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Egyptians, Babylonians, and Hebrews have similarities yet also differences in th

eir religions. The importance is not in the similarities as much as it is in th


e differences that distinguish the cultures from each other and their views on l
ife. I would like to point out each civilization's creation and flood story. B
y analyzing these stories we can come to a better understanding of their world v
iews.
The Hebrew creation story from the book of Genesis is one that most people know
well. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. The earth was wit
hout form and void. God said, "let there be light," and there was light. He th
en separated the light from the darkness. He also created the land, plants, and
animals. He saw everything he created and, behold, it was good. The heavens a
nd earth were completed and all that dwelled within them. On the seventh day he
rested. The earth was complete, but there was nothing to take care of this cre
ation. So, God created man in the image of himself. Man was created from the d
ust of the ground. God gave him the breath of life and the man became a living
soul (Moses 1:1-2:7). With the background of that story, one should look at th
e Egyptian interpretation of the beginning.
At first there was nothing but chaos that contained the seed of everything to co
me. In this confusion the sun god dwelled. By an effort of his will he emerged
from chaos as Ra and gave birth to Shu, the god of air, and Tefnut, the goddess
moisture. Shu and Tefnut gave birth to Geb and Nut, the earth god and sky godd
ess. Thus the physical universe was created. People were created from Ra's tea
rs. Time passed and Ra grew frail, so the ungrateful race of men plotted agains
t Ra. When Ra learned of this he called the gods together. The gods decided th
at mankind must be destroyed. Tens of thousands of men were killed until only a
few were left. Then Ra relented and man was spared. Nevertheless Ra was sick
of the world and retreated into the heavens, leaving Shu to reign in his place.
At that time the present world was established.
The Babylonians have their own interpretation of the beginning. All things came
from the water. From the mixture of sweet water, Aspu, with salt water, Tiamat
, the gods arose. Aspu and Tiamat gave birth to a pair of gigantic serpents, La
khmu and Lakhamu. These two serpents produced Anshar and Kishar, the heavens an
d the earth. Anshar and Kishar then conceived Anu, Enlil, and Ea. Aspu and Tia
mat grew angry because the younger gods were noisy. So, they decided to destroy
the new gods. Ea, the all knowing, learned of this plan and used his magic to
capture Apsu. Tiamat became furious and created and army of gods and monsters t
o punish Ea and the others. Marduk was asked to stand against Tiamat and her ar
my. Marduk promised to defeat Tiamat if he was given supremacy over the gods.
Marduk defeated Tiamat and her army. While he was cutting up Tiamat's body he
used half her body and created the dome of the heavens. With the other half he
made the earth. Then to make the other gods happy he created men from the blood
of the battle. He then made rivers, plants, and animals completing creation.

With these stories' background one can now analyze the likeness and differences
among them. The Egyptian and Babylonian stories show several gods in charge of
creating the world. The difference between these two is that Marduk was given l
eadership by the gods bestowing their powers upon him. The Egyptians do not act
ually raise one god above another. The Hebrews have only one God, who created t
he earth. The gods from each story created man from different items. The Egypt
ian and Babylonian gods created man from tears and blood respectively. The Hebr
ew God created man from dust, but in the image of himself. This seems to forge
a connection or bond between the Hebrews and their god. They are not gods thems
elves, but with his image they have the ability to be godlike.
The flood stories of the cultures also show how they view their gods and the att
itude the gods have toward the people. The Hebrew God flooded the world because
people had turned their backs on God and were no longer worshipping him. In sh
ort, one could say that the people in a way deserved the punishment they receive
d. This is also shown in the Egyptian creation story when the people turned aga
inst Ra. Both of these gods showed compassion and remorse after the killing was
done. However, the Babylonian gods flooded the earth because it was so noisy t
hat they could not sleep. Not a fitting punishment for the crime committed. Th
e Babylonian gods were outraged when they realized Utnapishtim was delivered fro
m the catastrophe. The Egyptians do not have a flood story, is this because of
the regularity of the Nile's flooding. The Egyptian saw balance and harmony wit
h the Nile's example.
The different cultures' attitude toward their gods is also shown in their litera
ture. The Egyptians and Hebrews loved and worshipped their gods.. This is shown
in the Egyptian "The Hymn to the Aten" and the Hebrew "Psalms." Each of these
works praises and exalts their respective god. The Babylonians feared their god
as they did their rivers that were unpredictable. The lifestyles and geography
of each civilization helped shape each cultures view of their gods. For nature
was the only physical manifestation of their gods.
Works Cited
Fiero, Gloria K. The Humanistic Tradition. 1992 Madison: Wm. C. Brown Communi
cations. 1995
Godolphin, F, ed. Great Classical Myths. New York: Modern Library, 1964.
Moses. "Genesis." The Holy Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1976.
The Epic of Gilgamesh. Translated by N. K. Sanders. Baltimore: Penguin, 1960.

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