Early Israel and Surrounding Nations

By Sayce, A. H. (Archibald Henry)

Appendix 11

 

THE BABYLONIAN ACCOUNT OF THE DELUGE

 

1. Sisuthros spake thus unto him, even to Gilgames:

2. Let me reveal unto thee, O Gilgames, the tale of my preservation,

3. and the oracle of the gods let me declare unto thee.

4. The city of Surippak, which, as thou knowest, is built [on the bank] of the Euphrates,

5. this city was (already) old when the gods within it

6. set their hearts to cause a flood, even the great gods

7. [as many as] exist: Anu the father of them,

8. the warrior Bel their prince,

9. Bir their throne-bearer, En-nugi (Hades) their chief.

10. Ea the lord of wisdom conferred with them, and

11. repeated their words to the reed-bed: 'Reed-bed, O reed-bed! Frame, O frame!

12. Hear, O reed-bed, and understand, O frame!

13. O man of Surippak, son of Ubara-Tutu,

14. frame the house, build a ship: leave what thou canst; seek life!

15. Resign (thy) goods, and cause thy soul to live,

16. and bring all the seed of life into the midst of the ship.

17. As for the ship which thou shalt build,

18. ... cubits shall be in measurement its length;

19. and ... cubits the extent of its breadth and its height.

20. Into the deep [then] launch it.'

21. I understood and spake to Ea my lord:

22. 'As for the building of the ship, O my lord, which thou hast ordered thus,

23. I will observe and accomplish it.

24. [But what] shall I answer the city, the people and the old men?'

25. [Ea opened his mouth and] says, he speaks to his servant, even to me:

26. ['If they question thee] thou shalt say unto them:

27. Since (?) Bel is estranged from me and

28. I will not dwell in your city, I will not lay my head [in] the land of Bel;

29. but I will descend into the deep; with [Ea] my lord will I dwell.

30. (Bel) will rain fertility on you,

31. [flocks] of birds, shoals of fish.'

Lines 32 to 42 are lost.

43. On the fifth day I laid the plan of it (i.e. the ship);

44. in its hull (?) its walls were 10 gar (120 cubits?) high;

45. 10 gar were the size of its upper part.'

Another version of the account of the Deluge, of which a fragment has been preserved, puts a wholly different speech into the mouth of Ea, and gives the hero of the story the name of Adra-Khasis. This fragment is as follows:—

'I will judge him above and below,

[But] shut [not thou thy door]

[until] the time that I shall tell thee of.

[Then] enter the ship, and close the door of the vessel.

[Bring into] it thy corn, thy goods, [thy] property,

thy [wife], thy slaves, thy handmaids, and the sons of [thy] people,

the [cattle] of the field, the beasts of the field, as many as I appoint ...

I will tell thee of (the time), and the door [of thy ship] shall preserve them.'

Adra-Khasis opened his mouth and says,

 

he speaks to Ea [his] lord:

'[O my lord,] none has ever made a ship [on this wise]

that it should sail over the land.' ...

Here the fragment is broken off. The other version proceeds thus:—

46. 'I fashioned its side, and closed it in;

47. I built six storeys (?), I divided it into seven parts;

48. its interior I divided into nine parts.

49. I cut worked (?) timber within it.

50. I looked upon the rudder and added what was lacking.

51. I poured 6 sars of pitch over the outside;

52. [I poured] 3 sars of bitumen over the inside;

53. 3 sars of oil did the men carry who brought it ...

54. I gave a sar of oil for the workmen to eat;

55. 2 sars of oil the sailors stored away.

56. For the [workmen?] I slaughtered oxen;

57. I killed [sheep?] daily.

58. Beer, wine, oil and grapes

59. [I distributed among] the people like the waters of a river, and

60. [I kept] a festival like the festival of the new year.

61. ... I dipped my hand [in] oil:

62. [I said to] Samas (the Sun-god): 'The storeys (?) of the ship are complete;

63. the ... is strong, and

64. the oars (?) I introduced above and below.'

65. [Those who should be saved?] went two-thirds of them.

66. With all I had I filled it; with all the silver I possessed I filled it;

67. with all the gold I possessed I filled it;

68. with all that I possessed of the seed of life of all kinds I filled it.

69. I brought into the ship all my slaves and my handmaids,

70. the cattle of the field, the beasts of the field, the sons of my people, all of them did I bring into it.

71. The Sun-god appointed the time and

72. utters the oracle: 'In the night will I cause the heavens to rain destruction;

73. enter the ship, and close thy door.'

74. That time drew near whereof he uttered the oracle:

75. 'On this night will I cause the heavens to rain destruction.'

76. I watched with dread the dawning of the day;

77. I feared to behold the day.

78. I entered into the ship and closed my door.

79. When I had closed the ship, to Buzur-sadi-rabi the sailor

80. I entrusted the palace with all its goods.

81. Mu-seri-ina-namari (the waters of the morning at dawn)

82. arose from the horizon of heaven, a black cloud;

83. the storm-god Rimmon thundered in its midst, and

84. Nebo and Merodach the king marched in front;

85. the throne-bearers marched over mountain and plain;

86. the mighty god of death lets loose the whirlwind;

87. Bir marches causing the storm (?) to descend;

88. the spirits of the underworld lifted up (their) torches,

89. with the lightning of them they set on fire the world;

90. the violence of the storm-god reached to heaven;

91. all that was light was turned to [darkness].

92. In the earth like ... [men] perished (?)

Two lines are lost here.

95. Brother beheld not his brother, men knew not one another. In the heaven

96. the gods feared the deluge, and

97. hastened to ascend to the heaven of Anu.

98. The gods cowered like a dog who lies in a kennel.

99. Istar cried like a woman in travail,

100. the great goddess spoke with a loud voice:

101. 'The former generation is turned to clay.

102. The evil which I prophesied in the presence of the gods,

103. when I prophesied evil in the presence of the gods,

104. I prophesied the storm for the destruction of my people.

105. What I have home, where is it?

106. Like the spawn of the fish it fills the deep.'

107. The gods wept with her because of the spirits of the underworld;

108. the gods sat dejected in weeping,

109. their lips were covered ...

110. Six days and nights

111. rages the wind; the flood and the storm devastate.

112. The seventh day when it arrived the flood ceased, the storm

113. which had fought like an army

114. rested, the sea subsided, and the tempest of the deluge was ended.

115. I beheld the deep and uttered a cry,

116. for the whole of mankind was turned to clay;

117. like the trunks of trees did the bodies float.

118. I opened the window and the light fell upon my face;

119. I stooped, and sat down weeping;

120. over my face ran my tears.

121. I beheld a shore beyond the sea;

122. twelve times distant rose a land.

123. On the mountain of Nizir the ship grounded;

124. the mountain of the country of Nizir held the ship and allowed it not to float.

125. One day and a second day did the mountain of Nizir hold it.

126. A third day and a fourth day did the mountain of Nizir hold it.

127. A fifth day and a sixth day did the mountain of Nizir hold it.

128. When the seventh day came I sent forth a dove and let it go.

129. The dove went and returned; a resting-place it found not and it turned back.

130. I sent forth a swallow and let it go; the swallow went and returned;

131. a resting-place it found not and it turned back.

132. I sent forth a raven and let it go;

133. the raven went and saw the going down of the waters, and

134. it approached, it waded, it croaked and did not turn back.

135. Then I sent forth (everything) to the four points of the compass; I offered sacrifices;

136. I built an altar on the summit of the mountain.

137. I set libation-vases seven by seven;

138. beneath them I piled up reeds, cedar-wood and herbs.

139. The gods smelt the savour, the gods smelt the sweet savour;

140. the gods gathered like flies over the sacrificer.

141. Already at the moment of her coming, the great goddess

142. lifted up the mighty bow which Anu had made according to his wish (?).

143. 'These gods,' (she said), 'by my necklace, never will I forget!

144. Those days, I will think of them and never will forget them.

145. Let the gods come to my altar;

146. (but) let not Bel come to my altar,

147. since he did not take counsel but caused a flood and counted my men for judgment.'

148. Already at the moment of his coming, Bel

149. saw the ship and stood still;

150. he was filled with wrath at the gods, the spirits of heaven, (saying):

151. 'Let no living soul come forth, let no man survive in the judgment!'

152. Bir opened his mouth and says, he speaks to the warrior Bel:

153. 'Who except Ea can devise a speech?

154. for Ea understands all kinds of wisdom.'

155. Ea opened his mouth and speaks, he says to the warrior Bel:

156. 'Thou art the seer of the gods, O warrior!

157. Why, O why didst thou not take counsel, but didst cause a deluge?

158. (Let) the sinner bear his own sin, (let) the evil-doer bear his own evil-doing.

159. Grant (?) that he be not cut off, be merciful that he be not [destroyed].

160. Instead of causing a deluge, let lions come and minish mankind;

161. instead of causing a deluge, let hyŠnas come and minish mankind;

162. instead of causing a deluge, let there be a famine and let it [devour] the land;

163. instead of causing a deluge, let the plague-god come and minish mankind!

164. I did not reveal (to men) the oracle of the great gods,

165. but sent a dream to Adra-khasis and he heard the oracle of the gods.'

166. Then Bel again took counsel and ascended into the ship.

167. He took my hand and caused me, even me, to ascend,

168. he took up my wife (also, and) caused her to bow at my side;

169. he turned to us and stood between us; he blessed us (saying):

170. 'Hitherto Sisuthros has been mortal, but

171. henceforth Sisuthros and his wife shall be like unto the gods, even unto us, and

172. Sisuthros shall dwell afar at the mouth of the rivers,'

173. Then he took us afar, at the mouth of the rivers he made us dwell.