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played such an insignificant rôle in the Babylonian climate, is this flood story, caused by a mighty rain, due to Babylonian coloring? Surely, it must be admitted there is nothing found in this description of the force which caused the deluge to support the contentions of the Babylonists. And is it not strange that in this very level land the mountains should figure so prominently? And will the Babylonist and the Sumerist tell us whether this fact is also due to Babylonian coloring? Moreover, we have seen that the gods, Adad, Nebo, Sharru, Urra-gal, and En-Urta, who brought on the deluge, are all Amorite (see also below). But let us return to our study of the force which caused the deluge.
The small Babylonian and Assyrian fragments and the Berossus story, do not mention the cause of the deluge; but the ancient version found in the Pierpont Morgan Library Collection does. In the part referring to the deluge, which is unfortunately very fragmentary, the following passage occurs:8
On the morrow let him cause it to rain a torrent.
Let it come upon the field like a thief. Let .... Where is any reference to the inundating rivers? Here again the cause of the deluge is clearly and definitely stated to be rain.
In the Sumerian version the flood was likewise caused by mighty storms. Beginning with Column V, it reads:9
All the mighty windstorms together blew
The storm-flood (amaru) overwhelmed the land. Professor Poebel rightly considered that the Sumerian word amaru means "rainstorm, rain flood, cloud burst”; and that here
8 See A Hebrew Deluge Story p. 60. • See ibidem 70 f.
the two forces which caused the deluge are the same as those given in the Gilgamesh story, namely, sharu "wind," and mekhů abûbu “destructive rainstorm."'10
The late Professor King, appreciating the difficulties involved by admitting this, argued that the Sumerian word amaru was equivalent to the Babylonian abûbu “deluge,” more accurately “flood”; and that while “it is true that the tempests of the Sumerian version probably imply rain,” he said, “in itself the term abûbu implies flood which could take place through a rise of the river unaccompanied by heavy local rain.'
True, a rise of the rivers could do this; but all the stories, including this Sumerian epitome, say that the deluge was caused by a storm. The view that amaru means “rainstorm, storm-flood, cyclone, whirlwind,” is fully supported by many inscriptions, including those of Gudea, which belong to the classical Sumerian period. Moreover, abûbu, the Semitic equivalent of amaru, means “whirlwind, tornado, cyclone”;13 even in the Gilgamesh story it also means “the storm” (see line 132). In the Code of Hammurabi, it means "hurricane." In other words, abûbu only in a special sense referred to "the deluge.”
As a matter of fact, if this short Sumerian epitome had said the deluge was caused by the flooding of the rivers, it would only show that the scribe, who made it, had given the Amorite narrative a true Babylonian coloring; while later scribes either copied other versions just as they were, or they stupidly changed the cause of the deluge and gave the stories a coloring which belonged elsewhere. But, as already stated, the Sumerian version agrees with all the other versions in also making rain the force that caused the deluge.
The Babylonian word for the “river-flood,” the “high tide of water,” is mêlu. The word occurs in the famine story, but it is not found in any of the narratives of the deluge. Is it not remarkable, therefore, that in this so-called nature-myth which had its origin, it is declared, in the flooding of the rivers, the word for "riverflood” (mêlu) is not found?
Let us inquire also as to the cause given for the deluge in Berossus' story. It reads: “To him (Sisithrus) the deity Kronos foretold that on the fifteenth day of the month Desius there would be a deluge of rain."'14 Besides the hero's name, which is supplied from the preceding phrase, there are three nuts in this short passage for the Babylonists and Sumerists to crack, namely, the reference to the god Kronos who was Il or El, the name of the month, and the force that caused the deluge. Certainly they are not Babylonian.
Having ascertained that all the stories which have come from Babylonia which mention the force that caused the deluge, say it was rain, and that they make no kind of reference to the overflowing of the rivers, let us now inquire what the stories from Syria, or ancient Amurru, give as the forces. In the so-called Jehovist version we read:
For after seven days I will cause it to rain on the earth forty
days and forty nights. (Gen. 7:4). And the rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights.
In this version, the cause of the deluge is rain alone. In the socalled Priestly story, the forces are described as follows:
On this self-same day were all the fountains of the great
deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.
(Gen. 7:11). And the fountains of the deep and the windows of heaven were
stopped. (Gen. 8:2).
14 See Cory, Ancient Fragments p. 33.
In other words, the Priestly version, besides the rain which poured from the heavens, speaks of subterranean waters bursting forth. When, as we have seen, the average rainfall at Beirut is 35.87 inches, and in the mountains of Lebanon it is 50 inches, we can appreciate that this is truly an Amorite coloring. And when, for example, we see the water from three springs bursting forth from the earth at the foot of Mount Hermon and creating a river, we can appreciate that this reference to subterranean waters is also true to Amorite coloring. That this has been eliminated from the story handed down by the Babylonians, is perfectly intelligible, when we know that springs do not gush from the earth in the alluvial plain.
The story handed down by Lucian in De dea Syri, also gives rain as the force:
The fountains of the deep were opened and the rain descended in torrents, when the rivers swelled and the sea spread far over the land, when there was nothing but water.
This coincides with the Priestly narrative. Moreover, we ought to credit Lucian, in his efforts to explain the deluge, with having presented what at least appeared to intelligent people as a reasonable cause. In short, the narratives from Amurru give, as the forces which caused the deluge, rain from the heavens; and also the breaking up of the fountains of the deep.
As long ago as 1883, Professor Suess of Vienna, appreciating the difficulty involved, and realizing that the cause as given in the Babylonian story was insufficient to account for a deluge in Babylonia, supplemented the fall of rain by a violent earthquake and the bursting of a typhoon, in the Persian Gulf.15 Of course, Suess could find no proof for this in the Babylonian story; so he interpreted “the foundations of the deep” of Genesis, as referring to such seismic disturbances.
16 See Suess, The Face of the Earth I 24 ff.
Professor Sayce, also apparently appreciating the difficulty involved, assumed that such a convulsion of nature took place; for he says, "the whole conception takes us back to the alluvial plain of Babylonia, liable at any time to be inundated by the waters of the Persian Gulf, and is wholly inapplicable to a mountainous country like Palestine where rain only could have produced a flood."16
The late Professor Delitzsch, in his famous lecture “Babel and Bible,” also appreciating the difficulty presented by Suess, in order to be consistent in his views, without any regard for the cause as given by the stories, also says: that after the traditions "travelled to Canaan, owing to the totally different conformation of the land in this latter country, it was forgotten that the sea had played the principal rôle."'17
It is needless to repeat here that this of course gives a different cause for the deluge than that clearly stated in all the stories that have come down to us. Moreover, there were myriads of intelligent residents of Syria and Palestine, including the Biblical writers and Lucian, who did believe in a deluge caused by "rain” and “the fountains of the deep.”
The purpose of citing here what these scholars have said in their efforts to explain the deluge is to show how it had been appreciated by them that there is a real difficulty in believing that rain could have caused a deluge in Babylonia.
We have seen that the average fall of rain is 35.87 inches in Beirut, and 50 inches in the Lebanon mountains; and that most of it comes down in the three winter months. An average fall of 50 inches would mean a fall in some years of 80 inches, or even more. Suppose that at one time there had been a fall of 100 inches in the comparatively short period of “forty days and nights," what would
16 Early History of the Hebrews p. 125. 17 Babel and Bible p. 40.