The Parallels between Noah and the Epic of Gilgamesh
The story of the flood in the Epic of Gilgamesh is a well-known parallel to the story of Noah’s ark in the Hebrew Scriptures of Genesis. The flood in both stories destroys mankind by the power of a deity. These floods drowned men, women, children, and some babies and infants, as well as eliminating all of the land animals and birds. The floods represent a new beginning for mankind as well as the gods’ or God’s anger against the humans. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Earth is flooded for six days and six nights because a god, Enlil, was disturbed by the humans when trying to take a nap. In the book of Genesis, God chose to flood Earth for forty days and forty nights not because the humans were nuisances but because they were too evil to live on Earth. (Core 4) These stories compare and contrast in several significant ways.
In Gilgamesh, Enlil finds that humankind is too noisy. In Genesis, God notices that man has become wicked and full of sin. Both stories describe Ea and God instructing Noah and Utnapishtim to construct a boat to save their families and themselves. While Noah’s ark was only three stories and rectangular, Utnapishtim’s boat was six stories and square. (Core 2) Both boats only had one door and one window. After the flood, Noah and Utnapishtim both sent out doves to find dry land. Not only did the doves show if the waters subsided, but also were a symbol of peace. (Core 3) The only difference here was that Noah was known to also send out a raven. At the end of both floods, the two main heroes were blessed by their god. (Core 1)
The biggest difference between these two stories is the time frame of the floods. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the rain only lasted for six days and six nights. In Genesis, God created the rain for forty days and forty nights. Also, a slight difference between the two stories is that Noah was told by God to take two of each animal, while...
Cited: The Epic of Gilgamesh. Trans. N. K. Sanders. Prentice Hall Literature World Masterpieces.
Ed James Corcoran. Edgewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1991. 23- 26. Print.
“Genesis 6-9 The Story of the Flood.” Prentice Hall Literature World Masterpieces. Ed James
Corcoran. Edgewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1991. 47-51. Print.
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