Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 46.djvu/268

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Sitnapistim then beheld the land, Mount Nizir, on which the ship grounded. It remained swinging there for seven days; on the seventh day Sitnapistim sent out a dove, which returned, then a swallow, which flew to and fro, but also returned, and finally a raven: "The raven went, saw the going down of the waters, came croaking nearer, but did not come back." Sitnapistim then left the ship with his people, built an altar on the summit of the mountain, and offered sacrifice. The poem then runs:

"The gods smelt the savor, the gods smelt the sweet savor,
The gods gathered like flies over the sacrificer.

The mistress of the gods, Ishtar, lifted up the (bow?) which Anu had made according to her wish."

A discussion then takes place among the gods, who all through are very human, and in its course Ea suggests to Bel, who seems to have been the prime mover in all the mischief, that he should for the future destroy mankind in a less undiscriminating manner—by wild beasts, pestilence, and famine. The scene ends happily with the apotheosis of Sitnapistim and his wife.

The surprising resemblance of the story to the biblical narrative, extending into identity of words, as in the case of the "gods smelt the sweet savor" points to direct derivation or borrowing, and there can be very little doubt in deciding on which side the borrowing lav. The biblical narrative is indeed a Jahvistic or monotheistic edition of the Chaldean. To this conclusion the most distinguished Assyrian scholars have been led. I need only mention here Prof. Sayce, whose opinion is expressed on page 119 of his work on The Higher Criticism and the Monuments, published by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, during the current year.

The Chaldean story certainly reduces the flood to much smaller dimensions, and so far brings it nearer the range of probability; the rain lasted only seven days, and the waters have subsided sufficiently at the end of a fortnight for Sitnapistim to land. They do not cover all the high mountains, and the stranding of the ship on Mount Nizir when the flood was at its climax gives us a maximum height, which it can not have exceeded; for if this mountain had been deeply submerged, it could not have arrested the passage of the ship. The height of the Nizir mountains is about one thousand feet above the sea level, which still leaves room for a very respectable flood.

The skepticism which prevailed in the middle of this century with regard to legends seems to have given place to an almost equally great credulity. The older argument seemed to be that the presence of some obviously unveracious statements in a legend condemned the rest, want of faith in some was want of faith in