What does universal truth mean? By definition, it is defined as a statement that corresponds to reality regardless of time and space. The phrase “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure” is one example of a universal truth. Many times, this statement is used to refer to the relationship between lovers, but in actuality, it can apply to any relationship. Simply put, what one person does not appreciate, another person may find to be extremely valuable. It is my goal to examine both The Hebrew Bible, the story of Job, as well as The Epic of Gilgamesh, and provide examples of some universal truths displayed in each story.
The first body of work I would like to discuss can be found in the Hebrew Bible. In the book of Job, Job was described as an upright man who did his best to live a life that was pleasing in the eyesight of God. Because of this, he received all of his riches, in wealth, health, and love, by default, with little to no effort being made to obtain those things. The phrases “easy come, easy go” and “bad things happen to good people” would best describe what happened to Job during his lifetime. He lost all of his riches, quickly, for nothing being done wrong on his end.
In the Epic of Gilgamesh, we are introduced to a king who does not have the reputation of being a good leader. He was an arrogant man who was disrespectful to the Gods, the people he ruled were unhappy, and he was also a serial rapist. He considered himself to be a man who could not be defeated by anyone or anything, including death. It was said that he met a man, by the name of Enkidu, who equally matched his level of strength, and they would soon go on to become good friends. After defeating and killing Humbaba, a giant monster, and Gilgamesh denying Ishtar, the goddess of love, his love, Enkidu became ill and died. His death frightened the mortal side of Gilgamesh and caused him to go on a quest in hopes of gaining immortality. Ultimately, he failed and he came to the realization that he too would soon perish. In my opinion, the phrases “you reap what you sow” and “death is inevitable” are both very fitting when it comes to the story of Gilgamesh. He was a lousy king who did a lot of bad things and in the end, he suffered because of it even though he initially thought that he could not be defeated, he soon found out that even he was not exempt from death.
When discussing universal truths, some of the lessons learned in early literature still remain true today. In both stories, we are giving many examples of how some of the quotes and phrases we use today were derived from earlier works of literature. From the book of Job, we learned that even though you try to do right by yourself and others that does not mean that you will go through life never experiencing a loss of some sort. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, we learned that whatever you put out is what you will receive and regardless of who you are, we all are subject to death.
- “One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure.” The Free Dictionary, Farlex, idioms.thefreedictionary.com/one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
- “Meaning of Easy Come, Easy Go in English.” Cambridge Dictionary, dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/easy-come-easy-go.
- “You Reap What You Sow.” Stylized | Definition from the Visual Topic | Visual, www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/you-reap-what-you-sow.
- “Death: A Special Report on the Inevitable.” New Scientist, New Scientist, www.newscientist.com/round-up/death-special-issue/.