18.60: Behold, Moses said to his attendant, "I will not give up until I reach the junction of the two seas or (until) I spend years and years in travel."The "junction of the two waters" and the mysterious "servant of God" are two points that Arent Wensinck connects to the Epic of Gilgamesh as the source of the Qur'an. The Epic of Gilgamesh was written in cuneiform tablets about 2000 BCE. The tablets were found by Sir Austen Layardwere and were deciphered in 1873 by the English Assyriologist George Smith:
18.61: But when they reached the Junction, they forgot (about) their Fish, which took its course through the sea (straight) as in a tunnel.
18.62: When they had passed on (some distance), Moses said to his attendant: "Bring us our early meal; truly we have suffered much fatigue at this (stage of) our journey."
18.63 He replied: "Sawest thou (what happened) when we betook ourselves to the rock? I did indeed forget (about) the Fish: none but Satan made me forget to tell (you) about it: it took its course through the sea in a marvellous way!"
18.64 Moses said: "That was what we were seeking after:" So they went back on their footsteps, following (the path they had come).
18.65 So they found one of Our servants, on whom We had bestowed Mercy from Ourselves and whom We had taught knowledge from Our own Presence.
The Holy Qur'an 18:60-65
GILGAMESH EPIC, In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh seeks out Utnapishtim, an immortal being who lives at the mouth of the rivers:
an important Middle Eastern literary work, written in cuneiform on 12 clay tablets about 2000 bc . This heroic poem is named for its hero, Gilgamesh (fl. about 2700-2650 bc ), a tyrannical Babylonian king who ruled the city of Uruk, known in the Bible as Erech (now Warka, Iraq). According to the myth, the gods respond to the prayers of the oppressed citizenry of Uruk and send a wild, brutish man, Enkidu, to challenge Gilgamesh to a wrestling match. When the contest ends with neither as a clear victor, Gilgamesh and Enkidu become close friends. They journey together and share many adventures. Accounts of their heroism and bravery in slaying dangerous beasts spread to many lands.
When the two travelers return to Uruk, Ishtar (guardian deity of the city) proclaims her love for the heroic Gilgamesh. When he rejects her, she sends the Bull of Heaven to destroy the city. Gilgamesh and Enkidu kill the bull, and, as punishment for his participation, the gods doom Enkidu to die. After Enkidu's death, Gilgamesh seeks out the wise man Utnapishtim to learn the secret of immortality. The sage recounts to Gilgamesh a story of a great flood (the details of which are so remarkably similar to later biblical accounts of the flood that scholars have taken great interest in this story). After much hesitation, Utnapishtim reveals to Gilgamesh that a plant bestowing eternal youth is in the sea. Gilgamesh dives into the water and finds the plant but later loses it to a serpent and, disconsolate, returns to Uruk to end his days.
This saga was widely studied and translated in ancient times. Biblical writers appear to have modeled their account of the friendship of David and Jonathan on the relationship between Gilgamesh and Enkidu. Numerous Greek writers also incorporated elements found in the Gilgamesh epic into their dragon-slaying epics and into stories concerning the close bond between Achilles and Patroclus.
Overcome with melancholy at the death of his friend Engidu, the hero Gilgamesh sets out on a series of travels to look for ancestor Utnapishtim (Khasisatra, Xisouthros) who lives at the mouths of rivers and who has been given eternal life. Gilgamesh wants to ask him about the plant of life which will save the man from the power of death.In his article on "Al-Khadir" in the Encyclopaedia Of Islam. (First Edition, 1927, Volume II and reprinted in he the second editions in 1978) Wensinck connects Utnapishtim as the figure behind the mysterious "servant of God" in the Qur'an 18:65, and "junction of the two rivers" or madjma` al-bahrayn in Qur'an 18:60-61 as the "mouth of the rivers" in the Gilgamesh Epic. But Wensinck expresses doubts regarding these connections. The companion of Moses seems to have no connection with the Gilgamesh Epic:
The figure of the travelling companion is not connected with the Gilgamesh epic where it is not found, but with the Alexander romance and the Jewish legend.And equating the madjma` al-bahrayn or "junction of the two seas (or rivers)" with Gilgamesh's "mouth of the rivers" has no connection either:
The madjma` al-bahrayn is given as the goal of the journey. The expression has no direct original either in the epic or the romance, although there are points of contact in both. Utnapishtim lives ina pi narati, i.e., at the mouth of the river. It is not quite certain what the expression means, but it is probable that the place in the extreme west is meant where the sources of all running water are. This, however, still leaves the dual in the Kur'anic expression unexplained.It is clearly seen that Wensinck himself has serious doubts about a clear connection between the Gilgamesh Epic and the Qur'an yet Torrey and Ibn Warraq have claimed, on the authority of Wensinck, that Qur'an 18:60-65 did indeed originated from the Gilgamesh Epic.
2. What Is The Alleged Source Of Qur'an 18:60-65: The Gilgamesh Epic Or Alexander Stories?Earlier scholarship has identified and discussed numerous parallels that exist between the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Alexander stories. Wensinck, however, identifies specific elements in Qur'an 18:60-65 as being from the Epic of Gilgamesh but not from the Alexander stories such as "the junction of the two seas (or rivers)" and the supposedly immortal "servant of God" in Qur'an 18:65. Commenting on the explanations provided by Wensinck on 18:60-65, Wheeler states:
As with Wensinck's other explanations of these verses, the relation he sees to the Epic of Gilgamesh is not based on Q 18:60-65 alone but on the information attributed to these verses in the commentaries. Granting, for the moment, that Wensinck does not make this distinction between the sources and granting that the commentaries give no indication of being aware of the Epic of Gilgamesh, it is still unclear why the Gilgamesh and Alexander stories would be conflated in Q 18:60-65.