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Myths of Babylonia and Assyria

Page: 76

The first great monarch of the Isin dynasty was Ishbi-Urra, who reigned for thirty-two years. Like his successors, he called himself "King of Sumer and Akkad", and it appears that his sway extended to the city of Sippar, where solar worship prevailed. Traces of him have also been found at Eridu, Ur, Erech, and Nippur, so that he must have given recognition to Ea, Sin, Anu, and Enlil. In this period the early national pantheon may have taken shape, Bel Enlil being the chief deity. Enlil was afterwards displaced by Merodach of Babylon.

Before 2200 B.C. there occurred a break in the supremacy of Isin. Gungunu, King of Ur, combined with Larsa, whose sun temple he restored, and declared himself ruler of Sumer and Akkad. But Isin again gathered strength under Ur-Ninip, who was not related to his predecessor. Perhaps he came from Nippur, where the god Ninip was worshipped as the son of Bel Enlil.

According to a Babylonian document, a royal grandson of Ur-Ninip's, having no direct heir, selected as his successor his gardener, Enlil-bani. He placed the crown on the head of this obscure individual, abdicated in his favour, and then died a mysterious death within his palace.

It is highly probable that Enlil-bani, whose name signifies "Enlil is my creator", was a usurper like Sargon of Akkad, and he may have similarly circulated a myth regarding his miraculous origin to justify his sudden rise to power. The truth appears to be that he came to the throne as the leader of a palace revolution at a time of great unrest. But he was not allowed to remain in undisputed possession. A rival named Sin-ikisha, evidently a moon worshipper and perhaps connected with Ur, displaced the usurper, and proclaimed himself king. After a brief reign of six months he was overthrown, however, by Enlil-bani, who piously credited his triumph over his enemy to the chief god of Nippur, whose name he bore. Although he took steps to secure his position by strengthening the fortifications of Isin, and reigned for about a quarter of a century, he was not succeeded by his heir, if he had one. King Zambia, who was no relation, followed him, but his reign lasted for only three years. The names of the next two kings are unknown. Then came Sin-magir, who was succeeded by Damik-ilishu, the last King of Isin.

Towards the close of Damik-ilishu's reign of twenty-four years he came under the suzerainty of Larsa, whose ruler was Rim Sin. Then Isin was captured by Sin-muballit, King of Babylon, the father of the great Hammurabi. Rim Sin was an Elamite.

Afterwards the old order of things passed away. Babylon became the metropolis, the names of Sumer and Akkad dropped out of use, and the whole country between the rivers was called Babylonia.[150] The various systems of law which obtained in the different states were then codified by Hammurabi, who appointed governors in all the cities which came under his sway to displace the patesis and kings. A new national pantheon of representative character was also formed, over which Merodach (Marduk), the city god of Babylon, presided. How this younger deity was supposed to rise to power is related in the Babylonian legend of Creation, which is dealt with in the next chapter.[151] In framing this myth from the fragments of older myths, divine sanction was given to the supremacy achieved by Merodach's city. The allegiance of future generations was thus secured, not only by the strong arm of the law, but also by the combined influence of the reorganized priesthoods at the various centres of administration.


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