raqia encore (Rolf)

Ian Hutchesson mc2499 at mclink.it
Sun Jul 28 09:54:07 EDT 2002

Dear Rolf,

>If you use the word "cognates" regarding Tiamat and THWM in its 
>normal sense,you stand on a shaky foundation. 

I completely disagree. Your Westermann seems to be merely 
working hard against the evidence.

>"Tiamat in Babylonian is almost always a proper name and is only 
>rarely used for the ocean or the sea, which are regularly called 

As tehom doesn't take an article it also appears to be 
a proper noun.

>Tiamat is a mythical being, and THWM never has this meaning in 
>the Old Testament. 

This may be possible, but it is the point under debate, 
so the statement has no value here.

>the phrase "upon the face of the deep" shows that 
>it is not a case of a mythological being but of a flood of water. 

First from the the beginning of the Enuma Elish: 

"Apsu ... and Tiamat ... had mixed their waters 

They naturally were waters. Things can function on more 
than one level.

I have also pointed out that the watery chaos monster 
exists in other parts of the biblical tradition as 
Leviathan, Rahab and the dragon.

>is impossible  phonetically and grammatically to derive THWM from the 
>Babylonian Tiamat; 

This is simply wrong.

>THWM has a masculine ending, 

This is simply wrong. tehom has NO ending and in such 
is similar to yd (hand) and a small but significant 
group of primary feminine nouns.

>Tiamat a feminine; 

And there is a plural to tehom = thmwt

>the H of the hebrew THWM cannot be explained as deriving from Tiamat."

But nobody says that one is derived from another. They 
are COGNATES, ie they come fromt he same source, not 
one from the other. "chief" and "head" are cognates, 
but "chief" which is derived from "caput" is not a 
cognate of the other.

>Westermann points out that there is agreement that both words go back 
>to a common Semitic root (No traces of "Proto-Semitic" has ever been 
>found. so it is just hypothetical), 

This is because he doesn't appear to look at the words 
in their comparative linguistic context. I have given 
a brief outline of the phonological processes visible 
in the two words and how they reflect changes visible 
across the languages. 

>and then he concludes:
>"There is widespread agreement that Tiamat and THWM go back to a 
>common Semitic root; but the occurrence of THWM in Gen 1:2 is not an 
>argument for the direct dependence of the creation account of Gen 1 
>on Enuma Elish."

Agreed. However, it is irrelevant. I have consistently 
talked of belonging to a tradition rather than 
depending on a specific source.

>I have noted that nobody has pointed to any extra-biblical source 
>from the first part of the first millennium B.C.E., or even later (as 
>I asked for), indicating a world view of the earth fixed on pillars 
>in a cosmic ocean with a solid vault above. This may suggest that the 
>Semites never had such a world view, but that views from the Middle 
>Ages have been projected backwards.

As I first said, you may not get all the elements 

"[He] who shakes the earth from its place, 
 and its pillars tremble,
 who commands the sun and it doesn't rise, 
 and seals up the stars"

Job 9:6 supplies pillars (and see also Ps 104:5 and 
Job 38:4,6). All the rest we have been through in 
Genesis. Granted, you have attempted to explain away 
the solidity of rqy`, but it was never based on the 

That these elements don't appear all together doesn't 
allow one to suppose that they are a retrojection 
from the Middle Ages!



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