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Mesopotamian and Egyptian Culture

The main scripture that holds the Christian faith is the Holy Bible.It has existed for a very long time already that it is already considered as an “institution” when it comes to its teachings and the values that it imparts on the readers.Some religions have even sprung from Christianity itself, and the basis of their teachings is also the Bible.

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But there are some who dispels the notion as the Bible being an institution of knowledge by saying that some parts of the Old Testament has been copied or patterned to other writings from other cultures. This has greatly affected the formation of the Old Testament, since it has to incorporate some materials and information from other cultures. It could also just be a coincidence that they have similar points, other than that, neither one of them copied the contents of the other.

The Epic of Gilgamesh/Gilgamesh as the Babylonian Noah

One of the great literary pieces to ever exist was the Epic of Gilgamesh. It talks about how the great Sumerian King Gilgamesh lived is life. Even though epic was compiled into written form a very long time ago, it has existed way back in 2100 B.C. in another form which is through word of mouth. This just show how long it has already been in circulation, in order to establish a comparison with the existence of the Christian’s Moses, if he ever existed.

Moses, when he came into the scene through the Book of Exodus in the Old Testament, is said to be 800-900 years younger than the Epic of Gilgamesh. With this information at hand, it is clear to see that the Epic of Gilgamesh came first, with a head start of 900 years before The Book of Exodus in the Old Testament came into existence.

One of the arguable points in the Book of Exodus in the Old Testament was Great Flood that the Lord had given the lands of man. It was done in order to cleanse the earth of the sins of man. However, in the Epic of Gilgamesh, we can see that there was also a great flood delivered to cleanse the world of sinful people: same content, but different stories. It was Ut-Napishtim who told him about the gods giving such punishments to people.

He told Gilgamesh to take down a house and make a boat out of it. He would spare Gilgamesh’ family and relatives; he was also instructed to gather as all the animals and living things that he can spare. Gilgamesh was vey much like the famous Noah who built the Ark on God’s bidding for them to be spared, along with pairs of different animals he can gather. But considering the time frame, it is more like, Noah was very much like Gilgamesh who built a large boat, and God was very much like Ut-Napishtim, who cleansed the lands with a great flood to get rid of sinful people.

Gilgamesh and Noah are two different people coming from two different cultures in different time frames. They are very similar in a lot of aspects, especially in the matter of the Great Flood. If it was merely a coincidence that they both constructed a great water vessel and rounded up all the animals in the world, no one knows. It is just that These two men were both heroes and icons of their own times, and have made their marks in their own different cultures.

The Code of Hammurabi and the Laws of Moses

One of the most notable law maker/leader would be King Hammurabi of the Babylonian Dynasty. He was noted for his Code of Hammurabi, a very influential set of laws and corresponding punishments to its violators. He existed around 1792 B.C. to 1750 B.C., 300 years before Moses is said to have existed. The point of comparison that is being built-up here is that Hammurabi came before Moses. Most people know that Moses is noted to be the bearer of the Lord’s 10 Commandments. This is because of some claims saying that even the 10 Commandments, as well as the laws set by Moses or the Mosaic Laws were patterned to the Code of Hammurabi.

There are several concepts that would attract one’s attention if he’s looking for similarities. One of these concepts is with regards to the respect for parents. For Hammurabi, a son who strikes his father should have his arm cut off. In Mosaic law, if someone curses his parents or is very rebellious, then death is the right punishment. Another would be on marriage. For Hammurabi, if a man wishes to leave his family, then he should prepare a fraction of his property and wealth in order for the mother to raise their children.

On the other hand, Mosaic law says that divorce will only be allowed if a spouse becomes indecent or unfaithful. Both Hammurabi and the Mosaic law agreed that death should be the appropriate punishment for both man and woman committing adultery. Incest for them is also unacceptable, and should be dealt with sever punishment, and if necessary, it should be death for those who have committed the crime

Theft is also another aspect of similarity, where both of them condone the act of stealing and robbing from other people. In the Mosaic law, whatever living property is stolen and has been killed, should be returned five folds. If it is alive, it should be returned immediately. On the other hand, Hammurabi states that it depends on the social position of the thief, whether he should pay ten-folds or thirty times the original. But for those caught in the act of robbing someone else or stealing someone else property, no matter how valuable it is, the punishment to be given should be death.

Finally, the one that showed relevant similarity was on inflicting physical injury in another person. In Mosaic laws, it depends on the weight of the damage done by the offender. Injuries which are not serious should be given necessary fines, where the offender would pay this fine for the damages he has done to the victim. But for those who have committed serious injury on somebody else, then it would be necessary to exercise taking a life for a life, or a limb for a limb. The Hammurabic code is the source of the line “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”

The Hymn to Aton

Not only did the Bible borrowed from the early Mesopotamian societies, they have also extracted some from early Egyptian cultures. Praise worship for the Lord which is found in several verses of the Bible can be traced back to tomb scriptures of some of the great men of Egypt, rulers who have made a great impact on their constituents. They are revered even after their deaths, with poems, songs and hymns being written for them as a form of praise-worship. This has been adopted by some verses in the Bible, showing how the Lord is miraculous, powerful and merciful. Not many of the people know that these verses were patterned from some dead guy’s tomb scriptures.

The Sinai Covenant

The Sinai covenant has been the primer of what seemed to as periodic worship, which is timely, for it was allotted a day in a week for worship. However, there are also other religions that follow this day of the Sabbath, where they would do nothing else but worship their gods all throughout the day. This is in relation to what the Bible claimed to be the day of worship for its followers.

References:

Anonymous. “Egyptian & Old Testament Scriptural Correspondences.”  http://www.mystae.com/restricted/streams/thera/egypt.html.

Caroll, Robert Todd. “Noah’s Ark.”  http://skepdic.com/noahsark.html.

Latoundji, David Paul. “God at Sinai: Covenant and Theophany in the Bible and Ancient near East.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society ( Mar 1999).

Nosotro, Rit. “Comparing the Content of Hammurabi’s Code, Mosaic Law, and Justinian Law.”  http://www.hyperhistory.net/apwh/essays/comp/cw03hammurabijustinlaw.htm.

Tolerance, Ontario Consultants on Religious. “Comparison of the Babylonian and Noahic Flood Stories.”  http://www.religioustolerance.org/noah_com.htm.

Worldwide Church of God. “Did Moses Steal the Ten Commandments? .” Worldwide Church of God, http://www.wcg.org/lit/bible/law/steal10.htm.

 

 

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