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  • Dr. David Neiman

Genesis, Chapter 5 – The Sumerian King List Part 2

As we continue to read the Sumerian King List, we finally begin to see numbers that reflect what we would call historical reality. Ur-Lugal, who is number 37 on the list, is listed as having reigned for 30 years. Following him, the length of the reign of the Sumerian Kings ranges from a maximum of 36 years to the shortest, which is 6 years. None of the kings following Ur-Lugal, who is the first of the "historical" names is called divine.

It is obvious that we have, in the Sumerian King List the welding of a seam, or the weaving together of a historical record with a pre-historical tradition. The historical record evidently begins with Ur-Lugal, who reigned for 30 years, followed by successors whose reigns lasted for reasonable lengths of time. But this list of kings who actually reigned in Sumer was tied into the list of their predecessors, who are figures from Sumerian mythology, some of whom may have been real kings who reigned in an earlier age for which there are no written records. But as we go back to the beginning of the King List, we enter the realm of pure mythology with the theories of the origins of kingship and of humanity. Thus, the Sumerian King List begins with mythology, continues with folk memories of ancient rulers, and ties into the list of the kings of Sumer for which there are written records.

The Sumerian King List gives us all the data we need with which to analyze the theory, or the theology, if that is closer to the truth, of the origins of humanity as the peoples of the Near East of antiquity understood it. These ideas were shared by all the civilizations of the western world, which included the Sumerians, Babylonians and Assyrians, the Canaanites and Hittites, the Greeks and the Romans. The Israelites were the only people in that part of the world who rejected these ideas; they had an entirely different view of the origins of humanity.

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