Humans Were Created to Be Workers

A recurring piece of information found in ancient creation stories is that humans were created to be workers. Although people commonly speak of freedom as mankind’s birthright, that’s not so if you believe the ancient texts — we were created to serve “God” or “the gods” as physical laborers.

Despite numerous images of Adam and Eve lolling about in the Garden of Eden, enjoying paradise, Bible scripture says otherwise. Adam’s (and presumably Eve’s) job was to take care of the garden:

Genesis 2:15 And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it [apply fertilizer to it] and to keep it.

Many events in Genesis have strong parallels with earlier Mesopotamian “myths.” For instance, the Biblical creation story has long been recognized as sharing numerous key similarities with the Babylonian creation story, the Enuma Elish (“When on High”), which itself is thought to be a version of earlier Sumerian texts, such as the Eridu Genesis, updated to feature the contemporary Babylonian pantheon.

In both the Mesopotamian accounts and in Genesis, one god makes the suggestion (in the Mesopotamian versions, to a divine council) that they make man in “our” (plural) own image.

Genesis 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness….

The Akkadian text Epic of Atrahasis (an “exceedingly wise” king) re-tells the Enuma Elish story of the rebellion of the Minor Gods (the Igigi), who were working hard digging canals or mining gold, depending on the story, and the subsequent creation of humans by the Great Gods (the Anunnaki) so that humans could take over the work:

When the gods, like man, bore the work, carried the labor-basket—the labor-basket of the great gods—the work was heavy, much was the distress.

The seven great Anunnaki caused the Igigi to bear the work.

Forty more years they bore the labor night and day. They wearied, complained, grumbled in the workpits. “Let us confront the throne-bearer that he may remove from us our heavy labor….”

They set fire to their implements, to their spades [they set] fire, their labor-baskets into the flames they threw. They held them [as torches]; they went to the gate of the shrine of hero Enlil. It was night; at mid-watch the house was surrounded; the god did not know. It was night; at mid-watch the Ekur was surrounded; Enlil did not know.

When Enlil wakes up to find his house surrounded by irate minor gods, the Divine Council is called together to address the problem. Enki has a suggestion:

“While [Nintu the birth-goddess] is present, let the birth-goddess create the offspring, let man bear the labor-basket of the gods.”

They called the goddess and asked [her], the midwife of the gods, wise Mami: “you are the birthgoddess, creatress of man. Create lul[l]u-man, let him bear the yoke. Let him bear the yoke, the work of Enlil; let man carry the labor-basket of the gods.”

Nintu opened her mouth and said to the great gods, ‘It is not properly mine to do these things. He is the one who purifies all; let him give me the clay, and I will do (it).”

Did you notice that the mother of humankind is named “Mami”? Nearly every language on Earth uses a word for “Mommy” that sounds like the goddess name. And did you notice that the first humans are called “lulus” (supposedly means workers or bunnies or wanton or …? I’m still trying to find a reliable translation)?

For the fascinating and appalling details of how Mami and Enlil proceed to create lulus (involving the killing of a god and the use of his flesh and blood and the spit of all the gods), see Enki and the Creation of Humankind.

In most ancient religions, the people were considered slaves of the city’s god, and the priests, as intermediaries, controlled everyone’s lives. It seems clear if you look at the history and current state of the world that slavery is more our birthright than freedom. We’ve been the worker-slaves of those “above us” — whatever form they take — for millennia.

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