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The Flood of Gilgamesh
Perhaps the most popular comparison with Noah's Flood is that of an ancient Babylonian story of a similar flood. A quick look at the text does show some key similarities between them however there are also some pointed differences. I will show you both and let you decide whether there is or is not a connection.
First let us look at the similarities:
*It is set in the Iraqi/Turkey area.....similar to the Biblical Flood.
*A man is warned by a god to build a ship so he could survive a coming flood, sent by the divine powers.
*The man is told to save himself, his family, and a sampling of all living things.
*The boat was to be sealed with resin inside and out.
*A set time is made by the divinity for the flood to begin.
*The flood includes both rain and water from the surface.
*The flood covered the mountains.
*The boat came to rest on a mountain first.
*Birds were released to test for whether or not the waters had receeded. In the Biblical account, a raven and a dove were released. In the Gilgamesh account, a dove, swallow, and raven were released.
*Once out of the boat, the man offers a sacrifice to the divinity which brings comfort to the divinity at the sweet scent of the sacrifice.
Now for the differences:
*The Babylonian tale never says why the gods chose to save the man in the story. It was pretty much dumb luck. In the Bible, Noah was a rightous man amidst a population of evil.
*The boat dimensions are quite different. The boat in the story of the Babylonian flood is a cube, equal on all sides. While in the Bible, Noah is told to build his Ark in a 450x75x45 ratio. This ratio is what is known to ship builders as the perfect ratio for stabilty for a boat but it was not known until the 15th century AD. The Gilgamesh boat, being equal on all sides, would have been wildly unstable and unseaworthy.
*The Babylonian man took seven days to build his boat while Noah took 120 years. Why would such a numerology rich people use such a non-numerology number as 120 when seven was already in the story?
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*The Gilgamesh boat was divided into seven decks, while the Noah Ark was only three decks. Three is a "Biblical number" yet here again we already have seven in the story. Why change it?
*The man in the Babylonian story loads his boat first off with "all things silver.....(and)....all things gold", indicating that his mind was still on Earthly possessions and desires. Even though all Mankind was going to be killed, he still loaded up on money and material possessions. Noah is not mentioned as loading anything which he did not need to survive the trip and feed the animals.
*The man in the Babylonian story loads all the craftsmen who built the ship as well as his family and all living things. Noah loads only his family and a sampling of all living things.
*When people ask the man in the Gilgamesh story what he is doing building a boat, he is told to trick the people and tell them that he is going away. While he is gone, the people will be showered with abundance. In effect lying to them and told by the god to do so. In the Biblical account, Noah tells the people the truth and outright says that a flood is coming but they do not believe him.
*A Babylonian god sets the land ablaze in the Gilgamesh story, while with Noah, there is no mention of the land being covered with fire.
*The Babylonian gods are afraid of the flood and run in terror from the waters. They are described as crying like women and having their lips drawn back in fear. In Noah's flood, God is in full control and shows no fear or terror at all.
*The Gilgamesh flood lasted only seven days. The Biblical flood lasted for over a year and a half....260 days. Again...here we have a perfectly "Biblical number", seven, yet the teller of the Noah flood would have changed it to 260 days. (150+40+7+7+56) Even broken down into the time incriments used in the Bible, the numbers are not the ones traditionally used in Bible stories....only the 7's and 40. Why change it?
*The birds used did different things. In the Gilgamesh story, the dove was the first released but returned. Then the swallow which also returned. Finally, the raven stayed out, signalling the appearance of land and the time to leave the boat. In the Bible, the raven was sent out first but did not return, presumably landing and feeding off the dead animal carcasses floating on the surface. Noah noticed this so he released a non-carrion eating bird, a dove, but it came back. The second time the dove came back with a twig of new growth in its mouth. Finally, on the third time, it stayed out. Once again we have to ask.....why change the birds from three to two? And the two birds that do carry over (the dove and raven), act different in the two stories and in different order. Why?
*The Babylonian gods are described as "crowding like flies" around the sacrifice offered by the man. They then are seen wimpering and fighting amongst themselves, blaming each other for the flood. One of the gods is seen to get angry that a human was saved from the flood and that not ALL of mankind was killed. In the Bible, God is repentant but more of a sorrow that his anger got the best of him once he looked over all the destruction. He is in full control of his senses and is not wimpering and acting half out of his wits with what to do....unlike the Babylonian story. God then makes a vow with Noah and all Mankind that he never will destroy the Earth, no matter how bad we humans mess up and He blesses Noah and his family. Noah then goes out with his family and the animals and repopulates the Earth.
*The man in the Gilgamesh story is then taken aside and made into an immortal while in the Biblical story, Noah and his family simply repopulates the Earth.