When the seventh day arrived,
I sent forth a dove and let it loose,
The dove went forth, but came back;
Because it found no resting-place, it returned:
Then I sent forth a swallow, but it came back;
Because it found no resting-place, it returned.
Then I sent forth a raven and let it loose,
The raven went forth and saw that the waters had decreased;
It fed, it waded, it croaked, but did not return.
Then I sent forth everything in all directions, and offered a sacrifice,
I made an offering of incense on the highest peak of the mountain,
Seven and seven bowls I placed there,
And over them I poured out calamus, cedar wood and fragrant herbs.
The gods inhaled the odor,
The gods inhaled the sweet odor,
The gods gathered like flies above the sacrifice.
At the intercession of Ea, the Babylonian Noah and his wife were granted immortality and permitted “to dwell in the distance at the confluence of the streams.”
A later version of the same Babylonian flood story is quoted by Eusebius from the writings of the Chaldean priest Berossus who lived about the fourth century B.C. According to this version the god Kronos appeared in a dream to Xisuthros, the hero, who, like Noah in the priestly account, was the last of the ten ancient Babylonian kings. At the command of the god he built a great ship fifteen stadia long and two in width. Into this he took not only his family and provisions, but quadrupeds and birds of all kinds. When the flood began to recede, he sent out a bird, which quickly returned. After a few days he sent forth another bird, which returned with mud on its feet. When the third bird failed to return, he took off the cover of the ship and found that it had stranded on a mountain of Armenia. The mountain in the Biblical account is identified with Mount Ararat. Disembarking, the Babylonian Noah kissed the earth and, after building an altar, offered a sacrifice to the gods.
Thus the variations between the older and later Babylonian accounts of the flood correspond in general to those that have been already noted in the Biblical versions. Which Biblical account does the earliest Babylonian narrative resemble most closely? In what details do they agree? Are these coincidences merely accidental or do they point possibly to a common tradition? How far do the later Biblical and Babylonian accounts agree? What is the significance of these points of agreement?
HISTORY OF THE BIBLICAL FLOOD STORIES.