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THE GODS OF SUMER
Peter D. Goodgame
The ancient Sumerians had a supernatural worldview. There is no getting around this fact. The idea that this advanced civilization somehow emerged all by itself by applying human ingenuity alone, but then created an imaginative false history filled with supernatural encounters, is laughable, yet that is what modern secular scholars try to tell us. You cannot separate Sumerian history from their relationship with the “gods” and then come up with a plausible scenario of what must have really happened. The truth is that we are not alone. We never were, and the book of Genesis supports the basic elements of the Sumerian accounts and makes this fact abundantly clear.
Kingship Descended From Heaven
Recorded history for the Sumerians began with the establishment of the first city. Here is what the very first line of the Sumerian King List says:
“When the kingship was lowered from heaven, the kingship was in Eridu.” 29
The Sumerian King List (SKL - pictured below) contains the recorded history of the kings and ruling cities of ancient Sumer from its beginnings before the Flood almost to the end of the third millennium BC. There are many different copies of it, recently excavated and now held at various museums and universities, but they all say the same things regarding the earliest events. The SKL has always been viewed as an important historical document and the Babylonian historian Berossos used the SKL in his translation of Babylonian history into Greek around 290 BC.
In the Sumerian King List, the first city is named as Eridu, which was the city where “kingship” descended from “heaven.” From this we see that according to the Sumerians the very first event in their history seems to involve a supernatural event. The SKL continues and names various kings and cities that ruled for a period of time before the very first portion of it ends with the following lines:
“In 5 cities 8 kings; they ruled for 241200 years. Then the flood swept over.”
According to the Sumerians, the Flood was definitely a historical event (despite the fact that the reign lengths that add up to 241,200 years disagree with the biblical chronology and are greatly exaggerated).
Let’s look at this pre-Flood history and see how it compares with the book of Genesis. First of all, according to Genesis, the very first city was built by Cain and inhabited by his descendants. This was the cursed line of Cain, who had killed Abel and been driven from his family.
The second city on the King List is the city of Bad-tibira. This name means “Settlement of the Metal-Worker.” According to Genesis it was Tubalcain, a descendent of Cain, who first learned the craft of metal-working. Here is what secular scholar David Rohl says:
“Badtibira means ‘Settlement of the Metal Worker.’ If we take the Hebrew consonants which make up the name Tubal we get T-b-l. We know that the soft consonant ‘l’ is often representative of ‘r,’ thus we might get an original T-b-r which could, in turn, stem from ancient Tibira. Interestingly enough the Semitic epithet ‘Cain’ in Tubal-Cain also means ‘smith’ which suggests that this epithet has been added as a clarification of a little-known Sumerian word by the Hebrew author of Genesis. So these are clues which suggest that Tubal-Cain and Badtibira are connected in some way.” 30
The invention of metal-working was a great leap in technology, but there are sources that give further insight into how humans received this knowledge. For instance, the primary and original source, the Sumerians themselves, say that every technological innovation they received came from the Anunnaki gods who came down from heaven. Why do secular scholars dismiss this claim so easily?
This claim is supported by the extra-biblical book of Enoch, which gives a much more detailed explanation of what happened in Genesis 6 when the fallen angels descended to the earth and took human women for wives. According to this source it was the fallen angels who taught metal-working to mankind, specifically for the purpose of creating weapons for war.
What all of these different sources seem to be telling us is that the city-dwelling ancient Sumerians traced their line of descent directly back to Cain. It was to Cain’s descendants that the fallen angels appeared, and helped establish the first civilization that quickly degenerated into violence and corrupted the whole earth, leading to the Flood.
The final reference to the line of Cain in Genesis 4 offers further support for this hypothesis. This enigmatic reference describes the beginning of the carnal human tendency to fall into a cycle of violence based upon the principle of vengeance. According to the KJV:
“And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah, Hear my voice; ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech: for I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt. If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.”
Whereas, for the sake of comparison, the NIV says:
“Lamech said to his wives, ‘Adah and Zillah, listen to me; wives of Lamech, hear my words. I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for injuring me. If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy-seven times’” (Genesis 4:23–24, NIV).
The last line of this text reads somewhat differently in the Septuagint (LXX) translation of the Old Testament and opens our eyes to the actually meaning behind Lamech’s words:
“Because vengeance has been exacted seven times on Cain’s behalf, on Lamech’s it shall be seventy times seven.” 31
After Cain killed Abel and was punished by God and made to leave his homeland, he protested to God saying that if he was ever found he would certainly be killed. God listened to Cain’s complaint and to make him feel at ease He decreed that whoever killed Cain would suffer a punishment seven times worse. This was the Word of God attempting to restrain mankind’s corrupt tendency to take vengeance by violence by actually threatening divine retribution against Cain’s enemies.
We don’t know exactly what happened to Cain but because of what Lamech said the text does seem to imply that Cain was killed and that the killer of Cain was then punished by God. Regardless of what happened to Cain, we find that Lamech takes the Word of God and twists it and tries to apply it to himself to justify his own act of violence. In effect, Lamech says, “A man tried to injure me, so I killed him. Don’t mess with me! Cain’s enemies suffered seven-fold retribution, but I am Lamech, and anyone who comes against me will suffer seven times seventy retribution!”
You might be seeing now where this is going. This carnal, prideful, wicked human tendency to resort to violence and vengeance against our enemies was overturned by Jesus when He came to announce the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven:
“Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:21–22)
After saying this, Jesus then told a parable about forgiveness, explaining that vengeance has no part in the Kingdom of Heaven. He taught that we must never take vengeance, but must offer forgiveness to all men, even as God forgives us. This final reference to the line of Cain shows that one of the primary reasons that God brought the Flood was because of the fact that the ancient Sumerians, descended from the line of Cain and corrupted by the fallen angels, had become caught up in a degenerative cycle of vengeance, violence, and bloodshed.
“The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence” (Genesis 6:11).
“Woe unto them! For they have gone in the way of Cain” (Jude 1:11).
The Corrupting Influence
According to the Sumerians, the two primary gods that ruled over ancient Sumer and had an influence on the creation of mankind were the gods Enlil and Enki. They were the primary and most powerful sons of Anu, the distant “God of heaven.” Anu played no role in human affairs and his authority was delegated to Enlil, who eventually relinquished it to Enki. Here is what it says about these two gods in the book Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia:
“Enlil is one of the most important gods in the Mesopotamian pantheon. According to one Sumerian poem, the other gods might not even look upon his splendour. Sometimes he is said to be the offspring of An… The great centre of the cult of Enlil was the temple E-kur (the ‘Mountain House’) at Nippur, at the northern edge of Sumer, and Enlil is often called the ‘Great Mountain’ and ‘King of the Foreign Lands’… Other images used to describe his personality are king, supreme lord, father and creator; ‘raging storm’ and ‘wild bull.’” 32
“Enki (Akkadian Ea) was god of the subterranean freshwater ocean (abzu), and was especially associated with wisdom, magic and incantations, and with the arts and crafts of civilisation.… Enki/Ea was a son of An/Anu… Enki’s most important cult centre was the E-abzu (‘Abzu house’) at Eridu. As a provider of fresh water and a creator god and determiner of destinies, Enki was always seen as favourable to mankind… In the Sumerian poem ‘Inana and Enki’ he controls the me concerned with every aspect of human life, and in ‘Enki and the World Order’ he has the role of organising in detail every feature of the civilised world.” 33
The Sumerian word en means “Lord.” The word lil refers to the atmosphere, sky, winds and heavens, while the word ki means “earth.” Therefore, the name En-lil means something like “Lord of the Sky” while En-ki means “Lord of the Earth.”
Enlil seems to be a slanderous Sumerian representation of the God of Genesis. He exercises supreme authority and he is the one responsible for bringing the Flood. However, he is portrayed in Sumerian accounts as impulsive, irritable, cruel, and unjust.
Enki, on the other hand, emerges as the Sumerian favorite. Always portrayed as the great champion of humanity he was also known as the “Lord of the Abzu,” which is the original word for the Abyss. He didn’t necessarily reside in the Abyss, and he certainly wasn’t confined there, but he did have authority over it. The Abyss was known as a fresh-water barrier under the earth that separated our world from the underworld where the souls of the dead were confined after death. Fresh-water springs were thought to be gateways to this underworld and were therefore sacred.
The city where “kingship” first descended from heaven according to the Sumerians King List was Eridu, the original cult headquarters for the god Enki. Eridu was located on an island on the Euphrates River near the Persian Gulf, and the original temple built to honor Enki was built over a fresh-water spring. This temple was known as the E-abzu or “House of the Abyss.”
According to the Sumerian texts, it was Enki who came up with the bright idea to create human beings in the first place and he is often referred to as “Father Enki” who even has authority over the souls of human beings after death while they are held in the underworld. We could say that according to the Sumerians it was Enki who “held the keys of hell and of death.”
Enki Takes Dominion
A concept unique to the ancient Sumerians was the concept of the me, which are the laws, arts, technology, science, and skills necessary for civilization. Here is the definition as given in Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia:
me: The Sumerian term me (pronounced “may”) is a plural, inanimate noun, and expresses a very basic concept in Sumerian religion. The me are properties or powers of the gods which enable a whole host of activities central to civilised human life, especially religion, to take place. A related term, gis-hur (“plan, design”), denotes how these activities ought, ideally, to be: the me are the powers which make possible the implementation of the gis-hur and which ensure the continuation of civilised life. They are ancient, enduring, holy, valuable. Mostly they are held by An or Enlil, but they can be assigned or given to other gods of, by implication, lesser rank. 34
The me were originally held by Anu and Enlil, but the Sumerians believed that these powers to rule over human civilization were eventually handed over to Enki and transferred to Eridu. This story is related in the myth known as Enki and the World Order:
Lord who walks nobly on heaven and earth, self-reliant, Father Enki,
engendered by a bull, begotten by a wild bull,
prized by Enlil, the Great Kur, loved by holy An,
king who turned out the mes-tree in the Abzu, raised it up over all the lands,
great usumgal [dragon], who planted it in Eridu —its shade spreading over heaven and earth…
Enki, lord of the hegal [abundance] the Anunnagods possess…
Nudimmud [another name for Enki], the mighty one of the Ekur,
strong one of the Anunna,
whose noble house set up in the Abzu is the mast of heaven and earth…
Enki, king of the Abzu, celebrates his own magnificence—as is right:
My father, ruler above and below, made my features blaze above and below.
My great brother, ruler of all the lands, gathered all the me together, placed the me in my hands.
From the Ekur, house of Enlil, I passed on the arts and crafts to my Abzu, Eridu…
I am the first among the rulers.
I am the father of all the lands.
I am the big brother of the gods, the hegal is perfected in me.
I am the seal-keeper above and below.
I am cunning and wise in the lands.
I am the one who directs justice alongside An, the king, on the dais of An.
I am the one who having gazed upon the kur, decrees the fates alongside Enlil:
he has placed in my hand the decreeing of the fates at the place where the sun rises… 35
Samuel Noah Kramer, the famous Sumerologist, provides the best investigation of the Sumerian god Enki (pictured on a Sumerian artifact above) in his book Myths of Enki, the Crafty God. It even seems that the title he chose betrays the professor’s suspicions when we compare it with Genesis 3:1: “Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made…” Compare these words to the NIV:
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made.”
Here are two quotes from Kramer identifying a number of important characteristics of this beloved Sumerian god:
The craft of Enki is nowhere better represented than in magic. The one who knows the secrets of the gods and the ways of the other world is, not surprisingly, the god who knows the words and rituals to control the spirits. A large number of texts preserved in the ‘stream of tradition’ are incantation texts, and Enki is prominent in the tradition. 36
Enki is the “lord of the watery deep,” the “lord of hidden, unfathomable knowledge” in the depth of his “house of wisdom.” He was also the chief magician of the gods, the great exorcist. His purifying water was used in incantations and magic rites. Ruler of waters of the underworld, lord of rivulets and brooks, of plenteous harvests, Enki was also the god associated with other goods of the earth, metals and precious stones. He was the patron of metal works and crafts generally. Patron of foundations, he gave instructions for building things… The sacred water basin, an image of the Abzu, was set up in temples in honor of Enki. And the sacred tree grew up in his cult city of Eridu. 37
If we put together all of the different characteristics of Enki, we have a very provocative picture. He is the one who assumed dominion over the earth and is known as “The Lord of the Earth”; he is also known as the “Lord of the Abyss”; he is the god of wisdom and magic; he is associated with a sacred tree; and he is often represented as a dragon. To me the evidence is clear that Enki is the Sumerian representation of Satan—he is the historical Satan.
When Adam and Eve sinned by eating from the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, they fell from the high calling that they were created for, and the dominion that they possessed was taken up by Satan. That is why he could tempt Jesus in Matthew 4:8–9 by offering Him all the kingdoms of the world, and that is why Jesus referred to Satan as “the prince of this world” in John 12:31 and 16:11, saying that the time has come for Satan to be driven out!
The Father of Lies
So this brings us back now to the paradox that exists when we compare the Sumerian accounts with the Hebrew accounts. Why do they describe the same events but offer conflicting perspectives that are theologically one hundred and eighty degrees apart? It’s simply because one account, the book of Genesis, comes from God, and the other account comes from Satan.
It’s really quite that simple. The Sumerian story of the beginning of human origins is “Enki’s story.” As the god who exercised dominion and controlled the me—the arts and sciences of civilization—he also controlled the art of writing. Here is what Samuel Noah Kramer writes:
“Enki is, in addition to the lord of magic and the great problem-solver of the gods, the god of craftsmen, including what we would now call artists and writers… Enki was, perhaps more than any other ancient deity, essentially identified with the spoken and the written word.” 38
The respected Assyriologist Georges Roux makes the same observation:
“Enki-Ea, the tutelary god of Eridu, was above all the god of intelligence and wisdom, the ‘broad-eared one who knows all that has a name.’ He stood as the initiator and protector of arts and crafts, of science and literature, the patron of the magicians, the Great Teacher and the Great Superintendent who, having organized the world created by Enlil, assured its proper functioning.” 39
The Historical Atlas of Ancient Mesopotamia recognizes that control over the art of writing brought with it a tremendous influence over human affairs:
“Among these basic elements [the me] was writing, considered to be a divine decree from the deities and under the patronage of Enki, God of Wisdom. From its inception, writing was therefore considered a gift of the gods and carried with it both power and knowledge.” 40
If we go back to the earliest written records in human history, Satan is there, smiling at us, pretending to be mankind’s “Father” and our great protector, benefactor, and champion. He is a Father, but not our Father.
Jesus Christ announced his doom and explained that the same one who is “the prince of this world” is also “the Father of Lies”:
“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” (John 8:44)
The last days of Satan’s rule are described in Revelation 12:7–9:
And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
Peter D. Goodgame
posted and updated on December 2, 2015
29. The Sumerian King List, as quoted in David Rohl, Legend: The Genesis of Civilisation (London, UK: Random House, 1998), 164. Also see the wikipedia entry at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sumerian_King_List
30. Ibid., 200.
31. Genesis 4:24, THE SEPTUAGINT WITH APOCRYPHA: ENGLISH, Brenton’s translation, available at http://www.ecmarsh.com/lxx/
32. Jeremy Black and Anthony Green, Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2003), 76.
33. Ibid., 75.
34. Ibid., 130.
35. Samuel Noah Kramer, Myths of Enki, the Crafty God (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1989), 39–42.
36. Ibid., 100.
37. Ibid., 123.
38. Ibid., 5.
39. Georges Roux, Ancient Iraq (New York, NY: Penguin Books, 1986 ), 95.
40. Norman Bancroft Hunt, Historical Atlas of Ancient Mesopotamia (Singapore, Thalamus Publishing, 2004), 24.
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