Living in Truth:
Archaeology and the Patriarchs

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by Charles N. Pope
Copyright 1999-2004 by Charles Pope
United States Library of Congress
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Tutorial: Lesson 3
"To the Utmost Bound"
(The Increase of Joseph over His Brothers)

A Woman Can Serve Two Masters

Archetypal Eve, called Tefnut in Egypt and Ninhursag in Mesopotamia, had children by multiple partners. Besides Atum (archetypal Adam),1 Tefnut also mated with a brother Shu and with sons born to her by Atum and Shu. Consistent with this, Biblical Eve also becomes the mother of sons by multiple fathers. The first son is born to Adam, but was considered a "son of God." Eve, after giving birth to Cain, states, "I-have-gotten a man - as has YHWH."2 The narrative continues, "And she again bare his brother Abel."3 The Hebrew word translated "again," yacaph, is a form of the name Joseph. The above verse is therefore to be interpreted as, "And Eve (to) Joseph bare Cain's brother Abel." What's more, although Abel was born to "YHWH/Joseph" he was called a "son of Man/Adam."4 Eve of Patriarchal times had two husbands. One is characterized as base Adam.5 The other is cast in the role of the creator god Ptah/Ea/Enki (Joseph).

Abel the "son of God" is favored over Cain the "son of Man," not so much due to his superior offering but his more esteemed bloodline. For political reasons, Cain is still honored almost equally with Abel. His name also indicates that he was designated as the next Enki.6 Certainly, this would have appealed to the people of Cain's true father Adam, who seem to have venerated this god above all others. Cain, as a new Joseph, is however made subordinate to Abel in kingship, even as Enki had been placed under Enlil's authority. But this Enki was not content to chase the carrot of greater kingship earned through patient and artful service. He chooses the quick and easy path to dominance and murders his overlord placed the role of Enlil.

God has Fallen and Can't Get Up

After rejecting the part of Enki, Cain was branded with another typecasting. He was from then on modeled after the primordial god Anu.7 In Middle Eastern myth, Anu was the earliest known "Father of the Gods." However, according to the Hittite epic Kingship in Heaven he gained that status by deposing a more favored rival named Alal.8 Anu was in turn attacked and suffered a critical injury to his genitals.9 In the Book of Genesis, we are told that after Cain murdered Abel he paid dearly, saying, "My punishment is greater than I can bear." The literal and graphic translation of this verse is, "My genitals are too mutilated for sexual arousal."10

The humbled Cain, in emulation of Anu, was afforded protection and even allowed to retain an honorary kingly status.11 This must have been a further concession to the formidable people of Adam. A son of Cain, called Enoch, was given the forfeited role of Enki and made subordinate to a surviving son of Abel who inherited the role of Enlil. Cain, as "incarnate" Anu, was exiled and endured a painful and embarrassing loss of reproductive function. Although Anu was not officially dethroned, rule was in practice exercised from that time forward by the new Enlil and his subordinate Enki the son of Anu.12 Enlil claimed the title "Father of the Gods" and replaced Anu as the primary consort of the Mother Goddess.

The one who avenged Alal (Abel) by maiming Anu (Cain) is not disclosed in the Biblical text. He is however identified by the Hittite text as Kumarbis, in Greek myth as Cronos, and by the Babylonians as Kingu. Kingu was later put to death for conspiring to take the throne, and his spilled blood was used to fashion mankind.13 It is likely that Kingu, Cronos, and Kumarbis, who all had an "evil" reputations, were originally alter egos of the "good god" Enlil.14 Yet Enlil it seems did not die for his act or rebellion, but was instead redeemed by the sacrifice of another rebel god, his own son named Sin. Sin (also known as Su-en and En-zu) staged a coup of his own but was defeated and killed by his brother Ninurta.15 The name Kingu may have been assigned to Sin in death.

Gad and G'asher

The next two sons of Jacob born after Dan and Naphtali are called Gad and Asher. They are representations of the rival gods Anu and Enlil. Both the name and Blessing of Gad make a play on the Sumerian word gud, "bull,"16 a symbol of Anu. The large and (once) virile Anu is compared to the animal most revered in ancient times for size, strength, and sexual potency. The Blessing of Gad states, "a troop shall overcome him, but he shall prevail in the end." The Hebrew words for Gad, troop (geduwd) and prevail (guwd) all emphasize the bull-like nature of Anu-Cain. The final phrase translated "in the end" comes from the Hebrew word for "heel (as a protuberance)," and is derived from the root word aqab, "to swell out or up" and, figuratively, "to seize by the heel (or genitals), supplant." The name of the "heel grabber" Jacob also derives from this same root.

The name of Gad itself ironically means "fortunate." Related and similar sounding Hebrew words have meanings of "great, large, stout, mighty, excelling, noble, proud, swollen,"17 as well as, "cut down, twisted, lacerated, reviled, reproached, vilified, roaming"18 all of which characterize Anu-Cain and his two-fold punishment. The name Cain is variously defined as, "metal smith," or "lance (to strike with or be stricken), wail, lament."19 Cain caused Abel to fall but was in turn felled and bitterly grieved his reversal of fortune and miserable state. The Blessing of Gad however encodes that despite his setback, Anu regained his potency, and that his male line (which included Jacob-Re) eventually eclipsed that of Enlil.20

The name Asher means "happy, straight, honest, prosperous, guide, lead, go forward, relieve." The literal translation of Asher's short and sweet blessing reduces this prince to the status of a court baker: "His bread is abundant, he produces royal delicacies." However, a more figurative (and informed) reading is, "His battle is anointed. He bestows kingly pleasures."21 Enlil's attack on Anu was victorious and therefore considered righteous. Throughout the divine age Enlil was leader of the gods and "granter of kingship" and all its coveted prerogatives to those he favored.

Making the Best of Both Worlds

As the senior partner in lordship, archetypal Enlil presided over the upper lands. His direct control extended to the "band of Enlil," corresponding to the Tropic of Cancer in the Northern Hemisphere. As junior partner, "the band of Ea/Enki" enclosed the lower lands and reached as far as the Tropic of Capricorn in the Southern Hemisphere. Accepting his lot, the god Enki went down to the underworld (Southern Hemisphere) amidst great upheaval. His boat was attacked "in the front as if by a wolf and in the rear as if by a lion."22 Similarly, Joseph is persecuted in the Book of Genesis. His brothers conspire to kill him and to tell his father that he had been ripped apart by wild beasts. However, one brother intervenes and Joseph is instead lowered down into a pit from which he can later be rescued.

The god Enki faced death a second time when accused by the goddess Ninhursag in a reproductive matter. For neglecting her, Enki was accursed with painful sicknesses and consigned once again to the underworld, this time for the express purpose of dying. However, after sending a messenger to win his pardon,23 Enki is restored by the goddess and goes on to even greater glory. Likewise, Biblical Joseph endures a second humbling after spurning the advances of a privileged woman, being falsely accused by her, and then becoming wrongly imprisoned. Following Enki, Biblical Joseph was made governor in the place of his own incarceration.  He also sends a messenger to secure his release, but to no avail. Finally, after interpreting pharaoh's dream, Joseph is made governor of the entire country, and second only to pharaoh in the throne. Nothing was to be done in all the land except by his "word." The steps of Joseph then are carefully ordered after the god Enki-Ptah, and he therefore serves his appointed overlords diligently. Because of his talent and competence, his superiors are put completely at ease - first the prison warden and then pharaoh himself.

Enki, as second in command to Enlil, had dutifully carried out the orders of his superior. Enki filled Enlil's city of Nippur (Nibru) to overflowing with exotic goods, including gold and silver. As the "prime minister" under Enlil, Enki was also called by the name or title of Nushku (or Nushka), a god in his own right, and further associated with both fire and light.24 This Sumerian title Nushka was transposed into the Hebrew Nachash, with its meanings of "serpent, prediction, divination, and copper/redness," all of which were salient characteristics of Ea/Enki-Ptah.25 It also indicates that Enki carried on the very ancient traditions of his forefathers, both from his mother's side and especially from the side of his father, the serpent-man Adam/Atum. As the vigor of his overlord Enlil began to fade, the influence of Ptah only further increased. In the lengthy and detailed Sumerian epic, Enki and the World Order, Enki clearly remains subordinate to Enlil, yet is called "Lord of the Universe" in recognition of his unsurpassed brilliance.

When Kingship was Lowered on Earth

Enki seems never to have grumbled about his secondary status or daunting missions, but instead reveled both in challenges and in challenging others. Enki also was fond of sleeping, and especially dreaming, of ever-greater projects - projects that others would ultimately have to implement. As in the case of Biblical Joseph, most things were accomplished by the word of Enki only, not from his direct labor. Enlil was even more so not a "doer of the word" but primarily a "watcher." The Blessing of Asher implies that Enlil was also overly self-indulgent. He led a life luxury while those under him toiled at his command. He became more concerned with his own happiness than that of those he ruled over.26 The lesser gods, called the "Igigi,"27 who were directed by Enlil and Enki, finally balked at the yoke, and formed "the world's first union strike against management."28

Solidarity among workers was complete, and a stubborn Enlil was faced with certain overthrow. It was then that the "eternal optimist" Enki stepped in and proposed the creation of a third caste, beings who were like the gods but able to work eagerly and without the incentive of godly pleasures and longevity.29 Enlil was vehemently opposed to the idea, but relented to save his sinking ruler ship. According to Middle Eastern legend,30 the blood of the god Kingu (rather than Enlil) was shed in order to create human workers, that is, mankind.31 The "Enlil" who ruled in the time of the Patriarchs would have likewise avoided overthrow by yielding to the plan his "Enki." Authority was again sacrificed to some extent, but not his lifeblood or that of a son.32

Enlil came to define the institution of kingship in all its glory and excess. He was not only called "Father" and "Father of the Gods," but also "King of All the Lands." One epic poem recites, "Without Enlil . no king would be raised."33 Enlil also lent his name to the Biblical High God El, head of the Elohim. Yet, despite his long and stable tenure, Enlil is denied a place among the first Patriarchs. The number of Patriarchs that precede the Flood is limited to seven, and this time Enlil does not "make the cut."34 The Genesis author respects the need for a higher power, but not always those who claimed to embody it. There is no explicit admission in Genesis that any of the Patriarchs had been kings, much less considered god-kings ruling over the earth. These men had in many respects been posers. They wielded no extraordinary powers, but instead displayed only a "form of godliness." They were not to be considered divine beings and especially not to be worshipped as God. At best, they could be viewed as "walking with God."

Enki, Self-Made God of Aspiring Man

Cain rejected the role of Enki, but his son Enoch fulfilled it masterfully. Enoch is a direct Hebrew adaptation of the Sumerian name Enki son of An. In Hebrew, Enoch denotes, "to initiate or discipline, to dedicate, train up," but connotes "choked, throttled, restricted, bound."35 In Egypt, the god Ptah was depicted as tightly bound as with a white shroud for burial. His hands however are shown breaking free and they reach out to grasp hold of a scepter. The once confined Enki-Ptah became Joseph, whose name means, "let him add/increase/expand."

Biblical Enoch is associated with the first city. Similarly, in myth Enki was associated with the world's first city, called Eridu of the underworld, and which perhaps was named for him by his father An. Likewise, Biblical Joseph is associated with Heliopolis (On/An), the primeval Egyptian city and a type of Eridu. Erech (Uruk/Unug) of Mesopotamia, site of the E-Anna temple, can also be considered as a type of Eridu, as can Jericho (Yerech-ow) of Canaan, the oldest continuously occupied city in the world.36 The Eridu founded or named after Patriarch Enoch corresponds to a city in southern Mesopotamia close to the Persian Gulf. The geographical scope of the Patriarch Enoch (as opposed to Enki) may have been greatly reduced with respect to his archetype. Patriarch Enoch may never have traveled to the Southern Hemisphere, but in emulation of Enki he did establish a city in the lower regions of his family's domain. What's more, only two generations removed from lowly Adam, he was probably also expected to act out the role of primordial Enki as creator and fashioner of men.

Enlil was considered the ideal king. Enki came to define the ever-faithful deputy.

The choice of words in the Blessing of Joseph characterizes Enki/Enoch as an afflicted but fruitful (parah) limb of a tree with widely spreading branches. Enki was a limb (arm/hand/son) of the superior god Enlil, and was relegated to the lower lands. In Egypt, Enki was known as Ptah and for establishing the house of his own son Ra (Per-Ra), the archetypal pharaoh (per-a'a). The aggressively clambering branches (ben, sons/offspring) of Ptah/Enki were numerous and eventually crowded Shu/Enlil within his own palace wall (shuwr).

In response, Enlil appointed his true son the Lord Ninurta-Geb, specifically called the "The Archer," to keep them in check. He was joined in this task by Enkimdu-Set, also of the male line of Enlil-Shu. The Blessing of Joseph states that the archers (baal)37 sorely grieved (merar-merar)38 him, shot (rabab) at him, and hated (satam) him, but that his arms (zeroah)39 were was only strengthened as a result. As the Blessing of Joseph indicates, he ultimately acquired the title, "Lord of the Universe." He dominated both the upper and lower regions, including the heights of the heavens and especially the watery deep (tehom) below (toah).40 There was in practice no bound (taavah derived from ta-ah) to the authority delegated to Ptah.

The leading son of Ptah/Ea, namely Re/Marduk, did find a way to overstep his bounds by approving the murder of Osiris/Dumuzi. According to the Sumerian King List, the ancient god and namesake of Dumuzi was a "shepherd" and had one of the longest reigns of the gods. However, the reign of the later Osiris-Dumuzi came to an abrupt end in only his 29th year. In Genesis, his killer Re (or Ra),41 is given the name Irad son of Enoch. Irad means, "(the) fugitive," and recalls this god's flight from Egypt to Babylon, not as a hero but as a goat. The one that was slain, Osiris/Sokar (archetypal Issachar), is called the Patriarch Mehujael, "killed by God."

The next Patriarch, Mehushael, "he who is of God," corresponds to Horus the Elder (archetypal Judah son of Jacob). Horus the Elder was a brother of Ptah. In Mesopotamia he was known as Ishkur/Adad, and considered a full brother (even the "twin") of Ea/Enki. Both were sons of An/Anu by Ninhursag (Egyptian Hathor). After the death of Osiris and departure of Re, Set became lord of Upper Egypt, and Horus the Elder was granted the rule of Lower Egypt. Thus began the legendary duel between Horus and Set. Initially, Horus the Elder gained the upper hand forcing Set from Egypt to Canaan. However, after re-establishing himself in Phoenicia, Set then defeated and killed Horus the Elder in the Valley of Megiddo, the archetypal battle of Armageddon. Henceforth, Horus the Elder became known as "Horus who is in Osiris."


  1. As discussed in the previous chapter, hermaphroditic Adam/Atum would have been both father and mother to Eve. However, the Biblical text indicates that after giving birth to a daughter (Tefnut, and possibly also a son, Shu), Adam was prevented from having any further offspring via self-fertilization. Note that in the later repetition of Patriarchal times, the relationships are somewhat different. The prince that assumes the role of Enlil/Shu is not a true son of the one typecast as Adam/Atum but from the line of rival king playing the role of Enki. Similarly, in the original event, Ninhursag of Mesopotamia corresponds to Tefnut of Egypt. However, in the Patriarchal period, Tefnut more closely corresponds to Ninlil of Mesopotamia (mother of Ninurta/Geb), and therefore probably was not also one and the same as the queen playing the role of Ninhursag (Hathor of Egypt).
  2. Genesis 4:1 (The Schocken Bible translation)
  3. Genesis 4:2 (KJV)
  4. The could be freely interpreted as "she (to) Joseph bare . Abel."
  5. In Egypt, archetypal Eve was variously called Tefnut, Hathor, and Iusaas. In Mesopotamia she also had multiple names and titles, including Nintu, Ninhursag and Mami, "Mother of the Gods." Archetypal Adam was the self-created god Atum of Egypt, and referred to as Anshar in Mesopotamia. The Eve of Patriarchal times was also thought of as a goddess. On the other hand, Patriarch Adam was remembered somewhat unflatteringly as Lahmu, a naked hero with uncut, unkempt hair. Lahmu's royal makeover did not prevent his bald head from getting bruised in Mesopotamia. He did, it seems, receive better treatment in Egypt, where he was assimilated with the self-created god Atum as granddaddy of all humanity, and as a serpent-god fitted with a designer loincloth.(See A Twisted History: Archaeology and the Cosmos for a more in-depth treatment of Atum, Adam and Lahmu.) 
  6. Cain (Ka-yin) is a crude transposition of En-ki. This perhaps reflects that Cain became the antithesis of Enki. Cain showed no willingness to serve and no perseverance in overcoming tribulation.
  7. Sumerian An
  8. James Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, p 120. Note the phonic semblance between Abel and Alal.
  9. The avenger bites and swallows the genitals of Anu.
  10. Genesis 4:13 (King James Version). The literal translation of this verse is: "My perversity/bent-ness is more twisted/elongated than I can lift/make rise." This verse alludes quite graphically to the maiming of Anu's penis by Kingu/Cronos/Enlil.
  11. As evidenced by his wearing of horns.
  12. Unlike the original Anu it seems, Cain eventually recovered from his wound, and actually attempted to sire a son by the barren goddess Ishtar/Inanna. Similarly, a Greek myth claimed, "Aphrodite rose from a sea impregnated by Uranus's severed genitals." (Robert Graves, The Greek Myths, p 39) There was a temple dedicated to Anu at Erech[12] called the E-Anna ("House of Anu"). However, Anu himself was seldom involved in Mesopotamian affairs. Similarly, in Egypt, there was little or no record of his sovereignty other than possibly a city bearing his name, that is, On (An/Anna, Greek Heliopolis).
  13. As told in the Babylonian Creation Epic.
  14. Compare Kingu and Cronos with the words king and crown. Both the Greek Cronos as well as the Mesopotamian Enlil were considered inventors of the plough and associated with the pickaxe. Cronos was further associated with the ash tree (prized for making archery bows). The god Enlil was called Ellil in Hittite and Assyrian languages. The onomatopoeic names of Lil and Shu (the Egyptian god) both indicate "air, breath, exhalation," as from the Creator's mouth.
  15. The role of Ninurta in vanquishing Kingu (as well as his title Bel) are attributed to Marduk in the Creation Epic. Marduk went through a similar but later theological transformation (apotheosis) in Mesopotamia as he did in Egypt (as Re).
  16. As in the Sumerian title Gugalanna (Gud-gal-anna), "Great Bull of Heaven." See T. Jacobsen, The Treasures of Darkness; A History of Mesopotamian Religion, p 96.
  17. Compare Gad (1410/1464) with gadel (1432) "large, great"; gadol (1419) "mighty, noble, proud"; and gadal (1431) "twist, grow, increase, lift up."
  18. Compare Gad with gadad (1413 - akin to Gad) "gash"; gadah (1415) "cut off/into"; gada (1438) "cut"; gadaph/gidduph (1442/1421) "revile, reproach"; and gediy (1423, from 1415) "browsing".
  19. Cain/Qayin (7014), according to Strong's Concordance, also contains a word play on qanah (7069) "to erect, create." An allusion here to the sexual injury of Cain is evident.
  20. Although the crime Cain committed was arguable greater than that of archetypal Anu, his punishment was perhaps less. Anu did not it seems kill Alal (archetypal Abel), but only deposed him. However, according to Greek memory, Uranus (Anu) was not partially but fully emasculated by an avenger. By command of the Mother Goddess Gaia, the genitals of Uranus were harvested by Cronos with a flint sickle (curved knife) as he slept and thrown into the sea, as if to fertilize it. (Robert Graves, The Greek Myths, p 37.) Moreover, Cain recovered from his disgrace and sexual dysfunction, whereas Anu likely had not. Finally, the male line of Cain/Gad did prevail in kingship (after the Flood) over that of Asher. See next chapter for further discussion.
  21. His bread/battle (lechem) is fat/anointed (shamen). He produces/bestows (nathan) royal/kingly (melech) delicacies/pleasures (ma'adan).
  22. From the Prologue of "Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Nether World," quoted and commented upon by S.N. Kramer, History Begins at Sumer, pp 169-170.
  23. This part of the legend is damaged and it is not possible to determine whether the messenger, called a "fox," forgot his promise (as the cupbearer in the Joseph story), was executed (as the baker in the Joseph story), or whether Enki was returned to good graces by some other means (such as interpreting a dream as in the Joseph story).
  24. Nushka was perhaps initially also referred to as the son of Sin (son of Enlil), however this must have only been in a political sense.
  25. Cf Nehushtan, a symbol/standard of the "House of Joseph" (?), that was broken by Hezekiah a king of "Judah." Compare the mythic Nagash ("Serpent") of India.
  26. Compare the Akkadian name of Ellil with the Hebrew word eliyl, "good for nothing."
  27. The Igigi seem to be under the control of superior gods called the "Annunaki."
  28. As S.N. Kramer might have said.
  29. Biblical Joseph likewise frees the nobility of toil by creating a workforce of veritable slaves for pharaoh.
  30. Hittite "Kingship in Heaven" and Babylonian "Creation Epic."
  31. It is possible that the god named Sin, a son of Enlil and father of the twins Utu and Inanna, was the one actually sacrificed in the place of his father and assigned the name of Kingu as part of the substitution. Perhaps the attempted coup led by Sin took place at the same time as the worker revolt and was even associated with it.
  32. In the Patriarchal age, a single "god" played the roles of both Sin and Utu. This figure, known in Egypt as Thoth, was not killed or sacrificed, but became one of the most revered Patriarchs, Lamech. See further discussion of Lamech in next chapter.
  33. S.N. Kramer, The Sumerians, p 121.
  34. Mesopotamian myth indicates that the number of major gods (and goddesses) was confined to seven, probably for astronomical reasons,[34] and which originally included An/Anu, Ea/Enki, Ellil/Enlil, Ninhursag/Nintu, Nannar/Sin, Shamash/Utu, and Ishtar/Inanna. Note the emphasis on Enlil's side of the family. The Patriarchs honored in the Book of Genesis are predominantly from Enki's collateral line in Egypt, namely Atum (Adam), On/An (Cain), Ptah (Enoch), Re (Irad), Osiris (Mehujael), Horus the Elder (Mehushael), and Thoth (Lamech). Only Osiris and Thoth are from Shu-Enlil's line.
  35. Chanowk (khan-oke') "initiated," from (2596) chanak "to narrow" [comp. 2614]. Enki was trained as a priest/king/sage and then initiated others. Enki also practiced incest and ate "forbidden fruit" as told in the epic called "Enki and Ninhursag, a Paradise Myth."
  36. Compare also the important ancient cities of Aratta and Urartu, which are similar in form to Eridu and Erech as well.
  37. Ninurta was specifically called "The Archer." However, the archers (plural) seem to not only refer to Ninurta-Geb-Sataran but also Set-Baal. The gods collectively were called the "Baals." The most prominent god in Canaan and Syria was Set, and he rather than Geb is the god generally represented by the title of Baal in the Books of Kings and Chronicles. Astronomically speaking, Sagittarius, the constellation of Ninurta-Geb shoots its arrow at Scorpio, that is, the constellation of the serpent Dan/Adam.
  38. The redoubling of merar makes a word play on the Egyptian Mer-Ra, "Beloved Re."
  39. Compare zara (2233) "seed." In this context seed refers to the natural line of Joseph.
  40. Ea-Enki/Ptah was foremost a god of the underworld ("south") and of the oceans and subterranean fresh waters.
  41. Ra is the traditional Egyptian spelling. Re is the Greek form.
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