A Look at the First Works of the World
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A Look at the First Works of the World
History tells us that since we have been able to write, our human race has had the habit of recording historical tales, or stories. Most of the first stories were tales of heroic men, scouring their land in search of some noble prize. These stories are known as epics, and they give us an excellent idea of the lifestyles and basic thought processes of early humans. Along the lines of these epics are the accounts told in the Bible, especially those in the Old Testament. As with the epics, these legends give us some spiritual idea of the beginning of time and the accounts of early man. If we compare the stories and characters of the first epic, The Epic of Gilgamesh, with those of the first chapter of the Bible, Genesis, we not only discover some striking similarities, but also some notable differences.
If there is one thing that all early accounts revolve around, that is the idea of a divine being or, in other words, god. Early humans were extremely religious, holding the belief that their very lives were in the hands of their god. This holds true for both the people of biblical times as well as those of the epic era. However, even as both groups believed in a supreme being, they harbored different feelings and beliefs about the subject. In the epic, many gods are mentioned and worshiped, such as Ninsun and Shamash. These gods can give birth to mortals, and can communicate with these mortals, usually through dreams. In Genesis, there is mention of only one God, a being that created the earth and skies, as well as humans and wildlife. This god can also communicate with mortals, either through dream or direct conversation. In both cases, the mortals worshiped the god(s), but in the epic it seemed that the gods were more likely to be persuaded by their servants. In Genesis, God remains a fairly strong, static being who, although unwavering, is fair and good to his followers.
The main character in the epic is Gilgamesh. He is an extremely powerful and beautiful man, created by the gods. He is given human-like qualities such as fear, sorrow, mortality, and thirst for knowledge but all in all he behaves like a god. He fights everything that gets in his way and sleeps with every woman he desires. It is not until his lone friend and companion, Enkidu, dies that he begins to feel scared. He wants to live forever, so he sets out to find a means to do so. He soon finds that immortality is impossible for, although he was created by gods, he cannot be one of them.
Abraham was an important character in the book of Genesis. Unlike Gilgamesh, he was born a normal human, and grew up in the same way. God kept in contact with him, telling him that his offspring would be numerous. It was thought that Abraham's wife was barren, so he had a child with her slave, and named it Ishmael. However, Abraham and his wife were visited by some wise men who told them that she would soon produce a child. Through Abraham's faith in God, his wife gave birth to a son, Isaac. At this point God was still communicating with Abraham. He told him to sacrifice his son to him. Having nothing but the utmost faith and reverence for his God, Abraham prepared to do so. At the last second, God stopped him, realizing that Abraham had passed his test of faith.
Both Gilgamesh and Abraham looked to their gods for help and guidance. However, as Abraham regarded his god with awe, Gilgamesh almost expected his gods to give him guidance. While Abraham lived his life in accordance to his god's commands, Gilgamesh lived his life in accordance to what he could and could not tame.
Overall, there are some differences between the two tales that might be overlooked. In the epic, the common people are content serving their gods. They make their offerings and in return they are usually granted what they ask for. It appears the same way in Genesis, but on some occasions we see a different light. It sometimes seems that humans aren't content with their
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Book of Genesis, Flood myths, Epic of Gilgamesh, Prophets of Islam, Vayeira, Noah, Gilgamesh, Abraham, Enkidu, Ninsun, God, Isaac
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