What is the Difference Between Gilgamesh and Genesis Flood Story

The main difference between Gilgamesh and Genesis flood story is that in the Gilgamesh flood story, there are multiple gods, while in the Genesis flood story, there is only one god. This is because Gilgamesh shows polytheism while Genesis shows monotheism.

There are numerous ancient stories about floods all over the world. Floods described in the epic of Gilgamesh and Genesis are two such stories. These are two very similar stories, featuring a warning from Gods and a hero building a boat/ark to survive the flood.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Gilgamesh Flood Story
     – Definition, Features
2. What is Genesis Flood Story
     – Definition, Features
3. Difference Between Gilgamesh and Genesis Flood Story
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Gilgamesh Flood Story, Genesis Flood Story

Difference Between Gilgamesh and Genesis Flood Story - Comparison Summary

What is Gilgamesh Flood Story

The story of the Gilgamesh flood is found in the Epic of Gilgamesh, an epic poem from ancient Mesopotamia. Historians consider it the earliest surviving notable literature and one of the oldest religious texts. According to historians and linguistic experts, the story of Gilgamesh was composed even before 2,000 B.C. In this poem, we come across a Sumerian version of a great flood.

Compare Gilgamesh and Genesis Flood Story - What's the difference?

In this epic poem, the Sumerian hero Gilgamesh (the protagonist of the poem) meets Utnapishtim, an old man who narrates a story about a flood that occurred many years ago. Utnapishtim first describes how the gods were angry with mankind and sent a flood to destroy them. But the god Era warned Utnapishtim about the flood and instructed him to build a huge boat to save his family and “the seed of all living things.” Therefore, Utnapishtim built an enormous boat and brought all his relatives and all species of creatures abroad.

The gods brought relentless rain, causing heavy floods for many days. When the rain stopped, Utnapishtim first released birds to find land. Then they landed on a mountain. Utnapishtim also says that at the end of the flood, the god Ishtar placed the rainbow in the sky to remind the gods and to pledge to mankind that there would be no more floods.

What is Genesis Flood Story

In the Book of Genesis (the first book of the Bible), the story of the flood is found in chapters 6-9. According to this story, ten generations after the creation of Adam, God saw the corruption, violence, and evil of humankind and decided to destroy his creation. But he found one righteous man named Noah and decided to spare him.

Gilgamesh vs Genesis Flood Story

The god warned him of the upcoming destruction and instructed him to build an ark and take “two of every sort” of animal into it. In this way, each animal species could be preserved even though the flood would destroy all animals on earth. Finally, when Noah was 600 years old, the god brought down incessant rains on earth, causing a massive flood. Then, Noah and his family went abroad the ark, along with all the animals he had collected. Therefore, they were spared from the flood. The flood destroyed every living thing outside the ark, but the survivors in the ark landed in a mountain after the flood.

Difference Between Gilgamesh and Genesis Flood Story

Definition

The story of the Gilgamesh flood is found in the Epic of Gilgamesh, an epic poem from ancient Mesopotamia, while the story of the Genesis flood is found in chapters 6-9 in the Book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible.

Main Character

Utnapishtim is the main character in the Gilgamesh flood story, while Noah is the main character in the Genesis flood story.

God

In the Gilgamesh flood story, there are multiple gods, while in the Genesis flood story, there is only one god. This is because Gilgamesh shows polytheism while Genesis shows monotheism.

Warning about the Flood

In the Gilgamesh flood story, Utnapishtim gets to know about the flood from a dream, but in the Genesis flood story, the god directly warns Noah.

Duration of the Flood

In the Gilgamesh flood story, the flood lasts for 6 days, but in the Genesis flood story, the flood lasts for 40 days.

Conclusion

The main difference between Gilgamesh and Genesis flood story is that in the Gilgamesh flood story, there are multiple gods, while in the Genesis flood story, there is only one god.

Reference:

1. “The Sumerian Flood Myth: Epic of Gilgamesh.” Historywiz.
2. “A Summary and Analysis of the Biblical Story of the Flood and Noah’s Ark.” Interesting Literature.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Tablet XI or the Flood Tablet of the Epic of Gilgamesh, currently housed in the British Museum in London” By Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin FRCP(Glasg) – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Edward Hicks, American – Noah’s Ark – Google Art Project” By Edward Hicks, American, 1780 – 1849 (1780 – 1849) – Artist/Maker (American) (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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