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  • Dr. David Neiman

Genesis, Chapter 5 – Megalaros

The fifth figure in the Babylonian list is written in the Greek version as Megalaros. The biblical name is Mahalal-El, which I interpret as the one "who praises God." This to me represents the sacredotal figure of the priest, a very important member of a settled society. In the Sumerian list it is Dumuzi, who in Babylonian is Tammuz, the god of grain who dies at the end of the harvest and comes back to life with the appearance of the first sprouting shoots of the new grain. This dying and reviving god is a semi-divine figure, mortal, yet like the seed in the earth, capable of bursting out of its cover and heliotropically rising back to life again.

In fact, identifying the dying and reviving god with the first leaves of sprouting grain was witnessed by Gilbert Murray in his observation of Greek peasants scanning their fields just before the festival of the risen god.28 That is why the fifth figure, Dumuzi is called a god in the Sumerian list of the ante-diluvian kings, and appears once more as a divine figure in place number 35 in the list of the kings who ruled after the Flood. It is also of interest that that the annual ceremonial mourning for the death of Tammuz was for many centuries widespread in Babylonia, and the Prophet Ezekiel bemoans the fact that even the women of Israel join in the rituals of lamentation for the death of the god of grain.29

Once again the biblical compiler of the list of Genesis 5 eliminates the divinity of the fifth figure and reduces him to the one who adores and praises god. The mystery in the Greek name Megalaros is hidden from us. But if the first part of the name in Greek, "Mega" means "large or great", then understanding the element "Laros" might reveal what the Greeks had in mind in this case or how they heard the Babylonian original. This might lead us to the parallel or its equivalent.30

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