IN entering upon the study of this remarkable inscription, we are bringing our cuneiform records into more direct comparison with Biblical and other ancient writings than was the case when the Creation legends were under consideration.
The Deluge legend, in one form or another, is one of the most universal of traditions. Among ancient civilisations we find it in the Chinese legend of Fah-he, who escaped with his wife, three sons, and daughters, from the universal cataclysm. It forms an episode in the Incarnations of Vishnu, and even the new world has the ancient Astec traditions of this great visitation of divine wrath. In dealing with the manifold traditions which have come from all parts of the world — Europe, Asia, America ; Africa alone being exempt,— and from many of the islands of Polynesia, considerable care has to be exercised, as many of the traditions are found so strikingly to resemble the Hebrew account as rather to prejudice their evidence. As an example of one of these, I may quote a tradition from Borneo : —
" There was a great inundation, when the ancestors of the human family of the Chinese, Malays, and Dyaks apparently dwelt together. The three had to swim for their lives, and all came to land safely."
This tradition, together with very striking ones of the Tower of Babel, which in Dyak legend is replaced by a big ladder, and others, are found in a paper by Mr Alexander Mackenzie Cameron, and are quoted as striking confirmations of the Hebrew account (Trans. Soc. Bib. Arch., vol. ii., p. 264-5).
This is one among many traditions which have come to us from the East, and which are often to be obtained, furnished with miraculous resemblances to the Genesis legend, if the natives are but slightly prompted. I do not therefore, in this lecture, propose to enter a comparison between these legends aud the Chaldean account, as contained in the Deluge Tablet. There are, however, among Oriental traditions of this great cataclysm, three which stand out as pre-eminently ancient. The Hebrew accounts in Genesis (chaps, vi.-xi. 8), the versions of the Chaldean tradition preserved in the writings of the Greco-Chaldean historian Berosus, and to these we may now add the more ancient version of the original Chaldean inscription from which Berosus at least derived his account.
The story of the discovery of this important inscription, which took place about twelve years ago, by the late Mr George Smith, is well known, but it requires recapitulation, in order that at the outset of our study of this important document we may clearly understand the position this legend holds in the mass of Chaldean literature. The very direct references in the Scriptures (Gen. x. 8-10 ; Micah v. 6) to Nimrod as the great hero of Chaldea, as well as the numerous legends of Hebrew, Arab, and Greek writers, always lead the decipherers to hope that some day there would be revealed, from beneath the dust of centuries the legends which the Chaldeans themselves had of this ancestor of their nation.
In 1872 Mr Smith found a number of a series of tablets which related to a hero, who was a mighty-one on earth, bearing the title of "the warrior, perfect in strength," and distinguishing himself in war and in the hunting-field. It was evident, from the descriptions of this hero's great deeds, that he was the same person as that powerful giant god so often represented in the Assyrian sculptures at Khorsabad, and on the engraved cylinder seals. Other fragments of these tablets having been obtained from the East, it was found that the series of tablets when complete consisted of twelve tablet-books, each one corresponding to one of the twelve deeds or labours of this Chaldean Hercules.
The hero of this cycle of poems is called Gizdhubar, a name which is of non-Semitic — probably Akkadian — origin, and means the "mass of fire." The epithets applied to him are nearly all solar, as in a hymn addressed to the hero (S. 1877) he is called "Gizdhubar the king, perfect in strength, the judge of the spirits, the exalted prince, the chief of mankind, the watchman of the four quarters, the glory of the earth, the lord of the underworld."
All these epithets are applied to the Sun god in other hymns, so that, guided by these facts and by the character of the legends preserved, Sir Henry Eawlinson was able to point out the solar character of the Epic of Chaldea, It is evident, as I shall show in a subsequent lecture, that the stories in this cycle of legends were arranged according to the sun's passage through the signs of the Zodiac. It had long been recognised that the Akkadian calendar was so arranged, many of the months bearing names which pointed to the signs most distinctly. As I treat of this subject more fully in a subsequent lecture, I may only quote these most striking examples.
The second tablet contains the story of the half bull-like companion of the hero, who companions him in all his labours, as the centaur Chiron attended Hercules.
It corresponds to the second month, called "the month of the directing bull," and the Zodiac sign of Taurus. For the third month we have a story of two twin sisters, Samkhat and Kharimat, who entice this centaur-like companion to come to the court of Gizdhubar, corresponding to the sign of Gemini.
For the sixth month, called the "month of message of Istar," we have the sixth tablet, containing the stories of the love proposals of the goddess to the hero, and in agreement with the sign of Virgo.
Lastly, we find the eleventh tablet, which, according to this arrangement should correspond to the " month of the curse of rain," and to the sign of Aquarius, has woven into its columns the story of the deluge.
It is therefore clear that the tale of the preservation of the Chaldean sage — whose name in the tablet is Samas-napisti, "the Sun of Life," or "the Living Sun," the Xisuthrus of Berosus, the Noah of the Hebrew tradition — is here brought into the epic as an episode to keep it in harmony with the zodiacal arrangement. We have therefore recovered with the decipherment of this series of legends the originals of many of the traditions of Nimrod, but also a far older legend embodied in the epic, the story of the deluge.
From the preceding tablet, the tenth, we learn that the hero, sick and afflicted, being covered with leprosy and deprived of his hair, wherein, like the Hebrew Samson, lay his strength, is journeying to learn the secret of immortality. This secret, " the hidden thing of the gods " as it is here called, can only be revealed by the ancient sage Samas-napisti, who has been translated by the gods to dwell as one of themselves in immortality on an island near the mouth of the Tigris and Euphrates. To this remote spot he is guided by the Chaldean Charon, a mythic personage named Nis-Hea, "the Man of Hea"— that is, the servant of the water god, of whom I have already spoken in my lecture on the Creation Tablets, who pilots him across the river and waters of death to this land where the translated sage lives.
Having reached the place, the hero speaks to the Chaldean Noah and lays before him the object of his visit.
" Gizdhubar to him, even Samas-napisti the remote, spake : I am burdened with a decree. The cure thou repeatest not to me, even thou — the rest of thy heart from making tribulation .... to thee I am come up. What hast thou laid hold of in the assembly of the gods where thou art placed ?"
The translated sage then proceeds " to relate the story of his preservation," and the next 173 lines are occupied with an account of the delu'ge and the translation of Samas-napisti.
There are many indications that this story is much older than the complete epic of Gizdhubar; and even in the tablets the commencement of the story is carefully lined off from the rest of the inscription.
Before passing to the comparative analysis of this inscription, we may refer to one or two facts bearing on this historical character which the Chaldeans have attached to the deluge.
One of the strongest pieces of evidence is to be found in the tablet of royal names (W. A.I. , vol. v., pi. 47), where the important gloss appears — " These are the kings ruling after the deluge (abubi), who according to their relative order wrote not." In like manner the story of the preservation of Sargon, of Agadhe or Akkad, in an ark of bulrushes on the Euphrates, and his elevation to the throne, may be a transference of the deluge tradition to this hero of the Semites, whose remote antiquity .(3750 B.C.) might cause him to become tinged with a mythic glamour.
The deluge formed the rubicon between the mythic period and the heroic and polyarchal age, separating the reigns of local kind's from the far distant age of the ten ante-deluvian patriarchs. The patriarchs are thus named by Berosus, and the length of their reigns given.
They may be compared with the ante-diluvian patriarchs of Genesis —
120 = 432,000 year?.
The genealogy of the hero of the Deluge is given in the tablet (col. i. 20) —
" Oh, man of the city of Surippak, son of Ubarratutis."
This latter is Obartes or Otiartes of Berosus, who was king of Larancha, according to the Greek text, but which M. Lenormant has shown was a corruption of Sorippak (La Langue Primitive, p. 342). The name Xisuthrus, which Berosus gives to the Chaldean Noah, may be a corruption of the epithets Adra Khasis, " Beverent and Holy," applied to the hero in col. i. 45, and in col. iv. 22 ; but it is hardly possible — the more likely solution being that it is a Hellenicised form of Zi-Susru, " the Spirit of the Founder," and perhaps such an etymology may explain the translation of Xisuthrus, recorded by Berosus —
" They remaining within (the ark), finding their companions, did not return, quitted the vessel with many lamentations, calling continually on the name of Xisuthrus. Him they saw no more ; but they could distinguish his voice in the air, and hear him admonish them to pay due regard to religion."
The city of Surrippak, of which Samas Napisti or Xisuthrus was king, is called " the Ship City" (W. A. I., ii. 46, 1), and the Lord of the city was the god Hea — the god of rivers, seas, and ships — who takes so prominent a part in this legend in protecting the sage. He is here called " the Lord of Ships— Hea, the Lord of Surippak " (W. A. I., ii. 60, 21). The city was an ancient one long prior to the time of the king Khammurabi, B.C. 2120, who records its capture.
It was probably situated below Ur and Erech, the modern Mughier, and Warka, and near the mouth of the Euphrates, which , in ancient times, as late as the reign of Sennacherib, entered the Persian Gulf by a separate mouth from the Tigris — the name of the father of the Chaldean Noah, Ubara-Tutu — the name being explained in the syllabaries and bilingual tablets as Ubarra = Kiclinu " Servant " (W. A. I., ii., pi. 3, No 254) ; and the god Tutu is given in the bilingual list of royal names as the synonym of Marduk or Merodach (W. A. I, v 42, 18).
In a bilingual tablet (K. 2107), the god Tutu is called Muallad Hi Muddis Hi — " the generator and restorer of the gods" — in which character he may be identified with Merodach as the god of the dawn and twilight. In this relationship Samas Napisti, " the Living Sun," would be the child of the " Servant of the Dawns," as this name means — rising each day at his message, and setting each day by his decree.
CHALDEAN DELUGE TABLET.
The first eight lines of the inscription are introductory matter, being a conversation between Grizdhubar and Samas-Napisti — the Chaldean Noah.
Samas-Napisti then commences to relate the story of his preservation from the " great flood."
- et me reveal to thee, Oh ! Gizdhubar, the story of my preservation
- And the hidden thing of the gods let me tell to thee
- The city of Surippak, which thou hnowest is placed on the Euphrates
- That city was very ancient (when) the gods within it
- [Were not honored, I only was] the servant of the great gods
- Their father Ami their king ; their
- Counsellor the warrior Bel ; their
- Throne-bearer the god Adar, and
- The god Hea, the Lord of the underworld
- Repeated their decree
- I this destiny hearing (as) he said to me
- Oh ! Man of Surippak, son of Ubarratutu
- Destroy the house and build a ship
- For I will destroy the seed and the life
- Cause them to go up into the ship all seed that hath life
- The ship which thou shalt make—
- cubits its length in measure
- — cubits the contents of its breadth and height
- above the deep roof it over
- I understood, and said to Hea, my Lord
- The building of the ship which thou commandedest
- If it be made by me
- Then will laugh at me, the children of the people, and the old men
- Hea opened his mouth and spake to me, his servant
- If they laugh at thee, thou shalt say to them
- Every one who has turned from me
- Shall be punished, for the protection of the gods is over me
- I will judge my judgment upon all above and below
- Close not the ship
- Until the season, when I shall send thee word (saying)
- " Enter the ship and close the door "
- In the interior of it, thy grain, thy furniture, thy goods
- Thy wealth, thy man-servants and maid-servants, and thy young men
- The cattle of the field and the animals of the field
- As many as I would preserve
- I will send to thee, (then) make firm thy door
- The Reverent and Holy One opened his mouth and spake to Hea, his Lord
- No one has made such a ship
- on the ground (to hold all things)
- [The form of] the ship let me see
- And on the ground I will make the ship which thou commandest
- On the fifth day two sides were raised
- In its enclosure (hull) fourteen ribs
- Also fourteen they numbered above
- I placed its roof and enclosed it
- Sixthly I made it firm, seventhly I divided its passages
- Eightly its interior I examined
- Openings to the waters I stopped
- I searched for cracks and the wanting parts I fixed
- Three sari of bitumen I poured over the outside
- Three sari of bitumen I poured over the interior
- Three sari of men bearers who carried chests on their heads
- 1 kept a saros of chests for my people to eat
- Two sari of chests I divided among the boatmen
- To the gods I caused oxen to be scarified
- I appointed the portions for each day
- and wine
- I gathered like the waters of the river
- And food as th e dust of the earth
- In receptacles my hand placed
- With the help of the Sun god, the ship was completed
- All was made strong and —
- And above and below the tackling was fixed
- Then of my possessions I took two-thirds
- All I had of silver I gathered together
- All I had of gold I gathered together
- All I had of the seed of life I gathered together the whole
- I caused them all to go up into the ship. All my men-servants and maid-servants
- The cattle of the field and the beast of the field and the young men, all of them, I caused to go up
- The season the Sun god had fixed, and (of which) he spake saying
- " I will cause it to rain from heaven heavily "
- " Enter into the midst of the ship and close thy door "
- (That) season fixed came round (of which)
- He spake saying ; " I will cause it to rain from heaven heavily "
- Of that day when I reached the twilight
- The day which I had watched for with fear
- I entered into my ship and closed my door
- That I might close my ship to Bazur Sadai-rabu
- The boatman, the great-house, I gave with all its goods
- Then rose the wate 1 : of dawn at daylight
- Like a black cloud on the horizon of heaven
- The thunder god in the midst of it thundered
- Nebo and the Wind god march in front
- The throne bearers (storm clouds) go o'er mountain and plain
- The Pestilence god brings with him affliction
- The War god goes in front and casts down
- The angels of earth carry the destruction
- In their glory they swept through the land
- The deluge of the Rain god reaches to heaven
- The darkened earth to waste is turned
- The surface of the earth like fire they sweep
- They destroyed all life from the face of the earth
- To battle against men they brought the deluge
- Brother saw not brother, men knew one another
- Even in heaven the gods feared the flood
- And sought refuge, they ascended to the heaven of Ann
- The gods like dogs in kennels lay in heaps
- Then cried I star .like a mother
- And the great goddess does utter her speech
- All things to clay are turned
- And the evil which I proclaimed in the presence of the gods
- As I anuounced in the presence of the gods, is that evil
- As I announced to evil are devoted all my people
- And though I the mother have begotten my people
- Yet like the spawn of fishes they fill the sea
- Then the gods were weeping with her concerning the spirits
- The gods on the throne were seated weeping
- Covered were their lips because of the coming evil
- Six days and nights
- The wind, the deluge and the storm go on sweeping away
- The seventh day when it approached the rain subsided, and the great deluge
- Which had assailed like a host
- Was appeased. The sea began to dry and the wind and flood ended
- I watched the sea making a tossing
- And the whole of mankind had turned to clay
- Like reeds the corpses floated
- I opened the window and the light struck on my face
- I was sad at heart, I sat down, I wept
- Over my face flowed my tears
- I looked at the regions bounding the sea
- To the 12 points no land (was seen)
- To the country of Nizir floated the ship
- The mountain of Nizir stopped the ship and to pass over it was not able
- The first day, the second day the M. Nizir the same
- The third day and fourth day the M. Nizir the same
- The fifth and sixth day the M. Nizir the same
- On the seventh day in the course of it
- I sent forth a dove, it left. The dove went and turned
- A resting place it saw not, it returned back
- I sent forth a swallow, it left and turned and
- A. resting place it could not see, and it returned back Ai I sent forth a raven and it left
- The raven went and the corpses (carrion) which were on the water it saw
- it did eat— it floated and was carried away— it returned not
- L sent the (animals) forth to the four winds (of heaven) I sacrificed a sacrifice
- I built the altar on the peak of the mountain
- Adgur jars by sevens 1 placed
- Below them I spread reeds, pine wood and spices
- The gods smelled the odour. The gods smelled the sweet odour
- The gods like flies over the master the sacrifice gathered
- Then from afar the great goddess in her approach
- liaised up the great zones which Ann had created as his glory
- Those days I had thought of and never may I forget them
- May the gods come to my altar ;
- May Bel not come to my altar
- Since he did not reflect and made a deluge
- And consigned my people to the deep
- When thereupon Bel in his approach
- Saw the ship stopped. His heart was filled with anger upon gods and spirits
- Let none come forth alive. Let no man escape the deep
- Adar opened his mouth and spake, he says to the warrior Bel
- Whosoever except Hea can make a design
- Even Hea knows and all things he teaches
- Hea opened his mouth and spake, he says to the warrior Bel
- Oh ! thou counsellor of the gods, why,
- why didst thou reflect and didst make a deluge
- Let the doer of sin bear his sin and let the transgressor bear his transgression
- May the just prince not be cut off, may the faithful not perish
- Instead of making a deluge, may lions increase and men be decreased
- Instead of making a deluge, may jackals increase and men be decreased
- Instead of making a deluge, may famine happen and men be wasted
- Instead of making a deluge, may pestilence increase and men decrease
- I did not reveal the hidden thing of the gods
- To the Reverent and Holy One a dream I sent him and the hidden thin" he heard
- When Bel had reflect on his counsel he went up into the midst of the ship
- He took my hand and raised me up
- He caused me to rise up and placed my wife by my side
- He turned himself to us and established himself to us in a covenant
- Hitherto Samas-Napisti has been a mortal man
- Even now Samas-Napisti and his wife are raised up and borne away as gods
- Then shall dwell Samas-Napisti in a remote place at the mouth of the rivers
- They took us, and in a remote place at the mouth of the rivers they seated us
At the commencement of the tablet we have an account of the council of the gods over the wickedness of the people, especially those of the city of Xisuthrus. The words here furnish an almost direct parallel to the Hebrew, omitting, of course, the polytheistic elements of the Chaldean version :
" That city was very ancient, when the gods within it (were not honoured) ; I only was the servant of the great gods " —
to which we may compare the following passages :
" But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. And Noah was a just man, and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God "
(Gen. vi. 8, 9).
And both the Hebrew and Chaldean accounts are in agreement as to the cataclysm being a punishment for sin.
There are other records among the Assyrian inscriptions of punishments sent upon men by the gods, and in every case the infliction seems to be by decision of a council of the gods. In the legend of Atarpi, where drought famine is the punishment, the gods decide to punish men; so in the Dibbara legends, where pestilence is the instrument of divine wrath, is there a council of the gods.
In this Olympian congress we find the members of the great Chaldean trinity, Ann, Bel, and Hea, taking part. Aim, " the Father," the Dyaus-pitar or Jupiter, being at the head. It is Bel, the lord of mundane affairs, who seems to be the offended one among the gods, and it is against him that the people had sinned. He is here called Malik Sunu, "their counsellor," and advises that the punishment shall be by a terrible deluge — and " the seed and the life " were all to be destroyed; "let none escape the deep — all were consigned to the deep." Hea, the third member of the triad, "the lord of wisdom," whe appears here as Hermes, the herald of the gods, acts as the saviour of the few just persons among the sinners.
Sir Henry Rawlinson has suggested, and with very good reasons, that there was in Chaldea a sect who worshipped Hea as their supreme god, and who approached very near to a monotheistic creed. From the prominence given to this god in the Deluge Tablet, it would seem as if this was a document of that school of Chaldean thought.
Hea was, as I have shown, the Lord of Surippak, the city of Samas Napisti, or Xisuthrus, who always addresses him as " Hea, my Lord " (Col. i. 28-15), and from whom he receives instructions in building the ark or ship (Col. i. 21 49). The mediatorial office he assumes with the enraged god Bel (Col. iv., 12-22) would mark him as the special protector of this people. The instructions which Hea gives as to the building of the vessel in which Samas-Napisti is to be saved are most precise, and are very important in the consideration of the relation of that story to those of the Hebrews.
The vessel to be built was a ship elapu, provided with " hull with fourteen ribs on either side," " a roof," by which here I suspect the deck is meant as closing in the hull ; this latter portion being divided into sections. " I divided its passages " (Sukut), literally " streets," and the whole covered without and within with a coat of bitumen, and provided with ropes or tackling above and below.
This points clearly to a ship of some size, and to a knowledge of ship-building. That ship-building was known in Chaldea at an early time is shown by the reference to ships in some of the most ancient hymns, especially in a difficult tablet (W. A. I. iv. 25, col. i.) ; and a legendary fragment, which Mr George Smith at one time included in the Gizdhubar series (K. 3200), speaks of ships coming up the Euphrates as far as Erech, the modern Warka — that is about 120 miles above Kurna, where the rivers now join. But we are not confined merely to legendary evidence, for in the inscription of Gudea, found at Tello on the Shat el Hie, this king, who reigned at least as early as B.C. 2500, speaks of sending ships from the Persian Gulf to the land of Magan, which is now almost universally identified by A ssyriologists as the Sinaitic peninsula, to obtain the stones, diorite, and porphyry for his royal statues. Ships from the Red Sea also came to Chaldea, as the ships of Magan are mentioned in a list of vessels. An important bilingual tablet (W. A. I. i., ii., 62, No. 2) gives the names of several kinds of ships and their various parts.
We have " the ship " and vessels carrying as much tonnage as 60 or 90 gur. We have also the " ferry boat," called nili tree or "the crossing boat." and the makhirtuv or " market boat ;" also the names of many parts ot the ship. The keel is called " the foundation of the ship," the deck " the ground of the ship," the bow and stern " the horns of the ship," and the ribs " the sides."
There was a deck-house also, which explains the passage in this Deluge tablet : " To Buzur-sadai-rabu, the boatmen, the great house (eJcal) I gave with all its goods." As this ship exceeded all others in size, so its deck-house was a palace to all other deck-houses. The prow of the ship was called " the eye " or face of the ship, reminding us of the Chinese custom of painting eyes on the prow of the junks.
In this tablet we have a list of the sacred arks or barges of the gods, and that of Hea is called " the ship of the lord ruler of the Absi ;" while that of his wife Bahu, whom I have already referred to in the lecture on the Creation legends, is called " the ship of the noble lady;" that of the moon "the ship of light," while that of his consort, the evening star, is called "the ship of the lesser light;" that of Merodach "the oracle ship," and of Bel "the ship of the world."
From these inscriptions, many of which are either in or accompanied by the Akkadian versions of the texts, we see that the ancient inhabitants of Chaldea had attained some considerable knowledge of ship-building at a very remote period, and therefore gave to their Deluge legend a more nautical character than did the Hebrews.
The word used in our authorised version, ark, is simply the rendering of the word tebah, a box or chest. The same word is applied to the basket in which Moses was exposed on the Nile (En. ii. 3), which the LXX renders by kibotos, and the Vulgate by Area. The ark of Noah was to be built of gopher wood, and, like that of Xisuthrus, to be coated with pitch without and within. It was also to have a roof — the reading of our version (Gen. vi. 1 6) being better amended to " a roof," according to Ewald and Schultze, — also doors and windows ; but there is nothing in the description which can identify the construction described as a ship.
We come now to the provisioning of the ark, which in the Chaldean account is much more detailed than in the Hebrew. In the Book of Genesis we have two versions of this — the first usually called the Elohistic (Gen. vi. 18-2):
"Thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons' wives. And of every living thing of all tiesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive ; they shall be male and female. Of fowls after their kind, of cattle after their kind, and of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive. And take thou unto thee all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it unto thee ; and it shall be for thee and for them. "
Thus did Noah, according to all that God (Elohim) had commanded him to do." In the next chapter (vii. 2-3) the instructions are repeated, but the selected animals are to be only those of the clean kind, and these are to be selected by sevens. The phraseology of the first account recalls to our minds the words of the seventh creation fragment, in which the cattle and creeping things are so emphatically specified, and resembles the tablet more clearly than the second :
" Enter into the ship, and close the door. In the interior of it, thy grain, thy furniture, thy goods, thy wealth, thy man-servants and maid-servants, thy young men, the cattle of the field and animals of the field, as many as I would preserve I will send to thee "
(Col. i. 40-44).
Here no distinction is made as to clean or unclean animals — the latter no doubt being intended for the sacrifice on the mountain of release.
We now come to the important period of the actual cataclysm — " The season which the sun god had fixed came round." This, as I shall show, seems to indicate that the festival occurred, or was supposed to occur, at the season of one of the solar festivals. And at that time the storm burst forth.
" Then rose the water of dawn at daylight,
Like a dark cloud on the horizon of heaven ;
The Thunder god in the midst of it thundered —
Nebo and the Wind god march in front ;
The throne bearers go o'er mountain and plain ;
The Pestilence god brings with him affliction ;
The War god goes in front and casts down ;
The Angels of Earth carry the destruction ;
In their glory they sweep through the laud ;
The deluge of the Rain god reaches to heaven ;
The darkened earth to waste is turned ;
The surface of the earth like fire they sweep —
They destroy all life from the face of the earth."
This poetic description of the terrible destruction that swept inland is a most graphic account of one of those terrible storms, such as that when the surveying ship Tigris was lost on the Euphrates, or such a storm as is described by Mr George Smith : —
" On the 29th March, we fortunately got a change of horses. Soon after sunset the sky was covered with black clouds, so that it was difficult to find the tracks, and the thunderstorm came on. The thunder seemed as if it dashed itself against a range of mountains on our right, and then rolled back across the vast plain over which we were riding, while every now and then a vivid flash of lightning illuminated the whole scene, only to make the darkness more intense."
We are not dependent upon modern travellers for the descriptions of these terrible storms. Sennacherib in his Elamite war was stopped by the terrible storms in the month Tebit. As he says —
"The advance I ordered in the month Tebit (December and January), a terrible storm arose, and heaven and earth it flooded, Rain upon rains, and snow the channels filled."
In like manner we find a record of terrible storms in the month Sebat in the annals of Esarhaddon (Budge, Hist. Esarhad., p. 23, line 14) —
"Snow storming in the month Sebat came ; the mighty darkness I feared not."
I have quoted these historical records of storms occurring during the winter months as indicating the delnge season, and the reason why the Deluge is assigned to the eleventh tablet of the Gizdhubar legend, and equated with the month Sebat — the month of the Curse of I£ain of the Akkadian calendar.
The rains of winter commence with the month Dhebit or Thebit — a name meaning, as Dr F. Delitzsch shows (Assy, and Heb., p. 16), the month of " sinking in water." Its Akkadian name was Id- Abba- Uddu, which may be rendered " the coming forth of the Sea or Deluge ; " while the next month is, as we have seen, called Sebadh, or the month of Destruction.
This would seem to place the commencement of the Deluge at about the period of the winter solstice. In support of this idea, too, we find the Eegent of the month Tebit is " Itimman, the smiter of heaven and earth."
The tablet of the seasons, which I have already referred to, makes the season extending from 1st day of Kislen to the 30th day of Sebat — the period when the sun is in the orbit of Hea and the season of storms, using the same word as is used by Sennacherib and Esarhaddon. There is very little indication in the tablet as to the duration of the Deluge, but it seems to me to be based on a solar and climatological calculation.
In order that we may understand that this description of the storm and deluge is not modern, on account of its poetic and graphic character, I quote the following from an ancient Akkadian hymn (W. A. I., IV., 19, 1) :-
- The tempest from the midst of space has (gone forth),
- The fate from the midst of heaven proceeds ;
- It sweeps the earth like grass —
- To the four winds its tenor spreads like fire.
- The men of the fields it causes affliction in their bodies ;
- In the city and country it causes destruction to small and great ;
- Strong one and servant bewail it.
- In the heavens and earth like a waterspout it pours down ;
- To the holy place of their god, they hasten and cry (aloud).
It is evident that both the Hebrew accounts and the Assyrian differ as to the duration of the Deluge ; yet all agree in its terrible character, and the universal destruction it brought with it. At the end of seven days, this wild and fearful tempest began to assuage.
The Samas-Napisti opened the window of the ship, and wept, and was sad at heart at the terrible destruction around him. We have next a curious reference, which points to the astronomical or solar character of the legend —
"I looked at the regions bounding the sea ; to the twelve points there was no land ; "
which clearly indicates, as I have already stated, the knowledge of the Zodiac. We now come to the resting of the ark —
"To the country of Nizir floated the ship ; the mountain of Nizir stopped (held) the ship, to pass over ; it was not able (col. iii. 32-3) ; and for seven days the ark remained stranded."
Now, where was this region of Nizir, and what relation did it bear to the Biblical Ararat ?
Upon this subject Professor Sayce has thrown much important light in his paper on the " Cuneiform Inscriptions of Lake Van " (Journal E. A. S., vol. xiv., N.S., pt. 3).
According to Biblical account, the ark rested upon one of the mountains of Ararat, and " a wide spread Eastern tradition " makes it Jebel Gudi.
This Gudi is the same as the Guti or Kuti of the inscriptions, and the "goim" or nations of the Hebrews. The position of this district is accurately fixed by the itineraries in the inscriptions of Assurnazirpal (b.c. 886). This king states that, after leaving Kalzu, near Arbela, he marched to the town of Bairti and the land of Nizir. This fixes the district in the land of Pamir, a little south of Mt. Eowandiz, the highest peak, and suggests that Eowandiz was the spot where the Babylonian tradition made the ark rest.
This mountain of Nizir is the same as " the mountain of the East," the Olympus of the Akkadians. We know, from an astronomical tablet, that the east of the Akkadians was really the north-east. The east, we are told, is the land of Su-edina and Guti — that is, the mountains already referred to, and the lowland between them and the Tigris.
We are also told that behind are Su-edina and Guti, thus pointing to this region of Kuti as the home from whence the people came, and the land they left behind them in their migration ; thus it derived the name of " the mountain of the nations," and is evidently referred to by Isaiah (xiv. 13), where the king of Babylon is described as boasting that he
" will ascend into heaven, and exalt his throne above the stars of the gods,"
" will sit on the mountain of the assembly of the gods in the extremities of the north " —
a position which points to this region near Eowandiz. It was therefore in this region that the Chaldeans placed the resting place of the ark. The tablet here again presents a difference from the Hebrew story, along with its agreement in general, as it also does with the versions of Berosus.
The tablet says —
" On the seventh day, in the course of it, I sent forth a dove ; it went and turned ; a resting place it saw not ; it returned back. I sent forth a swallow ; it left and turned ; a resting place it could not see, and it returned back. I sent forth a raven, and it left. The raven went, and the corpses which were on the water it saw. It did eat, it floated, and was carried away ; it returned not "
Berosus states that the first time the birds were sent forth they returned. After an interval of some days, he sent them forth a second time, and they returned with their feet tinged with mud. On the third trial they returned no more. In the tablet, we notice there is no omen taken from the birds, as in Berosus, by the mud on their feet ; but the account of Berosus, the tablet, and the Hebrew version are in agreement in the birds being the raven and the dove, and in the non-return of the former after being sent forth.
" He sent forth a raven, which went forth to and fro, until the waters were dried up from off the earth "
(Gen. viii. 7).
The choice of the swallow is foreign to both Berosus and the Hebrew writer. The origin of its selection is, however, shown in its Akkadian name Sim-Khu, " the bird of fate " — omens, no doubt, being derived from its flight.
We now come to the sacrifice of thanksgiving. The altar, we are informed, is built on the ziggurat, or peak of a mountain. The use of this word is peculiar and important. We find the word applied in the inscriptions to the lofty stage towers, such as the great tower of E-Saggili, or that of Khorsabad ; and it was no doubt this ancient custom of mountain sacrifices which led to the erection of these lofty edifices on the plains of Chaldea. The altar was laid with reeds, pine, and spices ; and now we have a curious phrase—
" The gods smelled the odour ; the gods smelled the sweet savour ; the gods gathered over the master of the sacrifice like flies ; "
which accords so closely with the Hebrew version —
" And the Lord smelled the sweet savour "
(Gen. vii. 21).
This sweet sacrifice to which the gods gathered like flies was followed by the appearance of the rainbow — " Then from afar the great goddess in her approach raised up the zones which Ann had created as his glory." The goddess here appears in a very similar character to the Homeric Iris (Gladstone Primer Homer, p. 81). The setting the bow in the clouds, which is here identified as the bow of Ami, the god of heaven, has its counterpart in the Hebrew version —
" And God said, I do set my bow in the clouds ; it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth"
(Gen. ix. 13).
The rainbow in the Chaldean Tablet does not appear in any way as a pledge of a covenant between the gods and men ; it is evidently here the bow of Istar, the daughter of Ann, who bears the title of " archeress of the gods," and who is often represented as carrying the sacred bow of Ana, which found its representative in nature in the rainbow. So far in our study of this tablet, we have had a close agreement in the sequence of events between the tablet and the Bible.
The announcement of the Deluge as a punishment for sin, the order to build the ark or ship, the provisioning, the embarkation of men and animals, the period of the cataclysm, the stoppage on a mountain, the sacrifice of thanksgiving, all follow in the same order in both accounts, though, as I have shown, varied in details. We now come to marked differences. The first is in the establishment of the covenant with man that there should be no more deluges.
I have already pointed out that it is to Bel, the lord of the earth, that the counsel to destroy all living things by a deluge is due ; and so he is not present as the sacrifice of thanksgiving. But as he draws near to this high peak of the mountain of the gods, he sees the failure of his design in the ship resting on the peak —
" His heart was filled with anger with gods and spirits. Let no man come forth alive ; let no man escape the deep."
In this idea of universal destruction, he has been defeated by the god who is the protector of Samas-Napisti, his family and city —
" the god Hea, who knows all things ; "
and it is this god who acts as the mediator. Instead of a deluge, in future wild animals, lions, and jackals, or pestilence and famine, are to be the chastisers of mankind. Here we see that dread trinity of vengeance against which man has ever had to struggle — the warfare between men and the brute creation at first, followed by the warfare of men — famine and pestilence. So also in the Bible do we meet with this trinity, as —
" I will consume them by the sword and by the famine and by the pestilence "
(Jer. xiv. 12 ; xxvii. 13).
So also is David given the choice of the famine, sword, or pestilence (2 Sam. xxiv. 15).
Both the lion and the jackal were emblems of the cod of death. The iackal was called AJehu, " the evil (animal)." The Lik-Barra, or " evil dog " of the Akkadians, is the same as the word rendered " Okhim," " doleful creatures," in Isaiah xiii. 21, and was in ancient times, as at the present day, no doubt the inhabitant of grave-yards. There was found at Khorsabad a small statue of the god of death, represented with the head of a jackal.* The lion was the emblem of the god of war and of death — the " Ne-Uru-Gal," " the lord of the great city," " the city of the dead" — Sualu or Sheol. He was lord over the great city of Kuti ur Kuthah (2 Kings xvii. 24-30), which was called by the Akkadians the city Tig Abba, or " the city of the bowing down of the head," it being one of the great necropoli of Chaldea.
The lions at the entrance to the royal palaces and temples were dedicated to him.
After this mediation of Hea, the decision of the gods is revealed to the sage in a dream —
" To Samas-Napisti a dream they sent, and the decision of the gods he heard "
(col. iv. 22).
Upon this decision never to destroy the earth again by a deluge, Bel, who had in the anger of his heart poured forth this destruction upon men, enters into the ship to meet Samas-Napisti and his wife — " He took my hand and raised me up ; he bade me rise, and united my wife to my side. He turned himself to us, and bound himself by a covenant to us, and blessed us" (col. iv. 2-1-26).
The God op Death.
The phrase Izzaz (Inzar), ana M-ri-in-ni — "He was fixed to our bond " — may be compared with, " Bebold, I will establish my covenant (beroth) with you" (Gen. ix. 11), where almost the same word is used; while the Divine blessing comes earlier in the chapter —
" And God blessed Noah and his sons."
After this we come to a very marked divergence from the Hebrew narrative in the translation of Samas-Napisti.
Here there seems to have become woven into the Chaldean legend, which has hitherto so closely followed the Hebrew, an earlier incident — the translation of Enoch (Gen. v. 24). In the Bible the same epithet, " One who walked with God," is applied to both Noah and Enoch, and may resemble the words in the tablet — " I only was the servant of the great gods" (col. i. 13).
In the accounts given by Berosus, we have a similar story of the translation ; but in that of Eusebius, the gods seem to have removed the sage to heaven, as we read — " Him they saw no more, but they could distinguish his voice in the air ; " but in that of Abydeuus, it is simply stated that " the gods translated him from among men." Here the legend of the Deluge ends, the remainder of the tablet being occupied by the account of the cure of the disease of Gizdhubar, and his return to Uruk or Erech, his capital city.
With regard to the names of the translated sage (Samas-Napisti, Xisuthrus, and Noah) in the three accounts under consideration, something may be said. The first of these means " the Sun of Life," or the " Living Sun," and the reason of its adoption seems to me to be a climatological one. From the time of the autumnal equinox until past the winter solstice, the sun is weak and powerless in the regions of winter. Thus as in Phcenicia we have the legend of the dead Tammuz, so in the weak and dying solar hero Gizdhubar we have a similar idea embodied.
The sun is not dead, but comes forth again and begins gradually to assert its power in the month Nisan of the Semites, the month of " the beginning or coming forth" (Del., Ass., and Hebr., p. 15). This month was called by the Akkadians 10. Par-Ziggar, the month of the " altar of the mountain ; " and we know the word " Ziggurat," a mountain peak, is used to express the position of the altar built on coming out of the ark (Col. iii. 46). This group is also explained as " the dwellers at the holy altar " (W. A. I. ii., 35- 55). These facts seem to point to the altar from which the month derived its name being connected with the altar built by Sanias-Napisti.
If this is the case, then we may regard the name Samas-Napisti as the Sun-god preserved through the deluge of winter, and coming forth in the spring time like Noah from the ark. The tablet of divine regents of the months make Ami and Bel the rulers of this month, and we have seen what a prominent part the latter takes in the sacrifice and covenant. In the tablet a very important epithet is applied to Samas-Napisti — he is always called Riiku, "the remote" or far distant, implying his translation. With regard to the name Xisuthrus, it appears to me, as I have already suggested, to be a Greek form of the ancient name of Anu Zi-Susru, " Spirit of the Founder," and belongs to the time when Anu absorbed so many of the epithets of the other gods, as is shown by the tablet in which all the chief persons in the Creation legends are regarded as manifestations of the great father of the gods.
The age of the legend is difficult to ascertain, but of its antiquity there can be no doubt. The close resemblance of many of the passages to the Akkadian hymns, and the fact that in some copies the scribe, who has made his version from older copies, has inserted the archaic characters where he has not known their modern equivalents, would carry the tablet certainly back to the third millenium before our era.
Like all legends, it shows evidence of growth from a simpler original — the narrative in some places being confused by the improper blending of the versions. It differs from the Hebrew account in its polytheism, but that polytheism is not so strongly asserted as first appears — the high, almost supreme, position given to Hea, as I have remarked, causing it to differ from many other Babylonian legends.
In regard to its age I can say nothing definite, but I feel certain that the account, perhaps in a slightly different form, was current in Clialdea as early as B.C. 2120 — about the time when Abraham left Chaldea. In this lecture I have not entered upon any criticism of the Hebrew narrative ; that work I leave to others far more competent than myself ; my chief object has been to place before those who wish to employ these records of the past the means of applying them to Biblical criticism.