THE END OF ALL
MAN'S LINGERING BELIEF that there was some Golden Age in his
prehistory cannot possibly be based on human recollection, for the
event took place too long ago and Man was too primitive to record
any concrete information for future generations.
If Mankind somehow
retains a subconscious sense that in those earliest days Man lived
through an era of tranquility and felicity, it is simply because Man
knew no better. It is also because the tales of that era were first
told Mankind, not by earlier men, but by the Nefilim themselves.
The only complete account of the events that befell Man following
his transportation to the Abode of the Gods in Mesopotamia is the
biblical tale of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden:
And the Deity Yahweh planted an orchard
In Eden, in the east;
And he placed there the Adam
Whom He had created.
And the Deity Yahweh
Caused to grow from the ground
Every tree that is pleasant to the sight
And good for eating;
And the Tree of Life was in the orchard
And the Tree of Knowing good and evil. . . .
And the Deity Yahweh took the Adam
And placed him in the Garden of Eden
To work it and to keep it.
And the Deity Yahweh
Commanded the Adam, saying:
"Of every tree of the orchard eat you shall;
but of the Tree of Knowing good and evil
thou shalt not eat of it;
for on the day that thou eatest thereof
thou shalt surely die."
Though two vital fruits were available, the Earthlings were
prohibited from reaching only for the fruit of the Tree of Knowing.
The Deity - at that point - appeared unconcerned that Man might try
to reach for the Fruit of Life. Yet Man could not adhere even to
that single prohibition, and tragedy followed.
The idyllic picture soon gave way to dramatic developments, which
biblical scholars and theologians call the Fall of Man. It is a tale
of unheeded divine commandments, divine lies, a wily (but
truth-telling) Serpent, punishment, and exile.
Appearing from nowhere, the Serpent challenged God's solemn
And the Serpent. . . said unto the woman:
"Hath the Deity indeed said
'Ye shall not eat of any tree of the orchard'?"
And the woman said unto the Serpent:
"Of the fruits of the trees of the orchard
eat we may;
it is of the fruit of the tree in the
midst of the orchard that the Deity hath said:
'Ye shall not eat of it, neither touch it,
lest ye die.'"
And the Serpent said unto the woman:
"Nay, ye will surely not die;
It is that the Deity doth know
that on the day ye eat thereof
your eyes will be opened
and ye will be as the Deity -
knowing good and evil."
And the woman saw that the tree was good to eat
And that it was lustful to behold;
And the tree was desirable to make one wise;
And she took of its fruit and did eat,
And gave also to her mate with her, and he ate.
and the eyes of both of them were opened,
And they knew that they were naked;
And they sewed fig leaves together,
And made themselves loincloths.
Reading and rereading the concise yet precise tale, one cannot help
wondering what the whole confrontation was about.
threat of death from even touching the Fruit of Knowing, the two
Earthlings were persuaded to go ahead and eat the stuff, which would
make them "knowing" as the Deity. Yet all that happened was a sudden
awareness that they were naked.
The state of nakedness was indeed a major aspect of the whole
incident. The biblical tale of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden
opens with the statement: "And the both of them were naked, the Adam
and his mate, and they were not ashamed." They were, we are to
understand, at some lesser stage of human development than that of
fully developed humans: Not only were they naked, they were unaware
of the implications of such nakedness.
Further examination of the biblical tale suggests that its theme is
Man's acquisition of some sexual prowess. The "knowing" that was
held back from Man was not some scientific information but something
connected with the male and female sex; for no sooner had Man and
his mate acquired the "knowing" than "they knew that they were
naked" and covered their sex organs.
The continuing biblical narrative confirms the connection between
nakedness and the lack of knowing, for it took the Deity no time at
all to put the two together:
And they heard the sound of the Deity Yahweh
Walking in the orchard in the day's breeze,
And the Adam and his mate hid
From the Deity Yahweh amongst the orchard's trees.
And the Deity Yahweh called to the Adam
And said: "Where art thou?"
And he answered:
"Thy sound I heard in the orchard
and I was afraid, for I am naked;
and I hid."
And He said:
"Who told thee that thou are naked?
Hast thou eaten of the tree,
whereof I commanded thee not to eat?"
Admitting the truth, the Primitive Worker blamed his female mate,
who, in turn, blamed the Serpent.
Greatly angered, the Deity put
curses on the Serpent and the two Earthlings. Then - surprisingly -
"the Deity Yahweh made for Adam and his wife garments of skins, and
One cannot seriously assume that the purpose of the whole incident -
which led to the expulsion of the Earth-lings from the Garden of
Eden - was a dramatic way to explain how Man came to wear clothes.
The wearing of clothes was merely an outward manifestation of the
new "knowing." The acquisition of such "knowing," and the Deity's
attempts to deprive Man of it, are the central themes of the events.
While no Mesopotamian counterpart of the biblical tale has yet been
found, there can be little doubt that the tale - like all the
biblical material concerning Creation and Man's prehistory - was of
Sumerian origin. We have the locale: the Abode of the Gods in
Mesopotamia. We have I he telltale play on words in Eve's name ("she
of life," "she of rib"). And we have two vital trees, the Tree of
Knowing and the Tree of Life, as in Anu's abode.
Even the words of the Deity reflect a Sumerian origin, for the sole
Hebrew Deity has again lapsed into the plural, addressing divine
colleagues who were featured not in the Bible but in Sumerian texts:
Then did the Deity Yahweh say:
"Behold, the Adam has become as one of us,
to know good and evil.
And now might he not put forth his hand
And partake also of the Tree of Life,
and eat, and live forever?"
And the Deity Yahweh expelled the Adam
from the orchard of Eden.
As many early Sumerian depictions show, there had been a time when
Man, as a Primitive Worker, served his gods stark naked.
naked whether he served the gods their food and drink, or toiled in
the fields or on construction jobs.
The clear implication is that the status of Man vis-a-vis the gods
was not much different from that of domesticated animals.
had merely upgraded an existing animal to suit their needs. Did the
lack of "knowing," then, mean that, naked as an animal, the newly
fashioned being also engaged in sex as, or with, the animals?
early depictions indicate that this was indeed the case.
Sumerian texts like the "Epic of Gilgamesh" suggest that the manner
of sexual intercourse did indeed account for
a distinction between wild-Man and human-Man.
When the people of Uruk wanted to civilize the wild Enkidu - "the barbarous fellow from
the depths of the steppes" - I hey enlisted the services of a
"pleasure girl" and sent her (o meet Enkidu at the water hole where
he used to befriend various animals, and there to offer him her
It appears from the text that the turning point in the process of
"civilizing" Enkidu was the rejection of him by I lie animals he had
befriended. It was important, the people of Uruk told the girl, that
she continue to treat him to "a woman's task" until "his wild
beasts, that grew up on his steppe, will reject him."
For Enkidu to
be torn away from sodomy was a prerequisite to his becoming human.
The lass freed her beasts, bared her bosom, and he possessed her
ripeness . . . She treated him, the savage, to a woman's task.
Apparently the ploy worked. After six days and seven nights, "after
he had had his fill of her charms," he remembered his former
He set his face toward his wild beasts; but On seeing him the
gazelles ran off. The wild beasts of the steppe drew away from his
The statement is explicit.
The human intercourse brought about such
a profound change in Enkidu that the animals he had befriended "drew
away from his body." They did not simply run away; they shunned
physical contact with him.
Astounded, Enkidu stood motionless for a while, "for his wild
animals had gone."
But the change was not to be regretted, as the
ancient text explains:
Now he had vision, broader understanding. . . . The harlot says to
him, to Enkidu: "Thou art knowing, Enkidu; Thou art become like a
The words in this Mesopotamian text are almost identical to those of
the biblical tale of Adam and Eve. As the Serpent had predicted, by
partaking of the Tree of Knowing, they had become - in sexual
matters - "as the Deity - knowing good and evil."
If this meant only that Man had come to recognize that having sex
with animals was uncivilized or evil, why were Adam and Eve punished
for giving up sodomy? The Old Testament is replete with admonitions
against sodomy, and it is inconceivable that the learning of a
virtue would cause divine wrath.
The "knowing" that Man obtained against the wishes of the Deity - or
one of the deities - must have been of a more profound nature. It
was something good for Man, but something his creators did not wish
him to have.
We have to read carefully between the lines of the curse against Eve
to grasp the meaning of the event:
And to the woman He said:
"I will greatly multiply thy suffering
by thy pregnancy.
In suffering shalt thou bear children,
yet to thy mate shall be thy desire" . . .
And the Adam named his wife "Eve,"
for she was the mother of all who lived.
This, indeed, is the momentous event transmitted to us in the
biblical tale: As long as Adam and Eve lacked "knowing," they lived
in the Garden of Eden without any offspring.
"knowing," Eve gained the ability (and pain) to become pregnant and
bear children. Only after the couple had acquired this "knowing,"
"Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain."
Throughout the Old Testament, the term "to know" is used to denote
sexual intercourse, mostly between a man and his spouse for the
purpose of having children.
The tale of Adam and Eve in the Garden
of Eden is the story of a crucial step in Man's development: the
acquisition of the ability to procreate.
That the first representatives of Homo sapiens were incapable of
reproduction should not be surprising. Whatever method the Nefilim
had used to infuse some of their genetic material into the
biological makeup of the hominids they selected for the purpose, the
new being was a hybrid, a cross between two different, if related,
Like a mule (a cross between a mare and a donkey), such
mammal hybrids are sterile.
Through artificial insemination and even
more sophisticated methods of biological engineering, we can produce
as many mules as we desire, even without actual intercourse between
donkey and mare; but no mule can procreate and bring forth another
Were the Nefilim, at first, simply producing "human mules" to suit
Our curiosity is aroused by a scene depicted on a rock carving found
in the mountains of southern Elam. It depicts a seated deity holding
a "laboratory" flask from which liquids are flowing - a familiar
depiction of Enki. A Great Goddess is seated next to him, a pose
that indicates that she was a co-worker rather than a spouse; she
could be none other than Ninti, the Mother Goddess or Goddess of
The two are flanked by lesser goddesses - reminiscent of the
birth goddesses of the Creation tales.
Facing these creators of Man
are row upon row of human beings, whose outstanding feature is that
they all look alike - like products from the same mold.
Our attention is also drawn again to the Sumerian tale of the
imperfect males and females initially brought forth by Enki and the
Mother Goddess, who were either sexless or sexually incomplete
Does this text recall the first phase of the existence of
hybrid Man - a being in the likeness and image of the gods, but
sexually incomplete: lacking in "knowing"?
After Enki managed to produce a "perfect model" - Adapa/Adam,
"mass-production" techniques are described in the Sumerian texts:
the implanting of the genetically treated ova in a "production line"
of birth goddesses, with the advance knowledge that half would
produce males and half would produce females. Not only does this
bespeak the technique by which hybrid Man was "manufactured"; it
also implies that Man could not procreate on his own.
The inability of hybrids to procreate, it has been discovered
recently, stems from a deficiency in the reproductive cells. While
all cells contain only one set of hereditary chromosomes, Man and
other mammals are able to reproduce because their sex cells (the
male sperm, the female ovum) contain two sets each. But this unique
feature is lacking in hybrids. Attempts are now being made through
genetic engineering to provide hybrids with such a double set of
chromosomes in their -reproductive cells, making them sexually
Was that what the god whose epithet was "The Serpent" accomplished
The biblical Serpent surely was not a lowly, literal snake - for he
could converse with Eve, he knew the truth about the matter of
"knowing," and he was of such high stature that he unhesitatingly
exposed the deity as a liar. We recall that in all ancient
traditions, the chief deity fought a Serpent adversary - a tale
whose roots undoubtedly go back to the Sumerian gods.
The biblical tale reveals many traces of its Sumerian origin,
including the presence of other deities:
"The Adam has become as one
The possibility that the biblical antagonists - the Deity
and the Serpent - stood for Enlil and Enki seems to us entirely
Their antagonism, as we have discovered, originated in the transfer
to Enlil of the command of Earth, although Enki had been the true
pioneer. While Enlil stayed at the comfortable Mission Control
Center at Nippur, Enki was sent to organize the mining operations in
the Lower World. The mutiny of the Anunnaki was directed at Enlil
and his son Ninurta; the god who spoke out for the mutineers was
It was Enki who suggested, and undertook, the creation of
Primitive Workers; Enlil had to use force to obtain some of these
wonderful creatures. As the Sumerian texts recorded the course of
human events, Enki as a rule emerges as Mankind's protagonist, Enlil
as its strict discipliner if not outright antagonist. The role of a
deity wishing to keep the new humans sexually suppressed, and of a
deity willing and capable of bestowing on Mankind the fruit of
"knowing," fit Enlil and Enki perfectly.
Once more, Sumerian and biblical plays on words come to our aid. The
biblical term for "Serpent" is nahash, which does mean "snake." But
the word comes from the root NHSH, which means "to decipher, to find
out"; so that nahash could also mean "he who can decipher, he who
finds things out," an epithet befitting Enki, the chief scientist,
the God of Knowledge of the Nefilim.
Drawing parallels between the Mesopotamian tale of Adapa (who
obtained "knowing" but failed to obtain eternal life) and the fate
of Adam, S. Langdon (Semitic Mythology) reproduced a depiction
unearthed in Mesopotamia that strongly suggests the biblical tale: a
serpent entwined on a tree, pointing at its fruit.
symbols are significant: High above is the Planet of Crossing, which
stood for Anu; near the serpent is the Moon's crescent, which stood
Most pertinent to our findings is the fact that in the Mesopotamian
texts, the god who eventually granted "knowledge" to Adapa was none
other than Enki:
Wide understanding he perfected for him... Wisdom [he had given
him]... To him he had given Knowledge; Eternal Life he had not
A pictorial tale engraved on a cylinder seal found in Mari may well
be an ancient illustration of the Mesopotamian version of the tale
The engraving shows a great god seated on high ground
rising from watery waves - an obvious depiction of Enki.
Water-spouting serpents protrude from each side of this "throne."
Flanking this central figure are two treelike gods. The one on the
right, whose branches have penis-shaped ends, holds up a bowl that
presumably contains the Fruit of Life. The one on the left, whose
branches have vagina-shaped ends, offers fruit-bearing branches,
representing the Tree of "Knowing" - the god-given gift of
Standing to the side is another Great God; we suggest that he was
His anger at Enki is obvious.
We shall never know what caused this "conflict in the Garden of
But whatever Enki's motives were, he did succeed in
perfecting the Primitive Worker and in creating Homo sapiens, who
could have his own offspring.
After Man's acquisition of "knowing," the Old Testament ceases to
refer to him as "the Adam," and adopts as its subject Adam, a
specific person, the first patriarch of the line of people with whom
the Bible was concerned. But this coming of age of Mankind also
marked a schism between God and Man.
The parting of the ways, with Man no longer a dumb serf of the gods
but a person tending for himself, is ascribed in the Book of Genesis
not to a decision by Man himself but to the imposition of a
punishment by the Deity: lest the Earthling also acquire the ability
to escape mortality, he shall be cast out of the Garden of Eden.
According to these sources, Man's independent existence began not in
southern Mesopotamia, where the Nefilim had established their cities
and orchards, but to the east, in the Zagros Mountains:
drove out the Adam and made him reside east of the Garden of Eden."
Once more, then, biblical information conforms to scientific
findings: Human culture began in the mountainous areas bordering the
Mesopotamian plain. What a pity the biblical narrative is so brief,
for it deals with what was Man's first civilized life on Earth.
Cast out of the Abode of the Gods, doomed to a mortal's life, but
able to procreate, Man proceeded to do just that. The first Adam
with whose generations the Old Testament was concerned "knew" his
wife Eve, and she bore him a son, Cain, who tilled the land. Then
Eve bore Abel, who was a shepherd.
Hinting at homosexuality as the
cause, the Bible relates that "Cain rose up unto his brother Abel
and killed him."
Fearing for his life, Cain was given a protective sign by the Deity
and was ordered to move farther east. At first leading a nomad's
life, he finally settled in "the Land of Migration, well east of
Eden." There he had a son whom he named Enoch ("inauguration"), "and
he built a city, and called the name of the city after the name of
Enoch, in turn, had children and grandchildren and
great-grandchildren. In the sixth generation after Cain, Lamech was
born; his three sons are credited by the Bible as the bearers of
civilization: Jabal "was the father of such as dwell in tents and
have cattle"; Jubal "was the father of all that grasp lyre and
harp"; Tubal-cain was the first smith.
But Lamech, too, as his ancestor Cain, became involved in murder -
this time of both a man and a child. It is safe to assume that the
victims were not some humble strangers, for the Book of Genesis
dwells on the incident and considers it a turning point in the
lineage of Adam.
The Bible reports that Lamech summoned his two
wives, mothers of his three sons, and confessed to them the double
"If Cain be sevenfold avenged, Lamech shall
seventy and seven fold."
This little-understood state-ment must be
assumed to deal with the succession; we see it as an admission by
Lamech to his wives that the hope that the curse on Cain would be
redeemed by the seventh generation (the generation of their sons)
had come to naught. Now a new curse, lasting much longer, had been
imposed on the house of Lamech.
Confirming that the event concerned the line of succession, the
following verses advise us of the immediate establishment of a new,
And Adam knew his wife again
and she bore a son
and called his name Seth ["foundation"]
for the Deity hath founded for me
another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew.
The Old Testament at that point loses all interest in the defiled
line of Cain and Lamech.
Its ongoing tale of human events is
henceforth anchored on the lineage of Adam through his son Seth, and
Seth's firstborn, Enosh, whose name has acquired in Hebrew the
generic connotation "human being."
"It was then," Genesis informs
us, "that it was begun to call upon the name of the Deity."
This enigmatic statement has baffled biblical scholars and
theologians throughout the ages. It is followed by a
chapter giving the genealogy of Adam through Seth and Enosh for ten
generations ending with Noah, the hero
of the Deluge.
The Sumerian texts, which describe the early stages when the gods
were alone in Sumer, describe with equal precision the life of
humans in Sumer at a later time, but before the Deluge.
(and original) story of the Deluge has as its "Noah" a "Man of Shuruppak," the seventh city established by the Nefilim when they
landed on Earth.
At some point, then, the human beings - banished from Eden - were
allowed to return to Mesopotamia, to live alongside the gods, to
serve them, and to worship them. As we interpret the biblical
statement, this happened in the days of Enosh. It was then that the
gods allowed Mankind back into Mesopotamia, to serve the gods "and
to call upon the name of .the deity."
Eager to get to the next epic event in the human saga, the Deluge,
the Book of Genesis provides little information besides the names of
the patriarchs who followed Enosh. But the meaning of each
patriarch's name may suggest the events that took place during his
The son of Enosh, through whom the pure lineage continued, was
Cainan ("little Cain"); some scholars take the name to mean "metalsmith."
Cainan's son was Mahalal-El ("praiser of god"). He was followed by
Jared ("he who descended"); his son was Enoch ("consecrated one"),
who at age 365 was carried aloft by the Deity.
But three hundred
years earlier, at age sixty-five, Enoch had begotten a son named
Methuselah; many scholars, following Lettia D. Jeffreys (Ancient
Hebrew Names: Their Significance and Historical Value) translate
Methuselah as "man of the missile."
Methuselah's son was named Lamech, meaning "he who was humbled." And
Lamech begot Noah ("respite"),
"Let this one comfort us concerning our work and the
suffering of our hands by the earth which the deity hath accursed."
Humanity, it appears, was undergoing great deprivations when Noah
was born. The hard work and the toil were getting it nowhere, for
Earth, which was to feed them, was accursed.
The stage was set for
the Deluge - the momentous event which was to wipe off the face of
Earth not only the human race but all life upon the land and in the
And the Deity saw that the wickedness of Man
was great on the earth,
and that every desire of his heart's thoughts
was only evil, every day.
And the Deity repented that He had made Man
upon the earth, and His heart grieved.
And the Deity said:
"I will destroy the Earthling whom I have created
off the face of the earth."
These are broad accusations, presented as justifications for drastic
measures to "end all flesh."
But they lack specificity, and scholars
and theologians alike find no satisfactory answers regarding the
sins or "violations" that could have upset the Deity so much.
The repeated use of the term flesh, both in the accusative verses
and in the proclamations of judgment, suggest, of course, that the
corruptions and violations had to do with the flesh. The Deity
grieved over the evil "desire of Man's thoughts." Man, it would
seem, having discovered sex, had become a sex maniac.
But one can hardly accept that the Deity would decide to wipe
Mankind off the face of Earth simply because men made too much love
to their wives. The Mesopotamian texts speak freely and eloquently
of sex and lovemaking among the gods. There are texts describing
tender love between gods and their consorts; illicit love between a
maiden and her lover; violent love (as when Enlil raped Ninlil).
There is a profusion of texts describing lovemaking and actual
intercourse among the gods - with their official consorts or
unofficial concubines, with their sisters and
daughters and even granddaughters (making love to the latter was a
favorite pastime of Enki). Such gods could hardly turn against
Mankind for behaving as they themselves did.
The Deity's motive, we find, was not merely concern for human
morals. The mounting disgust was caused by a spreading defilement of
the gods themselves.
Seen in this light, the meaning of the baffling
opening verses of Genesis 6 becomes clear:
And it came to pass,
When the Earthlings began to increase in number
upon the face of the Earth,
and daughters were born unto them,
that the sons of the deities
saw the daughters of the Earthlings
that they were compatible,
and they took unto themselves
wives of whichever they chose.
As these verses should make clear, it was when the sons of the gods
began to be sexually involved with Earthlings' offspring that the
Deity cried, "Enough!"
And the Deity said:
"My spirit shall not shield Man forever;
having strayed, he is but flesh."
The statement has remained enigmatic for millennia.
Read in the
light of our conclusions regarding the genetic manipulation that was
brought to play in Man's creation, the verses carry a message to our
own scientists. The "spirit" of the gods - their genetic perfection
of Mankind - was beginning to deteriorate. Mankind had "strayed,"
thereby reverting to being "but flesh" - closer to its animal,
We can now understand the stress put by the Old Testament on the
distinction between Noah,
"a righteous man... pure in his
genealogies" and "the whole earth that was corrupt."
intermarrying with the men and women of decreasing genetic purity,
the gods were subjecting themselves, too, to deterioration.
pointing out that Noah alone continued to be genetically pure, the
biblical tale justifies the Deity's contradiction: Having just
decided to wipe all life off the face of Earth, he decided to save
Noah and his descendants and "every clean animal," and other beasts
"so as to keep seed alive upon the face of all the
The Deity's plan to defeat his own initial purpose was to alert Noah
to the coming catastrophe and guide him in the construction of a
waterborne ark, which would carry the people and the creatures that
were to be saved.
The notice given to Noah was a mere seven days.
Somehow, he managed to build the ark and waterproof it, collect all
the creatures and put them and his family aboard, and provision the
ark in the allotted time.
"And it came to pass, after the seven
days, that the waters of the Deluge were upon the earth."
to pass is best described in the Bible's own words:
On that day,
all the fountains of the great deep burst open,
and the sluices of the heavens were opened. ...
And the Deluge was forty days upon the Earth,
and the waters increased, and bore up the ark,
and it was lifted up above the earth.
And the waters became stronger
and greatly increased upon the earth,
and the ark floated upon the waters.
And the waters became exceedingly strong upon the
earth and all the high mountains were covered.
those that are under all the skies:
fifteen cubits above them did the water prevail,
and the mountains were covered.
And all flesh perished. . . .
Both man and cattle and creeping things
and the birds of the skies
were wiped off from the Earth;
And Noah only was left,
and that which were with him in the ark.
The waters prevailed upon Earth 150 days, when the Deity
caused a wind to pass upon the Earth,
and the waters were calmed.
And the fountains of the deep were dammed,
as were the sluices of the heavens;
and the rain from the skies was arrested.
And the waters began to go back from upon the Earth,
coming and going back.
And after one hundred and fifty days,
the waters were less;
and the ark rested on the Mounts of Ararat.
According to the biblical version, Mankind's ordeal began "in the
six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, on the
seventeenth day of the month."
The ark rested on the Mounts of
Ararat "in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month."
The surge of the waters and their gradual "going back" - enough to
lower the water level so that the ark rested on the peaks of Ararat
- lasted, then, a full five months. Then "the waters continued to
diminish, until the peaks of the mountains" - and not just the
towering Ararats - "could be seen on the eleventh day of the tenth
month," nearly three months later.
Noah waited another forty days.
Then he sent out a raven and a dove
"to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground."
On the third try, the dove came back holding an olive leaf in her
mouth, indicating that the waters had receded enough to enable
treetops to be seen. After a while, Noah sent out the dove once
more, "but she returned not again."
The Deluge was over.
And Noah removed the covering of the Ark and looked, and behold: the
face of the ground was dry.
"In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, did
the earth dry up."
It was the six hundred and first year of Noah.
The ordeal had lasted a year and ten days.
Then Noah and all that were with him in the ark came out. And he
built an altar and offered burnt sacrifices to the Deity.
And the Deity smelled the enticing smell
and said in his heart:
"I shall no longer curse the dry land
on account of the Earthling;
for his heart's desire is evil from his youth."
The "happy ending" is as full of contradictions as the Deluge story
itself. It begins with a long indictment of Mankind for various
abominations, including defilement of the purity of the younger
A momentous decision to have all flesh perish is reached and
appears fully justified. Then the very same Deity rushes in a mere
seven days to make sure that the seed of Mankind and other creatures
shall not perish. When the trauma is over, the Deity is enticed by
the smell of roasting meat and, forgetting his original
determination to put an end to Mankind, dismisses the whole thing
with an excuse, blaming Man's evil desires on his youth.
These nagging doubts of the story's veracity disperse, however, when
we realize that the biblical account is an edited version of the
original Sumerian account. As in the other instances, the
monotheistic Bible has compressed into one Deity the roles played by
several gods who were not always in accord.
Until the archaeological discoveries of the Mesopotamian
civilization and the decipherment of the Akkadian and Sumerian
literature, the biblical story of the Deluge stood alone, supported
only by scattered primitive mythologies around the world. The
discovery of the Akkadian "Epic of Gilgamesh" placed the Genesis
Deluge tale in older and venerable company, further enhanced by
later discoveries of older texts and fragments of the Sumerian
The hero of the Mesopotamian Deluge account was Ziusudra in Sumerian
(Utnapishtim in Akkadian), who was taken after the Deluge to the
Celestial Abode of the Gods to live there happily ever after. When,
in his search for immortality, Gilgamesh finally reached the place,
he sought Utnapishtim's advice on the subject of life and death.
Utnapishtim disclosed to Gilgamesh - and through him to all post-Diluvial
Mankind - the secret of his survival, "a hidden matter, a secret of
the gods" - the true story (one might say) of the Great Flood.
The secret revealed by Utnapishtim was that before the onslaught of
the Deluge the gods held a council and voted on the destruction of
Mankind. The vote and the decision were kept secret. But Enki
searched out Utnapishtim, the ruler of Shuruppak, to inform him of
the approaching calamity. Adopting clandestine methods, Enki spoke
to Utnapishtim from behind a reed screen.
At first his disclosures
Then his warning and advice were clearly stated:
Man of Shuruppak, son of Ubar-Tutu:
Tear down the house, build a ship!
Give up possessions, seek thou life!
Forswear belongings, keep soul alive!
Aboard ship take thou the seed of all living things;
That ship thou shalt build -
her dimensions shall be to measure.
The parallels with the biblical story are obvious: A Deluge is about
to come; one Man is forewarned; he is to save himself by preparing a
specially constructed boat; he is to take with him and save "the
seed of all living things."
Yet the Babylonian version is more
plausible. The decision to destroy and the effort to save are not
contradictory acts of the same single Deity, but the acts of
different deities. Moreover, the decision to forewarn and save the
seed of Man is the defiant act of one god (Enki), acting in secret
and contrary to the joint decision of the other Great Gods.
Why did Enki risk defying the other gods? Was he solely concerned
with the preservation of his "wondrous works of art," or did he act
against the background of a rising rivalry or enmity between him and
his brother Enlil?
The existence of such a conflict between the two brothers is
highlighted in the Deluge story.
Utnapishtim asked Enki the obvious question: How could he,
Utnapishtim, explain to the other citizens of Shuruppak the
construction of an oddly shaped vessel and the abandonment of all
Enki advised him:
Thou shalt thus speak unto them:
"I have learnt that Enlil is hostile to me,
so that I cannot reside in your city,
nor set my foot in Enid's territory.
To the Apsu I will therefore go down,
to dwell with my Lord Ea."
The excuse was thus to be that, as Enki's follower, Utnapishtim
could no longer dwell in Mesopotamia, and that he was building a
boat in which he intended to sail to the Lower World (southern
Africa, by our findings) to dwell there with his Lord, Ea/Enki.
Verses that follow suggest that the area was suffering from a
drought or a famine; Utnapishtim (on Enki's advice) was to assure
the residents of the city that if Enlil saw him depart, "the land
shall [again] have its fill of harvest riches." This excuse made
sense to the other residents of the city.
Thus misled, the people of the city did not question, but actually
lent a hand in, the construction of the ark. By killing and serving
them bullocks and sheep "every day" and by lavishing upon them
"must, red wine, oil and white wine," Utnapishtim
encouraged them to work faster. Even children were pressed to carry
bitumen for waterproofing.
"On the seventh day the ship was completed. The launching was very
difficult, so they had to shift the floor '. planks above and below,
until two-thirds of the structure had gone into the water" of the
Euphrates. Then Utnapishtim put all his family and kin aboard the
ship, taking along "whatever I had of all the living creatures" as
well as "the animals of the field, the wild beasts of the field."
The parallels with the biblical tale - even down to the seven days
of construction - are clear. Going a step beyond Noah, however, Utnapishtim also sneaked aboard all the craftsmen who had helped him
build the ship.
He himself was to go aboard only upon a certain signal, whose nature
Enki had also revealed to him: a "stated time" to be set by Shamash,
the deity in charge of the fiery rockets.
This was Enki's order:
"When Shamash who orders a trembling at dusk will shower down a rain
of eruptions - board thou the ship, batten up the entrance!"
We are left guessing at the connection between this apparent firing
of a space rocket by Shamash and the arrival of the moment for
Utnapishtim to board his ark and seal himself inside it. But the
moment did arrive; the space rocket did cause a "trembling at dusk";
there was a shower of eruptions. And Utnapishtim "battened down the
whole ship" and "handed over the structure together with its
contents" to "Puzur-Amurri, the Boatman."
The storm came "with the first glow of dawn." There was awesome
thunder. A black cloud rose up from the horizon. The storm tore out
the posts of buildings and piers; then the dikes gave.
followed, "turning to blackness all that had been light;" and "the
wide land was shattered like a pot."
For six days and six nights the "south-storm" blew.
Gathering speed as it blew,
submerging the mountains,
overtaking the people like a battle. . . .
When the seventh day arrived,
the flood-carrying south-storm
subsided in the battle
which it had fought like an army.
The sea grew quiet,
the tempest was still,
the flood ceased.
I looked at the weather.
Stillness had set in.
And all of Mankind had returned to clay.
The will of Enlil and the Assembly of Gods was done.
But, unknown to them, the scheme of Enki had also worked: Floating
in the stormy waters was a vessel carrying men, women, children, and
other living creatures.
With the storm over, Utnapishtim "opened a hatch; light fell upon my
face." He looked around; "the landscape was as level as a flat
roof." Bowing low, he sat and wept, "tears running down on my face."
He looked about for a coastline in the expanse of the sea; he saw
There emerged a mountain region; On the Mount of Salvation the ship
came to a halt; Mount Nisir ["salvation"] held the ship fast,
allowing no motion.
For six days Utnapishtim watched from the motionless ark, caught in
the peaks of the Mount of Salvation - the biblical peaks of Ararat.
Then, like Noah, he sent out a dove to look for a resting place, but
it came back. A swallow flew out and came back. Then a raven was set
free - and flew off, finding a resting place. Utnapishtim then
released all the birds and animals that were with him, and stepped
out himself. He built an altar "and offered a sacrifice" - just as
But here again the single Deity - multideity difference crops up.
When Noah offered a burnt sacrifice, "Yahweh smelled the enticing
smell"; but when Utnapishtim offered a sacrifice,
"the gods smelled
the savor, the gods smelled the sweet savor. The gods crowded like
flies about a sacrificer."
In the Genesis version, it was Yahweh who vowed never again to
destroy Mankind. In the Babylonian version it was the Great Goddess
"I shall not forget... I shall be mindful of these
days, forgetting them never."
That, however, was not the immediate problem.
For when Enlil finally
arrived on the scene, he had little mind for food. He was hopping
mad to discover that some had survived.
"Has some living soul
escaped? No man was to survive the destruction!"
Ninurta, his son and heir, immediately pointed a suspecting finger
"Who, other than Ea, can devise plans? It is Ea alone who
knows every matter."
Far from denying the charge, Enki launched one
of the world's most eloquent defense summations.
Praising Enlil for
his own wisdom, and suggesting that Enlil could not possibly be
"unreasoning" - a realist - Enki mixed denial with confession. "It
was not I who disclosed the secret of the gods"; I merely let one
Man, an "exceedingly wise" one, perceive by his own wisdom what the
gods' secret was.
And if indeed this Earthling is so wise, Enki
suggested to Enlil, let's not ignore his abilities.
"Now then, take
counsel in regard to him!"
All this, the "Epic of Gilgamesh" relates, was the "secret of the
gods" that Utnapishtim told Gilgamesh. He then told Gilgamesh of the
final event. Having been influenced by Enki's argument,
Enlil thereupon went aboard the ship.
Holding me by the hand, he took me aboard.
He took my wife aboard,
made her kneel by my side.
Standing between us,
he touched our foreheads to bless us:
"Hitherto Utnapishtim has been but human;
henceforth Utnapishtim and his wife
shall be unto us like gods.
Utnapishtim shall reside in the Far Away,
at the Mouth of the Waters!"
And Utnapishtim concluded his story to Gilgamesh.
After he was taken
to reside in the Far Away, Anu and Enlil
Gave him life, like a god,
Elevated him to eternal life, like a god.
But what happened to Mankind in general?
The biblical tale ends with
an assertion that the Deity then permitted and blessed Mankind to
"be fruitful and multiply." Mesopotamian versions of the Deluge
story also end with verses that deal with Mankind's procreation.
partly mutilated texts speak of the establishment of human
...Let there be a third category among the Humans:
Let there be among the Humans
Women who bear, and women who do not bear.
There were, apparently, new guidelines for sexual intercourse:
Regulations for the human race:
Let the male ... to the young maiden...
Let the young maiden...
The young man to the young
When the bed is laid,
let the spouse and her husband lie together.
Enlil was outmaneuvered. Mankind was saved and allowed to procreate.
The gods opened up Earth to Man.
Return to Contents