February 15, 2008
Yahweh’s Bathtub Toy
Here’s something delightful from the DOTWPW.
Kathryn Schifferdecker, in her article on “Creation Theology,” comments on Leviathan (known in Canaanite religion as Lotan, the twisting sea serpent) in Psalm 104:
Psalm 104 speaks in similar terms of Leviathan, as a creature that God created and in which God takes pleasure (Ps 104:26). In fact, in Psalm 104 God creates Leviathan as something of a bathtub toy, placing the chaos monster in the sea so that God can “play” or “sport” (shq) with it.
Later she returns to the subject:
The word used for Woman Wisdom “playing” (shq) before God is used also in Psalm 104:26 of God’s “playing” or “sporting” with Leviathan. Many English translations of Psalm 104:26 are similar to that of the NRSV: “There go the ships, and Leviathan that you formed to sport in it [the sea].” The verse can also be translated: “There go the ships, and Leviathan that you formed to play with.” In order to make the antecedent of “it” the sea, one has to go back to the previous verse. It is more likely that the antecedent of the pronoun is found in the same verse, in the name “Leviathan.” God “plays” or “sports” with Leviathan as one would with a bath toy or a pet.
So there goes Leviathan—old Lotan, the monstrous and twisting sea serpent, erstwhile bad boy of Baal epic. Fear not! He’s nothing but Yahweh’s wubber ducky!