Comparison: Gilgamesh and Genesis

The Epic of Gilgamesh is one of the oldest pieces of writing which was discovered by people, so far. It was written in around 1000B.C.E in the Near East region in ancient Mesopotamia. Similarly, Genesis is one of the best books known worldwide which was written in around 400 B.C.E. In addition, it came from the region of Mesopotamia.

The Epic of Gilgamesh presents the polytheistic world where gods and goddesses play a big role. Even if they hold great power and are able to influence people’s actions, sometimes they are weak and imperfect. Also, mortal people and immortal gods have many things in common. They both experience positive and negative feelings such as love, happiness, and anger. For example, when Gilgamesh refuses to marry goodness Ishtar “in a fury she went up to the heavens, going to Anu, her father, and crying, going to Antum, her mother, and weeping” (A 77). Correspondingly, Genesis also describes the world where God plays a big role. However, he is the only monotheistic God and other gods don’t exist. In addition, he is the God who holds all the power; thus, everything depends on his will. For example, he says “Let there be light. And there was light” (A 29). Moreover, he doesn’t have many things in common with mortal people whom he created.

Both readings mention the flood; however, the reason of it is different. In the Epic of Gilgamesh people multiply very fast and earth become too noisy. Gods can’t stand that situation and send flood to destroy human beings. Gods choose a mortal human being, Utnapishtim, to create a ship and collect the pairs of all animals existing in the world. He says “I had all my kith and kin go up into the boat, all the beasts, and animals of the field” (A 92).  In addition, gods let him to protect his family and craftsmen “and the craftsmen I had go up” who have a great amount of knowledge which can be reused later on (A 92). On the other hand, Genesis talks about flood from different perspective. It is a punishment for people who want to be equal to God. “And the Lord saw that the evil of the human creature was great on the earth and that every scheme of his heart’s devising was only perpetually evil. And Lord regretted having made the human on earth” (A 34). As a result, he lets Noah to build an arc and collect the pairs of all animals existing in the world. God says to Noah “and you shall enter the ark, you and your sons and your wife and the wives of your sons, with you. And from all that lives, from all flesh, two of each thing you shall bring to the ark to keep alive with you, male and female they shall be” (A 34).  Also, Noah family is one who survives and populates the earth.

This entry was posted in Genesis - Gilgamesh. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Comparison: Gilgamesh and Genesis

  1. I am really impressed with your writing skills as well as with the structure in your weblog. Is that this a paid subject matter or did you customize it yourself? Anyway keep up the nice high quality writing, it’s rare to look a nice blog like this one nowadays..

  2. The Flood Story appears not only in the Epic of Gilgamesh but also in the Epic of Atrahasis. Some scholars have proposed Atrahasis’ Flood account was recast in the Gilagmesh account. The Mesopotamian version of the flood accuses the gods of acting in an unwarranted and spiteful manner as regards man drowning. Man is the VICTIM. In Genesis God is the VICTIM. The Hebrews have _inverted_ the storyline. Man’s clamor or noise denies the gods rest by day and sleep by night. They created man (according to Atrahasis) to relieve themselves of burdensome toil in their city-gardens located in the Sumerian EDIN (digging irrigation canals and dredging them of silts). By having man care for their gardens they can enjoy rest from toil forever. The problem? Man’s clamor denies them rest by day and sleep by night. WHY is man clamoring? Gilgamesh doesn’t say WHY, but Atrahasis provides the clue. Before man was created the lesser gods (the Igigi) were tasked with back-breaking toil caring for the Senior gods’ gardens in the Sumerian Edin (the floodplain of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers). They clamored day and night for 40 years wanting a rest from toil like the Senior gods (the Anunnaki). They eventually rebel and threaten to kill their task master (Enlil of Nippur). It is agreed that the Igigi clamor is justified and needs to be rectified. The goddess Mami is summoned and she creates man and announces that not only has she transferred the back-breaking toil to man, she has also transferred the Igigi gods’ clamor! So man’s noise is that of the Igigi, a clamor over the back-breaking work in the senior gods’ gardens of Edin. By making man to be an agricultural slave the gods assured them selves rest from toil for all eternity. But they could not enjoy this rest by day nor sleep by night because of the clamor. The soultion? Destroy man with a flood. For more details visit my website I have also published in 2010 a book available at, Walter R. Mattfeld, The Garden of Eden Myth: Its Pre-biblical Origin in Mesopotamian Myths.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *