Babylonian religion

Babylonian religion is the religious practice of Babylonia. Babylonian mythology was greatly influenced by their Sumerian counterparts, and was written on clay tablets inscribed with the cuneiform script derived from Sumerian cuneiform. The myths were usually either written in Sumerian or Akkadian. Some Babylonian texts were translations into Akkadian from the Sumerian language of earlier texts, although the names of some deities were changed.

Some of the stories of the Tanakh are believed to have been based on, influenced by, or inspired by the legendary mythological past of the Near East.[1]

Mythology and cosmology

Babylonian mythology is a set of stories depicting the activities of Babylonian deities, heroes, and mythological creatures. These stories served many social, political, ceremonial purposes, and at times tried to explain natural phenomena.

Babylonian myths were greatly influenced by the Sumerian religion, and were written on clay tablets inscribed with the cuneiform script derived from Sumerian cuneiform. The myths were usually either written in Sumerian or Akkadian. Some Babylonian texts were even translations into Akkadian from the Sumerian language of earlier texts, although the names of some deities were changed in Babylonian texts.

Many Babylonian deities, myths and religious writings are singular to that culture; for example, the uniquely Babylonian deity, Marduk, replaced Enlil as the head of the mythological pantheon. The Enûma Eliš, a creation myth epic was an original Babylonian work.

Religious festivals

Detail Ishtar gate
A relief image, part of the Babylonian Ishtar gate

Tablet fragments from the Neo-Babylonian period describe a series of festival days celebrating the New Year. The Festival began on the first day of the first Babylonian month, Nisannu, roughly corresponding to April/May in the Gregorian calendar. This festival celebrated the re-creation of the Earth, drawing from the Marduk-centered creation story described in the Enûma Eliš.[2]

Importance of idols

In Babylonian religion, the ritual care and worship of the statues of deities was considered sacred; the gods resided simultaneously in their statues in temples and in the natural forces they embodied. An elaborate ceremony of washing the mouths of the statues appeared sometime in the Old Babylonian period.

The pillaging or destruction of idols was considered to be loss of divine patronage; during the Neo-Babylonian period, the Chaldean prince Marduk-apla-iddina II fled into the southern marshes of Mesopotamia with the statues of Babylon's gods to save them from the armies of Sennacherib of Assyria.[3]

See also

References

  1. ^ Morris Jastrow Jr.; et al. "Babylon". Jewish Encyclopedia.
  2. ^ McIntosh, Jane R. "Ancient Mesopotamia: New Perspectives". ABC-CLIO, Inc: Santa Barbara, CA, 2005. p. 221
  3. ^ McIntosh, Jane R. "Ancient Mesopotamia: New Perspectives". ABC-CLIO, Inc: Santa Barbara, CA, 2005. pp. 35-43

Further reading

  • Renger, Johannes (1999), "Babylonian and Assyrian Religion", in Fahlbusch, Erwin, Encyclopedia of Christianity, 1, Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, pp. 177–178, ISBN 0802824137
Akitu

Akitu or Akitum (Sumerian: EZEN Á.KI.TUM, akiti-šekinku, Á.KI.TI.ŠE.GUR₁₀.KU₅, lit. "the barley-cutting", akiti-šununum, lit. "barley-sowing"; Akkadian: akitu or rêš-šattim, "head of the year") was a spring festival in ancient Mesopotamia.The Babylonian Akitu festival has played a pivotal role in the development of theories of religion, myth and ritual, yet the purpose of the festival remains a point of contention among both historians of religion and Assyriologists.The name is from the Sumerian for "barley", originally marking two festivals celebrating the beginning of each of the two half-years of the Sumerian calendar, marking the sowing of barley in autumn and the cutting of barley in spring. In Babylonian religion it came to be dedicated to Marduk's victory over Tiamat.

Ancient Mesopotamian religion

Mesopotamian religion refers to the religious beliefs and practices of the civilizations of ancient Mesopotamia, particularly Sumer, Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia between circa 3500 BC and 400 AD, after which they largely gave way to Syriac Christianity. The religious development of Mesopotamia and Mesopotamian culture in general was not particularly influenced by the movements of the various peoples into and throughout the area, particularly the south. Rather, Mesopotamian religion was a consistent and coherent tradition which adapted to the internal needs of its adherents over millennia of development.The earliest undercurrents of Mesopotamian religious thought date to the mid 4th millennium BC, and involved the worship of forces of nature as providers of sustenance. In the 3rd millennium BC objects of worship were personified and became an expansive cast of divinities with particular functions. The last stages of Mesopotamian polytheism, which developed in the 2nd and 1st millenniums, introduced greater emphasis on personal religion and structured the gods into a monarchical hierarchy with the national god being the head of the pantheon. Mesopotamian religion finally declined with the spread of Iranian religions during the Achaemenid Empire and with the Christianization of Mesopotamia.

Ancient Semitic religion

Ancient Semitic religion encompasses the polytheistic religions of the Semitic peoples from the ancient Near East and Northeast Africa. Since the term Semitic itself represents a rough category when referring to cultures, as opposed to languages, the definitive bounds of the term "ancient Semitic religion" are only approximate.

Semitic traditions and their pantheons fall into regional categories: Canaanite religions of the Levant, the Sumerian tradition–inspired Assyro-Babylonian religion of Mesopotamia, the Ancient Hebrew religion of the

Israelites, and Arabian polytheism. Semitic polytheism possibly transitioned into Abrahamic monotheism by way of the god El, whose name "El", or elah אלה is a word for "god" in Hebrew, cognate to Arabic ilah اله, and its definitive pronoun form الله Allah, "(The) God".

Ashnan

Ashnan was the goddess of grain in Mesopotamia. She and her brother Lahar, both children of Enlil, were created by the gods to provide the Annunaki with food, but when the heavenly creatures were found unable to make use of their products, humankind was created to provide an outlet for their services.

Babylonian

Babylonian may refer to:

Babylon, a Semitic Akkadian city-state of ancient Mesopotamia founded in 1894 BC

Babylonia, an ancient Akkadian-speaking Semitic nation state and cultural region based in central-southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq)

Babylonian language, a dialect of the Akkadian language

Belit Ilani

In Babylonian religion, Belit Ilani was a title described as meaning "mistress of the gods" and the name of the "evening star of desire". It has been associated with Ninlil and Astarte and has been found inscribed on portraits of a woman blessing a suckling child with her right hand. Theophilus G. Pinches noted that Belit Ilani or Nnlil had seven different names (such as Nintud, Ninhursag, Ninmah, etc.) for seven different localities in ancient Sumer.

Bronze Age religion

Bronze Age religion may refer to:

Religions of the Ancient Near East

Sumerian religion

Assyro-Babylonian religion

Canaanite religion

Ancient Egyptian religion

Minoan religion

Hittite religion

Mycenaean religion

Rigvedic religion (the late Bronze Age to early Iron Age in India)

reconstructed (Eneolithic to Early Bronze Age) Proto-Indo-European religion

reconstructed Proto-Indo-Iranian religion

Bronze Age Europe, see Prehistoric religion#Bronze_Age_Europe

Drakht-i Asurig

Draxt ī Āsūrīg (meaning "The Assyrian Tree" or "The Babylonian Tree") is a Parthian-language poem consisting of about 120 verses and written in Book Pahlavi script. The language shows influences from Middle Persian. It is one of the oldest existing texts in Parthian language.

The poem is framed as a dialogue between a goat and a palm tree. At the end, the goat is proclaimed to be victorious. The Iranians may have adopted this genre from the oral traditions of ancient Mesopotamia.Some scholars consider the goat and the palm tree to be the symbols of Zoroastrianism and the Babylonian religion, or simply the pastoral life and agricultural life, respectively.The poem is also considered wisdom literature.A similar but less significant story, "The story of the vine and the ewe" (رز و میش raz o mīš), has been recorded in Persian literature.

Hanbi

In Sumerian and Akkadian mythology (and Mesopotamian mythology in general) Hanbi or Hanpa (more commonly known in western text) was the god of evil, God of all evil forces and the father of Pazuzu and Humbaba. Aside from his relationship with Pazuzu, very little is known of this figure.He might be the inspiration for other evil deities in the religions of the ancient Near East such as Apep in Egyptian mythology, Angra Mainyu in Zoroastrianism and Satan in the Abrahamic religions.

Incantation bowl

An incantation bowl, also known as a demon bowl, devil-trap bowl, or magic bowl, is a form of early protective magic found in what is now Iraq and Iran. Produced in the Middle East during late antiquity from the sixth to eighth centuries, particularly in Upper Mesopotamia and Syria, the bowls were usually inscribed in a spiral, beginning from the rim and moving toward the center. Most are inscribed in Jewish Babylonian Aramaic.

The bowls were buried face down and were meant to capture demons. They were commonly placed under the threshold, courtyards, in the corner of the homes of the recently deceased and in cemeteries.The majority of the Mesopotamian area's population was either Christian, Manichaean, or those of the ancient Babylonian religion, all of whom spoke Aramaic varieties. Zoroastrians who spoke Persian also lived here. Mandaeans and the Jews, both minority populations, each used their own Aramaic variety. The majority of recovered incantation bowls were written in Jewish Aramaic. These are followed in frequency by the Mandaic language and then Syriac. A handful of bowls have been discovered that were written in Arabic or Persian. An estimated 10% of incantation bowls were not written in any real language but pseudo-script. They are thought to be forgeries by illiterate “scribes” and sold to illiterate clients. The bowls are thought to have been regularly commissioned across religious lines.

Lahar (god)

Lahar was the Sumerian cattle-god or goddess sent by Enlil and Enki from the sky down to earth in order to make abundant its cattle. He is the brother of Ashnan. Lahar, along with his sister, was created in the creation chamber of the gods so the Anunnaki might have food and clothes.

Marduk

Marduk (cuneiform: 𒀭𒀫𒌓 dAMAR.UTU; Sumerian: amar utu.k "calf of the sun; solar calf"; Greek Μαρδοχαῖος, Mardochaios; Hebrew: מְרֹדַךְ, Modern: Mərōdaḵ, Tiberian: Merōḏaḵ) was a late-generation god from ancient Mesopotamia and patron deity of the city of Babylon. When Babylon became the political center of the Euphrates valley in the time of Hammurabi (18th century BC), he slowly started to rise to the position of the head of the Babylonian pantheon, a position he fully acquired by the second half of the second millennium BC. In the city of Babylon, Marduk was worshiped in the temple Esagila. Marduk is associated with the divine weapon Imhullu. "Marduk" is the Babylonian form of his name.The name Marduk was probably pronounced Marutuk. The etymology of the name Marduk is conjectured as derived from amar-Utu ("immortal son of Utu") or ("bull calf of the sun god Utu"). The origin of Marduk's name may reflect an earlier genealogy, or have had cultural ties to the ancient city of Sippar (whose god was Utu, the sun god), dating back to the third millennium BC.By the Hammurabi period, Marduk had become astrologically associated with the planet Jupiter.

Namtar

Namtar (or Namtaru, or Namtara; meaning destiny or fate), was a chthonic minor deity in Mesopotamian mythology, god of death, and minister and messenger of An, Ereshkigal, and Nergal.Namtar was the son of Enlil and Ereshkigal; he was born before his father raped the goddess Ninlil. Namtar was considered responsible for diseases and pests. It was said that he commanded sixty diseases in the form of demons that could penetrate different parts of the human body; offerings to him were made to prevent those illnesses. It is thought that the Assyrians and Babylonians took this belief from the Sumerians after conquering them. To some they were the spirit of fate, and therefore of great importance. Apparently they executed the instructions given him concerning the fate of men, and could also have power over certain of the gods. In other writings they were regarded as the personification of death, much like the modern concept of the Grim Reaper.In the story of Ishtar's Descent to the underworld, acting as Ereshkigal's 'messenger', Namtar curses Ishtar with 60 diseases, naming five of the head, feet, side, eyes, and heart, after she arrives in the underworld.Namtar was regarded as the beloved son of Bêl/Enlil, and was married to the underworld goddess Hušbišag.

Origins of Judaism

This article discusses the historical roots of Judaism throughout the 1st millennium BCE. For the origins of the modern-day religion of Judaism, see Origins of Rabbinic Judaism.The origins of Judaism lie in the Bronze Age amidst polytheistic ancient Semitic religions, specifically Canaanite religion, co-existing with a syncretization with elements of Babylonian religion and of the worship of Yahweh reflected in the early prophetic books of the Hebrew Bible. During the Iron Age I, the Israelite religion became distinct from other Canaanite religions due to the unique monolatristic (proto-monotheistic) worship of Yahweh.

During the Babylonian captivity of the 6th and 5th centuries BCE (Iron Age II), certain circles within the exiled Judahites in Babylon refined pre-existing ideas about monotheism, election, divine law and Covenant into a strict monotheistic theology which came to dominate the former Kingdom of Judah in the following centuries.From the 5th century BCE until 70 CE, Israelite religion developed into the various theological schools of Second Temple Judaism, besides Hellenistic Judaism in the diaspora. Second Temple eschatology was significantly influenced by Zoroastrianism. The text of the Hebrew Bible was redacted into its extant form in this period and possibly also canonized as well.

Rabbinic Judaism developed during Late Antiquity, during the 3rd to 6th centuries CE; the Masoretic Text of the Hebrew Bible and the Talmud were compiled in this period. The oldest manuscripts of the Masoretic tradition come from the 10th and 11th centuries CE; in the form of the Aleppo Codex of the later portions of the 10th century CE and the Leningrad Codex dated to 1008–1009 CE. Due largely to censoring and the burning of manuscripts in medieval Europe the oldest existing manuscripts of various rabbinical works are quite late. The oldest surviving complete manuscript copy of the Babylonian Talmud is dated to 1342 CE.

Religions of the ancient Near East

The religions of the ancient Near East were mostly polytheistic, with some examples of monolatry (for example, Yahwism and Atenism). Some scholars believe that the similarities between these religions indicate that the religions are related, a belief known as patternism.Many religions of the ancient near East and their offshoots can be traced to Proto-Semitic religion. Other religions in the ancient Near East include Ancient Egyptian religion, the Luwian and Hittite religions of Asia Minor and the Sumerian religion of ancient Mesopotamia. Offshoots of Proto-Semitic religion include Assyro-Babylonian religion, Canaanite religion, and Arabian religion. Judaism is a development of Canaanite religion, both Indo-European and Semitic religions influenced the ancient Greek religion, and Zoroastrianism was a product of ancient Indo-Iranian religion primarily the Ancient Iranian religion. In turn these religious traditions strongly influenced the later monotheistic religions of Christianity, Mandeanism, Sabianism, Gnosticism, Islam, and Manicheanism, which inherited their monotheism from Judaism and Zoroastrianism.

Sarpanit

In Babylonian religion, Sarpanit (alternately Sarpanitu, Zarpanit, Zarpandit, Zerpanitum, Zerbanitu, or Zirbanit) is a mother goddess and the consort of the chief god, Marduk. Her name means "the shining one", and she is sometimes associated with the planet Venus. By a play on words her name was interpreted as zēr-bānītu, or "creatress of seed", and is thereby associated with the goddess Aruru, who, according to Babylonian myth, created mankind.Her marriage with Marduk was celebrated annually at New Year in Babylon. She was worshipped via the rising moon, and was often depicted as being pregnant. She is also known as Erua. She may be the same as Gamsu, Ishtar, and/or Bêlit.

The Two Babylons

The Two Babylons, subtitled The Papal Worship Proved to Be the Worship of Nimrod and His Wife is a religious pamphlet published in 1853 by the Presbyterian Free Church of Scotland theologian Alexander Hislop (1807–65).

Its central theme is its allegation that the Catholic Church is a veiled continuation of the pagan religion of ancient Babylon, the product of a millennia-old secret conspiracy founded by the Biblical king Nimrod and the Assyrian queen Semiramis, who Hislop claimed was Nimrod's wife. It claims that modern Catholic holidays, including Christmas and Easter are actually pagan festivals established by Semiramis and that the customs associated with them are pagan rituals. Modern scholars have unanimously rejected the book's arguments as erroneous and based on a flawed understanding of Babylonian religion, but variations of them are accepted among some groups of evangelical Protestants.

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