“Genesis” & “The World on the Turtle’s Back”

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Though there are various creation stories around the world, it is notable that each has many similarities and both have valuable information to impart to the readers. The Bible’s account come from the books of Genesis and John and the Native American Iroquois tribes’ account is from a tale called “The World on the Turtle’s Back.” While these stories have several comparisons, they also contain differences regarding God’s name, Creations’ existence, and the balance of creation to name just a few. First, we will examine how these stories are different.

The Iroquois tale, “The World on the Turtle’s Back” and the Hebrew story from the Bible have several contrasts. The Hebrew scripture states that there is only one God and His name is Yehovah as declared in Deuteronomy 4:35,39 “Unto you it was shown, that you might know that Yehovah, He is God; there is none else beside Him. (39)...Yehovah, He is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else.” and it further states in Deuteronomy 6:4 “Hear, O Israel: Yehovah thy God is One Yehovah.” and additional supporting evidence for the Yehovah creating  everything and existing prior to creation is found in Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”, and again in John 1:3, it states that “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” While the Jewish texts state there is only One God, He has a name, Yehovah, and that He created everything, the Iroquois’ tale The World on the Turtle’s Back, states that there is more than one god, who do not have names, who existed along with creation, but not before. The text reads, “In the beginning... there were no men. ….Far above this unpeopled world, there was a Sky World. Here lived gods...like Iroquois. In the Sky World there was a man who had a wife” There texts do not give the names of these “gods.” So while the Hebrew manuscripts speak of one God who has a proper name, Yehovah, and that He created everything, the Iroquois stories do not give their “gods” names, nor did their gods create everything; their gods existed concurrently with creation, but not prior to its creation.

Another difference is as written in the book of Genesis, everything was perfect when Yehovah initially created Adam, Eve, and everything else. Genesis state in several places that His creation was good such as, “God saw that the light was good…” (Gen. 1:4) “...the waters He called seas; and God saw that it was good.” (Gen. 1:10)“The earth brought forth vegetation...God saw that it was good.” (Gen. 1:1) “God made the two great lights...God saw that it was good.” (Gen. 1:16-18). Yehovah went on to create various animals and finally Adam and Eve which He declares “good.” All was perfect and balanced as He created it to be. It was a utopian paradise.

By contrast, in The World on the Turtle’s Back sin already existed along with the gods. An example of this is seen in the Iroquois story when a pregnant woman desired the roots from the forbidden Great Tree. It states that, “In the middle of the Sky World there grew a Great Tree...The tree was not supposed to be marked or mutilated by any of the beings who dwelt in the Sky World. It was a sacred tree that stood at the center of the universe.” This clearly shows that this “sacred tree” was off limits to the Sky People. It further states, “The woman decided that she wanted some bark from one of the roots of the Great Tree.” It never says exactly why she wanted those forbidden roots, however it implies that she was tempted due to her pregnancy cravings, “The woman became hungry for all kinds of strange delicacies, as women do when they are with child. She kept her husband busy almost to distraction finding delicious things for her to eat.” She was tempted and therefore instructed her husband to commit the crime of mutilating the sacred tree to satisfy her cravings. We see that Evil was already present in creation in that world. What is interesting is that in “The World on the Turtle’s Back” Evil is viewed as part of the balance of nature and as such, it is not viewed as a wholly negative thing since it is part of what is needed for Good to exist. It is merely a balancer to Good; it is the Yin/Yang of Nature’s balance: Good versus Evil, Light versus Dark, etcetera. Good and Evil had to coexist because they were basically two sides of the same coin. By contrast, Genesis’ Garden of Eden in harmony and perfectly balanced without the presence of Sin, and it was Sin that created an imbalance in the World.

In regard to the comparison  between Genesis and The World on the Turtle’s Back, the similarities are broader than the difference. Both have a divine beings, each story has a sacred tree in the middle of the  In The World on the Turtle’s Back, there is the Great Tree, and in Genesis, theregenesis' & “the World On The Turtle’s Back” is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil which Yehovah said, ““From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” It further states, “The LORD God caused to grow out of the ground…in the middle of the garden...the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” These are evidence of sacred trees in both accounts. In both stories, the men sin when tempted by their wives. In The World on the Turtle’s Back, the pregnant wife who is craving sacred tree root, harrasses her husband until he gives in to her nagging; he defiles the tree at the urging of his beloved wife. In Genesis, Adam’s wife Eve wants to eat the sacred fruit and after she does, she gives some to her husband Adam to eat at which point it states that through Adam, Sin entered the world.  12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned— 13 for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam,” (Rom 5:12-14). In each case, though the wives craved the fruit, the actual sin-act is placed on the husband’s account.

While the Judeo/Christian's account of the Creation story comes from The Bible and the Native American Iroquois tribes’ account is from a tale called “The World on the Turtle’s Back' both have several similarities and differences. They both have divine deities, both have sacred trees in the middle of the garden, each has a husband who sinned as the result of his wife who craved food from the forbidden tree, and many other similarities exist as well as differences.

What is startling is that the core of each story is remarkably similar. This is evidence that those stories, come from an ancient shared origin. Other stories from all around the globe have similar themes to the ancient Hebrew and Iroquois texts. Keeping this in mind, this matters because it shows that the stories are not merely unfounded myths, but instead, they are evidence of a real supernatural origin of all creation, and that we can rely on our ancient texts for truth. It also matters because it shows the human race has far more in common than we have differences. Knowing this shows that we human-beings are more connected than we are separate. This means that one story is most likely true in general, and the other is correct and true.

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"Genesis" & “The World On The Turtle’s Back”. (2021, Jun 30). Retrieved November 28, 2023 , from

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