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Babylonian Account of the Great Flood

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BABYLONIAN FLOOD

The story of the Great Flood shows the punishment upon humankind by the Gods. In this story, people in Sumeria are prosperous, multiplying their populace, and this makes an annoying amount of noise on earth. The Gods become irritated, due to the noise, saying that it continues to keep them awake day and night, affording no time to sleep. They come upon the God of the Earth, Ellil, who makes sickness and disease, and say let illness such as, suruppu, asakku, and headache knock into them like a storm. When the disease hit, the moral man, Atrahasis, who had his “ear open to his god Enki”, used his association with this God to spare the people. He was told to and directed to do personal sacrifices and rituals with his people, to be freed from the illness (Mark, 2011).

Enki and Ellil were furious with each other; why did they create a race of people, just to wish to have them destroyed? They had created an entire race of people to do the chores that the gods no longer wanted to do themselves. In their fickle way, the gods just tortured the human people when the slightest disturbance occurred. In the radical form of demolition, the gods cause a massive flood to “roar across the land” and destroy all in its path. Enki sent a dream to Atrahasis after he heard about the plan, and through Atrahasis’ intervention and wisdom of that dream, a few humans were warned and told to build a boat with nourishments and shelter enough to survive for the seven days and seven nights of flooding.

The land was devastated, and in this account, the gods abolished human kind; with their all mighty power, leaving only those few that were warned in time. Enki’s effort made to inform Atrahasis of this flood shows that there is a relationship building between God and human, still not between all gods, but it does exist. Enki obviously appreciates the hardships that the humans are suffering through in spite of the gods, and because these humans are partly his creation, he feels a bond to them, especially Atrahasis (Mark, 2011).

The proper relationship with the gods should always be to praise them, to follow their will and guidance, regardless of the circumstances, even if required to be tested with enormous suffering. The humans are at the mercy of the gods and can only hope for the gods' reward. One might argue that humans are simply God’s marionettes, and God is misusing his power in an unbalanced relationship with us. It would seem we have no choice or will. This raises the question: Is misfortune always a divine punishment for something? Or is misfortune simply part of life’s experience regardless of our good or bad behavior (Mark, 2011)?

If humans are attempting to live a virtuous life without any sinful acts, will they avoid being punished by the gods? Atrahasis maintains a thread of faith, which inspires him to persevere. In return, he is both restored and rewarded. Without the proper relationship between the divine and humanity in place, and no mutual respect or gain is accomplished or maintained, life is no enjoyable feat; it has no purpose. When the balance is in place, with both humanity and the gods in their proper state of the balance, humans will flourish, and the gods will be content (Mark, 2011).

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