Myths of Babylonia and Assyria
Page: 28Enlil is known as the "older Bel" (lord), to distinguish him from Bel Merodach of Babylon. He was the chief figure in a triad in which he figured as earth god, with Anu as god of the sky and Ea as god of the deep. This classification suggests that Nippur had either risen in political importance and dominated the cities of Erech and Eridu, or that its priests were influential at the court of a ruler who was the overlord of several city states.
Associated with Bel Enlil was Beltis, later known as "Beltu--the lady". She appears to be identical with the other great goddesses, Ishtar, Nana, Zerpanitum, &c., a "Great Mother", or consort of an early god with whom she was equal in power and dignity.
In the later systematized theology of the Babylonians we seem to trace the fragments of a primitive mythology which was vague in outline, for the deities were not sharply defined, and existed in groups. Enneads were formed in Egypt by placing a local god at the head of a group of eight elder deities. The sun god Ra was the chief figure of the earliest pantheon of this character at Heliopolis, while at Hermopolis the leader was the lunar god Thoth. Professor Budge is of opinion that "both the Sumerians and the early Egyptians derived their primeval gods from some common but exceedingly ancient source", for he finds in the Babylonian and Nile valleys that there is a resemblance between two early groups which "seems to be too close to be accidental".
The Egyptian group comprises four pairs of vague gods and goddesses--Nu and his consort Nut, Hehu and his consort Hehut, Kekui and his consort Kekuit, and Kerh and his consort Kerhet. "Man always has fashioned", he says, "and probably always will fashion, his god or gods in his own image, and he has always, having reached a certain stage in development, given to his gods wives and offspring; but the nature of the position taken by the wives of the gods depends upon the nature of the position of women in the households of those who write the legends and the traditions of the gods. The gods of the oldest company in Egypt were, the writer believes, invented by people in whose households women held a high position, and among whom they possessed more power than is usually the case with Oriental peoples."
We cannot say definitely what these various deities represent. Nu was the spirit of the primordial deep, and Nut of the waters above the heavens, the mother of moon and sun and the stars. The others were phases of light and darkness and the forces of nature in activity and repose.
Nu is represented in Babylonian mythology by Apsu-Rishtu, and Nut by Mummu-Tiamat or Tiawath; the next pair is Lachmu and Lachamu, and the third, Anshar and Kishar. The fourth pair is missing, but the names of Anu and Ea (as Nudimmud) are mentioned in the first tablet of the Creation series, and the name of a third is lost. Professor Budge thinks that the Assyrian editors substituted the ancient triad of Anu, Ea, and Enlil for the pair which would correspond to those found in Egypt. Originally the wives of Anu and Ea may have made up the group of eight primitive deities.