Walter Mattfeld mattfeld at
Thu Aug 2 00:20:19 EDT 2001

In regards to Penner's observation that thwm "may be" A PROPER NAME- it is
my understanding that some scholars have posited that it is ultimately
derived from Tiamat, a goddess who in Mesopotamian myths personified the
Salt Water Ocean. She and her husband, Abzu (the Fresh Water Ocean) mingled
together and from them the gods were born.

This myth understands that in the beginning was the sea, rather like Genesis
1, in the beginning there was the deep (tehom) and God's spirit or wind
(ruach) hovering over it. Some scholarly speculation has it that the Hebrews
"de-mythologized" Tiamat the goddess -the salt sea- and transformed her into
only a body of water, harmonizing all this with there being only one God,
who wasn't born of Tiamat. Thus some would say Genesis is a polemic,
offering a view about God contra the Mesopotamian concepts of the origins of
the gods.

All the best,  Walter

Walter Reinhold Warttig Mattfeld
Walldorf by Heidelberg
Baden-Wurttemburg, Germany

----- Original Message -----
From: Penner <pennerkm at>
To: Biblical Hebrew <b-hebrew at>
Sent: Thursday, August 02, 2001 5:00 AM
Subject: RE: Gen 1:2-- thwm

> > Thwm never has the article, anywhere it appears. I don't know
> > why. Maybe it  is a proper name?
> The proper name theory is attractive and it seems historically
> plausible, but for what it's worth, note the two instances in the MT
> where the prefixed B is pointed with patah and the T is doubled (Isaiah
> 63:13 and Psalm 106:9). Also, the noun's gender varies, and it occurs in
> the plural in Psalm 71:20. Somehow we'd need to explain these.
> Ken Penner, M.C.S. (Regent College), M.A. (McMaster)
> Ph.D. Student, Religious Studies, Biblical Field (Early Judaism major)
> McMaster University
> Hamilton, Canada
> pennerkm at

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