Leviathan

John Ronning ronning at nis.za
Sat Dec 11 13:25:49 EST 1999


> Noel O'Riordan asked:
> 
> Leviathan has always been identified with Lotan \ Litan (
> ltn ), is there a reason why the Hebrew rendition is
> liwyatan and not something shorter. i.e.. why the wy.  (if
> you'll pardon the pun.)
> 
A good discussion is in J.A. Emerton, "Leviathan and LTN:
The Vocalization of the Ugaritic Word for the Dragon," VT
32, 3 (1982), 327-31.  The gist of it is that the Hebrew
form is more archaic (not surprising).  Emerton suggests
liwyatan is a qi+lat form with -an suffix, related to the
Hebrew liwyaa, "wreath", root LWY, meaning something like
twisted one (taking the Ugaritic form as the base would
suggest a root LTN, of unknown meaning).

For the Ugaritic, Emerton postulates *liwyataanu >
*liiyitaanu > *liitaanu (spelled ltn).

For the translation of Leviathan's epithet naxash bariax
(Isa 27:1) as "evil serpent" see A. Archi, “Les Textes
lexicaux bilingues d’Ebla,” Studi Eblaiti 2 (1980):81-89.  
I argued in my dissertation that this is a reference to 
the serpent of Genesis 3 (likewise in Psalm 74) ("The 
Curse on the Serpent: Genesis 3:15 in Biblical Theology 
and Hermeneutics," PhD diss., Westminster Theol. Seminary,
1997).  The dissertation also relates to some other recent
threads in BH I haven't had time to contribute to - has
several refutations of JEDP by showing how "J" or "E" parts
presume an interpretation or background of "P" parts.  Also
has a discussion of Gal 3:16 (no it is not midrash).

Regards,

John Ronning




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