Origin/Historian/Author: Babylonian
Source: Cuneiform Parallels to the Old Testament, Robert William Rogers

This myth comes down to us on two fragments found at Tell-el-Amarna, in 1887. It was originally thought to be composed in the Old Babylonian Period, but some conclude its roots go as far back as the Akkadian Period. This myth features Ereshkigal, who in the Babylonian tradition is Nannar’s daughter, but in earlier traditions is the daughter of Anu.

The events described in this text occur after Anu conquered Heaven, when Enlil ruled over Earth, and after Ereshkigal was taken or presented to the underworld (See Gilgamesh and the Willow Tree). It begins with a gathering of the Gods while acknowledging the absence of Ereshkigal. In her stead, her vizier or sukkal is sent and is greeted by all in a positive manner, all except for Nergal. Some lines of the text are lost, but it is easy to divide from what follows that they contained substantially the following. When Namtar entered the hall of the great gods and all arose to receive him with honor, Nergal remained seated, or departed during Namtar’s arrival. Namtar reported the discourtesy to Ereshkigal, who interpreted it as a slight to her, and sent Namtar back to the gods with a threat of vengeance, that she will kill the offender.

The Gods regretfully agreed to surrender Nergal to Ereshkigal, so they may avoid hostilities between the rulers of Heaven and rulers of the Netherworld. Ea arranged for soldiers to accompany or follow Nergal, who later assisted him with defeating the palace guards. After gaining entry inside the first gate, somehow Nergal overcame Ereshkigal’s guards along with Namtar, then entered the queen’s chambers. Nergal was ready to behead Ereshkigal when she made a final plea of marriage and control of the Tablets of Wisdom, which are perhaps a variation of, portion of, or are the actual Tablet of Destinies.

Full Text Below

When the gods prepared a feast,
To their sister Ereshkigal
They sent a messenger:
“Even if we should descend to thee,
Thou wouldst not come up to us,
Therefore send (hither) and take thy portion.” 2 (lit. food)
Ereshkigal sent Namtar, her messenger.
Namtar went up to the high heaven
And entered [. . .] the gods were talking,
They [ ] Namtaru
The messenger of their great sister.

[A number of lines here are illegible.]

Ea[. . .]
went [. . .]
Go, my sister [. . .]
Saying: “To the god who did not arise before my messenger,
Bring to him this message, I will kill him.”
Namtaru went; he spoke to the gods
The gods called him; they spoke with him,
“Behold the god, who did not arise before thee,
Take him before thy lady.”
Namtaru counted them; a god was missing in the rear.
Where is the god, who did not arise More me?”
Behold, Namtar goes away, [he gave his message].
[A number of lines illegible, except as to a few dis-
connected words.]
[. . .] to Ereshkigal. He weeps [. . .]
Before Ea, his father . . . [. . .] me [. . .]
Or life to me. I should not have had fear, [Ea
answered him:]
“I will give thee vii and vii [. . .]
To go with thee: [. . . ba, Mutabriku,]
Sharabdu, [Rabisu, Tirid, Idibtu]
Be[nnu, Sidanu, Mikit, Bel-upri]
Ummu, [Libu . . .]
With thee [shall they go. When Nergal came to the] door
Of Erishkigal, he called, “Porter . . . thy door
[. . . unlock] I would enter before thy lady
Ereshkigal. I am sent. The porter went away.
He said to Namtaru, “A god is standing at the en-
trance of the door,
Come, look at him, whether he may enter.” Namtar
went out.
He looked at him [ ] he said
To his lady: “My lady, it is the god who in former
Months disappeared, and did not arise before me.
Bring him [ he shall not] go. I will slay him.”
Namtar went out [. . .] enter, my lord,
Into the house of thy sister [. . .] thy departure.
Nergal answered: “May thy heart rejoice in me.”
[About three lines are here missing.]
[. . . he stationed, when he entered the (second) door]
[. . .]ba at the third, Mutabriku at the fourth,
Sharabdu at the fifth, Rabisu at the sixth, Tirid
At the seventh, Idibtu at the eighth, Bennu
At the ninth, Sidanu at the tenth, Mikit
At the eleventh, Belupri at the twelfth,
Ummu at the thirteenth, Libu at the fourteenth
Door he stationed as his [. . .] In the court he cut down
Namtaru. To his warriors he gave command: “The doors
Shall be opened. Look, (else) will I break out upon you
Within the house he seized Ereshkigal
By the hair, bent her down from the throne
To the ground, to cut off her head.
“Kill me not, my brother. I will speak a word with thee.”
Nergal hearkened; his hands relaxed. She wept and sobbed.
“Thou shalt be my husband; I will be thy wife, I
will give thee to seize
Sovereignty over the wide earth. I will set the tablet
Of wisdom in thy hand. Thou shalt be lord,
I will be lady.” When Nergal heard her word,
He seized her, kissed her, and wiped away her tears:
What hast thou wished from me from distant months,
Until now?