Marduk and his son Nabu

The state religion of Babylonia involved large cults with big temples and numerous personnel while the religion of the private individual was involved with magic and sorcery. The state religion revolved around the great gods of the cities who were ranked in an order corresponding more or less to the political status of their cities. Thus by the first millennium BC, Marduk, god of Babylon, was king of the gods and his son, Nabu of Borsippa, was right next to him. The multitude of cities and pantheons in Babylonia and the waxing and waning of the political fortunes of the various cities throughout Babylonian history resulted in a great deal of conflict and confusion among the numerous cults.

Bel (Baal) Marduk, meaning Lord Marduk, was chief of the Babylonian gods. Because he was the city god he had not only a temple but also a huge ziggurat to him. The ziggurat grew in later times to be seven steps or platforms high. According to Babylonian legend the gods had built the ziggurat and temple. The temple was called the temple of Esgalia.

Marduk was the son of Ea who was the god of wisdom. Marduk himself was the god of the rising sun. Legend says that Tiamat attacked the gods and Marduk conquered her thus becoming Lord of the gods. This ascension probably arose from the pre-eminence of Babylon among the cities of that area. He had a wife called Sarpanitu and a son called Nabu. His sacred number was ten and his planet was Jupiter.

Later on when Marduk had gained in importance as a god and had become king he was believed to be instrumental not only in the making of men but the fashioning of the world itself.

In Babylon there was a statue of Marduk and it was made of pure gold. Many other statues of Marduk were built and were often richly adorned. One representation of Marduk would be carried through the city for the festival of the New Year.