Essay on Flood Myth of Epic of Gilgamesh and Book of Genesis of the Holy Bible

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A Comparison of the Flood of Gilgamesh and the Bible

People grow up listening to the story of Noah and the flood. They remember the length of the flood, the dove, and the rainbow very vividly. However, most people do not realize that the story is told throughout many different cultures and with accounts older than Genesis¹s version in the Bible. Although each of the accounts tells of the flood, there are many variations to the story. One such story can be found in the Epic of Gilgamesh. Although the Epic of Gilgamesh is similar to the Genesis version, there are some differences in the days leading to, during, and after the flood.

The days leading to the flood are different as well as similar in the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Genesis version of the flood. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the gods decided to send a flood because the people on Earth were noisy. One man, Utnapishtim, was given a dream by one of the gods because of an oath. Contrastingly, in Genesis, God sent a flood to destroy the evils that man had created. He warned Noah about the flood because Noah was good. Both Utnapishtim and Noah constructed boats to survive the flood. Utnapishtim¹s boat was 120 cubits and a perfect cube. It was completed with seven decks that were divided into nine sections each. On the other hand, Noah¹s ark was three hundred cubits in length, fifty cubits in width, and thirty cubits in height. It had a skylight and a door in the side. It was only three stories high. After the boat was constructed, Gilgamesh ³loaded into her all that I (he) had of gold and of living things, my family, my kin, the best of the field both wild and tame, and all the craftsmen²(p. 37). Noah, similarly, loaded his family, food, and a male and female pair of each...

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...oth men were told of the flood. They both constructed boats and filled their boats with animals and their families. Next, they released birds to test the waters, and both made sacrifices. However, the boats were different in construction. The number of days differed in how long the flood lasted, when the waters receded, and when each man left their boats. The birds that did not come back to their boats were also different. It is very easy to see that the flood story can be true based on these two accounts because it is easy to see how two different cultures, the Samarians and the Hebrews, molded the flood story to fit their cultures. Although the stories are different, there seems to be one major common thread, the flood.

Mack, Maynard, ed. World Masterpieces. The Norton Anthology. Expanded Edition. W.W. Norton and Company: New York, 1995.



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