Bible Myths and their Parallels in other Religions Being a Comparison of the Old and New Testament Myths and Miracles with those of the Heathen Nations of Antiquity Considering also their Origin and Meaning
Page: 69Xisuthrus (who is the Chaldean hero) was the tenth king.[102:4] Now, according to the Babylonian table, their Zodiac contained ten gods called the "Ten Zodiac gods."[102:5] They also believed that whenever all the planets met in the sign of Capricorn, the whole earth was overwhelmed with a deluge of water.[102:6] The Hindoos and other nations had a similar belief.[102:7]
It is well known that the Chaldeans were great astronomers. When Alexander the Great conquered the city of Babylon, the Chaldean priests boasted to the Greek philosophers, who followed his army, that they had continued their astronomical calculations through a period of more than forty thousand years.[102:8] Although this statement cannot be credited, yet the great antiquity of Chaldea cannot be doubted, and its immediate connection with Hindostan, or Egypt, is abundantly proved by the little that is known concerning its religion, and by the few fragments that remain of its former grandeur.
In regard to the story of "The Tower of Babel" little need be said. This, as well as the story of the Creation and Fall of Man, and the Deluge, was borrowed from the Babylonians.[102:9]
"It seems," says George Smith, "from the indications in the (cuneiform) inscriptions, that there happened in the interval between 2000 and 1850 B. C. a general collection of the development of the various traditions of the Creation, Flood, Tower of Babel, and other similar legends." "These legends were, however, traditions before they were committed to writing, and were common in some form to all the country."[103:1]
The Tower of Babel, or the confusion of tongues, is nowhere alluded to in the Old Testament outside of Genesis, where the story is related.
The next story in order is "The Trial of Abraham's Faith."
In this connection we have shown similar legends taken from Grecian mythology, which legends may have given the idea to the writer of the Hebrew story.
It may appear strange that the Hebrews should have been acquainted with Grecian mythology, yet we know this was the case. The fact is accounted for in the following manner:
Many of the Jews taken captive at the Edomite sack of Jerusalem were sold to the Grecians,[103:2] who took them to their country. While there, they became acquainted with Grecian legends, and when they returned from "the Islands of the Sea"—as they called the Western countries—they brought them to Jerusalem.[103:3]
This legend, as we stated in the chapter which treated of it, was written at the time when the Mosaic party in Israel were endeavoring to abolish human sacrifices and other "abominations," and the author of the story invented it to make it appear that the Lord had abolished them in the time of Abraham. The earliest Targum[103:4] knows nothing about the legend, showing that the story was not in the Pentateuch at the time this Targum was written.
We have also seen that a story written by Sanchoniathon (about B. C. 1300) of one Saturn, whom the Phenicians called Israel, bore a resemblance to the Hebrew legend of Abraham. Now, Count de Volney tells us that "a similar tradition prevailed among the Chaldeans," and that they had the history of one Zerban—which means "rich-in-gold"[103:5]—that corresponded in many respects with the history of Abraham.[103:6] It may, then, have been from the Chaldean story that the Hebrew fable writer got his idea.
The next legend which we examined was that of "Jacob's Vision of the Ladder." We claimed that it probably referred to the doctrine of the transmigration of souls from one body into another, and also gave the apparent reason for the invention of the story.
The next story was "The Exodus from Egypt, and Passage through the Red Sea," in which we showed, from Egyptian history, that the Israelites were turned out of the country on account of their uncleanness, and that the wonderful exploits recorded of Moses were simply copies of legends related of the sun-god Bacchus. These legends came from "the Islands of the Sea," and came in very handy for the Hebrew fable writers; they saved them the trouble of inventing.
We now come to the story relating to "The Receiving of the Ten Commandments" by Moses from the Lord, on the top of a mountain, 'mid thunders and lightnings.
All that is likely to be historical in this account, is that Moses assembled, not, indeed, the whole of the people, but the heads of the tribes, and gave them the code which he had prepared.[104:1] The marvellous portion of the story was evidently copied from that related of the law-giver Zoroaster, by the Persians, and the idea that there were two tables of stone with the Law written thereon was evidently taken from the story of Bacchus, the Law-giver, who had his laws written on