Akkadian omen about giving birth to a Giant?

Has Duane Smith (Abnormal Interests) uncovered an Akkadian omen with an uncanny parallel to Genesis 6.1-4 – the biblical story of some divine beings having sexual intercourse with human women, the latter afterwards giving birth to Giants?

Well, Duane thinks probably not.

But what were Leichty and von Soden thinking, when they translated Akkadian omen 69 from Šumma Izbu?

If a woman gives birth to a giant either male or female – a sinful man impregnated that woman in the street

– Erle Leichty and Wolfram von Soden, The omen series Šumma izbu. Texts from cuneiform sources, vol. 4; Locust Valley, N.Y.: J.J. Augustin, 1970, p. 126.

I was reminded of the considerably later Bekhorot 45b, which has broadly similar predictions about women giving birth to giants and dwarfs, depending on the physiology of persons involved in the earlier sexual congress.

But, as Duane wonders, and you can read his reasons here, it’s hard to know where Leichty and von Soden got their translation “giant” from. Could it be “insane person”, perhaps (if the “ecstatic” semantic range overlaps with insanity, as in Hebrew)? Anybody know?

Are there any Mesopotamian giants at all?


One thought on “Akkadian omen about giving birth to a Giant?

  1. Anthropologists like to point out that settled, agricultural people tend to be signifiicantly smaller (and less healthy) than hunter-gatherers. Maybe that rule comes from a folk-memory of women in settled communities having sex (consensual or not) with men from the surrounding, nomadic tribes, and giving birth to unusually large children? And a “sinful” man meant an “uncivilized” barbarian?


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