H. Abdul Al-Dahir

The Masoretic version of Psalm 18:8 describes Yhwh as a dragon: “Smoke ascended from his nostrils and fire from his mouth devoured; coals were kindled by it.”

The LXX (Septuagint) version of Psalm 18:8 says: Smoke ascended in his anger and fire (spewed) in front of him, coals, that he ignited, blazed.”

This verse describes a smoke snorting, fire breathing celestial dragon or Leviathan (Constellation Draco/AtTineen meaning ‘giant snake’) who swims in the waters of the firmament while guarding the Tree of Life (Ursa Minor). Job 26 & 41 describe in a similar manner Leviathan, the sea serpent (Rahab or the Constellation Bariyach aka Hydra), who swam in the great sea surrounding the mound of earth inhabited by humans. That is until Yhwh killed him and flung him skyward to decorate the night sky. Bariyach derives from the Akkadian word ‘barari/bararitu which means evening. However, the word came to mean a constellation which the Hebrews labeled “the Fleeing/Crooked Serpent”, thought by many scholars to be the Constellation Hydra. Hydra is from the Greek word hydros and means water serpent. Job 26 explains:

12 By his power he churned up the sea; by his wisdom he cut Rahab to pieces 13 By his breath he embellished the heavens; his hand pierced the serpent Bariyach (Constellation Hydra).
14 And these are but the outer fringe of his works; how faint the whisper we hear of him! Who then can understand the thunder of his power?”

Job 41 continues with this description of Leviathan:

41 [a]“Can you pull in Leviathan with a fishhook. 2 Can you put a cord through its nose or tie down its tongue with a rope or pierce its jaw with a hook?
3 Will it keep begging you for mercy? Will it speak to you with gentle words? 4 Will it make an agreement with you for you to take it as your slave for life?
5 Can you make a pet of it like a bird or put it on a leash for the young women in your house? 6 Will traders barter for it? Will they divide it up among the merchants?
7 Can you fill its hide with harpoons or its head with fishing spears? 8 If you lay a hand on it, you will remember the struggle and never do it again!
9 Any hope of subduing it is false; the mere sight of it is overpowering.10 No one is fierce enough to rouse it. Who then is able to stand against me?
11 Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me.
12 “I will not fail to speak of Leviathan’s limbs, its strength and its graceful form.13 Who can strip off its outer coat? Who can penetrate its double coat of armor[b]?
14 Who dares open the doors of its mouth, ringed about with fearsome teeth? 15 Its back has[c] rows of shields tightly sealed together;16 each is so close to the next that no air can pass between.
17 They are joined fast to one another; they cling together and cannot be parted.18 Its snorting throws out flashes of light; its eyes are like the rays of dawn.19 Flames stream from its mouth; sparks of fire shoot out.
20 Smoke pours from its nostrils as from a boiling pot over burning reeds. 21 Its breath sets coals ablaze, and flames dart from its mouth. 22 Strength resides in its neck; dismay goes before it.
23 The folds of its flesh are tightly joined; they are firm and immovable 24 Its chest is hard as rock, hard as a lower millstone 25 When it rises up, the mighty are terrified; they retreat before its thrashing.
26 The sword that reaches it has no effect, nor does the spear or the dart or the javelin. 27 Iron it treats like straw and bronze like rotten wood. 28 Arrows do not make it flee; slingstones are like chaff to it.
29 A club seems to it but a piece of straw; it laughs at the rattling of the lance. 30 Its undersides are jagged potsherds leaving a trail in the mud like a threshing sledge.
31 It makes the depths churn like a boiling caldron and stirs up the sea like a pot of ointment. 32 It leaves a glistening wake behind it; one would think the deep had white hair.
33 Nothing on earth is its equal— a creature without fear. 34 It looks down on all that are haughty; it is king over all that are proud.”

There is another biblical contradiction when one considers Isaiah 27:1 which has Yhwh defeating his serpentine rival, Leviathan, sometime in the future:
“The Lord will punish with his sword, his fierce, great and powerful sword—Leviathan the gliding serpent, Leviathan the coiling serpent, he will slay the monster of the sea.”

However, Job 26 is very clear that Leviathan, aka Rahab aka Bariyach aka Hydra has already been slain by Yhwh and his gleaming body now decorates the sky as a constellation.

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