Flood Myths - Middle Eastern

Babylonian

 

Three times (every 1200 years), the Gods became distressed by the disturbance from human overpopulation. The Gods dealt with the problem first by plague, then by famine. Both times, the God Enki advised humans to bribe the God causing the problem. The third time, Enlil advised the Gods to destroy all humans with a flood, but Enki had Atrahasis build an ark and so escape. Also on the boat were cattle, wild animals and birds, and the family of Atrahasis. After seeing the suffering caused by the flood, the Gods regretted their action, and Enki established barren women and stillbirth to avoid the problem in the future.

Chaldean

Xisuthrus was warned of a coming flood by the God Chronos, who ordered Xisuthrus to write a history and to build a vessel (5 stadia by 2 stadia) for his relations, friends, and two of every type of animal. After the flood began to subside, he sent out some birds, all of which returned. Upon trying again, the birds returned, their feet covered in mud. On the third trial, the birds didn't return. The people disembarked and offered sacrifices to the Gods. Xisuthrus, his wife, daughter, and the pilot of the ark were eventually transported to live with the Gods.

Hebrew

Based on the Babylonian story with the difference that the flood was a harsh punishment for humanity's sinfulness. Noah was 600 years old when it began to rain for what ended up being 40 days and 40 nights. After the end of 150 days, the waters were abated. The ark rested in the seventh month upon the mountains of Ararat. Waters decreased until the 10th month, on the first day of the 10th month; tops of mountains were also seen. At the end of 40 days, Noah opened the windows of the ark. First, he sent a raven, which went to and fro. He then sent a dove, which returned and hadn't found land. After seven more days, another dove was loosed; it returned that evening with an olive leaf. The next week, the dove didn't return. After a year and 10 days from the start of the flood, every creature emerged from the ark. Noah sacrificed some clean animals and birds to God, and God, pleased with this, promised never again to destroy all living creatures.

Sumerian

In the eleventh tablet of the Semitic Babylonian epic of Gilagamesh is a flood story that is the source for the Noah story. The Gods resolved to cleanse the earth of an overpopulated humanity, but Utnapishtim was warned by the God Ea in a dream. He and some craftsmen built a huge (seven decks encompassing one acre in area) ark. Utnapishtim then loaded it with his family, the craftsmen, and "the seed of all living creatures." The waters rose up, and a storm continued for six days and six nights. The Gods repented and wept upon seeing the global destruction of living beings and stilled the flood on the seventh day. The waters covered everything but the top of the mountain Nisur, where the boat landed. A dove was loosed, but it returned, having found no place to rest. A swallow was sent, but it too returned. Seven days later, after having loosed a raven that did not return to the ark, the people began to emerge. Utnapishtim made a sacrifice to the Gods. He and his wife were given immortality and lived at the end of the earth.

Zoroastrian

Ahura Mazda warned Yima that destruction in the form of floods, subsequent to the melting of the snow, was threatening the sinful world and gave him instructions for building a vara in which specimens of small and large cattle, humans, dogs, birds, fires, plants and foods were to be deposited in pairs.