The Enuma Elish (excerpts)

Babylonian creation myth
from at least 1700 B.C.E.

(The source in its entirety is available at http://www.cresourcei.org/enumaelish.html.)

 

Tablet I

When on high the heaven had not been named,
Firm ground below had not been called by name,
When primordial Apsu, their begetter,
And Mummu-Tiamat, she who bore them all,
Their waters mingled as a single body,
No reed hut had sprung forth, no marshland had appeared,
None of the gods had been brought into being,
And none bore a name, and no destinies determined–
Then it was that the gods were formed in the midst of heaven.
Lahmu and Lahamu were brought forth, by name they were called….

I.e., before heaven and earth were created, the universe consisted of two vast bodies of water — male sweetwater and female saltwater. Successive generations of gods come into existence through the fusion of these waters.

Tablet II

When Tiamat had thus lent import to her handiwork,
She prepared for battle against the gods, her offspring.
To avenge Apsu, Tiamat planned evil….

Conflict had arisen among the gods because the younger ones were noisy and disturbed the older ones.

Tablet IV

The younger gods find their champion in Marduk. They plan to make him king, though he must first pass a test to show his power. He then becomes the supreme god and king of Babylonia by subduing the threat of the ocean goddess Tiamat.

They erected for [Marduk] a princely throne.
Facing his fathers, he sat down, presiding.
“You are the most honored of the great gods,
Your decree is unrivaled, your command is Anu.
You, Marduk, are the most honored of the great gods,
Your decree is unrivaled, your word is Anu.
From this day your pronouncement shall be unchangeable.
To raise or bring low–these shall be in your hand.
Your utterance shall be true, your command shall be unimpeachable.
No one among the gods shall transgress your bounds! …

Then Tiamat and Marduk joined issue, wisest of gods.
They strove in single combat, locked in battle.
The lord spread out his net to enfold her,
The Evil Wind, which followed behind, he let loose in her face.
When Tiamat opened her mouth to consume him,
He drove in the Evil Wind while as yet she had not shut her lips
As the terrible winds filled her belly,
Her body was distended and her mouth was wide open.
He released the arrow, it tore her belly,
It cut through her insides, splitting the heart.
Having thus subdued her, he extinguished her life…

Notice that the winds have been the friends and weapons of Marduk. Cf. Genesis 1, and the role of the wind or spirit of God, which subdues the watery chaos.

He split her like a shellfish into two parts:
Half of her he set up as a covering for heaven,
Pulled down the bar and posted guards.
He bade them to allow not her waters to escape. …

The clamshell of heaven is a barrier that keeps the waters above from escaping. Compare this to Genesis’ reference to the firmament or dome of the heavens. Marduk goes on to establish the constellations, seasons, and the course of the moon and sun, thus establishing day and night.

Tablet VI

“I will take blood and fashion bone.
I will establish a savage, ‘man’ shall be his name.
truly, savage-man I will create.
He shall be charged with the service of the gods
That they might be at ease!”…
They bound [Kingu]….
They imposed on him his punishment and severed his blood vessels.
Out of his blood they fashioned mankind.

I.e. human beings come into existence in order to relieve the drudgery of the gods. They are created out of the blood of a god, which is a by-product of an act of revenge against the older gods. Human beings do not result from the high purpose or original intention of a Creator, as in Genesis 1.