Order and Creation in the Ancient Near East


The three great influences on the Hebrew Bible are Canaan, Egypt and Babylon. Each of these had well developed beliefs about the gods, creation and order in the cosmos.

In the Ancient Near East they had no concept of nothingness before creation. For them the opposite of an ordered creation was total disorder often cast as violent waters. It is interesting that in the Bible account of creation it does not start with nothingness but a world that is formless and empty with dark waters: “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters” (Genesis 1:2). For the people of the Ancient Near East creation involved the bringing of order, i.e. the seasons, food, harmony, the placing of different people in their different social positions with different tasks etc.

The people of the Ancient Near East were concerned that the Gods kept up the order i.e. sustained the world. In Canaan El was credited with creating the world but Ba’al with sustaining it. He was the god of order as opposed to Yam who personified chaos cialis aus holland. Religious festivals and offerings, to Ba’al were important in helping to please him so that order would be maintained.

In Babylon the order of creation also included the order of society. And so the King, who decreed laws, was linked to the gods who sustained order. Just as there were gods in heaven who maintained the order of the cosmos, so the king maintained order on earth. An annual festival involved the celebration of the victory of Marduk who created the world from the body of Tiamet, a goddess linked to chaos. In the festival the Babylonian King would take the hand of a statue of Marduk, affirming the link between Marduk and the king.

In Egypt creation occurred when the Sun god rose over the oceans. There was a continual awareness of the link with the original creation. The sun rose again every day reminding them of the original creation. Also Pharaoh is meant to be a descendent of the sun god? Incantations and offerings were continually offered which helped the order to be maintained.