ATRA-HASIS (B)

MS 5108
MS Short Title ATRA-HASIS (B)
Text ATRA-HASIS EPIC, TABLET 2, COLUMN 4:11 - 20; COLUMN 8:34 - END; AND CA. 40 NEW LINES: - THEY BROKE THE COSMIC BARRIER! - THE FLOOD WHICH YOU MENTIONED, WHOSE IS IT? - THE GODS COMMANDED TOTAL DESTRUCTION! ENLIL DID AN EVIL DEED ON THE PEOPLE! THEY COMMANDED IN THE ASSEMBLY OF THE GODS, BRINGING A FLOOD FOR A LATER DAY, "LET US DO THE DEED!" ATRA-HASIS -
Description MS in Old Babylonian on clay, probably Larsa Babylonia, 2000-1900 BC, upper half of a tablet, 13,0x12,3x4,2 cm, 2+2 columns, 20+19+25+16+1 lines in cuneiform script.
Context There are only some 13 tablets and fragments preserved of the Atra-Hasis Epic, in at least 4 different recentions. This tablet is the oldest of these and thus the earliest witness of Atra-Hasis. Very much of the epic is lost. The ca. 40 new lines on the present tablet improves this situation. Another part of the Atra-Hasis epic is MS 2950.
Commentary

The Old Babylonian Flood story told in both the epics of Atra-Hasis and Gilgamesh was written about 200 years before the account in the Bible, Genesis 6:5-8:22. While the cause of the Flood in the Bible was mankind's wickedness and violence, the Old Babylonian cause was the noisy activities of humans, preventing the chief god, Enlil, from sleeping.

When the Neo Babylonian account of the Flood story as part of the Gilgamesh epic was discovered in the 19th c., it caused a sensation. It turned out that this was a abbreviated account extracted from the Old Babylonian Atra-hasis epic, written about 1000 years earlier.

The Flood is the climax of the whole story. The gods created the human race to take over the hard agricultural work in the universe. They were created with the power to reproduce, but without the fate of dying as an result of age. The human race multiplied and made such noise that the chief Sumerian god, Enlil, could not sleep. Accordingly he tried to reduce their numbers, first by plague, then by famine. In each case the god Ea, who was mainly responsible for creating the human race, frustrated the plan. Enlil then got all the gods to swear to co-operate in exterminating the whole human race by a huge flood, which failed because Ea got his favourite , Ziuzudra (the Old Babylonian Noah), to build an ark and so save the human race and the animals.

This tablet starts when the second attempt, famine, had just failed, Enlil was looking into what had happened and making another plan.

Published Andrew George: Babylonian Literary Texts in the Schøyen Collection, Cornell University Studies in Assyriology and Sumerology, vol. 10, Manuscripts in the Schøyen Collection, Cuneiform texts IV. CDL Press, Bethesda, MD, 2009.
Place of origin probably Larsa Babylonia
Dates 1900 - 1700 BC

Location