Marduk and the Frame of Heaven

Marduk, the great god equated with Jupiter, tells in the Era-Epos of a flood and the heavens awry:

When I stood up from my seat and let the flood break in, then the judgement of Earth and Heaven went out of joint. . .

5 Its name means "set apart," and thus sacred, and from its base flows the Jordan (Metzger and Coogan 1993, p. 280). It was also associated with the Canaanite god, Baal (Judges 3:3, I Chronicles 5:23).

The gods, which trembled, the stars of heaven -

Their position changed, and I did not bring them back.

(Santillana and Dechend 1969 p. 325, following P.F. Gossman.)

However, Marduk is also Nangar, the Carpenter (equated in turn with Procyon), and is the measurer and builder who rebuilt the heavens and established astronomical order:

He constructed stations for the great gods,

Fixing their astral likenesses as constellations

He determined the year by designating the zones:

He set up three constellations for each of the twelve months

After defining the days of the year (by means) of (heavenly) figures,

He founded the station of Nebiru to determine their (heavenly)


That none might transgress or fall short. Alongside he set up the stations of Enlil and Ea.

If we understood all of these statements precisely, we would know substantially more about Mesopotamian astronomy. Thompson (1900, Omen #94) translated a passage on various names of Jupiter, which reads:

Marduk is Umunpauddu at its appearance; when it has risen for two (or four?) hours it becomes Sagmigar; when it stands in the meridian it becomes Nibiru.

Santillana and Dechend (1969, pp. 430-437) deal with the meaning of Nibiru, and they conclude that it is semantically "ferryman," but that it had a technical astronomical meaning that is still undetermined. They have no specific discussion of how this "ferryman" is related to Urshanabi, the "boatman" at the time of the flood.

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