The Book of Genesis in the Old Testament and the Epic of Gilgamesh stories of the great flood as found on Genesis (chapter 7) and Gilgamesh (lines 1-25) contain several striking similarities that are seen to have a common historical occurrence. The floods are said to have been sent by Supreme Being to clear the inhabitants of the earth. The floods were meant to punish human beings for their sins, which had made the gods or God angry. In Gilgamesh, Utnapishtim was notified of the event and in Genesis Noah was notified.
THE SIMILARITY BETWEEN FLOODS IN GILGAMESH AND IN THE OLD TESTAMENT Many of the events in the two stories are similar in the way they happened. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the gods were angry about how the people were taking too much control and they decided to destroy the whole world with flood. Ea told Utnapishtim through a dream the secret. ”O man of Shurrupak, son of Ubara-Tutu; tear down your house and built a boat. These are the measurements of the baroque as you build her.
Let her beam equal her length, let her deck be roofed like the vault that covers the abyss; then take in the seed of all living creatures. (pg. 23-24). “ It is for the same reason that God decided to destroy the world with flood, according to the story of Noah in the Old Testament. Noah received the instructions directly from God. He said this to Noah, “The end of all flesh is come before me; for the world is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth (pg. 47 line 13). He then chooses Noah for he saw him righteous among all the people of the world.
He told him to save his family and a number of each animal to live on after the flood so that they can start a new and better life on earth he also gave him instructions on the dimensions of the ark that Noah should build. The duration of the rains that were to cause floods in the Epic of Gilgamesh were given by the gods and by God in the Genesis. Utnapishtim said, “For six days and six nights the wind blew, torrent and tempest and flood overwhelmed the world, tempest and flood raged together like warring hosts (pg. 25).
” While God was talking to Noah he said, “for yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain for forty days, forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth (pg. 48 line 4). Similarity is also seen in the way Utnapishtim and Noah determined whether the earth was suitable for inhabiting after the flood. Birds were sent out at regular intervals to find if there was any dry land, and in both stories, the first two birds returned to the ark but the third did not return because it found dry land.
Utnapishtim sent forth a dove and a raven Utnapishtim lodged his boat on the peak of mount Nisir to wait for land to dry. Noah’s ark landed on Mount Ararat, these two locations are found in Middle East. Utnapishtim on releasing the living creatures to spread in all directions of the earth, he sacrificed a sheep to the gods. Noah also did the same to please God. Although for the case of Utnashitim one god was angry for realizing that one human was still surviving, he blessed Utnapishtim after a god called Ea pleaded for him. Noah was also blessed by God for his obedience.
The gods of Shurupak seemed genuinely sorry for the genocide they created. The God of Noah also regretted his actions and he even promised never to do that again. As a covenant with the gods, Utnapishtim obtained immortality while in Noah’s case God’s covenant was that he would never again send another flood to destroy humankind. CONCLUSION Due to the striking similarities, the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Book of Genesis of the Old Testament are said to be related in some way and either one of the stories may have been copied from the other or both were copied from a common source.
The Gilgamesh’s account has older dating than Genesis. However, it is argued that the Biblical account had been preserved as an oral tradition thereby making it older than the Gilgamesh accounts. REFERENCES Clay, Albert. The Epic of Gilgamesh: an Old Babylonian Version. London. Book Tree. 2003. Walton, John. A Survey of the Old Testament. London. Zondervan. 2000. William, Rogers. Cuneiform Parallel to the Old Testament. New York, NY: Routledge. 2009.