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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
Attendant God from the Temple of Nabu at Nimrud, Mesopotamia..JPG
Statue of the Attendant God from the Temple of Nabu at Nimrud, Mesopotamia on display at the British Museum.
Abode Borsippa
Symbol Clay tablet and stylus
Consort Tashmetum and Nissaba
Parents Marduk and Sarpanitum

Nabu (Syriac: ܢܒܘ‎) is the patron god of scribes, wisdom and literature, being worshipped by the Assyrian and Babylonian peoples. He was identified as the son of the great god Marduk by the Babylonians and by default as the son of Ashur by the Assyrians.[1]


Nabu's name itself means "to call" in Akkadian language, while later cognates in Aramaic language and Hebrew language have a sense of one who has been called, or one who can prophesy.[2][full citation needed]


Nabu was known as Nisaba in the Sumerian pantheon, gaining prominence among the Assyrians and Babylonians in the first millenium BC following his association with Marduk.[1]

Nabu resided in his temple of Ezida in Borsippa and was a prominent deity in Assyria, where several temples were devoted to him.[citation needed] His cult later spread to Egypt and Anatolia due to Aramaic settlers.[citation needed] Nabu was also the keeper of the Tablets of Destiny, which recorded the fate of mankind. His symbols are the clay tablet and stylus.[citation needed]

Nabu's consorts were the Akkadian goddess Tashmetum and the Assyrian Nissaba.[citation needed] He wore a horned cap, and stood with his hands clasped, in the ancient gesture of priesthood.[citation needed] He rode on a winged dragon known as Sirrush that 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.[citation needed]

Outside Mesopotamia[edit]

In the Bible, Nabu is mentioned as Nebo in Isaiah 46:1 and Jeremiah 48:1.[3][4]

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


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 Bertman, Stephen (2005). Handbook to Life in Ancient Mesopotamia (Paperback ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 122. ISBN 9780195183641. Retrieved 8 August 2016. 
  2. ^ p.1571, Alcalay. A more accepted translation of this Hebrew word is derived from an Akkadian word "nabu", meaning to call. The Hebrew "navi" has a passive sense and means "the one who has been called" (see HALOT, p.661).
  3. ^ "Isaiah 46:1 NIV – Gods of Babylon – Bel bows down, Nebo". Bible Gateway. Retrieved 2015-06-23. 
  4. ^ "Jeremiah 48:1 NIV - A Message About Moab - Concerning Moab". Bible Gateway. Retrieved 2015-07-02. 

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