Truth About Doves: The Story of Nimrod's Wife
The Wedding Of Queen Semiramis
Sumats’ eyes flashed in irritation. She was bored, and only caution held her tongue silent. She studied her leopard-skin clad captors as they poled the berdi-reed canoe through the marshy depths of Shinar’s watery southland. The dark men towered over her, but not so high as the great stands of berdi reeds that walled the labyrinthine corridors of their journey.
Not once had her dark companions shown any sign of lessening strength. They appeared to be in an inescapable maze. How her two escorts knew which way to go, she could not fathom.
Putting aside irritation, Sumats probed the surrounding water world with eyes the color of the sky at mid-day. Damp tendrils of golden hair clung unnoticed to the back of her neck. The fair skinned Sumats had seen wet lands before, but something here escaped definition. Even the birds sounded different. Not just because of their numbers, but more significantly the songs, melodies both strange and mysterious. She determined to unravel the secret of their song.
At last, it appeared that they had reached their destination. Not a spear's throw away stood a reed house directly in their path. Buoyantly sitting upon the marshes of the Tigris, its bundled berdi-reed construction was no different from any of the other dwellings they had passed on their journey.
"Our Lady would see you, now." The taller of the two escorts informed her. A faint inclination of his head indicated that she should step onto the bulrush platform on which the house floated.
The two escorts poled a respectful distance away, leaving her to go on unassisted.
Sumats remembered hearing strange things of the woman she had been summoned to meet. Whispered words that she had been with Ish-nuh, the man Noah, upon the Ark during The Great Flood. To some she was known as Atargatis, because it was thought that she was half woman and half fish. Sumats entertained no such foolishness. She was, however, curious.
"Enter," commanded a voice from inside the house. An alien feeling, almost like fear, attached itself to Sumats. Thoughts of fleeing caused long graceful hands to hesitate for one full count, before parting the curtain of stringed shells before her. Not since childhood had she faltered in any decision. Though in truth there was no decision to be made. The order had left no room for choice.
The interior of the dwelling left Sumats momentarily dazed. The aroma of incense saturated the air and light dance eerily about the room from a dozen shell candles. But, it was not just the discernible elements of the room that made it different. No, the major source of that difference seemed to be emanating from the sole occupant of the room. A dark skinned woman wearing a red robe and veil weaved of some unfamiliar fabric edged in gold embroidery. The matriarch appeared to be incredibly old. It occurred to Sumats that she must have been very tall when younger. This must be Atargatis, she thought, but not disappointedly. In the same instant she recognized that other element left undefined just a moment before. Power.
Power existed here, perhaps infinite in scope. A force such as one should be either terribly afraid of, or achingly hungry to possess.
"How are you known?" queried Atargatis, cutting into the younger woman's meditations with the same commanding tone as before.
For a short interval two sets of eyes, one pair wizened, almost purple with intent and the other young and cunning, locked in a quiet battle of wills. Very little time passed before the cunning in the one recognized the superiority of that which dwelt within the older woman. Accepting defeat gracefully, with plans already forming in the back of her mind to obtain and wield the same power some day, she judged it prudent to respond. "Sumats."
"Are you, indeed?" almost imperceptibly a left eyebrow arched. "A dove?" breathed Atargatis. From behind the veil she considered the implications. The dove symbolized the Great Spirit of Creation, and a dove had brought back to Noe evidence that the waters had retreated.
Angrily Sumats proudly retorted, "Here, is my talisman! A wedding gift from my husband."
Reaching under the neckline of her clothes, Sumats showed forth the amulet that hung about her neck. It's details at once revealing a dove, but at the same time resembling an arrow. A glance revealed to the older woman crimson stains of human blood on the beak of the dove, but she chose not to comment. Runners sent by her son had told Atargatis of the proficiency exercised by this young woman at the recent battle of Bactra. Instead she questioned Sumats on the subject of husbands.
"Your, husband? Speak you of he who was your husband", she paused, "or of he who is?"
"I have but one husband." Anger caused Sumats, who in this affair was without power, to speak heatedly without wisdom. "Your son, Lady, took me from him against all custom. He had no right."
"Insolent child." Atargatis struck faster than the death strike of a cobra. So quickly did the blow catch her that Sumats would never afterwards be sure exactly how or with what the older woman had hit her, or even of where she had been struck. In fact, though the blow had dropped her to her knees, she felt no pain, just humiliation.
"Know you not who my son is?" the older woman queried calmly as though no violence had just been done. "Or, the honor he has bestowed upon you?"
Though humbled, Sumats refused to show any weakness, taking a cue from the older woman's impenetrable calmness, she looked up from her position on the floor into Atargatis’ face just as if she were on a level, to answer. "Your son, my Lady, is the Mighty Hunter, Nimrud."
Approval shone in the eyes of the mother of Nimrud, quietly applauding the girl's perseverance. Stooping swiftly for one of such great age, Atargatis ceremoniously helped Sumats to a standing position, clucking softly, "This one may do well for our purpose."
"Whose purpose?" Sumats had noted the unfocused glazed look, which had entered the other woman's eyes and wanted to know to whom or to what she had just spoken. Instinctively she sensed that the answer to this one riddle could perhaps be the key to Atargatis' power.
"Do you not know who they are child?" she answered with a question. "They know you, have known you since before your birth."
Sumats made no reply; none was required.
"They are the Anunnaki, those who have fallen from Heaven." Turning her back upon the girl, she continued, "They watch."
Atargatis introduced the young woman to the Anunnaki that night and during the following days they spent many hours together.
"Who is your mother?"
But, Sumats had no memories of the one who gave her birth, only of the man who had raised her. "He said that I was sent by Him whose spirit flutters like a dove over His Creation." Then she told Atargatis of how as a child she had stolen milk and cheese from the tents of shepherds for months before finally being caught near an Acacia tree. "I was very young and half-wild."
Sumats received a new name during this visit with Atargatis. They invoked the Anunnaki, and through the voice of Atargatis were advised, "You are to be called Sammur-amat, the one who comes from the doves, a gift from the sea." Did the puzzling instructions make reference to the branch brought back to the Ark of Noe? And, if so, what did it mean? Neither woman understood.
After that strange naming ceremony, Sumats felt a stirring within her of a growing power, and something else. Birth pangs? Exhilaration filled her, leaving no room for the earlier objections she’d had at being forced to come here.
Then came the day of Nimrud's return.
She had risen early to perform her morning toiletries, eager to learn more of and from the Anunnaki and was interrupted by the massive ebony form of the son of Atargatis. That which followed strengthened her resolve. Men were dull creatures. Foolishly believing that they could obtain what they wanted by force, but she could see the reflections of another world. A world were one could control the power to create. Men saw power only in conquest and destruction. But, she now knew that true power lay in the ability to create. Naught but a novice to this man's mother, the day would come that she would be the master.
Forcing her chin up by placing his large hands on each side of her face, Nimrud callously informed her, "The one you previously knew as husband is dead." And, he departed.
Through clenched jaws Sammur-amat thought aloud, "So, I am now to be the wife of Nimrud. So be it, there are fates worse than being the consort of the Mightiest of the Sons of Kush."
Disclaimer And Notes: The previous illustrated narrative story is a work of Speculative Fiction based in part on ancient Armenian & other legends of the Near East. The truth about Semiramis is a highly controversial subject. However for a so-called Bible thumpin' believer such as myself the logic of the legends appear quite reasonable; making it very easy to jump to the conclusion that.... However, the history and research makes the whole legend thing come up a bit short. Perhaps I will get a chance to expound on that more later, for now I leave you the reader with this; it is only what God Himself has to tell us in the Bible. His message only is truly important. Legends may often be like the proverbial "where there is smoke..." but what part of the legends, if any, are smoke and what part fire? Gotta admit legends of Semiramis as the legendary wife of Nimrod founder of Babylon and Tower of Babel make great background material for purely fictional writing. So stay tuned to this site for future additions to Seeker World Fiction and Nonfiction.
Who Was Semiramis? According to Traditional Christianity
The traditional Christian view (espoused by the Late Rev. Alexander Hislop writings such as The Two Babylons or The Papal Worship Proved to be the Worship of Nimrod and His Wife) that the legendary Greek Semiramis is the same as the earlier historical Assyrian Queen Samur-amat seem to trace solidly back only as far back as the histories of Diodorus Siculus (circa 90-21BC) a contemporary of Julius Caesar and Augustus, and then ... Before that the equating of Semiramis and Sammuramat is from what I can best discern circumstantial and confusing, based on a lot of assumptions but nothing solid. Jewish Legends of Nimrod's Wife seem to possibly trace back to the Babylonian Captivity Period... confusing before that... And remember Jewish myths of Lilith being the first wife of Adam (contradicting Genesis account in the Bible) also appear to have originated from this time period...
For Further Reading
Interested in reading more about the history and legends that inspired this story?