The Great Flood

Practically every culture around the world has a story about a worldwide flood. This definitely seems like a common knowledge event.
Then the Lord said to Noah, “Enter the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you alone are righteous before me in this generation. Genesis 7:1 CSB

All around the world, people know there was a flood. Practically every culture has a story about it. In some ways they're very different and in some ways, they're very similar.

Abrahamic Faiths

The Abrahamic religions share the story of Noah and the Ark

Sumerian

  • the epic of Gilgamesh (most often brought up)
  • recorded on 12 stone tablets
  • Gilgamesh reigned for 126 years; was afraid of death and searched for immortality
  • Utnapishtim was an immortal man met by Gilgamesh; his story is similar to Noah
  • Utnapishtim was given immortality after building a ship called “preserver of Life” and surviving the great flood. He brought his relatives and all the species aboard the ship
    • Note, someone like Noah would seem immortal to people who lived after him and had significantly shorter lifespans!

Aztec

  • Titlacauan (an Aztec god) warns a man and his wife of a flood
  • They are sealed inside a cypress tree
  • In this story the people aren’t killed in the flood, they’re turned into fish!
  • The man and woman disobey Titlacauan (who told them only to eat one ear of maize) and eat fish
    • This is reminiscent of the Garden of Eden where God told Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil
    • They are punished for disobedience; Titlacauan turns them into dogs
  • Then the world starts over (somehow)

Greeks

  • Zeus is the angry god
  • Zeus has Deucalion (the son of Prometheus) construct an ark for him an his wife
  • The flood is 9 days long and the world is destroyed (the Biblical flood lasts about a year)
  • The ark rests on Mount Parnassus
  • After the waters recede, Deucalion offer sacrifice to Zeus
  • Zeus tells them to throw stones over their shoulders to repopulate the earth; those thrown by Deucalion become men and those thrown behind his wife became women

Hindu

  • a fish (perhaps a deity) tells a man the world is to be destroyed in a great flood
  • He builds a boat and ties it to the horn of the fish
  • This boat is guided to a mountain
  • He performs a sacrifice
  • A woman rises from the sea and that who he repopulates the earth with

China

  • a farmer captures and imprisons a thunder god
  • the farmer's his children release the thunder god
  • so the thunder god warned them there would be a flood
  • they hid in a gourd he gave him that would keep them safe
  • the brother and sister are the only survivors
  • multiple endings exists (mostly to get around incest)—one says the repopulated the human race by creating them from clay
    • Remember God created humans from the dust of the earth, othen referred to as clay

Norse

  • Earth flooded with blood, not water, when Odin and his brothers killed a giant
    • Giants are first mentioned in the Bible at the time of Noah's flood
    • Revelation 14:20 talks about blood running so deep it reaches the horses' bridles
  • a couple made an ark and were saved

Aboriginal

  • a frog drank all the water causing a drought
  • the other animals tried making him laugh
  • when he laughed the water came out and flooded the land
  • his laughter sounds like thunder (thunder seems to be a running theme)

Buddhist

  • Samudda-vāṇija Jātaka
  • 1000 Dishonest carpenters, they upset the village by taking money without delivering
    • Interesting that they are carpenters (Messiah is also a carpenter)
  • they built a ship to leave and arrive on an island haunted by spirits
  • the spirits give them on rule: bury their human waste to keep the island clean
  • They ignored the rules, so the spirits decide to flood the island
  • one spirit becomes a ball of light in the sky and warns them they should flee
  • another spirit told them the first spirit was joking
  • there was a wise ruler and a foolish ruler over the carpenters
  • the wise ruler told his people to build a ship; the wise man and his people set sail, while the foolish man and his people died

First Nations

  • Waynaboozhoo survived a flood caused by the great spirit via a raft
  • He floated for a month
  • he sends animals into the water to get mud from the old world to rebuild
  • 3 different animals attempt to get the mud (reminds of the 3 with the dove to find land in the Biblical account)
  • the mud grew on a turtles back until it was the size of the whole earth
  • “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the days of the Son of Man: Luke 17:26 CSB

    References

    1. Lennlee Keep. "A Flood of Myths and Stories". PBS. February 14, 2020
    2. "World Flood Myths". Ark Encounter; visited June 2021

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    Author Image Author Image I love reading the Word of God. With prayer God's Word reveals so much: from comfort to temperance, from perspective to affirmation. Digging into the depths of the Word, cross-referencing history, language and time differences, is a passion of mine. In March of 2015 I decided to go back through the Bible doing an in depth study on each section I read. Eventually I decided to share my journal of notes as I partake in this journey. I hope you are blessed by God and inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. I love reading and learning about God, nature, and science. I am interested in how it all connects. The Creator's fingerprints are all over his creation. We can learn so much about Him and how we came to be by exploring the world around us. Join me as I explore the world and draw closer to the One who created it all.
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