Enuma Elish vs. Genesis
Enuma Elish vs. Genesis
As a whole, the creation myth of Enuma Elish is quite different from the other myths in the Primal Myths book. The story of Genesis is an exception however, where there are more similarities than differences. The creation stories of Genesis and Enuma Elish have a similar framework, but do vary in several ways. This essay aims to compare and contract these two creation myths while looking for common themes and possible cultural connections. Enuma Elish contains several gods who played a distinct role in the creation, most importantly Apsu and Tiamat. After Apsu and Tiamat, the other gods are created, and reside in the body of Tiamat. Enuma Elish is a story of how the gods interact and go through a dramatic power struggle. The world is created as a result of the gods’ actions and decisions. In a similar way, but with notable differences, Genesis consists of just one god who simplistically creates the world, with no drama or power struggles. In Genesis, “God” decides to make the world, and in seven “days” (sometimes known as long periods of time) creates all that we know of, with great emphasis on man.
Enuma Elish also places great importance onto man, and for a similar reason. The Enuma Elish story ends with the creation of man to do the physical work instead of the gods, a prime example being the construction of Babylon. Genesis does not describe the purpose of man in an indentured sense but instead says that it is for man to “be fruitful and multiply…have dominion…over every living thing…” (Sproul, 124). “God” also rested on the seventh day, the day after he created man. Most similar are the physical creations in both myths. Both are kindled through the medium of “divine speech”, or the language of the gods. Each day and each generation are linked together if closely examined. In Enuma Elish, we have the six generations of Tiamat and Apsu, Lahamu, Kishar, Anu, Ea, and Marduk, respectively. In the story of Genesis, we have the six main days of creation, and both stories have the time of rest (or seventh day). In the initial state of the creation stories, we have a time when earth was void, or as some prefer to call it, chaos. Simply, a lack of order enclosed by darkness, as shown by “When there was no heaven,/no earth, no height, no depth, no name,/when Apsu was alone” (92) and “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep…” (123).
The first two developments in both stories included light, followed by the creation of the firmament, “the lines of sky and earth/stretched where horizons meet to separate/cloud from silt” (92). In the third development, dry land was fabricated, then the skies were developed “He projected positions…in the sky, he gave them a starry aspect as constellations…” (102), and in the sixth development, men and women were created. As a finishing touch, Genesis reads “…God rested from all his work which he had done in creation.” (125) and in Enuma Elish, “When all the gods sat down together there was wine and feasting and laughter…” (106). If one studies the background behind The Bible, one would know that the Babylonians held the Jewish people in exile. One might conclude that the story of Genesis might be a derivative of the Babylonian story Enuma Elish via cultural influences. In addition, Enuma Elish is dated to be older than the story of Genesis, leaving this theory as a sound possibility.
In a Christian dominated world, many would deny the fact that the story of Genesis is unoriginal, because of the possibility that accepting a story as unoriginal would make it inferior; thus leading many skeptics to further question the validity of Judaist teachings. In conclusion, Enuma Elish and Genesis have a distinctly akin nature, with the possibility of mutual cultural influences. Through deep auditing, the two creation myths are found to be comparable in many respects. Each goes through equivalent developments, but not without important differences. From here, we leave it to future archeological discoveries to uncover the truth of these stories and their origins.