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Creation Stories in Genesis 1 and 2 and Enuma Elish

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Creation stories in Genesis 1 & 2 and Enuma Elish

The book of Genesis originally comes from Hebrew Bible and was originally known as “Bereshit”, its original name in Hebrew. The basic story of the two parts of Genesis is creation of the world by God and each part the creation happens in a different order from each other. Additionally, Enuma Elish is also a creation story and it is about a dispute that the ancient gods had between each other. Tiamat who is seen as a female god with her collaborator Kingu rebel against the god of Babylon, Marduk, but both get killed by Marduk. Consequently, Marduk creates the world with Tiamat’s and Kingu’s bodies. In this essay I will be discussing and comparing the stories of creation that are told in Genesis 1 and 2 and Enuma Elish and I will try to distinguish main differences and similarities between them.

Genesis one tells the story of God’s creation of the world in a chronological order and describes earth as a ‘formless void and darkness’ before the creation1. According to Genesis 1, God created the world in seven days, on the first day he created night and day, then the sky and the sea on the second and followed by land on the third. Furthermore, on the fourth day the stars, sun and moon appeared. After all, he created the living things like sea creatures like fish and birds, and lastly the animals and the mankind and on the seventh day God decided to rest. Similarly, the main idea of creation in Genesis two supports the creation story in Genesis one. In Genesis two, God creates the mankind, land and animals of all kinds. Overall, the main idea of creation is very similar in both chapters, God creates the same elements of the world in both versions although it doesn’t happen in the same order. In addition to that, this quotation, “make humankind in our image, and let them have dominion over the fish, birds, cattle and animals”, shows that the main correspondence in both texts is that the world is created by God himself and that the male and female were created and were superior between all creatures. Furthermore, when Enuma Elish is compared to Genesis 1 &2, there is a resemblance in how the world was before the creation. The author of Enuma Elish is stating that “no pasture land had been formed and not even a reed marsh was to be seen”2, implying the there was nothing before the creation, just empty space without a given name with no gods present. Similarly, in Genesis 1&2, the author wrote, “the earth was a formless void and darkness”3. Here, it shows the world in chaos and emptiness and that it needed more things to be created. Both stories show a similarity in the sense that world was an empty space in chaos without any creatures occupying it.

However, there are differences in both stories of the biblical Genesis like the order of creation. For example, in Genesis one, the world is created by God in seven days and the mankind is the last to be created after all elements like light and day, moon and sun and plants and animals. In Genesis two however, God creates the world in one day and the man is first to be created. The events also take place in the Garden of Eden where the man is placed, unlike in the first chapter. Another key thing to remember is that God creates animals, plants and the female after the man is created. Having said that, as stated in the second chapter, the animals were formed and given a role as the mans helpers so Adam is not by himself and in the first chapter the animals were not seen as helpers and were not created to eliminate Adam’s loneliness. It is also important to note that the female, Eve, was created last in the second chapter and as stated in the text she was created out of Adam’s rib while he was in deep sleep. In contrast to that, in the first chapter, the male and female were created on the sixth day after everything has already been created and there is no evidence about the female being created using Adam’s rib. Moreover, there is a significant difference in Enuma Elish and the Genesis texts regarding the world before the creation. In Enuma Elish, it is mentioned that there were no Gods before the creation, “When none of the gods had been brought into being”4, hinting that there was an absolute emptiness. However, in the Genesis it is said that “in the beginning, when God...”5, suggesting that the God was present even before the world was created.

It should also be considered that in both chapters the ‘heaven and earth’ were created first, therefore both texts correspond to each other on this matter. In addition to that there is also a similarity in the creation of the plants, in the first chapter God creates the plants and fruitful trees and similarly in the second chapter he creates the same things but places them in the Garden of Eden and it can be referred to ex nihilo meaning that the world has been created by God out of nothing. Likewise, in the Enuma Elish, the world is shown as a chaotic empty space with no gods and the world is being created out of nothing. Another key thing is that in both texts, God gives the man dominion over all living creatures on earth and gives responsibility to the humankind to look after all the creations. Although there is a minor difference regarding this point, and it is that in the second chapter God creates a garden and gives Adam superiority over all creatures in that garden and makes him responsible for looking after it.  In the Enuma Elish however, there is no mention of the humankind being superior over other living things, it is only said that Marduk creates humankind for labour.

It should be noted that there are differences in the texts regarding creation of non-living elements like the appearance of water on earth. In the first chapter, God says “let there be a dome and let it separate the waters from the waters”6. It shows that before the creation the earth was a formless void meaning that the place was in darkness and there was chaos and after the creation of earth, there was no dry land according to the first chapter until God separated the waters. However, in the second chapter, there was not any water on earth and there is no evidence of oceans present so the waters came from the rains that God sent upon the earth. In Enuma Elish however, it is said that the waters came from the death of Tiamat. Marduk, while fighting Tiamat shot an arrow a split her heart into two therefore splitting the waters between heaven and earth. Also, a major difference in the text to consider is the creation of the humankind. In Genesis 1 it is said that the male and female were created in Gods image and there was no mention about the exact way of their creation. In contrast, chapter two says that God created the man from dust and breathed the breath of life and the female was created from a man’s rib. In Enuma Elish, the mankind has been created by a completely different way when compared to the Genesis. As a result of Marduk killing Kingu, Marduk creates the first human being using Kingu’s blood vessels. Additionally, in Enuma Elish, Marduk creates the man for the purpose of serving the gods with labour work7 and in the Genesis the man is created in Gods image to take care of all the living things on earth8.



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