Atrahasis Tablet II & III

inuma ilu awilum

Tablets 2-3 are from Brian Edric Colless's interesting and eclectic site. It appears here for educational purposes only. I have added a few notes and reformatting. If a note is his it will be labeled [BEC]. The section headings are his.
Atrahasis survives in several tablets from different periods of history. The tablet numbers are from the Old Babylonian version. Has labeled these {BV} . There is also an Assyrian version he draws from which he labels {AV} . Any others are marked explicitly. Please report errors to me (link at end of page). -Alan Humm
The first tablet covered the creation of humanity.
The second tablet describes the problem with humans (they are too noisy). I am glad my parents did not take this approach when I was a teen and my rock band used to practice in the basement! Under Enlil's insistent leadership they plan to starve them to death. Other gods, particularly Enki and Adad thwart the plans by releasing food and water respectively.
Admitting failure, Enlil reveals his new plan to flood them out, which he implements in tablet 3. But Enki surreptitiously warns Atrahasis to build a boat, which he does and survives the seven day flood. Once on dry land, he offers a sacrifice.
The gods who have been tortured from hunger and thirst, since there were no sacrifices, immediately gather around, and Enlil is compelled to allow the surviving remnant live.

Tablet 2

The Famine from the Gods

1 Twelve hundred years had not gone by;
the land had expanded and the people had multiplied.
The land was bellowing like wild oxen,
and the god [1] was disturbed by their uproar.
Enlil heard their noise and addressed the great gods:
The noise of humankind is too loud for me,
with all their uproar I cannot go to sleep.
Cut off food supplies to the people,
let plant-life to feed them be scarce;
Above, let Adad withhold his rain,
Below, let the flood not rise from the deep;
let the wind blow and parch the ground;
let the clouds thicken but only drop drips;
let the fields lessen their yields,
let Nisaba [2] seal up her breast.

The first part of the tablet is destroyed here, but apparently Atrahasis recommends [perhaps on the advice of Enki] that the people focus all their effort on getting on Adad's good side (since controls the rain). It is similar to Enki's advice in the last part of the previous section.
They built a temple for Adad in the city.
They commanded,
and heralds proclaimed and noised it abroad in the land.
They did not worship their gods and did not pray to their goddesses,
but visited the gate of Adad and offered a cake before it.
The offering of sesame-meal pleased him,
he was abashed at the gift and lifted his hand.
In the morning he rained down a mist,
and furtively rained down a dew in the night.
The fields furtively bore grain, [the famine] left them.

The Renewal of the Drought


More damage, but apparently Enlil is getting suspicious, and cracks down on his 'too soft' divine subjects.
The noise of humankind has become too loud for me,
with their uproar I cannot go to sleep.
Command that Anu and Adad guard the upper realm,
Sin and Nergal guard the middle earth,
and that Ea may guard, together with his plants,
the bolt and bar of the sea
Thus no water or food escaped,
and the rigours of famine returned:
4 Above, Adad withheld his rain.
Below, the flood did not rise from the deep.
The womb of earth did not bear,
plant-life did not sprout.
People were nowhere to be seen.
The black fields became white, [3]
the broad plain was smothered in salt.
For one year they ate grass [4] ;
for the second year they depleted the storehouse.
The third year came and their features were distorted by hunger.
{AV} On the arrival of the fourth year
their long legs became short,
their broad shoulders became narrow,
and they walked hunched up in the street.
On the arrival of the fifth year
the daughter watched the mother go inside,
but the mother would not open her door to the daughter.
The daughter watched the scales (at the sale) of the mother, [5]
the mother watched the scales (at the sale) of the daughter. [6]
On the arrival of the sixth year
they served up the daughter for dinner,
they served up the son for food. . . .


Still more missing text. Apparently the divine subjects are not as skilled Nazis as is Enlil. In this case Enki is being upbraided for releasing food, probably from the sea.

{BV} I ordered that Anu and Adad should guard the upper regions,
that Sin and Nergal should guard the middle earth,
while I myself guard the earth below,
and that you should guard, together with your plants,
the bolt and bar of the sea.
But you released an abundance to the people. . . .

The Deluge from the Gods

Enlil opened his mouth to speak
and addressed the assembly of all the gods:
Come now, let us all take an oath to bring a flood.
Anu swore first, Enlil swore, his sons swore with him. . . .
Enki opened his mouth and addressed the gods his brothers:
Why will you bind me with an oath? Am I to lay hands on my own people?. . . .
Am I to give birth to a flood? That is the task of Enlil. . . .
8 The gods commanded total destruction; Enlil committed an evil act against the people.

Tablet 3

Enki has to figure out how to warn Atrahasis without violating the Higher god's order. He decides to tell the wall near where Atrahasis is asleep, so he will overhear and get the message in a dream. To my knowledge the formation of the plan does not exist in any existing tablets. It is also conspicuous by its absence in the parallel in Gilgamesh tablet 11.
1 Enki opened his mouth and addressed his servant:
You say, What am I to seek?
Heed then the message I will speak to you:
Wall, listen now to me, reed wall, heed all my words:
Demolish the house, build a boat;
spurn property and save life.
The boat that you are to build ...
shall be roofed with sturdy covering like the Apsu [7] ;
to prevent Shamash [8] seeing inside it,
have it roofed both over and under.
The tackle must be very strong,
and the pitch tough to impart strength.
Soon I will rain down upon you an abundance of fowl,
a profusion of fish. [9]
[Observe the appointed time that I tell you;
enter the boat and close the door of the boat.
Send up into it your grain, goods and chattels,
your wife and family, your kinsfolk, and the master-craftsmen.
Creatures of the plains, all the wild creatures that eat grass,
I will send to you and they will wait at your door.] { Babylonian fragment }
He opened the clock and filled it [10] ;
he told him that the coming [11] of the flood would be on the seventh night.

Atrakhasis, having received the command,
assembled his elders to his gate.
Atrakhasis opened his mouth and addressed the elders:
My god does not agree with your god;
Enki and Enlil are angry with each other.
They have cast me out of [my house].
Since I am a worshipper of Enki,
he told me of this matter.
I cannot live in [your country any more];
I cannot set my foot on the land of Enlil now. . . .
The people helped him build his boat.
The wood-worker carried his ax;
the reed-worker carried his flattener made of stone;
the child carried the bitumen,
the poor man brought what was needed. . . .
Lean animals and fat animals he stowed in it.
He caught and put on board the winged birds of the heavens. . . .
The moon disappeared. . . .
He invited his people . . . to a banquet.
He sent his family on board;
they ate and they drank;
but he himself kept going in and out,
he could neither sit nor squat,
because his heart was broken and he was spewing bile.
The aspect of the weather altered,
as Adad roared in the clouds.
When he heard the noise made by Adad,
pitch was brought for him to caulk his door.
After he had barred his door,
Adad was roaring in the clouds;
the winds became ferocious
as he rose to sever the hawser and set the boat adrift.
{AV} The chariot of the gods ... was ravaging,
slaughtering, threshing.
Ninurta caused the dykes to overflow,
Errakal tore up the posts.
3 Anzu with his talons rent the heavens apart,
shattering the land noisily like a pot.
{BV} The flood set in . . .,
its force came upon the people like an army.
People could not see one another;
they could not be recognized in the disaster.
The flood bellowed like a wild ox,
while the wind howled like a whinnying wild ass.
The darkness was thick,
the sun [12] . was gone. . . .
The noise of the flood caused the gods to tremble. . . .
[Enki] was beside himself,
as his children were thrown down before him.
The lips of Nintu, [13] the great lady,
were overcome with feverishness. [14]
The Anunnaki, the great gods,
sat hungering and thirsting.
The goddess saw it as she wept,
the midwife of the gods, wise Mami: [15]
Let the day become dark, let it return to gloom.
In the assembly of the gods,
how could I have joined them in commanding annihilation?
Enlil is sated with commanding abomination,
like that vile Tiruru, [16] . he uttered abomination.
By my own deliberate choice,
and to my own hurt, I listened to their noise.
My offspring have become like flies around me,
and I, like a dweller in a house of lamentation,
my crying has ceased.
Shall I go up to heaven,
as if to dwell in a treasure house? [17]
Where has Anu the president gone,
whose commands his divine sons obeyed,
he who without consideration brought on a flood
and consigned the people to destruction? . . .
4 What? Have they given birth to the sea? [18]
They have filled the river like dragon flies.
Now like a raft they have put in to the edge,
like a raft landing (?) they have put in to the bank.
I have seen it and wept over them;
I have exhausted my lamenting over them.
She wept and gave relief to her heart;
Nintu wailed and quelled her emotion.
The gods wept with her for the land;
she was sated with grief, and she thirsted for beer.
Where she sat, they sat also, weeping,
like sheep crowded in a trough. [19]
Their lips suffered unquenched thirst,
they endured cramp from hunger.
For seven days and seven nights the deluge,
storm, and flood went on. . . .

The description of the end of the flood is lost. Presumably, Atrakhasis (like Noah in Genesis and Utnapishtim in the Gilgamesh Epic) sent birds out to test whether the waters had subsided. The story resumes where the hero has emerged from the ship and is making an offering to the gods.[BEC].
5 The gods sniffed the fragrance
and gathered like flies over the offering.
After they had eaten up the offering,
Nintu arose to inveigh against them all:
Where has Anu the president been?
Did Enlil go to the incense too?
They who without consideration brought a flood
and consigned the people to destruction?
You decided on annihilation,
and now their clear faces have become clouded.
Then she approached the large flies
that Anu had made and was carrying:
His grief is mine! How determine my fate!
Let him get me out of this distress
and open my face again. . . . (with 3.6 cp. Gilgamesh 11.4)
6 Let these flies be lapis lazuli jewels around my neck
that I may remember [for evermore].
The stalwart Enlil saw the ship
and was filled with anger against the deities: [20]
All we great divinities [21] decided on an oath together.
Where did life make its escape?
How did any human survive the destruction?
Anu opened his mouth and addressed the stalwart Enlil:

Who but Enki could have done this? . . .
Enki opened his mouth and addressed the great gods:
Indeed I did it in front of you, to preserve life [22] . . . .
      {The rest of Enki's statement is damaged or entirely lost (cp. Ea's words in Gilgamesh 11.4)[BEC].}
Then Enlil opened his mouth and addressed Enki the artful:
Come then, summon Nintu, the birth-goddess, you and she shall confer in the assembly.
Enki opened his mouth and addressed Nintu, the birth-goddess:
You, the birth-goddess, creatress of destinies . . . .
      {Enki's utterance is damaged, but apparently he is announcing a divine program of birth control [BEC].}

A new solution

7 Let only a third among the people come into being(?)
Let there be women who bear and women who do not bear.
Let there be among the people the pashittu-demon, [23]
to snatch the infant from the knees of the woman who gives birth. [24]
Establish women in certain religious orders [25]
and let it be taboo for them to bear children . . . . {some 35 lines missing}
8 We sent the flood but a human survived the destruction.
You [26] are the governor of the gods;
on your orders I [27] created strife.
For your praise let the Igigi deities hear this song
and extol your greatness together.
To all peoples I sing of the flood. Listen now.


The end, third tablet, inuma ilu awilum (when the gods instead of humans), 300 lines, total 1245 for the three tablets, by the hand of Nur-Aya, junior scribe, month Ayyar, day [ ], year Ammi-saduqa was king. A statue of himself . . . .


[1] Enlil—leader of the council of the gods.

[2] The goddess of grain, without whose sustenance all growth ceases.

[3] irrigation salination [BEC].

[4] or: the old grain [BEC].

[5] i.e. when her mother was sold into slavery.

[6] i.e. when her daughter was sold into slavery.

[7] Primordial God of subterranean fresh water. Trapped under the earth in a coma by Ea. But this may be a sub-terranian world as well. In the epic, Gilgamesh digs (or dives) down to the Apsu to get the plant of life, and Utnapishtim decieves his neighbors by saying that the must go to the Apsu to serve Ea (who is playing Enki's role in that version of this story).

[8] The sun god, usually portrayed positively, but Enki is afraid he will give away what Atrahasis is doing.

[9] Apparently, no cats and dogs, however.

[10] with water or sand? [BEC]

[11] or: sand [BEC].

[12] or: the god Shamash [BEC]

[13] Mother goddess, who in tablet one, created the first humans.

[14] or: Nintu gnawed her lips in anguish [BEC].

[15] another name for Nintu.

[16] a demon

[17] secluded? cloistered? [BEC].

[18] covered as it is with their bodies? [BEC].

[19] waiting for a drink [BEC].

[20] Igigi [BEC].

[21] Anunnaki [BEC].

[22] the lives of gods as well as humans? [BEC].

[23] 'she who wipes out' [BEC].

[24] A role taken up by Lilith in later Judaism.

[25] ugbabtu, entu, igisītu [BEC].

[26] Enlil? cp. 1.1 [BEC].

[27] Enki? [BEC].

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