The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden
(The Ancient Near Eastern Motifs behind)
07 July 2001
Revisions through 28 June 2011
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This article in a nutshell:
It will be argued that the Hebrew shepherds _challenged, repudiated and denied_ the Lower Mesopotamian (ancient Sumer) city-dwellers' account as to why man does not possess immortality by transforming and recasting earlier Mesopotamian motifs via a series of brillantly orchestrated inversions and reversals or "new twists" to old Mesopotamian motifs and concepts.
A number of Liberal scholars embracing an Anthropological point of view over the past 100 years have noted that motfis associated with Adapa (Adapa and the South Wind Myth) and Enkidu (The Epic of Gilgamesh) appear to have been recast and assimilated to Genesis' Adam, a notion I am in agreement with. For example, by 1899 Professor Morris Jastrow Jr., of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia (a Jewish Rabbi) had realized that Eden's two trees were recasts of the "bread of death" and "bread of life" appearing in the Adapa and South Wind Myth (he realized that motifs from the Epic of Gilgamesh and Adapa had been combined and recast as Adam and Eve in this article. Please click here to read Jastrow's 1899 article on the internet, pp. 193-214):
"But, since it clear that the story of Creation, the story of the tower of Babel, and the story of the Deluge originated in a Babylonian environment, it is but fair to expect that at least some phases of the biblical story of Adam and Eve, or the story in some form, should also be met with in Babylonian literature. The Adapa legend may be regarded as representing such a phase. The food of life and the water of life, instead of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life, are just the kind of variations that we have a right to expect...a common touch in the two tales as the fear of Ea lest Adapa may attain immortality, and the dread of Yahweh-Elohim lest Adam eat also of the tree of life "and live forever," points with convincing force to some ultimate common source for certain features of the two tales."
(p. 197. Morris Jastrow Jr. "Adam and Eve in Babylonian Literature." The American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures. Vol. 15. No. 4. October 1898-July 1899. pp. 193-214. University of Chicago Press)
What is interesting is that neither Adapa nor Enkidu acquired wisdom or knowledge _after_ eating, they acquired their wisdom/knowledge _before_ being offered "forbidden food"! Apparently the Hebrews, using a "new twist" have recast the acquiring of forbidden knowledge with an act of eating. However, the Sumerian goddess, Inanna, who bore the Sumerian epithet nin edin "the lady of edin/eden" _did_ acquire "forbidden knowledge" by eating of a tree. So Genesis' notion that forbidden knowledge can be acquired by eating of a tree _is confirmed_ by the Inanna myth.
As noted by Jastrow and other PhD scholars embracing an anthropological approach to the pre-biblical origis of the Eden narrative, Adam is a fusion of Adapa and Enkidu. Eve is a recast of Shamhat. Please click here for my article on Eve as Shamhat in the Epic of Gilgamesh, Eve's forbidden fruit offered Adam being in part a recast of Shamhat's "ripeness" possessed by Enkidu (his taking possession of her naked body for 6 days and 7 nights of sex). The Babylonian word inbu "fruit" had a double meaning, it could allude to the act of sex, Ishtar in the Epic asks Gilgamesh to give her of his inbu "fruit" (desiring sex with him). So Shamhat's "ripeness" being possessed by Enkidu has become Adam "knowing" Eve (having sex with her). The Hebrew word know (Strong #3045 yada) can mean "knowledge" and "having sex," like inbu and ripeness can have double meanings and allude to fruit and sex. So, the forbidden fruit offered Adam by Eve was orginally sex between Enkidu and Shamhat. Shamhat/Ukhat is instructed by Sadu/Saidu the hunter to have sex with Enkidu/Eabani and Eve is instructed by God to have sex with Adam: "be _fruitful_ and multiply" (fruitful alluding to sex and procreation). _After_ having possessed Shamhat's "ripeness" she tells Enkidu "you are wise like a god," and she clothes their nakedness before leaving the watering hole of the Sumerian edin. That is to say Enkidu's acquisition of carnal knowledge making him wise like a god, has been recast as Adam's acquistion of forbidden knowledge making him wise like a God. So, apparently Eden's forbidden knowledge is a combining and fusing of two themes from two myths: (1) the bread of death from the Adapa myth and (2) the acquiring of carnal knowledge from the Gilgamesh Epic.
The city-dwellers of Sumer portrayed primeval man as the victim of unrighteous, capricious gods whereas the Hebrews portrayed God as righteous and the victim of a rebellious, unrighteous, unappreciative, sinful mankind. The Mesopotamians blamed their gods for man’s misfortunes whereas the Hebrews absolved their God of all blame, shifting blame for man’s misfortunes to sinful mankind.
The Mesopotamians agreed with the Hebrews that man was a sinner, but the reasons given for his being a sinner were very different.
Man was a rebel to the gods because he had been made of the flesh and blood of a slain rebel god called We-ila at Nippur (slain on Enki's orders with Enlil's assent) whose life force animated the clay man was formed from. Man, then, was, in a sense, a victim of circumstances beyond his control. He could not help but be a rebel to the gods for he had a rebel god’s rebellious spirit within him, so the gods (Enki of Eridu and Enlil of Nippur) were to blame for man’s rebelliousness. Why the Igigi rebellion against Enlil? They were laborers in his city-garden who tired of their grievous toil in the city-garden surrounded by the Sumerian edin, they had been given no rest, night and day for 40 years, so they rebelled to obtain a rest from earthly toil as enjoyed by the senior gods, the Anunnaki (Anu, Enlil and Enki). Man was created to replace the Igigi as garden-laborers in the Anunnaki gods' city-gardens in the midst of the edin. Man would toil forever in edin's city-gardens assuring the gods an eternal sabbath rest from earthly toil and feed the gods the produce of edin's gardens in the city temples.
Some of the gods, before man's creation, are portrayed as being sinners: Enlil engaged in incest with his mother Ki; Enki engaged in incest at Dilmun with his daughter, grand-daughter and great-grand-daughter; Enlil "rapes" the goddess Ninlil at Nippur; Ishtar, filled with lust at the sight of Gilgamesh's handsome body, propositions him for sex; gods slay fellow gods and goddesses (Ishtar is slain by her sister Ereshkigal mistress of the Underworld while Enki slays his ancestor Abzu at Eridu and Marduk slays Tiamat his ancestress). Please click here for my article on how Enlil and Enki, gods who committed murder, rape, and incest were fused together and transformed into the Hebrew God Yahweh-Elohim.
Man sheds his fellow man's blood because the gods he was modeled after shed each other's blood before man's creation (Enki killing Abzu/Apsu and We-ila; Marduk killing Tiamat).
Man is driven by sexual lusts to rape and commit incest because the gods he was modeled after (Enki and Enlil) raped and committed incest before man's creation.
Man is a "liar" because the gods made him so, he is a victim of the gods:
"Enlil, king of the gods, who created teeming mankind,
Majestic Ea, who pinched off their clay,
The queen who fashioned them, mistress Mami,
Gave twisted words to the human race,
They endowed them in perpetuity with lies and falsehood."
(p. 323. "The Babylonian Theodicy." Benjamin Read Foster. From Distant Days, Myths, Tales, and Poetry of Ancient Mesopotamia. Bethesda, Maryland. CDL Press. 1995)
Man is a "victim" of the gods, he is immoral because the gods he was modeled after (Enki and Enlil) are immoral.
All this is to say that "man, created in the image of god," cannot be better than the immoral god he was modeled after.
How can a god (Enlil or Enki) demand man act morally when the god acts immorally: Enlil raping Ninlil and Enki having incest with his daughter and then both of them killing We-ila to animate the clay that is man?
The Hebrews denied all of the above Mesopotamian notions and shifted the blame: man’s unrighteousness and immorality is because man possesses a free will: his heart, full of evil thoughts from his youth (Ge 8:21), causes him to be a sinner and not obey his righteous, moral, God. The Hebrew God can be presented as a moral god because he has no sex-drive like Enki and Enlil, after whom he was modeled (Enlil instigating the universal Flood to destroy mankind while Enki warned one man to build a great boat to preserve the seed of man and animalkind for a new post-flood beginning, these two gods being fused together into Yahweh who sends the flood and warns one man to build a boat to save a portion of man and animalkind for a new post flood beginning).
Contra the above Mesopotamian and Hebrew accounts for "why man is a sinner," Scientists who study animal behavior, understand man is in reality an animal, driven by animal urges, who has created the notion of right and wrong or "sin" to harness and control man's animal impulses for the greater good of society, to protect the weak from the strong, a notion I am in agreement with. In the animal world there is no right, no wrong, only the will to survive and satisfy one's urges: "the survival of the fittest," or "dog-eat-dog."
As the Edenic story unfolds man is denied two things by God (1) Wisdom/Knowledge and (2) Immortality. Man succeeds in obtaining the first but fails in attaining the second and is expelled from Paradise. These motifs exist in Mesopotamian myths but in different forms. An (Anu) the supreme god tasks Enki (Ea) with the guarding of the "powers of heaven and earth," denying these powers to other gods as well as man. Enki (Ea) however, fails in carrying out his assigned task: (1) He gives man (Adapa) forbidden knowledge: how to curse the south wind breaking its wing and thus stopping breezes and (2) while in a drunken stupor at Eridu Enki gives away to Inanna/Ishtar the sacred me which bestow decision-making and "wisdom" on those possessing them, which she in turn dispenses to mankind at Uruk thereby improving mankind's life. So a man (Adapa) and a woman (Inanna/Ishtar) who bore the epithet nin edin "lady of edin," both obtained "forbidden knowledge" from Enki/Ea who had been tasked by An/Anu to guard and keep this knowledge/wisdom from man. Anu is understandably upset to learn that Ea/Enki, who he tasked with keeping forbidden knowledge from man has instead illegally given it away to man (Adapa) in defiance of his orders.
Professor Kramer on the supreme god Anu's contempt for man (Adapa), he being called a "worthless human":
"Anu asks why Ea should have disclosed the "plan of heaven and earth" to Adapa. Adapa is, afterall, nothing but an amiluta la banita, a "worthless human..."
(p. 116. "The Great Magician." Samuel Noah Kramer & John Maier. Myths of Enki, the Crafty God. New York & Oxford. Oxford University Press. 1989)
Later, Ea/Enki will send "fish-men" to teach humans the arts of civilization previously denied and with-held from them. Ea/Enki realized that if naked man the ignorant beast was to be a useful servant of the gods he needed to have the gods' knowledge of how to make cloth for clothing for the gods, how to build cities for the gods, how to care for irrigated gardens for the gods, and how to raise domesticated animals for food for the gods. So, yes, at first, the gods did deny man wisdom and knowledge (ignorant naked man the beast did not know it was wrong to be naked) and he dwelt with naked beasts in the edin, eating grass and lapping water with them. But this all changes when the gods decide to make naked man the ignorant beast their slave/servant. The gods came to realize in order for man to be an effective servant they must give man the wisdom and knowledge which they had earlier denied him. The gods (notably Enki/Ea) gave man wisdom and knowledge not because they loved man and cared for him, they did it out of self-interest, not wanting their standard of living lowered to that of man the naked grass-eating beast of edin. That is to say the gods did not want to be naked, did not want to eat grass, did not want to jostle beasts for water in the edin's watering holes, they wanted to preserve their life style: the wearing of clothes, the living in cities, the eating of fruits, vegetables and bread from their irrigated city-gardens surrounded by the edin.
The Mesopotamians understood man did not possess immortality because, once upon a time, a man (Adapa) _OBEYED_ his god's warning _not to eat_ a food item because it would _cause his death_. His god (Ea of Eridu in Sumer, modern Iraq) had lied to him however, had the food item been eaten man would have obtained immortality for himself and mankind.
The Hebrews, objecting to this explanation for "why" man does not have immortality, _inverted_ this concept, a man
(Adam) does not have immortality because he _DISOBEYED_ his God's warning and _ate_ the forbidden food item.
The Hebrews apparently objected to the Mesopotamian notion that man does not have immortality because his god _conned_ or _tricked_ him. They probably recast Ea the "trickster" god into a "trickster" Serpent who seeks to deny man (Adam and Eve) immortality. Unknown to many however, is that by 2500 B.C. Akkadian (Babylonian) Ea of Eridu had assimilated motifs originally associated with the Sumerian god Enki of Eridug who bore the Sumerian epithet ushumgal (also rendered usumgal and ucumgal) meaning "great serpent" or "dragon." So Enki the ushumgal of Eridug who created man and placed him in his garden in edin was later transformed into Ea of Eridu who "tricked" man (Adapa) into not eating the food which would have given him and mankind immortality. I understand Eden's wily "trickster" Serpent is a recast of Ea/Enki who bore the epithet "great serpent" or "dragon" for it was he who conned a man out of chance to obtain immortality for himself and mankind with his subtle words. Enki is famed for two wonderous trees he has planted in his fruit tree garden, a mes tree or mesu tree and a gishkin tree (Sumerian) or kishkanu tree (Akkadian), perhaps these two trees were recast by the Hebrews into Eden's two trees: the tree of knowlege of good and evil and the tree of life?
Please click here for satellite images showing trees (?) still growing within Eridu's walls. In other words Eden's Serpent that could walk and talk was originally a Sumerian god in human form who simply bore the Sumerian epithet ushumgal, translated variously as "great serpent" or "dragon"(ushum = serpent, gal = great). The Hebrews have apparently transformed a god in human form (Enki/Ea) who bore the epithet "great serpent" into a mere serpent or snake, taking away its human legs and human voice, denying it was originally a Mesopotamian god who had created man, placed him in his garden in the edin and denied him immortality via the trickery of subtle words. To the degree that Christians understand that Satan was the Serpent who tricked Adam and Eve in Eden and Enki/Ea the ushumgal or "great serpent" (or "dragon") was responsible for creating man and placing him in his garden in the edin of Sumer, thus Satan and God are but alter egos of Ea/Enki the ushumgal. Christians also understand that Eden's God is Christ in his role as the Logos or "the Word" (John 1:1-14), so for me Christ and Satan are but alter egos of Ea/Enki the "great serpent" or "dragon." Interestingly Satan is called both a serpent and dragon (Revelation 12:1-17), and ushumgal can be rendered either "great serpent" or "dragon." Thus our "Heavenly Father" (Jesus Christ for Christians, cf. John 1:1-14) who created man and the world and placed man in his garden in a location called Eden (Sumerian: edin) is, wonder-of-all-wonders, Enki the ushumgal "Great-Serpent-Dragon" having been later transformed by Jews and Christians from his earlier pre-biblical form into Eden's Serpent: Christianity's Satan or the Devil. Enki/Ea possessed at Eridu "the bread and water of life," alternately rendered by some scholars as "the food and water of life." When his daughter Inanna/Ishtar fails to return to the earth's surface after a visit to the underworld of three days and three nights, he sends two eunuchs with the "bread and water of life" to sprinkle on Inanna's dead fleshly body which brings her back to life and she returns to the earth's surface, to the edin surrounding Uruk, where she instructs demons who accompany her to seize her husband Dumuzi the shepherd under the great apple tree in edin to be her surrogate in the underworld, for no one can leave this infernal region unless a flesh-and-blood substitute or surrogate is obtained. So, the "bread and water of life" existed at two locations: (1) At Anu's heavenly abode (Adapa and the South Wind myth) and (2) at the god of wisdom of knowledge Enki's/Ea's abode in Eridu in Sumer, called the ab-zu meaning "the dwelling place of knowledge" (Inanna's descent into Hell myth). Anu's food and drink gives man immortality whereas Enki/Ea's food and drink brings dead god's fleshly bodies back to life, restoring them to walk once again the earth's surface: the edin/eden of Sumer. Yes, you read right! The "immortal" gods possessed fleshly bodies and were _not_ really immortal because they could be slain and wind up in the underworld. So even had man (Adapa) eaten the food of life offered him by the ushumgals Dumuzi and Ningishzida on Anu's behalf, he _still_ could be killed and wind up in the underworld with other slain "gods." Immortality for the Mesopotamians means having a fleshly body alive and walking the earth's surface: the edin/eden of Sumer. In Mesopotamian belief "death" is of the flesh only, the spirit lives on in the underworld (also euphemistically called edin/eden) as a specter or ghost, but even in this infernal region, it still must consume food and drink to sustain its life! So, in Sumerian belief man spends eternity in edin/eden: first he toils in the gods' gardens of edin/eden in Sumer, then, after death, he serves the gods in an underworld called edin/eden. Contra Jewish, Christian and Islamic teachings man _never_ leaves edin/eden, "dead or alive."
In Mesopotamian understanding, because a man (Adapa) has obtained forbidden knowledge reserved to the gods a god (Anu) offers him food which will give him immortality. Anu reasoned that if man (Adapa) has forbidden knowledge reserved to the gods he might as well be made into a full-fledged god by offering him immortality.
Apparently the Hebrews _objected_ to this notion. Employing an _inversion_ they refuted this Mesopotamian understanding by claiming that because a man (Adam) has obtained godly forbidden knowledge his God (Yahweh-Elohim) _denied_ him access to a food which would have conferred immortality on him and mankind.
The Hebrews understood man's rebelliousness to God is because he excercised his free will and _disobeyed_ God by eating the forbidden food.
The Mesopotamians understood man's rebelliousness to his god was because the gods had implanted in him the spirit of a slain rebel Igigi god called We-ila (who lived at Nippur in Sumer). Man, having been made of inert, lifeless clay on Ea's orders, was given life or "animated" by the flesh and blood of We-ila being ground into the lifeless inert clay. The Mesopotamian account has man being created a rebel by the gods, he is an innocent victim because the slain Igigi god's rebellious spirit is in him from the moment of birth, he cannot help but be a rebel to his Creators.
The Hebrew account denies man has a slain god's rebellious spirit in him, he has a free will and chose to rebel against his Creator by eating the forbidden food.
The notion that eating of a tree bestows knowledge upon an individual is traced back to Sumerian concepts and the goddess Inanna, who, at Nippur was called nin edin "the lady of edin," she is "the bride" of Dumuzi the "good shepherd" of Uruk who is called mulu edin "the lord of edin." In one account she eats of cedar/pine trees (eating cedar/pine nuts) to _acquire knowledge_ in order "to know" how to have sex with her new husband or bridegroom.
There is _no_ mention in Mesopotamian texts of a fruit from a tree conferring immortality upon man if eaten. The "closest" we can up with is that some texts do ask of the gods that a pious king's life be "long-lived like that of a tree," (some trees outliving humans, as for example some date-palms living 300 to 400 years). The Hebrew Bible suggests once upon a time, God was willing to allow man to become immortal via an act of eating, but He changes his mind and denies man this boon. Perhaps this is a recasting of Mesopotamian motifs? The god Anu in heaven was willing to allow man (Adapa) to obtain immortality via the eating of the bread of life, but another god, Ea, denied man (Adapa) immortality by lying to him, telling him if he ate he would die for the food of life was really the food of death. The Hebrews have just recast the story, fusing two gods (Anu and Ea) into one (Yahweh), and Adapa becomes Adam, the bread of life and of death becomes a fruit from a tree.
Like Eve (another lady associated with a place called eden), the wife of Adam, Inanna/Ishtar, "the lady of edin," is responsible for her husband Dumuzi's (Tammuz) death, he being "the lord of edin."
She chooses him to be her surrogate in Hell allowing her to be resurrected from death and return in the flesh to the earth's surface and the edin (the uncultivated land about Uruk and its irrigated fields and gardens). Her bridegroom, the good shepherd, is seized by demons at her instigation under the great apple tree _in edin_ at his sheep stall and he becomes her unwilling surrogate in the Underworld effecting her release from death. His sister who also bore the Sumerian title nin edin "lady of edin" (Akkadian: Belet-seri) volunteers to be his surrogate for 6 months each year allowing his resurrection to the sheep stall in edin where he becomes the life-force in edin's plants. So three individuals associated with a location called edin all die, spend time in the underworld and all are resurrected back to life and return to edin: Inanna "the bride", Dumuzi "the bride groom" and Geshtianna (whose name means "heavenly vinestock"), presaging Christ "a heavenly vinestock" and "good shepherd," a "bridegroom" who is willing to be a surrogate in Hell for his "bride" the Church, offering his followers a resurrection from death and a life in an Edenic Paradise. I understand motifs associated with Adapa, Enkidu, Dumuzi, Inanna and Geshtianna were fused together and recast and assimilated to Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden as well as Christ.
Inanna did _not_ offer forbidden fruit to her husband Dumuzi in edin like Eve did to Adam. I understand that Eve is a recasting of Shamhat (a servant of Inanna) who offered "forbidden" food to Enkidu in the edin. That is to say just as motifs originally associated with Adapa and Enkidu were fused together and assimilated to Adam, so too, motifs originally associated with Inanna and Shamhat were fused together and assimilated to Eve.
Enkidu later blames Shamhat for robbing him of his innocence, separating him from his herbivore wild animal companions (gazelles and cattle) in the edin, causing him to leave edin, and setting off a chain of events leading to his death.
She offered him bread (a food item denied the wild animals of edin and reserved for the table of clothed gods and clothed civilized men) which at first he refused to eat, just as Adapa refused to eat the bread of life offered him in heaven by Anu because the god he served (Ea) warned him he would die if he ate it. So two men (Adapa and Enkidu) in different myths, who both refused to eat bread were fused together to become Adam (he eats bread too, cf. Ge 3:19) who ate forbidden fruit offered by Eve (a fusion of motifs associated with Shamhat who offered bread to Enkidu and Inanna the wife of Dumuzi who ate of a pine nuts from a cedar/pine tree to acquire knowledge).
Some professional scholars render Sumerian edin as eden, so it can be found in the professional literature under either spelling. Some scholars have suggested that via a homophone or homonym confusion Sumerian edin came to be equated with the Hebrew word `eden meaning delight, lush, or a place well-watered.
In the Epic of Gilgamesh Enkidu meets Shamhat at a watering hole in the edin and after encountering her he is portrayed as now being like a god, having acquired reason and wisdom, he is a wild man with a wild beast's reasoning no more, just as Adam acquired knowledge after his exposure to Eve in Eden.
Enkidu and Shamhat clothe their nakedness before leaving edin just as Adam and Eve clothed their nakedness before leaving the Garden of Eden.
I am in agreement with other scholars that motifs and scenarios associated with Adapa, Enkidu and Shamat have been fused together and assimilated to Adam and Eve. Adapa, like Adam, lost out in his chance to obtain immortality for himself and mankind. The warning given Adapa "not to eat of he would die" (like Adam got from Yahweh-Elohim in Eden) was at Eridu from his god Ea. Ea by 2500 BC had assimilated the Sumerian god Enki and his dwelling the watery abyss called in Sumerian the ab-zu (Akkadian ap-su). Contenau translates ab-zu as meaning "the dwelling of knowledge" where resides the god of knowledge and wisdom, Ea/Enki. Thus both Adam and Adapa dwelt at a location on the earth's surface that was portrayed as a place where man would obtain forbidden wisdom and knowledge. In other words, Genesis' Garden in Eden is a fusion of two locations appearing the Adapa and the South Wind Myth: (1) Ea's abode at Eridu in Sumer and (2) Anu's abode in heaven. At Eridu the warning "not to eat or you will die" is given by Ea to a man (Adapa) while at the heavenly abode man (Adapa) is given a "change of clothes" by a god (Anu) before he is "removed" by Anu's two gate guards Gishzida and Tammuz, presaging Adam's "change of clothes" from Yahweh before his removal from Eden by the Cherubim. Another location (3) is the edin's watering hole, a three day's journey from Uruk where a naked Enkidu (recast as a naked Adam) "fell for" and was "undone" by a naked Shamhat (recast as a naked Eve), this naked man learning in the edin it is wrong to be naked after encountering a naked woman (Shamhat) and the two clothing their nakedness before leaving the edin just as Adam learned in Eden it was wrong to be naked after encountering a naked woman called Eve, they clothing their nakedness before leaving Eden like Enkidu and Shamhat.
Contenau on abzu/apsu meaning "dwelling of knowledge":
"...Ea (Enki in Sumerian). He was the lord of ...the abyss of waters upon which the terrestial world floated...Ea's very name, with its meaning of 'house of water', is itself descriptive of his realm. The Babylonians believed that wisdom and knowledge resided in this abyss, which they knew by the name of apsu, which is simply the Semitic form of the Sumerian ab-zu, meaning 'dwelling of knowledge';. Ea's wife was Damkina...certain theological traditions make him a creator of mankind...which he formed... of clay...he ruled the domain which was the seat of knowledge..."
(p. 248. Georges Contenau. Everyday Life in Babylon and Assyria. New York. St. Martin's Press, Inc. 1954)
I understand that Genesis is _denying or refuting_ the Mesopotamian myths' explanation of how and why man came to made, what his purpose on earth is, and why his demise was sought in a flood. This "_denial_" is for me accomplished by the Hebrews having taken motifs and concepts from a variety of contradicting myths giving them "new twists" by changing the names of the characters, the locations, and sequences of events. It is my perception that the Hebrews are _not_ "copying" the Mesopotamian myths, they are RECASTING certain motifs and concepts within them inorder to REFUTE and DENY THEM, hence the "reason why" there are _no_ individuals called Adam, Eve, the Serpent, Yahweh, Noah, Shem, Japheth and Ham appearing in _any_ of the Mesopotamian pre-biblical myths. Why are the Hebrews doing this? Apparently they objected to the Mesopotamian portrayal of man being ruthlessly exploited by his creators. So, instead of man being portrayed as a "victim" of the gods, they _inverted_ the storyline: it is a loving caring, merciful God who is the "victim" of a callous, rebellious, undeserving mankind!
Eden's Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was a Fig Tree and the Tree of Life was a Date Palm?
Please click here for my article identifying Eve as being a recast of Shamhat the Harlot-Priestess of Uruk in the Epic of Gilgamesh. Please click here for my article: Man's Fall From Innocence and Loss of Immortality: Adam, Adapa and Enkidu. Please click here for my article identifying the pre-biblical Mesopotamian protagonists which were recast by the Hebrews into the Garden of Eden's Serpent. Please click here for my article identifying the pre-biblical Mesopotamian protagonists which were recast by the Hebrews into Eden's Adam, Eve and Yahweh-Elohim. Please click here for my article on the pre-biblical protagonists which were recast by the Hebrews into the Cherubim that guard the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden. Please click here for my article on Why the Bible Cannot Be The Word of God (The Holy Spirit _Contradicts_Itself).
Brichto (1998), a Theologian at Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, Ohio, noted that Eden's serpent's words recalled Shamhat's and that the Gilgamesh serpent is behind Eden's serpent:
"The puzzling complex of knowledge, sexuality, and humanity's becoming in some manner godlike, which lies at the core of the Eden story, appears as a crux in the Gilgamesh Epic also...Could we ask for a clearer correspondence between our two stories? Eden: tree of knowledge/sexual experience results in enlightenment, the opening of eyes. Gilgamesh: sexual experience results in wisdom, broader understanding. But we have more than this parallel, we have an identical expression in both stories. The harlot says to Enkidu, "Thou art wise, Enkidu, art become like a god." The serpent says to Eve, "God knows full well that you will be like God [gods]... The serpent gained by theft from Gilgamesh...The serpent in Eden is a reflex of the serpent in the Epic."
(pp. 86, 87, 89. "Eden and Eden's Aftermath." Herbert Chanan Brichto. The Names of God: Poetic Readings in Biblical Beginnings. Oxford University Press. 1998)
Professor Ziolkowski (2000) understands that Eden's serpent is, in part, a recast of the Gilgamesh serpent which ate the plant of rejuvenation, this plant being recast as Eden's forbidden fruit (I disagree, for me it is the "bread of death" and the "bread of life" mentioned in the Adapa myth that were recast as Eden's Tree of Knowledge of good and evil and Tree of Life):
"The motifs of a plant of life and the serpent that tricks Adam and Eve out of immortality occur after Enkidu's death in connection with Gilgamesh, who obtains the plant but is prevented from eating of it...The transformation of the original plant of youth into a forbidden tree of knowledge has major structural implications as well."
(pp. 15, 17. Theodore Ziolkowski. The Sin of Knowledge. Princeton, New Jersey. Princeton University Press. 2000)
Before we can even begin to discuss Eden's Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil as well as the Tree of Life it is absolutely critical to understand what is going on here behind Genesis' presentation regarding the origins of primeval man. It is my understanding that the Hebrews are _refuting, challenging, and denying_ the Mesopotamian notions regarding Who, What Why, When, Where and How primeval man came to be created and what his purpose in life is. The Hebrews are apparently objecting to these myths, recasting them via a series of inversions and reversals.
Mankind's acquisition of knowledge brought with it great grief according to Genesis and the author of Ecclesiastes appears to echo this motif:
Ecclesiastes 1:18 King James Version
"For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow."
CONTRA this notion the Mesopotamians understood that man's acquisition of knowledge from the gods was a GIFT from the gods _not_ a CURSE for this knowledge IMPROVES man's life in that he began life as a naked beast wandering the desolate edin/eden of ancient Sumer with wild animals for companions. It is when naked man is taken from the naked beasts of edin/eden and clothed by the gods his life improves as the gods' servant, caring for their city-gardens in the midst of the edin/eden. In the cities man acquires from the gods godly knowledge: the rudiments of civilization and all its blessings: law codes, writing, animal husbandry, farming, etc. In other words in the beginning "civilization" and cities was a creation of the gods improving their way of life and later they present this knowledge to man so that he may better serve them. That is to say man comes to "live like a god" instead of living like a wild naked beast when he comes to live in cities with the gods. The Hebrews are apparently _refuting_ the Mesopotamian beliefs regarding man's acquistion of godly knowledge being a BLESSING instead of being a CURSE.
So, then, if the gods freely "gave man knowledge and wisdom" (improving naked primal man's life with the arts of civilization and introducing him to city life) why is Genesis portraying primal man as acquiring "forbidden knowledge" _illegally_ against a God's wishes? That is to say does there exist in Mesopotamian myths a notion that man once upon a time acquired "forbidden knowledge" reserved to the gods that he _wasn't supposed to have_ and this acquisition upset a god and resulted in immortality being denied him?
I understand these motifs appear in the Adapa and the Southwind Myth, but they have been altered and transformed by the Hebrews. Adapa obtained "forbidden knowledge" reserved to the gods, specifically he knew how to cast a spell over the southwind god breaking its wing and preventing breezes or winds from blowing over Lower Mesopotamia. The god Anu who lived in heaven is _upset_ to hear of this and summons Adapa to his heavenly abode to find out where and how he has acquired this "forbidden knowledge." He learns in disbelief that the man (Adapa) was taught by the "trickster-god" Ea of Eridu (Sumerian Enki of Eridug) these spells. However, Anu does _not_ decide to deny man immortality as punishment for acquiring "forbidden knowledge" (the power to control the forces of nature in the form of winds), instead he concludes that if this man has a god's "forbidden knowledge" he might as well be made a full-fledged god with immortality! So he summons "bread and water of life" to be given to Adapa to make him and mankind immortal.
Adapa however refuses to consume these items because his god (Ea/Enki) forewarned him these items were the "bread and water of death" and he would _die_ if he consumed them. Ea/Enki the ushumgal or "great serpent" did not want man to have immortality, but he was willing to allow man to acquire "forbidden knowledge" _against_ a god's wishes (Anu).
What the Hebrews have done is recast these motifs into a series of inversions or reversals. Adam acquired "forbidden knowledge" illegally by disobeying Yahweh-Elohim and eating whereas Adapa acquired forbidden knowledge _legally_ (via Ea's connivance) against Anu's wishes. Unlike Adam, Adapa _obeyed_ his god's (Ea/Enki) command and did _not_ eat and therefore lost at a chance to obtain immortality for himself and mankind. Another Hebrew reversal or inversion is that instead of immortality being offered man because he has obtained forbidden knowledge by Anu, he is _denied_ immortality by Yahweh-Elohim. In other words behind Yahweh-Elohim's actions lurk two gods who's intents and actions were in opposition to each other in regards to man: Anu who was _upset_ that man had obtained "forbidden knowledge" reserved to the gods and Ea who _denied man immortality_ by tricking him into not eating the food which would give him and mankind immortality. The Hebrews via a series of brilliantly orchestrated inversions are challenging the Mesopotamian account of how man lost out on a chance to obtain immortality by an act of eating and obtainment of forbidden knowledge. Why did Ea the "trickster-god" _not_ want man to obtain immortality and lie to him? Ea was responsible for creating man at Eridu in Sumer (Lower Mesopotamia, modern Iraq) to be his agricultural slave to work his garden and provide it with water by digging and dredging irrigation canals, replacing the Igigi gods who protested their grievous toil in Ea's Eridu garden in edin. The gods obtained their Shabbat or Sabbath Rest from toil with man's creation. Who would toil on their behalf providing life's neccesities: food, shelter, and clothing if man was allowed to be a god and achieve immortality? The gods would _loose_ their eternal Shabbat or Sabbath Rest from earthly toil and have to return to the grievous agricultural toil in edin's gardens of the gods to raise food to feed themselves.
In other words, man was denied immortality by Ea because he realized that the gods would loose their eternal Sabbath Rest from earthly toil, the gods would have to bear _again_ the grievous agricultural toil in the edin's gardens in order to obtain their daily food if man was allowed to become an immortal god and freed of agricultural toil in edin's gardens!
According to the Adapa and the Southwind Myth, it was _one_ god_, Ea (Sumerian: Enki), who willed that man (Adapa) should not possess immortality _presaging_ the later Hebrew notion that it is _one_ god_ (Yahweh-Elohim), who wills that man shall not possess immortality. Ea is pronounced aya or ayya and in the Bible Yahweh-Elohim tells Moses when Israel asks for the "name" of the god who will liberate them from the Egyptian captivity Moses is to tell them "ehyeh sent me" (Ex 3:13-14, ehyeh asher ehyeh, "I Am that I Am"). That is to say in Mesopotamian myths it is aya (Ea) _not_ ehyeh (Yahweh) who warns a man not to eat or he will die and denies him and mankind immortality, having allowed him to obtain forbidden knowledge.
In refuting the Mesopotamian account of how man came to lose at a chance to obtain immortality the Hebrews apparently recast Anu's "bread of Life" and Ea's "bread of death" in to "fruits" from a tree of life and a tree of knowledge.
Adam's "fall from innocence" is probably a recast of Adapa's and Enkidu's "falls" which involved their naive "innocence" being taken advantage of by others (both face death as a result of their innocence being taken adavantage of).
Christians draw a moral from Genesis' account regarding Adam's disobeying God and eating forbidden fruit, this moral is often referred to as "THE FALL." Man is driven from God's presence and the Garden of Eden. He is a despicable reprobate sinner who's "heart imagines only evil from his youth," a rebel to God's will. He and his descendants are to be punished for his sin of rebellion until Jesus Christ "The Redeemer" is born.
The "moral" drawn from the Adapa and the South Wind myth is very different from the Christian understanding of Adam's actions (an alienation existing between a righteous God and a sinful mankind):
Man (Adapa) did _not_ eat forbidden fruit, he scrupulously obeyed his god (Ea) in the face of temptation.
Man (Adapa) was _not_ denied immortality because he possessed forbidden knowledge, Anu offered him immortality because he did possess forbidden knowledge (knowing curses to overpower the southwind).
Man (Adapa) was _removed_ from a heavenly paradise (Anu's abode) because he resisted temptation and refused to eat forbidden food urged upon him by Gishzida and Tammuz on Anu's behalf.
Had Man (Adapa) _not_ resisted temptation and eaten forbidden food he would have obtained immortality for himself and for mankind.
Man's (Adapa) trusting naivete was taken advantage of by his god (Ea) to his harm. The moral? Just because a man is scrupulously faithful and obedient does not mean his god is bound by this behavior to act in a way that is beneficial to his servant; a god can act in a selfish, deceitful manner towards man their faithful servant, to man's harm.
Man (Adapa) was denied immortality _not because he was a sinner_ and disobeyed and ate forbidden fruit, he was denied immortality for selfish reasons, Ea did not want to loose man as his servant who prepared his food for him. Ea did not want to have to provide for himself life's neccessities: food, shelter and clothing which involved grieveous toil to secure. He had made man to obtain the equivalent of an eternal sabbath-rest from earthly toil in pursuit of life's necessities for himself and the gods. Man had been created _not_ as an act of love, to have someone to fellowship as understood by Christianity, man had been created to be exploited by selfish, conniving, deceitful gods to give themselves an eternal sabbath rest from earthly toil.
A god (Ea) was unscrupulous, unjust, and selfish in betraying his faithful, naive trusting servant (Adapa) with a lie, to his servant's harm.
The editors of Sumer: Cities of Eden on mankind being created to "feed" the gods among other duties (I note that Adapa was to feed Ea):
"...gods...required food and shelter in much the same way as people, whom the deities had created in heir own image for the sole purpose of serving these basic needs."
(p. 147. "Servants to the gods." Sumer: Cities of Eden. [Lost Civilizations Series] Alexandria, Virginia. Time-Life Books. 1993)
Remember, man was created to be a slave/servant of the gods, one of his responsibilities was the _feeding_ of the gods. Adapa who lost out on a chance to obtain immortality for himself and mankind was Ea's "servant." Among his "servant-duties" was the _feeding_ of Ea. He was a baker of bread for Ea and provided Ea daily not only bread but fresh water and fish (Adapa was also a fisherman besides being a baker). Ea _feared_ the loss of his servant who provided him his food. In the Mesopotamian belief system gods do _not_ "feed themselves" or toil in their gardens of edin to raise their food, it is man their slave/servant who does this. If man becomes a god by attaining immortality, "Who then will feed the gods and raise their food for them in the gardens of edin?"
Please click here for my article on the Pre-biblical Origins of the Sabbath, the Hebrew Shabbat.
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 (1904-1987) 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)
Campbell speaks of Israel's religion as being that of nomadic sheepherders who wander the desert and I have noted that Israel is taking the Mesopotamian city-dweller's myths and recasting them to refute them and glorify thereby their way of life which is despised by the city-dwellers (emphasis mine):
"...Ezra prevailed, and in the end the Jews...retained, or rather reinvented, and exclusive TRIBAL, DESERT-BASED MYTHOLOGY..."
(p. 629. "The Earthly Paradise." Joseph Campbell. The Masks of God: Creative Mythology. New York. 1968. Viking-Penguin. Reprint 1976)
"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)
The late (1943-2006) Professor Tikva Frymer-Kensky understood that Israel's religion developed from and in refutation of Mesopotamian notions via counterpoints. Her notion of some Hebrew concepts being "counterpoints" to Mesopotamian notions seems to parallel Campbell's observation that the Hebrews are "countering" Mesopotamian concepts with inversions and reversals:
"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)
The Mesopotamians had _no_ account of a primal man and woman "falling from a state of pristine moral innocence" via an illegal acquisition of knowledge by eating of a forbidden fruit. There was _no_ "fall from innocence" because primal man was made in the image of the gods some of whom are portrayed as slaying each other in various conflicts, murdering their fathers and mothers, engaging in incest with their mothers and daughters, being unfaithful to their spouses by having extramarital sex with other gods and goddesses, even propositioning humans for illicit sex too, as well as being sponsors or patrons of cultic acts of prostitution with male and female prostitutes in temples. In other words all the nefarious activities of humankind were, _before man's creation_ , engaged in by the gods, so there could be _no_ "fall from some moral innocence" for primal man and woman for man cannot be "better" than his _immoral_creators_ in whose image he was made! That is to say in Mesopotamian myth man's immorality is because he was made in the image of immoral gods and goddesses. Remember the Latin motto: E PLURIBUS UNUM, "from many, one." I understand Yahweh-Elohim evolved from many gods and goddesses, in other words Yahweh in the beginning was _originally_ a god with a lusty sexual appetite like the gods of Mesopotamia and Canaan. What the Hebrews did in the Bible was transform the sex-driven immoral gods into a sexless eunuch-god who has no sexual urges or needs and thus can be portrayed as a moral god. For all the details on Yahweh's transformation from a sex-driven brute into a eunuch-god please click here. Genesis opens with the story of God's having planted a garden in the East in a place called Eden. He evidently places two trees within this garden, one is "the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil", the other is "the Tree of Life". God then stations the Cherubim to deny access to the latter tree by man. This brief article, employing a Secular Humanist and Anthropological point of view, will explore the Ancient Near Eastern motifs and concepts possibly lying behind Genesis' portrayal of the events.
I understand that the Hebrews are recasting several motifs and concepts found in a number of Mesopotamian myths regarding the creation of man, how he came to realize his god had denied him the knowledge it is wrong to be naked and how he lost out on a chance to obtain immortality.
Several Liberal PhD scholars at the turn of the century (1890-1920) thought that possibly Eden's Tree of Knowledge might be a recast of an Oracle Tree mentioned in cuneiform inscriptions and associated with Eridu as the purpose of an oracle to dispense KNOWLEDGE about the future to the inquirerer.
Professor A. H. Sayce (1899):
"...at Eridu...a magical tree...grew in the midst of the garden of Eden, or plain of Babylonia...At all events it is 'the holy tree of Eridu,' of whose 'oracle' Arioch calls himself 'the executioner.'"
(p. 241. Archibald Henry Sayce. Babylonians and Assyrians, Life and Customs. The Semetic Series. New York. Scibner's & Sons. 1899)
Hastings (1906) on the giskanu tree at Eridu possibly being behind Genesis' Tree of Knowledge:
"Bur-Sin 'restored the giskanu tree of Eridu,' Eri-Aku calls himself 'the restorer of the oracle of the giskanu tree of Eridu,' while Sin-idinnam describes it as the oracle of the giskanu tree of the spirits of earth.' It corresponds, therefore with the tree of knowledge rather than the tree of life..."
(p. 471. Vol. 10. James Hastings. Editor. The Expository Times. Edinburgh,Scotland. T. & T. Clark. 1906)
Sayce (1908) on the kiskanu:
"The tree of knowledge was called kiskanu by the Babylonians, from Sumerian gis-kin, 'the tree of the oracle.' "
(p. 471. Vol. 19. A. H. Sayce. "The Archaeology of the Book of Genesis." pp. 470-472 in James Hastings, Editor.
The Expository Times. Edinburgh, Scotland. Oct. 1907-Sept. 1908)
Sayce (1907) on the 'tree of life' being possibly the gis-ges-tin:
"...the Sumerian gis-ges-tin 'the tree of the drink of life,' usually signified 'the vine,' ges-tin being 'grape wine,' but it may have primarily denoted 'palm wine.' "
(p. 471. Vol. 19. A. H. Sayce. "The Archaeology of the Book of Genesis." pp. 470-472 in James Hastings, Editor.
The Expository Times. Edinburgh, Scotland. Oct. 1907-Sept. 1908)
"Among the bricks of other kings found by me in the ziggurat were those of Bur-Sin of Isin, 2600 B.C., who calls himself "the powerful shepherd of Ur, the restorer of the oracle tree of Eridu..."
(p. 165. vol. 1. John Punnett Peters. Nippur or Adventures on the Euphrates. The Narrative of the University of Pennsylvania to Babylonia in the years 1888-1890). New York. G. P. Putnam's Sons; Philadelphia, Department of Archaeology of the University of Pennsylvania. 1904)
Other scholars have noted ancient texts seem to have associated the gish-kin/kishkanu tree at Eridu's temple with healing incantations, restoring the health of the sick. Some understand two such trees were planted near main entrances into temples and this doorway may have been thought of as a 'place of fate-determining' or 'a gate of guilt-absolution.'
Adam and Eve in Genesis are denied entry into the Garden of Eden, envisioned as possessing a gate by some Christians, and their access to the tree of knowledge and non-access to the tree of life determined their "fate and their guilt. One text speaks of Enki's temple having a kishkanu tree and two gods which dwell here, A sun-god and a god called Ama-ushumgal-anna (an epiteth belonging to Dumuzi). In other texts the sun-god (Utu) is called ushumgal. So apparently we have three deities associated with the kishkanu tree of Eridu who all bore the same epithet, ushumgal, "great serpent," or "great serpent-dragon,": Enki (Ea), Utu (Shamash), and Dumuzid (Tammuz). Not to be overlooked is the goddess, Inanna, who bore the epithet ushumgal, who, while visiting Enki at Eridu acquired the me from him, which conferred godly-forbidden knowledge and wisdom on mankind.
" Enki has grown in a pure place like the gishkin-tree...the ultimate goal of this incantation...was most likely exorcistic, that is an afflicted patient suffering from the influence of this or that sickness demon, would have been eased by the ritual of which the gishkin-tree...was a part of...The Eridu Lament (1978) M. W. Green makes an interesting note touching the kishkanu-tree. She discusses the main gate to the temple at Eridu...based on the literary evidence, the gates may have been thought of as something of a "place of fate-determining" (Ur Recension 8) or as a "gate of guilt absolution" (Letter-prayer to Enki 49 [Hallo JAOS 53 84])...they are the holy trees of Enki, placed at the architraves of the god's temples..."
To the degree that the kishkanu tree was invoked to restore one's health it might have been seen as a 'tree of life,' in that its healing properties extended one's life? The New Testament Book of Revelation mentions trees who's fruits will "heal" those who have access to them in the messianic kingdom at Jerusalem.
Sayce (1903) on Eridu being the Mesopotamian equivalent of the Garden of Eden:
"Eridu...seat of the Chaldean god...Ea...had there his temple, and it was there that he taught the first inhabitants of Babylonia all the elements of civilization, writing down for them the laws they should obey, the moral code they should follow...he was...the all-wise god...and creator of man...it was at Eridu that the garden of the Babylonian Eden was placed...The sacred tree of the garden of Eridu was, however, not the tree of life. It was rather the tree of knopwledge. This is shown by an inscription of Eri-Aku or Arioch, in which he describes himself as "the executor of the oracle of the sacred tree of Eridu"...Ea was not only the god of wisdom, he also was the god of life, and the trees of both wisdom and life might therefore be fitly placed under his protection."
(pp. 262, 263, 386. Henry Archibald Sayce. The Religions of Ancient Egypt and Babylonia: The Gifford Lectures. Edinburgh. T. & T. Clark. 1902, 1903)
Professor Batto of DePauw University (1992) on Genesis' author recasting motifs from the Atrahasis Epic which explained why man was created: to care for the gods' gardens:
"It is important to notice that Yahweh was the original gardener. It was he who "planted" the garden in Eden and made to grow there..."the tree of life" and "the tree of knowledge of good and evil" (2:8-9)...Humankind, it seems, was created to work this garden for the deity: "Yahweh God took the human and placed him in the garden of Eden to cultivate it and to care for it" (2:15). Surely we are here picking up an echo of Atrahasis. In that myth humans were created as substitute laborers for lesser gods, who had revolted from performing this arduous chore for the benefit of the high gods. There is, of course, no revolt of lesser gods here...humankind was originally created to relieve the deity of the burden of cultivating his own plantation or "garden"...As in Atrahasis, the function of humankind was divine service, a service that included providing provisions for the deity."
(pp. 50-51. Bernard F. Batto. Slaying the Dragon, Mythmaking in the Biblical Tradition. Louisville, Kentucky. Westminster/John Knox Press. 1992)
Ziolkowski (Professor Emeritus Princeton University) on the Hebrews recasting of earlier motifs associated with the Epic of Gilgamesh and Adapa and the Southwind myth:
"...biblical scholars have long been aware that the Genesis account is based on cosmological legends and mythological elements known to various peoples of the ancient Near East—in particular the image of a garden of the gods containing trees with mysterious powers. The anthropomorphic conception of a god strolling in his garden, as alien to the Hebrew tradition as is the walking and talking serpent, probably also came from another source. Notably, most of the characteristic motifs of the Genesis account are to be found, albeit in wholly different configurations, in the Mesopotamian epic of Gilgamesh."
(p.13. "Near Eastern Sources." Theodore Ziolkowski. The Sin of Knowledge. Princeton University Press. 2000)
"...the harlot tells him, in words anticipating the biblical serpent’s, “Thou art wise, Enkidu, art become like a god!” Clothing him with half of her garment, she leads him to Uruk..." (p.14. Ziolkowski)
"...the epic contains virtually all the elements of the biblical account of the Creation, Temptation, and Fall..."
"Like Adam, Enkidu is created by a deity from the clay of the earth and spends his early days in naked innocence among the beasts of the field. Then, succumbing to a woman’s temptation, he loses his innocence and acquires godlike knowledge. The motifs of a plant of life and the serpent that tricks Adam and Eve out of immortality occur after Enkidu’s death in connection with Gilgamesh, who obtains the plant but is prevented from eating of it. Several of these common Mesopotamian elements occur also in the later (fourteenth-century B.C.E.) Akkadian tale of Adapa, who is created by the culture-god Ea as “the model of men,” and to whom is given wisdom but not eternal life."
"Why should the people who subsequently prided themselves for centuries on being the People of the Book have placed at the beginning of history a myth suggesting that the fall of humankind was due to the desire for knowledge?
"Why should it have been a tree of knowledge through which sin was introduced into the world?" (p.18. Ziolkowski)
"Generally speaking, myths of a past Golden Age and of man’s fall from that happy state are produced by cultures that have reached a certain level of sophistication, that are interested in origins and look back with a degree of nostalgia at an imagined simpler, happier existence." (p.19. Ziolkowski)
"The Yahwist’s text suggests that he wonders specifically what happened to account for the fact that men must work so hard to eke out a living from an intransigent soil, that women are condemned to subservience and to the pains of childbearing, that humankind is ashamed of its nakedness, that a hostility exists between humankind and the animal world, with whose skins we conceal our nakedness, and that the serpent must crawl on the ground. Above all, why are men and women condemned to death, not blessed with immortality?" (p. 21. Ziolkowski)
"...what else is civilization but knowledge?"
"The Yahwist is obsessed with the sin of knowledge..." (p. 22. Ziolkowski)
"The narrator of the primeval history, living in the sophisticated intellectual climate of Solomon’s Jerusalem and reflecting historically on origins, etiologically on the state of his present culture, and psychologically on the sources of modern malaise, appropriated motifs from the common pool of Near Eastern folktales concerning Creation and Fall and collated them in such a manner, most conspicuously through Adam’s name, as to make universal what had been local legends and to lend a new dimension of moral meaning to primitive myths that had held little but entertainment value for nomadic desert peoples— in sum, to transform...Enkidu into the culture-hero Adam (and simultaneously to give the serpent a new importance by projecting upon it the role of trickster)."
(p. 23. Ziolkowski)
One "evil act" of mankind was defined by the Mesopotamians as eating or drinking that which is forbidden by one's god. Such notions may explain why Adam and Eve's eating of forbidden food caused God to say later of mankind "Their hearts are evil from their youth" (Ge 8:21).
The late Professor Kramer (1897-1990) on the Sumerian goddess Nanshe (Emphasis mine):
"...Nanshe...judging mankind...The evil human types who suffer her displeasure are described as follows:
(People) who walking in transgression reached out with high hand,
Who transgress the established norms...
Who said "I would eat that which is forbidden."
Who said "I would drink that which is forbidden."
(p. 106. "The First Moral Ideas." Samuel Noah Kramer. History Begins At Sumer, Twenty-seven "Firsts" in Man's Recorded History. Garden City, New York. Doubleday Anchor Books. 1959. First published 1956 by The Falcon's Wing Press)
The Neo-Assyrian king Asshurbanipal's (669-633 B.C.) 7th century B.C. prayer of forgiveness (he is apparently afflicted with some unknown illness) enumerates among unknown trespasses against his god, the eating of forbidden food:
"In ignorance I have eaten that forbidden of my god;
In ignorance I have set foot on that forbidden by my goddess.
O Lord, my transgressions are many; great are my sins.
The transgression I have committed, indeed I do not know;
The sin I have done, indeed I do not know.
The forbidden thing which I have eaten, indeed I do not know...
The god in the rage of his heart confronted me...oppressed me...
Mankind, everyone that exists -what does he know?
Whether he is committing sin or doing good, he does not even know."
(p. 241. "Summary and Conclusions." John H. Walton. Ancient Israelite Literature in its Cultural Context, A Survey of Parrallels Between Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Texts. Grand Rapids, Michigan. Zondervan. 1989, revised edition 1990)
From the above passages it would appear that the Assyrians shared with the Hebrews the notion that one's god could become outraged over a man's eating a forbidden food item, regarding said act as a grievous trespass and sin against the deity, causing the deity to strike man down with diseases which would ulitmately cause his death.
Professor Saggs noted that Babylonian incantations for the healing of sick and dying individuals enumerated as one of the causes of illness or death as being the eating of food forbidden or taboo to man by the gods (somewhat similar to the above, preceeding Assyrian notions):
"We do find long lists of sins which might bring affliction upon an offender...breaches of taboos...for example, a collection of Babylonian incantations called Shurpu, for use in the case of a man who wished to know the reason for which he was troubled by sickness or misfortune...offenses in the form following:
who has eaten what is taboo to his god,
who has eaten what is taboo to his goddess...
who scorned his god, despised his goddess...
(p. 296. "Ancient Religion in Practice." H.W.F. Saggs. Civilization Before Greece and Rome. New Haven & London. Yale University Press. 1989)
The Serpent in the Garden of Eden presented itself as man's benefactor, warning Eve that God was lying, God's concern was not that she and Adam would die, rather God's concern was that they would become like him, knowing good and evil. Genesis' narrator has God repeating back the serpent's words, confirming the serpent's shrewd and penetrating analysis:
Genesis 3:4-5, 22 RSV
"But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil...Then the Lord God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil..."
We are informed that the tree of knowledge was good for food and to be desired to make one WISE, so apparently the acquisition of knowledge of good and evil is equated with one being "wise" or possessing wisdom like a God:
Genesis 3:6 RSV
"So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate."
Scholars have found _no_ mention of a "tree of knowledge of good and evil" in _any_ Mesopotamian text, however, the notion that knowledge can be obtained by eating of a tree _is_ attested.
No Mesopotamian text makes any mention of a "tree of life" which is capable of bestowing immortality on those who eat of its fruit, however the notion that immortality can be obtained by eating (and drinking) _is_ attested.
Two Mesopotamian myths preserve the notion that "knowledge is obtainable by eating of a tree." In both cases the individuals who _obtain knowledge by eating of a tree_ are not mortal humans, they are Deities. The _female_ who "ate of a tree to aquire knowledge" is the Sumerian goddess Inanna ("the Queen of Heaven") who in the Nippur hymns bore two Sumerian epithets nin edin "the Lady of Edin" and Inanna edin "Inanna of Edin" (Her huband Dumuzi, bore the epithet mulu edin "the Lord of Edin"). Two _males_ who "ate of a tree to acquire knowledge" were Inanna's brother Utu (Akkadian: Shamash) the sun-god, and the Sumerian god Enki (Akkadian: Ea) the god of wisdom and knowledge, who, in some hymns is called the "father" of Inanna (cf. below for more details).
Only _one_ Mesopotamian myth preserves the notion that a special food when eaten will confer immortality on mankind. The man's name was Adapa, he lived at Eridu in Sumer (modern Iraq) and was a servant of the Akkadian god Ea (Sumerian: Enki); the "bread of life" (also rendered as the "food of life") and "water of life," had he consumed them (offered to him in heaven by the god Anu), would have given him and mankind immortality.
Speaking from an Anthropological point of view, ancient man (the Mesopotamians) realized life could not be sustained without eating and drinking, thus the reason why his gods had to eat and drink too. For the Mesopotamians, the gods ate earthly food, the very same food consumed by man. So the "food of life" (or "plant of life") is anything eaten by man, be it a fruit from a tree, vegetables or wheat for bread as well as meat and drink. If there was no food offered to the gods they would starve to death (the gods could also be slain in the Mesopotamian myths). The Mesopotamians understood the gods had made man to till and tend their earthly city-gardens and feed them daily in temple offerings their garden's produce. Yahweh was fed by the Hebrews the very same food items offered to the Mesopotamian gods.
After _eating_ of the TREE OF KNOWLEDGE, Adam and Eve's eyes are opened and they realize THEY ARE NAKED, in SHAME they cover themselves. Many have wondered, WHY did God keep "grown" adults as his "servants" in a STATE OF NAKEDNESS AND NOT CLOTHE THEM? No explanation makes sense for Yahweh's behavior, especially in light of the condemnation of nakedness as being "shameful" throughout the Bible.
I understand Enkidu of the Epic of Gilgamesh is one of several prototypes behind Adam. Like Adam Enkidu had no mother or father he was a created being made of clay by the goddess Aruru and cast upon edin the steppe to roam naked with its wild animals for companions. Then a naked woman is brought to edin's wateringhole by a Hunter to entrap him and separate him from his animal companions. Overwhelmed by lust at the sight of a naked woman's voluptuous body Enkidu mates with her, _neither are ashamed of their nakedness_ as they mate with each other for 6 days and 7 nights, just as Adam and Eve were _not ashamed of their nakedness_ in Eden. God had told Adam and Eve to "be fruitful and multiply" apparently a euphemism meaning they are being commanded _to have sex_ with each other. The naked woman had been told by the Hunter _to have sex_ with Enkidu and she obeyed, just as Adam and Eve obeyed God and later had sex with each other. Enkidu did NOT eat "forbidden food." He balked at eating the bread set before him by shepherds at their camp in the edin because he was used to eating only grass. YES, a naked woman (Shamhat, a prototype of Eve) did "URGE" him _in_edin_ to eat the food he balked at and he also drank alcoholic beverages set before him (he balked at these too, having only drunk water with the gazelles, he was a vegetarian like Adam). Mesopotamian shepherds grazed their herds and flocks in the uncultivated steppe called in Sumerian the edin, so YES Enkidu DID EAT while in the edin. YES a woman, formerly naked, urged him to eat in edin. YES his nakedness was clothed upon leaving the edin with her. His eating did NOT give him "knowledge of good and evil," that it is wrong to be naked. He learned it was "wrong to be naked" when Shamhat shared her clothes with him after he agreed to accompany her to Uruk to meet Gilgamesh. So YES the naked man of edin LEARNED IN EDIN that it is wrong to be naked, he learned it from a naked woman, Shamhat, who had disrobed in order to entice him to lay with her in sexual abandon. The naked man and woman of edin (Enkidu and Shamhat) WERE NOT DRIVEN FROM EDIN by an enraged god. They left edin of their own free will. Enkidu's patron god Shamash _approved_ of his learning it was wrong to be naked in edin for when Enkidu later curses the Harlot blaming her for his loss of innocence and impending death Shamash berates him telling him the Harlot did him only good, providing him a fine robe to cover his nakedness! In other words in the "original" pre-biblical story the patron god of the naked man of edin _approved_ of his acquistion of clothing in the edin! The Hebrews have _inverted_ or _reversed_ the storyline by having Eden's God being outraged over naked man's illegally learning it is wrong to be naked. The Harlot declared that the edin and its watering hole "whose water was the animals' and naked man's heart's DELIGHT" was actually in her city-dweller's eyes a place of _desolation_, bereft even of shepherds! It was NOT a place lush with herbs, fruit trees and forage for the shepherd's flocks. It was NOT a god's garden! Gods' gardens in Mesopotamian myths are city-gardens POSSESSING FRUIT-TREES, they are off-limits to primeval naked man and his wild animal companions of edin for foraging! Hebrew `eden means either delight or a place well-watered. I understand that the motif of a primal naked man's (Enkidu's) heart's delight over the water in the edin's wateringhole was morphed by the Hebrews into `eden meaning delight. Yes, in the Mesopotamian myths there was indeed "a fall" for edin's naked man, he "fell for" a beautiful naked Harlot and came under her power. She accomplished her assignment: to "bring him down," or accomplish "his fall," she succeeded in (1) separating him from his animal companions and (2) she caused him via her persuasive words to _leave_ edin, just as Eve "brought down" Adam causing him to (1) give up his animal companions and (2) he leaves Eden with her (just as Enkidu and Shamhat leave edin together, their nakedness clothed). I hope, dear reader, you are _beginning to comprehend and appreciate_ the cleverness, vastness and depth of the Hebrews' recasting via _inversions_ and _reversals_ (as noted "above" by Professor Campbell) of the pre-biblical Mesopotamian concepts regarding primeval man and his relationship with his creator.
The Mesopotamians had several CONTRADICTING accounts of man's creation and where this event took place. One account has him made and "left" a wanderer with wild animals in a desert-like plain or steppe called in Sumerian the edin. Another account has him made at Nippur to be an agricultural servant, working in a god's city-garden (Enlil); yet another account has man being made at Eridu to work in a god's city-garden (Enki).
According to one ancient Mesopotamian myth when the gods made man, they left him to wander NAKED a desert-like plain or steppe called in Sumerian edin with only wild animals for companions. Later man is brought to the cities the gods have made for themselves in the edin (the arid semi-desert-like plain of Iraq, between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers called Sumer) to be their servant. Man will tend their city gardens raising food for them to consume in the temples. The Sumerian art forms of the 3rd millennium B.C. show NAKED MEN serving beverages to seated, clothed gods and goddesses. I understand that the gods at first DENIED MAN THE KNOWLEDGE IT WAS WRONG TO BE NAKED: (1) he wanders NAKED in the edin with animals; (2) later is made a "servant of the gods" and SERVES THEM IN A STATE OF NAKEDNESS; (3) man tills the gods' city-gardens in a state of nakedness like Adam _tills_ God's garden. Please click here and scroll down for pictures of NAKED man _TILLING_ the earth in the gods' gardens with an ox-drawn plow as revealed on an ancient Mesopotamian cylinder seal.
Genesis 2:15 RSV
"And the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden _TO TILL IT_ and keep it."
I suspect the Hebrew author possessed traditions of man being naked with animal companions and serving a clothed god in a state of nakedness (who, for him, is Yahweh). The Mesoptamian myths explain that man is eventually taught by the gods how to make and wear clothing, how to spin wool and weave it, how to process plant fibers and make them into fine cloth.
For the Mesopotamians MAN'S NAKEDNESS was _symbolic of_ man's ORIGINAL BESTIAL STATE AND IGNORANCE. He was a savage brute who's only intelligence or knowledge was that of an animal, like an animal he ate grass and lapped water with NAKED animals at watering-holes in the wilderness; AND LIKE A "LAWLESS" ANIMAL OR BEAST HE HAD _NO_ CONCEPT OF GOOD AND EVIL OR RIGHT AND WRONG. Primitive savage naked man would acquire knowledge of good and evil (right and wrong) "_later_" from the gods when he became their servant and was taught the "Arts of Civilization" including the LAW codes the gods used to regulate godly behavior among themselves.
The Book of Ecclesiastes makes a remarkable observation of man being wicked and like a beast, which recalls for me the Mesopotamian creation myths portraying man in the beginning as being like a beast:
Ecclesiastes 3:16-21 RSV
"Moreover, I saw under the sun that in the place of justice, even there was wickedness, and in the place of righteousness, even there was wickedness...I said in my heart with regard to the sons of men that God is testing them TO SHOW THEM THAT THEY ARE BUT BEASTS..."
Today Darwinist or Evolutionist Scientists (Anthropologists) understand man in the beginning was a naked beast somewhat affirming the Mesopotamian myths portraying man as a beast or animal.
For the Mesopotamians their gods were _distinguished from_ NAKED SAVAGE MAN by their possessing _TWO TRAITS_ DENIED MAN BY THE GODS:
(1) KNOWLEDGE (The gods KNOW it is "wrong to be naked", for ONLY they wear clothes; they also have
KNOWLEDGE of GOOD AND EVIL, for they have created LAWS (Sumerian me) governing appropriate
and inappropriate conduct; for example Enlil is "banished" by his fellow gods from Nippur for raping Ninlil
BEFORE man's creation).
(2) IMMORTALITY (Only the gods possess it).
I understand that Genesis is recasting THE ABOVE _TWO TRAITS_ by ASSOCIATING THEM WITH TWO TREES, a TREE OF KNOWLEDGE and a TREE OF LIFE (IMMORTALITY).
The _TREE OF KNOWLEDGE_ becomes the "vehicle" or "mechanism" for the Hebrews whereby man comes to realize HE IS NAKED, and faced with SHAME, DESIRES TO BE CLOTHED _LIKE A GOD_. BY WEARING CLOTHING HE TAKES ON THEN A GODLY ASPECT, he has also acquired the GODLY KNOWLEDGE IT IS WRONG TO BE NAKED initially DENIED MAN BY YAHWEH AND THE MESOPOTAMIAN GODS.
From a Mesopotamian point of view man's acquistion of clothing "symbolizes" his existence as a beast _ending_ and his _BECOMING LIKE A GOD_. For the gods not only wear clothes, they have built for themselves BEFORE man's creation cities to dwell in with city-gardens full of fruits, vegetables and wheat for bread to nourish themselves, all these crops are fed by irrigation canals. The gods _ONLY_LATER_pass on to man their GODLY KNOWLEDGE: "the Arts of Civilization": LAW (codified statements of what constitutes good and evil, right and wrong), metallurgy, weaving of cloth, animal husbandry (shepherding), music, art, literature, writing, etc. ALL THIS GODLY KNOWLEDGE "IN THE BEGINNING" _WAS DENIED MAN_ BY THE GODS, _ONLY_LATER_ DOES MAN OBTAIN ALL THIS. For further in-depth details along with pictures of Mesopotamian NAKED MEN AND NAKED WOMEN SERVING GODS AND GODDESSES PLEASE CLICK HERE.
I need to clarify the above statement "naked man becomes likes a god when he acquires clothing." I understand that Adam is a recast of Adapa of the Adapa and the Southwind myth and Enkidu of the Epic of Gilgamesh, Shamhat being recast as Eve. The Hebrews are taking great liberties in recasting motifs from these two compositions.
Enkidu is portrayed as a NAKED "primeval man," created without father or mother like Adam; he is powerful and strong and his companions are gazelles which feed in the steppe (Sumerian: edin). When offered bread by shepherds, he balks at eating it for he knows only the eating of grass; Shamhat tells him to eat the bread and he does, whereupon he is declared "TO BE HUMAN" and given a change of clothes.
The eating of the bread did _not_ make him like a god, it made him "into a civilized human" in that earlier his only food was grass which he foraged on with his gazelle companions. Enkidu is no longer a beast, he's a "civilized human" now.
So why do I claim he is _like a god_ when he "acquires clothing" and "eats bread"? According to the myths in the beginning the gods were naked and like beasts, eating grass, wandering with wild animals the steppe or edin "they knew not the eating of bread" according to the storyline. Later they acquire knowledge about the growing of food in irrigated gardens, build cities to live in, clothe their nakedness with woven cloth from plants they raise (linen) and wool from sheepskins.
Professor Kramer noted that the gods in the beginning before man's creation were naked beasts eating grass like primeval naked man would later do. The Sumerian word for "uncultivated" steppeland or plain is edin. Before the gods came to acquire the knowledge to make clothes for themselves, build cities to live in and create irrigated city-gardens to provide food for themselves, they were apparently like the naked beasts that roamed the edin, "the uncultivated steppe or plain" through which the Tigris and Euphrates rivers flowed. Genesis denies this presentation of God and mankind's origins. God is not presented as in the beginning being a naked beast roaming edin and eating grass. Genesis denies that God built a city to live in and a city-garden to provide for himself. God created a garden in Eden for naked man's sustenace.
Kramer (1963) on the _naked_ Anunnaki gods (the "senior" gods who will later cause man to be created at Eridu and Nippur and the edin near Uruk in Sumerian myths):
"Like mankind when first created,
They (the Anunnaki) knew not the eating of bread,
Knew not the dressing of garments,
Ate plants with their mouths like sheep,
Drank water from the ditch."
(pp. 220-221. "Literature: The Sumerian Belles-Lettres." Samuel Noah Kramer. The Sumerians, Their History, Culture, and Character. Chicago & London. University of Chicago Press. 1963. Reprint of 1972)
The myths have primal man in the beginning naked, with wild animals for companions and this was the same situation originally for the gods. After the gods have clothed themselves, built cities, and created gardens to provide food for themselves they create man. He will take care of their gardens and provide them garden-grown food to eat in the temples. In other words naked primal man's acquistion of clothing (Enkidu) not only transforms him from a beast to a "civilized human," he also becomes "like a god" to the degree that he now wears clothing, because _in the beginning, only the gods wore clothing_, man was naked and a beast. Man becomes "like a god" also in that the gods teach him how "to live like them," in cities, how to create irrigated city-gardens, how to grow food, how to build temples and homes, all this knowledge was denied man in the beginning by the gods. Man also becomes "like a god" in that he EATS THE SAME FOOD THE GODS EAT: BREAD. We are _not told_ that Enkidu "became human" because he acquired clothing, it is because he has eaten bread and consumed alcoholic drink, something animals do not do, only civilized city-dwelling humans and the gods are clothed, drink alcoholic beverages and eat bread!
When the gods in the beginning were NAKED wild animals they ATE GRASS. Now that they ARE "civilized city-dwellers" who wear CLOTHING and they EAT BREAD. Enkidu becomes "like a god as well as like a human" because he now IS CLOTHED and EATS BREAD and goes to DWELL IN THE GODS' CITIES with civilized man. That is to say, "civilized man" by dwelling in cities built by the gods before man's creation, working their city-gardens, wearing clothes, eating bread, is living "like a god" instead of living like a naked wild animal who has no knowledge of good and evil, right and wrong, unaware it is wrong to be naked.
Mesopotamian myths (The Eridu Genesis myth) speak of naked man wandering the steppe with animals for companions. He knows no fear, because no animals exist "yet" to harm him like lions, hyenas, and snakes. In the below myth Nintur takes man from his wanderings in the steppe (Sumerian edin) and has him build cities for the gods in high desert (an-edin):
"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.")
As can be seen from the above composition, the Gods did _not_ create man in order to fellowship with him as taught by Christianity, they _abandoned_ man, and left him a wild naked savage or animal to wander the an-edin or "high steppe/desert." Only later is man taken from the edin by the gods to care for their cities and city-gardens. Man (Adam) in Eden has no fear of wild animals, the same motif appears above. However other compositions reveal the edin is a place of danger for man, it is inhabitated by carnivores like bears, leopards, lions, wolves and poisonous snakes. Genesis _denies_ this concept, having Eden's carnivores eaters of green plants instead of meat, thus posing no danger to Adam. The Hebrews are challenging the Mesopotamian motifs and concepts of primal naked man's life in the edin. God _loves_ man, seeks his fellowship, he wouldn't abandon man, leaving him a naked ignorant savage with only wild animals for companionship and in fear of his life by edin's carnivores.
Eden's serpent had said "you will become like a god, knowing good and evil." The gods KNEW it was wrong to be naked, neither Adam or Enkidu knew that it was wrong to be naked. Both were created and had no father or mother and both lived in a location called eden or edin. Civilized man who dwells in cities with the gods,WEARS CLOTHING LIKE A GOD, EATS BREAD LIKE A GOD, DRINKS ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES LIKE A GOD, AND TOILS IN AN IRRIGATED CITY-GARDEN LIKE A GOD.
Because I understand Genesis is a _challenge, refutal and denial_ of Mesopotamian beliefs regarding man's origins and his relationship with the gods, it is my proposal that various Mesopotamian motifs have been "recast", transformed and reinterpreted for a "NEW STORY" of why God made man and what man's relationship is with the deity. That is to say I DO NOT EXPECT the details to be identical or even "close" between Genesis and the Mesopotamian myths, the Hebrews are CHANGING the myths, refuting and denying them. For me the Hebrews are being very creative, and innovative in their transformation of the Mesopotamian myths their ancestors Terah and Abraham once embraced while dwelling in Ur of the Chaldees (Tell al Muqayyar, Mugheir, Mughayir in Lower Mesopotamia, ancient Sumer).
In REFUTING or DENYING the Mesopotamian myths Genesis presents man ILLEGALLY obtaining KNOWLEDGE from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, WHEREAS in the Mesopotamian myths although man IS INITIALLY DENIED KNOWLEDGE by the gods and kept in a state of nakedness as the gods' servant, _EVENTUALLY_ THE GODS _DO GRANT MAN_ THE KNOWLEDGE IT IS WRONG TO BE NAKED. That is to say, MAN IN THE MESOPOTAMIAN MYTHS DOES _NOT_ ACQUIRE THE KNOWLEDGE IT IS WRONG TO BE NAKED _ILLEGALLY_.
The Mesopotamian myths do NOT trace mankind's SINFULNESS to an act of rebellion by a primal man against the gods by disobeying them by eating of a forbidden tree's fruit as in Genesis. For the Mesopotamians man's SINFULNESS comes from the fact that HE IS MADE IN THE IMAGE OF THE GODS, HE CAN BE NO BETTER THAN HIS CREATOR, for the gods are portrayed as jealous, petty, arrogant, deceitful, and egotistical as well as merciful, loving, kind, and compassionate. The Mesopotamian myths also state that IN THE BEGINNING THE ANUNNAKI GODS (the senior gods) who dwelt on the earth at first WERE LIKE BEASTS, they roamed NAKED, ate grass, and lapped water at watering holes with the NAKED ANIMALS. Only "later" do the gods learn "the Arts of Civilization", HOW TO MAKE CLOTHING, how to domesticate animals how to plant crops, create cities, and engineer irrigation systems.That is to say the Hebrews in _recasting_ the Mesopotomian beliefs or motifs DENY THIS PORTRAYAL OF GOD AND MAN.
According to one Mesopotamian myth man is created by the god Enki to replace the junior Igigi gods who toil in the garden of a god at Nippur. The Igigi revolt because they have been given NO REST from agricultural toil. To stop the revolt, Enlil, the god of Nippur, summons his brother-god Enki from Eridu asking what can be done to appease the Igigi ? Enki suggests the making of man to replace the Igigi. Enlil gives his assent. Man is made from clay mixed with the FLESH AND BLOOD of Aw-ilu the leader of the Igigi revolt. It is this god's life-force (flesh and blood) which gives life to man. Man's "rebelliousness against god" is accounted for in Mesopotamian myths as man possessing the "rebellious spirit" of the slain rebel leader of Igigi revolt against Enlil (Note: In myths it is Enlil who is the "principal instigator" who decides to send a flood to destroy mankind for violating his rest). Man's sinfulness and rebellious is NOT traced to a man willfully disobediant of his god in eating of a forbidden tree fruit to acquire knowledge and become like a god. Man's DECEITFULNESS or LYING was another GODLY QUALITY passed on to man, the god Enki is famed for his decitfulness, cunning, knavery and trickery on fellow gods as well as man (Note: In myths its is Enki who warns one man of the Flood to be sent to destroy man, telling him to build a boat and save self, family and animals).
Foster noted that the Mesopotamians understood man's "lies and falsehood" were implanted in man at his creation by the gods Enlil and Ea and the birth goddess Mami:
"Enlil, king of the gods, who created teeming mankind,
Majestic Ea, who pinched off their clay,
The queen who fashioned them, mistress Mami,
Gave twisted words to the human race,
They endowed them in perpetuity with lies and falsehood."
(p. 323. "The Babylonian Theodicy." Benjamin Read Foster. From Distant Days, Myths, Tales, and Poetry of Ancient Mesopotamia. Bethesda, Maryland. CDL Press. 1995. ISBN 1-883053-09-9)
So, in the Mesopotamian myths man was created to work in a city-garden of a god, Enlil, at Nippur, by Enki, and he was to work in the god's city-garden FOREVERMORE, giving the Igigi gods an eternal rest from agricultural toil as was already enjoyed by the senior gods, the Anunnaki (Enlil and Enki). The Mesopotamians had NO CONCEPT of a wrathful god EXPELLING MAN FROM HIS EARTHLY GARDEN, man had been created to toil for all eternity in the god's gardens. Genesis' notion that Adam and Eve are expelled from the garden in Eden is then a REFUTAL OR DENIAL of the Mesopotamian's understanding of the gods' purpose in creating man. The gods NEEDED MAN TO WORK IN THEIR GARDENS, if there was no man to work the gardens of the gods they would have to work the gardens themselves, an onerous task they did not relish.
Professor Frymer-Kensky on Israel's religion developing from and in refutation of -via counterpoints- Mesopotamian 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)
Frymer-Kensky on the gods creating man to labor on their behalf growing food to feed 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)
"In Mesopotamian thinking, labor is divinely ordained, the purpose for which humans were created."
(p. 91. 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)
Because the gods could die at the hands of fellow gods, I draw the assumption that they could also starve to death if not fed, for the purpose in eating and drinking is to sustain life; that is to say, if the gods are truly immortal there should be no need for them to eat and drink. I thus understand that the gods' "immortality" was dependant upon (1) Their not being slain by their fellow gods and (2) their being able to eat daily the food raised in their earthly city-gardens in the edin (the desert-like steppe or plain between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers) and presented them for their nourishment by man (priests) in the temples and shrines. This observation also applies to the Hebrew God. He receives food offerings or sacrifices at Mount Sinai and throughout the Exodus wanderings and later at the Temple in Jerusalem built by Solomon. If God is immortal there should be no need for food offerings (and a "needless" loss of animal life: sheep, goats, cattle and fowl to quench Yahweh's appetite). I suspect the Hebrews are getting the notion that their God needs to eat twice a day from their Mesopotamian ancestors (Abraham and Terah living at Ur of the Chaldees south of Babylon). In 70 A.D. with the fall of Jerusalem to the Romans under Vespasian and Titus the feeding of Yahweh came to an end. Along similar lines is the problem posed for Christians regarding Adam and Eve. We are informed death entered the world with Adam's transgression, he is to die (as well as all mankind) for disobeying his God and eating of the Tree of Knowledge. But, paradoxically, God has to intervene to prevent him from eating of the tree of life and obtaining immortality. How can Adam not have been mortal to begin with? That is to say, he is immortal only if he eats of the tree of life, ergo whether he ate or not of the the tree of knowledge he still would have died. So Christianity's notion that death began with Adam's disobedience is non-sensical. He was mortal and could thus die BEFORE he ate, and he was MORTAL and could die after he ate.
The fact that Yahweh MUST EAT a sacrifical meal twice a day, morning and evening LIKE A MESOPOTAMIAN GOD, is proof for me he is NOT IMMORTAL, FOR EATING IS NECCESSARY ONLY FOR MORTALS, ITS PURPOSE BEING TO SUSTAIN LIFE. The New Testament has the righteous dead being told they will attain immortality by being allowed to drink of the water of life and eat of the tree of life (Revelation 22:1-2, 14, 17, 19). Again, these promises are nonsenical and are based in reality upon the observation of ancient man that life without eating and drinking is not possible. Hence the reason they gave their gods food and drink to keep them alive. Had the Hebrews wanted to make a real break with the Ancient Near Eastern notion that the gods need food and drink they would have dispensed with this nonsense in the Old Testament by doing away with Yahweh's daily feedings. The Mesopotamian gods could die and they did at times slay each other. They had planted city-gardens to provide food to eat for themselves (not for man), and later made man to toil in their gardens to relieve themselves of having to toil on the earth for life's necessities: FOOD, shelter, and clothing. Man would now provide all this for the gods.
Professor Batto (1992) on the Hebrews recasting of earlier Mesopotamian myths and motifs in the Hebrew Bible:
"...I want to emphasize that this new mythmaking process is a conscious, reflected application of older myths and myhic elements to new situations...In so far as one admits the presence of myth in ancient Babylonian and Canaanite culture, then one must also admit the presence of myth in the Bible...This book, then, is a series of case studies of mythmaking in ancient Israel, or to be more exact, in the biblical tradition."
(pp. 13-14. "Introduction." Bernard F. Batto. Slaying the Dragon, Mythmaking in the Biblical Tradition. Louisville, Kentucky. Westminster/John Knox Press. 1992)
"Now the Yahwist's primeval narrative is itself a marvelous example of mythmaking based upon prior Mesopotamian myths, notably Atrahasis and Gilgamesh. Interestingly, the reappropriation of mythic traditions and intertextual borrowing posited for biblical writers was already present within ancient Babylonia, and illustrates that biblical writers must be understood within the larger ancient Near Eastern literary and theological tradition."
(p. 14. "Introduction." Bernard F. Batto. Slaying the Dragon, Mythmaking in the Biblical Tradition. Louisville, Kentucky. Westminster/John Knox Press. 1992)
"The theme of this volume...is, of myth and mythmaking speculation within the Hebrew Bible...biblical writers employed much the same techniques and even the same mythic motifs as their ancient Near Eastern neighbors...Israel...drew heavily upon the Babylonian myth of Atrahasis, supplementing with motifs from Gilgamesh and other traditional myths, to create a specifically Israelite primeval myth...Like their ancient Near Eastern counterparts, Israel's theologians were concerned with the place of humankind -and particularly of their own people- within the realm of being."
(pp. 168-169. "Conclusion." Bernard F. Batto. Slaying the Dragon, Mythmaking in the Biblical Tradition. Louisville, Kentucky. Westminster/John Knox Press. 1992)
"The focus of this volume has been the various ways in which biblical writers throughout the history of the composition of the Hebrew Bible have used and reused myth...to undergird their religious and/or sociopolitical agenda. My purpose...has been only to show through representative examples how biblical authors actually went about using mythic motifs in their writing and how they consciously manipulated these to serve their specific purposes."
(pp. 171-172. "Conclusion." Bernard F. Batto. Slaying the Dragon, Mythmaking in the Biblical Tradition. Louisville, Kentucky. Westminster/John Knox Press. 1992)
The "Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil" does _not_ exist as a motif _to my knowledge_ in any Ancient Near Eastern myths other than the Hebrews' Genesis account. Nor does the "Tree of Life" appear _to my knowledge_ in any Ancient Near Eastern myths, it is "bread of life" and "water of life" that bestows "immortality" on man in Mesopotamian belief, which interestingly resurrects itself later with Christ tearing apart _bread_ and telling his apostles to eat his bread/body and drink his blood/wine to obtain immortality.
I realize for some readers or viewers that the foregoing assertion must "come as a shock" as some of the scholarly literature in the past speaks of a "tree of life", as for example E. O. James, The Tree of Life: An Archaeological Study.
(E. J. Brill Publishers. Leiden,The Netherlands. 1966, 1997). Because _no_ ancient inscriptions mention specifically "a tree conferring _knowledge of good and evil_" or "conferring _immortal life_", some scholars in the past have chosen to speak of trees flanked by beasts, gods or genies as "sacred trees", deliberately refusing to call these iconographic representations "tree of life or tree of knowledge". In earlier articles at this website, I confess I followed the school calling the iconic representations "tree of life" (please click here for said articles).
Tsumura citing Sjoberg notes that there is no mention in any Sumerian or Akkadian text of a 'Tree of Life':
"However, according to Sjoberg, who recently reexamined Sumerian connections with regard to the "tree of life," there is "no evidence" for such a tree in Mesopotamian myth and cult. He says, "The identification of different trees on Mesopotamian seals as a Tree of Life is a pure hypothesis, a product of pan-Babylonianism...There is no Sumerian or Akkadian expression 'Tree of Life'."
(p. 39. footnote 70. David Toshio Tsumura. "Genesis and Ancient Near Eastern Stories of Creation and Flood: An Introduction." pp. 27-57, in 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, citing A. W. Sjoberg, "Eve and the Chameleon," pp. 219-221, In the Shelter of Elyon: Essays on Ancient Palestinian Life and Litereature in Honor of G. W. Ahlstrom. Sheffield: JSOT Press. 1984)
NOW, I understand that these two trees are the Hebrews "unique" contribution to Ancient Near Eastern religious belief as they transform and challenge the earlier Mesopotamian myths regarding man's creation which understood man was made to be a servant/slave in the gods' city-gardens lying in edin-the-floodplain of ancient Sumer.
The question arises, why did of all things the Sumerians settle on bread being the magical food bestowing immortality? I suspect the reason is that bread is NOT a food found "growing in Nature." It is a "processed" food, the grains must be separated from the husks via crushing and then there is a winnowing of the empty hulls, then the seed must be ground or "milled" into flour, and the flour must be made into dough with the addition of water and yeast for leaven, then baked. In the myths these processes were discovered by the gods who dwelt on the earth who had created irrigated grain fields. So bread was "uniquely" a product _not available_ to naked wild animals and naked primitive man their companion. In fact Enkidu when presented bread by shepherds in the steppe after his animals companions have fled from him, DOES NOT KNOW the eating of bread, he gapes at the food, neither does he know the drinking of alcoholic beverages set before him, as a beast he knew only the eating of grass and the drinking of water and milk sucked from female animals. One would have expected that an alcoholic beverage would have been "uniquely" the choice for the drink conferring immortality as it too is a "processed" beverage, but the reality is that water is more important as plants, animals and man all need water to live not alcoholic drinks.
In agreement with other scholars I understand that the Mesopotamian myth about Adapa's lost chance at obtaining immortality for himself and mankind has been reworked by the Hebrews in the Adam and Eve myth. Adapa 'the man' serves in Eridu the god Ea (Sumerian: Enki), who has given him forbidden wisdom or powerful curses to overpower the lesser gods, in this case, he breaks the wing of the southwind-god, preventing breezes from occurring. The supreme god Anu summons "the man" to his heavenly abode to find out how he was able to overpower a lesser-god. Before going to heaven Ea warns "the man" not to eat or drink anything while at Anu's residence or he will die for it is the food of death. In another myth Ea created "man" to serve him on the earth in Eridu, to work in his fruit tree-garden replacing the Igigi gods who protested the onerous toil and who threatened rebellion. Ea does not want man to become like a god and possess immortality for who will then work in his city-garden and present him its fruits and vegetables to eat in his temple at Eridu? By obeying his god, Adapa 'the man' is "tricked" out of a chance to BECOME LIKE A GOD and obtain immortality for himself and mankind. All he has obtained in this myth is great wisdom or knowledge, apparently "forbidden knowledge", in that man is able via curses taught him by Ea to overpower the lesser gods. I understand that the Hebrews have merely reworked these themes of a lost chance at immortality, (BECOMING LIKE A GOD) and attainment of "forbidden knowledge" in a god's garden in Eden (Eridu lies in a plain, the Sumerian word for plain being Edin). Note that Enki (Akkadian Ea) in another hymn bears the epithet Ushumgal, meaning "great serpent/dragon" who _walks_ about in the fruit-tree garden he has planted at Eridu, where he creates man to toil in his city garden, replacing the Igigi gods of that onerous task.
Sandar's translation seems _to me_ to capture the notion that Adapa "the man" has knowledge granted him by his god Ea (Enki) making the "man" LIKE A GOD, recalling the Edenic serpent telling Eve she will become "like a god" possessing knowledge:
Anu addresses Tammuz (Sumerian: Dumuzi) and Gizzida (Nin-gish-zida) his gate guards, who in other myths were able to assume the form of a serpent and also were the life force in fruit-trees as vegetation deities:
"What was Ea about to GIVE KNOWLEDGE of all nature to a wretch of a man, TO MAKE HIM LIKE ONE OF US, and with such a name for WISDOM ? But now that he is here what else can we do? Fetch the bread of life and he shall eat it."
When they brought him the BREAD OF LIFE he would not eat.
When they brought him the water of life he did not drink.
When they brought him a garment he put it on...
Then Anu, the lord of heaven, looked at the man and laughed,
"Ah, Adapa, why did you neither eat or drink, stupid man; perverse mankind; you will never now have eternal life.''My master Ea ordered me, "You shall not eat, you shall not drink."
(p. 171. "Adapa: The Man." Translation by N. K. Sandars. Poems of Heaven and Hell From Ancient Mesopotamia. London. Penguin Books. 1971. paperback)
Professor Foster on Adapa's being offered "FOOD OF LIFE" by Anu, Ningishzida and Dumuzi instead of Sander's "BREAD OF LIFE":
"They brought him FOOD OF LIFE, he did not eat.
They brought him waters of life, he did not drink."
(p. 101. "How Adapa Lost Immortality." pp. 97-101. Benjamin R. Foster. Myths, Tales, and Poetry of Ancient Mesopotamia. Bethesda, Maryland. CDL Press. 1995)
So, man was offered immortality by Anu, Dumuzi and Ningishzida, but Ea's cunning caused a naive, trusting man to obey his lying god. 'The man's' (Adapa's) acquistion of "forbidden knowledge" was not from eating a forbidden fruit in a god's garden. He was given _illegally_ the 'forbidden knowledge" by Ea "the trickster god", who is famed for playing tricks on his fellow gods as well as mankind. The Hebrews in recasting this myth have 'the man's' God, denying him _knowledge_and_immortality. Ea did deny Adapa "knowledge," as well as immortality: he didn't let Adapa know that the food presented him would bestow immortality MAKING HIM LIKE A GOD (just as the Edenic serpent had predicted: "YOU SHALL NOT DIE...YOU SHALL BECOME LIKE A GOD...").
Professor Langdon (1931) on Anu wanting to keep man in ignorance of the secrets of Heaven and Earth and Yahweh's denying knowledge to Adam:
"It was the plan of Anu to keep man (amelutu) in ignorance of the secrets of Heaven and Earth, and when he found that Adapa had learned them from Ea, he had no alternative but to give him the bread and water of life. Yaw had the same intention for Adam, who became a gardener in Eden."
(p. 184. "The Myth of Adapa and Adam." Stephen Herbert Langdon. The Mythology of All Races: Semitic. Volume 5. Boston. Marshall Jones Company. Archaeological Institue of America. 1931)
"...Yaw-Elohim planted a garden in eden toward the east. This is surely a survival of a Sumerian legend; for the word edin in Sumerian means "plain," and "Eden to the eastward," refers to some legendary part of Sumer, from the point of view of a writer in Canaan."
(pp. 183-184. "The Myth of Adapa and Adam." Stephen Herbert Langdon. The Mythology of All Races: Semitic. Volume 5. Boston. Marshall Jones Company. Archaeological Institue of America. 1931)
Adapa is NOT presented as a SINNER like Adam. He is praised as being BLAMELESS, having "pure" hands; he is conscientious and diligent in serving his god. Adapa is portrayed as THE MODEL OF MEN, perhaps this means that all men should emulate him in his blamelessness? Ea has NO COMPLAINT WITH HIS SERVANT (Yahweh having found "fault" with Adam). Adapa is GIVEN WISDOM AND KNOWLEDGE by his god, although DENIED IMMORTALITY:
"Wide understanding he [Ea] had perfected for him [Adapa]
to disclose the designs of the land.
To him [Adapa] he [Ea] HAD GIVEN WISDOM; ETERNAL LIFE HE HAD NOT
Ea, created him as THE MODEL OF MEN.
The capable, the MOSTWISE...
THE BLAMELESS, THE CLEAN OF HANDS, the ointment priest,
the observer of rites...
Bread and water for Eridu daily he provides,
WITH HIS CLEAN HANDS he arranges the (offering) table."
(p. 76. "Adapa." James B. Pritchard. Editor. The Ancient Near East, An Anthology of Texts and Pictures. Princeton, New Jersey. Princeton University. 1958)
Barton on several "modern" scholars (by 1916) suggesting Genesis' Fall motif is a recast of similar motifs appearing in the Adapa and the Southwind myth:
"In the first place, Adapa, like Adam, had gained knowledge. This knowledge carried with it a power hitherto regarded as an attribute of divinity. It enabled Adapa to break the wing of the southwind; it tempted Adam and Eve "to become like God, knowing good and evil" (Gen. 3:5). As in Genesis, knowledge did not carry with it immortality. Ea, the god who had permitted Adapa to become wise, feared that he might gain immortality, as Jehovah thought that Adam might "put forth his hand and take of the tree of life and eat and live forever" (Gen. 3:22)...Ea accordingly told Adapa a falsehood when he was about to go into the presence of the supreme god, Anu, in order to prevent him from eating the food that would make him immortal; Jehovah drove man from the garden where the tree of life grew. The two accounts agree in thought that immortality could be obtained by eating a certain kind of food. The lines at the end of the Adapa story are much broken, but they make clear that as punishment for what he had done, Adapa was subjected to sickness, disease and restlessness. This corrresponds to the toil inflicted upon woman (Gen. 3:17-19), and the pangs of childbirth imposed upon woman (Gen. 3:16). It appears also that as Adam and Eve were clothed with skins in consequence of their deed (Gen. 3:21), so Adapa was clothed by Anu in a special clothing.
These similarities indicate that the Babylonians possessed the same general ideas of the connection of increasing knowledge, with the attributes of divinity on the one hand, and with suffering and clothing on the other, which are presented in Genesis. An increasing number of modern scholars regard the Babylonian story as an earlier form of a narrative which the Hebrew writer took and purified...In the Babylonian myth, the gods, Ea and Anu, are divided and work at cross purposes; Ea tells a falsehood to accomplish his end."
(pp. 260-261. George A. Barton. Archaeology and the Bible. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. American Sunday-School Union. 1916)
From the contradicting Mesopotamian myths regarding the creation of man, his lost chance at obtaining immortality for himself and his demise being sought in a universal flood it is clear that the gods were viewed as both benefactors and enemies of mankind. The gods did not have to behave in an ethical manner, they could and were capricious at times in regards to man.
It is interesting that God _contradicts_ himself regarding the eating of fruit from trees. In Genesis 1:29 he tells man he may eat of EVERY Fruit Tree, then in Genesis 2:16-17 denies man the fruits of the Tree of knowledge of good and evil:
Genesis 1:29 RSV
"And God said, "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."
In the Adapa and the Southwind myth, Ea, who is credited with creating mankind and placing him in his fruit-tree garden at Eridu to work it and thus end the toil of the Igigi gods, lies to Adapa, telling him not to eat or drink anything for it is the food and water of death. In other words, Ea portrays Anu, Ningishzida and Dumuzi _falsely_ as man's enemy, seeking his death, when in fact they sought man's welfare in offering him a chance at becoming like a god and possessing immortality. Ea succeeded, his will "trumphs" the will of Anu who sought immortality for man. That is to say man's creator and benefactor, Ea (Enki) was also man's nemesis, lying to him because he did not want man to have immortality.
Foster (Professor of Assyriology at Yale University) on Ea's tricking man out of immortality, Ea apparently fearing the loss of man as his servant if made a god (emphasis mine):
"When Adapa declined the food and drink, which would have made him a god and released him from Ea's service, Anu was vastly amused by Ea's cleverness and his sage's stupidity, and so sent the swindled mortal back home."
(p. 97. "How Adapa Lost Immortality." Benjamin R. Foster. From Distant Days, Myths, Tales, and Poetry of Ancient Mesopotamia. Bethesda, Maryland. CDL Press. 1995)
"They brought him food of life, he did not eat,
They brought him waters of life, he did not drink...
Anu stared and burst out laughing at him,
"Come now, Adapa, why did you not eat or drink?
"Won't you live? Are not people to be im[mor]tal?"
Ea my lord told me,
'You must not eat, you must not drink...
Anu laughed uproariously at what Ea had done,
"Who else, of all the gods of heaven and netherworld,
could d[o] something like this?
"Who else could make his command outweigh Anu's?"
"That is, by thwarting Anu's good intentions to give Adapa eternal life."
(p. 101. "How Adapa Lost Immortality." Benjamin R. Foster. From Distant Days, Myths, Tales, and Poetry of Ancient Mesopotamia. Bethesda, Maryland. CDL Press. 1995)
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!
Anu was not the only god who possessed the "bread and water of life" (at his heavenly abode) which could bestow immortality if consumed, there was another god who dwelt on the earth at Eridu who also possessed similar items, Enki (Akkadian Ea, Adapa's god). In the Sumerian account titled "The Descent of Inanna" Enki (Ea) sends two messengers to the underworld to revive (restore back to life) a dead Inanna (Ishtar) with "the food of life" and "water of life." Inanna, before descending into the underworld to visit its ruler, tells her servant Ninshubur that if she has not returned to the earth's surface after three days and nights to seekout the help of Enki who will bring about her release. Note that the later Akkadian version called "The Descent of Ishtar" makes no mention of a "food of life", only "water of life" revives the dead Ishtar (cf. pp. 159-161. "The Descent of Ishtar." Stephanie Dalley. Myths From Mesopotamia: Creation, The Flood, Gilgamesh and Others. Oxford and New York. Oxford University Press. 1989)
"Inanna then descends to the nether world...she is turned into a corpse, which is then hung on a stake. Three days and nights pass. On the fourth day, Ninshubur, seeing that his mistress has not returned, proceeds...in accordance with her instructions...Enki...devises a plan to restore her to life. He fashions...two sexless creatures, and ENTRUSTS THEM WITH THE "_FOOD OF LIFE_" AND THE "_WATER OF LIFE_", with which they are to proceed to the nether world...they...sprinkle upon it [the corpse] "the FOOD OF LIFE" AND THE "WATER OF LIFE,"...and thus revive the dead Inanna."
(p. 154. "Religion, Rite, and Myth." Samuel Noah Kramer. The Sumerians, Their History, Culture, and Character. Chicago & London. The University of Chicago Press. 1963. ISBN 0226-45238-7. paperback)
Campbell quoting the Sumerian account of Ninshubur at Eridu pleading for Inanna's life (Note that Inanna is called "good metal", lapis lazuli (a precious stone) and boxwood (the boxwood tree). Professor Langdon has noted that the gods were associated with various forces of nature like stars, clouds, lightning, fire as well as various plants, metals, mountains, rivers and trees as well as certain numbers. For example Ea is associated with copper, the mashtakal plant and the number 40; Anu is associated with the Tamarisk tree and the number 60; Dumuzi with the Date-palm-head; Adad with the Cypress tree (cf. pp. 336-337. Stephen Herbert Langdon. Sumerian Liturgies and Psalms. Philadelphia. University of Pennsylvania. University Museum. Publications of the Babylonian Section. Volume X. no. 4. 1919) (emphasis mine):
"In Eridu upon his entering the house of Enki,
Before Enki he weeps:
"O father Enki, let not thy daughter be put to death in the nether world,
Let not thy good metal be ground up into the dust of the nether world,
Let not thy good lapis lazuli be broken up into the stone of the stone-worker,
Let not thy boxwood be cut up into the wood of the wood-worker,
Let not the maid Inanna be put to death in the nether world."
Father Enki answers Ninshubur:
"What now has my daughter done! I am troubled,
What now has Inanna done! I am troubled,
What now has the queen of all the lands done! I am troubled,
What now has the hierodule of heaven done! I am troubled."
. . . he brought forth dirt (and) fashioned the kurgarru,
. . . he brought forth dirt (and) fashioned the kalaturru,
To the kurgarru he gave THE FOOD OF LIFE,
To the kalaturru he gave THE WATER OF LIFE,
Father Enki says to the kalaturru and kurgarru:
. . . (nineteen lines destroyed)
"Upon the corpse hung from a stake direct the fear of the rays of fire,
Sixty times THE FOOD OF LIFE, sixty times THE WATER OF LIFE, sprinkle upon it,
Verily Inanna will arise."
(p. 417. "Thresholds of the Neolithic." Joseph Campbell. The Masks of God: Primitive Mythology. New York. Viking Penguin, Inc. 1969. Reprint by Arkana 1991)
Dalley on a "PLANT OF LIFE" rather than "FOOD OF LIFE" in the above Sumerian account (emphasis mine):
"In the Sumerian version of the story, two impotent creatures are sent down to the Underworld and they take a PLANT OF LIFE and WATER OF LIFE with them."
(p. 161. footnote 13. "The Descent of Ishtar." Stephanie Dalley. Myths From Mesopotamia: Creation, The Flood, Gilgamesh and Others. Oxford and New York. Oxford University Press. 1989)
Differing from Kramer and Dalley, Jacobsen renders "grass of life" instead of "food of life" or "plant of life" and he speaks of a slab of tainted meat on a peg rather than of Inanna's carcass on a stake:
"...let him not put to death in Hades
the maiden Inanna!
Father Enki, a lord of vast intelligence,
knows the GRASS OF LIFE,
knows the WATER OF LIFE.
May he make me come alive!"
"They were being given
the tainted slab of meat
hanging on the peg
and threw water upon it,
one the GRASS OF LIFE,
one the WATER OF LIFE,
and Inanna rose."
(pp. 209, 221-222. "Inanna's Descent." Thorkild Jacobsen.The Harps That Once... Sumerian Poetry in Translation. New Haven & London. Yale University Press. 1987)
Please note: Disagreements exist amongst professional scholars (Assyriologists) on the meaning and translation of various words and verses appearing in ancient Sumerian and Akkadian texts. Hence the reason one scholar (Kramer, 1963) renders FOOD OF LIFE, while others (Jacobsen 1987 and Dalley, 1989) prefer GRASS OF LIFE or PLANT OF LIFE.
Langdon (1919) noted that meal mixed with water was poured out upon the ground in a line-circle about the bed of a sick person to ward off demons seeking his demise. To the degree that Kramer suggests a food of life (bread is called "the staff of life" even today), perhaps meal flour or wheat flour and water sprinkled on Inanna's dead body broke the spell over her cast by demons of the Netherworld?
"A string of wet meal was laid about the bed of a sick man...to guard against demons. Hence meal water symbolizes the two gods who guard against demons."
(p. 332. Stephen Herbert Langdon. Sumerian Liturgies and Psalms. Philadelphia. University of Pennsylvania. University Museum. Publications of the Babylonian Section. Volume X. no. 4. 1919)
I understand that the FOOD OF LIFE or PLANT OF LIFE in the possession of Enki (Ea) at Eridu has been transformed into Genesis' fruit from the tree of life. The TREE OF LIFE AND WATER OF LIFE located at Jerusalem in the book of Revelation (Rev 22:1-2), is a Christian recasting of Hebrew motifs which in turn are recastings of Sumerian motifs associated ORIGINALLY with Enki at Eridu. Inanna in Sumerian hymns found at Nippur is called nin edin "lady of edin" and Inanna edin "Inanna of edin." So the "lady of edin" was restored to life by THE FOOD OF LIFE or PLANT OF LIFE and WATER OF LIFE in a god's possession at Eridu. Upon her restoration to life she RETURNS TO the EDIN and chooses her bridegroom Dumuzi, to be her surrogate in the underworld. The demons accompanying her seize him at his sheepfold in the edin and carry him off to the netherworld. Dumuzi in the Nippur hymns was called mulu edin "the lord of edin." He grazes his flocks in the edin, the uncultivated plain that surrounds the Mesopotamian cities and their city-gardens (fields possessing fruit-trees, vegetables and wheat for bread). So, in the Mesopotamian myths a man and his female companion (wife) associated with the edin both lose their lives, but are later resurrected back to life and return to the edin. Christians understand in the beginning man lost his life for angering a God in an eden, but that after death and a resurrection, he will return to eden. Dumuzi angered Inanna (a deity, she being a goddess) and she thus chose him to be her replacement in the underworld. So, a man of edin angered a deity and lost his life. But he is later resurrected again and returns to his former abode, the edin (Dumuzi is the annual life-force in the grasses and plants of edin-the-steppe). Dumuzi as the life-force in plants is then what makes wheat grow, which becomes bread eaten by man. When man eats bread he eats Dumuzi, just as when Christians eat bread (the host or wafer) they eat the God of Eden, Christ, in his role as the Word or Logos. Dumuzi of edin became a UNWILLING surrogate in the underworld for his bride Inanna, but Christ becomes a WILLING surrogate in the underworld for his "bride" the Church. Both Dumuzi and Christ are identified as bridegrooms, surrogates in the underworld for their brides, associated with death and resurrection, and a restoration to a location called edin or eden.
According to Leick ERIDU IS THE SUMERIAN EQUIVALENT OF THE GARDEN OF EDEN. I am in agreement with her (however, I understand there are several other locations as well which lie behind Genesis' garden _in_ Eden), and it is at this location that food and water of life conferring life are to be found in a god's possession:
Leick (emphasis mine):
"ERIDU IS THE MESOPOTAMIAN EDEN, THE PLACE OF CREATION...Amid a primeval sea, THE FIRST CITY, ERIDU...Just like the marsh dwellers of southern Iraq, who still build their huts on floating islands of reed, the god [Marduk] spreads mud upon a reed frame to fashion a platform. From this primordial, rather flimsy basis, the cities and their temples take their beginning. Henceforth the gods take up residence on the earth and live in cities. And because the gods have the dwelling of 'their heart's delight' in cities, Mesopotamian cities are always sacred.
THUS THE MESOPOTAMIAN EDEN IS NOT A GARDEN BUT A CITY, formed from a piece of dry land surrounded by the waters. The first building is a temple. THEN MANKIND IS CREATED TO RENDER SERVICE TO GOD and temple. This is how Mesopotamian tradition presented the evolution and function of cities, and Eridu provides the mythical paradigm. Contrary to the biblical Eden, from which man was banished for ever after the Fall, Eridu remained a real place, imbued with sacredness but always accessible.
(pp. 1-2. "Eridu." Gwendolyn Leick. Mesopotamia, The Invention of the City. London. Penguin Books. 2001. Paperback)
Adapa had three duties, he was a fisherman, a BAKER and a priest AT ERIDU who prepared daily food offerings for Ea (Enki). I understand that the "bread and pure water" presented Ea by Adapa was in fact "the bread and water of life." The gods must eat earthly food or they will die just like man. The Sumerian mythographers have merely "spiritualized" the water and bread that sustains man into a "magical" food which sustains the gods assuring them their immortality, and if consumed by man will give him immortality like a god too. We know from the Adapa myth that it is most probably bread which is the "food of life" appearing in the Inanna resurrection myth.
Adapa does NOT acquire KNOWLEDGE ILLEGALLY BY DEFYING HIS GOD (Ea/Enki), Adam DOES.
Adapa is "TRICKED" out of a chance for immortality by HIS GOD who warns him NOT TO EAT or drink the "bread and water of death" that will be presented him in Anu's heavenly abode or he will die. ADAPA _OBEYS_ HIS GOD, Adam does NOT OBEY his God. Because Adapa OBEYED his god he loses out on a chance to obtain immortality. Because Adam DISOBEYED his God he loses out too. However a SERPENT is presented as TRICKING ("beguiling") Eve (and thus Adam via his wife) NOT GOD. Adapa is NOT TRICKED BY A SERPENT, but by HIS GOD, Ea (Enki). However, further research on my part has revealed that Enki bore the Sumerian epithet ushumgal meaning "GREAT SERPENT/DRAGON," a mythological beast which walks upon four legs. Another hymn prasies Enki's VENOMOUS WORDS which ensnare and undo "Sinners". A hymn exists praising Enki as the ushumgal who raises up a wonderous tree in his earthly fruit-tree garden in Eridu. I "suspect" that "perhaps" Enki (Ea) the ushumgal or "great serpent/dragon" might be _one of several prototypes_ lurking behind Genesis' portrayal of a Serpent tricking Eve (and Adam) out of chance to obtain immortality. Please click here for the pre-biblical origins of Eden's Serpent from _several prototypes_ appearing in the Mesopotamian myths.
Adam seems almost to be a "parody" of Adapa: Adapa is BLAMELESS, of PURE HANDS, OBEDIENT, NON-DEFIANT, while Adam is BLAMEABLE, NON-OBEDIENT, DEFIANT (he "knew" he wasn't suppossed to eat the forbidden fruit). Yet BOTH OBTAIN KNOWLEDGE (or WISDOM) and BOTH LOSE A CHANCE AT IMMORTALITY VIA TRICKERY. Clearly, for me, the Hebrews are refuting or denying Mesopotamian beliefs about how man came to acquire knowledge and wisdom and lose a chance of attaining immortality via failure to consume the bread and water of life. I reject the Christian Apologist arguments that because the locations and names of people are different and the morals differ too that it is "impossible" that Genesis is a recast of Mesopotamian myths and beliefs regarding the relationship between man and God.
Blenkinsopp (Professor Emeritus of the Old Testament at Notre Dame University) on Atrahasis and Gilgamesh motifs in Genesis (The Atrahasis myth explains how man came to be made by the gods and why they later attempted to destroy him in a world-wide flood):
"...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)
Humanist scholars understand that the Hebrews did not create their concepts in isolation, they drew from and were influenced by the religious concepts of their day. My research suggests that the late Sumerologist Samuel Noah Kramer was correct, the Sumerians had in their literature, two millennia earlier, anticipated many of the motifs and concerns appearing the in the Hebrew Bible, especially the book of Genesis.
Kramer (Professor Emeritus of Assyriology, University of Pennsylvania):
"The literature created by the Sumerians left its deep impress on the Hebrews, and one of the thrilling aspects of reconstructing and translating Sumerian belles-letteres consists in tracing resemblances and parallels between Sumerian and Biblical literary motifs. To be sure, the Sumerians could not have influenced the Hebrews directly, for they had ceased to exist long before the Hebrew people came into existence. But there is little doubt that the Sumerians had deeply influenced the Canaanites, who preceeded the Hebrews in the land that later came to known as Palestine, and their neighbors, such as the Assyrians, Babylonians, Hittites, Hurrians and Arameans."
(pp.143-4, "The First Biblical Parallels," Samuel Noah Kramer. History Begins at Sumer, Twenty-Seven 'Firsts' in Man's Recorded History. Garden City, New York. Doubleday Anchor Books. 1959, pbk.)
Kramer's explanation, below, of how the ancient Sumerians sought to explain the creation of the world and man, _for me_ applies just as well to Genesis' fanciful explanation of the creation of the earth and man:
"...modern thinking man is usually prepared to admit the relative character of his conclusions and is skeptical of all absolute answers. Not so the Sumerian thinker; he was convinced that his thoughts on the matter were absolutely correct and that he knew exactly how the universe was created and operated."
(p. 82. "Man's First Cosmogony and Cosmology." Samuel Noah Kramer. History Begins At Sumer: Twenty-seven "Firsts" in Man's Recorded History. Garden City, New York. Doubleday Anchor Books. 1959 reprint of 1956 History Begins at Sumer by The Falcon's Wing Press)
"The mythographers were scribes and poets whose main concern was the glorification and exhaltation of the gods and their deeds...The aim of the myth-makers was to compose a narrative poem that would explain one or another of these notions and practices in a manner that would be appealing, insipring, and entertaining. They were not concerned with proofs and arguments directed to the intellect. Their first interest was in telling a story that would appeal to the emotions. Their main literary tools, therefore, were not logic and reason, but imagination and fantasy. In telling their story, these poets did not hesitate to invent motives and incidents patterned on human action which could not possibly have any basis in reasonable and speculative thought. Nor did they hesitate to adopt legendary and folkloristic motifs that had nothing to do with rational cosmological inquiry and inference...The mature and reflective Sumerian thinker had the mental capacity of thinking logically and coherently on any problems, including those concerned with the origin and operation of the universe. His stumbling block was the lack of scientific data at his disposal. Furthermore, he lacked such fundamental intellectual tools as definition and generalization, and had practically no insight into the the processes of growth and development, since the principle of evolution, which seems so obvious now, was entirely unknown to him."
(pp. 80-81. "Man's first Cosmogony and Cosmology." Samuel Noah Kramer. History Begins At Sumer: Twenty-seven "Firsts" in Man's Recorded History. Garden City, New York. Doubleday Anchor Books. 1959 reprint of 1956 History Begins at Sumer by The Falcon's Wing Press)
I understand that Genesis' notion that wisdom and knowledge is somehow associated with a god's garden in Eden is a recast of Eridu in Sumerian myths. Eridu is the first city in Sumerian myth and it is the world's first city-garden that man will be made to care for. The god of Eridu, Sumerian Enki (Akkadian Ea) is credited with thinking up the creation of man to be a servant the gods (delegating the task of creation from Eridu's clay to a goddess), he is the god of "wisdom and knowledge," he is a jealous god and unwilling to allow man to obtain immortality via the eating of a food, 'the bread of life' that would confer this boon upon mankind (cf. Adapa and the Southwind Myth, Enki being called Ea in this myth). I understand Eve's desire for wisdom is recalling Inanna of Uruk, who succeeds in obtaining the jealously guarded 'me' at Eridu from Enki/Ea. The 'me' represent to to some degree the totality of knowledge necessary for mankind to enjoy a civilized life. In acquiring these from Enki, against his wishes, she bestows a boon on mankind. I understand the Hebrews recast this as Eve acquiring forbidden knowledge or "wisdom" (the knowledge of good and evil upon which decisions and judgements are made) and passing it on to mankind in the form of Adam. Inanna obtained the 'me' while Enki was in a state of drunkeness: he gave, she willing accepted. When he awoke from his drunken stupor and learned what he had done he attempted unsuccessfully to get them back from her. Inanna, who bore at ancient Nippur the Sumerian epithet nin edin-na "the lady of edin," had succeeded in wresting away from a jealous god (Enki/Ea) the "totality of knowledge" needed to benefit mankind including the making of "judgements" of right and wrong, good and evil.
"The Mesopotamians also made a connection between water and intelligence, or wisdom...Enki's wisdom is of a practical as well as an esoteric nature...He was the patron deity of...gardeners...Eridu as the primary manifestation of the Apsu was also regarded the place of knowledge, the fount of wisdom, and under Enki's control. Several narratives elaborate on this concept. Eridu as the storehouse of divine decrees is described in a Sumerian narrative called 'Enki and Inanna.' Enki, ensconced in the Apsu, is in possession of all the me, a Sumerian term which refers to all those institutions, forms of social behavior, emotions, signs of office, which in their totality were seen as indespensible for the smooth operation of the world. These me belonged to Eridu and to Enki. However, Inanna, city goddess of Uruk, desires to obtain the me for herself and take them to Uruk...Having liberated the me...Inanna could not only enhance her own powers but also implement the decrees among mankind...through Inanna's interference, they became immanent in the world. She liberated them from Enki's keeping at Eridu, where he presumeably kept them locked away."
(pp. 22-23. "Eridu Stories." Gwendolyn Leick. Mesopotamia, the Invention of the City. London. Penguin Books. 2001, 2002)
Wolkstein and Kramer on Inanna's obtaining for her people the 'me,' the scene opens with her in "the steppe," which in Sumerian would be rendered as edin, leaning against an apple tree in the edin in apparently a state of nakedness as she is described as looking at, in wonder, her "vulva" (Note: I have _not_ followed Wolkstein's poetic format. Emphasis mine):
"Inanna placed the shugurra, the crown of the steppe, on her head. She went to the sheepfold, to the shepherd. She leaned against the apple tree. When she leaned against the apple tree, her vulva was wonderous to behold. Rejoicing at her wonderous vulva, the young woman applauded herself. She said: "I, the Queen of Heaven, shall visit the God of Wisdom. I shall go to the Abzu, the sacred place in Eridu. I shall honor Enki"...When Inanna entered the Abzu he gave her butter cake to eat...cold water to drink...beer...Enki and Inanna drank beer together...Enki, swaying with drink, toasted Inanna: "In the name of my power! In the name of my holy shrine! To my daughter Inanna I shall give...THE GIVING OF JUDGEMENTS!...THE MAKING OF DECISIONS!" Inanna replied: "I take them!"...Then Inanna, standing before her father, acknowleged the me Enki had given her: "My father has given me the ...me of treachery...straightforwardness...the giving of judgements...the making of decisions..."
(pp. 12-18. "Inanna and the God of Wisdom." Diane Wolkstein & Samuel Noah Kramer. Inanna Queen of Heaven and Earth, Her Stories and Hymns from Sumer. New York. Harper & Row. 1983)
I understand Genesis is a polemic, deliberately challenging Mesopotamian views of the relationship between man and the gods. The challenge sometimes involves "inversions" and transformations of earlier concepts. (1) Gods become _a_god; (2) Failure to eat of the "bread of life" to obtain _immortality_ becomes failure to eat of a "tree fruit" to obtain immortality; (3) An event occuring in heaven -Adapa failing to eat the "bread of life" at Anu's heavenly abode- is placed on the earth in a fruit-tree garden in Eden; (4) The Sumerian portrayal of NAKED men and women as the gods' servants -they denying man the knowledge it is wrong to be naked- becomes Yahweh keeping Adam and Eve in a state of NAKEDNESS as his servants in Eden denying them the knowledge it is wrong to be naked; (5) The gods' intent to keep man _FOREVERMORE_ their agricultural servants working in their earthly city gardens in edin-the-floodplain becomes inverted into a wrathful god EXPELLING man from his garden; (6) The notion that Igigi gods rebelled over the "onerous work conditions" in the Anunnaki gods' earthly gardens reveals _life was NOT idyllic_ in the gods' gardens vs. the Hebrew notion _life was idyllic_ then Adam sinned and was expelled from this idyllic world. So I see the Hebrew account of Adam and Eve and their expulsion as reformattings ("inversions") of Mesopotamian concepts of the relationships between the gods and man.
As noted earlier, above, the "Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil" does _not_ exist as a motif to my knowledge in _any_ Ancient Near Eastern myths other than the Hebrews' Genesis account.
The Hebrew author may possibly have had some dim foggy tradition of a naked man and woman in a gods' garden serving the god in a state of nakedness and dreamed up a fruit-tree conferring knowledge to have the couple realize they are naked after eating of it. As this article points out (below), the Mesopotamian myths do mention eating of a tree to acquire knowledge. In one case the knowledge is sought by the god Enki inorder to decree the fruit's usefulness to man and the gods, in another case, the fruit of the trees gives the goddess Inanna sexual knowledge. My research is directed at attempting to determine the _original_ Mesopotamian themes and motifs and how the Hebrews later transformed them as a challenge to Mesopotamian belief about the relationship between god and man.
The "Bread of Death" and the "Bread of Life" _recast_ as "Fruit of Death" and "Fruit of Life" in Genesis:
Adapa was warned on the earth in Eridu by his god Ea (Enki) NOT to eat "the Bread of Death" or drink "the Water of Death" or he would surely die. In Anu's heaven he is presented "Bread of Life" and "Water of Life" which will give him immortality. I understand that the Hebrews, employing "a new twist," have transformed the Bread of Death into a Fruit of Death which if eaten will cause Adam to die, said fruit being from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The "Bread of Life" offered by Anu has been _recast_ by the Hebrews as a Fruit conferring Immortality if consumed. In other myths we learn that Ea (Enki) who is called an ushumgal or "great serpent/dragon" has created a garden full of fruit-trees for himself near his shrine. He is, in another myth, responsible for creating man of the clay over the apsu in Eridu to replace the toiling Igigi gods who compalin they have no rest from agricultural toil in his city garden. I thus understand that Ea's FRUIT_TREE_GARDEN was known by Terah and Abraham who lived at Ur of the Chaldees (Tel Muqqayar near Eridu) and they (Terah and Abraham) used fruits from these trees TO REPLACE "Bread of Death" and "Bread of Life" in the Hebrew _recasting_ of motifs from the Adapa and the Southwind myth. Enki the ushumgal is praised for the mes-tree he plants in Eridu, it is a "wonderous" tree of cosmic proportions and with its many fruits is considered the equivalent of a grove of fruit trees stretching over the land. I suspect Enki the ushumgal who planted this fabulous tree has been transformed into Eden's serpent who is associated with a wonderous fruit tree that confers knowledge on Eve (cf. below for more details).
One gets the notion from Genesis' narrator that by "eating a fruit" of a tree one can "obtain knowledge." This concept appears in Sumerian myths. Kramer has noted that Enki, the god of Wisdom, desires "TO KNOW" about several plants in his wife's garden. His assistant does the actual picking of the plants and presents them to Enki for eating. Later, Enki's enraged wife, Ninhursag, learns what has happened. Having eaten of her plants without her permission, she curses her husband with death. Enki becomes deathly sick and feels the pain of death beginning in his various body parts. Eventually a fox is successful in persuading Ninhursag to relent, and heal Enki. She asks him what part of his body "hurts" and then makes either a god or goddess to heal that part.
Note the parallels to Adam and Eve. Adam does not pick the fruit, another does. A wife is seen as bringing about the downfall of her husband and his impending death for eating forbidden fruit. The important concept, however, is that the god "of Wisdom," before eating each plant, asks "What is this?" then he "obtains knowledge by eating" the plant. Note also that both Adam and Enki eat of a Tree:
Kramer (Emphasis mine):
"Enki in the marshlands looks about, looks about, he says to his messenger Isimud: "Of the plants their fate I would decree, their 'heart' I WOULD KNOW; What, pray is this (plant)? What, pray, is this (plant)?" His messenger Isimud answers: "My king, THE TREE-PLANT," he says to him; He cuts it down for him, HE (Enki) EATS IT."
Another Sumerian myth about "the Queen of Heaven," Inanna, has her speaking to her brother, Utu the sun-god, to the effect that she has no knowledge about love and sex, she 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).
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..."
It appears to me that Inanna is _EATING _OF_TREES_, Cedars, to acquire knowledge. That is to say "eating of a tree" confers knowledge.
Leick, alluding to the above verses, _also 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):
"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 about Enki and Inanna.
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)
Professor Tigay of the University of Pennsylvania has noted that some scholars have suggested that the "knowledge" obtained by Adam and Eve may have sexual undertones. If these suppositions are correct, this would align somewhat in my view with Inanna's "eating of tree to acquire sexual knowledge" to fulfil her bridal duties to her bridegroom Dumuzi, she being nin edin "the lady of edin" and he being mulu edin the "man of edin" or "lord of edin" in the Sumerian texts found at Nippur:
"Sexual Knowledge: The main evidence supporting this interpretation is the frequent use of "to know" (not only in Hebrew and other ancient Near Eastern languages) in the sense of "to be intimate with;" it also finds a distinction between homosexual and heterosexual indulgence in the phrase "to know good and bad," ignoring the objective case of the nouns. Another argument for interpreting "knowledge of good and bad" in the Garden of Eden story as "sexual awareness" is the use of "to know good and bad" in contexts which may conceivably refer (actually they are far more embracing) to the sexual urge...Indeed, the immediate consequence of eating from the tree is awareness of nakedness, and the first action reported after the expulsion from the garden is Adam's "knowing" Eve (4:1)."
Ishtar propositions Gilgamesh for sex asking for the "fruit" of his body:
"Glorious Ishtar raised an eye at the beauty of Gilgamesh:
"Come, Gilgamesh, be thou (my) lover!
Do but grant me of thy fruit.
Thou shalt be my husband and I will be thy wife."
(p. 51. James B. Pritchard. Editor. The Ancient Near East, An Anthology of Texts and Pictures. Princeton, New Jersey. Princeton University Press. 1958)
If "granting of fruit" is a Mesopotamian euphemism for "having sex" as in Ishtar's request of Gilgamesh, I guess Enkidu's having sex with Shamhat could also be seen as she granting him her fruit? If this interpretation be allowed, then the notion that marriage follows (Ishtar saying she will marry Gilgamesh) might be what is behind Genesis' notion that Adam and Eve become man and wife and are involved in the acquisition of a fruit? That is to say Eve's offering Adam "her fruit" is a recast veiled sexual innuendo for "lets have sex"!
Leeming notes Innana's vulva is likened to "untilled land" which her lover Dumuzi will "plow" with his penis (Inanna is nin-edin-na "the lady of edin" and Dumuzi is mulu-edin-na "the lord of edin" in the Sumerian hymns of Nippur). Of interest is that Adam, of Eden, "tills" a garden and Eve of Eden eventually bears him children:
My vulva, the horn,
The Boat of Heaven,
Is full of eagerness like the young moon.
My untilled land lies fallow.
And Dumuzi, the shepherd-farmer-king, obliges:
I Dumuzi, the King, will plow your vulva."
(p. 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)
The Hebrews' association of "fruitfulness" with Adam and Eve's having sex and progeny seems to mirror somewhat Ishtar's request for Gilgamesh's fruit:
"So God created man in his own image...and said to them "be FRUITFUL and multiply, and fill the earth..."
Genesis 1: 29
"And God said, "Behold, I have given you EVERY PLANT yielding seed which is upon the face of the earth, and EVERY TREE with seed in its FRUIT; you shall have them for food..."
In the Song of Solomon which is very erotic, praising a young damsel's physical beauty to her lover, the breasts are compared to young roes (deer) and clusters of dates on a date-palm tree, and again as grapes and pomengranates. That is to say the female's breasts are LIKENED AS FRUIT FROM A TREE. Is it possible that Eve's "fruit" offered Adam was Shamhat's breasts to Enkidu? After sex with her and enjoying her "fruits" or "breasts" (?) he attempts to rejoin his animal companions and they flee from him; he realizes they will not accept him anymore as their companion, he thereupon decides to cast his lot with Shamhat and civilized clothes-wearing man in Uruk.
Excerpts from the Song of Solomon alluding to a lover's breasts as two roes (deer), two towers of spices, dates, grapes, pomengranates, some of which are various "fruits," note that the damsel is addressed as a "queenly maiden" which was an epithet of Inanna (Ishtar) the goddess of sex and love as well as of whores and prostitutes:
Song of Solomon 7:1-14 RSV
"...O queenly maiden...You are stately as a PALMTREE, and YOUR BREASTS ARE LIKE ITS CLUSTERS. I say I will climb the PALM TREE and lay hold of its branches. O may YOUR BREASTS BE LIKE CLUSTERS OF THE VINE, and the scent of your breath like APPLES, and your kisses like the best WINE...let us go into the fields...to the vinyards...see whether the vines have budded, whether GRAPE BLOSSOMS have opned and the POMENGRANATES are in bloom. There I will give you my love...I would give you spiced WINE to drink, the juice of MY POMENGRANATES...Under the APPLE TREE I AWAKENED YOU...O you who dwell in the gardens...Make haste my beloved and be like a gazelle or young stag upon the MOUNTAINS OF SPICES."
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..."
Foster on erotic fore-play talk between two lovers, Nabu and Tashmetu, using sexual innuendos alluding to gardens and the plucking of fruit:
"These lines are lover's talk between Nabu and Tashmetu on the occasion of their marriage rite."
""Why, why are you so adorned, [my] Tashmetu?"
'So I can [go] to the garden with you, my Nabu.'
"Let me go to the garden...
"Let me go again to the exquisite garden...
I would see with my own eyes the plucking of your fruit...
Bind your nights to the garden and to the Lord,
Bind your nights to the exquisite garden,
Let my Tashmetu come with me to the garden...
May she see with her own eyes the plucking of my fruit..."
(p. 345. "Love Lyrics of Nabu and Tashmetu." Benjamin R. Foster. From Distant Days, Myths, Tales, and Poetry of Ancient Mesopotamia. Bethesda, Maryland. CDL Press. 1995)
I understand that Adam and Eve are recasts of Enkidu and Shamhat. I suspect the Genesis account is alluding in veiled sexual innuendos to the sexual mating of Enkidu with Shamhat. Ishtar asks of Gilgamesh's fruit (asking sex of him) and to the degree Enkidu has sex with Shamhat I guess one could say he is partaking of her fruit? We are told Adam and Eve acquire "knowledge" of good and evil after eating of the fruit, later Adam "KNOWS" Eve, his wife and she bears him a son called Cain. According to Professor Tigay, the Hebrew word "know" can also have sexual connotations, meaning to "have sex with." The Hebrews were fond of word punnings and innuendoes, words with double meanings for those in the audience who possessed a mastery of the language and the many different "veiled" meanings of words.
Ishtar is the Sumerian Inanna, who bears the Sumerian epithets, Inanna edin "Inanna of edin" and nin edin "lady of edin" (edin is the Sumerian word for steppe) according to hymns found at Nippur extolling Dumuzi and Inannna. Inanna in one myth descends to the earth with her brother Utu the sun-god to acquire knowledge by eating various herbs and or trees on the earth (kur) in order to know how to perform sex with her new bridegroom Dumuzi. After eating of Cedar trees and other herbs she asks to be taken to her mother-in-law's house to perform her wifely conjugal duites. Her husband Dumuzi was a king of Uruk (the same city Gilgamesh ruled at), and Dumuzi bore the Sumerian epithet mulu edin "lord of edin." Inanna (Akkadian Ishtar) is the goddess of lovemaking (and of whores and prostitutes) and of sex between man and wife. Shamhat the harlot served Inanna/Ishtar as a Temple whore or prostitute.
Leick on Dumuzi (biblical Tammuz):
"In the mythological texts Dumuzi features primarily in connection with the steppe (Sumerian: edinu) and the goddess Inanna..."
(pp.31-33. "Dumuzi." Gwendolyn Leick. A Dictionary of Ancient Near Eastern Mythology. London. Routledge. 1991)
Radau (1913) noted that Dumuzi's bride Inanna (Ishtar) was called "Inanna of edin" and the "Lady of edin":
"...Inanna-edin, Nin-edin..." (pp. 18 & 42. Note 6. Hugo Radau. Sumerian Hymns and Prayers to the god Dumu-zi or Babylonian Lenten Songs from the Temple Library of Nippur. Philadelphia. University of Pennsylvania. 1913)
Radau noted that although edin or edin-na meant "desert" (a desert plain or steppe) and was a location associated with Dumuzi the shepherd and his sheepfold, the term was also applied to the netherworld as in edin Arali :
"Edin in the Dumuzi texts signifies always the desert in the sense of the "netherworld"; cf. C. T. xv, 19:20, edin Arali, "the netherworld Arali." (p. 17. Radau)
Dumuzi bore the Sumerian epithet mulu edin which Radau translates as "lord of edin" which appears in Akkadian as be-el si-rim, "lord of the desert." (p. 17. Radau)
From the above texts it appears that Inanna, who ate of Cedar trees to acquire knowledge (She did _not_ eat of an Apple Tree) about love-making to perform her duties as Dumuzi's bride, was also associated with an earthly Eden, a desert-like plain or steppe (Sumerian edin, edinnu, edin-na). To the degree that Eve eats of a tree in Genesis, in a garden _located_in_ Eden, and Inanna bears the epithet or title "Inanna of edin" or "nin (lady) of edin" as a wife of the "lord of edin" (mulu edin) Dumuzi, could these Mesopotamian concepts have been "recast" as a Adam and Eve, a man and wife in Eden? That is to say Inanna, the "lady of edin" is a possible prototype of the biblical Eve, a lady in Eden, both having eaten of a tree inorder to acquire knowledge.
To the degree that the Inanna and Utu myth understands that the goddess OBTAINS KNOWLEDGE BY EATING OF A CEDAR TREE, it is worth noting here that Ezekiel understands that Eden possesses CEDAR TREES (Ez 31:8-9). I have identified some motifs from the Epic of Gilgamesh as being borrowed, transformed and reformatted in Genesis' mythical garden of Eden account. In the Gilgamesh Epic the ONLY motif regarding FORBIDDEN ACCESS TO TREES, is when Enkidu leads Gilgamesh to the Cedar mountain guarded by Huwawa, a half-human monster, who denies access to these trees by humans. The reason why Enkidu can lead Gilgamesh to these trees is that he frequented the mountain in the course of his wanderings over Edin (the steppe) with his animal companions. Huwawa is slain by our heroes, and they cut down the Cedar trees to use them for timber at Uruk. Perhaps the motif of "forbidden access to trees" appearing in Genesis is an echo, recalling the episode with Huwawa (sometimes rendered Khuwawa or Khumbaba). Did the motif of _forbidden trees being guarded_ by Huwawa come to be transformed into Genesis' cherubbim and Ezekiel's cherub? Perhaps Ezekiel's notion of Cedars in God's mountain-top garden recalls the forbidden cedar mountain associated with the Sumerian Edin ?
Ezekiel asociates the garden of God with a mountain (Cedars/Pines tend to grow on mountains):
Ezekiel 28: 13, 14, 16 RSV
"You [the king of Tyre] were IN EDEN, THE GARDEN OF GOD...With an anointed GUARDIAN cherub I placed you; YOU WERE ON THE MOUNTAIN OF GOD...you were filled with violence, and you sinned; so I cast as a profane thing from the mountain of God, and the guardian cherub drove you out..."
Ezekiel 31: 3, 8-9 RSV
"Behold, I will liken you [Pharaoh] to a cedar in Lebanon...THE CEDARS in the GARDEN OF GOD could not rival it...all the trees of EDEN envied it, that were in the GARDEN OF GOD."
Leick's "pine forest" is the cedar mountain :
"Gilgamesh said to his friend, Enkidu, my friend, your mother a gazelle, and your father a wild donkey sired you, their milk was from onagers, they (?) reared you, and cattle made you familiar with all the pastures. Enkidu's paths [led to] the Pine Forest..."
(p. 91. "Gilgamesh VIII." Stephanie Dalley. Myths From Mesopotamia: Creation, the flood, Gilgamesh and Others. Oxford & New York. Oxford University Press.  reprint 1989. ISBN 0-19-281789-2. paperback)
The Genesis account portrays Adam and Eve as naked and unashamed, rather like little children, but after eating of the "Tree of Knowledge" they realize they are naked and cover themselves, they also later on have sex, resulting in the births of Abel and Cain. That is to say, it is AFTER having eaten of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge that they THEN engage in sexual intercourse, which recalls somewhat what happen to Inanna, she eating of a Cedar and Cyrpress tree to acquire sexual knowledge. In the Epic of Gilgamesh the wild hairy man of the "steppe" (Sumerian: edin, Akkadian: seru) called Enkidu, has SEX with a priestess called Shamhat, who disrobes near a watering hole visited by him and his animal companions. After 6 days and 7 nights of copulation he rises to rejoin his animal companions but they flee from him. In bewilderment he turns to the temple prostitute and she asks him, "Why seek the companionship of animals, he NOW "possesses knowledge "like a God", (that is to say he now possesses CARNAL KNOWLEDGE) he sould live with men "in cities". She gives him "food fit for a god" and clothes him, and they leave the steppe or plain (steppe/plain in Akkadian being seru which later replaced the Sumerian edin) for Uruk.
In the Mesopotamian myths man was made to till and work the earthly "garden of the Gods." The purpose of this garden was to provide the gods dwelling in earthly cities (as well as heaven) with food. Thus the food raised in earthly irrigation-fed gardens is "food fit for a god," as man's _FIRST exposure_ to "garden-grown food" was when the gods made him to till and work THEIR earthly garden.
Enkidu who roamed with animals for companions now has been "civilized" via sex by a woman. She has provided him garden-produced food, food man was instructed to plant, harvest and present to the gods, Enkidu is clothed and leaves the edin (the steppe) with the temple prositute. I understand that the Hebrews in Genesis' garden of Eden have merely transformed and reworked the earlier Mesopotamian myths about how and why the gods came to make man and how he acquired food fit for a god, and forbidden knowledge (sexual or carnal knowledge, and the wearing of garments like the gods); I thus understand that Enkidu has been transformed into Adam and Shamhat into Eve; the hunter who brought her to seru/edin-the-plain to entrap him has become Yahweh-Elohim, the Hebrew God. The opening lines of the Epic of Gilgamesh, suggest for me, themes mirrored in Genesis' Garden of Eden myth concerning Adam and Eve having hidden or secret knowledge revealed to them, they SEEING that they are naked after eating a fruit. Gilgamesh SAW everything, he KNEW all things, WISDOM is his, HIDDEN THINGS are REVEALED. These motifs appearing in the very first lines of the Epic appear to me to have been recast in the Adam and Eve scenario (Adam being a recast of Enkidu and Gilgamesh and Eve being the temple harlot Shamhat). Gilgamesh seeks knowledge on how to obtain immortality from the only human to attain it, the Mesopotamian Noah called variously Ziusudra, Utnapishtim or Atrahasis. It was Enki or Ea (Aya) who warned him of the Flood and to build an Ark. It was Anu and Elilla (Enlil) who bestowed immortality on Ziusudra and wife after the Flood, setting them in an earthly paradise called Dilmun "at the mouth of the rivers," (the Tigris and Euphrates), perhaps present day Qurnah where modern Arab traditions locate Eden.
Heidel (Emphasis mine) :
"He who SAW everything within the confines of the land;
He who KNEW all things and was versed in everything
He SAW SECRET THINGS and REVEALED HIDDEN THINGS...
He brought intelligence [knowledge] of the days before the flood..."
p. 16. Alexander Heidel. The Gilgamesh Epic and Old Testament Parallels. Chicago. The University of Chicago Press. 1946, 1949. Reprint 1993. pbk.)
I understand that Mesopotamian myths about the God of Wisdom, Enki have been reformatted and lie behind -in part- the Edenic myth. Below, are excerpts on Enki's planting on the earth a wonderous garden with fruit-bearing trees, which I suspect came to be later transformed into Eden.
Enki builds a temple at Eridu on the banks of the Euphrates for himself. He lives in the depths of the Abzu (The Abyss or freshwater ocean under the earth, source of freshwater streams for irrigation). He plants a fruit orchard or garden for his temple. The myths understood Enki was the source of the earth's freshwater rivers (His semen is the freshwater filling rivers and irrigation canals). In the biblical Eden, a river rises in the midst of a garden filled with fruit trees, tended by Adam, this water source (ed), apparently a spring, becomes the source of four rivers, the Pishon, Gihon, Hiddekel and Euphrates. Evidently, Enki's fruit-tree garden has been transformed into Eden. And the freshwater Abzu, where Enki lives becomes the spring (ed) in Eden from which the four rivers arise which encompass the Edenic 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 seru/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 seem to recall that some wild animals will abandon their young if they smell a human scent on thier offspring from human hands having handled them. Perhaps this is why the wild animals abandoned Enkidu? After 6 days and 7 nights of sex with Shamhat her body odor and vaginal secretions are on him. If she wore perfume to enhance her sexual allure as a prostitute such perfumes could have also been transferred to Enkidu's naked body. So it would have been most likely a change in body odor that caused the wild animals to abandon the naked wild man of edin the steppe.
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.
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 is a "high" desert, steppe, wilderness 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 motif applies to man as well. 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 and 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.
I have identified Enkidu as one of several pre-biblical prototypes of Adam. The "bread" offered Enkidu by the shepherds of edin was initially refused by Enkidu because he knew only the eating of grass with his gazelle companions in the edin. Shamhat instructs him to eat the bread, and he submits to her will and does so. I understand this motif has been recast as Eve persuading Adam to eat "forbidden" food. Enkidu's initial balking at eating bread has been recast as Adam being told not to eat forbidden fruit (This motif is also derived from Ea telling Adapa not to eat the bread offered him by Anu). As noted above, a sheep is denied access to the city grain fields for foraging by the farmer. Grain is made into bread. So edin's animals (sheep and goats) are forbidden access to the grain fields. Thus grain (and thereby bread) are in a sense "forbidden" foods to edin's creatures. Adapa was offered a grain product, bread, in Anu's heavenly abode and his god Ea (Enki) had told him it was forbidden to eat, it being the food of death. So, on earth, grain which is made into bread as well beer (an alcoholic item) are non-accessible and forbidden to edin's wild creatures, just as Anu's bread-offering was forbidden to Adapa by Ea. I understand that the grain fields which were denied access to sheep (who are grazed in the edin) was recast as a fruit tree, the tree of life, that is off-limits to man as Adam (interestingly bread is sometimes called "the staff of life" and Genesis' tree's fruit confers "life"). It can just as well be argued that _all_ the plants in the gods' city-gardens are "forbidden food" to the edin's wild creatures and naked primal man, including not only grain but vegetables and fruits from trees as well. Genesis denies this, God allows _all_ of Eden's creatures to forage in his garden. It is only _after_ the gods take naked primal man from the edin to be their servant to work in their city-gardens, that man now has access to the plants which include fruit-trees _with the gods' permission_ said motif being "recast" as God telling Adam he may eat of all seed-bearing herbs and fruits from trees in his garden, cf. Genesis 1:29 and 2:9.
Some fields or city-gardens were within 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. 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 walled city-gardens _before_ man's creation; cf. the below transcriptions from the internet hosted by the University of Pennsylvania:
"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.
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 are herbivores and no threat 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, but a place of danger.
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)