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NERGAL:

God of the Babylonian city of Cuthah or Cuth or Kutu. In II Kings xvii. 30 it is said that the men of Cuth, whom Sargon settled in Samaria, made an image of Nergal. A Phenician funerary inscription erected by a Sidonian at Athens indicates that Nergal was also worshiped at Sidon (comp. "C. I. S." i., No. 119).

Cuthah was one of the prehistoric cities of Babylonia. Its god was probably originally agricultural in origin, and filled all the functions of the god of such a city. He became in later times, when political unity combined the gods of different cities into pantheons, the god of the underworld. Perhaps this was because Kutu was a favorite burial-place; for Kutu itself also became a name for the underworld. In this period Nergal was also regarded as the god of pestilence, of the destructive effects of war, and of the glowing heat of the sun. Perhaps as the god of death and of the underworld these phenomena naturally became associated with him.

Bibliography:
  • Jensen, Kosmologie der Babylonier, 1889, pp. 476-487;
  • Morris Jastrow, Religion of the Babylonians and Assyrians, pp. 65-68, Boston, 1898 (German ed., Die Religion Babyloniens und Assyriens, 1903, pp. 157, 158);
  • Barton, Sketch of Semitic Origins, 1902, pp. 215-217;
  • Zimmern, in Schrader, K. A. T. 3d ed., 1902, pp. 412-416.
E. C. G. A. B.
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