Comparing Flood Stories Essay, Research Paper
There are different versions of flood stories in many different cultures. Each have certain similarities and differences between them. These two cultures have different gods and ideas of how gods acted. For Sumerians, there were many different gods and they acted much like humans. These gods seem to give little thought to how there actions could possibly affect humans. The Hebrews were monotheistic and believed that their god was thoughtful and caring.
One of the main differences between the stories is why people are killed. According to the Sumerian myth, man was killed because they were becoming an inconvenience. Enlil thought that they were making too much noise, and for this all of mankind had to be exterminated. In Genesis it is written that God saw the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually (Genesis 6-9). While in the Sumerian myth people were being killed because they were an inconvenience, they were killed in Genesis for being wicked.
The Sumerian version of the flood story involves the main character, Utnapishtim, while the Hebrew version involves Noah. Utnapishtim and Noah are saved for two very different reasons. Utnapishtim is saved because of an oath Ea had made. Noah was saved because he found grace in the eyes of the Lord (Genesis 6-9).
Who is allowed to come onto the boats is different in each story. According to the Hebrews, only Noah and his immediate family was allowed on board. The Sumerian myth states that there were artisans as well as Utnapishtim on board the boat. Utnapishtim is also instructed to bring one set of male and female animals, as well as plants. Noah is told to bring one set of unclean animals and seven sets of clean ones, and plants.
The duration of the floods is another key difference. In the Mesopotamian version, the flood last six days and six nights. In the Hebrew version, the flood lasts forty days and forty nights. When the flood subsides in each version, Noah and Utnapishtim release birds. Utnapishtim releases a dove, swallow, and then raven. Noah lets loose a raven, then a dove. He waits seven days, then releases the dove again, then waits another seven days and releases the dove. This time it doesn t return.
There is also a difference in the end result. Enlil feels bad because of what he had done and grants Utnapishtim immortality. God blesses Noah and his family and establishes a covenant, saying that he will never again curse the earth with a flood. There is no mention of any type of promise in the Mesopotamian myth.
There are many similarities and differences between these two stories. Both stories tell of the same event, but there are many discrepancies. The reasoning behind the flood, who was saved and why, and how long the flood lasted are examples of these differences.