The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria

Author: Theophilus Goldridge Pinches


As the matter of Babylonian monotheism has been publicly touched upon by Fried. Delitzsch in his "Babel und Bibel" lectures, a few words upon that important point will be regarded in all probability as appropriate. It has already been indicated that the giving of the names of "the gods his fathers" to Merodach practically identified them with him, thus leading to a tendency to monotheism. That tendency is, perhaps, hinted at in a letter of Aššur-banî-âpli to the Babylonians, in which he frequently mentions the Deity, but in doing so, uses either the word /îlu/, "God," Merodach, the god of Babylon, or Bêl, which may be regarded as one of his names. The most important document for this monotheistic tendency, however (confirming as it does the tablet of the fifty-one names), is that in which at least thirteen of the Babylonian deities are identified with Merodach, and that in such a way as to make them merely forms in which he manifested himself to men. The text of this inscription is as follows:—

". . . is Merodach of planting.
Lugal-aki-. . . is Merodach of the water-course.
Nirig is Merodach of strength.
Nergal is Merodach of war.
Zagaga is Merodach of battle.
Bêl is Merodach of lordship and domination.
Nebo is Merodach of trading(?).
Sin is Merodach the illuminator of the night.
Šamaš is Merodach of righteous things.
Addu is Merodach of rain.
Tišpak is Merodach of frost(?).
Sig is Merodach of green things(?).
Šuqamunu is Merodach of the irrigation-channel."

Here the text breaks off, but must have contained several more similar identifications, showing how at least the more thoughtful of the Babylonians of old looked upon the host of gods whom they worshipped. What may be the date of this document is uncertain, but as the colophon seems to describe it as a copy of an older inscription, it may go back as far as 2000 years B.C. This is the period at which the name /Yaum-îlu/ "Jah is God," is found, together with numerous references to /îlu/ as the name for the one great god, and is also, roughly, the date of Abraham, who, it may be noted, was a Babylonian of Ur of the Chaldees. It will probably not be thought too venturesome to say that his monotheism was possibly the result of the religious trend of thought in his time.


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Chicago: Theophilus Goldridge Pinches, "Monotheism.," The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria, trans. Weber, Gottfried in The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria Original Sources, accessed March 25, 2023,

MLA: Pinches, Theophilus Goldridge. "Monotheism." The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria, translted by Weber, Gottfried, in The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria, Original Sources. 25 Mar. 2023.

Harvard: Pinches, TG, 'Monotheism.' in The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria, trans. . cited in , The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria. Original Sources, retrieved 25 March 2023, from