I was going over the Babylonian Epic Of Gilgamesh and was not surprised at the similarities nor was I surprised at the differences. I was shocked at the few unmistakable instances of outright plagiarism.
I will try to present the similarities in a chronological order. Anybody that has read this blog before should be familiar with my predilection for starting at the beginning and here I will not disappoint so the first thing we look at is why the flood. In Genesis the now familiar reason was that mankind was sinful and wicked so god would destroy them although he once upon a time said his creation was good. The Babylonian epic says the flood was because there were too many people and they were too noisy. It should be clear that these 2 reasons are similar.
In both cases the flood was supposed to be global this is a direct plagiarism. The only difference was the Babylonian gods became the god of the bible.
Again we now find a direct plagiarism. Both stories have one righteous man, The names are different. In the Babylonian story we have Ut-Napishtim and in the bible we have Noah.
God [the gods in the Babylonian story] ordered both to build an ark. Both men complained about it and both received the revelation differently. Babylonian story was in a dream while the bible story was direct revelation. That is a very close similarity. If the revelation was the same it would be an obvious case of plagiarism and 2/3rds of this little piece of the story is a plagiarism.
Now let’s look at the description of the arks. First I will mention the differences. In the Babylonian story the ark was 6 stories and square. In the bible the ark was 3 stories and rectangular. Seems those differences were changed to make the plagiarism less obvious. Now for the similarities. In both cases the arks were sealed with pitch, had many internal rooms [compartments], had one door and one window. I would call this plagiarism
Here we have a difference as far as human passengers but a plagiarism as far as the animal. In the Babylonian story there is Ut-Napishtim and his family plus a pilot for the ark and a few craftsmen. In the bible it was just Noah and his family [once again with the incest to populate the world]. This is a similarity.
In the Babylonian story, the flood was caused by rains. In the bible it was caused by rains and ground waters. This is a very close similarity. I can’t call it a direct plagiarism although it may very well be.
Here is the only large difference. In the Babylonian story the rains lasted 6 days and 6 nights. In the bible the rains lasted for 40 days and 40 nights. Since 40 is a fairly common number found in judgments in the Old Testament, this may be a plagiarism with the number changed but I think we can let the bible story have this one.
In both flood stories the mountains were covered with water. This may seem self-explanatory but because both stories mentioned it [with reason] I felt it should be included. This is a direct plagiarism.
In both stories, birds were sent out to find dry land. This is a direct plagiarism.
In both stories the first 2 birds returned and the third bird didn’t return. Once again we have a direct plagiarism.
Here is a similarity, most likely a minor change so the above didn’t look like a plagiarism. In the Babylonian story the 3 birds were a dove, a swallow and a raven. In the bible story the 3 birds were a raven and 2 doves.
Both arks landed on mountains in the middle east. The Babylonian ark landed on Mt. Nasir and the bible ark landed on Mt. Ararat which are no more than a few hundred miles apart.
Everything after the landing is direct plagiarism but I will list them for posterity.
After they left the arks in both stories, an animal was ritually slaughtered and offered as a sacrifice.
In both cases the stories wrote that god [gods in Babylon] smelled the sacrifice.
In both stories the “hero” was blessed.
And finally in both stories god repented.
Any thinking person that reads this can’t think the flood story in the bible is anything more than shameless stealing from the Babylonian Epic Of Gilgamesh.
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