Andrews University Seminary Studies 16 (1978) 361-74.

Copyright 1978 by Andrews University Press. Cited with permission.









Andrews University


With the discovery in the early 1870's of the Babylonian flood

account, which was recognized to be closely related to the flood

story in Genesis,1 there was opened a new chapter of comparative

studies relating the various aspects of the book of Genesis to

materials uncovered from ancient Near Eastern civilizations.

Attention was drawn to the report of the Babylonian priest

Berossos concerning ten antediluvian kings who ruled for vast

periods of time.2 H. Gunkel, among others, considered this as

a background for the ten antediluvian patriarchs of Gen 5. In the

year 1901 he suggested agreement between Gen 5 and the report

of Berossos in the following four major areas: (1) the time before

the flood, (2) the number "ten," (3) the large numbers, and

(4) the correspondence of names (Nos. 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10 in the

enumeration of Berossos ).3 At about the same time the well-

known Assyriologist H. Zimmern concluded, "It can hardly be

doubted that the Biblical tradition of Gen 5 (P) concerning the

antediluvian partriarchs is basically identical with the Babylonian

tradition about ten antediluvian primeval kings."4 These views

became dominant and in the course of time, upon the publication

of the Sumerian King List, were applied to the genealogies of


1 On Dec. 3, 1872, G. Smith read a paper to the Society of Biblical Archae-

ology on the Babylonian flood story which was printed in the Transaction of

the Society in 1873.

2 For the text, see C. Muller, ed., Fragm. hist. graec., II, 499-500; P. Schnabel,

Berossos and die babylonisch-hellenistische Literatur (Leipzig: Teubner, 1923),

pp. 261-262.

3 H. Gunkel, Genesis (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1901), pp.


4 H. Zimmern, Urkonige and Uroffenbarung (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck and

Ruprecht, 1902), p. 539.




both Gen 5 and 11.5 E. A. Speiser's commentary, which is par-

ticularly noted for sensitivity in the relationship to ancient Near

Eastern backgrounds, suggests that the biblical genealogies are

dependent upon a Mesopotamian source.6


1. New Ancient Near Eastern Data


The year 1923 was the beginning of a new era as regards the

alleged Babylonian background of Gen 5 and 11, because S.

Langdon published in that year the first cuneiform text of what

is now known as the Sumerian King List.7 About a decade and a

half later T. Jacobsen produced the standard publication, en-

titled The Sumerian King List (1939).8 These cuneiform materials

surprisingly supported much of the information known from

Berossos but at the same time brought about significant cor-


Since 1952 a steady stream of additional texts and fragments

of the Sumerian King List has come to light and seen publication.9


5 G. von Rad, Genesis: A Commentary (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1961),

p. 69; R. A. Bowman, "Genealogy," IDB 2: 363. See also the assessment of M.

D. Johnson, The Purpose of the Biblical Genealogies (Cambridge: University

Press, 1969), pp. 28-31.

6 E. A. Speiser, Genesis, AB, p. 41.

7 S. Langdon, "The Chaldean Kings Before the Flood," JAOS 42 (1923):


8 T. Jacobsen, The Sumerian King List, Assyriological Studies 11 (Chicago:

University of Chicago Press, 1939). Recent translations are provided by A. L.

Oppenheim in ANLT, pp. 265-266; and most recently by H. Schmokel in

Religionsgeschichtliches Textbuch Zum Alten Testament, ed. W-V. Beyerlin

(Gottingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1975), pp. 113-114 (hereafter cited

as RTAT).

9 F. R. Kraus, "Zur Liste der altcren Konige von Babylonien," ZA 50 (1952):

29-60; M. B. Rowton, "The Date of the Sumerian King List," JNES 19 (1960):

156-162; J. J. A. van Dijk, "Die Tontafeln arts dem res-Heiligtum," Vorlaufiger

Bericht uber die von der Notgeneinschaft der deutschen Wissenschaft in

Uruk-Warka unternommenet Ausgrabungen 18 (1962): 43-52; S. N. Kramer,

The Sumerians (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1963), pp. 328-331;

J. J. Finkelstein, "The Antediluvian Kings: A University of California Tab-

let," JCS 17 (1963): 39-51; W. W. Hallo, "Beginning and End of the Sumerian

King List in the Nippur Recension," JCS 17 (1963): 52-57; W. G. Lambert

"A New Look at the Babylonian Background of Genesis," JTS 16 (1965): 287-

300, esp. 292-293; H. J. Nissen, "Fine ncue Version der sumerischen Konigs-

liste," ZA 57 (1965); 1-5; M. Civil, "Texts and Fragments," JCS 15 (1961):



The Sumerian King List is now available in more than one

version, with significant differences in the sequence of cities and

of kings and their lengths of reign. These facts have made it

evident that a "canonical" form of the Sumerian King List was

never in existence. Such texts as the genealogy of Hammurapi

and the rulers of Lagas,10 the Assyrian and Babylonian King

Lists,11 and cuneiform chronicles throw new light on the respec-

tive literary genres12 and the relationship of the biblical genealo-

gies to their ancient Near Eastern analogues.13


2. Comparison of Gen 5 and 11 with the Sumerian King List


The new set of cuneiform data relating to the Sumerian King

List and the information given by Berossos provide new insights

into the alleged Babylonian background of the genealogies of

Gen 5 and 11. There remains a formal similarity between the


79-80; W. G. Lambert and A. R. Millard, Atra-hasis. The Babylonian Story

of the Flood (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1969), p. 25; W. W. Hallo,

"Antediluvian Cities," JCS 23 (1970): 57-67.

10 J. J. Finkelstein, "The Genealogy of the Hammurapi Dynasty," JCS 20

(1966): 95-118; E. Sollberger, "The Rulers of Lagas," JCS 21 (1967): 279-291;

W. G. Lambert, "Another Look at Hammurapi's Ancestors," JCS 22 (1968):


11 B. Landsberger, "Assyrische Konigsliste and 'Dunkles Zeitalter,' " JCS 8

(1954): 31-45, 47-73, 106-133; I. J. Gelb, "Two Assyrian King Lists," JNES 13

(1954): 209-230; R. Borger, Einleitung in die assyrischen Konigsinschriften.

Erster Teil, 2d ed. (Leiden: Brill, 1961), pp. 9-xx; A. Poebel, The Second

Dynasty of Isin According to a New King-List Tablet, Assyriological Studies

15 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1955); ANET, pp. 2711-274, 564-566;

A. K. Grayson, "Assyrian and Babylonian King Lists: Collations and Com-

ments," lisan nzithurti. Festschrift fur Wolfram Freiherr von Soden, ed. M.

Dietrich and W. Rollig (Kevelaer: Butzon and Berger, 1969), pp. 104-118;

R. R. Wilson, Genealogy and History in the Old Testament: A Study of the

Form and Function of the Old Testament Genealogies in their Near Eastern

Context (Ph.D. dissertation; Yale University, 1972), pp. 109-133.

12 W. Rollig, " Zur Typologie and Entstehung der babylonischen and

assyrischen Konigslisten," Alter Orient and Altes Testament, 1 (Kevelaer:

Butzon & Berger, 1969): 265-277.

13 A. Malamat, "King Lists of the Old Babylonian Period and Biblical

Genealogies," JAOS 88 (1968): 163-173; T. C. Hartman, "Some Thoughts on

the Sumerian King List and Genesis 5 and 11B," JBL 91 (1972): 25-32; R. R.

Wilson, "The Old Testament Genealogies in Recent Research," JBL 94 (1975):




genealogies in Gen 5 and 11 and the Sumerian King List in terms

of listings14 divided by a flood. The listings of antedilivian and

postdiluvian rulers in the major recension of the Sumerian King

List are separated by but one sentence: "The Flood swept there-

over [the earth]."15 The genealogies in Gen 5 and 11 are also

separated, but by extensive and various materials: (1) the mar-

riage of the sons of God with the daughters of men (6:1-4), (2)

an intricate story of the flood (6:5-9:7), (3) the universal cov-

enant (9:8-17), (4) the Table of Nations (10:1-32 ), and (5) the

story of the tower of Babel (11:1-9) .

There are a number of significant areas where comparison

may be made between the genealogies of Gen 5 and 11 and the

Sumerian King List from Old Babylonian times. It is helpful and

revealing to develop these areas as follows

1. Semitic Names versus Sumerian Names. The claim of the

correspondence of the names between the listings by Berossos

and Gen 5 could not be sustained with the discovery of cuneiform

materials relating to the listing of Berossos. H. Zimmern himself

acknowledged that "the beautiful combinations (with the names

in Gen 5) ... have come to a merciless end."16 The names turned

out to be Sumerian instead of Semitic. J. J. Finkelstein has

recently noted, "Certainly, the earlier attempts to harmonize the

Biblical and Mesopotamian names proved utterly futile."17 The

reason for this radical change from the early position of Gunkel

and others rests in the fact that no less than six different cunei-

form versions are now at hand for comparative purposes on the

basis of which the Greek version of Berossos could be reassessed.


14 Hartman, "Some Thoughts." p. 26.

15 Jacobsen, Sumerian Kind List, p. 77. Cf. ANET, p. 265; RTAT, p. 114.

Research into the origin of the Sumerian King List has led to the conclusion

that the list of kings before the flood and the list of kings after the flood,

were originally separate.

16 H. Zimmern, "Die althabylonischen vor- (und Mach-) sintflutlichen Konige

nach neueren Quellen," ZDMG 78 (1924): 19-35. Similarly also Langdon, "The

Chaldean King List Before the Flood," p. 257.

17 Finkelstein, "The Antediluvian Kings," p. 50, n. 41.



All of these versions agree on the Sumerian origin of the names

and the distance from those in Gen 5 and 11.

2. Longevity versus Reigns. C. Westermann noted correctly

that among the differences between Gen 5 (and 11) and the

Sumerian King List is that the former provides the numbers in

terms of "years of life" whereas the latter gives the numbers in

terms of "years of reign."18 The distinction between longevity

and rulership is an important one. Each has its own independent

functions in the context in which it appears.

3. Line of Descent versus Succession of Kings. Gen 5 follows

the standard line of descent formula, "When PN1 had lived x

years, he became father of PN2. Then PN1 lived y years after he

became the father of PN2 and he had other sons and daughters.

So all the days of PN1 were z years, and he died." Gen 11 employs

the same line of descent formula with the exception of the last

sentence. At times additional information is inserted in Gen 5

and 11. Both Gen 5 and 11 have "a descending type of gene-

alogy"19 in which the generations are traced in a supposedly

unbroken line of descent from the first person mentioned to the

last one. The Sumerian King List, on the other hand, lists kings

and seeks to trace a succession of them in various cities. The

flexible pattern employed is as follows: "In CN, RN1, ruled x

years, RN2, ruled x years, RN3 ruled x years, x king(s) ruled y

years." One antediluvian section concludes : "There are x (5)

cities, x (8) kings ruled x (241,200) years. Then the flood swept

thereover." The succession of kings with their reigns differs

radically from the line of descent genealogy in Gen 5 and 11,

which is totally unconcerned and uninterested in kings, dynasties,

and cities.

4. Lengths of Life versus Lengths of Reign. The relatively

high figures of life-spans of Gen 5 which nevertheless do not ever


18 C. Westermann, Genesis (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1971),

p. 472.

19 T. C. Mitchell, "Genealogy," New Bible Dictionary: Revised (Grand

Rapids, Mich: Eerdmans, 1965), p. 457.



exceed a single millennium "turn out to be exceptionally moderate

by comparison "20 with the Sumerian King List where the respec-

tive lengths of reigns of the kings run from 18,600 years for

king Ubartutu (WB 444)21 to 72,000 for kings Alalgar, [. . .]

kidunnu, and Enmenduranna.22 In many instances there are great

divergencies regarding the lengths of reigns and the number of

kings in the respective witnesses to the Old Babylonian tradition.

The following comparison may be helpful:


WB 444 WB. 62 UCBC 9-1x19 BEROSSOS

Alulim 28,800 Alulim 67,200 Alulim 36,000 Aloros 36,000

Alalgar 36,000 Alalgar 72,000 Alalgar 10,800 Alaparos 10,800

Entnenluanna 13,200 ... kidunnu72,000 Ammeluanna 36,000 Amelon 46,800

Enmengalanna28,800 .. alinuna 21,600 En sipazianna 13,200 Amenon 43,200

Dumuzi 36,000 Dumuzi 26,800 Dumuz,i 36,000 Megalaros 64,800

Ensipazianna 28,800 Enmendurauna21,600 Enmeduranki 6,000 Daonos 36,000

Enmendurunki 21,000 Ensipaizianna 36,000 Ubartutu ? Euedorachos 64,800

Ubarututu 18,600 Enmenduranna 72,000 [Ziusudra?] 16,000+ Amempsinos 36,000

Suruppak 28,800 Otiartes 28,800

Ziusudra 36,000 Xisuthros 64,800

Total: Total: Total: Total:

Kings-8 Kings-10 Kings - 7 [or 8] Kings - 10

Years-241,200 Years-456,000 Years-186,000+ Years-432,000


One notices the striking differences in total years of reigns in

some texts. The total years are exceeded by 200,000 in some

recensions. Of course, these fabulous lengths of reigns are not

trustworthy.23 It has been thought that there has been use of

some kind of scheme built on the Sumerian duodecimal system,24

where all figures can be divided by 1 SAR = 3,600 (60 x 60) or

through a sixth of it (600), or other systems.25 In view of this,

"It would seem fair to conclude that no significance at all is to be


20 Speiser, Genesis, p. 42.

21 ANET, p. 265.

22 Finkelstein, "The Antediluvian Kings," p. 49.

23 R. D. Tindel, "Mesopotamian Chronology," IDB Sup (1976), p. 161.

24 See the attempt at unraveling the system by` J. R. Garcia, C.M.F., "Las

genealogias genesi,:uas y la cronologia," Estudios Biblicos 8 (1949): 337-340;

J, Meysing, "Contribution a 1'etude des genealogies bihliques: Technique de

la composition des chronologies bahyloniennes du deluge," RechSR 39 (1965):


25 RTAT, p. 113, n. 107.



attributed to the total number of years given for the entire

antediluvian period in the different texts [of the Sumerian King


5. Ten Antediluvian Ancestors versus Seven-to-Ten Kings.

As recently as 1965 the Assyriologist W. G. Lambert pointed to

the number of "ten long-lived patriarchs from Adam to Noah"

that span the time to the flood as a point of borrowing on the

part of the Hebrews from Mesopotamia.27 However, the major

recension of the Sumerian King List (WB 444) contains only

eight and not ten kings.28 One text contains only seven kings (W)

and another (UCBC 9-1819) either seven or eight,29 whereas a

bilingual fragment from Ashurbanipal's library has but nine

kings .30 Berossos and only one ancient tablet (WB 62), i.e. only

two texts (of which only one is a cuneiform document), give a

total of ten antediluvian kings.31 On the basis of the cuneiform

data it can no longer be suggested that the Sumerian King List

contained originally ten antediluvian kings after which the biblical

genealogies were patterned. In addition, the supposedly unbroken

line of descent in Gen 5 is in stark contrast to the concurrent or

contemporaneous dynasties of the Sumerian King List.32 We must

also note that Gen 11 lists ten postdiluvians from Shem to Abra-

ham whereas the Sumerian King List enumerates thirty-nine kings.

6. Tracing of Ancestors versus Unification of the Land. The

basic ideology of Gen 5 and 11 appears to be to trace the ancestors

in a supposedly unbroken line of descent (i.e. linear genealogy)

from the first man (Adam) at creation to the last man (Noah)


26 Finkelstein, "The Antediluvian Kings," p. 51.

27 Lambert, "The Babylonian Background of Genesis," pp. 292-293.

28 Jacobsen, Sumerian King List, p. 77; ANET, p. 265; RTAT, p. 114.

29 Finkelstein, "The Antediluvian Kings," p. 45; Van Dijk, "Die Tontafeln,"

pp. 44-45 and P1. 27.

30 Lambert, "The Babylonian Background of Genesis," p. 292; RTAT, p. 113,

n. 106.

31 Finkelstein, "The Antediluvian Kings," pp. 47-49.

32 Tindel, "Mesopotamian Chronology," p. 161; Finkelstein, "The Antedilu-

vian Kings," p. 51; Jacobsen, Sumerian King List, pp. 183-190, and Table 2

on p. 209.



before the flood (Gen 5) and from one son of the flood hero

(Shem) to the first Hebrew patriarch (Abraham) (Gen 11).

There is a radical difference between this and the basic ideology

of the Sumerian King List. Various scholars have pointed out that

the latter's ideology is built upon the principle of "a widely ac-

cepted political idea which cherished the concept of long-con-

tinued unification of the land."33 W. W. Hallo has pointed out

that the Sumerian King List is "a political tract, designed to

perpetuate the perfectly transparent fiction that Sumer and Akkad

had, since the Flood, been united under the rule of a single king,

albeit that king might come at any given time from any one of

eleven different cities."34 There is not the slightest hint in either

Gen 5 or 11 that it shares with the Sumerian King List a political

ideology or ideal. The Mesopotamian texts have a purpose totally

different from that of the supposed biblical counterparts.

7. Genealogy versus King List. Gen 5 and 11 are commonly

recognized as belonging to the type of literature designated by the

term "genealogy." A "genealogy" in the Bible consists of a list of

names indicating the ancestors or descendants of a person or

persons by tracing lineage through an ascending scale (individual

to ancestor) or a descending one (ancestor to individual).35

It has been noted correctly that the Sumerian King List is not a

genealogy at all.36 Indeed, "The decisive difference lies in the

fact that both texts [Gen 5 and the Summerian King List]

belong to a different genre: Gen 5 is a genealogy, the Old

Babylonian [Sumerian] King List is a presentation of the sequence

of dynasties of a series of cities with the sequence of their kings

and their spans of reigns."37 It is an undisputed fact that none

of the six currently known recensions of the Sumerian King List


33 Hartman, "Sumerian King List and Genesis 5 and 11B," p. 27.

34 W. W. Hallo, "Royal Hymns and Mesopotamian Unity," JCS 17 (1963):


35 See the definitions of "genealogy" in Bible dictionaries. Cf. Bowman,

"Genealogy, p. 362; Mitchell, "Genealogy," p. 456; etc.

36 Rollig, "Typologie," pp. 266-273.

37 Westermann, Genesis, p. 472.



contains any genealogical notices at all for the antediluvian

period, and in the postdiluvian period such notices are sporadic

and limited to two generations only.38 The Sumerian King List

is a "political tract"39 of the "king list" genre, but Gen 5 and 11

belong to the "genealogy" genre. Both of these genres are

distinguished also in cuneiform literature.40

8. History of Mankind versus History of a People. The gene-

alogy of Gen 5 has the repeated clause "and he had other sons

and daughters."41 This, along with other indicators, seeks to

express the growth of mankind from generation to generation.42

It also emphasizes the spread of mankind from Adam to Noah.

Essentially the same emphasis is evident in the Table of Nations

(Gen 10), which presents a remarkably accurate picture of the

origin and interrelationship of the various races along the line of

complementary criteria of classification.43 The universal or world-

wide outlook is a typical feature of the whole of Gen 1-11, as is

customarily acknowledged.

The Sumerian King List, on the other hand, not only lacks this

universal emphasis concerning the growth and spread of man-

kind, but it is in particular, and by design, geared as a political

document44 which emphasizes that the dynasty of Isin is the

successor of all the previous dynasties. Its primary concern is with

"kingship" in various cities. From the time that "kingship" was


38 The brief genealogical notices (A NET, pp. 265-266) consist of a two-

generation genealogy in the form of "RN1 son of RN2,, ruled x years." In

no instance is there a statement linking more than one ruler to the next in

a simple "father-son" relationship. Cf. Wilson, Genealogy and History, pp.


39 Hallo, "Royal Hymns," p. 112.

40 Rollig, "Typologie," pp. 266-273.

41 Gen 5:4, 7, 10, 13, 16, 19, 22, 26, 30; 11:11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25.

42 Westermann, Genesis, p. 472.

43 Speiser, Genesis, p. 71, points out that it "stands out as a pioneering effort

among the ethnographic attempts of the ancient world."

as Wilson, Genealogy and History, p. 101; cf. Kraus, "Liste der alteren

Konige," pp. 46-49, 55-57; G. Buccellati, "The Enthronement of the King

and the Capital City in Texts from Ancient Mesopotamia and Syria," Studies

Presented to A. L. Oppenheim (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1964),

p. 54; Hallo, "Beginning and End," p. 56; idem, "Antediluvian Cities," p. 66.



"lowered from heaven," it resided in various cities until it came

to rest in Isin. The Sumerian King List is tendentious.45 It seeks

to prove that "kingship" belongs to Sumer and nowhere else.46

In this sense the Sumerian King List is a local history which

seeks to legitimitize the primacy of the kingdom of Isin over rival


9. Beginning with Creation versus Beginning with the Lower-

ing of Kingship from Heaven. The genealogy of Gen 5 makes a

distinct point of tracing mankind from the point of the creation

onward. This is particularly emphasized through the usage of the

temporal clause, "When God created man" (5:1) and the identi-

fication of Adam as the father of Seth (5:3). After dealing first

with the creation of man, the author of Gen 5 traces a continuous

genealogical chain from Adam to Noah. The idea appears to be

to emphasize the continuity of the line directly created by God,

"in his image" (5:1), down to Noah, the "righteous" man (6:9)

who survives the flood and through whom the human race is

preserved for the world.

The Sumerian King List, to the contrary, knows nothing of a

creation of man. It traces "kingship" from the time it descended

from heaven. Its beginning reads: "When kingship was lowered

from heaven, kingship was (first) in Eridu."47 For the period

after the flood had come, the narrative continues as follows:

"After the Flood had swept over (the earth) (and) when king-

ship was lowered (again) from heaven, kingship was (first) in

Kish."48 Both of these sentences may actually be beginnings of

separate entities49 which were later joined into the presently


45 Kraus, "Lisle der alteren Konige," pp. 45-49.

46 Jacobsen, Sumerian king List, pp. 140-141.

47 ANET, p. 265; RTAT, p. 113.

48 ANET, p. 265; cf. Jacobsen, Sumerian King List, p. 77.

49 It is presently debated whether the Old Babylonian version of the post-

dilnvian King List began originally with i.43: "In Kish, Ga[. . .] ur . . ." (so

Jacobsen. Sumerian King List, pp. 6-1, 77) or with i.41: "When kingship was

lowered (again) from heaven" (so Hallo, "Beginning and End," pp. 56-57) or

with i.40: "After the flood had swept over (the earth) (and) when kingship

was . . ." (so Lambert and Millard, Atra-hasis, p. 25) on the basis of the



known Sumerian King List.50 The lowering of "kingship" from

heaven was not coincident with the initial creation in Mesopo-

tamian tradition,51 so that it can be concluded that the Sumerian

King List, in contrast to Gen 5, was not intended to make a

statement anywhere in terms of an absolute beginning of man.

It merely traces kingship from the beginning of civilization.52

10. Concluding with the Man Noah versus Concluding with

the City of Suruppak. The genealogy of Gen 5 terminates with the

man Noah (vss. 28-29, 32), who becomes the hero of the flood

(Gen 6:5-9:7). As pointed out already, there is no mention of

cities or of kingship. The Old Babylonian tradition of the ante-

diluvian period was never fixed in "canonical" form,53 because

the sequence and number of kings and cities differ in the cunei-

form texts. There is, however, a uniform consensus in all avail-

able cuneiform texts regarding the last antediluvian city, namely

the city of Suruppak,54 in which kingship last resided before the

flood. In contrast to the cuneiform texts, Berossos has the city of

Larak as his third and last city.55 Berossos also has Xisuthros


genealogy of the rulers of Lagas (Sollberger, "The Rulers of Lagas," pp. 280-

290) which begins with what is i.40 in the Sumerian King List.

50 Jacobsen, Sumerian King List, pp. 55-68; Kraus, "Liste der alteren

Konige," pp. 31, 51; Rowton, "Date of the Sumerian King List," pp. 161-162;

Finkelstein, "Antediluvian Kings," pp. 44-45; Hallo, "Beginning and End,"

pp. 52-57; Nissen, "Fine neue Version," pp. 1-5; Hartman, "Sumerian King

List and Gen 5 and 11B," p. 27.

51 This is argued effectively on the basis of the Etana epic (ANET, p. 114)

by Hartman, "Sumerian King List and Gen 5 and 11B," p. 27.

52 Lambert, "The Babylonian Background of Genesis," p.:299: "The Sumero-

Babylonian tradition is of a line of kings from the founding of civilization to

the flood, not of a line of patriarchs . . . from creation onward."

53 Finkelstein, "Antediluvian Kings," pp. 45-49.

54 Note the sequence and last city in the following texts:

WB 444 has Eridu, Bad-Tibira, Larak, Sippar, Suruppak.

WB 62 has Eridu (?), Larsa, Bad-Tibira, Larak, Sippar, Suruppak

UCBC 9-1819 has Eridu, Bad-Tibira, Sippar, Suruppak

CT 46:5 has [Eridu?], Bad-Tibira, Sippar, Larak, Suruppak

Ni 3195 has [Eridu], Larak, [Bad-Tibira], rest lost

55 Berossos has the sequence Babylon, Bad-Tibira, and Larak. The absence

of Sippar and Suruppak from Berossos' account has been variously explained.

See Jacobsen, Sumerian King List, pp. 74-75, nn. 24, 27, 31; Finkelstein, "An-

tediluvian Kings," pp. 46-47.



(Ziusudra) as the last king of Larak, whereas the flood hero

Ziusudra of the Sumerian flood story56 is the last antediluvian

king of Suruppak in only one complete cuneiform text (WB 62).57

The other complete cuneiform text (WB 444) has Ubartutu as

the last king of Suruppak. Ubartutu never figures as a flood hero.

In view of these divergences it is evident that the cuneiform

consensus places emphasis on the last antediluvian city of Surup-

pak but is ambiguous regarding the last antediluvian king--

who may be the flood hero (so Ziusudra ), or who may not be the

flood hero (so Ubartutu).58

What counts in the various recensions of the Sumerian King

List is the "kingship" that continues to reside in various cities

down to Suruppak; what counts in the genealogy of Gen 5 is the

personal lineage which continues in a supposedly unbroken

chain of antediluvian descendants from Adam down to Noah,

the flood hero. It is once more apparent that the ideology, func-

tion, and purpose of the Hebrew and Sumerian documents are

quite different. The end of the genealogy of Gen 5 is as different

from that of the Sumerian King List as is the beginning of the

former from that of the latter.


3. Conclusion


This comparison of the genealogies of Gen 5 and 11 with

the several newly discovered versions of the Sumerian King List

appears to demonstrate that aside from the "superficial simi-

larity"59 of the sequence of listing-flood-listing, which is a later


56 M. Civil, "The Sumerian Flood Story," in Lambert and Millard, Atra-

hasis, pp. 138-145; RTAT, pp. 114-115; ANET, pp. 42-44.

57 For discussions of this problem, see Jacobsen, Sumerian King List, p. 76,

n. 34; Finkelstein, "Antediluvian Kings," pp. 47-49.

58 Unfortunately, two cuneiform texts (UCBC 9-1819 and Ni 3195) are broken

at the crucial point and do not help to fill in information on the last king

and last city. It is a striking fact that in y-VB .111 Ziusudra is deliberately

omitted from the dynasty of Suruppak, as is clear from the summary provided

at the end of the antediluvian section of this tablet. See Jacobsen, Sumerian

King List, p. 77; Finkelstein, "Antediluvian Kings," p. 47.

59 Hartman, "The Sumerian King List and Gen 5 and 11B," p. 32.



construct in the Sumerian King List and which is in itself different

in Gen 5-11, there is a complete lack of agreement and relation-

ship. This is manifested through a comparison of names, longevity

and reigns, line of descent and royal succession, number of

antediluvians, chronographic information, ideology, genre, his-

torical emphasis, and the beginning and end of the respective


The rich current cuneiform data significantly facilitate the

precision of the evaluation of the relationship between the gen-

ealogies of Gen 5 and 11 and the traditions of the Sumerian King

List. On the basis of limited cuneiform data, A. Deimel wrote

over five decades ago that "it may be better to admit honestly,

that until now there is no evidence for any connection of any

kind between the Babylonian and Biblical traditions regarding

the antediluvian-forefathers."60 Recent cuneiform finds have led

to a reinvestigation of the ideology of the Hebrew and Sumerian

traditions, causing T. C. Hartman to conclude that the Sumerian

materials relating to the king list cannot have been a source for

the genealogies of Gen 5 and 11.61 My above investigation of

additional aspects and essential details appears to show that the

Hebrew genealogical picture of Gen 5 and 11 is totally devoid

of any influence from the currently available data relating to the

Sumerian King List.62 It is not only evident that the structure,


60 A. Deimel, "Die babylonische and biblische uberlieferung bezuglich der

vorsintflutlichen Urvater," Or 17 (1925): 43.

61 Hartman, "The Sumerian King List and Gen 5 and 1113," p. 32. W. F.

Albright's suggestion (Yahweh and the Gods of Canaan [Garden City: Double-

(lay, 1968], p. 98) that "the variations in numbers and ages prove some sort of

connexion-though not through written tradition" is in need of revision in

view of the materials now available. Aside from the material published by

Jacobsen, Sumerian King List, Albright was apparently aware of only. the text

W 20030 7 published by van Dijk (p. 98, n. 118).

62 In view of this, the popular Babylonian influence on Gen 5 "in establish-

ing a line of succession" and "a list of names with extraordinary numbers for

the antediluvian period," as suggested still by Johnson (The Purpose of the

Biblical Genealogies, pp. 30-31), as well as with regard to "the ten antediluvian

figures" and the "long life spans of these figures" as also mentioned by Wilson

(Genealogy and History, p. 201), calls for revision.



purpose, and function of the Hebrew and Sumerian documents

are different, but the new data of ancient Near Eastern literature63

seem to indicate that they belong to different types of literature,64

each of which has its own matrix and serves its own aims.



63 Supra, nn. 10-11.

64 Cf. Rollig, "Typologie," pp-265-277.




This material is cited with gracious permission from:

Andrews University Seminary Studies

SDA Theological Seminary
Berrien Springs
, MI 49104-1500

Please report any errors to Ted Hildebrandt at: