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Lee Lawrie, Nabu (1939). Library of Congress John Adams Building, Washington, D.C.
God of wisdom and writing
Statue of the Attendant God from the Temple of Nabu at Nimrud, Mesopotamia on display at the British Museum.
Abode Borsippa
Symbol Clay tablet and stylus
Consort Tashmetum and Nissaba
Parents Marduk and Sarpanitum

Nabu (in Biblical Hebrew Nebo נבו[1]) is the Assyrian and Babylonian god of wisdom and writing, worshipped by Babylonians as Marduk and Sarpanitum's son and as Ea's grandson. Nabu's consorts were Tashmetum and Nissaba.


  • Etymology 1
  • History 2
    • Outside of Mesopotamia 2.1
  • Depictions 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Nabu's name is derived from the Semitic root nb´, meaning "to name/designate", "announcer/herald", "the one who is named/designated", "to call", and "to proclaim".[2][3][4]


Nabu was originally a West Semitic deity from Ebla whose cult was introduced to Mesopotamia by the Amorites after 2000 BCE.[2][4][5] Nabu was assimilated into Marduk's cult, where he became known as Marduk's minister, Marduk's son with Sarpanitum, and co-regent of the Mesopotamian pantheon.[2][4]

Nabu resided in his temple of Ezida in Borsippa and had several temples devoted to him throughout Assyria, while his cult spread to Egypt and Anatolia due to Aramaic settlers.[2][4][6] Due to his role as Marduk's minister and scribe, Nabu became the god of wisdom and writing,[7][8][9] (including all works of science, religion and magic) taking over the role from the Sumerian goddess Nisaba.[4][10] Nabu became one of the principal gods in Assyria as Assyrians addressed many prayers and inscriptions to Nabu and named children after him.[5]

Nabu was also worshipped as a god of fertility, a god of water, and a god of vegetation.[5][6] He was also the keeper of the Tablets of Destiny, which recorded the fate of mankind[2] and allowed him to increase or diminish the length of human life. His symbols are the clay tablet and stylus.[6]

Nabu's consorts were the Akkadian goddess Tashmetum and the Assyrian Nissaba.[6] He wears a horned cap, and stands with his hands clasped, in the ancient gesture of priesthood. He rides on a winged dragon known as Sirrush which originally belonged to his father Marduk. During the Babylonian New Year Festival, the cult statue of Nabu was transported from Borsippa to Babylon in order to commune with his father Marduk.

In Babylonian astrology, Nabu was identified with the planet Mercury.[2]

Outside of Mesopotamia

In the Bible, Nabu is mentioned as Nebo in Isaiah 46:1 and Jeremiah 48:1.[11][12]

As the god of wisdom and writing, Nabu was identified by the Greeks with Hermes, by the Romans with Mercury, and by the Egyptians with Thoth.


A statue of Nabu from Calah, erected during the reign of the Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser III, is on display in the British Museum.


  1. ^ Arie Uittenbogaard for Abarim Publications. "Nebo | The amazing name Nebo: meaning and etymology". Retrieved 2015-07-02. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Ancient Mesopotamian Gods and Goddesses – Nabu (god)". Retrieved 2015-06-23. 
  3. ^ Jeffers, Ann (1996). Magic and Divination in Ancient Palestine and Syria. Leiden: Brill. p. 82.  
  4. ^ a b c d e Leick, Gwendolyn (1998). A Dictionary of Ancient Near Eastern Mythology ([1. pbk. ed.]. ed.). London: Routledge. pp. 123–124.  
  5. ^ a b c "Nabu – Myth Encyclopedia – mythology, god, ancient, children". Retrieved 2010-12-24. 
  6. ^ a b c d Editors, The. "Nabu | Babylonian deity". Retrieved 2015-06-23. 
  7. ^ Rostovtzeff, M. (1926). A History of the Ancient World. [Cheshire, CT]: Biblo Moser. p. 16.  
  8. ^ Editors, The (2015-06-25). "Calah | ancient city, Iraq". Retrieved 2015-07-09. 
  9. ^ "Nimrud: Materialities of Assyrian Knowledge Production - Ezida, the god Nabu's temple of scholarship". Retrieved 2015-07-09. 
  10. ^ "Scribes in ancient Mesopotamia". British Museum. Retrieved 2015-07-06. 
  11. ^ "Isaiah 46:1 NIV – Gods of Babylon – Bel bows down, Nebo". Bible Gateway. Retrieved 2015-06-23. 
  12. ^ "Jeremiah 48:1 NIV - A Message About Moab - Concerning Moab". Bible Gateway. Retrieved 2015-07-02. 

External links

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