Traditions Of The Deluge -- By: William Restelle

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 064:253 (Jan 1907)
Article: Traditions Of The Deluge
Author: William Restelle


Traditions Of The Deluge

William Restelle

Researches during the nineteenth century into the languages, myths, and racial characteristics of various peoples have disclosed many interesting facts bearing upon the early history of mankind. Races, separated from each other by vast bodies of water, varying in their degrees of civilization and differing in their modes of life, betray their historical relations to each other by their languages and traditions. The nursery tales, which we delighted to listen to in our. childhood days, are related by mothers to attentive ears among all the Aryan peoples, among the Hindoos and Chinese, and even among the Redmen of North America, and the blacks of tropical Africa. Legends which we used to accept as true and thought were peculiar to our own chronicles are told and retold with certain modifications in countries far distant from ours. But of all the traditions and myths found in the records of the past, or among the living races of to-day, that of the Deluge is the most remarkable. The story of a great cataclysm which swept mankind from off the face of the earth, allowing only of the providential escape of from two to eight persons, who afterwards re-peopled the world, is, with only two exceptions, found among all races, ancient or modern. These stories of the Flood, though substantially the same, all possess considerable human interest, varying, as they do, in their form of narration. Many of them are graphically told and embellished with the wildest imagination.

The oldest and most remarkable narrative of the Deluge is undoubtedly the one discovered a quarter of a century ago by Mr. George Smith in his excavations in Assyria. The whole story of this great event is narrated in an epic found on some cuneiform tablets exhumed at Nineveh, and is as follows: —-

The god Hea appeared to Xisuthrus, a Chaldean king, in a dream, and warned him that all flesh should perish in a great flood. The god bade him take all the sacred writings, and bury them in Sippara, the City of the Sun; then build himself a huge ship, store therein a large quantity of provisions, and “cause to go up into the vessel the substance of all that has life,” his family and his most intimate friends. Xisuthrus obeyed. When all had been prepared, the waters belched forth from their caverns and overwhelmed the earth.

“The archangels of the abyss brought destruction—in their terrors they agitated the earth.—The inundation of Ramman swelled up to the sky—and the earth became without lustre, was changed into a desert… . Brother no longer saw his brother… . Six days and as many nights passed, the wind, the water-spout, and the diluvian rain were all in their strength. At the appro...

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