Perhaps, one of the most well-known motifs found in Genesis is the motif of a flood. Apart from Genesis, it is used in other pieces of literature. One of the literary monuments which also includes this motif is The Epic of Gilgamesh. The latter is rather interesting for the analysis due to the fact that there is a great number of similarities between the biblical flood and flood described in the Mesopotamian epic.
The resemblance between Genesis and The Epic of Gilgamesh is startling. Apart from minor differences caused by cultural factors, both descriptions of floods literally repeat each other. More specifically, in Genesis God (and in the epic, it is several gods) initiates great flood because of the sinfulness of mankind and chooses a righteous man to build an ark to save a group of people and all animal species. Further with the development of the plot its main points are repeated in both pieces.
The differences between the biblical flood and flood described in The Epic are quite insignificant. For example, while in Genesis “rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights”, the Gilgamesh flood lasted only for six days and nights (Genesis 7:12 English Standard Version). Another example is the place where arks came to rest: Noah’s ark rested on Ararat, and Utnapishtim’s ark – on Nasir.
The differences mentioned above are insignificant for the motif of flood and are explained by the cultural, religious and territorial differences between the nations which created these literary monuments. What is of greater importance both for literature and history is their unprecedented resemblance that suggests close connections between ancient cultures.