The Epic of Gilgamesh vs the Genesis



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The Epic of Gilgamesh and the Genesis are two different texts from different time periods. The stories that are going to be discussed are the Genesis and Gilgamesh flood stories. They have few similarities but their stories continue along the same line, although they are different in regard to detail. This essay will examine the reasons of the flood, the role of the two main characters, the religious characters and other noticeable difference of these texts. The reason of the flood of the in The Epic of Gilgamesh is that the gods are extremely angry because they could not sleep. The uproar of mankind is intolerable and sleep is no longer possible by reasons of the babel” (35). The god’s vindication of destroying mankind seems highly unreasonable. The Gods plan to terminate humanity because they are making too much noise. It seems that the gods did not think about their decision intelligently. These gods have the ability connect to people in dreams and make a flood to exterminate mankind, but they can not do anything about the noise. It’s clearly obvious that these gods do not use their powers for a meaningful purpose.

In Genesis there is a much more acceptable explanation for the flood in the Genesis. God wants to destroy humans because humans are so wicked and evil that “It repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and t grieved him at his heart” (60). God says: “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth. ”(60). God destroys mankind because it has become corrupt and evil within. This decision is not a quick decision on the part of God but it is an exceptionally well thought out and reasoned decision.

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It is certainly much better reason for the destruction of the human race than the Epic of Gilgamesh. The reason behind the flood is that God wanted to establish his covenant. He wanted to dispose of all evil and set up a new religion and a new nation. The people in The Epic of Gilgamesh observe a polytheistic culture with is the belief in more than one god. Theses gods clearly have human like behavior, there is no authority amongst them and this causes a vast deal of disorganization.

For instances, one of the gods Ishtar says “let all the gods gather round the sacrifice, expect Enlil. ”(37). “Wisest of god’s hero, Enlil, how could you so senselessly bring down the flood? ” (37). They are fighting amongst themselves because of wrath the flood and the gods are angry because they did not expect the flood to be so devastating towards mankind. In addition, the gods are very deceitful towards their people. Ea reveals the secret between the gods and herself to Utnapishtim by telling him to build a boat for survival.

Furthermore, Ea told Utnapishtim to lie to people about the why he was building the ark saying “Enlil is wrathful against me I will go down to the gulf to dwell with Ea my lord” (pg36). Ea tells Utnapishtim this so that people will not get worried about the events that will occur. And she also does not want the gods to be angry with her to because she is telling people about the plan to exterminate mankind. In the Genesis, the people during that era believe in a monotheistic culture which is the belief in one god.

In the flood story, God is the only one in control and a very organized. So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: “Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every fowl of the air, upon all that move on the earth, and upon all the fish of the sea. ”(62). God gives Noah a mandate to start to develop his covenant with Noah righteous and religious manners because the earth needed repopulating. God is the most powerful and whatever he does is always right.

He does not believe he did anything wrong when he decided to kill people in the flood because he has a plan for the future of his followers and his new religion. God makes a promise that “neither shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; neither shall there be a flood to destroy the earth. ”(63) He made this promise because God felt that with extermination of the mankind, people’s sins can’t be duplicated and he can see a world free from violence. Though the Flood brought complete destruction to all life on earth, it was a new beginning for both humanity and animal life.

Noah and his family had the perfect opportunity to re-establish righteousness on earth by living according to God’s word and standards. Noah was the only one that was righteous and ideal. Because Noah is such a respectable man, God decides to establish his covenant of righteousness and goodly deeds with him and his family so that he can perform and preach the will of God. Noah made a sacrifice, he built an altar unto the lord and took every clean beast and every clean fowl, and offered burnt offering on the altar and this offering made God extremely happy.

This offering is an excellent example of how good of a man Noah is and is one of the reasons why God choose him. In addition, Noah was very obedient man, God tells him to “Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without pitch. ”(60) He did what God told him to, without questions because he believes and trusts in God. Noah is a strong example of what God wants his followers to be when they establish this new nation and covenant. There is no reason why Utnapishtim was saved from the wrath of the gods.

Utnapishtim was chosen because of his relationship to the God Ea. Equally if not more important, however, is the purpose for which Utnapishtim was chosen. As mentioned above, the story does not say that Utnapishtim was more righteous or worthy than his people. Utnapishtim receives his instruction indirectly during a dream, Ea warns Utnapishtim in a dream and tells him “ O man of Shurupak, son of Ubara- Tutu; tear down your house and build a boat, abandon possession and look for life, despise worldly goods and save your soul alive. Tear down your house, I say and build a boat” (35).

Rather he is the instrument through which Ea saves human and animal life from complete destruction in the flood. Ea told Utnapishtim what he needed to do before the flood. Utnapishtim listened and did exactly as he was told. He was very loyal to his god Ea. Because of Utnapishtim loyalty to the gods and is role in saving some mankind, Enlil decides to grant him everlasting life and to become a god saving living beings from extinction. There a lot of noticeable differences in regard to the text of the two stories. For instance, the ark and the boat both landed on a mountain but at different places.

The arks landed on a mountain in the Middle East. According to Utnapishtim he saw a mountain “fourteen leagues distant there appeared to be a mountain and there the boat grounded; on the mountain of Nisir the boat held fast and did not budge” (37). Noah ark rested “in the seventh month on the seventh day of the month upon the mountain of Ararat” (61). When the boat and the ark landed upon the mountains the needed to know is the water had dried up so Utnapishtim and Noah both sent birds to determine if the waters receded. Utnapishtim sent “a dove and let her go.

She flew away but finding no resting place she returned. Then I loosed a swallow and she flew away but finding no resting place she returned. I loosed a raven she saw the waters had retreated she ate she flew around she cawed, and did not come back. ”(37) Noah also sent a raven but it didn’t find any resting place. He also sent the dove twice, when he sent the dove the second time the creature came back with a dove an olive leaf. They did these actions to see if the water had receded so that the can get off the boat and the ark.

In conclusion the flood stories in The Epic of Gilgamesh and the flood story of Genesis are the same in ways and different in some. In both The Epic of Gilgamesh and Genesis, the flood in both stories destroys most of creation. These floods are a symbol. They represent rebirth and a new beginning for creation, as well as the powers that God or the gods have at their disposal. This essay examined the effects and emphasizes of the reasons of the flood, the role of the two main characters, the religious characters and other noticeable difference of these texts.

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