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Essay: The Epic of Gilgamesh and The Book of Genesis

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  • Published: 1 October 2015*
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The Epic of Gilgamesh and The Book of Genesis are two profound pieces of writing. The Epic of Gilgamesh is a story about a handsome, wealthy, and strong man named Gilgamesh, who sadly lets his great fortune take over him. Gilgamesh is all about himself, he gladly has athletic contests with the other young men of Uruk to try shame them and he has a fetish for exploiting young women. The citizens of Uruk are not happy with Gilgamesh’s actions, but they are too afraid to say anything. Little do they know the God, Anu, hears all prayers and commands the creator, Aruru, to create someone that will kill Gilgamesh. Unfortunately, Gilgamesh ends up beating Enkidu and eventually they became best friends. Shortly after, Gilgamesh and Enkidu end up going around town, killing people just because they can. Enkidu then has a dream about the gods deciding to kill either him or Gilgamesh for killing all the people, and they ended up picking Enkidu. Enkidu gets ill and later dies. After his death, Gilgamesh starts to become scared about dying. He goes to Utanapishtim who, with the exception of his wife, is the only immortal. Utanapishtim challenges Gilgamesh to contest to test his worthiness of such power, Gilgamesh fails. In The Book of Genesis we have a God who is the creator of both, Heaven and Earth. He then created a light, land, grass, creatures, and man in his image. The first humans, Adam and Eve, were the first humans created and shortly put to a test. The test was to go to the Garden of Eden and to not eat anything there, because God had something better for them. They saw the tree was a good tree and ate from it, disobeying God’s orders and entering sin into the human race. God came into the Garden and asked them about the tree, they denied eating from it. They eventually told God the truth about eating from the tree and he decided to multiply their pain by bringing forth children. Eve brought forth two children, Abel and Cain. Cain was the first human born. Cain grew to become and farmer and Abel a shepherd. They were two totally different people, Abel knew to obey the Lord’s orders and although Cain knew as well, he did not obey them. Being that he disobeyed the Lord, he became a sinner and ended up being killed by his brother, Cain. Abel then became the first human to die. God continued to create man, naming them Adam, and blessing them. Adam was a man of God and a believer; in return the Lord blessed him with a long life. He multiplied, his kid’s multiplied, his kid’s kid’s multiplied, and so on.
The most obvious difference in both stories was the number of Gods each story had. The Epic of Gilgamesh, it had many Gods and in The Book of Genesis it was only one God. In The Epic of Gilgamesh the God, Anu, is the one who listens to people’s problem with Gilgamesh; he then goes and to the God, Aruru, who creates someone to beat Gilgamesh; there is a sun god, Shamash, who helps Gilgamesh defeat people; and then they have the God, Utanapishtim, who decides who gets to live an immortal life. In the Book of Genesis, God is the only creator. God creates heaven, earth, humans, creatures, etc. God is the only one who determines who lives and who dies, who sins and who gets blessed. God has the final decision in everything; however, in The Epic of Gilgamesh there is a different God in every situation.
There are not many comparisons in theses two stories, but the one that is the most obvious is that in both stories the God(s) sent drought to the city to control the people. The God(s) used the drought to control the overpopulation of humans in the city in which the stories took place. They also built an ark to protect some of the people and even creatures and even though no one was expected to survive, some did. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the immortal God, Utanapishtim, and his wife were the only survivors and in the Book of Genesis, Noah survived the flood, living up to 350 years after it.
In The Book of Genesis, the flood was caused by man’s wickedness and was intended for all mankind. The hero of the story was Noah; he actually built the boat and followed God’s orders. Although he did complain throughout the process, he still ended up getting his blessing by obeying God’s orders. The boat was a rectangular shaped, three stories building with one door. The only passengers were family members of Noah and the specific animals, God instructed Noah to bring along. It lasted forty long days and nights, which ended on Mt. Ararat.
In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the flood was caused by man’s sins and was intended for one city and all mankind. The hero of the story was Utanapishtim; he actually built the boat and followed the God’s orders. Although he did complain throughout the process, he still ended up getting his blessing in the end. His blessing was he and his wife becoming immortals. The boat in this story was a square, three stories building with one door. The Gods instructed Utanapishtim to only take his family members, a few others, and some species and animals into the arc with him. It lasted six short days and nights, which ended on Mt. Nisir.
Each story has its own unique story to tell. In The Epic of Gilgamesh, the moral of the story is that anyone can suffer a deep lost. Gilgamesh suffered a lost when his best friend, Enkidu, dies. He then searches to find eternal life to restore his friend. Although his quest failed, it only goes to show that eternal life is out of reach as long as you live on earth. In The Book of Genesis, the story is about one’s faith in God. It just goes to show that God will test you, just to see if you trust in his word. If you fail him, he will fail you; but if you trust and believe that he is for you and not against you and if you have faith, he will bless you abundantly.

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