Article Entry Aug 08/10/2018, by Barry W.
Having studied Mesopotamian history, including a couple of years of the Akkadian language, and a smattering of Sumerian, in addition to my many decades of the Arabic language, Qur'an, and Islam . . . I could not help but be intrigued by the "too coincidental" to be coincidental linguistic relationship between the word "Allah," and the Sumerians' primary god "Enlil." To put it another way, the Islamic deity "Allah" isthe Sumerian god "Enlil." This essay will show how that happened.
In Sumerian mythology, there are several versions as to Enlil's origins, but the most logical one claims that he was the offspring AN. AN, in Sumerian was the word for "star," the word for "deity," and the word for "the heavens" in general. So, one way to look at this, is to say that Enlil was the offspring of the "cosmos" in general, or was produced by the universe itself.
Interestingly, in modern cosmology, a belief is developing that the universe itself, in its entirety, is God. In other words, the universe, meaning every star, every object, and every atom (including the stuff we are made of), in its composite whole acts as some sort of super computer--a super computer so powerful that it has always had self-awareness. Each of us are a part of that awareness and contribute to it, though we are oblivious to that fact in the same way that each little component in your computer is totally unaware of the vast mental powers that a computer has when all the parts play their role.
Double interestingly, something of that sort is also found in Hindu theology once one removes all the sacred cows and idols from the practices of the common folk.
So, the Sumerian god Enlil, was the offspring of AN, the cosmos. While he supposedly had a sibling, he quickly rose to the status of chief deity in the Sumerian pantheon. One Sumerian poem ascribes such majesty to him that none of the other gods or goddesses could even look upon his splendor.
Enlil was called king of foreign lands, indicating that the Sumerians may have thought of him as some sort of a universal deity that superseded national boundaries. He was also called supreme lord, father and creator.
An interesting bit of linguistic speculation occurs when we dissect his name. Above we learned that the word "AN" meant "god" in Sumerian. "An" and "En" are interchangeable in ancient languages that did not denote vowels the same way we do. So, "Anlil" is just as valid a transcription and pronunciation as is "Enlil."
Okay, so what is "An" + "lil?" "Lil," or "lail" is Semitic for "night," but in Sumerian, "lil," or "Lilu" refers to the "desert wind demon."
Thus, "Enlil," or "Anlil," can also mean "god of the desert wind demon."
Okay, with that bit of digression in mind, let's proceed on with the history of the title of Allah. How did "Enlil," or "Anlil" become Allah?
The Sumerians, as we know, were the world's first civilization. They were supplanted by the Akkadians in the 23rd century B.C. They were a Semitic-speaking culture. One of the interesting features about the Semitic languages is that they have certain phonemes (consonants) that they believe are weak, and these "weak" consonants tend to elide into neighboring stronger consonants. In other words, when a weak consonant is immediately followed by a strong consonant, the strong consonant swallows up the weak consonant. The strong consonant is then doubled in strength, it becomes a double consonant.
The phoneme "n" in all Semitic languages is considered to be a weak consonant. The phoneme "l" is considered to be a strong consonant. Therefore, whenever an "l" is immediately preceded by an "n," the "l" swallows up the "n" and becomes doubled.
Thus, when the Akkadians, who were Semitic, adopted the non-Semitic god "Enlil/Anlil" into their pantheon, they pronounced the name "Allil." In the West Semitic Canaanite cultures of Ugarit and later Phoenicia, and Israel, that term was shortened to "El" in most cases.
However, in some West Semitic cultures, such as the Aramaec speakers, the Akkadian "Allil" became Allah, and Ellah, and Elloh. Most students of the Bible are familiar with the plural of that form, "Elohim" which appears numerous times in the Hebrew version of the Old Testament. But what most people are unaware of, is that the "Allah" or "Eloh" singular form also appears in the Hebrew Old Testament. For example:
In Ezra 5:1 we actually see the phrase "Allah Yisroel," the god of Israel.
And, in Ezra 7:19 we see "Allah Yerushalayim" the god of Jerusalem.
In Daniel 2:23 we have "Allah Abahati" god of my fathers, and in Daniel 2:44 we find "Allah Shemaya" god of heaven.
Other examples occur in Deuteronomy 32:15; and 2nd Chronicles 32:15.
Of course, in the written Hebrew examples above, "Allah," or "Enlil," is often spelled as "Eloh," or "Elah." In other words, without showing the doubling of the "L" that should be there, and with a slightly differing voweling. But, we have to remember that the diacritical marks, those little dots and dashes above, below, and sometimes buried within the Hebrew consonants and that show the doubled letters and the vowels, were not added to the text until the 10th century, and must be considered approximations as to how the rabbis of that age believed the words were pronounced a thousand years, or two thousand years previously.
Therefore, I conclude that the Sumerian god "Enlil" which we know became the "Allil" of Akkadian literature, also became the "El," "Elohom," "Eloh," and "Elah" of the Hebrew and Aramaic accounts--as well as the more obvious "Allah" of the Qur'an, "the god of the desert demon wind."
Furthermore, the term "Allah" never appears in any of the pre-Old Testament era Arabic inscriptions. Instead, you see deities such as "Kahel," "Athtar," al-Qaum," and "al-Uzza."
From this, one can safely assume that the term "Allah" is not an original Arabic term, but was imported into the Arabic language and culture from Jews who settled in Northwest Arabia during the 6th century B.C. when the Babylonian king Nabu Na'id made Tayma, Arabia his capital. The Jews in turn had adopted the term from the older Akkadian "Allil," which in turn was the Semitic pronunciation of the older Sumerian god "Enlil."
Finally, you can rest assured that whenever an Islamic terrorist yells "allahu akbar"when he beheads someone for You Tube, that he is really paying homage to the Sumerian god Enlil, with the meaning that "Enlil is the greatest."