The Tower of Babel is recorded in the Scriptures in Genesis 11:1-9
Genesis 11King James Version (KJV)
11 And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.
2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.
3 And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter.
4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
5 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.
6 And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.
7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.
8 So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.
9 Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.
But the Scriptures are not the only place we find the Tower of Babel and the Confusion of the Languages recorded in ancient history.
The ancient Toltecs also record the history of the Tower of Babel.
“It is found in the histories of the Toltecs that this age and first world, as they call it, lasted 1716 years; that men were destroyed by tremendous rains and lightning from the sky, and even all the land without the exception of anything, and the highest mountains, were covered up and submerged in water “caxtolmolatli” (translated to read “fifteen cubits”); and here they added other fables of how men came to multiply from the few who escaped from this destruction in a “toptlipetlocali;” that this word nearly signifies a close chest; and how, after men had multiplied, they erected a very high “zacuali”, which is to-day a tower of great height, in order to take refuge in it should the second world (age) be destroyed. Presently their languages were confused, and, not being able to understand each other, they went to different parts of the earth….
The Toltecs, consisting of seven friends, with their wives, who understood the same language, came to the parts, having first passed great land and seas, having lived in caves, and having endured great hardships in order to reach this land;… they wandered 104 years through different parts of the world before they reached Hue Hue Tlapalan, which was in Ce Tecpatl, 520 years after the Flood.” (IR, vol. Ix, pp. 321,322.)
The ancient Assyrians also record the Tower of Babel in their records.
The following was discovered in the ancient Royal Library of Ashurbanipal in the 7th century B.C.E.
[…] them? The father […]
Of him, his heart was evil,
[…] against the father of all the gods was wicked,
[…] of him, his heart was evil,
[…] Babylon brought to subjection,
[small] and great he confounded their speech.
[…] Babylon brought to subjection,
[small] and great he confounded their speech.
Their strong place (tower) all the day they founded;
to their strong place in the night
entirely he made an end.
In his anger also word thus he poured out:
[to] scatter abroad he set his face
he gave this? command, their counsel was confused
[…] the course he broke
[…] fixed the sanctuary
The Papago Indian Story of the Tower at Babel
In 1875 and 1876, Hubert Howe Bancroft wrote a 5 volume encyclopedia on the American west, the largest collection of information on this subject, entitled “The Native Races of the Pacific States of North America”. In here, he relates another of the rare instances when the remembrance of the Tower at Babel lives on in the legends of an ancient people, the Papago Indians of Arizona: “The wild Apaches, `wild from their natal hour’, have a legend that `the first days of the world were happy and peaceful days;’ then came a great flood from which Montezuma became then very wicked, and attempted to build a house that would reach to heaven, but the Great Spirit destroyed it with thunderbolts.” (Native Races… vol. iii, p. 76.) Also in this legend mention is made of the fact that the earth was warmer in “those days” (before the flood); that all men, as well as animals shared a common tongue; and that Montezuma and his friend, the coyote were saved from drowning in a boat.
The Book of Jubilees contains one of the most detailed accounts found anywhere of the Tower.
And they began to build, and in the fourth week they made brick with fire, and the bricks served them for stone, and the clay with which they cemented them together was asphalt which comes out of the sea, and out of the fountains of water in the land of Shinar. And they built it: forty and three years were they building it; its breadth was 203 bricks, and the height [of a brick] was the third of one; its height amounted to 5433 cubits and 2 palms, and [the extent of one wall was] thirteen stades [and of the other thirty stades]. (Jubilees 10:20–21, Charles’ 1913 translation)
Josephus gives us an account of the Tower of Babel in his Antiquities of the Jews.
“Now it was Nimrod who excited them to such an affront and contempt of God. He was the grandson of Ham, the son of Noah, a bold man, and of great strength of hand. He persuaded them not to ascribe it to God as if it were through his means they were happy, but to believe that it was their own courage which procured that happiness. He also gradually changed the government into tyranny , seeing no other way of turning men from the fear of God, but to bring them into a constant dependence on his power… Now the multitude were very ready to follow the determination of Nimrod and to esteem it a piece of cowardice to submit to God; and they built a tower, neither sparing any pains, nor being in any degree negligent about the work: and, by reason of the multitude of hands employed in it, it grew very high, sooner than any one could expect; but the thickness of it was so great, and it was so strongly built, that thereby its great height seemed, upon the view, to be less than it really was. It was built of burnt brick, cemented together with mortar, made of bitumen , that it might not be liable to admit water. When God saw that they acted so madly, he did not resolve to destroy them utterly, since they were not grown wiser by the destruction of the former sinners [in the Flood]; but he caused a tumult among them, by producing in them diverse languages, and causing that, through the multitude of those languages, they should not be able to understand one another. The place wherein they built the tower is now called Babylon , because of the confusion of that language which they readily understood before; for the Hebrews mean by the word Babel , confusion…”
The Greek Apocalypse of Baruch also gives us an account of the Tower of Babel.
Those who gave counsel to build the tower, for they whom thou seest drove forth multitudes of both men and women, to make bricks; among whom, a woman making bricks was not allowed to be released in the hour of child-birth, but brought forth while she was making bricks, and carried her child in her apron, and continued to make bricks. And the Lord appeared to them and confused their speech, when they had built the tower to the height of four hundred and sixty-three cubits. And they took a gimlet, and sought to pierce the heavens, saying, Let us see (whether) the heaven is made of clay, or of brass, or of iron. When God saw this He did not permit them, but smote them with blindness and confusion of speech, and rendered them as thou seest. (Greek Apocalypse of Baruch, 3:5–8)
The ancient Sumerians also record the Tower of Babel incident in a work known as Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta.
1-24City, majestic bull bearing vigour and great awesome splendour, Kulaba, ……, breast of the storm, where destiny is determined; Unug, great mountain, in the midst of ……. There the evening meal of the great abode of An was set. In those days of yore, when the destinies were determined, the great princes allowed Unug Kulaba’s E-ana to lift its head high. Plenty, and carp floods, and the rain which brings forth dappled barley were then increased in Unug Kulaba. Before the land of Dilmun yet existed, the E-ana of Unug Kulaba was well founded, and the holy jipar of Inana in brick-built Kulaba shone forth like the silver in the lode. Before …… carried ……, before ……, before …… carried ……, before the commerce was practiced; before gold, silver, copper, tin, blocks of lapis lazuli, and mountain stones were brought down together from their mountains, before …… bathed for the festival, ……, …… time passed.
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25-32…… was colourfully adorned, and ……, the holy place, was …… with flawless lapis lazuli, its interior beautifully formed like a white mes tree bearing fruit. The lord of Aratta placed on his head the golden crown for Inana. But he did not please her like the lord of Kulaba. Aratta did not build for holy Inana — unlike the Shrine E-ana, the jipar, the holy place, unlike brick-built Kulaba.
33-37At that time, the lord chosen by Inana in her heart, chosen by Inana in her holy heart from the bright mountain, Enmerkar, the son of Utu, made a plea to his sister, the lady who grants desires, holy Inana:
38-64“My sister, let Aratta fashion gold and silver skilfully on my behalf for Unug. Let them cut the flawless lapis lazuli from the blocks, let them …… the translucence of the flawless lapis lazuli ……. …… build a holy mountain in Unug. Let Aratta build a temple brought down from heaven — your place of worship, the Shrine E-ana; let Aratta skilfully fashion the interior of the holy jipar, your abode; may I, the radiant youth, may I be embraced there by you. Let Aratta submit beneath the yoke for Unug on my behalf. Let the people of Aratta bring down for me the mountain stones from their mountain, build the great shrine for me, erect the great abode for me, make the great abode, the abode of the gods, famous for me, make my me prosper in Kulaba, make the abzu grow for me like a holy mountain, make Eridug gleam for me like the mountain range, cause the abzu shrine to shine forth for me like the silver in the lode. When in the abzu I utter praise, when I bring the me from Eridug, when, in lordship, I am adorned with the crown like a purified shrine, when I place on my head the holy crown in Unug Kulaba, then may the …… of the great shrine bring me into the jipar, and may the …… of the jipar bring me into the great shrine. May the people marvel admiringly, and may Utu witness it in joy.”
65-68Thereupon the splendour of holy An, the lady of the mountains, the wise, the goddess whose kohl is for Ama-ucumgal-ana, Inana, the lady of all the lands, called to Enmerkar the son of Utu:
69-104“Come, Enmerkar! I shall offer you advice: let my counsel be heeded. I shall speak words to you; let them be heard. Choose from the troops as a messenger one who is eloquent of speech and endowed with endurance. Where and to whom shall he carry the important message of wise Inana? Let him bring it up into the Zubi Mountains, let him descend with it from the Zubi Mountains. Let Susin and the land of Ancan humbly salute Inana like tiny mice. In the great mountain ranges, let the teeming multitudes grovel in the dust for her. Aratta shall submit beneath the yoke to Unug. The people of Aratta shall bring down the mountain stones from their mountains, and shall build the great shrine for you, and erect the great abode for you, will cause the great abode, the abode of the gods, to shine forth for you; will make your me flourish in Kulaba, will make the abzu grow for you like a holy mountain, will make Eridug shining for you like the mountain range, will cause the abzu shrine to shine forth for you like the glitter in the lode. When in the abzu you utter praise, when you bring the me from Eridug, when, in lordship, you are adorned with the crown like a purified shrine, when you place on your head the holy crown in Unug Kulaba, then may the …… of the great shrine bring you into the jipar, and may the …… of the jipar bring you into the great shrine. May the people marvel admiringly, and may Utu witness it in joy. Because …… shall carry daily, when …… in the evening cool ……, — in the place of Dumuzid where the ewes, kids and lambs are numerous, the people of Aratta shall run around for you like the mountain sheep in the akalag fields, the fields of Dumuzid. Rise like the sun over my holy breast! You are the jewel of my throat! Praise be to you, Enmerkar, son of Utu!”
105-107The lord gave heed to the words of holy Inana, and chose from the troops as a messenger one who was eloquent of speech and endowed with endurance. (One ms. adds: …… to his messenger …….) Where and to whom will he carry the important message of wise Inana?
108-133“You shall bring it up into the Zubi Mountains, you shall descend with it from the Zubi Mountains. Let Susin and the land of Ancan humbly salute Inana like tiny mice. In the great mountain ranges, let the teeming multitudes grovel in the dust for her. Messenger, speak to the lord of Aratta and say to him: “Lest I make the people fly off from that city like a wild dove from its tree, lest I make them fly around like a bird over its well-founded nest, lest I requite (?) them as if at a current market rate, lest I make it gather dust like an utterly destroyed city, lest like a settlement cursed by Enki and utterly destroyed, I too utterly destroy Aratta; lest like the devastation which swept destructively, and in whose wake Inana arose, shrieked and yelled aloud, I too wreak a sweeping devastation there — let Aratta pack nuggets of gold in leather sacks, placing alongside it the kumea ore; package up precious metals, and load the packs on the donkeys of the mountains; and then may the Junior Enlil of Sumer have them build for me, the lord whom Nudimmud has chosen in his sacred heart, a mountain of a shining me; have them make it luxuriant for me like a boxwood tree, have them make its shining horns colourful for me as when Utu comes forth from his chamber, have them make its doorposts gleam brightly for me.” ”
134-155“Chant to him the holy song, the incantation sung in its chambers — the incantation of Nudimmud: “On that day when there is no snake, when there is no scorpion, when there is no hyena, when there is no lion, when there is neither dog nor wolf, when there is thus neither fear nor trembling, man has no rival! At such a time, may the lands of Cubur and Hamazi, the many-tongued, and Sumer, the great mountain of the me of magnificence, and Akkad, the land possessing all that is befitting, and the Martu land, resting in security — the whole universe, the well-guarded people — may they all address Enlil together in a single language! For at that time, for the ambitious lords, for the ambitious princes, for the ambitious kings, Enki, for the ambitious lords, for the ambitious princes, for the ambitious kings, for the ambitious lords, for the ambitious princes, for the ambitious kings — Enki, the lord of abundance and of steadfast decisions, the wise and knowing lord of the Land, the expert of the gods, chosen for wisdom, the lord of Eridug, shall change the speech in their mouths, as many as he had placed there, and so the speech of mankind is truly one.” ”
156-157The lord added further instructions for the messenger going to the mountains, to Aratta:
158-159“Messenger, by night, drive on like the south wind! By day, be up like the dew!”
160-175The messenger gave heed to the words of his king. He journeyed by the starry night, and by day he travelled with Utu of heaven. Where and to whom will he carry the important message of Inana with its stinging tone? He brought it up into the Zubi Mountains, he descended with it from the Zubi Mountains. Susin and the land of Ancan humbly saluted Inana like tiny mice. In the great mountain ranges, the teeming multitudes grovelled in the dust for her. He traversed five mountains, six mountains, seven mountains. He lifted his eyes as he approached Aratta. He stepped joyfully into the courtyard of Aratta, he made known the authority of his king. Openly he spoke out the words in his heart. The messenger transmitted the message to the lord of Aratta:
176-178“Your father, my master, has sent me to you; the lord of Unug, the lord of Kulaba, has sent me to you.” “What is it to me what your master has spoken? What is it to me what he has said?”
179-207“This is what my master has spoken, this is what he has said. My king who from his birth has been fitted for lordship (1 ms. has instead: for the crown), the lord of Unug, the sajkal snake living in Sumer, who pulverizes mountains (2 mss. have instead: heads) like flour, the stag of the tall mountains, endowed with princely antlers, wild cow, kid pawing the the holy soapwort with its hoof, whom the good cow had given birth to in the heart of the mountains, Enmerkar, the son of Utu, has sent me to you.” (2 mss. add here: (the lord of Aratta speaks): “What is it to me what your master has spoken? what is it to me what he has said?”) “This is what my master said: “Lest I make the people fly off from that city like a wild dove from its tree, lest I make them fly around like a bird over its well-founded nest, lest I requite (?) them as if at a current market rate, lest I make it gather dust like an utterly destroyed city, lest like a settlement cursed by Enki and utterly destroyed, I too utterly destroy Aratta; lest like the devastation which swept destructively, and in whose wake Inana arose, shrieked and yelled aloud, I too wreak a sweeping devastation there — let Aratta pack nuggets of gold in leather sacks, placing alongside it the kumea ore; package up precious metals, and load the packs on the donkeys of the mountains; and then may the Junior Enlil of Sumer have them build for me, the lord whom Nudimmud has chosen in his sacred heart, a mountain of a shining me; have them make it luxuriant for me like a boxwood tree, have them make its shining horns colourful for me as when Utu comes forth from his chamber, have them make its doorposts gleam brightly for me. Chant to him for me the holy song, the incantation sung in its chambers — the Incantation of Nudimmud. ” ”
208-217“Say whatever you will say to me, and I shall announce that message in the shrine E-ana as glad tidings to the scion of him with the glistening beard, whom his stalwart cow gave birth to in the mountain of the shining me, who was reared on the soil of Aratta, who was given suck at the udder of the good cow, who is suited for office in Kulaba, the mountain of great me, to Enmerkar, the son of Utu; I shall repeat it in his jipar, fruitful as a flourishing mes tree, to my king, the lord of Kulaba.”
218-226When he had spoken thus to him, (the lord of Aratta replied): “Messenger, speak to your king, the lord of Kulaba, and say to him: “It is I, the lord suited to purification, I whom the huge heavenly neck-stock, the queen of heaven and earth, the goddess of the numerous me, holy Inana, has brought to Aratta, the mountain of the shining me, I whom she has let bar the entrance of the mountains as if with a great door. How then shall Aratta submit to Unug? Aratta’s submission to Unug is out of the question!” Say this to him.”
227-235When he had spoken thus to him, the messenger replied to the lord of Aratta: “The great queen of heaven, who rides upon the awesome me, dwelling on the peaks of the bright mountains, adorning the dais of the bright mountains — my lord and master, who is her servant, has had them instal her as the divine queen of E-ana. Aratta shall bow, O lord, in absolute submission! She has spoken to him thus, in brick-built Kulaba.”
236-241Thereupon, the lord became depressed and deeply troubled. He had no answer; he was searching for an answer. He stared at his own feet, trying to find an answer. He found an answer and gave a cry. He bellowed the answer to the message like a bull to the messenger:
242-273“Messenger! Speak to your king, the lord of Kulaba, and say to him: “This great mountain range is a mes tree grown high to the sky; its roots form a net, and its branches are a snare. It may be a sparrow but it has the talons of an Anzud bird or of an eagle. The barrier of Inana is perfectly made and is impenetrable (?). Those eagle talons make the blood of the enemy run from the bright mountain. Although in Aratta there is weeping ……, water libations are offered and flour is sprinkled; on the mountain, sacrifices and prayers are offered in obeisance. With fewer than five or ten men, how can mobilized Unug proceed against the Zubi mountains? Your king is heading in all haste against my military might, but I am equally eager for a contest. (As the proverb goes,) he who ignores a rival, does not get to eat everything up, like the bull which ignores the bull at its side. But he who acknowledges a contest can be the outright winner, like the bull which acknowledges the bull at its side — or does he reject me in this contest? Like ……, …… can match no one — or does he still reject me in this contest? Again, I have words to say to you, messenger: I have an artful proposal to make to you ……, may it get across to you …….. Repeat this to your master, to the lord of Kulaba, a lion lying on its paws in E-ana, a bull bellowing within it, within his jipar, fruitful as a flourishing mes tree. The mountain range is a warrior, …… high, like Utu going to his abode at twilight, like one from whose face blood drips; or like Nanna, who is majestic in the high heavens, like him whose countenance shines with radiance, who …… is like the woods in the mountains. ” ”
274-280“”Now if Enmerkar just makes straight for the …… of Aratta, for the benevolent protective spirit of the mountain of holy powers, for Aratta, which is like a bright crown of heaven, then I shall make my pre-eminence clear, and he need not pour barley into sacks, nor have it carted, nor have that barley carried into the settlements, nor place collectors over the labourers.”
281-293“”But if he were actually to have barley poured into carrying-nets, and to have it loaded on the packasses at whose sides reserve donkeys have been placed, and were to have it heaped up in a pile in the courtyard of Aratta — were he really to heap it up in such a manner; and were Inana, the luxuriance of the grain pile, who is the ‘illuminator of the lands’, the ‘ornament of the settlements’, who adorns the seven walls, who is the heroic lady, fit for battle, who, as the heroine of the battleground, makes the troops dance the dance of Inana — were she actually to cast off Aratta as if to a carrion-pursuing dog, then in that case I should submit to him; he would indeed have made me know his preeminence; like the city, I in my smallness would submit to him. “So say to him.”
294-307After he had spoken thus to him, the lord of Aratta made the messenger repeat the message just as he himself had said it. The messenger turned on his thigh like a wild cow; like a sand fly he went on his way in the morning calm. He set foot joyfully in brick-built Kulaba. The messenger rushed to the great courtyard, the courtyard of the throne room. He repeated it word perfect to his master, the lord of Kulaba; he even bellowed at him like a bull, and Enmerkar listened to him like an ox driver. The king had him sit …… at his right side. As he turned his left side to him, he said: “Does Aratta really understand the implications of his own stratagem?”
308-338After day had broken and Utu had risen, the sun god of the Land lifted his head high. The king combined the Tigris with the Euphrates. He combined the Euphrates with the Tigris. Large vessels were placed in the open air, and he stood small vessels beside them, like lambs lying on the grass. …… vessels were placed in the open air adjacent to them. Then the king, Enmerkar, the son of Utu, placed wide apart the ecda vessels, which were of gold. Thereupon, the tablet ……, the pointed stylus of the assembly, the golden statue fashioned on a propitious day, beautiful Nanibgal, grown with a fair luxuriance, Nisaba, the lady of broad wisdom, opened for him her holy house of wisdom. He entered the palace of heaven, and became attentive. Then the lord opened his mighty storehouse, and firmly set his great lidga measure on the ground. The king removed his old barley from the other barley; he soaked the greenmalt all through with water; its lip …… the hirin plant. He narrowed the meshes of the carrying nets. He measured out in full (?) the barley for the granary, adding for the teeth of locusts. He had it loaded on the packasses at whose sides reserve donkeys were placed. The king, the lord of broad wisdom, the lord of Unug, the lord of Kulaba, dispatched them directly to Aratta. He made the people go on to Aratta on their own, like ants out of crevices. Again the lord added instructions for the messenger going to the mountains, to Aratta:
339-346“Messenger, speak to the lord of Aratta and say to him: “The base of my sceptre is the divine power of magnificence. Its crown provides a protective shade over Kulaba; under its spreading branches holy Inana refreshes herself in the shrine E-ana. Let him snap off a splinter from it and hold that in his hand; let him hold it in his hand like a string of cornelian beads, a string of lapis lazuli beads. Let the lord of Aratta bring that before me.” So say to him.”
347-365After he had thus spoken to him, the messenger went on his way to Aratta; his feet raised the dust of the road, and made the little pebbles of the hills thud; like a dragon prowling the desert, he was unopposed. After the messenger reached Aratta, the people of Aratta stepped forward to admire the packasses. In the courtyard of Aratta, the messenger measured out in full (?) the barley for the granary, adding for the teeth of locusts. As if from the rains of heaven and the sunshine, Aratta was filled with abundance. As when the gods return to their seats (?), Aratta’s hunger was sated. The people of Aratta covered their fields with the water-soaked greenmalt. Afterwards, couriers and catam officials …….
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366-370The citizens of Aratta were mindful; he revealed the matter to Aratta. Attentively, in Aratta, from the hand ……. …… his hand …… to the lord of Unug.
371-372“As for us, in the direst hunger, in our direst famine, let us prostrate ourselves before the lord of Kulaba!”
373-377The eloquent elders wrung their hands in despair, leaning against the wall; indeed, they were even placing their treasuries (?) at the disposal of the lord. His sceptre …… in the palace ……. Openly he spoke out the words in his heart:
378-379“Your father, my master, sent me to you. Enmerkar, the son of Utu, sent me to you.”
380-388“What is it to me what your master has spoken? What is it to me what he has said?” “This is what my master has spoken, this is what he has said: “The base of my sceptre is the divine power of magnificence. Its crown provides a protective shade over Kulaba; under its spreading branches holy Inana refreshes herself in the shrine E-ana.Let him snap off a splinter from it and hold that in his hand; let him hold it in his hand like a string of cornelian beads, a string of lapis lazuli beads. Let the lord of Aratta bring that before me. So say to him.” ”
389-393After he had spoken thus to him, for that reason he went inside the sanctuary …… and lay himself down in a fast. Day broke. He discussed the matter at length, he spoke unspeakable words; he circulated with this matter as if it were barley eaten by a donkey.
394-396And what did one speak to another? What did one say to another? What one said to another, so indeed it was.
397-411“Messenger, speak to your king, the lord of Kulaba, and say to him: “Let him put in his hand and contemplate a sceptre that is not of wood, nor designated as wood — not ildag wood, nor cim-gig wood, not cedar wood, nor cypress wood, not hacur cypress, nor palm wood, not hardwood, nor zabalum wood (one ms. has instead: — not ildag wood, nor cim-gig wood, not hacur cypress, nor palm wood, not cedar wood, nor zabalum wood, not cypress wood, nor hardwood), not poplar as in a chariot, not reedwork as in whip handles; not gold, nor copper, not genuine kumea metal nor silver, not cornelian, nor lapis lazuli — let him snap off a splinter from that and hold it in his hand; let him hold it in his hand like a string of cornelian beads, a string of lapis lazuli beads. Let the lord of Kulaba bring that before me.” So say to him.”
412-443After he had spoken to him thus, the messenger went off like a young donkey, braying as it is cut off from the chariot tongue; he trotted like an onager running on dry land, he filled his mouth with wind; he ran in one track (?) like a long-woolled sheep butting other sheep in its fury. He set foot joyfully in brick-built Kulaba. He transmitted the message word for word to his master, the lord of Kulaba. Now Enki gave Enmerkar wisdom, and the lord gave instructions to his chief steward. In his house ……, the king received ……. He wrapped it up like ……, and inspected it. He pounded …… with a pestle like herbs, he poured it like oil on the …… reed. From the sunlight it emerged into the shade, and from the shade it emerged into the sunlight. After five years, ten years had passsed, he split the …… reed with an axe. The lord looked at it, pleased, and poured on …… fine oil , fine oil of the bright mountains. The lord placed the sceptre in the hands of the messenger going to the mountains. The messenger, whose journeying to Aratta was like a pelican over the hills, like a fly over the ground, who darted through the mountains as swiftly as carp swim, reached Aratta. He setfoot joyfully in the courtyard of Aratta, and put the sceptre in ……. He …… and …… it. The lord of Aratta, eying the sceptre, which was …… in the sanctuary, his holy dwelling — he, the lord, called to his catam official:
444-453“Aratta is indeed like a slaughtered sheep! Its roads are inded like those of the rebel lands! Since holy Inana has given the primacy of Aratta to the lord of Kulaba, now it seems that holy Inana is looking with favour on her man who has sent a messenger to make the severe message as clear as the light of Utu. So in Aratta where can one go in this crisis? How long before the yoke-rope becomes bearable? As for us, in the direst hunger, in our direst famine, are we to prostrate ourselves before the lord of Kulaba?”
454-455The lord of Aratta entrusted a message to the messenger as if it were an important tablet:
456-461“Messenger! Speak to your master, the lord of Kulaba, and say to him: “A champion who is not black-coloured, a champion who is not white-coloured, a champion who is not brown-coloured, a champion who is not red-coloured, a champion who is not yellow-coloured, a champion who is not multi-coloured — let him give you such a champion. My champion will compete against his champion, and let the more able one prevail!” Say this to him.”
462-469After he had spoken to him thus, the messenger set off, ulum, alam. In brick-built Kulaba, he was speechless, like a ……. He gazed like a goat on the mountain slopes, he …… as if it were a huge mir snake coming out of a field. In …… he lifted his head. …… of Aratta ……. From his seat, he addressed him like a raging torrent:
470-499“Messenger! Speak to the lord of Aratta and say to him: “A garment that is not black-coloured, a garment that is not white-coloured, a garment that is not brown-coloured, a garment that is not red-coloured, a garment that is not yellow-coloured, a garment that is not multi-coloured — I shall give him such a garment. My champion is embraced by Enlil. I shall send him such a champion. My champion will compete against his champion, and let the more able one prevail!” Say this to him. Second, speak to him and say: “Let him immediately pass from subterfuge ……. In his city, let them go before him like sheep. Let him, like their shepherd, follow behind them. As he goes, let the mountain of bright lapis lazuli humble itself before him like a crushed reed. And let them heap up its shining gold and silver in the courtyard of Aratta for Inana the lady of E-ana.” Third, speak to him and say: “Lest I make the people fly off from that city like a wild dove from its tree, lest I smash them like ……, lest I requite (?) them as if at a current market rate, lest I make …… them walk in ……, when he goes, let them take the mountain stones, and rebuild for me the great shrine Eridug, the abzu, the E-nun; let them adorn its architrave for me ……. Let them make its protection spread over the Land for me.” His speaking ……. Recite his omen to him. At that time, the lord ……, …… on the throne daises and on the chairs, the noble seed, …….”
500-514His speech was substantial, and its contents extensive. The messenger, whose mouth was heavy, was not able to repeat it. Because the messenger, whose mouth was tired, was not able to repeat it, the lord of Kulaba patted some clay and wrote the message as if on a tablet. Formerly, the writing of messages on clay was not established. Now, under that sun and on that day, it was indeed so. The lord of Kulaba inscribed the message like a tablet. It was just like that. The messenger was like a bird, flapping its wings; he raged forth like a wolf following a kid. He traversed five mountains, six mountains, seven mountains. He lifted his eyes as he approached Aratta. He stepped joyfully into the courtyard of Aratta, he made known the authority of his king. Openly he spoke out the words in his heart. The messenger transmitted the message to the lord of Aratta:
515-517“Your father, my master, has sent me to you; the lord of Unug, the lord of Kulaba, has sent me to you.” “What is it to me what your master has spoken? What is it to me what he has said?”
518-535 “This is what my master has spoken, this is what he has said. My king is like a huge mes tree, …… son of Enlil; this tree has grown high, uniting heaven and earth; its crown reaches heaven, its trunk is set upon the earth. He who is made to shine forth in lordship and kingship, Enmerkar, the son of Utu, has given me a clay tablet. O lord of Aratta, after you have examined the clay tablet, after you have learned the content of the message, say whatever you will say to me, and I shall announce that message in the shrine E-ana as glad tidings to the scion of him with the glistening beard, whom his stalwart cow gave birth to in the mountains of the shining me, who was reared on the soil of Aratta, who was given suck at the udder of the good cow, who is suited for office in Kulaba, the mountain of great me, to Enmerkar, the son of Utu; I shall repeat it in his jipar, fruitful as a flourishing mes tree, to my king, the lord of Kulaba.”
536-556After he had spoken thus to him, the lord of Aratta received his kiln-fired tablet from the messenger. The lord of Aratta looked at the tablet. The transmitted message was just nails, and his brow expressed anger. The lord of Aratta looked at his kiln-fired tablet. At that moment, the lord worthy of the crown of lordship, the son of Enlil, the god Ickur, thundering in heaven and earth, caused a raging storm, a great lion, in ……. He was making the mountains quake ……, he was convulsing the mountain range ……; the awesome radiance …… of his breast; he caused the mountain range to raise its voice in joy. On Aratta’s parched flanks, in the midst of the mountains, wheat grew of its own accord, and chickpeas also grew of their own accord; they brought the wheat which grew of its own accord into the granary of …… for the lord of Aratta, and heaped it up before him in the courtyard of Aratta. The lord of Aratta looked at the wheat. The messenger’s eyes looked askance ……. The lord of Aratta called to the messenger:
557-576“Inana, the lady of all the lands, has not run away from the primacy of her city, Aratta, nor has she stolen it for Unug; she has not run away from her E-zagina, nor has she stolen it for the shrine E-ana; she has not run away from the mountain of the shining me, nor has she stolen it for brick-built Kulaba; she has not run away from the adorned bed, nor has she stolen it for the shining bed; she has not run away from the purification for the lord, nor has she stolen it for the lord of Unug, the lord of Kulaba. Inana, the lady of all the lands, has surrounded Aratta, on its right and left, for her like a rising flood. They are people whom she has separated from other people, they are people whom Dumuzid has made step forth from other people, who firmly establish the holy words of Inana. Let the clever champion and the …… of Dumuzid whirl about! Quickly, come now, ……. After the flood had swept over, Inana, the lady of all the lands, from her great love of Dumuzid, has sprinkled the water of life upon those who had stood in the face of the flood and made the Land subject to them.”
577-587The clever champion, when he came, had covered his head with a colourful turban, and wrapped himself in a garment of lion skins.
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Inana ……. Her song was pleasing to her spouse, Ama-ucumgal-ana. Since that time, she has made it perfect in the holy ear, the holy ear of Dumuzid, has sung it and has let the words be known.
588-610When the old woman came to the mountain of the shining me, she went up to him like a maiden who in her day is perfect, painted her eyes with kohl, wrapped herself in a white garment, came forth with the good crown like the moonlight. She arranged the …… on her head. She made Enmerkar, her spouse, occupy the throne-dais with her. She raised up ……, and indeed, for Aratta, the ewes and their lambs now multiply; indeed, for Aratta, the mother goats and their kids multiply; indeed, for Aratta, the cows and their calves multiply; indeed, for Aratta, the donkey mares and their black, swift-footed foals multiply. In Aratta, they say together: “Let them heap up and pile up for the grain piles; the abundance is truly your abundance.” After having made …… for the lord of Aratta, let him ……. He will ……. He came forth ……, he set right for her.
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611-625 (An unidentified person speaks:) “…… befitting ……, …… the ilu song of the heart, …… your abundance in his ……. Enlil has granted you ……, and may …… be made known. …… his father was not luxuriantly fertile, and poured forth no semen. Enlil, king of all the lands ……. In accordance with the tasks which he has now established, the people of Aratta …… their task of plying gold, silver and lapis lazuli; the men who …… golden fruit, fruit trees, with their figs and grapes, shall heap the fruit up in great mounds ……; and shall dig out the flawless lapis lazuli from the roots of the trees, and shall remove the succulent part of the reeds from the crowns of the trees, and then shall heap them up in a pile in the courtyard of E-ana for Inana, the lady of E-ana.
626-636“Come, my king, I shall offer you advice: let my counsel be heeded. I shall speak words to you; let them be heard. Let the people choose a man …… of the foreign lands, and let the people of Aratta speak ……. When I go from here, the ever-sparkling lady gives me my kingship. Jectin-ana ……. In that city ……, festivals were not ……. Daily …….”
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Much more information is available in such sources as Cornelius Alexander(frag. 10), Abydenus (frags. 5 and 6), the Sibylline Oracles (iii. 117–129), the Midrash, Pseudo-Philo, the Quran, the Book of Mormon, Irish folklore, Gregory of Tours, and others…