In Genesis and Exodus, Moses tells the story of the God of Abraham who is the one and only God. This doctrine is accepted by Jews, Christians and Muslims. In the Hebrew text, the name of God is considered so sacred, it is hidden, and meant to be unspoken. The most accepted transliteration of the name of God is YHWH. The Jehovah's Witnesses use the more pronounceable version "Yahweh".
Is the Genesis account really the first account of the God who Moses calls YHWH? In the book of Genesis, Terah, Abraham's father, along with Abraham and Lot made a journey from the city of Ur to Canaan. If YHWH is the God of Abraham, could it be that YHWH is also the God of Terah? If so, how did Terah come to worship YHWH? To answer these questions, let's develop some background on the city of Ur.
Ur was one of the twelve cities. It survived through the Babylonian times into Terah's time. In Sumerian mythology each city had a patron god. The patron god of the city of Ur was NANNA who is the heavenly moon. Later, the Semites named NANNA as SIN.
Sumerian mythology is ancient. Scholars place the time at around 3500 BCE to 2500 BCE. This time estimate is highly uncertain because the astronomical and carbon dating observations are so sketchy. If we accept this time estimate, we can conclude that historically speaking, the Sumerian myths are as far away from the time of Moses as we are from the time of Moses. Many of the Sumerian myths are inferred from cuneiform tablets. Our interpretation of these writings is no doubt less certain than our interpretation of modern writing or greek manuscripts of the gospel about Jesus Christ. In spite of these uncertainties, these texts give us a faint clue of what people believed so many years ago. I propose that they give us a clue as to the genealogy of YHWH. Because of the fragmentary state of the material, I will only refer to portions of the myth which, in my opinion, are relevant to YHWH's genealogy.
In Sumerian mythology there is a transcendental god named ANU, who is considered the god of the heavens. His wife ANTU is at his side in their heavenly abode. Because of their transcendental nature, ANU and ANTU generally are not involved in day to day affairs of the world. The day to day job is delegated to ENLIL (god of the firmament), the god of the heavens and the earth. To compare the organization with our modern day corporate structure, ANU would be the Chairman of the Board, and ENLIL would be the President and Chief Executive Officer.
ENLIL has a younger brother named ENKI (god of the earth) whose role appears to be as chief scientist of the gods. The EN prefix in their names classifies these gods as having universal powers. So although they may actually be patron gods of some of the cities, their domain includes all 12 cities and other areas like the heavens and the oceans.
ENLIL is finds his mate in SUD("the nurse"). The following cuneiform fragment describes ENLIL's desire: The shepherd Enlil, who decrees the fates, The Bright-Eyed One, saw her. The lord speaks to her of intercourse; she is unwilling. Enlil speaks to her of intercourse; she is unwilling: "My vagina is too small [she said], it knows no copulation; My lips are too little, they know not kissing."
Different fragments show different versions of how SUD becomes ENLIL's wife. One version implies that after consulting with his chamberlain NUSHKU, ENLIL hatches a plan to persuade SUD to go sailing with him. Once they were alone in the boat away from the shore, ENLIL rapes SUD. Later, a repentant ENLIL sends NUSHKU to find SUD and ask her mother for the girl's hand. The mother agrees and that is how SUD becomes the wife of ENLIL. After the marriage, SUD's name is changed to NINLIL ("lady of the airspace").
When the gods learn of ENLIL's misdeed, he is punished (but no detail is available). Long after the marriage, it is discovered that the truth of the matter is that SUD was bathing naked in the stream near the path where ENLIL takes his daily walk on her mother's instructions, with the hope that ENLIL will notice SUD and "forthwith embrace and kiss you."
From this episode came NANNA the moon god, as hinted in this dialogue from another fragment:
NINLIL: "True, Enlil is thy king, but I am thy queen." ENLIL: "If now thou art my queen, let my hand touch thy ... " NINLIL: "The 'water' of thy king, the bright 'water' is in my heart, the 'water' of NANNA the bright 'water' is in my heart." ENLIL: "The 'water' of my king, let it go toward heaven, let it go toward the earth."
Enlil as the man of the gate lay down in the ..., He kissed her and cohabited with her, The 'water' of ... Mestamataea he caused to flow over (her) heart.
ENKI (the Serpent, and god of the Earth), being the Chief Scientist of the gods, was the actual formulator of man. Man was needed by the gods because they needed labor to help produce food and other economic goods. The first experiment was a collaboration between NINHURSAG (ENKI's sister, and maybe wife). In the following quote from the 12th Planet: ... according to Sumerian texts, Man was created by Ninhursag following processes and formulas devised by Enki. She was the Chief Nurse, and one in charge of the medical facilities; it was in that role that the goddess was called NINTI ("lady of life").
Some Scholars read in Adapa (the model man of Enki) the biblical Adama, or Adam. The double meaning of the Sumerian TI also raises biblical parallels. For TI could mean both life and rib, so that NIN.TI's name meant both "lady of life" and "lady of the rib." The biblical Eve -- whose name meant "life" -- was created out of Adam's rib, so Eve, too was in a way a "lady of life" and a "lady of the rib".
As the actual "inventor" of Man, ENKI was constantly trying to improve Man by teaching him. ENKI was also in constant rivalry with ENLIL, who was the all powerful being.
The Hebrew god YHWH is probably NANNA, the son of ENLIL and rival of ENKI; because observer that the Hebrew calendar is a lunar calendar in honor of the moon god, the name YHWH is almost YHRH which in Hebrew means "moon", and name of the holy mountain considered to be YHWH's place is SIN.AI meaning SIN (Semitic for NANNA) AI (place).
At this point, the reader may asking: "So what?" Well, if SIN is the God of Abraham, then all the stories pertaining to NANNA in the Sumerian myths also refer to SIN. This means that YHWH is the Sumerian god NANNA who is a descendant of ENLIL and NINLIL. According to Sumerian and Babylonian Myths NANNA is not the creator/formulator of Man. As a mater of fact, ENKI and NINHURSAG who are the creators of Man, are rivals of ENKI and NINLIL.
Moses was rewriting the Sumerian myth to turn NANNA into the creator of Man. However, from the context of Sumerian myth we can interpret Man's fall from grace with less guilt. NANNA, in collaboration with ENLIL, banished Man from the Garden of Eden because they were angry at ENKI for teaching too much knowledge to Man (eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil).
Consider this in Genesis 3:22:
"And YHWH said: 'The man has now become like one of us knowing good and evil ..."
I would say, YHWH was genuinely concerned that if ENKI would have continued providing the lessons, Man will have improved towards becoming just like God. Maybe the story about the fall from grace is simply an account of a political maneuvering involving pretty "heavy" hands.
Samuel Noah Kramer. Sumerian Mythology. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia 1972.
Zecharia Sitchin. The 12th Planet. AVON Books, A division of Hearst Corp., New York 1976.
S. H. Hooke. Middle Eastern Mythology. Penguin Books, Baltimore 1963.
Thompson Chain Reference Bible (New International Version) Interviews with Lew Jenkins, a dear friend