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Free «The significance Mesopotamia in the Bible» Essay Sample

Introduction

Mesopotamia plays a critical role in the bible. This is because it is in this place where most of stories which relate to the bible are mostly found. It is also noted that Christianity as a religion has its roots in the Mesopotamia region. This is because the accounts of old testament can be traced to Mesopotamia region. This paper takes a critical analysis of the ark of Noah and the Epic of Gilgamesh in relation to the accounts of the flood. The paper examines the similarities and difference of the two stories. In addition, the paper looks into the importance of Mesopotamia to Christianity.

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The Epic of Gilgamesh is an inspiring, insightful and  interesting story which not only appeal to Christians but also to non-Christians (Rehwinkel, 1951). The Epic of Gilgamesh flood story  gives a detail  of a global flood with important similarities to the Flood of Noah's day. Some parts of  of the Epic comprise of  polytheistic myths which are connected to the pagans of early days. The Epic of Gilgamesh was found  on twelve large tablets and it dates back to 650 B.C

The Story

The Epic of Gilgamesh was written in the form of a poem. The main person in this story is called  Gilgamesh, who could  have been an historical figure. The list of kings of Sumerian depicts Gilgamesh to have reigned for 126 years in the dynasty of Uruk. The story begins an introduction of  the character traits of the he hero Gilgamesh. He was described as one  who had in-depth  knowledge and a wealth of wisdom. Gilgamesh preserved  detailed information about his activities in a stone tablet. For instance he built the city walls of Uruk as well as the  temple for Eanna. It is also noted that he was an authoritative  leader, however, which made  his people  to plead to  gods to destroy him  through strife. After the  fight, on the  nemesis, Enkidu and Gilgamesh became good friends. In this regard, they wanted to gain  fame by indulging on many risky adventures in which Enkidu was finally killed. Gilgamesh then found out that there is the reality of death. He therefore went out  to find the essence of  immortality since he now fears death. It is on this mission that  he met Utnapishtim, the person who is equivalent to the  Biblical Noah. In a nutshell, Utnapishtim had secured himself from death  after building a ship to cater to  the flood that wiped out mankind. He assembled  all of his family and all species of animals to  aboard the ship. Utnapishtim later freed the birds as attest to finding land, and his  ship landed safely on a  mountain after the great flood (Sanders, 1964). The Epic story ends with an episode of Enkidu's tour to the underworld.  It is noted that however, there are several similarities between the Even though many similarities exist between the Epic of Gilgamesh and Ark of Noah,  there are still some  serious differences.

Similarities of Genesis account of Floods and Gilgamesh

The table below shows  a comparison of the main aspects of the two the two stories  of the flood as detailed  in the Book of Genesis  and in the Epic of Gilgamesh.

A COMPARISON OF THE GENESIS AND GILGAMESH FLOOD ACCOUNTS

 

GENESIS

GILGAMESH

Extent and nature of the  flood

The universe

The universe

Cause of the flood

Wickedness of men

Sins of men

The people whom the flood was intended to

To all mankind

One city  and later to  all mankind

Sender of the flood

God who is Yahweh

A group of gods

Name of a historical hero involved

Noah

Utnapishtim

Hero's character traits

Wise and righteous man

Wise and righteous man

The means through which information about the flood was announced

It came directly from Yahweh

It came in a dream

Ordered to build the  boat?

Yes

Yes

Did the heroes complain?

Yes they complained

Yes, they complained

Height of the boat

Three stories

Six stories

Compartments inside?

Several compartments

Several compartments

Doors on the boat

One door

One door

Windows

There was at least one window

There was at least one window

Outside coating

Pitch

Pitch

The shape of the boat built

Rectangular

Square

Human passengers carried

Family members only

Family and  few other members of the society

Other passengers aboard

All species of animals

All species of animals

Means of flood

Ground water and heavy rain

Heavy rain

Duration of the flood

Long and covered 40 days and 40 nights

It was short and covered  6 days and  six nights

Test carried to find land

Freeing of birds

Freeing  of birds

The kind of birds released

A raven & three doves

Dove, swallows, ravens

Ark landing point

At the mountain which is Mount Ararat

At the mountain which is  Mount Nisir

Was there sacrifice carried out after the flood?

Yes, it was done  by Noah

Yes,it was done  Utnapishtim

Blessings after flood?

Yes, there are blessings after floods

Yes, blessings after floods

From the above table, several  similarities stand out and are inspiring, while some of them  are general. The call for Utnapishtim to build the ship  is remarkably similar to the call of Noah to build the ark although the communication delivery was quite different : Ooh son of Shuruppak, son of Ubar-Tutu, build a ship, leave earthly  wealth, search for  life; leave earthly  possessions and  save man’s lives. Collect seeds of all kinds into the ship which you have  built and let its sides are accurately  measured (Ancient texts 2012). The root cause of the flood of the The Epic of Gilgamesh  as a judgment on the human being’s sins is equally striking and inspiring. In the  eleventh tablet of The Epic of Gilgamesh it is written  that, set upon the sinners their  sins and also set upon the transgressor their  transgressions (Keller, 1956). A critical study of the similarities  to Genesis 6-9. It is prudent to note that just like others the information portrayed in the stories is a  demonstration of  non-coincidental aspect  of these similarities. However, the meanings of the names of Noah and Utnapishtim, are not similar  in any way. The name Noah has a meaning of  rests, while Utnapishtim has a meaning of the finder of lives. The two heroes were not  perfect, but both were seen as righteous and comparatively sinless as  compared others in the society by then. Utnapishtim took  the responsibility of directing  the ship together with other  craftsmen. It also illustrated that he accommodated many people not just his family members.

Significance of Mesopotamia

It is quite  interesting and biblically inspiring  that the two stories on flood  trace their  landing point in the  Middle East Mesopotamia region. Mount  Ararat where Noah landed and and mount  Nisir where Utnapishtim landed are approximately 300 miles apart, but they all fall under the Mesopotamia region. This element underscores the significance of the Mesopotamia region to the Bible and Christianity.

Some of the Difference of the Two Stories

God’s promise to Noah

There is a difference in how the two heroes were blessed. According to the Genesis 6: 9, King James version stipulate that Noah was rewarded by making his descendants to multiply and fill the earth. After the floods,  each hero received a blessing from God (Keller, 1956). Utnapishtim was given eternal life while Noah was granted the opportunity to reproduce and fill the universe and and above all have  dominion over the plants and animals. The Genesis explanation of the flood was kept untainted for many  centuries by the power  of God until it was written by Moses. However, the Epic of Gilgamesh story of the flood was  preserved and embellished by individuals  who were not  followers of  God. The Book of Genesis is seen widely  as an historical piece of work, even by several liberal scholars, while the Epic of Gilgamesh is seen as a mythological work based on man’s imagination (O'Brien, 1986). To the people and Christians  who trust in the inspiration and infallibility of the Bible, it is not a surprise that God can preserve the actual  accounts of the Flood in the culture and traditions of his people.

Conclusions

Looking from the perspective of the  early days of the comparative lessons of these two flood stories, it has been widely  agreed that there is a similarity between the two stories. The prevalent nature of flood stories  throughout the whole  human race is an outstanding evidence for the reality of a great flood from the historical perspective. The dating evidence of the one of the oldest  pieces  of the Epic Gilgamesh story  originally showed that it was much older than the dating of  the Genesis. However, there is a probability that the Biblical account of the events was preserved through oral tradition, or in a written outline which was handed to Noah. In addition, the accounts were later  handed to  Moses. This kind of transfer of information makes the biblical account of the ark of Noah to be much  older than the Epic Gilgamesh.

   

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