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and his wife and the people to be like the gods Yet, whilst we cannot claim for this document were carried away, then dwelt Sisit in a remote the full credibility of a properly authenticated place at the mouth of the rivers."

history, it would be unjust to place it on the In attempting to put a fair value upon this same footing as the common traditions of other ancient fragment, it will be necessary to avoid


It possesses specific claims of its own, two extremes. It would be a mistake, on the which entitle it to considerably higher respect one hand, to regard it in the light of a genuine than what we are wont to pay to those wild medhistorical document, confirming Scripture by virtue leys of fable and romance which mark the preof its own independent authority, and entitled on historic


of uncivilized nations. These claims that account to be placed on a level with it. On are based, first, on its great antiquity; second, on the other hand, it would be equally erroneous to the land of its birth ; and third, on its unique treat it merely as an antiquarian relic, so utterly harmony with the leading statements of Scripdevoid of value or importance to the student of ture. First, as regards its antiquity, we must reScripture that it may safely be classed with the member that, though the inscription cannot boast loose popular traditions of the Flood, which are to the highest antiquity possible, its age is admitted be found floating about in almost all parts of the on all hands to be very high indeed. Scholars world. A just appreciation of the facts of the versed in the cuneiform literature have no hesitacase will probably incline us to believe that tion in assigning it to a period not later than the the truth lies mid-way between these conflicting seventeenth century before the Christian era. In points of view.

proof of this, they point to the antique form of the When we reflect

upon what is actually necessary characters, some of which are described as having to give real historical weight to any document, been so completely beyond the knowledge of the the idea of claiming for this inscription a position Assyrian copyist, that he was obliged to leave of authority equal to that of Scripture cannot for them untranslated, and transfer them to his vera moment be entertained. To be strictly histori- sion exactly as they stood in the original. No cal, it would require to have been written either other tradition of the Deluge current among other by eye-witnesses of the events described, or by peoples can be shown to have been committed to adequately informed contemporaries,-or, at the writing so early as this appears to have been. very lowest, by men of the next generation deriv- The acknowledged age of the record therefore ing their information from eye-witnesses or contem- constitutes a claim which cannot be altogether poraries. Everything, however, like proof of the ignored. possession of any of these requisites by the writer In the second place, its weight is considerably of the inscription, is absolutely wanting. Various augmented by a consideration of the place from circumstances might be adduced in proof of its high which it sprang. Of all the regions of the globe, antiquity; but, strong as these undoubtedly are, the eastern portion of Asia Minor is the spot they are not sufficiently definite to prove its his- where a correct knowledge of that great event, torical quality. They do not carry the case far which had ushered in a new era in the world's enough back to place it beyond contradiction in history, would be likely to linger longest in the the region of contemporary evidence, or in any memory of the inhabitants. If any of Noah's thing approaching it. Besides, it is evident that immediate descendants could be expected to know no contemporary account would exhibit, as this more about the history of their ancestor than others, legend does, on its surface, the fantastic parapher- it would assuredly be those who remained in the nalia of a full-blown pagan mythology. Such a neighbourhood of the region in which the ark finmarked religious declension could hardly have ally rested, and whose reminiscences of the occurbeen consummated in the generations immediately rence must have been intensified by the natural feasucceeding the Flood, but must have involved a tures of the locality. When we consider, for example, lapse of time sufficient for the growth of a false re- that Nineveh lay in the line of the Tigris, at a ligion, yet not so protracted as to extinguish in the distance of little more than two hundred miles popular mind the broad leadingoutlines of the event. from the southern slopes of Mount Ararat, and that by means of that great stream communica- tives are identical, and contain a common subtion between the palaces of the city and the hunt- stratum of fact, which remains entirely unaffected ing forests of the mountain was at once rapid by differences of detail. To persuade ourselves and direct, we can readily understand the vivid of their substantial unanimity, we have only to run freshness with which the natives of Mesopotamia a parallel between the great outstanding points could realize in imagination the details of the on which the two statements coincide. Both, for story of the Deluge. The bold sportsmen of instance, agree in asserting that the world, for Nineveh, who wandered from time to time up the great moral ends, was overwhelmed by a deluge river's side in pursuit of their favourite game, of tremendous extent and violence ; that, with would doubtless occasionally pass within sight of certain specified exceptions, all animal life perished Mount Ararat; and with the strange old story from the face of the earth ; that the exceptions ringing in their ears, they could scarcely look up were limited to a single human family, and a certo its snow-clad peaks without bringing away tain number of lower animals; that the head of fresher and deeper impressions of its truth than the chosen family was, in obedience to a divine they had ever had before. If, then, there be any warning, saved by means of a vessel which rode weight in local association, this legend is of some out the storm ; that the vessel of refuge settled value to the reader of Scripture, in so far as it on a mountain after the fury of the tempest was embodies the opinion entertained of the event by spent; that the test of birds was employed to the races most likely to hear and know the truth ascertain the subsidence of the waters ; and, regarding it.

lastly, that after the restoration of the earth to But, in the third place, the age and birth-place its previous condition, God and man met in of the legend derive additional importance from friendly intercourse, an altar being raised and a its extraordinary similarity in essentials to the sacrifice offered on the one side, and a covenant statement of the sacred writer. This similarity solemnly ratified on the other. is so striking, that, in spite of all divergences on The simple enumeration of this long line of lesser points, one fee's himself irresistibly com-coincidences reveals an amount of harmony which pelled to raise the inscription to a much higher has never hitherto been displayed on the same platform than that on which the vague and feeble subject, and should make us cautious in forming echoes of a common-place tradition are generally an opinion of the worth of the legend. If it canplaced. If the reader of the classical myths were not be regarded in a strictly critical point of view so disposed, he would find no great difficulty in as historically confirming Scripture, we have still believing that the deluge they profess to describe a right to accept it as illustrating and supporting is something totally different from the Deluge of the sacred narrative on grounds peculiarly its own. Noah. The fanciful embellishments of the story And though these grounds may not rise to the are so numerous in the classical writers, and the dignity of historical veracity, they are yet such points of contact between them and Moses so few as to create in its behalf a strong presumption of and insignificant, that the supposition of their general correctness. referring to two separate occurrences would be by But the question here presents itself-How is · no means unreasonable. In the present instance, this general impression of correctness affected by however, such a conclusion is barely possible. It the differences of detail apparent in the legend ? is not at all easy for an unprejudiced reader to In taking account of these divergences, it should rid himself of the impression that the same event not be forgotten, that whilst we are perfectly enforms the grand subject matter both of the legend titled to claim whatever light the legend may and of Scripture. No one, of course, will deny throw on Scripture, we are not thereby bound to that, in point of precision of statement and care accept all the external difficulties with which it ful attention to chronological details, the inscrip-is burdened. Keeping in view the plainly mythition falls very far short of the sacred volume ; cal accompaniments of the story, we have a clear yet, notwithstanding this palpable contrast, it right to reject its statements whenever they come seems clear that, in essence at least, the two narra- into collision with the Old Testament history, tion,"

and to accept them only in so far as they agree | When, therefore, we reflect on the number of therewith. This attitude of independence is changes the original names must have undergone amply justified by a regard to the real nature in the course of repeated, and perhaps not always of the differences themselves, as well as by the very correct, translations of a language which had variety of ways in which they may be quite satis- long previously become obsolete, we can perceive factorily accounted for. The most important of how unreasonable it would be to burden Scripthese differences may be reduced to two principal | ture with difficulties for which the special circlasses—those having reference to names, and cumstances connected with the transmission of those having reference to numbers. As regards the legend are alone responsible. those which refer to a change of name—such as Again, as regards differences in numbers, we Nizir for Ararat, and Sisit for Noah—something would do well to consider that there is hardly must be laid to the account of our confessedly any subject on which the memory shows itself so imperfect acquaintance with the Assyrian tongue. treacherous as on that of dates and figures. It The cuneiform alphabet is a very large and cum- is notorious that some minds have such an averbrous one—the number of its known characters sion to the retention of numbers, that nothing falling little short of three hundred. A high slips so readily from their grasp. And if this is authority informs us that there remains, in addi- characteristic of the educated intellect of modern

a considerable number which are either times, we need not be surprised to learn that the wholly unknown, or of which the meaning is undisciplined tribes of a primitive era laboured known, while the phonetic value cannot at under the same difficulty to a much greater expresent be determined. M. Oppert's catalogue tent, more especially when deprived of the aid of contains fourteen of the former, and fifty-nine of written memorials. It would be the height of the latter class.” An apposite illustration of the folly to expect that men who were dependent for truth of this observation is furnished by the dif- their knowledge on the shifting forms of oral ficulty felt by Mr. George Smith in translating tradition should be strong in matters of statistics. the name of the central hero of the present Moreover, even after the story had been comlegend. “The name of the monarch written inmitted to writing, the special circumstances of monograms he has been unable to read phoneti- the case must have prevented it from renaining cally, and he therefore provisionally calls him by in an unalterably fixed condition. Besides the the signs of his name—Izdubar.” We cannot, mistakes naturally arising from the ignorance of therefore, be surprised that, in the present de translators, and the blunders of copyists, the fective state of our knowledge, considerable dis- curious and complicated system of reckoning in crepancies should now and again emerge in the use among the Chaldæans would doubtless condepartment of proper names, which, even in the tribute to introduce important changes. Their case of languages that are perfectly familiar, are arithmetical processes, we learn,'were managed by constantly liable to the strangest transformations. means of two signs—the wedge and the arrow-head

, The commonest experience will testify that a which stood for 1 and 10 respectively-all

' other favourite name may be so manipulated by affec- numbers being formed by varieties or combination, caprice, haste, or other causes, as to come tions of these two alone. They had no separate out completely metamorphosed - by the process. form, so far as appears, for expressing the cipher; And if this is the case with familiar names, it so that the amount of confusion which conseholds good in ten-fold stronger measure with quently arose could not but be very serious. those belonging to a foreign tongue. Those who The chances of the numerical details of the have witnessed the pain and trouble it costs an legend being gradually misunderstood or altered uneducated native of the south of Europe to pro- were, under such circumstances, greatly multinounce a harsh Teutonic name, and who have, plied, and go a long way to account in the genperhaps, stood aghast at the curiously mutilated eral for the amount of difference which appears shape in which the word left the speaker's lips, will between the two narratives. doubtless quite appreciate the force of this remark. But whatever weight may be assigned to such considerations, these discrepancies are, in a mea- trates the desperate nature of the emergency, and sure, met and balanced by the number and fully harmonizes with the general spirit of the variety of minute coincidences which a close sententious utterance of Holy Writ: “It reexamination of the two accounts brings now and pented the Lord that he had made man upon again to light. Our space does not permit us to the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.” do more than glance, in closing, at a few of the A third coincidence connects itself with the form more interesting and striking among them. The of the ark. The translator of the inscription has first to which we would call attention, is the pointed out that the two narratives belong to totally common statement made by both documents of distinct peoples. “The Biblical account,” according the penal character of the calamity. Both Bible to him, “is the version of an inland people; the and legend agree in recording that the cause of name of the ark in Genesis means a chest or box, the catastrophe was to be found in the general and not a ship; there is no notice of the sea or of wickedness and corruption of the human race. launching, no pilots are spoken of, no navigation But whilst they are at one as to this broad fact, is mentioned. The inscription, on the other hand, nothing can be more deeply suggestive than the belongs to a maritime people; the ark is called a way in which the case is put by the two writers. ship; the ship is launched into the sea; trial is In Genesis the sin of man is placed in the fore made of it, and it is given in charge of a pilot.” ground of the narrative, and solemnly reiterated If this statement of the diverse origin of the two in what to some may appear an almost super- narratives be received as in the main correct, it fluous variety of forms, as the ground of the shows that the Chaldæan tradition had materially divine anger and the cause of the impending deviated from the primitive history, and had taken ruin. In the inscription, on the other hand, the a decided colouring from the habits and associasubject of man's wickedness is but sparingly and tions of the people to whom it owed its final incidentally touched upon, and is dealt with in form. We know that the primitive Chaldæan setsuch a pointless, unimpressive manner, that the tlers clustered round the head of the Persian grand moral lesson which it is fitted to convey Gulf, and that, by virtue of this commanding comes in greatly diminished volume, and falls situation and their magnificent river communicasomewhat feebly on the reader's mind. It seems tion with the interior, they soon rose into importclear that, by the time the legend was written, ance as a commercial people ; yet, in spite of this the Biblical conception of the evil of sin had al circumstance, there occur throughout the legend ready undergone material change. Still, not-stray references to a state of things not strictly withstanding this result, the vestiges of right maritime, but still very curiously fitting in with notions which linger in the inscription are suffi- the inland theory of the origin of the Scripture hisciently marked to illustrate the unity of the sub-tory. This incongruity emerges at the very outset, ject described by the two writers.

where mention is made of the “palace being given Another point of agreement, closely connected into the hand of the pilot.” In this strange exwith the foregoing, is the representation of the pression there is manifestly some confusion of wrath of Heaven on account of man's sin. Bel idea involved, and we are at once prompted to is described in the legend as filled with rage, and ask—What can a pilot have to do with the declaring, “Let not any one come out alive; let management of a palace whilst engaged in the not a man be saved from the deep.” The drama- business of navigating his ship? This is a diffitic force of the statement is considerably enhanced culty which does not readily admit of explanaby the introduction of the inferior deities, who tion, so long as we adhere to the purely maritime are brought before us in somewhat contradictory view of the form of the ark, in accordance with terms,—now as crouching down like dogs ; now which it is regarded as an ordinary sea-going as seated on their celestial thrones ; and again as craft. The propriety of the allusion becomes pleading with Bel to mitigate the severity of his more apparent, if we accept the popular theory of judgment. The whole scene, grotesque though the form of the ark, and regard it as a huge it be in some of its lesser touches, vividly illus- composite structure, half boat and half house,

which, for the purposes of safe navigation, would and on this head Scripture, science, and the legend demand the control of one supreme will. The are all agreed. Scripture is most explicit in decropping up of this idea of a house or palace, in claring that “all the high hills under the whole the very heart of a maritime description, plainly heaven were covered”—a statement which, howpoints to the inland source from which the rough ever strong and perhaps exaggerated it may material of the story was first derived, and con- appear, receives ample confirmation from the dissequently bears out, in a rather remarkable way, covery of fossil remains of plants and animals on the Biblical mode of stating the case.

the highest Andes and Himalayas. Cuvier and This view is still further corroborated by the other savants of distinguished rank have frankly reference made, both in the legend and in Genesis, accepted this as evidence of the total submersion to the act of shutting in the chosen family just of the globe. The incidental expressions of the before the storm burst. “I entered to the midst inscription lead to a similar conclusion : “The of the ship, and shut my door,”—so runs the in- raging of the storm arose, from the horizon of scription : whilst the sacred writer asserts that heaven extending and wide: the flood of Vul “the Lord shut him in.” Taking the inland or reached to heaven: and in heaven the gods feared Biblical view of the ark as a coffer-shaped vessel, the tempest and sought refuge.” After making with a side entrance, we can easily understand due allowance for the rhetorical form of the lanthe propriety of this act of shutting in. But guage, we seem to be warranted in assuming that every one must admit there is on the face of it a something more than a local or partial disaster is degree of awkwardness in referring this act to a referred to here, the flood of waters having risen ship of ordinary construction. People do not to such a height as to render all life on the earth's commonly open and shut doors when they go on surface impossible. By no other feasible method board ship. It is, of course, possible to conceive of interpretation can we understand the propriety there may have been in the roof or on deck some of representing the gods as taking refuge in sort of opening in the shape of a window or batch- heaven, except on the supposition of the waters way, which would admit of being closed in the having reached the highest elevations, and so manner described. But in that case some other rendered the earth, over its whole surface, untenword than that actually employed would have been able both by gods and men. The wonderful chosen to designate the means of closing the similarity of the terms made use of to describe aperture. Besides, it is extremely improbable the fatal effects of the Deluge points in the same that so laborious a process of embarkation as an direction. Thus, on comparing the words of the entrance from the roof must have involved, would inscription—“It destroyed all life from the face be selected for admitting the unprecedented, and of the earth"-with the assertion of Genesis, that in many respects unmanageable, cargo with which “every living substance was destroyed which the ark was freighted, when the whole arrange- was upon the face of the ground,” we obtain a ment could have been at once simplified by an fresh illustration at once of the wide-spread charopening in the side of the ship. On these and acter of the occurrence, and of the essential harother grounds, we are disposed to think that mony pervading the two accounts. the inscription in this particular refers to a vessel An eminent writer has, with equal truth and of mixed build; and that the writer, in doing so, beauty, observed that the further these Oriental breaks loose, perhaps unconsciously, from the naval researches have been carried, old Scripture diffitraditions and forms of expression which predo-culties have in succession disappeared, but no minate in the legend.

new ones have been created. This observation Lastly, the universality of the Deluge, so em- is peculiarly true of the legend which has now phatically maintained in Scripture, is implied in occupied our attention. It is true that certain the general rather than directly taught by the in- minor difficulties have emerged here and there; scription. Perhaps the best proof of this much but the sheer impossibility of proving the hisdisputed point is to be found in the height to torical character of the document at once relieves which the waters can be proved to have risen ; | the student of Scripture from the necessity of

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