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Babylonians vs Hebrews Essay

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The Hebrew creation story, found in Genesis from the Hebrew Bible, was based upon the story of one creator, God, the order of how things were created and the lives of the first man and woman. The Babylonian creation story, Enuma Elish, instead of having one god, had two god in the beginning, Tiamat and Apsu, and was the story of how several gods were born, thus creating different elements of earth, as well as the creation of the different features of the world after the battle between Tiamat and Marduk.

Though, at first glance, these two different creation stories are dynamically different, closer inspection leads us to know that there are several similarities between these two accounts of the formation of the earth: the way the story was told, how many celestial beings were in each myth, how the earth was created, how humans were created, and the reason for humans to exist. In the Bible, Eve had eaten from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil thus banishing both Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. As punishment, God told Eve, “…thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. (Leeming 28)

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This shows that the Hebrew was a patriarchal society, and this story had an innuendo of justification of why men must control women. In the Enuma Elish, humans are not as prominent as the Hebrew Bible, but the creation of humans was more of an afterthought, but it does teach us about what is really important to the Babylonians and that is to serve the gods. Enuma Elish explained how man was created to serve the gods. In both myths there is a presence of the ability to make things appear with speaking.

In the Hebrew Bible, God was able to create the heavens, earth, and everything within them by just simply speaking (minus humans). In the Enuma Elish, Marduk to prove to the other gods that he is different than they are made a cloth disappear and reappear by simply speaking. The close proximity between the two cultures, there was sure to have had a mixing between the two. The Hebrews Bible was not created until centuries after the Babylonian, so it is to be inferred that the Hebrews basically wanted to prove that their one god is better than the strongest god of the Babylonians.

In the Hebrew Bible there was only God and Chaos (the waters), and in the Enuma Elish Tiamat and Apsu were the first beings, and they are the gods of salt and fresh water, So both started with water. Both stories started with water and in the end the creation of humans. Man was created in the image of God from “the dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostril the breath of life. “ (Leeming 27), and woman we created from the ribs of man in the Bible. In a similar fashion, the Babylonian myth depicted that Marduk created man from the blood and bone.

This shows that both the Hebrews and Babylonians showed that humans were created from celestial beings and are different from everything else that was created, because they were fashioned differently and are to serve a purpose: to take care of everything God created (Hebrews), and to serve the gods (Babylonians). Enuma Elish and the Hebrew creation story are similar in the way of how these myths are presented. In both myths, water was there before anything else in some variation . The idea of a firmament to hold the skies up is also prominent in both stories, because of the wonderment of how the ‘water’ stays up in the sky.

Also the notion of sets of twos are pronounced: light and darkness, sky and ocean, beasts of the water and beasts of the sky (Hebrew), Apsu and Tiamat, Lahmu and Lahamu, dividing Tiamat in half, blood and bone (Mesopotamian). Humans created last in Enuma Elish and in the Bible chapter one are also similarity. A subtle relationship between the two myths is the power of creating things through speech. God from the Bible created everything through speaking, and Marduk was able to math a garment disappears and reappear with speech as well.

The Babylonians did not just have one god like the Hebrews but several gods depicting different things: Salt water, fresh water, sky, etc. The Hebrews just had one ultimate god that created and encompassed everything living. Also the two myths focused on two things. The Babylonians focused on the stories of the gods and how each was created, the war between Tiamat and Marduk, and how man was created as to serve the gods. The Hebrews had two stories of creation: an explanatory showing how the heavens and earth was created, and a narrative that explained how humans fit in the world that God created and why we have mortal sin.

The Hebrews wanted to push the point across that humans were created to take care of the earth and everything God has created, and the Bablyonians wanted to show that they were created to serve the gods. The Bible Genesis Chapter One shows Campbell’s first function of myth: mystical. The first chapter explains on how the world was created and why we have certain aesthetics of the world. Campbell’s third function of myth, cosmlogical, is depicted in the Enuma Elish at the end explain how we were created to serve the gods and that is how we fit into the Universe.

The Hebrews explain that Eve (woman) was the reason that mortal sin exist in this world, and enhances the reason why Hebrews were a patriarchal society and that men have to rule over woman as punishment of Eve’s sin. To sum it up, Enuma Elish and the Bible are from two different cultures, in two different locations, but despite this they are very similar . There are several motifs that are prominent that prove this, however, these two myths are still radically different in certain aspects of organization and the belief system.

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