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 What do you guys think about the argument that the Genesis creation account comes
from the Enuma Elish?

The Enuma Elish is a Babylonian creation myth that is named after its opening words, ³When on
high.´ It was discovered in the ancient Royal Library of Ashurbanipal at Nineveh (current day
Mosul, Iraq) in 1849. George Smith translated the text and released his work in 1876 in the
book, ˜  

In an article entitled ³Why Does the Universe Look so Old?´ Dr. Al Mohler, President of
Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, counted the Enuma Elish among the ³Four Great
Challenges to the Traditional Reading of Genesis´ (Acts and Facts, October 2010). He writes,
³As scholars began to study these documents, some began to see Genesis as just one more
ancient Near Eastern creation story.´ Needless to say, the ancient myth has been the catalyst for
much skepticism regarding the creation account in Genesis.

It seems that the discovery and research of the Enuma Elish has brought about at least two major
claims against the Genesis account of creation. First, because the Enuma Elish and Genesis
creation account have many similarities, it is argued that Moses must have used the Enuma Elish
as a source for his own creation account. Second, because the Enuma Elish exists as a Near
Eastern creation myth, along with a handful of others, it is argued that Genesis, being a Near
Eastern creation account, must also be a myth. Both objections are best answered by detailing
the vast differences between the two accounts, and understanding that the nature of Genesis is far
different than any of the ancient Near Eastern myths.

Professor Kirk Spencer from the Criswell College in Dallas, Texas gives this list of similarities
between the Enuma Elish and Genesis creation account in his manuscript entitled,   


1. Enuma Elish begins "when on high"; Genesis begins "in the beginning"
2. Enuma Elish shows a connection between giving of names and existence; in Genesis, the
naming of objects is of importance.
3. Both Enuma Elish and Genesis imply primeval chaos in the beginning, that is, if you interpret
darkness and emptiness as chaos.
4. In both, water is divided into upper waters and lower waters.
5. Enuma Elish is recorded on seven tablets, and the Genesis creation is completed in seven days.
6. In the Enuma Elish man is created in the 6th tablet, and in Genesis man is created on the 6th
7. In Gen. 1:2 the word translated "deep" is the Hebrew word "tehom." Some scholars equate it
with the Babylonian goddess Tiamat. [Etymologically both words probably are derived from a
root originally meaning "ocean" or "deep", yet it is clear that among the Hebrews the root never
took on the mythological connotation that it did among the Babylonians.]

As stated earlier, many biblical scholars have concluded that the similarities between the Enuma
Elish and Genesis creation account show that Moses must have borrowed his information from
this ancient Babylonian myth. It is important, however, to also mention the differences. This list
is also derived from Professor Kirk Spencer¶s aforementioned manuscript:

1. Genesis is monotheistic, while Enuma Elish is clearly polytheistic.

2. Enuma Elish is clearly mythological, but Genesis is not only non-mythological, but
anti-mythical. It is a polemic against pagan mythology. Genesis makes clear that the things
mankind worships as gods are little more than the creations of the one God.
3. In the Enuma Elish, as almost all other near eastern creation myths, creation is accomplished
through conflict and warfare with lots of noise. In the Genesis account, however, we find a
profound sense of peace and quiet. The opposite of warfare and conflict can be seen in the
instant obedience of God's divine fiat, "And God said«´ "And it was so«"
4. In the Enuma Elish, magic incantations are the ultimate source of power, thus making the gods
subject to nature or magic. In Genesis, power is manifest in the commands (fiat) of God, and
nature is one of His obedient subjects.
5. Babylonian gods are identified with nature, but God, in Genesis, is Creator of, and distinct
from, all creation.
6. The Genesis account systematically includes all general realms of nature. The Enuma Elish
omits major aspects of creation such as vegetation, animals, the sun and light.
7. In Genesis, God forms the heavens and the earth on the first three days. This does not take
place until the fourth tablet of Enuma Elish.
8. In Genesis, man is created from clay to rule over the creation. In Enuma Elish, man is created
from a god's blood to be slaves of the gods.
9. The first chapters of Genesis are clearly a creation epic. Enuma Elish, within its historical
context, was clearly not primarily a creation story, but rather a hymn of praise to Marduk. It was
in essence mythological propaganda to put Marduk at the head of the pantheon so as to exalt the
city of Babylon and enhance Hammurabi's power.

After comparing the two accounts, it becomes clear that if one is to base a conclusion off of the
similarities alone, then some important differences are being ignored. In the Genesis account,
Moses purposefully portrays a monotheistic God who operates within the parameters of
organization and peace. The Enuma Elish is polytheistic and the gods operate within the
parameters of war and violence. Furthermore, Moses seems to choose his words carefully in
describing God¶s creation. For example he writes that God created, ³the greater light to rule the
day and the lesser light to rule the night,´ as opposed to using ³sun´ (shemesh) and ³moon´ (sin),
perhaps knowing that many may misinterpret the account as God creating lesser gods.

It is also important to note that the Enuma Elish is a Mesopotamian myth, influenced heavily by
the surrounding region which consisted of two rivers feeding into a Gulf. The land between
(meso) the rivers (potamia) is where we get the word ³Mesopotamia.´ Ancient Babylon was
located here, near the Tigris and Euphrates, which are both fresh water rivers. These two rivers
feed into the Persian Gulf, which is a salty water mass. The Euphrates and Tigris both carry sand
and silt into the Persian Gulf which creates a Delta. This is important because the Enuma Elish
begins with Apsu (god of fresh water) and Tiamat (goddess of salt water) giving birth to the
other gods and goddesses. That is, the Enuma Elish seems to be a creation story influenced by
its region. Like the Delta being formed by the two rivers so are the Enuma Elish gods formed by
the ³mingling´ of Apsu and Tiamat. Genesis, on the other hand, depicts the single God doing the
creating, not the other way around.

Another challenging issue for the Enuma Elish has been the question as to when it was recorded.
The story has been said to have been written anywhere from the 18th century to the 12th century
BCE. Many believe that Genesis was recorded in the 15th century during Israel¶s wanderings in
the wilderness. Either way, it is highly unlikely that Moses, with all of the biblical history
recorded about him, would have borrowed creation history from a polytheistic civilization
existing to his respective east, while he lived and served a monotheistic God in the respective

Knowing the issues of the differences, the monotheistic and polytheistic natures, the obvious
influence from the Mesopotamian region, and the unsettled dating of the recording, it is safe to
conclude that it is highly unlikely that Moses borrowed or was influenced by the Enuma Elish.
Genesis is far different in nature than any of the ancient Near Eastern creation myths and
therefore must not be considered among that fold.

Jared C. Wellman