Genesis 1-2 Parallels #3: Ninti, “Lady of the Rib”

Parallels

AKRESS_10312336447

Because Adam is lonely and lacks a helper as his partner, Yahweh puts him to sleep and makes a woman out of his rib (Gen. 2:21-23).  Again we return to a story of the deities Enki and Ninsikila/Ninhursaga, starting with Enki’s attempt to win the love of his great granddaughter, Uttu; he does so by finding a gardener to help him grow all kinds of fruits and vegetables. Upon accepting Enki’s gift, Enki takes her by force until Ninhursaga arrives – removing Enki’s semen from Uttu’s body and planting it in the ground where eight plants then grow. Later, Enki comes across the plants and asks his page Isimu if he should eat them to “find out their nature.”[1]  Isimu says he will name each one and give it to Enki to eat. Doing so he becomes pregnant, but suffers great for being unable to give birth as a male. Ninhursaga decides to help by placing him in her vulva and gives birth to eight deities, each of which is created from a different part of Enki’s body. As you may have already guessed, one is from his rib:

“My brother,
what part of you hurts you!”
“My ribs hurt me!”
She gave birth to Ninti out of it. [2]

Continue reading

Advertisements

Genesis 1-2 Parallels #2: Paradise Motif

Parallels

Paradise Motif

In the second chapter of Genesis we read how God establishes a celestial garden in Eden and places man there to till and cultivate it. The motif of a once heavenly paradise is prevalent in the ancient world and was more than likely borrowed by the Israelites from the preceding cultures of Near East. Evidence of this is in the word eden itself, which is Sumerian in origin and to whom it meant “plain.” the Sumerians occupied the Tigris-Euphrates valley no later than 3000 BCE

CARNEGIE_3980003

Dilmun

The oldest parallel to the biblical image of Eden is a land called Dilmun, often identified with modern Bahrain. We are given details about this country from a number of Sumerian texts, including the Epic of Gilgamesh as well as Enki and Ninsikila/Ninhursaga. In these narratives we read how Dilmun is a place located “in the garden of the sun…at the mouth of the rivers”,[1] where disease and pain are nonexistent, people do not grow old, and animals do not kill.[2]  In Gilgamesh Utnapishtim (the Babylonian Noah) is placed there after the flood to live forever. In other mythological inscriptions we read how the god Enki along with his wife were placed there to institute “a sinless age of complete happiness”: Continue reading

Genesis 1-2 Parallels #1: Creation

Parallels

Creation

enumaelishEnuma Elish

It may surprise some to learn that Genesis is not the oldest recorded creation account; prior to the Israelite people and the writing of Genesis were other cultures in the ancient near east with their own cosmological narratives concerning the origin of the universe. Take the Babylonian myth Enuma Elish. What’s fascinating about this creation account is that despite predating Genesis by at least 1000 years, it contains many similar mythical elements – showing that the authors of Genesis were directly or indirectly influenced by it. This should come as no surprise as the Israelites were exiled to Babylon (597-538 BC) and would have undoubtedly been exposed to their religious traditions.

Below are four of the major similarities between the two cosmologies. Citations to Enuma Elish are used in accordance with this translation (which I’ve added highlights to). [1]

Continue reading