The Flood

At this point we get a story within a story. Utnapishtim tells Gilgamesh the story of the flood and the secret of the gods.

1. Why do the gods decide to exterminate mankind? Is this a valid reason?

2. How is it different than the biblical account of the flood where god decides to destroy mankind? What does this suggest about polytheism that is different than monotheism?

3. Ea (sworn protector of mortals) secretly warns Utnapishtim and tells him to build a boat. Certainly Utnapishtim is a precursor to Noah. He gathers his family and both tame and wild animals, and the craftsmen together on the boat. Riders on the storm. On the seventh day Utnapishtim releases the dove which returns; then he releases the swallow which returns as well. Then he releases the Raven. What is going on here? And also how is the Raven different, as a species, than the other birds?

4. Enlil is outraged that mortals have survived the flood. Ea calms him down some--it appears--and then Enlil decides that Utnapishtim and his wife will live in the land of the Faraway forever. Is this a blessing or a curse?

5. One larger question needs to be asked here. Obviously the details in Utnapishtim's story are a great deal like the details in account of the flood in Genesis. Yet this Mesopotamian story is at least 2000 years older than the biblical account of Noah. Does this fact alter (in any way) your "reading" of the Bible? Explain.

Think about a time when your beliefs were challenged, logically. What do you believe is the best response?