The most powerful God of the Sumerians, Enlil is one of the more complicated. Called “Lord of the Air,” He is the power of the storm that rages, and the energy of the cloud that brings rain. As the Keeper of the Tablets of Destiny, Enlil ordains the destinies of the Gods and humans. Because of this, He is the mediator between Gods and humans.
The two myths that detail his dark side, “Enlil and Ninlil” and “Atrahasis” show how Enlil learns from his actions. He develops from someone who pursues his own agenda to be the wise governor of divine law. “Enlil and Ninlil” tells of his rape of Ninlil, Her obtaining justice, and his punishment in the Underworld. The myth relates their courtship from their initial meeting to Ninlil becoming his consort. Their children from the courtship are Nanna, God of the Moon, Ninurta, God of Farming, and Nergal, God of Death.
In “Atrahasis” (the Sumerian version of The Flood), Enlil floods the earth. He grew tired of the destructive, numerous and noisy humans. Meanwhile Enki saves Atrahasis who builds the ark. After the waters recede, Atrahasis makes offerings to the Gods. After acknowledging the offerings, Enlil rues his flood and its destruction. He then gives the humans a second chance. To prevent them from being too numerous, Enlil sends threats to their daily existence.
This is a part of the Great Hymn of Enlil. It describes his complexity. (Some of the attributes were later ascribed to Yahweh.) http://etcsl.orinst.ox.ac.uk/section4/tr4051.htm
Enlil in the E-kur (Enlil A): translation
Enlil’s commands are by far the loftiest, his words are holy, his utterances are immutable! The fate he decides is everlasting, his glance makes the mountains anxious, his …. reaches (?) into the interior of the mountains. All the gods of the earth bow down to father Enlil, who sits comfortably on the holy dais, the lofty dais, to Nunamnir, whose lordship and princeship are most perfect. The Anuna gods enter before him and obey his instructions faithfully.
Enlil, if you look upon the shepherd favourably, if you elevate the one truly called in the Land, then the foreign countries are in his hands, the foreign countries are at his feet! Even the most distant foreign countries submit to him. He will then cause enormous incomes and heavy tributes, as if they were cool water, to reach the treasury. In the great courtyard he will supply offerings regularly.
Enlil, faithful shepherd of the teeming multitudes, herdsman, leader of all living creatures, has manifested his rank of great prince, adorning himself with the holy crown. As the Wind of the Mountain occupied the dais, he spanned the sky as the rainbow. Like a floating cloud, he moved alone.
He alone is the prince of heaven, the dragon of the earth. The lofty god of the Anuna himself determines the fates. No god can look upon him. His great minister and commander Nuska learns his commands and his intentions from him, consults with him and then executes his far-reaching instructions on his behalf. He prays to him with holy prayers and divine powers.
Without the Great Mountain Enlil, no city would be built, no settlement would be founded; no cow-pen would be built, no sheepfold would be established; no king would be elevated, no lord would be given birth; no high priest or priestess would perform extispicy; soldiers would have no generals or captains; no carp-filled waters would …… the rivers at their peak; the carp would not come straight up from the sea, they would not dart about. The sea would not produce all its heavy treasure, no freshwater fish would lay eggs in the reedbeds, no bird of the sky would build nests in the spacious land; in the sky the thick clouds would not open their mouths; on the fields, dappled grain would not fill the arable lands, vegetation would not grow lushly on the plain; in the gardens, the spreading trees of the mountain would not yield fruits.
Without the Great Mountain, Enlil, Nintud would not kill, she would not strike dead; no cow would drop its calf in the cattle-pen, no ewe would bring forth. lamb in its sheepfold; the four-legged animals would not propagate, they would not mate.
Enlil, your ingenuity takes one’s breath away! By its nature it is like entangled threads which cannot be unraveled, crossed threads which the eye cannot follow. Your divinity can be relied on. You are your own counsellor and adviser, you are a lord on your own. Who can comprehend your actions? No divine powers are as resplendent as yours. No god can look you in the face.
You, Enlil, are lord, god, king. You are a judge who makes decisions about heaven and earth. Your lofty word is as heavy as heaven, and there is no one who can lift it. Your word is weighty in heaven, a foundation on the earth. In the heavens, it is reaching up to the sky. On the earth it is a foundation which cannot be destroyed. When it relates to the heavens, it brings abundance: abundance will pour from the heavens. When it relates to the earth, it brings prosperity: the earth will produce prosperity. Your word means flax, your word means grain. Your word means the early flooding, the life of the lands. It makes the living creatures, the animals which copulate and breathe joyfully in the greenery. You, Enlil, the good shepherd, know their ways. the sparkling stars.
You married Ninlil, the holy consort, whose words are of the heart, her of noble countenance in a holy ma garment, her of beautiful shape and limbs, the trustworthy lady of your choice. Covered with allure, the lady who knows what is fitting for the E-kur, whose words of advice are perfect, whose words bring comfort like fine oil for the heart, who shares the holy throne, the pure throne with you, she takes counsel and discusses matters with you. You decide the fates together at the place facing the sunrise. Ninlil, the lady of heaven and earth, the lady of all the lands, is honoured in the praise of the Great Mountain.
Prominent one whose words are well established, whose command and support are things which are immutable, whose utterances take precedence, whose plans are firm words, Great Mountain, father Enlil, your praise is sublime!