Gilgamesh Essay, Research Paper
Gilgamesh tells the story of Noah s Flood
When the tablets were found of the story of Gilgamesh by Mr. Rawlson, he did not have
any idea what he was looking at, but he knew that it was old and valuable for History.
George Smith on the other hand was fascinated by the tablets and he began to study the
writing on them. Mr. Smith found out that he could read parts of the language on the
tablets and began to translate as much as he could of these tablets. While he was
translating the Tablet 11, he was sure that he found the story of Noah and the Flood. I t
was so identical to the Flood in the Bible, everyone that knew about the tablets, became
excited. When everything was translated though they discovered that it was not the story
of the Flood in the Bible instead it was a story of a young man traveling around the
country to find eternal life. He encounter a man (Utnapishtim) who told of a story about
the Flood he had witness and the adventures that had happen. What is hard to believe is
the fact that Gilgamesh s time was 5000 years before the Bible. Could this possibly mean
that the story has been handed down from one generation to another, for so long, that
people incorporated the story into the Bible when it was first written? If this is true, then
how many other stories were told from generation to generation and written in the Bible
without us ever doubting where the stories came from.
The most striking difference between the two stories is why the flood came about. In
the Hebrew Bible, God had become angry for the wickedness of man 1 They had
been worshipping idols and doing other evil deeds. God decided to flood the world. In
Gilgamesh the gods sent the flood Then came the flood, sent by gods intent .2
Before the flood, both Noah and Utnapishtim, were warned. Noah because he found
favor in God s eyes and Utnapishtim because Ea had an oath with him. They were
both instructed to build arks, and given the exact measurements by which they were to
Noah and Utnapishtim brought a sample of every animal on board for preservation of
the species. Equally, both men except their charge and begin to build boats that will
weather the storm and also carry two of each creature from earth.
In both stories the God(s) find compassion and grace for a man that is tasked to carry
on after the destruction of mankind.
At the conclusion of both storms Noah s and Utnapishtim s boats are lodged within
the mountains and both boat s captains let loose birds to determine if the waters have
truly subsided. The initial birds that both set free returned, without finding a piece of
dry land to rest upon. Noah and Utnapishtim both released another bird, which
returned as the first. On the third attempt both men were rewarded, Utnapishtim by the
raven not returning and in Noah s case by a dove bearing an olive branch. A slight
difference existed in the birds chosen and the number of attempts made before their
birds do not return. Though interestingly enough both men did choose a raven and a
dove. In Noah s case he first let loose a raven, but it was later the dove that did not
return. In Utnapishtim s story he first released a dove and later it was a raven that did
Toward the end of both stories the main characters are both blessed by the Gods. In
the case of Utnapishtim it stated, Then with his wife, he was deified and sent to rule
the place where rivers start. 3 In the Old Testament it is written, And God blessed
Noah and his sons, and said unto the, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the
earth 4. Though both men are blessed there are differences in how their fate is to be
played out through their lives. Noah is blessed and lives for many more years with his
equally blessed family and listens as God establishes a covenant with him and his sons.
Utnapishtim is however granted immortality to live forever with his wife far away from
The differences in the story was like someone just changed a few words and made it their
own. Could this be possible? The answer is always leave your mind open to the
possiblities that might exists. No one can be certain or postive that everything that is
written is the truth, and has not been streched a little bit to fit the purpose it will end up in.
Below is some of the differences that stood out the most.
The amount of people on board of the boats were different. Noah brought only his
family on board while Utnapishtim brought his family and craftsmen.
When the arks were finished and everyone was on board, the Lord closed Noah in.
Utnapishtim and his men had to push their ark into the water and close their door.
The time span of the rain was quite different in the stories. In the Bible it rained for
forty days and forty nights, while in Gilgamesh in rained for only six days and nights.
Though this difference exists it is difficult to understand if the difference in time is
really as substantial as it seems. Frequently in the Old Testament it is difficult to
understand the passage of time in the Old Testament since Noah was supposedly six
hundred years old when the flood began.
Another difference was that at the end of the flood in Gilgamesh, Utnapishtim was
made immortal by the gods. Noah remained human and died at the age of 950.
The most striking difference between the two stories of the destruction of man is the
role of the God(s) and how the man that is to survive is chosen. In the story of
Gilgamesh all of the Gods agreed to exterminate mankind. The Gods in the story of
Gilgamesh did not determine that there should be a perfect man to survive the flood so
that mankind can begin anew. While in the Old Testament it is Noah that found favor
in the eyes of the Lord5 and the Lord viewed Noah as a just man and perfect in his
generations 6. Noah was chosen by the Lord to survive the flood because he was
found favor in God eyes7 and was also chosen to carry on mankind after the flood.
In one story the Gods wish to destroy all of mankind while in the Old Testament it
seems as thought God wants to destroy the evil of mankind but also wishes for the just
to replenish the earth.
In most cases of all cultures, water is a symbol of cleansing. Moreover, humans and
animals use water to cleanse their bodies, food, homes, and most basic needs of life. Most
important, when something is soiled water is a prominent part of the cleansing and
restoration process. The symbolism of water conducting a transformation from soiled to
cleansed is displayed in the flood story of the Bible and in “Gilgamesh”. Both floods were
deemed necessary by deity. In both stories, God and the gods decided the land must be
restored. Within this simalarity of stories exists the most significant contrast. The
restoration in Gilgamesh was to assist the gods, not the people. The people had become a
distractive nuisance for the gods. The gods, in “Gilgamesh”, would not have seen a need
for the flood if the people were only destructive to themselves without being bothersome
to the gods.The motivation in the Bible was to save the people. In contradction to
“Gilgamesh”, God knew that the corrupt and violent lifestyles of the people would end in