Archives April 2021

Discover How Satan-Enlil is the Great Dragon

Ever since John recorded the incredible visions shown to him by God in the book of Revelation, speculation has abounded as to what he meant by the imagery he described. For example, Bible prophecy speaks of “a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns” (Rev 12:3) and “a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns” (Rev 17:3). The scenes described are anything but normal, which has led commentators to relegate the vision to nothing more than allegory.

In order for us to know how to interpret the images, we must find their definitions. But where are we to find such definitions? We can interpret the meaning of the symbols if we learn their definitions.

Our world is full of symbols we understand well: the red, yellow and green lights in a traffic-light are symbols. We all know what they mean, but a person from the deep jungles would have no idea that the meaning of those colors symbolize stop, slow down and go. Yet once they learn the meaning, the symbol is easy to interpret.

So too, John gave us symbols. Our job is to find the definitions for them, just like we had to learn red light means “stop.” Thus, we are asking what are the definitions of the following?

  • a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads (Rev 12:3). So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him (Rev 12:9).
  • And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name (Rev 13:1).
  • The angel said to me, “Why did you marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns (Rev 17:7).

The keywords are highlighted; These words share common features and are the key players in all three passages from Revelation. Right away, we notice that both the Beast and the dragon share these features:

  1. A great dragon
  2. A fiery red dragon
  3. A beast
  4. Seven heads
  5. Ten horns

Satan’s Fiery Covering

Before we dig into the Mesopotamian evidence, let’s review what the Bible reveals concerning Satan’s original appearance, which will help us put the former into proper context.

God created the angels with a fiery quality similar to his own. Scripture describes “the LORD your God is a consuming fire” (Deut 4:24, 9:3; Ps 97:3). Ezekiel recounts from his vision of God that “from the appearance of His waist and upward I saw, as it were, the color of amber [electricity] with the appearance of fire all around within it (Ezek 1:27). The return of the Lord is likewise said to be with fiery flames (2 Thess 1:8; Isa 66:15).

The angels, including Cherubim / Seraphim, are described as fiery beings, as well. Their fiery nature seems to be necessary for them to be able to live in God’s presence. There are many verses that reference the angels’ glorious appearance. We recall that the angels shone in the night sky at the announcement of the birth of Messiah in Luke 2:9. The root word in that passage is perilampo (περιλάμπω), meaning “to shine around, “a derivative of lampo, “to shine.” In Luke 24:4, two angels stood by the tomb in “shining garments” (astrapto ἀστράπτω, like what a star does). This same word for shining is used to describe lightning as it shines from one part of heaven to the other, according to Luke 17:24.

The prophet Daniel described a vision in which an angel had a shining appearance, by writing: “His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like torches of fire, his arms and feet like burnished bronze in color”(Dan 10:6). In the book of Revelation, angels were “clothed in pure bright [lampron λαμπρον] linen” (Rev 15:6). The Psalmist described how God “makes His angels spirits, His ministers a flame of fire” (Ps 104:4).

Ezekiel described the appearance of angels as burning coals of fire and with four faces![1]

The likeness of four living creatures … they had the likeness of a man. Each one had four faces, and each one had four wings. Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the soles of calves’ feet. They sparkled like the color of burnished bronze. The hands of a man were under their wings on their four sides; and each of the four had faces and wings. Their wings touched one another. The creatures did not turn when they went, but each one went straight forward. As for the likeness of their faces, each had the face of a man; each of the four had the face of a lion on the right side, each of the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and each of the four had the face of an eagle. Thus were their faces. Their wings stretched upward; two wings of each one touched one another, and two covered their bodies. And each one went straight forward; they went wherever the spirit wanted to go, and they did not turn when they went. As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, like the appearance of torches going back and forth among the living creatures. The fire was bright, and out of the fire went lightning. And the living creatures ran back and forth, in appearance like a flash of lightning (Ezek 1:5–14).

The description of these creatures is also a description of Satan’s appearance before his fall, though he must have been the most splendid looking of them all. Their appearance was described as having:

  1. The likeness of a man
  2. Straight legs with feet like a calf
  3. Four faces
    1. Man
    1. Lion
    1. Bull
    1. Eagle
  4. Four wings
  5. Burning coals, torches, lightning, electricity

Satan looked like these creatures. Though after his fall, he lost the fiery quality, which we will examine shortly. Nevertheless, a being with four faces of four kinds of creatures is indeed both a complex and revealing entity. The Hebrew word [פנים panim] is plural “faces.” A face is a window into the heart and mind of a person. Faces are constantly changing direction and shape, depending on mood, intentions, dreams and experiences. Face also means “presence.” God promised, “My Presence will go with you” (Exod 33:14). God’s face going with the Israelites was so important to Moses that he said to God: “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here” (Exod 33:15).

We can infer from this passage that to be in the presence of [לפני lifne] a cherub with four faces could give the impression of being in front of a man, a lion, a bull or an eagle. I have been in the close presence of a lion, and it is an awesome experience. Growing up in rural Michigan, I made sure to keep my distance from bulls as I understood they are creatures that can kill. Likewise, the eagle is both majestic and deadly. Incidentally, these four formidable faces are excellent representatives of the four broad categories of creatures on the face of the Earth.

Great Dragon

The Mesopotamian evidence of the great dragon is plentiful and gives greater context to what John was seeing in Revelation. “The most common serpentine epithet from ancient cuneiform sources is Akkadian ušumgallu “great dragon,” itself a loan from Sumerian UŠUMGAL.” [2] (Remember the Š is pronounced “sh”). The great dragon title, Ushumgal, was a typical epithet for Enlil’s many syncretisms: “Ušumgallu also designates a host of Mesopotamian deities, including Marduk … His exalted position over humanity is expressed in the appellation, “great dragon of the heavens and earth.” [3] ANE scholar Tyler Yoder points out, “Marduk’s ownership of a pet mušḫuššu (“snake”) furthers his own serpentine associations.”[4]

Figure 7 UŠUMGAL or Anzu bird Icon By editor Austen Henry Layard, drawing by L. Gruner – Monuments of Nineveh.

In other words, we have discovered that “great dragon” was a quite common term for Satan / Enlil and the like. It was also a term for serpent, just like the Bible told us a serpent tempted Adam and Eve in Genesis 3; (it appears the Bible critics were premature in ridiculing the Bible for such imagery). Ancient iconography attests to the historical authenticity of Heilel / Enlil (or one of his syncretizations: Ninurta, Baal, Zeus, Nergal, among others) being commonly referred to as a snake or dragon.

The icon for the Ushumgallu, seen adjacent in Figure 7, is also sometimes called the Anzu bird. It was a chimera, a creature with the DNA of another animal mixed into itself. The “translation of ušumgallu ‘lion-dragon’ “derives from the conceptual amalgamation of these creatures.”[5] The Ushumgallu in the epic of Gilgamesh was called a “‘ground lion’ … and the mušḫuššu serpent often evinces leonine traits.” [6] The point is that the great dragon is not the classic fire-breathing dragon of legend from the Middle Ages. The Mesopotamian dragon had many overlaps of lion qualities—which was one of Satan’s cherub faces.

The foremost quality of the great dragon, Ancient Near East expert Frans Wiggermann points out, “is being a determined killer, killing probably with its venom, and frightening even the gods.”[7] Man, lions, bulls, and eagles—the four faces of the cherub, certainly classify as determined killers.[8]

The great dragon also had seven heads in Mesopotamia literature and iconography. We always need to keep in mind the many syncretizations inherent in the ancient texts. Heilel (Satan) = Enlil = Marduk = Baal = Bel; and, Ninurta (son of Enlil) often assumed Enlil’s role altogether.

We learn that a syncretization of Marduk (or his son), according to Yoder, was called “the great dragon, who cannot be faced.” Furthermore, Nergal (god of the dead and a syncretization of Ninurta / Enlil) was represented with the same description: “[ú-šum]-gal-lu ṣīru tābik imti elišunu “The majestic, great dragon who pours his venom upon them.” [9] With those epithets in mind, we can appreciate the significance that “Nergal’s divine staff was as ‘awe-inspiring as a serpent’ and Ninurta’s mace consisted of seven snake-like heads.”[10]

Figure 8 Ninurta killing one of the heads of the seven-headed serpent. Bible Review, Oct. 1992, 28 (=ANEP #671) (Early Dynastic). Courtesy of the Bible Lands Museum, Jerusalem.

That Nergal, also known as Ninurta, Melqart, Marduk and Enlil, had a seven-headed snake is incredibly revealing. The great dragon of Revelation has “seven heads and ten horns,” (Rev 12:3) as does the Beast, who has “seven heads and ten horns” (Rev 13:1). Not only does the iconography reveal a great dragon,[11] but John saw “one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the Beast (Rev 13:3). Looking at Figure 8 above, we see that one of the heads is mortally wounded. God is revealing that the symbols in Revelation relate directly back to the false gods of Babylon. A key to defining the images from Revelation is found in deciphering ancient Babylonian monuments.

Fiery Red Dragon: Mušuššu

It is amazing (though not surprising, since the vision was from God) that John described not only a “great dragon”, but “a great, fiery red dragon” (Rev 12:3). How could John have known, humanly speaking, about the Mušḫuššu from hundreds of years before? John could not have known that the word, Mušḫuššu, could mean “fearsome” or “red,” or perhaps both. This is a strong testimony of the divine origin of John’s vision and of the accuracy of the entity John is describing.

German archaeologists dug up the Ishtar Gate and  transported it back to the East Berlin Museum, Germany, where you can now walk through the actual gate. On the walls of the Ishtar Gate, which date from the neo-Babylonian empire (ca. 7th– 6th century BC), Marduk’s “pet” mušḫuššu [mushkhushshu] is visible. As seen in Figure 9 below, it was a hybrid, scaly creature with hind legs resembling the talons of an eagle, and with lion-like forelimbs, a long neck and tail, a horned head, a snake-like tongue and a crest.[12] Wiggermann explains that both “fearsome” and “red” are possible interpretations the name, mušḫuššu:

Akkadian mušḥuššu is a loanword from Sumerian mušḥuš (-a), literally “fearsome serpent”. The reading of the second element as ḥuš rather than ruš (both possible) … The Sumerian Loanwords in Old Babylonian Akkadian I, its meaning as “fearsome” rather than “red” (both possible).[13]

Figure 9 Mushkhushshu on Ishtar Gate.

Figure 10 Mušḥuššu H. Frankfort, Cylinder Seals, text-fig. 33 (=ANEP #511) (Gudea; Girsu [Tello]).

John told us of a sign that appeared in heaven, “a great, fiery red dragon” (Rev 12:3). Again, God is revealing that the imagery in Revelation connects back to the ancient gods of Babylon. We continue to define the symbols in Revelation by examining ancient icons from the civilizations in Mesopotamia.

The prophet Daniel wrote about Marduk’s dragon that was “like a lion, and had eagle’s wings and it was lifted up from the earth and made to stand on two feet like a man, and a man’s heart was given to it” (Dan 7:4). In ancient iconography, the Mushkhushshu is seen walking like a beast and standing like a man as depicted above in Figure 10. This dragon stood as a symbol of the strength of Marduk and in opposition to the true God. Accordingly, God promised to judge Marduk, spelled Merodach in the Bible: “Merodach is broken in pieces” (Jer 50:2). We also learned in the previous chapter that the Greek healer god Asclepios was associated with Melqart / Heracles, which is parallel to the Mušḫuššu.

It seems plausible to connect the Sumerian mušḫuš with the Hebrew נָחָשׁ (āsh) snake. They share many similarities: Mḫuš may mean “red snake-dragon” and āsh is related to a copper-bronze color[14] which is fairly close to the coloration of the Mušḫuššu on the Ishtar Gate. The mušḫuš is a symbol for Enlil or is closely associated with him; “In the so-called Labbu-myth Enlil sends the muš[ḫuššu] to wipe out noisy mankind.[15] In Genesis, the āsh was definitely associated with Satan, the one who desired to destroy mankind (“opinions differ as to whether this was a Satan-inspired snake or a name for Satan himself.”)[16]

Lastly, I am persuaded that there could be a linguistic connection between Mušḫuš and āsh, the serpent in the Garden. James H. Charlesworth of Princeton notes there is “in Akkadian … the n to m shift.” [17] Thus, MŠḪŠ would shift to NŠḪŠ, the first Š would fall out NŠḪŠ, leaving NḪŠ. Vowels are flexible between languages; thus, it is plausible for U to transition to A. Mušḫuš > נָחָשׁ āsh.

Just coincidence?

The Anzu Bird

We see additional images of Ninurta or Marduk (or Bel, Dagon and the rest, who are all the same entity.) Amar Annus in his article, “Ninurta and the Son of Man”, notes:

Bêl ‘Lord,’ which is also Ninurta’s common epithet, and points to a connection with West-Semitic Baal. Marduk came to replace Enlil in the Mesopotamian pantheon, so he took over conjointly the position of the father Enlil and the mythology of his son Ninurta.[18]

Recall that over time, with syncretization of belief systems, the names and characteristics of these gods meshed together. Here, Enlil and Ninurta take on one another’s qualities. We learn from Amar Annus how in the mythology from Shinar, “after vanquishing the eagle Anzu, Ninurta becomes one with the bird … paradoxically, Ninurta is equated with his slain enemy, Thunderbird Anzu, who becomes his symbol.”[19]

Figure 11 Ninurta with wings.

Ninurta, in the iconography pictured in Figure 11, is being identified with the Anzu bird. The very creature that he killed, the Anzu bird or Manticore, then becomes Ninurta’s symbol. There is a certain fluidity in how Ninurta is presented, according to Jacobsen:

The two forms, bird and lion, tended to compete in the image of the god, who was sometimes the lion-headed bird, sometimes a winged lion with bird’s tail and talons, sometimes all lion. In time the animal forms were rejected in favor of imagining the god in human form only.[20]

We have seen this shift in appearance in the passage from the Book of Daniel:

“The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings. I watched till its wings were plucked off; and it was lifted up from the earth and made to stand on two feet like a man, and a man’s heart was given to it” (Dan 7:4).

Figure 12 Ninurta wearing a crown of ten horns standing on a Lion-headed Eagle (A n z u d / Anzû), Lion-Dragon

Just as Daniel saw the fluid nature of the first beast that emerged from the sea, the iconography of Ninurta shows us the changing images of the god. Ninurta sometimes was a chimeric creature standing on four feet as a beast, but sometimes he was standing on two feet as a man; We have images of him both with and without wings.

F. Wiggermann calls to our attention an incredibly significant detail regarding the Anzu lion-dragon, which shares a number of features with the Mušḫuššu. In Mesopotamian Protective Spirits, Wiggermann explains it was Enlil (not his syncretization Ninurta) who was originally associated with Anzû. [21]

This insight reveals that the hybrid creature first represented Enlil and then later, stood for the syncretization of the various names of Mesopotamian gods.

The Anzû then, is not Ninurta / Ningirsu’s symbol, nor that of any of the other gods whose images are conflated with a symbolic animal. “The Anzû represents another, more general power, under whose supervision, all the gods operate. This higher power can only be Enlil, which is exactly what we see in the Lugalbanda Epic and Anzû myth, Thus, the posture of the lion-headed eagle, with wings stretched out above the symbolic animals of other gods, becomes understandable: it is a stance that is neither that of attack, nor that of defense, but that of the master of the animals.”[22]

Uncovering the fact that the Anzu was originally identified with Enlil reveals once again that Satan is the one depicted in the many symbols of the gods of Mesopotamia. We saw in the previous chapter how “master of the animals” was a reference to Melqart / Heracles whom we determined was a syncretization of Enlil. Furthermore, the fact that Enlil, the Anzû lion-dragon, was master of the animals causes us to think of the four faces of the cherubim. Enlil dominated the animal kingdom: the man-beings, the wild lion-type beings, the domestic bull-type beings and the flying eagle-type beings. The face of a man, lion, bull and eagle make up the four faces of the cherub and possibly the head of Satan, himself—formerly a covering cherub. The connection may not be exact;[23] nevertheless, we do have a strong correlation between the snake-dragon of Enlil, Marduk, etc. and also with Satan in Genesis 3. Thus, the nakhash in the Garden was not today’s average snake. It was like the Ushumgallu / mušuššu / Anzu, with legs to stand erect. It was the curse that later changed Satan’s form from the snake-dragon / lion-dragon to what he is today.

Bašmu-Bashan

The last word that we will examine for serpent-dragon is Bašmu, which will lead us to Mt. Hermon, to Og, King of Bashan and to the transfiguration of Jesus (later in the book). Bashan in the Bible comes from Akkadian Bašmu. Wiggermann notes: “For the two Sumerian terms u s u m and muš-šà-tùr Akkadian has only one: bašmu … must refer to two different types of mythological snakes as well, and we will call them ušum / bašmu and muš-šà-tùr / bašmu.”[24] He defines the ušum / bašmu, as “Venomous Snake … horned snake with forelegs.” He also notes a snake-dragon that we have already examined: u š u m g a l, rendered in Akkadian by ušumgallu and bašmu, is a derivative of u š u m and literally means: “Prime Venomous Snake” … Ušumgallu … occasionally replaces mušḫuššu when the dragon of Nabû is referred to or the dragon of Ninurta.[25]

He points out (see Figure 13):

The foremost quality of an u š u m g a l … is being a determined killer, killing probably with its venom, … It is this quality that makes u š u m ( g al ) a suitable epithet for certain gods and kings.[26]

Figure 13 Bashmu from Wiggermann’s Mesopotamian Protective Spirits.

We must not miss how the Bašmu was later equated with the icon of Nergal, Ninurta, and Marduk: “Nergal is not originally a dragon slayer, but here, as elsewhere … he replaces Ninurta. After Marduk’s usurpation of the mušḫuššu, the ušum / bašmu became the symbolic animal of gods formerly associated with the mušḫuššu.”[27] A Bašmu was a snake-dragon, sometimes used to describe the other snake-dragons we have studied, and was a determined killer and was a suitable epithet for gods and kings! It was also associated with Marduk which is another name for Enlil or occasionally his “son” Ninurta, whom we will discover is Nimrod in a later chapter.

Bashmu, in astronomy, was the constellation Hydra[28], the seven headed dragon that Heracles killed (See Figure 8). The Dictionary of God, Demons, and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia notes, “This creature may be the seven-headed hydra killed by the god Ningirsu or Ninurta, also referred to in spells.”[29]

Wiggermann, writing in Transtigridian Snake Gods, provides us with an important link between Bašmu, Ereškigal (Ishtar’s sister), and Og the god of the dead / death.

Ereškigal…queen of the netherworld, rules the dead … is associated with the constellation Hydra (MUL.dMUŠ) in late astrological texts … the Babylonian constellation Hydra looked like … a snake drawn out long, with the forepaws of a lion, no hind legs, with wings, and with a head comparable to that of the mušḫuššu dragon. Its Babylonian name was probably Bašmu. Ereshkigal’s messenger, Mutum “Death” … is described in a late Assyrian text. He has the head of a mušḫuššu dragon.[30]

We cannot ignore the fact that Og was King of Bashan (in Hebrew “the Bashan”). That means he was king of the snake-dragons if we simply plug in the meaning. Furthermore, we just learned that Bashmu was some kind of amalgamation of the Ushumgallu, the Mushhushshu and the Anzu. The implication then is that Enlil (or Ninurta, son of Enlil) seems to have been behind the workings of Og and the land Bashan (snake-dragons). In a later chapter we will explore the relationship to the king of the Amorites (MARTU=Enlil), king of the Rephaim (underworld “healers” or “healed”), who were also known as snake gods.

Ten Horns

The prophet Daniel wrote about the ten horns saying, “It was different from all the beasts that came before it, and it had ten horns” (Dan 7:7).

Figure 14 Enlil wearing a crown of ten horns.

Crowns with ten horns were a common feature of the gods in ancient Mesopotamia. “Enlil is regularly represented wearing a horned helmet.”[31] In the cylinder seal depicted in Figure 14, we see Enlil wearing a crown with ten horns (five on each side).

In another cylinder seal (Figure 12, p. 13), Ninurta can be seen wearing a crown with ten horns and riding the Anzu bird, which also represents him as Enlil. Thus, the Bible reveals the symbols, and we once again, have discovered the means by which we can interpret these symbols.

The imagery of a great dragon and a beast is represented in the iconography of ancient Mesopotamia. Revelation spoke of Satan as the great dragon because that was how he was known from the earliest of recorded history. The Bible not only accurately recorded his ancient epithets but also gives us a spiritual window into the original role, authority and nefarious motives of Satan which allowed him to plunge the world into its current darkness.


[1] He later identifies these as cherubim: “This is the living creature I saw under the God of Israel by the River Chebar, and I knew they were cherubim,” (Ezek 10:20).

[2] Wiggermann posits the base meaning for UŠUM as “Prime Venomous Snake” Tyler R. Yoder, “Ezekiel 29:3 and Its Ancient Near Eastern Context” Vetus Testamentum 63 (2013) 486-96

[3] Tyler R. Yoder, “Ezekiel 29:3 and Its Ancient Near Eastern Context” Vetus Testamentum 63 (2013) Pg. 486-96

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] “It is first attested by a 22nd-century BC cylinder inscription at Gudea.” F. A. M. Wiggermann, Mesopotamian Protective Spirits, Pg. 167.

[8] Icon By editor Austen Henry Layard, drawing by L. Gruner – ‘Monuments of Nineveh, Second Series’ plate 5, London, J. Murray, 1853, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18217886

[9] Tyler R. Yoder, “Ezekiel 29:3 and Its Ancient Near Eastern Context” Vetus Testamentum 63 (2013) Pg. 486-96

[10] Ibid.6

[11] Yoder has shown how God, in Ezekiel, used the term “great dragon” to describe who Pharaoh thought he was. “Behold, I am against you, O Pharaoh king of Egypt, O great monster.” The Greek Septuagint “great monster” as τον δρακοντα τον μεγαν “great dragon” (Ezek 29:3). Yoder explains “The prophet could easily have drawn from an existing cache of unambiguous expressions to portray Pharaoh, but instead chose a term suffused with mythological overtones.” Tyler R. Yoder, “Ezekiel 29:3 and Its Ancient Near Eastern Context” Vetus Testamentum 63 (2013) 486-96.

[12] Wiggermann, F. A. M. (1992). Mesopotamian Protective Spirits: The Ritual Texts. Brill Publishers. Pg. 156.

[13] Frans Wiggermann, Reallexikon der Assyriologie (RlA) 8 1995 Pg. 455, 456.

[14] “The word nāḥāsh is almost identical to the word for “bronze” or “copper,” Hebrew nĕḥōshet (q.v.). Some scholars think the words are related because of a common color of snakes (cf. our “copperhead”), but others think that they are only coincidentally similar.” TWOT nāḥāsh

[15] Wiggermann, F. A. M. (1992). Mesopotamian Protective Spirits: The Ritual Texts. Brill Publishers. Pg. 156.

[15] Frans Wiggermann, Reallexikon der Assyriologie (RlA) 8 1995 Pg. 455, 456

[16] J. O. Buswell. Systematic Theology of the Christian Religion, I, Zondervan, 1962, Pg. 264–65.

[17] Revealing The Genius Of Biblical Authors: Symbology, Archaeology, And Theology James H. Charlesworth, Princeton

[18] Amar Annus “Ninurta and the Son of Man” Published in Melammu Symposia 2: R. M. Whiting (ed.), Mythology and Mythologies. Methodological Approaches to Intercultural Influences. Proceedings of the Second Annual Symposium of the Assyrian and Babylonian Intellectual Heritage Project. Held in Paris, France, October 4-7, 1999 (Helsinki: The Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project 2001), Pg. 7-17. Publisher: http://www.helsinki.fi/science/saa/

[19] Ibid.

[20] Jacobsen, Th. 1987 The Harps that Once… Sumerian Poetry in Translation. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. PG. 235.

[21] In his study, he notes the “Lion-headed Eagle (M. 14; third millennium A n z u d l Anzû), and Lion-Dragon …Second and first millennium Anzû.” F. A. M. Wiggermann, Mesopotamian Protective Spirits The Ritual Texts – Siyx & Pp Publications Groningen 1992. Pg. 161

[22] F. A. M. Wiggermann, Mesopotamian Protective Spirits The Ritual Texts – Siyx & Pp Publications Groningen 1992. Pg. 161

[23] Wiggermann notes “bašmu, ‘Venomous Snake’. The history of the bašmu is not yet completely clear. Positively bašmu’s are the snake of the Kleinplastik (without horns and forepaws, VII. C. 2b), and the snake-monster with forepaws (and wings) from the palace of Esarhaddon.” Ibid. Pg. 189.

[24] F. A. M. Wiggermann Mesopotamian Protective Spirits The Ritual Texts – Styx & PP Publications Groningen 1992. Pg. 166-167

[25] Ibid.

[26] Ibid.

[27]Ibid.

[28] http://www.assyrianlanguages.org/akkadian/dosearch.php?searchkey=4876&language=id

[29] God, Demons, and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia: Bašmu

[30] Transtigridian Snake Gods Wiggermann Pg. 35.

[31] Edzard, D.O. 1965. “Mesopotamien. Die Mythologie der Sumerer und Akkader.” In H.W. Haussig (ed.), Götter und Mythen im Vorderen Orient. Wörterbuch der Mythologie, erste Abteilung, Bd. I, Pg. 17-140. Stuttgart: Ernst Klett Verlag.

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Satan as Melqart, King of Tyre (chpt 1B of Corrupting the Image 2)

When God told Ezekiel to “take up a lamentation for the king of Tyre,” in Ezekiel 28, He was talking about far more than a mere human king;[i] He was using one of Satan’s many titles: Melqart. Melqart (mlkqrt), literally means “king of the city”, and here, specifically Tyre.

“Melqart was considered by the Phoenicians to represent the monarchy, perhaps the king even represented the god, or vice-versa, so that the two became one and the same.”[ii] King of the ‘City’ could also be interpreted as a euphemism of the underworld, called “the great city, iri.gal, Akkadian Irkallu, in the Mesopotamian tradition.” [iii]

We do not know the given name of Satan, but God revealed enough key places for us to trace his titles back to a singular entity. For instance, George A. Barton writes in his study, On the Pantheon of Tyre, that“Baal of Tyre was called Melqart (king of the city), we learn from the Phoenician portion of a bilingual inscription from Malta. The Greek portion of the same inscription shows that Melqart was identified with the Greek Herakles.”[iv] Melqart was also known as Baal, Ninurta, Enlil, Adon and Eshmun, thus, Satan. Historians such as “Josephus Flavius refer to Melqart and Heracles interchangeably.” [v]

The word Heracles (Hercules) comes from Ήρα (Hera) and Κλέος (fame). [vi] The fame part reminds us of the Nephilim, the mighty men (הַגִּבֹּרִ֛ים hagibborim) who were “the men of renown”(Gen 6:4 ESV), and also the people at Babel said, “Let us make a name for ourselves” (Gen 11:4). Therefore, Hercules (Heracles) was another name for Satan.

Likewise, the King of Tyre that God denounces in Ezekiel 28 is considered by most scholars to be the same god with whom Elijah was battling on Mt. Carmel. [vii] In fact, Elijah mocks the god for sleeping “and must be awakened” which were “elements of and allusions to the practice of the ‘awakening’ of Melqart”[viii] which provides further proof of them being the same.

Every year, the Phoenicians celebrated Heracles’ ‘awakening’ (εγερσις) which was considered “the greatest festival of Melqart: the god, burnt with fire, as the Greek hero, was brought to life by means of a hierogamic rite with his divine partner Astarte, through the participation of a particular celebrant, the mqm ‘lm, ‘awakener of deity’.” [ix] In other words, through a “sacred” sexual act, the god was thought to come back to life. The once dead, but then alive again god sounds very much like the “the beast who was, is not, and will ascend out of the Abyss” (Rev 17:8) from John’s visions.

The famous historian Herodotus of the 5th century BC once visited Melqart’s temple and reported that there was “a tomb inside, supporting the theory that, involved as he was in the founding mythology of the city, perhaps Melqart was based on a historical person.”[x] (See next page, Figure 5). The theme, according to Herodotus was that “the Tyrian people paid homage as if to a hero. i.e. as if to one who had died, one who was originally mortal,” [xi] who was deified and became a cosmic lord who grants prosperity.[xii]

In part two, we will explore the theme of the deified hero Nimrod, founder of cities, who was known as the son of Enlil (Satan). In fact, Satan and Nimrod were so closely linked in the ancient world that they were often used interchangeably. Melqart / Heracles was considered the son of Saturn or Zeus, depending on the legend.

Figure 1 Votive Statue of Melqart by Carole Raddato (CC BY-NC-SA).

The interpretario Graeca which existed from the fifth century BC made the connection between Melqart and Baal long before modern scholars. It states:

Heracles was identified with Melqart, whose name means “king of the city”, and who was called the ‘Baal of Tyre’ a west Semitic god who was the primary deity of the Phoenician city of Tyre, and later of its major colony at Carthage. The Carthaginian triad of deities consisting of –‘Baal Shamen,’ Astarte and Melqart became known through their Hellenistic counterparts of Zeus, Asteria and Heracles  … The Samaritans worshipped Melqart as Zeus Xenios on Mount Gerizim (2 Macc 6:2) (Emphasis Mine). [xiii]

Many of us grew up hearing the legends of Zeus and Hercules, yet we never heard about the fact that the real entity behind the legends demanded child sacrifice. It was “extensively practiced in Carthage and ‘made its way into Israel from Phoenicia during periods of religious syncretism.’” [xiv] There is some debate as to how often such an abomination was practiced, though the famous ANE scholar William Albright notes that “the practice was extensive in the Phoenician colonies.” [xv]

Figure 2 Artist’s rendition of Molech.

Sadly, King Solomon led Israel to worship those syncretisms of Satan. He set up “high places to this ‘king’” Milcom, god of deified dead kings, and permitted child sacrifice which continued for hundreds of years. King Josiah, king of Judah shortly before the Babylonians sacked Jerusalem, tried to stop the terrible practice:

He defiled Tophet, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter pass through the fire to Molech (2 Kgs 23:10). Then the king defiled the high places that were east of Jerusalem, which were on the south of the Mount of Corruption, which Solomon king of Israel had built for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Sidonians, for Chemosh the abomination of the Moabites, and for Milcom the abomination of the people of Ammon (2 Kgs 23:13). (See Appendix 6 Abominations of Babylon).

It is incredible, but all roads lead back to Satan. The dragon, Enlil (Satan), is the same deceptive spirit behind the Greek hero Heracles (Roman Hercules), Baal and Melqart. The same spirit is behind the “the Greek Asklepios, who took over many attributes of Semitic healer gods.”[xvi] We know Asklepios as the snake symbol used in the modern medical practice. While this does not mean that we should not go to doctors, it does reveal the philosophical underpinnings of medicine.

Melqart / Heracles were gods located on the Mediterranean whose origins are in Mesopotamia, the land of Shinar. “Archaeological evidence from Mesopotamia suggests that the figure of Heracles is found as early as the middle of the third millennium.” [xvii] Archaeologists found on Akkadian cylinder seals “a hero probably named Ninurta (the son of Enlil the storm god) … shown conquering lions, bulls, snakes, and even a seven-headed snake.” [xviii]

We do not want to get ahead of ourselves, since we will explore Nimrod in greater detail in part two. Nevertheless, we will just note here that Nimrod and Ninurta were the same person. Ninurta, according to the mythology, was the son of Enlil whom we have learned was Satan. Hence, we see the connection between Nimrod (Ninurta) and Melqart and Satan. Moreover, “in Sumerian representations a hero is fitted out, like the later Greek Heracles, with a club, bow and lion-skin.” [xix] Everywhere we turn, we find Satan or the deified Nimrod as the hero extraordinaire. Indeed, “Heracles’ quest for the apples of Hesperides is similar to the quest for immortality in the popular epic of Gilgamesh.” [xx] Interestingly, Heracles was known as a Master of Animals in the Greek traditions, a trait suggestive of his dragon qualities[xxi] and reminiscent of Satan’s qualities as a cherub.

Satan’s ancient disguises are many and elaborate. As we have seen, looking for “Lucifer” in the ancient world is a fruitless endeavor. However, now that we have the key of Satan = Enlil, we have been able to chip away at some of Satan’s masks and have discovered he was everywhere. He was known as Enlil, Baal, Melqart, Heracles / Hercules and dozens of other titles; and, he was the god who exacted a terrible price from his worshipers. His strategy and quest for world domination are just as real today as when he was openly worshipped by the masses millennia ago. We also peeled back one of the masks which gave us a preview of how Satan deified Nimrod, known in the ancient world as his son. The next disguise we will unmask is Satan, the great dragon.


[i] “It is generally admitted that the figure of Melqart and the forms of his cult are reflected in Ezekiel’s oracle against the king of Tyre (Ezek 28: 1-19). This passage consists of two different sections (vv 1-10 and 11-19) both referring to the same personage.” Melqart The Dictionary Of Deities And Demons In The Bible, Eds. K. Van Der Toorn, Bob Becking nd Pieter W. Van Der Horst (Boston, 1999). Pg. 564-566

[ii] https://www.ancient.eu/Melqart/

[iii] Melqart The Dictionary Of Deities And Demons In The Bible, Eds. K. Van Der Toorn, Bob Becking And Pieter W. Van Der Horst (Boston, 1999). Pg. 564-566

[iv] On the Pantheon of Tyre Author(s): George A. Barton Source: Journal of the American Oriental Society , 1901, Vol. 22 (1901), Pg. 115-117 Published by: American Oriental Society Stable URL: http://www.jstor.com/stable/592422 This content downloaded from 184.96.236.153 on Fri, 28 Aug 2020 05:40:31 UTC

[v] https://www2.uned.es/geo-1-historia-antigua-universal/RELIGION-FENICIA/melqart.htm

[vi] Heracles The Dictionary Of Deities And Demons In The Bible, Eds. K. Van Der Toorn, Bob Becking And Pieter W. Van Der Horst (Boston, 1999). 402-404

[vii] Melqart The Dictionary Of Deities And Demons In The Bible, Eds. K. Van Der Toorn, Bob Becking And Pieter W. Van Der Horst (Boston, 1999). Pg. 564-566

[viii] Ibid.

[ix] The Dictionary Of Deities And Demons In The Bible, Eds. K. Van Der Toorn, Bob Becking And Pieter W. Van Der Horst (Boston, 1999). MELQART

[x] https://www.ancient.eu/Melqart/

[xi] Melqart The Dictionary Of Deities And Demons In The Bible, Eds. K. Van Der Toorn, Bob Becking And Pieter W. Van Der Horst (Boston, 1999). Pg. 564-566

[xii] Ibid.

[xiii] Heracles The Dictionary Of Deities And Demons In The Bible, Eds. K. Van Der Toorn, Bob Becking And Pieter W. Van Der Horst (Boston, 1999). 402-404

[xiv] TWOT Tophet.

[xv] Ibid.

[xvi] Amar Annus, The God Ninurta in the Mythology and Royal Ideology of Ancient Mesopotamia, State Archives of Assyria Studies, Volume XIV Helsinki 2002. Pg. 142.

[xvii] Heracles The Dictionary Of Deities And Demons In The Bible, Eds. K. Van Der Toorn, Bob Becking And Pieter W. Van Der Horst (Boston, 1999). 402-404

[xviii] Ibid.

[xix] Heracles The Dictionary Of Deities And Demons In The Bible, Eds. K. Van Der Toorn, Bob Becking And Pieter W. Van Der Horst (Boston, 1999). Pg. 402-404

[xx] Ibid.

[xxi] F. A. M. Wiggermann, Mesopotamian Protective Spirits The Ritual Texts – Styx & PP Publications Groningen 1992. Pg. 161

Satan’s Mysterious Identity as Enlil (chpt 1A of Corrupting the Image 2)

And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. The great dragon … that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world (Rev 12:3, 9).

Criminals sometimes use disguises to give themselves a different look to conceal their identity. They might use a mask, costume, false passports, websites, buildings and so on to gain their victims’ trust and access their money or personal information. Our journey will reveal how Satan has used those same tools since the earliest of times to deceive the world to trust him and give him access to our riches, authority and even our lives. He has at the same time attempted to open the Gates of Hades and thus, unleash his forces upon the world.

Satan did not begin as a criminal mastermind. We do not believe in dualism that teaches there are two equal but opposite powers, i.e. God versus Satan, good versus evil; Satan is not the equal of YHWH. Scripture is clear: God created Satan and He created him good: “You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created” (Ezek 28:15). God did not create Satan with the intention of him being wicked and sinful. Instead, He made him good, along with the other angels, including Cherubim / Seraphim, whom He spoke into existence.

Praise Him, all His angels; Praise Him, all His hosts! Praise Him, sun and moon; Praise Him, all you stars of light! …. For He commanded and they were created. He also established them forever and ever (Ps 148:2–6).

The picture we get is that God said, “Michael,” and “Gabriel,” and they immediately began to exist. God spoke Satan’s name and he began to exist. Unlike humans, the angels were created with great wisdom (Ezek 28:12–13), and while they would certainly learn history as it unfolded, they would not have needed to learn to speak, to reason and to comprehend abstract thinking. They had no childhood or age of innocence. Michael, Gabriel, Satan and all the angels must have perceived how God had shared his qualities of speech, art, music, passion and emotion, as well as his likeness with them (Dan 10:1–6; Rev 22:8). At the same time, they must have perceived they were in the presence of supreme greatness, of the exalted King to whom there would never be any equal (Rev 10:1, 22:8–9, Jude 1:9), the One who, upon uttering a simple command, had brought them into existence out of nothing. (See Appendix 2 Angel Freewill).

Enlil (Heilel), Not Lucifer

Unlike Michael (“who is like God”) and Gabriel (“God is my Hero”), we do not know Satan’s original name. Christians have long spoken of Satan, the devil and Lucifer, yet when we research these titles, we find nothing in the ancient world. In Isaiah 14, the prophet said: “How you are fallen from heaven, O Heilel [Hêlēl הֵילֵ֣ל], son of the morning!” (Isa 14:12). “Lucifer” is not Satan’s name; The underlying Hebrew in the word is Heilel ֵ[Hêlēl הֵילֵ֣ל].[i] Deciphering this word using the tools of the Ancient Near East is the key we need.

The ancient translators, not having all the texts we have today, came to this word “Heilel,” a hapax legomenon, (a word that appears once in Scripture), and had to make a guess; they translated it into Greek as eosphorus. We now can go back to early texts of Mesopotamia, written in the Sumerian and Akkadian languages, and do some comparative linguistics. Eos meaning “dawn” and phorus means “bearer.”Eosphorus, therefore, means dawn-bearer, (similarly to how Christo-pher means Christ-bearer). In Latin, Eos (light) became lux, and phorus became pheros, hence “Lucifer” which was a good attempt.  

My friend, Dr. Bill Gallagher, wrote a paper: On the Identity of Hêlēl Ben Sahar from Isaiah 14. He notes how the biblical Hebrew root HLL could be directly related to the ancient god Enlil: “One could reasonably expect hll to be the West Semitic form of Illil. As the Ebla tablets suggest, Illil came into West Semitic directly from Sumerian.”[ii] In other words, Heilel is equivalent phonetically to the Sumerian Enlil … and Akkadian Illil (or Ellil). Dr. Gallagher laid out the parallels between Heilel and Enlil, recreated on the next page:

Table 2 Enlil in Isaiah and Ancient Near Eastern literature

Isaiah’s Description
His name was Hêlēl (Isa 14:12).
He was the son of dawn (vs. 12).
He laid the nations low (vs. 12).
He aspired to set up his throne above the stars of El (vs. 13).
He aspired to sit in the mount of assembly and on Saphon (14:13).
He aspired to be like the Most High (14:14).
He fell down to earth into the midst of the pit (14:12, 15).
Enlil / Illil’s Description
hyll Hebrew equivalent of Illil
Causes the dawn
Illil was a devastator
Illil’s astral function was immense
Illil was among the most prominent members in it (in the divine assembly)
Illil was the highest in Mesopotamia until the end of the second millennium
Illil’s fall into the underworld is recorded in first millennium texts

Comparing Isaiah 14 with the descriptions in Mesopotamian texts, we find that there is a direct correlation. “The name Enlil can thus be rendered ‘Lord Wind”[iii] which is incredibly similar to how Paul refers to Satan as “Prince of the Power of the Air” (Eph 2:2). In Revelation 12:3, John saw a dragon with ten horns. Enlil was regularly represented wearing a crown or helmet with ten horns as depicted in Figure 4, (next page). Revelation has accurately pulled back the curtain on Satan’s secret identity: Satan = Enlil.

Figure 4 Cylinder Seal of Enlil. p. 19. John Gray. Near Eastern Mythology. London. Hamlyn House Ltd. 1969.

We find Satan’s various biblical epithets (his titles) are also matched in the ancient world. Satan boasted in Isaiah that he would “sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north” (Isa 14:13), which is the same description of God’s holy mountain: “Mount Zion [on] the sides of the north, The city of the great King” (Ps 48:2). Alfred Jeremias points out that Enlil was “assimilated to the North Pole of the Ecliptic.”[iv]

Moreover, Samuel Kramer states how the creator god: “An carried off heaven while Enlil carried off the earth and assumed most of An’s powers. “Satan, the ruler of this world” (John 12:31), is shown in the Bible to have temporary dominion over the Earth. Enlil is also glorified as ‘the father of the gods, the king of heaven and earth,’ ‘the king of all the lands.’”[v] We note the comparison with Satan’s boast: “I will ascend into heaven. I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; … I will be like the Most High” (Isa 14:13–14).

Though we do not know his original name, we do know that the biblical appellations for him as “Prince of the Power of the Air” and “Heilel” are precisely what Satan was called in the ancient world. The figure in Isaiah 14 was the same exact entity known as Enlil in Sumerian, and Illil in Akkadian. In fact, the epithet Enlil “Lord Wind” was so commonly used that it eventually became the very word for “idols” in scripture. God said to Israel: “Do not turn to the idols [הָ֣אֱלִילִ֔ים ha’elilim] … I am the LORD your God (Lev 19:4). A. T. Clay in 1907 pointed out “the origin of elilim [אלילים], the word translated “idols” in the Old Testament … is probably to be found in the … deity Ellil.”[vi]

Christopher B. Hays also suggests that “idols” may just be a form of Illil (Enlil) which could also mean “god of gods.”

His name was known far and wide throughout the ancient Near East, and in syllabic cuneiform, it was written as Illil (e. g. d.-li-lu); this is taken to be a contracted form based on a doubling of the word ilu, “god”, i. e. il-ilû, “god of gods”… In fact, it is now commonly argued that the Sumerian writing of his name, den.líl (“Lord Wind”) was derived from the Semitic name. [vii]

We have already unlocked a great deal! “Lucifer” is actually Heilel which was Enlil in the ancient world and was almost certainly the same word as “idols” in the Hebrew Bible. Obscuring his specific name has made it easier for Satan to hide his identity through the ages. Nevertheless, because we know that Heilel (Enlil) was syncretized (had fused his identity) with a multitude of gods, we can trace him. Hays notes:

Because lordship itself was Illil’s defining characteristic … Akkadian terms such as illilu, “god of the highest rank” and illilūtu, “divine supremacy” (literally “Enlil-ship”) … illilūtu was ascribed to various other deities over the centuries, including Šamaš, Marduk, Sîn and Nabû, each of whom was called illilu at various times. This background is significant to the biblical use of אליל , since it too arguably began with a specific reference to Illil, but was also applied to other divinities.[viii]

The implications are huge—“Enlil” or “Satan” was quite likely a general term for “idols” which God said not to worship in the Ten Commandments. Also, Satan was known by a host of other titles, though for simplicity, we will generally refer to him as Satan or Enlil throughout this book. Keep in mind that the names and titles, many which we find in the Bible with variant spellings, refer to Satan: Enlil (Isa 14:12), Ninurta (2 Kgs 19:37), Marduk / Merodach (Jer 50:2), Baal / Bel (Isa 46:1), Dumuzid / Tammuz (Ezek 8:14), and more. One of Satan’s disguises the Bible audaciously unmasks is that of Melqart, King of Tyre.

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[i] His name in the Hebrew is Heilel which should not be confused with Halal meaning praise.

[ii] W.R. Gallagher, On the Identity of Hêlēl Ben Sahar of Is 14:12-15 UF 26 (1994) pp 131-146.

[iii] Jacobsen 1989, The líl of dEn-líl. DUMU-É-DUB-BA-A: Studies in Honor of Åke W. Sjöberg (Behrens, H., D. M. Loding and M. T. Roth). Pg. 270.

[iv] Jeremias, Alfred 1913. Handbuch der altorientalischen Geisteskultur. Leipzig. Pg. 74.

[v] Kramer, Samuel Noah The Sumerians The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1963. Pg. 37-42.

[vi] Albert T. Clay, “Ellil, the God of Nippur” AJSL 23 (1907) 277.

[vii] Christopher B. Hays, Enlil, Isaiah, and the Origins of the ʾĕlilim: A Reassessment, ZAW 2020; 132(2): 224–235, https://doi.org/10.1515/zaw-2020-2002

[viii] Ibid.