Sumerian And Hebrew Views Essay, Research Paper

A Comp arison: Sumerian and Hebrew Views of the Afterlife

For centuries faith has been a important and intricate portion of human societies. Some would state that faith is every bit of import to mankind as nutrient and H2O. While nutrient and H2O keeps us traveling, faith provides a ground and intent for that life. In short, faith is adult male s effort to understand the universe around them and their topographic point in it. Furthermore, spiritual values maintain order and a codification of how world should act among their equals and households. As faith is semisynthetic, it can uncover much about a society s criterions and sense of ego. So, faith is both a maker every bit good as a contemplation of society. The ancient Sumerian and Hebrew societies both held elaborate spiritual beliefs which shaped their different positions. Each society besides, under the canopy of their ain faith, had a belief in and perceptual experience of the hereafter. Hense, their different beliefs in that hereafter can be seen as an account for the ways in which they perceived and lived life.

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The Sumarians pursued life with rapacious thirst and believed in basking life to the fullest, enjoying all human pleasances. On the other manus, the Hebrew faith stressed the importance of

traditions and conformity with inhibitory Torahs that pleased their God, believing that their existent life was after decease in Eden. The Epic of Gilgamesh and the Old Testament of the Bible supply good beginnings for the comparing of these different civilisation s perceptual experiences of life and decease.

The Epic of Gilgamesh presents a clear image of Sumerian spiritual beliefs. Similar to Greek mythology, the Sumarians believed in many imperfect Gods. These Gods were non unflawed or

unconditionally loving but could be playful, arch, volatile, and even unjust in their traffics with world. So in disposition, these Gods were human-like and non ever reliable. Furthermore,

there was no promising hereafter for Sumarians. In The Epic of Gilgamesh, Enkindu, upon his decease, reveals a dream of the underworld to his friend Gilgamesh. Enkindu describes the universe as desolate,

endless darkness, and says, dust is their nutrient and clay is their meat. ( 29 ) This underworld, ruled by the goddess Irkalla, ( 29 ) is evidently non a fun topographic point. It is in this belief that one glean an account for the Sumarians manner of life. The Sumarians believed in life to the fullest. They took on life voraciously and

valued those heroes, like Gilgamesh and Enkindu who did the same. Gilgamesh and Enkindu were fine-looking and strong and battled and fought to increase their celebrity. The Sumarians as a society heartily

embraced all that work forces could bask: wealth, pleasance, nutrient. They lived in the of all time now, seeing this life as their greatest fulfilment. This outlook is a direct consequence of their perceptual experience of the hereafter.

Furthermore, after Enkindu s decease, Gilgamesh realizes his ain mortality and is hense unable to bask life s pleasance. He begins to brood on the unfairness and inevitableness of decease and is greatly overwrought and down. So, he goes out on his hunt for everlasting life. He travels and suffe

R in hunt of the one person to accomplish immortality: Utnapishtim. Upon his hunt he encounters Siduri, the adult female of the vine ( 33 ) , and she tells him, When the Gods created adult male they allotted to him decease. ( 34 ) She so tells him to bask life, to eat good and care for his married woman and his kids as these pleasances excessively are portion of adult male s fate. ( 34 ) Regardless of Siduri s advise Gilgamesh continues his hunt for Utnapishtim

undetered. Upon happening Utnapishtim, the immortal adult male recites to Gilgamesh this slogan on life and the batch of world. In line with Sumerian belief, Utnapishtim tells Gilgamesh to bask life while he can because for all world, There is no permanency. So, in The Epic of Gilgamesh, through the lens of faith, the reader can greater understand Sumerian society and norms.

The Hebrews spiritual beliefs and position on life greatly contrasts to that of the Sumarians. The Hebrews believe in one God who is the Godhead of all things. They believe that their God is

omniscient, merely, almighty, and sanctum. They besides believe that the universe they live in is non how God intended it, but tainted by wickedness and hense they are able to explicate decease and immorality. As written in the chapter of Genisis in the Bible, the Hebrews believe that shortly after creative activity the first adult male and adult female, Adam and Eve, disobeyed God and damned the remainder of world with their wickedness. Hense all their decendents would be imperfect, separated from God, and finally die. But decease was non the terminal for the Hebrew people for God provided a 2nd opportunity in a happy hereafter. So, the Hebrews focal point is on staying by the Torahs of their God, and hense being righteous and avoiding wickedness. Furthermore, they believe in many traditions

which aid to sublimate them of their wickedness and deliver them in the eyes of God. The Hebrews so predict that if they keep their tradition and abide by the restrictive Torahs of their God that they will be allowed to fall in him in the hereafter. As opposed to the Sumerian beliefs about the hereafter, the Hebrews believe there are two underworlds. One is called Heaven, a topographic point of ageless peace and jubilation, while the other, called Hell, a topographic point of ageless hurting and agony. So, while the Sumarians try to bask and

fulfill themselves in their human lives, the Hebrews seek to derive entree to a better universe in their hereafter. The Hebrews faith, though more inhibitory, is besides much more promising than that of the Sumarians as there is no conclusiveness, but merely a transition from one universe to, hopefully, a better one.

The Hebrew and Sumerian civilisation s differing positions of the hereafter is a telling account to the manner they each approached life and responsibility. In Sumerian society, as evidenced in the Epic of

Gilgamesh, the people sought to derive celebrity, wealth, and pleasance in this life, while in Hebrew society the people sought to procure a good and ageless hereafter by quashing their flesh impulses and staying by their purge traditions. Two opposite outlooks, each the merchandise of their ain spiritual beliefs ordering the manner these civilisation lived and in the terminal, died.

Mack, Maynard, eds. The Norton Anthology: World Masterpieces. New York: WW Norton & A ; Company, 1997.

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