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An Underestimated Aspect of Enki/Ea

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image of Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religions

Abstract The god Enki (Sumerian)/Ea (Akkadian) is central to Mesopotamian myth, ritual and scholarship but there is still disagreement as to precisely what he is the god of. He governs subterranean water, magic, and ‘wisdom’—but what kind of wisdom was it? A traditional argument in Assyriology claims that Enki is more trickster than sage; his knowledge has to do with craft and cunning, not ethics or rectitude. This essay analyzes important neglected associations of Enki with Mesopotamian wisdom literature, demonstrating parallels with ideals found in the biblical book of Proverbs. In these texts Enki is associated with the proper conduct of human life, making him not just crafty and cunning but wise.

Affiliations: 1: Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Beer-Sheba


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