Gilgamesh Addendum: Flood Myths

Tablet V of the Epic of Gilgamesh, by Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin, CC BY-SA 4.0

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  The Epic of Gilgamesh is one of if not the oldest piece of literature we have found. There is a lot that could be said about it from a historical perspective, but sorry to disappoint, I'll leave that up to you to seek out on your own with the aid of some links at the bottom of this post!

  For this post I want to jump right into the similarities between the Epic of Gilgamesh and certain parts of the Book of Genesis, and the Book of Enoch.

  The first major comparison that is often brought up is between Enkidu and Shamhat, and Adam and Eve. Honestly I find it to be a terrible one. What folks will point to is Enkidu living with the animals blissfully unaware of the world of men, then he meets Shamhat, gets laid, has a bite to eat and BAM he gets banished from his previous world as a peaceful wild man.

  Sure, it's vaguely Adam and Eve-ish but that's about it. The first reason it's a bad comparison is that unlike Enkidu, Adam is actually the first man in Genesis and he exists alone in a literal paradise. Deciding that he shouldn't be alone, Eve is created out of Adam. Ultimately Eve is tempted by the serpent, and in turn tempts Adam with the apple. After they eat the fruit of the forbidden tree, they are exiled. That is nothing at all similar to the story in Gilgamesh. Enkidu a demigod is created as a response to Gilgamesh who is also a demigod. Enkidu's encounter with Shamhat is a result of an afraid and angry trapper (with the help of  Gilgamesh) using the harlot to ultimately lure Enkidu out of the area. That may be vaguely thematically similar to the serpent using Eve to get to Adam but that'd be neglecting the context of the actual stories. Adam and Eve, the first people, are alone in Eden. By making the comparison you're ignoring a heaping pile of philosophy and story that follows the story of Adam and Eve as well. And that story is built around the fall of Adam... It's apples and oranges to me.

  The most interesting comparison is of course that of the flood stories. If you need a refresher, here's a link to Genesis/Noah, and Utnapishtim/Gilgamesh, or you can listen to Part 2 again!

The Flood Tablet, by BabelStone, CC0 1.0 Universal

  But wait there's more! Montezuma and the Great Flood, you may recall this Native American story from the very first episode of the podcast. It is another well developed and eerily familiar flood myth from the opposite side of the planet of Gilgamesh and Noah. Thing is, it's not even rare among Native American tribes. Here is a link to a handful of them.

  And of course, we can't forget the Book of Enoch. It is not considered to be a canonical work by Christianity (for a number of good reasons) though it involves biblical characters and parts of it are very much intriguing. The book of Enoch describes the lead up to the flood, and at a glance it does seem to share some themes with Gilgamesh.

  That's a lot of extra reading, we'll call it "Bonus Content". But by no means will the following be a complete comparative breakdown, that is coming in a future episode! So be sure to subscribe to this blog via email, to the podcast, which is now available on YouTube and BitChute

  In Gilgamesh you have multiple gods who grow tired of mankind. In Noah you have one infinite God who thinks perhaps he should have never made man. In Enoch you have multiple angels interfering with man, to the dismay of yet more angels AND then God decides to do the flood. In Montezuma's story you get a creator driven flood as well. In all of the stories one or two people are chosen to survive. Utnapishtim and his Wife in Gilgamesh, Noah and his family in Genesis/Enoch, and Montezuma and Coyote in the Native American flood.

  One thing that sticks out to me here, in both the Gilgamesh flood and the Montezuma flood, our protagonists are warned by a 3rd party. Utnapishtim is warned by Ea, and Montezuma by Coyote.

  There are quite a few differences though, Utnapishtim and his wife become immortal, Noah and his family do not. Noah takes a whole heck of a lot longer to build his boat, 120 years to be exact. Utnapishtim's happens in a week. Coyote and Montezuma ride it out in canoes. Utnapishtim's boat is 6 story square thing, whereas Noah's is the far more familiar McBoaty rectangular shape. It also rains for 40 days in Genesis, and just about a week in Gilgamesh.

  Setting aside Gilgamesh, Montezuma's flood story goes on to see Montezuma viewing himself as greater than the ancient creator god, he builds a gigantic, jewel embellished house that reaches to the heavens and sits atop it as a god... Tower of Babel anyone?

  Thematically it is very easy to see why we get so much syncretism. Which can range from claims that Gilgamesh inspired the early Jews, to full blown ancient astronaut theory! Don't forget the infamous "Annunaki" are a part of the Epic of Gilgamesh too. Is a version of the same story being told to us by different people all throughout history? Was there at one point a single stream that diverged into many?

  I tend to think yes. And I'm big fan of the idea of some MASSIVE CATACLYSM around the end of the last ice age. Who can say for sure, but to me it seems obvious that something happened.

I hope you enjoyed the episode of the show and this post! Be sure to subscribe and share if you like the show! 

Here is a list of materials that helped make or inspired me this Episode :

Assyrian International News Agency - Epic of Gilgamesh - Epic of Gilgamesh