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: 22

forty days and forty nights. . . . . And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered. Fifteen cubits upwards did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered. And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man. And Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark."[21:1] The object of the flood was now accomplished, "all flesh died that moved upon the earth." The Lord, therefore, "made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters assuaged. The fountains of the deep, and the windows of heaven, were stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained. And the waters decreased continually. . . . . And it came to pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark, which he had made. And he sent forth a raven, which went forth to and fro, until the waters were dried up from off the earth. He also sent forth a dove, . . . but the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him into the ark." . . .

At the end of seven days he again "sent forth the dove out of the ark, and the dove came in to him in the evening, and lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf, plucked off."

At the end of another seven days, he again "sent forth the dove, which returned not again to him any more."

And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat. Then Noah and his wife, and his sons, and his sons' wives, and every living thing that was in the ark, went forth out of the ark. "And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord, . . . and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the Lord smelled a sweet savour, and the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake."[21:2]

[Pg 22]

We shall now see that there is scarcely any considerable race of men among whom there does not exist, in some form, the tradition of a great deluge, which destroyed all the human race, except their own progenitors.

The first of these which we shall notice, and the one with which the Hebrew agrees most closely, having been copied from it,[22:1] is the Chaldean, as given by Berosus, the Chaldean historian.[22:2] It is as follows:

"After the death of Ardates (the ninth king of the Chaldeans), his son Xisuthrus reigned eighteen sari. In his time happened a great deluge, the history of which is thus described: The deity Cronos appeared to him (Xisuthrus) in a vision, and warned him that upon the fifteenth day of the month Desius there would be a flood, by which mankind would be destroyed. He therefore enjoined him to write a history of the beginning, procedure, and conclusion of all things, and to bury it in the City of the Sun at Sippara; and to build a vessel, and take with him into it his friends and relations, and to convey on board everything necessary to sustain life, together with all the different animals, both birds and quadrupeds, and trust himself fearlessly to the deep. Having asked the deity whither he was to sail, he was answered: 'To the Gods;' upon which he offered up a prayer for the good of mankind. He then obeyed the divine admonition, and built a vessel five stadia in length, and two in breadth. Into this he put everything which he had prepared, and last of all conveyed into it his wife, his children, and his friends. After the flood had been upon the earth, and was in time abated, Xisuthrus sent out birds from the vessel; which not finding any food, nor any place whereupon they might rest their feet, returned to him again. After an interval of some days, he sent them forth a second time; and they now returned with their feet tinged with mud. He made a trial a third time with these birds; but they returned to him no more: from whence he judged that the surface of the earth had appeared above the waters. He therefore made an opening in the vessel, and upon looking out found that it was stranded upon the side of some mountain; upon which he immediately quitted it with his wife, his daughter, and the pilot. Xisuthrus then paid his adoration to the earth, and, having constructed an altar, offered sacrifices to the gods."[22:3]

This account, given by Berosus, which agrees in almost every particular with that found in Genesis, and with that found by George Smith of the British Museum on terra cotta tablets in Assyria, is nevertheless different in some respects. But, says Mr. Smith:

"When we consider the difference between the two countries of Palestine and Babylonia, these variations do not appear greater than we should expect. . . . It was only natural that, in relating the same stories, each nation should [Pg 23]color them in accordance with its own ideas, and stress would naturally in each case be laid upon points with which they were familiar. Thus we should expect beforehand that there would be differences in the narrative such as we actually find, and we may also notice that the cuneiform account does not always coincide even with the account of the same events given by Berosus from Chaldean sources."[23:1]

The most important points are the same however, i. e., in both cases the virtuous man is informed by the Lord that a flood is about to take place, which would destroy mankind. In both cases they are commanded to build a vessel or ark, to enter it with their families, and to take in beasts, birds, and everything that creepeth, also to provide themselves with food. In both cases they send out a bird from the ark three times—the third time it failed to return. In both cases they land on a mountain, and upon leaving the ark they offer up a sacrifice to the gods. Xisuthrus was the tenth king,[23:2] and Noah the tenth patriarch.[23:3] Xisuthrus had three sons (Zerovanos, Titan and Japetosthes),[23:4] and Noah had three sons (Shem, Ham and Japhet).[23:5]

As Cory remarks in his "Ancient Fragments," the history of the flood, as given by Berosus, so remarkably corresponds with the Biblical account of the Noachian Deluge, that no one can doubt that both proceeded from one source—they are evidently transcriptions, except the names, from some ancient document.[23:6]

This legend became known to the Jews from Chaldean sources,[23:7] it was not known in the country (Egypt) out of which they evidently came.[23:8] Egyptian history, it is said, had gone on [Pg 24]uninterrupted for ten thousand years before the time assigned for the birth of Jesus.[24:1] And it is known as absolute fact that the land of Egypt was never visited by other than its annual beneficent overflow of the river Nile.[24:2] The Egyptian Bible, which is by far the most ancient of all holy books[24:3], knew nothing of the Deluge.[24:4] The Phra (or Pharaoh) Khoufou-Cheops was building his pyramid, according to Egyptian chronicle, when the whole world was under the waters of a universal deluge, according to the Hebrew chronicle.[24:5] A number of other nations of antiquity are found destitute of any story of a flood,[24:6] which they certainly would have had if a universal deluge had ever happened. Whether this legend is of high antiquity in India has even been doubted by distinguished scholars.[24:7]

The Hindoo legend of the Deluge is as follows:

"Many ages after the creation of the world, Brahma resolved to destroy it with a deluge, on account of the wickedness of the people. There lived at that time a pious man named Satyavrata, and as the lord of the universe loved this pious man, and wished to preserve him from the sea of destruction which was to appear on account of the depravity of the age, he appeared before him in the form of