Originally published on Genesis Apologetics
In 1853, archaeologists found a series of 12 tablets dated to around 650 BC. They make up the story of the hero Gilgamesh. Because the story had many of the same elements as the Flood account in Genesis, biblical skeptics believed that the Gilgamesh account preceded the Biblical account, negating the Genesis account as just a spin-off. Fortunately for Christians, however, there are major clues that point to the Biblical account as the accurate one, and Gilgamesh as a later work of fiction that incorporated legendary elements of a flood within a cultural fantasy. Here are the reasons why:
The Gilgamesh version of the Ark is not at all seaworthy and thus obviously mythical. The Gilgamesh Ark was a massive, unstable cube that was an entire square acre (6o meters x 60 meters) with six decks that divided it into seven parts.[i] It would tumble in a Flood and wreck its contents.
The second key for determining the authentic Flood account is the duration of the Flood provided by each. The Gilgamesh flood lasted a mere six days, whereas the Genesis Flood lasted 371 days. Both accounts claim the Flood was worldwide, but how could water cover earth in just six days? Noah’s feasible Ark had a 7-to-1 length-to-width ratio and the Genesis Flood took 150 days to cover the highest land in the pre-Flood world. A cube and six days stretch credulity.
God’s judgment in Genesis is just—he was patient with utterly wicked mankind for 120 years (Genesis 6:3) and showed mercy to the last righteous family. The Gilgamesh account has multiple, self-centered squabbling ‘gods’ that are starving without humans to feed them sacrifices.
Other parts of the Gilgamesh account are obviously mythical, such as Gilgamesh being 2/3rds divine and 1/3rd mortal. After oppressing his people, they call upon the ‘gods.’ The sky-god Anu (the chief god of the city), creates a wild man named Enkidu to fight Gilgamesh. The battle is a draw, and they become friends. Gilgamesh apparently also encounters talking monsters and a “Scorpion man” in his journeys.
Scholars rely on their anti-Bible bias, not science, to assert that the Gilgamesh story came first. These stark differences between Genesis and Gilgamesh accounts highlight the feasibility and priority of the biblical one.
[i] The Epic of Gilgamesh, Tablet XI, , 12 March 2004.
[ii] Tim Lovett, “Comparing Gilgamesh,” (October, 2004) (World Wide Flood.com/Gilgamesh).
[Editor’s note: The Ark Encounter has a great exhibit on the survivability of different legends’ arks including the Epic of Gilgamesh. You can get a preview on their website.]