Legends of Babylon and and Egypt in Relation to Hebrew Tradition


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A far greater number of writers hold that it was after their arrival
in Palestine that the Hebrew patriarchs came into contact with
Babylonian culture. It is true that from an early period Syria was the
scene of Babylonian invasions, and in the first lecture we noted some
newly recovered evidence upon this point. Moreover, the dynasty to
which Hammurabi belonged came originally from the north-eastern border
of Canaan and Hammurabi himself exercised authority in the west. Thus
a plausible case could be made out by exponents of this theory,
especially as many parallels were noted between the Mosaic legislation
and that contained in Hammurabi's Code. But it is now generally
recognized that the features common to both the Hebrew and the
Babylonian legal systems may be paralleled to-day in the Semitic East
and elsewhere,[1] and cannot therefore be cited as evidence of
cultural contact. Thus the hypothesis that the Hebrew patriarchs were
subjects of Babylon in Palestine is not required as an explanation of
the facts; and our first period still stands or falls by the question
of the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, which must be decided on
quite other grounds. Those who do not accept the traditional view will
probably be content to rule this first period out.

[1] See Cook, /The Laws of Moses and the Code of Hammurabi/, p. 281
f.; Driver, /Genesis/, p. xxxvi f.; and cf. Johns, "The Laws of
Babylonia and the Laws of the Hebrew Peoples/ (Schweich Lectures,
1912), pp. 50 ff.

During the second period, that of the settlement in Canaan, the
Hebrews came into contact with a people who had used the Babylonian
language as the common medium of communication throughout the Near
East. It is an interesting fact that among the numerous letters found
at Tell el-Amarna were two texts of quite a different character. These
were legends, both in the form of school exercises, which had been
written out for practice in the Babylonian tongue. One of them was the
legend of Adapa, in which we noted just now a distant resemblance to
the Hebrew story of Paradise. It seems to me we are here standing on
rather firmer ground; and provisionally we might place the beginning
of our process after the time of Hebrew contact with the Canaanites.

Under the earlier Hebrew monarchy there was no fresh influx of
Babylonian culture into Palestine. That does not occur till our last
main period, the later Judaean monarchy, when, in consequence of the
westward advance of Assyria, the civilization of Babylon was once more
carried among the petty Syrian states. Israel was first drawn into the
circle of Assyrian influence, when Arab fought as the ally of Benhadad
of Damascus at the battle of Karkar in 854 B.C.; and from that date
onward the nation was menaced by the invading power. In 734 B.C., at
the invitation of Ahaz of Judah, Tiglath-Pileser IV definitely
intervened in the affairs of Israel. For Ahaz purchased his help
against the allied armies of Israel and Syria in the Syro-Ephraimitish
war. Tiglath-pileser threw his forces against Damascus and Israel, and
Ahaz became his vassal.[1] To this period, when Ahaz, like Panammu II,
"ran at the wheel of his lord, the king of Assyria", we may ascribe
the first marked invasion of Assyrian influence over Judah. Traces of
it may be seen in the altar which Ahaz caused to be erected in
Jerusalem after the pattern of the Assyrian altar at Damascus.[2] We
saw in the first lecture, in the monuments we have recovered of
Panammu I and of Bar-rekub, how the life of another small Syrian state
was inevitably changed and thrown into new channels by the presence of
Tiglath-pileser and his armies in the West.

[1] 2 Kings xvi. 7 ff.

[2] 2 Kings xvi. 10 ff.

Hezekiah's resistance checked the action of Assyrian influence on
Judah for a time. But it was intensified under his son Manasseh, when
Judah again became tributary to Assyria, and in the house of the Lord
altars were built to all the host of heaven.[1] Towards the close of
his long reign Manasseh himself was summoned by Ashur-bani-pal to
Babylon.[2] So when in the year 586 B.C. the Jewish exiles came to
Babylon they could not have found in its mythology an entirely new and
unfamiliar subject. They must have recognized several of its stories
as akin to those they had assimilated and now regarded as their own.
And this would naturally have inclined them to further study and
comparison.

[1] 2 Kings xxi. 5.

[2] Cf. 2 Chron. xxxiii. 11 ff.

The answer I have outlined to this problem is the one that appears to
me most probable, but I do not suggest that it is the only possible
one that can be given. What I do suggest is that the Hebrews must have
gained some acquaintance with the legends of Babylon in pre-exilic
times. And it depends on our reading of the evidence into which of the
three main periods the beginning of the process may be traced.

So much, then, for the influence of Babylon. We have seen that no
similar problem arises with regard to the legends of Egypt. At first
sight this may seem strange, for Egypt lay nearer than Babylon to
Palestine, and political and commercial intercourse was at least as
close. We have already noted how Egypt influenced Semitic art, and how
she offered an ideal, on the material side of her existence, which was
readily adopted by her smaller neighbours. Moreover, the Joseph
traditions in Genesis give a remarkably accurate picture of ancient
Egyptian life; and even the Egyptian proper names embedded in that
narrative may be paralleled with native Egyptian names than that to
which the traditions refer. Why then is it that the actual myths and
legends of Egypt concerning the origin of the world and its
civilization should have failed to impress the Hebrew mind, which, on
the other hand, was so responsive to those of Babylon?

One obvious answer would be, that it was Nebuchadnezzar II, and not
Necho, who carried the Jews captive. And we may readily admit that the
Captivity must have tended to perpetuate and intensify the effects of
any Babylonian influence that may have previously been felt. But I
think there is a wider and in that sense a better answer than that.

I do not propose to embark at this late hour on what ethnologists know
as the "Hamitic" problem. But it is a fact that many striking
parallels to Egyptian religious belief and practice have been traced
among races of the Sudan and East Africa. These are perhaps in part to
be explained as the result of contact and cultural inheritance. But at
the same time they are evidence of an African, but non-Negroid,
substratum in the religion of ancient Egypt. In spite of his proto-
Semitic strain, the ancient Egyptian himself never became a Semite.
The Nile Valley, at any rate until the Moslem conquest, was stronger
than its invaders; it received and moulded them to its own ideal. This
quality was shared in some degree by the Euphrates Valley. But
Babylonia was not endowed with Egypt's isolation; she was always open
on the south and west to the Arabian nomad, who at a far earlier
period sealed her Semitic type.

To such racial division and affinity I think we may confidently trace
the influence exerted by Egypt and Babylon respectively upon Hebrew
tradition.

APPENDIX I

COMPARATIVE TABLE OF THE SUMERIAN, SEMITIC-BABYLONIAN,
HELLENISTIC, AND HEBREW VERSIONS OF CREATION,
ANTEDILUVIAN HISTORY, AND THE DELUGE

N.B.--Parallels with the new Sumerian Version are in upper-case.

Sumerian Version. Seven Tablets Gilgamesh Epic, XI Berossus['Damscius] Earlier Heb. (J) Later Heb. (P)
[No heaven or earth No heaven or earth Darkness and water Creation of earth Earth without form
First Creation from Primaeval water- [Primaeval water- and heaven and void; darkness
primaeval water gods: Apsû-Tiamat, gods: {'Apason- No plant or herb on face of /tehôm/,
without conflict; Mummu Tauthe}, {Moumis} Ground watered by the primaeval water
cf. Later Sum. Ver. Generation of: Generation of: mist (or flood) Divine spirit moving
Lakhmu-Lakhamu {Lakhos-Lakhe} [cf. Sumerian (hovering, brooding)
Anshar-Kishar {'Assoros-Kissare} irrigation myth of upon face of waters
Creation]

The great gods: Birth of great gods: Birth of great gods:
ANU, ENLIL, ENKI, ANU, Nudimmud (=EA) {'Anos, 'Illinos,
and Ninkharsagga, Apsû and Tiamat 'Aos, 'Aois-Lauke,
creating deities revolt Belos] Conquest of Tiamat Conquest of {'Omorka}, Creation of light
by Marduk as Sun- or {Thamte}, by
god {Belos}
Creation of covering Creation of heaven and Creation of firmament,
for heaven from earth from two halves or heaven, to divide
half of Tiamat's of body of Thamte waters; followed by
body, to keep her emergence of land
waters in place Creation of vegetation
Creation of luminaries Creation of luminaries Creation of luminaries
[Creation of (probable order) Creation of animals
vegetation]

REASON FOR MAN'S REASON FOR MAN'S
CREATION: worship of CREATION: worship of
gods gods
Creation of MAN Creation of MAN from Creation of MAN from Creation of MAN from Creation of MAN in
Creator's blood and Creator's blood and dust and Creator's image of Creator, to
from bone from earth breath of life have dominion
Creation of ANIMALS [Creation of animals] Creation of ANIMALS Creation of vegetation
Hymn on Seventh Tablet able to bear the air ANIMALS, and woman Rest on Seventh Day

Creation of KINGDOM 10 Antediluvian KINGS The line of Cain Antediluvian
5 ANTEDILUVIAN CITIES: Antediluvian city: 3 ANTEDILUVIAN CITIES: The Nephilim [cf. patriarchs [cf.
Eridu, Bad.., LARAK, SHURUPPAK Babylon, SIPPAR, Sumerian Dynastic Sumerian Dynastic
SIPPAR, SHURUPPAK LARANKHA List] List]

Gods decree MANKIND'S Gods decree flood, Destruction of MAN Destruction of all
destruction by flood, goddess ISHTAR decreed, because of flesh decreed, because
NINTU protesting protesting his wickedness of its corruption

ZIUSUDU, hero of UT-NAPISHTIM, hero {Xisouthros} Noah, hero of Deluge Noah, hero of Deluge
Deluge, KING and of Deluge (=Khasisatra), hero
priest of Deluge, KING

Ziusudu's PIETY Noah's FAVOUR Noah's RIGHTEOUSNESS

WARNING of Ziusudu by WARNING of Ut-nap- WARNING of Xisuthros WARNING of Noah, and
Enki in DREAM ishtim by Ea in DREAM by Kronos in DREAM instructions for ark

Ziusudu's vessel a SHIP: 120x120x120 Size of SHIP: 5x2 Instructions to enter Size of ARK: 300x50x30
HUGE SHIP cubits; 7 stories; 9 stadia ark cubits; 3 stories
divisions

All kinds of animals All kinds of animals 7(x2) clean, 2 unclean 2 of all animals

Flood and STORM for 7 FLOOD from heavy rain FLOOD FLOOD from rain for 40 FLOOD; founts. of deep
days and STORM for 6 days days and rain, 150 days

Ship on Mt. Nisir Ark on Ararat

Abatement of waters Abatement of waters Abatement of waters Abatement of waters
tested by birds tested by birds tested by birds through drying wind

SACRIFICE to Sun-god SACRIFICE with sweet SACRIFICE to gods, SACRIFICE with sweet Landing from ark [after
in ship savour on mountain after landing and savour after landing year (+10 days)] paying adoration to
EARTH

Anu and Enlil appeased Ea's protest to ENLIL APOTHEOSIS of X., Divine promise to Noah Divine covenant not
[by "Heaven and Earth"] IMMORTALITY of Ut-nap- wife, daughter, and not again to curse again to destroy EARTH
IMMORTALITY of Ziusudu ishtim and his wife pilot the GROUND by flood; bow as sign

APPENDIX II

THE ANTEDILUVIAN KINGS OF BEROSSUS AND
THE SUMERIAN DYNASTIC LIST

It may be of assistance to the reader to repeat in tabular form the
equivalents to the mythical kings of Berossus which are briefly
discussed in Lecture I. In the following table the two new equations,
obtained from the earliest section of the Sumerian Dynastic List, are
in upper-case.[1] The established equations to other names are in
normal case, while those for which we should possibly seek other
equivalents are enclosed within brackets.[2] Aruru has not been
included as a possible equivalent for {'Aloros}.[3]

1. {'Aloros}
2. {'Alaparos [? 'Adaparos]}, /Alaporus/, /Alapaurus/ [Adapa] 3. {'Amelon, 'Amillaros}, /Almelon/ [Amêlu] 4. {'Ammenon} ENMENUNNA
5. {Megalaros, Megalanos}, /Amegalarus/
6. {Daonos, Daos} ETANA
7. {Euedorakhos, Euedoreskhos}, /Edoranchus/ Enmeduranki
8. {'Amemphinos}, /Amemphsinus/ [Amêl-Sin] 9. {'Otiartes [? 'Opartes]} [Ubar-Tutu] 10. {Xisouthros, Sisouthros, Sisithros} Khasisatra, Atrakhasis[4] [1] For the royal names of Berossus, see /Euseb. chron. lib. pri./,
ed. Schoene, cols. 7 f., 31 ff. The latinized variants correspond
to forms in the Armenian translation of Eusebius.

[2] For the principal discussions of equivalents, see Hommel, /Proc.
Soc. Bibl. Arch./, Vol. XV (1893), pp. 243 ff., and /Die
altorientalischen Denkmäler und das Alte Testament/ (1902), pp. 23
ff.; Zimmern, /Die Keilinschriften und das Alte Testament/, 3rd
ed. (1902), pp. 531 ff.; and cf. Lenormant, /Les origines de
l'histoire/, I (1880), pp. 214 ff. See also Driver, /Genesis/,
10th ed. (1916), p. 80 f.; Skinner, /Genesis/, p. 137 f.; Ball,
/Genesis/, p. 50; and Gordon, /Early Traditions of Genesis/, pp.
46 ff.

[3] There is a suggested equation of Lal-ur-alimma with {'Aloros}.

[4] The hundred and twenty "sars", or 432,000 years assigned by
Berossus for the duration of the Antediluvian dynasty, are
distributed as follows among the ten kings; the numbers are given
below first in "sars", followed by their equivalents in years
within brackets: 1. Ten "sars" (36,000); 2. Three (10,800); 3.
Thirteen (46,800); 4. Twelve (43,200); 5. Eighteen (64,800); 6.
Ten (36,000); 7. Eighteen (64,800); 8. Ten (36,000); 9. Eight
(28,800); 10. Eighteen (64,800).

For comparison with Berossus it may be useful to abstract from the
Sumerian Dynastic List the royal names occurring in the earliest
extant dynasties. They are given below with variant forms from
duplicate copies of the list, and against each is added the number of
years its owner is recorded to have ruled. The figures giving the
total duration of each dynasty, either in the summaries or under the
separate reigns, are sometimes not completely preserved; in such cases
an x is added to the total of the figures still legible. Except in
those cases referred to in the foot-notes, all the names are written
in the Sumerian lists without the determinative for "god".

KINGDOM OF KISH
(23 kings; 18,000 + x years, 3 months, 3 days)

. . .[1] 8. [. . .] 900(?) years
9. Galumum, Kalumum 900 "
10. Zugagib, Zugakib 830 "
11. Arpi, Arpiu, Arbum 720 "
12. Etana[2] 635 (or 625) years
13. Pili . . .[3] 410 years
14. Enmenunna, Enmennunna[4] 611 "
15. Melamkish 900 "
16. Barsalnunna 1,200 "
17. Mesza[. . .] [. . .] "
. . .[5] 22. . . . 900 years
23. . . . 625 "

KINGDOM OF EANNA (ERECH)[6] (About 10-12 kings; 2,171 + x years)

1. Meskingasher 325 years
2. Enmerkar 420 "
3. Lugalbanda[7] 1,200 "
4. Dumuzi[8] (i.e. Tammuz) 100 "
5. Gishbilgames[9] (i.e. Gilgamesh) 126 (or 186) years
6. [. . .]lugal [. . .] years
. . .[10]

KINGDOM OF UR
(4 kings; 171 years)

1. Mesannipada 80 years
2. Meskiagnunna 30 "
3. Elu[. . .] 25 "
4. Balu[. . .] 36 "

KINGDOM OF AWAN
(3 kings; 356 years)
. . .[11] [1] Gap of seven, or possibly eight, names.

[2] The name Etana is written in the lists with and without the
determinative for "god".

[3] The reading of the last sign in the name is unknown. A variant
form of the name possibly begins with Bali.

[4] This form is given on a fragment of a late Assyrian copy of the
list; cf. /Studies in Eastern History/, Vol. III, p. 143.

[5] Gap of four, or possibly three, names.

[6] Eanna was the great temple of Erech. In the Second Column of the
list "the kingdom" is recorded to have passed from Kish to Eanna,
but the latter name does not occur in the summary.

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