From the Oak: Let’s hear it for the God!

Many are those that focus on female divinities, leaving male divinities in the shadows if they get mentioned at all. This is a shame. Here I will share my thoughts, stories and prayers on male divinities. Currently focusing on divinities placed in an atheist "graveyard".

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Nabu, God of Writing and Wisdom

Nabu is one of the most important Mesopotamian deities.  His name can be interpreted to mean brilliant, one-who-names, announcer, or herald. Associated with Apollo by the Greeks, Mercury by the Romans, and Thoth by the Egyptians, he was the scribe and minister of Marduk, head of the pantheon.

 b2ap3_thumbnail_Nabu-Lawrie-Highsmith.jpg

 

Nabu’s influence is such that history shows that he was originally a god from Ebla which was absorbed into the cult of Marduk then made his firstborn son and identified as brother of the god Nergal.  He was then adopted by the Assyrians and known as the son of Ashur.  About this time, Nabu became associated with the Tablets of Destiny that describes the Fate of mortals.  His worshipped continued until at least 2 CE outlasting many of the Mesopotamian gods.  In the Christian bible, Nabu is found under the name Nebo.  He is also sometimes associated with the harvest but this may be through the knowledge he keeps to aid in greater yields.

Nabu took over as the divinity of writing from the goddess Nidaba/Nisaba.  It can be said that he represents the next stage of writing, the perception of knowledge. In some myths she is his wife and divine assistant much in the same way as Seshat with Thoth.  Sumerian hymns and other works ended originally with the phrase “Praise be to Nisaba!” later ended with “Praise be to Nabu!” His symbol is the wedge-shaped cuneiform mark or a stylus laying upon a writing tablet.  Nabu is often depicted as bearded in royal garb holding his stylus and standing on a snake-dragon.

Nidaba is not the only wife attributed to him.  Originally his wife is named as Tashmit/Tasmetu, Lady of Hearing and of Favors, a loving mediator goddess.  When Nabu became syncretized with the Sumerian god Muati, Nanaya, goddess of sex and warfare, was considered his wife.

If you think back to your school days, writing was invented in by the Sumerians about 3000 BCE or so.  The wedge-shaped marks, called cuneiform, were set into wet clay which was then set aside to dry and harden.  It was considered to be a gift of Nabu to mortals.  The primary usage for cuneiform was keeping track of trade and sending messages long distance.  The written word was highly respected as were Nabu and his representatives.  Nabu’s importance is displayed in the Akitu Festival, the most important Babylonian harvest festival celebrated at the beginning of each new year, which was celebrated at the Spring Equinox.

When the Assyrian Empire fell, most of the major gods were no longer honored, except for Nabu.  This is generally thought to be because Nabu was not associated with political power as Marduk or Ashur.  In fact his worship spread to Egypt, Anatolia and Syria.  By the time of Augustus Caesar, Nabu was known in Greece and Rome. 

Nabu, wise and splendid

Skilled in the arts,

Trustee of all heaven and underworld,

Expert in everything

The holder of the tablet stylus

Universal Scribe

Merciful and judicious

Trustworthy and Honest

May you be remembered and honored.

 

Helpful Links:

http://www.ancient.eu/Nabu/

http://oracc.museum.upenn.edu/amgg/listofdeities/nabu/

http://www.gatewaystobabylon.com/gods/lords/lordnabu.html

 http://oracc.museum.upenn.edu/nimrud/ancientkalhu/thepeople/nabu/

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So much has changed for me in the last year. I'm an eclectic polytheist whose main divinities are Heru-ur, Isis, Zeus, Hermes and Hestia. I'm a mother, wife and Librarian living in the Rocky Mountains stumbling on my path and wondering what the heck I'm doing. Blessed be.

Comments

  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham Wednesday, 31 May 2017

    I remember reading an article in Biblical Archaeology Review about a site that might contain a third temple to Yaho, the god of Israel. From the inscriptions the archaeologists were able to read they identified four deities at the site. Yaho, Nabu, Uzza, and Qos. I don't know where I put that issue, but I can easily find the notes I made of it. I take great delight in this example of ancient eclecticism.

  • Melia/Merit Brokaw
    Melia/Merit Brokaw Wednesday, 31 May 2017

    Interesting! A great example of eclecticism. I agree.

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