This article is from Dr. David Rohl's book Legend:
The Genesis of Civilization. It
is a remarkable book that provides the reader with a wealth of archaeological,
historical, and linguistic information about the ancient world from which the
words of Genesis came forth. This
is a book that will have a profound impact on biblical scholarship - once they
allow themselves to see beyond their doctrinal walls.
Legend isn't available in the USA yet, but it can be shipped to you from
England (see add inside).
(CHAVVAH), mistakenly called Eve by generations, is probably one of the
best-known women in the world throughout the ages.
The Hebrew name Hawwah links this very rare name with the prime verbal
root "to make live" - hayah - which is in itself an
Akkadian word. This concept is no
doubt connected with her magnificent epithet or title.
Adam named his wife Hawwah because
she was the "Mother of All the Living" (Genesis 3:29).
it pure coincidence that the "Mother of All the Living" is precisely
the title born by Ninhursag, the Sumerian "Lady (or even more
stricktly Mistress) of the Mountain"?
I don't think so. Earlier,
in Genesis 2:21-23, we read of the creation of Hawwah.
The first woman and great mother is not formed from clay or the earth,
like her mail counterpart:
Yahweh Elohim made the man (Adam) fall into a
And, while he was asleep, he took one of his ribs and closed
the flesh up again forthwith. Yahweh
Elohim fashioned the rib
he had taken from the man into a woman, and brought her to
the man. And the man said:
"This one at last is bone of my
bones and flesh of my flesh! She is
to be called Woman
(Heb. ish-shah), because she was taken from Man (Heb. ish)."
again, we find a remarkable parallel with the Sumerian paradise myth, this time,
the extra-biblical text provides a fascinating explanation for the strange
biblical motif of "Woman being crafted from the rib of Man."
the Sumerian version we find that Enki (who we now identify with Yahweh)
is cursed by the great mother-goddess, Nisnhursag, because he has eaten
forbidden plants growing in paradise. Kramer,
the translator of the text, notes yet another parallel with the biblical
"Enki's eating of the eight plants and the curse
against him for his misdeed recall the eating of the fruit
of the tree of knowledge by Adam and Eve and the
curses pronounced against each of them for this sinful action."
health begins to fail and the other gods realize that he is dying.
They persuade Ninhursag to relent and she sets about the task of curing
Enki's sickness, creating a goddess called Ninti to cure his failing
"My brother (Enki), what hurts you?
My rib hurts me.
To the goddess Nin-ti (`Lady of the Rib')
I (Ninhursag) have given birth for you."
the word for "rib" in Sumerian is "ti" which
happens also to be the Sumerian verb "to make live."
So the Mesopotamian author of the myth is employing a pun to equate the
"Lady of the Rib" (Ninti) with the "Lady Who Makes
Live" (Ninti) - that is the goddess who brings Enki back to life
from his near-death condition.
Kramer first translated the ancient text of the Sumerian paradise myth, he
immediately saw in this passage an explanation for the biblical story of Adam's
rib. The author (or perhaps the
later redactor) of Genesis when he adapted this myth in order to incorporate
elements of it into the biblical narrative, was clearly unaware of the fact that
the Sumerian tale involved a play on words and so simply translated ti as
"Eve" is created from a rib and, because there is no similarity
between the Hebrew word for "rib" (tsalah) and "to
make live" (hayah) the pun is lost.
remains of the hidden meaning, however, is the epithet "Mother of All the
Living" which is in itself the predominant attribute of the great mother
goddess, Ninhursag (also known as Nintu and Mami), who bears the
epithet "Mother of All Offspring" (Sum. Ana-dumu-dumu-ene).
It seems, then, that Eve may have begun her existence in the literature
of mankind as a goddess but, because of the monotheistic tenets of the Israelite
religion she becomes humanized - made mortal - and, although retaining her
status as "Mother of All Living" is demoted to the role of the spouse
to the first man to be made of clay by the god of creation.
one might see a human Eve as the original inspiration behind the worship of the
divine mother-goddess of ancient Mesopotamia.
Eve is closely associated with the Sumerian high goddess
Ninhursag through her epithet "Mother of All the Living."
The Genesis of Civilization by David M. Rohl (pp. 209-10)
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