This sample essay on Gilgamesh Vs Genesis offers an extensive list of facts and arguments related to it. The essay’s introduction, body paragraphs, and the conclusion are provided below.
The Great Floods: Gilgamesh vs. The Genesis The epic story of Gilgamesh talks about a great flood that covered the whole world. Isn’t it strange that this story seems to mirror that of the great flood in the Book of Genesis? These two stories contain general similarities but when comparing the minute details, they are very different. The story of Gilgamesh was written around 2000 B. C. , many years before the Genesis story in about 400 B. C. The writers of the bible probably knew of the flood in Gilgamesh’s story but revised it so as to fit with their own worldview and history.
They most likely intended the original story with their own mythology. Despite the many similarities between the two stories, the differences are revealed in a number of different lines that distinguish the two versions from each other. In both versions of the flood, something angers the gods (in Gilgamesh) and God (in Genesis). “The uproar of mankind is intolerable and sleep is no longer possible by reasons of the babel”. The reasoning for the flood in Gilgamesh seems very irrational. The Gods decide to destroy mankind because there are too many people in the world and they are making too much noise.
The Flood In Gilgamesh Vs Genesis
It seems that the gods didn’t think over their decision wisely. Being they are the gods, one would think they possess the power to come do a different means of resolving this problem instead of just destroying mankind. In Genesis, there is a much more acceptable reason for God to eliminate mankind. The humans are so wicked and evil that “It repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart” (Gen. 6:6). He says: “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth. . . ” (Gen. 6:7).
God destroys mankind because it has become evil and corrupt within. This is not a quick irrational decision on the part of God, but a very well thought out and logical decision. It is definitely much better reason for the destruction of the human race. Another major difference is something that most often is overlooked by many people; the presence of demi-gods and great heroes during this time period. In the story of Gilgamesh, the gods allow half-god half-human beings to exist on earth. They were still apart of the ‘Golden Age’, which was presided over by Saturn.
This was when the final structures of the Olympian Gods, men, animals, and the underworld were still being risen up. Great heroes like Gilgamesh, even though he came much later, still existed. In Genesis the ‘Golden Age’ was completely over. There are no more heroes that were alive on the earth. These “giants in the earth” (Gen. 6:4) were the sons of God and of the daughters of men, but they were only men of renown in the old days (Gen. 6:4). These giants in the earth had become earlier and were destroyed long before the flood happened.
A very important similarity is how many people the gods in Gilgamesh and God in Genesis choose to save from the flood. In both stories one good man, Utnapishtim (from Gilgamesh) and Noah (from Genesis, is saved and chosen to build an ark or boat. In Gilgamesh, Ea warns Utnapishtim in a dream that he must help the human race survive. In Genesis, God decides to destroy everyone but Noah, who “found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Gen. 6:8). Noah becomes the source of salvation for the creation of man in the future.
He is also the symbol of God’s mercy and grace. Both these men are symbols that God and Ea want the good in mankind to survive. By doing this they give the human race a chance to survive. Another major difference between the two stories is how the floods began and how the whole event ended up. In both a great storm rages and wipes out everyone and everything except the passengers onboard the boat/ark. In Gilgamesh, the gods cry and that creates the incredibly destructive flood. “The great gods of heaven and hell wept”.
The rains last for 6 days and 6 nights in the Gilgamesh version, and finally when the waters receded the boat landed on Nisir. The boat is on the mountain for seven days. This is one of many instances where the number 7 is used in context to the flood stories. It is a mystical number symbolizing when gods and men interact. In Genesis, God sends down the flood with his divine power. “After seven days the waters of the flood were upon the earth” (Gen. 7:10). Here the number 7 is used again for the interaction of God and Noah.
The rain lasts a lot longer in the Genesis version then in the Gilgamesh story. The rain was “upon the earth forty days and forty nights” (Gen. 7:12). As the waters receded, the ark landed on Mt. Ararat. It is here for approximately two and a half months more until the other mountain tops surface. In both stories you have the same basic storyline, but as one can see the smaller details are much different. In both stories when the ark or boat is floating around the endless sea, Noah and Utnapishtim send out birds. Utnapishtim sends out hree different birds while Noah sends only two out. First, Utnapishtim sends out a dove but it returns. The same thing happens when he sends out a swallow. Finally when he sends out the raven it finds land and eats, so it does not return. “I loosed a dove… but finding no resting-place she returned… then I loosed a swallow, and she flew away but finding no resting-place she returned… I loosed a raven… and she did not come back”. Noah sends out a raven once but it doesn’t find land. He sends out a dove twice and the second time it does not return.
The two men send these out in order to find land. Each one of these birds has a significant meaning. The swallow lives around farms and it is sent out to find dry land for agriculture. In Genesis, the dove brings back an olive branch, and that symbolizes peace. Peace would mean that the punishment by God has finally ended. Ravens were looked upon as the messengers of the Gods. It only makes sense that the messenger of the gods in the Gilgamesh version helps Utnapishtim find land. In both versions of the story birds that represent certain good things in life were used.
The final main similarity between the two stories comes at the end. Noah and Utnapishtim both show proper reverence to the gods and are rewarded. Utnapishtim offers a sacrifice to the gods, but Enlil becomes very angry because he is excluded from this sacrifice and that Utnapishtim escaped his wishes for all man to be destroyed. Ea convinces Enlil that Utnapishtim escaped on his own and then Enlil grants Utnapishtim the gift of immortality. In the Genesis story, God orders Noah to leave the ark. Noah then gives god a sacrifice.
God makes the first covenant of the Hebrew Bible with Noah. Then finally, in both versions a sign is given to show that the gods and God won’t destroy the earth in a flood ever again; a rainbow in Genesis and a necklace in the story of Gilgamesh. When comparing the stories of the flood within the Story of Gilgamesh and The Genesis, one can find many similarities and differences. The way these two stories portray comparisons within each other show how stories are carried throughout history and are adapted by the people of that time to fit their history and worldviews.