Most stories we hear of the past are about heroes that are in search for something of meaning. History is a way to not only let the stories of the past move on to future generations, but also teaches us the morals and values of these epics. Epics are long narrative poems in elevated language that follows the journey of an important figure, or hero, whose journey is important to the history/culture of a people. The hero usually faces adversity and returns home significantly transformed.
Epics are also a great way to give us an idea of a lifestyle and the thoughts of a lifetime that we never experienced. The epic of Gilgamesh is about a man who is on a desperate search for immortality after feeling fear he never thought was possible from the death of his good friend, Enkidu. Gilgamesh then goes on a journey in order to preserve himself. In the Book of Genesis, there are several events that happen. Some are Abraham being tested of his faith and God asking Noah to build an ark in order to save mankind.
When comparing the epic of Gilgamesh and the Book of Genesis, we find similarities and notable differences such as the belief in Gods, the two heroes, Gilgamesh and Abraham, and also the flood. The main character of the epic of Gilgamesh is Gilgamesh himself. Gilgamesh was created by the Gods and is described as, “When the gods created Gilgamesh they gave him a perfect body. Shamash the glorious sun endowed him with beauty, Adad the god of the storm endowed him with courage, the great gods made his beauty perfect, surpassing all others, terrifying like a great wild bull.
Two thirds they made him god and one third man. ”(48) Although he behaves as a God, he also has human qualities such as fear, thirst of knowledge, and mortality. Gilgamesh gets everything he wants but it is not until his companion and good friend, Enkidu, he begins to feel scared. Gilgamesh goes in search for immortality only to find out from the gods that it is not possible for him. In the Book of Genesis, the main character is Abraham. Throughout the story, God keeps in contact with Abraham telling him of his misfortunes and fortunes.
Little did Abraham know that all that God asked of him was a way to test his faith. It was not until Abraham almost sacrificed his son, Isaac, that God knew that his faith was real. In both of these stories, the gods are looked upon as guidance. While Gilgamesh expected the gods to guide him in life, Abraham lived only by God’s commands. From both stories it is assumed that early humans were very religious by holding their beliefs in the hands of their gods. The similarity of the two is the strong belief in their own God but the difference is how they felt about them.
In the Book of Genesis, they say,” these are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, and every plant of the filed before it was on earth…”(89) According to this story, there is only talk of one God who is said to have created everything from earth to the heavens. In the epic of Gilgamesh, there is more then one God. These gods are able to give birth to mortals and usually communicate with them through dreams. Mortals strongly believe in their God in both stories.
However, in Gilgamesh, gods seem to be easily persuaded from their servants. Servants make offerings to the Gods and in return they are granted of what they ask for. In Genesis, God stands strong, powerful, and fair to his followers. However, on some occasions it doesn’t seem that way. The first situation comes when Adam and Eve eat from the tree of knowledge. God punishes them immediately by giving them the ability to understand right from wrong by saying, “ “Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil.
And now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat and live for ever. ” “(91) While Gilgamesh tries to become God by trying to attain everlasting life and Adam and Even try to become more god like eating the forbidden fruit, neither succeed in doing so. In both stories, there is a flood. The flood is also a representation of a new beginning for mankind. In the epic of Gilgamesh, the gods decided to destroy mankind and flood the earth for six days and six nights for being too noisy.
Utnapishtim who was the chosen one says, “ “ For six days and six nights the winds blew, torrent and tempest and food overwhelmed the world, tempest and flood raged together like warring hosts. ” “(73) Utnapishtim was chosen to build a boat to rekindle mankind because he was a true believer of the god Ea. In the book of Genesis, Noah is chosen to build an ark and bring in two of each kind of animal into his boat and to resurrect mankind after the flood that was held for forty days and forty nights. The major similarities of these two stories are that both Gods sent the floods because the people of the world had become chaotic and corrupt.
These two stories are not just epics but something that humans can take morals and values from. These stories show us how early human civilization use to live. They give readers a spiritual interpretation of he beginning of time and the accounts of early man. By reading the strong commitments of faith that Abraham and Gilgamesh had toward their Gods, it gives us a sense of encouraging us to do the same. They hold as much value as the people of the present as the people who wrote these stories and set an example of guidelines of how we could live our lives today.