The tribe with the greatest story survives is a very interesting statement when you think about it. That each tribe relied on their own form of gods and it was those epics that helped that tribe make it in the world. How did the epics of others fail the test, while others passed? What was it about Hesiod’s Theogony or the Epic of Gilgamesh that was no match for the Hebrew’s Old Testament? If we look at the relationship between the gods and humans it is there that we might find one suitable answer to why the Old Testament stood victorious.
“I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the LORD, will do for you.” (Exodus 34:10 NIV) As you’ve read from the Exodus chapter in the Old Testament, the Hebrew’s had a very open relationship with Yahweh; allowing them to rise up and stand firm in their faith. Another thing to note is that Yahweh is a very just God, and is looking to help the human race. The gods that have been mentioned in the other epics are always waging war and caught up in the needs of themselves, and it never seems that they care as much for their people as Yahweh does. If we look at the creation story that is in the Hebrew text we also see that the world is created entirely different then the Babylonian and Greek’s creation story. The Greek and Babylonian stories have conflict and murder between the gods causing sin to originate. While in the Hebrew text there is no chaos and anarchy there is just God creating the world, so where is the sin? Most of us have heard the story of the snake and Eve taking the bite of the forbidden fruit, causing sin to originate in the Hebrew version. Then Yahweh punishes them, banning them from the Garden of Eden, and unleashing death. Granted this seems harsh but compared to other epics this is justly deserved. To further explain, Yahweh only punished mankind because he was disobeyed. In the Greek text humans might not have done anything and been casualties between the god’s feuds. Personally it is no wonder the Hebrew’s have lasted so long. It is far easier to listen and pay homage to a God who is just and powerful, then it is to worship a bunch of god’s who our unjust and powerful.
Let’s dig a little deeper into the connections between creator and creation in the epics. In the Old Testament after Yahweh banished Adam and Eve from the garden he didn’t banish them and leave them naked, he still showed compassion by creating skin coats for them: “And the Lord God made skin coats for the human and his woman, and he clothed them.” (Genesis 3 trans Robert Alter) – Alter uses no verses in his translation. In the Epic of Gilgamesh Enkidu a god try’s to manipulate Gilgamesh into killing Humbaba a god and Guardian of the Cedar forest. “My friend, take Humbaba, Guardian of the Cedar Forest, grind up, kill, pulverize and… him!” (Epic of Gilgamesh George Smith translation) It seems to be that the gods only interacted with the humans to get them to do their bidding, unlike Yahweh who wanted to establish a connection with his people and to be loved by them. All things must come to an end and reach a new beginning as we see with the “great