Tag Archives: noah

Was the Genesis Flood copied from the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh?

Epic of Gilgamesh Tablet
Epic of Gilgamesh Tablet

It has often been claimed that the flood account found in Genesis Chapters 6-9, and later referenced in the New Testament, was actually a legend borrowed from other cultures, namely the Babylonians in their “Epic of Gilgamesh.”  Is there any validity to this claim?

In the mid-1800s in modern day Iraq, excavations uncovered many Mesopotamian-era tablets.  Included among these was the Babylonian flood legend, “Epic of Gilgamesh.”  The 11th tablet of this series recorded the flood account, and many of the details were similar to the Biblical Flood.   However, there were also many differences found.

This legend in particular tells the story of Gilgamesh, who, after losing his friend Enkidu, seeks out Utnapishtim to give him the secret of immortality.  Utnapishtim tells him of the gods’ desire to flood the world because the gods could not sleep due to the noise man makes.  Ea, the god of wisdom, warned Utnapishtim to convert his house into a boat, take the seed of all living creatures, and tell the people he was building the boat to escape the wrath of the god Enlil.  Utnapishtim complied and built the boat in 7 days and took all the animals and craftsmen on board with him.  The flood came but it was so terrifying even the gods fled in fear.  The world was flooded for 6 days and the waters receded on the 7th day.  Afterward, the boat came to rest on Mt. Nisir, and Utnapishtim sent out a dove, then a swallow, and then a raven.  When the raven didn’t return, he made a sacrifice and the gods gathered together over the sacrifice.

As you can see, there are many similarities in this legend with Noah’s flood, but also, there are a great many differences.  Only Noah’s family survived the flood, not Noah and the craftsmen.  There is only one God who was grieved over the sin and evil of the world, and that was the cause of the flood.  It was not because multiple gods of questionable moral character were bothered by men making so much noise.  The flood lasted for about a year in the Bible, but in this legend it was only for a week.  Noah took two of every kind of animal, but Utnapishtim took the seed of the animals.  Noah sent out the raven before a dove.  This is because ravens are scavengers while doves are vegetarian, and one of the goals was to see if plant life was available.  In the epic, the dove was sent first and the raven was last.

The boat constructed in the Gilgamesh epic was cubical (the length, width, and height were all equal) and 7 stories tall.  A boat like this would not be seaworthy, especially in a cataclysmic flood.  Noah’s ark, which the Bible records to precise measurements in a rectangular shape, would be seaworthy in that it provided maximum comfort for its occupants and strength to protect those inside.  A study was done on this by Dr. Seon Won Hong.  You can read about it here.

Moses compiled and edited the Genesis Flood account during the wanderings in the wilderness in the 15th century B.C.  The Gilgamesh Epic was dated between the time frame of 2200 B.C. and 620 B.C.  At the most, the Gilgamesh Epic was written 800 years before Moses’ writings—assuming the dating is accurate.  It does not require that Moses copied from the Babylonians.  There are options that both cultures recorded the same event, but one had embellishments.  Given the fact that there are almost 300 other flood legends, many of which have biblical similarities, most likely this Babylonian legend was written after the flood and embellished like the others.

Moses’ account of the worldwide, biblical flood contains the most detail as to who would be saved, the specific measurements of the boat, what Noah was to bring on board, and especially, why the world was going to be flooded.  Although this Babylonia legend may have been written before Moses wrote about Noah’s flood, it does not demand that the Babylonia legend was correct.  Given the shape of the Babylonian boat and its inability to be seaworthy, and given the lack of details in this epic as opposed to the details given in Genesis, most likely this version of the story was copied from Noah’s Flood and later embellished.  Dating methods are not always accurate, and that is when the feasibility and reliability of the texts, such as in this instance, takes precedence.

For more information, RTG recommends the book “How do we know the Bible is True?”  You can find it in our book store.

How did freshwater fish survive the flood?

In Genesis 6, we read where God commands Noah to take two of every kind of land-dwelling animal on the ark.  This includes the mammals, birds, and reptiles, but not the fish.  There is some debate if insects were included.  During the flood, the salty ocean waters would have mixed with the fresh lakes and rivers.  How did the fish in the fresh waters survive in the salty mixture?  How did the saltwater fish survive in the fresh mixture?

There are many areas in the world where freshwater and saltwater are together, but the waters don’t mix.  Studies on water have shown that various temperatures, chemistries, and sediments in the waters don’t mix but instead become segregated.  It is possible that the fish survived in “pockets” of fresh or salt water, depending on the species.  Before the flood, the fish would not have been affected as strongly by the curse like they are today, so they may have been able to tolerate the water mixes during the flood and adapt to the different chemical makeups.  It should be noted that the majority of fossils are marine creatures, so most fish died during the flood when they were buried by sediments.  We know that two of each kind of fish survived, though, because we see them and their variations swimming in bodies of water today.

For further reading on this often asked question, see the two following articles:

http://www.icr.org/article/fish-flood/

http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2001/02/26/feedback-positive-fish

How is Noah’s Ark symbolic of Jesus?

There was one door on the side of the ark through which Noah, his family, and all of the animals could enter to be saved from the Flood.  In John 10:9, Jesus tells us, “I am the door; if anyone enters through me, he will be saved.”  Just like Noah and the others who entered the door of the ark, those who enter the “door to salvation” through faith in Jesus and repentance of their sins will be saved.  There is another interesting symbolism regarding the pitch that was used to cover the ark.

 

People were saved from the flood by entering the door to the ark. We are saved from eternal suffering by entering through the “door” of Jesus. (Source: Answers in Genesis)

 

How can dinosaurs be used to spread the Gospel message?

We know about dinosaurs through the fossil record, and fossils are, of course, dead animals.  These fossils are found worldwide in sedimentary rock layers.  The majority of these fossils and rock layers were formed during Noah’s Flood.  The flood was an act of God’s judgment, showing that he does not tolerate sin forever.  We can use fossils to remind people of the deadly effects of sin.

 

Dinosaurs, animals, and people buried in sediment and fossilized after the flood (Source: Answers in Genesis)

 

Were dinosaurs on Noah’s Ark?

 

The dinosaurs on board the ark were juveniles (Source: Answers in Genesis)

 

God commanded Noah to take two of each kind of animal on the ark.  All land-animals were made on the sixth day of the Creation week, so logically dinosaurs were also made on that day (the flying and marine dinosaurs were made on the fifth day) and they were included on the ark.  But were they too big to fit?  Noah’s Ark was incredibly large, but the animals he had on board were most likely juveniles. The reason God wanted animals on the ark was because after the flood, God wanted them to  reproduce and spread across the earth.  Dinosaurs are reptiles, and as it is with other reptiles, they get bigger as they age.  The giant dinosaurs we see in museums are actually old dinosaurs.  For God’s purpose of refilling the Earth after the flood, he would have needed small, fertile, juvenile dinosaurs on the ark, not the older (and bigger) ones that were past their reproductive age.

How many languages are there today?

Currently there are over 6,900 languages in the world.  Linguists have estimated that these have all derived from about 100 original language families, although others say that there were only a few original languages.  At the time of the dispersal at Babel, everybody’s language was suddenly changed, and they abandoned the area and spread across the world.  It is not known how God changed their language—the Bible is not clear on this except to say that God did it. 

 

Source: Answers in Genesis

 

At the time of the dispersal, Noah’s three sons—Shem, Ham, and Japeth—had fathered (and grandfathered) a total of 70 children, and each of these are believed to have been affected with different languages.  Some say only Noah’s 16 grandchildren were affected by the different languages, and the languages we have today are derived from those original 16.  It is interesting to see how languages are similar in how they are written and spoken, such as the commonalities found in English, French, Spanish, and Italian.  Another example are the middle-eastern languages which have similar characters and read from right to left, instead of the left to right direction that westerners are used to. 

When was the Tower of Babel?

“To Eber were born two sons: the name of the one was Peleg, for in his days the Earth was divided, and his brother’s name was Joktan.” (Gen 10:25).  During the days of Peleg, all of the people on the Earth began their dispersal across the world.  It was at this time that the civilizations of Babylon (2234 B.C.), Egypt (2188 B.C.), and Greece (2089 B.C.) were born.  The days of Peleg and the dispersion of the Earth’s population have been calculated to happen 100 years after the flood, 2242 B.C.  The following link shows a chart of Noah’s family and which people groups and nations they formed: http://www.answersingenesis.org/contents/379/Table%20of%20Nations.pdf

Will Noah’s Ark ever be found?

 

Noah’s Ark landed on the mountains of Ararat (Gen. 8:4).  According to the book, The ark on Ararat, by Tim Lahaye and John Morris, many people in centuries past have climbed Mt. Ararat and saw the ark.  In 1840, there was an earthquake on the mountain, and it is believed that the ark is now covered up by ice and snow.  There have been many expeditions to the mountain, but now with political problems in the area, it is difficult to get permission to climb and explore.  If the ark were found, it would confirm the Biblical account of the flood, but would it be of any benefit to the skeptics?   Would the proof compel them to reconsider the Bible?

Was there ever an Ice Age?

During the Flood, the “fountains of the great deep” (Gen. 7:11) opened up.  This is generally understood to be underwater volcanic eruptions.  The volcanoes would have released a large amount of smoke, ash, and particles into the atmosphere, preventing any sunlight from entering, and the heat emitted in the oceans would have also warmed the waters.  Movements of the Earth’s crust would release heat to warm the water. Evaporation of the warm water would have caused a great accumulation of snow, especially since the air was cooler and the sun couldn’t melt the snow.  The lack of sunlight from the smoke would make the continents cooler and the snow wouldn’t melt until the volcano smoke went away thus allowing the sun to heat the earth again.  Yes, there was one ice age, and it lasted for several hundred years, but it only covered the northern parts of the European and American continents.  For more information and pictures, see the following link: http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/nab/where-does-ice-age-fit

 

The extent (white sections) of the Ice Age (Source: Answers in Genesis)

 

Is there evidence for a global flood?

 

Sedimentary rock layers found worldwide

Water is very powerful and destructive force during a flood. Ask anyone who has survived a flood and experienced the loss of their home or damage to their property, and they will agree. This video shows the powerful effects of water in just a short amount of time.

If Noah’s Flood was worldwide, then all over the earth we would expect to find billions of dead things buried in rock layers that had been laid down by water.  And, that is what we find.

When we read in Genesis about water coming out of the “fountains of the deep” (Gen 7:11), this has generally been understood as underwater volcanoes erupting and spewing out countless gallons of water all over the Earth. Also in that same verse, we find where rain fell from the sky when the “windows of heaven opened up.”  Water fell to the earth and possibly came from underground reservoirs for a total of 40 days and nights, and it stayed on the Earth for a total of 150 days before it started to recede.  During those 150 days, there was a lot of tectonic activity on the earth (there are technical theories to help explain this type of activity).  You can imagine that the water was quite muddy as it churned all of the Earth’s sediments together like a blender.  Then, as the waters started to recede, the sediments separated into layers according to their density.

If there was a worldwide flood, we would expect to find these sedimentary rock layers all over the world and fossils buried within them. Today, you can see layers of sedimentary rocks everywhere such as rock outcroppings along the interstate, the Grand Canyon, and other places where rock strata are exposed.  In between the layers there is no evidence of erosion, which shows that they were laid down on top of each other in succession, not with a long span of time in between.  This link provides more information on various types of causes for sedimentary formations.

Fossils are found in these rock layers. The majority of fossils we have today were formed during Noah’s flood.  The animals were not able to escape the torrential rain, and during the 150 days of the water churning on the earth, the animals were buried among the sediments.  If a fossil formed over a gradual period, we would not find much left of the animal.  If it was buried rapidly, we would find the animal and sometimes the skin intact.  In fact, there is a fossil of a fish in the process of giving birth, a fish in the process of eating another fish, and a fish with another fish in its stomach.  This would not be the case if the fossil was formed gradually.

Another evidence is flood legends. There are about 300 flood legends around the world, and generally speaking, they tell basically the same story about a flood, a boat, animals being saved, and so forth.

More evidence for a global flood can be found here.

A graveyard of fossils