from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Harran (Turkey)
Harran in Turkey

Ehulhul, Echulchul, Eḫulḫul ( Akkadian E 2 -ḫul 2 -ḫul 2 ) is the name of the temple of the moon god Sin in Harran , which, as a house for the joy of all, was the main shrine in the cult center of the moon god.

Ehulhul - construction and destruction -

First builders

Ruins of the Ulu Cami (Great Mosque) of Harran (on top of the ancient Sin Temple ).

For the first time the construction of the temple under Shalmaneser III. mentioned. Then Sargon II gave 7.5 mines of silver to the priesthood for renovation work . Further restorations followed by Asarhaddon and 664 BC. From Ashurbanipal . The last time before the destruction of Ehulhul, Šamaš-šuma-ukin took in 652 BC. BC to 648 BC BC. Repairs to the sanctuary before.

Ehulhul as an oracle center

The temple of Ehuhul occupied a central position in the oracle cult of the Assyrians. Asarhaddon, for example, asked before his campaign against Egypt in Ehulhul Sin and Shamash about the right time for an attack. Assurbanipal's first restoration after his accession was to Ehulhul in order to carry out the important oracle inquiries in the goodwill of the gods .

Destruction of Ehulhul

When Babylonia intensified the warlike attacks against Assyria , the old Assyrian cult center Harran boycotted the call for submission to the New Babylonian Empire. In an alliance of the Babylonians and Medes that followed shortly afterwards , in the 16th year of Nabopolassar's reign the city of Harran, now the residence of the last Assyrian king, and thus the temple of Ehulhul in 610 BC, became Chr. Destroyed.


According to the principles of the Mesopotamian religion, a deity could only act benevolently if it could be worshiped in the form of a statue with an associated sanctuary. The statue was thought to be a personified god; the temple represented the apartment assigned to it. Without these principles, no cultic acts could be performed.

The dynasty of the New Babylonian Empire had its main god in Marduk and therefore initially saw no reason to revive the status of the traditionally older moon god Sin in Harran. In the following years, the role of Sin continued until about 553 BC. Before a Babylonian king with Assyrian roots, Nabonidus , announced that he would restore the ancient rites .

Reconstruction of Ehulhul by Nabonidus

Nabu-na'id on a relief during the worship of the celestial deities Sin (moon), Shamash (sun) and Ishtar (Venus).

According to the Sippar Cylinder , her son Nabonid recruited residents from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean for the new building of Ehulhul in Harran, where Nabonidus's mother, Adad-happe , had once been a priestess until its destruction . He had the statues of the moon god moved from Babylon to the magnificently rebuilt temple in Harran. The actual process can be reconstructed quite precisely if the tendencies are excluded.

The claim that the temple was built right after the Babylonian king came to the throne in 555 BC. Was ordered by Marduk in the dream vision of Nabonidus , initially contradicts the content of the Nabonidus Chronicle . There it is reported that the Babylonian king was only after the first victories of Cyrus II over the Medes in 550 BC. BC conquered the city of Harran in the sixth year of Nabonidus reign. Significant in this context is the tendency writing of the dream vision Nabu-na'id , which vaticinium ex eventu was subsequently created and connected with the Cyrus oracle . The objection of the Babylonian king that the Medes were in control of Harran at this time and thus made the possibility of an immediate start of construction impossible, answered the prophecy with a victory of Cyrus II over the Medes for the third year of Nabonidus reign. After this defeat, restoration could begin.

Nabonidus' ten-year stay in the Tayma oasis is not mentioned in the Sippar cylinder. The announcement of the restoration in the dream vision refers to the time difference of 54 years since the destruction of Harran. This results in the year 556 BC. And therefore the point in time immediately after the Babylonian king came to power, which was moved to the first year of reign, around 555 BC. To justify the official divine commission by Marduk after taking the hands of Marduk . The Harran inscription H1 expressly confirms the dream vision with the appointment of Nabonidus to the building project. The Harran inscription H2, on the other hand, reports on the Tayma stay and justifies the interruption of the planned project with the rebellion of the citizens of Babylon against Nabonidus in order to theologically justify the exile of the Babylonian king.

The Harran inscription H1 relocates the building project to the foreign policy situation and allows the order and execution to follow one another. The background was the subsequent assignment to the Cyrus oracle in order to let the activities of the Babylonian king in Harran appear in the light of divine prophecy.

The verse poem , an insulting report directed against the Babylonian king, also seems to confirm Nabonidus' dream vision and is historically incorrect as a tendency writing for the actual events. The private documents - thousands of which were found from Nabonaid's reign - show a contradicting picture and place the reconstruction of the temple in the period from the 14th to the 17th year of the reign. The possibility of starting work on the temple before 552 BC Chr., Which was continued and finally completed after a subsequent interruption by the stay in Tayma, is to be excluded, since there is no confirmation of private documents. Adad-Happe's remark that she personally wants to have seen the completion of the temple (Akkadian: amur anaku ) belongs to the genus of divine grave inscriptions and must be understood as a seeing prophecy . The apparent contradiction of the completion of the temple construction before the year of her death and, associated with it, before Nabonid's return is resolved against this background. The inscription of the Babylonian king from Harran shows that the completion of Ehulhul only after his return from Tayma in 542 BC. Was reached.

Model of a typical ziggurat . The exact appearance of Ehulhul is unknown.

The contradictions of the various inscriptions also raise the question of why Cyrus II in particular should approve the building project in the territory of the Persian king on the country that he later attacked. The compression and theological idealization as well as the relocation of the dream vision of Nabonidus to the early days of the reign of the Babylonian king is now viewed by modern research as a historical fact . Based on the explanations in the private documents as neutral sources, the process can be reconstructed: The announcement of a rebuilding of the temple in Harran in the dream vision of Nabonidus relates to the statements of the Babylonian king at the time of the departure to Tayma. The increase in the restoration of other sanctuaries during the period of exile is striking and suggests that construction work on the Ehulhul temple could begin in the late Tayma years, which only occurred after the late return of Nabonidus between 542 BC. BC and 538 BC Was completed. In this context, the statement of the Babylonian king at the beginning of the excerpt is understandable.

There is uncertainty about the further history of the sanctuary. What is certain is that Harran remained an important center of the lunar cult until late antiquity .


  • Reinhard-Gregor Kratz: Judaism in the Age of the Second Temple (study edition from the series of publications: Research on the Old Testament, No. 42) . Mohr-Siebeck, Tübingen 2006, ISBN 3-16-148835-0 .
  • Steven W. Holloway: Aššur is king! Aššur is king! - Religion in the exercise of power in the Neo-Assyrian Empire - . Brill, Cologne 2002, ISBN 90-04-12328-8 .
  • Paul-Alain Beaulieu: The reign of Nabonidus, King of Babylon, 556-539 BC Yale University Press, New Haven 1989, ISBN 0-300-04314-7 .

Web links

Notes and evidence

  1. ^ Paul-Alain Beaulieu, The reign of Nabonidus, King of Babylon, 556-539 BC , Yale University Press, New Haven 1989. pp. 108-113.
  2. a b c d e f Reinhard-Gregor Kratz: Judaism in the Age of the Second Temple (study edition from the series: Research on the Old Testament, No. 42) , Mohr-Siebeck, Tübingen 2006, pp. 44–47.