Saturday, May 14, 2016

What? A sea monster?!

"Reference to the תנין [tannin] as the sea monster or sea dragon often occurs in Hebrew texts in the context of creation imagery (e.g., Isa 51:9; Job 7:12; Ps 74:13); the תנין [tannin] represents the forces of chaos and is that which is defeated to bring about the cosmic act of creation. The cosmic dimension of this sign is reinforced when considered in relation to Egyptian mythology and culture. As Scott Noegel has argued, the serpent had cosmic import in Egyptian mythology in that Apophis, the giant serpent, was the divine enemy of Ra whom Ra would battle as he made his circuit through the underworld. Therefore, whether viewed from a Hebrew or Egyptian perspective, the action of throwing down the staff and transforming it into a תנין [tannin] has cosmic creation overtones. Moreover, the association of תנין [tannin] with chaos suggests that this sign of throwing down the staff to become a תנין [tannin] has to do with having the power to control or direct chaos, including unleashing it."—Suzanne Boorer, forthcoming from SBL Press


Robert Holmstedt said...

Does she go on to point out the purpose of the imagery, to present Moses (via YHWH) as the real power over nature, not Pharaoh (Horus)?

jps said...

Yes. She has a long section on how Moses (via YHWH) is in control of all aspects of creation, including the gods of Egypt. Indeed, in her version of Pg, Pharaoh is reduced to little more than a puppet under complete control of YHWH—and consequently, so are the Egyptian deities. Fun section of the book.