Pagan Flood Myths: Cube Arks, Round Arks, and Cowering Gods

(David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143,

Ever since the discovery of the Babylonian Gilgamish Epic in the 19th century, skeptics have attempted to use ancient pagan flood accounts to discredit the Bible. Yet like every other attempt to disprove Scripture, this one is found to have feet of clay.

The first Gilgamish tablet was found in the 1850s by Henry Layard in the ruins of Nineveh and translated in 1872 by George Smith at the British Museum. It purports to be the account that Utnapishtim told Gilgamesh of how he survived the flood and gained immortality. Several versions of the story have since been discovered.

In contrast to the Bible’s majestic account, the Gilgamesh Epic is a ridiculous pagan myth on its very face.

The Gilgamesh ark is
A CUBE 200 feet square, which would have been incredibly unstable even on a calm sea!

More recently, Irving Finkel of the British Museum translated another ancient Mesopotamian flood account (“British Museum: Prototype of Noah’s Ark Was Round,”
The Times of Israel, Jan. 24, 2014). This tablet describes A CIRCULAR ARK as large as a football field made of a wood frame walled in with ROPE and open to the elements. Now, that would be a great ship for an ocean voyage through the worst weather this world has ever seen!

Finkel observes that there were circular boats known as coracles that were used on rivers. This is true, but a river craft is not an ocean-going craft!

By contrast, the ark described in Genesis was 450 feet long by 75 feet wide by 30 feet high, similar to the proportion of modern sea-going vessels such as oil tankers and cargo containers.

(Finkel’s tablet is of unknown origin or “provenance.” He got it from “a man whose father acquired it in the Middle East after World War II.” Thus no one knows where it came from, who wrote it, or when it was written. Yet this tablet and its silly story, with no solid history older than the mid-20th century, is a major international news item in the most recent attempt to overthrow the Old Testament. This sin-cursed world will accept the testimony of a silly Babylonian fable over that of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who attested that the Bible is divinely inspired.)

Don’t be deceived by willfully blind skeptics. The British Museum has a peerless collection of artifacts, and I have spent many days exploring its treasures on multiple trips to England, but its interpretation of those artifacts can be misguided and prejudiced. The Museum has been proven wrong many times (e.g., the Piltdown Man hoax), but the Bible has never been proven wrong.

“Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts” (2 Pet. 3:3).

The God revealed in the Bible is nothing like the foolish gods of pagan mythology. The gods of the Gilgamesh myth are spiteful, immoral, selfish, petty, competitive, fickle, impatient, weak, cowardly, and deceitful. The chief god Ea instructs Utnapishtim to lie to his fellow men by giving them the impression that the gods are going to bless them instead of destroy them. When the storm comes, the gods are so frightened that they flee to heaven and cower like dogs, crouching outside the door of the god Anu, and the goddess Ishtar shrieks like a woman in childbirth. After the flood, the god Enlil is furious because some of the men escaped destruction.

By contrast, the creator God of Scripture is almighty, all-wise, holy, just, compassionate, merciful, longsuffering. He is the same yesterday and today. He speaks only truth. His promises are irrevocable. He is man’s lawgiver and judge, and as Creator He has every right to be man’s judge. But He is also the Saviour. He Himself purchased salvation for sinners by His own suffering on the cross, and He wants all men to be saved.

The Gilgamesh Epic is mainly about Gilgamesh’s search for immortality. He sought for it by every means, but it eluded him.

The Bible is also about man’s search for immortality, and it, too, says that man cannot find immortality through his own efforts. Happily, the story doesn’t end there. The Bible tell us that salvation was purchased by God for man and is offered to man as a gift of His grace. Jesus Christ rose from the dead to prove that this is no pagan myth.

is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy” (Psalm 103:8).

“For this
is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:3-6).

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves:
it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Man’s unbelief does not change the truth of the Bible. Even if the entire world disbelieved, it would change nothing. In fact, the widespread unbelief in our day is evidence that the Bible is true. Jesus Christ warned that His return will be preceded by the same type of conditions that existed before Noah’s Flood.

“And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all” (Luke 17:26-27).

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