The flood story in Genesis 6-9 begins with God's realization of the evil tendencies of humans. He grieved his creation of humans and decided to wipe out the entire race. However, Noah came into God's good graces for his righteousness. God called on Noah to build and arch and take 7 pairs of all clean animals onto the arch. Noah did so, and waited out the rains of forty days and forty nights. At the end of the flood, Noah sent out a dove, who returned with an olive branch to show good news of the lands drying. .
Scholars believe this story to be a literary work because of its contradictions with science and history. First, it seems impossible for Noah to have built an arch, alone, which was over 120 cubits and several decks tall. Not only would technology of the time limit this, but there are mechanical limitations, as well. .
The flood stories of Noah and Gilgamesh have many similarities. In both stories, God(s) were displeased with humanity and thus initiated the flood. Both include a hero, who was faithful and worshiped God(s), which was informed of the flood and instructed to construct a massive arch/boat to wait out the length of the flood. However, there are many differences as well. Mainly in the endings, Gilgamesh becomes a God, unlike Noah. Also, it was against the Gods wishes that Gilgamesh discovered the coming floods. Noah's righteousness allowed for God to inform him of his plans. Other differences include dimensions of the arch, length of the flood and number of animals collected by each man. .
The flood story shows God's mercy and understanding of humans. It demonstrates his salvation and his love of the human race. He could have wiped out everyone, however, chose to save Noah and his family in the hopes they would be fruitful and righteous. The dove and olive branch represent peace and the renewal of life. Its representation comes from Noah's dove returning to him with an olive branch which told of the floods drying.