The Tablet of DestinyThe Tablet of Destiny is comprised of two relatively short Mesopotamian myths. They are both from the later Akkadian period, and they express the concepts of 'predestination' and the ability to overcome these limitations. The first is the Babylonian tale of Adapa - the first 'perfect' human created by Enki, and his trip to heaven which sealed the fate of mankind forever. The second story is the epic of Anzu - the great lion-headed eagle that stole the Tablet of Destinies from Enlil and then faced mighty Ninurta in single combat.
Deep within the Abzu of Eridu, Lord Enki in his wisdom, made a grand experimentation. He created a new man, formed of his own seminal essence. Enki gave to his new creation perfect wisdom and understanding. Adapa was a demi-god. To Adapa, Enki disclosed the secrets of the earth. To Adapa he gave wisdom, but he did not give Adapa eternal life. To him he gave the fruit of knowledge of Heaven and Earth. At that early time, in those years, Adapa was a Sage, a Son of Eridu, a Priest of the House of Enki.
Lord Enki had created Adapa as a protecting spirit among mankind. A Sage whose word was trusted by all the people, clever, extra-wise. Adapa was one of the Anunnaki, holy, pure of hands, the holy priest who always tended the sacred rites. Adapa did the baking with the bakers of Eridu, he did the food and water of Eridu every day, he set up the offering tables, he took the boat out daily and did the fishing for Eridu.
At that time Adapa, the son of Eridu, when he finished his morning Temple duties, and tended Enki's counsel, went out to the Bolt of Eridu. At the holy quay Adapa embarked in a sailing boat, and without a rudder his boat would drift, without a steering-pole he would take his boat out into the broad expanse of the sea.
One day Sutu, the South Wind, was watching Adapa sail across the sea. Sutu, the capricious wind of the South, sought to vex and chastise Adapa for sailing in her sea, Sutu blew up a mighty storm, which caused the sea to rage. Sutu called up her brothers, the tempest winds, and together they blew against Adapa's small boat. Adapa struggled in vain to keep his small boat afloat, but Sutu and her brothers sent him to live in the fishes home.
As Adapa went down to live with the fishes, he cursed Sutu and cried out in his frustration,
No sooner had he uttered these words than South Wind's wing was broken; For seven days South Wind did not blow towards the Land.
An in Heaven, called out to his vizier Ilabrat,
His vizier Ilabrat answered him,
When An heard this report, he rose up from his throne and cried aloud in an angry voice,
Now Lord Enki, who was aware of the ways of heaven, laid his hand upon Adapa, so as to alter his appearance, he made him to wear his hair unkempt, clothed him in mourning garb, and gave him specific instructions,
The envoy of An arrived.
The Angel of An took Adapa and led him up to Heaven, when Adapa approached the Gate of Heaven, the two gods, Dumuzi and Ningishzida were standing guard at the threshold. They saw Adapa and cried aloud,
Adapa answered them,
'Who are the two Gods who have vanished from the country?', They asked of Adapa.
'Dumuzi and Ningishzida', he answered.They looked at each other, and laughed a lot. They escorted Adapa into the Halls of Heaven and before the throne of An.
When Adapa drew near to the presence of King An, the King saw him and shouted,
Adapa answered King An,
Dumuzi and Ningishzida responded from beside him, they spoke a word in his favor to King An. An's heart was appeased, he grew quiet. An spoke softly to Dumuzi and Ningishzida,
They fetched him the bread of eternal life, but he would not eat. They fetched him the water of eternal life, but he would not drink. They fetched him a garment, and he put it on himself. They fetched him oil, and he anointed himself.
An watched him and laughed at him.
But it was too late. An spoke up with authority,
('The Epic of Anzu')
I shall sing the praises of the superb son of the King of Populated lands, the beloved of Mami, the powerful god, Enlil's son; I praise superb Ninurta, E-Kur's child, leader of the Anunnaki, focus of the Heavens. He is the mighty Flood-wave of battle, who darkens the sash, the invincible warrior of the gods. The fiercest of the gallu-demons fear his attack. Listen to the praise of the powerful one's strength, he who subdued the Mountain of Stones in his fury, he who conquered the soaring Anzu with his weapon. He is strong, a warrior who slays with his weapon, a powerful commander who is quick to form a battle array.
Until now, no dais had been created for the Igigi; the Igigi would assemble at the House of E-Kur for their Enlil-power. Rivers were formed - the Tigris, the Euphrates - but springs had not yet sent their waters to the land. Seas were not yet lapping at the shores, clouds were still far away on the horizon.
All the Igigi gathered together in E-Kur, to Enlil their father, warrior of the gods, they, his sons, brought a report:
With that, the Igigi brought out Anzu, placed him before the throne dais of Enlil. Father of the Gods, Duranki's God, looked upon him, but kept his thoughts to himself. He studied Anzu carefully and closely, he considered the origin of this great beast.
Enki answered his own heart-searching, the wise one addressed his words to Enlil,
Enlil was pleased with the words of Enki, he took Anzu to his cult-center, taught Anzu how to administer the orders.
Anzu administered the orders of all the gods, Enlil created an extra fate for Anzu, and he administered it to him. Enlil then appointed him to guard the entrance of the chamber which he had perfected. Enlil would bathe in holy water in his presence. Anzu's eyes would gaze at the trappings of Enlil-Power: His lordly crown, his robe of divinity, the Tablet of Destinies in his hands. Anzu often gazed at Duranki's God, father of the gods, and fixed his purpose, to usurp the Enlil-Power.
Anzu plotted dire opposition in his heart. And at the chamber's entrance from which he often gazed, he waited for the start of day. While Enlil was bathing in the holy water, stripped and with his crown laid down on the throne, Anzu gained the Tablet of Destinies for himself, he took away the Enlil-Power. Rites were abandoned, Anzu then flew off and went into hiding. Radiance faded, darkness descended on the land, silence reigned. Father Enlil, the great counsellor, was dumbstruck, for Anzu had stripped the chamber of its' radiance.
The gods of the land searched high and low for a solution. An, King of heaven, made his voice heard and spoke, addressed the gods his sons,
They called the canal-controller, An's son, the decision-maker spoke to him,
Ishkur answered the speech, addressed his words to An his father,
Ishkur turned away, saying he would not make the expedition.
They called Gibil, Antu's son. The decision-maker spoke to him,
Gibil answered the speech, addressed his words to An his father,
Gibil turned away, saying he would not make the expedition. An turned to several other of the gods, but none would venture in pursuit of Anzu. The gods fell silent and despaired of advice. The Igigi grew despondent.
The Lord of Intelligence, the wise one who dwells in the Abzu, formed an idea in the depths of his being; He told his father An what he was thinking in his inmost being.
The Igigi listened to this speech of his; The Igigi were freed from anxiety and kissed his feet. The far-sighted one made his voice heard and spoke, addressed his words to An and Dagan,
They called Belet-ili, sister of the gods, to him, wise counsellor of the gods her brothers. They announced her supremacy in the assembly, the gods honored her in their assembly. Then Enki told her the idea in the depths of his inmost being.
Mami listened to this speech of his, and Belet-ili the supreme uttered her answer, 'Yes.'
The gods of the land were glad at her utterance; The Igigi were freed from anxiety and kissed her feet. She called her son into the gods' assembly, and instructed her favorite, saying to him,
The warrior listened to his mother's words. He hunched over in deep thought, and withdrew himself from the gods' assembly in order to make preparation for battle. The Lord marshalled the Sebitti, the Seven of Battle, the warrior marshalled the seven evil winds, who dance in the dust, the seven whirlwinds. He mustered a battle array, made war with a terrifying formation; Even the gales were silent at his side, poised for conflict.
On the mountainside Anzu and Ninurta met. Anzu looked at him and shook with rage at him, bared his teeth like an umu-demon; his mantle of radiance covered the mountain, he roared like a lion in sudden rage, in utter fury shouted to the warrior,
Insolently his speech rushed out at him. The great warrior Ninurta answered Anzu,
Anzu listened to this speech, then hurled his shout furiously amid the mountains. Darkness fell over the mountain, their faces were overcast. Utu, the Light of the Gods, was overcast by darkness. Ishkur roared like a lion, his din joined that of Anzu. A clash between the battle arrays was imminent, the flood-weapon was massed, the armor-plated breast was bathed in blood. Clouds of death rained down, arrows flashed like lightning, the battle force roared between them.
The powerful one, Mami's son, most trusted of An and Dagan, beloved of the far-sighted one, set the arrow-shaft to the bow, drew it taut, aimed the shaft at him from the bow's curve. But Ninurta's arrow did not go near Anzu - the shaft turned back. Anzu shouted at it,
He was holding the gods' Tablet of Destinies in his hand, and they influenced the string of the bow; the arrows did not come near his body. Deadly silence came over the battlefield, and conflict ceased. Weapons stopped and did not capture Anzu amid the mountains. Ninurta shouted out and instructed Sharur, his mighty mace;
Sharur bowed, took the message, carried the battle dispatch back to far-sighted Enki. Everything the Lord had told him, he repeated to Enki. The far-sighted one listened to his son's words, called out and instructed Sharur,
Sharur bowed, took the message, carried the battle dispatch to his Lord. Everything that Enki had told him, he repeated to his Lord. The Lord listened to the words of far-sighted Enki. He hunched over, planning his next move. Ninurta again rallied the battle forces against Anzu.
Devastation ruled over the mountain, a heatwave blazed, confusion struck the minds of all who did battle, the tempests blew from all four quarters of the land, weapons slew and both were bathed in the sweat and blood of battle. Anzu grew weary and in the clash of tempests shed his pinions. Ninurta took a throw-stick to follow his arrows, and cut off his pinions, detached them both right and left.
Anzu saw his wings, and emitted his utterance; but as he shouted 'Wing to Wing', an arrow-shaft came up at him,a dart passed through his very heart. Ninurta made an arrow pass through pinion and wing, the dart passed through heart and lungs. Ninurta slew the mountains, inundated their proud pastures, inundated the broad earth in his fury, inundated the midst of the mountains, slew wicked Anzu. And warrior Ninurta regained the gods' Tablet of Destinies for his own hand.
As a sign of the good news, the wind brought Anzu's feathers, Dagan saw this sign and rejoiced, called all the gods and joyfully he spoke,
Enlil made his voice heard and spoke, addressed his words to Dagan,
Enlil made his voice heard and spoke, addressed his words to Nusku, his vizier,
Nusku went outside, brought Birdu into Enlil's presence. Enlil made his voice heard and spoke, addressed his words to Birdu,
Birdu left, and went to the mountain to fetch the Lord Ninurta. When Birdu told the Lord all that Enlil, his father had told him, Ninurta made his voice heard and spoke, addressed his words to Birdu,
Birdu made his voice heard and spoke, addressed his words to Ninurta his Lord,
With that, Ninurta departed the mountain and returned to the divine assembly of the gods, and there, in the secret chamber, returned the Tablet of Destinies to Enlil his father.