Erich Lessing

Water in a dry land could mean the difference between feast and famine, life and death. This goddess, who probably once stood in the throne room of Mari, performs the same function as the two goddesses in lower panel of the wall painting of the Investiture of Zimri-Lim: She pours life-giving water. But as can be seen from the ripples chiseled in her gown, as well as the three fish swimming up it, she not only pours the water, she is also the numinous power in the water. In the creation story in Genesis 2:4b–24, known as the Yahwist’s version, the river that flows from Eden divides into four branches. Mari was built by the side of one branch, the Euphrates, and Jerusalem derived its water from another, the Gihon. Both the waters from below (the rivers and the seas) and the waters from above (the rain) were believed to be under the control of the deity.