Re: How to interpret Adam (was: Re: Kerkut)

From: Dick Fischer <>
Date: Wed Feb 11 2004 - 00:09:04 EST

Peter Ruest wrote:

>Similarly, an historical Adam need not be the genealogical "beginning of
>all humanity",
>their common progenitor, to have the theological significance required.

The only legend that parallels Adam is the legend of Adapa. Some words and
phrases do resonate with the biblical text and highlight some of the
characteristics we might expect Adam to have.

Several fragments of the "Legend of Adapa" were taken from the Library of
Ashurbanipal (668-626 BC) at Ninevah. One also was found in the Egyptian
archives of Amenophis III and IV of the fourteenth century BC. A fragment
of one record of the Adapa legend rests in the Pierpont Morgan Library
inscribed in Amorite, a Semitic language.

There are a lot of reasons I believe that it is likely Adam and Adapa are
the same man. I can find no one written about in Sumerian or Accadian
literature who wasn't either a king or a god or a goddess. Adapa is the
lone exception - a seer. Fragments found are all written in Semitic
languages. I think this indicates someone who had to be well known and
esteemed through oral tradition among the Semites.

He is called "atrahasis," exceeding wise. The only other person so called
comes from the Atrahasis legend which parallels Noah. The Sumerian king
list begins with the first king in Eridu "when kingship came down from on
high." Also Eridu is the oldest city in Mesopotamia dating to 4800 BC.

According to Accadian legend, Ea created Adapa an exemplary man, endowed
with "superhuman wisdom," but not eternal life. A fishing accident angered
Adapa, who broke the wing of the south wind, and was summoned to heaven to
appear before god Anu. Ea warned Adapa not to eat a certain food or drink
any water that would be offered to him. A cautious Adapa shuns the food
and water of life, whereby he would have acquired eternal life.

Could it be only coincidence that Adam was told "by the sweat of his face"
he would eat "bread," and Adapa was a baker by trade; or that Adapa was
deprived of eternal life by not eating or drinking the "food or water of
life," while Adam was cut off from eating the fruit of the "tree of life"?

Regarded as a prophet or seer, Adapa had been priest of the temple of Ea at
Eridu. He is described as "blameless," "clean of hands," "anointer and
observer of laws." Could that also describe Adam, the first type of
Christ? Also, Adam was taken from the ground; in the Hebrew: 'adam from
'adamah. How close phonetically is 'adamah to Adapa? In the legend, Adapa
is described as "the son of Ea" - literally the son of god.

In literary Sumerian, the contrast "town and country" is commonly expressed
by uru and 'adam, literally "town and pasture." The connection with
'adam and the "ground" in Genesis is mirrored with 'adam and pasture land
in Sumerian.

Did Adam's Fall affect following generations? These two lines are part of
one Adapa fragment:

[...] what ill he has brought upon mankind,
[And] the disease that he brought upon the bodies of men ...

 From the Apocrypha, this Jewish tradition of the Fall is also reflected in
II Esdras 7:48:

O Adam, what have you done?
For though it was you who sinned,
the fall was not yours alone,
but ours also who are your descendants.

Westermann concludes that in this text Adam is not understood as a
"representative of mankind created by God, but as an historical individual
whose `Fall' was passed on through him to his descendants." Personally, I
agree with Westermann.

But don't take my word for it, following is the legend of Adapa in its
entirety. For the uninitiated, Anu is the Accadian father god who resides
in a place above the earth. Ea is number two in the hierarchy of gods and
is the creator of mankind.

Dumuzi in this story was the fifth king in the pre-flood era. He romances
the goddess Inanna in a fabled legend and disappears, whereupon women weep
and wail at the gates for virtually centuries! Even Ezekiel mentioned this
cult following using his Hebrew name Tammuz.

The Legend of Adapa

He (Ea) made broad understanding perfect in him (Adapa),
To disclose the design of the land.
To him he gave wisdom, but did not give eternal life.
At that time, in those years, he was a sage, son of Eridu.
Ea created him as a protecting spirit (?) among mankind.
A sage - nobody rejects his word -
Clever, extra-wise (atrahasis), he was one of the Anunnaki,
Holy, pure of hands, the pasisu-priest who always tends the rites.
He does baking with the bakers of Eridu,
He does the food and water of Eridu every day,
Sets up the offerings table with his pure hands,
Without him no offerings table is cleared away.
He takes the boat out and does the fishing for Eridu.
At that time Adapa, the son of Eridu,
When he had got the [leader (?)] Ea out of bed,
Used to `feed' the bolt of Eridu every day.
At the holy Kar-usakar he embarked in a sailing-boat
And without a rudder his boat would drift,
Without a steering-pole he would take his boat out into the broad sea.
South Wind
Send him? to live in the fishes' home.
"South Wind, though you send your brothers against me,
However many there are, I shall break your wing!"
No sooner had he uttered these words
than South Wind's wing was broken;
For seven days South Wind did not blow towards the land.
Anu called out to his vizier Ilabrat,
"Why hasn't the south wind blown towards the land for seven days?"
His vizier Ilabrat answered him,
"My lord, Adapa, the son of Ea has broken South Wind's wing."
When Anu heard this word,
He cried "Heaven help him!", rose up from his throne.
"Send for him to be brought here!"
Ea, aware of Heaven's ways, touched him
And made him wear his hair unkempt,
Clothed him in mourning garb,
Gave him instructions,
"Adapa, you are to go before king Anu.
You will go up to Heaven,
And when you go up to Heaven,
When you approach the gate of Anu,
Dumuzi and Gizzida will be standing in the Gate of Anu,
Will see you, will keep asking you questions,
"Young man, on whose behalf do you wear mourning garb?"
You must answer:
"Two gods have vanished from our country,
And that is why I am behaving like this."
They will ask:
"Who are the two gods that have vanished from the countryside?"
You will answer:
"They are Dumuzi and Gizzida."
"They will look at each other and laugh a lot,
Will speak a word in your favor to Anu,
Will present you to Anu in a good mood.
When you stand before Anu
They will hold out for you bread of death, so you must not eat.
They will hold out for you water of death, so you must not drink.
They will hold out a garment for you; so put it on.
They will hold out oil for you; so annoint yourself.
You must not neglect the instructions I have given you;
Keep to the words that I have told you."
The envoy of Anu arrived.
"Send to me Adapa,
Who broke the South Wind's wing."
He made him take the way of heaven.
When he came up to heaven,
When he approached the Gate of Anu,
Dumuzi and Gizzida were standing in the Gate of Anu.
They saw Adapa and cried, "Heaven help him!
Young man, on whose behalf do you look like this?
Adapa, on whose behalf do you wear mourning clothes?
"Two gods have vanished from the country,
and that is why I am wearing mourning clothes."
"Who are the two gods who have vanished from the country?"
"Dumuzi and Gizzida," Adapa answered.
They looked at each other and laughed alot.
When Adapa drew near to the presence of King Anu,
Anu saw him and shouted,
"Come here, Adapa! Why did you break South Wind's wind?"
Adapa answered Anu,
"My lord, I was catching fish in the middle of the sea,
For the house of my lord Ea.
But he inflated the sea into a storm
And south wind blew and sank me!
I was forced to take up residence in the fishes' home.
In my fury, I cursed South Wind."
Dumuzi and Gizzida responded from beside him,
Spoke a word in his favor to Anu.
His heart was appeased he grew quiet.
"Why did Ea disclose to wretched mankind
The ways of heaven and earth,
Give them a heavy heart?
It was he who did it!
What can we do for him?
Fetch him the bread of eternal life and let him eat!"
They fetched him the bread of eternal life, but he would not eat.
They fetched him the water of eternal life, but he would not drink.
They fetched him a garment, and he put it on himself.
They fetched him oil, and he anointed himself.
Anu watched him and laughed at him.
"Come Adapa, why didn't you eat? Why didn't you drink?"
Didn't you want to be immortal? Alas for downtrodden people!"
"But Ea my lord told me: "You mustn't eat! You mustn't drink!"
Take him and send him back to his earth.

Dick Fischer - Genesis Proclaimed Association
Finding Harmony in Bible, Science, and History
Received on Wed Feb 11 00:24:13 2004

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