Enlil
Encyclopedia
Enlil 𒂗𒇸 (EN = Lord
EN (cuneiform)
EN is the Sumerian cuneiform for "lord" or "priest". Originally, it seems to have been used to designate a high priest or priestess of a Sumerian city-state's patron-deity - a position that entailed political power as well. It may also have been the original title of the ruler of Uruk...

 + LÍL = Storm, "Lord (of the) Storm") was the name of a chief deity listed and written about in Sumerian religion
Sumerian religion
Sumerian religion refers to the mythology, pantheon, rites and cosmology of the Sumerian civilization. The Sumerian religion influenced Mesopotamian mythology as a whole, surviving in the mythologies and religions of the Hurrians, Akkadians, Babylonians, Assyrians, and other culture...

, and later in Akkad
Akkad
The Akkadian Empire was an empire centered in the city of Akkad and its surrounding region in Mesopotamia....

ian, Hittite
History of the Hittites
Hittites were an ancient people who spoke an Indo-European language and established a kingdom centered in Hattusa in northern Anatolia from the 18th century BC. In the 14th century BC, the Hittite Kingdom was at its height, encompassing central Anatolia, south-western Syria as far as Ugarit, and...

, Canaan
Canaan
Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

ite and other Mesopotamian clay and stone tablets. The name is perhaps pronounced and sometimes rendered in translations as Ellil in later Akkadian
Akkadian language
Akkadian is an extinct Semitic language that was spoken in ancient Mesopotamia. The earliest attested Semitic language, it used the cuneiform writing system derived ultimately from ancient Sumerian, an unrelated language isolate...

, Hittite, and Canaanite literature. In later Akkadian, Enlil is the son of Anshar
Anshar
In Akkadian mythology, Anshar , which means "sky pivot" or "sky axle", is a sky god. He is the husband of his sister Kishar. They might both represent heaven and earth . Both are the second generation of gods; their parents being the serpents Lahmu and Lahamu and grandparents Tiamat and Apsu. In...

 and Kishar
Kishar
In the Akkadian epic Enuma Elish, Kishar is the daughter of Lahmu and Lahamu, the first children of Tiamat and Apsu. She is the female principle, sister and wife of Anshar, the male principle, and the mother of Anu...

.

Enlil was considered to be the god of breath, wind, loft and breadth (height and distance).

Origins

One story names his origins as the exhausted breath of An (god of the heavens) and Ki
Ki (goddess)
Cuneiform KI is the sign for "earth". It is also read as GI5, GUNNI "hearth", KARAŠ "encampment, army", KISLAḪ "threshing floor" or steath, and SUR7...

 (goddess of the Earth) after sexual union.

The myth of Enlil and Ninlil
Enlil and Ninlil
Enlil and Ninlil or the Myth of Enlil and Ninlil or Enlil and Ninlil: The begetting of Nanna is a Sumerian creation myth, written on clay tablets in the mid to late 3rd millennium BC.-Compilation:...

 discusses when Enlil was a young god, he was banished from Dilmun
Dilmun
Dilmun or Telmun is a land mentioned by Mesopotamian civilizations as a trade partner, a source of the metal copper, and an entrepôt of the Mesopotamia-to-Indus Valley Civilization trade route...

, home of the gods, to Kur
Kur
In Babylonian mythology, Irkalla is the hell-like underworld from which there is no return. It is also called Arali, Kigal, Gizal, and the lower world...

, the underworld for raping a goddess named Ninlil
Ninlil
In Sumerian religion, Ninlil , also called Sud, in Assyrian called Mullitu, is the consort goddess of Enlil. Her parentage is variously described. Most commonly she is called the daughter of Haia and Nunbarsegunu...

. Ninlil followed him to the underworld where she bore his first child, Nergal
Nergal
The name Nergal, Nirgal, or Nirgali refers to a deity in Babylon with the main seat of his cult at Cuthah represented by the mound of Tell-Ibrahim. Nergal is mentioned in the Hebrew bible as the deity of the city of Cuth : "And the men of Babylon made Succoth-benoth, and the men of Cuth made Nergal"...

, and/or the moon god Sin
Sin (mythology)
Sin or Nanna was the god of the moon in Mesopotamian mythology. Nanna is a Sumerian deity, the son of Enlil and Ninlil, and became identified with Semitic Sin. The two chief seats of Nanna's/Sin's worship were Ur in the south of Mesopotamia and Harran in the north.- Name :The original meaning of...

 (Sumerian Nanna/Suen). After fathering three more underworld-deities (substitutes for Sin), Enlil was allowed to return to Dilmun.

Enlil was known as the inventor of the mattock
Mattock
A mattock is a versatile hand tool, used for digging and chopping, similar to the pickaxe. It has a long handle, and a stout head, which combines an axe blade and an adze or a pick and an adze .-Description:...

 (a key agricultural pick, hoe, ax or digging tool of the Sumerians) and caused plants to grow.

Cosmological role

Enlil, along with Anu
Anu
In Sumerian mythology, Anu was a sky-god, the god of heaven, lord of constellations, king of gods, Consort of Antu, spirits and demons, and dwelt in the highest heavenly regions. It was believed that he had the power to judge those who had committed crimes, and that he had created the stars as...

/An, Enki
Enki
Enki is a god in Sumerian mythology, later known as Ea in Akkadian and Babylonian mythology. He was originally patron god of the city of Eridu, but later the influence of his cult spread throughout Mesopotamia and to the Canaanites, Hittites and Hurrians...

 and Ninhursag
Ninhursag
In Sumerian mythology, Ninhursag or Ninkharsag was the earth and mother goddess, one of the seven great deities of Sumer. She is principally a fertility goddess. Temple hymn sources identify her as the 'true and great lady of heaven' and kings of Sumer were 'nourished by Ninhursag's milk'...

 were gods of the Sumerian
Sumerian religion
Sumerian religion refers to the mythology, pantheon, rites and cosmology of the Sumerian civilization. The Sumerian religion influenced Mesopotamian mythology as a whole, surviving in the mythologies and religions of the Hurrians, Akkadians, Babylonians, Assyrians, and other culture...

s.

By his wife Ninlil
Ninlil
In Sumerian religion, Ninlil , also called Sud, in Assyrian called Mullitu, is the consort goddess of Enlil. Her parentage is variously described. Most commonly she is called the daughter of Haia and Nunbarsegunu...

 or Sud, Enlil was father of the moon god Nanna/Suen (in Akkadian, Sin
Sin (mythology)
Sin or Nanna was the god of the moon in Mesopotamian mythology. Nanna is a Sumerian deity, the son of Enlil and Ninlil, and became identified with Semitic Sin. The two chief seats of Nanna's/Sin's worship were Ur in the south of Mesopotamia and Harran in the north.- Name :The original meaning of...

) and of Ninurta
Ninurta
Ninurta in Sumerian and Akkadian mythology was the god of Lagash, identified with Ningirsu with whom he may always have been identical...

 (also called Ningirsu). Enlil is the father of Nisaba the goddess of grain, of Pabilsag who is sometimes equated with Ninurta, and sometimes of Enbilulu
Enbilulu
Enbilulu was the god of rivers and canals in Mesopotamian mythology. In the creation mythology he was placed in charge of the sacred rivers Tigris and Euphrates by the god Enki. Also he was the deity of irrigation and farming. In the Sumerian "Enlil and Ninlil" story he is a son of Enlil and Ninlil...

. By Ereshkigal
Ereshkigal
In Mesopotamian mythology, Ereshkigal was the goddess of Irkalla, the land of the dead or underworld. Sometimes her name is given as Irkalla, similar to the way the name Hades was used in Greek mythology for both the underworld and its ruler.Ereshkigal was the only one who could pass judgment and...

 Enlil was father of Namtar
Namtar
In Mesopotamian mythology Namtar was a hellish deity, god of death, and the messenger of An, Ereshkigal, and Nergal.Namtar was the son of Enlil and Erishkigal and was considered responsible for diseases and pests...

.

Cultural histories

Enlil is associated with the ancient city of Nippur
Nippur
Nippur was one of the most ancient of all the Sumerian cities. It was the special seat of the worship of the Sumerian god Enlil, the "Lord Wind," ruler of the cosmos subject to An alone...

, sometimes referred to as the cult city of Enlil. His temple was named Ekur, "House of the Mountain." Enlil was assimilated to the north "Pole of the Ecliptic". His sacred number name was 50.

As Enlil was the only god who could reach the heaven god An he held sway over the other gods who were assigned tasks by his agent and would travel to Nippur to draw in his power. He is thus seen as the model for kingship.

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
John Henry Haynes
John Henry Haynes was an American traveller, archaeologist, and photographer, best known for his archaeological work at the first two American archaeological excavations in the Mediterranean and Mesopotamia at Nippur and Assos...

, under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania is a private, Ivy League university located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. Penn is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States,Penn is the fourth-oldest using the founding dates claimed by each institution...

, 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", and "father of the gods".

His chief temple at Nippur was known as Ekur, signifying 'House of the mountain', and such was the sanctity acquired by this edifice that Babylonian and Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

n rulers, down to the latest days, vied with one another in embellishing and restoring Enlil's seat of worship, and 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.

Enlil was also the God of weather. According to the Sumerians, Enlil helped create the humans, but then got tired of their noise and tried to kill them by sending a flood. A mortal known as Utnapishtim survived the flood through the help of another god, Ea, and he was made immortal by Enlil after Enlil's initial fury.

External links

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