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Myths of Babylonia and Assyria

Page: 88

It is possible that in the Babylonian dragon myth the original hero was Ea. As much may be inferred from the symbolic references in the Bible to Jah's victory over the monster of the deep: "Art thou not it that hath cut Rahab and wounded the dragon?"[181] "Thou brakest the heads of the dragons in the waters; thou brakest the heads of leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness";[182] "He divideth the sea with his power, and by his understanding he smiteth through the proud (Rahab). By his spirit he hath garnished the heavens: his hand hath formed (or pierced) the crooked serpent";[183] "Thou hast broken Rahab in pieces as one that is slain: thou hast scattered thine enemies with thy strong arm";[184] "In that day the Lord with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing (or stiff) serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea".[185]

In the Babylonian Creation legend Ea is supplanted as dragon slayer by his son Merodach. Similarly Ninip took the place of his father, Enlil, as the champion of the gods. "In other words," writes Dr. Langdon, "later theology evolved the notion of the son of the earth god, who acquires the attributes of the father, and becomes the god of war. It is he who stood forth against the rebellious monsters of darkness, who would wrest the dominion of the world from the gods who held their conclave on the mountain. The gods offer him the Tablets of Fate; the right to utter decrees is given unto him." This development is "of extreme importance for studying the growth of the idea of father and son, as creative and active principles of the world".[186] In Indian mythology Indra similarly takes the place of his bolt-throwing father Dyaus, the sky god, who so closely resembles Zeus. Andrew Lang has shown that this myth is of widespread character.[187] Were the Babylonian theorists guided by the folk-lore clue?

Now Merodach, as the son of Ea whom he consulted and received spells from, was a brother of "Tammuz of the Abyss". It seems that in the great god of Babylon we should recognize one of the many forms of the primeval corn spirit and patriarch--the shepherd youth who was beloved by Ishtar. As the deity of the spring sun, Tammuz slew the winter demons of rain and tempest, so that he was an appropriate spouse for the goddess of harvest and war. Merodach may have been a development of Tammuz in his character as a demon slayer. When he was raised to the position of Bel, "the Lord" by the Babylonian conquerors, Merodach supplanted the older Bel--Enlil of Nippur. Now Enlil, who had absorbed all the attributes of rival deities, and become a world god, was the


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