Gilgamesh vs. Noah
It is said that life is 10% what you make it and 90% how you take it. It is not the circumstances of life that determine a person's character. Rather, it is the way a character responds to those circumstances that provides a display of who he is. "From the Epic of Gilgamesh", as translated by N.K. Sandars, and "Noah and the Flood" from the Book of Genesis, both Gilgamesh and Noah face similar circumstances, but don't always respond to them the same way.
Accepting immortality and the ultimate powerlessness to be in control of death's inevitability is something that both Gilgamesh and Noah encounter. Gilgamesh faces the death of his closest companion, Enkidu, with hopelessness, fear, and anger. "In his bitterness he cried, 'How can I be at peace? Despair is in my heart. What my brother is now, that I shall be when I am dead. '" (p. 141) To Siduri's questioning, Gilgamesh responds, "Because of my brother I am afraid of death, because of my brother I stray through the wilderness and cannot rest." (p. 144) Noah, faced with the impending death of everyone except his own family and the pairs of creatures joining him in the ark, is unquestioning and obedient in following God's instructions. After the instructions about the animals that he is to take into the ark, "Noah did so; just as God commanded him, so he did." (p. 172) When God tells Noah that He will blot out all of creation in forty days and forty nights, "
Noah did just as the Lord commanded him." (p. 171 and 172) Both of the characters deal with death; respond differently, thus resulting in contrasting outcomes.
Both Gilgamesh and Noah build arks because of an impending devastation of the earth by rain and flooding. Shamash had warned, "In the evening, when the rider of the storm sends down the destroying rain, enter the boat and batten her down." (p. 147) God told Noah, "For in seven days' time I will make it rain upon the earth, forty days and forty nights, and I will...
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