The Epic of Gilgamesh and the Bible

The Epic of Gilgamesh entails themes and motifs that are similar to those of the Hebrew Bible.  Both the Bible and the Epic of Gilgamesh give their own perspective of justice. However, the Epic of Gilgamesh contains numerous different perspective on justice (Weiler, 3). The Epic also entails a character with more similarities to the Hebrew Bible stories. This paper, therefore, discusses ways in which human and divine definitions of justice, a human obligation to one another have been presented in the Epic of Gilgamesh and in the Bible and ways that the competing versions of justice are addressed.

According to the Epic, based on their divine definition justice is decided by the gods. In essence, the gods decided to create someone that was equal to Gilgamesh in terms of strength so as to pass judgment to the people of Uruk fairly. The gods act as the law because in order to please the people they created Enkidu (Weiler, 6). It shows again when the gods acted as the law when they killed Enkidu because of how he disrespected the gods. Besides the gods, the people also define justice in this story. The human definition of justice entailed revenging back to those who offend you. This is evident in the epic when Gilgamesh went to face Humbaba, Shamash was the one who told Gilgamesh to attack when he did because he only had one piece of his armor, not the typical seven Humbaba carries.

In the Epic, Enkidu was created by God so as create a balance of power and justice. This was evident when Gilgamesh failed to be a good shepherd and abused his power and sacrifices his own people in battle and also sleep with women who are married (Weiler, 21). The gods heard the cries of the citizen and decided to try to balance the power by creating someone that can be equal to Gilgamesh when it comes to strength in order to pass fair judgment on the people of Uruk. Moreover, the obligation to be concerned of one another is reflected in the epic in that someone can change another person for the better. Before Enkidu showed up in this story, Gilgamesh was abusing his power and was raping females (Weiler, 33). When Enkidu showed up Gilgamesh started listening to someone more and Gilgamesh started caring about his people more. This friendship also helped Enkidu because Gilgamesh helped Enkidu be more human since before they met Enkidu spent time with animals.

On the other hand, Justice in Leviticus is following orders from God. God is the strict ruler in this reading who decides what is right and wrong (New International Version, Lev. 6:1-7). Nadab and Abihu broke the rule and paid for it with their own lives for simply disobeying. In chapter 10, if you do the right thing you are rewarded with your life, but if disobey the law of God you are unworthy of living. Even though it seems to be a tyrannical act, God did it to set an example for the people so they can act in a just way. In this context, God is power. God determines who gets to live and who doesn’t. His authority cannot be challenged because he is the Supreme Being who the people have to answer to. He lends his power of authority to Moses who serves as the messenger of God (New International Version, Lev. 6:1-7). When Aaron decided to burn the goat instead of eating it, Moses got really angry. Instead of letting them face punishment he listens to the reasons and was satisfied with it. In this part, Moses acted in a just way by listening to Aaron before passing judgment. At the end of the day, the people power of free will was being controlled. They didn’t have the freedom to act in a way they wanted because then they would have to face repercussions from God.

In Genesis, Abraham’s faith is tested by God when he asked him to sacrifice his only son (New International Version, Gen. 22:1-19). This reflected the human obligation to one another and to one’s faith. Abraham was ready to sacrifice his son when God stopped him and instead provided a ram to be sacrificed then asked Abraham not to sacrifice his son and instead go back and take good care of him. This reflects the human obligation towards each other. Abraham’s readiness and willingness to sacrifice his son reflects a man’s obligation to respect his faith or God. The divine faith, trust and believe is demonstrated in Abraham’s situation. Additionally, this reflects that God is a just God as he appeared to Abraham and intervened in his difficult situation where he was to sacrifice his son (New International Version, Gen. 22:1-19). Losing a child is painful and unjust, therefore, God brought justice to Abraham by providing him a ram to sacrifice instead of his only son.

To sum up, in the epic, competing versions of justice are dealt with through letting their god decide on ways to provide justice. In instances of injustices, the people are to ask their god to punish the offenders. However, according to the bible, the competing versions of justice are addressed by praying to God to intervene and bring justice among the people.