Please click here for my Map of the Land of Nod and its city called Enoch built by Cain
Please click here for Maps of Eden’s Four Rivers and Click here for Satellite images of Eden’s Garden
Please click here for Why the Bible Cannot be the Word of God
Please click here for Why Jesus Christ cannot be the Messiah
This article in a nutshell:
Ancient Sumer’s edin (the uncultivated land surrounding Sumerian cities) is identified as being being the pre-biblical prototype of Genesis’ land of Eden in which God (Yahweh) planted His garden. Genesis’ God’s Garden is identified as a fusion of several pre-biblical locations appearing in earlier Mesopotamian myths. That is to say there does not exist one pre-biblical prototype, there are “many” prototypes as the Mesopotamians understood gods’ gardens were associated with _every_ Sumerian city, said city and its gardens or fields being in the midst of the edin or uncultivated land of ancient Sumer. Some Mesopotamian myths understand man was created _in_ a city to care for the god’s city-garden, planting crops, providing water for the garden via irrigation canals, harvesting the produce and presenting it twice daily in temples for the gods to consume. Man’s purpose in life according to the Mesopotamian myths was to care for the gods’ city-gardens relieving the gods of self-toil, giving them thereby an eternal sabbath-rest from earthly toil. Man would provide the gods with life’s necessities: food, clothing and shelter, for ever. Although I understand that all the city-gardens of Sumer have been fused together to become one God’s Garden in Eden, there is one location that stands out “head and shoulders” above all the rest and that location is Sumerian Eridug, Akkadian Eridu. Why Eridu? Genesis has God warning Adam not to eat the forbidden fruit or he will die, this motif appears earlier in the Adapa and the South Wind Myth, Adapa being warned by his god Ea of Eridu not to eat the food of death Anu will present him in heaven or he will die. I understand that Eridu, where the warning was given, was transformed into Yahweh warning Adam in his Garden of Eden. Ea, like Yahweh allowed man (Adapa) to obtain forbidden knowledge but denied him, like Yahweh, eternal life. Ea of Eridu, like Yahweh, warned one man (Ziusudra of Shuruppak) to build a great boat to save the seed of man and animals against a flood which would destroy all life. Ea of Eridu has become Yahweh, Adapa has become Adam, and Eridu has become Yahweh’s Garden in Eden where the warning not to eat or you will die was given.
Although numerous scholars since 1898 have suggested motifs associated with Enkidu and Shamhat have been apparently recast and assimilated to Adam and Eve, I am _unaware_ of anyone _other than myself_ making the association of Eden with the eden/edin logogram used at times _in lieu_ of the Akkadian word seru or tseru appearing in the Epic of Gilgamesh, where the naked Enkidu and Shamhat engage in sex and then later clothe themselves before leaving eden/edin to dwell at Uruk. Please note that in the professional literature the Sumerian edin is also rendered as eden.
If someone in the professionally published literature (Journals, Manuscripts, Monographs, or Books) has already remarked on the appearance of the Sumerian logogram eden/edin in the Epic of Gilgamesh _being what is behind_ Eden’s appearance in Genesis I would appreciate hearing from you dear reader “to set the record straight” and “give credit where credit is due.” Please provide the author’s name, publication, date of publication, place of publication and I will be pleased to post this information on this website.
I understand that Genesis’ notion of a naked man and woman encountering each other in a garden _in_ Eden is a recast of motifs, concepts, and scenarios originally associated with Enkidu and Shamhat in the Epic of Gilgamesh.
Apparently not widely known to many is that the steppe, plain or wild that they meet each other in at a watering hole is _not_ always rendered by the Akkadian word seru, seri, tseru, zeru, ce:ri, ce:ru. Sometimes _in lieu_ of this word a Sumerian logogram is being used, which transliterates into English as either edin or eden depending on the professional scholar’s choice of spelling. That is to say the Akkadian scribe is _not_ consistent in always writing out seri (the “uncultivated land” abutting the gods’ city-gardens in Sumer), sometimes he reverts to using a Sumerian logogram edin instead of writing out seri (seru). Why? Because the Sumerian logogram edin is a single sign, thus it becomes in effect, a “short-hand way” of writing seri/seru. My thanks to Professor Andrew George for pointing out to me that “steppe” or “wilderness” or “wild” wandered by Enkidu is rendered sometimes as tse-ri, other times by the Sumerian logogram edin in the Epic of Gilgamesh.
I am in agreement with Professors Jastrow (1898), Graves, and Patai (1963) that events associated with Enkidu and Shamhat appear to have been recast and assimilated to Adam and Eve. What these scholars “missed” was that the Sumerian logogram eden/edin sometimes used _in lieu_ of tseru or seru in the Epic of Gilgamesh may preserve the Hebrew `eden (English rendered Eden). Some scholars have suggested that as edin/eden is superficially similar in spelling and sound, that Hebrew `eden meaning “delight” or “place well-watered,” came via a _homonym or homophone confusion_ to be a recast of the desolate semi-arid edin/eden. This homonym or homophone confusion strikes me as being very plausible.
A fragment from the Epic of Gilgamesh has been found on a clay tablet at Late Bronze Age Megiddo, so the story was known to the Canaanites who had scribes trained in writing cuneiform. Of interest here are clay tablets from the Egyptian appointed mayor of Jerusalem called Abdu Heba found in the archives of Pharaoh Akhenaten in Egypt warning him all of Canaan has fallen to the Habiru and only Jerusalem is holding out and to send aid before the city falls. We are told that the Jebusites lived in Jerusalem and that Israel intermarried with them. Perhaps it is via Jebusite scribes trained in cuneiform that the Epic of Gilgamesh came to be later recast as Adam and Eve in Eden by the Israelite descendants of the Iron Age I and II intermarriages with cuneiform-literate Jebusites? Did Abdu Heba come to have his name morphed by the Habiru into Jebus or Jebusites?
Please click here and scroll down for examples of the Sumerian logogram edin/eden being used _in_lieu_of_ Akkadain seru or tseru in the Epic of Gilgamesh as transliterated by Professor Andrew George of London, England. Andrew George is a Professor of Babylonian at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, London, England. He is the author of: The Babylonian Gilgamesh Epic, Introduction, Critical Edition and Cuneiform Texts. Oxford University Press. Published 2003. 1176 pages with drawings and photos.
Stories or poems about Gilgamesh composed in Sumerian exist from circa 2100 B.C. The Sumerian logogram edin/eden used in lieu of Akkadian seru exists in various Akkadian (Babylonian) recensions of the Epic of Gilgamesh from circa 1700 B.C. to Neo-Babylonian recensions of circa 630-539 B.C.
In 1881 the world-renowned German Assyriologist Professor Friedrich Delitzsch shocked the scholarly world of biblical studies by announcing that Genesis’ Eden was derived from the Sumerian word edin. This word in Sumerian has two meanings (1) “back,” as in a person’s back; (2) by analogy: “uncultivated wilderness land” because this land was seen as “backing” (or “abutting”) the cultivated land surrounding Sumerian cities, that is to say the edin was the equivalent of the Australian “Outback” or “Wilderness,” or “the Wild,” meaning the plains surrounding the Sumerian cities and their cultivated gardens or fields. Every Sumerian city had its god and a god’s garden, which grew an assortment of crops intended to provide food for the god as well as man: dates from date palms, figs from fig trees, apples from apple trees, vegetables like onions, herbs, grain and barley for making bread and beer. The god’s gardens were then, in the midst of the edin, “the wilderness.” Scholars sometimes _substitute_ the Sumerian word edin with English nouns such as “plain,” “desert,” or “wilderness.” In the scholarly literature edin is also rendered eden, so both spellings are accepted by professionals writing on the subject.
I highly reccomend the following recently released book which is very scholarly and profusely illustrated with a wonderous array of maps in black and white as well as color attempting to locate Paradise on the earth from Early Medieval times to as late as 2002 (Scafi is a lecturer at the University of Bologna, Italy and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London):
Alessandro Scafi. Mapping Paradise, A History of Heaven on Earth. The University of Chicago Press & The British Library, London. 2006. ISBN 0-226-73559-1 Hardbound. 398 pages. Please click here to purchase the book.
The second-place “runner-up” to Scafi’s magnificent tome, is for me another fine scholarly work (but with much fewer maps, all are black and white, no color) which traces various ideas about Paradise and its location from Early Medieval times to the 19th century A.D.:
Jean Delumeau. History of Paradise, The Garden of Eden in Myth and Tradition. New York. The Continuum Publishing Company. 1995. translated from the French edition: Une Historie du Parais: Le Jardin des delices. Librarie Artheme Fayard. 1992. Hardbound. 276 pages. Please click here to purchase the book.
For over 100 years some scholars have argued that Genesis‘ Eden (Hebrew: `eden) is derived from the Sumerian word edin rendered variously as a steppe, plain, desert or wilderness. Please note that older scholarship’s edin has in more recent times been also rendered eden (please scroll down for Halloran’s rendering of edin as eden). Other scholars have protested this identification claiming that Hebrew ‘eden means “delight” or a place “well-watered,” and refers to a lush oasis full of fruit-trees _not_ a semiarid desert plain or steppe. My understanding? Both are right! How can this be?
Some of the themes or motifs found in the Book of Genesis regarding the Garden of Eden are to be found in the Mesopotamian myths regarding primeval man, but in a somewhat different format (The ‘different format’ being a series of “reversals” or “inversions” as noted by Professor Campbell).
The late Professor Campbell in 1964 noted that the Mesopotamian myths understood man was created to till the fields of the gods which he equates with Adam being created to care for God’s garden:
“…one of the chief characteristics of Levantine mythology here represented is that of man created to be God’s slave or servant. In a late Sumerian myth retold in Oriental Mythology it is declared that men were created to relieve the gods of the onerous task of tilling their fields. Men were to do that work for them and provide them with food through sacrifice. Marduk, too, created man to serve the gods. And here we have man created to keep a garden.” (p. 103. “Gods and Heroes of the Levant. Joseph Campbell. The Masks of God: Occidental Mythology. New York. Arkana. Viking Penguin. 1964, reprinted 1991)
Campbell also very astutely and penetratingly noted that the Hebrews in the book of Genesis appear to have employed at times “inversions” or “reversals” which “turn about” Mesopotamian beliefs by 180 degrees (emphasis mine):
“No one familiar with the mythologies of the primitive, ancient, and Oriental worlds can turn to the Bible without recognizing COUNTERPARTS on every page, TRANSFORMED, however, TO RENDER AN ARGUMENT CONTRARY TO THE OLDER FAITHS. (p. 9. “The Serpent’s Bride.” Joseph Campbell. The Masks of God: Occidental Mythology. Arkana. New York. Viking Penguin Books. 1964, 1991 reprint)
“The ultimate source of the biblical Eden, therefore, CANNOT have been A MYTHOLOGY OF THE DESERT -that is to say, a primitive Hebrew myth- but was the old PLANTING MYTHOLOGY of the peoples of the soil. HOWEVER, IN THE BIBLICAL RETELLING, ITS WHOLE ARGUMENT HAS BEEN TURNED, SO TO SAY, ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY DEGREES…One milllennium later, the patriarchal DESERT NOMADS arrived, and all judgements WERE REVERSED in heaven, as on earth.” (pp.103, 105-106. “Gods and Heroes of the Levant.” Joseph Campbell. The Masks of God: Occidental Mythology. Arkana. A Division of Penguin Books. 1964. 1991 reprint)
Campbell on the Hebrews “inverting” of earlier myths (Emphasis mine):
“The first point that emerges from this contrast, and will be demonstrated further in numerous mythic scenes to come, is that in the context of the patriarchy of the Iron Age Hebrews of the first millennium B.C., THE MYTHOLOGY ADOPTED FROM THE EARLIER NEOLITHIC AND BRONZE AGE CIVILIZATIONS of the lands they occupied and for a time ruled BECAME INVERTED, TO RENDER AN ARGUMENT JUST THE OPPOSITE TO THAT OF ITS ORIGIN.” (p. 17. “The Serpent’s Bride.” Joseph Campbell. The Masks of God: Occidental Mythology. New York. Arkana & Viking Penguin. 1964. Reprinted 1991)
Genesis portrays Adam as NAKED, placed in a God’s garden, his companions at first are wild animals, he is a vegetarian and his animal companions are herbivores thus offering no harm to him, then a naked woman is presented and he forsakes his animals for womankind’s companionship in a place called Eden.
In the Mesopotamian myths naked man (Enkidu of the Epic of Gilgamesh) and his herbivore companions (gazelles) roam a wilderness called in Sumerian edin. In this edin, at a watering hole, he meets a naked woman (Shamhat) and she supplants his animal friends as a more suitable companion. Both are naked and have sex, then before leaving edin’s watering hole they clothe themselves, just as a naked Adam and Eve are clothed before leaving eden’s garden. The Mesopotamian myths also have man being made for the express purpose of caring for the gods’ city-gardens located in edin the plain, just as God placed Adam in his garden in Eden to care for it. How did edin, a semiarid desert plain become Hebrew `eden a lush well-watered oasis or God’s garden of fruit-trees?
I understand the Hebrews may have DELIBERATELY MISSPELLED EDIN/EDEN BY ADDING AN “AYIN” ( ` ) TO IT TRANSFORMING IT INTO `EDEN. Why? They apparently objected to the Mesopotamian notions about man’s creation and the gods’ exploitation of him. They offered a nobler image of man and God. Of note is another Hebrew misspelling: A Syrian city-state called Bit-Adini in Neo-Assyrian being rendered as Beth-Eden “House of Delight” (2 Kings 19:12). The Sumerian edin was a place of danger to naked primeval man. Yes, he was portrayed as a vegetarian (eating grass) and his companions were herbivore gazelles who posed no threat to him, but other accounts reveal carnivores roamed this edin: bears, lions, leopards, hyenas, wolves and poisonous snakes.
I understand the Hebrews, objecting to the gods’ creating man and abandoning him to wander edin in fear of his life, changed the story line. God loved man and sought to fellowship with him, he put him in a garden full of herbs and fruits to eat instead of grass to feed on. In refuting, denying and challenging the Mesopotamian myths Genesis has _all_of the animals of Eden (edin), including the carnivores (like lions) eating “every green plant for food” (Ge 2:30) thus posing no danger to Adam. Genesis denies that God’s garden is a city-garden surrounded by the uncultivated steppe called edin as in the Mesopotamian myths. Instead, cities are not made until _after_ the expulsion from the garden in Eden. The Mesopotamian myths have the cities made by the gods and equipped with city-gardens _before_ man’s creation, all of which Genesis denies, having man make cities, not the gods.
Genesis portrays God creating a garden in a location called Eden. He creates man and places him in his garden to care for it. Man is told he may eat of the garden’s seed-bearing herbs and fruits from trees (Ge 1:29; 2:9, 16). Some Catholic scholars date the creation of the Garden of Eden based on the Bible’s internal chronology to circa 5199 B.C. or 4004 B.C. according to some Protestant scholars. This research on Eden’s garden and its trees can be broken down into basically three phases historically speaking:
(1) As demonstrated by archaeology the earliest known “gardens” are associated with the Neolithic “New Stone Age” villages found in the foothills of the Taurus and Zagros mountain ranges which border Mesopotamia (Modern Turkey, Iraq, and Iran), which date from the 12 to the 5th millenniums B.C. Eventually man leaves the rain-fed foothills and begins to create villages with irrigated gardens in the northern reaches above Baghdad in the Mesopotamian plain, the Tigris and Euphrates rivers providing the water for his village-gardens. (2) Mesopotamian myths apparently concocted in the 3rd millennium B.C. most probably by city-dwellers in the southern Mesopotamian flood plain, claim the gods discovered for themselves how to domesticate plants and animals, created cities to live in and invented irrigated city-gardens; tiring of all this toil, they later create man to care for their city-gardens, harvesting the produce to feed the gods in the cities’ temples. The first city and its city-garden created by the gods is Eridu in the southern Mesopotamian plain according to the myths. Archaeology reveals Eridu is no older than circa 5900 B.C. or 4900 B.C. These myths in effect _deny, refute, and challenge_ (1) the “archaeological reality” that the gods _did not_ create the world’s first irrigated gardens, Neolithic man did, in the mountainous foothills, not the southern Mesopotamian flood plain (Ancient Sumer and Akkad). (3) The Hebrew Bible’s book of Genesis _denies, refutes and challenges_ (1) and (2): God did not create a city for himself to live in nor did he create a city-garden to provide food for himself, nor did he create man to harvest and prepare the garden’s produce in order to have man feed God. He made the Garden of Eden to provide food for man and situated it in the midst of a region called Eden instead of the Mesopotamian region known to the Sumerians as the Edin (the uncultivated flood plain or steppeland that the Tigris and Euphrates flow through). All this is to say that the southern Mesopotamian city-dwellers were wrong about the origins of the gods’ irrigated city-gardens, and Genesis too is wrong in portraying like the southern Mesopotamian myths, a God creating a garden and then creating a man to work in it.
Wyse and Winkleman (1989) on the archaeologically attested evolution of irrigated gardens in Mesopotamia:
“During the 7th millennium farming villages, hitherto confided to the Zagros mountains, began to appear in the rain-fed north Mesopotamian plain. Within a few centuries the development of irrigation allowed settlement to spread into central Mesopotamia, ultimately reaching the rich alluvial lands of the south, where the first cities were to eventually emerge.”
(p. 98. “Mesopotamia: Towards Civilisation.” Elizabeth Wyse & Barry Winkleman, et. al. Past Worlds, Atlas of Archaeology. Ann Arbor, Michigan. Borders Press in association with HarperCollins.  1999)
Professor Saggs (1989) on the Garden of Eden being a folk explanation for the origins of agriculture:
“Yet there was a source to hand which, rightly read, could have given hints on the earliest stages of civilization. That source is the Bible. Within its earliest chapters are several references to man’s very early cultural history. The story of the expulsion from the Garden of Eden is a case in point. Whatever religious interpretation one puts upon it, on the cultural level, it is a folk-memory of the beginnings of agriculture. With that stage, mankind no longer dwelt idyllically in parkland, feeding on wild fruits; man had begun toilsome tillage for the cultivation of cereals:
“Cursed is the ground for thy sake;
in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
Thorns and thistles shall bring it forth to thee;…
In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread.(Genesis 3:17-18).”
(pp. 1-2. “Pushing back the Frontiers.” H.W.F. Saggs. Civilization Before Greece and Rome. New Haven, Connecticut. Yale University Press. 1989)
According to Mesopotamian myths the gods created cities and city-gardens for their sustenance _before_ creating man. Because they tired of the grievous burdensome work in excavating and clearing irrigation canals to provide water from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers for the city-gardens the lesser gods called the Igigi rebel at two Sumerian cities Eridu and Nippur. This revolt over the grievous labor by the Igigi causes the senior gods or Anunnaki, Enki and Enlil, to create man and impose upon him the burdensome, back-breaking labor required to care for thier city-gardens, giving the Igigi everlasting freedom from toil. _Genesis denies, refutes and challenges this notion_. Toil in a god’s garden is _not_ back-breaking and burdensome, it is only _after_ God expells man from his garden that agricultural toil becomes burdensome! The Hebrews have “inverted or reversed” the Mesopotamian storyline, that man’s toil in a god’s garden was, _from the very start_ back-breaking and burdensome! The Mesopotamian myths have no knowledge of the gods ever expelling man from their gardens because then they would have to care for their gardens themselves, an onerous task that they dreaded. The gods did _not_ create man as an “act of love” to have someone to commune and fellowship with as taught by Judaism, Christianity and Islam, they created man to be their agricultural slave in order to ruthlessly exploit him, having him toil in the hot sun caring for their gardens by making and clearing irrigation canals, planting seed, hoeing weeds, briars and brambles, harvesting the crops and preparing them for the table to feed the gods (the Anunnaki and Igigi) in their city-temples. Man’s lot in life according to the Mesopotamian myths is to bear the burdensome, grievous, back-breaking agricultural toil of the Igigi for all eternity in the gods’ city-gardens located in edin-the-steppe of Mesopotamia.
Professor George on the Igigi gods being likened to “_man_” and enduring grievous work, rebelling and man being made as their replacement to bear their _grievous_ work (Note: I understand that the Hebrews have taken this notion of the gods’ hard work being likened to “man” and made a “man” (Adam) the gardener who rebelled and was removed from a God’s garden):
“Another masterpiece of Babylonian literature known from late in the Old Babylonian period is the great poem of Atramhasis, ‘When the gods were man’, which recounts the history of mankind from the Creation to the Flood. It was this text’s account of the Flood that the poet of Gilgamesh used as a source for his own version of the Deluge myth. It also provided a striking model for the story of Noah’s Flood in the Bible.”
(p. xx. “Introduction.” Andrew George. The Epic of Gilgamesh: The Babylonian Poem and Other Texts in Akkadian and Sumerian. London. Penguin Books. 1999, 2003)
“We know from many ancient Mesopotamian sources, in Sumerian and in Akkadian, that the Babylonians believed the purpose of the human race to be the service of the gods. Before mankind’s creation, the myth tells us, the cities of lower Mesopotamia were inhabited by the gods alone and they had to feed and clothe themselves by their own efforts. Under the supervison of Enlil, the lord of the earth, the lesser deities grew and harvested the gods’ food, tilled the soil and, most exhaustively, dug the rivers and waterways that irrigated the fields. Even the Tigris and Euphrates were their work. Eventually the labour became too much for them and they mutinied. The resourceful god Ea (called Enki in the poem of Atramhasis) devised first the technology to produce a substitute worker from raw clay and then the means by which this new being could reproduce itself. The first humans were duly born from the whomb of the Mother Goddess and alloted their destiny, ‘to carry the yoke, the task imposed by Enlil, to bear the soil-basket of the gods’.”
(p. xxxvii. “Introduction.” Andrew George. The Epic of Gilgamesh: The Babylonian Poem and Other Texts in Akkadian and Sumerian. London. Penguin Books. 1999, 2003)
Professor Sayce (1912) understood that Eden was the Babylonian plain between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and the “garden of Eden” was watered by these rivers and was principally a plantation of fruit trees:
“The Babylonian plain was called the Land of Eden by its inhabitants -Eden signifying a plain in the primitive language of Babylonia. It was in this plain that the garden was situated. It was not a garden in our sense of the term. The word signified what we would now call a plantation mainly of fruit trees…It was thus the annual flood of the Babylonian rivers which irrigated Paradise.”
(p. 145. Professor Sayce, John Jackson, L. W. King, F. R. Maunseh & William Willcocks. “The Garden of Eden and its Restoration: Discussion.” The Geographical Journal. Vol. 40. No. 2 (August 1912). pp. 145-148)
Genesis 2:8,10 TANAKH
“The LORD God planted a garden _IN_ Eden, in the east, and placed there the man whom He had formed.”
A river issues _FROM_ EDEN to water the garden, and it then divides and becomes four branches.”
(TANAKH, The Holy Scriptures. Philadelphia & New York. The Jewish Publication Society. 1958. Year of the Creation: 5748)
Professor Kitchen (2003) made an important observation regarding Eden and its garden, that Eden is a region in which lies God’s garden, and that it is more correct to say a “garden _in_ Eden” rather than a “garden _of_ Eden”:
“Then, in 2:38, we enter the ever intriquing “Garden of Eden.” Very strictly, it is not “the garden of Eden” at all, but “a garden in Eden.” It has to be grasped very clearly that the garden was simply a limited area within a larger area “Eden,” and two are not identical, or of equal area. A realization of this simple but much neglected fact opens the way to a proper understanding of the geography of Eden and its environment. Thus, out of “greater Eden,” a river flowed into the garden (2:10), “to water the garden”; and at that point (“there” in Hebrew, sham) it was divided into four “heads.”
(p. 428. “In Eden.” K. A. Kitchen. On the Reliability of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, Michigan & Cambridge, United Kingdom. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. 2003)
Maisels on the Sumerian term edin meaning “uncultivated steppe” a place where shepherds often grazed their herds (emphasis mine):
“The wool and meat requirements were met by continuous movements from the periphery of Mesopotamia to the temple centres, funnelled largely through Drehem (Cavot 1969:103-13) to supplement the state herds kept on both the alluvial fallow and upon the surrounding non-cultivable (edin) steppelands (Adams 1981:148). Steppe, stubble, and riparian verdure were, however, systematically linked in the ecology of pastoral nomadism, tribally organized. To the plains ‘steppe nomads came in the spring, mountain nomads in the autumn’ (Rowton 1980:294).”
(p. 186. “The Institutions of Urbanism.” Charles Keith Maisels. The Emergence of Civilization, From hunting and gathering to agriculture, cities, and the state in the Near East. London & New York. Routledge. 1990 & 1993)
The Mesopotamians NEVER called their city-gardens created originally by the gods for their own sustenance _before_ man’s creation, edin. The cities and their gardens LAY IN THE EDIN, or WERE SURROUNDED BY THE EDIN, or WERE IN THE MIDST OF THE EDIN, THE ‘UNCULTIVATED’ STEPPE. The Sumerians distinguised two types of steppeland, highlands called an-edin and lowlands called ki-edin.
Below, a map (after Van Zeist 1969:37) showing the “steppeland” through which the Tigris and Euphrates rivers flow. The steppe is rendered in fine stippling or tiny dots extending from near the Persian Gulf (on the viewer’s right) to northern Syria (viewer’s left) to Beersheba in the Negev and the north shore of the Gulf of Aqabah. Maisels and other scholars render ‘uncultivated’ steppe as Sumerian edin (edin being later replaced by the Babylonian/Akkadian term seru), from whence some scholars have suggested the biblical Eden derives its name in Genesis. So the below map and its stipples reveals what Edin/Edinu (Eden?) looks like. It is a very large area and Israel’s patriarchs are described in the Bible as wandering this area as shepherds in the migrations from Ur, south of Babylon, to Haran, Damascus, Transjordan, Beersheba and the Negev. That is to say Israel’s patriarchs were shepherds of edin-the-steppe. (cf. p. 52. map titled “Natural or Climax Vegetation of the Eastern Mediterranean.” Charles Keith Maisels. The Emergence of Civilization, From hunting and gathering to agriculture, cities, and the state in the Near East. London & New York. Routledge. 1990 & 1993)
According to the Hebrew prophet Ezekiel God’s Garden of Eden lies atop a “mountain” (Ez 31:1-9), _not_ in the midst of a semi-arid plain called in Sumerian the edin. What’s going on here?
Archaeology has revealed that the “earliest” irrigated gardens began in the Neolithic Age or “New Stone Age” in the mountains surrounding the Mesopotamian plain. In the cities of Mesopotamia were found tall temple-structures or “towers” called Ziggurats, meaning “to be high” and understood by some scholars to be “artifical mountains,” perhaps recalling for the plain-dwellers that their gods were originally worshipped in the mountains where appear the regions’ earliest villages and irrigated gardens. It is my understanding that Ezekiel’s notion of a God’s Garden of Eden being atop a mountain is an “echo” of this archaeologically attested fact. Ezekiel also speaks of the Garden’s Cedar Trees, which for me is an “echo” of the Cedar forest atop a Lebanese mountain in the Epic of Gilgamesh guarded by Huwawa, who, for me, was recast as Ezekiel’s Cherub driven out by God from the mountain garden ( Ez 28:11-16). I understand Enkidu is one of several characters behind Adam and like Adam he had access to forbidden trees, not to eat of them but to cut them down for wood. The Hebrews have recast the story, please click here for my article on the pre-biblical origins of the Cherubim who guarded the Garden of Eden’s Tree of Life.
According to the Epic of Gilgamesh the Hunter took Shamhat the priestess-harlot from Uruk on a three days’ journey into the wilderness to a watering hole to await the arrival of Enkidu and his companions the gazelles to slake their thirst. An average day’s hike is roughly 15 to 25 miles a day, so the watering hole should be some 45 to 75 miles from Uruk, in the steppe. The below map shows several “seasonal” waterholes in the high plain (Sumerian an edin) south of Erech (Sumerian Unug, Akkadian Uruk, Arabic Warka), any which of, could have been envisoned by the ancient Mesopotamian author as the watering hole that Enkidu’s confrontation with the Hunter and Shahat occurred at. In other words, I understand that one of these watering holes was later morphed into Genesis’ Garden in Eden.
Professor Blenkinsopp of Notre Dame University (1992) on motifs and concepts drawn from the Atrahasis Flood myth and the Epic of Gilgamesh by Genesis’ author:
“…just as Genesis 1-11 as a whole corresponds to the structure of the Atrahasis myth, so the garden of Eden story has incorporated many of the themes of the great Gilgamesh poem.” (pp. 65-6. “Human Origins, Genesis 1:1-11:26.” Joseph Blenkinsopp. The Pentateuch, An Introduction to the First Five Books of the Bible. New York. Doubleday. 1992. ISBN 0-385-41207-X)
I understand that Enkidu and Shamhat have been recast by the Hebrews into Adam and Eve _in agreement with_ Professors Graves and Patai (cf. pp. 78-79, 81. “The Fall of Man.” Robert Graves & Raphael Patai. Hebrew Myths: The Book of Genesis. New York. Greenwich House. 1963, 1964, reprint of 1983) and the watering hole they encountered each other at has been transformed into Genesis’ Garden _in_ Eden. What “baffled” me for the longest time was, how did the encounter of Enkidu (Adam) and Shamhat (Eve) at a watering hole in the Akkadian seru (“steppe”) come to be morphed later by the Hebrews into the Hebrew word `eden?
Graves and Patai on Adam and Eve as recasts of Enkidu and Shamhat the harlot-priestess (noting also that Adapa of Eridu is being fused to Enkidu and recast as Adam):
“Some elements of the Fall of Man myth in Genesis are of great antiquity; but the composition is late…The Epic of Gilgamesh, the earliest version of which can be dated about 2000 B.C., describes how the Sumerian love-goddess Aruru created from clay a noble savage named Enkidu, who grazed with gazelles, slaked his thirst beside wild cattle…until a priestess sent to him by Gilgamesh initiated him into the mysteries of love…he was now shunned by the wild creatures; and the priestess therefore covered his nakedness, using part of her own garment, and brought him to the city of Uruk…Another source of the Genesis Fall of Man is the Akkadian myth of Adapa…The fervent love between Enkidu and the priestess, though omitted from the Genesis story, has been preserved by a Talmudic scholiast who makes Adam wish for death rather than be parted from Eve.”
(pp. 78, 79 & 81. “The Fall of Man.” Robert Graves & Raphael Patai. Hebrew Myths: The Book of Genesis. New York. Greenwich House. 1963, 1964, reprint 1983)
The Sumerian word for uncultivated steppeland is edin. The Epic of Gilgamesh although written in Akkadian which renders “steppe” as seru or seri, states unequivocally that Shamhat saw Enkidu at the watering hole as a wild man of “edin” (the steppe). How is it that the watering hole is described as being in _the edin_ instead of being in _the seru_? Akkadian scribes were trained in both Sumerian and Akkadian, they frequently used Sumerian LOGOGRAMS (cuneiform signs) as “substitutes” for Akkadian words. Hence Enkidu “the wild man of the steppe” was written using the Sumerian logogram (EDIN)! The scribe knew upon seeing this logogram that it was synonymous with the Akkadian word seru or seri, meaning steppe.
Professor Speiser on Enkidu’s arrival at the watering hole in the steppe (steppe in Sumerian being edin, Akkadian
seru), where wait Shamhat the harlot-priestess of Uruk and the Hunter (Note: the below bold print is transcribed by Heidel, which follows, into Akkadian):
“The creeping creatures came, their heart DELIGHTING in water.
But as for him, Enkidu, born in the hills-
With the gazelles he feeds on grass,
With the wild beasts he drinks at the watering-place,
With the creeping creatures his heart DELIGHTS in water-
The lass beheld him, the savage-man,
The barbarous fellow from the depths of the steppe:
“There he is, O lass, FREE THY BREASTS,
Bare thy bosom that he may possess thy ripeness!
Be not bashful! Welcome his ardor!
As soon as he sees thee, he will draw near to thee.
Lay aside thy cloth that he may rest upon thee.
Treat him, the savage, to a woman’s task! Reject him will his wild beasts that grew up on his steppe,
As his love is drawn unto thee.”
The lass FREED HER BREASTS, bared her bosom,
And he possessed her ripeness.
She was not bashful as she welcomed his ardor…”
(p. 44. E. A. Speiser. “The Epic of Gilgamesh.” James B. Pritchard. Editor. The Ancient Near East, An Anthology of Texts and Pictures. Princeton, New Jersey. Princeton University Press. 1958. paperback)
Heidel on Enkidu’s heart “delighting” with the water of the watering hole in edin the steppe, Hebrew ‘eden means “delight.” Please note that Enkidu in the below verse is described in 1946 as a savage man from the depths of the steppe and that Heidel in his 1949 article on Sadu rendered “steppe” as Akkadian seru and Sumerian edin (emphasis mine):
“The animals came to the water, and their hearts were glad.
And as as for him, (for) Enkidu, whose birthplace is the open
(Who) eats grass with the gazelles,
Drinks with the game at the drinking-place,
(Whose) heart DELIGHTS with the animals at the water,
Him, the wild(?) man, the prostitute saw,
The savage man from the depths of the steppe.”
(p. 21. “The Epic of Gilgamesh.” Alexander Heidel. The Epic of Gilgamesh and Old Testament Parallels. Chicago & London. University of Chicago Press. 1946, 1949, reprint of 1993)
Heidel reproduces the above words (which I have rendered above in bold print) from Spieser’s translation of the Epic of Gilgamesh (“he” is in reference to Enkidu):
“…while on Tablet I. 4:7, he is called
itlu (GURUS) sag-ga-sa-a sa-qa-bal-ti seri (EDIN):
“The savage man from the midst of the seru.”
(cf. p. 233. Alexander Heidel. “A Special Usage of the Akkadian Term Sadu.” pp. 233-235. The Journal of Near Eastern Studies. Vol. 8. No. 3. July 1949)
My thanks to Robert M. Whiting, PhD. of Helsinki, Finland, a professional Assyriologist (Managing Editor of the world-renown Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project, The Assyrian State Archives Series) for explaining to me that Heidel’s 1949 transcription reveals that the scribe actually wrote the word “steppe” using the Sumerian LOGOGRAM (EDIN), and that modern scholars “read” (EDIN) as a substitution for seru. Heidel’s transcription also reveals that the Akkadian word itlu was actually written as (GURUS) another Sumerian LOGOGRAM. Whiting explained that the use of Sumerian logograms is quite common in Akkadian compositions.
Whiting’s explanation solved the mystery for me of how _seru_ the “steppe” came to become Hebrew `eden, I realized that the Hebrews had apparently morphed the Sumerian logogram (EDIN), used in lieu of seru in the Epic of Gilgamesh, into ‘eden! Hebrew `eden means DELIGHT, and we are told when Enkidu appeared at the watering hole in EDIN, his heart’s DELIGHT was its water. So, I understand the Hebrews took this notion of a primal naked man’s DELIGHT over water and morphed EDIN’s watering hole into Hebrew `eden, a place of DELIGHT (The Mystery solved at long last, after some 3000 years!). In other words, the story of Enkidu and Gilgamesh began as Sumerian tales, and the steppe Enkidu wandered, in Sumerian was rendered edin, and the Sumerian logogram edin appearing in the Akkadian written Epic of Gilgamesh is perhaps a vestige of the archaic Sumerian rendering which came to “read” as seru. Another example of Hebrew “morphing” of foreign words is the city-state appearing in Neo-Assyrian annals as Bit Adini, in the Hebrew Bible it is “morphed” into Beth-Eden (“House of Delight”), while Babylon or Akkadian Babel meaning the “gate of god” (bab= gate, il=god) was “morphed” into balal meaning “confusion.” The Chaldeans, Neo-Assyrian Kaldu, were “morphed” into the Kasdim. Neo-Assyrian Urartu was morphed into Ararat by the Hebrews.
Eden from Strongs’ Concordance Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary (James Strong. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. Waco, Texas. Word Books. 1977):
‘adan, aw-dan’; a primitive root; to be soft or pleasant; fig. and reflex. to live voluptuously: delight self.
`eden, eh’den; from 5727; pleasure: Eden, a place in Mesopotamia: -Eden.
‘eden. ay’den: or (fem.) ‘ednah; from 5727; pleasure: delicate, delight, pleasure.
‘Eden, ay’den; the same as 5730 (masc.): Eden, the region of Adam’s home: – Eden.
Special Update 13 November 2007 on the appearance of the word EDIN in the Epic of Gilgamesh:
Yesterday (12 November 2007) as I was musing to myself over Heidel’s 1949 transcription of Akkadian seru, seri being rendered by the Sumerian logogram (EDIN), I wondered to myself _just how many times_ does edin, (EDIN), EDIN, appear in this composition?
That is to say was Heidel’s transcription the _one and only occurrence_ of this word in the Epic of Gilgamesh?
I sent an e-mail to Professor Andrew George who had recently authored one of the most comprehensive studies of the Epic of Gilgamesh in its various recensions and posed this question to him. He very graciously replied within 24 hours that EDIN appears _innumerable_ times throughout the 12 clay tablets that make up the Epic of Gilgamesh and he referred me to his own research posted on the internet.
EDIN (“read” as Akkadian seru, seri, tseri) apparently has two meanings. Firstly, it means “back” or “upper side,” and secondly, by analogy, the uncultivated steppe land that abuts the cultivated and watered lands was envisioned as “the back,” (the backland or hinterlands, the wilderness, or the wilds where roamed wild animals: antelope, onagers, lions, and shepherds with goats and sheep).
Professor George alerted me that in his English translation of the Epic of Gilgamesh, he rendered EDIN as “the wild” (cf. Andrew George. The Epic of Gilgamesh. London. Penguin Books. 1999, 2000, 2003).
I have gone through my copy of the aforementioned book and noted “the wild” appears some 74 times! Enkidu is described as born in “the wild,” being like a panther of “the wild,” and being like an ass of “the wild,” while Gilgamesh is described as wandering “the wild” mourning Enkidu’s death, slaying and eating the beasts of “the wild” (wild bulls, bears, hyenas, panthers, cheetahs, jackals. wild asses, onagers). Siduri the barmaid and later Uta-napishtim (of Dilmun) asks him why he wanders “the wild” seeking immortality. Gilgamesh wandering about _in_ “the wild” or EDIN after Enkidu’s death seeks immortality and Genesis has Adam _in_ an Eden failing to attain immortality and facing death like Gilgamesh and Enkidu. That is to say, Genesis’ Eden is associated with the themes of life and death, immortality and mortality; the EDIN wandered by Enkidu and Gilgamesh is _also_ associated with the same motifs or themes.
I have Reginald Campbell Thompson’s Epic of Gilgamesh, Text, Transliteration and Notes (Oxford University Press. 1930) and should alert my readers that he does _not_ render steppe with the Sumerian logogram edin (EDIN), instead he renders steppe as seri. In other words you will _not_ find the word EDIN “anywhere” in Thompson’s English transliteration of this epic.
Andrew George is a Professor of Babylonian at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, London, England. He is the author of: The Babylonian Gilgamesh Epic, Introduction, Critical Edition and Cuneiform Texts. Oxford University Press. Published 2003. 1176 pages with drawings and photos.
Please click here for a Cylinder Seal from ancient Ebla in Syria showing _what I believe_ is a half-naked Shamhat whose BARED BREASTS in the Epic of Gilgamesh (cf. the above verses) enticed Enkidu to have sex with her, and a naked Enkidu tearing up the Hunter’s rope snares set for edin’s wild animals. According to the storyline Enkidu was too powerful a savage for the Hunter to confront; Gilgamesh tells him he can “entrap” the savage with the naked Harlot-Priestess of Uruk, his animals companions will forsake him after he has had sex with her. Thus will “end” Enkidu’s efforts to tear apart the Hunter’s traps set for edin’s wild animals.
Naked Enkidu’s encounter with a naked woman in the Sumerian edin or “steppe” was never completely lost when Akkadian came to replace Sumerian as a literary language. Enkidu’s association with the seru/seri in the form of a Sumerian logogram (EDIN) kept alive the connection down through the centuries.
Vanstiphout’s below article is of interest here in that it reveals that two Sumerian logograms are being used by the Akkadian scribe to render the Akkadian belet seri, “lady of the desert/steppe” (line 20) as Gasan.Edin (gasan = lady, edin = desert/steppe = “the lady of edin”):
“20. …beletseri (GASAN.EDIN) mi-lik-kunu lis-pu-uh…”
(p. 52. H. L. J. Vanstiphout. “A Note on the Series “Travel in the Desert.” (Journal of Cuneiform Studies, Vol. 29, No. 1 (Jan. 1977), pp. 52-56)
Halloran on Sumerian logograms, note that he renders Sumerian edin alternately as eden:
“A logogram is a reading of a cuneiform sign which represents a word in the spoken language. Sumerian scribes invented the practice of writing in cuneiform on clay tablets sometime around 3400 B.C. in the Uruk/Warka region of southern Iraq. The language that they spoke, Sumerian, is known to us through a large body of texts and through bilingual cuneiform dictionaries of Sumerian and Akkadian, the language of their Semitic successors, to which Sumerian is not related. These bilingual dictionaries date from the Old Babylonian period (1800-1600 B.C.), by which time Sumerian had ceased to be spoken, except by the scribes. The earliest and most important words in Sumerian had their own cuneiform sign, whose origins were pictographic, making an initial repertoire of about a thousand signs of logograms.” (John A. Halloran. Sumerian Lexicon. Version 3.0) http://www.sumerian.org/sumerian.pdf
Halloran on Sumerian logogram edin or eden:
edin, eden: noun: steppe, plain; grazing land between the two long rivers.
an-edin: high plain (high + steppe)
bar-edin-na: edge of the desert (side + steppe + genitival a (k) )
Ottoson (1986) renders other scholars’ Sumerian edin as eden, arguing it probably has no relationship to the Hebrew `eden:
“The etymology of the word `eden is usually connected with the Akkadian edinu, “steppe”, and the expression gan be `eden will then stand for “the garden on the steppe”. The term Eden is used as a geographical designation but is also associated with the Hebrew noun for “enjoyment”. There are strong reasons to believe Eden has nothing to do with the Sumerian eden and the rare Akkadian edinu. Several instances of the root `dn are found in the Old Testament and it always has the meaning of “abundance, plenty and lushness”. This sense of the root has mostly been understood as transferred or figurative…”
(p. 177. Magnus Ottoson [Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden], “Eden and the Land of Promise.” pp. 177-188, in John Adney Emerton, Editor, Congress Volume 40. Papers read at the Congress of the International Organization for the study of the Old Testament held August 24-29, 1986 at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. Published by Brill in the Netherlands. 1988)
I understand that Enkidu’s animal companions, the gazelles, who rejected his companionship after his having mated with Shamhat for six days and seven nights, became in the Hebrew recasting Adam possessing only animal companions who were _not_ a fit helpmeet or companion until God introduced a naked Eve to him. That is to say the Hunter who brought Shamhat to the watering hole, having her disrobe and enticing Enkidu with her voluptuous naked body, has been recast as Yahweh-Elohim who brought a naked Eve to Adam. Why was Genesis’ Adam drawn from Enkidu? Adam is presented as “primal man,” he has NO father or mother, he is a CREATED being. Enkidu is a type of “primal man” like Adam, he too has NO father or mother, he was CREATED like Adam by a deity, the goddess Aruru making him of a pinch of clay which she then cast upon edin the steppe to roam with wild animals for companions. Enkidu is “created” and placed _in the edin_ to roam naked with wild animals for companions and Adam is “created” and placed _in Eden_ to roam naked with wild animals.That is to say a GODDESS created naked primal man NOT a god, the Hebrews have reversed/inverted the myth! For further details please click here.
Nancy K. Sandars on Enkidu’s curse of the Harlot-priestess and the Hunter who brought her to entrap him, comparing Enkidu to Christianty’s notion of the “Fall” of Adam, but in “reverse”:
“…Enkidu, the ‘natural man’, reared with wild animals, and as swift as a gazelle. In time Enkidu was seduced by a harlot from the city, and with the loss of innocence an irrevocable step was taken towards taming the wild man. The animals now rejected him, and he was led on by stages learning to wear clothes, eat human food, herd sheep, and make war on the wolf and the lion, until at length he reached the great civilized city of Uruk. He does not look back again to his old free life until he lies on his death bed, when a pang of regret catches hold of him and he curses all the educators. This is the ‘Fall’ in reverse, a felix culpa shorn of tragic development; but it is also an allegory of the stages by which mankind reaches civilization, going from savagery to pastoralism and at last to the life of the city.”
(p. 30. “Introduction.” N. K. Sandars. The Epic of Gilgamesh. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England. Penguin Books. 1960, reprint of 1969)
Besides Shamhat there is a second protagonist behind Eve, Inanna the patron-goddess of Shamhat at Uruk. Inanna is the goddess of whores and prostitutes and hymns at ancient Nippur (Sumerian Nibru) reveal she bore the Sumerian epithet nin edin “the lady of edin” and Inanna edin “Inanna of edin.” In one account this “lady of edin” descends to the earth with her brother Utu the sun-god _to eat of various trees inorder to acquire sexual knowledge_ to perform her “conjugal duites” with her new husband, Dumuzi, who lived in the edin as a shepherd who bore the Sumerian title mulu edin “the lord of edin.” After Adam and Eve eat of a tree’s fruit, Adam later “KNOWS” Eve (has “sex” with her), just as Inanna “the lady of edin” has sex with her husband Dumuzi after eating of a tree. Please click here for more details.
A “second” protagonist lies behind Adam, Adapa of Eridu. This location lies just east of Ur of the Chaldees where lived Abraham, Terah and Nahor. In agreement with Graves and Patai (1963) I understand that a number of motifs, concepts and events originally associated with Adapa and Enkidu have been fused together and associated with Adam. Adapa was warned by his god Ea (Enki) _in_ Eridu_ not to consume the “bread and water of death” to be offered him by Anu in heaven. Adapa OBEYED his lying god and thus forfeited a chance to obtain immortality for himself and mankind. I understand the Hebrews have recast these motifs having a man (Adam) DISOBEY his God’s warning not to eat and thus losing a chance to obtain immortality for himself and mankind. The below map shows Uruk (Erech), Ur, and Eridu (Abu Shahrayn). Please click here for further details.
According to some Mesopotamian myths Enki made man of clay at Eridu to work in his city-garden, replacing the Igigi gods who objected to the working conditions, they having to build and clear irrigation canals and ditches for the city-gardens as well as plant seed, hoe weeds, harvest crops and present the produce to Enki in his Temple. Please click here for the details.
Quite clearly the Mesopotamians understood man had been created at Eridu (Sumerian Eridug) and at Nippur (Sumerian Nibru) to work in a god’s city-garden (Enki of Eridu and Enlil of Nippur), relieving the Igigi gods of this onerous labor. Genesis does not portray God’s garden as being associated with a city, it lies by itself in a wilderness called Eden.
Professor Frymer-Kensky on the gods creating man to grow their food for them:
“The gods themselves, says the Akkadian-language Atrahasis Epic, had once worked to grow their own food. Tiring of this, they created human beings who could do the work for them.”
(p. 245. Note 26. Tikva Frymer-Kensky. In the Wake of the Goddesses, Women, Culture and the Biblical Transformation of Pagan Myth. Ballantine Books. 1993. First Edition by Freepress 1992)
The watering hole in edin the steppe where a naked Enkidu was separated from his animal companions by a naked Shamhat is _not_ presented in Mesopotamian myths as a god’s garden. Shamhat calls the watering hole a “place of desolation” and urges Enkidu to accompany her back to Uruk, leaving his animal companions of edin. We are told however that when Enkidu and the gazelles arrived at the watering hole that the water was their “heart’s DELIGHT.” I understand that this motif of a naked man and his animal companions DELIGHTING in the water of the watering hole of edin was morphed by the Hebrews into the Hebrew word ‘eden, meaning “DELIGHT” according to some scholars while others prefer it to mean “a place well-watered.”
Professor Foster (Yale University) on Shamhat, a city-dweller, characterizing the edin’s watering hole as A PLACE OF DESOLATION (Emphasis mine):
“You are handsome, Enkidu, you are become like a god,
Why roam the steppe with wild beasts?
Come, let me lead you to ramparted Uruk…
The place of Gilgamesh…
COME AWAY FROM THIS DESOLATION, BEREFT EVEN OF SHEPHERDS.”
(p. 13. “Tablet II.” Benjamin R. Foster. The Epic of Gilgamesh. New York & London. W. W. Norton & Company. 2001. [A Norton Critical Edition])
I understand that the Hebrews’ ancestors as “shepherds and tent-dwellers of edin the steppe” (Abraham wanders edin the steppe with sheep, goats and cattle from Ur to Haran, Damascus and Canaan) took the creation of man myths concocted by Mesopotamia’s city-dwellers and recast them in order to refute, deny and challenge them. Why? The City-dwellers portrayed the edin steppelands as a place of desolation, fit only for wild animals, and tent-dwelling thieves, brigands and cut-throats. They despised and feared the nomadic tent-dwellers and regarded them as a threat to their way of life. In defense of their way of life (grazing their flocks in the edin steppelands) the Hebrews probably recast the city-dwellers’ myths, having a place of desolation (Enkidu’s watering hole) become a God’s lush garden _in_ the edin, and having the world’s first murderer, Cain, founding the first city thereby mocking city life as depraved, cities being full of murderers and thieves. God’s heart’s delight was not a city-garden it was the remote edin where roamed the wild animals and naked man (Enkidu).
Professor Crawford on the animosity between nomadic herders and settled urbanites or agriculturalists (Emphasis mine):
“However, in essence the population can be divided into those people in permanent settlements, who relied primarily on agriculture and stock rearing for their subsistence, and those who wandered between settlements with their herds of sheep and goats…conflicts arose between the groups, and THE URBAN DWELLERS TENDED TO DESPISE THE NOMADS AS UNCOUTH BARBARIANS.”
(p. 12. “Pastoralists and farmers.” Harriet Crawford. Sumer and the Sumerians. Cambridge, United Kingdom. Cambridge University Press. 1991, 2004)
Professor Frymer-Kensky on Israel’s religion being indebted to Mesopotamian concepts, and its challenging via “counterpoints” some of its notions:
“Many Israelite ideas about justice, society, and even religion developed from and in counterpoint to Mesopotamian ideas.”
(p. 83. Tikva Frymer-Kensky. In the Wake of the Goddesses, Women, Culture and the Biblical Transformation of Pagan Myth. Ballantine Books. 1993. First Edition by Freepress 1992)
So, to sum things up, Eridu and Nippur are locations in Sumerian myths associated with man’s creation as a garden-laborer (the Mesopotamians understanding man was created to work in a god’s city-garden to raise produce to feed the gods) and Genesis has God making man and placing him in his garden to care for it. Eridu is where Adapa was warned NOT TO EAT “the bread of death” or he would die and Genesis has God warning Adam NOT TO EAT or he will die. These locations, Eridu and Nippur, are fused together with the watering hole in the edin near Uruk and these sites -in part- lie behind Genesis’ recasting of earlier Mesopotamian motifs about primeval man from several different myths.
There really is _not_ a “single site” for the Garden of Eden in the pre-biblical Mesopotamian myths! A number of sites have been fused together into one location.
Every Mesopotamian city had its God’s city-garden. Genesis refutes this fact, God’s garden is NOT a city-garden. To the degree that Genesis suggests the Garden in Eden is not a city-garden, cities being founded by Cain _after the expulsion_ from God’s garden, any one of the below seasonal watering holes south of Erech (Note: Erech lies near the top center of the map just east of As Samawah) between Thaqb Abu at Tubrah and Sha’ib al Ghanini could be what was morphed into Genesis’ Garden in Eden, where a naked man (Enkidu) was separated in the edin from his animal companions by a naked woman (Shamhat). Note: None of the below watering holes is fed by the Euphrates or Tigris (biblical Hiddekel) rivers. The biblical notion that these rivers are associated in some way with a God’s garden in Eden is a reflection of the fact that the gods’ city-gardens were watered by these two great streams via irrigation canals and ditches. (For the below map cf. Plate 34. “Syria, Jordan and Iraq.” The Times Atlas of the World. London & New York. 10th Edition. 1999. ISBN 0-8129-3265-X)
While the above map with its seasonal watering holes is where _I believe_ Enkidu and Shamhat’s encounter occured in the wilderness of edin, I must stress again _it is only one of several other locations_ appearing in the Mesopotamian myths for the Garden of Eden’s pre-biblical location. What I am saying here is that there does _not_ exist a Mesopotamian composition possessing _all_ of the motifs found in Genesis’ Garden _in_ Eden account (as has been noted by numerous scholars over the past 100 years); the motifs are found in several compositions, and these compositions give different locations. So, my methodology is (1) to seek out and identify a motif associated with Genesis’ garden in Eden in the various Mesopotamian compositions and (2) see if a location is provided in that composition which came to be “borrowed,” “transformed” and “recast” in the Garden in Eden account.
On the above map appear two Sumerian cities Eridu (Sumerian: Eridug) and Uruk (Sumerian: Unug), two more “pre-biblical locations” for the garden in edin or Garden in Eden. Note: on the above map Eridug/Eridu appears as Abu Shahrayn while Unug/Uruk appears as Erech.
At Eridu man (Adapa) is warned by his god Ea (Sumerian Enki) “not to eat the bread of death” or “drink the water of death” to be offered him in heaven by the god Anu (Sumerian An). Adapa obeyed and refused to consume the proffered items: “the bread of life” and “water of life,” thereby loosing a chance to obtain immortality for himself and mankind. The Hebrews have inverted this storyline: Because man disobeyed his god and ate, he is denied immortality! So, God’s warning to Adam “not to eat” in the Garden of Eden is a recast of Ea’s warning to Adapa in Eridu. That is to say Eridu is yet another pre-biblical prototype of Eden’s Garden.
I understand that Adam is a recast of Enkidu, Adapa and Dumuzi. Eve is a recast of Shamhat and Inanna of Uruk. Inanna bears the Sumerian epithet nin edin “lady of edin” and Inanna edin “Inanna of edin,” her husband Dumuzi bears the epithet mulu edin “lord of edin.” Genesis has a man and wife dwelling in Eden, both dying. Christians understand a forbidden tree fruit is consumed by them, AN APPLE. Inanna (one of Eve’s prototypes) however did _not_ eat of an Apple or Fig Tree, she “ate of” Cedar trees on the earth _to acquire knowledge_ with her brother Utu the sun-god (she wanted to “KNOW” how to have sex with her new bridegroom husband, Dumuzi). Genesis does _not_ say what the fruit was that Adam and Eve consumed. Some scholars suggest a fig because after eating, they cover their nakedness with fig leaves (cf. Ge 3:6-7), others suggest pomengranates, grapes, etc.
Inanna, speaking to her brother, Utu the sun-god, to the effect that she has no knowledge about love and sex, requests that he accompany her in a descent to the earth, to the mountains, where she will eat the various plants there. It is only after having eaten these assorted, un-named herbs including, apparently, of Cedar Trees, that Inanna now possesses knowledge about love and sex in order to perform her wifely functions (in hymns she is “the bride” of Dumuzi and the goddess of Love and of Sex).
Some readers may be wondering just what is it that Inanna is “eating” associated with a Cedar Tree? The answer: Pine Nuts or more correctly “Cedar Nuts“! In Middle Eastern cuisine, Pine Nuts/Cedar Nuts are at times sauteed in olive oil and served as a complement or garnish to a number of different dishes in Israel, Syria, and the Lebanon. Note: You will not find much on “Cedar Nuts” on the internet as a food item, but under their alternate name, “Pine Nuts,” one will find numerous ways of their being prepared in Middle Eastern dishes.
Dalley has sounded a note of caution regarding the Akkadian/Babylonian word erenu which is usually translated by scholars as a cedar (tree), she suggests that it is a pine (tree) instead. If she is right then Inanna who bore at Nippur the Sumerian epithet nin edin “the lady of edin,” ate pine nuts rather than cedar nuts to obtain knowledge:
“The usual translation of erenu as ‘cedar’ is almost certainly wrong. The main grounds for a translation ‘pine’ are: that roof-beams thus named in texts have been excavated and analysed invariably as pine, and that the wood was obtained in antiquity not only from the Lebanon mountains, but also from the Zagros and Amanus ranges, where cedars do not grow. The Akkadian word may have covered a different and wider range of trees than the English word ‘pine’.”
(pp. 126-127. Note 20 to the Epic of Gilgamesh. Stephanie Dalley. Myths From Mesopotamia: Creation, The Flood, Gilgamesh and Others. Oxford & New York. Oxford University Press. 1989, 1991)
Inanna speaking to Utu (Emphasis mine):
“I am unfamiliar with womanly matters…I am unfamiliar with womanly matters, with sexual
intercourse…kissing…Whatever exists in the mountains, let us EAT that. Whatever exists in the hills, let us EAT that. In the mountains of herbs, in the mountains of CEDARS, the mountains of cypresses, whatever exists in the mountains, let us EAT that. After the herbs have been eaten, AFTER _THE CEDARS_ HAVE BEEN _EATEN_, put your hand in my hand, and then escort me to my house…Escort me to my mother-in-law, to Ninsumun…” (“A shir-namshub to Utu” [Utu F], The Electronic Texts Corpus of Sumerian Literature, Oxford University, England;
Eve is understood to have encouraged Adam to eat of the forbidden fruit in Eden. Inanna “the lady of eden/edin” says to her male companion Utu, “LET US EAT” (of a tree located on the earth to obtain knowledge). Perhaps this Sumerian motif was recast and assimilated to Adam and Eve?
Leick understands_ that Genesis’ motif of knowledge being obtained by eating a fruit is indebted to earlier Sumerian myths. Note: kur can be translated as earth, region, country, underworld and mountain (emphasis mine) whence the reason the preceeding (above) verse rendered kur as “mountains” but a kur “land” is just as possible (apparently Inanna is consuming cedar nuts also called pine nuts which are still today a popular garnish for many Middle Eastern dishes):
“Inanna and Utu is a mythical incident in a Sumerian hymn (BM 23631), which explains how Inanna came to be the goddess of sexual love. The goddess asks her brother Utu to help her go down to the kur where various plants and trees are growing. She wants to EAT THEM IN ORDER TO KNOW the secrets of sexuality of which she is yet deprived: ‘What concerns women, (namely) man, I do not know. What concerns women: love-making I do not know.’ Utu seems to comply and Inanna tastes of the fruit (the same motif is also employed in Enki and Ninhursag and of course in Genesis I) which brings her knowledge.” (p. 91. “Inanna and Utu.” Gwendolyn Leick. A Dictionary of Ancient Near Eastern Mythology. London. Routledge. 1991 [Leick has a Doctorate in Assyriology from the University of Graz in Austria, and lectures at Richmond College and the University of Glamorgan, United Kingdom])
Professor Leeming (Emertius Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Connecticut) likening Inanna’s eating of trees to acquire knowledge to Eve’s eating of a tree’s fruit:
“One day Inanna asks her twin brother, the sun god Utu (Shamash), son of the moon god Nanna, to go with her to earth (kur), where she will eat various plants and trees that will cause her to understand the mysteries of sex. Like Eve in the Garden of Eden, Inanna tastes the fruit and gains knowledge.”
(pp. 46-47. “The Mythology of Mesopotamia.” David Leeming. Jealous Gods and Chosen People, the Mythology of the Middle East, A new perspective on the ancient myths of modern-day Iraq, Turkey, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Yemen, the Gulf States, and Saudi Arabia. New York. Oxford University Press. 2004. ISBN 10:0-19-514789-8)
Leeming on Inanna’s “searching for knowledge” which recalls for me Eve’s “knowledge quest,” recalling that the Nippur hymns call Inanna nin edin-na, “the lady of edin.”:
“A queen of the above, Inanna, always in search of knowledge, longs to know the below of her sister Ereshkigal…”
(p. 48. “The Mythology of Mesopotamia.” David Leeming. Jealous Gods and Chosen People, the Mythology of the Middle East, A new perspective on the ancient myths of modern-day Iraq, Turkey, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Yemen, the Gulf States, and Saudi Arabia. New York. Oxford University Press. 2004. ISBN 10:0-19-514789-8)
We see now, that eating of a tree does impart knowledge in the Sumerian texts.
How did motifs originally associated with the Sumerian goddess Inanna, “the lady of heaven” come to be combined with motifs associated with Shamhat and later assimilated to Eve?
Some scholars understand that there once existed in Sumer a holy ritual celebrating Inanna’s marriage to Dumuzi who was a king of Uruk. This marriage was “acted out” before the people by Uruk’s king assuming the role of Dumuzi and one of Inanna’s harlot-priestesses assuming the role of Inanna. They were “married” and a bed was prepared for the two actors to have sex upon in Inanna’s temple. This “act of sex” assured Inanna’s blessings upon her people. She would bless them with abundant harvests, numerous healthy children and protection from their national enemies (She was in addition to being a goddess of procreation a goddess of war).
So, Inanna’s harlot-priestesses at times did assume the role of their goddess in the sacred marriage ceremony; that is to say the harlot-priestess ‘became’ Inanna (Akkadian: Ishtar). Here, I suspect, we have a possible explanation for how motifs originally associated with Inanna/Ishtar: (1) her Sumerian epithet nin edin (“Lady of Edin”), (2) her eating of a tree in the edin to acquire knowledge, (3) her husband (Dumuzi) living in the edin being slain because she chooses him to be her surrogate in the underworld, handing him over the demons, came to be transferred to her harlot-priestesses who assumed her role in the Sacred Marriage (Which some scholars render into Greek as the Hieros Gamos). So motifs associated with Shamhat: (1) her nakedness in edin at the watering hole, (2) her bringing about “the fall” of a naked man (Enkidu) in edin via sex and persuasion, (3) her leaving edin with him, both being clothed, were merged with Inanna’s motifs to be eventually recast as Eve eating forbidden fruit from a tree in Eden and bringing about a naked Adam’s “Fall” via her powers of persuasion. That is to say, the Bible’s notion that Adam and Eve are a “husband and wife” in Eden is recalling Dumuzi and Inanna as “husband and wife” in the edin near Uruk. They have sex, and this act of sex assures “abundant fruitfullness” for Uruk’s crops and people, whence perhaps the biblical statement: “Be Fruitful and Multiply.” So, Shamhat “became” Inanna/Ishtar when she played the role of Dumuzi’s wife at Uruk, assimilating in that role _all_ of the Sumerian and Akkadian motifs associated with the Queen of Heaven who was called at Nippur nin edin “the lady of edin,” who ate of a tree growing on the earth to acquire knowledge. Of interest here, is that the Queen of Heaven Cult and its bridegroom of edin Dumuzi, rendered in the Bible as Tammuz was observed by Israel and Judah at the Temple of Solomon right up and into the Babylonian Exile of 587 B.C. (cf. Jeremiah 44:15-26; Ezekiel 8:14).
The kings at Ur also participated in the sacred Hieros Gamos and we are told that Abram (Abraham) dwelt at Ur of the Chaldees before taking up residence later at Haran. Perhaps it is Abram/Abraham who recast the motifs originally associated with Inanna/Ishtar with Shamhat to create a new story repudiating, denying and challenging the Mesopotamian explanations regarding the origin of man and his purpose in life and how he came to serve gods in their city-gardens in the edin of Sumer? That is to say Abraham who once was a polytheist at Ur of the Chaldees who worshipped the many gods and goddesses of the edin later repudiated them and embraced only _one_ God, Yahweh-Elohim of the Garden in Eden.
Inanna eventually descends into Hell to visit her sister, who has her killed. Later her “father,” Enki of Eridu, sends “food of life” (other sources say a “plant of life”) and “water of life” to be sprinkled on a dead Inanna, reviving her. She must have a surrogate for herself to be released from Hell. Demons accompany her ascent to the earth to seize a surrogate. She finds her husband under A GREAT APPLE TREE IN THE EDIN (PLAIN) OF KULABA (Uruk and vicinity), and tells the demons to seize him as her surrogate and they do, accomplishing his death. So, Dumuzi “the lord of edin,” is SEIZED IN EDIN, under an APPLE TREE, at the behest of his wife, Inanna “the lady of edin,” and because of her he dies. In other words I understand that Eve’s being blamed for Adam’s death is a recasting of Dumuzi’s death at Inanna’s instigation. Edin of Kulaba where lies a great APPLE TREE, is understood to be Uruk and vicinity according to scholars. So the uncultivated steppeland or edin surrounding Uruk is Kulaba where Dumuzi was seized. The demons bind his hands and feet with rope to sticks, planning on carrying him off to Hell. He asks Utu, Inanna’s brother (and Dumuzi’s brother-in-law) to help him escape by turning him into a snake so he can slither out of his bonds. Utu agrees and turns Dumuzi’s hands and feet into “snake hands” and “snake’s feet,” accomplishing briefly his escape. Dumuzi was not only called mulu edin “the lord of edin,” he also bore the Sumerian epithet ama-ushumgal-an-na “the mother is a great serpent-dragon of heaven,” so Dumuzi the human who was called “the great serpent dragon” or ushumgal, lost his hands and feet. That is to say the Hebrews, employing an inversion, have recast these motifs as a “curse” for Eden’s Serpent when they were originally a “blessing” and an act of “mercy” in that Dumuzi the “great serpent-dragon” or ushumgal in “loosing his feet” is thereby able to briefly elude his captors and escape death. Note: Snakes have no hands or feet, so the Sumerian author is apparently being ‘playful’ or is employing a ‘poetical metaphor’ in transforming Dumuzi’s human hands and feet into “snake hands and feet,” in effect, saying Dumuzi’s loss of hands and feet allowed him to escape his bonds:
“Holy Inana answered the demons…Let us go on to the GREAT APPLE TREE in the plain of Kulaba. They
followed her to the GREAT APPLE TREE in the plain of Kulaba. There was Dumuzid…The demons seized
him THERE…She looked at him, it was the look of death. She spoke to him (?), it was the speech of anger.
She shouted at him (?), it was the shout of guilt: ‘How much longer? Take him away.’ Holy Inana gave
Dumuzid the shepherd into their hands…Dumuzid let out a wail…raised his hands to heaven, to Utu…Turn my
hands into SNAKE HANDS and turn my feet into SNAKE’S FEET, so I can escape my demons, let them not
keep hold of me.’ Utu accepted his tears. Utu turned Dumuzid’s hands into SNAKE’S HANDS. He turned his
feet INTO SNAKE’S FEET. Dumuzid escaped his demons. (pp. 74-75. “Inana and Dumuzid.” Jeremy Black,
Graham Cunningham, Eleanor Robson & Gabor Zolyomi. The Literature of Ancient Sumer. New York & Oxford. Oxford University Press. 2004, 2006).
Edin’s protagonist (Dumuzi) ACQUIRES SERPENT FEET whereas Eden’s protagonist (a Snake) LOSES ITS SERPENT FEET, an inversion has occurred.
Wolkstein and Kramer on Uruk’s (Kulaba’s) GREAT APPLE TREE where Dumuzi is seized by the Ugalla/Galla demons:
The galla said:
“Walk on to your city, Inanna.
We will go with you to the big apple tree in Uruk.”
In Uruk, by the big apple tree,
Dumuzi, the husband of Inanna, was dressed in his shining me-garments.
He sat on his magnificent throne…
The galla seized him…
Inanna fastened on Dumuzi the eye of death.
She spoke against him the word of wrath.
She uttered against him the cry of guilt:
“Take him! Take Dumuzi away!”…
The galla…seized Dumuzi…”
(p. 71. “From the Great Above to the Great Below.” Diana Wolkstein & Samuel Noah Kramer. Inanna Queen of Heaven and Earth, Her Stories and Hymns From Sumer. New York. Harper & Row. 1983)
To the degree that some Christians associate an “APPLE TREE” with Eden’s “Tree of Knowledge” it is of interest to note that some erotic Sumerian love songs sung in behalf of Inanna and Dumuzi liken him to a “GARDEN OF THE APPLE TREE.” This “unusual” identification may be an allusion to the fact that after Dumuzi’s death, he is allowed to return to the earth’s surface (the edin) each Spring to become the “life-force” causing the growth of plants dormant during the Winter. He is the life-force in fruit-trees, grasses, vegetables, wheat and barley.
The late Professor Jacobsen (Yale University) quoting Inanna’s praise for Dumuzi:
O my budding one…
sweet are your charms!
My budding GARDEN of the APPLE TREE,
sweet are your charms!
My fruiting GARDEN of the APPLE TREE,
sweet are your charms!
Dumuzi Apsu himself…
sweet are your charms!
(p. 98. Tavern Sketch.” Thorkild Jacobsen. The Harps That Once…Sumerian Poetry in Translation. New Haven & London. Yale University Press. 1987)
Please note that the word rendered below as “desert” in Sumerian is _edin_, so this verse identifies Dumuzi (below rendered as “he”) with a “garden of the edin,” he being likened to an apple tree bearing fruit. The statement that Dumuzi is doing “sweet things” to Inanna suggests perhaps sexual foreplay in the “apple tree garden of edin”? Quite clearly here Dumuzi is identified as being the “sprouting apple buds” in edin’s fruit tree orchard, whereas in other compositions he is usually identified as being a shepherd of flocks of sheep and goats. The below verse buttresses Genesis’ notion that a God’s garden exists in a location called Eden (Edin) in that the “garden of the Apple Tree” is described as being in a “_GARDEN OF THE DESERT (EDIN)_” and both Inanna and Dumuzi were deities associated with the edin as a man and wife like Adam and Eve (Emphasis mine in CAPITALS):
Vigorously he sprouted…
In his black GARDEN OF THE DESERT bearing much yield
did my darling of his mother…
water it…a very APPLE TREE bearing fruit at the top-
water it- it being a GARDEN!”
the honey-sweet man…
was doing sweet (things) to me!”
(p. 94. “Vigorously He Sprouted.” Thorkild Jacobsen. The Harps That Once…Sumerian Poetry in Translation. New Haven & London. Yale University Press. 1987)
Of interest here is the Song of Solomon and its erotic imagery of foreplay and sex using euphemisms like the consumption of fruits, and the presence of apple trees and gardens, rather like the above Sumerian hymns:
Song of Solomon 2:3,5; 4:12,16; 7:5, 13. RSV
“As an APPLE TREE among the trees…so is my beloved…With great DELIGHT I sat in his shadow, and his FRUIT was SWEET to my taste…refresh me with APPLES, for I am sick with love…A garden…is my sister, my bride…Let my beloved come to his garden and EAT ITS CHOICEST FRUITS…Under the APPLE TREE I awakened you…O you who dwell in the gardens…your voice; let me hear it. Make haste, my beloved…”
In agreement with Professors Graves and Patai (1963) I understand Enkidu and Shamhat have been recast as Adam and Eve. While Genesis does not describe in detail any sex between Adam and Eve like the Epic of Gilgamesh, it does suggest that sex “may have occured” in the earthly Paradise in that God tells Adam and Eve “to be fruitful and multiply” and fill the earth with human progeny and this command is issued to them on the very day of their creation (the 6th day of Creation), so perhaps Genesis’ narrator understood sex was to be engaged in _within_ the Garden of Eden? If so, then perhaps the sex between Enkidu and Shamhat at edin’s watering hole is being recast in this command “to procreate.”
Genesis 1:26-31 RSV
“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image…So God created man in his own image…male and female he created them, and God said to them, “BE FRUITFUL AND MULTIPLY, AND FILL THE EARTH AND SUBDUE IT; and have dominion…And there was evening and there was morning, a sixth day.”
Professor George understands that the Sumerian precursors of the Akkadian written Epic of Gilgamesh may have been reached their final format by the 21st century B.C. in the reign of the Sumerian King Shulgi at Ur of the Chaldees. I note that that Abraham according to biblical traditions lived at Ur of the Chaldees. Shulgi’s reign is variously dated depending on which dating system is followed, called in the scholarly literature, Long (2161-2113 B.C.), Middle (2095-2047 B.C.) or Short Chronology (2047-1999 B.C.). If George is correct then the Epic of Gilgamesh was composed some time _after_ 2100 B.C.
Different dates also exist for Abraham: 2166-1991 B.C., 1970-1795 B.C., 1951-1776 B.C., 1854-1679 B.C., 1755-1580 B.C. (cf. pp. 202-206. Jack Finegan. Handbook of Biblical Chronology. Principles of Time Reckoning in the Ancient World and Problems of Chronology in the Bible. Peabody, Massachusetts. Hendrickson Publishers. Revised edition of 1998; 1st edition: 1964 Princeton University Press)
Graves and Patai suggest that the Epic of Gilgamesh may have been composed as early as circa 2000 B.C. I note that Abraham appears to have lived at about this same time frame as noted above by Professor Finegan. Abraham could have recast some of the Sumerian motifs about Enkidu and Shamhat into Adam and Eve in a Garden of edin (Eden) claiming a revelation from God in rejecting Sumerian concepts about the creation of Primeval Man and his relationship in the edin with his Creators.
Graves and Patai (1963):
“Some elements of the Fall of Man myth in Genesis are of great antiquity…The Gilgamesh Epic, the earliest version of which can be dated about 2000 B.C. describes how the Sumerian love-goddess Aruru created from clay a noble savage named Enkidu…Adam calls Eve ‘the Mother of All Living’…a title of this same Love-goddess Aruru, or Ishtar; and she confers wisdom on him, just as Aruru’s priestess did on Enkidu. Since, however, the Babylonian legend of Marduk as Creator had, centuries before, succeeded the Sumerian legend of Aruru as Creatrix, the Hebrew Creator is made to punish Eve for enlightening the innocent Adam.”
(pp. 78-79. “The Fall of Man.” Robert Graves & Raphael Patai. Hebrew Myths: The Book of Genesis. New York. Doubleday & Company. 1963, 1964. Reprinted 1983 by Greewich House, a division of Arlington House, Inc.)
We are told Abraham was _originally_ a polytheist at Ur of the Chaldees who worshipped many gods and later came to worship one God, rejecting his forefather’s gods. Accordingly, as a polytheist, he would have been very familiar with the Sumerian stories of the gods, Utu, Inanna, Enki, Enlil and Dumuzi. Being a polytheist he would know the vignette about naked primal man in the form of Enkidu being undone by a naked Shamhat at edin’s watering hole in the Epic of Gilgamesh. Abraham, to use modern Police Detective language would be a “Person of Interest” at the top of the “List of Suspects” for “Who done it?” (Who transformed the Sumerian/Akkadian myths into the Garden of Eden and Noah’s Flood account?). (1) He is at the right location: Ur (modern Tell al Muqayyar, also rendered Mugheir, south of Babylon); (2) He lives in the right period of time for the transformation or recasting to be done (After the composing of the Epic of Gilgamesh); (3) He has “THE MOTIVE”: He being portrayed as a polytheist who has a revelation that there is only One God and thus he repudiates the gods and goddesses he originally worshipped; (4) His descendants keep alive through the millennia the notion he is the one who abandoned polytheism and replaced it with a notion there is only one God (The “witnesses,” his own descendants, “ID.” him as”the culprit” who abandoned polythesim); (5) He and his immediate progeny are portrayed as nomadic tent-dwelling shepherds of the steppe between Ur, Haran, Damascus and Beersheba, and having lived at Ur he KNOWS this lifestyle is DESPISED and MOCKED by the city-dwellers of Sumer and Akkad, and thus he would have “THE MOTIVE” to _mock their beliefs_ (via a series of inversions and reversals) about primal man and his relationship with his creators _in defense of his way of life_ as a shepherd of edin-the-steppe.
“The Epic of Gilgamesh…circulated in Babylonia and Assyria in the first millennium B.C…The Babylonian epic was composed in Akkadian, but its literary origins lie in five Sumerian poems of even greater antiquity. The Sumerian texts gained their final form probably as court entertainments sung for King Shulgi of Ur of the Chaldees, who reigned in the 21st century B.C.” (“About the Author.” Andrew R. George (Translator). The Epic of Gilgamesh, The Babylonian Epic Poem and Other Texts in Akkadian and Sumerian. London, United Kingdom. Penguin Books. 1999. Paperback)
Professors Graves and Patai (1963) proposed that Adam and Eve were recasts of Enkidu and Shamhat in the Epic of Gilgamesh, and I agree with them. If this understanding is correct then we have as a possible “early” date for some of the motifs associated with the Garden of Eden, the 20th century B.C. and Shulgi’s reign at Ur of the Chaldees where lived Abraham about the same period of time. In other words, perhaps Abraham while at Ur (or “later” at Haran?) came to be familiar with the Epic of Gilgamesh and recast some its motifs into the Garden of Eden, transforming Enkidu and Shamhat into Adam and Eve?
So, dear reader, the above map actually possesses THREE LOCATIONS where events (motifs) took place in the pre-biblical Mesopotamian myths that came to fused together and made into one location, the mythical Garden of Eden. A fourth location appearing on the above map is also of interest, Ur (biblical Ur of the Chaldees, Sumerian: Urim) near Eridu, where Abraham, Nahor and Terah lived before migrating to Haran in northern Syria. I understand these three men are probably in part responsible for recasting the Mesopotamian stories about primeval man into the mythical Garden of Eden account.
Genesis suggests for some scholars that a single river arises in Eden, waters God’s Garden, then after leaving this garden, subdivides into four streams. So where in Mesopotamia’s _edin_ is this “feature”? The answer will surprise you! The single stream is the Euphrates and the god’s garden it waters as a “single” river is at Mari on the Euphrates. After leaving Mari it goes on to Sippar where the Lower Mesopotamian Flood Plain begins, it is in this Flood Plain that the single stream _in_ edin is transformed into Genesis’ four streams. For the fascinating story with accompanying hydrological maps please click here for my article on “The River of Eden’s Four Streams” and click here for Innana’s fruit-tree garden at Mari as yet another pre-biblical Garden in Eden prototype.
Another location on the above map “of possible interest” is modern day An Nasiriyah, a city on the Euphrates. Some bible-believing scholars understand Eden’s garden can never be found because Noah’s flood destroyed the Edenic world and its rivers. The disciplines of Geology and Archaeology however have “proved” there was no worldwide flood in the 3rd millennium B.C. as suggested by the Bible’s chronology. Ancient villages are documented in the Middle East from the 12th to 1st milllenniums B.C. with no evidence of a universal world-encompassing flood deposit anywhere.
Some Liberal scholars have suggested Noah’s Flood is a later Hebrew recast of the circa 2900 B.C. Shuruppak Flood appearing in the Epic of Gilgamesh and I am in agreement. Shuruppak was excavated in 1931 and had only one flood deposit, and it was from a flooding Euphrates river circa 2900 B.C. (some suggest 2750 B.C.). What is most remarkable _for me_ is that the biblical Flood is dated to the “_same millennium_” as the Shuruppak Flood, the 3rd millennium B.C. Some Catholic scholars suggest Noah’s flood was circa 2958 B.C. while some Protestants opt for 2345 B.C., whichever date one prefers, they both fall in the 3rd millennium, and the Catholic flood date is a mere 58 years off the mark from the circa 2900 B.C. Shuruppak Flood! The Epic of Gilgamesh reveals that the king of Shuruppak’s boat containing the seed of man and animalkind drifts about until it comes to rest in a location called kur Nisir. Kur can mean mountain, land, region or underworld. The archaeological evidence at Shuruppak (Tell Fara) revealed the Flood was local. I suspect accordingly that with the abatement of the flood waters the boat may have been envisioned as drifting downstream from Shuruppak to kur Nisir? Perhaps kur Nisir is not “mount” Nisir but the “land/region” of Nisir? If so, then An Nasiriyah on the Euphrates is my first choice for the so-called and erroneous “mount” Nisir of the Epic of Gilgamesh which the Hebrews later tranformed into the “mountains of Ararat,” (Ge 8:4), modern day Armenia in eastern Turkey (the ancient kingdom of Urartu in Neo-Assyrian annals of the 9th-7th centuries B.C.). Please click here for my article on Noah’s Flood as a recast of the 2900 B.C. Shuruppak Flood and pictures of what the Sumerian boat may have originally looked like before being recast by the Hebrews into Noah’s ark. All this is to say that the “erroneous” kur/mountain may have been a kur/region of Nisir (Nasiriyah?) and thus the boat came to rest “_in EDIN_” (the biblical Eden) and very near some of the pre-biblical prototypes of the Garden in Eden, Eridu, the edin of Kulaba (Uruk), and the watering hole 3 days’ journey into the edin from Uruk.
Some Christian scholars claim Eden’s garden can never be found because Noah’s flood destroyed the original beds of the Edenic rivers, burying them under tons of Flood sediment. Some Roman Catholic scholars date Noah’s Flood to ca. 2958 B.C. while some Protestants claim the Flood was ca. 2348 B.C. Both dates fall in the 3rd millennium BC. The problem? According to Geologists and Archaeologists there is no evidence of a worldwide flood covering the earth’s mountaintops in the 3rd millennium B.C. There is also no geological evidence that the Tigris (biblical Hiddekel) and Euphrates rivers ever arose from one river. The biblical portrayal of Eden’s river system is then, fantasy. However a two foot deep flood deposit was found at Tell Fara (ancient Shuruppak) where, according to Mesopotamian myths the “Mesopotamian Noah” (variously called Ziusudra, Atrahasis or Utnapishtim) lived when told to build a boat to preserve the seed of animal and mankind from the coming flood. The uncultivated land contiguous to the cities of Lower Mesopotamia (Sumer) was called in Sumerian the edin, and archaeologists did document that this edin about Shuruppak had been flooded circa 2900 B.C. So an edin (eden) was submerged under a flooding Euphrates, but not the whole world.
Genesis has suggested for some commentators that man was a vegetarian before the Flood, but after that event God allowed man to consume flesh and consequently all animal flesh came to fear man. Some Mesopotamian myths portray man as a naked animal wandering with other wild animals in the edin (the desert-like steppe or plain of Mesopotamia), EATING GRASS. However he is NOT portrayed eating animal flesh. He also drinks water with the animals at watering holes in the wilderness of seru/edin. No animal offers harm to man in this world ( cf. the so-called Eridu Genesis myth). I suspect that Genesis is recalling the Mesopotamian myths of man originally being a vegetarian (eating grass) but “recasting” this motif as man eating every “seed-bearing plants” (Ge 1:29) and “of fruit-trees” (Ge 2:9, 15) and other “green plants” (Ge 9:3) in God’s garden in Eden.
As regards Genesis’ notion of the animals “fearing” man, this motif does appear in Mesopotamian myth. In the Epic of Gilagmesh, the naked hairy wild man of the steppe, Enkidu (who has no father or mother like Adam), roams with his animal companions, eating grass with them and drinking at their watering holes. After 6 days and 7 nights lying in the sexual embrace of a temple harlot called Shamhat brought from Uruk to seduce him by a hunter, Enkidu, after sating his sexual lusts, turns to rejoin his animals friends and resume their companionship, they flee from him in fear. He has lost their trust, he has “become human” through sexual exposure to the temple harlot, who represents civilized mankind who wears clothing, dwells in cities and who raises food crops in the gods’ city gardens. Man in the cities is also a “flesh-eater”, he raises cattle, sheep and goats for milk and cheese and he slaughters these animals for meat. Enkidu’s animal companions had come to fear civilized city-dwelling man because a hunter from Uruk had come to their steppe setting up traps and pits and snares to capture them, kill them, and sell their hides and flesh in Uruk. Earlier, Enkidu to protect his animal friends filled in the pits, and tore loose the rope snares set by the hunter, thus the reason the hunter brings Shamhat to entrap him with sex and separate him from his animal friends, the hunter having been told by Gilgamesh that once Enkidu has sex with womankind the animals will reject him as their companion.
I understand that Genesis is refuting, denying and challenging the Mesopotamian myths regarding the origins of man and of the gods and their relationship. Genesis DENIES that man in the beginning ate grass, instead he eats tree-fruits and other “seed-bearing green plants” in a god’s garden. Wild animals and savage naked man are denied access to the Mesopotamian gods’ city gardens for foraging. Genesis DENIES that a sexual relationship between a man and a woman (Enkidu and the harlot) causes animals to flee from man in dread and fear. Just as God came to realize the animals were not fit companions for Adam and made Eve, so Enkidu comes to find companionship with Shamhat. She shares her clothes with Enkidu, teaching him it is wrong to be naked, and clothed they both leave seru/edin the steppe to dwell in Uruk.
Ge 1:29 RSV
“Behold, I have given you EVERY PLANT YIELDING SEED which is upon the face of all the earth, AND EVERY TREE WITH SEED IN ITS FRUIT; YOU SHALL HAVE THEM FOR FOOD.”
Ge 2:9, 16 RSV
And out of the ground the Lord God made to grow EVERY TREE that is pleasant to the sight AND GOOD FOR FOOD…You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat of it, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.
Ge 9:3 RSV
The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every bird of the air, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea; into your hand they are delivered. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; AND AS I GAVE YOU THE GREEN PLANTS, I give you everything.
Grain’s/Wheat’s (personified) refuting Sheep’s/Ewe’s (personified) claim as to who benefits man more:
“Your shepherd on the high plain eyes my produce enviously; when I am standing in the furrow in the field, my farmer chases away your herdsman with his cudgel. Even when they look out for you, from the open country to the hidden places, your fears are not removed from you: fanged (?) snakes and bandits, the creatures of the desert, want your life on the high plain.
(lines 123-129. “The debate between Sheep and Grain: Translation.” http://etcsl.orinst.ox.ac.uk/section5/tr532.htm)
sipad-zu nij2-ju10-ce3 an-edin-na igi-bi im-ci-jal2
124 isin-na a-cag4-ga jal2-la-ju10-ce3
125 engar-ju10 na-gada-zu jictukul-ta mu-un-sar-re
126 ki-ta ki sig9-ga-ac u3-mu-e-re-kij2
127 za-e-ra ni2-zu nu-mu-un-ta-ed3-de3
128 muc jiri2 lu2 la-ga nij2 edin-na-ke4
129 zi-zu an-edin-na ku-kur ba-ni-ib-be2
The Sumerian an edin-na (an = high + edin-na =plain) is rendered variously as a “high” desert, steppe, or plain where shepherds graze their sheep and goats; Note that this _edin_ is characterized as being a place of danger, inhabitated by snakes and other predatory creatures of the desert (leopards, lions, and hyenas) which seek a “sheep’s” life, but this applies just as well to man himself. Edin is not a pleasant, idyllic place of tranquility where man has no fear its wild animals. The Mesopotamians understood man had been created to care for the gods’ city-gardens (at Eridu, Nippur and Babylon) and present them their produce for their sustenance in the Temples. These gardens which produced grain for bread and beer, fruit-trees, and assorted vegetables were surrounded by uncultivated steppeland called the edin where shepherds grazed their flocks (the gardens themselves were never called edin). As noted in these verses, the farmer was vigilant to keep out of his garden-fields of grain, the shepherd of edin and his foraging flocks. Foraging wild animals would be just as _unwelcome_ in the gods’ city-gardens. I understand that the Hebrews are denying, challenging and refuting the Mesopotamian notions about the relationship between man, wild animals and the gods’ gardens by recasting all of the above as a series of inversions or reversals of Mesopotamian concepts. For the Hebrews there is no danger for man from wild animals in Eden and they are free to feed off the plants in God’s garden, which is not a city-garden, but in the midst of a region called Eden.
If in the Mesopotamian myths the edin is a place of danger for man. Where then is Genesis getting the notion that _all_ the animal companions of Adam, including lions, are herbivores and no danger to him (Ge 1:30)? I suspect this notion is a recasting of motifs associated with primeval naked man in the form of Enkidu of the Epic of Gilgamesh. His animal companions are gazelles who are herbivores, he is portrayed eating grass like them so, like Adam, he is a herbivore too (Ge 1:29) and knows no danger from his animal companions. I note that some Mesopotamian cylinder seals show a naked man embracing gazelles and overpowering leopards and lions who threaten the lives of these creatures. I suspect this is the naked Enkidu, protecting his herbivore companions. I understand that the Hebrews have recast, and _challenged_ the Mesopotamian notion that naked primeval man (Enkidu) faces danger from carnivores in edin like bears, leopards, lions, wolves and hyenas as well as poisonous snakes. So, yes, a naked man (Enkidu) roamed the edin without fear from “his herbivore companions” (gazelles), but there also existed in the edin carnivores that sought his life. Edin, contra the Garden of Eden myth was _not_ an idyllic setting where lions eat grass, but a place of danger.
The “Eridu Genesis Myth” (translated by Professor Thorkild Jacobsen in 1981) speaks of naked man, abandoned, ignored and forgotten by the gods, wandering the “high desert” or “high steppe” (Sumerian: an edin) with wild animals for companions. He knows no fear, because no animals exist “yet” to harm him like lions, hyenas, and snakes. This myth supplies the motif for Genesis’ notion that primal naked man (Adam) has no fear of wild animals in Eden (edin). This motif is, of course, “nonsense,” as other Mesopotamian accounts reveal that naked man (Enkidu) fears edin’s carnivores and Sumerian cylinder seals show a naked man (Enkidu?) embracing gazelles and defending them from lions that roam the edin. Please click here for cylinder seals showing naked man (Enkidu?) protecting gazelles from predators.
Jacobsen (Note: I have not followed Jacobsen’s poetic format. Emphasis mine):
“Mankind’s trails when forgotten by the gods were in the high (i.e., not subject to flooding) desert. In those days no canals were opened, no dredging was done at dikes and ditches on dike tops. The seeder plow and plowing had not yet been instituted for the knocked under and downed people. Mankind of (those) distant days, since Shakan (the god of flocks) had not (yet) come out of the dry lands, _did not know arraying themselves in prime cloth_, MANKIND WALKED ABOUT NAKED. In those days, there being NO SNAKES, being NO SCORPIONS, being NO LIONS, being NO HYENAS, being NO DOGS, being NO WOLVES, MANKIND HAD NO OPPONENT, FEAR AND TERROR DID NOT EXIST. [The people had as yet no] king. Nintur was paying attention: Let me bethink myself of my mankind, (all) forgotten as they are; and mindful of mine, Nintur’s creatures let me bring them back, let me lead the people back from their trails. May they come and build cities and cult-places, that I may cool myself in their shade; may they lay the bricks of the cult-cities in pure spots, and may they found places for divination in pure spots ! She gave directions for purification, and cries for quarter, the things that cool (divine) wrath, perfected the divine service and the august offices, and said to the (surrounding) regions: “Let me institute peace there !” When An, Enlil, Enki, and Ninhursag fashioned the darkheaded (people) they had made the small animals (that came up) from (out of) the earth in abundance and had let there be, as befits (it) gazelles, (wild) donkeys, and fourfooted beasts in the desert…he (i.e., the king)…laid the bricks of those cities…The firstling of those cities, Eridu she [Nintur] gave to the leader Nudimmud [Enki/Ea]…[man] dredged the canals, which were blocked with purplish (wind-born) clay, and they carried water. Their [man’s] cleaning of the smaller canals established abundant growth.” (pp. 160-161. Patrick D. Miller, Jr. “Eridu, Dunnu and Babel: A Study in Comparitive Mythology.” pp. 143-168. Richard S. Hess & David Toshio Tsumura. Editors. I Studied Inscriptions From Before the Flood, Ancient Near Eastern, Literary, and Linguistic Approaches to Genesis 1-11. Winona Lake, Indiana. Eisenbrauns. 1994. ISBN 0-931464-88-9, citing from Professor Thorkild Jacobsen’s translation. 1981. “The Eridu Genesis.”)
Leick on the an edin being a place of “abundant forage” for wild and domesticated animals, rather like the Garden in Eden. Note: This notion appears to _contradict_ the edin being always a semi-arid, desolate location (Emphasis mine):
“Shakan/Shakkan, Sumerian god…The etmology is doubtful, but the name seems to denote some four-legged animal…he is…the hero who is the crown of the high plain…in charge of an.edin, the high plain, a ‘good place complete with grass, herbs and abundance,’ teeming with cattle and the ‘wild rams of the pasture’.”
(p. 147. “Shakan/Shakkan.” Gwendolyn Leick. A Dictionary of Ancient Near Eastern Mythology. London. Routledge. 1991, 1996, 1997, 1998)
Professor Kramer (1968) cites a Sumerian text, understanding an idyllic world once existed for primeval man in which no animal offered him harm or fear (as in the Garden of Eden), but please note the reason for this idyllic world is different than Genesis’ presentation. In Genesis _all_ the creatures eat plants including the carnivores whereas in the Mesopotamian account the carnivores had not “yet” been created by the gods. Primal naked man in the edin comes to know fear from carnivores after their “later” creation:
Genesis 1:30 RSV
“And to _every_ beast_ of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given _every green plant_ for food.”
That is to say Genesis 1:30 has carnivores like lions and leopards eating plants instead of flesh; “birds of prey” like owls, eagles and vultures eat plants instead of flesh while “creeping creatures” like snakes, lizards, scorpions, spiders, fly maggots, and ants eat plants instead of flesh.
Kramer on a time when carnivores did not “yet” exist allowing man to live in a world without fear:
“Once upon a time there was no snake, there was no scorpion,
There was no hyena, there was no lion,
There was no wild dog (?) dog, no wolf,
There was no fear, no terror,
Man had no rival.
In those days…”
“The meaning of the first eleven lines of this passage was quite clear: they portrayed those happy golden days of long ago when man, free from fear and want, lived in a world of peace and prosperity…”
(pp. 279-280. Samuel Noah Kramer. “The Babel of Tongues: A Sumerian Version.” pp. 278-282 in Richard S. Hess & David Toshio Tsumura. Editors. “I Studied Inscriptions from before the Flood.” Ancient Near Eastern, Literary, and Linguisitc Approaches to Genesis 1-11. Winona Lake, Indiana. Eisenbrauns. 1994)
Inanna despite her Sumerian epithet nin edin “lady of edin,” is portrayed as possessing a city garden at Unug (Akkadian: Uruk) and planting a tree in it. She hopes to eventually cut it down and make furniture of it but a snake denies her access to the tree. Was this motif recast as a serpent encouraging a “lady of eden” (Eve) to access a tree to eat of its fruit? Gilgamesh eventually comes to her aid, slays the serpent and chops down the tree for her so she can make a chair and bed of it:
“At that time, there was a single tree, a halub tree…growing on the bank of the Euphrates…The force of the south wind uprooted it…the Euphrates…carried it away…a woman [Inana]…took the tree and brought it into Unug, into Inana’s luxuriant garden. The woman planted the tree…watered it…Five years, ten years went by, the tree grew massive…At its roots, a snake immune to incantations made itself a nest…holy Inana cried…” (pp. 32-33. “Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Underworld.” Jeremy Black, Graham Cunningham, Eleanor Robson & Gabor Zolyomi. The Literature of Ancient Sumer. New York & Oxford. Oxford University Press. 2004)
Wolkstein and Kramer suggest that the Huluppu-tree (Black’s halub tree) might have been recast as Eden’s tree:
“The Hebrew story of creation parallels the Sumerian account of “The Huluppu-Tree” in many ways…It may be that the powers of the biblical trees in the center of the Garden of Eden, the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, are based on the joined powers of the Sumerian huluppu-tree.” (pp. 144-145. “Interpretations of Inanna’s Stories and Hymns.” pp. 136-173. Diane Wolkenstein & Samuel Noah Kramer. Inanna Queen of Heaven and Earth, Her Stories and Hymns From Sumer. San Francisco. Harper & Row, Publishers. 1983)
Wolkstein and Kramer understand Eridu lies where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers _converge_, and other scholars have noted that the Mesopotamian Noah, Utnapishtim is placed in the land of Dilmun, a “kind of paradise,” at the mouth of the rivers. Today these rivers converge at Qurnah forming the Shatt al Arab, but in antiquity they apparently converged near Eridu:
“Enki’s sacred shrine, the Abzu, is built above the regions of the netherworld. His city, Eridu, is located near where the fresh and salt waters meet, where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and the Persian Gulf converge.” (p. 147. “Inanna and the God of Wisdom.” Diane Wolkenstein & Samuel Noah Kramer. Inanna Queen of Heaven and Earth, Her Stories and Hymns From Sumer. San Francisco. Harper & Row, Publishers. 1983)
The Mesopotamian myths do NOT have any knowledge of man being expelled from their city-gardens for an act of rebellion like Genesis’ Garden of Eden account. The gods made man to replace themselves as agricultural laborers, it would be foolish to expell man from their city-gardens for the gods would have to care for their gardens themselves.
Where then are the Hebrews getting the notion that a rebellion has occured in a god’s garden and the gardener has been removed?
I suspect this is a recasting of the Igigi gods rebellion in the Atrahasis myth. They were “removed” from Enlil’s garden at Nippur (and Enki’s garden at Eridu), and man was created to replace them. So, yes, there was indeed in the Mesopotamian myths a story about a rebellion of “man” working in a god’s garden and being removed from said garden! In fact when the hardwork of the Igigi gods is described it is said: “WHEN THE GODS WERE _”MAN”_ THEY DID GRIEVOUS LABOR.” So “MAN” IN THE FORM OF THE IGIGI GODS WAS REMOVED FROM A GOD’S GARDEN FOR AN ACT OF REBELLION. However, the Hebrews have INVERTED the storyline. “MAN” (the Igigi) WELCOMED THIS REMOVAL for now they enjoy an eternal rest from toil as already enjoyed by the Anunnaki gods (Anu, Enlil and Enki). The Hebrews portray the removal of “man” from a god’s garden AS PUNISHMENT FOR MAN whereas it was an ACT OF MERCY AND A BLESSING FOR THE IGIGI, ending their grievous labor. Christianity hopes that one day God will allow man _back into_ his garden of Eden, whereas the Igigi would never want to return to the Anunnaki’s city-gardens and the grievous toil there! Christianity teaches that when man returns to the Garden of Eden he will once more enjoy God’s fellowship and companionship as did Adam and Eve. But the Igigi working in the gods’ gardens DID NOT ENJOY FELLOWSHIP with the Anunnaki gods! The Anunnaki ruthlessly exploited the Igigi and ignored night and day for 40 years their pleas for an end of their toil! With the “removal from the gods’ gardens” the Igigi NOW ENJOY FELLOWSHIPPING WITH THE ANUNNAKI, for both now are free of toil upon the earth, both can recline on their couches in indolent leisure as both ruthlessly exploit man the agricultural slave having him care for their gardens, and present them the produce to eat in the city temples. An inversion has occured! Man’s (the Igigi being called “man”) fellowship with a god (Enlil of Nippur and Enki at Eridu) is obtained after his removal from the god’s garden instead of by remaining a complacent, obedient, non-rebelling laborer in a god’s garden!
In the Mesopotamian myths man is made to “toil” in the city-gardens of the gods to end the _grievous toil_ of the Igigi gods at Eridu and Nippur in Sumer. Genesis recalls this “grievous toil” but in a somewhat different manner: Adam’s (man’s) grievous toil _begins_ after his expulsion from a God’s garden whereas in the Mesopotamian myths it _begins_ with man’s creation and being placed in a god’s (Enki’s and Enlil’s) city-garden. That is to say the Hebrews have “inverted or reversed” the storyline! Both the Mesopotamian and Hebrew myths agree, man does face grievous agricultural toil as his lot in life, but they disagree about the circumstances that brought this misfortune on.
Note also Jacobsen’s (above) Eridu Genesis myth reveals that THE GODS DID _NOT_ FELLOWSHIP AT FIRST WITH MAN OR CARE ABOUT HIM, THEY _ABANDONED_ HIM, LEAVING HIM TO WANDER THE EDIN WITH ONLY WILD ANIMALS FOR COMPANIONS. The Hebrews apparently _objecting to_ this negative portrayal of primeval man and his relationship with his creators recast the Mesopotamian myths by portraying a GOD WHO LOVES MAN, SEEKS HIS FELLOWSHIP AND GOODWILL INSTEAD OF _CALLOUSLY_ABANDONING_ NAKED MAN TO WANDER AIMLESSLY THE EDIN WITH ONLY WILD ANIMALS FOR COMPANIONSHIP.
Daniel’s interpretation of a dream for the Babylonian king Nebuchadrezzar, for me, appears to recall earlier Mesopotamian notions of primal man in the beginning being naked, eating grass, roaming the edin with wild animals and possessing a beast’s reasoning, without knowledge of good and evil, unaware it is wrong to be naked:
Daniel 4:25, 34 RSV
“…you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field; you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and you shall be wet with the dew of heaven…He was driven from among men, and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagle’s feathers, and his nails were like birds claws. At the end of the days…my reason returned to me…”
In the Epic of Gilgamesh Enkidu is portrayed as acquiring reason and understanding _after_ his exposure to Shamhat. When he attempts to rejoin his animal companions after 6 days and 7 nights of sex with the harlot priestess his animal companions (gazelles) flee from him. After Adam is exposed to Eve, he like Enkidu, also acquires reason and knowledge and gives up his animal companions in Eden.
Professor George on Enkidu’s acquisition of reason and understanding, which I equate with Adam’s acquisition of knowledge. After acquiring reason and wide understanding Enkidu dons clothing, covering his nakedness before leaving the edin with Shamhat to live among civilized clothes-wearing man in the city of Uruk (emphasis mine):
“When with her delights he was fully sated,
he turned his gaze to his herd.
The gazelles saw Enkidu, they started to run,
the beasts of the field shied away from his presence.
Enkidu had defiled his body so pure,
his legs stood still, though the herd was in motion.
Enkidu was weakened, could not run as before,
but now he had reason, and wide understanding.
He came back and sat at the feet of the harlot…”
(p. 8. “The Standard Version, Tablet I.” Andrew George. The Epic of Gilgamesh, The Babylonian Epic Poem and Other Texts in Akkadian and Sumerian. London. Penguin Books. 2000, Revised Edion 2003)
George on the Mesopotamian conception of man and his relationship vis-a-vis the gods (Atram-hasis is also rendered Atrahasis or Atra-khasis by other scholars, he is the Mesopotamian “Noah”):
“In the ancient world religion permeated intellectual activity in a way that it does not now. Read as ‘wisdom’, ultimately the [Gilgamesh] epic bears a message of serious religious content. Its views on the proper duities of men and kings are strictly in line with the gods’ requirements and conform to the religious ideology of ancient Mesopotamia: do the will of the gods, fulfil your function as they intended…We know from many ancient Mesopotamian sources, in Sumerian and in Akkadian, that the Babylonians believed the purpose of the human race to be the service of the gods. Before mankind’s creation, the myth tells us, the cities of lower Mesopotamia were inhabited by the gods alone and they had to feed and clothe themselves by their own efforts. Under the supervision of Enlil, the lord of the earth, the lesser deities grew and harvested the gods’ food, tilled the soil, and most exhaustingly, dug the rivers and waterways that irrigated the fields. Even the Tigris and Euphrates were their work. Eventually the labour became too much for them and they mutinied. The resourceful god Ea (called Enki in the poem Atram-hasis) devised first the technology to produce a substitute worker from raw clay and then the means by which this new being would reproduce itself. The first humans were duly born from the womb of the Mother Goddess and allotted their destiny, ‘to carry the yoke, the task imposed by Enlil, to bear the soil-basket of the gods’. This act of creation could be repeated as neccessary…Enkidu is thus a replica of the first man, born without a mother’s cries of pain.” (pp. xxxvii-xxxviii. “Introduction.” Andrew George. The Epic of Gilgamesh, The Babylonian Epic Poem and Other Texts in Akkadian and Sumerian. London. Penguin Books. 1999.)
“There was a flaw built into Ea’s creation of man, a flaw that explains how it was that something made by the gods for their own purposes was nevertheless a very imperfect tool. The clay that Ea gave to the Mother Goddess as the raw material from which she bore man was animated -given spirit- by mixing it with the shed blood of a god…he was the leader of the rebels, who had instigated a mutiny. Small wonder, then, that mankind should be wayward. Uta-napishtim tells his wife in Tablet XI, ‘Man is deceitful, he will deceive you’…The innately rebellious and unruly nature of man encapsulated in this myth of creation also informs one tradition about early human history, first found in several Sumerian literary compositions, that in the beginning the human race roamed the land like the beasts of the field, naked but hairy, and for sustenance grazing on grass. According to Berossus, a Babylonian scholar of the fourth century B.C. who wrote in Greek, at this stage MAN ‘LIVED WITHOUT LAWS JUST AS WILD ANIMALS’, THAT IS, WITHOUT GOVERNMENT, cities OR SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS…The civilization of mankind, according to Babylonian mythology, was the work of the gods, who sent kingship from heaven, and especially Ea, who dispatched the Seven Sages to Eridu and other early cities, and with them all the arts and crafts of city life.” (pp. xxxix-xl. “Introduction.” Andrew George. The Epic of Gilgamesh, The Babylonian Epic Poem and Other Texts in Akkadian and Sumerian. London. Penguin Books. 1999.)
“The tradition that the first men roamed FREE and LAWLESS and were not subject to kings helped to give rise to a myth that kings were created as distinct beings, significantly different from other mortals in appearance, capabilities and duties…the principal duty of the Babylonian king was to oversee the repair and maintenance of the gods’ cult centers and to ensure that they were stocked with foodstuffs and treasure…the god Ea organizes the world to ensure the gods’ comfort in their houses. In doing so, ‘he created the king for the task of provisioning, he created men to be the work force’.” (pp. xli-xlii. “Introduction.” Andrew George. The Epic of Gilgamesh, The Babylonian Epic Poem and Other Texts in Akkadian and Sumerian. London. Penguin Books. 1999.)
Note: The Book of Revelation in the New Testament suggests that the “Water of Life” and “Tree of Life” IS TO BE FOUND WITHIN A CITY, the city of Jerusalem! This ALIGNS NICELY with the Mesopotamian myths claiming that the gods created man to till their CITY-GARDENS _feeding_ them the crops which were raised. The HOLY SPIRIT inspires the prophet Ezekiel to envision a future Messiah at Jerusalem with the help of Levitical priests preparing God’s _daily food_ via burnt offerings and sacrifices (cf. Ez. 44:7,15; 45:13-25; 46:1-9). I GUESS ONE COULD SAY WITH REVELATION 22:1-2 WE HAVE “_COME FULL-CIRCLE_” WITH THE MESOPOTAMIAN MYTHS ABOUT MAN BEING CREATED TO CARE FOR THE GODS’ CITY-GARDENS of edin/eden FOR ALL ETERNITY _AND_ THE FEEDING OF THE GODS _IN_ CITIES. As noted by Leick, the gods’ hearts’ delight is to dwell in cities, and other myths reveal man will present food raised in city-gardens to the gods in their temples. The Mesopotamian myths then, agree somewhat with Revelation, MAN WILL FOR ALL ETERNITY DWELL IN THE COMPANY OF THE GODS as their agricultural servant, _IN A CITY_ AND CARE FOR THE GODS’ (God The Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost) CITY-GARDEN (at Jerusalem) _AND_ ACCORDING TO EZEKIEL _FEED_ GOD TWICE A DAY FOR ALL OF ETERNITY.
Some fields or city-gardens were within Mesopotamian city walls and some were outside the walls, but near the city. Perhaps this archaeologically attested fact lies behind Genesis’ notion that when Adam and Eve are driven from the garden in Eden, God stations the Cherubim at its “entrance” to deny man readmission? Some Christian art shows the Garden in Eden as _walled_ and this would “align somewhat” with the gods’ gardens found within city walls. The Old Persian word for a walled garden pairidaeza became the English “Paradise” (cf. “paradise” as a word in Nehemiah 2:8, Ecclesiastes 2:5, Song of Solomon 4:13). Access to a walled city-garden is via a gateway which would be guarded against enemies. Ancient clay tablets from Mesopotamia have been found with maps showing city-gardens _within_ the walls of the city. I recall that one Mesopotamian inscription referred to one of a city’s gates as abul edin-na “the edin gate” (a city gate by which one could access the ‘uncultivated’ land or uncultivated steppe, the edin or edin-na). Perhaps a city’s “edin gate” or abul edin-na was later morphed by the Hebrews into “Eden’s entrance” guarded by the Cherubim? Under this proposal, later Christian art showing a wall about the garden in Eden who’s eastern entrance is guarded by Cherubim in the form of angels preserves a very ancient Mesopotamian notion about the gods’ creating city-gardens within a city’s walls accessed via a gate _before_ man’s creation. The stone portals of some Ancient Near Eastern city-gates are flanked on either side by pairs of beasts such as lions, sometimes sphinxes, who serve to deny entry to enemies. Perhaps these creatures carved in stone and placed at city-gates were morphed into the Cherubim who guard the entrance into the Garden of Eden, some city-gardens being within the city’s walls? Note: Some scholars understand the Cherubim were Sphinxes as appear on the sarchophagus of the Phoenician king Ahiram of Byblos. Please click here for pictures of Cherubim as winged Sphinxes. Note: abul edin-na appears on cuneiform clay tablets found at the city of Nippur, Sumerian Nibru, where, according to some myths, man was created of clay to replace the Igigi gods who had rebelled against the grievous toil excavating canals and irrigation ditches for the god Enlil’s city-garden. In other myths it is Enlil who is identified as the chief instigator of a universal flood sent to destroy all of mankind for violating his rest and sleep. I understand that Yahweh-Elohim who created man to work in his garden _in_ `eden, and who also sent a universal flood to destroy man his creation, is in part drawn from Enlil and his city-garden at Nippur and its abul edin-na “edin (city) gate.” That is to say, the cherubim guarding the “entrance” to Eden’s garden is, in part, drawing ultimately from Sumerian and Old Babylonian imagery at Nippur/Nibru. Cf. the below transcription from the internet hosted by the University of Pennsylvania on abul edin-na meaning the “edin gate.”
“eden [plain] LEX/Old Babylonian/Nippur abul edin-na OB Kagal 48.
Akkadian abullu “gate”
abula [gate] (173x: ED IIIb, Old Akkadian, Lagash II, Ur III, Early Old Babylonian, Old Babylonian) wr. abul; abul-la; a-bul5-la “gate” Akkadian abullu.
See ETCSL” abula =(city) gate.” cf. the following url for all the details: http://psd.museum.upenn.edu/epsd/epsd/e104.html#u.e104.s1
Please click here for a picture of one of two Hittite “Sphinxes” guarding a city-gate at ancient Alaca Hoyuk in Turkey. Below, a description of this gate from the internet:
“During the great Hittite Empire (1600-1200 B.C.) Alacahöyük no doubt remained under the influence of this kingdom. After the decline of the Hittite Empire…Alacahöyük also lost its significance…The Western Gate, of which only the main walls were found, had many similarities with the Yerkapi of Hatusa. The Sphinx Gate at the south was the main gate of the city. This gate is flanked by two well-worn sphinxes facing outward.”
Adapa received the warning _not to eat or he would die _ON THE EARTH_ at Eridu from Ea, but the forbidden food was _OFFERED IN HEAVEN_ by Ningishzida and Dumuzi on Anu’s behalf. Christianity’s notions about Paradise being ON THE EARTH (Genesis 2:8) and IN HEAVEN (Luke 23:43) remarkably preserves the two locations in which the Mesopotamian story unfolded regarding man’s (Adapa’s) lost chance to obtain immortality, Ea’s fruit-tree garden ON THE EARTH in Eridu and Anu’s abode IN HEAVEN. However, the Mesopotamians understood that man’s lot after death was an eternity in the underworld. There was no resurrection from the underworld to look forward to. No one was going to a heavenly paradise or an earthly god’s garden somewhere on the earth’s surface. That is to say, in Mesopotamian belief man did not “really die” he lived for all eternity as a disembodied ‘shade’ or ‘specter’ in the underworld, his food was clay and his drink was muddy water, just like his former life upon the earth, he still needed to “eat and drink” to sustain life even in the underworld!
Ashton and Whyte on the Mesopotamian gods having made man to “till the earth” on their behalf (Genesis’ God has Adam “till the earth” in the Garden of Eden):
“Like all other societes the Sumerians were curious about origins, their own and that of the universe they inhabitated. Their myths indicate a belief in a world shaped by the gods, who eventually created mankind to help them out in the laborious task of tilling the earth.” (p. 14. “The Dawn of Human History.” John Ashton & Tom Whyte. The Quest For Paradise, Visions of Heaven and Eternity in the World’s Myths and Religions. HarperSanFrancisco. 2001 [originally published by Quarto Publishing of London, the United Kingdom. 2001])
Genesis 2:15 RSV
“The Lord God took the man and put in him the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.”
Ashton and Whyte noted that in Mesopotamian belief all who died spent eternity in a dark underworld, there was no heavenly or earthly paradise for them to look forward to. Consequently, their longing for immortality (as exemplified by Gilgamesh) was a desire for a never-ending life upon the earth’s surface (Christianity’s Book of Revelation envisions a never-ending life upon the earth’s surface for the righteous dead in the City of Jerusalem, with access to the “water of Life” and the “tree of life”):
“No wonder then that it was not the afterworld itself but an unrealizable longing for immortality that was as close as Sumer got to an ideal of paradise.”
(p. 15. “The Dawn of Human History.” John Ashton & Tom Whyte. The Quest For Paradise, Visions of Heaven and Eternity in the World’s Myths and Religions. HarperSanFrancisco. 2001[originally published by Quarto Publishing of London, the United Kingdom. 2001])
Ashton and Tate understand that Genesis’ Garden of Eden myth incorporates “many features” found in the Epic of Gilgamesh, a notion shared earlier by others such as Professors Robert Graves, Raphael Patai, Bernard F. Batto and Joseph Blenkinsopp:
“The first evidence of man’s despairing search for immortality is found in ancient Mesopotamia, or more precisely in Sumer, and dates back to 3000 B.C.E. The Epic of Gilgamesh…Many of the features of the Garden of Eden story are recognizable here; although the biblical writer articulates them quite differently, his debt to the older tradition is plain.”
(p. 59. “The Garden of Eden.” John Ashton & Tom Whyte. The Quest For Paradise, Visions of Heaven and Eternity in the World’s Myths and Religions. HarperSanFrancisco. 2001 [originally published by Quarto Publishing of London, the United Kingdom. 2001])
Ashton and Whyte see parallels between Genesis’ “Tree of life” and the Sumerian Gishkin or Kishkanu Tree planted at Eridu (note: The Akkadian sun-god Shamash is Utu in Sumerian and the Akkadian Tammuz is Sumerian Dumuzi whose wife was Inanna “the lady of heaven” who bore the Sumerian epithet nin edin “the lady of edin” and she, eating of a cedar tree upon the earth, acquired sexual knowledge for her husband’s benefit):
“A bi-lingual (Sumerian/Akkadian) text speaks of a tree called gishkin/kishkanu with magical healing powers, growing in the fertile domain of Eridu, between “the river of two mouths,” probably the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates on the Persian Gulf. The tree, rooted in the apsu, the ocean residence of the kindly god Ea (Sumerian Enki), has the appearance of lapiz lazuli, is inaccessible to humans, but frequented by the sun god Shamash, and the sovereign of heaven, Tammuz.”
(p. 61. “The Tree of Life.” John Ashton & Tom Whyte. The Quest For Paradise, Visions of Heaven and Eternity in the World’s Myths and Religions. HarperSanFrancisco. 2001 [originally published by Quarto Publishing of London, the United Kingdom. 2001])
The Mesopotamians give CONTRADICTING ACCOUNTS regarding the edin. One account (the Eridu Genesis) speaks of naked man having NO FEAR as no carnivores exist “yet” to prey upon him, but other accounts (the Grain vs. Sheep dialogue) portrays the edin (an-edin) as a place of danger for man. Cylinder seals show naked man (Enkidu who roamed with gazelles?) protecting gazelles from leopards and lions in the edin steppelands. “Contradictions” are common in ancient compositions, Sumerian, Akkadian, and Biblical and should not be wondered at or “harmonized away” as some Christian Apologists are so fond of doing.
A Police Detective tries to establish a “motive” for the “crime scene.” In this case the “crime scene” and its “motive” is WHY DID THE HEBREWS DO THIS? WHY DID THEY SEEK TO REFUTE, CHALLENGE AND DENY the Mesopotamian concepts about primeval man’s appearance in the edin (Eden) and his relationship with his creators?
THE ANSWER: The city-dwellers of Lower Mesopotamia (Nippur, Uruk, Eridu and Ur in Sumer) had concocted these myths, they DESPISED and FEARED the nomads of edin, so the nomads of edin (Terah, Nahor and Abraham) took these myths and turned them upside down and on their ear via a series of _inversions_ or _reversals_ IN DEFENSE OF THEIR WAY OF LIFE. Nomads were not murderers and despised by God, the descendants of Cain the first muderer and founder of cities were! God did not build a city to dwell in and plant a city-garden for himself and put man in it, his garden was in the eden (edin) “uncultivated steppe.” God was a God of the Wilderness (edin/eden). His ‘first home” would not be a temple in a city, it would be a humble shepherd’s tent, the Holy Tabernacle at Mount Horeb in the midst of the great and terrible wilderness of Sinai where he earlier had revealed himself to Moses while he herded Jethro’s sheep!
I understand that Israel’s “origins mythology” is that of NOMADIC HERDERS who have recast the “origins” myths of the city-dwellers of Sumer in order to glorify their way of life as shepherds of the edin. We are told that Israel’s fathers were originally polytheists, but through a revelation to Abraham, formerly a resident of Ur of the Chaldees (originally a Sumerian city-state), a new concept emerged about God and his relationship with Man. It is my understanding that Terah, Nahor and Abraham while living in Ur, came to reject the Mesopotamian notions because these urbanites despised and mocked their nomadic herdsman way of life in the edin steppelands.
The _contradicting_ Sumerian myths have man being created at Eridug (Eridu) and at Nibru (Nippur) and the chief gods at these locations are Enlil (Elil) and Enki (Ea). Enlil sends a flood to destroy mankind but is foiled by his brother-god Enki who warns one man (Ziusudra) to build a boat and save the seed of man and animalkind for a new beginning. In Genesis man is created by Yahweh-Elohim and this God sends a universal flood to destroy mankind, but he warns one man to build a boat and save the seed of man and beast for a new beginning. Quite clearly _for me_, Enlil and Enki have been recast as Yahweh-Elohim and their cities, Nippur and Eridu (which lie in the midst of the Sumerian uncultivated steppe or plain called the edin) where man was first created to replace the rebelling Igigi gods, were recast into Genesis’ garden _in_ `eden (Ge 2:8). The watering hole Enkidu (Adam) met Shamhat (Eve) three day’s journey into the an edin “high plain/steppe” south of Uruk has been fused to the walled city-gardens at Eridu and Nippur to create Genesis’ garden _in_ `Eden.
I have proposed that only a person intimately familiar with the Mesopotamian myths and their motifs and concepts regarding primal man and his animal companions of the edin could have “cherry-picked” all these motifs and concepts and brought all this together in a series of inversions, refuting, challenging, and denying these myths originally conceived by the city-dwellers of Lower Mesopotamia (Ur of the Chaldees, modern tell Muqayyar and Nippur, Eridu, Uruk), and that individual is most likely Abraham (circa 2100-1800 B.C.?) who was _originally_ a polytheist and thus well-acquainted with Mesopotamian notions about primal man’s beginnings, who later repudiated these notions, substituting them with a belief in one God.
Joshua 24:14 RSV
“…put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River, and in Egypt, and serve the Lord…”
A number of Christian Apologists claim the Garden of Eden can never be found, but for the wrong reason. They claim that the Euphrates and Hiddekel did indeed once upon a time arise from a shared single stream in Eden, but that Noah’s Flood has erased this river system burying it under tons of flood sediments. The problem? The internal chronology of the Bible presents Noah’s Flood as an event occurring in the 3rd millennium B.C. and Geologists have found no such evidence of a worldwide flood in that era. Archaeologists date some villages in the Ancient Near East (modern Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt) as early as the Neolithic Period (the New Stone Age) and the 12th millennium B.C., and they report _no_ evidence of a world destroying flood sediment from this period right on up to modern times, the 21st century A.D. Please click here for all the details on the findings of Science: Archaeologists, Geologists and Palaeo-hydrologists regarding Noah’s “mythical” flood. If there is _no_ evidence for a 3rd millennium B.C. Noah’s Flood why does the Bible place it in this era? The answer: Secular and Liberal scholars understand that Noah’s Flood is a recast of the Shuruppak flood in Lower Mesopotamia dated either 2900 or 2750 B.C. IN THE 3rd MILLENNIUM B.C. the same millennium the Bible dates its flood to. Excavations at Shuruppak (modern Tell Fara) reveal it had only one flood. The sediments were from a flooding Euphrates River and nearby irrigation canals and only two feet deep and the floodwaters did not cover even all of Lower Mesopotamia, but only the area about Shuruppak. The Shuruppak Flood shares several motifs and elements with Noah’s Flood (each hero releases three birds to gauge the abatement of the flood waters). Many Secular and Liberal scholars understand that the Shuruppak Flood has been recast by the Hebrews as Noah’s Flood. Because this flood did not cover the world it did _not_ erase away Eden’s river system as claimed by Christian Apologists. The Euphrates has been in existence since the Middle Miocene era which ended 4 million years ago according to Geologists (the Bible erroneously claiming the earth and universe was created only 6000 years ago). Quite simply the Bible is _not_ the word of God as proved by Science’s findings (Paleontology, Geology, Hydrology and Archaeology). No Noah’s flood erased away in flood sediments Eden’s river system and Geology reveals that the present river system is millions of years old.
I understand that the Garden of Eden and its motifs are later Hebrew recastings of similar motifs found in a number of earlier Mesopotamian accounts about primal man and his life in the edin and how the gods took him from this edin to work their city-gardens on their behalf. So _for me_ the Garden of Eden is a Hebrew _refutation and denial_ of the “many” gods’ city-gardens in the edin appearing in various Mesopotamian myths. Pease click here for more details and accompanying maps.
For some commentators the Bible suggests that an un-named river rises in Eden, waters God’s garden, then later subdivides into four streams.
There is some confusion on how to interpret Genesis’ statement regarding the “river of Eden” and its four streams, do the streams divide after leaving the garden or does the division of one river into four streams occur within the garden? What is mean by “THERE”? The land of Eden? or the garden of Eden?
Genesis 2:10, RSV
“A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and THERE it divided and became four rivers.”
The Jewish scholar Yahuda (1934) thought the splitting of the four rivers occured _after_ leaving the garden of Eden:
“It must first be emphasized that in Genesis 2:10 there is no mention of four rivers flowing through paradise. Quite on the contrary, it is expressly stated that “a river went out of Eden to water the garden,” which can only mean one river. The four rivers mentioned immediately afterwards actually have nothing to do with paradise itself. The whole passage (Genesis 2:10-14) does not refer to paradise, but to the relation of the four rivers to that one river of paradise. All that this passage meant to convey was that the one river of paradise gave origin to the four greatest world streams, thus representing paradise as the source of prosperity and fertility for the whole earth…As already stated, the text of the Paradise story does not say a single word which suggests that the four rivers were within the paradise “to water the garden.” The Hebrew text of Genesis 2:10 does not mean that the division of the one river into four was effected within the area of paradise. What it means to convey is that those rivers came forth from that one river after it had left the garden.”
(pp. 164-165; 168. “The Story of Paradise.” Abraham S. Yahuda. The Accuracy of the Bible, the stories of Joseph, the Exodus and Genesis Confirmed and Illustrated by the Egyptian Monuments and Language. London. William Heinemann Ltd. 1934)
The Jewish scholar Cassuto seems to agree with Yahuda (1944):
“…we are told that a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and thereafter it divided into four big rivers…”
(p. 77. Umberto Cassuto. A Commentary on the Book of Genesis. Vol. 1. [From Adam to Noah]. Jerusalem. The Hebrew University. 1944-1968 in Hebrew; 1961-1989 in English. ISBN 965-223-480-X)
If the Hebrew Eden is recalling the Sumerian/Akkadian edin-the-steppe, the problem becomes finding a river in “edin-the-steppe” of Mesopotamia that becomes four rivers!
The Bible denies the Mesopotamian notion that there many gods and goddesses, it denies that there exist many city-gardens of the gods in the edin, there is only _one_ God, Yahweh-Elohim, and there is only _one_ God’s garden not many gods’ and goddesses’ gardens.
The Lower Mesopotamian myths understand that the Euphrates and Tigris rivers provide water for the gods’ city-gardens via canals and irrigation ditches. Genesis denies this. The Tigris and Euphrates along with the Pishon and Gihon do _not_ water God’s garden. They are subdivisions of the un-named stream that watered God’s garden. That is to say _after_ the un-named river leaves God’s garden, it subdivides into the Euphrates and Tigris.
So, then, inorder to identify Genesis’ Garden in Eden we must find a stream arising in the Mesopotamian edin that _later_ subdivides into four streams.
From Mari to Sippar there exists only one river. Near Sippar this stream subdivides into four streams as it crosses the great floodplain extending to Uruk, Ur of the Chaldees and Eridu. This “single” stream is the Euphrates. It is my proposal that Mari on the Euphrates is being envisioned as the location of the Garden of Eden. Eden’s un-named river is the Euphrates. I note that elsewhere in the Bible the Euphrates is sometimes spoken of as “the river” (Nu 22:5; De 11:24; Josh 24:3, 14).
Joshua 24:3, 14 RSV
“And Joshua said to all the people…Your fathers lived of old beyond the Euphrates…they served other gods. Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River and led him through all the land of Canaan…put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River, and in Egypt, and serve the Lord…”
So, for me Genesis’ un-named river that rose in Eden is “the river” of Joshua 24:3, 14, the Euphrates at Mari.
God stationed the Cherubbim at the eastern entrance to the Garden of Eden to deny man re-entry and access to the Tree of Life. Solomon’s temple was adorned with Cherubim and Palm Trees (1 Kings 6:32) so most likely date palms were envisioned as being the Tree of Life. I note that at Mari a mural was found of fabulous winged beasts guarding two trees, one of which is a date palm, were these creatures transformed into the Cherubim? Lesser deities in the mural hold a pot from which issues four streams of water, perhaps recalling Eden’s river that subdivides into four streams?
Mari’s archives mention Haran (where Abraham lived) and Mari was destroyed by Hammurabi of Babylon (ca. 1792-1750 B.C.), who is considered by some scholars to be Amrapel a king of Shinar and contemporary of Abraham (Ge 14:1, 9).
Below, a map showing the kingdom of the Babylonian king Hammurabi (ca. 1792-1750 B.C.) in a light shade of purple. Some scholars have suggested that the king of Shinar, Amraphel (Ge 14:1,9), a contemporary of Abraham, is Hammurabi. This map shows the Euphrates from Mari (viewer’s far left), my proposal for the location of the Garden in Eden, to Uruk and Eridu (viewer’s far right), my proposals for Enoch in the “land of Nod” I note that this map shows the Euphrates as a single stream from Mari (destroyed by Hammurabi) to Sippar as a single stream. Near Sippar the Euphrates subdivides into four streams: (1) Sippar to Borsippa and Diblat; (2) Sippar to Agade and Diblat; (3) Sippar to Kutha, Adab and Larsa; (4) Sippar to Mashkan-Shapir. I have argued that Abraham of Ur of the Chaldees, originally a practicing polytheist and worshipper of edin’s gods and goddesses abandoned polytheism and, transforming the Mesopotamian myths, recognized only one God as associated with the edin, Yahweh-Elohim of the Garden in Eden. If Amraphel is Hammurabi and a contemporary of Abraham then in Abraham’s world one river did indeed once upon a time subdivide into four streams in the edin/Eden (cf. p. 120. map titled “Hammurabi’s Kingdom.” Michael Roaf. Cultural Atlas of Mesopotamia and the Near East. Oxford, England. An Equinox Book. 1990. Reprinted by Facts on File, New York, 1990).
Please click here for a wall mural found at Mari in the days of Abraham and Hammurabi showing two trees guarded by fabulous winged beasts, perhaps the prototypes behind Genesis’ Cherubim who guard the Garden in Eden? The Mari archives reveal individuals bearing the theophoric yawi as part of their names and mention is also made of Haran. Abraham later dwelt at Haran and the one God he came to know was called Yahweh. Please click here for the yawi names found at Mari in Upper Mesopotamia and at Kish in Lower Mesopotamia. Please click here for maps showing the Tigris joining the Euphrates near Sippar circa the 6th-2nd millenniums B.C.
Below, a close-up of the above map showing the the Euphrates subdividing into four streams near ancient Sippar circa 1792-1750 B.C., the world of Hammurabi and Abraham according to some scholars. I note that this map shows the Euphrates as a single stream from Mari (destroyed by Hammurabi) to Sippar as a single stream. Near Sippar the Euphrates subdivides into four streams: (1) Sippar to Borsippa and Diblat; (2) Sippar to Agade and Diblat; (3) Sippar to Kutha, Adab and Larsa;
(4) Sippar to Mashkan-Shapir.
A special Note:
Due to the fact that edin is a Sumerian word, it makes sense that this word’s earliest appearance would be in the land of Sumer in Lower Mesopotamia. So edin, the ‘uncultivated’ steppe or plain, surrounding cities and their irrigated city-fields and gardens at first was applied to ancient Sumer. By the late 4th millennium B.C. Sumerian settlements were being established near the Euphrates in Syria, the Uruk IV period (circa 3300-3100 B.C.) colonies of Habuba Kabira and Jebel Aruda. Accordingly, edin as a word and concept would have been introduced into Syria no later than the late 4th millennium B.C. At ancient Ebla in Syria have been found tablets written in Sumerian as well as Akkadian (Babylonian). So the learned or educated men of Syria or Upper Mesopotamia would be aware that the uncultivated steppeland was called edin in Sumerian as well as seru in Akkadian. We are told Abraham was of the Sumerian city-state of Ur of the Chaldees in Lower Mesopotamia (He is dated by some scholars as having lived circa 2100-2000 B.C. in the third millennium B.C.) and that he later settled in Haran of Upper Mesopotamia and that he was originally a Polytheist before becoming a Monotheist at Haran. Having practiced poytheism for some 75 years (?) he _ought to have been aware_ that edin was a Sumerian word for uncultivated steppeland and he should have been aware of the stories of how mankind came to be created by the gods to work in their city-gardens and fields. I suspect that Abraham was the individual who transformed via a series of inversions and reversals the Mesopotamian concepts which came to preserved in the Book of Genesis (which was composed by his descendants in the Exile circa 560 B.C.).
According to the Mesopotamian myths, in particularly the Sumerian accounts, man is created at three different locations by the gods: (1) Sumerian Eridug (Akkadian/Babylonian: Eridu); (2) Nibru (Akkadian/Babylonian Nippur); (3) A three day’s march into the wilderness of edin, Enkidu of the Epic of Gilgamesh being created of clay and thus having no human father or mother like Adam by the goddess Aruru near_ Unug_ (Akkadian/Babylonian: Uruk; Genesis’ Erech). ALL OF THESE LOCATIONS _Eridug, Nibru and Unug_ ARE IN ANCIENT SUMER and these cities would be surrounded by the uncultivated steppe or plain, the edin. Genesis tells us man (Hebrew: `adam) was created “in” Eden (Ge 2:8) and the Sumerian myths have man being created in the midst of the edin (the cities being in the midst of the edin). So, edin as the pre-biblical prototype for Genesis’ `eden is to be identified as Sumer’s uncultivated land or wilderness surrounding the cities and their city-gardens or fields, be it a high steppe (an edin) or low steppe (ki edin). Later, by the end of third millennium B.C. edin would be extended under Sumerian trade colonies in Syria or Upper Mesopotamia to this area as well. Haran, where Abraham settled after leaving Lower Mesopotamia (ancient Sumer) and Ur of the Chaldees, lies in Upper Mesopotamia. The below map shows ancient Sumer and its three cities associated with man’s creation: (1) Eridug or Eridu; (2) Nibru or Nippur and (3) Unug or Uruk, rendered as Erech on the below map (I understand Enkidu of the Epic of Gilgamesh was created out of clay by the goddess Aruru _in the edin near Uruk_, and he has been recast as a Adam _created out of dust_ by the Hebrews).
The Sumerian account of Enkidu and Gilgamesh on their way to confront Huwawa of the Cedar Mountain mentions the edin-na
(edin or eden) the steppe/plain near the Euphrates river where they cut down trees to make boats.
Gilgamesh and Huwawa (Version A) ETCSL translation: t.184.108.40.206
Line 56: giskiri gi-edin-na giri3-ni bi2-in-gub
Lines 52-60: Whoever had a household went to his household. Whoever had a mother went to his mother. Bachelor males, types like him — there were fifty — joined him at his side. He made his way to the blacksmith’s, and had them cast …… weapons and axes, the strength of warriors. Then he made his way to the deeply shaded plantations, where he had ebony trees felled, and halub trees, apricot trees, and box trees. (gi-edin-na meaning “deeply shaded”)
Leick renders the steppe Enkidu roams with wild animals as being a “desert”:
“The most complex literary reflection on the Mesopotamian prostitute occurs in the Gilgamesh epic. She has the typical professional name of Shamhat, the Voluptuous One, and her function in the story is to seduce the ‘wild man’ Enkidu, whom the gods created as a companion to Gilgamesh. As a result of their lovemaking, Enkidu is alienated from the animals of the desert and is taken to the city of Uruk…”
(p. 164. “Liminal Sexuality.” Gwendolyn Leick. Sex and Eroticism in Mesopotamian Literature. London & New York. Routledge.. 1994, 2003)
Cline, _contra_ Leick understands edin to be a “fertile plain” instead of a “desert”:
“No earlier tales from ancient Mesopotamia can provide us with an exact parallel for the Garden of Eden story, but the Sumerians who lived in this region during the third millennium B.C. apparently did have the word “Eden” in their language. Scholars have suggested that the Sumerians adopted this word from an even earlier people -the Ubaidians, who lived in the region from approximately 5500 to 3500 B.C. -and many of them think the word should be translated as “fertile plain.”
(p. 4. “The Garden of Eden.” Eric H. Cline. From Eden to Exile, Unraveling Mysteries of the Bible. Washington, D.C. National Geographic. 2007)
Most scholars stress that the steppe or plain called in Sumerian edin or eden is semi-arid. Its “fertility” as a plain arises from man’s irrigation canals and ditches which make possible the gods’ city-gardens and fields. With the Spring rains and river floods this semi-arid plain takes on a greenish hue from the new-growth grasses. In antiquity Mesopotamian shepherds grazed their flocks upon the edin’s grasses. Thus edin the steppe or plain is not strictly speaking a desert devoid of any kind of vegetation. Apparently in antiquity, the 3rd-2nd millenniums B.C., trees did grow in the edin, in the wild, near the naturally formed levee banks of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers said banks providing the necessary water and soil nutriments or silts. The Sumerian account of Gilgamesh and Enkidu’s confrontation with Huwawa of the Lebanese Cedar mountain apparently recalls this fact, that trees grew in the wild near the banks of the Euphrates and were available for chopping down to make boats from. These boats would be used later to ferry the cut cedar logs from the Lebanese Cedar Mountain after Huwawa’s demise at the hands of Gilgamesh and Enkidu to Uruk.
Below, a map showing the boundaries of ancient Sumer. To the degree that edin is a Sumerian word for uncultivated steppeland or plains, ancient Sumer’s “uncultivated” lands which surrounded Sumerian cities and their “cultivated” city-gardens or fields is the pre-biblical prototype for Genesis’ land of Eden in which Yahweh-Elohim planted his garden. That is to say, Sumer’s 5th-4th millennium B.C. boundaries are, in effect, edin’s boundaries. By the late 4th millennium B.C. Sumerian trade colonies (Uruk IV period colonies of Habuba Kabira and Jebel Aruda) had been established near the Euphrates in Syria or Upper Mesopotamia and various cities in this area reveal that the scribes were trained in writing Sumerian as well as Akkadian. So by the late 4th through 2nd millenniums B.C edin as “uncultivated” steppeland has been extended to embrace both Upper as well as Lower Mesopotamia. In effect, then, by the late 4th millennium B.C. edin’s borders were Upper and Lower Mesopotamia marked in blue on the below map. That is to say Haran in Upper Mesopotamia and Ur of the Chaldees in Lower Mesopotamia were two locations in the edin associated with Abraham the polytheist who originally worshipped the many gods and goddesses of edin, who later became a monotheist worshipping only one deity: Yahweh-Elohim the God of ‘eden (cf. the following url for the below map: http://www.hyperhistory.com/online_n2/maptext_n2/sumer.html ).
The importance of the Euphrates to “Southern Mesopotamia” according to Saggs, Professor Emeritus of Semitic Languages, University College, Cardiff, Wales (emphasis mine in bold print and CAPITALS):
“North and south Mesopotamia differ in climate and in natural resources. The north has stone and various minerals, and much of it enjoys rainfall normally sufficient to grow crops of corn [wheat]. Southern Mesopotamia, beginning at about Hit on the Euphrates and north of Baghdad on the Tigris, comprises the delta of the two rivers. Everywhere the soil is alluvial silt, stone is wholly lacking until well out into the western desert, and the rainfall, at less than 150 mm (6 inches) per year, is inadequate to support permanent vegetation cover. However, because of the rivers the region is not totally arid. The river friinges are well watered and productive, with belts of willow and poplar and dense thickets of tall grass, rushes and tamarisk and other undergrowth. Between Nasariyah on the Euphrates and Amara on the Tigris there is a vast region of marsh, with beds of giant reeds, and lakes full of fish and water birds. Wherever canals are cut from the rivers for irrigation, vegetation can be lush. But such luxuriance is the exception, and today the greater part of the region is, unless irrigated, desert except for a brief carpet of verdu from spring storms…The ruins of most of the earliest cities lie in regions which are now markedly arid, and one may wonder how civilization could begin in such adverse conditions. In fact it did not; EVERY CITY OF SOUTH MESOPOTAMIA ORIGINALLY LAY ON A MAJOR CHANNEL OR STREAM OF THE EUPHRATES, which has since shifted…Finds of Paleolithic stone tools in north Iraq proves the existence of humans there from about 100,000 B.C., and small camps or settlements from about 9000 B.C. show the early stages of change from total dependence on hunting and gathering, towards the domestication of animals and exploitation of cereal plants. We do not know when the first humans arrived in south Mesopotamia. Archaeology can trace farming settlements there only from the mid-sixth millennium, but it could have been the haunt of hunters, fishers and nomadic pastoralists many millennia earlier, without their leaving evidence traceable by present archaeological techniques.
Because of the behavior of the Euphrates over the preceding millennia, the first human comers would have found a region much more inviting and less arid than now. Besides several major channels of the Euphrates (THERE WERE STILL AT LEAST THREE IN THE THIRD MILENNIUM), there would have been many more minor streams and ditches, and swamps like the present southern marshlands. Such conditions produced more vegetation than now, so that the region was not only highly favourable for hunting, fishing and cattle rearing, but also offered easy possibilities for any settlers who broght with them a tradition of growing grain crops; they had only to sow their grain on the dry levees of former river-banks, and it would produce crops with minimal further attention until harvest. As population increase called for bigger harvests, the settlers could easily increase the area of cornland [wheat-land] by digging ditches to drain strips of wet land, and using those ditches -primitive canals- to bring water to further strips of land which were otherwise too dry. These were the small beginnings, but they began the process which over the millennia gave the world such great ancient cities, known from the Bible, as Uruk (Erech of Genesis 10:10), Ur of the Chaldees and Babylon.” (pp. 8-9. “The Rediscovery of Babylonia.” H. W. F. Saggs. Peoples of the Past: Babylonians. Berkeley, California. University of California Press. 2000 [The Trustees of the British Museum, London]. ISBN 0-520-20222-8)
Saggs’ description of Southern Mesopotamia as being pretty much an arid region with the exception of the water from the Euphrates, recalls to my mind Genesis’ description of the earth as arid and without water until God provided a river to water his garden. Saggs also noted that ancient cities of this region received their water for their gardens of the gods principally from one source, a river, the Euphrates. In Genesis it is a river that waters God’s garden. In the temple of Solomon at Jerusalem the walls were decorated with Cherubim and Palm Trees (1 Kings 6:32, 35; 7:36), I note that Date Palm plantations or orchards line the banks of the Euphrates and its streams or channels throughout this region. Date Palms also appear on a wall mural at ancient Mari on the Euphrates guarded by fabulous winged beasts. Archaeologists have found the remnants of the canals and irrigation ditches about Mari which made these Date Palm plantations possible.
Also of interest is Saggs’ comment about the Euphrates possessing THREE channels or streams in the third millennium BCE (However his map, cf. below, shows FOUR channels or stream beds). Factoring this in with Roaf’s, Pollock’s and Leick’s observation that in the 4th milllennium BCE the Euphrates split from the Tigris, we have four streams crossing the floodplain in antiquity. Are these the four edenic streams recalled in Genesis? When the Tigris is factored in with the Euphrates’ three channels (due to the latter’s discharge into the former) we have the four rivers of Eden (edin).
Below, Professor Saggs’ map shows that _all_ of the cities of ancient Akkad and Sumer drew their water from ONE RIVER, the Euphrates and its channels. To the degree that Genesis understands ONE RIVER waters God’s garden in Eden, and some Mesopotamian myths state that the gods made man to tend and till their gardens which they had planted next to their cities (built before man’s creation), AND Sagg’s observation that ALL the cities of Southern Mesopotamia derived their water from ONE RIVER, the Euphrates, I see the below FOUR channels or streams (dotted lines) as recalling the Edenic river dividing into four streams (Note: He shows the “modern-day course” of the Euphrates and Tigris in solid lines). The four ancient river beds of the Euphrates’ channels on the below map: Stream 1: Sippar, Agade, Babylon, Borsippa, Dilbat, Isin; Stream 2: Agade, Kish, Nippur; Stream 3: Kutha, Tell Abu Salabikh, Adab; Stream 4: Kutha, Tello/Girsu, Lagash, Surghul/Nina (For the map cf. p. 181. H. W. F. Saggs. Peoples of the Past: Babylonians. Berkeley, California. University of California Press. 2000 [The Trustees of the British Museum, London]. ISBN 0-520-20222-8)
Below, a map of ancient Mesopotamia showing the Euphrates subdividing into four streams just south of modern Baghdad. The modern position of the Tigris and Euphrates is shown in heavy dark black lines while the ancient courses of these streams are shown as light gray lines (cf. p. 13. map titled: “Southern Iraq, Showing the old courses of the Tigris and Euphrates. Iraq: The Cradle of Civilization.” Michael Wood. Legacy: The Search For Ancient Cultures. New York. Sterling Publication Company. 1992).
The below description (1965) of Eden’s location is in agreement with my above research:
“Sixty centuries ago, four thousand years before Christ, Sumer…was the cradle of mankind, the legendary site of Eden.”
(Leonard Cottrell. The Quest for Sumer. New York. G.P. Putnam’s Sons. 1965. Quoted from inside front flap of the book’s cover.)
Please click here for Part Two: “Scholarly objections to Eden being derived from Sumerian Edin/Eden” and Bibliography.