Inanna’s servant Ninshubur led Dumuzi to “the sweet thighs of Inanna” and asks that Dumuzi’s shepherd staff of judgment protect both Sumer and Akkad, from the land of the haluppu tree (Uruk) to the land of the cedar (Lebanon). Dumuzi took Inanna to the sacred bridal bed and tounge-played “one-by-one” fifty times. Dumuzi then asked Inanna that she set him free, assuring her that she would be like a daughter onto his father. Inanna gives a fair adieu to her lover, ending the poem with Inanna describing the sweet allure of her holy statue Dumuzi.
The Courtship texts have much in common with the Hebrew Song of Solomon, also called the Shir Hashirim (“Song of Songs“), the Canticle of Canticles, or the Book of Wisdom. This Old Testament book is said to have been written by King Schlomo (Solomon) for a Shulamite maiden around 965 BC. The Song of Solomon is one of the five scrolls of Megilloth, which are read during Jewish feasts and is believed by some to be an allegory about God’s love for Israel. Just like in the Courtship of Dumuzi and Inanna, the husband is called a king and a shepherd, while his bride is also referred to as his sister:
“How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! How much better is thy love than wine, and the fragrance of your ointments than any spice! Your lips, oh my spouse, drop as the honeycomb: milk and honey are under your tongue. The smell of your garments is like the smell of Lebanon. You are a garden locked up, my sister, my spouse, a spring enclosed, a fountain sealed.” - Song of Solomon 4:10-12
The style, theme and a good deal of content of the texts are identical. Both canticles consist largely of lovers’ dialogues separated by musical refrains, both use the terms milk and honey as sexual euphemisms, and both move from the mother’s house to a special apple tree for the honeymoon:
“If only you were to me like a brother, who sucked the breasts of my mother! If I found you outside, I would kiss you; yes, and no one would despise me. I would lead you, bringing you into my mother's house, who would instruct me. I would have you drink spiced wine, the nectar of my pomegranate. His left hand should be under my head, and his right hand should embrace me. I charge you, oh daughters of Jerusalem, that you should not arouse nor awaken love until it so desires.
Who is this who comes up from the wilderness, leaning on her lover? Under the apple tree I roused you; there your mother conceived you; there she was in labor and bore you. Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is as strong as death; jealousy as cruel as She‘ol [the netherworld]; It’s flashes are flashes of fire, like a mighty flame of Yah[weh]. “ -Song of Solomon 8:1-6
These kinds of alluring poems that you wouldn’t expect to be in the Bible were recited during the celebration of the ancient fertility rites in Sumer and Akkad. From this evidence, we can conclude that the real poetic inspiration behind the Biblical scripture is actually much older than Schlomo’s times. The part about the positioning of the hands and the reference to death at the end of the Song of Solomon is also very similar to some of the verses in one of the other Courtship poems:
Oh, my beloved, my man of the heart,
You- I have brought about an evil fate for you, my brother of a face most fair,
My brother, I have brought about an evil fate for you,
my brother of a face most fair,
Your right hand you placed on my vulva,
Your left hand stroked my head,
You have touched your mouth to mine,
You have pressed my lips to your head,
That is why you have been decreed an evil fate.
This evil fate is a foreshadow to the next story, Inanna’s Descent to the Netherworld, in which Inanna switches roles as a young virgin bride in love to hostile conqueror. The text reads that Inanna set her sights from heaven to the great below and left her office as en (priesthood/lordship) and lugar (temple servant) to set off to take over her dark sister Ereshkigal’s realm, taking with her seven magical articles of clothing. But as she came to the seven gates of Kurnugia, she was forced to remove them one by one. She complained about it but was told not to open her mouth against the rites of the netherworld. She then came to Ereshkigal’s throne room and forced her sister off the throne, taking it for herself. But then the Anunna (or Anunnaki), the seven judges, appeared and condemned her to death for her actions. Inanna’s servant Ninshubura appealed to Enlil, but he only replied:
"My daughter craved the great heaven and she craved the great below as well. Inanna craved the great heaven and she craved the great below as well. The divine powers of the underworld are divine powers which should not be craved, for whoever gets them must remain in the underworld. Who, having got to that place, could then expect to come up again?"
Inanna’s true father Nanna repeated Enlil’s response, but Enki decided to help. He removed some dirt from his fingernails and created the gala-tura and the kur-gara and gave instructions to his newly made spirit-constructions:
“Go and direct your steps to the underworld. Flit past the door like flies. Slip through the door pivots like phantoms. The mother who gave birth, Ereshkigal, on account of her children, is lying there. Her holy shoulders are not covered by a linen cloth. Her breasts are not full like a cagan vessel. Her nails are like a pickaxe[?] upon her. The hair on her head is bunched up as if it were onions. "When she says "Oh my heart", you are to say "You are troubled, our mistress, oh your heart". When she says "Oh my liver", you are to say "You are troubled, our mistress, oh your liver". [She will then ask:] "Who are you? Speaking to you from my heart to your heart, from my liver to your liver -- if you are gods, let me talk with you; if you are mortals, may a destiny be decreed for you." Make her swear this by heaven and earth.”
He also warns them not to drink water or eat bread while there, as is established in other stories that doing so traps you there. The phantoms flew off like flies and slipped through the doors of the netherworld unhindered. Just like he said, they found Ereshkigal she was nude, her breasts were sunken, he fingernails were grown out and her hair was bunched up. Following Enki’s advice they forced Ereshkigal to take the oath and asks that Inanna’s corpse be taken off the hook. They then sprinkled Enki’s healing plants and life giving water on her and Inanna rose up. But the Anunna returned, telling Inanna that she would have to bring back a substitute. She was then escorted out of Kurnugia by demons with maces and reeds. Their first stop was Genzer, but Ninshubura threw herself at Inanna’s feet. Remembering it was her who saved her life, she convinced the demons to move on. They came to Inanna’s singer and manicurist, Cara, who resided in the Sigkurcaga in Umma. He too threw himself at her feet and was dressed in the ‘filthy garments’, not unlike the sack-cloths that ancient Hebrews put on during times of great grief. She convinced the demons to move on to Bad-Tibira but once again feels pity for her victim and continues on to her own city. She went to the apple tree on the plain of Kulaba (Uruk) and there she found Dumuzi clothed in magnificent clothing and sitting on a great throne. At this she shouted angrily at him and gave him over to the demons. Dumuzi then paled and cried out to the sun god Utu, who was always appealed to in matters concerning justice. Utu heard his prayer and “accepted his tears”, another term similar to an expression found in the book of Yesha-Yahu, when Yahweh saved the prophet’s king from illness:
“Then came the word of Yahweh to Yesha-Yahu, saying, ‘Go and tell Chizki-Yahu [Hezekiah], thus says Yahweh, the Elohim of David your father, I have heard your prayer,I have seen your tears: Behold, I will add to your days fifteen years. I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Ashur; and I will defend this city.” -Isaiah 38:4-6
Utu helped Dumuzi by turning him into snake, which allowed him to escape, only to be recaptured and brought down to the netherworld. Despite her role in the matter, Inanna mourned bitterly, chastising those who still had their husbands or sons, and she tore her hair out in grief. The phantom houseflies offered to help Inanna but asked for something in return. Inanna decreed that the fly would have a home at taverns and live like ‘the wise ones’, and so they opened communication up with Ereshkigal and they agreed that Inanna would have Dumuzi half the year and Ereshkigal would have him the other half. From that he became the death and resurrection god, who symbolized the death and rebirth of life during the seasons.
This text is the origin of the nearly identical Greek myth of the seasonal divide, in which the love goddess Aphrodite, who like Inanna is identified with the morning star and fights with her dark sister Persephone over her young lover Adonis. Adonis was also known as “He on the tree” and is said to have a sacred grove located in Bethlehem8.
Another Greek incarnation of Dumuzi was the Dionysus, the god of wine. Those who shared in the passion of Dionysus were said to go through a rebirth. During the ceremonial worship of Dionysus, a large bearded mask representing the god-man was hung on a wooden pole and, dressed in purple garments and given a crown of ivy. Wine was consumed during the ceremony, of course. Many Greek writers accepted Dionysus as being the same as Osiris, the Egyptian god who was killed by his evil brother Set and then brought back to life by having his pieces reassembled by his wife. Osiris was also called “He who gives birth to men and women a second time”. The Greek poet Herodotus stated that the rites of Dionysus were derived from those of Osiris. In Alexandria, 300 B.C., the sage Timotheus fused the two deities together and gave him the name Serapis. 12
When the Romans took Dionysus for their own worship, they called him Bacchus. In Rome, the mysteries of his cult were closely guarded, and he was identified with an ancient god of wine, Liber Pater.13 Many legends connected with Dionysus were also used in the cult of Bacchus. Orpheus, who is depicted as a fisherman and is said to have died a violent death, is said to be a legendary prophet of Dionysus. He was said to have become a Bacchoi, an enlightened disciple who becomes an incarnation of Dionysus.12
Orpheus holding a net and staff. Wheat and grapes representing
bread and wine grow next to him and a fish lies behind his feet.
Plaster cast of an amulet; “Orpheus becomes a Bacchoi“, 300 A.D.
Seven stars and a crescent moon hang overhead
Housed in the museum of Berlin but lost during World War II.12
The worship of Dumuzi evolved into many different forms as it spread throughout Mesopotamia and Europe. The male-only worship of the Persian god Mithras was another god whose holy day was Christmas and marked by the sharing of gifts. By slaying a bull and eating it’s flesh and drinking it’s blood, Mithras was able to gain immortality to wait an return at the end of time. A common icon of Mithras pictured two torchbearers on either side of him; one holding the torch up to heaven and the other pointing it down to the netherworld. 12
Norse religion had it’s own Tree of Life, which was also said to be infested by birds and a snake. This world tree, Yggdrasill (“Horse of Ygg” / “Horse of Odin“), was said to be an ash tree that supported the universe and was so large that it’s roots spread out into different worlds. Three of the world tree’s roots ended at a magical well. The first was Urdarbrunnr (“Well of Urda”), where the three Norns: Urda (“Past”), Verdandi (“Present”), and Skuld (“Future”) decided the destinies of mankind, similar to the duties of the Greek Fates. The second was Mimisbrunnr (“Well of Mimir“), which was the source of all knowledge. There the supreme god Odin cut out one of his eyes in order to drink from the fountain of wisdom. The third root stretched deep down into Niflheim (“World of Cold”), better known as the name of the goddess who ruled over that world, Hel. This well, located next to Hel’s gates, was called Hvergelmir (“Bubbling Cauldron”), which provided the source of all rivers. There the great serpent Nidhog and it’s entourage of snakes ate dead bodies and gnawed at the world tree’s roots. It was said Nidhog was the one creature that was truly invincible and that it’s breath melted the flesh of anything living. Nidhog also sent insults and threats to the birds who lived on top of the tree via a squirrel named Ratatosk, who then relayed the birds’ threats back to the serpent. 14 The ash tree was also used by the chief Norse god, Odin, and his brothers Ve and Vili, to create the first man. An elm tree was likewise used to create the first woman. In order the learn the secrets of the dead through the nine runes of power, the “All-father” Odin also went through a ritual spiritual death and resurrection on the tree. 14
Odin’s Rune Song describes how Odin was hung on Yggdrasill for nine days:
"I know that I hung
On a wind-rocked tree
Nine whole nights,
With a spear wounded,
And to Odin offered
Myself to myself ;
On that tree
Of which no one knows
From what root it springs."
This is comparable to some of the passages in the New Testament:
“The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, ‘The man who does these things will live by them.’ Christos redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.’” -Galatians 3:12-13
“We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, but Theos raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen.” -Acts 10:39-40
“But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.” -John 19:33-34
There are even tales in literature of pagan Vikings feasting with Christian ones in which the Christians made the sign of the cross and the pagans accepted it as the sign of the hammer, which was what they used to bless food, and so respected it as a sign of faith. The Christian theological connection between the Tree of Knowledge and the crucifixion of Jesus is that the self-sacrifice was to atone for the Original Sin that Adam cursed mankind with by eating the forbidden fruit. Because of this, Jesus is often referred to as the Second Adam. The portrait of Christ being crucified on a tree is assumed to be symbolic of the historic Roman execution, which is traditionally believed to have taken place directly over Adam’s grave, now located in the Chapel of Adam at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
Judging by all of this, it becomes clear that the name “Odin” is actually a derivative of the original Sumerian name:
DuMuZi -> TaMMuZ -> aDoNiS -> oDiN
One of Sumer’s other cuneiform texts, Dumuzi’s Dream, tells a different story than the Inanna‘s Descent. Dumuzi has a chilling vision of his own demise and after crying out to the countryside, he tells his beloved sister, Geshtinanna, about it:
"A dream, my sister! A dream! In my dream, rushes were rising up for me, rushes kept growing for me, a single reed was shaking its head at me; twin reeds -- one was being separated from me. Tall trees in the forest were rising up together over me. Water was poured over my holy coals for me, the cover of my churn was being removed, my holy drinking cup was torn down from the peg where it hung, my shepherd's stick disappeared from me. An owl (?) took a lamb from the sheep house, a falcon caught a sparrow on the reed fence, my male goats were dragging their dark beards in the dust for me, my rams were scratching the earth with their thick legs for me. The churns were lying on their side, no milk was poured, the drinking cups were lying on their side, Dumuzi was dead, the sheepfold was haunted."
So shaken by the dream that Dumuzi describes it to his sister, who tells Dumuzi not to speak of it any more, and then gives her own dire prophecy:
My brother, your dream is not favorable, don't tell me any more of it! Dumuzi, your dream is not favorable, don't tell me any more of it! The rushes rising up for you, which kept growing around you, are bandits rising against you from their ambush. The single reed shaking its head at you is your mother who bore you, shaking her head for you. The twin reeds of which one is taken away and then the other is you and I -- first one and then the other will be taken away. The tall trees in the forest rising up together over you are the evil men catching you within the walls. That water was poured over your holy coals means the sheepfold will become a house of silence. That the cover of your holy churn was being removed for you means the evil man will bring it inside in his hands. "
Your holy drinking cup being torn down from the peg where it hung is you falling off the lap of the mother who bore you. That your shepherd's stick disappeared from you means the demons will destroy it. The owl [?] taking a lamb from the sheep house is the evil man who will hit you on the cheek. The falcon catching a sparrow on the reed fence is the big demon coming down from the sheep house.”
Dumuzi told his sister that he would hide in the grass and asked her not to reveal his hiding place. Two demons from the cities of Adab, Akcak, Uruk, Ur, and Nibru came and caught Geshtinanna, offering her fields of grains and rivers of water for his location, but she refused to tell them. So they left her and bribed Dumuzi’s friend, then caught Dumuzi in the ditches of Arali. Once again, Dumuzi appealed to Utu and this time he was changed into a gazelle and escaped. The demons followed him to Kuberish, the house of Old Woman Belili, and then to his sister’s holy sheepfold. Geshtinanna appealed to heaven and earth in Dumuzi’s behalf. She lacerated her face in public and her buttocks in private, but regardless, the ten demons caught up with him at the sheepfold and destroyed the bolt, the shepherd’s stick, and the holy churn (or cream mixer). They killed Dumuzi and the sheepfold became haunted.
Dumuzi attacked by gala demons
Dumuzi and Geshtinanna opens with demons allowing Geshtinanna to leave her imprisonment in the netherworld by substituting Dumuzi. The demons fasten Dumuzi in metal stocks and begin sharpening their axes. From bondage Dumuzi cried out to Utu, imploring him to turn him into a sajkal snake so that he could escape. Utu accepted his tears and changed him and Dumuzi slithered out of the stocks and then flew away. Dumuzi went to his sister Geshtinanna’s and she told him that demons were out looking for him. Just as she spoke, the demons appeared at her door and demanded that she tell him where Dumuzi was. Dumuzi escaped from the house before the demons broke in and began to torture Geshtinanna to get her to talk. They afflicted her loins with a skin disease and poured tar in her lap, but she said nothing. Unfortunately, the demons once again found Dumuzi in the sheepfold, sharpened their daggers and smashed in his hut. The last line has his sister wandering the streets saying, "My brother, let me take the great misfortune, come, let me…" This suggests that the substitution is cyclical, that Dumuzi’s sister took his place for half the year to reflect the changing seasons.
Inanna Statuette The Saxon version of Inanna was known as Eostre, coming from the Babylonian Ishtar. Since long before Jesus‘ time, parents have told their children about a magic hare that brought painted eggs during the spring festival. To the Norse, Eostre was called Ostara, and the hare and the egg were her symbols, used to represent fertility during a season of new life. The notarized prolific nature of the rabbit family is also the reason Playboy uses it as their mascot. Germany inherited egg painting from the Romans and it is there that children first made grass nests for the hare to leave eggs in. In the 1500s the Easter hare was replaced by the Easter bunny. In the 1800s the first candy bunnies were made in Germany as well. Many Europeans today throw bonfires in honor of the holiday. Some of these are called “Judas Fires” in which pictures of Judas Iscariot are burned.
Easter falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after March 20th, the nominal date of the Spring Equinox. The modern method of governing the date of Easter was devised in Alexandria in 325 AD. In Asia Minor the Megalensia festival was celebrated on the three days of the spring equinox by tying an effigy of the god Attis to a sacred pine tree and decorated with flowers.11 The Christian tradition of a sunrise service on Easter is shared by ancient pagans, a practice recorded by the prophet Yechezk-El:
Then said he to me, Son of Man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Yisra-El [Israel] do in the dark, every man in his chambers of imagery? For they say, Yahweh doesn't see us; Yahweh has forsaken the land.He said also to me: ‘You shall again see yet other great abominations which they do.’ Then he brought me to the door of the gate of Yahweh's house which was toward the north; and see, there sat the women weeping for Tammuz [Dumuzi]. Then said he to me, Have you seen this, Son of Man? You shall again see yet greater abominations than these. He brought me into the inner court of Yahweh's house; and see, at the door of the temple of Yahweh, between the porch and the altar, were about twenty five men, with their backs toward the temple of Yahweh, and their faces toward the east; and they were worshipping the sun toward the east.
The weeping for Tammuz was a ritual mourning over Dumuzi’s death, equivalent to the grieving on Good Friday. The sun rising in the east represented the rebirth of Dumuzi, just as it today represents the resurrection of Christ. East is actually called east because of it’s relation to Easter.
The Seven Heavens and a Wizards’ Duel
After Dumuzi the Shepherd’s reign, kingship was taken to Larak, then Sippar, and then Shuruppak. According to the Sumerian king lists the flood occurred well over 30,000 years ago and just like in Genesis, people had shorter life spans after the flood, or at least shorter reigns. After the great deluge, the lists say that kingship descended from Heaven to Kish. The First Dynasty of Kish is said to have lasted 24,510 years, with each of the 23 kings reigning from 306 to 1,500 years. However, the lists vary to some degree on who some of these kings were and how long they reigned. It’s founding ruler is the first ruler to have an Akkadian name. It’s last ruler, Agga, would get into a conflict with Gilgamesh. The title ‘King of Kish’ kept great significance long after the city ceased to be the seat of kingship. Sometimes kings even claimed the title when they had no rule over the city.
The kings of the next dynasty were by far the most popular than any other, and the first of it’s rulers became immortalized as heroes if not gods. The first dynasty of Uruk, which is estimated to have reigned 2800-2540 BC, has been called the Sumerian Heroic Age5. The first king of E-anna (“House of Heaven”; the original name of Uruk and also the name for Uruk’s temple to Inanna) was Meskiaggaseir, son of Utu (the sun god) and reigned as en (“priest”/“lord”) and lugal (“man of greatness”/“king”) for 325 years. He won the control of the region extending from the Mediterranean Sea to the Zagros Mountains. Meskiaggaseir was succeeded by his son Enmerkar, who led a campaign against the city of Aratta.
Restored from 20 tablets and fragments, Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta is the longest Sumerian epic that has been uncovered. In it, Enmerkar is given three quests to prove that the Lord of Aratta should submit to Enmerkar as Inanna’s king. Like his father, ‘Lord-Merker’ is also called the son of Utu in the story, although the king lists only give that title to his genetic father. Throughout the story he refers to Inanna as his sister. The text starts off with praise for the city of Uruk-Kulaba and boasts that Inanna’s jipar (“temple“) was long founded before Dilmun existed, even before gold, silver and copper were used in commerce. Enmerkar asks Inanna to let the lord of Aratta bring gold, silver and lapus lazuli (blue gems) to adorn the temples of Inanna and Enki’s temple in Eridu:
"Let Susin and the land of Anshan humbly salute Inanna 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 Uruk. 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 [arts] flourish in Kulaba [Uruk], will make the abzu grow for you like a holy mountain, will make Eridu shine 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 abzuyou utter praise, when you bring the me [arts] from Eridu, when, in lordship, you are adorned with the crown like a purified shrine, when you place on your head the holy crown in Uruk Kulaba, then may the ...... of the great shrine bring you into the temple, and may the ...... of the temple 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 Dumuzi 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 Dumuzi. Rise like the sun over my holy breast! You are the jewel of my throat! Praise be to you, Enmerkar, son of Utu!"
Enmerkar heeded Inanna’s advice and called his servant, telling him to travel over the Zubi (Zagros) mountains to Susin. He tells the servant to let the men of Susin grovel in the dust and make the Lord of Aratta submit to Uruk “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.”
Susin, also known as Susiana or Susa, is the ancient name for the capital of Elam, which does sit at the foot of the mineral-rich Zagros mountains near the bank of the Karkheh Kur river. The name of this river is also related to the Sumerin word kur, a broad-based word meaning mountain, land, or the netherworld. It is also the river that lent it’s name to the Persian emperor Koresh, a.k.a. Cyrus the Great, known to the Jews as a Messiah after he led them out of Babylon in 539 BC. Excavations of Susa have also found the city to be 5,000 years old, and it’s art consists of winged animals such as bulls, which perhaps explains the reference to the people flying around like doves. Also found was a mud brick platform about 80x65 meters and 10 meters high, decorated with pottery cylinders stuck into a façade, which must have once held a great temple. Buildings were found nearby that may have been part of a temple. The four mounds were identified by W.K. Loftus in 1850 and excavated by Jacques de Morgan from 1897-1908. Among the valuable treasures also uncovered in the city: the obelisk of the Akkadian king Manishtusu, the stele of his successor Naram-Sin, and the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi. Susa remained a great capital until it was sacked and burned by the Mongols in the 1200s A.D.
Winged Bull, Susa
Before Enmerkar’s messenger leaves on his mission, the king has one last thing for him to remember to recite, the Spell of Enki:
“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 [Amorite] 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 Eridu, shallchange the speech in their mouths, as many as he had placed there, and so the speech of mankind is truly one.”
True to the nature of the Towel of Babel story, this “spell” relates a spiritual event in the past that caused everyone to speak different languages:
“Now the whole world had one language and one common speech. As men moved east, they found a plain in Shinar [Babylonia] and settled there.” -Genesis 11:1-2
Babylonia makes up the area comprised of Sumer and the northern Akkadia area. Returning to story, the messenger begins his trek to Aratta:
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 Inanna 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 Inanna 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.
From this we can see that the seven mountains that lay on route the Karkheh Kur represent the seven gates of Kur, the netherworld. They were believed to be the great pillars that separated the heavens from the underworld. The association between these pillars of heaven with mountains and the netherworld river can be found in the Greek Poet Hesiod’s Theogony (“Gods‘ Origin“):
And there dwells the goddess loathed by the deathless gods, terrible Styx, eldest daughter of back flowing Ocean. She lives apart from the gods in her glorious house vaulted over with great rocks and propped up to heaven all round with silver pillars.
Likewise, ziggurats, pyramidal temples built in Sumer and Akkad like the Tower of Babel, were built in seven levels, each one representing one of the heavens. References to these heavenly arches are also spoken of in the first apocryphal book of Henoch (Enoch):
And there I saw a place on the other side of an extended territory, where waters were collected.I likewise beheld terrestrial fountains, deep in the fiery columns of heaven. And in the columns of heaven I beheld fires, which descended without number, but neither on high, nor into the deep. Over these fountains also I perceived a place which had neither the firmament of heaven above it, nor the solid ground underneath it; neither was there water above it; nor anything on wing; but the spot was desolate. And there I beheld seven stars, like great blazing mountains, and like spirits entreating me. Then the angel said, This place, until the consummation of heaven and earth, will be the prison of the stars, and the host of heaven.The stars which roll over fire are those which transgressed the commandment of Elohim before their time arrived; for they came not in their proper season. Therefore was he offended with them, and bound them, until the period of the consummation of their crimes in the secret year. -1 Enoch 18:11-16
The scripture even mentions the precious stones that were associated with the Zagros mountains:
I went from there to another place, and saw a mountain of fire flashing both by day and night. I proceeded towards it; and perceived seven splendid mountains, which were all different from each other. Their stones were brilliant and beautiful; all were brilliant and splendid to behold; and beautiful was their surface. -1 Enoch 24:1-2
Even though this scripture is not included in the Bible canon, it is directly quoted in the book of Jude (1 Enoch 1:9; Jude 1:14), which also positively identifies the author of the first book of Henoch as the real Henoch from Genesis. St. Augustine likewise accepted the book to be genuine scripture, but it lost accreditation in the 300’s A.D. and the scripture was lost for centuries until a Greek-to-Ethiopic translation was rediscovered in Abyssinia in 1773. The first book of Henoch is also the earliest Hebrew text suggesting the division of souls between the elect and the damned and supplies some of the allegories that the parables of Jesus derive upon. The oldest portion of the text (chapters 1-36) has been dated by scholars to no earlier than the second century B.C.
The mountains which separated Heaven and Hell in ancient lore came to represent the proverbial seven heavens (and seven hells) in the latter day Zoroastrian religion of Persia (Iran). Each were believed to be a dimension in itself, where each layer of Heaven was more grandiose than the next and where each layer of Hell reserved a more horrible torment fit for the level of evil each person brought out. This concept of a multi-layered Heaven is found in non-apocryphal scripture as well:
I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from Kuriou [the Lord]. I know a man in Christos who fourteen years ago was caught up into the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or apart from the body I do not know- Theos knows. -2 Corinthians 12: 1-2
It is even more prominent in the writings of the Islamic Qu’ran (Koran):
“For over My servants no authority shalt thou have, except such as put themselves in the wrong and follow thee.” And verily, Hell is the promised abode for them all! To it are seven gates: for each of those gates is a (special) class (of sinners) assigned. -Surah 15:42-44
The seven heavens and the earth, and all beings therein, declare His glory: there is not a thing but celebrates His praise; And yet ye understand not how they declare His glory! Verily He is Oft-Forbear, Most Forgiving! -Surah 17:44
When Enmerkar‘s messenger reaches his destination, then men of the city bow down to him in the dust. When he threatens the Lord of Aratta with bird metaphors, the king is at a loss for words and starts looking at his feet for an answer. The king tells the messenger that he will submit but only if they bring an amount of wheat for the famine they were experiencing, and not in sacks but in nets. The grain goddess Nisaba helps Enmerkar grow grain so fermented it wouldn’t fall through nets and Enmerkar asks that the king accept the sceptre of Uruk. When the messenger gets there, the king is still indignant and states that he will only submit to a sceptre made of genuine kumea. So Enki helps Enmerkar grow one and once again the messenger astonishes the Lord of Aratta. Finally, he suggests that the argument be settled with a tournament, only that the champions of the tournament be ones that have a shirt with no color on it. When his messenger returns, Enmerkar accepts the challenge, demands that the Aratta Lord heap gold, silver and lupus lazuli for Inanna at Uruk, and once again threatens total destruction. But the messenger’s mouth is “heavy”, so Enmerkar invents the art of writing messages in clay tablets in order for the messenger to remember everything. (Evidence indicates however that writing tablets had existed for some 600 years before then.) The well-travelled servant conveyed the message, but then Ishkur, the storm god, gets involved. He brings a raging storm like ‘a great lion’, which defeats the famine. This king is encouraged and tells the messenger that Inanna has in no way abandoned her house and bed in Aratta. The ending of the story is lost, but presumably, a champion with a shirt of no color refers to a magician, since it can barely be made out that a young wise woman shows up in Uruk and becomes Enmerkar’s queen.
In a different version of the tale, the name of the Lord of Aratta is Ensuhgirana. Enmerkar and Ensuhgirana starts off with a short praise for Uruk and tells how Enmerkar was destined to become a god. But in this version the Lord of Aratta is the first to claim superiority and tells the messenger of Enmerkar to submit, enumerating all the ways Inanna considered him the better. Enmerkar countered with his own tirade of browbeating, saying that Enlil had given him the true crown and sceptre, Ninurta held him on his lap, and that Aruru (Ninmah) extended her right breast to him. In a bid to prove his manliness, he includes how respondent the temple priestess is during the Sacred Marriage Rite:
When I go up to the great shrine, the mistress screeches like an Anzu chick, and other times when I go there, even though she is not a duckling, she shrieks like one.
He also makes it a point that Inanna’s temple was in Uruk, not Aratta, and the messenger returns to Susa. Defeated, Ensuhgirana held a council and asked it what he should do. Knowing they didn’t stand a chance against Enmerkar, the council tells him to hold back on his boasts, but Ensuhgirana replies that he will never submit to Enmerkar, even if his city becomes a mound of ruins. A sorcerer tells the Lord of Aratta that he will make Enmerkar submit to him and is hired for five minas of gold. The sorcerer goes to Uruk and talks to the cow and the goat. When asked, they tell him that the cheese and butter made from their milk would be eaten by Nisaba (Ninmah). When they told him this, he enacted a spell that caused their utters to dry up. The calves and kids began to starve and they wept bitterly. The wise woman Sajburru came to Uruk’s rescue and confronted the sorcerer on the Euphrates and proceeded to have a wizard’s duel. They both threw things, maybe fish spawns, into the water to enact each of their spells. The sorcerer made a carp come out but Sajburru made an eagle come out and snatch the carp. At the next throw, the sorcerer made a lamb but Sajburru made a wolf. Then the sorcerer made a cow and its calf but Sajburru made a lion. Then the sorcerer made a wild goat and a wild sheep but Sajburru made a mountain leopard. Then the sorcerer made a gazelle kid but Sajburru made a tiger and a lion. At that point the sorcerer’s face darkened and his mind became confused. The wise woman acknowledged that he had magic powers but asked where his sense was trying to do sorcery in the city that An and Enlil had predestined and Ninlil loved so much. The sorcerer pleaded ignorance and asked that he be allowed to go back to Aratta and sing praises of her greatness, but she reminded him that Nanna the moon god had made the cutting off of butter and milk a capital offense and threw him off the river’s bank. Having heard this, Ensuhgirana sent a message to Enmerkar admitting that from the moment of his conception he was not the equal of the his ‘older brother’, the true lord of Inanna. The final praise of the text goes to Nisaba.