The Epic of Gilgamesh and the Hebrew Bible

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The Depiction of Gods: Immature Children Versus the Noble Guide
Prompt: In the Sumerian tradition, the gods lack unity, are spiteful toward humans, and don’t follow logical reasoning in their actions. In the Hebraic tradition, the singular god displays favoritism amongst the humans, experiences self blame, and presents sound reasoning to defend his actions as the ultimate creator of the world. While the Sumerian and Hebraic traditions have direct contact with humankind, they have different motives in doing so. How do the Sumerian gods communicate the flood to the people in The Epic of Gilgamesh? How does the Hebraic god communicate the flood to the people within The Book of Genesis in the Hebrew Bible? What does this difference in methodology in dealing with the people in light of the flood reveal about the nature of the gods and what does it suggest about the relationship between the divine and the mortal in each story?

Both the Hebraic and Sumerian accounts of the flood share many of the same elements. For example, the gods directly warn a select few of the impending flood, an ark is built upon the gods’ requests, and both Noah and Utanapishtim are granted immortal qualities—Noah living for more than 600 years, and Utanapishtim living forever. However, the gods in the stories behave in entirely different ways. The Sumerian gods in the Epic of Gilgamesh are often at odds with each other, rendering themselves incapable of acting as a unit. The Hebraic God in The Book of Genesis in The Hebrew Bible possesses the necessary superiority to be an all-powerful leader to humankind.

In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the flood is a tool for punishment. The Sumerian gods don’t wish to reveal their plans to the humans at all. Furthermore, they wish to conceal their plan from the other gods, only including the most important in the secret meeting, such as Anu, Enlil, and their leader, Ea. Their goal to destroy humanity is based on the element of surprise. Other...
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