|Sumerian statue from ancient |
Mesopotamia (5300 – 2000 BC).
Used with permission of OIM
Its content covers the creation of humanity, animals, and building of the earliest cities Eridu, Bad-tibira, Larsa, Sippar, and Shuruppak. Following a break in the tablet, the narrative picks up with a decision by the gods to send a deluge to punish humanity.
The narrative records the god Enki directing Ziusudra to build a large boat, followed by a missing section, and picking up with a description of the flood. A seven day storm tosses a huge boat about on the water until the Sun (Utu) appears and the hero Ziusudra worships and offers an animal sacrifice to the gods. Following the flood Ziusudra thanks the gods An (sky-god) and Enlil (captain of the gods), who bless him with “breath eternal” and take him to live in Dilmun.3. The mention of this place in lines 258–261 is unique in the flood epics. In this version the boat floats down the Euphrates River into the Persian Gulf to come to rest on the island of Dilmun (Bahrain) rather than resting on a mountain.4. In Sumerian the word KUR (line 140) means “country” while in Akkadian (Gilgamesh Epic) it is understood to mean “mountain.” The remainder of the tablet is missing.
- For the text of the Eridu Genesis see Livias.org.
- 1. Samuel Noah Kramer, “Reflections on the Mesopotamian Flood,” Expedition 9, no. 4 (1967): 18. PDF
- 2. Lambert, Millard, and Civil, Atra-hasis, 138.
- 3. Ibid., 97.
- 4. Robert M. Best, Noah’s Ark and the Ziusudra Epic: Sumerian Origins of the Flood Myth (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1999), 30–31.
David E. Graves, Key Themes of the Old Testament: A Survey of Major Theological Themes (Moncton, N.B.: Graves, 2013), 194-95.
For Further Study
- Clifford, Richard J. Creation Accounts in the Ancient Near East and in the Bible. Catholic Biblical Quarterly Monograph Series 26. Washington, D.C.: Catholic Biblical Association of America, 1994.
- Hallo, William W. ed. “Enki and Ninmah,” translated by Jacob Klein, The Context of Scripture (3 vols.; Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1997–), 1.159:516
- Kramer, Samuel Noah and Maier, John Myths of Enki, the Crafty God. New York: Oxford, 1989.
- Pritchard, James B., ed. “Enki and Ninhursag: A Paradise Myth” in Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament. 3d ed. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969), 37-41.