The Famine from the Gods

Twelve hundred years had not gone by;
the land had expanded and the people had multiplied.
The land was bellowing like wild oxen,
and the god[1]was disturbed by their uproar.
Enlil heard their noise and addressed the great gods:

The noise of humankind is too loud for me,
with all their uproar I cannot go to sleep.
Cut off food supplies to the people,
let plant-life to feed them be scarce;
Above, let Adad withhold his rain,
Below, let the flood not rise from the deep;
let the wind blow and parch the ground;
let the clouds thicken but only drop drips;
let the fields lessen their yields,
let Nisaba[2]seal up her breast.


The first part of the tablet is destroyed here, but apparently Atrahasis recommends [perhaps on the advice of Enki] that the people focus all their effort on getting on Adad’s good side (since controls the rain). It is similar to Enki’s advice in the last part of the previous section.

They built a temple for Adad in the city.
They commanded,
and heralds proclaimed and noised it abroad in the land.
They did not worship their gods and did not pray to their goddesses,
but visited the gate of Adad and offered a cake before it.
The offering of sesame-meal pleased him,
he was abashed at the gift and lifted his hand.
In the morning he rained down a mist,
and furtively rained down a dew in the night.
The fields furtively bore grain, [the famine] left them.

The Renewal of the Drought

More damage, but apparently Enlil is getting suspicious, and cracks down on his ’too soft’ divine subjects.

The noise of humankind has become too loud for me,
with their uproar I cannot go to sleep.
Command that Anu and Adad guard the upper realm,
Sin and Nergal guard the middle earth,
and that Ea may guard, together with his plants,
the bolt and bar of the sea

Thus no water or food escaped,
and the rigours of famine returned:
4Above, Adad withheld his rain.
Below, the flood did not rise from the deep.
The womb of earth did not bear,
plant-life did not sprout.
People were nowhere to be seen.
The black fields became white,[3]
the broad plain was smothered in salt.
For one year they ate grass[4];
for the second year they depleted the storehouse.
The third year came and their features were distorted by hunger.
{AV}On the arrival of the fourth year
their long legs became short,
their broad shoulders became narrow,
and they walked hunched up in the street.
On the arrival of the fifth year
the daughter watched the mother go inside,
but the mother would not open her door to the daughter.
The daughter watched the scales (at the sale) of the mother,[5]
the mother watched the scales (at the sale) of the daughter.[6]
On the arrival of the sixth year
they served up the daughter for dinner,
they served up the son for food. . . .

Still more missing text. Apparently the divine subjects are not as skilled Nazis as is Enlil. In this case Enki is being upbraided for releasing food, probably from the sea.

{BV}I ordered that Anu and Adad should guard the upper regions,
that Sin and Nergal should guard the middle earth,
while I myself guard the earth below,
and that you should guard, together with your plants,
the bolt and bar of the sea.
But you released an abundance to the people. . . .

The Deluge from the Gods

Enlil opened his mouth to speak
and addressed the assembly of all the gods:

Come now, let us all take an oath to bring a flood.
Anu swore first, Enlil swore, his sons swore with him. . . .
Enki opened his mouth and addressed the gods his brothers:
Why will you bind me with an oath? Am I to lay hands on my own people?. . . .
Am I to give birth to a flood? That is the task of Enlil. . . .

8The gods commanded total destruction; Enlil committed an evil act against the people.