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III

THE CREATION STORY

It is generally admitted that certain parallel ideas which are found expressed in the literature of ancient Israel concerning the creation of the world, and in a story of creation as handed down by the Babylonians, have had a common origin. These embrace the ideas that prior to the creation a watery chaos existed; that the deep was personified by a monster, designated as Tehom and Tiamat; that Jehovah or Marduk went forth to battle with this monster, who was slain; after which the firmament, the luminaries, and man were created. These and other points of resemblance, it is generally admitted, leave no doubt as to there being a relationship between the cosmogony of Israel and that handed down by the Babylonians. It naturally followed that either the Biblical conception was borrowed from the Babylonian; or the Babylonian was borrowed from the Biblical; or both were founded on a common primitive source.

Scholars generally have dismissed the second supposition as an impossibility; and the third is excluded on the ground that the stories contain a large percentage of Babylonian ideas.

The Biblical conception of creation, therefore, they say, is of Babylonian origin.

George Smith, who found and translated for the first time many of the fragments of the Babylonian story, took the position that it originated in Babylonia. This was also the view of Professor Sayce, another of the pioneers in this field of research, who later wrote concerning the subject: “The elements indeed of the Hebrew cosmology are all Babylonian; even the creative word itself was a Babylonian conception, as the story of Merodach has shown us."! 1 Religions of Babylonia and Assyria p. 395.

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In the nearly fifty years which have passed since the first translation was made, this has become the prevailing view; and it has been generally accepted everywhere as fully established. “In fact," as the late Canon Driver has written, "no archæologist questions that the Biblical cosmogony, however altered in form and stripped of its original polytheism, is, in its main outlines, derived from Babylonia.”2

Before considering the arguments for and against this theory, let us briefly review the sources of our knowledge of the Biblical and Babylonian cosmological ideas.

One of the results of the literary analysis of the Old Testament is that scholars generally accept the view that there are two creation stories in Genesis, the second of which begins in the middle of the fourth verse of the second chapter. As is well known, there are other passages in the poetical books of the Old Testament which give us additional light upon Israel's conception of the creation, especially those which refer to a struggle between Yahweh and a being who is regarded as having personified the primaeval ocean. Several different names of this monster are found, as Tehom, Rahab, Leviathan, Dragon (tannin) and Serpent (nakhash). The first mentioned is the same word which is found in the second verse of Genesis and elsewhere in the Old Testament, where it is translated “deep.”

In some of these poetical passages a leading thought can clearly be traced: namely, that Yahweh had a great conflict with this being, after whose defeat the heavens and the earth were created. In this conflict we learn that the hostile creature had helpers, who were also overcome. In some passages, however, the monster represented a nation which was unfriendly to Israel.

The more important of all these passages which have been previously assembled by Gunkels and others, follow:

* Driver, The Book of Genesis, p. 30.
• See Gunkel, Schöpfung und Chaos 29 ff.

Psalm 89:9 ff.

When the waves thereof arise, thou (Yahweh) stillest them.
Thou hast broken Rahab in pieces as one that is slain;
Thou hast scattered thine enemies with the arm of thy strength.
The heavens are thine, the earth is also thine:
The world and the fulness thereof, thou hast founded them.

The north and the south, thou hast created them.
Isaiah 51:9 f.

Put on strength, O arm of Yahweh;
Arise as in the days of old, the generation of ancient times.
Art thou not he who cut Rahab in pieces, pierced the Dragon?
Art thou not he who dried up the sea, the waters of the great Tehom,

Who made the depths of the sea a way to pass over?
Job 26:12 f.

He stirreth up the sea with his power,
And by his understanding he smiteth through Rahab.
By his spirit the heavens are garnished;

His hand hath pierced the swift Serpent.
Psalm 74:13 f.

Thou didst divide the sea by thy strength:
Thou breakest the heads of the Dragon in the waters,
Thou breakest the heads of Leviathan in pieces,
Thou gavest him to be food to the people inhabiting the wilderness,
Thou didst cleave fountain and flood;
Thou driest up mighty rivers.
The day is thine, the night is also thine:
Thou hast prepared the light and the sun.
Thou hast set all the boundaries of the earth:

Thou hast made summer and winter.
Isaiah 27:1
In that day Yahweh with his hard and great and strong sword will

punish Leviathan the swift serpent, and Leviathan the crooked

serpent, and he will slay the Dragon that is in the sea, Isaiah 30:7

For Egypt helpeth in vain and to no purpose

Therefore have I called her Rahab that sitteth still. Psalm 87:4

Rahab and Babylon I proclaim my votaries.

Besides these passages there are others which refer to Tehom, Rahab, etc. Primarily, the monster personifies the primaeval waters, but several passages show that it symbolically represents an unfriendly power. Egypt especially figures in this capacity. This fact reminds us of the Phoenician legend of Sanchuniathon, in which we learn that the god “Kronos (El), visiting the country of the south, gave all Egypt to the god Taautus (Tiamat), that it might be his kingdom.”

These, as well as other passages, show that in Israel the belief existed that there had been a great conflict prior to the creation of the heavens and the earth, between Yahweh and a primaeval monster, with whom were associated other beings termed dragons. Some seem to think that this conflict underlies the thought expressed in the second verse of Genesis, because of the use of the word tehôm. However, certain of these passages, as already mentioned, also show that this monster symbolically represented an unfriendly nation; . the same, as we shall find, was the case also in Babylonian literature. ·

Throughout the Old Testament the word tehôm has the meaning "deep," as well as "the primaeval waters," and their personification. It is generally held by Babylonists that such a crude conception as the strife between Yahweh and the monster, which idea was borrowed from Babylonia, was not tolerated in the creation story, as it jarred upon the purer theological conceptions and in conse- . quence was suppressed. The idea, however, of the firmament, to keep back the waters, was retained.

Eusebius has handed down some fragments of the Phoenician cosmogony by Sanchuniathon, which he found in the writings of Philo of Byblos. In this Phoenician cosmogony, we are told that “as the first principle of the universe he posits murky, windy air,

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See Deut. 33:13; Job 9:11 ff; 38:16 f; Psalms 36:6; 41:19; 42:7; 77:16 f; 91:13; 97:7; Prov. 3:20; Isaiah 4:6; Ezekiel 29:3; Amos 7:4; etc.

Cory, Ancient Fragments p. 16.

or a breath of murky air, and turbid chaos, dark as Erebus; these were infinite and throughout a long lapse of time limitless" (see Appendix C).

These stories from Amurru, including the Biblical cosmological expressions, it is generally held, make everything emanate from a watery chaos. It is this idea that the Babylonists have asserted was borrowed from Babylonia.

As is so well known, the Babylonians have handed down several creation stories written in Semitic and Sumerian; but only one has any relation to this conception as handed down by the Hebrews; that is, the one which they called Enuma elish, “When above", which are the first two words of the story.

One recension of this myth was written on seven tablets, and deposited in the library of Ashurbanipal. These, together with some fragments written in the Neo-Babylonian and Persian periods, have reached the British Museum in a fragmentary condition; and have been studied for years, and translated many times.

During the excavations of the German Oriental Society at the city of Ashur, some few years ago, portions of another recension, written several centuries earlier, were found. These tablets and fragments fortunately fill some important gaps in the narrative previously published. A complete translation of all the parts that have been recovered is given in Appendix A.

The composite character of the creation story, as handed down by the Babylonians, was recognized years ago. During the long process of editing, especially after it had been made a pæan in honor of Marduk, many modifications had taken place. It was also recognized years ago that two different conflicts were embodied in the narrative; and also that in it two or more versions were harmonized.

It is not necessary to discuss here these theories, nor the process that has resulted in the many changes and difficulties that are

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