Samizdat

"Samizdat: Publishing the Forbidden."

Portents of Thunder

“No. 257.

When it thunders in Ab, the day is dark, heaven rains, lightning lightens, waters will be poured forth in the channels.

When it thunders on a cloudless day, there will be darkness (or) famine in the land.

Concerning this sickness the king has not spoken from his heart.

The sickness lasts a year: people that are ill recover.

Do thou grant, O king my lord, that they pursue the worship of the gods and pray the gods day and night.

Does truth ever reach the king and his family?

A man should kill a calf (?) without blemish, he should cut it in pieces; he himself should say as follows, ‘A man that is in full health, his days are short (?): he is sick, his days are long.’

From Ištar-šuma-íris.”

Reginald Campbell Thompson, The Reports of the Magicians and Astrologers of Nineveh and Babylon, Vol. II, London, 1900, p. lxxx.

The Omen of a Star Lasts a Month

“No. 245.

When the Moon occults Kilba, there will be an eclipse of Subarti.

When Spica (Pafi) is darkened over the Moon and enters the Moon, the days of the prince will be long.

The Moon for one year is long.

Let the king give heed, let him not pass it by, let him guard himself, let not the king go into the street on an evil day until the time of the omen has passed. (The omen of a star lasts for a full month.)

From Irašši-ilu, the king’s servant.”

Reginald Campbell Thompson, The Reports of the Magicians and Astrologers of Nineveh and Babylon, Vol. II, London, 1900, p. lxxvii.

Portents of the Moon

“No. 234.

When Mars approaches the Moon and stands, the Moon will cause evil to inhabit the land.

When a planet stands at the left horn of the Moon, the king will act mightily.

When a star stands at the left front of the Moon, the king will act mightily.

When a star stands at the left rear of the Moon, the king of Akkad will work mightily.

When Virgo (Dilgan) stands at its left horn, in that year the vegetables of Akkad will prosper.

When Virgo (Dilgan) stands above it, in that year the crops of the land will prosper.

When a star stands at the left horn of the Moon, a hostile land will see evil.

When a star stands at its left horn, there will be an eclipse of the king of Aharrû.

The Gan-ba of that land will be diminished; it will rain.

When a star stands at its left horn, an eclipse of the king of Aharrû will take place.

When at its left horn a star (stands) Rammanu will devour in a hostile land (or) an eclipse will take place, (or) an eclipse of the king of Aharrû: his land will be diminished.

From Zakir.”

Reginald Campbell Thompson, The Reports of the Magicians and Astrologers of Nineveh and Babylon, Vol. II, London, 1900, p. lxxiv.

Nimrod, Abram, and Idolatry

“Many Jewish legends bring Abram into relationship with Nimrod, the mythical King of Babylon. According to legend Abram was originally an idolater, and many stories are preserved respecting his conversion. Jewish legend states that the Father of the Faithful originally followed his father Terah’s occupation, which was that of making and selling images of clay; and that, when very young, he advised his father

“to leave his pernicious trade of idolatry by which he imposed on the world.”

The Jewish Rabbins relate that on one occasion, his father Terah having undertaken a considerable journey, the sale of the images devolved on him, and it happened that a man who pretended to be a purchaser asked him how old he was.

“Fifty years,” answered the Patriarch.

“Wretch that thou art,” said the man, “for adoring at that age a thing which is only one day old!”

Abram was astonished; and the exclamation of the old man had such an effect upon him, that when a woman soon after brought some flour, as an offering to one of the idols, he took an axe and broke them to pieces, preserving only the largest one, into the hand of which he put the axe. Terah returned home and inquired what this havoc meant.

Abram replied that the deities had quarrelled about an offering which a woman had brought, upon which the larger one had seized an axe and destroyed the others. Terah replied that he must be in jest, as it was impossible that inanimate statues could so act; and Abram immediately retorted on his father his own words, showing him the absurdity of worshipping false deities. But Terah, who does not appear to have been convinced, delivered Abram to Nimrod, who then dwelt in the Plain of Shinar, where Babylon was built.

Nimrod, having in vain exhorted Abram to worship fire, ordered him to be thrown into a burning furnace, exclaiming—

“Let your God come and take you out.”

As soon as Haran, Abram’s youngest brother, saw the fate of the Patriarch, he resolved to conform to Nimrod’s religion; but when he saw his brother come out of the fire unhurt, he declared for the “God of Abram,” which caused him to be thrown in turn into the furnace, and he was consumed.

A certain writer, however, narrates a different version of Haran’s death. He says that he endeavoured to snatch Terah’s idols from the flames, into which they had been thrown by Abram, and was burnt to death in consequence.”

Lewis Spence, Myths and Legends of Babylonia and Assyria, 1917, pp. 51-2.

There Were Giants

“It is strange that the dispersion of tribes at Babel should be connected with the name of Nimrod, who figures in Biblical as well as Babylonian tradition as a mighty hunter.

Epiphanius states that from the very foundation of this city (Babylon) there commenced an immediate scene of conspiracy, sedition, and tyranny, which was carried on by Nimrod, the son of Chus the Ethiopian. Around this dim legendary figure a great deal of learned controversy has raged. Before we examine his legendary and mythological significance, let us see what legend and Scripture say of him.

In the Book of Genesis (chap. x, 8,  ff.) he is mentioned as “a mighty hunter before Yahweh: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord.” He was also the ruler of a great kingdom. “The beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh in the land of Shinar. Out of that land went forth Asshur” (that is, by compulsion of Nimrod) “and builded Nineveh,” and other great cities.

In the Scriptures Nimrod is mentioned as a descendant of Ham, but this may arise from the reading of his father’s name as Cush, which in the Scriptures indicates a coloured race. The name may possibly be Cash and should relate to the Cassites.

It appears then that the sons of Cush or Chus, the Cassites, according to legend, did not partake of the general division of the human race after the fall of Babel, but under the leadership of Nimrod himself remained where they were. After the dispersion, Nimrod built Babylon and fortified the territory around it. It is also said that he built Nineveh and trespassed upon the land of Asshur, so that at last he forced Asshur to quit that territory.[3]

The Greeks gave him the name of Nebrod or Nebros, and preserved or invented many tales concerning him and his apostasy, and concerning the tower which he is supposed to have erected. He is described as a gigantic person of mighty bearing, and a contemner of everything divine; his followers are represented as being equally presumptuous and overbearing. In fact he seems to have appeared to the Greeks very much like one of their own Titans.

Nimrod has been identified both with Merodach, the tutelar god of Babylon, and with Gilgamesh, the hero of the epic of that name, with Orion, and with others. The name, according to Petrie, has even been found in Egyptian documents of the XXII Dynasty as ‘Nemart.’

Nimrod seems to be one of those giants who rage against the gods, as do the Titans of Greek myth and the Jotunn of Scandinavian story. All are in fact earth-gods, the disorderly forces of nature, who were defeated by the deities who stood for law and order. The derivation of the name Nimrod may mean ‘rebel.’

In all his later legends, for instance, those of them that are related by Philo in his De Gigantibus (a title which proves that Nimrod was connected with the giant race by tradition), he appears as treacherous and untrustworthy. The theory that he is Merodach has no real foundation either in scholarship or probability. As a matter of fact the Nimrod legend seems to be very much more archaic than any piece of tradition connected with Merodach, who indeed is a god of no very great antiquity.”

Lewis Spence, Myths and Legends of Babylonia and Assyria, 1917, pp. 49-51.

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