The Legend of Enkidu and Shamhat: Wait!...Did I just Read About Adam and Eve???

The story of Enkidu and Shamhat seems similar to that of Adam and Eve.  See what similarities you can find in my description of the story of Enkidu, Shamhat, and Enkidu's alter-ego, Gilgamesh below.
The stories of Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and Shamhat can be found in the writings of the Akkadians and the Babylonians.  The story appears to have been repeated orally for generations before it was ever written down.

Gilgamesh, the king of Uruk, is made responsible by the Gods to protect the inhabitants of his city. He should also ensure that the Gods are worshiped properly. He does not do this correctly, so the citizens of Uruk complain to the Gods, asking for Gilgamesh to be removed from power in order for the city to once again prosper.

In order to solve the problem that Gilgamesh had created, the Gods counseled and determined to create an 'alter-Gilgamesh' as the only one who could contend with Gilgamesh.  His name was Enkidu, created out of clay, and they initially placed him far away from humanity in the wilderness.

Enkidu is lacking in knowledge and is thus uncivilized.  He is friends with the animals and is their protector. A hunter begins having trouble hunting the animals, and gradually notices that it has much to do with Enkidu's protection of them.  He returns to the city and complains to Gilgamesh.

As a solution, Gilgamesh asks the hunter to take Shamhat the prostitute to the wilderness and asks Shamhat to charm and entice Enkidu, which she does. Enkidu spends 6 days and 7 nights with Shamhat in repeated sexual intercourse.

This experience somehow makes Enkidu civilized, but in the process he becomes cut off from nature, is no more friends with the animals, and can no more run and keep up with them.

But the advantage of leaving the wilderness/nature and becoming civilized is that Enkidu has become as man, having a knowledge of civilization. Shamhat helps him to notice that he has become wise, like the Gods.

Shamhat shows him how to wear clothing, and how to eat bread and drink wine, highly symbolic foodstuffs. Bread and wine are the foods of civilization, requiring time in order to prepare for consumption.

Enkidu rubs down his body hair to appear more civilized, and anoints himself with oil, another civilized and highly symbolic practice.

Enkidu then enters the city of Uruk and challenges Gilgamesh to see which one of them is the stronger.  They are very evenly matched in their fighting, causing great tremors and strife as they grapple throughout the city.

Their fighting perhaps ends in a draw--the writings are not clear (and are partially missing) on this point--but ultimately Gilgamesh and Enkidu become the closest of friends. The ancient ideal of friendship was something akin to yin and yang; we are friends with those who are our twin or our opposite or someone who helps us to rise to the level of our potential.

Through their mutual struggle, Gilgamesh and Enkidu become mirror images of the same personality.

Similarities. Here are some similarities that I see between LDS and other Christian teachings of Adam and Eve with the stories of Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and Shamhat:

1. Enkidu was placed alone, far away from civilization in a wilderness that seems to be reminiscent of the Garden of Eden. In Eden, Adam was friends with nature and the animals, as was Enkidu in his wilderness.

2. The Gods created Enkidu in the image of Gilgamesh, which remind me of the counsel that the Gods took in the Christian scriptures to make man in their own image.

3. Shamhat seems to be much like Eve, but, unfortunately, perhaps giving us the first inkling of the idea that women are less than men because of her charming Enkidu into lustful sex. Other Christian religions seem to teach that sex between Adam and Eve is what caused their fall from Eden. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has no such teaching.

4. Shamhat became knowledgeable about civilization and the outside world sooner than Enkidu.  She teaches Enkidu, upon his leaving the wilderness, that he has become as the Gods, with an enhanced power of knowledge. Similarly, LDS doctrine teaches that Eve, being the first to partake of the fruit in the Garden of Eden, began to develop a godlike knowledge sooner than Adam did.

5. Shamhat helped Adam to see that, in the wilderness, he had lived in nakedness.  She taught him how to make clothing to cover himself. In LDS doctrine, Satan is the first to point out that they are naked (making them unnecessarily ashamed of that fact) and tells them that they should make aprons of fig leaves (although he doesn't seem to teach them how to do it). Incidentally, the fig leaf symbolized fertility in the ancient world, so clothing themselves in that manner symbolized Eve and Adam's responsibility and ability to multiply and fill the earth with their posterity. Later, as a part of what was very likely the first animal sacrifice in similitude of the coming of Jesus Christ, Christ himself demonstrates to Adam and Eve how to make coats of animal skins as more durable clothing.

6. Shamhat also made Enkidu familiar with important food and drink--particularly bread and wine, which were symbolic of civilization and progress.  In Christian lore, bread and wine are symbols of the ultimate source of progress--Jesus Christ and his atonement.

7. Shamhat also helps Enkidu anoint himself with oil, another symbolic experience. LDS Doctrine teaches that the oil of anointing confers upon us--and reminds us--of purity in thought and deed as well as the power we receive when our actions are--or become--pure (especially when we erase prior impure actions through applying the anointing oil of the atonement of Christ in our lives.)

8. After all these experiences, Enkidu is then ready to enter the city for battle. He enters Uruk and enjoins Gilgamesh in what is essentially an epic and lengthy battle with  his other self, Through battle, Enkidu becomes strong and at peace with himself (with Gilgamesh). The Book of Mormon teaches that the natural man is an enemy to God, and will be until we yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit and thereby live lives that allow us become at peace with ourselves (Mosiah 3).  The Book of Mormon also teaches us that the Gods give us weaknesses for a reason, and that weakness is a good thing to have in order to turn them into their opposite--strengths.  Through warring with ourselves in the experience of our weaknesses (especially because the mistakes committed in our weakness can be erased through the atonement) we can learn how become truly strong.


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