The Epic of Gilgamesh and Hebrew Scripture’s Genesis
In the today’s society, crime, violence, and war ravage the earth crippling the freedoms of humankind. Mankind lives amongst poverty, pestilence, and famine from the poorest to the richest country. The world is governed and presided over by men, for greed of money and over the corruption of power. Injustice rather than justice protrude the streets where the innocent child plays, men lay with men and women with women, while the noise of the earth continues as if people are all confined to just partake and party through life. The fowl stench of the devastation of the world leaves small evidence of the belief in GOD and yet all; every person can recall to memory the story of the flood! In man’s own proverbial writings, the Hebrew Scripture’s, Genesis and even in the Sumerian tale The Epic of Gilgamesh, GOD destroys the earth with a flood because of the recklessness of mankind. Both stories share fascinating similarities and still differ in many other ways, but the truth remains that at one point in the height of mankind’s existence, God flooded the earth for one reason or another.
In the book of Genesis, the world has become similar to today’s society. Recorded accounts state, “Now God saw that the whole world was corrupt and full of violence. In his sight the world had become corrupted, for all men had lived corrupt lives on earth” (Gen. 6. 12-13). The earth is in turmoil; even the “sons of God” (angels) have begun transforming themselves into to human form to have sexual relations with the women of the earth. God is disgusted with what he sees stating, “’This race of men whom I created, I will wipe them off the face of the earth…I am sorry that I ever made them’” (Gen. 6. 4. 7-8). The world has become so infested with corruption that God regrets the creation of mankind. However, in The Epic of Gilgamesh, the rational thinking of the gods is very indifferent for other reasons.
Utnapishtim tells the story, “In those days the world teemed, the people multiplied…and the great god was aroused by the clamour.” There is no notice of corruption or devastation throughout the land. There is no mention of violence or wrong doing by the gods and/or humans. The gods agree to flood the world because of the noise coming from the earth. The human population has grown to abundance and the roar of life is disturbing Enlil (father of the gods, the active manifestation of Anu). Enlil pronounces to the other gods, “’The uproar of mankind is intolerable and sleep is no longer possible by reason of the babel.’ So the gods agreed to exterminate mankind” (Gilgamesh 86). Indeed the story of the flood is reflected repeatedly throughout written history, but guided by very different testimonies – in Genesis this destruction is because of sin; in Gilgamesh this destruction is because of bothersome noise – explaining why the flood occurred. Even so, there are also some similarities between the two stories also.
The account of Genesis articulates that God finds favor in one man, Noah. Recognizing the righteousness of Noah, God speaks to him, “’The loathsomeness of all mankind has become plain to me, for through them the earth is full of violence. I intend to destroy them, and the earth with them’” (6. 13-14). Because he is righteous and blameless, God instructs Noah to build an ark (boat) and that he, along with his family and a number living creatures of the earth will survive the catastrophic event. Noah does exactly as God instructs him; therefore, Noah and his family survives the flood. After the flood and the water recede to the earth, God is remorseful for the devastation that has occurred, so a promise is made by God, “’Never again shall all living creatures be destroyed by the waters of the flood, never again shall there be a flood to lay waste the earth’” (6. 11). This covenant is