The Mesopotamian God

Marduk. "The civilization of Babylonia and Assyria," by Morris Jastrow (1915)

Definition: Son of Ea and Damkina, the wisest of the gods and eventually their ruler, Marduk is the Babylonian counterpart of the Sumerian Anu and Enlil. Nabu is Marduk's son.

Marduk is a Babylonian creator god who defeats an earlier generation of water gods to form and populate the earth, according to the earliest written creation epic, the Enuma Elish, which is presumed to have heavily influenced the writing of Genesis I in the Old Testament. Marduk's acts of creation mark the start of time and are commemorated annually as the new year. Following Marduk's victory over Tiamat, the gods assemble, celebrate, and honor Marduk by conferring 50 name attributes on him.

Marduk became prominent in Babylonia, thanks historically to Hammurabi. Nebuchadnezzar I was the first to officially acknowledge that Marduk was head of the pantheon, in the 12th century B.C. Mythologically, before Marduk went into battle against the salt-water god Tiamat, he obtained power over the other gods, with their volition. Jastrow says, despite his primacy, Marduk always acknowledges Ea's priority.

Also Known As: Bel, Sanda

Examples: Marduk, having received 50 names received epithets of other gods. Thus, Marduk may have been associated with Shamash as a sun god and with Adad as a storm god. [Source: "Trees, Snakes, and Gods in Ancient Syria and Anatolia," by W. G. Lambert. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies (1985).]

According to A Dictionary of World Mythology (Oxford University Press), there was a henotheistic tendency in the Assyro-Babylonian pantheon that led to the incorporation of various other gods within Marduk.

Zagmuk, the spring equinox new year's festival marked the resurrection of Marduk. It was also the day the Babylonian king's powers were renewed ("The Babylonian and Persian Sacaea," by S. Langdon; Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland (1924)).