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of these less satisfactory details, it is need- Pantheon, the god of justice and of pracful to remark that Hasisadra's adventure is tical wisdoni, was also the god of the sea ; a mere episode in a cycle of stories of and, yielding to the temptation to do a which a personage, whose name is pro- friend a good turn, irresistible to kindly visionally read “ Izdubar," is the centre. seafaring folk of all ranks, he warned The nature of Izdubar hovers vaguely be- Hasisadra of what was coming. When tween the heroic and the divine ; some Bel subsequently reproached him for this times he seems a mere man, sometimes ap. breach of confidence, Ea defended himself proaches so closely to the divinities of fire by declaring that he did not tell Hasisadra and of the sun as to be hardly distinguish- anything ; he only sent him a dream. able from them. As I have already men- This was undoubtedly sailing very near the tioned, the tablet which sets forth Hasisa- wind ; but the attribution of a little benevdra's perils is one of twelve ; and, since olent obliquity of conduct to one of the each of these represents a month and bears highest of the gods is a trifle compared a story appropriate to the corresponding with the truly Homeric anthropomorphism sign of the Zodiac, great weight must be which characterizes other parts of the epos. attached to Sir Henry Rawlinson's sugges.
The Chaldæan deities are, in truth, extion that the epos of Izdubar is a poetical tremely human ; and, occasionally, the embodiment of solar mythology.
narrator does not scruple to represent them In the earlier books of the epos, the in a manner which is not only inconsistent hero, not content with rejecting the prof- with our idea of reverence, but is somefered love of the Chaldæan Aphrodite, times distinctly humorous. When the Istar, freely expresses his very low estimate storm is at its height, he exhibits them of her character ; and it is interesting to flying in a state of panic to Anu, the god observe that, even in this early stage of of heaven, and crouching before his portal human experience, men had reached a con like frightened dogs. As the smoke of ception of that law of nature which ex Hasisadra's sacrifice arises, the gods, atpresses the inevitable consequences of an tracted by the sweet savor, are compared imperfect appreciation of feminine charms. to swarms of flies.
I have already reThe injured goddess makes Izdubar's life marked that the lady Istar's reputation is a burden to him, until at last, sick in torn to shreds ; while she and Ea scold body and sorry in mind, he is driven to Bel handsomely for his ferocity and injus seek aid and comfort from his forbears in tice in destroying the innocent along with the world of spirits. So this antitype of the guilty. One is reminded of Here hung Odysseus journeys to the shore of the up with weighted heels ; of misleading waters of death, and there takes ship with dreams sent by Zeus ; of Ares howling as a Chaldæan Charon, who carries him within he flies from the Trojan battlefield ; and hail of his ancestor Hasisadra. That ven- of the very questionable dealings of erable personage not only gives Izdubar Aphrodite with Helen and Paris. instructions how to regain his health, but But to return to the story. Bel was, at tells him, somewhat à propos des bottes first, excluded from the sacrifice as the (after the manner of venerable personages), author of all the mischief, which really was the long story of his perilous adventure ; somewhat hard upon him, since the other and how it befell that he, his wife, and gods agreed to his proposal. But eventhis steersman came to dwell anong the ually a reconciliation takes place ; the blessed gods, without passing through the great bow of Anu is displayed in the portals of death like ordinary mortals. heavens ; Bel agrees that he will be satis
According to the full story, the sins of fied with what war, pestilence, famine, mankind had becoine grievous ; and, at a and wild beasts can do in the way of decouncil of the gods, it was resolved to ex- stroying men ; and that, henceforward, he tirpate the whole race by a great food. will not have recourse to extravrdinary And, once more, let us note the uni measures. Finally, it is Bel himself who, formity of human experience. It would by way of making amends. transports appear that, four thousand years ago, the Hasisadra, his wife, and the faithful Nesobligations of confidential intercourse Hea to the abode of the gods. about matters of state were sometimes violated-of course from the best of motives,
* Tiele (Babylonisch-Assyrische Geschichte,
pp. 572-73) has some very just remarks on this Ea, one of the three chiefs of the Chaldæan aspect of the epos.
It is as indubitable as it is incompre- ashamed to share David Hume's want of hensible to most of us, that, for thousands ' ability to discover that polytheism is, in of years, a great people, quite as intelli- itself, altogether absurd. If we are bound, gent as we are, and living in as high a or permitted, to judge the government of state of civilization as that which had been the world by human standards, it appears attained in the greater part of Europe a to me that directorates are proved by few centuries ago, entertained not the familiar experience to conduct the largest slightest doubt that Anu, Bel, Ea, Istar, and the most complicated concerns quite and the rest, were real personages, pos as well as solitary despots. I have never sessed of boundless powers for good and been able to see why the hypothesis of a evil. The sincerity of the monarchs whose divine syndicate should be found guilty of inscriptions gratefully attribute their vic- innate absurdity. Those Assyrians, in tories to Merodach, or to Assur, is as little particular, who held Assur to be the one to be questioned as that of the authors of supreme and creativo deity, to whom all the hymns and penitential psalms which the other supernal powers were subgive full expression to the heights and ordinate, might fairly ask that the essential depths of religious devotion. Ăn “in- difference between their system and that fidel” bold enough to deny the existence, which obtains among the great majority or to doubt the influence, of these deities of their modern theological critics should probably did not exist in all Mesopotamia ; be demonstrated. In my apprehension, and even constructive rebellion against it is not the quantity, but the quality, of their authority was apt to end in the dep- the persons, among whom the attributes rivation, not merely of the good name, of divinity are distributed, which is the but of the skin of the offender. The ad- serious matter. If the divine might is herents of modern theological systems dis- associated with no higher ethical attributes miss these objects of the love and fear of than those which obtain among ordinary a hundred generations of their equals, men ; if the divine intelligence is supposed offhand, as gods of the heathen,” mere to be so imperfect that it cannot foresee creations of a wicked and idolatrous imag- the consequences of its own contrivances ; ination ; and, along with them, they dis- if the supernal powers can become furiown, as senseless, the crude theology, with ously angry with the creatures of their its gross anthropomorphism and its low omnipotence, and in their senseless wrath ethical conception of the divinity, which destroy the innocent along with the guilty ; satisfied the pious souls of Chaldæa. or if they can show themselves to be as
I imagine, though I do not presume to easily placated by presents and gross flatbe sure, that any endeavor to save the in- tery as any oriental or occidental despot ; tellectual and moral credit of Chaldæan if, in short, they are only stronger than religion, by suggesting the application to mortal men and no better, as it must be it of that universal solvent of absurdities, admitted Hasisadra's deities proved themthe allegorical method, would be scouted ; selves to be ; then, surely, it is time for I will not even suggest that any ingenuity us to look somewhat closely into their cre. can be equal to discovery of the antitypes dentials, and to accept none but conclusive of the personifications effected by the re- evidence of their existence. ligious iinagination of later ages, in the To the majority of my respected contriad Anu, Ea, and Bel, still less in Istar. temporaries this reasoning will doubtless Therefore, unless some plausible recon appear feeble, if not worse. However, to ciliatory scheme should be propounded my mind, such are the only arguments by by a Neo-Chaldæan devotee (and, with which the Chaldæan theology can be satNeo-Buddhists to the fore, this supposi- isfactorily upset. So far from there being tion is not so wild as it looks), I suppose any ground for the belief that Ea, Anu, the moderns will continue to smile, in a and Bel are, or ever were, real entities, it superior way, at the grievous absurdity of seems to me quite infinitely more probable the polytheistic idolatry of these ancient that they are products of the religious impeople.
agination, such as are to be found everyIt is probably a congenital absence of where and in all ages, so long as that imsome faculty which I ought to possess agination riots uncontrolled by scientific which withholds me from adopting this criticism. summary procedure.
But I am not It is on these grounds that I venture, at
the risk of being called an atheist by the month on which the flood began. The ghosts of all the principals of all the col- dimensions of the ship are stated with leges of Babylonia, or by their living suc- Munchausenian precision at five stadia by cessors among the Neo-Chaldæans, if that two-say, half by one-fifth of an English sect should arise, to express my utter dis- mile. The ship runs aground among the belief in the gods of Hasisadra. Hence, “ Gordæan mountains” to the south of it follows, that I find Hasisadra's account Lake Van, in Armenia, beyond the limits of their share in his adventure incredible ; of any imaginable real inundation of the and, as the physical details of the flood Euphrates valley; and, by way of climax, are inseparable from its theophanic accom we have the assertion, worthy of the sailor paniments, and are guaranteed by the same who said that he had brought up one of authority, I must let them go with the Pharaoh's chariot wheels on the fluke of rest. The consistency of such details with his anchor in the Red Sea, that pilgrims probability counts for nothing. The in- visited the locality and made amulets of habitants of Chaldæa must always have the bitumen which they scraped off from been familiar with inundations ; probably the still extant remains of the mighty ship no generation failed to witness an inunda- of Xisuthros. tion which rose unusually higb, or was ren Suppose that some later polyhistor, as dered serious by coincident atmospheric, devoid of critical faculty as most of his or other, disturbances. And the memory tribe, had found the version of Berosus, of the general features of any exceptionally as well as another much nearer the original severe and devastating flood, would be story ; that, having too much respect for preserved by popular tradition for long his authorities to make up a tertium quid ages. What, then, could be more natural of his own, out of the materials offered, than that a Chaldæan poet should seek for be followed a practice, common enough the incidents of a great catastrophe among among ancient and, particularly, among such phenomena? In what other way Semitic historians, of dividing both into than by such an appeal to their experience fragments and piecing them together, withcould he so surely awaken in his audience out troubling himself very much about the the tragic pity and terror? What possi- resulting repetitions and inconsistencies ; ble ground is there for insisting that he the product of such a primitive editorial opmust have had some individual flood in eration would be a narrative analogous to view, and that his story is historical, in that which treats of the Noachian deluge the sense that the account of the effects of in the book of Genesis. For the Penta. a hurricane in the Bay of Bengal, in the teuchal story is indubitably a patchwork, year 1875, is historical ?
composed of fragments of at least two,
different and partly discrepant, narratives, More than three centuries after the time quilted together in such an inartistic fashion of Assurbanipal, Berosus of Babylon, born that the seams remain conspicuous. And, in the reign of Alexander the Great, wrote in the matter of circumstantial exaggeraan account of the history of his country in tion, it in some respects excels even the Greek. The work of Berosus has van second-hand legend of Berosus. ished ; but extracts from it-how far faith There is a certain practicality about the ful is uncertain—have been preserved by notion of taking refuge from floods and later writers. Among these occurs the storms in a ship provided with a steerswell-known story of the Deluge of man ; but, surely, no one who had ever Sisuthros, which is evidently built upon seen inore water than he could wade the same foundation as that of Hasisadra. through would dream of facing even a The incidents of the divine warning, the moderate breeze, in a huge three-storied building of the ship, the sending out of coffer, or box, three hundred cubits long, birds, the ascension of the hero, betray fifty wide and thirty high, left to drift their common origin. But stories, like without rudder or pilot.* Not content Madeira, acquire a heightened flavor with time and travel ; and the version of * In the second volume of the History of the Berusus is characterized by those circum- Euphrates Expedition, p. 637, Col. Chesney stantial improbabilities which habitually gives a very interesting account of the simple gather round the legend of a legend. The
Tekrit and in the marshes of Lemlum con. later narrator knows the exact day of the struct large barges, and make them watertight
with giving the exact year of Noah's age of emigrants from the ark. And, if that in which the flood began, the Pentateuchal is the case, then, as has often been pointed story adds the month and the day of the out, the sloths of the Brazilian forests, the month. It is the Deity himself who kangaroos of Australia, the great tortoises “shuts in” Noah. The modest week of the Galapagos islands, must have reassigned to the full deluge in Hasisadra's spectively hobbled, hopped, and crawled story, becomes forty days, in one of the over many thousand miles of land and sea Pentateuchal accounts and a hundred and from “ Ararat” to their present babitafifty, in the other. The food, which, in tions. Thus, the unquestionable facts of the version of Berosus, has grown so high the geographical distribution of recent as to cast the ship among the mountains of land animals, alone, form an insuperable Armenia, is improved upon in the Hebrew obstacle to the acceptance of the assertion account until it covers Is all the high hills that the kinds of animals composing the that were under the whole heaven;" and, present terrestrial fauna have, at any time, when it begins to subside, the ark is left been universally destroyed in the way destranded on the summit of the highest scribed in the Pentateuch. peak, commonly identified with Ararat It is upon this and other unimpeachable itself,
grounds, that, as I ventured to say some While the details of Hasisadra's ad- time ago, persons who are duly conversant venture are, at least, compatible with the with even the elements of natural science physical conditions of the Euphrates val- decline to take the Noachian deluge seri. ley; and, as we have seen, involve no ously ; and that, as I also pointed out, catastrophe greater than such as might be candid theologians, who, without special brought about under those conditions, scientific knowledge, have appreciated the many of the very precisely stated details weight of scientific arguments, have long of Noah's Aood contradict some of the since given it up. But, as Goethe has rebest-established results of scientific inquiry. marked, there is nothing more terrible
If it is certain that the alluvium of the than energetic ignorance ;* and there are, Mesopotamian plain has been brought even yet, very energetic people, who are down by the Tigris and the Euphrates, neither candid, nor clear-headed, nor then it is no less certain that the physical theologians, still less properly instructed structure of the whole valley has persisted, in the elements of natural science, who without material modification, for many make prodigious efforts to obscure the thousand years before the date assigned to effect of these plain truths, and to conceal the flood. If the summits, even of the their real surrender of the historical charmoderately elevated ridges which immedi- acter of Noah's deluge under cover of the ately bound the valley, still more those of smoke of a great discharge of pseudothe Kurdish and Armenian mountains, scientific artillery. They seem to imagine were ever covered by water, for even forty that the proofs which abound in all parts days, that water must have extended over of the world, of large oscillations of the the whole earth. If the earth was thus relative level of land and sea, combined covered, anywhere between 4000 and 5000 with the probability that, when the seayears ago, or, at any other time, since the level was rising, sudden incursions of the higher terrestrial animals came into exist- sea, like that which broke in over Holland ence, they must have been destroyed from and formed the Zuyder Zee, may have often the whole face of it, as the Pentateuchal occurred, can be made to look like eviaccount declares they were three several dence that something that, by courtesy, times (Genesis vii. 21, 22, 23), in language might be called a general Deluge has really which cannot be made inore emphatic, or taken place.
Their discursive energy more solemn, than it is ; and the present drags misunderstood truth into their serpopulation must consist of the descendants vice ; and “the glacial epoch” is as sure with bitumen. Doubtless the practice is ex.
to crop up among them as King Charles's tremely ancient ; and, as Colonel Chesney sag
head in a famous memorial—with about gests, may possibly have furnished the concep. as much appropriateness. The old story tion of Noab's ark. But it is one thing to of the raised beach on Moel Tryfaen is build a barge 44 ft. long by 11 ft. wide and 4 ft. deep in the way described ; and another to *“ Es ist nichts schrecklicher als eine get a vessel of ten times the dimensions, so thätige Unwissenheit.' Maximen und Reflexio. constructed, to hold together.
trotted out ; though, even if the facts are of that pleistocene period, of which the as yet rightly interpreted, there is not a great ice age” formed a part. shadow of evidence that the change of sea. Judæa and Galilee, Moab and Gilead, level in that locality was sudden, or that occupy part of that extensive tableland at glacial Welshmen would have known it the summit of the western boundary of was taking place.* Surely it is difficult the Euphrates valley, to which I have to perceive the relevancy of bringing in already referred. If that valley had ever something that happened in the glacial been filled with water to a height suffi. epoch (if it did happen) to account for the cient, not indeed to cover a third of Ararat, tradition of a flood in the Euphrates valley in the north, or half some of the mountains between 2000 and 3000 B.C. But the date of the Persian frontier in the east, but to of the Noachian flood is solidly fixed by reach even four or five thousand feet, it the sole authority for it; no shufiling of must have stood over the Palestinian hog'sthe chronological data will carry it so far back, and have filled, up to the brim, back as 3000 B.C.; and the Hebrew epos every depression on its surface. Thereagrees with the Chaldæan in placing it fore it could not bave failed to fill that reafter the development of a somewhat ad- markable trench in which the Dead Sea, vanced civilization. The only authority the Jordan, and the Sea of Galilee lie, for the Noachian deluge assures us that, and which is known as the “ Jordanbefore it visited the earth, Cain had built Arabah” valley. cities; Jubal had invented harps and This long and deep hollow extends more organs ; while mankind had advanced so than 200 miles, from near the site of anfar beyond the neolithic, nay even the cient Dan in the north, to the water partbronze, stage that Tubulcain was a worker ing at the head of the Wady Arabah in in iron. Therefore, if the Noachian the south ; and its deepest part, at the legend is to be taken for the history of an bottom of the basin of the Dead Sea, lies event which happened in the glacial epoch, 2500 feet below the surface of the adjawe must revise our notions of pleistocene cent Mediterranean. The lowest portion civilization. On the other hand, if the of the rim of the Jordan-Arabah valley is Pentateuchal story only means soinething situated at the village of El Fuleh, 257 feet quite different, that bappened somewhere above the Mediterranean. Everywhere else, thousands of years earlier, dressed else the circumjacent heights rise to a very up, what becomes of its credit as history? much greater altitude. Hence, of the I wonder what would be said to a modern water which stood over the Syrian tablehistorian who asserted that Pekin was land, when as much drained off as could burnt down in 1886, and then tried to run away, enough would remain to form a justify the assertion by adducing evidence “ Mere” without an outlet, 2757 feet of the Great Fire of London in 1666. deep, over the present site of the Dead Yet the attempt to save the credit of the Sea. From this time forth, the level of the Noachian story by references to something Palestinian mere could be lowered only by which is supposed to have happened in the evaporation. It is an extremely interestfar north, in the glacial epoch, is far more ing fact, which has happily escaped preposterous.
capture for the purposes of the energetic Moreover, these dust-raising dialecticians misunderstanding, that the valley, at one ignore some of the most important and time, was filled, certainly within 150 feet well-known facts which bear upon the of this height-probably' higher. And it question. Anything more than a parochial is almost equally certain, that the time at acquaintance with physical geography and which this great Jordan-Arabah mere geology would suffer to remind its pos- reached its highest level coincides with the sessor that the Holy Land itself offers a glacial epoch. But then the evidence standing protest against bringing such a which goes to prove this, also leads to the deluge as that of Noah anywhere near it, conclusion that this state of things obtained either in historical times or in the course at a period considerably older than even
4004 B.C. when the world, according to
the “ Helps" (or shall we say “Hin* The well-known difficulties connected with this case have recently been carefully dis- drances”) provided for the simple student cussed by Mr. Bell in the Transactions of the of the Bible, was created ; that it was Geological Society of Glasgow.
not brought about by any diluvial catas