World History

Ancient Mesopotamia: Religion and Government

Ancient Mesopotamia: Religion and Government - Crown

Temple Worship Begins

Deity Pantheon Invented

Kingship Initiated

Does the King List Prove the Genesis Seth Line?

Kingship Changes Hands

Did you see the note that brick temples were built in pre-flood Mesopotamia? The God of Adam never ordered temples, nor were they encouraged, because the Judeo-Christian God is everywhere at once. He does not need a house.

Temple Worship Begins

Yet brick temples popped up, complete with altars for sacrifice.

Strangely, I have not read of idols in these temples. Were they, then, first erected to the God of Genesis? But why?

It’s only speculation on my part, but perhaps it made Cain’s family more comfortable. Not daring to ditch God completely, they located the omnipresent, omnipotent God in a structure in which they could approach God and worship him, but he didn’t follow them around all week. They could do what they desired.

Deity Pantheon Invented

The next step would be to divide the immeasurable God into gods and goddesses of specific items. But these were not the same as God. These were humans with superhuman powers. They could be capricious in justice. They could be pranksters. Humans still needed to respect and worship them. But they could be bought. You could make a deal with them.

Yes, that’s a much more comfortable idea of deity.

It can be seen today in the behavior of many worshippers of the Judeo-Christian God who worship at church or temple then do as they please the rest of the week. Worshippers also attempt to make deals with God, forgetting that all they have originated from God.

This gives credence to my Mesopotamian scenario—but it’s not proof.

Kingship Initiated

And then came government. A scribe, who compiled a list of Mesopotamian kings from the most ancient sources available, says that “kingship descended from the heavens.” This means that one or more gods invented kingship and brought the idea to humans.

My guess is that it arrived via a convenient prophecy. I’ve seen similar things happen within my lifetime.

One example is that the Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormon) originally held the position that members of the Negro race could not become elect (believers). During the Civil Rights era, other colleges refused to play Brigham Young University because of this. Then, a new prophecy declared that blacks were now acceptable believers, and college sports returned to normal.

How convenient!

Let’s look at the list of kings before the Great Deluge.

The list of kings dated by the scribe as 2125 B.C.

A compilation of ancient sources.



Enmenluanna43,000Bad-Tibira (probably Badgurguru*)


Dumuzi the Shepherd36,000Bad-Tibira


Enmendurana21,000Zimbir (Sippar/Akkad)


Ziusudra (Noah)36,000Shurrupuk

*means City of the Workers in Bronze

Does the King List Prove the Genesis Seth Line?

The first thing I notice is their extraordinarily long reigns! They are recorded as reining much longer than the patriarchs of Genesis lived—and we thought that was strange!

There is an answer, however. Numbers in Genesis were recorded in Egypt’s Base 10 system. Mesopotamian mathematics were calculated in Base 60.

In fact, there are still people today who count in Base 60. We still use the system in minutes and seconds, whether in time or geometry or navigation.

In Base 60, there is a unit of 60 times 60, or 3600. If that is the unit used in the above list, the years come down to being very close to what Genesis records for patriarch lifespans!

In fact, some Christians believe that this list actually relates to Seth and his descendants as recorded in Genesis. However, I see some problems.

The correlation must begin with Seth rather than Adam. Why would that be done?

Enoch’s counterpart, Ensipadzidana, was also said to ascend to heaven without dying. However, this resulted in Enoch’s lifetime being the shortest of the list. This is not true with his match.

Methuselah lived the longest life on record (in Base 10). Emmendurana did not.

Kingship Changes Hands

This is the order after “kingship descended from the heavens.” It remained in a city until it “fell” or was “defeated.” “Then the kingship was taken to” the next city on the list.

There are a variety of reasons why a city could fail. Some possibilities are war, bad location planning, natural disaster, crop failure, an inept king, a king so unpopular that the people moved out, or perhaps it seemed to the people that the god of that city failed them so they moved to the domain of another god.

There is nothing said about the scope of kingship. Mesopotamia is thought of as an area of city-states, each city ruled by one king.

But this sounds as if one person had the rank of king. It does not rule out leaders of each city, probably a priest.

Overall, it seems that there was a time before kingship. After the first king claimed his crown, civilization quickly degenerated into a state similar to the War of the Roses!

Photo credit: Nathan Mcgregor on Unsplash