Babylonian Creation vs. Israelite Creation

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The Babylonian creation story and Israel’s creation story are quite different, but they do share some common elements. One of these ways is in how the stories handle the issue of chaos and order. The Babylonian story discusses in great detail the chaos portion in their account. The account is written in epic form and describes how Tiamat and Apsu, who are both bodies of water and their children, Lahmu and Lahamu are engaged in a very bloody battle (along with other gods) that ends in death of both parents. Apsu is murdered in his sleep by another god, while Tiamat is later slain by the god of Babylon, Marduk. After Apsu is murdered Tiamat attempts to avenge her husband’s death, but the account claims, “Tiamat did even more evil for posterity than Apsu.”1 (Dalley, 239) It is clear from the text that she wants control for herself, and because she is powerful and is feared by other gods none of them want to stop her—many of them actually join her in battle against Marduk. An important part of that story is that eventually takes on a lover, Kingu whom she gives the Tablets of Destiny before she is killed. The People of the Covenant textbook, explains how after Marduk kills Tiamat he restores order to the lives of the Babylonian people. The elements of order and chaos, therefore, come from two opposing gods. This particular turn of events is quite unlike the Hebrew Scriptures’ accounts.

In the Genesis story of the Hebrew Scriptures the events that occur are a bit different from the Babylonian text, that were previously described, but according to People of the Covenant, there is a similarity—they have similar cosmological views. Both have the element of chaos and both deal with a void that was present at the beginning of creation, light is introduced and Earthly elements begin to take shape. (Smith, 109) 2 The most obvious difference is that for Israel, God was the sole creator of the universe, while the Babylonians more or less personified and deified the...
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