Adam and Atrahasis

Adam’s divine origins, like those of Eve, are hinted at in his name; where the name “Eve” indicates divinity and life giving, the name “Adam” is derived from the word adama, or “from the ground.”

There is an 18th century BCE Babylonian epic you may have heard of called the Epic of Atrahasis. It begins with creation, and ends with a flood. In the beginning, Enlil, the head god in charge, makes all the other, lesser gods do intensely laborious agricultural work for thousands of years. Eventually they get sick of it and form a lynch mob to take out Enlil. However, Ea (Enki’s Babylonian counterpart) intervenes and suggests that they create humans to do the chores instead.

To create the humans, the gods decide to slaughter a god and mix the flesh and blood of that god together with clay from the ground. Ea enlists the help of the womb-goddess Belet-ili (another name of Ninhursag; she has many) in this procedure. It is proclaimed that “a god and man will be mixed together in clay…let a ghost come into existence from the god‘s flesh, and let her (Belet-ili) proclaim it as his sign.” All went according to plan, and man was created and the gods no longer had to do their chores.

So, Ea and Belet-ili create the first man from the blood of a god and clay from the ground in order for the man to tend to the earth. Genesis 2:5-7 reads “No shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no herb of the field had yet sprung up…and there was not a man to till the ground…Then the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Both Adam and Atrahasis are created through the union of god and earth for the purpose of carrying out agricultural labor.

I will address the fact that Genesis 1-3 contains two distinct accounts of Creation in a later post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s