Israel and Babylon's High Gods: Yahweh and Marduk

One cannot help but notice how people of the ancient Near East attempted to make their high god(s) sound more “supreme” than the rest. Below is a chart comparing accolades bestowed on Marduk (Mesopotamian) with those bestowed on Yahweh/El (Israelite):

He [Marduk] shall be “Lord of All the Gods”… No one among the gods shall [make himself equal] to him.
—Enuma Elish Tablet VI:141 and VII:14

Our God is above all gods… God of gods… Lord of lords.
—Hebrew Bible, Psalm 135:5 and 136:2, 3

Throne of Yahweh
Ancient Depiction of Yahweh,
Israelʼs High God

Ancient Depiction of Marduk,
Babylonʼs High God

He [Marduk] established the holy heavens… Creator of the earth above the waters, establisher of things on high… who made the worldʼs regions… He created “places” and fashioned the netherworld.
—Enuma Elish Tablet VII:16, 83, 89, 135

[God] established the heavens… inscribed a circle on the face of the deep… made firm the skies above… marked out the foundations of the earth.
—Hebrew Bible, Proverbs 8:27–28

[God] stretched out the earth above the waters.
—Hebrew Bible, Psalm 136:6


He [Marduk] patterned the days of the year… established the positions of Enlil and Ea [referring to the rotation of stars in the sky]… made the moon appear, entrusted (to him) the night… assigned to the crown jewel of nighttime to mark the day (of the month)… [Marduk] d[efined?] the celestial signs [for religious festivals]… the doorbolt of sunrise… the watches of night and day.
—Enuma Elish Tablet V:3, 5, 8, 12–13, 23, 44, 46

God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons [the literal Hebrew means ‘religious festivals,’ as used elsewhere in the Pentateuch], and for days, and years… And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth.
—Hebrew Bible, Genesis 1:14, 16–17


He [Marduk] made mankind… creatures with the breath of life… creator of all people.
—Enuma Elish Tablet VI:33,129 & VII:89

God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
—Hebrew Bible, Genesis 2:7


He [Marduk] shall be the shepherd of the [Mesopotamians], his creatures.
—Enuma Elish Tablet VI:107

The Lord is my shepherd.
—Hebrew Bible, Psalm 23:1


Creation, destruction, absolution, punishment: Each shall be at his [Mardukʼs] command.
—Enuma Elish Tablet VI:131-32

The One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity.
—Hebrew Bible, Isaiah 45:7


His [Mardukʼs] word is truth, what he says is not changed, Not one god has annulled his utterance.
—Enuma Elish Tablet VII:151–52

Has [the Lord] said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not make it good?
—Hebrew Bible, Numbers 23:19


Word of him [Marduk] shall endure, not to be forgotten.
—Enuma Elish Tablet VII:31–2

The word of our God shall stand forever.
—Hebrew Bible, Isaiah 40:8


Let them ever speak of his [Mardukʼs] exaltation, let them sing his praises!
—Enuma Elish Tablet VII:24

Be exalted, O Lord, in your strength; we will sing and praise your might.
—Hebrew Bible, Psalm 21:13


His [Mardukʼs] beneficent roar shall thunder over the earth.
—Enuma Elish Tablet VII:120

But His [Godʼs] thunder… rumbles from his mouth… under the whole heaven, and his lightning to the ends of the earth.
—Hebrew Bible, Job 26:14 and 37:2-3


[Marduk,] who crossed vast Tiamat [sea goddess] back and forth in his wrath, Spanning her like a bridge at the place of single combat.
—Enuma Elish Tablet VII:74

Thy way [God] was in the sea, and Thy paths in the mighty waters. He [God] tramples down the waves of the sea.
—Hebrew Bible, Psalm 77:19 and Job 9:8


He [Marduk], profound of wisdom, ingenious in perception,
Whose heart is so deep that none of the gods can comprehend it.
—Enuma Elish Tablet VII:117–18

He [God] who does great things, unfathomable, and wondrous works.
—Hebrew Bible, Job 9:10

Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord.
—Hebrew Bible, Psalm 86:8


The Mesopotamians, like the Egyptians, held high-god notions alongside crude polytheistic ones. For instance, consider this prayer exalting a Mesopotamian moon-god

Merciful, gracious father, who holds all the life of the land in your hand! Lord, your divinity is like the distant heaven, like the broad sea, full of fearfulness… whose deep mind no god penetrates… the source of all things, who sees and protects all creatures! Lord, who determines the destiny of heaven and earth, whose command no one can alter… In the heavens—who is high? You alone are high. On earth—who is high? You alone are high. [Helmer Ringgren, Religions of the Ancient Near East, trans. John Sturdy (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1973), p. 57]

In Babylon, Marduk, instead of the moon-god, attained top-god status. In a ritual for the New Year festival, Marduk was invoked in this fashion:

My lord is my god, my lord is my ruler, is there any lord apart from him? [Ringgren, p. 110]

And Nebuchadnezzar II prayed at his accession to Marduk:

Everlasting lord, master of all that exists, grant to the king, whom you love, and whose name you name, all that is pleasant to you. Keep him on the right way… You have created me and entrusted to me the dominion over all peoples. O lord, let me according to your grace, which you pour over them all, love your exalted might, and create in my heart fear of your divinity. [Ringgren, p. 67]

And in Enuma Elish Marduk is:

The trust of the land, city and people. The people shall praise him forever… At his name the gods shall tremble and quake… Who administers justice, uproots twisted testimony, In whose place falsehood and truth are distinguished… Who uprooted all enemies… snuffed out all wicked ones… his name shall be the truth! [Enuma Elish, Tablet VI:135–36, 146 and VII:39–40, 43, 45, 54]

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