The Myth of Satan
© Copyright 2000 by Jonathon Burket
Ancient records of Sumer come replete
with tales of the gods and their exploits, passions and petty rivalries.
Lost in the shadows of history are the details of two early progenitors,
Anshar and Kishar. Little but their names remain. Their most important
offspring, Anu, was an early influence on this planet.
Along with Antu, royal spouse, and
unknown concubines, Anu sired Enlil, Enki, and their sister, Ninhursag.
Deeds and details of these famous siblings are well known to history, and
their own offspring made no little contribution. But our present purpose
concerns only the former.
One account from very early times
in ancient Sumer concerns Enki and Ninhursag, also known as Ninmah (the
Mother Goddess). Enlil was not directly involved; the creation of man resulted
from a concerted effort by his more scientific siblings. When their efforts
in this regard become at last successful, a party is held to celebrate.
It is related in Before Philosophy
(Mr. & Mrs. Henri Frankfort, Jonn A. Wilson, Thorkild Jacobsen, Pelican
Books, 1949, P. 176) that "All the great gods are invited, and all praise
Enki highly for his cleverness (in fashioning a Primitive Worker to relieve
the toil of the gods).
As with many of us at a party, especially
in our honor, Enki and Ninhursag bask a little too freely in the adoration
and the alcohol ... both get drunk. A contest soon ensues with Ninhursag
issuing a scientific challenge to her brother concerning prowess in the
lab. Perhaps she felt Enki's praise at the party was louder than their
joint effort should allow, or perhaps she felt simply the spirit of contention
inspired by the drunken moment.
Whichever it was, Ninmah posed a
challenge concerning their recent genetic accomplishment: that she could
fashion, genetically, a creature deemed useless in society ... a creature
that even Enki could not find a place for.
"As Enki and Ninmah drink much beer,
their hearts become elated,
and Ninmah calls over to Enki:
'How good or how bad is man's body
As my heart prompts me,
I can make its lot good or (make
it) bad.' "
Equally besotted and ego-driven, Enki
is up to the challenge and tells his sister:
" 'The lot thou hast in mind,
be it good or bad,
verily I will (meet) it.' "
Verily, whatever challenge Ninhursag
can propose, Enki vows therewith to dispose (of).
Whereupon, Ninhursag proceeds in
time to "manufacture" human examples of ultimate vexation to Enki: "...
a freak human being, one with some bodily defect: a man who cannot hold
back his urine, a being who has neither male nor female organs. All in
all, six such beings take form under her fingers; but for every one of
them Enki is ready with a special lot or fate. He finds a place in society
for all of them....
"But now the contest is on in earnest.
Enki has shown that his perspicuity is a match for even the worst Ninmah
can think up. Now he proposes they change sides. He will make freaks, and
she shall figure out what to do with them. And so Enki sets to work."
A special "man" is fashioned, with
numerous physical problems. It is Enki's challenge to Ninmah:
" 'I determined the lot
for the men thou didst fashion,
whereby they might subsist.
Do thou now determine a lot for
the man I have fashioned,
whereby he may subsist.' "
But Ninmah fails the challenge. She
asks questions of the creature, but he can't answer; she offers bread,
but he is too weak to take it, etc. "Angrily she upbraids Enki: the creature
he has fashioned is not a live man. But Enki only tauntingly reminds her
how he was able to cope with anything she could think up and find ways
for her creatures to make a living."
After a break in the tablet, we
are summarily placed at the argument's end: we discover then that Enki's
second creature has brought to the earth sickness and infirmities of old
age, plus even greater challenge from other creatures ... all of which
prove too much for Ninmah to answer.
"The effect of breeding these misfits
to maturity on Ninmah's land was probably what drove her over the edge,
for she was later to complain:
'My city is destroyed, my house is
my children have been taken captive.
I have been forced to leave ....
a fugitive (?)
even I escape not from thy hand.'
It is at this point that Ninmah, angry
at her ultimate defeat, pronounces sentence upon Enki in frustration over
his superior efforts:
"Henceforth thou shalt not dwell
thou shalt not dwell on earth."
At page 178 we learn that "Enki can
do nothing once the curse has been uttered, for it has behind it all the
decisive force inherent in a command of one of the great gods. He answers
'A command issuing from thy mouth,
who could change it?' "
Creative license in the Bible thus accounts
for a shuffling of the facts: that "Satan" wasn't banished from heaven
and earth by the God of the Bible -- angry at his disloyalty, insubordination
or betrayal; Enki was sent away for a time by sister Ninhursag -- angry,
frustrated and jealous of his superior genetic skill.
Further reference reveals whom this
God of the Bible was: none else but that other important sibling, brother
Enlil, as noted by Zechariah Sitchin (The 12th Planet, Avon, 1978, p. 370):
"The possibility that the biblical antagonists -- the Deity and the Serpent
-- stood for Enlil and Enki seems to us entirely plausible ... the role
of a deity wishing to keep humans sexually suppressed, and of a deity willing
and capable of bestowing on Mankind the fruit of 'knowing,' fit Enlil and
"Serpent" was another unfortunate
error, a literary victim of careless translation. As the God of Wisdom,
Enki was associated with the Tree of Knowledge. Perhaps because of his
facility with matters scientific, namely genetics, Enki was also associated
with an emblem symbolic of that science -- the spiral ladders of DNA. Walter
Keller notes this in The Bible as History (William Morrow, 1981).
Reproduction of this emblem in simple
rendering on clay or stone by the Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians et
al., had the unfortunate result of misinterpretation. The twisting spiral
shapes became construed, almost immediately, as other than their scientific
symbolism. To successive copiers of ancient tablet or stele, they became
the most obvious of interpretations: the spiral ladders of DNA were now
only the twisting figures of snakes.
For that reason, the symbol became
perverted. Enki's godly status and wisdom, symbolized by wings atop the
Tree of Knowledge (symbolized by a staff), were thus entwined by undulant
serpents. And so became our modern symbol of the medical profession, the
As Sitchin makes clear at his page
371: "The biblical term for 'serpent' is nahash, which does mean 'snake.'
But the word comes from the root NHSH, which means 'to decipher, to find
out'; so that nahash could also mean 'he who can decipher, he who finds
things out,' an epithet befitting Enki, the chief scientist, the God of
Because of such error, Enki then
became associated with that mistaken symbol and was thereafter the god
it represented ... the Snake of scripture ... interpreted in the Bible
There were two different versions
of this term in the Bible, benign in the first half, derogatory in the
second. Satan was depicted in the Old Testament more as an adversary, a
worthy opponent. In Myth and Mystery (Baker Book House Company, 1989, p.
116), Jack Finegan writes: "In Job 1:6-12 and Zechariah 3:1-2 'the Satan'
is (but) the accuser of Job and of Joshua and the high priest, and in Chronicles
21:1 Satan is the one who incites David to number Israel .... "These minor
examples would not seem to indict "Satan" as the apex of evil. Such license
would be later adopted with purpose.
The concept of Satan as distinctly
"evil" and the personification of "sin" became only more fully developed
in the construction of the New Testament, as Finegan notes: "In the New
Testament he is called both Satan and the Devil, and is not only the 'accuser'
(Rev. 12:10) and the 'tempter' (Matt. 4:1-3), but a distinctive personality
who embodies (now) the power of darkness. He is the enemy of light and
of God (Acts 26:18), being 'the prince of demons' (Matt. 9:34; etc.), 'the
ruler of this world' (John 12:31; etc.), 'the one who has the power of
death' (Heb. 2:14), and 'a murderer from the beginning ... a liar and the
father of lies' (John 8:44)...."
Such expanded attributes were not
invented out of whole cloth, but pieced together from other tradition.
Zarathustra is the logical source, as Finegan notes: "Thus Zoroastrian
influence may well be recognized in the shaping of the biblical concept
As with Satan, so also was Lucifer
recast in evil terms, though he was originally known to the Greeks as the
Morning Star; Aurora (or Eos), Greek goddess of the Dawn, is often seen
as whipping a quadriga (four-horse chariot), with Lucifer in her lead,
bearing a torch. As stated on page 168 of The Manual of Mythology, by Alexander
S. Murray (Newcastle, 1993): "In other representations we find Hermes advancing
before her, a duty which Lucifer, the Morning Star, and a favourite of
Aphrodite and Hera ... most usually performs."
Edith Hamilton confirms this in
concise terms from the Mentor book, Mythology (NAL, 1942, p. 106): "...
Lucifer, the light-bearer, the star that brings in the day .... " Further
confirmation occurs at page 1451 of the Aid to Bible Understanding (watchtower
Bible and Tract Society, 1971): "In some translations the Latin Vulgate
term 'Lucifer' is retained. It is, however, merely the translation of the
Hebrew word 'heh-lel,' 'shining one.' "
Each of these authorities thus describes
Lucifer in positive terms of light, contrary to the subsequent Christian
depiction of him as a satanic demon of darkness.
In similar fashion, the Canaanite
god of Ugarit was originally referred to as Zebul Baal, meaning "Prince
Baal," but this was later changed, as Finegan shows at his page 139: "In
2 Kings 1:6,16, the god of the Philistine city of Ekron is called Baalzebub;
zebub means 'fly,' rendered 'Baal Fly' by the Septuagint .... This may
be an intentional and disparaging distortion of the name." The real distortion
occurs in the Bible, however, as Finegan shows: "In Matthew 12:24 and elsewhere
in the New Testament, Beel-zebul is presumably the same god and is (there)
identified as the prince of demons."
Out of the darkness of ignorance,
these continued distortions then became the bastard legacy which contributes
little to the progress of people. Subsequent ages passed it along, a heritage
of hemlock, to damn anew and again.
Witchcraft, discredited by all but
the credulous, provides in its record occasional reference to evil spirits.
Compelled by the inventions of desperation amid the cruelties of torture,
names of these "evil spirits" were offered in concession. Understandably,
such invention was limited by the level of education, superstition and
beliefs of the time.
Thus we find only the concession
of easily familiar reference. As noted by Dr. Geoffrey Parrinder in Witchcraft
(Penguin, l958, p. 62): "All the names of the personages recorded are biblical,
ecclesiastical, or fanciful: Devil, Satan, Lucifer, Belial, Beelzebub,
Mammon (Mamilion), Serpent, Asmodeus, Ashtaroth, Christsonday, Antecessor,
Queen of Sabbath, Queen of Elfhame, Fancy, Tibb, Pretty. But we never find
the old pagan gods Thor or Woden, Loki or Grendel, or the trolls. Nor are
there to be found traces of Druidic or Celtic gods, or those of prehistoric
In the name of Satan or other substitute,
much cruelty has long been given substance. The need for a scapegoat, an
embodiment for our baser natures, merely allows the convenience of a "Satan"
to legitimize the negative and establish a source for our misdeeds, enshrining
them in permanence. By such transference, we avoid responsibility and qualify
our wrongs by laying them at the feet of an imagined shrine of Satan. No
benefit there accrues, nor goodness can prevail, in hearts too eager to
The beast within is an occasional
nuisance, owing to our dual nature. But the other part is capable of greatness.
It can encompass monumental acts most noble and sublime. With little effort
it can also ignore the once needed urge of aggression, but not until repudiation
of that urge and the myth of Satan.
I stole the key to Napoleon's
Tomb at 13, fell in tragic love, lived in a car in the Marina Del Rey for
4 years, made and sold greeting cards and costume jewelry until it became
untenable, and put up a website last year with my writings, at Rainbeau_Daze.
I used to deliver diapers for Elvis Presley, Andy Williams and Carol Burnett,
but that was in my lazy youth. When thinking became a distinct possibility,
I wrote a book about the nature of probability, according to the precepts
of Chaos theory, in which a startling conclusion was inescapable: that
there are recognizable patterns in the structure of random events ... a
veritable rip in the fabric of chance. To sum up, I love Truth and Beauty
with equal passion; for anything else, there is no rational appetite....
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