In Genesis 1:25-27, the creation of man follows the creation of animal life, and this order is reversed in Genesis 2:19-20. A possible reason for the reversal in order is that the animals created in Genesis 1 would cover the globe, whereas certain animals in Genesis 2 were indigenous to the garden of Eden. Adam was given the task of naming the animals. Not polar bears, penguins, aye ayes, South American tree sloths, Australian koala bears, or duck-billed platypuses, which would have been geographically remote, but simply the animals near to the garden. [i][i] It is the offspring of this group, apparently, that Noah was instructed to save in the flood.
All and Every
Genesis 8:17: "Bring forth with thee every thing that is with thee, of all flesh, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth; that they may breed abundantly in the earth, and be fruitful, and multiply upon the earth."
"Every beast" and "every fowl" that Adam named (Gen. 2:19) were the ones in this special area of habitation. The same requirement fits Noah's circumstances. "Every beast, every creeping thing, and every fowl" that Noah brought off the ark in Genesis 8:19 were likely from "all" the animals Adam named. They came from the immediate vicinity.We can only speculate on how much territory that would cover.
It is a great temptation to take ancient Hebrew words, translate them directly into English, and then make an interpretation based upon what modern English-speaking peoples might have meant had they used such words. There are many instances where this technique will generate an erroneous result.
In Genesis 41:41,47, Pharaoh set Joseph "over all the land of Egypt," and there were seven plentiful years. "And he gathered up all the food of the seven years, which were in the land of Egypt ..." (Gen. 41:48). All the food?The resident Egyptians ate none of it in seven years?
"And the famine was over all the face of the earth ..." (Gen. 41:56).Were the Americas similarly affected?Australia? China?"And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn ..." (Gen. 41:57). That would be a long trip for someone living in Scandinavia.
Now, let us use common sense interpreting these verses. The issue is not whether Old Testament passages can be interpreted literally. They can and should be. There were seven years of bountiful harvest followed by seven lean years. Food was stored up during the first seven years so that enough would be available for the following seven. They were so efficient that even surrounding countries could draw on their stores.
Reason needs to be applied lest we cause a needless distortion. It would be unreasonable to suggest that the Egyptians ate not a morsel for seven years because, "he gathered up all the food of the seven years." It would be senseless to think the rainfall in Peru was deficient because "the famine was all over the face of the earth," or that Aztec Indians lined up behind Australian Aborigines at the gates of Memphis because "all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn ..." By the same token, the Genesis flood narrative does not mandate a world-wide catastrophe because "all flesh died" in it.
This interpretative constraint can be seen elsewhere in the Old Testament. In I Samuel, David and 600 of his men were in hot pursuit of the Amalekite army. When David's band made contact with the Amalekites, "behold, they were spread abroad upon all the earth ..." (I Sam. 30:16).
Whereupon David smote them; only 400 young Amalekite men escaped death (I Sam. 30:17). To those who would insist that the language of Genesis 7 and 8 dictates a world-wide flood because the waters prevailed "upon the earth," I would invite them to be consistent, and distribute the Amalekite army over the globe also. Then explain how David was able to eradicate them in 24 hours with only 400 men (200 lagged behind).
The Amalekite army, in all likelihood, occupied no more territory than did the Confederate troops at the battle of Gettysburg. Knowing that gives us a means of measurement we can apply to the flood. By using the Bible's own yardstick, the deluge of Noah's day would be local, not global.
Another example of Hebrew terminology is found in Psalm 22. This is a psalm of David, yet a prophecy of the crucifixion, "... they pierced my hands and my feet" (Psa. 22:16).
Matthew harkens back to David, "the prophet," and quotes Psalm 22:18 in his account of the Roman soldiers casting lots for Jesus's garments (Matt. 27:35). Yet, David the psalmist also wrote, "... and all my bones are out of joint" (Psa. 22:14).
Should the word "all" in this verse cause heartburn? No! It is entirely consistent in Hebrew usage. Reason and common sense cannot be cast aside when Hebrew terminology is converted into English. Likewise, reason is helpful to recognize that the Genesis flood passages pertain assuredly to a local calamity, not a global cataclysm.
Men and Animals Spared
Placing every kind, variety, or species of animal, bird, and insect on a mountain top, or even on a lower foothill after the flood, would present a gigantic redistributional nightmare. Imagine tree sloths, for example, lumbering their way from Armenia up through Siberia, across the Bering Strait (long after the land bridge was gone), and then down through what is now Alaska and Canada, across the plains and deserts that are part of the U.S. and Latin America to their present-day home in South America. Whereupon, the giant-sized versions promptly went extinct! Drats.
If we know anything about world geography, we also should know that migration does not explain how animals could have traveled from Armenia to their present-day habitats. Before the flood, during the flood, and after the flood, the world's animal populations went about their daily business, oblivious to what transpired in Southern Mesopotamia.
The fact of animal survivors gives needed perspective to the biblical account. It may not be noticeable immediately from Genesis 8:17, but surviving animal life is one basis for acknowledging human survivors as well. It may not be as evident, but when we focus on what the Bible says, and not on what we have been told it means, we can see there were human populations living outside the flood zone.
Ramm emphasized this point:
The flood was local to the Mesopotamian valley. The animals that came, prompted by divine instinct, were the animals of that region; they were preserved for the good of man after the flood. Man was destroyed within the boundaries of the flood; the record is mute about man in America or Africa or China. [ii][ii]
If an abundance of animal life over the globe was excluded from the flood, something we can verify easily, then a consistent reading of the text also excludes mankind. Linking animals and man in the Genesis text requires a mutual interpretation. In ignorance, we might think all animals and all men perished in the flood. In light of general revelation, we can say that some animals and some men perished in the flood. It would be entirely inconsistent, however, to assert that only some animals died in the flood, but all men perished.
For Whom the Bell Tolled
In pointing to His second coming, Jesus refers to the days of Noah. "For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark ..." (Matt. 24:38).
In Atrahasis, we are given a perspective on what "eating and drinking" may mean. Although there are pieces missing out of the account, enough has been recovered to show us the overwhelming compassion and sorrow he must have felt in the waning hours before the rain began to fall. After the birds, cattle, and wild animals were put aboard, Atrahasis turned to his people for whom there was no provision.
He invited his people [ ]
[ ] to a feast.
[ ] he put his family on board.
They were eating, they were drinking.
But he went in and out,
Could not stay still or rest on his haunches,
His heart was breaking and he was vomiting bile. [iii][iii]
As regards the Sumerians, "drinking" has a different connotation. Although some wheat was grown in Sumer, the salty, alkaline soil was more friendly to growing barley. The Sumerians knew what to do with that. Some 40% of all the barley grown in that region was used to produce ale. The drunken ways of the Sumerians were so notorious, the Greeks joked that one of their pagan gods, Dionysus, had fled from Sumer in revulsion. [iv][iv]
The "wickedness" and "thoughts of evil" (Gen. 6:5) which brought on the ultimate destruction must have been manifested in those who had the knowledge and capacity for sin, specifically those who were direct descendants from Adam and Eve. Sumerians living in close proximity with the Semites could have been afflicted similarly by sin, and there is much evidence that the cancerous growth of sin had spread to them as well.
We know that slavery, divorce, and polygamy were practiced. The Sumerians worshipped over 3,000 pagan gods, and brought food offerings to them. As populations grew, appetites for more grain for food and drink put increased demands on the scarce water supply. When they dug irrigation canals upstream, it would deprive farmers farther downstream. Cities waged war on neighboring cities over land and water rights.
Often the Sumerian king list concludes a list of kings at cities with an ominous phrase, "Uruk was smitten with weapons"; "Ur was smitten with weapons"; "Kish was smitten with weapons." [v][v] Although the Sumerians were capable of committing acts of raw aggression, murdering and enslaving their hapless victims, the question is, were they accountable?
God is a loving but righteous Father, meting out punishment for disobedience. Adam was given a commandment, he disobeyed, and was punished. When "men began to call upon the name of the Lord" (Gen 4:26), the knowledge of both good and evil passed to Adam's offspring.
Sin is a uniquely human attribute, but until God determined to give a commandment specifically to Adam, it does not appear that penalties were assigned. History does not record such a commandment was given to native Americans, or Black Africans, or Asiatics, or even Egyptians or Sumerians. They were not tasked by God. Why should He destroy those who were not held to account?
When Abraham made his appeal to God to withhold His judgment against the condemned city of Sodom if only ten righteous people were found, he started with this question in Genesis 18:23, "Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?"
If God could confirm for Abraham that His judgment would not extend to punish the righteous few for the wicked many, then He merely read into the record what He had already established at the time of the flood. Was moral corruption prevalent among those who had yet to learn of sin and disobedience, who were not answerable, who had not been given a commandment? Probably so. Immorality - yes, judgment - no.
On the question, did Noah's flood cover the entire world? Donald Boardman answered "no," and concluded:
There is little evidence from the Scriptures concerning how God was dealing with people in other parts of the earth. It seems logical in the light of these evidences that, in the case of the Noahic society, God was dealing with a local society and that his punishment was upon a limited number of persons at the time. [vi][vi]
If the flood is recent and local, and there are no gaps in the Genesis chronology which puts only 1,656 years (from the Masoretic text) between the flood and Adam's creation, then placing both Noah's flood and Adam's birth downstream in the history of humanity is a necessary conclusion. Not only unaffected animal survivors, but disinterested human survivors, were all over the globe when Noah disembarked. From The Cambridge Ancient History:
Although the Flood was not the universal phenomenon that it has often been claimed to be, there is no doubt that it was exceptional among the long series of recorded Mesopotamian floods and that it overwhelmed parts of various cities in southern Babylonia. [vii][vii]
Dalley calls for survivors in her book, Myths from Mesopotamia:
Although Atrahasis emphasizes the catastrophic nature of the Flood, the ancient Babylonians were well aware that not every thing was destroyed; Erra and Ishum makes it clear that the city of Sippar survived, a belief echoed by Berossus, who says that ancient writings were buried there before the Flood and later retrieved. [viii][viii]
Writing at the time of Caesar Augustus, Nicolaus Damascenus makes mention of one who was carried on an ark to the mountains of Armenia. His brief account ends with a conjectural comment, "Perhaps this was the same individual of whom Moses the legislator of the Jews has made mention."[ix][ix] (Hmmm, I wonder ...)
It is the beginning of Damascenus's account that bears directly on the question of local flood survivors.
There is above Minyas in the land of Armenia a very great mountain which is called Baris; to which, it is said, that many persons retreated at the time of the deluge and were saved ... [x][x]
When we consider that racially diverse populations covered the globe long before 5,000 years ago, flood survivors are mandated. [xi][xi] In his book, The Biblical Flood, Davis Young concluded:
... archaeological investigations have established the presence of human beings in the Americas, Australia, and southeastern Asia long before the advent of the sort of Near Eastern civilization described in the Bible and thus long before the biblical deluge could have taken place. In the light of a wealth of mutually supportive evidence from a variety of disciplines and sources, it is simply no longer tenable to insist that a deluge drowned every human on the face of the globe except Noah's family. [xii][xii]
"All the relevant evidence from the created order tells us that the flood was neither geographically nor anthropologically universal," [xiii][xiii] Young went on to say. Indeed, the Bible itself appears to be cognizant of flood survivors. The Genesis 6:4 "giants" (Nephilim in Hebrew) were some manner of men with ancient origins who apparently were in residence prior to Noah, and maybe, Adam. Furthermore, they appear in later chapters. In Numbers 13:33, the post-flood "sons of Anak who come of the giants" reflects back to Genesis 6:4, to the pre-flood period. This is from The Expositor's Bible Commentary:
On the face of it, the remark presents a problem to the view that only Noah and his sons survived the Flood, since it suggests that the "sons of Anak" were descendants of the "Nephilim" (min hannepilim, lit. "from the Nephilim") who lived before the Flood. [xiv][xiv]
How could Nephilim be on both sides of the flood? Because in the post-flood period they were living in what became Canaanite country, the region of Palestine, outside the flood zone. Data compiled from archaeological excavations in the Near East corroborates the local nature of the flood. Although flood deposits have been found at sites in Mesopotamia, no flood layers have been found in Egypt or in the Palestine region.
In Deuteronomy 2:10,11, "The Emims dwelt therein in times past, a people great and many, and tall as the Anakims; which also were accounted giants, as the Anakims; but the Moabites call them Emims." The Anakims were a race of giants, descendants of Anak, who dwelled in southern Canaan. [xv][xv] Emims were as tall as Anakims, the Bible attests, and were the ancient inhabitants of Moab. [xvi][xvi] In Deuteronomy 2:20,21, "That also was accounted a land of giants: giants dwelt therein in old time; and the Ammonites call them Zamzummims; a people great and many and tall as the Anakims; but the Lord destroyed them before them; and they succeeded them, and dwelt in their stead." Joshua mentions "remnant of the giants," "giants," or "valley of the giants" in five verses (Josh. 12:4; 13:12; 15:8; 17:15; 18:16).
Post-flood Emims, Anakims, or Zamzummims cannot be identified as Ubaidans, Sumerians, or Persians, but likewise, they do not appear to be any of Noah's kin either. And this urges the question. How could there be populations unrelated to Noah in the post-flood period, giants or otherwise, if all men died in the flood? If the Bible has no problem with flood survivors, it should not bother us.
Only one year after Darwin published The Origin of Species, fellow Englishman Edward William Lane wrote The Genesis of the Earth and of Man. In it he said:
It appears, therefore, that Holy Scripture does not forbid, nay, rather it requires, a belief in the existence of Pre-Adamites of our species, whose posterity were not destroyed with the unbelieving Adamites by the waters of the flood. [xvii][xvii]
If Bible scholars had paid as much attention to Lane as biologists did to Darwin it is possible that no Bible-science conflict would have developed at all!
Of Patriarchs and Kings
When the Sumerian king lists began to surface, there was a rush to show that these were the source of the biblical patriarchs. The Berossus list, close companion to the Sumerian versions, was analyzed by the Assyriologist Zimmern, who concluded:
It can hardly be doubted that the Biblical tradition of Gen 5 (P) concerning the antediluvian patriarchs is basically identical with the Babylonian tradition about ten antediluvian primeval kings. [xviii][xviii]
Taking the opposite tack, G. F. Hasel made a comparative study and found "a complete lack of agreement and relationship" [xix][xix] between Genesis 5 and 11 and the Sumerian kings. As is often the case, the truth may be found between extremes. The Genesis patriarchs and Sumerian kings cannot possibly be "basically identical" for reasons we shall see. On the other hand, there is sufficient commonality that to say there is "a complete lack of agreement" is equally erroneous. We will compare by first deriving a consensus list of Sumerian kings.
Using a Revised King List
So that we may use only one list for comparison, King list W-B 62 is revised, taking into account another primary list (W-B 444), plus five other lists (not shown). Table 1 is the result.
Step 1. Misplacing names was a common scribal error. With the other lists as guides, Enmenluanna replaces the fragmented -kidunnu, moving him from seventh to third. This moves the eighth and ninth kings up to positions 7 and 8.
Step 2. Enmengalanna from W-B 444 replaces the fragmented -alimma.
Step 3. Suruppak is inserted at position 9 as an intermediate generation. Ziusudra's grandfather, Ubartutu, reigned immediately before Ziusudra, but Suruppak was Ziusudra's father. [xx][xx] One king list even names Suruppak and omits Ubartutu.
We now have a revised king list for comparison purposes.
Table 2 gives us a "spreadsheet" of the pre-flood patriarchs, including the revised list of pre-flood kings, the Berossus list, and two other king lists to compare alongside the Genesis patriarchs.
One transposition has been performed on the Berossus list. Both Amempsinos and Ensibzianna are identified as king of Larak. Since Larak was "clearly the third city" according to Langdon, [xxi][xxi] this suggests the Berossus list has Amempsinos out of order with Edoranchus.
Let us start with some preliminary observations. First, the genealogies in Genesis are just that; the early fathers of the Semites. The Sumerian king lists represent Semite (Adamite) and Sumerian kings, although there is some disagreement among experts as to which is which. At any rate, as the king lists represent rulers, no purely ancestral relationships are implied, even though royal offspring often ascend the throne.
Second, the thousands of years the pre-flood kings reigned looks to be an error in interpretation rather than a recording error. This can be deduced from the post-flood kings at Kish. After "the flood swept thereover," and the kingship was restored, 23 kings reigned a total of 24,510 years - plus, if you can believe it, 3 months and 3 1/2 days! (Archbishop Ussher must have had a Sumerologist counterpart.)
Using the archaeological date of 2900 BC for the flood, that would mean the kings of Kish are still ruling today, and have another 19,000 years to go! Where is the error? The years the post-flood Sumerian kings reigned appear to be off by a factor of about 60. The Sumerians used a sexagesimal system of numbers, and that offers a clue as to how astronomical figures may be brought into the realm of believability. Dividing by 60 puts the total years reigned at Kish at a little over 400, a reasonable figure. It can get more complex than that (they may have relied on moon phases rather than sun cycles, etc.), but it's not something we need to dwell on.
To assert that the Bible genealogies are unrelated to the Sumerian kings because of a discrepancy in the hundreds of years of life for the patriarchs, versus the thousands of years reigned for the pre-flood kings, misrepresents the case. It should not be surprising that Sumerologists have been every bit as prone to error as Bible translators, and similarly reluctant to make necessary corrections. [xxii][xxii]
Third, confusion can arise when more than one name pertains to a single individual. Among the difficulties is that titles or occupations have been used at times, rather than proper names, and will look dissimilar, especially when recorded in different languages. There are many instances where the Bible itself uses more than one name for one person, for example: Abram = Abraham, Jacob = Israel, Saul = Paul, Peter = Simon = Cephas, and even Jesus = Emmanuel (corresponding, perhaps, to the Accadian "Ea").
Fourth, Adam is a prime candidate as Alulim at Eridu. Seth, or conceivably Enosh, could be the second king, Alalgar. But the fourth patriarch, Cainan, does not and should not appear on the king lists. Eridu was overthrown. Kingship passed to the victorious city - a Sumerian city - Badtabira. A Sumerian city at that early date was likely devoid of foreigners speaking strange languages. The three kings of Badtabira should not be in the Adamic line.
So a dissimilarity is what we should expect concerning those three kings, and that is the case. Also, no connection can be seen between any of the kings and Jared, or with Mahalalel outside of Berossus. This sets apart at least three or four out of the ten patriarchs as absent from the Sumerian king lists, and that is about as far as dissimilarity can be extended.
Finally, there are complicating factors. The genealogies are in Hebrew, while the kings are in Sumerian, an unrelated language, and Berossus wrote in Greek. Still, these are not insurmountable obstacles. In Table 3 we will see the list of patriarchs and the lists of kings are not completely independent - there is a relationship.
Line 1. A similarity between Alulim and Adam can be seen just as the Accadian father-god Ilu foreshadows the Canaanite “El” or the Moslem “Allah.” Parallels between the Sumerian Alulim, the Accadian Adapa, and the Hebrew Adam point toward a commonality. Clay proposed that Alorus from the Berossus list was "El-Or" found in early Aramaic inscriptions [xxiii][xxiii] - and therefore, a Semitic (Adamic) name. Who would have been the first father or king of the forerunners to the Semites if not Adam? And if Adam, special in many respects, resided in Eridu from the start, who better to serve as king?
Line 2. Some scholars make the connection: Alaparos = Adapa = Adam, making Adam the second king. This raises a question. If Adam was the second king, who was the first? It seems equally reasonable to suggest that Seth, or one of Adam's other sons, or even Enosh could have been this monarch.
Alalgar may have been one of Adam's offspring. There is no way of knowing, but Poebel credits Berossus's Alaparos as the "son of" Alorus. [xxiv][xxiv] Furthermore, if the first king at Eridu was Adam, a non-Sumerian, the next king, if directly related, would also have been non-Sumerian. Keep in mind, the first two names, Alulim and Alalgar, are Semitic (or Adamic), not Sumerian names.
The Semitic (Adamic) name, Alalgar, is entirely appropriate as applied to the covenant family. Among the meanings offered for Alaparos are "Ox of the god Uru," and "Lamb of El." [xxv][xxv] "El," Assyrian for God (and seen in Hebrew as Elohim, El Shadai), was the father god, first in the early Accadian trinity. Thus, the name could be rendered literally, "Lamb of God." This description of profound theological significance used of Jesus (John 1:29,36), might have been applied to Seth, or even Enosh, when men began "to call upon the name of the Lord" (Gen. 4:26). Seth, one of his brothers, or his son may have been this second pre-flood king.
Line 3. Alalgar's rule was closed out when Eridu was overthrown and kingship passed to the victorious Enmenluanna, king of Badtabira, a Sumerian city. It would be unlikely that one of Adam's immediate generations (for example, Enosh) would have made war on his own father or grandfather. Also, Enmenluanna is a Sumerian name, making him the first genuine Sumerian on the Sumerian King List. It follows that a non-Adamic ancestry would be implied for this Badtabiran king and his successors.
Considering Adam's longevity, 930 years, he and at least some of his kin must have escaped the bloodshed at Eridu. If Adam moved north about 50 miles to Erech, adjacent to Enoch, the city Cain built, this would have brought Adam to a location where he and his entourage could find refuge and safety among family members.
Line 4. From the name Enmengalanna, we might suspect he was son and successor to the throne of Enmenluanna. Adamic ancestry is equally unlikely therefore, and is reflected by a dissimilarity between him and the fourth patriarch, Cainan.
Line 5. In his analysis, Clay allowed, "It seems that Mahalal-El may be represented by Megalaros ..." [xxvi][xxvi] A link between Mahalalel and the fifth king on the Berossus list looks credible. But probably, he is not the fabled Dumuzi who corresponds to Daonus, sixth on the Berossus list, as Dumuzi and Daonus are both identified as "a shepherd" and "the shepherd." [xxvii][xxvii] Dumuzi was consort to Inanna, "queen of heaven and earth." W-B 444 offers no additional data on any of its kings with one exception, declaring Dumuzi "divine," and his vocation as "the shepherd." [xxviii][xxviii] "Tammuz," the Semitic name for Dumuzi, [xxix][xxix] was famous in Accadian literature with a cult following to rival that of Elvis today.
In the Accadian legend, Adapa gained entrance to heaven by flattering Tammuz. "At the gate of Anu," Adapa told Tammuz how much he was missed on earth. [xxx][xxx] A thirty-eight line liturgical hymn to the departed Tammuz "represents the people wailing for the lord of life who now sleeps in the lower world." [xxxi][xxxi]
And the prophet Ezekiel had a vision where he was "brought to the door of the gate of the Lord's house," and "there sat women weeping for Tammuz" (Eze. 8:14). Thus, because of the cult following, the prophet Ezekiel bestowed biblical recognition on the celebrated Dumuzi, the fifth Sumerian king.
Line 6. Demonstrating that kingships were temporary and easily terminated in the land of Sumer, "kingship passed to Larak" when Badtabira was overthrown, and Ensipazianna became king. [xxxii][xxxii] It is doubtful that Jared, sixth in the line of patriarchs, could have been king of Larak, almost assuredly an entirely Sumerian city at that early date.
Line 7. "Sevens" often indicate that something may be unusual or important. Here may be another example. In Clay's words, "This king (Enmenduranna) is generally regarded as the original of the biblical Enoch." [xxxiii][xxxiii] We might argue what he meant by "original," but a commonality can be seen. Berossus has "Edoranchus," so all lists show a similarity.
Enmenduranna is deemed identical with Enmeduranki, sage and king of Sippar. [xxxiv][xxxiv] Zimmern, who first made the identification, said the name was pronounced "Evvedoranki." "Evved or Eved suggests the Hebrew 'Ebhed," Clay contends. [xxxv][xxxv] If so, this could indicate Adamic ancestry for the king of Sippar who, according to Sumerian legend, was taken by the gods and taught divine mysteries. [xxxvi][xxxvi] And, "By faith Enoch was translated [taken up] that he should not see death" (Heb. 11:5).
Another consideration is that Sippar was the cult center of the sun god. The sun completes a cycle every 365 days, corresponding to Enoch's 365 years. [xxxvii][xxxvii] If Enoch was the king of Sippar who wrested power from Larak control, and then was taken by God, a void would have been left in the kingship. Or perhaps, someone not of good standing took his place. Either way, "Sippar was overthrown, its kingdom passed to Shuruppak." [xxxviii][xxxviii]
Line 8. The next three men on the revised list lived at Shuruppak before the flood. The Sumerian records show a direct line of descent from the king of Shuruppak, Ubartutu, through his son Suruppak to the last pre-flood king, Ziusudra. Ubartutu was Ziusudra's grandfather, while Noah's grandfather was Methuselah. Are Methuselah and Ubartutu one and the same?
W-B 62 ends in Ziusudra, although from W-B 444, only "one king reigned" at Shuruppak. [xxxix][xxxix] This was Ubartutu. If Ubartutu is Methuselah, who died near the time of the flood, this could explain the discrepancies in the two king lists. One list (W-B 62) recognizes Ziusudra who, if he ruled at all, reigned for less than a year, or at most only a few years before the flood. The other list (W-B 444) gives him no credit for an abbreviated rule at Shuruppak.
Line 9. Lamech begat a son: "And he called his name Noah ..." (Gen. 5:29). "With a brilliant name, let me make you famous," Suruppak told his son Ziusudra. [xl][xl] If Noah and Ziusudra are the same person, then unless he had two fathers, Lamech, the ninth patriarch, should be synonymous with Suruppak.
The Ashmolean Museum list, published by Langdon, [xli][xli] names “Su-kur-Lam” as the ninth in a series of ten kings, and identifies him as the “son of” Ubartutu. The third syllable, “Lam,” is far too similar to “Lamech” to be ignored. Furthermore, continuing the link, the last king translated “Zi-u-sud-du” is called the “son of” Su-kur-Lam.
Line 10. There is no need to recite the accomplishments of Noah. The names may not look alike, gift-wrapped in different languages, and touching on different facets of the man: "he who laid hold on life of distant days" (Ziusudra); "he saw or found life" (Utnapishtim); "the exceeding wise" (Atrahasis); and "rest or comforter" (Noah). [xlii][xlii] But corresponding flood stories using these names, recorded in Sumerian, Accadian, and Assyrian, all parallel the biblical deluge. These remarkably similar accounts would be hard to attribute to more than one man. Ziusudra, Atrahasis, Xisuthros, Utnapishtim, and Noah all seem to equate.
What Does It All Mean?
After a detailed analysis of Berossus, Delitzsch agreed with Zimmern and concluded:
The ten Babylonian kings who reigned before the Flood have been accepted in the Bible as the ten antediluvian patriarchs, and the agreement is perfect in all details. [xliii][xliii]
What Delitzsch failed to recognize is that agreement could be expected only in instances where patriarchs were rulers, or conversely, when the kings were also in the covenant line from Adam. Evidently, some of the patriarchs did reign over small kingdoms. Yet, concurrent kingdoms were also established in Southern Mesopotamia ruled by non-biblical monarchs. Clearly, it was the intent of Berossus and the king lists to record a sequence of kings without regard to ancestry, just as it was the Bible's intention to record a certain line of ancestry whether or not they were kings.
In Sumerian, the first two letters En- of a ruler's name denotes kingship similar to the way we use "lord" in English. The god "Enki" combines en for "lord" and ki for "earth" to mean literally, "Lord of the Earth." The Sumerian word lil can mean "air," "breath," or "spirit." [xliv][xliv] Enlil was second in the Sumerian pantheon after the father god, An. The possible interpretations of this name should be obvious. A parallel could exist between this Sumerian and Accadian god and our Holy Spirit.
If we survey the pre-flood fathers, in both the line of Seth and the line of Cain, we see "En-" as the first two letters more often than any other combination (Enosh, once and Enoch, twice). It is quite possible, then, that both Cain's son and Seth's son were rulers. This offers another clue that the seventh patriarch, Enoch, also was a ruler.
One final thought. The Bible submits no data whatsoever on seven of the ten pre-flood patriarchs beyond their age when the first son was born, age at death, and that they had "other sons and daughters." Details beyond that are given for only three: Adam, Enoch, and Noah. And the supplementary biblical information provided for each of them correlates directly to Sumerian and Accadian narratives.
Likewise, in all the Sumerian king lists pertaining to the pre-flood era, additional particulars are given on only one man, "divine Dumuzi, a shepherd." And he is the only Sumerian king, outside the line of Adam, corroborated in the Bible by his Semitic equivalent, "Tammuz." All coincidence, do you suppose?
A Prophetic Judgment
Genesis 9:21-26: “And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness. And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.”
Bible scholars have wondered at this prophetic judgment directed at Noah’s grandson weighed against the apparent insignificance of the offense. Why was Noah angered at his son seeing him naked and telling his brothers? The significance is understandable, however, viewed in the context of what nakedness meant in ancient Sumer.
Pottery from third millennium Sumer shows several naked people doing menial tasks. Except during temple rituals, naked people were slaves and slaves were not allowed to wear clothes. A Sumerian word for slave SUBAR literally meant “skin body.” People who failed to pay their taxes or captured enemies who were not killed were punished with compulsory nakedness which labeled them as slaves. This practice continued into the first millennium BC in Assyria (Isaiah 20:4). [xlv][xlv]
Noah’s embarrassment went beyond simple modesty. He had been king of Shuruppak, the capital of Sumer in the pre-flood era. From his lofty seat of power he had been reduced to a drunkard, and perhaps regarded as little more than a common slave in the eyes of his son. It is a way of saying, “Just as you have viewed me as a servant, your son shall be a servant.”
Noah's Flood, recent in occurrence and confined to the Mesopotamian valley and its inhabitants, was retribution for sin, but as Paul states, "Sin is not imputed when there is no law" (Rom. 5:13b). Those civilizations outside the Adamic covenant and outside the immediate area were unaccountable and unaffected by the flood. If we take into consideration the allowable interpretations of "earth" instead of "land," "heaven" rather than "sky," and "mountains" as against "hills," coupled with the Hebrew words "all" and "every" when we would say "much" and "many," plus the Hebrew penchant for perfect or prophetic numbers, we should be able to understand how a Mesopotamian calamity has been misunderstood as a global cataclysm.
The biblical, archaeological, and anthropological evidence corroborates that God spared human populations who were outside the Mesopotamian valley and outside of His covenant. God "winked at" their ignorance (Acts 17:30), but targeted the Adamites in particular, obliterating those who were answerable and willfully disobedient. Evidently the Sumerians were hapless bystanders, many of whom perished, and some may have become proselytes who drowned in the flood.
In Luke, the Pharisees asked Jesus to rebuke His disciples, "And He answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out" (Luke 19:40). The "stones" in the form of inscribed clay tablets are crying out today, confirming God's Word. Are we listening, or are we like the Pharisees?
[i] Gleason L. Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (Grand Rapids: The Zondervan Corporation, 1982), 60.
[ii] Bernard Ramm, The Christian View of Science and Scripture (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1954), 169.
[iii] Stephanie Dalley, Myths from Mesopotamia (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), 31.
[iv] George Constable, ed., The Age of God-Kings: TimeFrame 3000-1500 BC (Alexandria: Time-Life Books, 1987), 27.
[v] Thorkild Jacobsen, The Sumerian King List (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1939), 93-105.
[vi] Donald Boardman, "Did Noah's Flood Cover the Entire World?" The Genesis Debate, ed. Ronald Youngblood (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1990), 227.
[vii] I. E. S. Edwards, C. J. Gadd and N. G. L. Hammond, eds., The Cambridge Ancient History Vol. I, Part 2 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971), 243.
[viii] Dalley, Myths from Mesopotamia, 6.
[ix] Isaac Preston Cory, Ancient Fragments of the Phoenician, Chaldaean, Egyptian, Tyrian, Carthaginian, Indian, Persian, and Other Writers (London: William Pickering, 1832), 49.
[x] Ibid., 49.
[xi] Roger Lewin, In the Age of Mankind (Washington: Smithsonian Books, 1988), 206-225.
[xii] Davis A. Young, The Biblical Flood (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1995), 242.
[xiii] Ibid., 242.
[xiv] Walter C. Kaiser Jr., Bruce K. Waltke and Ralph H. Alexander, eds., The Expositor's Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1990), 79.
[xv] From the Hebrew word, ‘Anaqiy meaning "long-necked."
[xvi] From the Hebrew word, ‘Eymiym meaning "terrors." 1991.
[xvii] Edward William Lane, Reginald Stuart Poole, ed., The Genesis of the Earth and of Man (London: Williams and Norgate, 1860), 103-104.
[xviii] H. Zimmern, Urknige und Uroffenbarung (Gttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1902), 539.
[xix] G. F. Hasel, "The Genealogies of Gen 5 and 11 and their Alleged Babylonian Background." Andrews University Seminary Studies, n.s., 16 (Autumn 1978), 361-74.
[xx] Bendt Alster, The Instructions of Suruppak (Copenhagen: Akademisk Forlag, 1974), 43-49.
[xxi] Stephen Langdon, Oxford Edition of Cuneiform Texts, Vol. II (London: Oxford University Press, 1923), 2-3.
[xxii] One method of reconciling ages of Sumerian kings is outlined in an article by Hildegard Wiencke-Lotz, "On the Length of Reigns of the Sumerian Kings," Chronology and Catastrophism Review, Journal of the Society for Interdisciplinary Studies (vol. XIV August 1992), 20.
[xxiii] Albert T. Clay, The Origin of Biblical Traditions (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1923), 131.
[xxiv] Arno Poebel, Historical Texts (Philadelphia: The University Museum, 1914), 85.
[xxv] Clay, The Origin of Biblical Traditions, 132.
[xxvi] style='vertical-align:baseline;vertical-align:baseline'>[xxvi]. Ibid., 135.
[xxvi] Langdon, Oxford Editions of Cuneiform Texts, Vol. II, 3.
[xxviii] George A. Barton, The Royal Inscriptions of Sumer and Akkad (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1929), 347.
[xxix] Samuel Noah Kramer, Myths of Enki The Crafty God (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), 7.
[xxx] Stephen Langdon, Sumerian Liturgical Texts (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Museum, 1917), 42.
[xxxi] Ibid., 285.
[xxxii] Barton, The Royal Inscriptions of Sumer and Akkad, 347.
[xxxiii] Clay, The Origin of Biblical Traditions, 135.
[xxxiv] Ibid., 135.
[xxxv] Ibid., 136.
[xxxvi] Alexander Heidel, The Gilgamesh Epic and Old Testament Parallels (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1963), 141.
[xxxvii] Lloyd R. Bailey, Noah: The Person and the Story in History and Tradition (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1989), 125.
[xxxviii] Barton, The Royal Inscriptions of Sumer and Akkad, 347.
[xxxix] Weincke-Lotz, "On the Length of Reigns of the Sumerian Kings," 22.
[xl] Alster, The Instructions of Suruppak, 43.
[xli] Clay, The Origin of Biblical Traditions, 127.
[xlii] Heidel, The Gilgamesh Epic and Old Testament Parallels, 227.
[xliii] Frederich Delitzsch, Babel and Bible (Chicago: The Open Court Publishing Company, 1906), 41.
[xliv] Samuel Noah Kramer, History Begins at Sumer ( Philadelphia: The University of Pennsylvania Press, 1981), 76.
[xlv] Robert M. Best, Noah’s Ark and the Ziusudra Epic (Fort Meyers: Enlil Press,1999) p. 190-191.