Andrzej Mrozek - Silvano Votto, «The Motif of the Sleeping Divinity», Vol. 80 (1999) 415-419
This note discusses biblical and Mesopotamian texts that contain the motif of a sleeping divinity. Their comparison shows that the presence of the same theme, sleep, is not sufficient of itself to make the texts parallel. The other common element, the need to awaken the sleeping divinity, must be present in the texts for parallelism. The note shows that the biblical texts have their Mesopotamian parallel not in the texts where a deity wishes to sleep and cannot, but rather where he is sleeping and must be awakened.
up on his own. In 1 Kings 18 the motif of the sleeping god appears but its function in this story is very different than in the Psalms. Elijah encourages the priests of Baal to yell with insistence so that their god will wake up.
In two of these texts (Ps 44,24 and 1 Kings 18,27) appeal is made to the sleeping god to wake up and intervene. The third text (Ps 78,65) is different from these two in that God is compared to a hero who spontaneously wakes up.
Study of these various biblical verses permits us to see which Mesopotamian texts have elements in common with the biblical texts in which a sleeping divinity must be awakened because his intervention is necessary.
Atrahasis II and Enki and Ninmah are the Mesopotamian texts that contain parallels to the biblical passages in which God sleeps, is awakened, and gets up. The appeal to the sleeping god to awaken is the element common to the biblical verses and to Atrahasis II and Enki and Ninmah. Atrahasis I and Enuma Elish are not parallel to these biblical passages because in these texts the gods do not sleep. They cannot sleep because of human or divine noise. There is no need to appeal to them to wake up because they are already awake. The problem that we find in the Bible is not divine insomnia as in Atrahasis I and Enuma Elish; rather, it is the opposite.
In summary, the Mesopotamian parallels to the sleeping god in 1 Kings 18,27 and to Ps 44,25 are Atrahasis II and Enki and Ninmah rather than Atrahasis I and Enuma Elish precisely because the point of the biblical comparison is a sleeping god who must be awakened, not a god who wants to sleep but cannot.