Continuing in my research concerning the parallels between Hebrew and other ancient Near Eastern writing, I would like to share some additional interesting correlations in some of the texts. In the following, I have quoted, at length, the various texts under considerations. At the end of each section is a concluding discussion about similarities. I would point the reader in the direction of these if they do not wish to read the cited texts at length.

The Birth of Moses and The Sargon Legend:

The Birth of Moses

Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a daughter of Levi. The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was beautiful, she hid him for three months. But when she could hide him no longer, she got him a wicker basket and covered it over with tar and pitch Then she put the child into it and set it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile. His sister stood at a distance to find out what would happen to him. The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the Nile, with her maidens walking alongside the Nile; and she saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid, and she brought it to her. When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the boy was crying. And she had pity on him and said, "This is one of the Hebrews' children." Then his sister said to Pharaoh's daughter, "Shall I go and call a nurse for you from the Hebrew women that she may nurse the child for you?" Pharaoh's daughter said to her, "Go ahead." So the girl went and called the child's mother. Then Pharaoh's daughter said to her, "Take this child away and nurse him for me and I will give you your wages." So the woman took the child and nursed him.
(Exodus 2:1-9 NASB)

The Sargon Legend

Sargon, strong king, king of Agade, am I. My mother was a high priestess, my father I do not know. My paternal kin inhabit the mountain region. My city (of birth) is Azupiranu, which lies on the bank of the Euphrates. My mother, a high priestess, conceived me, in secret she bore me. She placed me in a reed basket, with bitumen she caulked my hatch. She abandoned me to the river from which I could not escape. The river carried me along: to Aqqi, the water drawer, it brought me. Aqqi, the water drawer, when immersing his bucket lifted me up. Aqqi, the water drawer, raised me as his adopted son. Aqqi, the water drawer, set me to his garden work. During my garden work, Istar loved me (so that) 55 years I ruled as king.
(Brian Lewis, The Sargon Legend (American Schools of Oriental Research, 1978)


Obviously, there are many differences between the texts. One of the most apparent is the identity of the rescuer of the water-bound infant boys. In Moses' story, the savior is Pharoah's daughter, while Sargon is rescued by Aqqi, the water bearer.

Though there are differences, there are also many very conspicuous similarities.

1.) Both mothers are identified with the priestly class. Sargon's mother is identified as the "highpriestess," while Moses' mother is a "dauther of Levi" (who will later become the priestly class).

2.) Both mothers raise their sons in secret, later to abandon them to the water.

3.) Both texts make explicit reference to the means used to secure the baskets for travel upon the waters. Despite conjecture about the possibility of "exposure," it seems more likely that such detailed preparation would be intended for the survival, not disposal, of the child.

4.) Both texts culminate with royal implications. In the Birth of Moses, Moses is raised in the royal palace, while Sargon is identified as becoming king and reigning for 55 years.

Creation Epics:

As scholars have long known, there are numerous correlations between the Hebrew creation epics and earlier Near-Eastern creation mythology. Consider the following:

The Assur Bilingual Creation Story

1. The holy house, the house of the gods in the holy place had not yet bene made.
2. No reed had sprung up, not tree had been made.
3. No brick had been laid, no structure of brick had been erected.
4. No house had been made, no city had been built.
5. No city had been made, no creature had been constituted.
6. Enlils city (i.e., Nippur) had not been made, Ekur had not been built.
7. Erech had not been made, E-Anna had not been built.
8. The Deep (or Abyss) had not been made, Eridu had not been built.
9. Of the holy house, the house of the gods, the dwelling-place had not been made.
10. All the lands were sea.
11. At the time that the mid-most sea was [shaped like] a trough,
12. At that time Eridu was made, and E-sagil was built.
13. The E-sagil, where in thd midst of the Deep the god Lugal-dul-azaga dwelleth.
14. Babylon was made, E-sagil was completed.
15. The gods the Anunnaki he created at one time.
16. They proclaimed supreme the holy city, the dwelling of their hearts happiness.
17. Marduk laid a rush mat upon the face of the waters.
18. He mixed up earth and moulded it upon the rush mat,
19. To enable the gods to dwell in the place where they would fain be
20. He fashioned man
21. The goddess Aruru with him created the seed of mankind
22. He created the beasts of the field and [all] the living things in the field.
23. He created the river Idiglat (Tigris) and the river Purattu (Euphrates), and he set them in their places,
24. He proclaimed their names rightly.
25. He created grass, the vegetation of the march, seed and shrub;
26. He created the green plants of the plain,
27. Lands, marshes swamps,
28. The wild cow and the calf she carried, the wild calf, the sheep and the young she carried, the lamb of the fold,
29. Plantations and shrub land,
30. The he-goat and the mountain goat…
31. The lord Marduk piled up a dam in the region of the sea (i.e., he reclaimed land)
32. He…a swamp, he founded a marsh.
33. …he made to be.
34. Reeds he created, trees he created,
35. …in place he created
36. He laid bricks, he built a brick-work,
37. He constructed houses, he formed cities.
38. He constructed cities, creatures he set [therein].
39. Nippur he made, E-Kur he built.
40. [Erech he mad, E-Anna] he built.

Genesis 1

1. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
2. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
3. And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.
4. God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness.
5. God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morningthe first day.
6. And God said, "Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water."
7. So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so.
8. God called the expanse "sky." And there was evening, and there was morningthe second day.
9. And God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear." And it was so.
10. God called the dry ground "land," and the gathered waters he called "seas." And God saw that it was good.
11. Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the landthat bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds." And it was so.
12. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their ki
s and tr
ees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
13. And there was evening, and there was morningthe third day.
14. And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years,
15. and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth." And it was so.
16. God made two great lightsthe greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars.
17. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth,
18. to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good.
19. And there was evening, and there was morningthe fourth day.
20. And God said, "Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky."
21. So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
22. God blessed them and said, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth."
23. And there was evening, and there was morningthe fifth day.
24. And God said, "Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind." And it was so.
25. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
26. Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, [b] and over all the creatures that move along the ground."
27. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and femalehe created them.
28. God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."
29. Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.
30. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the groundeverything that has the breath of life in itI give every green plant for food." And it was so.
31. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morningthe sixth day.


As seen, there are several very interesting correlations between these two creation epics. A few of the similarities are as follows:

1.) In both epics, the original state of the universe is characterized as empty (without form, void [Genesis], lack of building [Assur]), except for the abundance of waters (Assur 10, Genesis 1:2).

2.) Both epics make reference to the existence of The Deep [Abyss] (Assur 8, Genesis 1:2)

3.) In each of the original creations, the drama unfolds near the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

4.) In both accounts, earth is considered a breaking of the waters; in Genesis, the waters are gathered and dry ground appears, while is Assur, ground is built upon a rush mat that has been placed upon the waters. In each case, water is the primaeval substance that is somehow manipulated to account for the presence of land.

5.) Both epics recount the creation of celestial bodies (the sun, moon and stars in Genesis and the various gods and goddesses of the pantheon in Assur).

6.) Each account have an interesting order of creation of living things: Assur proceeds humananimalplant, while Genesis inverts this order, plantanimalhuman.

7.) There is also a potential correlation in the dual-deity creation of humanity. In Assur, Marduk and the goddess Aruru combine powers to create humanity. While Yahweh in Genesis is alone, there is an interesting exchange in the creation of humanity when Yahweh proclaims, Let us, using a plural pronoun to refer to the creative activity. Moreover, the creation of the male and female in the image of God could suggest an allusion to the feminine.

Flood Myths:

The Epic of Gilgamesh, Tablet XI

1. The hearts of the Great Gods moved them to inflict the Flood.
2. Their Father Anu uttered the oath (of secrecy),
3. Valiant Enlil was their Adviser,
4. Ninurta was their Chamberlain,
5. Ennugi was their Minister of Canals.
6. Ea, the Clever Prince(?), was under oath with them
7. so he repeated their talk to the reed house:
8. 'Reed house, reed house! Wall, wall!
9. O man of Shuruppak, son of Ubartutu:
10. Tear down the house and build a boat!
11. Abandon wealth and seek living beings!
12. Spurn possessions and keep alive living beings!
13. Make all living beings go up into the boat.
14. The boat which you are to build,
15. its dimensions must measure equal to each other:
16. its length must correspond to its width.
17. Roof it over like the Apsu.
18. I understood and spoke to my lord, Ea:
19. 'My lord, thus is the command which you have uttered
20. I will heed and will do it.
21. But what shall I answer the city, the populace, and the Elders!'
22. Ea spoke, commanding me, his servant:
23. 'You, well then, this is what you must say to them:
24. "It appears that Enlil is rejecting me
25. so I cannot reside in your city (?),
26. nor set foot on Enlil's earth.
27. I will go down to the Apsu to live with my lord, Ea,
28. and upon you he will rain down abundance,
29. a profusion of fowl, myriad(!) fishes.
30. He will bring to you a harvest of wealth,
31. in the morning he will let loaves of bread shower down,
32. and in the evening a rain of wheat!"'
33. Just as dawn began to glow
34. the land assembled around me-
35. the carpenter carried his hatchet,
36. the reed worker carried his (flattening) stone,
37. … the men …
38. The child carried the pitch,
39. the weak brought whatever else was needed.
40. On the fifth day I laid out her exterior.
41. It was a field in area,
42. its walls were each 10 times 12 cubits in height,
43. the sides of its top were of equal length, 10 times It cubits each.
44. I laid out its (interior) structure and drew a picture of it (?).
45. I provided it with six decks,
46. thus dividing it into seven (levels).
47. The inside of it I divided into nine (compartments).
48. I drove plugs (to keep out) water in its middle part.
49. I saw to the punting poles and laid in what was necessary.
50. Three times 3,600 (units) of raw bitumen I poured into the bitumen kiln,
51. three times 3,600 (units of) pitch …into it,
52. there were three times 3,600 porters of casks who carried (vegetable) oil,
53. apart from the 3,600 (units of) oil which they consumed (!)
54. and two times 3,600 (units of) oil which the boatman stored away.
55. I butchered oxen for the meat(!),
56. and day upon day I slaughtered sheep.
57. I gave the workmen(?) ale, beer, oil, and wine, as if it were river water,
58. so they could make a party like the New Year's Festival.
59. … and I set my hand to the oiling(!).

60. The boat was finished by sunset.
61. The launching was very difficult.
62. They had to keep carrying a runway of poles front to back,
63. until two-thirds of it had gone into the water(?).
64. Whatever I had I loaded on it:
65. whatever silver I had I loaded on it,
66. whatever gold I had I loaded on it.
67. All the living beings that I had I loaded on it,
68. I had all my kith and kin go up into the boat,
69. all the beasts and animals of the field and the craftsmen I had go up.
70. Shamash had set a stated time:
71. 'In the morning I will let loaves of bread shower down,
72. and in the evening a rain of wheat!
73. Go inside the boat, seal the entry!'
74. That stated time had arrived.
75. In the morning he let loaves of bread shower down,
76. and in the evening a rain of wheat.
77. I watched the appearance of the weather–
78. the weather was frightful to behold!
79. I went into the boat and sealed the entry.
80. For the caulking of the boat, to Puzuramurri, the boatman,
81. I gave the palace together with its contents.
82. Just as dawn began to glow
83. there arose from the horizon a black cloud.
84. Adad rumbled inside of it,
85. before him went Shullat and Hanish,
86. heralds going over mountain and land.
87. Erragal pulled out the mooring poles,
88. forth went Ninurta and made the dikes overflow.
89. The Anunnaki lifted up the torches,
90. setting the land ablaze with their flare.
91. Stunned shock over Adad's deeds overtook the heavens,
92. and turned to blackness all that had been light.
93. The… land shattered like a… pot.
94. All day long the South Wind blew …,
95. blowing fast, submerging the mountain in water,
96. overwhelming the people like an attack.
97. No one could see his fellow,
98. they could not recognize each other in the torrent.
99. The gods were frightened by the Flood,
100. and retreated, ascending to the heaven of Anu.
101. The gods were cowering like dogs, crouching by the outer wall.
102. Ishtar shrieked like a woman in childbirth,
103. the sweet-voiced Mistress of the Gods wailed:
104. 'The olden days have alas turned to clay,
105. because I said evil things in the Assembly of the Gods!
106. How could I say evil things in the Assembly of the Gods,
107. ordering a catastrophe to destroy my people!!
108. No sooner have I given birth to my dear people
109. than they fill the sea like so many fish!'
110. The gods–those of the Anunnaki–were weeping with her,
111. the gods humbly sat weeping, sobbing with grief(?),
112. their lips burning, parched with thirst.
113. Six days and seven nights
114. came the wind and flood, the storm flattening the land.
115. When the seventh day arrived, the storm was pounding,
116. the flood was a war–struggling with itself like a woman writhing (in labor).
117. The sea calmed, fell still, the whirlwind (and) flood stopped up.
118. I looked around all day long–quiet had set in
119. and all the human beings had turned to clay!
120. The terrain was as flat as a roof.
121. I opened a vent and fresh air (daylight!) fell upon the side of my nose.
122. I fell to my knees and sat weeping,
123. tears streaming down the side of my nose.
124. I looked around for coastlines in the expanse of the sea,
125. and at twelve leagues there emerged a region (of land).
126. On Mt. Nimush the boat lodged firm,
127. Mt. Nimush held the boat, allowing no sway.
128. One day and a second Mt. Nimush held the boat, allowing no sway.
129. A third day, a fourth, Mt. Nimush held the boat, allowing no sway.
130. A fifth day, a sixth, Mt. Nimush held the boat, allowing no sway.
131. When a seventh day arrived
132. I sent forth a dove and released it.
133. The dove went off, but came back to me;
134. no perch was visible so it circled back to me.
135. I sent forth a swallow and released it.
136. The swallow went off, but came back to me;
137. no perch was visible so it circled back to me.
138. I sent forth a raven and released it.
139. The raven went off, and saw the waters slither back.
140. It eats, it scratches, it bobs, but does not circle back to me.
141. Then I sent out everything in all directions and sacrificed (a sheep).
142. I offered incense in front of the mountain-ziggurat.
143. Seven and seven cult vessels I put in place,
144. and (into the fire) underneath (or: into their bowls) I poured reeds, cedar, and myrtle.
145. The gods smelled the savor,
146. the gods smelled the sweet savor,
147. and collected like flies over a (sheep) sacrifice.
148. Just then Beletili arrived.
149. She lifted up the large flies (beads) which Anu had made for his enjoyment(!):
150. 'You gods, as surely as I shall not forget this lapis lazuli around my neck,
151. may I be mindful of these days, and never forget them

Genesis 6:9-8:22; 9:12-17*

1. The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.
2. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.
3. So the LORD said, "I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earthmen and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the airfor I am grieved that I have made them."
4. But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.
5. This is the account of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.
6. Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth.
7. Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight and was full of violence.
8. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways.
9. So God said to Noah, "I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.
10. So make yourself an ark of cypress [c] wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out.
11. This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. [d]
12. Make a roof for it and finish [e] the ark to within 18 inches [f] of the top. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks.
13. I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish.
14. But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the arkyou and your sons and your wife and your sons' wives with you.
15. You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you.
16. Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive.
17. You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them."
18. Noah did everything just as God commanded him.
19. The LORD then said to Noah, "Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation.
20. Take with you seven [a] of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and two of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate,
21. and also seven of every kind of bird, male

and fema
le, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth.
22. Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made."
23. And Noah did all that the LORD commanded him.
24. Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters came on the earth.
25. And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons' wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood.
26. Pairs of clean and unclean animals, of birds and of all creatures that move along the ground,
27. male and female, came to Noah and entered the ark, as God had commanded Noah.
28. And after the seven days the floodwaters came on the earth.
29. In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, on the seventeenth day of the second monthon that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened.
30. And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.
31. On that very day Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, together with his wife and the wives of his three sons, entered the ark.
32. They had with them every wild animal according to its kind, all livestock according to their kinds, every creature that moves along the ground according to its kind and every bird according to its kind, everything with wings.
33. Pairs of all creatures that have the breath of life in them came to Noah and entered the ark.
34. The animals going in were male and female of every living thing, as God had commanded Noah. Then the LORD shut him in.
35. For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth.
36. The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water.
37. They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered.
38. The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than twenty feet. [b] , [c]
39. Every living thing that moved on the earth perishedbirds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind.
40. Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died.
41. Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; men and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds of the air were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.
42. The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days.
43. But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.
44. Now the springs of the deep and the floodgates of the heavens had been closed, and the rain had stopped falling from the sky.
45. The water receded steadily from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the water had gone down,
46. and on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat.
47. The waters continued to recede until the tenth month, and on the first day of the tenth month the tops of the mountains became visible.
48. After forty days Noah opened the window he had made in the ark
49. and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth.
50. Then he sent out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground.
51. But the dove could find no place to set its feet because there was water over all the surface of the earth; so it returned to Noah in the ark. He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought it back to himself in the ark.
52. He waited seven more days and again sent out the dove from the ark.
53. When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth.
54. He waited seven more days and sent the dove out again, but this time it did not return to him.
55. By the first day of the first month of Noah's six hundred and first year, the water had dried up from the earth. Noah then removed the covering from the ark and saw that the surface of the ground was dry.
56. By the twenty-seventh day of the second month the earth was completely dry.
57. Then God said to Noah,
58. "Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives.
59. Bring out every kind of living creature that is with youthe birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the groundso they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number upon it."
60. So Noah came out, together with his sons and his wife and his sons' wives.
61. All the animals and all the creatures that move along the ground and all the birdseverything that moves on the earthcame out of the ark, one kind after another.
62. Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it.
63. The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: "Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though [a] every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.
64. "As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease."
65. And God said, "This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come:
66. I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.
67. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds,
68. I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.
69. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth."
70. So God said to Noah, "This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth."
* I have numbered these lines as a single text for ease of citation below.


1.) In each story, the protagonist is warned by a deity about the impending flood (Epic, 8-13; Genesis 9).

2.) Each protagonist is given explicit instructions about the building of a boat, from the materials to be used, to the size that the boat is supposed to encompass (Epic, 33-60; Genesis, 10-12).

3.) Both protagonists are commanded to take into the boats their families and animals, as well as provisions for their journey (Epic, 64-69; Genesis, 14-21)

4.) In each, the protagonists are told explicitly when the flood will come, tomorrow morning (Epic) and in seven days (Genesis).

5.) Both stories note the length of the flood (seven days, Epis, 113-117; forty days and nights, Genesis, 35).

6.) In each account, we are told that those who were not on the ark were destroyed (Epic, 119; Genesis, 39-41).

7.) In each account, the boats comes to rest on mountain tops (Epic, 126-130; Genesis, 46).

8.) After the floods, the protagonists each send out, birds to search for dry ground, a dove, swallow and raven in Epic, and a raven and three doves in Genesis.

9.) Both protagonists, after finding dry ground, offer sacrifices to the deities (Epic, 142-147; Genesis, 62).

10.) As a sign of remembrance of the flood, the goddess Beletili (Istar) is given a colorful necklace of lapis lazuli; in the Genesis account, a rainbow is placed in the heavens.


Throughout this informal "s

s" of postings on the correlations between the Hebrew Scriptures and other ancient Near-Eastern literature, I have continually raised the question, "What does this mean for the person that believes in the "inspiration" of Scripture?" After all, if the correlations noted above are even remotely tenable, we must conclude that at least some of the content in the Hebrew Scriptures 1.) directly borrows from other literature extant at the time of composition or 2.) borrows conceptually from common stories that existed in the cultural consciousness of the Mesopotamian peoples (and their descendants).

Obviously, one could assert, on the basis of a philosophical presupposition about the Hebrew texts, that every other ancient Near-Eastern story that shares common features is a copy or perversion of the original Hebrew story. The immediate problem one faces with this theory, however, is that much of the Near-Eastern examplars predate the writing of the Hebrew Scriptures and were produced by nations/peoples that were much larger and more powerful (and therefore, more internationally influential) than the Hebrews, even at the height of their power. Another major problem with such an assertion is that it is historically reductionistic in that it divorces the writing of the Hebrew Scriptures from the historical contexts in which the writers lived. It further suggests that the world history which the rest of the nations before and at the time of the writing of the Hebrew Scriptures affirmed within their mythical/religious/historical writings was formed and experienced exclusively by the Hebrew peoples. Such a perspective, as already noted, anachronistically assumes an influence upon world history and literature that is entirely disproportionate with the size and impact of Hebrew culture in the ancient world.

If these conclusions are reasonable, what then do we do with the presence of common ancient Near-Eastern mythos in the writings of the Hebrews? I would suggest that closer attention should be paid not to the supposed "originality" of the stories and epics in Hebrew literature, but rather to the way in which the writers of the Hebrew Scriptures deployed these stories.

For example, as a cursory comparison of the creation and flood epics will reveal, while there are numerous and undeniable similarities, there are also extremely crucial differences. For example, in the Assur creation epic, Enlil and Marduk create within the concert of the pantheon of the gods. In the Hebrew text, however, Yahweh is the sole creative personality (even the mention of the potential reference to another deity in the plural address mentioned above does not explicitly detract from Yahweh's "alone-ness" in creation). Morever, in the flood epic of Gilgamesh, the pantheon once again emerges, and the movements of the natural world are attributed to their actions and desires. In the flood narrative of the Hebrew Scriptures, Yahweh is again alone, and the devastation which occurs is the result of natural phenomenon.

As seen, both writers deploy a common epic understanding of world history and cosmological origins. However, the Hebrew writer departs significantly in the way these stories are deployed. Instead of following the identification of natural processes with deitific figures, the Hebrew writer, true to the monotheistic cultus of Hebrew thought, attributes all creation to Yahweh, yet creates a differentiation between Yahweh and the natural processes. In other words, although Yahweh controls the natural order, the natural order is not Yahweh.

In light of the fact that all other Near Eastern creation narratives and flood epics follow the Assur and Gilgamesh epics in their utilization of the pantheonic presence, the Hebrew text stands out significantly in revising the meaning of these events, attributing all to Yahweh alone. To those ancients who were thoroughly ingrained with the common pantheon-istic understanding of the creation and flood, such a departure would have been radical, to say the least. Such a revision strikes at the very heart and tradition of the common stories of the ancient peoples, reimagining them as the story of sovereign Yahweh in the context of human history. Moreover, from the creation epics to the flood story, the Hebrew writers pursued a demythologizistic hermeneutic, refusing to locate the natural forces of the world with divine beings.

From my perspective, it is at this level that the concept of "inspiration" is engaged. While it is true that many changes were made in ancient stories for propogandistic purposes, these revisions usually involved the changing of names and locations. What we find in the Hebrew readaptations, however, is a reordering of the entire complex of theistic belief. Rather than simply trading the pantheon for Yahweh, the Hebrew writers are reinventing these stories from a drastically different theological perspective. By appropriating these stories and calling them their own, the writers are, in a sense, appropriating human history and showing that it is Yahweh who is true God.

Therefore, while we may not be able to affirm every story of the Hebrew Scriptures as "historical" (which many equate with "inspired"), this does not prevent us from affirming the inspiration of these documents. If we follow the perspective outlined above, I think the concept of inspiration takes on an even more powerful meaning. After all, the redeployment of the ancient stories of humanity as the story of Yahweh is a radical claim; it asserts that all of human life–even its myths, legends, epics, imaginations, etc.–are claimed by and encapsulated by Yahweh, the true God.