Enki and the Order of the Universe

1 There is no craftsman among the gods that is even close to Enki in skill. Standing in Eridu with his house founded upon the Apsu itself, his dragon like shadow covers the heaven and the earth. He is also clever, strong, and at times terrible. His mere glance is all that it takes to unsettle the hearts of the mountains, and his gaze has ranged over every portion of the land.

2 His virility is like the way that Mes tree continually bears fruit. Unlike the mes tree that might draw strength from a river or a canal, Enki draws his strength from the primal waters of the Apsu. It is from him that the waters of the rivers and canals gain their vitality.

3 Enki spent his time organizing the destiny of days. He placed these days into months, and then into years. When completed he submitted them to the council of the gods for approval. His decisions gave order to the days and made him master over humanity.

4 The shepherds work and the dairy workers produce cheese for the relaxing afternoon meals of the gods in their great dining halls. As they do this they sing of Enki’s greatness. Enki’s words of encouragement gladden the hearts of young men and bestow beauty to young women.

5 This is the god who Enlil, lord of the winds, has commissioned for this great project. Enki has not been organizing the days and months without purpose. He has been setting up an order to the universe that the gods, man, domesticated animals, and plants must obey. This ordering of the universe was to the benefit of gods and kings alike. It protects houses from being attacked. It organizes the herds behind the herdsmen.

6 All those that Enki has given fertility to will bear healthy offspring. Wherever Enki goes, be it in the cities, among the shepherds or cow herders, in the field or even in the desert, virility comes forth. This gives abundance to all.

7 “An, my father, has spread my reputation through the land.” Enki praised himself when he saw what he had done. “My brother Enlil placed all of the divine powers in my hand. He brought the arts and crafts from his temple E-kur, to my Apsu temple in Eridu.”

8 Enki went on to praise his own greatness as he went about organizing the universe. “With my father An, lord of heaven, I make sure that justice is served. With my brother Enlil, lord of the lands, I decree destinies. I keep the seals for heaven and earth. I am the leader of the Anuna gods.”

9 When their lord Enki had finished, the Anuna gods applauded their lord Enki, “All hail Enki, lord of arts and decision maker of destiny!”

10 “My words are sound, I excel at everything,” Enki accepted the praise.

11 Once his oppening statements had been made he began to outline for the gods what he had done to set order to the lands. These laws would determine the conduct of the demons and the gods as well as determining the place in the world of mankind.

12 “I have commanded the construction of sheep folds and cow pens. I have determined when and where heaven should rain abundance down upon the earth. The floods have been set up to produce plentiful carp.” By this command Enki has provided meat for mankind.

13 “In the city of Eridu I have decreed that a shrine be built for me. The shade of my E-Abzu, my house of the deep, extends over the sea, and in the surrounding marshlands. Carp dart about and small birds chirp in their nests.” Enki’s building project has provided a place where his chosen people in Eridu can commune with him and with the deep. The temple has a pool of holy water teeming with life reflecting the way that life teems from the deep.

14 “The lords shall respect me and praise me as is right,” Enki said as he began to organize the duties of the priests. “The abgal priest and abrig officials will serve me unto distant days, the enkum and ninkum officiants will purify the interior of my shrine and they will make sacred songs and incantations resound for me in my E-Apsu.”

15 “When I set out across the marshlands in my barge ‘Stag of the Abzu’ the stroke-callers make the oars row in perfect unison, they sing pleasant songs for me on the river,” and so enki also set up the me for the barge. Enki loved to travel throughout his land.

16 “Let the land of Meluha, Magan, and Dilmun” the Indus valley, Egpyt, and Bahrain respectively, “look upon me. Let the boats that trade with Dilmun be loaded with timber. Let the boats that trade with Magan be loaded sky high. Let the magilum boats that trade with Meluha, transport gold and silver and bring them to Nibru for Enlil, king of all lands.” With this, Enki set the order of trade and tribute that would be the foundation of all of Sumer and Akkad. These three nations were honored above all other nations as equals.

17 Enki was merciful to those nations that were not the Equals of the people of the gods. He even went so far as to present animals to the wandering Martu nomads who were not clever enough to understand grain and did not have houses or cities.

18 “Lord Enki, master of all of the powers of the gods, he is the greatest of all of the gods in heaven and earth. Praise be to him, lord of heaven and earth.” The great gods saw the work of their lord and hailed him as he passed.

19 The linen-clad lustration priests along with the incantation-priests of Eridu and the lords of Sumer, gathered to perform for Enki the purification rites of the Abzu as he traveled his land. They guarded the holy place, the E-Abzu, and sanctified it with juniper the pure plant. They buit the stairway of Eridu with great skill, and prepared the uzga shrine where prayers are made and holy purification rites performed.

20 Back in the marsh, the carp darted among the honey plants, again fighting amongst themselves for Enki who issued instructions aboard the ‘Stag of the Abzu’. His barge was an emblem erected in the Abzu, which towered high over all lands. Its shade extended over all Sumer and refreshed the people. Nijir-sig, a son of Enlil, captained the boat and he held in his hand the sacred punting pole, a holy mes-tree ornamented in the Abzu. The fifty lahama deities of the subterranean waters spoke affectionately of him.

21 As Enki traveled throughout the land prosperity followed in his wake both on earth and in heaven. As he traveled he decreed the fate of the land of Sumer, “Sumer, land of heaven and earth, your heart is a complex puzzle. Like in heaven gods are born in your land. Here kings are born who wear crowns upon their heads and sit with An on his dais. Enlil has made your lands as impervious as a cedar tree. In you the council of Anuna gods have made their temple dwellings, they consume their food in your giguna shrines. May the sheep and cattle multiply of the households of Sumer grow numerous. May your temples reach up to heaven, and may the Anuna determine the destinies in your presence.”

22 He then turned to city of Ur, not far from Eridu, and decreed its fate “You already have all that you need, You are an altar of abundance, and your glory strides across the mountains. Enlil had given you a great name in heaven and on earth. May your perfection be well directed. Sanctuary of Ur, you shall rise high and approach heaven!”

23 He next addressed the foreign lands granting Meluha wealth, abundance and prosperity, saying to that land “Land of black soil, may all your silver be gold! May all your copper be tin-bronze! Land, may all you possess be plentiful!”

24 Enki cleansed the land of Dilmun and placed the lady of purity, Ninsikila in charge of it. However he looked unfavorable towards the Sumer’s enemies, the lands of Elam and Marhasi, they were to be devoured. The king, endowed with strength by Enlil destroyed their houses, demolished their walls and brought their silver and lapis lazuli to the shrine in Nibru.

25 After he returned his gaze to Sumer, his gaze fell on the rivers the Tigris and Euphrates. He stood lustful and full of strength like a raging bull lifted his erect penis and ejaculated filling the Tigris with flowing water of life and bounty. By so doing he brought forth abundant waters, it was like the Tigris was born anew, it brought mottled barley the staple crop of the land and it brought luxury to the E-kur of Enlil. When the lord touched the ground while wearing his crown, plenty would come forth from the earth for him.

26 Enki, the king of the Abzu, placed the key to all of the this in the hands of the god Enbilulu, the inspector of canals and waterways, he who gages the devouring force of the Tigris and the Euphrates, who cause’s prosperity to pour forth from the palace like oil. Enki then ensured the marshes would be full of carp, he spoke to the reed beds and bestowed on them new growth.

27 With this much of the world order established he now needed to set up a shrine in the marsh so that goods could be gathered for the gods. It was situated by the Field constellation with its upper emplacement facing toward the Chariot constellation. The shrine was elaborately constructed and its interior was complex beyond understanding like a tangled thread.

28 The shrine Enki had established brought forth goods of all sorts for the E-kur and Enlil was pleased. The Anuna gods stood by in prayer and supplication. Enki placed his daughter Nanse in charge of the shrine Sirara because it sat over the wide extent of the marsh and she had influence over the high flood of subterranean waters. Nanse was known as ‘she who sets sail’, and ‘she who induces sexual intercourse’. She was her father’s daughter.

29 He called to the rain of heavens, and saw to it they would pour forth for Sumer. He placed this in the charge of Iskur, son of An, whose weapon was lightning bolts, and who rode the great storms. Enki then organized sloughs and yokes and teams of horned oxen he opened up the furrows that barley might grow abundantly. He placed this in the charge of Enkimdu, the farmer of Enlil, responsible for ditches and dikes. After, the lord Enki called to the cultivated field, ensuring the mottled barley would grow along with lentils and chickpeas. With the cooperation of Enlil he heaped up stockpiles and placed in charge of all this the life of the black headed goddess Ezina, the good bread of the whole world.

30 The great prince fixed a string to a hoe, and organized the brick molds of Sumer. He let the hoe penetrate mother earth like a penis rubbed with precious oil. Enki placed in charge of the hoe Kulla, who fashions the bricks of the land. His sharp-bladed hoe is like a corpse devouring snake.

31 With the assembly he planned a house and performed the purification rituals for that house. Next he tied down the measuring-cord and co-ordinated with them the foundations. Enki, through Mushdama who he placed in charge, put down the foundations and laid the bricks. Mussdama was Enlil’s master builder. When he laid foundations they didn’t sag. He had built vaults that reach up to the heart of the heavens like a rainbow.

32 He raised a holy crown over the upland plain, thus honoring this good place with its abundant greenery. He caused the animals to multiply without overpopulating the land. He increased the numbers of the ibex and wild goats and placed them in charge of Sukkan, the crown of the high plain and the king of the hills. Enki built sheepfolds and cow-pens and ensured they would produce the best fat and cream that there might be luxury in the gods dining place. He made sure the plain which was created for greenery would achieve prosperity and placed all this in the care of Inanna’s husband Dumuzi the shepherd.

33 Enki had filled the E-kur with treasures and conveniences and Enlil was delighted with him. Enki made homes in the cities for the Anuna gods and gave them land in the fields. He determined the borders, and marked them with boundary stones. Enki placed the whole of heaven and earth in the hands of Utu the sun god, the father of Urugal, the great city in the underworld. Making him one of the great gods who determined fate.

34 With cities established, he looked to easing the work done by women. He picked tow from the fibers and set up the loom. The clever god chose the Ut-tu, the silent and conscientious goddess, to be in charge of this.

35 Enki’s task was completed. Civilization’s organization was established for the good of man and the gods who they served. The hierarchies of the gods demons and man were set up in such a way that they could work together for mutual benefit of all.

36 Inanna alone had not been given any functions. She was the great woman of heaven and had been ignored. She, crying, came to Enki’s house and complained to him. “Enlil put you in charge of setting up the tasks of the gods. Why did you single out me, the great and pure Inanna, to be without a function? I am the great and mighty Inanna! Where are my duties?”

37 “Enlil’s sister, Nintur, the birth goddess, gets birth-bricks, the umbilical cord lancet, and the special leeks and sand. She even gets the translucent lapis lazuli afterbirth bowl and consecrated ala vessel. This would make her the perfect midwife for all of the land. She would be there for the birth of kings and lords.”

38 “My kinswoman Ninisina, receives the cuba stone jewelery. She stands by An, the god of heaven, and can speak to him whenever she wants without having to go through her minister.”

39 “Ninmug was given the golden chisel and silver burin. She carries the big flint antasura blade, and works metal for all the land. She fits the crowns and places them on the heads of the lords of the land.”

40 “You gave Nisaba the measuring reed, and the measuring tape is hanging over her arm right now. She gets to proclaim all of the great powers. She can determine borders. She is the great scribe of the land and can plan the banquet meals of the gods.”

41 “August Nanshe is to be the inspector of the fish in the sea. She has the pelican at her feet as her divine animal. She chooses the best of the fish and birds to go to Enlil in Nibru.With all of these goddesses getting so much what about me. It isn’t fare!”

42 When Inanna had finished with her tirade it was Enki’s turn to respond. It was not as though the clever god had simply forgotten about Inanna. Enki’s far sight knew no bounds. What he did, he did for a reason. That was the reason that he had been chosen to determine the order of the universe.

43 “How have I wronged you Inanna?” he asked diplomatically. “How could I make you any better? I gave you a pleasant voice, clothed you in regal womanly clothes. I gave you a spindle and a hairpin to make you more beautiful. I gave you colorful linen garments, and gave you the tools to touch them up with brightly colored threads. You have been given the hooked staff of the shepherd.” Enki’s words addressed Inanna’s roll as a goddess of beauty, and then continued on to remind her of the gifts that she had as a warrior goddess. “In the dark chaos of battle, you can speak the words of life. You aren’t the arabu bird, but, like it, you can say the words of bad omens in the midst of battle. You can take the tangled thread and sort it out, and you can make the streight threads and tangle them into complexity.”

44 Enki spoke of Inanna’s virtues. She was beautiful, and had wooed the Shepherd Dumuzi. She was a powerful goddess of war and had in her beautiful voice words that could either bring life or call down doom. Enki wasn’t done however, and not everything he said was flattering.

45 “You pile up heads as though they were nothing more than dust, and throw them upon the ground like a farmer sowing seeds. You destroy things that should be preserved, and create things that would be best left uncreated. You uncover the shem lamentation drum making it unplayable, and shut in the tigi and adab instruments, making music and poetry fall flat. You are vain and lazy. All this is done however. Enlil has been made happy and the land has been made to flourish for all.”

A Creation Story?

The Sumerians had many creation stories and this doesn’t read like one on the surface, but it is a beginning of sorts. In the creation stories we often see the world being created or mankind being created, but strangely the events of the creations themselves indicate that man had already been there, or that the world had already been there. It isn’t that they are confused, but that we are. These creation stories are in fact not creation stories at all. Instead they are stories of new beginnings.

Consider this, we look at ourselves as civilized. We have computers, vehicles to drive us around, machines to do our work for us, and even drones to fight our wars. The people of the eighteenth century considered themselves civilized as well, but their civilization might not have looked civilized to our civilization. In a sense mankind was created and created again each time we have a revolution in how we live.

This story is the story of how the gods came to be. Sure they were powerful beings before Enlil had Enki found the world order, but before this they weren’t orginized. This is one of the defining features that makes Sumerian religion distinct. The gods, even Enlil, are bound by this law. Other beings, even the great Maskim demons of the underworld, might be powerful, but they have no authority and therefore aren’t truly gods in this sense.

Enki was rather harsh to Inanna

True, but Inanna would later gain power on her own. This myth connects to a myth where Inanna demonstrates her power before An, and another where she gets Enki intoxicated and tricks him into granting her great power within the Order of the Universe.