Did the Bible ‘Borrow’ the Noah’s Ark Story From the Epic of Gilgamesh?

Did the Bible ‘Borrow’ the Noah’s Ark Story From the Epic of Gilgamesh? Advertisement By: Dave Roos  | Oct 15, 2020 In November 1872, a self-taught historian named George Smith toiled away in the archives of the British Museum sorting through fragments of clay tablets recovered from ancient Mesopotamian archeological sites in modern-day Iraq. The tablets […]

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Did the Bible ‘Borrow’ the Noah’s Ark Story From the Epic of Gilgamesh?

By: Dave Roos
 | 

In November 1872, a selftaught historian named George Smith toiled away in the archives of the British Museum sorting through fragments of clay tts recovered from ancient Mesopotamian archeological sites in modernday Iraq. The tts were written in cuneiform — a language that had only recently been recovered and translated after 1,000 years of obscurity — and most of the fragments contained humdrum accounting records or opaque prophecies from palace priests.

But then Smith found something remarkable. he translated the cuneiform word by word, a familiar story unfolded. There w a god punishing humanity with a cattrophic flood, one man who w chosen to survive using a specially constructed boat filled with animals and seeds, and after the flood, birds being releed to find dry land.

This wn’t the story of Noah and the ark, though, and this wn’t the book of Genesis in the Hebrew Bible (known to Chrians the Old Testament). What Smith had discovered w only one chapter in a sprawling Mesopotamian tale now known the Epic of Gilgamesh, first written in 1,800 B.C.E., around 1,000 years before the Hebrew Bible.

“The Epic of Gilgamesh is the oldest tragic epic for which we have evidence,” says Louise Pryke, an honorary research sociate at the University of Sydney and author of “Gilgamesh,” a deep analysis of the text and its influences on later works, from the Bible to Homer’s “Odyssey.” “It’s something that’s come to represent ancient Mesopotamia in modern culture.”

When Smith first made the connection between the two flood stories in Gilgamesh and Genesis, legend says that he became so excited that he danced around the room removing his clothes. Smith’s discovery shook the foundations of biblical scholarship by proposing that some, if not all, of the Hebrew Bible w borrowed from neighboring civilizations.

Pryke says that while the flood narrative in Genesis is clearly inspired by the tale in Gilgamesh, the similarities and differences in the ancient accounts can teach us important things what these two cultures valued and their cosmic worldviews.

“These are cultures that are in dialogue with one another and their stories are in dialogue with one another,” says Pryke.

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The Epic of Gilgamesh chronicles the adventures of the semidivine King Gilgamesh (circa 2700 B.C.E.) he leaves his home city of Uruk to battle mythical bets and obtain the secret to eternal life. Not only is this text one of the earliest examples of a hero’s quest, it’s the first to fure a “bromance” in the partnership of Gilgamesh and his best friend Enkidu, who sadly dies midway through the story.

The flood narrative forms the heart of Tablet XI, when Gilgamesh seeks out the only survivors of the gr deluge, Utanapishtim and his wife, whom the gods granted with immortality. Utanapishtim tells it, the chief god, Enlil, w tired of humans keeping him awake with all their noise, so he decided to destroy them (or at let “diminish” them) with a terrible flood.

Enlil forces the gods to make a pact not to tell any humans the impending inundation, but Ea, the god of wisdom, figures out a clever workaround. He loudly tells a reed wall Enlil’s plan, knowing that Utanapishtim is behind the wall and will overhear everything. Utanapishtim follows Ea’s instructions to build a boat of specific dimensions, load it with riches, seeds and animals of every kind, and seal it against the coming storm.

When the torrential rains halt after six days and seven nights, Utanapishtim sends out three birds in succession — a dove, a sparrow and a raven — to find dry land. When the raven doesn’t return, Utanapishtim and his family offer sacrifices to the gods, who are near starvation without any people to feed them.

While the oldest partial fragments of Gilgamesh date back to nearly 2000 B.C.E., Pryke says that the bestknown lonian version w likely penned by Sinleqiunninni, an exorcist priest who lived around 1100 B.C.E. The earliest parts of the Hebrew Bible, including much of Genesis, were written around 950 B.C.E.

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Comparing the flood narrative in Gilgamesh to the biblical flood in Genesis “is an area of scholarship that h attracted more attention than pretty much anything else in the history of syriology,” says Pryke. What’s even more incredible Smith’s discovery is that more than a century later, the flood is ll the strongest connection between the two texts.

Here are the elements of the flood story that Gilgamesh and the Hebrew Bible share, says Pryke:

While the similarities have drawn most of the scholarly attention, Pryke says there’s much to learn from where the accounts differ and what that tells us the cultures in which each tale w told. Some of those differences include:

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Perhaps the biggest difference between the flood narratives in Gilgamesh and Genesis is the moral of the two stories. In both traditions, a divine power decides to kill off humanity, but in each tale, mankind survives for different reons. Noah is preserved because he is the most morally clean and obedient. Utanapishtim, on the other hand, is saved quite literally by wisdom, by obtaining divine knowl.

Pryke says that while the Hebrew version of the flood story hinges on morality — the destruction of the wicked and the saving of the righteous — the authors of Genesis display a “wary engagement with wisdom” elsewhere. Think of the Tree of Knowl in the Garden of Eden; Adam and Eve are punished for ing its fruit and trying to obtain divine wisdom (and become like God).

In Gilgamesh, the flood story is meant to be instructive for young King Gilgamesh in order to learn his place in the cosmic order.

king, Gilgamesh h to mediate between humanity and the gods,” says Pryke. “And if that mediation breaks down, things can become quite apocalyptic.”

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All signs point to yes, that the authors of Genesis were clearly aware of the divine deluge described in the earlier Epic of Gilgamesh.

“We actually have the smoking gun,” says Pryke. “Archeologists have found bits of the Epic of Gilgamesh all over [Ancient Israel]. It looks like Gilgamesh w something that w in broad circulation at the .”

Since both the Bible and Gilgamesh were psed along oral traditions long before they were written down, it’s possible that the Mesopotamian flood narrative first entered Hebrew culture a type of “contest literature” similar to 1001 Arabian Nights.

“People traveled somewhere and they’d compete to tell the most remark stories that they knew from their culture,” says Pryke, “and then you got this cultural discourse that w happening.”

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While the flood story is the grest example of Mesopotamian influence on Hebrew culture, there are some other crossovers.

Found among the ancient Dead Sea Scrolls, for example, is the apocryphal book of 1 Enoch that includes the “Book of Giants,” an account of the supersized beings who walked the Earth before the flood. One of those giants, not coincidentally, is named Gilgamesh, and another shares the name of a monster that Gilgamesh destroyed in his epic tale.

There’s also a remark similarity between some sagely advice first given in Gilgamesh and later in the book of Ecclesites in the Hebrew Bible. Here’s the text from Gilgamesh:

And here it is in Ecclesites 9:79:

However, the similarity in these texts may simply mean that these were common sayings of the . “It would be precipitous to surmise that the similarities between these two psages necessarily result from cultural contact or any direct contact between the texts. Good advice seems to have a certain less quality, particularly when it is expressed in broad terms that may be applic to a range of situations and periods,” Pyrke wrote on the website The Bible and Interpretation.

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Irving Finkel is a modernday heir to George Smith. Finkel also works at the British Museum and in 1985 discovered yet another ancient flood narrative written in cuneiform on a fragment of tt recovered in Iraq. This account, believed to be even older than Gilgamesh, fures a Noahlike character named Atrahasis whom the gods command to build a circular boat in preparation for a devtating deluge.

So, the natural queon is, does the existence of multiple ancient flood narratives amount to proof of a real flood that came close to wiping out all of humanity? Finkel told the London Telegraph that it’s very possible there w a msive flood that struck the Tigris and Euphrates Valley between 5,000 and 7,000 years ago and persisted in the collective Mesopotamian memory. Pryke agrees that “it’s a reon thing to sume that there w [a flood].”

Pryke says that there’s a psage in the Epic of Gilgamesh that may have been inspired by another major environmental dister. “Toward the middle of the narrative, he cuts down the forest of the cedars in Lebanon and destroys it. This seems to be a reference to the historical deforestation of that area that happened 1,000 years before Gilgamesh w written down.”

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Did the Bible ‘Borrow’ the Noah’s Ark Story From the Epic of Gilgamesh?


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Did the Bible ‘Borrow’ the Noah’s Ark Story From the Epic of Gilgamesh? Advertisement By: Dave Roos  | Oct 15, 2020 In November 1872, a self-taught historian named George Smith toiled away in the archives of the British Museum sorting through fragments of clay tablets recovered from ancient Mesopotamian archeological sites in modern-day Iraq. The tablets […]

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How To Really REALIZE DREAMS COME TRUE?

Happiness is for those who plan well and pursue. A profound among us have been proven those who have true dream to live for likely REALIZED IT. It is just simply the person working toward the DREAM days and night until accomplishment. There is a phrase of efficiency a head of you. Steps and obstacles at first seem tremendous. However, just with some times those difficult steps and challenges are so easy performance for you. There are also plenty of tools including VISUALIZATIONS and helps are around you.

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COVID-19 – Effective Tips For You!

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HOW TO DEFEAT DEADLY CORONAVIRUS EVERY TIME?

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