A Comparison of the Flood of the Bible and Gilgamesh
I as well as many others grew up listening to the story of Noah and the flood. I remember the length of the flood, the dove, and the rainbow very vividly. However, most people do not realize that the story is told throughout many different cultures and with accounts older than Genesis’s version in the Bible. Although each of the accounts tells of the flood, there are many variations to the story. One of the stories can be found in the Epic of Gilgamesh. Although the Epic of Gilgamesh is similar to the Genesis version, there are some differences in the days leading to, during, and after the flood.
The days leading up to the flood are different as well as similar in the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Genesis version of the flood. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Gods decided to send a flood because the people on Earth were noisy. One man, Utanapishtim, was given a dream by one of the Gods because of an oath. Contrastingly, in Genesis, God sent a flood to destroy the evils that man had created. He warned Noah about the flood because Noah was good. Both Utanapishtim and Noah constructed boats to survive the flood; Utanapishtim’s boat was 120 cubits and a perfect cube. It was completed with seven decks that were divided into nine sections each. On the other hand, Noah’s ark was three hundred cubits in length, fifty cubits in width, and thirty cubits in height. It had a skylight and a door in the side. It was only three stories high. After the boat was constructed, Gilgamesh loaded “Whatever I had I loaded her: What silver I had I loaded upon her, What gold I had I loaded upon her, What living creatures I had I loaded upon her, I sent up on board all my family and kin” (145). Noah, similarly, loaded his family, food, and a male and female pair of each animal. Now each group waited for the flood. Utanapishtim’s rain began that night but stormed the next day, after seven days, Noah’s flood began.
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