Song of the Hoe
The Song of the hoe or the Creation of the pickax is a Sumerian creation myth, written on clay tablets from the last century of the 3rd millennium BCE.
- Not only did the lord make the world appear in its correct form, the lord who never changes the destinies which he determines – Enlil – who will make the human seed of the Land come forth from the earth – and not only did he hasten to separate heaven from earth, and hasten to separate earth from heaven, but, in order to make it possible for humans to grow in "where flesh came forth" [the name of a cosmic location], he first raised the axis of the world at Dur-an-ki. He did this with the help of the hoe -- and so daylight broke forth. By distributing the shares of duty he established daily tasks, and for the hoe and the carrying-basket wages were even established. Then Enlil praised his hoe, his hoe wrought in gold, its top inlaid with lapis lazuli, his hoe whose blade was tied on with a cord, which was adorned with silver and gold. ... The lord evaluated the hoe, determined its future destiny and placed a holy crown on its head.
- Here, in 'Where Flesh Came Forth' (𒍜𒌓𒁺𒀀), he set this very hoe to work; he had it place the first model of mankind in the brick mould. His Land started to break through the soil towards Enlil. He looked with favour at his black-headed people. Now the Anuna gods stepped forward to him, and did obeisance to him. They calmed Enlil with a prayer, for they wanted to demand the black-headed people from him. Ninmena, the lady who had given birth to the ruler, who had given birth to the king, now set human reproduction going.
- The E-kur, the temple of Enlil, was founded by the hoe. By day it was building it, by night it caused the temple to grow.
- The king who measured up the hoe and who passes his time in its tracks, the hero Ninurta, has introduced working with the hoe into the rebel lands. He subdues any city that does not obey its lord. Towards heaven he roars like a storm, earthwards he strikes like a dragon (ucumgal).
- The hoe buries people, but dead people are also brought up from the ground by the hoe. With the hoe, the hero honoured by An, the younger brother of Nergal, the warrior Gilgamesh – is as powerful as a hunting net. The sage son of Ninsumun is pre-eminent with oars. With the hoe, he is the great barber of the watercourses. In the chamber of the shrine, with the hoe he is the minister.
- In the sky there is the altirigu-bird, the bird of the god. On the earth there is the hoe: a dog in the reed-beds, a dragon in the forest.
- The tree of the hillsides is the oak. The fragrance of the hillsides is the conifer balm. The precious stone of the hillsides is the steatite.
- The hoe makes everything prosper, the hoe makes everything flourish. ... The hoe has made people exist. It is the hoe that is the strength of young manhood. The hoe and the basket are the tools for building cities. It builds the right kind of house, it cultivates the right kind of fields. It is you, hoe, that extend the good agricultural land!
- The hoe, the implement whose destiny was fixed by father Enlil -- the renowned hoe! Nisaba be praised!
- Cheira, Edward., Sumerian Epics and Myths, University of Chicago, Oriental Institute Publications, 1934. Online Version
- Song of the hoe., Black, J.A., Cunningham, G., Robson, E., and Zólyomi, G., The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature, Oxford 1998-.
- Composite text - The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature, Oxford 1998-.
- Bibliography - The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature, Oxford 1998-.