The Epic of Gilgamesh is regarded as the oldest written text discovered by mankind. Written copies of the work are dated during the early Mesopotamian empire. The story concerns the king, Gilgamesh, and his search for immortality. Throughout the piece, gods and divinity are highlighted and by virtue of this, many historians emphasis that the text has religious significance. Approximately a millenium later, Judaism is founded and Moses writes the beginnings of their religious scripture, Genesis and Exodus, the first two parts of the Bible. Though set in different times, by different authors, for different beliefs and cultures, there are many evident parallels between The Epic of Gilgamesh and the Bible. The Bible borrowed many stories from The Epic of Gilgamesh to explain the events of the time before its writing.
The well known tale of Adam and Eve has similarities with the epic. God creates Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. He allows them to live happily and do as they please. God’s one rule for them is that they are not allowed to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Then, a snake approaches Eve and tempts her to eat the fruit. Eve hands the fruit to Adam and he eats it.
The Bible states, “But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate,”(English Standard Gen. 4:7). God finds out shortly after and punishes all three of them.
Similar to Adam and Eve, The Epic of Gilgamesh contains magical plants. Gilgamesh hears of a magical plant by Utanapishtim. “I will reveal to you a secret matter, and a mystery of the gods I will tell you. There is a certain plant… Ur-Shanabi, this plant is cure for headache, whereby a man will regain its stamina.”(Epic Tablet XI 285). Clearly, this plant wields power of immortality and life. Likewise, in Genesis, a Tree of Life is mentioned. God banished Adam and Eve to prevent them from eating from the Tree of Life. In each story, it would be possible to eat from this plant and live forever. This tree in the story of Gilgamesh is referenced by the Bible.
A snake is present in both the Bible and The Epic of Gilgamesh. In the first, the snake is portrayed as evil. It convinces Eve to eat from the forbidden tree and causes great punishments for humans and snakes for the rest of their existence. The snake was clearly more advanced and knowledgeable than any other animal or snake in the Garden. This snake would most likely be aware of the Tree of Life and eat from it. The snake furthermore would steal the plant from someone trying to take it. Why would the snake allow another creature to be immortal and god-like if he can prevent it?...