Noah is one of the most famous people in the Bible. He is famous for building the ark and surviving the flood. But what happened afterwards? Surprisingly, we have some rather good evidence for what happened to him, and it is not from the Bible. This post is here to explain where the actual evidence of Noah is outside the Bible. Surprisingly, several different strands of information agree on some very important details.
Extra-Biblical Accounts of Noah
In Susan Wise Bauer’s an excellent history of the ancient world, which I highly recommend, she has the following passage on “flood myths”:
The history of the earth (so geologists tell us) has been punctuated by great catastrophes which apparently wiped out entire categories of life forms. But only one echoes down in the words and stories of a dozen different races. We don’t have a universal story that begins “And then the weather began to grow VERY, VERY COLD.” But at some point during the living, storytelling memory of the human race, water threatened man’s fragile hold on the earth. The historian cannot ignore the Great Flood; it is the closest thing to a universal story that the human race possesses. (Susan Wise Bauer, The History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome.)
So, it is true that we have a universal story that even exists in pre-Columbus America. To the Aztecs, the male survivor of the flood was named Coxcox, who escaped with his wife in a wooden vessel that came to rest on a mountain. Stories like this span the globe. Here’s the wikipedia list of them. Does this sound familiar to you Bible readers?
The foolish way to interpret a universal story of a Great Flood is to say that this universal story was borrowed from one culture to another and made its way all across the globe (even to America, before Columbus). A halfway intelligent way to interpret a universal story of a Great Flood is to say that cultures separated by oceans, languages, and thousands of years of no-contact all have stories that share the same core set of facts because IT ACTUALLY HAPPENED.
And because it actually happened, not only do we have the Bible telling this story, we also have different cultures telling the story, too. Therefore, to explain the extra-biblical evidence for Noah, we need to talk about the different stories that involve the same core set of facts.
Noah’s Greek Name: Deucalion
The Greeks have a name for Noah. That would be “Deucalion.” The Greeks also name the wife of Noah, which the Bible does not do. Her name was Pyrrah. You can read all about them in Greek myths.
For example, Ovid in Metamorphosis talks about the Great Deluge. The foolish way to interpret this story is to say that because only Deucalion and Pyrrah survive the flood in Greek myths (only to have the gods supernaturally create people after they survive) shows that this is a different story entirely. A halfway intelligent way to interpret the story of Deucalion and Pyrrah is to note that Ovid wrote about this more than a thousand years after Genesis was written. When “everybody on earth dies through a great flood unleashed by God/Zeus” is the core of the story, the small details like where the other people came from is not that important of a detail. This is OBVIOUSLY the same story.
In fact, Jews in the first century explicitly recognized this. The following is from Philo of Alexandria:
Now this man the Greeks call Deucalion, but the Chaldaeans name him Noah; and it was in his time that the great deluge took place. (Philo, On Rewards and Punishments, VI(22))
But what readers of the Greek version will notice is that the ark is missing from the story. Deucalion just gets warned, and then he ends up on a mountain. However, pushing back is what Wikipedia showed me about the name “Deucalion” itself:
Deucalion’s name comes from δεῦκος, deukos, a variant of γλεῦκος, gleucos, i.e. “sweet new wine, must, sweetness” and from ἁλιεύς, haliéus, i.e. “sailor, seaman, fisher”
That’s right. “Deucalion” means “wine sailor.” Getting the Noah vibe yet?
Knowledge of Noah in the Context of Ancient Things
Another thing to note about Deucalion is that he is acknowledged to be real, and it was not merely a story. In the Timaeus, Plato explicitly mentions Deucalion in a dialogue about the old world. The following passage refers to a conversation between an Egyptian priest and Solon, who lived in the 600s BC. Note what he says:
He replied:-In the Egyptian Delta, at the head of which the river Nile divides, there is a certain district which is called the district of Sais, and the great city of the district is also called Sais, and is the city from which King Amasis came. The citizens have a deity for their foundress; she is called in the Egyptian tongue Neith, and is asserted by them to be the same whom the Hellenes call Athene; they are great lovers of the Athenians, and say that they are in some way related to them. To this city came Solon, and was received there with great honour; he asked the priests who were most skilful in such matters, about antiquity, and made the discovery that neither he nor any other Hellene knew anything worth mentioning about the times of old. On one occasion, wishing to draw them on to speak of antiquity, he began to tell about the most ancient things in our part of the world-about Phoroneus, who is called “the first man,” and about Niobe; and after the Deluge, of the survival of Deucalion and Pyrrha; and he traced the genealogy of their descendants, and reckoning up the dates, tried to compute how many years ago the events of which he was speaking happened. Thereupon one of the priests, who was of a very great age, said: O Solon, Solon, you Hellenes are never anything but children, and there is not an old man among you. Solon in return asked him what he meant. I mean to say, he replied, that in mind you are all young; there is no old opinion handed down among you by ancient tradition, nor any science which is hoary with age. And I will tell you why. There have been, and will be again, many destructions of mankind arising out of many causes; the greatest have been brought about by the agencies of fire and water, and other lesser ones by innumerable other causes. There is a story, which even you have preserved, that once upon a time Paethon, the son of Helios, having yoked the steeds in his father’s chariot, because he was not able to drive them in the path of his father, burnt up all that was upon the earth, and was himself destroyed by a thunderbolt. Now this has the form of a myth, but really signifies a declination of the bodies moving in the heavens around the earth, and a great conflagration of things upon the earth, which recurs after long intervals; at such times those who live upon the mountains and in dry and lofty places are more liable to destruction than those who dwell by rivers or on the seashore. And from this calamity the Nile, who is our never-failing saviour, delivers and preserves us. When, on the other hand, the gods purge the earth with a deluge of water, the survivors in your country are herdsmen and shepherds who dwell on the mountains, but those who, like you, live in cities are carried by the rivers into the sea. Whereas in this land, neither then nor at any other time, does the water come down from above on the fields, having always a tendency to come up from below; for which reason the traditions preserved here are the most ancient. (Plato, Timaeus)
That conversation apparently happened around 600 BC or so. It happened between “Solon” and an Egyptian priest. There is a Greek name of Phoroneus, who is called “the first man.” That’s obviously a Greek name for “Adam,” who is literally the first man. Then we get Deucalion and Pyrrha, and we read that Solon “traced the genealogy of their descendants, and reckoning up the dates” which is pretty much what Genesis 5 and Genesis 10 do in the Bible. As such, pagan Greeks like Solon believed that they type of world history described in the Bible is an ordinary and reliable form of history.
That’s some extra-biblical evidence for Noah, but there is more.
Acknowledgement of the Existence of Noah By Pagan Greek Historians
But what is truly surprising is that it is not only in collections of myth that Deucalion is mentioned. We get him mentioned quite accurately in Thucydides wrote the history of the Peloponnesian War, which occurred between 431 and 404 BC. While Herodotus is considered the “father of history,” Thucydides is considered to be the first one to write a respectable history. His work is “The History of the Peloponnesian War.” Unlike Herodotus, he uses eyewitness accounts and filters out information that is obviously false.
But look at what Thucydides tries to give the back-story for the Greek peoples, who are called the “Hellens”:
Before the Trojan war there is no indication of any common action in Hellas, nor indeed of the universal prevalence of the name; on the contrary, before the time of Hellen, son of Deucalion, no such appellation existed, but the country went by the names of the different tribes, in particular of the Pelasgian. It was not till Hellen and his sons grew strong in Phthiotis, and were invited as allies into the other cities, that one by one they gradually acquired from the connection the name of Hellenes; though a long time elapsed before that name could fasten itself upon all. The best proof of this is furnished by Homer. Born long after the Trojan war, he nowhere calls all of them by that name, nor indeed any of them except the followers of Achilles from Phthiotis, who were the original Hellenes: in his poems they are called Danaans, Argives, and Achaeans. He does not even use the term barbarian, probably because the Hellenes had not yet been marked off from the rest of the world by one distinctive appellation. It appears therefore that the several Hellenic communities, comprising not only those who first acquired the name, city by city, as they came to understand each other, but also those who assumed it afterwards as the name of the whole people, were before the Trojan war prevented by their want of strength and the absence of mutual intercourse from displaying any collective action. (Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War, 1.3)
Read that again. It is incredible. He is saying that the Greeks were NOBODY and had no cities, no history, no culture, no collective action – NOTHING – until “Hellen” who is THE SON OF DEUCALION came to a region around Thessolanica and his sons then became strong. After this, everyone began calling themselves “the Hellens.”
Now, in the Bible, we know that Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. And look where Japheth settled:
The sons of Japheth: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras. The sons of Gomer: Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah. The sons of Javan: Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim. From these the coastland peoples spread in their lands, each with his own language, by their clans, in their nations. (Genesis 10:2-5)
Coastlands? Yep. Coastlands. That would include GREECE. In other words, this pagan Greek writing around 400 BC accurately reflects the settlement patterns described in Genesis of Noah’s family after the flood.
However, there is a little difference between the Greek and Jewish stories. While the Greek Thucydides claims that it was the son of Noah that was named “Hellen” and gave the Greeks their names, the Jewish Josephus writing in the first century AD says that it was actually the grandson of Noah who gave the Greeks their name:
Now they were the grandchildren of Noah, in honor of whom names were imposed on the nations by those that first seized upon them. Japhet, the son of Noah, had seven sons: they inhabited so, that, beginning at the mountains Taurus and Amanus, they proceeded along Asia, as far as the river Tansis, and along Europe to Cadiz; and settling themselves on the lands which they light upon, which none had inhabited before, they called the nations by their own names. For Gomer founded those whom the Greeks now call Galatians, [Galls,] but were then called Gomerites. Magog founded those that from him were named Magogites, but who are by the Greeks called Scythians. Now as to Javan and Madai, the sons of Japhet; from Madai came the Madeans, who are called Medes, by the Greeks; but from Javan, Ionia, and all the Grecians, are derived. Thobel founded the Thobelites, who are now called Iberes; and the Mosocheni were founded by Mosoch; now they are Cappadocians. There is also a mark of their ancient denomination still to be shown; for there is even now among them a city called Mazaca, which may inform those that are able to understand, that so was the entire nation once called. Thiras also called those whom he ruled over Thirasians; but the Greeks changed the name into Thracians. And so many were the countries that had the children of Japhet for their inhabitants. Of the three sons of Gomer, Aschanax founded the Aschanaxians, who are now called by the Greeks Rheginians. So did Riphath found the Ripheans, now called Paphlagonians; and Thrugramma the Thrugrammeans, who, as the Greeks resolved, were named Phrygians. Of the three sons of Javan also, the son of Japhet, Elisa gave name to the Eliseans, who were his subjects; they are now the Aeolians. Tharsus to the Tharsians, for so was Cilicia of old called; the sign of which is this, that the noblest city they have, and a metropolis also, is Tarsus, the tau being by change put for the theta. Cethimus possessed the island Cethima: it is now called Cyprus; and from that it is that all islands, and the greatest part of the sea-coasts, are named Cethim by the Hebrews: and one city there is in Cyprus that has been able to preserve its denomination; it has been called Citius by those who use the language of the Greeks, and has not, by the use of that dialect, escaped the name of Cethim. And so many nations have the children and grandchildren of Japhet possessed. Now when I have premised somewhat, which perhaps the Greeks do not know, I will return and explain what I have omitted; for such names are pronounced here after the manner of the Greeks, to please my readers; for our own country language does not so pronounce them: but the names in all cases are of one and the same ending; for the name we here pronounce Noeas, is there Noah, and in every case retains the same termination. (Josephus, Antiquities, 1.6.1)
However, that is a difference that is almost negligible. The point is that Thucydides and and Josephus agree on the general thrust of world history, but differ on small details.
Now, the stupid way to view this fact is that Josephus “copied” his tales from Thucydides or that Thucydides “coped” his tales from the Bible. But the half-way intelligent way to understand these differences is that both Josephus and Thucydides were talking about what they knew from independent sources, and the common source of information from which the tradition of Josephus and the tradition of Thucydides comes is REALITY ITSELF.
Noah’s Sumerian Name: Utnapishtim
Now, the Sumerians had a tale of a worldwide flood, and this was recorded in the Epic of Gilgamesh. The survivor of this flood is named Utnapishtim.
Now, the Epic of Gilgamesh is a story of Gilgamesh, who is part god, going on lots of adventures. The main adventure he goes on is to hunt a great beast with his friend Enkidu. But after celebrating their hunt, Gilgamesh makes the gods angry, and in response, this causes his best friend to get killed. After this, the story proceeds to Gilgamesh’s struggle with the fact of his mortality. Therefore, Gilgamesh goes to see his ancestor, “Utnapishtim the faraway.” Who is the Utnapishtim? Here is the story from Tablet 4 of the Epic of Gilgamesh, translated by N.K. Sanders, and available in full at this link:
Bitterly Gilgamesh wept for his friend Enkidu; he wandered over the wilderness as a hunger, he roamed over the plains; in his bitterness he cried, ‘How can I rest, how can I be at peace? Despair is in my heart. What my brother is now, that shall I be when I am dead. Because I am afraid of death I will go as best I can to find Utnapishtim whom they call the Faraway, for he has entered the assembly of the gods.’ So Gilgamesh travelled over the wilderness, he wandered over the grasslands, a long journey, in search of Utnapishtim, whom the gods took after the deluge; and they set him to live in the land of Dilmun, in the garden of the sun; and to him alone of men they gave everlasting life. (From the Epic of Gilgamesh, Tablet 4, translated by N.K. Sanders)
Later, Gilgamesh finds Utnapishtim, but Gilgamesh is from Mesopotamia, and he needs someone to help him get to Utnapishtim:
But Gilgamesh said to Siduri, the young woman, ‘How can I be silent, how can I rest, when Enkidu whom I love is dust, and I too shall die and be laid in the earth. You live by the sea-shore and look into the heart of it; young woman, tell me now, which is the way to Utnapishtim, the son of Ubara-Tutu? What directions are there for the passage; give me, oh, give me directions. I will cross the Ocean if it is possible; if it is not I will wander still farther in the wilderness.’ The wine-maker said to him, ‘Gilgamesh, there is no crossing the Ocean; whoever has come, since the days of old, has not been able to pass that sea. The Sun in his glory crosses the Ocean, but who beside Shamash has ever crossed it? The place and the passage are difficult, and the waters of death are deep which flow between. Gilgamesh, how will you cross the Ocean? When you come to the waters of death what will you do? But Gilgamesh, down in the woods you will find Urshanabi, the ferryman of Utnapishtim; with him are the holy things, the things of stone. He is fashioning the serpent prow of the boat. Look at him well, and if it is possible, perhaps you will cross the waters with him; but if it is not possible, then you must go back.’ (From the Epic of Gilgamesh, Tablet 4, translated by N.K. Sanders
In other words, Gilgamesh needs a FERRYMAN to take him to see Utnapishtim. And we also get a strange detail about the relationship from Gilgamesh to Utnapishtim:
Then he called to the man Gilgamesh, he called to the child of the gods: ‘Why have you come
so great a journey; for what have you travelled so far, crossing the dangerous waters; tell me the
reason for your coming? Gilgamesh answered, ‘For Enkidu; I loved him dearly, together we
endured all kinds of hardships; on his account I have come, for the common lot of man has taken
him. I have wept for him day and night, I would not give up his body for burial, I thought my
friend would come back because of my weeping. Since he went, my life is nothing; that is why I
have travelled here in search of Utnapishtim my father; for men say he has entered the assembly
of the gods, and has found everlasting life. I have a desire to question him concerning the living
and the dead!
Interestingly, we see that Gilgamesh IS RELATED to Utnapishtim. Other translations call him his “ancestor,” but the key point is that Gilgamesh is both half-god AND he is related to Utnapishtim, who survived the great deluge that destroyed the whole earth. So who is Gilgamesh? Well, he is introduced at the start of the book:
In Uruk he built walls, a great rampart, and the temple of blessed Eanna for the god of the
firmament Anu, and for Ishtar the goddess of love. Look at it still today: the outer wall where the
cornice runs, it shines with the brilliance of copper; and the inner wall, it has no equal. Touch the
threshold, it is ancient. Approach Eanna the dwelling of Ishtar, our lady of love and war, the like
of which no latter-day king, no man alive can equal. Climb upon the wall of Uruk; walk along it,
I say; regard the foundation terrace and examine the masonry: is it not burnt brick and good? The
seven sages laid the foundations.
In other words, Gilgamesh is the person who build the great city of Uruk. Where is Uruk? That’s a good question, I do not know. But what I do know is that this story is reflected in the Bible.
The Identity of Gilgamesh in the Bible
Remember the key identifiers of Gilgamesh to the Sumerians. He is part-god. He is related to Utnapishtim. He builds cities. He builds great cities. Now look at what we can see in Genesis. First, let’s talk about the people who were “part god”:
When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. . . . The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown. (Genesis 6:1-2, 4)
Notice that these people were on the earth before the flood. But they were also on the earth after the flood. Gilgamesh is one of these people after the flood.
And just as we noticed that the ferryman in the Epic of Gilgamesh is associated with being the “wine-maker,” we also read the following about Noah:
The sons of Noah who went forth from the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the people of the whole earth were dispersed. . . . Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard. (Genesis 9:18-20)
And from that story, we learn that Noah’s son Ham slept with his mother, trying to get his children into a higher level of status, but Noah then curses his son, saying that he will be a servant of servants. That child’s name was Canaan. But then look at what we read about the descendants of Noah:
The sons of Ham: Cush, Egypt, Put, and Canaan. The sons of Cush: Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, and Sabteca. The sons of Raamah: Sheba and Dedan. Cush fathered Nimrod; he was the first on earth to be a mighty man. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord. Therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the Lord.” The beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. From that land he went into Assyria and built Nineveh, Rehoboth-Ir, Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city. (Genesis 10:6-12)
Did you catch that? Nimrod was the first to be a “mighty man.” And what is a “mighty man”? We were told at the beginning of the story:
The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown. (Genesis 6:4)
So…. the Nephilim are the descendants of the “sons of God.” And…. …Nimrod is a son of one of these sons of God. And…. ….Nimrod is the great-grandson of Noah. And…. ….Nimrod built many great cities. One of the cities Nimrod built is Erech and the city of Gilgamesh is Uruk. Gilgamesh built a great city. Nimrod built a great city.
Are you catching this?
This matches the description of Gilgamesh to Utnapishtim. Nimrod IS GILGAMESH. Nimrod is a mighty hunter, and the first half of the Epic of Gilgamesh is a story of Gilgamesh and Enkidu going on epic hunting trips. So, Gilgamesh is also a mighty hunter. They are the same person.
Now, this requires some good thinking. The story we have for the Epic of Gilgamesh supposedly date to 2100 BC, even though the tablets we have only date to 1200 BC. The Bible’s story dates to after 1446 BC, which is the date of the Exodus, and the earliest copies we have are the dead sea scrolls from around 200 BC. The stupid way to look at this is to say that the Epic of Gilgamesh is the “real” story because that is the story that is “older.” I wonder if these “experts” have the same idea about truth and chronology for the following films:
Now that would be a civil war textbook I want to read! And you might think that’s silly, but the Epic of Gilgamesh is seen as a more “authentic” flood narrative by mainstream scholars, because it is OLDER. The reason they believe that is because they think this is just a story, and never really happened (even though everyone everywhere at all times on all continents believed that the flood was real, until the past few hundred years). Let me be clear: that’s a stupid way to look at the Epic of Gilgamesh.
In contrast, the at least half-way intelligent way to look at the two stories is that the EPIC of Gilgamesh is a fictional EPIC that uses characters and events from the very real history of the Earth. In contrast, the Genesis account is a historical account that gives a pithy account of the very real beginning and history of the Earth.
The Alleged Immortality of Noah in the Epic of Gilgamesh
However, there is another issue we need to solve. There is a serious and substantive difference between what we commonly know as Noah and what we know about Utnapishtim. You see, Noah lived to be 950 years old, but he was not immortal. In contrast, Utnapishtim the faraway “entered the assembly of the gods” and was “granted immortality.” This difficulty is actually not a difficulty at all when you look at it closely.
So let’s first start with that claim about entering “the assembly of the gods.” That’s not in the Bible, right? Well, read your Bible again, but look at it CLOSELY and IN CONTEXT. Pay attention to the words and locations:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was waste and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep: and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. (Genesis 1:1-2)
And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah: and Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: and all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: and Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him. (Genesis 5:21-24)
These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, and perfect in his generations: Noah walked with God. And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Genesis 6:9-10)
And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lifted up above the earth. And the waters prevailed, and increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark went upon the face of the waters. (Genesis 7:17-18)
Notice what the Bible is saying, and remember that these quotes come from the same book. When creation happened, God’s location was “upon the face of the waters.” Then we read that the waters “bare up the ark, and it was lifted up above the earth.” And while that may seem like “floating,” there is a Hebrew word for “float” that is not used here. Instead, we read that the ark is in the SAME LOCATION as God during the creation of the world.
Not only that, we see that Enoch, a man who just got zapped out of existence into the heavenly places is described as someone who “walked with God” and “he was not; for God took him.” And when introducing the story of Noah in the sixth chapter of Genesis, we do not read that “Noah survived the flood” or that “Noah was a really good ship-builder” or “Everybody but Noah and his family died.” Instead, the most interesting thing thing that the Bible wants you to know about Noah is the same thing that happened to Enoch:
Noah walked with God.
Are you getting it?
But that’s not all. You see, there actually is a time when the assembly of the gods is described, and it is explicitly described in connection to the flood. You see, the word for “flood” in the Bible is actually a proper name – mabbul – and the following Psalm is the only place it appears outside of Genesis:
Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings, [Footnote: Hebrew sons of God, or sons of might]
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.
The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the Lord, over many waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.
The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf,
and Sirion like a young wild ox.
The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.
The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;
the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of the Lord makes the deer give birth [Footnote: Revocalization yields makes the oaks to shake]
and strips the forests bare,
and in his temple all cry, “Glory!”
The Lord sits enthroned over the flood [Hebrew: mabbul];
the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.
May the Lord give strength to his people!
May the Lord bless his people with peace!
So… guys. Get the scene. This is God sitting enthroned over the flood, pointing to all of the other “sons of God” and saying this:
“Bow down to me you terrible heavenly beings. You screwed the earth up big time, bringing so much violence across the entire world that I regret ever making man. That’s why I just destroyed your entire world! With a word from me, I break everything. So, acknowledge me as the rightful ruler of heaven and earth. And now, I’m going to bless my people, Noah and his family, with peace!”
Yeah. That’s what your Bible is saying about Noah, but which no one is picking up on because it is just so WEIRD. Noah WALKED WITH GOD. And that’s where he went after the flood. Notice that the ark is never called a boat. If you want to read more about that, I’ve written on it here.
So now, let’s talk about the fact that Noah is described as “immortal” in the Epic of Gilgamesh. This doesn’t seem to match up, but it all makes sense when you look at the chronology. When you do a basic addition of all the ages of the people listed in the Bible, you will get Ussher’s chronology of the Bible, which you can see here:
Noah descended onto Mount Ararat sometime around the year 2348 B.C. We know from the scriptures that Noah lived for 350 years after the flood. This means, he died sometime around 2000 B.C. But the Epic of Gilgamesh dates to around 2100 B.C. And this explains why the Epic of Gilgamesh differs from the Bible in claiming that Utnapishtim was “granted immortality”:
WHEN THE EPIC OF GILGAMESH WAS WRITTEN, THE ACTUAL NOAH WAS ACTUALLY ALIVE.
He also happened to be the oldest man on Earth, which really helps your “immortal” credentials. So yes, it is a difference between the Bible’s story and the Epic of Gilgamesh’s story, but it’s a difference that lends more credibility than it takes away about the real existence of Noah.
Extra-Biblical Info About Noah’s long age Age
We should also note that it is a little crazy to imagine that Noah lived for 950 years, as the Bible claims. However, you should also note that this was always seen as a strange fact. Pliny the Elder, a Roman Historian, also notes that people in his day (who were NOT Bible readers) also claimed that people lived a very long time, but Pliny the Elder did not believe them. Here’s what he writes:
Not only the differences of climate, but the multitude of instances named, and the peculiar destiny attached to each of us from the moment of his birth, tend to render one very uncertain in forming any general conclusion respecting the length and duration of human life. Hesiod, who was the first to make mention of this subject, while he states many circumstances about the age of man, which appear to me to be fabulous, gives to the crow nine times the ordinary duration of our life, to the stag four times the length of that of the crow, to the raven three times the length of that of the stag, besides other particulars with reference to the phœnix and the Nymphs of a still more fabulous nature. The poet Anacreon gives one hundred and fifty years to Arganthonius, the king of the Tartessii; ten more to Cinaras, the king of Cyprus, and two hundred to Ægimius. Theopompus gives one hundred and fifty-three years to Epimenides of Cnossus; according to Hellenicus, some of the nation of the Epii, in Ætolia, have completed their two hundredth year; and his account is confirmed by Damastes, who relates that Pictoreus, one of this nation, who was remarkable for his size and strength, lived even to his three hundredth year. Ephorus says that some kings of Arcadia have lived three hundred years; Alexander Cornelius, that there was one Dandon, in Illyricum, who lived five hundred years. Xenophon, in his Periplus, gives to a king of the island of the Lutmii six hundred years, and, as though in that instance he had lied too sparingly, to his son eight hundred. All these statements, however, have originated in a want of acquaintance with the accurate measurement of time. For some nations reckon the summer as one year, and the winter as another; others again, consider each of the four seasons a year; the Arcadians, for instance, whose years were of three months each. Others, such as the Egyptians, calculate by the moon, and hence it is that some individuals among them are said to have lived as many as one thousand years. (Pliny the Elder, Natural History, 7.49)
Note that all of those ages of men are within the realm of people listed in the Bible in Genesis 10. These people, just like the descendants of Noah, are kings over various lands. Isn’t that strange? I could go on longer on this subject, but this post is getting too long. So if you are wondering if it is possible for people to live as long as a thousand years, you are not alone in this curiosity. The curiosity began at least 2,000 years ago, and even back then they were trying to come up with reasons to explain the strange tales.
However, the fact remains that the ancients – independently of the Bible – also had ideas that people lived for an extremely long time, just like Noah. This was well known in ancient times, and it is also the reason that when Pharaoh meets Joseph’s father’ Jacob, we get the following strange conversation about AGE:
Then Joseph brought in Jacob his father and stood him before Pharaoh, and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. And Pharaoh said to Jacob, “How many are the days of the years of your life?” And Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The days of the years of my sojourning are 130 years. Few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their sojourning.” And Jacob blessed Pharaoh and went out from the presence of Pharaoh. (Genesis 47:7-10)
Isn’t that an ODD thing to have as the SINGLE question that Pharaoh asks Jacob? But it is not so odd when you understand the context: the descendants of Noah lived a really, really long time. A stupid way to understand that conversation between Jacob and Pharaoh is to believe that it is an easter-egg which a clever Jewish scribe put into the narrative in the 600s to make the age of the patriarchs more believable. An at least halfway intelligent way to understand that conversation is to recognize that very special people living a very long time was a VERY REAL THING back in the time of the patriarchs.
Where Noah Lived After the Flood
If you were a second-century traveler in Greece, a useful book to have would be Pausanias’s “Description of Greece.” This book, written sometime around 150 – 170 AD is a description of all of the regions of Greece. It also contains a large scattering of Greek History. But you will find something very strange that is just treated as an accepted fact by the second-century Greek world:
NOAH LIVED IN CRETE
Look at this story, remembering that “Deucalion” and “Noah” are the same person:
Now Menestheus took no account of the children of Theseus, who had secretly withdrawn to Elephenor in Euboea, but he was aware that Theseus, if ever he returned from Thesprotia, would be a doughty antagonist, and so curried favour with his subjects that Theseus on re covering afterwards his liberty was expelled. So Theseus set out to Deucalion in Crete.
Did you see that? Deucalion lives in Crete.
And guess what this has in common with the Epic of Gilgamesh? In order to get to Crete, you need a ship and someone to sail it. Or, as the Epic of Gilgamesh said… …a FERRYMAN. See?
But this isn’t it. Let’s also remember what we read in the Bible after the Flood:
Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” (Genesis 8:20-22)
So, we see that Noah built an altar. However, look at what else we read about Noah/Deucalion outside of the Bible:
Within the precincts are antiquities: a bronze Zeus, a temple of Cronus and Rhea and an enclosure of Earth surnamed Olympian. Here the floor opens to the width of a cubit, and they say that along this bed flowed off the water after the deluge that occurred in the time of Deucalion, and into it they cast every year wheat meal mixed with honey.
On a pillar is a statue of Isocrates, whose memory is remarkable for three things: his diligence in continuing to teach to the end of his ninety-eight years, his self-restraint in keeping aloof from politics and from interfering with public affairs, and his love of liberty in dying a voluntary death, distressed at the news of the battle at Chaeronea. There are also statues in Phrygian marble of Persians supporting a bronze tripod; both the figures and the tripod are worth seeing. The ancient sanctuary of Olympian Zeus the Athenians say was built by Deucalion, and they cite as evidence that Deucalion lived at Athens a grave which is not far from the present temple. (Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.18)
Do you see that? There is an ancient sanctuary of “Olympian Zeus” that the Athenians say was build by Deucalion/Noah. Additionally, we also read that there is supposedly a channel through which the water of the flood passed through. How strange! Is there anything in the Bible about how the Earth had something to do with the water of the flood going away? Surprisingly, there is. In Genesis:
But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided. (Genesis 8:1)
The Hebrew word for “wind” is actually “ruach” which is a Hebrew word for an invisible influence that has an effect on the visible world. Since the wind is the most common example of invisible influences that have effects on the visible world, that is why it gets translated as “wind.” But what we should remember is that at this time in the story, the entire world is covered in water. So, how is it possible for a WIND to pass over the EARTH? Why doesn’t it say that it is a wind over the water? The answer is something I described in an earlier post on the Flood. The way you get rid of the water that covers the entire earth is to make the oceans deeper, so that the Earth literally swallows up the water. That verse above is not describing evaporation. Instead, the verse is describing something that happens to the Earth to make the waters subside.
Now, it may seem strange that all of these different cultures had a similar original knowledge about the identity of God and the basics of their religion. However, this puts a lot more meat on those lines that Paul wrote in Romans about how originally God made himself known to all:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. (Romans 1:18-23)
As such, this is telling the story of humanity that KNEW God, but they deliberately chose to forget him. That’s the biblical understanding of the history of religion.
In contrast, a stupid way of understanding the history of religion is to say that men started making up stories and evolved in their story-telling from polytheism to monotheism, eventually graduating to the highest level of enlightenment, which is that there really is no God. Instead of God, life randomly arose several billion years after a ginormous space kablooie that created the universe. Then on Earth, life randomly popped out of the ground through “lightning” and “primordial soup” or something. It sounds stupid when you phrase mainstream scientific thought on the history of religion and the universe like that, but that’s exactly how I’m going to phrase it, because it’s stupid.
A more intelligent way of understanding the history of religion is to say that the first religion was based off of the fact that people ACTUALLY KNEW GOD, and he could be clearly perceived, starting from the creation of the world. But we are currently in a multi-thousand year process of forgetting the truth that we could easily know if we just looked around.
But let’s get back to Noah. I shared earlier that the Greeks think Noah lived on Crete and he was buried in Athens. We know from the Bible that Noah became a man of the soil and started making wine. But we can go further.
The Civilization that Noah Started
So far, we have explored how Noah was universally believed to have been real, and common names from him in antiquity include Noah, Deucalion, and Utnapishtim. All of these names concern a man who survived a world-ending flood and conversed with “the gods.” We also learn that the Athenians believe that Noah/Deucalion lived in Crete, and the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh corroborates this belief. We also know from the text of the scriptures and a rough estimate of adding up years, that Noah descended with the ark around 2300 BC.
When you add 2300 BC and “Crete” together, this points to a very clear place that Noah lived after he came down in the Ark:
THE MINOAN CIVILIZATION IS NOAH’S CIVILIZATION
That’s right. So let’s talk about ancient Minoa.
The Minoan Civilization
The Minoan Civilization was at its height about the time when Noah supposedly came down from the Ark. And wouldn’t you know it, the Minoan civilization was ridiculously advanced, with indoor sewage systems, large palaces, and a vibrant but not-very-well understood religious life (much like we see in the Bible). Here are some images from wikipedia that give an idea of what kind of civilization we’re talking about in the year 2300 or so:
Here are the ruins today:
Here are some examples of the dress and style of the people of Crete in the Minoan civilization:
We also have a lot of first-hand evidence that Minoan men and women showed a lot of skin:
Here is a mostly reconstructed fresco with some original artwork:
As for their civilization, here’s what one book on Minoan civilization states about the photo above:
The Minoans were a sacrificial people. The famous, but fragmentary, Procession Fresco in the Knossos Labyrinth shows a procession of worshippers coming to offer oblation to the deity or deities of the temple: at one point we seem to see the feet of the goddess they are honouring, but the rest of the figure is lost. The Cupbearer, probably best interpreted as part of the self-same decorative scheme and part of the same procession, proudly carries a rhyton, a ritual libation vessel. The Minoans were always making offerings to their deities: it was an integral part of their belief-system. In the Late Dove Goddess Shrine at Knossos there was a typical clay offering table, a round tray with three legs, cemented down to the floor, a permanent begging bowl for the goddess. (Rodney Castleden, Minoans: Life in Bronze Age Crete, Routledge Publishers, (1990) p 262 (kindle edition))
It’s funny to me that a “dove” is a part of a temple there, because we know that Noah and doves have some history there.
We can also note that the Minoans had many sacrifices, and the chapter describes drink offerings being poured out, bulls being sacrificed, and grains also being given to God or the “gods,” but there is simultaneously no clear indication or depictions of the deity or deities.
Do those sacrificial practices sound familiar to you Old-Testament Bible readers?
And guess what else there is great evidence of in Minoan civilization. WINE. In fact, Crete is still famous for its wine. That’s right, lots of wine, which was stored in palaces. Here is what we read about Minoan agriculture:
Besides cereals, the Minoans were growing vetch, chickpeas, pigeon peas, cultivated peas, sesame, hemp, flax and castor oil plants in their fields. Large areas were given over to vineyards. The vine may have been native to Crete. Grape pips were found at the early settlement at Fournou Korifi, and the Middle Minoan storage jars at Monastiraki and Phaistos. . . . The Knossos archive tablet contain references to vines. One, Gv 863, refers to 420 vines and 104 fig trees. Wine was not, it seems from the archives, on any ordinary ration lists: it may have been regarded as something of a luxury and generally used abstemiously. Tablet Gm 840 shows the product of the last vintage to be gathered into Knossos under the aegis of the temple priestesses, and it is a very large quantity. The total entries amounts to over 14, 000 litres. On the other hand, the redistributed output from the Knossos temple is very small. The only inferences that can be made from this are the archive is incomplete or that most of the wine received was consumed in the temple. The latter seems very likely, given the sort of religious ceremonies that were conducted there: libations and sacred communions would account for the consumption of large quantities of wine. (Rodney Castleden, Minoans: Life in Bronze Age Crete, Routledge Publishers, (1990) p 79-80 (kindle edition))
Just so you know, that “Middle Minoan” is a reference to pottery, and it refers to a period between 2400 to 2000, when Noah would have been alive and living in Crete.
Amazing, isn’t it?
So, I can’t give you any grand ideas like the location of Noah’s tomb in Athens or whether it actually is in Athens (or if that’s just a story that the Athenians told). But what I can do is show that there are multiple sources of information all pointing to the REALITY of the individual commonly known as NOAH.
If you would like to read more on this subject, I’ll point you to my other writings on Noah and the flood, which explore the topic using similar methods:
- “The Myth of Atlantis” and the Weird Parts of Scripture
- “The Myth of Phaethon,” and the Weird Parts of Scripture
- “Flood Myths” and the Weird Parts of Scripture
- “Arks” and the Weird Parts of Scripture
If you don’t believe this stuff about Noah, I can’t make any grand claims or offer any serious proof. I am no expert in Greek or Sumerian archeology or chronology or ancient history. If you want “proof” the best I can do is this Joe Rogan episode where non-Christians are explaining the reason they believe there was a great worldwide cataclysm, but they’re even crazier than me. So, while I’m no expert, I am someone who can read and share what I find. And in my reading, I found that everyone (without meaning to do so) seems to agree on some rather surprising details about Noah. So you’re free to disbelieve it, but you should recognize that it is not just crazy Christians you are disagreeing with.
And for those of you who do believe that the Bible is true, I hope this is a wake-up call that it’s more true than you thought. So be careful with that book you have. It will mess you up if you’re not careful. If there’s outside proof for Noah, what’s next? People rising from the dead?
2 Comments Add yours
I have a question. In Genesis 8:4 that the ark was tested on the mountains of Ararat. Which isn’t near Cyprus at all. Is there something I’m missing?
You are correct that the ark came down in the mountains of Ararat which is in present day Armenia. Josephus even claimed (around 100 AD) that you could still see it if you wanted to hike.
You’re not missing anything, but you are assuming things. The Bible never says that Noah didn’t move around. So yes, Noah came down to Mount Ararat and then apparently moved to Crete (not Cyprus).