Mesopotamian and Egyptian Culture on the Creation of the Old Testament

Last Updated: 12 Mar 2023
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The Bible has been around for so many years now, that’s why most people think that it is the most comprehensive book on ancient history. For some, it is even the basis for the creation of other scriptures of other religion, as well as the creation of other religions. However, record shows that there are some important details that is the same in the Bible, the Old Testament with the writings of other culture. This means that there are some significant parts of the holy book that might have been patterned with the writings in other religions or cultures.

This means that no matter how old the Bible is, its creation has been influenced by other culture’s and other religion’s writings. The Epic of Gilgamesh Gilgamesh, the Sumerian King from the city of Uruk who lived and ruled around 2500 years B. C. There are no concrete relations of relating the account on Gilgamesh with human history, other than that it was passed through word of mouth some 3,700 years ago – around 2100 B. C. as a part of the oldest works of literature that man knows of which is The Epic of Gilgamesh.

As compared to the part of the Book of Exodus wherein Moses liberates the Hebrew slaves out of Egypt, it would be around 1300-1200 B. C. if ever it actually existed. But with these dates, that would make the stories of the Epic of Gilgamesh be around 800-900 years older than that of the Old Testament’s Book of Exodus. This is to build upon the facts of which of them comes first, so that it is easier to tell which of them adopts the ideas of whom. Gilgamesh seemed to have encountered a great flood as well, in The Epics of Gilgamesh.

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It was when Utanapishtim confided to Gilgamesh about an old city where the gods might reside. It has been moved by the Greater Gods so that they can flood out the whole region to purge the evil-doers. This is much like the Great Flood which was inflicted by God in order to punish the human race. There were also groups of people who were spared, those who were given a warning before the punishment was actually inflicted. They were carefully instructed on what ways they will be spared and what they have to do for that matter.

Noah was to build an ark with specific dimensions and materials, as for Gilgamesh, he was instructed to tear down a house and build a large boat with a roof. The similarities are obvious. They were both instructed to load up their boats with all animal life forms that they can find. Gilgamesh is considered to be the Babylonian Noah who has lived his purpose and took part in purging the world of sinful elements. The great flood will end all lives on earth, and the only thing that would save them is through constructing a huge ark.

This ark will also be filled with all types of animals for them survive the flood. These facts could mean that the part of the Bible telling about Noah could be an adaptation of the earlier Epics of Gilgamesh, as manifested by their similarities in content. Hammurabi’s Laws The sixth king of the Babylonian Dynasty, King Hammurabi, existed some time between 1792 to1750 B. C. and is the known author of the Code of Hammurabi. His existence was about 300 years earlier than that of Moses, the one who liberated the Hebrew slaves from their Egyptian masters, the one has been shown the Ten Commandments of the Lord.

Again, this is to establish which comes first, who could’ve copied whom, in the context of Moses and King Hammurabi. The fist concept was on the respect for parents, which established the importance of the family, the most basic unit of daily life. According to Hammurabi, there should always be respect to one’s parents. If a son has struck his father, then the appropriate punishment would be to cut-off his arms. In Mosaic law, death awaits for those who cursed their father and mother and acted stubbornly or rebelliously. Another important aspect would the vitality of marriage.

According to Hammurabi, it is ok to send away one’s wife as long as the husband provides sustenance for their children to be raised properly. On the other hand, Mosaic Law allowed divorce on the grounds that when a spouse is found indecent or unfaithful. Both suggested death for both man and woman if ever they get caught committing adultery. Both has also forbade incest, wherein the punishment would be severe and would more or less be death. Another aspect that showed relevant similarities was on slavery. Both Hammurabi and Mosaic laws permitted to own slaves.

However, they are also held liable with the death of any of their slaves. They are the ones who are responsible for their slaves’ actions. Another point of similarity is regarding theft. These cases are not to be treated lightly for both the Mosaic and Hammurabi’s laws. Mosaic law states that for those proven to have stolen something, they must return it five folds if it was killed and if it was alive, it should be returned. Meanwhile, for Hammurabi, it would depend whether thirty or ten times over, depending on the social status.

However, if one is caught on the act of robbery, then punishment would be death. The one that manifests great similarity was their point on the laws regarding physical injury. For Mosaic law, if the injury was not serious, the guilty person is fined and the money will be given to the one who the damage was done to. But if the injury was serious, just like what Hammurabi said, it was right to take life for life, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Hymn to Aton The Old Testament has also borrowed some texts from important Egyptian texts.

The Hymn to the Great God Aton showed some relevant similarities with praises for the Lord, thanking him for all His blessings. Some passages on Psalms are the same with tomb scriptures in the tomb of some relevant figures in Egyptian history to have ever existed. It may be a coincidence, but to bear almost similar thoughts on the same concepts would be nearly impossible. Sinai Covenant The Sinai Covenant, as mediated by Moses, can be considered as the last defining moments in the priestly history of the bond which is formed the divine entity and the human beings.

The main components and proponents of this covenant are the brave people of Israel, and were however hampered by the laws and regulations being set by other books like Exodus and Leviticus. So, order to show their grateful nature, they have assigned a whole day for worship. It is the Sabbath day which is also the sign o that covenant, used to keep and uphold the laws. Having this Sabbath day is common for many cultures. This is because people devoted time and effort to their gods, that’s why they have to assign certain days for worship to the Lord. This is also a way to check on everyone’s faith in the religion that they belong to.

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Mesopotamian and Egyptian Culture on the Creation of the Old Testament. (2016, Oct 03). Retrieved from

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