Mesopotamian Myth

Ishtar, Ashtoreth, or Athtar was the Babylonian goddess of love and war. As Astarte she was the goddess of the Canaanites, she was Ashtoreth to the Israelites, Athtar to the Arabs. She developed from the original Sumerian Inanna. She was the most widely worshipped of the middle eastern deities. Daughter of Sin – the moon and sister of Shamash the sun. Both versions are identified with Venus the planet. In another version she is sister of the god Anu or Heaven, and goddess of erotic love.

Worship involved ritual prostitution – condemned by the Hebrew prophets. Myths tell of the love of Inanna for  Tammuz. Naked before Ereshkigal (Allatu?). Ea sent Asushi-Namur against Ereshkigal. Influenced myth of Aphrodite’s rivalry with Persephone over Adonis.

Ishtar the goddess in Babylonian myth was the Mother Goddess of love and war. She loved a mortal shepherd called Tammuz who kept his flocks on the mountainside. Tammuz was killed by a boar.

Ishtar came to spring beside the palace of Allatu – Queen of the Underworld. She went to each of the seven gates of Hades. She gave ornaments and a dress to each gate. She arrived therefore before Allatu naked. She was handed over to the tormentors. Thence the gods commanded the release of Ishtar. Above, because of the absence of Ishtar, there was no marriage ritual.

Other myths prevent the sacred marriage during certain seasons until after resurrection. Ishtar returns with Tammuz. Then the annual re-enactment of the myth in ritual. It is a nature myth, a resurrection myth. Ezekiel saw women weeping for Tammuz [See Thomson on Babylonian seven entrances, seven points uphold heavens. Ziggurats are symbolic with their three levels and four corners].

The Deluge is recorded in the Epic of Gilgamesh. It is an epic Babylonian story. Gilgamesh, the tyrant king of Erech is disturbed by the death of his friend Enkidu. So he sets out to discover the secret of eternal life. He comes to the abode of Uta-napishtim – the Babylonian Noah – who had survived the flood. Uta was warned by the god Ea. Note the seven day sequence which is similar to that in Genesis and the ark. Mesopotamia was subject to flash floods unlike the regular flood of the Nile in Egypt.

In the Epic of Gilgamesh he is involved with the goddess Ishtar. The Bull of Heaven is sent against Gilgamesh by Ishtar’s father called Anu but it is killed by Gilgamesh and Enkidu. The epic is a Babylonian poem, circa 2000 BC that was discovered as clay tablets in the library of Assurbanipal (668-626 BC).

Enkidu was moulded out of clay by the goddess Aruru and he fought the one-eyed monster called Humbaba who breathed fire. Gilgamesh’s mother was the goddess Ninsun. Gilgamesh was ferried across the ocean of death by Urshanabi.


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