Besides absorbing the prerogatives of Ea and Bel, Marduk was also imbued with the attributes of other of the great gods, such as Adad, Shamash, Nergal and Ninib, so that, more particularly as we approach the days of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, the impression is created that Marduk was the only real deity recognized, and that the other gods were merely the various forms under which he manifested himself.
The strong tendency towards concentrating in one deity - Marduk - the attributes of all others was offset by the natural desire to make the position of Marduk.
Of divine government of the universe, the recognition of a large number of gods and their consorts by the side of Marduk remained a firmly embedded doctrine in the Babylonian religion as it did in the Assyrian religion, with the important variation, however,.
Associated with Marduk was his consort Sarpanit, and grouped around the pair as princes around a throne were the chief deities of the older centres, like Ea and Damkina of Eridu, Nebo and Tashmit of Borsippa, Nergal and Allatu of Kutha, Shamash and A of Sippar, Sin and Ningal of Ur, as well as pairs like Ramman (or Adad) and Shala whose central seat is unknown to us.
Like Babylon Borsippa is not mentioned in the oldest inscriptions, but comes into importance first after Khammurabi had made Babylon the capital of the whole land, somewhere before 2000 B.C. He built or rebuilt the temple E-Zida at this place, dedicating it, however, to Marduk (Bel-Merodach).
But although Khammurabi himself does not seem to have honoured Nebo (q.v.), subsequent kings recognized him as the deity of E-Zida and made him the son of Marduk (q.v.).
The older incantations, associated with Ea, were re-edited so as to give to Marduk the supreme power over demons, witches and sorcerers; the hymns and lamentations composed for the cult of Bel, Shamash and of Adad were transformed into paeans and appeals to Marduk, while the ancient myths arising in the various religious and political centres underwent a similar process of adaptation to changed conditions, and as a consequence their original meaning was obscured by the endeavour to assign all mighty deeds and acts, originally symbolical of the change of seasons or of occurrences in nature, to the patron deity of Babylon - the supreme head of the entire Babylonian pantheon.
Shamash the sun-god was invested with justice as his chief trait, Marduk is portrayed as full of mercy and kindness, Ea is the protector of mankind who is grieved when, through a deception practised upon Adapa, humanity is deprived of immortality.
This step may possibly be connected with the attempt of Marduk (Merodach)-baladan in south Babylonia to form a league against Assyria (cf.
The interesting parallels between the Babylonian Marduk (Merodach) god of light and Christ as a world saviour are ingeniously set forth by Zimmern in K.A.T., 3rd ed., pp. 376-391, but the total impression which they leave is vague.