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For other uses, see Nabu (disambiguation).
Lee Lawrie, Nabu (1939). Library of Congress John Adams Building, Washington, D.C.
God of wisdom and writing[1][2]
Abode Borsippa[2]
Symbol Clay tablet and stylus[1]
Consort Tashmetum[3]
Parents Marduk and Sarpanitum[2]
Mount Sirrush[citation needed]
Ancient Mesopotamian religion
Chaos Monster and Sun God
Other traditions

Nabu (in Biblical Hebrew Nebo נבו[4]) is the Assyrian and Babylonian god of wisdom and writing, worshipped by Babylonians as the son of Marduk and Sarpanitum and as the grandson of Ea. Nabu's consort was Tashmetum.


Nabu's name is derived from the Semitic root nb´, meaning "to name/designate", "announcer/herald", "the one who is named/designated", "to call", and "to proclaim".[2][5][6]


Nabu was originally a West Semitic deity from Ebla whose cult was introduced to Mesopotamia by the Amorites after 2000 BCE.[2][6][7] Nabu was assimilated into Marduk's cult, where he became Marduk's minister and, eventually, his son with Sarpanitum and co-regent of the Mesopotamian pantheon.[2][6]

Nabu resided in his temple of Ezida in Borsippa and also had several temples devoted to him throughout Assyria and beyond.[1][2][6][8] Due to his role as Marduk's minister and scribe, Nabu became the god of wisdom and writing (including religious, scientific and magical texts[9][10]) taking over the role from the Sumerian goddess Nisaba.[2][6][10][11] Nabu became one of the principal gods in Assyria; Assyrians addressed many prayers and inscriptions to Nabu and named children after him.[7]

Nabu was also worshipped as a god of fertility, a god of water, and a god of vegetation.[1][7] He was also the keeper of the Tablets of Destiny, which recorded the fate of mankind[2] and allowed him to increase or diminish the length of human life.[citation needed] His symbols are the clay tablet and stylus.[1]

Nabu's consort was the Akkadian goddess Tashmetum.[3] He wears a horned cap, and stands with hands clasped, in the ancient gesture of priesthood.[citation needed] He rides on a winged dragon known as Sirrush which originally belonged to his father Marduk.[citation needed] During the Babylonian New Year Festival, the cult statue of Nabu was transported from Borsippa to Babylon in order to commune with his father Marduk.[citation needed]

In Babylonian astrology, Nabu was identified with the planet Mercury.[2]

Outside of Mesopotamia[edit]

In the Bible, Nabu is mentioned as Nebo in Isaiah 46:1 and Jeremiah 48:1.[12][13]

Nabu, as a god of wisdom and writing, was identified by the Greeks with Hermes, by the Romans with Mercury, and by the Egyptians with Thoth.[citation needed]


Drawing of a statue in the British Museum.

A statue of Nabu from Calah, erected during the reign of the Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser III, is on display in the British Museum.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b c d e Editors, The. "Nabu | Babylonian deity". Retrieved 2015-06-23. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Ancient Mesopotamian Gods and Goddesses – Nabu (god)". Retrieved 2015-06-23. 
  3. ^ a b "Tashmetum | ancient goddess". Retrieved 2015-06-23. 
  4. ^ Arie Uittenbogaard for Abarim Publications. "Nebo | The amazing name Nebo: meaning and etymology". Retrieved 2015-07-02. 
  5. ^ Jeffers, Ann (1996). Magic and Divination in Ancient Palestine and Syria. Leiden: Brill. p. 82. ISBN 9789004105133. Retrieved 1 July 2015. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Leick, Gwendolyn (1998). A Dictionary of Ancient Near Eastern Mythology ([1. pbk. ed.]. ed.). London: Routledge. pp. 123–124. ISBN 0415198119. Retrieved 8 July 2015. 
  7. ^ a b c "Nabu – Myth Encyclopedia – mythology, god, ancient, children". Retrieved 2010-12-24. 
  8. ^ "Nimrud: Materialities of Assyrian Knowledge Production - Ezida, the god Nabu's temple of scholarship". Retrieved 2015-07-09. 
  9. ^ Editors, The (2015-06-25). "Calah | ancient city, Iraq". Retrieved 2015-07-09. 
  10. ^ a b Rostovtzeff, M. (1926). A History of the Ancient World. [Cheshire, CT]: Biblo Moser. p. 16. ISBN 0819621625. Retrieved 6 July 2015. 
  11. ^ "Scribes in ancient Mesopotamia". British Museum. Retrieved 2015-07-06. 
  12. ^ "Isaiah 46:1 NIV – Gods of Babylon – Bel bows down, Nebo". Bible Gateway. Retrieved 2015-06-23. 
  13. ^ "Jeremiah 48:1 NIV - A Message About Moab - Concerning Moab". Bible Gateway. Retrieved 2015-07-02. 

External links[edit]