The Divine in Gilgamesh, The Old Testament, and Metamorphoses
Along with different languages, customs and traditions, ancient Hebrews, Middle-easterners and Romans had very different beliefs about the divine. For example, Hebrews are monotheistic, while Middle-easterners and Greco-Romans of early time periods believe in many gods. Writings from the ancient time period sketch these differences, as well as the many similarities between religious beliefs. The Old Testament is an excellent reference depicting Hebrew beliefs, while Gilgamesh outlines many Middle-eastern beliefs, and The Metamorphoses shows readers many ancient Greco-Roman beliefs about the divine.
The Hebrew God as depicted in the Old Testament is omnipotent and omniscient. He creates perfect and harmonious order in the universe, as depicted in Genesis 1, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the Earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters," (51) which was created by Him in six days (47), "Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made" (52).
Though the Hebrew God is all-powerful, He creates human kind to have free will (47). This free will can be seen in the story of Adam and Eve. Gods warns both Adam and Eve that they can eat anywhere they want, except from the Tree of Knowledge, and they do anyway (53). Along with free will came disobedience (47). The story of Jonah shows this disobedience when the Lord told Jonah to go to Ninevah to tell its inhabitants that they would be punished for their wickedness. Instead, Jonah decides to flee from the Lord (95-96). This free will and disobedience gave mankind the ability to be the only being in God's creation to be able to resist God (47).
Adam and Eve's disobedience and resistance forced a punishment of physical and moral disorder that still exists today (47). They were kicked out of the Garden of Eden (54). Instead of living infinitely, they were forced to live a short and sorrowful life relieved only by death (47). Jonah's punishment for disobeying God was less brutal. He was swallowed by a fish and lived in his belly for three days and nights (96). Though God punishes sinners, He has infinite justice (47).
Unlike the Hebrew beliefs of the divine, ancient middle-eastern religion did not focus on one specific god. The epic Gilgamesh describes many gods, such as Shamash, the sun god whom endowed Gilgamesh with extreme beauty (18), Enlil, the god of wind and storm (18), and Anu, the god of Uruk (19). In the epic, these divine creators endowed Gilgamesh with "extraordinary strength, courage and beauty" (17). Along with these great characteristics, he was "more god than man" (17), "Two thirds they made him god and one third man" (19). The fact that Gilgamesh is part god and part human differs...