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(Operating under the assumption that Genesis was authored by Moses, and its intent is a polemic against other origin stories and their view of the deity at the time).

The Enûma Eliš is said to have influenced the writings in Genesis. What are the similarities and differences between the Genesis creation account and other creation stories of the time?

(Not limited to Babylonian—particularly interested to hear Egyptian origin stories from the time as well.)

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Compare the simple elegance of the Genesis account to the Eygyptian story. God spoke. No fighting among different actors. Just "Let there be light", "Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.","let the water teem with living creatures..." It really sounds like God speaking. –  user2594 Aug 25 '13 at 13:37
Comparing Genesis with all other creation stories is too broad. –  curiousdannii Oct 11 '14 at 23:19

2 Answers 2

up vote 15 down vote accepted

Enuma Elish and Genesis have the strongest connection in their first lines--"In the beginning" vs. "When on high." Some say that Genesis is written as a polemic against Enuma Elish. They are very different.

1a. Enuma Elish starts with the elemental representatives of chaos, Apsu and Tiamat. They are the father and mother of the gods respectively. It isn't creation so much as shaping the chaotic matter that already exists.

1b. In Genesis, God stands over creation. And He creates it all. I do not read 1:2 as the chaos that He shapes. I read it as that is how He created it.

2a. In Enuma Elish, Apsu wants to kill his children, the gods, because they are noisy. Tiamat tries to protect them. Their son, Ea, chief of the gods, uses magic to send Apsu to sleep and then kills him. Ea and his consort have a child named Marduk who is stronger than themselves. Marduk's playing with wind storms awakens the gods still sleeping within Tiamat.

Tiamat seeks revenge and creates 11 monsters to help her. Marduk offers to be the gods' champion if he is allowed to be their leader afterwards. They agree, he fights Tiamat, kills her, and shapes her body parts into the earth and sky. He then creates the stars and regulates the sun, moon, and weather. Note that he does not create the sun or moon. He merely regulates them.

The gods who sided with Tiamat are first forced to be slaves of Marduk's coalition. Then Marduk creates humans to do the work the gods don't want to do. Babylon is established as the home of the chief gods and Marduk is named king of all gods. This includes Enlil, who was king of the gods in the area's earlier civilizations.

2b. Genesis connects on some of the high points, but is very different. God makes the sun, moon, and stars. He does not regulate them. God creates man as the high point of creation, not as a race of slaves. God does not fight other gods because there are none. There are no monsters to fight. In fact, God creates the tannim, sea monsters or whales simply as part of his creation. God is not named or elevated to kingship. In Genesis, He is supreme from the beginning.

In an Egyptian account I read while in seminary, the creator god engaged in "self abuse" to make the world and other gods.

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Although I see this is an older post, I felt compelled to add an answer to it.

I came across an article on and found it very interesting about the creation stories from Egypt. Genesis 1-2 In Light Of Ancient Egyptian Creation Myths

The Egyptians held a view of 3 different creation stories, concurrently, each having some differences, but a similar line of thought. The Memphis and Heliopolis versions are especially similar. The Memphis story is nearly identical to the Biblical Gen 1 creation story, of how the earth was formed. Human creation however is a different story and not tied into the earth's creation, but even the creation of man has similarities to the biblical story.

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protected by Susan Aug 15 at 13:08

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