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Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 2.djvu/227

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he former is so intimately bound up with Babylonian nythology, that the inspired character of the Hebrew iccount is the better appreciated by the contrast.

Religion. — The Babylonian Pantheon arose out )f a gradual amalgamation of the local deities of the larly city states of Sumer and Akkad. And Baby- onian mytnology is mainly the projection into the leavenly sphere of the earthly fortunes of the early 3entres of civilization in the Euphrates valley. Babylonian religion, therefore, is largely a Sumerian, . e. Mongolian product, no doubt modified by Semitic .nfluence, yet to the last bearing the mark of its

Mongolian origin in the very names of its gods and in tlie sacred dead languages in which they were addressed. The tutelary spirit of a locality e.xtended his power with the political power of his adherents; when the citizens of one city entered into political relations with the citizens of another, popular imagi- nation soon created the relation of father and son, brother and sister, or man and wife, between their respective gods. The Babylonian Trinity of Anu, Bel, and Ea is the result of later speculation, dividing the divine power into that which rules in heaven, that which rules on earth, and that which rules under the earth. Ea was originally the god of Eridu on the Persian Gulf and therefore the god of the ocean and the waters below. Bel was originally the chief spirit (in Sumerian Eti-lil, the okler designation of Bel, which is Semitic for "chief" or "lord") of Nippur, one of the oldest, possibly the oldest, centre of civilization after Eridu. Ann's local cult is as yet uncertain; Erech has been suggested; we know that Gudea erected a temple to him; he always remained a shadowy personality. Although nominal head of the Pantheon, he had in later days no temple dedi- cated to him except one, and that he shared with Hadad. Sin, the moon, was the god of Ur; Shamash, the sun, was the god of Larsa and Sippar; when the two towns of Girsu and Uruazaga were united into the one city of Lagash, the two respective local •deities, \in-Girsu and Bau, became man and wife, to whom Gudea brought wedding presents. With the rise of Babylon and the political unification of the


whole coimtry imder this metropolis, the city-god Marduk, whose name does not occur on any inscrip- tion previous to Hammurabi, leaps to the foreground. The Babylonian theologians not only gave him a place in the Pantheon, but in the Epos "Enuma Elish" it is related how, as reward for overcoming the Dragon of Chaos, the great gods, his fathers, bestowed upon Marduk their own names and titles. Marduk gradually so outshone the other deities that these were looked upon as mere manifestations of Marduk, whose name became almost a sjmonym for God. And though Babylonians never quite reached monotheism, their ideas sometimes seem to come near it. Unlike the Assyrians, the Babylonians never possessed a female deity of such standing in the Pantheon as Ishtar of Ninive or Arbela. In the Second Empire, Nebo, the city-god of Borsippa, over against Babylon, rises into prominence and wins honotirs almost equal to those of Marduk, and the twin cities have two almost inseparable gods. Judg- ing from the continual invocation of the gods in every conceivable detail of life, and the continual acknowl- edgment of dependence on them, and the an.xious humble prayers that are still extant, the Babylonians were as a nation pre-eminent in piety.

CiviLiz.^Tio.x. — It is impossible in this article to give an idea of the astounding culture which had developed in the Euphrates Valley, the cradle of civilization, even as early as 2300 B. c. A perusal of the article H.\mmur.\bi, and a careful reading of his code of laws will give us a clear insight in the Baby- lonian world of four thousand years ago. The ethical litanj' of the Shurpu tablets contains an examination of conscience more detailed than the so-called "Negative" confessions in the Egj-ptian Book of the Dead and fills us with admiration for the moral level of the Babylonian world. Though polygamists, the Babylonians raised but one woman to the legal status of wife, and women possessed considerable rights and freedom of action. Marriage settlements protected the married, and the unmarried managed their own estates. On the other hand, they pos- sessed an institution analogous to vestal virgins at Rome. These female votaries had a privileged posi- tion in Babylonian society; we know, however, of no such dire penalty for their unfaithfulness as the Roman law inflicted. A votary could even enter into nominal marriage, if she gave her husband a maid as Sarah gave Abraham. According to Law 110 of Hammurabi, however, "if a votary who dwells not in a cloister open a wine-house or enter a wine- house for drink, that female they shall burn". On the other hand (Law 127), "if a man has caused the finger to be pointed against a votary and has not justified it, they shall set that man before the judges and mark his forehead". The dark side of Baby- lonian society is seen in the strange enactment: "If the child of a courtesan or of a public woman come to know his father's house and despise his foster- parents and go to his father's house, they shall tear out his eyes". The repeated coupling of the words "votary or public woman" and the minute and in- dulgent legislation of which they are the objects make us fear that the virtue of chastity was not prized in Babylon. Although originally only a provi- dent, prosperous agricultural people, the Babylonians seem to have developed a great commercial talent; and well might some Assyrian Napoleon have re- ferred to his Southern neighboiu-s as "that nation of shopkeepers". In 1893 Dr. Hilprecht found 7.30 tablets twenty feet underground in a ruined building at Nippur, which proved to be the banking archives of the firm Nurashu and Sons, signed, sealed, and dated about 400 B. c. We also po.ssess a deed of purchase by Manishtusu, King of Kish, some 4000 B. c, in archaic Babylonian, which in accuracy and minuteness of detail in moneys and values would