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Gilgamesh V Noah Essay Research Paper Many

Gilgamesh V. Noah Essay, Research Paper

Many of the same ancient stories can be found in different cultures. Each

story differs in some aspects, but the general themes can have striking similarities.

One story that is paralleled in several cultures is the legend of a great, disastrous

flood. The epic of Gilgamesh resembles the Bible s story of Noah s Ark, but

specific details differ on several occasions. The story of Gilgamesh originates

from twelve fire-hardened, mud tablets, written in cuneiform, in the

Mesopotamian culture from around 2500 B.C.E. It has been passed down through

generations for centuries, teaching obedience to gods. The story of Noah s Ark,

found in the Old Testament, seems to do the same thing; teach the importance of

being obedient to God.

Both sagas start with the earth being extremely populated, with no foreseen

break in the continuation of a booming culture. The earth was too full. People

were rowdy and reckless. Crime was widespread and grew day to day. These

heretical activities would not be tolerated for long; the flood is now scheduled to

arrive soon.. Noah s story creates the theme that the flood was sent because the earth had

become corrupt and filled with

violence, (Genesis, 6). The only way to destroy this violence was to drown

everyone but the chosen few. These chosen few were hand-picked by God as good

people to start a new, more wholesome and obedient civilization. Gilgamesh s

story says the reason for the flood was the volume the people created. The noise

was intolerable and the gods insisted on ending the racket at once, (Duiker, 20).

The singular reason Gilgamesh was spared is that he was informed of the flood by

Ea, the water god, through a dream. Ea was one of many gods in this time. He told

him to build a boat of equal width and length. He was to tear down his house for

wood and tell the curious townspeople that he was instructed to leave the city and

go out to sea so as to please the gods. Ea also instructed him to take the seeds of

life onto the ship with him. Meaning two of each animal, enough food for them

and his family to eat for some time, and whatever grain was left over would be

planted once the water receded, (Duiker, 20) . Noah was also instructed to do the

same. Only his orders came from the one and only God. The Jewish culture

believes in one supreme being. God told Noah to build a boat, not of equal width

and length, but in more of an oval shape. The boat was built to hold the seeds of

life as well, along with Noah s family, (Genisis, 6). Gilgamesh brought his family

on the boat as well, but he also brought all the craftsmen that helped to build it,

(relg-studies). This is a huge difference between the stories. The craftsmen were

an added group that reproduced and passed on their skills. Noah only took his

family, relying on God to provide them with the necessary items that they could

not produce. There were not any other people on board. Therefore, the corruption

of this world is thought to come from one of Noah s sons, descending down

through him. If Gilgamesh brought craftsmen on the boat, this is a new place to lay

the blame for today s violence. The next discrepancy lies in the amount of time it

rained. Noah s story emphasized rain for forty days and forty nights. The number

forty also appears in several other biblical stories. Gilgamesh s rainfall lasts for

just six days and nights. However, the numerical system of the Mesopotamians is

based on the numbers six, ten, and sixty. So the story directly relates to the

numerical system of the time, (Lecture, 9/13/1999). Perhaps this number was

adopted because of its wide use. Upon the arrival on the mountain top, each man

sent out a dove, which returned because it found no place to land. Then,

Gilgamesh sent out a swallow, which also returned. When Gilgamesh sent out a

raven, it did not return. He knew the raven had found a place to land and food to

live off of. So the animals were released and the group started a new civilization.

Noah seemed to like the dove, for he sent out another one, seven days later,

instead of a swallow. When the dove returned with an olive branch in its beak, he

knew the water had receded, but he decided to wait another seven days then send

out another dove. When that dove did not return, Noah knew the water had

receded enough to provide food and shelter for all living things, (Genesis, 8).

When the contents of the boat had been emptied, Gilgamesh made a sacrifice of

cane, cedar wood, and myrtle to appease the gods that had allowed him to survive.

The gods were pleased with the offering and blessed the rabble. One god was

furious that there were survivors, but he was convinced by other gods to let them

live out their lives and start a new civilization. Noah also made a sacrifice to God

upon exiting the ark. He took from every animal and made burnt offerings on an

alter he had created. When God smelled the sweet aroma, he vowed never again to

curse the earth because men are born evil (Genesis, 6), they do not become evil.

Their wrongdoings originate from their heart and not from the decisive mind,

(Genesis, 9). The fact that many ancient civilizations have a story with a great

flood could mean that there really was a world wide catastrophe. Since the

majority of the world s population lived on the oceanic planes where the land was

fertile and travel by boat was easiest, if the ocean level was raised even slightly, it

would seem that their whole world was flooding. Also, there is one known flood

that occurred in ancient times. The Black Sea used to be smaller than it is now.

Archeologists have proven this by finding remnants of structures below the present

water level. The water also used to be fresh, not salt water. When the ice from the

Ice Age melted, the lake started to dry out because the rivers began to flow

backwards towards the sea. Then the ocean water rose very high and salt water

rushed back into the empty sea, (Lecture, 9/7/1999). With so many different

cultures trying to explain a great flood, there are bound to be differences in each

account. The Epic of Gilgamesh and the Biblical story of Noah s Ark are different

in small details. The fact that the two stories are so close in account to each other,

with regard to general storyline, is quite amazing when considering the fact that

these two cultures are so very different.