation of the Ram. The word of Marduk shall prevail; “He will subdue the Four Regions, the whole Earth shall tremble at the mention of his name…After him his son will reign as king and will become master of the whole Earth.”

In some of the prophecies, certain deities are the subject of specific predictions: “A king will arise,” one text prophesied in regard to Inanna/Ishtar, “he will remove the protective goddess of Uruk from Uruk and make her dwell in Babylon… He will establish the rites of Anu in Uruk.” The Igigi are also specifically mentioned: “The regular offerings for the Igigi gods, which had ceased, will be reestablished,” one prophecy states.

As was the case with Egyptian prophecies, most scholars also treat the “Akkadian Prophecies” as “pseudo-prophecies” or post aventum texts—that they were in fact written long after the “predicted” events; but as we have remarked in regard to the Egyptian texts, to say that the events were not prophesied because they had already happened is only to reassert that the events per se did happen (whether or not they were predicted), and that is what matters most to us. It means that the prophecies did come true.

And if so, most chilling is the prediction (in a text known as Prophecy “B”):

The Awesome Weapon of Erra
upon the lands and the people
will come in judgment.

A most chilling prophecy indeed, for before the twenty-first century B.C.E. was over, “judgment upon lands and peoples” occurred when the god Erra (“The Annihilator”)—an epithet for Nergal—unleashed nuclear weapons in a cataclysm that made prophecies come true.

Continue to Chapter 5: Countdown to Doomsday