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CT 13.33-34 and Ezekiel 32: lion-dragon myths.


This article examines two combat myths often left out of discussions of divine-conflict stories, discussions which tend to favor the better-known Mesopotamian tale of Marduk fighting Tiamat and the Canaanite tale of Baal, Anat, and Yahweh fighting the likes of Yamm, Lotan/Leviathan, and Mot.

One of these neglected tales, about the deity Tishpak, comes from the Mesopotamian sphere and reflects mythology older than Enuma Elish; the other is much later, from Judah's exilic period, and reflects West Semitic developments of the combat myth. The nature of the beasts with whom the deities battle in these stories is singled out for special attention. These two texts show, in conjunction with other literary sources and iconography, that ancient Near Eastern writers and artists used composite animal imagery - in particular, the juxtaposition of lions and dragons - to demonstrate the preeminence of warriors both human and divine. After examining these two myths individually, this article will conclude by addressing them from a comparative perspective.

I. CT 13.33-34

The Deity Tishpak

Tishpak succeeded Ninazu as the chief god of Eshnunna (Tell Asmar).(1) Remarkably, there has been little attention devoted to this deity in the standard treatments of Mesopotamian religion, even though he may have been a prototype of Marduk. Tishpak has been thought to be a god of thunderstorms;(2) Jacobsen even connected him with the Hurrian god Teshup.(3) It is clear that he does act in the manner of a storm god in his battle with the dragon, yet, as Wiggermann has argued (using Marduk and Ninurta as examples), association with clouds and storms does not necessarily make one a weather god.(4)

The myth of a god battling a seven-headed dragon was common at Eshnunna. Both figures 1 and 2 come from Tell Asmar. Figure 1 shows two unknown gods(5) battling the seven-headed dragon. Three of its heads are engaged in battle while the other four droop down as if already slain. Similarly, the bottom register of figure 2 shows an unknown god holding two heads that he had cut off from the monster. Though both images come from Tell Asmar, we must remain cautious about associating them at once with Tishpak. Tishpak's battles with the basmu and the MUS/labbu are attested (see below), but not his battle with the seven-headed serpent.(6)

We have two other Old Akkadian representations from Eshnunna (one of which is depicted in figure 3) which are more helpful, because they clearly show that Tishpak's sacred animal, like Marduk's, was the mushussu, "dragon" or "terrifying serpent."(7) Both images show the god riding upon the mushussu. The former even bears an inscription referring to Tishpak as the warrior of the gods.(8) Another seal, from Tell Harmal, shows the god with the animal under his feet with the text, "Tispak-gamil, son of Mar-Samas, servant of Samsi-Adad" [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 4 OMITTED].(9)

Tishpak's battle with the dragon is preserved for us in CT 13.33-34 (discovered in the library of Ashurbanipal).(10) This text is usually ignored by those Bible scholars who have looked to the Mesopotamian sphere in search of parallels to divine conflict stories.(11) The tale is most widely recognized through the older translations of L. W. King(12) and Alexander Heidel,(13) both of which are now quite outdated. Two new translations, by J. Bottero and S. N. Kramer and by B. R. Foster, have recently appeared.(14) CT 13.33-34 has received particular attention in a recent study by F. A. M. Wiggermann.(15) According to Wiggermann, the myth belongs originally to the Old Akkadian Period, and functioned as follows: "It translates history, the Old Akkadian overtake in Esnunna [sic], into theology, and justifies Tispak's accession as king . . . as a consequence of his 'liberation' of the nation, sanctioned by the decision of a divine council."(16) The full text of what has been preserved of the myth appears as follows:




1. The cities are distraught, The lands [are thrown into confusion],

2. The nations decreased in number, [all of them in mass upheaval];

3. To their cry of distress no [one ],

4. To their outcry no [one ],(22)

5. "Who [created] the dragon?"

6. "Sea [created] the dragon."

7. Enlil in heaven drew [its picture]:(23)

8. Fifty "miles" is his length, One "mile" [his width],

9. Six cubits his mouth, Twelve cubits [his ];

10. Twelve cubits is the circumference of [his] ea[rs];

11. At sixty cubits he [can snatch] birds;(24)

12. In water nine cubits deep he drags [ ];

13. He raises his tail, he [sweeps the sky].

14. All the gods of heaven [were afraid(?)].

15. In heaven the gods bowed down before [Sin],

16. And [they gra]sped(?) Sin's [robe] by its hem:

17. "Who will go and [slay] the raging dragon,

18. [And] deliver the wide land [ ]

19. And exercise kingship [ ]?"

20. "Go, Tishpak, sl[ay] the raging dragon,

21. And deliver the wide land [ ],

22. And exercise kingship [ ]."(29)

23. You have sent me, O lord,(30) [to slay] the offspring of River;(31)

24. But I am not familiar with the raging dragon's [ways]."

25. [ ] befo[re].

26. [ ] water [ ].

27. [ ]. (lines missing.)


(several lines missing.)

1. [DN(32)] opened his mouth and [spoke] to [Tishpak]:

2. "Burst open the clouds(33) [and make(?)] a violent storm;

3. The seal of your life/throat [ ] before you;

4. Shoot (at him) and sl[ay] the raging dragon."

5. He burst open the clouds [and made(?)] a violent storm,

6. the seal of his life/throat [ ] before him,

7. He shot (at him) and [slew] the raging dragon.

8. For three years (and) three months, day and [night]

9. The blood of the raging dragon flowed [ ].

General Comments

Though, as Lambert notes,(34) "not one of the surviving lines is complete," enough of this myth is preserved to sketch its basic themes with certainty. The extant portion contains the beginning and end of the story. At the outset (lines 1-2) we hear of cities in distress. No reason is given, yet Wiggermann's suggestion(35) that the disaster is a result of the dragon is very plausible. The people's cries of distress (lines 3-4) go unheeded.(36) Someone(37) raises the question of the beast's origin (line 5). Sea (tamtu), widely recognized for giving birth to monster serpents and dragons, is the obvious answer, given in line 6. Yet Enlil, as line 7 makes clear, also had a hand in the dragon's design.(38) A lengthy description of the creature follows (lines 8-13), and it would not be an exaggeration to say that its dimensions (fifty "miles" long and one "mile" wide) are of true mythic proportions (except for the mouth?).

In a scene often found in divine combat myths, the pantheon despairs at the mere sight or description of the opposing beast (lines 14-16).(39) The gods fearfully ask who will slay the dragon and deliver the land (lines 17-18). The reward of kingship is offered to such a victor (line 19). A divine spokesman charges the hero Tishpak with the challenge, repeating in lines 20-22 the words of the cowering gods. Tishpak at first refuses to fight the dragon, evidently claiming that he is not familiar with his adversary's features, capabilities, or modus operandi (lines 23-24). The text then breaks off with what is perhaps another description of the monster's actions.

After presumably being instructed in the art of warfare by a deity (reverse, lines 1-4), Tishpak engages in a cosmic battle with the dragon. The battle scene itself (lines 5-7) involves the storm language of stirred-up clouds, lightning, a violent tempest, and the "cylinder seal of his life/throat," which Jacobsen took to represent thunder.(40) The dragon is slain and his blood flows for three years and three months, day and night (lines 8-9).

The Depiction of the Dragon

The depiction of the dragon is as astonishing as are its proportions. In lines 5 and 6 he is clearly called a serpent (MUS), which accords well with a passage in Der babylonische Gottertypentext describing Tishpak as the one who "treads on the serpent with his two (feet)."(41) Yet the beast is certainly much more than Wakeman's "giant serpent with a tail."(42) Note the physical description of this beast, which exhibits animal characteristics (ears, tail, catching birds) in addition to specifically serpentine characteristics (fifty "miles" long, travels through water). A parallel fragment from KAR 6(43) describes another long basmu-creature with huge eyes whose feet(44) take strides twenty "miles" long. Furthermore, this dragon devours fish, birds, wild asses, and even humans.

Another indication that we are not dealing with a simple serpent is found in lines 17, 20, 24 (obverse), and lines 4, 7, 9 (reverse) where the creature is called a labbu, a common Akkadian word for "lion," used primarily in poetry.(45) To date, only Wiggermann has addressed the problem of the double designation, lion and dragon/serpent.(46) He puts forth the attractive proposal that labbu is an epithet of the dragon meaning "the raging one" (cf. lababu).(47) The labbu in our text certainly is a raging creature, yet more seems to be implied by such a designation.

The choice of the word labbu with its leonine connotations is likely not accidental. I suggest returning to Heidel's notion of a "composite monster or dragon with leonine and serpentine attributes."(48) This recalls E. D. Van Buren's conclusions that "the dragons of later ages all derived from two main types, the leonine and the ophidian."(49) The juxtaposition of serpent and lion reminds us of the snake (MUS) who steals the plant of life in the Gilgamesh Epic (XI: 287) and is also called a nesu sa qaqqari, "lion of the ground" (XI: 296). Elsewhere, there is the unusual description of a snake "roaring like a lion" (siri sa ina bitiya kima nesi [UR.MAH] irmumu).(50) Wiggermann notes both an Ur III incantation which mentions "the lion, the mushussu-dragon which lives in the midst of the sea" and several examples of roaring dragons and the equation of dragons with lions.(51) It is their iconography, however, that reveals to us the real nature of how these two images were used by the ancients in a complementary fashion.

Iconographic Representations

Iconographic representations show that the lion and the serpent/dragon were so closely associated that they could actually be combined into a single composite creature. Several archaic Mesopotamian cylinder seal impressions [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 5 AND 6 OMITTED] represent paired fantastic creatures with lions' bodies and heads, yet long intertwined serpentine necks. An exact parallel to this is found on the back of the Narmer palette ([ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 7 OMITTED]; cf. [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 8 AND 9 OMITTED], also from Egyptian palettes), which Frankfort described as an example of the direct influence of Mesopotamia on Egyptian art.(52) A variant of this same motif is found in figure 10, which has lions' bodies and intertwined necks, yet apparently serpentine rather than feline heads. Compare also figure 11 which exhibits the same motif, although the body is not that of a lion. Finally, figure 12 shows intertwined serpents with what may be lions' heads.

The lion and the serpent have also been described as constituent elements of Tishpak's and Marduk's sacred animal, the mushussu, as depicted on the famous Ishtar Gate of Babylon [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 13 OMITTED] and the seven-headed creature [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 1 AND 14 OMITTED] slain in the cosmic battle.(53)

Additional Juxtapositions of Lions and Serpents/Dragons

The common denominator for associating these two creatures seems to be that they could both inspire paralyzing, heart-stopping fear when encountered.(54) Note the divination text which mentions an attack of a lion or an attack of a snake on the journey: ana harrani (KASKAL) sihit ([GU.sub.4].UD-it) nesi (UR.MAH) lu sihit ([GU.sub.4]UD-it) MUS.(55) Both the lion and the serpent were wild creatures that lived outside civilization and posed a threat to the person who left the security of home for the open road.

Thus, even Wiggermann, who argues that labbu is an epithet ("the raging one") rather than "lion," is forced to admit in a footnote that:

Dragon types (like the mushussu) may have legs, and sometimes leonine heads. Thus, it seems, pirig/labbu, "lion" and mus-dragons are not always distinguished, so that labbu in the Labbu-myth may mean "lion" after all.(56)

In discussing the god Tishpak it is also relevant to look at descriptions of Ninazu. As mentioned above, Tishpak replaced Ninazu as god of Eshnunna and absorbed many of the latter's characteristics. Therefore the description of Ninazu, found in a Sumerian temple hymn, is particularly significant for our discussion.

(Ninazu) is a lion who . . . , pouring out poisonous venom over the hostile land,

Like a south storm, rising against the enemies' land, Like a great dragon raging? against the rebellious land, He envelops the disobedient (like) a raging storm . . . House, your prince (is) a great lion, The enemy hangs down from his claw, Your lord (is) a furious and strong storm . . . The warrior Ninazu.(57) (italics mine)

Note too that both the lion and the serpent/dragon could pour out poisonous venom on the land. Moreover, it was not only the lion whose roar was equated with' thunder:

Like a dragon you have deposited venom on the land, When you roar at the earth like thunder . . . (58)

Finally, if Tishpak is a prototype of Marduk,(59) we may expect Marduk to battle both the serpent/dragon and the lion as characteristic of his kingship. Marduk is well known for his battle with Tiamat and her army. He is described as "the one who wields the mace and treads on the serpent/dragon."(50) Tiamat's formidable army included fierce serpent dragons (usumgalle nadruti),(61) the serpent (basmu), and the dragon (mushussu).(62)

Yet this army also included the great lion (ugallu).(63) Furthermore, Tiamat and her retinue are described as "raging" creatures (Tiamat la-ab-bat, her army na-zar-bu-bu la-ab-bu)!(64) The connection here between lababu "to rage" and the labbu in the Tishpak text is immediately apparent. Most likely through folk etymology,(65) the verb "to rage" was connected with the lion, the animal best known for raging. Thus we get expressions such as labis ilabbabu "they raged like a lion" and labbis annadirma allabib abubis "I rampaged like a lion, raging like a deluge."(66) Thus Marduk fights raging creatures including the serpent, the dragon, and the lion - as did Tishpak.


The first half of Ezekiel 32 contains the sixth prophecy against Egypt and dates (according to the MT of Ezek. 32:1(67)) to March 3, 585, after the destruction of Jerusalem. This poem, together with 29:3-5, tells the story, through vivid language, of how Yahweh will bring Pharaoh Hophra to destruction for his part in the demise of Judah.

Scant attention has been paid to the mythological backdrop of this passage, namely Yahweh's combat against the tannin dragon creature.(68) Quite often the tannin combat myths have been overshadowed by the more famous combat myths of Yahweh battling Yamm, Leviathan, and Mot. Frequently the rich mythic imagery of this text is absent from or obscured by modern English translations. My translation and understanding of this pericope follow.

Ezek. 32:2b-8

2b. You are like(69) a lion(70) among the nations, You are like a dragon(71) in the seas.

You burst forth in your rivers,(72) You stir up the waters with your feet, And foul their(73) rivers.

3. Thus says Yahweh:(74) I will throw my net over you,(75) I(76) will haul you up in my dragnet.

4. I will cast you on the ground, On the open field I will fling you.(77)

I will cause all the birds of the air to settle on you, I will gorge the beasts of the whole(78) earth with you.

5. I will strew your flesh upon the mountains, I will fill the valleys with your carcass.(79)

6. I will drench the land(80) with your flowing blood,(81) The watercourses will be full of you.(82)

7. When I(83) blot you out, I will cover the heavens, I will make the stars dark;

I will cover the sun with a cloud, The moon shall not give its light.

8. All the bright lights of heaven I will blacken over you, I will put darkness upon your land.

General Comments

Many of the numerous mythological motifs underlying this passage have been detailed elsewhere and need only briefly be summarized.(84) The dragon's churning in the waters in 32:2b is found also at Ugarit (KTU 1.83.3-7). The enmeshing of the dragon in 32:3 reminds one of Marduk's battle against Tiamat (Enuma Elis, tablet IV.41, 95, 107, 112). The use of the slain carcass as food for birds and beasts in 32:4 (cf. 29:5) finds a direct parallel in the tannin/Leviathan passage in Ps. 74:13.(85) The size of the dragon mentioned in 32:5-6 is described by Eichrodt "as being so enormous that its decaying masses [sic] fill the mountains and valleys and its life-blood floods the earth and causes a spate in the watercourses."(86) This too is reminiscent of the Labbu's proportions, as well as Tiamat's huge carcass out of which Marduk is able to fashion heaven and earth (Enuma Elis, tablet IV. 129ff.). The large amount of blood in 32:6 which drenches the entire land finds its most direct parallel in the Labbu text, above, which describes the blood of the slain dragon flowing without stop for three years and three months. Lastly, the resulting darkness mentioned in 32:7-8 is occasionally associated with dragon creatures (Job 3:8-9; cf. Ps. 44:20); however, "darkness" is more at home in cosmic eschatologies denoting judgment (cf., for example, Joel 2:10; 3:3-4; 4:15).

The Depiction of the Beast(s)

The tannin-creature in Ezek. 32:2 occurs frequently in the Bible, including the parallel passage, also concerning Pharaoh, in Ezek. 29:3-5. A study of the descriptions of this creature reveals a mixing of dragon and lion imagery.

At times tannin seems to be a simple serpent, as when it parallels peten (Ps. 91:13). Compare the same parallelism in Deut. 32:33 and KTU When Moses' rod turns into a tannin (Exod. 7:9-12), a serpent is surely in mind. Elsewhere, however, the tannin is much more than a serpent and not just the crocodile of outdated scholarship.(87) This dragon creature, occurring in parallel to Yam (Job 7:12),(88) Leviathan (Ps. 74:13; Isa. 27:1), and Rahab (Isa. 51:9), is slain by Yahweh, the Divine Warrior. A mythological dragon bearing the same name (tnn)(89) is also known from Ugarit, where he is slain by Anat (KTU; cf. KTU 1.83.3-11) and Baal (KTU 1.82.1; cf. KTU It seems likely that the biblical tannin-dragon, like his Ugaritic counterpart (as well as Leviathan/Lotan and the dragon in Rev. 12:3), could be pictured from time to time as seven-headed.(90) Cross describes these mixed traditions involving killing seven-headed dragons as "alloforms" of the same basic myth in which Baal/Anat/Yahweh are victorious over Yamm/Nahar.(91)

The tannin here in Ezek. 32:2 is of the second variety, i.e., a mythological dragon engaged by the deity in combat. He is certainly much more than a simple serpent. He even has feet! (Compare [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 1 AND 14 OMITTED].) Yet there is one element of the description of the dragon-creature I have skipped over which has proven somewhat difficult for commentators both ancient and modern. How does one integrate the imagery of a lion that occurs parallel to the tannin in 32:2? The Labbu text examined above may provide a possible ancient Near Eastern backdrop. In 32:2 Pharaoh is described as follows:

You are like a lion among the nations, You are like a dragon in the seas.

How can Pharaoh be likened to a lion and a serpent/dragon at the same time? Eichrodt describes this verse as difficult precisely because of the "juxtaposition of such conflicting objects of comparison as a young lion and a dragon,"(93) and Boadt states similarly that the "mythopoeic image of a lion stands opposed to that of a tannin."(94) Fohrer(95) and [BH.sup.3] even suggest that we make the lion disappear by emending kepir, "lion," to kepi (or kemo) dag yam, "like a fish of the sea."

This supposed incompatibility is not felt just by modern commentators. This tension is found in Targum Jonathan and resolved through typical metaphorical translation: "You were mighty among the nations" (taqqip ba amemayya).

Rashi felt that the lion and the dragon were incompatible and therefore treated the waw of we- atta in Ezek. 32:2 as disjunctive.

You should have been as one lying about in your river according to the manner of fish, and you should not have gone out to the dry land. But you exalted yourself and likened yourself to a lion, the ruler over the dry land, and you went out to tear prey.

Rashi's notion of contrasting these two creatures has been widely accepted by many commentators. The following translation is indicative of many:

You consider yourself a lion among the nations, However you are only a tannin in the seas.(96)

Though this translation is possible, I believe the correct interpretation lies elsewhere. I have tried to demonstrate that there is considerable justification for linking these two creatures in both literature and artistic representation by means of evidence especially from Mesopotamia, the geographical setting for Ezekiel's poems. Any incompatibility between lions and serpent/dragons lies more in the modern mind than the ancient.

Additional Biblical Juxtapositions of Lions and Serpent/Dragons

An investigation into several biblical passages shows that these two creatures were juxtaposed in Israelite as well as in Mesopotamian tradition. Ps. 91:13 presents the very same pairing as the Ezekiel passage:

Upon the lion and the cobra you will tread, You will trample the lion and the serpent.

Elsewhere, Isaiah (while castigating Israel for looking to Pharaoh for protection) declares an oracle concerning the animals of the Negev:

Through a land of trouble and anguish, From where come the lioness and lion, The viper and the darting snake. (Isa. 30:6)(97)

The lion and the serpent are also linked, along with the bear, as dangerous objects of encounter in Amos 5:19:

It will be as though someone fled from a lion only to be met by a bear, As though he entered his house and rested his hand on the wall only to have a snake bite him.(98)

S. Mowinckel, followed by M. Pope, has argued that sahal, a common Hebrew word for "lion," is in fact equal to "a fabulous beast of the serpent (dragon) type" in Job 28:8.(99) Whether or not Mowinckel is right in this equation, we do have sahal and tannin closely associated in Job. In Job 28:8 sahal occurs parallel to bene sa-has (usually translated "proud or haughty beasts") over which tannin is said to be king (hu melek al kol bene sahas [Job 41:26]).(100)

Mowinckel goes on to mention the connection between the lion and the serpent in the etymologies of Hebrew nahas "serpent" = Akkadian nesu "lion" and Ethiopic arwe "serpent" = Hebrew aryeh, ari "lion."(101)

Can tannin Be Equated with mushussu?

One wonders what Ezekiel and his audience in Babylonia pictured when they used the word tannin, particularly when tannin referred to a mythological dragon. The ancient Near Eastern cosmological dragon was a composite creature. Is it too far-fetched to imagine that they equated the tannin dragon-creature with the mushussu dragon regularly represented on the Ishtar Gate and elsewhere?


As can be seen from the foregoing discussion, the association of the lion and the serpent/dragon presents no problems. Here I show that "divine warrior" texts are a very common genre where these two creatures occur, similar to Ezekiel 32 in portraying Yahweh as the Divine Warrior conquering the lion and the tannin.

The lion and the serpent/dragon are used in two primary ways in warrior contexts, the first dealing with the actual conquest of these beasts and the second identifying the warrior with the creature itself.

Both the lion and the serpent/dragon were creatures of power to be feared by humans. Thus it was that a warrior might demonstrate his great ability by overcoming this fear and conquering them. For example, Sulgi describes his ability in the hunt:

Whenever a lion or a panther (?), dragon of the plain, Would come out whither I was marching, I would go fearless (in pursuit) . . . The fight was engaged, and weapons were thrown. The moment a javelin set its bitter teeth in its throat, I would direct my course towards the roar . . . Indeed all alone I would bring the beast down . . . (102)

Similarly Ninurta, the warrior (UR.SAG) par excellence in Mesopotamian literature, counts the lion and the dragon among his war trophies. The following text(103) describes Gudea's act of installing these trophies in Ninurta's temple:

On the facade (of the Eninnu) toward the city, Its place imbued with awe, He installed the seven-headed lion,(104) In the Sugalam, its gate of splendor, He installed the dragon and the palm . . . He installed the lion, fear of the gods . . . Because these were his (Ninurta's) slain warriors.(105)

The lion and the serpent/dragon were also symbols of power and strength. Not only could a warrior demonstrate his power by describing his conquest of the lion or the serpent, he could lay claim to the same power by identifying himself with the terrifying creature. Sulgi claims to have destroyed the lion and the dragon, yet he also announces:

I, the king am a warrior from birth, I, Sulgi, am from birth the powerful man, I am a lion with ferocious look, born of the dragon.(106)

Compare also Lipit-Istar of Isin:

I am a lion who goes before all, I am without opponent. I am a dragon who opens wide the mouth, The great terror of the armies.(107)

The warrior gods also identified themselves with these two creatures. By so doing they incorporated the awesome power of the creature. Another factor to be considered is that many of these gods were also storm deities. The lion, and the bull for that matter,(108) were often chosen as emblems of storm gods. Their roars were equated with thunder.(109)

We see the same development with Ninurta as we saw with Sulgi. Just as Ninurta destroys the lion and dragon, so too he embodies their power:

I (Ninurta) am the Lord, I am the lion of the pure heavens.(110) The foremost lion.(111) (Ninurta) with the power of a lion, The overpowering great serpent.(112)

[Her]r Ninurta, wie Irra vollendet in Heldenkraft, Drache [USUMGAL] mit den Vorderfussen eines Lowen [PIRIG], mit den Hinterfussen eines Adlers, mein [Koni]g, der die Felder des aufsassingen Landes vernichtet, dem der grosse Herr Enlil Kraft verliehen . . . (dir), meinem Konig, erzeugt dein Leib immer wieder wutend Geifer wie der Leib der Schlange [MUS].(113)

(Ninurta), Deluge, untiring sibbu-snake, Set against the hostile land.(114)

Inanna/Istar is the deity most frequently associated with the lion.(115) labbatu, "lioness," occurs as her epithet alone.(116) She is the "Lioness among the Igigi."(117) She drives seven lions(118) in her war chariot, and Nabonidus harnesses for Istar these seven lions who are called the "symbol of her divinity."(119) Her iconography shows her seated on a lion throne [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 19 OMITTED] and standing [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 20 OMITTED] or treading ([ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 21 OMITTED](120) and [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 22 OMITTED]) upon the lion.

Yet she too is associated with the serpent/dragon. A Sumerian temple hymn calls her the "great dragon (USUMGAL) of the Nigingar"(121) or the "great dragon who speaks inimical words to the wicked."(122) She is the one to whom like a dragon (USUMGAL) the power of destruction is given.(123) The Exaltation of Inanna vividly describes Inanna in her warrior/storm imagery:

Like a dragon you have deposited venom on the land, When you roar at the earth like thunder, No vegetation can stand up to you. A flood descending from its mountain, Oh foremost one, you are the Inanna of heaven and earth! Raining the fanned fire down upon the nation, Endowed with me's by An, lady mounted on a beast.(124)

We have seen two ways in which the lion and the serpent/dragon were used as symbols of strength and awesome power. A warrior/deity could demonstrate might by conquering these creatures or could call himself by the names of these creatures, thereby identifying his power with theirs. A third symbolic use is a mixture of these two. For example, Ninurta, in The Return of Ninurta to Nippur, takes on the features of the "exceedingly mighty lion-headed one of Enlil"(125) and "the lion, who received the fearsome me's in Apsu."(126) He declares: "My battle, like a great overflowing flood . . . with a lion's body and a lion's muscles, it rises up in the rebellious lands."(127) Yet in this same text he also is the one who "wields the 7-headed mace which slays the 7-fanged serpent" [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 23 OMITTED].(128) He hangs on his war chariot the trophies of war including the dragon and the seven-headed serpent(129) [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURES 1, 2, AND 14 OMITTED].

Of relevance is a vase of green steatite found at the Early Dynastic II temple of Inanna at Nippur which shows a lion (or leopard) engaged in battle with a huge serpent [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 24 OMITTED]. On the back of the base is the inscription "Inanna and the serpent"!(130) In other words, Inanna, in the form of a feline, is dueling the mythological serpent.

Returning to the Bible, we find ample evidence of Yahweh's battling the mythological dragon,(131) although Yahweh is never identified with such a beast. There is no explicit reference to Yahweh hunting lions, perhaps because it would have been deemed too anthropomorphic. Yet Yahweh's identification with the lion, the king of the beasts (Prov. 30:30), was a natural development. Yahweh roars like a lion (Amos 1:2, 3:8) and commands lions for his purposes (1 Kings 20:36). The lion is also used as a metaphor for Yahweh's destructive power unleashed against his enemies (Isa. 31:4; Hos. 5:14, 13:7-8; Jer. 49:19). Additional Canaanite material (evaluating Israelite material as Canaanite material) is readily available. For example, Asherah (atiratu yammi, "she who treads the sea"?) is known as both the "One of the Lion" (labitu) and the "One of the Serpent" (tannittu/dat batni).(132)


The Shared Elements of CT 13 and Ezekiel 32

Scholars of the Bible have expended much energy looking for motifs connecting Ezekiel 32 with Egypt, and rightly so.(133) The biblical narrators chose divine combat myths involving dragons or the sea to illustrate ancient Israel's battles with Egypt more than with any other nation.(134) Thus scholars illustrate the backdrop of Ezek. 32:2 by depicting life on the Nile (e.g., crocodile hunting) and documenting occurrences of the title "lion" indicating Pharaoh's royal power.(135)

Unfortunately, such approaches tend to neglect the text's historical context, namely, a prophet who had dwelt in Mesopotamian exile since 597 B.C.E.(136) Ezekiel surely drew upon Mesopotamian art and literature to illustrate his work for his audience. The historical background underlying Ezekiel's literary activity (between 593-571 B.C.E., to judge from the dates given in the book) falls within the reign of Nebuchadrezzar II (604-562 B.C.E.), whose achievements include the rebuilding of the Ishtar Gate, itself replete with reliefs of the mushussu-dragon. The same king had also confronted Hophra, the pharaoh in Ezekiel 32 (cf. Jer. 37:5). With a nice twist of irony, Ezekiel describes this Babylonian king in the following verses as the one who will bring about Egypt's demise (Ezek. 32:11-14).

While Ezekiel 32 is certainly not dependent on the Labbu myth (CT 13.33-34),(137) it is, nonetheless, very instructive to look for common traditions and the shared legacy of motifs.

CT 13.33 - 34 and Ezekiel 32 contain similar images. Both deities direct their attacks against antagonists portrayed with leonine and serpent/dragon imagery. In CT 13.33 - 34, Tishpak fights what seems to be a composite creature of leonine and dragon character. In Ezekiel 32, the lion and the tannin are not "conflicting objects of comparison" as Eichrodt would have it.(138) Not only are they compatible due to their fearsomeness, they are complementary images occurring together, especially in warrior contexts. In other words, this verse need not contrast Pharaoh as the royal king of the beasts with a lowly dragon creature of the slime and mud.(139) The tannin is no lowly creature who just muddies waters. Rather, he is as awesome and grand as the lion. Pharaoh is then both a mighty lion and a powerful tannin (cf. hattannin haggadol in 29:3) whom Yahweh slays to demonstrate his sovereignty.

Tishpak's dragon is a water creature, the "offspring of River," of immense proportions, especially in length (obverse, lines 8-12). Likewise, the dragon Yahweh battles is a water creature (32:2) of enormous size, whose carcass is so huge that it fills mountains and valleys (32:5-6). Both dragons are restless creatures. The labbu is "the raging one" who brought destruction to the cities. Pharaoh, notes Ezekiel, also played a part in Israel's demise (29:7). Pictured as a raging dragon, he churns and muddies the water with his thrashing (Ezek. 32:2). It may be possible to describe even Tishpak's dragon as the "lord of the stirred-up (muddied) waters" or among "the thrashing creatures (who muddy?) the waters."(140)

Tishpak's battle scene involved the storm language of bursting clouds and violent tempest which is common in most divine combat myths, including those of the Bible. The book of Ezekiel frequently uses storm imagery, including storm clouds and darkness (30:3, 18; 32:7; 34:12; 38:9, 16) as well as torrential rains and stormy winds (13:11, 13; 38:22) to describe Yahweh's judgment. In Ezek. 32:7-8 the image is one of darkening skies. Tishpak's battle concludes with a reference to the dragon's blood flowing for three years and three months, day and night. Similarly, the death of Ezekiel's dragon (32:6) results in a drenching bloodflow which is of such quantity that it fills, not only the watercourses, but also, according to a translator's gloss,(141) the entire land up to the mountain (tops).(142)

The Differences between CT 13.33-34 and Ezekiel 32

In the past, scholars have been too eager to see the Marduk versus Tiamat myth in Ezekiel 32:2, based solely on the use of the net in 32:3.(143) Even though I have documented more than the one parallel of the net, proper comparative methodology cautions against drawing hasty conclusions about shared traditions. There are significant differences between the two traditions discussed above, not the least of which are Sitz im Leben, chronology, function, and literary Gattung.

The Labbu myth in CT 13.33-34, according to Wiggermann, "does not treat cosmological questions." Tishpak, whose preeminence is promoted through the tale, "plays his part as a city god and warrior and not as a representative of some cosmic force."(144) Only later in Enuma Elish does the plot found in this myth develop into a cosmic battle which results in the foundation of the universe.(145) Although the divine combat myths against Egypt in Ezekiel 29 and 32 do not form the basis of cosmology either, it is for different reasons. While Yahweh battle myths are associated elsewhere with creation,(146) we see here the commonly used historicization of epic material as it applied to Egypt, the traditional historical foe dating back to Exodus lore.(147) In particular, the oracles against Egypt (Ezek. 29-32) are connected with a specific pharaoh, Hophra, known for his challenge to Nebuchadrezzar (cf. Jer. 37:5). Ezekiel illustrates how Hophra's hubris, like that of the king of Tyre, proves his demise.(148) Pharaoh, a mighty warrior and hunter, was the "living lion . . . slayer of his enemies."(149) Yet here the tables are turned. The hunter becomes the hunted. The great "lion" and "dragon" becomes the victim.

Ezekiel's portrayal of God's battle against Hophra was not written to underscore a Davidic ruler's claim to the throne, but the preeminence of Yahweh as sovereign God and divine warrior in contrast to all others, deities or mere human potentates like Hophra. The reason for the destruction of Egypt, as the author repeatedly emphasizes using characteristic terminology, is so that all nations, including Egypt, may know "that Yahweh is the Lord."(150)

Ezekiel reflects primarily West Semitic traditions, yet we must not underestimate how his East Semitic setting may have colored his portrait. The juxtaposition of Ezek. 32:2-8 with CT 13.33-34 helps us understand the raw material and images which formed part of the cultural backdrop for Ezekiel. One need only look to the composite images in Ezekiel's opening visions to recognize his dependency on motifs found in Mesopotamian art and literature. It is not too bold to suggest that his depiction of the combat myth in Ezekiel 32 also blended West and East Semitic imagery.

1 T. Jacobsen, "The Chief God of Eshnunna," in Tel Asmar and Khafaje, ed. H. Frankfort, et al., OIC 13 (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1932), 55-59.

2 Jacobsen, "The Chief God of Eshnunna," 53-54. Cf. J. J. M. Roberts, The Earliest Semitic Pantheon (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1972), 53-54. Jacobsen (Toward the Image of Tammuz, ed. W. L. Moran [Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1970], 34) referred to Tishpak as a rain god in origin, suggesting that his name may mean "the Down-pouring One" (cf. AHw, s.v. sapaku). Note Roberts' reservations regarding such a proposal.

3 Jacobsen, "The Chief God of Eshnunna," 52. Cf. the opposing view of J. J. A. van Dijk, "Vert comme Tispak," Orientalia 38 (1969): 539-47.

4 F. A. M. Wiggermann, "Tispak, His Seal, and the Dragon mushussu," in To the Euphrates and Beyond: Archaeological Studies in Honour of Maurits N. van Loon, ed. O. Haex et al. (Rotterdam: Balkema, 1989), 120.

5 G. A. Rendsburg, "UT 68 and the Tell Asmar Seal," Orientalia 53 (1984): 448-52, suggests that this seal is "but another example of the continuous narrative or linear sequence in ancient art" (p. 452). Thus he advocates only one deity here attacking the dragon twice.

6 On the other hand, Ninurta's battle with the seven-headed serpent is documented (see note 104 below).

7 The other figure may be found in R. M. Boehmer, Die Entwicklung der Glyptik wahrend der Akkad-Zeit (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1965), #571. See also Wiggermann, "Tispak, His Seal, and the Dragon mushussu," 120-21; W. G. Lambert, "The History of the mushus in Ancient Mesopotamia," in L'Animal, l'homme, le dieu dans le proche orient ancien, ed. P. Borgeaud et al. (Leuven: Editions Peeters, 1985), 89-92; E. Porada, "The Iconography of Death in Mesopotamia in the Early Second Millennium B.C.," in Death in Mesopotamia, ed. Bendt Alster (Copenhagen: Akademisk Forlag, 1980), 262; and H. Frankfort, S. Lloyd, and T. Jacobsen, The Gimilsin Temple and the Palace of the Rulers at Tell Asmar, OIP 43 (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1940), 183.

8 Already noticed by Lambert, "The History of the mus-hus," 92. Lambert goes on to describe the six other seals in Boehmer's (Die Entwicklung der Glyptik wahrend der Akkad-Zeit) collection (nos. 565-66, 568-70, 572) which bear similar motifs or inscriptions but which do not provide us with exact provenances or pedigrees. Lambert concludes that "the evidence strongly suggests that in Old Akkadian times the mushussu was a symbol of Tispak, god of the town of Esnunna" (p. 92).

9 H. Frankfort, Stratified Cylinder Seals from the Diyala Region, OIP 72 (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1955), 49; plate 61, no. 649; L. Werr, "A Note on the Seal Impression IM 52599 from Tell Harmal," JCS 30 (1978): 62-64; Porada, "The Iconography of Death," 262-63.

10 Tishpak's identity as the divine protagonist is never made explicit, yet it is beyond doubt (contra A. Heidel, The Babylonian Genesis, 2nd ed. [Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1951], 142). Cf. Wiggermann, "Tispak, His Seal, and the Dragon mushussu," 119-20.

11 When the text is mentioned by Bible scholars, it is only in passing. M. K. Wakeman (God's Battle With the Monster [Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1973], 13-14) devotes one brief paragraph, summarized from Heidel's translation. Other scholars (e.g., Rendsburg, "UT 68 and the Tell Asmar Seal," 448-52; M. Smith, The Early History of God [San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1990], 52) use the iconographic material from Tell Asmar to illustrate Canaanite texts, bypassing any reference to Tishpak, the god of Eshnunna, or to CT 13.33-34.

12 L. W. King, Enuma Elish: The Seven Tablets of Creation (New York: AMS, 1976) 117-21 (reprint of the 1902 edition).

13 Heidel, The Babylonian Genesis, 141-43.

14 J. Bottero and S. N. Kramer, Lorsque les dieux faisaient l'homme (Paris: Gallimard, 1989), 464-69; B. R. Foster, Before the Muses: An Anthology of Akkadian Literature, vol. I (Bethesda, Md.: CDL Press, 1993), 488-89.

15 Wiggermann, "Tispak, His Seal, and the Dragon mushussu," 117-33. Cf. also the remarks by W. G. Lambert, "Ninurta Mythology in the Babylonian Epic of Creation," in Keilschriftliche Literaturen, ed. K. Hecker and W. Sommerfeld (Berlin: Reimer, 1986), 55-56; and idem, "Old Testament Mythology in its Ancient Near Eastern Context," in Congress Volume Jerusalem 1986, ed. J. A. Emerton, VTSup 40 (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1988), 138.

16 Wiggermann, "Tispak, His Seal, and the Dragon mushussu," 124.

17 Following W. L. Moran (personal communication). Cf. CAD s.v. dalahu and esu. Wiggermann ("Tispak, His Seal, and the Dragon mushussu," 117) reconstructs, "the people have decreased in number o[n the earth]": e-[li er-se-ti].

18 Reconstructed on the basis of i-na tamti (A.AB.BA) ib-ba-ni MUSba-[as-mu] "the dragon was created in the sea" in KAR 6 ii 21. See Foster, Before the Muses, 486.

19 Following W. L. Moran (personal communication). Wiggermann ("Tispak, His Seal, and the Dragon mushussu," 126, n. 7) reconstructs:

"in the water it stretches out [its neck (or head)] [kisassu (or resesu-)] nine cubits,

[in the sea] i-[na tam-ti] it raises its tail."

20 Sin also read by Heidel (The Babylonian Genesis, 142); CAD, S, 325 (cf. Lambert, "Old Testament Mythology," 140); and Foster (Before the Muses, 488). Wiggermann ("Tispak, His Seal, and the Dragon mushussu," 127, n. 9) restores Aruru based on KAR 6 ii 9ff. "where she plays an important part in choosing the champion of the gods." Bottero and Kramer (Lorsque les dieux faisaient l'homme, 465) reconstruct Ea.

21 CAD, S, 325 s.v. sissiktu, restores "and Sin's [face?] was darkened with the edge of his garment" ur-ru-[pu panusu]. Wiggerman ("Tispak, His Seal, and the Dragon mushussu," 119), reads Nannaru (d30-rum) "to avoid the preposition before TUG.SIG-su." Foster (Before the Muses, 488) reconstructs "in has[te]."

22 Several different reconstructions have been proposed: (a) Jacobsen ("The Chief God of Eshnunna," 53; cf. Lambert, "Ninurta Mythology," 55) reconstructs the following on the basis of Atrahasis:

"Because of their noise [Enlil] cannot . . . ;" a-na iq-qil-li-si-na ul [ . . . . dEn-lil]

"because of their roaring he cannot [sleep]" a-na rim-ma-ti-si-na ul i-sab-[bat-su sit-tu].

(b) Wiggermann ("Tispak, His Seal, and the Dragon mushussu," 117-18) raises several astute objections to Jacobsen's interpretation. The outcry here is not to be associated with human noise depriving Enlil of sleep (as with Atrahasis). Rather, the cries of distress here are more likely due to the dragon's presence and hence do not constitute a motive for destruction by Enlil. Wiggermann reconstructs these lines as follows:

"to their noise [Furious-Snake does] not [pay attention]" u[li-qa-al MUS.HUS],

"on their cries he has no [pity]" i-sab-[bat re-e-ma].

(c) Bottero and Kramer (Lorsque les dieux faisaient l'homme, 464) translate:

Mais a leurs cris de detresse, [Les dieux] ne [prenaient point garde (?)], Ils ne pre[taient nulle attention (?) a leurs clameurs [. . .]."

23 Wiggermann ("Tispak, His Seal, and the Dragon mushussu," 117) reconstructs, "but Enlil in heaven designed [its form]" u-sur-ta-su. Bottero and Kramer (Lorsque les dieux faisaient l'homme, 465, 467) translate "la silhouette (?)" and comment: "il existait, en effect, une constellation dire 'du Dragon', et c'en est apparemment la l'etiologie." See also Wiggermann, 127, n. 8; Foster, Before the Muses, 488, n. 1.

24 Bottero and Kramer (Lorsque les dieux faisaient l'homme, 465) add "[de sa langue(?)]."

25 Following W. L. Moran (personal communication).

26 Following the restoration by Wiggermann ("Tispak, His Seal, and the Dragon mushussu," 119).

27 Wiggermann ("Tispak, His Seal, and the Dragon mushussu," 119) restores du-[uk].

28 The text ends here. The bottom part of the tablet has the common colophon, E. GAL IdAssur-bani(DU)-apli(DUMU.NITA) LUGAL-su LUGAL etc.

29 Wiggermann ("Tispak, His Seal, and the Dragon mushussu," 119) notes that the "kingship that is offered here to the victor is certainly not that over the gods [as in Enuma Elish], but that over the nation he saves from peril."

30 A rare vocative? Cf. von Soden, GAG [section]62j. The identity of this deity is not specified, but it is probably the same deity as in lines 15-16 (see note 20 above).

31 This translation follows Wiggermann ("Tispak, His Seal, and the Dragon mushussu," 119) and Bottero and Kramer (Lorsque les dieux faisaient l'homme, 465). The syntax is difficult. It is also possible to read dal-hu-ut rather than ri-hu-ut "the thrashing (muddying) creatures (pl.) of the River" or "the lord of the stirred up (muddied) waters"(?). Cf. L. W. King's "the raging (creatures) [dalhuti ] of the river" (Enuma Elish, 119), assuming that "the dragon had other creatures to help her in the fight."

The context (especially obverse line 6) argues for the present translation with the dragon who is slain being called the "offspring of River." Syntactically it would be easier to translate "you sent me, lord of the offspring of river . . ." (so Foster, Before the Muses, 488). In that case the identity of the deity could be Sea who regretted creating the dragon. This would accord with MAD I, 192 which calls Tishpak abarak tiamtim, "the steward of Tiamat." See A. Westenholz, "Old Akkadian School Texts," AfO 25 (1976-1977): 102; CAD, A/1, 34.

32 Bottero and Kramer (Lorsque les dieux faisaient l'homme, 465) reconstruct "[Ea (?)]" as does Foster, Before the Muses, 489.

33 W. L. Moran (personal communication) suggests in sushit urpa a reference to lightning. He notes the Gtn of sahatu, said of lightning, and the line in Anzu sihtuka lu siru, "make the clouds jump/leap (with lightning)" (LKA 1 tab. II 14; STT 21 tab. II 14). See W. W. Hallo and W. L. Moran, "The First Tablet of the SB Recension of the Anzu-Myth," JCS 31 (1979): 95, n. 47.

34 Lambert, "Ninurta Mythology," 55.

35 See note 26 above.

36 Due to the broken nature of the text, I prefer not to reconstruct either Enlil (so Jacobsen), the dragon (so Wiggermann), or the gods (so Bottero and Kramer). See note 26 above.

37 Wiggermann ("Tispak, His Seal, and the Dragon mushussu," 118) suggests a member of the divine assembly who is then answered by a divine messenger "sent by the gods to find out what is happening on earth."

38 It is debatable to what degree Enlil was more involved in this tale. Jacobsen suggested that Enlil decided to destroy mankind due to its noise that deprived him of sleep. Wiggermann argued against Jacobsen (see note 26 above), proposing that Enlil was angered by the absence of a divine ruler and thus had Sea create the dragon ("Tispak, His Seal, and the Dragon mushussu," 118, 126). The extant text mentions only Enlil's designing the dragon, nothing of his anger or motive. The broken text does not even say that he was responsible for sending the beast, although this is a logical inference.

39 For Canaanite examples of this pattern see F. M. Cross, Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1973), 93.

40 Jacobsen, "The Chief God of Eshnunna," 54. Wiggermann ("Tispak, His Seal, and the Dragon mushussu," 125) argues that we should translate "your/his very own (seal)." Bottero and Kramer (Lorsque les dieux faisaient l'homme, 468) suggest "un usage possible de cette masse de pierre, plus ou moins lourde et qui pouvait constituer une arme de choc, comme on contait qu'avait ete assassine le fils du grand Sargon, Rimus . . . 'a coups de sceaux-cylindres, pars ses officiers.'"

41 ina killatesu basma kabis sumsu (MU.BI) dTispak. F. Kocher, "Der babylonische Gottertypentext," MIO 1 (1953): 80, vi 3-4.

42 God's Battle with the Monster, 43.

43 See the treatments by Bottero and Kramer, Lorsque les dieux faisaient l'homme, 466; Heidel, The Babylonian Genesis, 143; and E. Ebeling, "Ein Fragment aus dem Mythos von der grossen Schlange," OLZ 19 (1916): 106-8.

44 sepasu reconstructed by Ebeling, "Ein Fragment aus dem Mythos," 107; CAD, A/I, 325, and others.

45 Faced with the fact that the creature described in CT 13 is clearly a sea dragon, J. J. M. Roberts (Earliest Semitic Pantheon, 116, n. 444) relates labbu to West Semitic lwytn (Hebrew) and ltn (Ugaritic) from the root lawu, "to encircle." labbu would therefore be a parras formation meaning "the twisting one." Yet labbu in our text is never spelled with a long second vowel. In addition, it is a well-known word in Akkadian for "lion," developing as follows: labbu<labu<lab u.

46 "Tispak, His Seal, and the Dragon mushussu," 118. Wiggermann does point out Lambert's attempt to suggest alternative readings to lab-bu (i.e., kal-bu, rib-bu, tan-bu).

47 Cf. also Bottero and Kramer, Lorsque les dieux faisaient l'homme, 466.

48 Heidel, The Babylonian Genesis, 141. See now Foster's "lion-serpent" (Before the Muses, 488) as well.

49 E. D. Van Buren, "The Dragon in Ancient Mesopotamia," Orientalia 15 (1946): 3. Van Buren's suggestions that dragons were not hostile to the deities (pp. 1-45 passim) and that the labbu was a male "lion-demon" who served as a counterpart to the female Tiamat (pp. 23-24) must be set aside as uncertain.

50 KAR 388:12.

51 "Tispak, His Seal, and the Dragon mushussu," 126, n. 5.

52 H. Frankfort, The Birth of Civilization in the Near East (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1956), 125.

53 Lambert, "The History of the mus-hus," 87. Compare also the winged leopard-snake of the Gudea vase [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 15 OMITTED]. See the important work on animals from Mesopotamia including the lion and the various types of serpents and dragons by B. Landsberger, "Die Fauna des alten Mesopotamien," Abhandlungen der Sachsischen Akademie der Wissenschaften 42 (1934): 1-144; and the iconographic analysis of Van Buren, "The Dragon in Ancient Mesopotamia," 1-45.

54 Neriglissar mentions the added advantage of having the musuhussu on the gates because they can "spatter enemy and foe with deadly venom" (VAB IV, 210, i 26f.; Lambert, "The History of the mus-hus," 87).

55 Boissier, Choix, 63.9. Cf. Gen. 49:17.

56 Wiggermann, "Tispak, His Seal, and the Dragon mushussu," 126, n. 5.

57 A. Sjoberg and E. Bergmann, The Collection of Sumerian Temple Hymns, TCS 3 (Locust Valley, N.Y.: Augustin, 1969), 42-43.

58 W. W. Hallo and J. J. A. Van Dijk, The Exaltation of Inanna (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1968), 14-17. See also figure 16.

59 Wiggermann ("Tispak, His Seal, and the Dragon mushussu," 121) speaks of Marduk's "usurpation" of the mushussu and suggests that "Hammurabi's conquest of Esnunna, the city of Tispak, was translated into mythology (as reflected in the cult) and freed the animal of Tispak for use by his adversary Marduk." But note the cautionary remarks of Lambert, "The History of the mus-hus in Ancient Mesopotamia," 87-94, and "Ninurta Mythology," 55-60. Note especially that the mushussu is not restricted to Tishpak and Marduk.

60 ta-me-eh me-ti ka-bi-is u-sum-gal-li (KAR 104:29). E. Ebeling, "Quellen zur Kenntnis der babylonischen Religion I," MVAG (1918): 75.

61 Enuma Elis, tab. I.117; II.23; III.27, 85.

62 Enuma Elis, tab. I.121; II.27; III.31, 89.

63 Enuma Elis, tab. I.122, II.28; III.32, 90.

64 Enuma Elis, tab. II. 12, 17; III. 16, 21, 74, 79.

65 lababu "to rage" is found only in SB texts. Therefore, it could be a denominative verb from labbu. However, the derivative libbatu "anger, wrath" occurs from OA and OB on. Thus the connection is probably one of folk etymology. As noted above (note 45), labbu most likely developed labbu<labu<lab u. Doubling is not expressed in OAkk and OA, leading one to suspect that labbu might be rendered in those periods as la-bu. From such data it is impossible to tell. However, the spelling of OA la-ab-i-im suggests the development as I have given it. Note the similar development (though with an i vowel) of hittu<hitu<hit u (von Soden, GAG, [section]20d).

66 Cf. CAD, L, 7.

67 LXX manuscripts and Syr. put the date at March 13, 586.

68 Note should be made of the following treatments: H. Gunkel, Schopfung und Chaos in Urzeit und Endzeit (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1921), 71-77; J. Day, God's Conflict with the Dragon and the Sea (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1985), 94-95; Wakeman, God's Battle, 69ff.

69 W. Zimmerli (Ezekiel 2, Hermenia [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1983 (German ed., 1969)], 154) suggests that we could read kkpyr yet acknowledges that a change in the text "is not absolutely necessary." Another possible reading for nidmeta in Ezek. 32:2 is "you are destroyed" from DMH II. This would fit the following description of the destruction of the beast. The parallelism as well as the versions argue for DMH I. See Zimmerli for bibliography and other suggested emendations.

70 The majority of LXX manuscripts render kepir by leon and tannin by drakon. It should be noted that, on two occasions (Job 4:10; 38:39), LXX translators chose drakon to translate kepir (see note 98 below).

71 The spelling of tannim for the usual tannin occurs here and in Ezek. 29:3. This is either a by-form or a misspelling due perhaps to confusion with the plural of tan.

72 Zimmerli's emendation (Ezekiel, 2:154), "with your nostrils" (following Ewald; so too W. Eichrodt [Ezekiel (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1970), 430] and J. W. Wevers [Ezekiel (London: Nelson, 1969), 240-41), is not necessary and has no support in the versions.

73 Many scholars read "your rivers" following LXX; yet MT represents the lectio difficilior.

74 I prefer the shorter reading here. adonay is not in LXX.

75 Viewing, as do most scholars, MT's "with a host of many peoples" as a gloss.

76 Zimmerli is certainly correct when he notes (Ezekiel, 2:155) that MT's plural verb was a later accommodation to the gloss mentioned in the previous note. LXX's first person (with Yahweh as subject) is preferable. Thus read ha alitika.

77 The Vorlage underlying the LXX reading ("will be full of you") seems to be ml k, as noted by Zimmerli (Ezekiel, 2:155) and others. The graphic similarity between ml k and MT's tylk is apparent. It is hard to say which reading led to the other, yet the occurrence of ml in the next verse may have occasioned the mistake. The consistent use of the first person throughout this passage would also seem to argue for tylk. On the other hand, this consistency could also have influenced an assimilation of an original ml k to tylk.

78 Scholars commonly read kl hyt h rs (or hsdh) following LXX as opposed to MT's hyt kl h rs. MT's is a lectio difficilior while the LXX reading more likely assimilates to the kl wp of the preceding verse and/or the frequent expression kl hyt hsdh in Ezek. 31:6, 13; 34:5, 8; 39:17.

79 MT's "with your height" is perplexing. G. A. Cooke (The Book of Ezekiel, ICC [Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1936], 348) suggests "high heaps of bodies." LXX apo tou haimatos sou ("from your blood") seems to be occasioned by the same expression (middameka) in the next verse. The translation "carcass" or "corpse" (see Eichrodt, Zimmerli, and most translations) is derived from RMM, "to rot, decay" (cf. rimma; Arabic ramma; Ugaritic rmm). This translation is followed by the majority of scholars who read rimmateka (cf. Sym. ton skolekon sou). For yet another, although less likely, alternative, see L. Boadt, Ezekiel's Oracles Against Egypt (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1980), 137-38.

80 MT's el heharim "even to the mountains" seems to be a gloss occasioned by verse 5a. Zimmerli notes (Ezekiel, 2:155) that this could have been added secondarily to contrast apiqim.

81 sapateka is a hapax legomenon seemingly from SWP "to flow." The meaning (given the following middameka "from your blood" which seems to be a gloss) certainly has to do with blood. Other scholars (e.g., H. Gunkel, Schopfung und Chaos in Urzeit und Endzeit, 73) emend to s tk with the same meaning "your issue/outflow (of bodily fluids)." L. Boadt's suggestion (Ezekiel's Oracles Against Egypt, 139) that we keep the entire MT as a tricolon, while plausible, is not probable.

82 Zimmerli (Ezekiel, 2:155) and others read middameka "of your blood" for MT's mimmeka, "of you."

83 Though Yahweh as the subject is unexpressed, it is implied.

84 Cf. H. Gunkel, Schopfung und Chaos in Urzeit und Endzeit, 71-77.

85 I am not saying that I have exhausted the author's raw material when I underscore the imagery of divine combat myths underlying this material. Zimmerli (Ezekiel, 2:160, n. 12, following Muller) notes how similar vocabulary may be found in human battle scenes, such as those described in the annals of Tiglath-Pileser III.

86 Eichrodt, Ezekiel, 432-33. Cf. Zimmerli, who remarks: "the 'monster' is not simply a normal beast of normal size, but . . . a 'world beast' of cosmic dimensions" (Ezekiel, 2:160).

87 For a critique of those equating the tannin-dragon with a crocodile, see J. Day, God's Conflict with the Dragon and the Sea, 94-95. This is not to say that divine combat myths did not often utilize hunting imagery. Cf. K. W. Whitney, "The Place of the 'Wild Beast Hunt' of Sib. Or. 3.806 in Biblical and Rabbinic Traditions," JSJ 25 (1994): 68-81.

88 Cf. D. A. Diewert, "Job 7:12: Yam, Tannin and the Surveillance of Job," JBL 106 (1987): 203-15.

89 Most likely vocalized tunnanu to judge from Ugaritica V 137, line 8' (tu-un-na-nu).

90 Cf. M. Dahood, Psalms, Anchor Bible, vol. 17 (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1968), 2:199, 206; and O. Eissfeldt, "Gott und das Meer," in Kleine Schriften, vol. 3 (Tubingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1966), 259, n. 2, who emends the MT of Ps. 74:13 to read tannin (singular).

91 Cross, Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic, 149. Cf. Gunkel, Schopfung und Chaos, 69-81; and Wakeman, God's Battle with the Monster, 68-82.

92 See note 71 above.

93 Eichrodt, Ezekiel, 431.

94 Boadt, Ezekiel's Oracles Against Egypt, 130.

95 G. Fohrer, Ezechiel, HAT (Tubingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1955), 177.

96 Boadt, Ezekiel's Oracles Against Egypt, 129; S. Freehof, Book of Ezekiel (New York: UAHC, 1978), 184-85; W. Eichrodt, Ezekiel, 430; J. B. Taylor, Ezekiel (Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter-Varsity, 1969), 208; W. H. Boulton, The Book of the Prophet Ezekiel (Birmingham: Christadelphian, 1962), 137; D. Bruno, Ezekiel (Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1959), 140; H. May, The Book of Ezekiel, The Interpreter's Bible, 6 (New York: Abingdon, 1955), 238; G. Holscher, Hesekiel (Giessen: Topelmann, 1924), 156; C. H. Toy, The Prophet Ezekiel (New York: Dodd, Mead and Co., 1899), 54; and the RSV, NRSV translations.

NJPS (cf. NAB also) totally obscures the parallelism with its "O great beast of the nations, you are doomed."

A notable exception is Qimhi, who, though he saw kepir goyim nidmeta as meaning "like a young lion among the beasts of the field, thus you were among the nations" (kmw kpyr rywt btwk hyt hsdh kn ndmyt th btwk hgwym), still described the tannin as "the great dragon" (htnym hgdwl) (cf. 29:3), not some lesser creature.

97 The oracle here is against the bahamot of the Negev. Compare also the parallel between behemot and zohale apar (serpents?) in Deut. 32:24. See too the broken text in CTA 19:223, where lion may be parallel to serpent.

98 For yet further collocations of lions and dragons, one should also compare Job 4:10 and 38:39. In both of these passages kepir is rendered by LXX as drakon (see note 70 above). Should one counter (weakly, in my opinion) that the LXX Vorlage of each of these passages was tannin (the most common word translated by drakon), the collocation would still be intact (tannin//aryeh, labi, or sahal).

99 S. Mowinckel, "sahal," in Hebrew and Semitic Studies Presented to G. R. Driver, ed. D. W. Thomas and W. D. McHardy (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963), 95-103; M. Pope, Job, Anchor Bible, vol. 15 (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1965), 202. Mowinckel reconstructs as follows: "Originally lamedhethshin may have meant the serpent dragon, the mythical wyvern or 'Lindwurm'. Because of the combination of serpent (dragon) and lion in mythopoetical and artistic fancy [see the discussion of iconography above], it has also been adopted as a term for the lion" (p. 103).

100 bene sahas occurs only in Job 28:8 and 41:26.

101 S. Mowinckel, "sahal," 98. This was previously recognized by P. Jensen in his review of R. Campbell Thompson's The Epic of Gilgamesh, in OLZ 32 (1929): 650. S. A. Kaufman (personal communication) has drawn my attention to the fact that the Ethiopic expression for a serpent is actually arwe medr, "animal of the ground," not arwe alone. See W. Leslau, Comparative Dictionary of Geez (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1987), 40. On the other hand, Mowinckel's suggestion ("sahal," 100) that nahas can equal sahal through a roundabout reciprocal dissimilation and metathesis (nhs[greater than]lhs[greater than]shl) is strained.

102 The translation here is that of G. R. Castellino, Two Sulgi Hymns (Rome: Istituto di Studi del Vicino Oriente, 1972), 36-39, 117-119 (IV. 60-62, 65-67, 75). The royal hunt could go beyond the killing of a simple beast. Compare figure 17 where the lion is portrayed as a fantastic creature with wings and bird-like talons similar to the beast of the divine battle [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 18 OMITTED].

103 The text and translation are those of J. Cooper, The Return of Ninurta to Nippur (Rome: Pontificium Institutum Biblicum, 1978), 145-46.

104 J. Cooper (The Return of Ninurta, 145) translates UR here as lion, yet he questions whether this meaning, which is found mainly in lexical texts, is certain. Surely this is our composite creature.

105 The word which Cooper translates "warriors" is ur.sag. The word "warriors" is ambiguous. The context seems to imply that these are his war trophies. Compare also the slain ur.sag in Lugale's list of Ninurta's trophies (Cooper, The Return of Ninurta, 144-45) which include the dragon and the seven-headed serpent!

106 Sulgi A 1-3. See also Klein, Three Sulgi Hymns: Sumerian Royal Hymns Glorifying King Sulgi of Ur (Ramat-Gan: Bar-Ilan Univ. Press, 1981), 188-89. See also A. Falkenstein, "Sumerische religiose Texte, 2: Ein Sulgi-Lied," ZA 42 (1952): 4-5; A. Falkenstein and W. von Soden, Sumerische und akkadische Hymnen und Gebete (Zurich/Stuttgart: Artemis, 1953), 115 (24.1-4). See also W. Heimpel, Tierbilder in der sumerischen Literatur (Rome: Pontificium Institutum Biblicum, 1968), 288-91, 294-95, 309-10, 312, 330-32, 476, 486.

107 Cf. H. de Genouillac, Textes religieux sumeriens du Louvre (Paris: P. Geuthner, 1930), 48, 65, 67, 91. Cf. A. Falkenstein and W. von Soden, Sumerische und akkadische Hymnen und Gebete, 126; W. Heimpel, Tierbilder, 295-96.

108 W. Heimpel, Tierbilder, 133-76. With regard to Adad and the bull, see W. Ward, The Seal Cylinders of Western Asia (Washington: Carnegie Institute, 1910), 171-75.

109 T. Jacobsen, The Treasures of Darkness (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1976), 129, 135-36.

110 Thus W. Heimpel, Tierbilder, 314-15. See also pp. 286-87, 291, 296, 313-15, 317-19, 467, 478, 480-81.

111 So A. Sjoberg and E. Bergmann, Sumerian Temple Hymns, 21. Ningirsu is also described there as "the furious lion who smashes the head (of the enemies)" (p. 32).

112 Thus CAD, K, 286, lexical section to kasasu (= W. Heimpel, Tierbilder, 478).

113 H. Radau, Sumerian Hymns and Prayers to the God Nin-ib from the Temple Library of Nippur, BE 29, pt 1 (Philadelphia: Univ. of Pennsylvania, 1911), no. 4 rev. 4-5, 7. The translation is that of Falkenstein and von Soden, Sumerische und akkadische Hymnen und Gebete, 60.

114 Lugale I 3 as translated in CAD, A/I, 80 s.v. abubu 3c. Similarly Numushda, the tutelary deity of Kazallu, is depicted as: ausbrechender Lowe [PIRIG], Drache [USUM], der kampflustig zur Schlacht hintritt,

Giftschlange [MUS], die alle Feinde mit Geifer bespritzt, schreck[licher] Drache [USUMGAL], . . .

The translation is that of Falkenstein and von Soden, Sumerische und akkadische Hymnen und Gebete, 113. The text (VAT 8531) is found in J. van Dijk, Nicht-kanonische Beschworungen und sonstige literarische Texte, VAS 17 (Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1971), #38, lines 11-13.

115 M. K. Brown, "Symbolic Lions: A Study in Ancient Mesopotamian Art and Literature" (Ph.D. diss., Harvard University, 1973), 39-56. Brown also includes other sections dealing with the storm deities Ninurta/Ningirsu, Ninazu, and Adad and their relation to the lion. See also W. Ward, Seal Cylinders, 155-60; and W. Heimpel, Tierbilder, 283-85, 293, 308, 315-16, 328, 331-33.

116 According to CAD, L, 23.

117 CAD L, 23; STC 2 77:31.

118 VAB 4 276 iii 31.

119 VAB 4 274 iii 15; BBR 51:7.

120 Note how the lion is shrunken in this figure!

121 Sjoberg and Bergmann, Sumerian Temple Hymns, 29.

122 Sjoberg and Bergmann, Sumerian Temple Hymns, 36. See also W. Heimpel, Tierbilder, 470.

123 CT 36 33-34; Falkenstein and von Soden, Sumerische und akkadische Hymnen und Gebete, 73.

124 Hallo and Van Dijk, The Exaltation of Inanna, 15, 17. I have cautiously left the translation "beast," yet "lion" may be a better translation. Hallo and Van Dijk's translation "beast" in the last line brings us back to the discussion of UR (see notes 104, 105 above). UR is a "beast" or "carnivore." The context here would strongly suggest that the beast in question is the lion. Inanna/ Ishtar is commonly shown mounted on lions (see, for example, [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURES 19-22 OMITTED]). T. Jacobsen (The Treasures of Darkness, 136, 254, n. 228) takes UR here as lion. A variant reading is ur-a for ur-ra. CAD, N/II, 197 states that the "log. UR.A used as log. for Leo in astron. texts came to be used in astrol. omens as log. for 'lion' instead of UR.MAH."

125 J. Cooper, The Return of Ninurta, 86-87.

126 J. Cooper, The Return of Ninurta, 66-67.

127 J. Cooper, The Return of Ninurta, 74-75.

128 J. Cooper, The Return of Ninurta, 80-81.

129 J. Cooper, The Return of Ninurta, 64-65.

130 D. Hansen and G. Dales, "The Temple of Inanna Queen of Heaven at Nippur," Archaeology 15 (1962): 79. This article does not give the inscription. M. K. Brown ("Symbolic Lions," 44) reads "dInanna and dMUS."

131 Convenient collections may be found in Day, God's Conflict with the Dragon and the Sea; Wakeman, God's Battle with the Monster.

132 See F. M. Cross, Canaanite Myth, 28-35; idem, "The Origin and Early Evolution of the Alphabet," in E. L. Sukenik Memorial Volume, ed. N. Avigad, et al., EI 8 (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1967), 13, nn. 32-33. Compare also the iconography in the following: (a) E. Platt, "Triangular Jewelry Plaques," BASOR 221 (1976): fig. 2; (b) W. Ward, Seal Cylinders, fig. 775; (c) I. E. S. Edwards, "A Relief of Qudshu-Astarte-Anath in the Winchester College Collection," JNES 14 (1955): plate III; (d) ANEP no. 471; and (e) ANEP no. 474. See also ANEP nos. 470, 472, 473, which show a goddess (usually Qudsu, however, note the inscription "Qudsu-Astarte-Anat" in Edwards [c, p. 50]) standing on top of a lion and either grasping serpents (cf. b-e) or having them come out from behind her at waist level (cf. a, p. 105). The serpent also connotes fertility imagery in many of these depictions.

Later examples of the lion-serpent/dragon collocation in battle contexts abound. Suffice it here to point out Rev. 13:1-4 and Hesiod's Theogony, lines 319-24. In the former the beast who comes out of the sea and obtains power from the dragon is described as resembling a leopard and having the mouth of a lion. In the latter, the Chimaera is described as the one "who breathed raging fire . . ., who had three heads, one of a grim-eyed lion, another of a goat, and another of a snake, a fierce dragon; in her forepart she was a lion; in her hinderpart, a dragon" (H. G. Evelyn-White, Hesiod: The Homeric Hymns and Homerica [Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press, 1967], 102-3, lines 319-24).

133 This is not the place for a critique of the comparative method and how it is currently being employed. For a recent history of scholarship on the debate, especially as it relates to Akkadian literature, see T. Longman III, Fictional Akkadian Autobiography: A Generic and Comparative Study (Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 1991), 23-36. See also M. Malul, The Comparative Method in Ancient Near Eastern and Biblical Legal Studies, AOAT 227 (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1990).

134 On the use of dragons and related beasts as designations for Egypt, see Day, God's Conflict with the Dragon and the Sea, 88-101.

135 See the bibliography in Day, God's Conflict with the Dragon and the Sea, 94-95, as well as the commentaries mentioned in note 96.

136 This view, of course, gives little credence to past scholars (e.g., C. C. Torrey) who argued that Ezekiel was a pseudepigraph from 200 B.C.E. For a brief history of research on the provenance of the book of Ezekiel, see Zimmerli, Ezekiel, 1:3-77) who calls such views as Torrey's "unrestrained hypercriticism" (p. 7).

137 Lambert ("Ninurta Mythology," 56) correctly challenges even those who want to argue for direct dependency between Labbu and Enuma Elish and Anzu. Yet Lambert ("Old Testament Mythology," 138) goes too far when he implies (contrary to Gunkel) that all Tannin and Leviathan material comes from West Semitic traditions without any connection to Mesopotamian (e.g., Marduk) mythology. It is reasonable to posit Mesopotamian influence given such discoveries as the cuneiform tablets at Ugarit (e.g., Ugaritica V, chapter 5) as well as Mesopotamian literature found in pre-Israelite Canaan (e.g., the Gilgamesh tablet found at Megiddo; cf. also the Amarna tablets).

138 Eichrodt, Ezekiel, 431.

139 See note 96.

140 Reading dal-hu-ut rather than ri-hu-ut. See note 31, above. If this reading is correct, we would have the same root (DLH) in CT 13.33-34 (obverse, 23) as in Ezekiel 32:2 tidlah mayim beragleka wat-tirpos naharotam. The notion of the dragon muddying the waters is also found elsewhere (cf. Job 41:23; PRU 2.3.3-7).

141 See note 80.

142 Wiggermann ("Tispak, His Seal, and the Dragon mushussu," 128, n. 32) curiously remarks that the duration of the bleeding at the end of the myth is "mythologically useless." Rather, it underscores the immense proportions of the dragon, a detail central to the myth.

143 Cf. Zimmerli, Ezekiel, 2:159.

144 Wiggermann, "Tispak, His Seal, and the Dragon mushussu," 123-24.

145 I am not suggesting by this remark that Enuma Elish is directly dependent on the Labbu myth. See Lambert, "Ninurta Mythology," 55-56.

146 Day, God's Conflict with the Dragon and the Sea, 1-61.

147 Day, God's Conflict with the Dragon and the Sea, 88ff.

148 Zimmerli, Ezekiel, 2:116.

149 Boadt, Ezekiel's Oracles Against Egypt, 130.

150 Boadt calls this "recognition formula" "the most decisive characteristic of Ezekiel's theology" (Ezekiel's Oracles Against Egypt, 170). See especially W. Zimmerli, Erkenntnis Gottes nach dem Buche Ezechiel, ATANT 27 (Zurich: Zwingli, 1954), 41-119 [reprinted in Gottes Offenbarung, ThB 19 (Munich: Kaiser, 1963)]. For a brief summary, see Zimmerli, Ezekiel, 1:37ff.
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Publication:The Journal of the American Oriental Society
Date:Jan 1, 1996
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