Epic of Gilgamesh

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The Epic of Gilgamesh. Trans. N. K. Sandars. New York: Penguin Books, 1972.

The story is fairly straightforward. What is more interesting is exploring how many parallels to Noah, Hercules, and Nimrod they are. In that exploration we will see new light shed on the nature of Nephilim, giants, and the common interface between Hebrew, Greek, and Assyro-Babylonian cultures.

Gilgamesh is a kind of apkallu. The apkallu were the guardians of esoteric knowledge, seven in number. They are similar to the Watchers in the Aramaic and Enochian traditions. But Gilgamesh is only ⅔ apkallu. This makes him more like a Nephilim than a Watcher.

That raises another question: is Gilgamesh an analogue to Hercules or Nimrod? It’s hard to prove (or disprove!) that, but it is not an impossible supposition.

Did Moses copy the Gilgamesh epic? Even critical scholars today are backing off that. For one, it’s very difficult, especially regarding ancient material, to pinpoint a 1:1 plagiarism. Nonetheless, we shouldn’t ignore the similarities and their polemical value. Brian Godawa does a great job summarizing Gordon Wenham’s research:

1. Divine decision to destroy

2. Warning to flood hero

3. Command to build ark

4. Hero’s obedience

5. Command to enter

6. Entry

7. Closing door

8. Description of flood

9. Destruction of life

10. End of rain, etc.

11. Ark grounding on mountain

12. Hero opens window

13. Birds’ reconnaissance

14. Exit

15. Sacrifice

16. Divine smelling of sacrifice

17. Blessing on flood hero

Notes from the text:

It is interesting there are vampiric elements in this culture, as Enkidu relates his dream to Gilgamesh: “His was a vampire-face” (92).

Gordon J. Wenham, “The Coherence of the Flood Narrative,” Vetus Testamentum 28, no. 3 (1978)


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