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The Epic of Gilgamesh and the Flood in Genesis 6-9 Analyzed

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Essay title: The Epic of Gilgamesh and the Flood in Genesis 6-9 Analyzed

The Epic of Gilgamesh and The Flood in Genesis 6-9 Compared and Contrasted

In The Epic of Gilgamesh and in the Bible's The Flood in Genesis, a great flood overwhelms the earth. These two stories each tell about a righteous hero who is told by the deities that a massive flood will overtake the earth. In both stories vessels are built for protection against the global flood so that life will be sustained. The Gilgamesh flood tablet has clear parallels to the biblical flood story in Genesis 6-9, from the waters that come, to the boat, even to the birds that are sent out the window to look for dry land. And as did the protagonist in the biblical story, so does the hero in Gilgamesh make a sacrifice to the divine after they abandon the boats.

Utnapishtim, the main protagonist in this epic, tells the story of a flood in a city called Shurrupak, on the banks of the Euphrates River valley. The gods consider the noise made by man in this city to be intolerable, so they agree to exterminate mankind. Ea, god of the waters, warns Utnapishtim of their plan in a dream. He tells him to tear down his house and build a boat, giving precise measurements, and to take into it the seed of all living creatures. She tells Utnapishtim not to bring any treasures with him on his journey but he ignores her and does so anyways. The boat is built and loaded, and the rain comes. Like The Flood in Genesis, The Epic of Gilgamesh also includes animals as passengers to ensure the continuation of these species after the flood. The storm rages fiercely for six days and six nights. On the seventh day the storm subsides and Utnapishtim opens a hatch and sees water all around. The boat is grounded on the mountain of Nisir. When it has been calm for seven days, he releases a dove, which finds no resting place and returns. A swallow is then released who finds no perch. A raven is sent out but never returns. Utnapishtim makes a sacrifice and pours out a libation on the mountaintop. Although the test to find land in both Genesis and Gilgamesh is the same; i.e.; release of birds, the types of birds used differ. In Genesis, a raven and three doves are released whereas in Gilgamesh, a dove, a swallow and a raven are released.

In the biblical account of the flood, God sees how man's wickedness covers the earth and decides to destroy man. God spares Noah since he feels he is a righteous man and perfect in his generations. God counsels Noah to make an ark of gopher wood and to bring his family as well as a male and female of every animal. This is similar to The Epic of Gilgamesh in that each is warned of the flood. However, in The Epic of Gilgamesh the warning comes in the form of a dream whereas God tells Noah in the biblical account. Ea tells him to tear down his house, build a boat, abandon possessions, and look for life. Noah preaches to the wicked but everyone mocks him. In the end Noah, his family, and the animals board the vessel. It rains for forty days and forty nights. The Flood covers everything

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