A story of a great flood has been recorded by various civilizations, such as the Hebrews with Genesis, from the Bible, and the Babylonians with the Epic of Gilgamesh. The flood story, in the book of Genesis is remarkably similar to the Tablet XI of the Epic of Gilgamesh. Some people make the claim; the Bible plagiarizes The Epic of Gilgamesh, though no conclusive evidence has been found. Their storylines are quite analogous; however they have some significant differences. People wonder if the two myths are based off of each other or even based off a currently unknown, older, similar, source.
In both stories, the divine are annoyed with humanity. In Genesis, God notices that man has become sinful and wicked in their actions and their thoughts. In Gilgamesh, the divine assembly find that humankind are too numerous and noisy. So to rid the earth of humankind, both stories tell of a flood that will destroy everything including animals. However, in each story, a righteous man finds favor with God (god) and has his life spared.
Whereas the God of Genesis, Yahweh, only demonstrably regretted once, however, it could be argued that he only did this to teach an obscure lesson. Therefore, this could be taken as a sign of his omniscience. That may be just conjecture however. Ultimately, when contrasting the pantheon of the Epic of Gilgamesh and the single God of Genesis we notice a much evolved persona in Him. Nevertheless, both stories tells us of gods and a God who deem it fit to destroy all of humanity for their own purposes and judgment, we can only ponder now; were they right?
It seems likely that the Abrahamic stories of the Great Flood were derived from the stories contained within The Epic of Gilgamesh, although definitive proof is certainly difficult to come by in the case of these ancient texts. There could well have been a very large flood that happened in Mesopotamia many, many centuries ago; a flood so large that it remained embedded into cultural memory and was passed down as a legend in a variety of different cultural traditions (Njozi).
Genesis Chapters 5-9 “The Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the lord said, ‘I will blot out from the earth the human beings I have created-people together with animals and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.’ But Noah found favor in the sight of the Lord.”(Genesis 6:5-8) In this essay I will take an interpretive look at Genesis chapters 5-9. The main focuses will be: the relationship between God, Noah, and Noah’s generation of mankind; the barriers and boundaries for humankind that were present and created by God in these chapters, the characteristics of God throughout the text and the overall importance and message of this passage in the Bible. In the days of old -when life could reach more than nine hundred years- “sons of god”(6:2), angels and warriors ruled the earth.
Comparison of the Flood Stories in Gilgamesh and the Bible The two stories closely parallel each other, though Gilgamesh was written down before 2000 BCE and the version in Genesis was compiled ca. 400 BCE. Biblical writers probably knew of the much older myth but revised it so that it fit with their own history and worldview. They intended it to fit with their own mythology. Despite the many similarities between the two stories, this difference in intention is revealed in a number of motifs that distinguish the biblical story from the ancient myth: Gilgamesh Genesis 1.
The first similarity shown in both accounts is the divine planning of the floods. In the Bible, God faces the realization that he has created a human race, one now filled with evil and wickedness. God states he will annihilate man from the face of the earth. Likewise, in the Epic of Gilgamesh, the gods decide man must be eliminated. The gods justification states, “the uproar of mankind is intolerable and sleep is no longer possible…” Yet, while God’s judgment is based on the fact man has fallen from his favor, the decision of the gods seems like a choice based on inconvenience and annoyance.
God has to allow evil in the world because if he didn’t, we would never know the difference between good and evil. Hick: There is a reason why God allows Evil. Hick writes about how evil has been around forever with the climax being when Jesus was crucified. He asks why an all-powerful God would allow this and says it’s because of the free will given to us. Everything bad happens because this world is not perfect and this is where “soul-making” begins.
Jeremiah saw God as ultimate and threatened the ultimate crime as castigation for their sins. In Islam, cannibalism is considered haram, or one of the “carnal sins which constitute the most grave danger to man and environment” (Light of Islam). Cannibalism is one of man’s greatest betrayals to God. Cannibalism was a topic of ancient horror stories. In Greek mythology, “after Thyestes unwittingly ate the flesh of his own children, the Sun was so appalled that he turned back on his course and plunged the world into darkness” (Hodgkinson, 2001).
Many stories and fables have been told and passed down from generation to generation, yet two have survived the test of time and criticism. The Biblical account in Genesis, probably written by Moses around 1500 B.C., and the story of creation and flood in Ovid's Metamorphosis, written somewhere between 8 and 17 A.D., have weathered the criticism and become the most famous. The Genesis account, however, may be the most prominent of the two accounts. Within these accounts, are many similarities, as well as differences, which make these two writings well respected, while holding their own in the literary world. Though both accounts of the creation and flood are well respected on their own, when compared side to side, they are drastically different.