The flood, sacrifices were offered in bothThe flood, sacrifices were offered in both

The Epic of Gilgamesh has been of interest to Christians ever since its discovery in the mid-nineteenth century in the ruins of the great library at Nineveh, with its account of a universal flood with significant parallels to the Flood of Noah’s day (Keller 32). The theme in The Epic of Gilgamesh is death and mortality. The Epic was composed in the form of a poem. The main figure is Gilgamesh, who may have been a historical person. The Sumerian King List shows Gilgamesh in the first dynasty of Uruk reigning for 126 years (Heidel 13). There are many similarities between the Gilgamesh flood account and the biblical flood account (The Holy Bible-Genesis 6-8), beginning most importantly with God choosing a righteous man to build an ark because of an impending great flood. In both accounts, samples from all species of animals were to be on the ark, and birds were used after the rains to determine if flood waters had subsided anywhere to reveal dry land (Sandars). Another distinctive similarity that is shown in both accounts is that after the flood, sacrifices were offered in both accounts and God and the gods were pleased by the sacrifices. Utnapishtim and Noah both received blessings. While Utnapishtim’s was eternal life, Noah’s was to populate the earth and have dominion over all animals (Sandars). The story in the Bible about the Garden of Eden in Genesis and the description of Enkindu’s transition from living in nature to culture and civilization has many similarities. In both, a woman is responsible for the conversion of a man who had once eaten and drank with the animals to one who was estranged from nature. After the animals reject Enkindu, the woman Shamhat gives him clothing and teaches him how to drink beer and eat bread. As stated in Genesis, after Adam has eaten from the tree of knowledge, he hides and covers his nudity. God then sentences him to a lifetime of harsh labor when cultivating the land for food (Dolansky). Gilgamesh wrote on tablets of stone all that he had done, including building the city walls of Uruk and its temple for Eanna. He was an oppressive ruler, however, which caused his subjects to cry out to the “gods” to create a nemesis to cause Gilgamesh strife (Sandars 30-33). This rival named Enkidu became best friends with Gilgamesh and they went on many trips and adventures. However, Enkidu is killed, and his friend is devastated. Gilgamesh then determines to find immortality since he now fears death. It is upon this search that he meets Utnapishtim, the character most like the Biblical Noah (Sandars 35-39). In short, Utnapishtim had become immortal after building a ship to weather the Great Deluge that destroyed mankind. He brought all his relatives and all species of creatures aboard the vessel. Utnapishtim also took a pilot for the boat, and some craftsmen, not just his family in the ark. Utnapishtim released birds to find land, and the ship landed upon a mountain after the flood. The story then ends with tales of Enkidu’s visit to the underworld (Sandars 39-42). There and many similarities in the Bible and the Epic of Gilgamesh. As described in Genesis 6: 5-7 in the Bible, God decided to destroy humankind because if its wickedness and sin (The Holy Bible). Utnapishtim, the survivor of the flood that almost wiped out humankind, tells his story. Once upon a time, he says, he was king of Shuruppak, a beautiful, prosperous city on the banks of the Euphrates. Then the gods named Anu, Ninurta, Enlil, Ennugi, and Ea met in secret council. It was described that the god named Ea, the cleverest of the gods, the god of wisdom and crafts, spoke to Utnapishtim in a dream and warned him of the planned flood (Sandars). Both arks had a single door and at least one window. A great rain covered the land and mountains with water, although some water emerged from beneath the earth in the biblical account (The Holy Bible-Genesis 7:11). Biblical flooding was 40 days and nights (The Holy Bible-Genesis 7:12), while the Gilgamesh flood was much shorter only lasting six days and nights (Sandars). Birds were released to find land. As described in Genesis 8:6-12, a raven and three doves were released by Noah to find land (The Holy Bible). Utnapishtim used a dove, swallow, and raven to find land (Sandars). After the rains stopped, Noah’s ark came to rest on a mountain named Ararat (The Holy Bible-Genesis 8:4), while Utnapishtim’s stopped on a mountain named Nisir. These mountains are about 300 miles apart. As stated earlier, sacrifices were offered in both accounts and God and the gods were pleased by the sacrifices. Utnapishtim and Noah both received blessings. Another similarity in both accounts is the use of the serpent or snake. When Gilgamesh insists that he be allowed to live forever, Utnapishtim gives him a test. If you think you can stay alive for eternity, he says, surely you can stay awake for a week. Gilgamesh tries and immediately fails. So Utnapishtim orders him to clean himself up, put on his royal garments again, and return to Uruk where he belongs. Just as Gilgamesh is departing, however, Utnapishtim’s wife convinces him to tell Gilgamesh about a miraculous plant that restores youth. Gilgamesh finds the plant and takes it with him, planning to share it with the elders of Uruk. But a snake steals the plant one night while they are camping. As the serpent slithers away, it sheds its skin and becomes young again. Though the snake robs Gilgamesh and his people of their chance to enjoy eternal youth, its action also convinces Gilgamesh to end his quest and restores Gilgamesh’s sanity. In this way, the snake is his benefactor. The gift that Gilgamesh carries back to Uruk now is himself. No longer obsessed with self-preservation, he will live in the here and now, focusing his energies on the betterment of his kingdom (Sparknotes Editors). On the other hand, in the Bible, the serpent is evil and brings about consequences that aren’t so positive. It tempts Adam and Eve into disobedience by convincing them to aspire to something that belongs only to God—knowledge. When humans aspire to know things or the deeper meanings of things, the parable suggests, they are overreaching, usurping a divine prerogative. As punishment, God casts Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden and brands them as sinners. The serpent killed their innocence, so the serpent in a sense brought both death and knowledge into the world. The here and now that Adam and Eve must endure will be shadowed forever by their sin (Sparknotes Editors). Possibly one of the closest parallel between a biblical text and the Epic of Gilgamesh is seen in the wording of several passages in Ecclesiastes (Dolansky). One example is shown in Ecclesiastes 9: 7-9 as stated, “Go, eat your bread with enjoyment, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has long ago approved what you do. Let your garments always be white; do not let oil be lacking on your head. Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that are given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun”(The Holy Bible). There is a quote from the barmaid Siduri in Meisner’s tablet giving advice on how to deal with his anxiety or anguish that is very similar that stated, “When the gods created mankind, They appointed death for mankind, Kept eternal life in their own hands. So, Gilgamesh, let your stomach be full, Day and night enjoy yourself in every way, Every day arrange for pleasures, Day and night, dance and play, Wear fresh clothes. Keep your head washed, bathe in water, Appreciate the child who holds your hand, Let your wife enjoy herself in your lap” (Dolansky). Clearly, for those who believe the Bible is God’s Word, it is practical to conclude He chose to preserve the true account in the Bible through the oral traditions of His chosen people. By God’s providence, His people kept this account pure and consistent over the centuries until Moses ultimately recorded it in the Book of Genesis. The Epic of Gilgamesh is believed to contain accounts which have been altered and embellished over the years by people not following the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Genesis account was kept pure and accurate throughout the centuries by the providence of God until it was finally co