A starry night thousands of years ago. The fire cracks, the smell of smoke in the air, an elder stirs the flames with a stick watching his young audience as they sit anticipating the stories that always accompany these times. The story teller looks them over, clears his throat, looks them each in the eye and begins…
“When on high heaven was not named, And the earth beneath did not yet bear a name, And the primeval Apsû, who begat them, And chaos, Tiamat, the mother of them both, Their waters were mingled together, And no field was formed, no marsh was to be seen; When of the gods none had been called into being The epic names two primeval gods: Apsu, the fresh water, and Tiamat, the salt water.
Several other gods are created (Ea and his brothers) who reside in Tiamat’s vast body. They make so much noise that it annoys Tiamat and Apsu greatly. Apsu wishes to kill the young gods, but Tiamat disagrees. The vizier, Mummu, agrees with Apsu’s plan to destroy them. Tiamat, to stop this from occurring, tells Ea (Nudimmud), at the time the most powerful of the gods, who, using magic, puts Apsu into a coma and kills him, and shuts Mummu out. Ea then becomes the chief god, and along with his consort Damkina, has a son, Marduk, greater still than himself.
Marduk is given wind to play with and he uses it to make dust storms and tornadoes. This disrupts Tiamat’s great body and causes the gods still residing inside her to be unable to sleep. They persuade Tiamat to take revenge for the death of her husband. Her power grows, and some of the gods join her. She creates 11 monsters to help her win the battle and elevates Kingu, her new husband, to “supreme dominion.”
Ultimately, Marduk is selected as champion against Tiamat, and becomes very powerful. He defeats and kills Tiamat, and forms the universe from her corpse. The gods confer kingship on Marduk, hailing him with fifty names.”
This is a rival story of creation told by the ancient Babylonians. It reflects their idea of how humankind began. The Earth, humanity, was created, not by a loving god but from the corpse of a dead god who was slain in the chaos of battle.
Another creation story told by other wise elders to their children and children’s children…
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was [a] formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be……and God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, in our likeness…So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them…God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.
The creation story found in Genesis is not the oldest of creation stories and found its most complete form while the people of God were in captivity in…you guessed it, Babylon. They needed to know if This chaotic god of the Babylonians, this warrior god who beat down these other gods, was now in charge?
So the Hebrews told their creation story to their children. There are many differences in the two creation stories but the resounding one is that even though we are slaves, captives, victims. When looking around all we see is chaos and defeat. Always remember that our God never vied for power, never battled for control, there is no chaos within God and with just his words he can bring order, new life, balance, an end to the storm.
The chaos of our world and life at times can be a hurricane whipping and turning, tossing and fighting. It is not easy to remember that order and balance exist. When chaos comes, tearing up our world we ask “is the storm all there is…? Does it make a difference if there is balance and order when life is blowing, battering, battling and beating me down?”
Yes, it does make a difference and the difference is all the difference.
peace and grace