The ritual alone which accompanied divination practices and incantation formulae and was a chief factor in the celebration of festival days and of days set aside for one reason or the other to the worship of some god or goddess or group of deities, is free from traces of the astral theology. The more or less elaborate ceremonies prescribed for the occasions when the gods were approached are directly connected with the popular elements of the religion. Animal sacrifice, libations, ritualistic purification, sprinkling of water, and symbolical rites of all kinds accompanied by short prayers, represent a religious practice which in the Babylonian-Assyrian religion, as in all religions, is older than any theology and survives the changes which the theoretical substratum of the religion undergoes.
On the ethical side, the religion of Babylonia more particularly, and to a less extent that of Assyria, advances to noticeable conceptions of the qualities associated with the gods and goddesses and of the duties imposed on man. Shamash the sun-god was invested with justice as his chief trait, Marduk is portrayed as full of mercy and kindness, Ea is the protector of mankind who is grieved when, through a deception practised upon Adapa, humanity is deprived of immortality. The gods, to be sure, are easily aroused to anger, and in some of them the dire aspects predominated, but the view becomes more and more pronounced that there is some cause always for the divine wrath. Though, in accounting for the anger of the gods, no sharp distinction is made between moral offences and a ritualistic oversight or neglect, yet the stress laid in the hymns and prayers, as well as in the elaborate atonement ritual prescribed in order to appease the anger of the gods, on the need of being clean and pure in the sight of the higher powers, the inculcation of a proper aspect of humility, and above all the need of confessing one's guilt and sins without any reserve - all this bears testimony to the strength which the ethical factor acquired in the domain of the religion.
This factor appears to less advantage in the unfolding of the views concerning life after death. Throughout all periods of Babylonian-Assyrian history, the conception prevailed of a large dark cavern below the earth, not far from the Apsu - the ocean encircling and flowing underneath the earth - in which all the dead were gathered and where they led a miserable existence of inactivity amid gloom and dust. Occasionally a favoured individual was permitted to escape from this general fate and placed in a pleasant island. It would appear also that the rulers were always singled out for divine grace, and in the earlier periods of the history, owing to the prevailing view that the rulers stood nearer to the gods than other mortals, the kings were deified after death, and in some instances divine honours were paid to them even during their lifetime.
The influence exerted by the Babylonian-Assyrian religion was particularly profound on the Semites, while the astral theology affected the ancient world in general, including the Greeks and Romans. The impetus to the purification of the old Semite religion to which the Hebrews for a long time clung in common with their fellows - the various branches of nomadic Arabs - was largely furnished by the remarkable civilization unfolded in the Euphrates valley and in many of the traditions, myths and legends embodied in the Old Testament; traces of direct borrowing from Babylonia may be discerned, while the indirect influences in the domain of the prophetical books, as also in the Psalms and in the so-called "Wisdom Literature," are even more noteworthy. Even when we reach the New Testament period, we have not passed entirely beyond the sphere of Babylonian-Assyrian influences. In such a movement as early Christian gnosticism, Babylonian elements - modified, to be sure, and transformed - are largely present, while the growth of an apocalyptic literature is ascribed with apparent justice by many scholars to the recrudescence of views the ultimate source of which is to be found in the astral-theology of the Babylonian and Assyrian priests.