The Sumerian King List (Genesis 5)

The Sumerian King List, an ancient record of the kings of Sumer (biblical Shinar) and Akkad, was originally composed in the late third millenium B.C. during the rign of Utu-hegal of Uruk in order to legitimize the ruling dynasty. It displays striking similarities to the genealogies of Genesis.

The preamble begins with intriguing terminology: “when kingship was lowered from heaven”. It goes on to list the succession of kings, the lengths of their reigns and the respective cities from which they ruled. The kings are recorded to have enjoyed extraordinarily long reigns. For example, “En-men-lu-Anna ruled 43,200 years; En-men-gal-Anna ruled 28,800 years”. A great flood is then purported to have covered the land, after which kings were recorded as having significantly shorter reigns, though still of incredible duration (140 to 1,200 years). The genealogies in Genesis are also divided into pre- and post-flood periods, with longer life spans prior to the catastrophic deluge of Genesis 6 and significantly lesser longevity after it (chapter 11). Unlike the King List, however, the earky Genesis genealogies do not serve to legitimate later kings.

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