Philo's guide to decoding the Hebrew Bible

The study of religious or heroic legends and tales. One constant rule of mythology is that whatever happens amongst the gods or other mythical beings was in one sense or another a reflection of events on earth. Recorded myths and legends, perhaps preserved in literature or folklore, have an immediate interest to archaeology in trying to unravel the nature and meaning of ancient events and traditions.

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Postby Ishtar » Sat Sep 06, 2008 12:46 pm

Like I said, Seeker .. there are very many different versions of these stories as they travelled from the Sumerians, the Akkadians and the Babylonians.

The whole point is ... they are myths, and not purporting to be history. So there are probably as many different tales about Enki and Enlil as there about Jesus, whose stories also conflict too.

But the Flood story, I believe, is one of the oldest. And so that version of Enki fits the good guy role, with Enlil in the bad guy role.
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Postby Ishtar » Sat Sep 06, 2008 1:20 pm

Ha! I've found the answer. It was all a big mix-up. Ea (Enki) was not trying to trick Adapa. He was just trying to be a good father and offer good fatherly advice! :D

http://www.sacred-texts.com/ane/adapa.htm

Summary: Adapa, or perhaps Adamu, son of Ea, had received from his father, the god Ea, wisdom, but not eternal life. He was a semi-divine being and was the wise man and priest of the temple of Ea at Eridu, which he provided with the ritual bread and water.

In the exercise of this duty he carried on fishing upon the Persian Gulf. When Adapa was fishing one day on a smooth sea, the south wind rose suddenly and overturned his boat, so that the was thrown into the sea.

Angered by the mishap, he broke the wings of the south wind so that for seven days it could not blow the sea's coolness over the hot land. Anu calls Adapa to account for this misdeed, and his father Ea warns him as to what should befall him.

He tells him how to fool Tammuz and Gishzida, who will meet him at the gate of heaven. Ea cautions him not to eat or drink anything in heaven, as Ea fears that the food and drink of death will be set before Adapa. However, the food and drink of eternal life are set before him instead, and Adapa's over-caution deprives him of immortality. He has to return to Earth instead.


This rings true to me, as it is a common theme in many myths. You are not supposed to eat the food of the gods when you are in the Upper World or the Underworld, because if you do, you will get stuck there.

This theme is prevalent in Norse myths and also particularly Irish myths where many a man never made it back from the land of the fairies because he ate the food offered him, and had to suffer the curse of being married to the beautiful fairy queen Titania, who never had a headache, for the rest of eternity when he would much rather have come back and tend to his pigs.

So Ea (aka Enki) warns his son, Adapa, not to eat the food of An, or he would not be able to come back. However, in a twist, the food An offers Adapa is the food of immortality, and in this way, Adapa turns down immortality.

So it wasn't Ea's (Enki's) fault, in other words.



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Postby seeker » Sat Sep 06, 2008 3:57 pm

Would that it were that simple. Another way to read it is that if Enki allowed Adapa to dring the water of life or eat the food of life then he would become a God and the gods would no longer have men as slaves.
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Postby Ishtar » Sat Sep 06, 2008 4:07 pm

seeker wrote:Would that it were that simple. Another way to read it is that if Enki allowed Adapa to dring the water of life or eat the food of life then he would become a God and the gods would no longer have men as slaves.


What it does show, without a doubt, is that Enki did not deliberately trick his son, as you contended in your post. And that's an important point.

After that, Enki cannot be blamed for not being omniscient or being able to see into the future, to know his son would be offered the food of immortality :lol:

He only did what any father would do and gave his son the best advice he could.

If you are a father, you will know how impossible it is to always get it right! :lol:




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Postby seeker » Sat Sep 06, 2008 4:36 pm

Ishtar wrote:
seeker wrote:Would that it were that simple. Another way to read it is that if Enki allowed Adapa to dring the water of life or eat the food of life then he would become a God and the gods would no longer have men as slaves.


What it does show, without a doubt, is that Enki did not deliberately trick his son, as you contended in your post. And that's an important point.

After that, Enki cannot be blamed for not being omniscient or being able to see into the future, to know his son would be offered the food of immortality :lol:

He only did what any father would do and gave his son the best advice he could.

If you are a father, you will know how impossible it is to always get it right! :lol:




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How do you figure it shows that 'without a doubt? I doubt that. :wink:
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Postby Ishtar » Sun Sep 07, 2008 12:51 am

seeker wrote:
How do you figure it shows that 'without a doubt? I doubt that. :wink:


Because,

1. There is no indication that that is Ea's motive. Usually motives are made very clear in myths. They don't expect you to read between the lines, as there are no lines to read between. The stories are recited orally, so everything is made very clear and often repeated three times, almost like a chorus. (The word comes from the Attic khorus, who would comment on the religious or spiritual signficance of the plot as it unfolded.)

2. It's a common mythological motif. "Don't touch the food" is a standard warning given to those going into the Other Worlds, because eating the food of the Other Worlds puts you in debt to its inhabitants, and you will get stuck there trying to pay it off. In Greek mythology, the very reason that Persephone has to return to the Underworld for a season of each year is because Hades tricked her into eating pomegranite seeds when she was there. In the Welsh Druidic rites, the initiate would be sent to Annwn, the Underworld, but strictly forbidden to eat any food he found there. W B Yeats, who was a great gatherer of Irish fairy tales, tells one about a woman who was taken off by the fairies to live with them. But she missed her son so much, she wanted him to come too. Knowing he wouldn't come willingly, one day she turned up at his house and started cooking for him. However, the son could see that she now 'had the glamour on her', and knew enough fairy lore not to touch his mother's food. In Solomon and the Queen of Sheba (which I believe is a myth), the Queen of Sheba had to make love with Solomon because she drank his water.

3. If Ea had tricked Adapa, that would put him in the category of a 'trickster god', like the treachorous Norse Loki, or the Coyote of the Native Americans, or The Fool in the Tarot. But he doesn't display any of those characteristics.

4. The story from the tablet also gives us this (although it's not clear who said it): "Why has Ea revealed to impure mankind, the heart of heaven and earth?" This is proof that Ea is the friend of mankind who shows him his divinity, his immortality. Therefore, he's unlikely to not want his son to have the same thing.

Hope that allays some of your doubts. :wink:

Of course, there is a good reason why Ea could have tricked Adapa. The story perhaps could have been used as one for adepts in the early stages. Like the Icarus story, that of trying to rise too high too soon, Adapa could have been considered not yet ready for the initiation (into immortality) because he selfishly and in anger broke the wings of the south wind.



.
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Postby pattylt » Sun Sep 07, 2008 7:22 am

However, it does look as if the Jews at one time, (Bible minimalists would say around the 6th century BC) took the Sumerian Garden of Eden story and either misunderstood it, or deliberately turned it on its head to invent "Original Sin".
Quick correction, Ish. Jews do not have Original Sin. That is purely a Christian invention. Adam and Eve were forgiven for eating the fruit of Knowledge and God (using the serpent) wanted them to gain this knowledge. He used the snake to see if he made their free will strong enough to make choices. Jews have no stain upon their souls and detest the Christian interpretation that god did not forgive Adam and Eve and consider humanity cursed with sin. Christians needed this interpretation in order to need a Savior.
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Postby Ishtar » Sun Sep 07, 2008 7:29 am

pattylt wrote:
However, it does look as if the Jews at one time, (Bible minimalists would say around the 6th century BC) took the Sumerian Garden of Eden story and either misunderstood it, or deliberately turned it on its head to invent "Original Sin".
Quick correction, Ish. Jews do not have Original Sin. That is purely a Christian invention. Adam and Eve were forgiven for eating the fruit of Knowledge and God (using the serpent) wanted them to gain this knowledge. He used the snake to see if he made their free will strong enough to make choices. Jews have no stain upon their souls and detest the Christian interpretation that god did not forgive Adam and Eve and consider humanity cursed with sin. Christians needed this interpretation in order to need a Savior.


Thanks so much, Patti. I didn't know about that and it sheds a whole new light on my thinking.

An initiative test - for initiates!

And maybe Adapa failed the initiative test for initiates ...



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Postby seeker » Sun Sep 07, 2008 7:46 am

Ishtar wrote:
seeker wrote:
How do you figure it shows that 'without a doubt? I doubt that. :wink:


Because,

1. There is no indication that that is Ea's motive. Usually motives are made very clear in myths. They don't expect you to read between the lines, as there are no lines to read between. The stories are recited orally, so everything is made very clear and often repeated three times, almost like a chorus. (The word comes from the Attic khorus, who would comment on the religious or spiritual signficance of the plot as it unfolded.)

2. It's a common mythological motif. "Don't touch the food" is a standard warning given to those going into the Other Worlds, because eating the food of the Other Worlds puts you in debt to its inhabitants, and you will get stuck there trying to pay it off. In Greek mythology, the very reason that Persephone has to return to the Underworld for a season of each year is because Hades tricked her into eating pomegranite seeds when she was there. In the Welsh Druidic rites, the initiate would be sent to Annwn, the Underworld, but strictly forbidden to eat any food he found there. W B Yeats, who was a great gatherer of Irish fairy tales, tells one about a woman who was taken off by the fairies to live with them. But she missed her son so much, she wanted him to come too. Knowing he wouldn't come willingly, one day she turned up at his house and started cooking for him. However, the son could see that she now 'had the glamour on her', and knew enough fairy lore not to touch his mother's food. In Solomon and the Queen of Sheba (which I believe is a myth), the Queen of Sheba had to make love with Solomon because she drank his water.

3. If Ea had tricked Adapa, that would put him in the category of a 'trickster god', like the treachorous Norse Loki, or the Coyote of the Native Americans, or The Fool in the Tarot. But he doesn't display any of those characteristics.

4. The story from the tablet also gives us this (although it's not clear who said it): "Why has Ea revealed to impure mankind, the heart of heaven and earth?" This is proof that Ea is the friend of mankind who shows him his divinity, his immortality. Therefore, he's unlikely to not want his son to have the same thing.

Hope that allays some of your doubts. :wink:

Of course, there is a good reason why Ea could have tricked Adapa. The story perhaps could have been used as one for adepts in the early stages. Like the Icarus story, that of trying to rise too high too soon, Adapa could have been considered not yet ready for the initiation (into immortality) because he selfishly and in anger broke the wings of the south wind.



.


Not true at all Ish. the Sumerian Gods are presented as capricious. The Flood story has Anu decided to destroy mankind because he makes too much noise. The reason Adapa gets in trouble in the first place is because the God of the South Wind capsizes his boat and he retaliates by breaking the Gods wing.
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Postby seeker » Sun Sep 07, 2008 7:47 am

pattylt wrote:
However, it does look as if the Jews at one time, (Bible minimalists would say around the 6th century BC) took the Sumerian Garden of Eden story and either misunderstood it, or deliberately turned it on its head to invent "Original Sin".
Quick correction, Ish. Jews do not have Original Sin. That is purely a Christian invention. Adam and Eve were forgiven for eating the fruit of Knowledge and God (using the serpent) wanted them to gain this knowledge. He used the snake to see if he made their free will strong enough to make choices. Jews have no stain upon their souls and detest the Christian interpretation that god did not forgive Adam and Eve and consider humanity cursed with sin. Christians needed this interpretation in order to need a Savior.


That's one of the big differences between Christianity and Judaism. Christians read the bible completely differently
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Postby Ishtar » Sun Sep 07, 2008 8:02 am

What do you mean, 'not true', Seeker?

I'm not pretending to know the truth and have said at least twice that I'm not an expert on these stories. I was just replying to your question about why I think a certain way - to give reasons for my thoughts ....I have no idea what the truth is ... I've put up about five different reasons for my thoughts, and a couple of possible interpretations, and now Patti's post has provided yet another.

I'm just an amateur mythologist who's trying to find her way through this ... I'm not the Oracle on here.

It's using language like that that turns what could be an interesting discussion where we help each other into an argument, where each is trying to prove his point.

So, to get to your point:

Not true at all Ish. the Sumerian Gods are presented as capricious. The Flood story has Anu decided to destroy mankind because he makes too much noise. The reason Adapa gets in trouble in the first place is because the God of the South Wind capsizes his boat and he retaliates by breaking the Gods wing.


I'm not sure what point you are trying to make here.

In the Sumerian flood story I've read, it is Enlil who wants to destroy man for making too much noise ... there is also a version where Tiamat, who is goddess over all of them (Anu, Ea and Enlil) wanted to destroy man for the same reason. There's also a similar Bantu myth, about the mother goddess wanting to destroy man because he's making too much noise. So this mythical motif is not exclusive to the Sumerians.

On Adapa the adept breaking the wing of the south wind, and thus causing drought across the land for seven days, this irresponsible act could indicate that he puts his own personal good before the greatest good, and is therefore not yet a candidate to be a god. On top of that, he fails the initiative test.

But these are just ideas, interpretations of my own and by no means Absolute Truth.

So why don't you say what you think it means, instead of just knocking down others' ideas?
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Postby seeker » Sun Sep 07, 2008 9:34 am

Ishtar wrote:What do you mean, 'not true', Seeker?

I'm not pretending to know the truth and have said at least twice that I'm not an expert on these stories. I was just replying to your question about why I think a certain way - to give reasons for my thoughts ....I have no idea what the truth is ... I've put up about five different reasons for my thoughts, and a couple of possible interpretations, and now Patti's post has provided yet another.

I'm just an amateur mythologist who's trying to find her way through this ... I'm not the Oracle on here.

It's using language like that that turns what could be an interesting discussion where we help each other into an argument, where each is trying to prove his point.

So, to get to your point:

Not true at all Ish. the Sumerian Gods are presented as capricious. The Flood story has Anu decided to destroy mankind because he makes too much noise. The reason Adapa gets in trouble in the first place is because the God of the South Wind capsizes his boat and he retaliates by breaking the Gods wing.


I'm not sure what point you are trying to make here.

In the Sumerian flood story I've read, it is Enlil who wants to destroy man for making too much noise ... there is also a version where Tiamat, who is goddess over all of them (Anu, Ea and Enlil) wanted to destroy man for the same reason. There's also a similar Bantu myth, about the mother goddess wanting to destroy man because he's making too much noise. So this mythical motif is not exclusive to the Sumerians.

On Adapa the adept breaking the wing of the south wind, and thus causing drought across the land for seven days, this irresponsible act could indicate that he puts his own personal good before the greatest good, and is therefore not yet a candidate to be a god. On top of that, he fails the initiative test.

But these are just ideas, interpretations of my own and by no means Absolute Truth.

So why don't you say what you think it means, instead of just knocking down others' ideas?


What I meant by saying not true is that there is no one 'right' way to understand the story. i can see how you might have misread that, I wasn't very clear.

That's kind of the point though, do you see how easy it was to take something that was written and find different meanings from those that were intended? i agree with you, there really isn't necessarily an absolute truth in these stories or one particular way to read them.

Sometime earlier in this discussion Forum Monk brought up the idea of hermeneutics and this is a great illustration of how they can be misapplied. Here, this might help.
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Postby john » Sun Sep 07, 2008 6:43 pm

Ishtar wrote:
kbs2244 wrote:Ish:
I didn’t know there were Old World versions of the Snake and Egg “mounds.”
Now you have given me something to research.
One more piece of evidence of long boat trips?


KB, did you not realise that the B word is banned from this thread?



Image



.



All -

Shit o dear.

I thought the "B" word

Was Bible.

Dang.

hoka hey

john
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Postby Ishtar » Tue Sep 09, 2008 4:31 am

Thank you for your link, Seeker, but I don't think hermaneutics will help us much in this case.

It's like trying to apply a scientific tool to something that can never be assessed scientifically - like trying to measure the water pouring over Niagara Falls with a ruler.

These myths grew and evolved over such a long time and were told differently probably each time they were recited, including the names of the protagonists.

As I said, I have come up with two possible interprations to the Adapa story (which in its main bones, is very like the Garden of Eden story) , and my favourite, since Patti set me straight on the Jewish take on this story, is that the initiates have to past an initiative test. I love the way one word leads into another, there, and Adapa could also be considered in the same light. He was told not to eat something, but in this case, he failed the test because he obeyed the injunction. Adapa the adept also has a certain ring to it, don' t you think?

But this is all we can ever do with myths, just come up with our own ideas and play around with them.

So I go back to my original post to you on this. You don't like any of my interpretations and my not incomprehensive rationale underlying them, which you said wasn't 'true'.

So if you don't like any of my interpretations, how about coming up with one of your own? Put down your protractor and slide rule and join the party! :D




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Postby seeker » Tue Sep 09, 2008 8:02 am

Okay, why not.

A lot of these myths were written as explanation for things. Ancient cultures looked at their Gods in the same way they saw nature, as unpredictable, aloof, fickle etc. The stories about them are really just explanation for what happened.

Enlil decides to send a flood because man is noisy but there is no sense of Enlil being evil, only that Enlil is capricious. Similarly Anu is angry with Adapa but changes his mind and offers him the gift of immortality on a whim, completely unpredictable. The point of the stories was that the Gods would do what they do and couldn't be judged.

Man was mortal and had weaknesses, that couldn't be denied. The Adapa story only offers a reason why.
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