"Because You Puff Yourself Up . . ."
After Enheduanna's death, the superiority of the goddess was eroded bit by bit. The disregard for the fundamental primacy of nature and the increasing centrality of conquest, war, and armies in Mesopotamian culture glorified the conquering hero and diminished the role of goddesses in the pantheon. The scenario Enheduanna had fought to prevent came into being. The worshipers of yahweh gradually eradicated all traces of the Canaanite goddesses in the Hebrew temples, erasing at the same time the worshipers' image of the divine in matter.
The story of Ebih echoes the creation accounts in the Book of Genesis. There are two accounts of creation, one in the first chapter of Genesis and one in the second and third. The account in the second chapter raises questions that pertain to the old nature religions, specifically to male reliance on the defense of controlling natural process.
In the Genesis account of the Garden of Eden the author attempts to grapple with the problem paradise poses. Like Mt. Ebih, the paradise where Yahweh places Adam and Eve is eternally abundant. Fruit trees are ever-bearing. A snag in the plan develops when Eve is drawn to the theriomorphic goddess, Snake, who, like her Neolithic snake sisters, carries the wisdom of the sacred in the natural world. Snake beckons Eve back into their ancient alliance where cyclic dark and light are held in a unifying round. Snake in this story plays the part of Inanna, the goddess who upholds the fundamental processes of the natural, material world. Biblical scholar John A. Phillips says of this part of Genesis, "Perhaps the writer meant to recall that ancient association between sacred women and serpents in religions of the Near East. Snakes were thought to control 'wisdom' (magic), immortality, and fertility."
The woman Eve is drawn to the snake and her promise to bestow on Eve full knowledge of the opposites of good and evil. No longer will she live in blissful unawareness, like a babe swaddled in her mother's arms, but will know good and evil, light and dark, the full range of opposites that are the reality of the world of matter and the foundation of the religion Snake represents.
Yahweh declares Snake's world of natural process a punishment. He "strikes enmity between the woman and the snake" and thus splits human consciousness from its former embeddedness in the opposites of natural cycles. He banishes the couple fromt heir idealized garden to suffer the harsh penality of the real world. The Goddess and her sacred realm of nature are now a punishment, while Yahweh is the new object of worship.
The poem "Inanna and Ebih" is the first account of an attempt to elude the laws of the goddess's inescapable cycles. It records the beginnings of a profound archetypal shift in human consciousness away from the goddess's intrinsic existence inside nature toward a male god of the spirit, completely separate and distinct from nature.
In the Genesis account, Eve eats the apple of full conscious awareness. Adam, who joins her in the feast, immediately becomes aware of his sexuality, of their gender difference, of the contrasts inherent in the created world. For Inanna, this world of contrasts is the sacred realm in which human beings must bend pride and will in the face of the goddess's inevitable boundaries. For Yahweh, the natural world is a punishment, while the world of merged bliss in the Garden is paradise.
Yahweh warned the couple that if they eat from the tree of knowledge, they will die, a strong admonition against gaining consciousness. Snake, Eve's natural archetypal wisdom, reveals Yahweh's deceit. Indeed the couple would not die, but would wake up to the facts of the real world.
p. 109 - 111 Betty De Shong Meador (2000)