Friday, November 27, 2015

Fact-Checking the Torah -- the rest of the story

The second part of Noach’s story discusses an event from about the year 4000 BCE in the Lake Van region.  I told you to remember that date.
Noach “began to be a farmer,” and he planted wine grapes, made wine, and got so drunk he fell asleep.
I already said that wine grapes were domesticated in the Lake Van region about 4000 BCE.
Then something, we don’t know what, happens to him, something his youngest son did.
What the youngest son did is explicit in the Greek wars of the gods.  Kronos is the youngest son of Uranos and Zeus is the youngest son of Kronos, and both of these youngest sons defeat their fathers and become chief gods. 
Cham, the youngest son of Noach, does NOT become the head of the family.  He is made the lowest and the least and his descendants from his son K’naan are supposed to be bondsmen to the descendants of the elder two sons, Yafet and Shem.
The urban legend is that this justifies enslaving Africans but first, we’ve been all through the “bondsman” issue and second, we know that K’naan was not an African nation but a mighty Semitic nation of the Holy Land.  Their language shows up in marginal notes on the Tell el-Amarna tablets created for the diplomatic needs of Pharaoh Akhenaten. 
The wine motif in Atra-Hasis or Gilgamesh is limited to a party when the ark has been completed.  Atra-Hasis mentions the complaint of a goddess that since people have been destroyed, she can’t get beer any more.  In Gilgamesh, there’s a reference to Siduri, the “tavern keeper” or “ale-wife”, depending on whose translation you use.
And now we are right back to Kug Bau, because this is also her title, aside from her Anatolian name.
The cuneiform may literally mean “tavern keeper” or “ale-wife,” but obviously it’s an idiom for royalty or deity.  Not that Kug Bau and Siduri are necessarily the same people, but that they have similar ranks or importance.
Nobody falls asleep in Atra-Hasis.  In Gilgamesh, it’s Gilgamesh who falls asleep, after bragging that he won’t.  Utnapishtim plays a trick on him to prove how long he slept.
“Going Forth” has no sleep motif, just a major party with “drink”.  Supposedly the “storm god” curses the other gods, having already become supreme, but he is never named and is absolutely not Kumarbi.  No actions describe how he became supreme over Kumarbi, who gave birth to him.  But his supremacy is Anatolian in nature, not Mesopotamian where irrigation and not rainfall is the major source of water.
The same issue applies here as to the first aliyah of Torah.  The stories have some similar motifs, but some show up in stories one and two, but not three or four; make up your own table and assign your own designators.  As a result, except for the notable copying between Atra-Hasis and Gilgamesh, the wording of the stories differs for the most part.  Something else is going on here that the urban legend doesn’t cover.  The Jewish story goes back as far as 4000 BCE, but the two Mesopotamian stories existed only in cuneiform as far as we know, and cuneiform developed a millennium later.  I’ll discuss what was going on toward the end of this blog.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

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