Genesis Essay, Research Paper
Many epics and myths of previous generations can compare to stories of the Old Testament. Myths such as the Enuma Elish, story of Ba\’al, and the Gilgamesh Epic all relate to chapters in Genesis, Psalms, and many other\’s in the Bible. The Gilgamesh Epic especially refers to the story of Adam and Eve in Genesis 2:4-11:32. Both describe the suffering, evil, and mortality result from human arrogance and rebellion.
George Adam Smith found tablets while working at a British Museum. After looking at the tablets, he discovered that they were strikingly similar to the account of the flood in the book of Genesis. Gilgamesh was a historical king of Uruk about 2700 BC. He was part human and part animal. Some thought that he was too harsh on his people and summoned the sky-god, Anu. Anu created Enkidu, a man who was supposed to be more superior than Gilgamesh, so he could kill him. While Enkidu was running wildly with the animals throughout the forest, a woman named Shamhat discovered him and offered herself sexually to him. He succumbed to her and lost his power and strength at once, very much like Samson did to Delilah (Judges 16).
This part of the Gilgamesh Epic is like that of Adam and Eve. Adam was the first human created, and out of Adam came Eve. Adam needed a companion because animals were inadequate companions for man. Adam was to name the animals in the forest and play with them just as Enkidu did. But one thought that did not occur to them was they needed an appropriate human companion.
After Eve ate the fruit of the tree she handed some to Adam and they both became aware that they were naked (Genesis 2:7). They both gained knowledge of good and evil and what was going on around them. They covered themselves up with fig leaves (Genesis 2:7). Adam and Eve became wiser and embarrassed that they were naked, just as Enkidu did after he became sexually involved with a woman. Enkidu became civilized and learned how to eat, speak, and wear clothes properly. Adam and Eve were also punished with the suffering of childbirth, sin, and labor.
The story of Gilgamesh and the book of Genesis also relate to each other in the story of the Flood. In the Gilgamesh Epic a secret meeting was held by the gods to decide how to destroy the world. They decided to have a great flood. All agreed not to tell anyone, except Ea, who tells Utnapishtim to build a great boat. Utnapishtim follows his orders and builds a giant boat with many compartments. When the storm came it rained for 7 days and 7 nights. And when the rain finally stopped, Utnapishtim sent out a dove to see if the rain cleared up. It came back because it could not find a perch. He next sent out a swallow, but it too returned because of no perch. He last sent out a raven that ate, scratched the ground, and did not return because the water was gone. Enlil then blessed Utnapishtim with immortality and made him a god.
This flood portion of the epic relates to the flood in the book of Genesis. God wanted to destroy the earth and all living creatures. He commanded Noah to build an ark and take 2 of all living creatures. Noah followed the Lord\’s instructions and stayed in the ark for forty days and forty nights while it continuously rained. On the last day he sent out a raven to see if the waters had dried up. The raven returned and he waited another seven days to send out a dove. The dove also returned for it did not find a place to land (Genesis 8:9). He waited another seven days to send out the dove again, and when she returned she had an olive branch in her mouth (Genesis 8:11).
These stories are very similar to each other in that the gods are unhappy and want to wipe out all living creatures on the earth. The only difference in the Gilgamesh Epic is Utnapishtim send out a dove, a swallow, and then a Raven. This could symbolize that Utnapishtim was looking for peace in the beginning, but when he did not find it, he used the Raven, possibly a representation of chaos in the story.
After the flood story, Utnapishtim offers Gilgamesh a chance at immortality. He must stay awake for seven nights to become immortal. Instead he sleeps for seven nights, but has one more chance at immortality. He is to go to the bottom of the ocean of the Far-Away to get the magic plant. This plant was supposed to \”make old men young,\” or make him immortal. He gets the plant and decided to take a break to eat and bathe. At the same time a snake slithered up and ate the magic plant. Gilgamesh\’s only hope of immortality was taken away.
The Genesis account has the same meaning. Adam and Eve\’s immortality was taken away when Eve ate the fruit. Eve ate the fruit because the serpent tempted her. The serpent plays the same role in both stories because it deprives them of immortality. The reason that Adam and Eve were tempted to eat the fruit was their sinful desire of wanting more and refusing to obey God\’s rules. Greed often envelops mankind due to his sinful nature. In the case of Gilgamesh, he was already a king and ruled his land, but he wanted more; he wanted to be immortal. It is the arrogance of human behavior that brought sin into this world.
Thus, writers through the ages in both the Bible and mythological literature have shown that man\’s sinful nature, human arrogance, and rebellion have caused suffering, evil, and mortality. The depictions of this are similar in the book of Genesis and the Gilgamesh Epic. However, the Bible meshes the fall of Adam and Eve with the hope that God protects his people regardless of sin.