1 A Comparison Between the Flood Myths Term Paper

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A COMPARISON BETWEEN
THE FLOOD MYTHS IN THE EPIC OF GILGAMESH
AND THE BOOK OF GENESIS

The Biblical story of the Flood as found in the Book of Genesis contains many similarities to the Mesopotamian myth known as the Epic of Gilgamesh; in fact, it appears that the Biblical account as related by Noah, ca. 1400-1200 B.C.E., may have been entirely derived from the Epic of Gilgamesh, written some six hundred years earlier in 2000 B.C.E. when the so-called Flood Myths had their origins.
Among these similarities between the two ancient accounts is that the Gods were very displeased with how their creation, being Man, was behaving on Earth which served as the main impetus for destroying every living thing that breathed, swam or walked. In Genesis, chapter 6, verses 5-7, we find "And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" which induces Him to "destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth" (Holy Bible, King James Version, 12) by a great flood. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Utnapishtim, "the Sumerian Noah who had discovered the secret of life" (Clough, Internet), relates to Gilgamesh the story of the Great Flood which was brought about to destroy the city of Shurippak, "ancient, as were the gods within it, when their hearts led the great gods to produce the flood" (Kovacs, 45).
Also, the characters of Utnapishtim and the Biblical Noah were spared from the great deluge, for both were ordered by the Gods to build a vessel in order to survive the flood. In Genesis, chapter 6, verse 14, God tells Noah to "Make thee an ark of gopher
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wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shall pitch it within and without" (Holy Bible, 12); in the Epic of Gilgamesh, Utnapishtim is told by his Gods to "Tear down (his) house, build a ship; give up possessions, seek thou life. . . aboard the ship take thou the seed of all living things" (Magill,…

Sources Used in Document:

Clough, Brenda W. A Short Discussion on the Influence of the Gilgamesh Epic on the Bible. Internet. July 3, 1999. Accessed March 5, 2003.
Kovacs, Maureen G. The Epic of Gilgamesh. Connecticut: Stanford University Press, 1989.
Magill, Frank N., Ed. Masterplots. Vol. 4. New York: Salem Press, 1964.
Mendelsohn, Isaac. Religions of the Ancient Near East. New York: Library of Religion, 1955: 100-06.
The Holy Bible. Authorized King James Version. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1960.

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