Friday, July 5, 2013

How Little Yaw Became Yahweh

If you enjoy puzzling parts of the Bible, check out Isaiah 27:1 which shows God, who has traveled down to earth to slay a sea monster.  God makes sure he kills only the female, because there were supposed to be two sea monsters, male and female, and he didn’t want a baby sea monster, so he killed the female and first cut her in two and then chopped her up to feed to the Jewish men in the wilderness. (In some parts of the Bible God gives the pieces to animals, in other explanations he gives the pieces to the wandering people.  I always wonder about the men perpetually wandering in the wilderness in the Bible.)  

Anyway, God kills the sea monster, but why?  What was it doing that was so bad?  Eating fish?  Mermaids?  An occasional fisherman who falls overboard? Where was this sea monster?  I hope not on the Sea of Galilee because that is really a lake, not deserving of all the wild sea tales.   People did believe a sea monster caused waves and there are people in the present who believe that one sea monster can cause an entire tsunami.  I just wonder why God didn’t leave the sea monster for humans to kill as he left everything else for humans to take care of all these years? 
Since God had just created the entire Cosmos with billions of stars and galaxies and black holes and all the cool stuff, slaying a sea monster is an unnecessary show of power.  But Baal , the Egyptian God slayed a sea monster in 1400 B.C., and Marduk, the Mesopotamian God also killed a sea monster, so it makes sense Yahweh would kill one too.  Whatever happened to Marduk the God anyway?  Never heard of him!  Here is his myth:  the storm god Marduk defeats the sea monster Tiamat and creates the earth and sky by cleaving her corpse in two. Sound familiar to the biblical passage about Yahweh’s military might? “Was it not you who split Rahab in half, who pierced the dragon through?”
Previous to that time, Baal, some other gods, and earlier forms of Yahweh (Yahwi and Yaw, names for a storm and river god) were part of the group of gods believed in by the polythestic people of that time.  The language of “twisting sea monster” that is in the Bible in Isaiah 27:1 is taken from the Baal tale - Canaanite texts, in which Baal defeats a dragon-like monster named Lotan: “You will crush Leviathan the fleeing serpent; you will consume the twisting serpent, the mighty one with seven heads.”
Other serpent tales:  In 3000 B.C. in Sumerian iconography depicting the myth of the god Ninurta overcoming the seven headed serpent; inUgaritic texts Lotan is given the epithets "wriggling serpent" and "mighty one with the seven heads."

God really became popular and blossomed when ancient tablets with pictures gave way to progress, and writing supplies such as paper-like materials and ink filled pages with alphabetical letters.  Then, for some reason, Yahweh really spoke to people.