Harvest and Sow Festival
When the population increased, agriculture farming also developed simultaneously and so also their religious customs. So regular special Pooja’ when they sow the seed and while harvesting, became regular. They gathered together in the temple of God they believed, before the start-up of agriculture to impress him for further blessing and good yielding. Since their expectations and joy were high, this annual event became a significant part of their life. Similarly, the day of harvest also were significant to give thanks and offering to God and witness the result of their hard work.
On this event of celebration of the nature, the birds and animals were treated with special food and Pooja.
When agriculture and livestock farming increased further, it became difficult to transport the entire seeds to the temple for Pooja and the harvested crops as well. Instead they so decided to transport God from the temple to their farms for Poojas on these events. Hence the transfer itself became a holistic event to bring God from the temple and reinstall the idol back.
First King Rises
While the priest takes on the religious needs, they wanted to have a leader for their other walks of life. At the end of a tough physical test’s that’s conducted, they selected a leader. Eventually the leader’s ancestors became the next leader and ultimately called ‘The king’. As each region is ruled by different kings, disputes and quarrel increased between the regions, they decided to have a collective leader or king for the entire community. So they selected a single person among the kings and named him ‘Emperor’ to rules the entire civilization.
While the king looked after the people within the region where as the emperor took care of the entire civilization. Constantly the king and the Emperor took advice from the priest for predictions and matter related to religion. Later, a high priest was selected among the priests to communicate with the King and the Emperor.
As per the history, the first ruler to use the title as King of the kings, Emperor was the Akkadian Sargon of Akkad (Sargon the Great). Likewise, other civilizations also maintained separate Emperors and Kings. The strongest Emperor among all the civilizations was titled ‘King of the Universe’ and Shamshi-Adad was the first Assyrian king to represent this title.
Great King, Mighty King, King of the Universe, King of Assyria, King of Babylon, King of Sumer and Akkad such names are exercised during the rise of kings after that. Defeating Lion, Bear were simply denoting the power and strength of the king. To show the authority of great kings, the priests and high priest used distinct custom practices with the Kings and Emperors. The Kings and Emperors were obedient with the high priests since they feared Gods and rituals. The God Marduk believed as the royal personality seated in the heaven and does judgment over the nations and Kings. Later a synchronization of three Gods, Marduk, Enlil, and the dying God Dumuzida united as one God were titled as Bel, who represented as the God of order and destiny. They believed this Bel as a living God because, it eats the food that is offered to it, but in reality the food was eaten by the seventy priests of Bel.
In ancient Mesopotamia Akitu (Akitum) a spring festival were held in the first month of Nisanu (in Hebrew, Babylonian calendars first month of spring) to celebrate the sowing of barley. Akitu festival has played a pivotal role in the development of theories of religion, myth and ritual.
During the Akitu, statues of the Gods were paraded through the city streets and these customs were enacted to symbolize their victory over the forces of chaos. Through these rituals the people believed the world was cleansed and recreated by the Gods in preparation for the new year and the return of spring.
One fascinating aspect of the Akitu involved a king brought before a statue of the God Marduk (usually called Bel, Lord, because his real name was considered too holy to be pronounced), stripped of his royal regalia and forced to swear that he had led the city with honour. Then a high priest slaps the monarch and drag him by his ears to make him cry. If the King would cry and tears were shed, then it was considered a sign that Marduk was satisfied and had symbolically extended the King’s rule. So festivals like Akitu are also celebration of the extension of a King’s reign or the selection of a new king.
This festival then became one of the prestige celebration, later multiple days were added and became 10-12 long customs days were practices filled New year’s festival.
Babylonia and Sabbath
Babylonia was an ancient Akkadian-speaking state and cultural area based in central-southern Mesopotamia. Initially Babylonia was called “the country of Akkad”. It was a small provincial town during the Akkadian Empire, but eventfully expanded and became a capital city. The Sabbath was a Babylonian institution; its origins go back to early Mesopotamian time. In cuneiform tablets, Sabathu is described as a ‘day of rest for the soul’. It was derived by the Assyrian scribes from two pre-Semitic Sumerian words, ‘sa’ (heart) and ‘bat’ (ceasing). The Sabbath was a holy a day to worship for the Babylonians because Sabbath was a day of rest for the Gods not their worshipers. Gods agents like the kings, priests and high priests rested on the Sabbath, while the population worked (worship) to feed, clothe, house, entertain and sexually please the Gods and their agents.
The Babylonians recognized seven planets, in the sky visible to the naked eye named as wandering stars. And they have connected these planets with their god’s concepts as below.
The Mesopotamians had a lot of festivals based on plants to connect with God. There were regular feasts during the new moon and full moon, on the seventh and fifteenth day of the month. Like this they started celebrating various festivals connected with each one of these deities or planets. During this time, they have wrong hymns and songs to praise the deities of the season. Their religious system was a complex one comprised of hundreds of Gods. Each Sumerian city was guarded by its own God and while humans and Gods used to live together, the humans were considered servants to Gods.
Planetary hours and Week
The high priests placed the planets in order closest to Earth to furthest, as the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Since they considered only these seven planets into consideration, the day was divided into seven hour intervals, each ruled by one of the planets.
But the modern English days of the week were inherited from gods of the old Germanic Norse culture.
When they have invented different metals for their agriculture, they transformed base metals such as lead and copper into silver or gold and to discover a cure for disease to extend life. And they have classified each planet with one of the seven metals because they believed these planets held dominion over these metals.
Sun rules Gold
Moon rules Silver
Mercury rules Quicksilver
Venus rules Copper
Mars rules Iron
Jupiter rules Tin
Saturn rules Lead
Some alchemists linked the vital organs and the planets
Mars Gall bladder
The Babylonian Trinity
Anu, Bel, and Ea is the result of later speculation, dividing the divine power into that which rules in heaven and earth. They believed this trinity of God created the man to work for these Gods. Anu, the God of gods, agreed that their labour was too great. His son Ea, proposed to create man to bear the labour and with the help of his half-sister Ninki, he did. A God was put to death and his body and blood was mixed with clay. From that material the first human being was created, in likeness to the Gods. This first man was created in Eden, a Sumerian word which means ‘flat terrain’. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Eden is mentioned as the garden of the God and is located somewhere in Mesopotamia between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
Initially human beings were unable to reproduce, but later were modified with the help of Enki and Ninki. Thus, Adapa was created as a fully functional and independent human being. This ‘modification’ was done without the approval of Enki’s brother, Enlil, and a conflict between the Gods began. Enlil became the adversary of man, and the Sumerian tablet mentions that men served gods and went through much hardship and suffering. The authorities of earth like priests, kings are appointment of these Gods from heaven, so they have to work as per the guidance of these Gods.
Since these Gods found the act of priests and kings not pleasing, they decided to destroy this earth through a flood. Different version of the flood written in the history especially in the Sumerian as well as Babylonian civilisation period, these gods destroyed mankind out of their anger.
Feast of Marduk and the Sabbath
The Babylon Sabbath festival, people served Mardukby making sacrifices to feed, clothe, house and entertain Marduk. There were even female musical worship teams that performed sexual acts to entertain him. Sabbath was celebrated on Saturday, because Saturday honoured Saturn the planet associated with Marduk.
One text on the Babylonian Sabbath reads:
The seventh day is the feast of Marduk and Zarpanit
The Shepherd of the great people shall not eat
flesh cooked on the coals which is smoked.
The garment of his body he shall not change;
A clean one he shall not put on.
A sacrifice he shall not offer.
The king in a chariot shall not ride.
In triumph he shall not speak.
In the secret place a seer shall not give an oracle.
The physician shall not lay his hand on the sick.
It is not fitting to utter a malediction.
At night before Marduk and Ishtar
the king shall bring his offering;
A libation he shall pour out.
The lifting up of his hands
shall then be pleasing to the gods.
[Source: George Barton, “Archaeology and the Bible”, 7th Edition, p. 309]
In Akkadian culture, shapattu refers to the day of the Full Moon and is not described as a day of rest.
Do not learn the ways of the nations and be terrified by signs in the sky though the nations. For the practices of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter. Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field, their idols cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not fear them; they can do no harm nor can they do any good. They were all senseless and foolish; which were taught by wooden idols.
Hammered silver and gold, what the craftsman and goldsmith have made is then dressed in blue and purple— all made by skilled workers.