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Marduk (Sumerian spelling in Akkadian: AMAR.UTU 𒀫𒌓 "solar calf"; perhaps from MERI.DUG; Biblical Hebrew מְרֹדַךְ Merodach; Greek Μαρδοχαῖος, Mardochaios) was the Babylonian name of a late-generation god from ancient Mesopotamia and patron deity of the city of Babylon, who, when Babylon became the political center of the Euphrates valley in the time of Hammurabi (18th century BCE), started to slowly rise to the position of the head of the Babylonian pantheon, a position he fully acquired by the second half of the second millennium BCE. In the perfected system of astrology, the planet Jupiter was associated with Marduk by the Hammurabi period.
Marduk's original character is obscure but he was later on connected with water, vegetation, judgment, and magic. He was also regarded as the son of Ea (Sumerian Enki) and Damkina and the heir of Anu, but whatever special traits Marduk may have had were overshadowed by the political development through which the Euphrates valley passed and which led to imbuing him with traits belonging to gods who at an earlier period recognized as the heads of the pantheon. There are particularly two gods—Ea and Enlil—whose powers and attributes pass over to Marduk. In the case of Ea, the transfer proceeded pacifically and without effacing the older god. Marduk took over the identity of Asarluhi, the son of Ea and god of magic, so that Marduk was integrated in the pantheon of Eridu where both Ea and Asarluhi originally came from. Father Ea voluntarily recognized the superiority of the son and hands over to him the control of humanity. This association of Marduk and Ea, while indicating primarily the passing of the supremacy once enjoyed by Eridu to Babylon as a religious and political centre, may also reflect an early dependence of Babylon upon Eridu, not necessarily of a political character but, in view of the spread of culture in the Euphrates valley from the south to the north, the recognition of Eridu as the older centre on the part of the younger one.
Late Bronze Age
While the relationship between Ea and Marduk is marked by harmony and an amicable abdication on the part of the father in favour of his son, Marduk's absorption of the power and prerogatives of Enlil of Nippur was at the expense of the latter's prestige. After the days of Hammurabi, the cult of Marduk eclipsed that of Enlil; although Nippur and the cult of Enlil enjoyed a period of renaissance during the four centuries of Kassite control in Babylonia (c. 1570 BCE–1157 BCE), the definite and permanent triumph of Marduk over Enlil became felt within the Babylonian empire. The only serious rival to Marduk after ca. 1000 BCE was Aššur in Assyria. In the south, Marduk reigned supreme. He is normally referred to as Bel "Lord", also bel rabim "great lord", bêl bêlim "lord of lords", ab-kal ilâni bêl terêti "leader of the gods", aklu bêl terieti "the wise, lord of oracles", muballit mîte "reviver of the dead", etc.
When Babylon became the capital of Mesopotamia, the patron deity of Babylon was elevated to the level of supreme god. In order to explain how Marduk seized power, Enûma Elish was written, which tells the story of Marduk's birth, heroic deeds and becoming the ruler of the gods. This can be viewed as a form of Mesopotamian apologetics. Also included in this document are the fifty names of Marduk.
In Enûma Elish, a civil war between the gods was growing to a climactic battle. The Anunnaki gods gathered together to find one god who could defeat the gods rising against them. Marduk, a very young god, answered the call and was promised the position of head god.
To prepare for battle, he makes a bow, fletches arrows, grabs a mace, throws lightning before him, fills his body with flame, makes a net to encircle Tiamat within it, gathers the four winds so that no part of her could escape, creates seven nasty new winds such as the whirlwind and tornado, and raises up his mightiest weapon, the rain-flood. Then he sets out for battle, mounting his storm-chariot drawn by four horses with poison in their mouths. In his lips he holds a spell and in one hand he grasps a herb to counter poison.
First, he challenges the leader of the Anunnaki gods, the dragon of the primordial sea Tiamat, to single combat and defeats her by trapping her with his net, blowing her up with his winds, and piercing her belly with an arrow.
Then, he proceeds to defeat Kingu, who Tiamat put in charge of the army and wore the Tablets of Destiny on his breast, and "wrested from him the Tablets of Destiny, wrongfully his" and assumed his new position. Under his reign humans were created to bear the burdens of life so the gods could be at leisure.
Marduk was depicted as a human, often with his symbol the snake-dragon which he had taken over from the god Tishpak. Another symbol that stood for Marduk was the spade.
Babylonian texts talk of the creation of Eridu by the god Marduk as the first city, "the holy city, the dwelling of their [the other gods] delight".
Nabu, god of wisdom, is a son of Marduk.
The fifty names of Marduk
The fifty names of Marduk as listed in Enuma Elish tablets VIb to VII include: (10) Asaru (11) Asar-alim (12) Asar-alim-nunna (13) Tutu [names of Tutu: (14) Zi-ukkin-na (15) Zi-kug (16) Aga-kug (17) TUKU] (18) SHAZU [names of Shazu: (19) (ig) Zisi (20) SUHRIM (21) SUHGURIM (22) ZAHRIM (23) ZAHGURIM] (24) ENBILULU [names of Enbilulu: (25) EPADUN (26) ENBILULU-GUGAL (27) HEGAL] (28) SIR.SIR [name of Sirsir: (29) MALAH] (30) Gil (31) GILMA (32) Agil-ma (33) Zu-lum (34) Mummu (35) ZULUMMAR[dubious ] (35) Gish-numun-abba (36) Lugal-eb-dubur (37) Pap-gal-gu-enna (38) Lugal-durmah (39) Adu-nunna (40) Dumu-dukug (41) Lugalkuduga (42) Lugalla-anna (43) Lugal-ugga (44) Nikingu (45) Kinma (46) ESIZKUR[dubious ] (47) Gibil (48) Addu (49) ASHARU[dubious ] (50) Niburu.
Leonard W. King in The Seven Tablets of Creation (1902) included fragments of god lists which he considered essential for the reconstruction of the meaning of Marduk's name. Franz Bohl in his 1936 study of the fifty names also referred to King's list. Richard Litke (1958) noticed a similarity between Marduk's names in the An:Anum list and those of the Enuma elish, albeit in a different arrangement. The connection between the An:Anum list and the list in Enuma Elish were established by Walther Sommerfeld (1982), who used the correspondence to argue for a Kassite period composition date of the Enuma elish, although the direct derivation of the Enuma elish list from the An:Anum one was disputed in a review by Wilfred Lambert (1984).
- identified with Marduk by Heinrich Zimmeren (1862-1931), Stade's Zeitschrift 11, p. 161.
- Jastrow, Jr., Morris (1911). Aspects of Religious Belief and Practice in Babylonia and Assyria, G.P. Putnam's Sons: New York and London. pp. 217-219.
- [John L. McKenzie, Dictionary of the Bible, Simon & Schuster, 1965 p 541.]
- Andrea Seri, The Fifty Names of Marduk in Enuma elis, Journal of the American Oriental Society 126.4 (2006)
- This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.