Retold in English
TABLET 1: When above the heavens
had not been named,
dry land had not been called by name --
When Father Apsu [Fresh Water], sire-seeder,
and Mother Tiamat [Sea], birth-giver,
mingled their waters together -
When no marsh-land had been formed,
not even a swampy bog had appeared,
no other deities had been called forth by name --
Then the deities were fashioned within the waters of Apsu and Tiamat.
Lahmu and Lahamu [Ocean Floor] were called forth by name;
maturing through the ages, they grew tall --
Anshar and Kishar [Horizon] were then formed,
they lived many days, adding year to year;
Anu [Sky] was their heir, equal to his ancestors,
firstborn of Anshar, in Anshar's likeness --
And Anu sired Nudimmud [Rivers and Marshes] in his own likeness.
Nudimmud eclipsed his ancestors
with open ears, broad wisdom, and immense strength,
stronger by far than his grandfather Anshar;
He had no equal among the other deities.
The divine beings gathered together;
dancing nimbly, they upset Tiamat's stomach;
their celebration shook the skies.
Apsu could not shut them up, and Tiamat said nothing,
although she hated their noise
and found their hilarity disgusting.
Apsu consulted with Tiamat
about the deities, their firstborns.
Apsu said: "Their hilarity disgusts me.
I can't rest by day or sleep at night.
Let me smash them to bits
so that quiet will return and we can sleep."
Mother Tiamat flew into a rage:
"How can we destroy what we have brought into being?
They are too noisy, but we can stand it."
But Apsu plotted evil against his children.
When the deities heard this
they were speechless with fear.
Then Ea [Nidimmud], who understood everything,
Proposed a strategy against Apsu's plot.
On Apsu Ea cast a sacred spell
so powerful it reshaped the world
and put Apsu into a deep sleep.
After binding Apsu, Ea murdered him.
On the body of Apsu, Ea built a palace
and lived in splendor with his wife Damkina.
And Marduk their son was born -
tall and strong, with sparkling eyes,
full-grown from birth, mightiest from the first.
Anu, his grandfather, saw him and rejoiced;
Anu filled Marduk with double his own likeness.
Taller than all other gods, Marduk surpassed them in every way -
his perfection incomprehensible;
he had four eyes, he had four ears;
when he spoke, fire blazed from his lips.
When Anu played with Marduk, Anu made storms
causing waves that upset Tiamat's stomach.
Some of the deities said to their Mother Tiamat:
"When they killed Apsu your husband,
you didn't help him. You sat still.
Now Anu has made hurricane-winds
that upset your stomach and rob us of our sleep.
If you love us, you will help us."
Tiamat smiled and gave birth to an army:
she formed monsters, dragons of terror.
TABLET 2: She prepared for battle against her other children.
Anu's children assembled together;
with lips closed tight, they sat in silence.
Then Lord Anshar, father of the Assembly, said:
"Our rescuer will be the one who is mighty in strength,
he who cannot be defeated in battle,
Marduk the hero!"
Lord Marduk revelled in the word of Anshar:
"Great deities, who control the destiny of the world!
If I am to be your rescuer, defeat Tiamat, and save you,
assemble together, and give me the authority to control the destiny of the world,
so that anything I decree will not be changed."
TABLET 3: The deities assembled together, talked with each
other, and sat down to a banquet.
They ate feast-bread and drank dark beer.
As they drank the sweet beer, their bodies swelled;
They grew carefree as their spirits rose.
To Marduk, their rescuer, they gave the authority to control the destiny of the world.
TABLET 4: They built a royal throne for him,
and he seated himself as ruler.
They proclaimed: "Marduk is king!"
They gave him invincible weapons, foe-vanquishers:
"Go and kill Tiamat!"
And so the deities conferred the kingship on Marduk.
they declared the formula:
"Security and Obedience!
Marduk made a bow, designed it as his own weapon,
he fitted the arrow, tightened the cord.
He set the lightning before his face;
He filled his body with blazing flame.
He wove a net to snare Tiamat,
and set the four winds to hold her fast.
He raised the flood-storm, his mightiest weapon.
Tiamat and Marduk joined in single combat.
Lord Marduk cast his net, entangling her.
The storm-wind he loosed in her face:
when Tiamat opened her mouth to snatch him,
he drove in the storm-wind so that she couldn't close her lips.
The storm-wind filled her belly;
vomiting, she opened her mouth wide.
He shot an arrow, ripping open her belly,
tearing her guts, slashing her heart.
He bound her tight ...and killed her.
Having vanquished his foes, Marduk stood on Tiamat's legs;
he crushed her skull, he cut her arteries.
Then Marduk paused to view her body,
thinking what to do.
He split her in two like a clam -
made the heavens of one half,
with bars and guards to hold the water in.
He crossed the heavens, searching for a place.
He built a palace in the likeness of Ea's;
He named it Esharra, the dome of the sky.
TABLET 5: Marduk set the stars in constellations.
He set the year, limited to twelve months.
He caused Moon to shine, giving Him the night:
"Mark off every month with a crown.
When you see Sun, go back.
The day belongs to Sun."
From Tiamat's spit, he formed clouds,
filling them with wind and rain.
Piling mountains on Tiamat's head,
He stabbed her eyes to let the Euphrates and Tigris flow through.
He bent her tail to make the stars,
used her crotch to prop up the sky.
In this manner Marduk shaped the heavens and earth into an orderly cosmos.
All the old gods,
Lahmu and Lahamu, and all of the fathers,
greeted Marduk: "Our king!"
All the heavenly deities, the sky and earth deities,
bowed before him: "Marduk is the king!"
When they gave the king's status to Marduk,
they declared the formula:
"Benefits and Obedience!
Whatever you tell us we will do."
Marduk told them:
"I have built my palace Esharra above you.
I have prepared a building-site below.
I will establish my kingship with a royal complex.
I will found its temple.
We will meet there for assembly.
I will name it "Babylon" [Great Deities' Homes]."
The deities, his ancestors, asked: "How? Who?"
Marduk answered: "You. You will do the work.
You will be my helpers."
They bowed before him, proclaimed him:
"King of all the sky and earth deities.
You are our king, we are your workers."
TABLET 6: When Marduk heard these words, he considered; he
decided to build a fine work:
"I will tie arteries together,
knit bones together.
I will make a humanbeing, call it 'human'.
The human will do the deities' work -
so they can rest."
Marduk called an assembly:
"Who stirred up Tiamat? Who made her rebel?
Bring him to my father Ea."
They bound Kingu and judged him guilty.
From his blood Ea formed humanbeing
to do the work and set the deities free.
According to Marduk's wise plan, Ea built.
The deities said: "Lord who sets us free,
We will build your capitol -
our own place of rest."
For one year they made bricks.
In the second year they built the house,
raised the ziggurat.
The deities themselves built Marduk's capitol.
Sitting on his lofty throne,
Marduk invited all the deities to a banquet.
They drank dark beer,
they sat down to the feast,
they swore allegiance to Marduk:
"Most exalted be the Son, our Rescuer!
Let his rule surpass all others,
may he have no rival.
May he shepherd the dark-headed ones, the humans,
and let them acclaim him forever.
Let him establish food-offerings for his fathers,
have the humans keep the temples.
Let what he has done in the heavens
be done on earth.
Let the dark-headed ones, the humans, worship him;
may they ever think of their God.
Let food-offerings be brought
to all the gods and goddesses.
May the people support their deities,
may they improve their countries,
build the deities' temples.
Marduk is our God!
His acts are wonderful!
His deeds are wonderful!
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|Copyright ©2007 Stan Rummel. All rights reserved.|
|This page was last updated September 19, 2007.|