Friday, July 06, 2018


7 Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, 8 but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him (Rev 12:7-9).

Scholars often puzzle over how the serpentine tempter in Gen 3 comes to be associated with the devil–as well as dragons. By the same token, scholars debate whether the adversary in Job 1-2 is Satan or a morally neutral character. However, we might view this as part of a larger dragon/sea-monster motif in Scripture, viz. 

12 By his power he stilled the sea;
    by his understanding he shattered Rahab.
13 By his wind the heavens were made fair;
    his hand pierced the fleeing serpent.
(Job 26:12-13)

18 His sneezings flash forth light,
    and his eyes are like the eyelids of the dawn.
19 Out of his mouth go flaming torches;
    sparks of fire leap forth.
20 Out of his nostrils comes forth smoke,
    as from a boiling pot and burning rushes.
21 His breath kindles coals,
    and a flame comes forth from his mouth.
(Job 41:18-21)

9 Awake, awake, put on strength,
    O arm of the Lord;
awake, as in days of old,
    the generations of long ago.
Was it not you who cut Rahab in pieces,
    who pierced the dragon?
10 Was it not you who dried up the sea,
    the waters of the great deep,
who made the depths of the sea a way
    for the redeemed to pass over?
(Isa 51:9-10)

“Behold, I am against you,
    Pharaoh king of Egypt,
the great dragon that lies
    in the midst of his streams,
that says, ‘My Nile is my own;
    I made it for myself.’
4 I will put hooks in your jaws,
    and make the fish of your streams stick to your scales;
and I will draw you up out of the midst of your streams,
    with all the fish of your streams
    that stick to your scales.
(Ezk 29:3-4)

   but you are like a dragon in the seas;
you burst forth in your rivers,
    trouble the waters with your feet,
    and foul their rivers.
(Ezk 32:2)

13 You divided the sea by your might;
    you broke the heads of the sea monsters on the waters.
14 You crushed the heads of Leviathan;
    you gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness.
(Ps 74:13-14)

9 You rule the raging of the sea;
    when its waves rise, you still them.
10 You crushed Rahab like a carcass;
    you scattered your enemies with your mighty arm.
(Ps 89:9-10)

In that day the Lord with his hard and great and strong sword will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, Leviathan the twisting serpent, and he will slay the dragon that is in the sea (Isa 27:1)

In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel saw a dream and visions of his head as he lay in his bed. Then he wrote down the dream and told the sum of the matter. 2 Daniel declared,“I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea. 3 And four great beasts came up out of the sea, different from one another (Dan 7:1-3)

And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads (Rev 13:1)

Not coincidentally, the Garden of Eden is located in and around four rivers (Gen 2:10-14). Eden could either be situated in Armenia or what is now the Persian Gulf (an extension of the Indian Ocean). Like Eden, Babylonia is located in and around the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Egypt is associated with the Nile and the Mediterranean. Patmos is situated in the Aegean sea. An ancient equivalent of Alcatraz. 

So the geography of the area is conducive to the evolution of a sea-monster/river-monster motif. These monsters are liminal creatures that personify the boundary between the natural world and the supernatural world. In that regard, they parallel biblical angelophany. Angels occupy both sides of the boundary, moving back and forth between our world and their indigenous realm (e.g. heaven, the netherworld). They enter our world from their own domain (e.g. chthonic spirits and deities). 

Scripture plays on this flexible motif, where dragons and sea-monsters are metaphors for the enemies of God and God's people. Although that includes human adversaries like Pharaoh, yet he himself was a front-man for the Egyptian pantheon. 

Perhaps, then, we should associate the adversary in Job 1-2 with Rahab (Job 26) and Leviathan (Job 41). Likewise, perhaps we should associate the tempter in Gen 3 with occultic sea-monsters and river-monsters. And that in turn is a guise for the dark side.  


  1. A very intriguing post! Makes a lot of sense.

    As an aside:


    Cthulhu too? :-)

  2. I always wondered about the war in heaven. Was it before the fall in Eden or is it a future event?