Ancient Near Eastern myths appear to have influenced OT thought in a number of ways:-
1. Figurative expressions
These include: (a) the voice of God as thunder (2 Sam 22:14); (a) the wind as winged (2 Sam 22:11; Ps. 104:3; Hos. 4:19); (c) the sun as winged (Mal 4:2); (d) a mountain in the north (Isa. 14:13; Ps. 48:2 where the gods assembled; (e) the land “flowing with milk and honey”, which borrows from ancient concepts of paradise; (f) a Book of Fate, which recorded even pre-natal days (Ps. 139:15f); (g) references to the “night hag” (Isa. 34:14); the “Canaanite god of pestilence” (Hab. 3:5); and the latter’s sons, benê rešep̱ (Job 5:7).
(a) The idea of a primordial revolt of the gods in heaven, upon which Yahweh metes out judgment, Psa 82:6f; Isa. 14:12–15. These passages vividly demonstrate Yahweh’s supremacy over the created order; (b) astrological ideas, Job 38:31f. (c) the ‘wondrous child’ idea, Isa. 7:14; 9:6f), which, it is said, reflects various ancient myths (although the evidence here is weaker); (d) Hebrew hero myths. But there is no actual evidence that with Enoch, Gen. 5:24, and Nimrod, Gen. 10:8f, we are actually dealing with mythological ideas; (d) the annual dying and reviving of the deity, Ps. 35:23; 44:23; 59:4), although the evidence here is weak.
3. Direct parallels
(a) the story of a battle between God and a dragon, Job 3:8; 41:1; Ps. 74:14; Isa. 27:1; Job 9:13; 26:12; Ps. 89:10; Isa. 30:7; 51:9), Job 7:12; Ps. 74:13; Isa. 27:1; 51:9, Job 7:12; Ps. 74:13; Isa. 51:10; Hab. 3:8), Ps. 93:3; Hab. 3:8, Job 26:13; Isa. 27:1; Ps. 74:13f; Job 41:25. Yahweh victory over this beast is alluded to in Isa. 27:1; Job 26:12;Isa. 51:9; Job 26:13; Isa. 51:9; Ps. 89:10; Ps. 74:13f). The parallel here is with the Ugaritic “Myth of Baal”, in which Baal vanquishes Yam, the god of sea and rivers) and with the victory of Marduk against the monster in the Mesopotamian creation epic.
(b) The stories of Creation and Paradise. Firstly, the creation story itself, Gen. 1:1–2:4a. The closest parallel is the Mesopotamian creation myth. In both, there is a primordial watery mass out of which the universe was created; light, and also day and night, are present before the sun and moon are created; heaven and earth are created from the primeval waters; the creation of humankind is the final and climactic act; there is a divine rest at the end of the creation. Secondly, the paradise story (Gen. 2:4b–25). The forming of man from the dust, Gen. 2:7; cf. Job 33:6, has parallels in both Babylonian and Sumerian mythology. Egyptian and Mesopotamian mythology has the idea of a tree of life or of a life-giving plant. An Assyrian myth described mankind as created to care for the soil and plants. Ancient Mesopotamian mythology also has the idea of an original place of paradise. Thirdly, the story of the flood has many counterparts in the ancient world, with the closest parallels being with the Gilgamesh Epic.
Despite the many similarities, we must not suppose that the OT writers accepted the underlying theology of the myths, any more that Milton accepted the metaphysics of the myths contained in Paradise Lost. In fact, the differences are even more striking than the similarities: (a) the OT stories have been historicised, i.e. placed within a narrative that conveys Yahweh’s redemptive acts in history; (b) the OT narrative have a high and distinctive view of God: he is one, transcendent, moral, and gracious; (c) OT faith refuses to countenance polytheism or the representation of God in images drawn from the natural world.
Dillard and Longman urge that that we read the early chapters of Genesis should be seen not so much as parallels to, but polemics against, the creation myths of the ANE:
‘From Babylon, we have the creation text known as the Enuma Elish, which describes the god Marduk’s victory over the sea monster Tiamat and his forming, from her dead body, the heavens and the earth. Afterwards, he executes her henchman-consort Qinqu, and from his blood and the clay of the earth, he forms humanity. The myth Atrahasis adds the purpose of the creation of humans. They are to take the place of the lesser gods in their work as irrigation diggers. The Ugaritic myth of Baal may well provide a west Semitic parallel to this story. Here the chief god Baal vanquishes the sea god Yam. Though the clay tablet breaks at this point, most scholars think that it went on to describe the creation of the heavens and earth. When Genesis 1–2 is read in the context of these myths, we clearly see the polemic. Creation in Babylon is the result of divine sexual activity and conflict, whereas in Genesis God is sovereign, self-sufficient, and supreme. In the Near East, the creation comes from preexistent stuff, while in the Bible creation is from nothing (contra Levenson).’
ISBE (2nd ed.) art. ‘Myth’; Longman & Dillard, An Introduction to the Old Testament.