The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden
(The Ancient Near Eastern Motifs behind)
Revisions through 06 September 2008
Reverend Worcester (1901) of St. Stephen's in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, accepted the earlier proposals of professional Assyriologists that some of Genesis' motifs regarding Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden were later recasts of concepts appearing in the Adapa and the Southwind myth as proposed by Archibald H. Sayce (1893) as well as the Epic of Gilgamesh (his epic of Izdubar) as proposed by Morris Jastrow Jr. (1898), Eabani being Enkidu and Izdubar being Gilgamesh in 1901:
"Let us next turn to Eabani, whom we may regard as a Babylonian counterpart of Adam...At the present time I do not hesitate to say that if there is any counterpart in Babylonian literature to the story of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden, we find that counterpart in the epic of Izdubar...There is one other Babylonian legend which, as many scholars have suggested, may have contributed to form a portion of the history of Adam...Adapa, a fisherman...under the protection of his patron Ea...In some respects the legend of Adapa reminds us more of Genesis than it does of the epic poem."
(pp. 250, 251, 253. Reverend Elwood Worcester, D.D. Genesis In the Light of Modern Knowledge. New York. McClure, Phillips and Company. 1901)
Worcester suggests that God had led Adam to believe he would die soon after he ate of the forbidden fruit (Ge 2:17), which of course, he didn't, living to the ripe old age of 930 (Ge 5:5) and he seeks this "misrepresentation" of the truth as a recasting of Ea's warning to Adapa: that he will die if he consumes the food and water of life to be offered him by the god Anu in heaven:
"Adapa was prevented from eating the magic food by the deception of Ea. Ea informed him that the food of life was food of death and that by partaking of it he would die. In the story of Eden, Javeh, hoping to deter Adam from eating the forbidden fruit, also misrepresents the effect of eating it. "In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die." Have we here the explanation of this strange misstatement?...Adam, in spite of the warning, eats and proves the threat unfounded by continuing to live."
(p. 254. Reverend Elwood Worcester, D.D. Genesis In the Light of Modern Knowledge. New York. McClure, Phillips and Company. 1901)
Worcester (1901) apparently understood in agreement with Sayce (1893) and Jastrow (1898) that Genesis' author had taken motifs from Adapa and the Southwind myth and the Epic of Gilgamesh (his Epic of Izdubar) and, after having stripped them of their polytheism, recast them into a nobler, "more correct understanding" of the relationship between Man and his Creator:
"Our author used material more or less common to the rest of the world...when we see what form these old myths take in the mind of our writer, how all their impurity, their folly, their polythesism disappear when they become before us as living symbols of deep, spiritual truths, we feel more than ever that the sacred authors were well and truly guided, and we marvel that they were able to make so much out of so little."
(p. 256. Reverend Elwood Worcester, D.D. Genesis In the Light of Modern Knowledge. New York. McClure, Phillips and Company. 1901)
The garden of Dilmun is another source of Edenic imagery. The Mesopotamian "Noah," Ziusudra and wife, have become Adam and Eve. They were placed "at the mouth of the rivers" _in the East_ where the sun rises. Perhaps this statement "mouth of the rivers" became the justification for having four streams arising from one source, a spring or fountain in Edin, the plain? Strangely, Kramer understands pi-narate to mean "source of the rivers," but Speiser understands that this means "mouth of the rivers," (cf. p. 179. E. A. Speiser. "The Rivers of Paradise." Richard S. Hess & David Toshio Tsumura, editors. I Studied Inscriptions Before the Flood: Ancient Near Eastern, Literary, and Linguistic Approaches to Genesis 1-11. Winona Lake, Indiana. Eisenbrauns. 1994. ISBN 0-931464-88-9). The Tigris and Euphrates do bisect the great Mesopotamian plain, creating lush marshlands near Qurnah and Basra in Lower Mesopotamia. I understand Dilmun to be "East of" Shuruppak and Uruk, assuming that Ziusudra in stating it lie in "the east" is speaking of East of he and Gilgamesh's original homes. That is to say, the western border of Dilmun is Edin the plain or steppe, including the marshlands east of Shuruppak and Uruk, and Dilmun's eastern border is the Zagros mountain range source of precious stones and minerals as well as where the sun rises each day as portrayed on Mesopotamian cylinder seals. The "sea" Gilgamesh crossed to get to Dilmun is the Tam-tu, or "sea-lands," the marshes east of Shuruppak, Uruk and Eridu (Ancient inscriptions stating Eridu lay on "the seacoast").
Wolkstein and Kramer understand Eridu lies where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers _converge_, and other scholars have noted that the Mesopotamian Noah, Utnapishtim is place in the land of Dilmun, a "kind of paradise," at the mouth of the rivers. Today these rivers converge at Qurnah forming the Shatt al Arab, but in antiquity they apparently converged near Eridu:
"Enki's sacred shrine, the Abzu, is built above the regions of the netherworld. His city, Eridu, is located near where the fresh and salt waters meet, where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and the Persian Gulf converge."
(p. 147. "Inanna and the God of Wisdom." Diane Wolkenstein & Samuel Noah Kramer. Inanna Queen of Heaven and Earth, Her Stories and Hymns From Sumer. San Francisco. Harper & Row, Publishers. 1983)
Professor Cassuto argued that Eden probably originally meant "a place well-watered" which would be an apt description of Eden's spring (Hebrew: ed) that possessed enough water to form four great world rivers. Eridu is not only located on the Euphrates, it is also near the great marshes of Lower Mesopotamia, and in myths Enki is portrayed punting his reed boat in these marshes singing their praise. The watery nature of the area, a great river, plus marshlands and fens, seem to me to qualify for "a place well-watered." Perhaps via assonance, or similarity in sound Sumerian edin became `dn, "a place well-watered" in NorthWest Semitic?
Cassuto on Eden:
"In Eden, in the place called Eden. The suggested explanations of the name that connect it with the Sumero-Akkadian word edinu ('steppe-land, wilderness') or with the expression ha` okhelim lema`adhannim ['those who feasted on dainties'] (Lam. iv.5), are unacceptable: the first, because it does not fit the context; the second because the stem `adhan in question corresponds to the Arabic ghadana spelt with a ghayin whereas in Ugaritic we find the stem `dn, with an ordinary `ayin, whose signification is well-suited to our theme. In the Epic of Baal, for example, it is stated (Tablet II AB, V, lines 68-69): wn `p `dn mtrb b`l y`dn `dn [to be rendered according to some authorities: 'and now also the moisture of his rain/ Baal shall surely make moist: y`dn `dn are derived from the root `dn] in connection with the watering of the ground. In this connotation it is possible to find the root `adhan also in Hebrew: and thou givest them to drink from the river of thy watering [`adhanekha; E.V. Thy delights] (Psa. Xxxvi 9); and in rabbinic language" rain waters, saturates, fertilizes and refreshes [me`adden] (B. Kethuboth 10 b); 'Just as the showers come down upon herbs and refresh [me`addenim] them', etc. (Sifre Deut. 32:2). The etymological meaning of the name Eden will, accordingly be : a place that is well watered throughout; and thus we read further on: that it was well watered everywhere like the garden of the Lord (xiii 10)."
(pp.107-108, Vol.1. Umberto Cassuto. A Commentary on the Book of Genesis. Part One. Jerusalem. Magnes Press, The Hebrew University. 1953- 1989. ISBN 965-223-480X )
Professor Wenham on Eden:
"It is simpler to associate Eden with its homonym "pleasure, delight" (2 Sam 1:24; Jer 51:34, Ps 36:9). Whenever Eden is mentioned in Scripture it is pictured as a fertile area, a well-watered oasis with large trees growing ( cf. Isa 51:3; Ezek 31:9, 16, 18; 36:35, etc.), a very attractive prospect in the arid East. (For confirmation of this interpretation, ct. the newly discovered old Aramaic root `dn, "enrich," [A.R. Millard, VT 34 1984. pp. 103-106]). This lush fecundity was a sign of God's presence in and blessing on Eden."
(p. 61, Gordon J. Wenham. Word Biblical Commentary, Genesis 1-15. Vol. 1. Waco, Texas. Word Books. 1987. ISBN 0-8499-0200-2)
Professor Kramer on Enki creating a fruit-tree garden near his shrine in Eridu:
"Enki filled the building with lyres, drums and every other kind of musical instruments. Surrounding the temple was a delightful garden full of fruit trees, with birds singing all around and frolicking carp playing among the reeds in the streams....sings the praises of the sea-house. Then Enki raises the city of Eridu from the abyss and makes it float over the water like a lofty mountain. Its green fruit-bearing gardens he fills with birds; fishes too he makes abundant."
(Samuel Noah Kramer. Sumerian Mythology. West Port, Connecticut. University of Pennsylvania Press. 1988)
Professors Kramer and Meier on the fabulous mes-tree he plants in Eridu, which possesses fruits. Enki also creates man to replace the Igigi gods to toil on their behalf in his Eridu garden (note: Enki's Sumerian epithet: ushumgal meaning "great serpent-dragon," thus associating this fruit tree's planting with a god who, in Sumerian myths was associated with man's creation at Eridu. Did Enki (Ea) the walking, talking ushumgal and creator of mankind become Eden's serpent that conned man out of cance to obtain immortality?).
"Lord who walks nobly on heaven and earth, self-reliant, father Enki...king, who turned out the MES-TREE in the Abzu, raised it up over all the lands, GREAT USHUMGAL WHO PLANTED IT IN ERIDU -its shade spreading over heaven and earth - A GROVE OF FRUIT TREES stretching over the land...Enki...lord of wisdom...you have given the people a place to live...you have looked after them, you have made sure they follow their shepherd...Enki, king of the Abzu, celebrates his own magnificence - as is right: I am lord. I am the one whose word endures. I am eternal."
(p. 39. "Enki and Inanna: The Organization of the Earth and Its Cultural Processes." Samuel Noah Kramer & John Meier. Myths of Enki, The Crafty God. New York. Oxford University Press. 1989)
Kramer _denied_ the notion held by some scholars that the mes tree had no fruit (cf. p. 216 note 6 to p. 39. Samuel Noah Kramer & John Meier. Myths of Enki, The Crafty God. New York. Oxford University Press. 1989). He understood that the above statement about "a grove of fruit trees stretching over the land" was a reference to the mes-tree. If I am understanding this verse correctly, _it appears to me_ that the mes-tree is being likened to being "the equivalent" of a whole grove of fruit trees stretching over the land. That is to say it is a huge tree of cosmic proportions, its roots are in the depths of the abzu/apsu or underearth freshwater ocean where Enki dwells and its top is in the clouds. This, of course, is poetic hyperbole and exaggeration, but nonetheless, the mes-tree probably is indeed an unknown species bearing fruits and it is planted by Enki (Akkadian Ea) who bears the Sumerian epithet ushumgal "great serpent-dragon." I suspect that the Bible's notion of a walking talking serpent associated with a "wonderous" fruit tree that can confer knowledge on Eve is a recast of Enki the ushumgal who planted the fabulous mes-tree at Eridu. The mes-tree's wonderous fruit becomes the fruit from the Bible's Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil that brings death to Adam and Eve, replacing the "bread of death" motif in the Adapa and the Southwind myth.
Inanna despite her Sumerian epithet nin edin "lady of edin," is portrayed as possessing a city garden at Unug (Akkadian: Uruk) and planting a tree in it. She hopes to eventually cut it down and make furniture of it but a snake denies her access to the tree. Was this motif recast as a serpent encouraging a "lady of eden" (Eve) to access a tree to eat of its fruit? Gilgamesh eventually comes to her aid, slays the serpent and chops down the tree for her so she can make a chair and bed of it:
"At that time, there was a single tree, a halub tree...growing on the bank of the Euphrates...The force of the south wind uprooted it...the Euphrates...carried it away...a woman [Inana]...took the tree and brought it into Unug, into Inana's luxuriant garden. The woman planted the tree...watered it...Five years, ten years went by, the tree grew massive...At its roots, a snake immune to incantations made itself a nest...holy Inana cried..."
(pp. 32-33. "Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Underworld." Jeremy Black, Graham Cunningham, Eleanor Robson & Gabor Zolyomi. The Literature of Ancient Sumer. New York & Oxford. Oxford University Press. 2004)
Wolkstein and Kramer suggest that the Huluppu-tree (Black's halub tree) might have been recast as one of Eden's trees:
"The Hebrew story of creation parallels the Sumerian account of "The Huluppu-Tree" in many ways...It may be that the powers of the biblical trees in the center of the Garden of Eden, the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, are based on the joined powers of the Sumerian huluppu-tree."
(pp. 144-145. "Interpretations of Inanna's Stories and Hymns." pp. 136-173. Diane Wolkenstein & Samuel Noah Kramer. Inanna Queen of Heaven and Earth, Her Stories and Hymns From Sumer. San Francisco. Harper & Row, Publishers. 1983)
Gilgamesh and Huwawa, Version A: composite text (A Sumerian text, some of whose motifs were later incorporated into the Akkadian Epic of Gilgamesh), note the Sumerian word edin-na meaning "plain":
56jickiri6 ji6 edin-na jiri3-ni bi2-in-gub
Kramer's translation of the preceeding Sumerian text (emphasis mine):
"To the...GARDEN OF THE PLAIN he [Gilgamesh] directed his step,
The...-tree, the willow, the apple-tree, the box-tree, the
...-tree he felled there."
(p. 178. "Slaying of the Dragon [Huwawa or Humbaba], the First St. George." Samuel Noah Kramer. History Begins At Sumer, Twenty-seven "Firsts" In Man's Recorded History. Garden City, New York. Doubleday Anchor Books. 1959. paperback)
It is understood that the Sumerian account as presented above by Kramer, was later incorporated into the Akkadian Epic of Gilgamesh. My interest here though is to note that the "garden of the _plain_" in Sumerian is _edin_! Edin is variously rendered into English as "desert," "wilderness", "steppe" and "plain" by different scholars. It is the semi-arid land through which the Tigris and Euphrates rivers flow, and surrounds the cities of Lower Mesopotamia (ancient Sumer and Akkad/Accad).
I understand that Enkidu has been recast as Adam and Shamhat as Eve. Genesis has Eve being presented to Adam in a garden located in a place called Eden (the garden's name was _not_ Eden, it was located _in_ a place called Eden). I note that the Epic of Gilgamesh written in Akkadian uses the Sumerian logogram edin to represent the Akkadian word seru meaning "steppe," as transcribed (cf. below) by Heidel. It is at edin's watering hole that Shamhat encounters Enkidu and has sex with him accomplishing thereby his separation from his animal companions, the gazelles that he eats grass with. I understand that this watering hole became the Hebews' "garden of eden" meaning "delight" because Enkidu's "heart's delight" was the water at this watering hole. So, down through the centuries, the Sumerian location, edin "the steppe," where a naked man who had no father or mother (like Adam) was undone by a naked Shamhat (like Eve), and he, accompanying her, is persuaded to leave edin of his own free will clothed and naked no longer. In other words in the "original" account an angry god (Yahweh-Elohim) did _not_ expell the naked man and woman from edin, nor was he outraged that they had covered their nakedess before leaving edin. Note: The verses in bold print are reproduced further-down in Heidel's transcription which follows Pritchard's.
Professor Pritchard on Enkidu's arrival at the watering hole in the steppe (steppe in Sumerian being rendered as the Sumerian logogram edin, but 'read' as an equivalent of Akkadian seru), where wait Shamhat the harlot-priestess of Uruk and the Hunter:
"The creeping creatures came, their heart delighting in water.
But as for him, Enkidu, born in the hills-
With the gazelles he feeds on grass,
With the wild beasts he drinks at the watering-place,
With the creeping creatures his heart delights in water-
The lass beheld him, the savage-man,
The barbarous fellow from the depths of the steppe:
"There he is, O lass, Free thy breasts,
Bare thy bosom that he may possess thy ripeness!
Be not bashful! Welcome his ardor!
As soon as he sees thee, he will draw near to thee.
Lay aside thy cloth that he may rest upon thee.
Treat him, the savage, to a woman's task! Reject him will his wild beasts that grew up on his steppe,
As his love is drawn unto thee."
The lass freed her breasts, bared her bosom,
And he possessed her ripeness.
She was not bashful as she welcomed his ardor..."
(p. 44. "The Epic of Gilgamesh." James B. Pritchard. Editor. The Ancient Near East, An Anthology of Texts and Pictures. Princeton, New Jersey. Princeton University Press. 1958. paperback)
Heidel reproduces the above words which I have rendered in bold print from the Epic of Gilgamesh ("he" is in reference to Enkidu):
"...while on Tablet I. 4:7, he is called
itlu (GURUS) sag-ga-sa-a sa-qa-bal-ti seri (EDIN):
"The savage man from the midst of the seru."
(cf. p. 233. Alexander Heidel. "A Special Usage of the Akkadian Term Sadu." pp. 233-235. The Journal of Near Eastern Studies. Vol. 8. No. 3. July 1949)
My thanks to Robert M. Whiting, Ph.D. of Helsinki, Finland, a professional Assyriologist (Managing Editor of the world-renown Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project, The Assyrian State Archives Series) for explaining to me that Heidel's 1949 transcription reveals that the scribe actually wrote the word "steppe" using the Sumerian LOGOGRAM (EDIN), and that modern scholars "read" (EDIN) as a substitution for seru. Heidel's transcription also reveals that the Akkadian word itlu was actually written as (GURUS) another Sumerian LOGOGRAM. Whiting explained that the use of Sumerian logograms is quite common in Akkadian compositions.
Whiting's explanation solved the mystery for me of how _seru_ the "steppe" came to become Hebrew `eden, I realized that the Hebrews had apparently morphed the Sumerian logogram edin into 'eden! Hebrew `eden means DELIGHT, and we are told when Enkidu appeared at the watering hole in edin, his heart's DELIGHT was its water. So, I understand the Hebrews took this notion of a naked man's DELIGHT over water and morphed edin's watering hole into Hebrew `eden, a place of DELIGHT (The Mystery solved at long last, after some 3000 years!).
Naked Enkidu's encounter with a naked woman in the Sumerian edin or "steppe" was never completely lost when Akkadian came to replace Sumerian as a literary language. Enkidu's association with the seru/seri in the form of a Sumerian logogram edin kept alive the connection down through the centuries.
Vanstiphout's below article is of interest here in that it reveals that two Sumerian logograms are being used by the Akkadian scribe to render the Akkadian belet seri, "lady of the desert/steppe" (line 20) as Gasan.Edin (apparently gasan = lady, edin = desert/steppe = "the lady of edin"):
"20. ...beletseri (GASAN.EDIN) mi-lik-kunu lis-pu-uh..."
(p. 52. H. L. J. Vanstiphout. "A Note on the Series "Travel in the Desert." (Journal of Cuneiform Studies, Vol. 29, No. 1 (Jan. 1977), pp. 52-56)
Halloran on Sumerian logograms:
"A logogram is a reading of a cuneiform sign which represents a word in the spoken language. Sumerian scribes invented the practice of writing in cuneiform on clay tablets sometime around 3400 B.C. in the Uruk/Warka region of southern Iraq. The language that they spoke, Sumerian, is known to us through a large body of texts and through bilingual cuneiform dictionaries of Sumerian and Akkadian, the language of their Semitic successors, to which Sumerian is not related. These bilingual dictionaries date from the Old Babylonian period (1800-1600 B.C.), by which time Sumerian had ceased to be spoken, except by the scribes. The earliest and most important words in Sumerian had their own cuneiform sign, whose origins were pictographic, making an initial repertoire of about a thousand signs of logograms." (John A. Halloran. Sumerian Lexicon. Version 3.0) http://www.sumerian.org/sumerian.pdf
Halloran on Sumerian logogram edin or eden:
edin, eden: noun: steppe, plain; grazing land between the two long rivers.
an-edin: high plain (high + steppe)
bar-edin-na: edge of the desert (side + steppe + genitival a (k) )
The Hebrews' patriarchs, Abraham through Jacob (called later Israel) are portrayed as tent-dwelling shepherds: "And you shall make response before the Lord your God, 'A wandering Aramean was my father" (King James Bible: "Syrian" Deut 26:5). They grazed their herds and flocks in the edin steppe lands extending from Ur of the Chaldees (Ge 11:28), south of Babylon to Haran (Ge 11:31) in northern Syria, and Damascus (Ge 15:2) and thence south to Beersheba (Ge 21:33). The city-dwellers of Mesopotamia held the tent-dwelling shepherds of the western lands (Martu, Amurru, Aram) in contempt and regarded them a menace to civilized life in the cities.
IN DEFENSE OF THEIR WAY OF LIFE AND THE LOCATION THEY LIVED IN WITH THEIR HERDS (THE EDEN/EDIN STEPPE) THE HEBREW SHEPHERDS ('SYRIAN' OF DEUTERONOMY 26:5) PROBABLY RECAST THE CREATION-OF-MAN MYTHS CONCOCTED BY THE MESOPOTAMIAN CITY-DWELLERS INTO A REFUTATION: GOD'S DELIGHT WAS NOT IN A CITY AND IT'S CITY-GARDEN FOUNDED BY A MUDERING CAIN AND DESCENDANTS, IT WAS IN THE EDEN, WHICH VIA A DELIBERATE MISPRONOUNCIATION AND SPELLING BECAME A PLACE OF "DELIGHT AND WELL-WATERED" INSTEAD OF A SEMIARID DESERT-LIKE GOD-FORSAKEN-WILDERNESS, A FIT PLACE ONLY FOR THIEVES, BRIGANDS AND CUT-THROATS IN MESOPOTAMIAN CITY-DWELLER'S EYES.
Primal man, Adam had dwelt NAKED with animals for companions in a garden, in a location called Eden, just as another primal man, Enkidu of the Epic of Gilgamesh had dwelt NAKED with animal companions until he "fell for" a naked woman brought by the hunter to the watering hole in the steppe, a place where Enkidu and the animal's "HEARTS' DELIGHT was water", to undo the naked man of the steppe, separating him from his animal companions and having him leave the steppe to dwell with civilized man in a city called Uruk. The naked woman's words to Enkidu: "You are like a God now, why roam with the animals? Let us leave THIS PLACE OF DESOLATION, berift of shepherds, come with me to Uruk, to meet mighty Gilgamesh." Enkidu agrees and she clothes his and her nakedness before leaving the steppe, and they dwell in the city of Uruk, glorified for its "civilized amenities" over the god-forsaken desolate steppe. I understand Enkidu was recast as Adam and Shamhat the naked harlot who separated him from his animals as "a more fit companion", became Eve. The watering hole in the steppe where she seduced Enkidu, the source of Enkidu's and the animals' heart's "delight" became morphed into 'eden, meaning a place of "delight" _contra_ a city-dwelling Shamhat characterizing the steppe as a place of desolation. It is well to recall's Leick's words that the gods regarded cities as their dwellings and hearts' delight whereas naked primal man's (Enkidu's) dwelling and heart's delight was a watering hole in the steppe (Akkadian seru, Sumerian edin).
Please click here for _my map_ showing the "possible" location of the watering hole where Enkidu the naked primal man of edin was separated from his animal companions by a naked woman (Shamhat), said site being transformed by the Hebrews into the Garden of Eden.
Kramer on the lack of interest in the moral dilemma of "man's freewill" by the Sumerians:
"Sumerian thinkers, in line with their world view, had no exaggerated confidence in man and his destiny. They were firmly convinced that man was fashioned of clay and created for one purpose only: to serve the gods by supplying them with food, drink, and shelter, so that they might have full leisure for their divine activities...One fundamental moral problem, a favorite with Western philosophers, never troubled the Sumerian thinkers at all -namely, the delicate problem of free will. Convinced beyond all need for argument that man was created by the gods solely for their benefit and pleasure, the thinkers accepted man's dependent status just as they accepted the divine decision that death is man's lot and that only the gods are immortal."
(p. 104. "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)
Professor Sayce (1912) understood that Eden was the Babylonian plain between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and the "garden of Eden" was watered by these rivers and was principally a plantation of fruit trees:
"The Babylonian plain was called the Land of Eden by its inhabitants -Eden signifying a plain in the primitive language of Babylonia. It was in this plain that the garden was situated. It was not a garden in our sense of the term. The word signified what we would now call a plantation mainly of fruit trees...It was thus the annual flood of the Babylonian rivers which irrigated Paradise."
(p. 145. Professor Sayce, John Jackson, L. W. King, F. R. Maunseh & William Willcocks. "The Garden of Eden and its Restoration: Discussion." The Geographical Journal. Vol. 40. No. 2 (August 1912). pp. 145-148)
Crawford on ancient Sumer's GARDENS, possessing FRUIT-TREES and VEGETABLES (emphasis mine):
"So far we have been considering the relationships of settlements to the landscape and to each other, but each of these settlements was supported by its own agricultural hinterland, irrigated by canals, which separated it from its neighbours and provided the vital foodstuffs and fuel on which its survival depended. The utilised land can be divided into three categories: the intensively cultivated GARDENS, which often lay within the boundaries of the settlement on the banks of the water courses; the irrigated fields lying in a band parallel to the waterways and producing the bulk of the staple crops; and the land further from the water supply which was used as grazing, for collecting fuel, for hunting, and occasionally for catch crops when conditions were favorable...The most important crop produced by the GARDEN plots south of the Hit-Samarra line in the third millennium was almost certainly dates, although the archaeological and textual evidence for the production of dates at this time is surprisingly flimsy. Date stones are reported in late Ubaid context at Eridu (Wright 1981:324)...More date stones were found in the grave of the lady Puabi in the Royal Cemetery at Ur...There are also reports of the import of special sorts of date from Dilmun...The date palm is ideally suited to the conditions in south Mesopotamia: it flourishes with its roots in stagnant, salty water and...can be relied on to produce heavy crops south of the 35th parallel. As far north as Qurna it is not even necessary to irrigate because of the backup from the tidal regime on the head of the Gulf. The trees not only produce a highly nutritious food which is a staple part of the diet, but the sap provides a useful sweetner and can also be used to make a sort of fermented date wine...Just as important to the farmer was THE SHADOW CAST BY THE DATE PALM. This ALLOWED allowed more tender plants, such as FRUIT TREES, pomengranates, FIGS, APPLES and even vines, TO GROW IN ITS SHADE. In the deeper shade below the fruit trees were the GARDEN plots, which produced vegetables such as onions, garlic and cucumbers...These plots required much labour, but were amazingly productive. The irrigated arable land, much of it owned by the great public households of the temple and the palace, formed by far the most important category of land in terms of both area and productivity."
(pp. 52-54. "Patterns of settlement and agriculture.Harriet Crawford. Sumer and the Sumerians. Cambridge, United Kingdom. Cambridge University Press. 1991, 2004)
Note: Genesis does not identify what tree was the "tree of knowledge" or what tree was "the tree of life." Some scholars have suggested that as Adam and Eve are portrayed covering their nakedness with FIG LEAVES (Ge 3:7) after eating of the "tree of knowledge" that perhaps it is the FIG TREE. Elsewhere in the Bible we are told that Solomon had his temple decorated with cherubim and palm-trees (1 Ki 6:32, 35). Perhaps this is an allusion to the "tree of life" that God sets the cherubim to guard in the garden of Eden (Ge 3:24)? If so, then the date-palm was probably the "tree of life." Of interest here is Crawford's _above_ observations about date-palm gardens (date palm plantations) and fig trees growing in the shade of the date palms. Is Genesis recalling a fig tree (as the "tree of knowledge") because in Mesopotamian gardens the fig tree grew _NEAR_ the date-palm (the "tree of life"), THRIVING IN ITS SHADE? Was the date-palm seen as the "Tree of Life" because (1) its dates were a staple food for all, both rich and poor, and (2) its "life-giving-shade" allowed smaller fruit trees to flourish, who's shade, in turn, allowed vegetables to flourish as well? Please click here and scroll down for pictures of what the Garden of Eden probably looked like (as described above by Crawford). Please click here for a wall mural at ancient Mari on the Euphrates of the 18th century B.C. showing Cherubim (?) guarding two sacred trees (one is a Date-palm, the other is "in flower" suggesting it is some kind of a "fruit-tree"), the goddess Ishtar (Sumerian: Inanna) appears in the mural, she was called at Nippur Inanna edin and Nin edin ("Inanna of edin" and "Lady of edin").
The Sumerians called fresh figs pesh-duru and dried figs pesh-had. The below account of Woolley's Ur excavations mentions date-palm plantations and fig trees in ancient Sumer (emphasis mine):
"Before the 20th century, written history had told the world very little about Ur. Beyond the Bible's brief references to it as the home of the patriarchs, almost nothing was known. But in the early 1920's the British Museum and the University Museum of Pennsylvania sent a combined expedition to Iraq under Woolley's leadership to investigate a certain massive mound of brick about 230 miles south of Baghdad. And there was Ur.
It doesn't seem possible now that Ur was ever the site of the great civilization that Woolley was later to describe: a city surrounded by bounteous GARDENS WITH GROVES OF _FIGS_ AND _DATES_ and tall palms standing by mathematically straight irrigation canals, a city of temples and warehouses, workshops and schools, spacious villas and the towers they called ziggurats, all within a great wall overlooking the waters of the Euphrates."
Crawford on THE EDIN, "uncultivated land" surrounding the Mesopotamian city gardens and irrigated fields being utilized by shepherds to graze their flocks and herds (emphasis mine):
"The third category of land which we listed at the beginning of this section was the unirrigated land, which lay furthest from the waterways, and which merged into the unused land referred to in the texts as THE EDIN. This empty land formed a buffer between one settled enclave and another. It also had a considerable economic role. For much of the year it provided valuable grazing for the sheep and goats, which supplied both meat and dairy produce, as well as wool for the important textile industry. In the summer months the land yielded nothing more than a little scrub, but plants with deep roots, such as prosopis, survive on very little moisture and provide not only a little meager grazing, but also small quantities of fuel, as does the dung dropped by the animals. This is mixed with chopped straw and dried and today provides a major source of fuel IN A VIRTUALLY TREELESS ENVIRONMENT."
(pp. 57-58. "Patterns of settlement and agriculture." Harriet Crawford. Sumer and the SumeriansCambridge, United Kingdom. Cambridge University Press. 1991, 2004)
Professor Jacobsen on the "desert" (Sumerian edin) being contiguous to city orchards and gardens. The poem is about the death of Dumuzi the shepherd who dwelt in the edin (the Sumerian edin, rendered "desert," "wilderness," "steppe," or "plain" by various scholars):
"The "desert" stands here for the open country around the city, bordering on the city's orchards and gardens."
(p. 61. Note 2. "In the Desert by the Early Grass." Thorkild Jacobsen. The Harps That Once...Sumerian Poetry in Translation. New Haven & London. Yale University Press. 1987)
Genesis suggests God plants a garden _in_ Eden with fruit trees (Ge 2:8-9). Crawford's above observation of THE EDIN BEING A TREELESS STEPPE OR PLAIN, which SURROUNDS AND IS CONTIGUOUS TO THE GARDENS OF THE GODS WHICH POSSESS FRUIT-TREES, APPEARS TO ME TO BE A MIRROR-IMAGE OF GENESIS' GARDEN. IN THE MESOPOTAMIAN MYTHS IT IS THE GODS WHO PLANTED THESE GARDENS _IN_ THE EDIN _BEFORE_ MAN'S CREATION. THE GODS PLANTED THESE GARDENS TO PROVIDE FOOD FOR THEMSELVES AS THEY HAVE BUILT CITIES IN THE EDIN TO DWELL IN. AFTER 'TIRING' OF ALL THIS LABOR, BUILDING IRRIGATION CANALS AND DREDGING THEM THEY CREATE MAN TO WORK IN THEIR STEAD, MAN WILL CARE FOR THE GOD'S CITY GARDENS WHICH ARE FILLED WITH FRUIT-TREES. I understand the Hebrews are "refuting" these Mesopotamian myths regarding how the gods came to create man and place him in their city-gardens to grow food and feed them.
Woolley on Sumer's extensive date palm gardens, and the fact that the date was a "staple" food of the people Could perhaps the date's being a "staple food" for the Sumerians account for why it became Genesis' "tree of life"? (emphasis mine):
"The prosperity of Sumer depended on its agriculture and on its commerce. The carefully irrigated fields produced amazing crops of barley and spelt, onions and other vegetables grew along the canal banks, and as early as 2800 B.C. the DATE-GARDENS were very extensive -a number of varieties of dates were cultivated, and the harvest afforded one of THE STAPLE FOODS of the people."
(p. 112. "Sumerian Society." Sir Charles Leonard Woolley. The Sumerians. Oxford, England. The Clarendon Press. 1928, 1929)
Woolley on grain being grown in Sumer for BREAD (Adam apparently grows grain in Genesis, being told by God he will earn his bread by the sweat of his brow (Ge 3:19) (emphasis mine):
"The grain was used for BREAD ground to flour between flat rubbing-stones, or was parched and bruised for a kind of porridge or brewed into beer; wine was manufactured from dates as well as from grapes..."
(p. 114. "Sumerian Society." Sir Charles Leonard Woolley. The Sumerians. Oxford, England. The Clarendon Press. 1928, 1929)
Many Christians understand the forbidden fruit was an apple. Translations of Sumerian texts suggest apple trees were grown in the gods' gardens and a text states that Dumuzi (the "lord of edin") was seized and killed while under an "apple tree" in the edin "plain" of Kulaba, which is another name for Uruk, at the behest of his wife Inanna, "the lady of edin" to become her surrogate in the Underworld:
"Holy Inana answered the demons...Let us go on to the great apple tree in the plain of Kulaba. There was Dumuzid clothed in a magnificent garment and seated on a throne. The demons seized him there...Holy Inana gave Dumuzid the shepherd into their hands..."
(p. 74. "Inana and Dumuzid." Jeremy Black, Graham Cunningham, Eleanor Robson & Gabor Zolyomi. The Literature of Ancient Sumer. New York & Oxford. Oxford University Press. 2004, 2006)
Special note: My research has come up with some "contradictory" information regarding whether or not fruit-trees existed in the wild in edin the uncultivated steppe/plain. Apparently before man settled in the edin, the plain that the Tigris and Euphrates rivers course through, stands of trees existed near the rivers' natural levees. Apparently, over time, man learned to transplant these fruit-trees in his city-gardens along with vegetables and wheat. Today fruit-trees are not generally found growing wild in the uncultivated edin, they tend to be found in city-gardens cultivated by man with irrigation canals and man-made levees. The Sumerian word edin means uncultivated plain or steppe. The edin surrounds, or is contiguous to the gods' city-gardens. That is to say the gods' city-gardens are not called edin, but they lie "in" or are surrounded by the edin (uncultivated steppeland).
The Sumerians and later Babylonians and Assyrians all had a concern about the Who, What, Why, Where, When and How of Man. They wanted to know how did man come to be created by the gods? What was man's purpose in life? Why did he experience death ? Was there ever a time that he had a chance for obtaining immortality ? What happened after death?
All of these issues are addressed in Genesis, but not to the satisfaction of some moderns. We must remind ourseves of the adage that a composition reflects the age in which it was composed. I have suggested elsewhere that Genesis is a composition of the 6th century B.C. (the Exile), but incorporating some pre-exilic notions preserved in Sumerian (3rd millennia B.C.) as well as Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian religious literature of the 9th-6th centuries B.C.
Now to address the questions of Who, What, Why, Where, When and How.
The Mesopotamians understood man had been created to be a servant or slave to the gods, to work the earth as an agriculturalist (Adam is an agriculturalist), making and clearing drainage ditches, growing and harvesting food, and then presenting it to the gods to eat via sacrifices. In making man, the lesser gods, called the Igigi, obtained freedom from their earthly labors (their toil being taken over by man), they entered into "the resting" of the greater gods or Annunaki.
According to "some" Mesopotamian myths (most specifically, "the Epic of Atrahasis") there were two sets of earth-dwelling gods living in cities they had made for themselves in edin-the-plain of Sumer, with irrigated gardens which they had planted for their sustenance. The Igigis' purpose was to set-up and maintain via planting, weeding, tilling, and dredging irrigation ditches, gardens for the Annunaki, in which were grown fruits and vegetables.
That is to say, BEFORE man's creation there EXISTED a _"garden of the gods"_ in Lower Mesopotamia, who's purpose was to provide fruits and vegetables for earth-dwelling gods, the Annuaki and Igigi. When the Igigi complained of their toil in this garden and threatened rebellion, _THEN_ man was "created to replace them," he would till and care for the God's Garden. The myths contradict each other as to man's creation. One myth has man being made by Enki to tend and till _his_ garden at Eridu to replace the Igigi while another myth has man being created to replace the Igigi at Nippur who work in a garden belonging to Enlil, Enki's brother. In any case, both myths agree somewhat with Genesis, man was created to work in the garden of _a_ god (Enlil or Enki), which had been planted _before_ man's creation.
Jacobsen on the Igigi gods tiring of "farming" for their food and how Enki came to make man of clay at Eridu to end their toil:
"The first of these stories tell how in the beginning the gods had to farm for their food themselves. The hard work of cleaning rivers and canals weighed heavily on them and put them in a rebellious mood, so that they blamed Enki...Enki's mother, Namma, brought their distress to her son's notice and suggested he devise a substitute for the gods who would take over their toil and so relieve them."
(p. 151. "The Birth of Man." Thorkild Jacobsen. The Harps That Once...Sumerian Poetry in Translation. New Haven & London. Yale University Press. 1987)
Note the parallels with Adam and Eve, they are placed in a GOD'S Garden, to "till and keep it."
Professor Foster on the Igigi gods at Nippur desiring an end to their city-garden toil:
"When the gods were man, they did forced labor, they bore drudgery. Great indeed was the drudgery of the gods, the forced labor was heavy, the misery too much: The seven (?) great Anunna-gods were burdening the Igigi gods with forced labor...[The gods] were digging watercourses, canals they opened, the life of the land...They heaped all the mountains. [ years] of drudgery, [ ] the vast marsh. They counted years of drudgery, [and] forty years too much ! [ ] forced labor they bore night and day. They were complaining, denouncing, muttering down in the ditch, "Let us face up to our foreman the prefect, He must take off this our heavy burden upon us!
(pp. 52-53. "The Story of the Flood," [The Atrahasis version]." Benjamin R. Foster. From Distant Days, Myths Tales and Poetry of Ancient Mesopotamia. Bethesda, Maryland. CDL Press. 1995. ISBN 1-883053-09-9. paperback)
The Anunna gods acknowledge the burden of the Igigi and their "clamor":
"Ea made ready to speak, and said to the gods [his brethren], what calumny do we lay to their charge ? Their forced labor was heavy. [their misery too much] ! Every day [ ] the outcry [was loud, we could hear the clamor]. There is [ ] [Belet-ti, the mid-wife], is present. Let her create, then a human, a man, let him bear the yoke...[let man assume the drud]gery of god...She summoned the Anunna, the great gods...Mami made ready to speak, and said to the great gods, "You ordered me the task and I have completed (it) ! You have slaughtered the god, along with his inspiration. I have done away with your heavy forced labor, I have imposed your drudgery on man. You bestowed (?) clamor upon mankind..." (pp.58-59. Foster)
The Igigi gods in gratitude fall at her feet, kissing them, she having freed them from toil, and declare a new name for her "Mistress of All the gods" (Belet-kala-ili).
A CAVEAT ("WARNING"):
As can be seen from Professor Foster's above translation the Igigi gods are objecting to the making of watercourses and canals, NOWHERE does the text say they are working in the Anunnaki gods' city-gardens! So, why am I claiming the Igigi worked in the Anunnaki gods' gardens?
I am stepping back and looking at the "big picture"! We have two sets of gods dwelling in cities they have made for themselves on the earth, the senior gods called the Anunnaki or Anunna and the junior gods called the Igigi. The Anunnaki are making the Igigi do the work. What is the purpose of canals and watercourses in Mesopotamia? Its not to water the grass lawns near the temples. The cities of Lower Mesopotamia are habitable only if a food-supply is available for the occupants.
The watercourses, canals and irrigation ditches MAKE POSSIBLE THE CITY-GARDENS OF THE GODS. Thus I INFER that when the Anunnaki sit down to a meal, they as the senior gods are not out in the hot sun planting the crops, nor are they hoeing out the weeds, nor are they harvesting the crops, nor are they preparing the crops for the table. The Anunnaki are eating the garden-produce, and someone has to make all this "happen."
According to the myths Man has not yet been created, so that leaves the Igigi gods as bearing these burdens. That is to say it is my understanding that they not only are digging-out watercourses and canals, but irrigation ditches, and planting, hoeing and harvesting the crops to feed the Anunnaki.
When it is at last decided to REPLACE THE IGIGI WITH MAN, it is man who will now dig watercourses, canals, irrigation ditches and plant the crops, hoe them of weeds and harvest them and present them as food in the temples and shrines to the Anunnaki and the Igigi. Hence the reason I understand that the Igigi were burdened with toil in the gods' gardens. The gods' gardens cannot exist without water from man-made watercourses, canals and irrigation ditches.
Both the Mesopotamian and Hebrew myths have the gods creating man to "work in and care for THEIR garden." Hence the reason Adam and Eve, when they make their FIRST appearance on the earth, it is _in a Garden_ belonging to a God. The Hebrews have _omitted or transformed_ a number of motifs in the Mesopotamian myths as to why and how man came to be made, his purpose was to till and maintain an earthly garden belonging to the gods in heaven, for their sustenance. In one Mesopotamian myth (The Atrahasis Epic) the gods denied man "any" food from "their" garden and were outraged when one of their kind called Enki or Ea (pronounced Aya or Ayya) broke "ranks" and allowed man to eat of the harvest for his sustenance (cf. my article on the Prebiblical Origins of the Hebrew Sabbath for the details). The gods were also outraged to later discover that Enki, the god of Wisdom, had given man "forbidden knowledge," specifically having taught him powerful incantations and curses to use against some of the lesser gods. I understand that a Mesopotamian Enki lurks behind the portrayal of Yahewh in Genesis 1-11 along with the Late Professor Kramer.
Man's purpose in life then, was to serve the gods, to keep their bellies full. Some may wonder why does Genesis open with God having created a Garden of Eden and providing it with fruit trees, telling Man not to eat of two trees in particular. To the degree that Mesopotamian myths claim that the gods MUST eat earthly food, and personnally plant and harvest it, it would make sense from a Mesopotamian perspective for a god to "plant" a garden of fruit trees to eat therefrom for himself, allowing man as his servant to also partake of the earthly harvest.
Black and Green on the Mesopotamian gods making man to be their servant, to feed them:
"The widespread Mesopotamian idea of man having been created to act as the servant of the gods meant that it was considered necessary to feed and clothe the gods constantly and to make them presents. Among these various sorts of offerings, the term sacrifice refers especially to the killing of an animal. Exactly the same food and drinks were offered to the gods as were consumed by humans, with perhaps more emphasis on the luxury items: frequent fresh meat, fish, cream, honey, cakes and the best sorts of beer."
(p. 158. "Sacrifice and Offering." Jeremy Black & Anthony Green. Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia, An Illustrated Dictionary. London. The British Museum Press. 1992)
"Unlike the Greek Olympians with their ambrosia and nectar, the Mesopotamian gods had no special foods which were the privilege of divinity. However, in the story of the sage Adapa, Anu (An) decides that Adapa shall be offered the 'bread of life' and the 'water of life' when he visits heaven, and it is clear from the context that to have consumed these would have conferred (eternal) life. In fact, believing them to be the bread and water of death, he declines and loses his chance of immortality. The gods lived on the sacrifice of sheep, fish, cereals and oil which mankind was obliged to offer them regularly: the same foods were consumed by man himself."
(p. 85. "Food and Drink of the Gods." Jeremy Black & Anthony Green. Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia, An Illustrated Dictionary. London. The British Museum Press. 1992)
"In Mesopotamia, it was man's duty and the reason for his creation to take care of the material needs of the gods, which included the provision of food...Animal sacrifice, therefore, was regarded as the literal means of satisfying the gods' appetites...The sheep seems to have been the primary animal of such sacrifice, although goats and cattle were also sacrificed...The sacrifice of a goat (called 'man substitute') was used in some rituals to divert sickness or portended evil from individual persons."
(pp. 30-32. "Animal Sacrifice." Jeremy Black & Anthony Green. Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia, An Illustrated Dictionary. London. The British Museum Press. 1992)
According to the Adapa myth, man, in the form of Adapa, a priest serving Enki at Eridu in southern Mesopotamia in edin-the-floodplain, had an opportunity once, to obtain immortality by consuming food and drink offered to him by Anu in heaven. Being forewarned by his god, Enki, not to eat anything in heaven or he would surely die, Adapa passed up the chance at immortality. Because of his obedience to his god, he lost out on immortality for himself and mankind. Enki is portrayed as "giving man (Adapa) wisdom and knowledge, but denying him immortality," for he wants man to serve him. The Hebrews evidently transformed this motif into man "disobeying his God" and eating the forbidden fruit, thus loosing a chance at immortality.
Heidel on Adapa:
"He had given him wisdom, (but) he had not given him eternal life."
(p.148, "The Adapa Legend," Alexander Heidel. The Babylonian Genesis. Chicago. University of Chicago Press. [1942, 1951], 1993. ISBN 0-226-32399-4 pbk)
It is of note that no "fruit tree" appears as a motif in the Adapa Legend. It was NOT a "fruit" from a tree that Adapa failed to consume, it was "bread and water of life," the very items he prepared daily at Eridu for his god Enki to consume (he is described as a fisherman and baker and prepares daily for his god, pure water, bread and fish). But, we must allow the Hebrews some artistic freedom, what we moderns today call "creative artistic license" or "artistic interpretation," in reformating and transforming the earlier concepts and motifs into a new story with a different understanding of the relationship between Man, God and the Cosmos, as noted by Lambert who made the following observation:
"The authors of ancient cosmologies were essentially compilers. Their originality was expressed in new combinations of old themes, and in new twists to old ideas."
(p.107, W.G. Lambert, "A New Look at the Babylonian Background of Genesis," , in Richard S. Hess & David T. Tsumra, Editors. I Studied Inscriptions From Before the Flood. Winona Lake, Indiana, Eisenbrauns, 1994)
Professor James (1888-1972), an Anthropologist in the field of Religion and Professor of the History of Religion at the University of London, understood that Tammuz (Sumerian Dumuzi) and Shamash (Sumerian Utu) were guardians of the Kiskanu tree at Eridu, which he suggests is a possible prototype of Eden's Tree of Life:
"In the myth of Adapa Tammuz and Ningishzida are represented as the doorkeepers of heaven, very much as Tammuz and Shamash are said to have been the guardians of the kiskanu-tree in Eridu which had the appearance of lapis-lazuli and was erected on the Apsu and rooted in the underworld."
(p. 10. E. O. James. The Tree of Life: An Archaeological Study. Leiden, the Netherlands. E. J. Brill Publishers. 1966 & 1997)
James understood that near Eridu the Tigris and Euphrates emptied into the sea in antiquity. Of interest here is that Dilmun, thought to be an Edenic prototype by some scholars, is portrayed as lying at "the mouths of the rivers" (the Euphrates and Tigris?) in the Epic of Gilgamesh:
"At Eridu at the head of the Persian Gulf were formerly the two rivers flowed into the sea and gradually produced the alluvial fertile delta, the human race was said to have been fashioned from clay by the sky-god Anu and endowed with the breath of life by Enki, the lord of the watery deep, whose temple 'the house of wisdom', was erected there. In its grove (engurra) stood the sacred kiskanu-tree, having the appearance it was said of lapis-lazuli and stretching towards the subterranean apsu where Enki had his abode. Being the almost certainly the black pine of the Babylonian paradise it was believed to have derived its vitalizing power from the waters of life and made operative in the tree of life."
(p. 13. E. O. James. The Tree of Life: An Archaeological Study. Leiden, the Netherlands. E. J. Brill Publishers. 1966 & 1997)
Sandars on Tammuz and Ningishzida (Gizzida) as heavenly tree constellations or stars:
"Unlike Utnapishtim, the Babylonian Noah, who won eternal life for himself through his obedience to a god, in Adapa mankind was given the chance of eternal life and lost it through obedience to a god...Of the two lesser gods, Tammuz and Gizzida, who stand at the east gate of heaven, Tammuz has descended from Dumuzi, and Gizzida was a god of healing sometimes connected with the underworld. Gizzida was called Lord of the Tree of Truth, as Dumuzi-Tammuz was Lord of the Tree of Life -trees that were stars planted in heaven."
(p. 167. "Introduction to Adapa: the Man." N. K. Sandars. Poems of Heaven and Hell From Ancient MesopotamiaLondon. Penguin Books. 1971. Paperback)
Is it possible that Genesis' two trees planted in the Garden of Eden, the tree of knowledge and the tree of life, may be reflections of Tammuz and Ningishzida as two heavenly trees (they being vegetation deities)? Did the "east gate" of Anu's heaven, guarded by Tammuz and Ningishzida come to be transformed into Eden "in the east," and the two gods became associated with the Cherubim, the two winged sphinxes frequently portrayed with sacred trees in Canaanite and Phoenician art forms of the Iron Age (ca. 1200-587 B.C.)? According to Professor Jacobsen Dumuzi/Tammuz was the life-force in the date palm which caused it to bear fruit (dates) while Nin-gish-zida was the life-force in trees, his name meaning "lord of the good tree." So, in a sense Adapa was presented food ("bread and water of life") which would give him immortality on Anu's behalf by two tree-gods!
According to the late Professor Jacobsen (Professor Emeritus of Assryriology, Harvard University), Ningishzida means "Lord of the Good Tree," and the trees' roots are serpent symbols and this god is "the life-force" within the tree itself. That is to say this god is a vegetation deity:
"...the god Ningishzida, "Lord of the good tree," who represented the numinous power of trees to draw nourishment and to grow, had as his basic form that of the tree's trunk and roots; however, the winding roots, embodiments of living supernatural power, free themselves from the trunk and become live serpents entwined around it."
(p. 7. Thorkild Jacobsen. The Treasures of Darkness, A History of Mesopotamian Religion.. New Haven & London. Yale University Press. 1976)
Tammuz or Dumuzi (the latter being his Sumerian name) is also a vegetation deity (like Ningishzida), associated with the numinous power in the date clusters of date palms according to Jacobsen:
"Correspondingly, the bridegroom, Amaushumgalanna, represents what is to be stored in the storehouse. As indicated by his name, which means "the one great source of the date clusters," he is the personified power in the one enormous bud which the date palm sprouts each year, and from which issue the new leaves, flowers and fruits. Dumuzi-Amausshumgalanna is thus a personification of the power behind the yearly burgeoning of the palm and its producing its yield of dates; he is, in fact, the power in and behind the date harvest."
(p. 36. Thorkild Jacobsen. The Treasures of Darkness, A History of Mesopotamian Religion. New Haven & London. Yale University Press. 1976).
Note: Not all scholars agree with Jacobsen's rendering of Ama.ushumgal,an.na as meaning "the one great source of the date clusters." Instead they (Langdon and Leick) render "the mother is a great heavenly dragon," please click here for further details.
In later Jewish texts, the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, the tree of life in the garden of Eden is associated with a date palm.
Surprisingly Nin-gish-zida is portrayed at times as a serpent-dragon on four legs, with two wings and a pair of horns, at other times he is human with serpent-dragon heads erupting from his shoulders. That is to say Nin-gish-zida is associated with the numen of trees and serpents. In one myth Tammuz/Dumuzi flees his bonds and captors by asking the sun-god Shamash to take pity on him and turn him into a serpent, which he does and he slithers out of his bonds. Tammuz/Dumuzi is also associated with the Apsu/Absu or abyss where Enki dwells. So, Adapa was offered the "bread and water of life" by two deities who were associated in various ways with trees and serpents. Could these associations have been recast as Eden's serpent and the trees of Knowledge and of Life? In another hymn Enki is described as being a great dragon who "stands" in the fruit-tree garden of Eridu (the Greek word dragon means "large serpent") so Enki is associated with serpents and trees too.
If Jacobsen is correct about Tammuz and Ningishzida's associations with serpents and date palms perhaps this why the Hebrews have the notion of a serpent associated with a tree telling man he will not die and will be like a god if he eats the fruit forbidden him by his God? Adapa's warning from Enki was given at Eridu, where a fruit-tree garden exists that Enki planted for himself. Adapa is his servant and bakes bread and prepares fish (he is also a fisherman) and fresh water to present daily to Enki. I suspect Enki's fruit-tree garden has become Eden's garden of fruit trees. Even today, this region is famed since antiquity for its many date palm plantations, watered by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, which were associated with Eden in Genesis. Eridu lies in Sumer, which lies in Lower Mesopotamia, which is a great flood-plain. The Sumerian word for "plain" is edin (Akkadian/Babylonian seri/seru). Thus Enki's fruit-tree garden planted by him next to his shrine in edin-the-plain where he warned Adapa not to eat the food or drink the water offered by Anu for he would surely die, becomes the Garden of Eden and Yahweh-Elohim warning Adam and Eve.
Adapa's refusal to consume the "bread and water of life" summoned by Anu and presented, apparently by Tammuz and Ningishzida, causes Anu to order his two gate guards to "take the man and return him to his earth." I understand that this has been reformatted into Yahweh-Elohim ordering the Cherubim to expell Adam and Eve from Eden, Adam being returned to the earth he was made from to grow in toil his sustenace and to die and return to the earth as dust. That is to say, I understand Tammuz and Ningishzida to not only lie behind Genesis' notion of two trees in the garden, but of a serpent, and they are one of several mythical prototypes of the Cherubim.
But, where is "Eve" in the Adapa myth, there is no woman present in this account? I understand that the biblical story of Eden is drawing motifs from several different and contradicting Mesopotamian myths. Eve is a recasting of Shamhat, the temple priestess/harlot who sells her sexual favors to generate revenue for the temple she serves in Uruk. Adam is in part, a re-cast of Adapa as well as Enkidu, the NAKED man who roams edin-the-plain with wild animals for companions. The harlot seduces the "innocent" naked man of edin-the-steppe/plain, telling him he "is now like a god," and should abandon his animals friends and live with men. She leads the innocent child-like Enkidu away "like a mother" to Uruk to meet Gilgamesh, clothing him with her garment before they leave edin-the-plain and telling him to EAT the bread and drink (beer?) set before him by shepherds in edin. After eating the food and drink Enkidu becomes "like a human" and puts on a new change of clothes and abandons his wild animal friends to dwell with mankind and Gilgamesh in Uruk.
Does there exist in some "ancient art form" a scene of wonderous winged beasts guarding TWO SACRED TREES and FOUR STREAMS OF WATER, which might suggest Eden's TWO trees and FOUR STREAMS (the Pishon, Gihon, Hiddekel and Euphrates)? YES, a wall mural exists at ancient Mari on the Euphrates in the palace of Zimri-Lim (reigned ca. 1778-1758 B.C.), a contemporary of the king of Babylon called Hammurabi. The Mari archives also mention a nomadic tribe called the Banu-yamina "sons of the right [hand]" (the right hand being the "south" as the Syrians orientated themselves to face the east in noting east, west, north and south) and a few scholars have tentatively suggested that perhaps the Israelite tribe of Benjamin is being recalled by these peoples (cf. Professor Niels Peter Lemche's observations). Some scholars have suggested that the Cherubim are Winged Sphinxes found in Late Bronze Age art forms of the Hittites, Syrians, Phoenicians, Canaanites and Egyptians. The Mari mural shows some of the beasts to resemble said creatures. We are told by the Bible that Abraham settled in Haran, in northern Syria. Benjamin's ancestors are "Arameans" or Syrians, and north Syrian art of the 2d millennium B.C. does know of TWO TREES guarded by winged beasts and four streams of water. It is _my suspicion_ that Mari's mural lies -in part- behind the Garden of Eden's imagery in the Hebrew Bible. In later Jewish traditions the Tree of Life is understood to be a DATE PALM, and a DATE PALM is one of the trees in the Mari mural, so perhaps the notion that Eden is the source of four great streams and TWO trees of some importance guarded by winged beasts is recalling "North Syrian MOTIFS" found on a wall mural at Mari on the Euphrates? Did the Hebrews pick up the notion of TWO Sacred trees, guarded by winged beasts and four streams of water from contact with Mari in the 2d millennium B.C.?
To the degree that some Christians associate an "apple-tree" with Eden's "Tree of Knowledge" it is of interest to note that some erotic Sumerian love songs sung in behalf of Inanna and Dumuzi liken him to a garden of the apple tree (emphasis mine):
"Vigorously he sprouted...
In his black garden of the desert bearing much yield
did my darling of his mother...
water it...a very APPLE TREE bearing fruit at the top-
water it- it being a GARDEN!"
the honey-sweet man...
was doing sweet (things) to me!"
(p. 94. "Vigorously He Sprouted." Thorkild Jacobsen. The Harps That Once...Sumerian Poetry in Translation. New Haven & London. Yale University Press. 1987)
O my budding one...
sweet are your charms!
My budding GARDEN of the APPLE TREE,
sweet are your charms!
My fruiting GARDEN of the APPLE TREE,
sweet are your charms!
Dumuzi Apsu himself...
sweet are your charms!
(p. 98. Tavern Sketch." Thorkild Jacobsen. The Harps That Once...Sumerian Poetry in Translation. New Haven & London. Yale University Press. 1987)
The Sumerians saw the gods as capricious, vain, and needing their super-egos to be constantly flattered with bombastic hymns of praise, and soothing music to ease their hearts.
The Hebrews evidently had no problem with portraying Yahweh-Elohim as justified in denying immortality for man because he ate of a tree forbidden to him (the Tree of Knowledge). Some Moderns today struggle with the notion of a God denying man immortality because of his attaining knowledge of Good and Evil (he being portrayed as childlike and naive in the scenario).
The Hebrews, evidently, understood that man was different from all other creatures, he had a sense of right and wrong, or sin, nakedness was wrong. The animals devoured each other and were naked, they had no sense of justice or shame. How to explain man possessing these unique qualities ? They explained it by transforming the Sumerian myths about knowledge being obtained by eating, into a Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, giving man knowledge about right and wrong.
Some scholars have speculated that the Tree of Knowledge was a Fig Tree because shortly after eating of the tree, Adam and Eve sew clothes or aprons for themselves of fig leaves, realizing that they are naked (Genesis 3:7).
In Psalm 92 the righteous are likened to a palm tree or cedar planted in Yahweh's sanctuary. Cedars don't bear fruit to nourish men, but date-palms do, perhaps the date-palm is envisioned, it lives for hundreds of years and is an important food source in oasis villages.
Psalm 92:12-14 RSV
"The righteous flourish like a palm tree, and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the LORD, they flourish in the courts of God. They still bring forth fruit in old age, they are full of sap and green..."
In Ancient Near Eastern art forms a "sacred tree" appears flanked by two winged sphinxes, said creatures being determined by Humanist scholars to be the source of the Hebrew Cherubim. In Phoenician art forms they guard a stylized Lotus Tree, drawing from Egyptian motifs. In Egypt the Lotus was associated with a restoration of a good spiritual life after death in the Egyptian paradise. The blossom recedes into the water at night, but with daylight it rises up out of the water in full bloom, only to recede again when night approaches. The dead are frequently shown with a Lotus blossom held near their nose, to show they too will arise from death. The Egyptain myths stressed that the Sun-god and the gods of Egypt arose each day from the giant Lotus blossom, the righteous dead would also arise from this same, and scenes in tombs show a seated Osris, lord of the Resurrected dead, with a giant Lotus growing near his throne and mummiform gods standing on the blossom, indicating their rebirth. The Assyrians on the other hand tended to show a stylized Palm Tree with an intricate vine lacework about it, sometimes with winged sphinxes. The biblical motif of the righteous being likened to a palm suggests a borrowing of Assyrian motifs.
Conservative scholarship has provided, I suspect, the correct insights as to the reason for God's portrayal, the Hebrews wanted to transform the capricious, fickle gods into a Loving, Caring God, who wanted only the best for Man, his pinnacle of creation. So Genesis is a polemic against the Babylonian concepts of the gods and their despising man. They made man to serve them in toil and fear, to obtain their rest from labor. Genesis sees God in a completely different light, as noted by Wenham:
"Viewed with respect to its negatives, Gen 1:1-2:3 is a polemic against the mythico-religious concepts of the ancient Orient...The concept of man here is markedly different from standard Near Eastern mythology: man was not created as the lackey of the gods to keep them supplied with food; he was God's representative and ruler on earth, endowed by his creator with an abundant supply of food and expected to rest every seventh day from his labors. Finally, the seventh day is not a day of ill omen as in Mesopotamia, but a day of blessing and sanctity on which normal work is laid aside.
In contradicting the usual ideas of its time, Gen 1 is also setting out a positive alternative. It offers a picture of God, the world, and man...man's true nature. He is the apex of the created order: the whole narrative moves toward the creation of man. Everything is made for man's benefit..."
(p.37. Vol. 1. "Explanation." Gordon J. Wenham. Genesis 1-15 [Word Biblical Commentary, 2 vols.]. Word Books. Waco, Texas. 1987. ISBN 0-8499-0200-2)
Egyptian motifs portrayed the righteous dead enjoying eternal life, which was sustained by a Tree of Life and a Spring of Life (or Water of Life), rather like the New Testament Book of Revelation's notion that the righteous dead will be sustained by Trees of Life and Water of Life. Revelation portrays God's throne as a source of a stream of life-giving freshwater, whereas earlier (ca. 2nd millenium B.C.) Mesopotamian art shows the god Enki seated upon a throne decorated with pots, from each of which, pour two streams of life-giving water to mankind (He being a god of Wisdom [He gave wisdom to mankind in the person of Adapa, but denied him and consequently, mankind, immortality, just like Yahweh did to Adam], his throne being the source of the freshwaters which sustain the living).
Revelation 22:1-2 (RSV)
"Then he showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb, through the middle of the street of _THE CITY_; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations."
Note: Revelation suggests that the "water of life" and "tree of life" IS TO BE FOUND WITHIN A CITY, the city of Jerusalem! This ALIGNS NICELY with the Mesopotamian myths claiming that the gods created man to till their CITY-GARDENS, feeding them the crops which were raised. I GUESS ONE COULD SAY WITH REVELATION 22:1-2 WE HAVE "_COME FULL-CIRCLE_" WITH THE MESOPOTAMIAN MYTHS ABOUT MAN BEING CREATED TO CARE FOR THE GODS' CITY-GARDENS FOR ALL ETERNITY! As noted by Leick, the gods' hearts' delight is to dwell in cities, and other myths reveal man will present food raised in city-gardens to the gods in their temples. The Mesopotamian myths then, agree somewhat with Revelation, MAN WILL FOR ALL ETERNITY DWELL IN THE COMPANY OF THE GODS as their agricultural servant, _IN A CITY_ AND CARE FOR THE GODS' (God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost) CITY-GARDEN (at Jerusalem). Note also that the prophet Ezekiel understands that after Israel's return from the Babylonian Capitivity that the Messiah and Levitical priests will _resume_ the feeding of God and this feeding of God is to be for ever more. In other words, just as the Mesopotamian myths understood that the gods had created man to care for their CITY gardens in the edin and that MAN IS TO FEED THE GODS FOR ALL OF ETERNITY, SO, TOO, EZEKIEL HAS GOD BEING FED FOR ALL OF ETERNITY IN A CITY BY MAN, the Messiah and Levitical priests (cf. Ez 44:7-16, 29; 45:17-25; 46:4-15).
It is my understanding that the Hebrews were attempting to explain how man came to be different from the beasts, possessing a sense of justice or right and wrong and shame (man wears clothing to cover his nakedness, the beasts do not). They transformed the Ancient Near Eastern Mesopotamian, Canaanite, and Egyptian motifs and concepts into a new story about the relationship between God, Man and the Cosmos.
They had two trees, one conferring knowledge and one conferring immortality. The concept of knowledge being attained via eating appears to be Mesopotamian, ultimately, Sumerian, cf. the above account of Inanna acquring knowledge for engaging in sex via the consumption of earthly herbs and apparently, Cedar and Cypress TREES; so too the notion of attaining immortality via the eating "the bread of life" and drinking "the water of life" as in the Adapa and the South Wind myth. The food presented to Adapa was in Anu's HEAVENLY abode, not on the earth, but the Mesopotamian myths are quite clear, the gods in heaven are "fed" EARTHLY FOOD, grown and harvested and presented to them in sacrifices at temples by mankind, so the food presented to Adapa in heaven had to have been ORIGINALLY raised and harvested ON THE EARTH in gardens or orchards. So, an earthly grown food, the "bread of life" was a source of immortality according to the Adapa myth _and_ knowledge according to the Inanna and Enki myths could be attained via eating of a tree.
There is however, a CONTRADICTION at work here that the reader may not be aware of. The Mesopotamian myths portray the gods as being capable of dying. They can be slain by their fellow gods, various compositions exist attesting to this fact, and in art forms gods are seen slaying each other with swords or knives. So the gods in reality, ARE NOT IMMORTAL! If they can "be slain", then they can grow hungry and "starve to death" if not fed food from their earthly gardens maintained by man whom they have made to tend the gardens and present them twice daily food and drink at the temples. IN OTHER WORDS, _THE CONSUMPTION OF FOOD DOES NOT REALLY CONFER IMMORTALITY_ if it did it would be quite impossible for gods to be slain by each other as occurs in various Mesopotamian myths! The gods enjoy immortality as long as they are not slain by a fellow god AND they will continue to enjoy their immortality as long as man exists on the earth to present them earthly food to eat, no food to eat and they will die of starvation, that is to say, they MUST EAT in order to stay alive and not die! So, even if man, in the form of Adapa, ate the "bread of life" and drank "the water of life" he still would not possess immortality for, like the gods, he could be slain by a fellow god! Food is needed to SUSTAIN LIFE. If one is immortal, and cannot die, there should be NO NEED TO CONSUME FOOD. Here arises another CONTRADICTION, this time from the Bible: Yahweh-Elohim COMMANDS HIS PEOPLE ISRAEL, to serve him daily FOOD AND DRINK, just LIKE the Mesopotamian gods! Yahweh received food offerings twice a day, morning and evening until the Romans destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem and ended the offerings. According to the ancient Mesopotamian religious notions, Yahweh ought to be dead by now, having starved to death over the past 2000 years!
Kramer on the gods needing to eat ("sustenance") and their mortality:
"Although the gods were believed to be immortal, they nevertheless had to have their sustenance; they could become sick to the point of death; they fought, wounded, and killed, and presumably could themselves be wounded and killed."
(p. 117. "Religion: Theology, Rite and Myth." Samuel Noah Kramer. The Sumerians, Their History, Culture, and Character. Chicago & London. University of Chicago Press. 1963. ISBN 0-226-45238-7. paperback)
The Bible describes Cherubim and Palm Trees adorning the walls of Solomon's Temple, suggesting that the Date Palm may have been ebvisioned as the Tree of Life. To the degree that Adam and Eve cover themselves with fig leaves after acquiring knowledge of good and evil, the Fig Tree might have been conceived as the Tree of Knowledge.
Another surprise is that the Egyptian Lotus, combined with the Papyrus into a Sacred Tree/Pillar of the Syro-Canaanite art forms, symbolic of Eternal Life, came to be transformed by the Phoenicians and Canaanites into a Tree of Life, who's iconography became a part of the Temple at Jerusalem (cf. the so-called Iron Age II "proto-aeolic" pillars). Egyptian solar imagery (Lotuses and Papyrus plants) and Mesopotamian beliefs (sacred Palm Trees) are apparently fused and behind Genesis' Two Trees. I also understand that the Sumerian god of Wisdom, Enki (alternately called Ea, pronounced either Aya or Ayyah) has been transformed into Yahweh-Elohim. In some of the Mesopotamian myths Enki was mankind's creator, he planted a wonderous garden with fruit-trees on the earth at Eridu in Sumer, associated with this garden was the Apsu, source of ALL the freshwaters for the world' rivers, and it is Enki who denies man knowledge and immortality. In another myth, it is Enki who warns the Mesopotamian Noah, Ziusdudra (Alternately called Atrahasis and Utnapishtim) of a Flood which will destroymankind, and has him build an Ark to save his family and animals. Enki in another myth confounds the one language of mankind into a babel of many languages. Other myths have Enlil at Nippur having man made to tend his garden by Enki who slays a local Igigi god who led the mutiny of the lesser gods who were forced to work Enlil's earthly garden. Enlil (Lord Wind) is portrayed as a prime instigator of the flood sent to destroy mankind because his noise denies him rest by day and sleep by night. I understand the brother-gods, Enki and Enlil, to have been fused together by the Hebrews into Yahweh-Elohim, who sent the flood and warned one pious man to build a boat and save self, family and animals. We are told that Terah and son Abaham were ORIGINALLY of Ur of the Chaldees (Ge 11:28; 31; 12:1), which some scholars locate in Lower Mesopotamia at present day Tell al-Muqayyer. If they are correct, and I assume they are, then perhaps it was Terah and Abraham who transformed the myths about Enki and Mankind into the biblical story ? Having had their "new relevelation" about God and Man's relationship "rejected" by the Lower Mesopotamians, perhaps they "migrated" to Haran in Northern Mesopotamia, hoping to find a more open and welcoming community for their new "insights and revelations" ? Ur is mentioned in the myths as a city that benefited from Enki's blessings.
Later Abraham settles in northern Syria at Haran, and his descendants are called "Arameans."
In northern Syria at Mari is a mural showing TWO sacred trees guarded by winged beasts and in association with the scene are FOUR streams of water. Perhaps an Aramean Israel has reformatted these motifs into Eden's TWO TREES?
In some Mesopotamian myths, mankind is portrayed as living in a state of wild savagery, rather like a dumb beast or wild animal, he roams NAKED the steppe or high country (Sumerian Edin, Akkadian Edinu) with other NAKED beasts. Eventually the gods take pity on him and decide to alleviate his hard life. They take him from the steppe, and "civilize" him, teaching him to wear clothing, live in cities, grow food in irrigation-fed gardens, introducing to man the arts of metallurgy, music, etc.
The Hebrews denied the existence of other gods, there is only one God, Yahweh-Elohim. They also denied that gods introduced man to the arts of civilization. Man -Cain and his descendants- learned these arts on his own account (cf. Ge 4:17-22). I accordingly understand that Genesis has INVERTED the Mesopotamian myths about gods providing man with the arts of civiliztaion.
It is my understanding that these Mesopotamian myths _imply_ that ORIGINALLY the "knowledge" about it being "_wrong to be naked_", RESIDED SOLELY WITH THE GODS, hence the reason the myths portray mankind naked and roaming with wild animals in edin (the steppe or high desert plain). ONLY _after_ the gods compassionately bestow "knowledge" on man of it being "wrong to be naked," and introducing him to the wearing of clothes and other arts of civilization is his life improved. I would argue that Genesis is an INVERSION of the concept that the gods FREELY and COMPASSIONATELY gave man knowledge about the wearing of clothing and it being wrong to be naked. Genesis has man acquiring this "forbidden knowledge" as an _affront_ to God, by Eve and Adam.
The late Professor Thorkild Jacobsen's translation of "The Eridu Genesis" (Note I have NOT followed Jacobsen's poetic stanzas format; Emphasis mine):
"Mankind's trails when forgotten by the gods were in the high (i.e., not subject to flooding) desert. In those days no canals were opened, no dredging was done at dikes and ditches on dike tops. The seeder plow and plowing had not yet been instituted for the knocked under and downed people. Mankind of (those) distant days, since Shakan (the god of flocks) had not (yet) come out of the dry lands, _did not know arraying themselves in prime cloth_, MANKIND WALKED ABOUT NAKED. In those days, there being NO SNAKES, being no scorpions, being no lions, being no hyenas, being no dogs, being no wolves, mankind had no opponent, fear and terror did not exist. [The people had as yet no] king. Nintur was paying attention: Let me bethink myself of my mankind, (all) forgotten as they are; and mindful of mine, Nintur's creatures let me bring them back, let me lead the people back from their trails. May they come and build cities and cult-places, that I may cool myself in their shade; may they lay the bricks of the cult-cities in pure spots, and may they found places for divination in pure spots ! She gave directions for purification, and cries for quarter, the things that cool (divine) wrath, perfected the divine service and the august offices, and said to the (surrounding) regions: "Let me institute peace there !" When An, Enlil, Enki, and Ninhursag fashioned the darkheaded (people) they had made the small animals (that came up) from (out of) the earth in abundance and had let there be, as befits (it) gazelles, (wild) donkeys, and fourfooted beasts in the desert..."
(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)
Note, that it is the goddess Nintur who takes pity on man and who brings him in from his wanderings with wild animals on the high steppe or edin, introducing him to the wearing of clothing, living in cities, and the arts of civilization. The gods have FREELY and COMPASSIONATELY _given man the knowledge_ that "it is wrong to be naked," that man should wear garments of fine cloth. Genesis has INVERTED the ancient Mesopotamian myths about how man came to acquire knowledge about being naked and wearing of clothes. Note also it is a GODDESS, a WOMAN, who introduces man to the wearing of clothes. After a WOMAN, Eve, has Adam eat of the forbidden fruit, they upon realizing they are naked clothe themselves. So I understand that the goddess Nintur is ANOTHER PROTOTYPE of Eve, in addition to Shamhat the harlot who clothes the naked Enkidu before their leaving the steppe or edin in the Epic of Gilgamesh to dwell in the CITY of Uruk. That is to say, _the wearing of clothes and dwelling in cities_ goes "hand-in-hand as connected themes" in the Mesopotamian myths and in Genesis, Adam's descendants also wearing clothing and dwelling in cities.
Note also that initially in the Eridu myth there is NO fear fear for man in the high steppe or edin, and NO SNAKE. I understand that Genesis _again_ has INVERTED Mesopotamian myths by having a snake in Eden introducing Adam and Eve to FEAR: for when they realize God is in the garden they hide themselves from him in FEAR because they have transgressed his commandment not to eat of the tree of knowledge. Man in Genesis is ALSO introduced to another FEAR, the fear of the snake that bite his heel upon his leaving Eden. In the Eridu myth there is no snake for man to fear. Again, another INVERSION by Genesis has occurred of the ancient Mesopotamian myths concerning the origins of mankind.
Note also that the Bible presents Eden as an "idyllic, IDEAL place for man," but the "Eridu Genesis Myth" suggests that life is "hard" for naked mankind in Edin the steppe. The "good-life" is NOT in EDIN, but IN THE CITIES where man covers his nakedness and dons fine clothing, lives in houses, eats food grown in irrigation-fed gardens, as the gods do. Genesis has thus to some degree INVERTED the Mesopotamian notion that Edin (Eden?) was NOT the best location for man to thrive in. For Genesis' author cities are NOT built by gods for man to improve his life, but by Cain _the murderer_ and his "murderous" descendants (Lamech boasting of slaying a man, cf. Ge 4: 8, 16, 23-24).
Professor Kramer on cities being initially built and occupied by gods and goddesses and only _later_ by mankind:
"When man had not yet been created and the city of Nippur was inhabitated by gods alone, "its young man," was the god Enlil; "its young maid" was the goddess Ninlil; and "its old woman" was Ninlil's mother, Nunbarshegunu."
(p. 146. "Religion: Theology, Rite, and Myth." Samuel Noah Kramer. The Sumerians, Their History, Culture and Character. Chicago. The University of Chicago Press.  1972 reprint. ISBN 0-226-45238-7. paperback)
Enkidu, which I understand to be _one of several prototypes_ behind Adam, before he met Shamhat, ate grass and lapped water at a watering hole like a wild animal. Shamhat takes him to a shepherd's camp and introduces him to "food fit for a god" (foods grown in irrigation-fed gardens, which man now tills in place of Igigi gods, who earlier tilled the gardens for the heaven-dwelling Anunna gods). Enkidu is befuddled when the food is presented to him, he does NOT KNOW how to eat it. Nor does he KNOW of drinking strong drink (alcoholic beverages like beer and wine). Shamhat steps in and TELLS Enkidu, EAT the food and DRINK the strong drink, which he does. After sating his appetite, his face glows, he is content and he NOW is declared TO BE HUMAN. The shepherd's camp is apparently in the high steppe called edin in Sumerian and edinu in Akkadian, so the naked primitive man eats food intended originally for gods and not for animals. He leaves edin clothed and now a "human" and an "animal" no longer (animals have no sense of good and evil, or right and wrong, or that it is wrong to be naked). Genesis has apparently preserved several Sumerian notions: 1) Man was initially naked in edin; 2) had animals for companions; 3) a woman is introduced to him as a more fit companion; 4) the woman introduces him to food fit for a god; 5) he is persuaded by the woman to eat this forbidden food -it being forbidden for wild animals to eat; 6) after eating this food he dons clothes and leaves edin; 7) while in edin he is declared to be "like a god" now possessing _wisdom_ after having had sex with the harlot.
"Aruru washed her hands,
Pinched off clay and cast it on the steppe.
[On the steppe] she created valiant Enkidu...
[Sha]ggy with hair is his whole body,
He is endowed with head hair like a woman.
The locks of his hair sprout like Nisaba.
He knows neither people nor land;
Garbed is he like Sumuqan [the god of cattle].
With gazelles he feeds on grass,
With the wild beasts he jostles at the
With the teeming creatures his heart delights in water."
(p.42. The Epic of Gilgamesh.")
After 6 days and 7 nights of sex with Shamhat the harlot-priestess Enkidu attempts to rejoin his animal companions, but they flee from him. He returns to the harlot and she tells him he now has wisdom like a god, why roam with animals for companions, he should dwell in cities with men. She takes him by the hand to a shepherds' camp and introduces him to human food, "fit for a god" (alluidng to the fact that man had been created to till the garden of the gods on earth formerly worked by the Igigi gods on behalf of the earth-dwelling Anunnaki gods who reside in cities). Enkidu does not know the eating of human food, only after a command from Shamhat does he eat, and become human. After the act of eating he then clothes himself; this somewhat recalls Adam's EATING FIRST, then CLOTHING himself. Note that Enkidu, like Adam has no mother, he was formed of a pinch of clay by a deity. Both Enkidu and Adam are naked and are at first, vegetarians, Enkidu eats grass with antelope, while Adam eats of tree fruits.
Pritchard (emphasis mine):
"Holding on to his hand,
She leads him LIKE A MOTHER
To the board of shepherds,
The place of the sheepfold.
Round him the shepherds gathered...
The milk of wild creatures
He was wont to suck.
Food they placed before him;
He gagged, he gaped
And he stared.
Nothing does Enkidu know
of eating food;
To drink strong drink
He has not been taught.
The harlot opened her mouth,
Saying to Enkidu:
"Eat the food, Enkidu,
As is life's due;
Drink the strong drink, as is the custom of the land."
Enkidu ate the food,
Until he was sated;
Of strong drink he drank
Carefree became his mood (and) cheerful,
His heart exluted
And his face glowed.
He rubbed [the shaggy growth],
The hair of his body,
Anointed himself with oil,
He _put on clothing_,
He is like a groom!"
(pp.47-48. "The Epic of Gilgamesh." James B. Pritchard. Editor. The Ancient Near East: An Anthology of Texts and Pictures. Princeton, New Jersey. Princeton University Press. 1958. paperback)
"Shamash heard the utterance of his mouth...Enkidu, why are you cursing MY harlot Shamhat, who fed you on food fit for gods, gave you drink, fit for kings, clothed you with a great robe...?"
(p. 87. "Gilgamesh VII." Stephanie Dalley. Myths From Mesopotamia: Creation, The Flood, Gilgamesh and Others. Oxford & New York. Oxford University Press.  reprint 1991. ISBN 0-19-281789-2. paperback)
In Genesis a God, Yahweh, is responsible for introducing a woman, Eve, to a naked Adam, she becoming his undoing. To the degree that the sun-god Shamash speaks of Shamhat as "_MY HARLOT_," perhaps this is where Genesis gets its notion of a God, Yahweh, being identified with the woman's introduction to Adam? That is to say, the sun-god Shamash "lurks behind" Genesis' God. For a picture of Shamash please click here.
Also note that the Harlot is NOT cursed by her god, he defends her actions and berates Enkidu for cursing her! A shamed and chastened Enkidu, thereupon withdraws his curse and then bestows a blessing on the harlot! The Hebraic recasting of these motifs has reversed roles, as Adam does not curse Eve, it is a God who does so. An _inversion_ has occured, a god who defended the woman's actions is transformed into a god holding her in blame for a naked man's ominous fate.
"Enkidu listened to the speech of Shamash the warrior.
[His anger abated [?]; his heart became quiet...
'Come Shamhat, I shall change your fate!
My utterance, which cursed you, shall bless you instead.
Governors and princes shall love you...
Rings [and] brooches (?) shall be presents for you..."
(p. 88. "Gilgamesh VII." Stephanie Dalley. Myths From Mesopotamia: Creation, The Flood, Gilgamesh and Others. Oxford & New York. Oxford University Press.  reprint 1991. ISBN 0-19-281789-2. paperback)
The Sumerian myths speak of Shamhat "like a mother" taking charge of Enkidu, she will oversee his "domestication" and "civilizing" from a naked beast to a clothes-wearing city-dweller. Womankind has traditionally been the nurturer and educator of the young, preparing them to take their place in civilized society. So Shamahet, and later Eve, as women and "mothers" are suitable choices for introducing naked, nieve mankind to knowledge about "right and wrong" or "good and evil", it is wrong to be naked, one must wear clothes in civilized society.
Genesis' notion of Adam's "_FALL FROM INNOCENCE_" at the hands of Eve is mirrored somewhat in Enkidu's accusation and curse brought against Shamhat in "his steppe" (Sumerian edin being rendered steppe/plain) in Foster's below translation (emphasis mine):
"May your purple finery be expropriated,
May filthy underwear be what you are given,
Because you diminished ME, AN INNOCENT,
Yes ME, AN INNOCENT, you wronged me (?) in my steppe."
(p. 56. "Tablet VII." Benjamin R. Foster. [Translator & editor]. The Epic of Gilgamesh. [A Norton Critical Edition]. New York & London. W. W. Norton & Company. 2001. ISBN 0-393-97516-9 paperback)
Foster on Enkidu's curse of the hunter who entrapped him with sex via Shamhat the harlot priestess (bemoaning his fate that he will soon die, and that these two individuals are to blame in corrupting him and separating him from his innocence and companions, the wild animals of the plain):
"I have turned to you, O Shamash, on account of the precious
days of my life,
as for that hunter, the en-trapping man,
Who did not let me get as much life as my friend [Gilgamesh],
May that hunter not get enough to make him a living.
Make his profit loss, cut down his take,
May his income, his portion evaporate before you,
Any wildlife that enters [his traps], make it go out the window!
"When he [Enkidu] had cursed the hunter to his heart's content, he resolved to curse the harlot Shamhat:
"Come, Shamhat, I will ordain a destiny,
A destiny that will never end, forever and ever!
I will lay on you the greatest of all curses,
Swiftly, inexorably, may my curse come upon you...
May brambles and thorns flay your feet..."
(p. 55. "Tablet VII." Benjamin R. Foster [Translator & Editor]. The Epic of Gilgamesh. [A Norton Critical Edition]. New York & London. W. W. Norton & Company. 2001. ISBN 0-393-97516-9. paperback)
"There he is, Shamhat, open your embrace...
let him take your charms!
Be not basful, take his vitality!
...let him lie upon you,
Treat him, a human, TO WOMAN'S WORK!
His wild beasts that grew up with him will deny him,
As in his ardor he caresses you!
...She treated him, a human, TO WOMAN'S WORK,
As in his ardor he caressed her."
(pp. 8-9. "Tablet I," Benjamin R. Foster [Translator & Editor]. The Epic of Gilgamesh. [A Norton Critical Edition]. New York & London. W. W. Norton & Company. 2001. ISBN 0-393-97516-9. paperback)
Some commentators on Eve's curse understand it lasts "forever and ever" on all generations of womankind, and it is the greatest of all curses, to be subject to men and bear children in pain (Ge 3:16). Shamhat's curse -in part- is to be _subordinate_ to the lusts of men who will abuse her and heap scorn upon her. Even today womankind is often seen in some quarters of Christianity as an object of lust, and not to be trusted and to be _subordinate_ to men because Eve lead Adam to sin against God. "Woman's Work" appears to be, according the Gilgamesh Epic, to be _subordinate_ to mankind's lusts. Eve is cursed in that her "desire" (sexual desire ?) will be for her man, which will cause her to be subordinate to him. That is to say I understand Genesis has inverted or reversed a motif from the Epic of Gilgamesh. Enkidu's DESIRE (sexual desire) for the harlot was his undoing. This desire led him to subordinate himself to the harlot's will, he obeys her and leaves his animal companions. Genesis' author has reversed/inverted all this, it will be womankind now who will be subordinated to man's will because of her DESIRE (sexual desire) for her mate.
Of interest is that Adam's curse is to have brambles tear at his flesh when he works the earth as an agriculturalist (Ge 3:18), perhaps this motif has been transformed from the curse of brambles flaying Shamhat's skin?
Is it possible that Enkidu's request of the sun-god Shamash to "DIMINISH the profits of the hunter's labors" was later transformed into Yahweh's cursing Adam by having "the bounty of the earth DIMINISHED for the man's labors," rather like what happened to the hunter? That is to say, Enkidu's curse for the hunter_and_harlot becomes Yahweh's curse for Adam_and_Eve? The hoped for "executor" of the curse, Shamash the sun-god, becomes Yahweh?
Foster has noted a version of the Adapa myth (which explains how man lost out in obtaining immortality by refusing to eat the bread of life and drink the water of life that would confer it) that has Anu remarking on Enki's cleverness in thwarting his (Anu's) intention to make Adapa immortal by having him eat the bread of life and drinking the water of life. Anu is regarded as the "supreme" god and for a lesser god to succeed in contramanding him is quite a feat!
In Genesis God tells Adam and Eve _not_ to eat of the tree of Knowledge of good and evil, for he will die if he does so. The serpent tells Eve _to eat_, she will not die, she will become like a god, knowing good and evil. The Edenic serpent is then, portrayed contramanding Yahweh, URGING Eve to eat. In the Adapa and the Southwind myth Adapa is URGED to eat the forbidden food by An (Anu) and his two servants or gate guards, Ningishzida and Dumuzi (biblical Tammuz). Ningishzida in art is shown as a human with serpent-dragon heads erupting from his shoulders and also as a serpent-dragon with four feet, horns and wings. In other myths Dumuzi is called ama-ushumgal-an-na "[the] mother is a serpent/dragon of heaven." Kramer speaks of Dumuzi being the "friend of An," and it was Dumuzi who with Ningishzida "put in a good word" for Adapa to "soften-up" An and make him favorable to Adapa. Apparently Dumuzi's being the "friend of An" turned the trick, as An URGES Adapa to eat the "bread and water of life" which will give him immortality.
Kramer identifies Dumuzi the shepherd as being placed in charge of sheepfolds which produce dairy products by Enki (Ea), calling Dumuzi an ushumgal ("great serpent/dragon") of heaven. Interestingly, Dumuzi "the friend of An," stood guard with Ningishzida at An's heavenly abode and all three received Adapa with favor, offering him a chance to obtain immortality via the consumption of the "bread and water of life."
"Dumuzi, the "ushumgal of heaven," the "friend of An,"
Enki placed in [charge] of them [sheepfolds]."
(p. 181. "Enki and the World Order." Samuel Noah Kramer. The Sumerians, Their History, Culture, and Character. Chicago & London. University of Chicago Press. 1963. ISBN 0226-45238-7 paperback)
Enki (Ea) bears a Sumerian epithet, Ushmugal, meaning "great serpent/dragon". He is described as setting up a wonderous mes-tree in his fruit-tree garden at Eridu, where he walks about. I suspect via a "new twist" the Hebrews have recast the gods Anu, Ningishzida and Dumuzi who offered man (Adapa) immortality, ENCOURAGING HIM TO EAT the bread of life into the Edenic serpent who ENCOURAGES MAN TO EAT the fruit. The god who denied man immortality, Enki ("the great serpent/dragon" or Ushumgal), telling man NOT TO EAT or he will die has been recast as Yahweh. Christianity understands it is the serpent who caused man not to possess immortality, and it is Enki the Ushumgal who does _not_ want Adapa to possess immortality. That is to say in the Genesis myth and in the Adapa and the South Wind myth, it is a "serpent" that succeeds in _CONTRAMANDING_ its 'SUPERIOR' GOD.
Note it is An who ORDERS the food and garment to be presented to Adapa, it is apparently Ningishzida and Dumuzi (both of whom are walking, talking serpent-dragons) who are then, presenting the "bread and water of life" to Adapa on An's behalf.
"[He ordered bread of life for him, he did not eat],
He ordered [water of life' for him, he did not drink.
He ordered a [gar]ment for him, he put it on.
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?"
(p. 101. "How Adapa Lost Immortality." Benjamin R. Foster. From Distant Days, Myths, Tales, and Poetry of Ancient Mesopotamia. Betheseda, Maryland. CDL Press. 1995. ISBN 1-883053-09-9. paperback)
Ishtar (in the below acccount) is an Akkadian rendering of Sumerian Inanna, the "lady of heaven." In Nippur hymns praising Dumuzi Inanna is called Inanna-edin-na "Inanna of edin" and nin-edin-na "lady of edin" edin being the Suerian word for "steppe" or "plain sometimes rendered also as "desert"), she being the wife of Dumuzi the shepherd who dwells with his sheep in edin, who also bears the epithet mulu-edin-na "lord of edin."
To the degree Ishtar (Inanna) portrays herself (below) as "giving birth to mankind" which has been destroyed in the flood, could this imply that Eve, "the mother of all living", _a lady who dwelt in eden_ is a recast of the Sumerian "lady of edin", Inanna, _who gave birth to all mankind_ in the Epic of Gilgamesh? Could Ishtar's "crying out in travail" (perhaps an allusion to the cries of a woman in childbirth?) be recalled in God's curse for Eve that she will bear children in travail, or pain and sorrow? Eve is blamed for introducing death to mankind by eating of the forbidden fruit, and Genesis follows this notion up with God's determination to destroy mankind with a flood because "his heart is only evil from his youth". In the Epic of Gilgamesh man is not portrayed as engaging in acts of evil deserving of all of mankind's annihilation, instead it is the gods who engage in acts of evil, Ishtar declaring she has spoken "evil of her creation" and voted for their destruction with the gods. I understand that we have here a series of _inversions_ by the Hebrews: (1) All of mankind is "evil" he deserves to be annihilated by God, whereas Ea pleads with Enlil not to destroy all men, only those who sin or tresspass; (2) God sheds no tears over man's destruction whereas the Mesopotamain gods do. The only god who does not regret the sending of the flood is Enlil who is at first enraged that "any" have escaped alive. I suspect the Hebrews are modeling Yahweh along the actions of Enlil. In other myths it is Enlil at Nippur who assents to man being created at Enki's suggestion to replace the rebelling Igigi gods who protest the hard labor in his city-garden, making irrigation canals and dredging them of sediments to provide water for the crops. So, the god Enlil, who had man created to work in his city-garden at Nippur, is also responsible for sending a flood to destroy mankind who violates his rest with their noise. That is to say, I understand Enlil along with Enki (who warned Ziusudra of Shuruppak to build a large boat to save the seed of mankind from the Flood) have been fused together to create an enraged Yahweh-Elohim and Shamhat and Ishtar (Inanna) have been fused into Eve.
Pritchard (emphasis mine):
"Ishtar CRIED OUT LIKE A WOMAN IN TRAVAIL,
The sweet-voiced mistress of the [gods] moans aloud:
'The olden days are alas turned to clay,
Because I spoke evil in the Assembly of the gods.
How could I bespeak evil in the Assembly of the gods,
Ordering battle for the destruction of my people,
WHEN IT IS I WHO GIVE BIRTH TO MY PEOPLE!
Like the spawn of fishes they fill the sea!'
The Anunnaki gods weep with her,
The gods, all humbled, sit and weep..."
(p. 69. "The Epic of Gilgamesh." James B. Pritchard. Editor. The Ancient Near East, An Anthology of Texts and Pictures. Princeton, New Jersey. Princeton University Press. 1958. paperback edition. Library of Congress Card 58-10052)
As regards the biblical Eden, I understand that several different ancient Mesopotamian myths and "locations" lie behind this concept.
I found these Edens, as a "byproduct" of attempting to document Mesopotamian _parallels_ to the Adam and Eve story in the Bible, as noted in the scholarly literature. To my surprise, I discovered that no single Mesopotamian myth possessed _all_ the elements or motifs appearing in the biblical story. The parallels or motifs were "scattered" amongst several different myths. Another unexpected surprise was to realize that the Mesopotamian myths at times DISAGREED and CONTRADICTED each other about how man came to be made by the gods and WHERE the location of his first appearance on the earth was. I understand that the Hebrews brought these contradicting parallels or motifs together and created the garden of Eden myth from them.
1) According to the Bible man is made by God and placed in the garden of Eden to till and keep the garden. Some Mesopotamian myths understand that man was created to till and tend the earthly garden at Nippur belonging to a god who in myth is called Enlil. The products of this garden were originally tended and tilled by the Igigi gods, who objected to the working conditions. To prevent a revolt by the Igigi, man is made by the god Enki to replace them at Enlil's behest. Enki has an Igigi god slain and his flesh and blood are mixed into some clay making man. So, both Mesopotamia and the Bible understand man's _first appearance_ on the earth is in a garden belonging to _a_ god_, his job being to tend and till it. However, in Sumer, the god's garden is ALWAYS associated with a city that the god dwells in. The Mesopotamian "garden of the god" was NOT in some remote wilderness all by its self as portrayed in Genesis. So, Nippur's _garden of a god_ (Enlil), is an edenic prototype.
2) In another contradicting myth, man is created by the god Enki to tend and till _his_ garden located in the city of Eridu in Sumer. The Igigi gods at Eridu object to their hard toil in Enki's garden so he makes man to replace them. In this myth man is made of clay over the apsu (a freshwater source of all rivers, a spring). Please note that Eridu like Nippur, lies on a great plain or steppe, which in Sumerian is called edin and in Akkadian/Babylonian seru. So, man is made at Eridu _in_ edin, of its clay or earth, thus Eridu and vicinity is another edenic prototype.
3) Another CONTRADICTING Mesopotamian myth, called by some scholars "The Eridu Genesis Myth" has man in a steppe or plain called in Sumerian edin and in Akkadian (Babylonian) seru. He wanders this edin NAKED and wild animals are his companions; he eats grass and laps water at watering holes like an animal. Eventually a goddess called Nintur takes pity on naked man's "hard life" in edin the steppe and takes him from this edin and "civilizes him." Man is taught that it is wrong to be naked, he MUST wear clothes when he comes to _dwell with the gods in their cities_ and _work in their gardens_, for the gods wear clothes and nakedness is an offense for them. The gods provide man clothing and settle him in cities built originally to house only the gods. From the gods man learns the arts of civilization, how to make musical instruments, how to forge metals, how to be shepherds, how to grow food in irrigation-fed gardens, as the gods do. To the degree that edin means a "plain, floodplain or steppe", and the Tigris and Euphrates do cross a great _plain_, extending from Baghdad to Basrah these rivers are thus associated with edin. However, please note an interesting contradiction exists here, the cities of Sumer were built in edin the plain. According to one myth in the beginning the gods (called the Annunaki) who built these cities were originally naked like animals, eating grass and lapping water like naked man. So, edin is not only the UNTAMED PLAIN that wild animals and naked man roamed, its also a plain "TAMED" by civilized man, with irrigation canals and networks for gardens and cities! So, edin the UNTAMED PLAIN which lies _near_ Nippur and Eridu as well as Uruk (biblical Erech Genesis 10:10) is another edenic prototype. The Eridu Genesis myth notes that NAKED man in the UNTAMED edin, knew NO FEAR, no animal offered harm to him. Harm came when man left this edin to dwell in cities and maintain the gardens of the gods in Sumer. Apparently Genesis' notion of an "idyllic eden" is fusing two different Mesopotamian concepts, the UNTAMED edin with the TAMED edin which has cities, canals and irrigated gardens planted by the gods for their self-nourishment.
4) The notion that Adam and Eve ate of forbidden food from a tree is drawn from -in part- the myth about Enki and Ninhursag in the earthly garden of Dilmun. Enki eats without his goddess-wife's permission eight of her plants, in order to "know" them; enraged, she curses him with death, the first plant that Enki consumed is called "a tree plant". She later relents, asking him what body part ails him and thereupon makes either a god or goddess to heal that part. When he complains of his rib aching, she makes Nin-Ti, a goddess to heal his rib (Sumerian ti means rib). In Sumerian Nin-ti can mean "Lady of the rib" and "Lady that makes live." One of Enki's epithets was En-Ti, "Lord of the Rib."A number of profesional scholars have suggested that Eve's being made of Adam's rib is drawing from this myth, as well as her name Eve, Hebrew Kavvah/Havvah meaning "mother of life" located at Dilmun. Some scholars have suggested Dilmun is the island of Bahrain near Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf. My research, however, suggests its at or near Qurnah in the marshes just east of Eridu, where the mouths of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers meet to form the Shatt al-Arab which empties into the Persian Gulf near Basra (these marshes are merely depresions _in_ e.din-the-plain). The Mesopotamian Noah called Ziusudra was placed in Dilmun, " _in the East_ where the sun rises, _AT THE MOUTH OF THE RIVERS_".
Kramer suggested Dilmun was an Edenic prototype (Note: I understand the "Sumerian Noah and wife place in Dilmun to be prototypes for Adam and Eve):
"Paradise, according to the Sumerian theologians, was for the immortal gods, and for them alone, not for mortal man. One mortal, however, and only one, according to Sumerian mythmakers, did suceed in gaining admittance to this divine paradise. This brings us to the Sumerian "Noah" and the deluge myth, the closest and most striking Biblical parallel as yet uncovered in cuneiform literature."
(p. 149. "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 reprint of 1956 published by The Falcon's Wing Press)
But, according to other non-mythcal annalistic texts, Dilmun is a location with a city, it has a king, buildings, boat docks, irrigation canals, plantations of Date Palms, lagoons filled with fish, and marshlands. So, Dilmun east of Eridu, Shuruppak and Uruk, is another edenic prototype.
5) The motif of forbidden access to trees appears in the Epic of Gilgamesh, when he and Enkidu set out to cut down for timber Cedars growing on a mountain guarded by a half-human monster called Huwawa or Humbaba. Most scholars usually identify this cedar mountain with some location in the Lebanon, famed in antiquity for its mighty cedars, coveted for the building of palaces and temples throughout the Ancient Middle Eastern world. Gilgamesh and Enkidu take 6 days to cross a great plain (called the steppe or edin) to reach this cedar mountain where Enkidu once roamed with his animal friends. Has Huwawa the guardian of the trees been reformatted in the Cherubim? Has the SWORD used by Gilgamesh to slay Huwawa become the "feiry sword" that bars access to the forbidden trees of Eden ? Perhaps Adam and Eve's forbidden access to sacred trees is a reformatting of Gilgamesh and Enkidu's forbidden access to cedar trees? If so, then it worth noting that Ezekiel mentions the cedars of Lebanon in the Garden of Eden, comparing themselves to Pharaoh who is portrayed like a mighty cedar. That is to say, perhaps a Lebanese cedar mountain in the Epic of Gilgamesh lies behind Ezekiel's imagery of a cedar mountain in the Garden of Eden in the Lebanon? Thus another "edenic prototype" is a Lebanese cedar mountain.
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."
Some may "wonder" how does the garden of Eden wind up in association with a _mountain_ (Hebrew: Har, pronounced khar) in Ezekiel's imagery, if it originally was associated with Sumerian edin-the-plain? The answer will surprise you! In Sumerian hymns, Eridu in Sumer, where Enki lives, and where he "made man to tend and till his fruit-tree garden" is called on occasion, _KUR_, which in Sumerian has several meanings, "land", "the underworld," and "_MOUNTAIN_." Perhaps "_KUR_ERIDU_" became over the millennia, the "Garden of Eden on a mountain"? Another contradicting myth as noted above, has man created at Nippur to tend the garden of a god called Enlil. Enlil dwelt in a temple-ziggurat called e-kur, meaning "mountain house" (e= house, kur= mountain), so his garden is associated with a mountain too like Eridu.
Kramer (emphasis mine in CAPITALS):
"Then Enki raises the city Eridu from the abyss and makes it float over the water like a lofty MOUNTAIN. Its green fruit-bearing gardens he fills with birds...
Enlil says to the Anunnaki:
"Ye great gods who are standing about,
My son has built a house, king Enki;
Eridu LIKE A MOUNTAIN, he has raised up from the earth,
In a good place he has built it."
(pp. 62-63. "Enki and Eridu: The Journey of the Water-god to Nippur." Samuel Noah Kramer. Sumerian Mythology: A Study of Spiritual and Literary Achievement in the Third Millennium B. C. Philadelphia. University of Pennsylvania Press. 1944, 1961, 1972, 1997. ISBN 0-8122-1047-6 paperback)
Now, Eridu does has the remains of a great ziggurat-temple, and the ziggurat at Nippur was called the E-Kur "Mountain House" of the god Enlil. So, if one wants to argue for the real physical presence of a "mountain" at Eridu in association with Enki's fruit-tree garden worked by man who has been created to replace the Igigi gods, the ziggurat would be my first choice. The other possible "edenic mountain" is Nippur's ziggurat called the "mountain house" where man was created to work in a god's garden (Enlil's garden).
6) Adam loses out on attaining immortality, he ate the forbidden fruit. This motif appears in several Mesopotamian myths. In the Adapa myth (Adam's prototype according to several scholars) while at Eridu, his god Enki warns him that when he goes up to heaven to face the supreme god An or Anu, not to eat anything offered for its is "the food of death." In reality, it is the "food conferring immortality" on mankind, but Enki does not want to lose man as a servant (He made man to be a servant to the gods). The Hebrews have INVERTED this myth, having man consume forbidden food when in the Adapa myth, man obeyed a lying god and lost out in attaining immortality (but note, neither Adapa or Adam ate the food which would confer immortality on them and via them, mankind). In another INVERSION the Hebrews place the event on the earth (but note that the warning from Enki was given on the earth at Eridu, which lies in edin-the-plain, where he has a garden of fruit trees he planted next to his shrine). So, another "edenic prototype" is Anu's abode _in Heaven_.
7) By the 2d-1st centuries B.C, the Hasmonean Jews had apparently come to locate Eden in the Yemen and nearby Dhofar, sources of spices and incense since King Solomon's days and the Queen of Sheba. This notion is preserved in various books called "The Pseudepigrapha." These books claim that when Adam was expelled from Eden he asked God to allow him to take from the garden spices and incense as offerings to God and God assented. As the ONLY known location for these products was Southwest Arabia (the Yemen and Dhofar), thus Eden came to be "transposed" there from Lower Mesopotamia (the steppe called edin, where are located Eridu and Nippur of Sumer as well as Dilmun and its marshes) to a new location. Jewish communities, according to Yemeni Jewish traditions existed from Mecca and Medina to the Yemen, settled in the days of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, to exploit the spice trade between Sheba and Jerusalem (other traditions say they settled in the area after the fall of Jerusalem, ca. 587 B.C. to the Babylonians). So, by the 2d-1st centuries B.C. Eden had come to be identified with Arabic Adn, the modern port of Aden in the Yemen. The Islamic holy book, The Koran/Quran, calls the "garden of Eden" Jannat Adn. Thus, when The Quran came to be composed in the 7th century A.D., its Jannat Adn (however Jannat Adn in the Quran is understood to be in heaven, not on the earth), was a concept the Arabs had picked up from Jews living in their area, which had been a part of Jewish folklore since the 2d century B.C.; that is to say, for some 9 centuries Jewish traditions in the areas of the Yemen, Mecca and Medina, had preserved a notion of Eden being in this part of the Arabic world!
8) Even later, additional Pseudepigraphic writings identified Eden with Jerusalem or Bethshean near the Jordan River!
9) Today, some scholars seek Eden in Missouri (the Mormons), others near the headwaters of the Tigris and Euphrates (David Rohl). Another scholar, Dr. Juris Zarins proposed that Eden is submerged beneath the Persian Gulf near the mouth of the Shatt al-Arab in Iraq. By the 1600's and 1700s a number of European scholars, both Catholic and Protestant, believed Eden could never be found because they argued that Noah's Flood had destroyed the original river courses by which it could be pin-pointed or located.
I do NOT understand that Eden is a real place, _its a Hebrew myth_ based on a re-working of earlier Mesopotamian myths, which offer -contradictorily- several different locations, as noted above.
The original pre-biblical prototypes appear to be_all_ Mesopotamian and associated with the great plain of edin in LOWER MESOPTAMIA and the lands of Sumer, Dilmun, and a Lebanese Cedar Mountain abutting edin-the-plain.
Of interest here, is a Mesopotamian flood myth in which Enlil is portrayed as the principal instigator in SENDING a flood to destroy _all_ of mankind which disturbs _his rest_ with its noise. However, his brother, the god Enki, "defies him", and WARNS a pious man called variously Ziusudra, Atrahasis or Utnapishtim of the coming flood and to save himself, family and animals by building a boat. When the Flood ends, an enraged Enlil learns that some humans have survived (Ziusudra and family). Enki confronts his angry brother, beseeching him not to ever again send a flood to destroy mankind. Enlil, relents, and agrees never again to send a flood, then Enlil "blesses" the survivors (Yahweh "blessed" the flood's survivors too, cf. Ge 9:1).
In Genesis it is Yahweh who SENT the flood and he WARNED one man, Noah, to save himself, family and animals by building a boat. I understand that Yahweh-Elohim is a fusion of Enlil who _sent_ the flood and Enki who _warned_ the Mesopotamian Noah, Ziusudra and his family.
So, according to various Mesopotamian "creation and flood" myths man was created to tend and till the garden of _a_ god in edin-the-plain at Nippur (Enlil) and another contradicting myth has man created to work in a garden of _a_ god at Eridu belonging to Enki. Thus the two brother gods, Enlil and Enki, who each had man created to work in their city-garden, are also involved in a Mesopotamian FLOOD myth, the one seeking mankinds' destruction, the other intervening to spare "a remnant" for a new beginning. That is to say, I understand that Enlil and Enki "lurk" behind Genesis' presentation of Yahweh-Elohim.
Another important "theme" or "motif" in the Mesopotamian "creation and flood" myths is that of the gods' attaining REST. Man is made to replace the Igigi gods who toil in the garden of a god (Enlil) at Nippur or at Eridu (Enki). The Igigi thus attain "eternal rest" from agricultural toil with man's creation. In the Mesopotamian flood myth man is to be destroyed because his "noise" disturbs the "rest" of the god Enlil (for whom man was created to work in his garden at Nippur) who complains he can neither sleep or rest! The myths suggest that the Igigi themselves constantly clamored for a freedom from toil and this clamor was at first ignored by the Annuaki or senior gods (Enki and Enlil). When man is made, we are told that the Igigi gods "clamor" is TRANSFERRED to man! In other words, the reason for man's "clamor" is for the same reason as that of the Igigi gods' -he has no rest from agricultural toil! Enlil decides he will obtain sleep and rest from the "clamor" by sending a flood to destroy man. That mankind seeks to enter into the "rest" from toil enjoyed exclusively by the gods is suggested in the Bible when Yahweh swears he will not allow a sinful mankind to enter into "his rest" (cf. Hebrews 3:11, 18; 4:1, 3, 5, 8-11).
Professor Cassuto, struck by parallels in expressions in the Epic of Gilgamesh, proposed that Eve's eating of the tree of good and evil was drawing from motifs in that epic:
"Similar phrases occur in the Gilgamesh Epic in the description of the goddess Siduri; there, too, we find the very words 'pleasant to the sight' [literally 'to behold'] and in a parallel clause 'good to look upon' (Assyrian recension, Tablet IX, v. end)... The expression pleasant to the sight and good for food belong, as we have seen above (p. 74) from the parallel passages in the Gilgamesh Epic, to the general tradition concerning the trees of the gardens of the gods."
(p. 108. Umberto Cassuto. A Commentary on the Book of Genesis (Part One) From Adam to Noah. Jerusalem. The Magness Press. The Hebrew University. [1944 in Hebrew]. English:1989 reprint)
As is to be expected, "the defenders of Holy Writ," believing the Bible to God's Holy Word, either DENY or DOWNPLAY any "borrowing and reformatting" of Mesopotamian concepts by the Hebrews. The most common stratagem they employ is to note that numerous details differ between Genesis 1-9 and the Mesopotamian myths. In addition the morals drawn about the relationship between god/s and man differ as well. Ergo, for Bible-believing Conservative scholars any parallels between the two cultures are dismissed as nonsense, God REALLY DID reveal to Moses what to write about how Man came to be created by God and later destroyed in a Flood.
However, let it be acknowledged here, that in a search for "The Truth," one MUST study _both sides_, so, dear reader, I would encourage you to pause a moment and click here and read what I regard as a typical Christian Apologist "refutation" of the notion that Genesis is a reformatting of Ancient Near Eastern Mesopotamian myths.
Millard challenges Lambert's above proposal as to when Mesopotamian Creation/Flood myths came to be known in the West, at Syrian Alakah and Byblos (Emphasis mine):
"Did the Hebrews borrow from Babylon? Neither an affirmative nor a negative reply to the question can be absolutely discounted in the light of present knowledge. Reconstructions of a process whereby Babylonian myths were borrowed by the Hebrews, having been transmitted by the Canaanites, and "purged" of pagan elements remain imaginary. It has yet to be shown that any Canaanite material was absorbed into Hebrew sacred literature on such a scale or in such a way. Babylonian literature itself was known in Palestine at the time of the Israelite conquest and so could have been incorporated directly. The argument that borrowing must have taken place during the latter part of the second millennium B.C. because so many Babylonian texts of that age have been found in Anatolia, Egypt, and the Levant, cannot carry much weight, being based on archaeological accident. The sites yielding the texts were either deserted or destroyed at that time, resulting in the burial of "librarie" and archives intact. Evidence does exist of not inconsiderable Babylonian scribal influence earlier (e.g., at Alakah and Byblos).
However, it has yet to be shown that there was borrowing, even indirectly. Differences between the Babylonian and Hebrew traditions can be found in factual details of the Flood narrative...and are most obvious in the ethical and religious concepts of each composition. All who suspect or suggest borrowing by the Hebrews are compelled to admit large-scale revisionism, alteration, and re-interpretaion in a fashion which cannot be substaniated for any other composition from the Ancient Near East...If there was borrowing then it can have extended only so far as the "historical" framework, and not included intention or interpretation...The two accounts [Hebrew and Mesopotamian] undoubtedly describe the same Flood, the two schemes relate the same sequence of events. If judgement is to be passed as to the priority of one tradition over the other, Genesis inevitably wins for its probability in terms of meterology, geophysics and timing alone...In that the patriarch Abraham lived in Babylonia, it could be said that the stories were borrowed from there, but not that they were borrowed from any text now known to us." (pp.127-128. Millard)
"...I reject the idea that the biblical account gradually evolved out of the Babylonian; for the differences are far too great and similarities far too insignificant."
(p.138. Alexander Heidel. The Babylonian Genesis, the Story of Creation. Chicago. The University of Chicago Press. 1947, 1951. Second edition. Reprint 1993)
Tigay on the Epic of Gilgamesh being a bringing together in one grand composition themes from various UNRELATED earlier works (Emphasis mine):
"The Gilgamesh Epic drew heavily upon Mesopotamian literary tradition. Not only did the author of the Old Babylonian version base his epic on older Sumerian tales about Gilgamesh, but he and the editors who succeeded him made extensive use of materials and literary forms originally unrelated to Gilgamesh."
(p. 247. Jeffrey Tigay. The Evolution of the Epic of Gilgamesh. Philadelphia. University of Pennsylvania. 1982)
Heidel agrees (Emphasis mine):
"It has been long recognized that the Gilgamesh Epic constitutes a literary compilation of material from various originally UNRELATED sources, put together to form one grand, more or less harmonious whole...The composite character of our epic is thus established beyond any doubt."
(p. 13. Alexander Heidel. The Gilgamesh Epic and Old Testament Parallels. Chicago. University of Chicago Press. 1946, 1949. paperback. reprinted 1963, 1995)
"The work of the Semites, however, did not consist simply in translating the Sumerian texts and combining them into one continuous story; rather, it constituted A NEW CREATION, which in the course of time, as indicated by the different versions at our disposal, was CONTINUALLY MODIFIED AND ELABORATED at the hands of the various compilers and redactors, with the result that the Semitic versions which have survived to our day in most cases DIFFER WIDELY from the available Sumerian material."
(p. 14. Alexander Heidel. The Gilgamesh Epic and Old Testament Parallels. Chicago. University of Chicago Press. 1946, 1949. paperback. reprinted 1963, 1995)
Seow on earlier, unrelated compositions being brought together and given "new meanings" _contrary to their original intents_ said observation, _for me_ explaining why Genesis possesses so many INVERSIONS of the earlier Mesopotamian myths, citing research by Tigay ( J. H. Tigay. The Evolution of the Gilgamesh Epic. Philadelphia. University of Pennsylvania. 1982. And J. H. Tigay. The Gilgamesh Epic: Empirical Models For Biblical Criticism. Phildaelphia. University of Pennsylvania. 1985) :
Seow (Emphasis mine):
"...the Gilgamesh Epic. This text is important here inasmuch as it evidences the ADAPTATION of earlier works of VARIOUS GENRES, some of which are employed within their NEW literary context in a manner CONTRARY to their ORIGINAL INTENT."
(p. 285. C. L. Seow. "Qohelet's Autobiography." Astrid B. Beck. Editor. Fortunate The Eyes That See. [A Festshrift in honor of David Noel Freedman] Grand Rapids, Michigan. Eerdmans Publishing Company. 1995)
I agree with Tigay and Heidel's assessment that the Epic of Gilgamesh employs an EXTENSIVE borrowing and amalgumating of several originally unrelated strands from different compositions. Lambert noted that the Mesopotamian cosmographers forte was not the creation of new concepts from whole cloth but the combining and reinterpreting of various motifs and concepts from originally unrelated compositions. It is my understanding that Genesis 1-9 (The Creation to Flood account), follows along in the traditions of the Hebrew's Mesoptamian predecessors (Abraham being originally of Ur of the Chaldees in Lower Mesopotamia). Millard noted that for those arguing that Genesis is an EXTENSIVE borrowing and reformatting of many different myths must admit a major transformation exists "UNHEARD OF" in earlier ANE history. The observations by Tigay and Heidel which note the bringing together of motifs from different unrelated compositions and harmonizing them into one grand epic, and Seow's important observation of CONTRARY meanings being ascribed to them in their NEW compositional setting, would _seem to belie_ the notion that the Hebrews were doing anything "new and unheard of" in recasting and bringing together several previously unrelated motifs from a variety different compositions and giving them meanings CONTRARY to their original intents -said compositions having been identified by myself as Adapa and the South Wind; the Epic of Gilgamesh; Atar-hasis; Inanna and Utu; Enki and Ninhursag in Dilmun; the Enuma Elish; etc. In other words, I understand the Epic of Gilgamesh, long regarded one of the earliest, longest and "most polished"compositions of the Ancient Near East, embodies the very same methodologies -the EXTENSIVE harmonizing of DISPARATE motifs from unrelated works, giving them NEW TWISTS- as appear in Genesis 1-9. I find myself in full agreement with the insights of Professor Lambert:
"The authors of ancient cosmologies were essentially compilers. Their originality was expressed in NEW COMBINATIONS of old themes, and in NEW TWISTS to old ideas. Sheer invention was not part of their craft."
(p. 107, Wilfred G. Lambert, "A New Look at the Babylonian Background of Genesis,: , in Richard S. Hess and David T. Tsumura, Eds., I Studied Inscriptions From Before the Flood, Winona Lake, Indiana, Eisenbrauns, 1994)
I have argued, along with others, that the Hebrews have apparently transformed the Mesopotamian myths in Genesis, but how does one account for this from a biblical point of view ? Where's the "LINK" ? Perhaps the "MISSING LINK" is _Ur of the Chaldees_, where lived Terah and his son Abraham before their departure to Haran in northern Syria? Excavations at Ur (Tell el Muqqayar, south of Babylon) have uncovered tablets from all periods of the city's long history, and some preserve the myths of this region dating back to Sumerian times. Leick noted that at times Syrian (Amorite) influence is detectable in some of these myths, they are not "purely" Sumerian, they have been reworked and augmented. Perhaps Terah and Abraham's ancestors were Syrians who had earlier settled at Ur? Did a "Syrian" Terah and Abraham later come "to make a break" with the local myths and develop their own interpretation of the relationship between God and Man, via inversions of the local myths? Did they leave Ur because the local populace rejected their new insights or "revelations" and return to their ancestral homeland of Haran, to promulgate their new vision to a less hostile audience? Cf. my article on Ur of the Chaldees for more details.
Professor Kramer on Abraham of Ur being Genesis' "missing link":
"To be sure, even the earliest parts of the Bible, it is generally agreed, were not written down in their present form much earlier than 1000 BC, whereas most of the Sumerian literary documents were composed about 2000 B.C. or not long afterward. There is, therefore no question of any contemporary borrowing from the Sumerian literary sources. Sumerian influence penetrated the Bible through the Canaanite, Hurrian, Hittite, and Akkadian literatures -particularly through the latter, since, as is well known, the Akkadian language was used all over Palestine and its environs in the second millennium B.C. as the common language of practically the entire literary world. Akkadian literary works must therefore have been well known to Palestinian men of letters, including the Hebrews, and not a few of these Akkadian literary works can be traced back to Sumerian protoypes,remodeled and transformed over the centuries.
However, there is another possible source of Sumerian influence on the Bible, which is far more direct and immediate than that just described. In fact, it may well go back to Father Abraham himself. Most scholars agree that the Abraham saga as told in the Bible contains much that is legendary and fanciful, it does have an important kernel of truth, including Abraham's birth in Ur of the Chaldees, perhaps about 1700 B.C., and his early life there with his family. Now Ur was one of the most important cities of ancient Sumer; in fact, it was the capital of Sumer at three different periods in its history. It had an impressive edubba; and in the joint British-American excavations conducted there between the years 1922 and 1934, quite a number of Sumerian literary documents have been found. Abraham and his forefathers may well have had some acquaintence with Sumeriabn literary products that had been copied and created in their home town academy. And it is by no means impossible that he and the members of his family brought some of this Sumerian lore and learning with them to Palestine, where they gradually became part of the traditions and sources utilized by the Hebrew men of letters in composing and redacting the books of the Bible."
(p. 292. "The Legacy of Sumer." Samuel Noah Kramer. The Sumerians, Their History, Culture, and Character. Chicago. The University of Chicago Press.  reprint 1972. ISBN 0-226-45237-9. paperback)
Extra-biblical evidence suggests a Jewish understanding from as early as the Hasmonean period (late 2nd century B.C.), that the Israelite forefathers were indeed originally of Babylonia, and only later of Haran of Mesopotamia and that because they had departed from the forms of worship embraced by their ancestors, they were apparently _driven away as heretics_ to Haran and later to Canaan. If I am right in suppossing that the INVERSIONS, transformations and reformatting of the Mesopotamian myths are Terah and Abraham's doing, one can see why they would be driven out of Ur of the Chaldees by the local inhabitants who would _object_ to their religious myths being NULLIFIED by the "revelations" being espoused by these two men.
Here is the account from Judith (believed by some scholars to date from the late 2nd century B.C.), note that the Jewish Hasmonean author understands his ancestors were ORIGINALLY CHALDEANS _NOT_ARAMEANS, and that ORIGINALLY THEY LIVED IN CHALDEA _NOT_ ARAM (Syria and Haran, here rendered "Mesopotamia")). He also understands that as CHALDEANS THEY WORSHIPPED MANY GODS, but while in CHALDEA they came to be aware that there was only ONE GOD, and they were driven from Chaldea (Babylonia) by their kinsmen for refusing to worship any longer the gods:
"Then Achior, the leader of all the Ammonites, said to him, "Let my lord now hear a word from the mouth of your servant, and I will tell you the truth about this people that dwells in the nearby mountain district. No falsehood shall come from your servant's mouth. This people is descended from the Chaldeans.At one time they lived in Mesopotamia, because they would not follow the gods of their fathers who were in Chaldea. For they had left the ways of their ancestors, and they worshipped the God of Heaven, the God they had come to know; hence they drove them out from the presence of their gods; and they fled to Mesopotamia, and lived there a long time. Then their God commanded them to leave the place were they were living and go to the land of Canaan. There they settled, and prospered..."
(Herbert G. May & Bruce M. Metzger. Editors. The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha. [Revised Standard Version]. New York. Oxford University Press. 1977)
Genesis' two trees accounted for phenomenon the Hebrews apparently wondered about: (1) Why did man wear clothes and not go about naked like the rest of the creation? (2) Why was it that man does not possess immortality? (3) Why is man a "rebel" in regards to obeying God? For the Hebrews these phenomenon were associated with two trees, the tree of knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life.
This article has sought Genesis' pre-biblical motifs in Sumerian and Mesopotamian myths regarding primitive man being originally naked and unaware it was wrong to be naked. Genesis' notion that Adam serves a God in a state of nakedness has been traced to Sumerian motifs of naked man serving clothed gods. Adam as a naked tiller of the earth in a God's garden has been traced to naked men tilling the earth in the gods' city-gardens as appear on a Mesopotamian cylinder seal (three nude men with an ox-drawn plow tilling the earth).
Genesis' notion that man does not have immortal life because a God willed it not to be so, intervening to prevent his eating of the tree of life, has been traced again to Mesopotamian motifs that have man being denied immortality by the god who created him at Eridu (Enki/Ea).
The Mesopotamian myths understood the gods had not created man to fellowship with, but to be ruthlessly exploited as an agricultural slave. His arduous labor in their gardens of edin would assure the gods an eternal rest from earthly toil for lifes' necessities: food, shelter and clothing.
The gods denied man immortality because if he were made a god who would provide life's necessities for the gods? In Mesopotamian myths Gods do _not_ toil for life's necessities, man does. If man becomes a god, he ceases to be a servant of the gods and ceases to provide the gods these necessities and the gods will have to return to the earth and bear again the grievous toil in the gardens of edin to provide sustenance for themselves, their sabbath rest from earthly toil will come to an end.
Contradictions in the Mesopotamian myths have been noted. The eating of a magical food ("bread of life" or "food of life") really does _not_ confer immortality for the gods who eat this food on a regular basis can be slain, thus had man (Adapa) consumed the "bread of life" and drunk the "water of life" he still could be killed and wind up in the underworld with gods who had been slain (the goddess Inanna/Ishtar being slain and consigned to the underworld for a time).
The Hebrews apparently objected to the Mesopotamian myths' explanation for why man was originally naked and served a god in a state of nakedness.
They objected to the Mesopotamian account of how man came to realize it was wrong to be naked.
They objected to the Mesopotamian account of where, and how man (Adapa) came to obtain forbidden knowledge and came to lose out on a chance to obtain immortality.
They denied the Mesopotamian understanding that the gods would never expell man from their gardens in the edin.
They denied the Mesopotamian notion that godly knowledge was given man by the gods so that they could maintain their high standard of living in cities.
The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil may have been envisioned by Genesis' narrator as being the fig while the Tree of Life may have been the Date Palm. Both were grown in the gods' gardens in the edin, the towering date palm providing life-giving shade for the fig tree which flourished in this shade.
Genesis' notion that knowledge can be obtained by eating of a tree has been traced to the Sumerian myth about Inanna (Ishtar) eating of cedar trees to acquire sexual knowledge. She lived in the edin with her husband Dumuzi and she bore the epithet nin edin "lady of edin." Both Inanna (Asherah) and Dumuzi (Tammuz) were apparently worshipped in the Temple of Solomon at Jerusalem as part the Queen of Heaven cult.
All this is to say that some motifs originally associated with the Lower Mesopotamian (Sumerian) Queen of Heaven cult came in the Hebrew Bible, to be recast in Genesis' motifs and associated with Adam and Eve.
Scientists in the disciplines of Astro-physics, Geology, Paleontology, and Anthropology understand that the earth is four billion years old and the universe is 14 billion years old and that man evolved over millions of years from the animal world. Science's findings do not support Genesis' account of the origins of the world, universe, and man (Genesis' chronology suggesting the cosmos and earth were created circa 4004 B.C. according to some Protestant scholars while some Catholic scholars opt for 5199 B.C.).
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E. A. Speiser. "The Rivers of Paradise." pp. 175-182. [1959 for the original article]. Richard S. Hess & David Toshio Tsumura, editors. I Studied Inscriptions Before the Flood: Ancient Near Eastern, Literary, and Linguistic Approaches to Genesis 1-11. Winona Lake, Indiana. Eisenbrauns. 1994. ISBN 0-931464-88-9).
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