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Myths of Babylonia and Assyria

Page: 75

Another city which also rose into prominence, amidst the shattered Sumerian states, was Ur, the centre of moon worship. After Gudea's death, its kings exercised sway over Lagash and Nippur, and, farther south, over Erech and Larsa as well. This dynasty endured for nearly a hundred and twenty years, during which Ur flourished like Thebes in Egypt. Its monarchs styled themselves as "Kings of the Four Regions". The worship of Nannar (Sin) became officially recognized at Nippur, the seat of Enlil, during the reign of King Dungi of Ur; while at Erech, the high priest of Anu, the sky god, became the high priest of the moon god. Apparently matriarchal ideas, associated with lunar worship, again came into prominence, for the king appointed two of his daughters to be rulers of conquered states in Elam and Syria. In the latter half of his reign, Dungi, the conqueror, was installed as high priest at Eridu. It would thus appear that there was a renascence of early Sumerian religious ideas. Ea, the god of the deep, had long been overshadowed, but a few years before Dungi's death a temple was erected to him at Nippur, where he was worshipped as Dagan. Until the very close of his reign, which lasted for fifty-eight years, this great monarch of tireless activity waged wars of conquest, built temples and palaces, and developed the natural resources of Sumer and Akkad. Among his many reforms was the introduction of standards of weights, which received divine sanction from the moon god, who, as in Egypt, was the measurer and regulator of human transactions and human life.

To this age also belongs many of the Sumerian business and legal records, which were ultimately carried off to Susa, where they have been recovered by French excavators.

About half a century after Dungi's death the Dynasty of Ur came to an end, its last king having been captured by an Elamite force.

At some time subsequent to this period, Abraham migrated from Ur to the northern city of Harran, where the moon god was also the chief city deity--the Baal, or "lord". It is believed by certain Egyptologists that Abraham sojourned in Egypt during its Twelfth Dynasty, which, according to the Berlin system of minimum dating, extended from about 2000 B.C. till 1780 B.C. The Hebrew patriarch may therefore have been a contemporary of Hammurabi's, who is identified with Amraphel, king of Shinar (Sumer) in the Bible.[149]

But after the decline of Ur's ascendancy, and long before Babylon's great monarch came to the throne, the centre of power in Sumeria was shifted to Isin, where sixteen kings flourished for two and a quarter centuries. Among the royal names, recognition was given to Ea and Dagan, Sin, Enlil, and Ishtar, indicating that Sumerian religion in its Semitized form was receiving general recognition. The sun god was identical with Ninip and Nin-Girsu, a god of fertility, harvest, and war, but now more fully developed and resembling Babbar, "the shining one", the solar deity of Akkadian Sippar, whose Semitic name was Shamash. As Shamash was ultimately developed as the god of justice and righteousness, it would appear that his ascendancy occurred during the period when well-governed communities systematized their religious beliefs to reflect social conditions.


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