Religion Wiki
Fertile Crescent
myth series
Mark of the Palm
Primordial beings
The great gods
Demigods & heroes
Spirits & monsters
Tales from Babylon
7 Gods who Decree  

4 primary:

3 sky:

Enlil (nlin), (EN = Lord + LIL = Loft, "Lord of the Open" or "Lord of the Wind")[1] was the name of a chief deity listed and written about in ancient Sumerian, Akkadian, Hittite, Canaanite and other Mesopotamian clay and stone tablets. The name is perhaps pronounced and sometimes rendered in translations as Ellil in later Akkadian, Hittite, and Canaanite literature.

Enlil was considered to be the god of breath, wind, loft, and breadth.[2]


One story names his origins as the exhausted breath of An (god of the heavens) and Ki (goddess of the Earth) after sexual union.

When Enlil was a young god, he was banished from Dilmun, home of the gods, to Kur, the underworld for raping a goddess named Ninlil. Ninlil followed him to the underworld where she bore his first child, Nergal, and/or the moon god Sin (Sumerian Nanna/Suen). After fathering three more underworld-deities (substitutes for Sin), Enlil was allowed to return to Dilmun. [3] [4]

Enlil was known as the inventor of the mattock (key agricultural tool of the Sumerians) and caused plants to grow[5].

Cosmological role

Enlil, along with Anu/An, Enki and Ninhursag were gods of the Sumerians [6].

By his wife Ninlil or Sud, Enlil was father of the moon god Nanna/Suen (in Akkadian, Sin) and of Ninurta (also called Ningirsu). Enlil is the father of Nisaba the goddess of grain, of Pabilsag who is sometimes equated with Ninurta, and sometimes of Enbilulu. By Ereshkigal Enlil was father of Namtar.

Cultural histories

Enlil is associated with the ancient city of Nippur, sometimes referred to as the cult city of Enlil.[7] His temple was named Ekur, "House of the Mountain."[8] Enlil was assimilated to the north "Pole of the Ecliptic".[9] His sacred number name was 50.[10]

As Enlil was the only god who could reach the heaven god An he held sway over the other gods who were assigned tasks by his agent and would travel to Nippur to draw in his power. He is thus seen as the model for kingship. [11]

At a very early period prior to 3000 BC, Nippur had become the centre of a political district of considerable extent. Inscriptions found at Nippur, where extensive excavations were carried on during 1888–1900 by John P Peters and John Henry Haynes, under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania, show that Enlil was the head of an extensive pantheon. Among the titles accorded to him are "king of lands", "king of heaven and earth", and "father of the gods".

His chief temple at Nippur was known as Ekur, signifying 'House of the mountain', and such was the sanctity acquired by this edifice that Babylonian and Assyrian rulers, down to the latest days, vied with one another in embellishing and restoring Enlil's seat of worship, and the name Ekur became the designation of a temple in general.

Grouped around the main sanctuary, there arose temples and chapels to the gods and goddesses who formed his court, so that Ekur became the name for an entire sacred precinct in the city of Nippur. The name "mountain house" suggests a lofty structure and was perhaps the designation originally of the staged tower at Nippur, built in imitation of a mountain, with the sacred shrine of the god on the top.

Enlil was also the God of weather. According to the Sumerians, Enlil helped create the humans, but then got tired of their noise and tried to kill them by sending a flood. A mortal known as Utnapishtim survived the flood through the help of another god, Ea, and he was made immortal by Enlil after Enlil's initial fury.


  1. Halloran, John A.; "Sumerian Lexicon: Version 3.0"; December 10th, 2006 at
  2. Neo-Sumerian inscriptions clay, Babylonia, 1900–1700 BC, image with translations on display at
  3. [1].
  4. ^ Sumerian Mythology: A Review Article Thorkild Jacobsen Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Vol. 5, No. 2. (April 1946), pp. 128-152.
  5. Hooke. S.H., Middle Eastern Mythology, Dover Publications, 2004
  6. Kramer, Samuel Noah, "The Sumerian Deluge Myth: Reviewed and Revised" Anatolian Studies, Vol. 33, Special Number in Honour of the Seventy-Fifth Birthday of Dr. Richard Barnett. (1983), pp. 115-121.
  7. William W. Hallo, "Review: Enki and the Theology of Eridu", Journal of the American Oriental Society, 116:2 (Apr.–Jun. 1996), pp. 231–234
  8. Reallexikon der Assyriologie II, p. 385.
  9. Jeremias, Alfred 1913. Handbuch der altorientalischen Geisteskultur. Leipzig. p. 74.
  10. Reallexikon der Assyriologie III. Götterzahlen. p. 500.
  11. Kingship in the Mediterranean world, p. 5162a Grottanelli and Mander, Encyclopaedia of Religion, second edition 2005. Thomson Gale.

External links

Some or all of this article is forked from Wikipedia. The original article was at Enlil. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.