Genesis, Chapter 5 – Babylonian King List

The Babylonian King List substantiates the ideas we find in the Sumerian King List. It also seems to be the antecedent of the list in Genesis chapter 5.  We do not have the Babylonian King List in its original form; no cuneiform tablets have been discovered which compare with the Sumerian. But we do have fragments of the writings of Berossus, a Babylonian scholar who wrote his history of Babylonia in Greek in the third century B.C.E.  While we do not have his original text, there are fragments quoted by later historians which reflect an authentic ancient tradition  from which we can gather enough information to understand the ideas of the Babylonians which relate to the fifth chapter of Genesis.

According to the fragments of Berossus preserved in Eusebius’ Chronicle, 16 whose contents have been confirmed by discoveries in Babylonian Cuneiform tablets, the following is the list of the ante-diluvian kings of Babylon and their parallels or equivalents in the Sumerian King List and in the list of Genesis  5.

Berossus              Babylonian           Sumerian              Genesis  5

                           Cuneiform            King List

Aloros                  Aruru                   Alulim                   Adam

Alaparos              Adapa                  Alalgar                   Seth

Awelu                  Awelu                  En-men-luanna       Enosh

Ammenon            Ummanu              En-men-Galanna     Kenan

Megalaros                                       Dumuzi                  Mahalal-El

Daonos                                           En-sipa-zianna       Jared

Evendorachos      En-men-duranki    En-men-duranna     Hanokh

Amempsinos        Amel-Sin              Ubar-Tutu               Metushelah

Apartes               Ubar-Tutu                                          Lamech

Ksisouthros         Ut-Napishtim         Atrahasis               Noah

                                                      (Ziusudra)

In the story of the Flood, the surviving hero in Sumerian texts is either Atrahasis or Ziusudra.  In the Babylonian Epic of Gilagmesh,  it is Ut-Napishtim.17  But the tenth name in the list of  Berossus seems to reflect either the name of  Sumerian Ziusudra or Atrahasis or a fusion of both names. If Atra-hasis was read as Hasis-atra,18  then the Greek transliteration would surely have been a fusion of the two Sumerian names of the survivor of the Flood. [Hasis-Atra=Ksisouthros] In the biblical account it is Noah.

It should be apparent that there is a clear realtionship between the Babylonian King List as transmitted from Berossus, and the list of the patriarchs in Genesis 5. But there are differences, and these are significant, since the account in Genesis reflects a view of anthropology, of human origins which differs from that of the dominant view that we find in the Pagan world.  It is, as is the account of human origins found in Genesis 2 and 3 a rejection of the views on human origins that we find in all of the religious expressions of the peoples of the ancient Near East other than the People of Israel.

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