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Compare Job and Gilgamesh as suffering heroes, as they search for understanding, and come to accept the limits of their human co - Essay Example

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Compare Job and Gilgamesh as suffering heroes, as they search for understanding, and come to accept the limits of their human co

The Book of Job and the Epic of Gilgamesh were set around the 13th century before Christ, and both stories were placed in the region of ancient Mesopotamia. Both stories have a great deal of religious themes, although the Epic of Gilgamesh leans more on the mythological side while the Book of Job maintains a more spiritual-religious tone and message. It should also be noted that there are differences with regards to the culture of the ancient Sumerians and the Israelites. The ancient Sumerians were very much a polytheistic culture that made a society and civilization that revolved around the worship of its many deities and mythical heroes. Gilgamesh, for example, is taken in high regard of worship by ancient Sumerians. On the other hand, Israelite or Hebrew culture was very monotheistic. The Hebrews believed that there is only one true God, in their language Yahweh or Jehovah, and He is the Lord of everything and His Will is supreme and good. Israelite society centers on this in the sense that they worship no other being or thing other than God Himself, and submit to completely to His Will. In understanding each story’s civilization and cultural background, it would be easier to understand the parallels between the two. The first contrast between the story of Gilgamesh and Job is who the characters are in the nature of their portrayal. According to ancient Sumerian mythological tradition, Gilgamesh is a semi-divine, or demi-god, of extraordinary strength and was also one of the great kings of Uruk. Gilgamesh could be described as a proud, powerful and confident in personality based on his character in the Epics written about him. Gilgamesh is also an adventurer as much as he was a king, and went into many arduous and sometimes dangerous exploits with his man-beast friend Enkidu. To say the least, Gilgamesh was every bit as warrior like as much and kingly. On the other hand, the Hebrew Job is in far contrast to Gilgamesh. Job is a complete human being with no supernatural powers. Although not a mighty king Job is considered to be a very wealthy man, with large livestock herds, and a large and healthy family by ancient Hebrew standards. Unlike the ancient Sumerians, the Israelites did not settle is fortified city-kingdoms and were nomadic in nature. Instead, the Israelites would establish nomadic communities on lands that were fertile enough to support the habitation of both people and livestock. Since Job had a healthy and growing number of both livestock and his family, he most certainly had even larger tracts of fertile land for him to support that kind of population. Job would spend most of his time with his family in agriculture and livestock raising, living a pastoral and peaceful life. Now, the reasons why both Job and Gilgamesh were given suffering also differ. In the case of Gilgamesh, it was more of divine retribution. The fact that the exploits of Gilgamesh and Enkidu affected the disposition of the Sumerian deities was of no small matter. It is as Ferguson noted that Gilgamesh is especially proud of his expedition with Enkidu to the cedar mountain in which he killed the guardian and chopped down the sacred cedar” (327). In the case of Job, suffering was brought unto him as a test of his faith to Yahweh and also a test of his character. Gilgamesh lost his closest friend ...Show more

Summary

Comparing and Contrasting Gilgamesh with Job The stories of the Sumerian hero Gilgamesh and the Biblical Job hold similarities in theme. Divine will set upon them with difficult trials and suffering as a test of the main protagonists’ character. The ancient stories of Gilgamesh and Job hold a lot particularly similar lessons as well as certain contrasts…
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Compare Job and Gilgamesh as suffering heroes, as they search for understanding, and come to accept the limits of their human co essay example
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