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The Ancient Mesopotamian Notes and Narrations of the Holy Bible.


B In 1872 famous English Asyrriologist George Smith, who deserved the title of the founder of the British Assyriology, reported that among the cuneiform tables, which were brought from the British museum from the library of the Assyrian king, Ashurbanipal, he discovered an ancient Babylonian legend about the Universal Flood, in much corresponding to the Biblical narration about it.

The enemies of our faith, which at those times were already many, and which had significant influence over the social and scientific circles, with readiness supported this news and interpreted it as a testimony of the nondependent character of the Biblical Scriptures and their full dependence on the ancient Mesopotamian legends. Most of the Christian apologetics, defending the immaculate truth and the originality of the Holy Scripture, tried to disparage the new discovery, referring to its doubtfulness. But the new discoveries in Mesopotamia only proved the authenticity of the discovery of G. Smith. There appeared new versions of the legend about the Flood not only in the Babylonian (Acadian) language, but in the most ancient — Sumerian (in the town of Nippura), then there appeared ancient translations of this legend (till 1700 BC) into the Hattie and Huarit languages, so that the authenticity of the legend about the Flood in the Mesopotamian cuneiform was considered to be authentic.

It is not defined in the Holy Scripture, how it was written. The Holy fathers said different things, concerning this question, but everybody unanimously stated that as Ap. Paul said "All scripture is given by inspiration of God," i.e. was compiled with the participation of the Holy Spirit. Though some holy fathers think that the holy words of the Bible were not written before the Holy Spirit directly dictated them to holy prophet Moses, who conveyed them in this form in our holy books. But with such an understanding, everything in The Holy Scripture, up to the punctuation signs and division into verses is God-inspired and holy. Any translation of the holy books can easily disturb the Divine inspiration. Then there becomes clear the Middle Age opinion about the lawfulness only of three languages, concerning the Holy Scripture, which are exactly good for the translation.

Another opinion triumphed among the holy fathers, mainly among those, who had to do with translations of the Holy Scripture into different languages. Not without the participation of the Divine Providence the greatest authority in the Christian Church gained not the Hebrew original of the Holy Scripture, but the most ancient translation of it into Greek, the so-called Septuagint.

The followers of this theory think that St. Moses, while compiling the text of the Holy Scripture, included into it the preserved since the most ancient times legends, checking them through the prism of the Holy Spirit, so that in the Biblical words there would remain no wrong word, no unrighteous thought.

This second theory arises more compassion in the writer, for it allows to enter into the number of those, who were called to cooperate with the Holy Spirit, more wide circles of people, mainly the antecedents of the Hebrew people, first of all, righteous Abraham, originating from Ur of the Chaldees, i.e. from the region of Babylon, what explains, why exactly the Babylonian (Mesopotamian) legends are especially close to the Biblical ones.

The narration about the Flood is only one of such legends. In the ancient Sumerian variant there is the narration, telling about the creation of the world, which in Sumerian starts with the line: "Enuma elish la nabu shamamu" ("when the skies were still not named"), serving, on the Eastern tradition, as a headline to the whole narration.

In this narration the fundamental difference with the Biblical variant draws our attention. In the time, while the Holy Bible is started with the triumphant proclamation: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" — and this truth we daily profess in the Creed, following St. Prophet Jeremiah, repeating that "gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens" (10:11) and that "God hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion" — the Babylonian legends assign the creation of the world by parts to different gods or the society of gods, showing that in this important moment the memory of the inhabitants of Babylon failed, and they gave the radically distorted picture of the creation of the world over to further generations. This is one more time proves that for the sake of saving the truth in mankind untouched, the Lord could not let human forces keep it, and that the interference with that of the Holy Spirit, "Who talked to the fathers through prophets" was necessary. Anyway, this cleansing effect of the breathing of the Holy Spirit we see in the most close to the true narration legend about the Flood.

Let us give the extracts of this legend on the book of Doctor George Rue "Ancient Iraq" (London, 1964).

"Once gods decided to send over a flood, to destroy sinful mankind, but Ea (the god of the fresh water) took pity over Utnapishtim and quietly, through the wall of his dwelling, started to whisper him advice: to leave the house, all belongings, build a ship of a big size, take "all seeds of living creatures," and be prepared for a calamity. The next morning the bulging of the ship began, and in some time a huge, seven-decked ship, tarred with oil and loaded with gold, silver, birds and animals, was ready. Utnapishtim went on board the ship with the whole family and servants, and when the weather changed for the worse, he understood that the flood came, and closed the door. A black cloud appeared from behind the horizon and there started a terrible storm with the wind, rain, thunder and lightning. All the dams burst and the earth was surrounded by darkness. Gods were in panic and frightened, they shriveled, as dogs, huddled up in fear. Ishtar (Astarte) was moaning, like a woman, giving birth. "How could I start the fight against my people? I am the one, who let my people down!" Gods were crying with her for six days and six nights. The wind was blowing, the rain, storm and flood overflowing the earth. On the seventh day the storm subsided. Utnapishtim opened the window, the light fell onto his face and he saw that all mankind was converted into clay. The ship stopped on the pick of Mount Nizir, but the ground was not seen, except for the rock on which stood the ship. After a week passed, Utnapishtim let a dove go but it returned back, he sent a swallow, but it came back as well, and finally he sent a crow, and the crow did not return, for he found the ground. Then Utnapishtim went out of the ship and made an offering on the mountain top. Gods felt the sweet smell of a sacrifice and as flies gathered around it. Then gods began to quarrel. Ishtar (Astarte) was glad, Enlil was angry, Ea stood for his position."

In this narration we see much similarity with the Biblical narration, and the fundamental difference with it. First of all the difference between the elevated and light image of God, which appears on the pages of the Bible, and very often repugnant image of heathen gods, shriveling as dogs, with the calamity, and flying onto the smell of a victim, as flies, is very notable. Comparing both the narrations we clearly see the difference between the narration, which went through the crucible of the Holy Spirit and the narration, which did not have such cleansing.

The most important feature of this and that is the presence or absence of the moral sense in the described event. The Biblical Flood was a consequence of the common for whole mankind sin. All people, except Noah and his family, fell into hopeless carnality, stopped any spiritual life. From the example of the contemporary times we can clearly understand such a life. By this the Divine plan about the man was violated in its root. People descended into hell, and if all mankind without an exception would find itself in the same position, then there would be no hope for anyone for the eternal life in the Reign of God.

Because of this, but not of the momentary caprice, the Lord exterminates pre-flood mankind, saving Noah and his family and by that protects mankind.

But the Lord did not forget the destroyed human generations. St. Ap. Peter testifies: "By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water" (1 Pet. 3:19-20).

All this, of course, is not present in the heathen Mesopotamian notes.

We can only reverently give thanks to the Lord and the Holy Spirit for the fact that he was kind to undertake the cleansing of human legends for the perseverance of Truth. If not to this interference of the Holy Spirit, them we might have been obliged to worship gods, shriveling as dogs, and greedily clinging to the edible, like flies.

This article was already written, when in newspapers and magazines there appeared the news about the latest discoveries in the excavation of the ruins of the city of Ebla in Syria, preserved since pre-Biblical times. And for sure, there started to be made the anti-Christian and anti-Biblical attacks on this matter. The present article cannot answer to the posed there questions only because it had been written before the time, when the news about new discoveries were received and for the fact that these news are still very muddled and unprocessed. But it gives answers to the main questions, arising in the connection with the new discoveries in the Middle East, and therefore can bring some use.

The racial division of mankind. Straight after the Flood begins the racial division of mankind. Noah curses Ham: "a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren." Then he said: "Blessed be the LORD God of Shem" and "God shall enlarge Japheth."

Since this moment these three principal branches of mankind gain their typical features. The progeny of Ham gets the special hereditary features, which do not have the descendants of Seth — Semites, and the descendants of Japheth — Japhetits. In its turn, these latter begin to differ from each other radically.

"Blessed be the LORD God of Shem" says about his oldest son holy and righteous Noah. In these words we can see the prediction about the especially elevated calling of the progeny of Seth.

And really, not only the progeny of Seth is the chosen by God for preserving the faith into Only True God in the Old Testament period of history nation, but in the further times the bearers and disseminators of faith into Only God and fighters against multi-deity were mostly the descendants of Seth, the Hebrews (for all the apostles, disseminators of the faith of Christ, mostly were Hebrew), and the disseminators of Islam — the Arabs.

"God shall enlarge Japheth." On the ancient tradition (though, little based on the testimony of the Holy Bible) the descendants of Japheth are Hindo-Europeans. No other human nation was so wide-spread on the face of earth, as the Hindo-European nation.

It is hard to create connections between the God-inspired, eternal and immutable truths of the Holy Scripture and unstable, always changing surmises of human science. But in this case there exists the desire to spread such a connection. On the contemporary archeological data all the most ancient so-called "cultures" of the ancient Stone Age of Shell (Abbe-Ville), Ashell, Mustier époques were absolutely identical throughout the earth. In the Southern Africa, in China, on the islands of Indonesia, in Europe people equally found the possibility to use stones for their purposes and shaping them with something till the desired shape: so-called stone axes, scrappers, knives in all the mentioned fields were almost equal, testifying to the common psychology of whole mankind, for instance, the nests of birds of the same type, the constructions of beavers or honeycombs of bees are approximately the same for the places they inhabit. Though, with that great difference that the nests of birds and constructions of beavers almost do not change in time, but the achievements of people, in the majority staying equal in the terms of space, improved with time.

With the change from the lower Paleolith to the upper one there appear local variations of "cultures" and human tools begin to differ not only in the terms of époques, but in the terms of the places of inhabitance.

With that, by that ancient, undivided mankind we do not find any signs of at least a little developed spiritual life: they do not have any signs of burials of their dead tribal members, or any works of art.

This state of ancient mankind asks for comparison with the Divine words about pre-flood mankind: "My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh," i.e. there is only flesh, nothing spiritual and even emotional.

And then, suddenly, in the moment when the Mustier culture is changed into the Orignac one, its carriers stop throwing their dead out into the forests and fields, but start taking care about their burial, and the walls of cave, where they dwelt, start being covered with the amazing in their beauty and expressiveness drawings: emotional, and in the embryonic state spiritual life of people starts to reveal itself, and moreover, one might say, starts flourishing. This is what we have a right to expect from the renewed, cleansed by the waters of the Flood mankind.

With it, as soon it is shown by archeology, the unique in that time and being changed only in époques, but in each separate époque common for whole mankind culture starts to be divided into separate local cultures. In this phenomenon is revealed the appeared soon after the Flood division of mankind into different races.

We shall not stop on the very unclear and questionable topic about the origin of human races. This question is clarified neither scientifically, nor Biblically. From the Bible it is clear what the Bible wants to confirm, it is that the chosen Divine nation originates from the eldest son of Noah — Seth (from here comes the word "Semites").

The ancient tradition assigns the origin of the Slavic nation and people of the similar to them nations to the youngest son of Noah — Japheth, and our holy Chronicler writes: "The generation of Japheth are Varyags, Murmans (Normans), Goths, Ruses, Angles, Galls, Lyachs (Polish), Volsci, Romans, Germans, venedizi (Venezians), Fryazi (Italian merchants) and others."

Who are the descendants of Ham, we cannot say even approximately. The Bible says about that very indistinctly: first as the descendants of Ham are called Babylon and Assur, then Assur and Aram (the Aramaic) are called the descendants of Seth, as ethnography supposes them to be.

From the other descendants of Ham we shall name Nimrod, about whom the Holy Bible says that he was "a mighty hunter before the LORD." On this basis we can only guess that to the descendants of Ham belong wild, hunting tribes, which preserved their wildness for a long time, till our days. Of course, no nation, no tribe, which is acquainted with the narration of the Bible, would not pretend for originating from Ham.

The 10th chapter of the Bible, which is devoted to the mentioned here question of the origin of human races (nations), ends with the words: "These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations, in their nations: and by these the nations were divided upon the earth after the flood."

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