Genesis creation narrative adopted from Sumer

22 Jan, 2017 - 00:01 0 Views

The Sunday Mail

Shingai Rukwata Ndoro #ChiselingtheDebris —
Last week we observed that the Sumerian Creation Myth is called the “Enuma Elish” and it is “the story, one of the oldest, if not the oldest in the world, concerns the birth of the (deities) and the creation of the universe and human beings.

In the beginning there was only undifferentiated water swirling in chaos. Out of this swirl, the waters divided into sweet, fresh water known as the (deity) Apsu, and salty bitter water, the (female deity) Tiamat. Once differentiated, the union of these two entities gave birth to the younger (deities).” – Joshua J. Mark (2011).

This week we would like to show how the six days creation in Genesis 1:3-31 was derived from the mythical creation of six deities in the “Enuma Elish.”

In the “Enuma Elish,” the first generation of deities consist of two primal male and female, Tiamat and Apsu.

“When in the height heaven was not named, And the earth beneath did not yet bear a name, And the primeval Apsû, who begat them, And chaos, Tiamat, the mother of them both,—Their waters were mingled together, And no field was formed, no marsh was to be seen; When of the deities none had been called into being, And none bore a name, and no destinies [were ordained]; Then were created the deities in the midst of [heaven]…”— First Tablet Lines 1-9.

“Apsu, the male “begetter,” is the sweet waters, while Tiamat, the female “maker,” is the bitter, salt waters. Sweet and salt water mingle together at the mouths of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, site of the origins of Mesopotamian civilisation.” —Webster.

Genesis 1:1-2 is the pre-creation period: “In the beginning, (Elohim) created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep (or watery chaos), (Tehowm) while a wind from (Elohim) swept over the face of the waters. …”

In both the “Enuma Elish” and Genesis, the pre-created order started as a desolate waste, watery chaos and covered in darkness. This corresponds with Genesis 1:3-5.

The second generation of deities consisted of “Lahmu and Lahamu were called into being […]. Ages increased, […],” – First Tablet Lines 10-11. Lahmu was considered “slime,” “mud” while Lahamu was perhaps both mean “silt.” — Webster. This corresponds with Genesis 1:6-7.

The third generation of deities were “Then Anshar and Kishar were created, and over them […]. Long were the days, then there came forth […]”- First Tablet Lines 12-13. Anshar was considered the “whole sky”) and Kishar, the “whole earth”–”horizon” — Webster. This corresponds with Genesis 1:6-10,13. Marduk sliced Tiamat into two to make the land and sky and Elohim sliced the waters into two with a sky dome to make the sky and the oceans.

The fourth generation of deity was Anu (“sky and constellations”) (Line 14) and corresponding with Genesis 1:16,19.

The fifth generation of deity was Nudimmud, “image fashioner,”also called Ea or Enki, the lord of the earth– Webster. This corresponds with Genesis 1:21.

The sixth generation was Marduk who became “chiefest among the great deities” (Fourth Tablet Line 5)and he created man to free deities from menial labour: “Blood I will mass and cause bones to be. I will establish a savage, `man’ shall be his name. Truly, savage-man I will create. He shall be charged with the service of the deities That they might be at ease!” — (Sixth Tablet), corresponding with Genesis 1:26.

Marduk made man a slave so that the deities could rest because “when the deities like men?Bore the work and suffered the toil-?The toil of the deities was great,?The work was heavy, the distress was much…”and this corresponds with Genesis 2:5b, “…and there was no man to till the ground.”

Marduk put deity to death and then the body and blood were mixed with clay. From this material, the first man was created, in the likeness to the deities.”My blood will I take and bone will I fashion, I will make man, that man may, I will create man who shall inhabit the earth,That the service of the deities may be established, and that [their] shrines 1 [may be built].” (Sixth Tablet Line 5-8) and corresponding with Genesis 2:7 where a man was created out of clay and breath of Elohim.

“Let a man rejoice in Marduk, the Lord of the deities, That he may cause his land to be fruitful, and that he himself may have prosperity!His word standeth fast, his command is unaltered; The utterance of his mouth hath no deity ever annulled” (Seventh Tablet Lines 129-132) and this resembles Genesis 1:28.

In conclusion, the Hebrew Scriptures are a human construct produced out of myths and legends of older civilisations.


Leonard William King, “The Seven Tablets of Creation” (1902)

Academy of Ancient Texts, “The Babylonian Epic of Creation,”

Prof. Michael Webster, “The Babylonian Creation Story,”

For feedback email [email protected] or Twitter @shingaiRndoro. A gallery of previous articles is available on

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