Authors: Brian Godawa
It had been several days since Gilgamesh left Uruk for the Great Cedar Forest with Enkidu and his band of warriors. Dumuzi had taken to his new responsibilities
over Uruk with a certain amount of distaste. The only satisfaction he received was sending Sinleqiunninni to the library archives for a detailed, up to date accounting of the kingdom finances. He would be there for weeks most likely, rummaging through a myriad of broken, misplaced, and out of date tablets trying to recalculate inaccurate numbers and tracking down missing accounts. The crown was meticulous in its accounting, but humans were fallible and corrupt, so there would be much malfeasance to uncover and wrongs to right, all of which made Sinleqiunninni the perfect bureaucrat of tedium to employ.
Fortunately, it was not a futile exercise as the wall was near finished and Gilgamesh would have to reconcile his finances and resources upon completion. So it was all necessary.
But Dumuzi missed the herds and the grazing fields. He missed the open air and the sound of baaing sheep lulling him to sleep. And how did he find himself in such an odd position of trust with the king whom he had wanted to kill for his violation of Dumuzi’s dignity and honor in the past? He found himself strangely drawn in by Gilgamesh’s magnetic charisma. He was an abusive ruler in some ways, but in others, he was a positive force of order out of the chaos. He was just the kind of leader that was needed to restrain the petty grumblings and mob mentality of the masses. People tended to behave like stupid sheep, following whatever was the strongest, most sensational call to action, regardless of its rationality or its moral value, right or wrong. And it was usually wrong. Only a strong leader could calm the mob or stir them in his calculated direction.
also provided a leadership with strong vision for a better future. He was a troubled king who seemed to be having his own personal crisis of meaning and identity and thus his quest for fame and eternal life. But if current events were any indication of the future of Uruk, Dumuzi was hopeful. Enkidu’s influence on Gilgamesh had already persuaded him to retract the abominable policy of
jus prima noctis
that had stolen Dumuzi’s honor and been the source of his rage. King Gilgamesh showed signs of becoming a better king, a more just king.
Dumuzi put it out of his mind as he approached the clay pit. The foreman had alerted him that the workers had noticed a strong smell permeating the area. It was the
stench of rotting flesh — or to be more precise, as Sinleqiunninni would say, rotting fish.
He arrived at the pit and journeyed down the incline until he reached the bottom where the workers had stopped and were gathered around a large area of ground
with something gargantuan uncovered from underneath. It appeared to be the rough scaly backbone of some huge sea monster. And it stunk to high heaven. The scales and spines were too strong to break through with their tools, but the flesh was rotting underneath it.
Dumuzi called Sinleqiunni
nni out of his exile in the dungeonous library to give him some explanation. As best the scholar could figure, it was probably a sea dragon of some kind that was buried in the sediment of the Great Flood.
“Normally, the flesh would have rotted away generations ago,”
declared Sinleqiunninni with superior knowledge, “leaving only a carcass of bones. But according to my observations, the burial was rapid, and apparently must have worked like a kind of sealed tomb, which froze or slowed down the deterioration of the flesh. But when the workers broke the seal, and unearthed the body, it came into contact with the open air again, resulting in the rapid decomposition of its current state.”
And there was a lot of flesh to decompose. The thing
was huge. It might even be large enough to obstruct the entire work area and force them to start a new clay pit.
Dumuzi ordered them to keep digging further away from the current excavation to see just how big
the corpse was. He returned to the palace to take a nap and find some clean air to breath.
A few days out from Uruk,
Gilgamesh and his band of warrior brothers careened along their journey to the Great Cedar Forest at Mount Hermon in the west. They were an elite corps of mighty soldiers of the king, who had trained for years in his service. One could even call them
was a word that was evolving to mean mighty warrior, either human or Nephilim. Gilgamesh had led them on a fast-paced march that they were sure must have been supernaturally aided by the gods. Their trip was three hundred leagues to the foot of Mount Hermon in the midst of the Great Cedar Forest and Gilgamesh followed seven constellations by night through seven mountain passes all told. They navigated fifty leagues a day, twenty before they broke bread, and another thirty before they pitched camp. They traveled in a mere few days what would have taken weeks for a normal trained militia. It was nothing short of miraculous.
They dug a well and poured a water offering out to Shamash in gratitude. Enkidu had wondered what use water would be to a god who was a big ball of burning fire in the sky. Was he eternally thirsty?
Would not water put his fire out? It did not make much sense to him, but he went along with it anyway. Perhaps Shamash would shine some light into the darkened corners of this infernal forest.
They had tra
veled along the Euphrates river, around the fertile crescent, and down into the foothills of the Sirion Mountain range. By the time they were in sight of the cosmic mountain and at the edge of the vast forest, Gilgamesh confided in Enkidu that he had been having dreams again as he had before he battled Enkidu in Uruk.
“What are the dreams?” asked Enkidu. “I am not skilled in the art of interpretation like your mother,” he said, pulling out the golden amulet from around his neck, “but I bear the spirit of your family name.”
Gilgamesh said, “There have been five of them.” Enkidu’s eyes went wide. That was quite a few dreams.
“Well,” said Enkidu, “
let us construct a dream house of the gods and compose the circle for you to recount your dreams.”
So they threw together a crude dream house of the gods out of loose lumber. It was like a makeshift lean to. Enkidu drew the circle with a stick, poured out a libation of flour on the ground, and the two sat down in the middle. As if on cue, Gilgamesh became hypnotic and rested his head on his knees.
“My king?” said Enkidu.
Suddenly, Gilgamesh snapped his head back, looking at Enkidu with bleary red eyes, “Why did I wake up?” he shouted, “Why am I trembling? Did a god pass by?”
Enkidu stared at him blankly. He had no clue what Gilgamesh just said. But he figured he would wing it and try to help his friend find his way.
Enkidu spoke as if he knew what he was doing, “Tell me your dreams.”
Gilgamesh said, “In the first dream, I was in a mountain gorge and the mountain fell upon me. But I was pulled out of the mountain and cast it down, and it was covered with flies.”
Enkidu was even more confused than moments before. He wondered if he had gotten in over his head and if he should back out while he still had the chance. His mind raced for something positive, anything he could make up to encourage Gilgamesh. He was looking out upon Mount Hermon in the distance and just blurted the first thing that came to his mind, “The mountain is
Humbaba!” Gilgamesh looked to him for more. He was very superstitious when it came to dreams and gullible toward anyone with an interpretation.
Enkidu filled in the silence with words until he could come up with something else, “Your dream is
— uh — favorable. It is a precious — omen.” He had heard Ninsun use that word ‘omen’ before and thought it might fit well here, though he was not entirely sure.
repeated, “The mountain you saw is Humbaba.” Then his thoughts drifted toward the monster and his emotions about the giant spilled out, “We will catch Humbaba and slay him — and throw his corpse out upon the field of battle for the flies to consume like excrement.”
was not too bad. Gilgamesh was following like a hypnotized religious fanatic. The sun broke through the clouds and glared into Enkidu’s eyes. He sneezed from the brightness and said, “A sign that Shamash will show us favor.”
Gilgamesh began his next dream before Enkidu could try to stop. “My second dream surpasses the first.”
, thought Enkidu.
What have I gotten myself into?
Gilgamesh continued, “Another mountain threw me down and held me until a man appeared, a most handsome man, who pulled me from beneath the mountain and gave me a fresh drink of water.”
Gilgamesh paused and stared at Enkidu like a school child looking to the master to give the answer. But Enkidu was even more in the dark than before. He thought,
what do the gods hope to achieve by giving such crazy dreams that do not make any sense? If I were a god, I would chose a little more clear means of communicating my message.
“Enkidu,” Gilgamesh interrupted his confusion.
Enkidu said the first thing that came to him, “Uh, the mountain is
Humbaba,” Now Gilgamesh looked confused and Enkidu thought to himself,
why did I just say that? I just said the opposite of what I said before. I will never talk about dreams to anyone ever again
Enkidu tried a dodge, “What was the next dream? Maybe
they are connected in some way.”
Gilgamesh answered, “I was grappling with a wild bull of the wilderness, and his bellowing snort split the earth beneath my feet and a cloud of dust obscured the sky.”
Enkidu sat stone silent. He felt like he had fallen into a crevice of his own making and had no way to climb back up.
Gilgamesh started to explain his next dream, “In another one, heaven and earth rumbled and flashes of lightning…”
“I am sorry, my lord,” interrupted Enkidu.
was not listening. He kept going, “And an Anzu bird was caught by a strange man…”
“Ho, hurrah, my king!”
bellowed Enkidu with his characteristic holler.
Enkidu said, “I really do not put much investment in dreams. Basically, we are going to fight with Humbaba, there is going to be a lot of chaos and destruction, but we will triumph over him with great victory. Now we have our axes and swords, you have the mighty bow of Anshan, and we have fifty warriors backing us up. Let us kill ourselves a giant!”
And with that, Enkidu popped up and gathered his weapons. Gilgamesh nodd
ed his head solemnly, finding some profundity in it all.
This is definitely one of the king’s weaknesses. I think his mother did this to him. She is too coddling with his obsessions.
was slumbering, the workers in the pit continued their labors excavating the great fish that was causing them delay in putting the finishing touches on the walls of Uruk.
A group of workers hack
ed away at the clay some distance away from the original discovery site, when they came upon what appeared to be the head of the sea monster. Soon they would know where to complete their work of brick-making away from this stench filled area.
A dozen feet away, one of the workers saw the ground move.
“Did you see that?” he asked the others. They grumbled and gave scattered “no’s” and complaints to keep digging.
But then the ground moved more noticeably and they all stopped to watch. One of the workers blew a horn and the foreman and others came to see what all the fuss was about.
As the crowd gathered around, a large humanoid hand broke out of the clay and grasped the air into a clenched fist. The growing circle backed away in fear. What was this beast that was being born from the earth? A shade escaping Sheol? Had they accidentally broken in upon the forbidden underworld?
The earth bulged. The human thing was trying to rise up out of its grave. Though everyone else backed away, the foreman moved forward with macabre curiosity. For some strange reason, he wanted to help the thing.
The clay finally ruptured and a large being eight feet tall burst its way out of the clay. It was a humanoid with luminescent burnished bronze skin, made of scales so small they were not readily visible to the normal human eye. It had body-length hair on its head and eyes of lapis lazuli blue. The earth that had been removed revealed the immense teeth of the sea monster. This demigod had been clamped in the dragon’s mighty jaws. But now it was free.
It looked down at the foreman, who was transfixed by the mystery of this naked being of such power and awe. The crowd all around was speechless.
The being spoke to the foreman with a voice that creaked as if talking for the first time, “What is your name?”
“Ninshubar,” he answered obediently.
The shining one reached down and put its hand on the foreman’s shoulder. Ninshubar smiled. He was looking into the face of a god.
The god grabbed Ninshubar’s head and completely ripped it from his body. The corpse fell to the ground and the shining one roared with fury to the heavens.
The workers scrambled in fear. But they would not escape today. The shining being hunted them down like rabbits, hundreds of them, and killed them all in a bloodbath of fury. Its speed and efficiency were astonishing.
And after it had its fill, it stood at the top of the clay pit and looked down upon the blood and carnage with a lack of satisfaction. It would take a lot more death and destruction than this to quench its rage, a rage that had generations of solitude buried alive in the depths of the earth to fester.
The shining being was Azazel the Watcher, who had been caught in the mouth of Rahab the sea dragon of chaos in the flood waters of the Deluge. Since the Watchers were divine Sons of God, they could not die, so when he was buried in the sediment, he was condemned to a living grave of captivity. Because of his rebellion along with Semjaza and the two hundred Watchers who fell from heaven, he had been imprisoned in the earth with the intention of future punishment in the end of time.
But the end was not yet here. It was not yet his time. As a member of the heavenly host, his body
shone when he had strong emotional reactions. And Azazel was brimming over with generations of compounded angry rage that manifested flashing lightning like radiance. He had had plenty of time in his earthly imprisonment to plot his revenge.