Myths and Legends of Babylonia and Assyria

Page: 91

The weapons of Ramman are lightning, deluge, hunger, and death, and woe to the nation upon whom he visits his wrath, for upon it he visits flood and famine. Thus his attributes as a storm-god are brought into play when he figures as a war deity, for just as a weather-god of the lightning wields it as a spear or dart in the fight, so Ramman as storm-god brings to bear the horrors of tempest upon the devoted head of the enemy.

So highly did the Assyrian kings value the assistance of Ramman that they sacrificed to him during the stress and bustle of a campaign in the field. They liken an attack of their troops to his onslaught, and if they wish to depict the stamping out of an adversary,[Pg 219] his 'eating up,' as Chaka's Zulus were wont to term the process, they declare that their men swept over the enemy as Ramman might have done. Assur-nazir-pal alludes to Ramman as 'the mightiest of the gods,' but as in reality that phrase was employed in connexion with all the principal deities at one time or another by kings or priests who favoured them, there is no reason to suppose that anything more is intended than that Ramman occupied a place of importance in the Assyrian pantheon.

The worship of Ramman in later times came very much into prominence. It was only in the days of Khammurabi that he came into his kingdom, as it were, and even then his worship was not very firmly established in Babylonia. With the rise of the Kassite dynasty, however, we find him coming more into favour, and his name bestowed upon Babylonian kings. He seems to have formed a triad with Sin and Shamash, and in the Hymn of Khammurabi we find him appealed to along with Shamash as 'Divine Lords of Justice.' Nebuchadrezzar I appears to have held him in high esteem, although he was unfriendly to the dynasty which first brought him into prominence, and this monarch couples him with Ishtar as the divinity who has chiefly assisted him in all his great undertakings. Indeed, Nebuchadrezzar evinced much partiality for Ramman, perhaps feeling that he must placate the especial god of those he had cast from power. He speaks of him as the 'lord of the waters beneath the earth,' and of the rains from heaven.

The place of Ramman's origin seems obscure. We have already dealt with his manifestations in more primitive days, but opinions appear to differ regarding the original seat of his worship, some[Pg 220] authorities holding that it was Muru in Southern Babylonia, others that it is necessary to turn to Assyria for traces of his first worship. His cult is found in Damascus and extended as far south as the Plain of Jezreel. As Milton says:

"... Rimmon, whose delightful seat
Was fair Damascus, on the fertile banks
Of Abbana and Pharphar, lucid streams.
He also 'gainst the house of God was bold
A leper once he lost, and gained a king,
Ahaz his sottish conqu'ror, whom he drew
God's altar to disparage and displace
For one of Syrian mode, whereon to burn
His odious offerings, and adore the gods
Whom he had vanquish'd."