Cuneiform Inscriptions And The Deluge -- By: Thomas Laurie
BSac 42:165 (Jan 1885) p. 165
Cuneiform Inscriptions And The Deluge
François Lenormant was, perhaps, the best Assyrian scholar in France. In his Beginnings of History, he compares the inspired record of events in Genesis with the traditions of the East. He takes up “The creation of man,” “The first sin,” “The kerubim and revolving sword,” “The fratricide and the foundation of the first city,” “The Sethites and the Qainites,” “The ten antediluvian patriarchs,” “The children of God and the daughters of men,” and, last of all, “The Deluge.” He illustrates each topic with a wealth of traditions from many nations, but especially from the former inhabitants of the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates, as their traditions have been preserved for us in the cuneiform inscriptions.
It is not the object of this paper to review the book; but only to offer a few suggestions on a single point in connection with the Deluge.
M. Lenormant gives the Chaldean account of that event from Berosus as follows (p. 387): “Cronos (Ed) announced to Xisuthros (Khasisatra) that on the fifteenth of the month Daisios (Swan) all mankind would perish by a deluge. He then commanded him to take the beginning, the middle, and the end of all that had been written, and bury it in Sippara (Sepharvaim), the city of the Sun; after that, to build a ship, and go on board with his family and dearest friends;….to place in it provisions for food and drink, and to introduce into it animals, both fowls and quadrupeds; lastly, to get everything ready for navigation.”
Here is nothing inconsistent with the Mosaic narrative, so far as the construction of the vessel is concerned. It may have been built on the dry land, all ready to be floated by the waters of the rising flood. But when he comes to the cuneiform narrative, with which the late George Smith made us acquainted in his Chaldean Account of Genesis (pp. 278-315), twenty-seventh line, which George Smith had rendered (p. 280) “And on the deep, cover it, even with a roof,” he translates, “[Launch it] also upon the ocean, and cover it with a roof” (B. of H., 393). So, while Noah was commanded to build the Ark on dry ground,— for that is implied in Gen. 7:17: “The waters increased and bare up the ark, and it was lifted up above the earth,” as if up to that time it had rested on the ground,— M. Lenormant affirms that Khasisatra was himself to launch his vessel upon the ocean. He says (p. 407): “The biblical narrative bears the stamp of an inland nation, ignorant of navigation. In Genesis, the name of the ark (Tebah) signifies chest, and not vessel; and there is nothing said about launching it
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