Sumerian was the language of high culture, and presumably the language behind the whole scribal tradition out of which the practice of writing Hurrian also arose. We find evidence of this in a school text that is the homework of a schoolboy learning Sumerian, as well as in the pervasive habit of using logograms to refer to Hurrian words.
It is our scholarly practice to render these logograms in Sumerian, e.g., DINGIR (usually transliterated diĝir, pronounced /diŋir/) for “god” (the use of capital letters indicate that it is a logogram), even in a Hurrian context. Thus for instance in the inscription of Tiš-atal, in line 15, the sign that is rendered in our transliteration as DINGIR is presumed to have been read as Hurrian êni “god.”
It is likely that the use of Sumerian to render logograms is not only a modern convention, but was also the practice with ancient scribes when they wanted to read the sign as a logogram rather than as the pertinent word in the target language. (Similarly, in English one may read the logogram “etc.” as “et cetera” using the original Latin wording, or as “and so on” using an approximate English equivalent.)
Dingir is a cuneiform sign, most commonly the determinative for “deity” although it has related meanings as well. As a determinative, it is not pronounced, and is conventionally transliterated as a superscript “D” as in e.g. DInanna. Generically, dingir can be translated as “god” or “goddess”. In Mesopotamia each town and city was believed to be protected by a god. So the mesopatamians believed the temple was a connection between heaven and earth. Called gods dingir.
The sign in Sumerian cuneiform (DIĜIR, ) by itself represents the Sumerian word an (“sky” or “heaven”), the ideogram for An or the word diĝir (“god”), the supreme deity of the Sumerian pantheon. In Assyrian cuneiform, it (AN, DIĜIR, ) could be either an ideogram for “deity” (ilum) or a syllabogram for an, or ìl-. In Hittite orthography, the syllabic value of the sign was again an.
The concept of “divinity” in Sumerian is closely associated with the heavens, as is evident from the fact that the cuneiform sign doubles as the ideogram for “sky”, and that its original shape is the picture of a star. The original association of “divinity” is thus with “bright” or “shining” hierophanies in the sky. A possible loan relation of Sumerian dingir with Turkic Tengri “sky, sky god” has been suggested.
Jinn or djinn (singular: jinnī, djinni, or genie; Arabic: الجن al-jinn, singular الجني al-jinnī) are supernatural creatures in Islamic mythology as well as pre-Islamic Arabian mythology. They are mentioned frequently in the Quran (the 72nd sura is titled Sūrat al-Jinn) and other Islamic texts and inhabit an unseen world in dimensions beyond the visible universe of humans.
The Quran says that the jinn are made of a smokeless and “scorching fire”, but are also physical in nature, being able to interfere physically with people and objects and likewise be acted upon.
The jinn, humans and angels make up the three sapient creations of God. Like human beings, the jinn can be good, evil, or neutrally benevolent and hence have free will like humans and unlike angels.
The shaytan jinn are the analogue of demons in Christian tradition, but the jinn are not angels and the Quran draws a clear distinction between the two creations. The Quran states in surat Al-Kahf (The Cave), Ayah 50, that Iblis (Satan) is one of the jinn.
Jinn is a noun of the collective number in Arabic literally meaning “hidden from sight”, and it derives from the Arabic root j-n-n (pronounced: jann/ junn جَنّ / جُنّ) meaning “to hide” or “be hidden”. Other words derived from this root are majnūn ‘mad’ (literally, ‘one whose intellect is hidden’), junūn ‘madness’, and janīn ’embryo, fetus’ (‘hidden inside the womb’).
The word genie in English is derived from Latin genius, meant a sort of tutelary or guardian spirit thought to be assigned to each person at their birth. English borrowed the French descendant of this word, génie; its earliest written attestation in English, in 1655, is a plural spelled “genyes”.
The French translators of The Book of One Thousand and One Nights used génie as a translation of jinnī because it was similar to the Arabic word in sound and in meaning. This use was also adopted in English and has since become dominant.
In Arabic, the word jinn is in the collective number, translated in English as plural (e.g., “several genies”); jinnī is in the singulative number, used to refer to one individual, which is translated by the singular in English (e.g., “one genie”). Therefore, the word jinn in English writing is treated as a plural.
Inscriptions found in Northwestern Arabia seem to indicate the worship of jinn, or at least their tributary status, hundreds of years before Islam. For instance, an inscription from Beth Fasi’el near Palmyra pays tribute to the “jinnaye”, the “good and rewarding gods”.