Joseph Campbell

As prophesied in The Poetic Edda,

    Five hundred and forty doors there are,
    I ween, in Valhall's walls;
    Eight hundred fighters through each door fare
    When to war with the Wolf they go.(1)

540 X 800 = 432,000, which in the Hindu Puranas, or "Chronicles of Ancient Lore," is the number of years reckoned to the Kali Yuga, the present cycle of time, which is to be the last and shortest of four cycles that together compose a "Great Cycle" or Mahayuga of 4,320,000 years, which is to end in a universal flood.    

The Puranas date from ca. A.D. 400 to 1000; the Eddie verses from ca. A.D.. 900 to 1100. The obvious question to be asked, therefore, is, By what coincidence can this number have appeared both in India and in Iceland in association with a mythology of recurrent cycles of time? For as told further in the Eddas, 

    Now do I see the earth anew
    Rise all green from the waves again;
    The cataracts fall, and the eagle flies,
    And fish he catches beneath the cliffs.

    In wondrous beauty once again
    Shall the golden tables stand mid the grass,
    Which the gods owned in days of old.

    The fields unsowed bear ripened fruit,
    All ills grow better, and Baldr tomes back;
    Baldr and Hoth dwell in Hropt's battle-hall,
    And the mighty gods.(2)

One cannot but think of the prophesied Day of Doom of the New Testament (Mark 13), which, according to Rev. 21:1, is to be followed by "a new heaven and new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more." Can the number 432 have been associated with this biblical cycle as well as with the Hindu cycle and the Norse? We read further in the book of the revelation beheld on the Greek island of Patmos by St. John:

Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues, and spoke to me, saying: "Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb." And in the Spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed; on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. 

And he who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its breadth, and he measured the city with his rod, twelve thousand stadia; its length and breadth and height are equal. He also measured its wall, a hundred and forty-four cubits by a man's measure, that is, an angel's. The wall was built of jasper, while the city was of pure gold, clear as glass. . . And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass. (Rev. 21:9-21, abridged, the italics, of course, are mine)

12,000 X 12,000 X 12,000 stadia = 1,728 billion cubic stadia, which, when divided by 4, equals 432 billion.(3) Moreover, in Rev.13:18 it is declared that the number of the name of the "beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems upon its horns and a blasphemous name upon its heads" (Rev.13:1), is 666; whereas 6 x 6 x 6 = 216, which is half of 432. The earliest known appearance of this number was in the writings of a Chaldean priest of the god Marduk, Berossos, who, ca. 280 B.C. composed in Greek a synopsis of Babylonian myth and history in which it was reported that, between the legendary date of the "descent of kingship" on the early Sumerian city of Kish and the coming of the mythological flood, ten kings ruled in Sumer through a period of 432,000 years. The universal flood there reported is the same as that of Genesis 6-7, of which the earliest known account has been found on a very greatly damaged cuneiform tablet from the ruins of Nippur, of a date ca. 2000 B.C.(4) There the ancient tale is told of a pious king Ziusudra, last of the line often long-lived antediluvian monarchs of the city of Shuruppak, who, while standing by a wall, heard a voice advising him to build himself an ark.

The . . . place . . .
The people. . .
A rainstorm. . .
At that time [the Goddess] Nintu screamed like a woman
          in travail
The pure [Goddess] Inanna wailed because of her people.
[The God] Enki in his heart took counsel.
[The Great Gods] An, Enlil, Enki and [the Goddess] Ninhursag.
The gods of heaven and earth invoked the names of An and Enlil.
Ziusudra at that time was king, the lustral priest of. . .
He built a huge . . .
Humbly prostrating himself reverently . . .
Daily and perseveringly standing in attendance . . .
Auguring by dreams, such as never were seen before . . .
Conjuring in the name of heaven and earth ...

        . . . the gods, a wall ...
Ziusudra, standing at its side, heard:
        "At the Wall, at my left hand stand . . .
        At the wall, I would speak to thee a word.
        0 my holy one, open thine ear to me.

        "By our hand a rainstorm . . . will be sent,
        To destroy the seed of mankind . . .
        Is the decision, the word of the assembly of the gods,
        The command of An and Enlil . . .
        Its kingdom . . . its rule . . .

All the windstorms of immense power, they all came together.
The rainstorm . . . raged along with them.
And when for seven days and seven nights
The rainstorm in the land had raged,
The huge boat on the great waters by the windstorm had been
            carried away.
Utu, the sun came forth, shedding light over heaven and earth.

Ziusudra opened a window of the huge boat.
He let the light of the sun-god, the hero, come into the
            interior of the huge boat.
Ziusudra, the king,
Prostrated himself before Utu.
The king: he sacrifices an ox, slaughters a sheep.

"By the soul of heaven, by the soul of earth, do ye conjure
        him, that he may . . . with you.
By the soul of heaven, by the soul of earth, 0 An and
        Enlil, do ye conjure and he will . . . with you. "

Vegetation, coming out of the earth, rises.
Ziusudra, the king,
Before An and Enlil prostrates himself
Life like that of a god they bestow on him.
An eternal soul like that of a god they create for him.
Whereupon Ziusudra, the king,
Bearing the title, "Preserver of the Seed of Mankind,"
On a . . . mountain, the mountain of Dilmun, they caused
        to dwell . . .(5)

Returning to the Bible, we find that, in Genesis 5, ten antediluvian patriarchs are are named from Adam to Noah; the first, of course, being Adam, who, as we read, "when he had lived 130 years became the father of a son....and named him Seth." Continuing: "When Seth had lived 105 years, he became the father of Enosh..." And likewise: "When Enosh had lived 90 years, he became the father of Kenon.... When Kenon had lived 70 years he became the father of Mahalalel," and so on, to, "When Lamech had lived 182 years, he became the father of a son, and called his name Noah...." Following all of which we learn from Gen. 7:6 that "Noah was 600 years old when the flood of waters came upon the earth."

Comparing this remarkable genealogical fantasy with Berosso's equally bizarre list of the years of reign of the antediluvian kings, and totaling the two, we find as follows:

         Berossos                                      Genesis 5 and 7.6

Antediluvian            Years of                    Antediluvian              Years to

 kings                         reign                          patriarchs          begetting of sons

 1.   Aloros             36,000                       Adam                         130

 2.   Alaparos          10,800                       Seth                           105

 3.   Amelon            46,800                      Enosh                           90  

 4.   Ammenon         43,200                      Kenon                          70

 5.   Megalaros         64,800                    Mahalalel                        65

 6.   Daonos            36,000                       Jared                          162

 7.   Eudorached       64,800                      Enoch                           65

 8.   Amempsinos     36,000                   Methusela                       187

 9.   Opartes            28,800                     Lamech                        182

10. Xisuthros            64,800              Noah, yrs. to flood:              600

  [ = Ziusudra ]       432,000                                                   1,656

Between the totals of Berrosos and the compilers of Genesis 5-7, there is apparently an irreconcilable difference. However, as demonstrated over a century ago in a paper, "The Dates of Genesis," by the distinguished Jewish Assyriologist Julius Oppert, who in his day was know as the "Nestor of Assyriology,"(6) both totals carry 72 as a factor, this being the number of years required in the precession of the equinoxes for an advance of 1 degree along the zodiac. 432,000 divided by 72 = 6,000, while 1,656 divided by 72 = 23. So that the relationship is of 6,000 to 23. But in the Jewish calendar, one year is reckoned as of 365 days, which number in 23 years, plus the 5 leap-year days of that period, amounts to 8,400 days, or 1,200 seven-day weeks; which last sum, multiplied by 72, to find the number of seven-day weeks in 23 x 72 = 1,656 years, yields 1,200 x72 = 86,400, which is twice 43,200.

So that in the Book of Genesis two distinct theologies have been now revealed. The first is that of the usually recognized, personal Creator-God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who saw that "the wickedness of man was great in the earth . . . and was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the ground, man and beast and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them' " (Gen.6:5-7). Whereas the other, very different theology has been hidden all these years beneath the elaborately disguised number 86,400, which can be only a covert reference to the mathematically governed Gentile cosmology preserved to this day in the Hindu Puranas, of an unending series of cycles of world appearances and dissolutions, the latter following inevitably upon the former, not because of any god's disappointment in his creation, but as night follows day.

For the Jews, it will be recalled, had been for fifty years exiled from their own capital to Babylon (586-539 B.C.), and the priestly hands that compiled the genealogical schedule of Genesis, chapter 5 so nicely contrived to join the 600 years of Noah's age at the time of the Flood, as reported in chapter 7, to produce a total exactly of 1,656 were of a postexilic generation and contemporaries approximately of Berossos, the famous Chaldean priest.


In All Her Names