The Flood of Utnapishtim and other Mesopotamian Influences on the Old Testament Notes by Dr. Honora M. Finkelstein The story of Utnapishtim’s escape from the flood sent by the gods is a likely candidate as a source for the story of Noah in the Bible. (Actually, there were flood myths in virtually all cultures that predate the writing of the Old Testament.) In the Mesopotamian myth, mankind has multiplied to a great teeming mass, and the gods agree to exterminate them with a flood. But Ea (who was the god Enki in the story of Inanna) warns Utnapishtim about the coming flood, and Utnapishtim builds a boat to house himself and his household. As in the myths of Inanna, we see the number seven, for it takes seven days to build the boat, the great storm rages for six days but abates on the seventh, and when the boat touches the mountain of Nisir, Utnapishtim waits seven days to see whether it will remain fast on the mountain. On the seventh day he releases a dove, which flies forth but finds no place to land and so returns to him; then he releases a swallow, who does the same; finally he releases a raven, which flies forth and finds a landing place and so does not return. This is similar to the releasing of the birds by Noah, except they are in a different order. For more information on these myths, you might want to contact  gilgamesh@cyberconnect.com Other Bible stories that may have been influenced by Mesopotamia or Sumeria include the description of the creation in Genesis. We have seen in the story of the “Huluppu Tree” that Sumer’s world was formed from the watery abyss, and the heavens and earth were separated from one another in much the same way as creation is described in Genesis.  Genesis also introduces the paradise of Eden, a place similar to the Sumerian Dilmun, described in the myth of “Enki and Ninhursag.” In this blissful paradise, Enki impregnates Ninhursag, and from their union grow eight new plants. In this version of creation, as in Genesis, the gods form mankind out of clay. We also find a parallel to the story of Eve’s creation out of Adam’s rib in that Enki eats the plants to which Ninhursag has given birth; she curses him and wounds him for every plant consumed. (Compare this eating of the first children with the eating of the children in the Greek creation story of Kronos and Rhea.) Later he tricks Ninhursag into lying with him again and creating eight new plants/gods, each of which cures one of his wounds; the one who cures his rib is named Ninti, the “ti” part of which is a word meaning rib. As noted above, there is a serpent at the end of the end of the Epic of Gilgamesh that does Gilgamesh out of his bid for immortality, so in the “Huluppu Tree” story, the Bible, and the epic, serpents and trees are connected with negative things. It has been suggested by several researchers that this relationship of a negative serpent with the “evils” suffered by mankind was another attempt on the part of a now dominant patriarchal culture to associate goddess worship, in which the serpent was sacred, with evil, and so to discredit the goddess and eliminate all her cults. Made with Xara Website by Susan Smily