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Stories of a primeval flood exist in all parts of the world virtually every branch of the human race has traditions of a Great Flood that destroyed all of mankind except one family The closest parallel to the Biblical story of the flood occurs in the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh our fullest version of which is furnished by an Akkadian recension prepared in the seventh century BC for the great library of King Ashurbanipal at Nineveh The story itself is far older We have fragments of versions dating as much as a thousand years earlier and we possess also portions of a Summerian archetype In the Mesopotamian version the gods apparently displeased with the evils of mankind decided to destroy it by means of a great flood Ea the god of wisdom and subtlety was privy to their council and warned Utnapishtim the Babylonian Noah of the coming disaster Utnapishtim was told to build a ship thirty cubits long and thirty cubits wide Provision it and put in it specimens of every living thing Then to board it with his family and possessions and launch it on the waters For six days and nights the wind and flood raged On the seventh day the flood abated Everything including mankind had turned to mud and clay Utnapishtim sent out a dove on the seventh day but it came back He then sent out a swallow but it came back Finally he sent out a raven The raven however saw that the waters had receded it found food and started to caw and wallow in the mud it never came back Eventually the ship grounded on Mount Nisir Utnapishtim seeing that the flood had receded disembarked and set out an offering for the gods Enil Lord of the underworld was very angry when he saw that Utnapishtim had been spared He was soon calmed by the other gods and gave his blessing to
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