From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from En-lil)
Jump to: navigation, search
God of wind, air, earth, and storms
Personal Information
Consort Ninlil
Children Ninurta, Nanna/Suen, Nisaba, Pabilsag, Namtar, Other Children Enbilulu (some versions)
Parents An and Ki

Enlil (Sumerian: 𒀭𒂗𒆤 dEN.LÍL, "Lord of the Storm")[1] is the god of wind, air, earth, and storms.[2] It was the name of a chief deity[3] listed and written about in Sumerian religion,[4] and later in Akkadian (Assyrian and Babylonian), Hittite, Canaanite, and other Mesopotamian clay and stone tablets.[3]


Enlil is associated with the ancient city of Nippur, sometimes referred to as the cult city of Enlil.[5] His temple was named Ekur, "House of the Mountain."[6] Such was the sanctity acquired by this edifice that Babylonian and Assyrian rulers, down to the latest days, vied with one another to embellish and restore Enlil's seat of worship. Eventually, the name Ekur became the designation of a temple in general.

Grouped around the main sanctuary, there arose temples and chapels to the gods and goddesses who formed his court, so that Ekur became the name for an entire sacred precinct in the city of Nippur. The name "mountain house" suggests a lofty structure and was perhaps the designation originally of the staged tower at Nippur, built in imitation of a mountain, with the sacred shrine of the god on the top.

At a very early period prior to 3000 BC, Nippur had become the centre of a political district of considerable extent. Inscriptions found at Nippur, where extensive excavations were carried on during 1888–1900 by John P. Peters and John Henry Haynes, under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania, show that Enlil was the head of an extensive pantheon. Among the titles accorded to him are "King (of) Lands", "King (of) Heaven and Earth", "Father of the Gods", and "Lord (of the) Command".

Cosmological role[edit]

By his wife Ninlil or Sud, Enlil was father of the moon god Nanna, who was called "Sin" in Akkadian, and of Ninurta, who was also called "Ningirsu." He was also the father of Nisaba, the goddess of grain, and Pabilsag, who is sometimes equated with Ninurta. In some myths, he was also the father of Enbilulu. By Ereshkigal, Enlil was father of Namtar.

As Enlil was placed in command by An, the god of the heavens, he held sway over the other gods, who were assigned tasks by his sukkal, or attendant, and would travel to Nippur to draw in his power. He is thus seen as the model for kingship.[7] Enlil was assimilated to the north "Pole of the Ecliptic".[8] His sacred number name was 50.[9]



The Sumerian creation myth holds that, originally, there was only Nammu, the primeval sea. Then, Nammu gave birth to An, the sky, and Ki, the earth, who gave birth to Enlil. Enlil separated An from Ki and carried off the earth as his domain, while An carried off the sky.[10]

Enlil and Ninlil[edit]

The myth of "Enlil and Ninlil" discusses when Enlil was a young god, he was banished from Ekur in Nippur, home of the gods, to Kur, the underworld for seducing a goddess named Ninlil. Ninlil followed him to the underworld where she bore his first child, the moon god Sin (Sumerian Nanna/Suen). After fathering three more underworld-deities (substitutes for Sin), Enlil was allowed to return to the Ekur.[11][12]

Flood myth[edit]

In the Sumerian version of the flood story, the causes of the flood are unclear due to the fact that portion of the tablet recording the beginning of the story has been destroyed.[13] Somehow, a mortal known as Ziusudra manages to survive the flood, likely through the help of the god Enki, although the exact nature of how he survives is unclear due to the relevant portion of the tablet being destroyed.[14] The tablet begins in the middle of the description of the flood.[15] The flood lasts for seven days and seven nights before it subsides.[16] Then, Utu, the god of the Sun, emerges.[16] Ziusudra opens a window in the side of the boat and falls down prostrate before the god. Next, he sacrifices an ox and a sheep in honor of Utu.[16] Unfortunately, at this point, the text breaks off again.[16] When it picks back up, Enlil and An are in the midst of declaring Ziusudra immortal as an honor for having managed to survive the flood. The remaining portion of the tablet after this point is destroyed.[16]

In the later Babylonian version of the flood story, Enlil actually causes the flood, seeking to annihilate every living thing on earth because the humans make too much noise.[17] In this version of the story, the hero is Utnapishtim,[17] who is warned ahead of time by Ea, the Babylonian equivalent of Enki, that the flood is coming.[17]

Invention of the mattock[edit]

A nearly complete 108-line poem describes Enlil's invention of the mattock,[18] a key agricultural pick, hoe, ax, or digging tool of the Sumerians.[19] In the poem, Enlil conjures the pickax into existence and decrees its fate.[20] The pickax is described as gloriously beautiful; it is made of pure gold and has a head carved from lapis lazuli..[20] Enlil gives the tool over to the humans, who use it to built cities,[21] subjugate their people,[21] and pull up weeds.[21] Enlil was believed to aid in the growth of plants.[19]

Ninurta and the slaying of Asag[edit]

In one myth, Enlil gives advice to his son, the god Ninurta, advising him on a strategy to slay the demon Asag. This advice is relayed to Ninurta by way of Sharur, his enchanted talking mace, which had been sent by Ninurta to the realm of the gods to seek counsel from Enlil directly.[22]

Family tree[edit]

born to Namma
born to Namma
born to Uraš
maybe daughter of Enlil
Suen Nergal
maybe son of Enki
maybe born to Ninḫursaḡ
born to Uraš
Uttu Inana
maybe daughter of Enki
maybe son of Enki
Utu Ninkigal
married Nergal
Meškiaḡḡašer Banda
Enmerkar Gilgāmeš

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Halloran, John A.; "Sumerian Lexicon: Version 3.0"; December 10th, 2006 at http://sumerian.org/sumerlex.htm
  2. ^ Coleman, J. A.; Davidson, George (2015). The Dictionary of Mythology: An A-Z of Themes, Legends, and Heroes. London, England: Arcturus Publishing Limited. p. 108. ISBN 978-1-78404-478-7. 
  3. ^ a b Clay Tablets from Sumer, Babylon and Assyria, Earth-history.com. Neo-Sumerian inscriptions clay, Babylonia, 1900–1700 BC, image with translations on display.
  4. ^ Kramer, Samuel Noah, "The Sumerian Deluge Myth: Reviewed and Revised", Anatolian Studies, Vol. 33, (1983), pp. 115-121. JSTOR 3642699
  5. ^ William W. Hallo, "Review: Enki and the Theology of Eridu", Journal of the American Oriental Society, 116:2 (Apr.–Jun. 1996), p. 231–234
  6. ^ Reallexikon der Assyriologie II, p. 385.
  7. ^ Kingship in the Mediterranean world, p. 5162a Grottanelli and Mander, Encyclopaedia of Religion, second edition 2005. Thomson Gale.
  8. ^ Jeremias, Alfred 1913. Handbuch der altorientalischen Geisteskultur. Leipzig. p. 74.
  9. ^ Reallexikon der Assyriologie III. Götterzahlen. p. 500.
  10. ^ Kramer, Samuel Noah (1961). Sumerian Mythology: A Study of Spiritual and Literary Achievement in the Third Millennium B.C.: Revised Edition. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 30–41. ISBN 0-8122-1047-6. 
  11. ^ "Enlil and Ninlil: translation". Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature. Oxford University. Retrieved 2013-12-21. 
  12. ^ Jacobsen, Thorkild (Apr 1946). "Sumerian Mythology: A Review Article". Journal of Near Eastern Studies. 5 (2): 128–152. doi:10.1086/370777. JSTOR 542374. 
  13. ^ Kramer 1961, p. 97.
  14. ^ Kramer 1961, pp. 97-98.
  15. ^ Kramer, pp. 97-98.
  16. ^ a b c d e Kramer 1961, p. 98.
  17. ^ a b c Rosenberg 1994, pp. 196–200.
  18. ^ Kramer 1961, p. 51-53.
  19. ^ a b Hooke 2004.
  20. ^ a b Kramer 1961, p. 52.
  21. ^ a b c Kramer 1961, p. 53.
  22. ^ "The exploits of Ninurta: translation". Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature. Oxford University. Retrieved 14 April 2017. 


External links[edit]