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FSU CLT 3378 - The Flood in the Epic of Gilgamesh

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Lecture Outline: Utnapishtim, Noah, and the Flood I. The Flood in the Epic of Gilgamesh a) Epic of Gilgamesh = popular work in Near East b) Standard Version = c. 1200 (revised until 650?)• Least fragmented version c) 12 cuneiform tablets d) flood story = tablet 11 e) Utnapishtim • Only mortal man in this story 1. = “he found life”2. king of Shuruppak3. cf. Atrahasis• Both their names mean something significant – Atrahasis means “extra wise” II. Utnapishtim and the Flood a) Gilgamesh and immortality• Gilgamesh realizes that he is going to die. To deal with this, he goes to the one man who has immortality. He asks how he can become immortal b) Utnapishtim as narrator• So you get a briefer version of the story. He wasn’t there for everything – ex. he doesn’t know the origin of the flood. 1. briefer than Atrahasis 2. beginninga. reason for flood?• He never gives us the reason. Perhaps we are to assume that it is the same reason as Atrahasis – humans are overpopulated and create a lot of noise. b. anger of Ellil?3. end (immortality) c) Ea = trickster and personal god of the flood hero1. sworn to secrecy• In both tales Ea makes a promise not to tell the humans about the flood 2. “reed hut, brick wall” • Again, he talks to a wall 3. cf. Atrahasis4. warns Utnapishtima. coming floodb. boatc. animals d) boat-building 1. circular as in Atrahasis?• Tablet 11 “The boat that you are to build shall have her dimensions in proportion her width and length shall be in harmony”2. bitumen = waterproof3. Mesopotamians = river boats 3. materials, dimensions, decks e) flood begins• All life is destroyed besides for Uptnapishtim and his wife and the few animals1. Ishtar weeps (cf. Nintu)• This is unusual. Ishtar is not a creator god as Nintu is 2. “my people” f) flood ends (6 days/7 nights)1. Mt. Nimush• Land on the Mt. 2. cf. Atrahasis g) after 7 days1. dove• Sends out birds to see if the flood is really ended• Certain sequence, dove, swallow, raven. Raven is the important bird because it is the only one that succeeds. 2. swallow3. raven h) sacrifice1. gods “like flies”• Maybe this is an expression, maybe the author copied Atrahasis, we don’t know2. cf. Atrahasisi) Ishtar, Ellil, and flood (cf. Nintu)• Ishtar again takes Ellil’s place. She criticizes Ellil for the flood j) anger of Ellil (boat)• That a human survived. Another hint that the cause of the flood is due to Ellil’s anger k) Ea 1. admits warning• Admits that he told the humans and comes up with a solution2. ways to kill humans• Send a plague or wild animals to kill theml) Ellil, Utnapishtim and wife (immortality) • Strange ending – “Until now Utnapishtim was mortal, But henceforth Utnapishtim and his woman shall be as we gods are. Utnapishtim shall dwell far off at the mouth of the rivers.” Ellil grants Utnapishtim immortality even though he was just angry at them. They go to a mystical land off the maps that humans aren’t supposed to go to. III. Adaptations of Near Eastern myth a) succession myth in Hittite Song of Kumarbi (c. 1400-1200 BCE)1. succession myth in Greek poet Hesiod’s Theogony (c. 700)• Hesiod heard a version of the story in the Kumarbi Cycle and used elements in his story because this was shared tradition in Anatolia, where he comes from 2. influence?3. shared tradition (Anatolia) c) flood myth in Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh (c. 1200-650) = Utnapishtim• Perhaps the same thing with Hesiod is going on here 1. flood myth in Hebrew Genesis (c. 950-550) = Noah• Not the same as adapting a story from a tradition. There are clues in Genesis that hint that the authors of Genesis read the Epic of Gilgamesh and it is a direct influence. There are direct echoes to the Epic of Gilgamesh 2. direct influence IV. Noah and the Flood (Genesis 6.5-9.17) a) anger of God1. moralistic (humans’ wickedness)• We don’t know but we believe that it may be because humans are killing each other 2. cf. anger of Ellil3. destroy all life on earth• Same response b) Noah1. righteous (= moralistic)• Noah is spared for moralistic reasons. The other humans are spared because they are wise and that connects them to Ea. Noah is instead behaving the way Yahweh wants him to behave. 2. cf. personal godc) monolatrous view 1. double duty for God• In other stories one god brings the flood and one saves humans. Here, Yahweh plays both roles. He both destroys humanity and saves it 2. sender/warner d) God tells Noah:• In this order:1. God will destroy life2. Noah build boat3. God send Flood (first mention)4. God will form covenant with Noah5. Noah put family/animals on boat e) Flood announcement1. polytheistic = divine assembly• Announced to all gods first in an assembly 2. monolatrous Genesis = God to Noah• God just announces it to Noah e) God and boat-building****Genesis 6.14-16• Different from the Epic of Gilgamesh 1. materials, dimensions, decks2. cf. Epic of Gilgamesh3. cypress wood4. length = six X width5. Israelites = sea boats• They used boats like these f) two different conceptions of flood• Genesis 7.11-12 – the two waters that were parted during creation are coming together (sea flooding, rain falling) to destroy everything that was created. 1. lengtha. 40 days/40 nights (7.12, 7.17)b. 150 days (7.24)2. flood watersa. 40 days/40 nights = rainb. 150 days (8.2)1) sea 2) rain • Rain plus sea floodingg) author links two conceptions• Author weaves them in and out 1. begins with poem (7.11) = sea/rain 2. then, rain 3. finally, sea/rain 4. “mashup”• We assume that the original Israelite audience knew both of these versions and enjoyed listening to the two versions and seeing how they complimented each other. Perhaps a narrative technique i) Flood ends 1. boat lands2. Mt. Ararat j) Noah sends out 1. raven a. to find landb. criticism of Epic of Gilgamesh?• He forgets about the raven – deliberate criticism of the Epic of Gilgamesh • Importance of birds switched 2. dove3. dove (7 days, olive)4. dove (7 days)• Doesn’t come back, proving that there is land k) Noah’s sacrifice1. God, exit• Stays on the boat until god tells him to leave 3. savor of sacrifice (smell)• God savors the smell of the sacrifice l) covenant1. God, form covenant (Hebrew berit)a. all life on earth• God will preserve all life on earth – never send another floodb. no Flood2. Noah = human race• Says he will recreate the entire human race 3.


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