Creation and Chaos

Bruce K. Waltke, Creation and Chaos: An Exegetical and Theological Study of Biblical Cosmogony (Western Conservative Baptist Seminary, 1981)


This book is an outline of 4 lectures that Bruce Waltke gave on the topic of Biblical cosmogony (the Bible’s view of the origin and development of the universe). Waltke wants to familiarize readers the ongoing debate about the meaning of the first two verses of Genesis and share his own view. He shows how the account in Genesis serves as an argument against the pagan belief systems in the ancient Near East when Genesis was written. He also explains how passages about Leviathan/ Rahab/ Sea Monster are related to ancient Near Eastern creation myths.

My comments after << or >>.

Naturalism has rejected the biblical account. Waltke thinks “this accounts for the death of Western civilization as known about a century ago.” (1)

Three influences that led people to reject the creation account in the Bible:

  1. Charles Darwin: The scientific community thought they could empirically validate Darwin’s theory, but not do the same for the Bible.
  2. Herman Gunkel: He argued that the creation account in Genesis was just another Near Eastern folktale that was improved by the Hebrews.
  3. Julius Wellhausen: He argued that the creation accounts in Genesis (at least 2 of them) contradicted each other.

Waltke’s position on science and the Bible:

  1. Evolution is a faith position that can’t be supported by the data.
  2. Genetics shows that microevolution, not macroevolution can take place.
  3. Science “cannot and ought not attempt to answer the question of the origin of the universe. The answer is beyond the range of empirical proof.” (3)

Our understanding of our beginnings and our future will affect our views in many areas: social, ethical, legal, etc.

Bankrupt worldviews eventually die because they eventually slip “radically out of line with general experience of ‘the way things are.’” (3)

This is why the old liberal myth of man’s “self progress” has died. The 20th century was a wake up call (e.g. WWI, WWII, and various other wars) making it clear that reason alone was unable to bring our problems closer to a solution.

Waltke’s assumptions:

  1. The validity of the philological approach. >> By this, I think Waltke means the close study of texts and their history. This would include textual criticism (trying to reconstruct an author's original text based on variant manuscript copies). 
  2. The importance of using the historical method. He wants to understand, as much as possible, the world of the biblical authors. This would include awareness of other ANE religions and creation stories.
  3. The need to interpret within the realm of OT thought. “We must try to extrapolate from the Old Testament itself its unifying concepts and interpret the texts bearing on cosmogony within those categories.” (5)
  4. The need to classify and systematize the Bible’s creation account by examining…
    1. Texts describing the creation under the figure of Yahweh’s combat with a sea monster.
    2. Genesis 1.
    3. Psalm 104, Job 38, Proverbs 8.
    4. The use of creation by Isaiah (see Isaiah 45:7) as he addresses the exiles in Babylon.

Texts relating Yahweh’s defeat of the sea monster:

“Few Bible-believing Christians are aware that at least in a dozen texts of the OT, reference is made to the Lord’s conflict with a dragon or sea monster variously named as Rahab, ‘The Proud One,’ or Leviathan, ‘The Twisting One,’ or Yam, ‘The Sea.’” (5) Five of these texts are associated with the creation of the world.

For example:

(Psalm 74:13-17) You divided the sea by Your strength; You broke the heads of the sea monsters in the waters. 14 You crushed the heads of Leviathan; You gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness. 15 You broke open springs and torrents; You dried up ever-flowing streams. 16 Yours is the day, Yours also is the night; You have prepared the light and the sun. 17 You have established all the boundaries of the earth; You have made summer and winter.

ANE battle myths have common features; some of these features can be seen in biblical passages:

  1. A repressive monster restrains creation by encircling or somehow blocking the release of cosmic waters.
  2. A heroic God (often born of the monster) defeats the monster, which releases the forces necessary for life (e.g. breaks the monster into pieces and releases the monster’s vital fluids).
  3. The hero brings these released forces under control and organizes them into a cosmos.
  4. The hero is named king of the gods.

ANE creation myths compared:

Culture Repressive god Hero god Waters/life forces released Result
Sumer ASAG (restrain) Ninurta Kur Tigris created Land prospers Ninurta became king
Ki = queen
Vedic Hymns
Vritra (covering)
a serpent
Indra Cosmic waters pregnant with the sun. “Existent” separated from the “non-existent.” Indra gains victory forever.
Enuma Elish
Taimat (fresh-water lakes, marshes, and subsoil waters) Marduk Taimat’s carcass is cut up. Half of Taimat becomes the sky. Marduk establishes order in a cosmos.

“With this background, it is now certain that Rahab or Leviathan in the Bible is an anti-creation dragon monster for the biblical texts employ the same three or four features found in these other mythical cosmogonies.” (10)

Leviathan represses or swallows up life:

(Job 3:8) “Let those curse it who curse the day, Who are prepared to rouse Leviathan.”

Waltke says this text “makes it patently clear that Leviathan Rahab is a repressive, anti-creation monster.” (10) << This seems like a thin reference to me. Nothing is added by the surrounding context.

Leviathan is associated the with the sea (waters): Psalm 89:9,10.

Yahweh cuts Rahab to pieces: Isaiah 51:9; Psalm 89:10.

Yahweh rules and quells the turbulent sea associated with Rahab and Leviathan: see the same texts above.

Other scholarly studies have proven beyond doubt that “the myth about Rahab-Leviathan found in the Bible belongs to the mythology of ancient Canaan.” (12)

See Waltke’s comparison of sample passages in the psalms and Ugaritic texts on p. 12-13.

Did the inspired poets of Israel mean that Yahweh actually had a combat with this hideous creature? Or did this Canaanite story serve as a helpful metaphor to describe Yahweh’s creative activity? The latter explanation is preferable because:

  1. The Jews were strict monotheists. It is inconceivable that they would support their views from pagan mythology. See Job 31:26-28; Isaiah 44:6; 45:6,7; 51:9.
  2. They were borrowing imagery from Israel’s epic poetry without embracing the images as real. << weak
  3. The creation account in Genesis “was studiously composed to avoid mythological elements.” (14)

Three ways that the OT uses pagan imagery:

  1. Yahweh’s poets used it to describe God’s victory in his past creative activity.
  2. The prophets saw Yahweh’s victory over the dragon as symbolic of his victory over Israel’s enemies in the present. (Isaiah 51:9,10)
    e.g. Rousing God to battle against Babylon, see Isa. 51:9,10.
  3. The apocalyptic seers used it to portray Yahweh’s final victory over Satan in the post-historic future. (e.g. Isaiah 27:1; Rev. 12:7-9)

Conclusion: The literary allusions to Yahweh’s defeat of Rahab serve to underscore the basic thought of the Old Testament: Yahweh will triumph over all his enemies in the establishment of His rule of righteousness.

Yahweh would defeat chaos, nations, and ultimately Satan.

Genesis 1:

Goal of this section: To construct an accurate model of the biblical cosmogony from Genesis 1:1-3. Waltke feels that Genesis 1:1-3 is written in precise prose, but that other biblical texts that bear on cosmogony are poetic and not didactic. This all demands careful exegesis.

  1. Three popular views of biblical cosmogony:
    1. The restitution theory: The Chaos of Genesis 1:2 occurs after God had created an originally perfect universe.
      1. Verse 2 is a sequential clause after verse 1.
        • Interpreters who take this view see v. 2 as following sequentially after v. 1: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, and then the earth became…”
        • Genesis 1:1 describes a morally perfect creation. Satan ruled the world then, but he rebelled. As a result, God judged the world and reduced it to chaos (1:2). There is a gap of undetermined length between v. 1 and 2. After this, God recreated the world as described in 1:3-31.
        • This view is popularly known as the “gap theory.”
        • Scofield says that Jer. 4:23-26 and Isaiah 24:1; 45:18 teach that God’s judgment of the earth resulted in past cataclysmic changes.
          • >> Jer. 4 seems to be about a future, imminent judgment of Jerusalem. Not a past judgment.
          • >> God lays the earth waste in Isaiah 24:1. Seems like this occurs just before the Lord reigns from Mount Zion… at the end of history.
          • >> Isaiah 48:18 says God did not create the havens and earth a waste place (same word as formless in Gen. 1:1), but formed it to be inhabited.
          • >> These verses do associate the idea of a waste with God’s judgment.
        • Scofield also says that Ezekiel 28:12-15 and Isaiah 14:9-14 connect this judgment with the fall of Satan.
        • Support for the gap theory:
          1. This interpretation predates scientific objections to the creation account.
          2. Heavens and earth (v. 1) implies organization, formless and void (v. 2) implies chaos, preparing the land for man to inhabit (vs. 3-31) implies organization.
          3. “Hyh” can mean “become” … see Gen 3:20.
          4. The two other places besides Genesis 1:2 where “waste” and “void” occur together associate this compound phrase with judgment.
          5. This view helps us explain the career of Satan… a fall is mentioned in Isaiah 14:12 and Ezekiel 28:17
            • >> But Ezek. 28:13 says he was in Eden in his own pre-fall state. God says, “I placed you there.” Eden seems synonymous with the holy mountain of God. While there, Satan was “internally filled with violence,” so God cast him to the ground. This reads as if Satan’s fall occurred after Gen. 1:2, in the garden.
        • Objections to the gap theory:
          1. “and” (waw) means two different things at the beginning of verses 2 and 3.
            v. 2: and = waw conjunctive, which NEVER introduces an independent sequential clause. Moses had other constructions available to him that imply sequence. He didn’t use them.
            v. 3: and = waw consecutive, which does imply sequence.
          2. In Jeremiah 4:23-26…the judgment of Judah is likened to the undoing of creation. Tohu wa bohu is the end result of God’s anger. But that doesn’t mean the earth was originally in that state because of God’s fury.  The same argument applies to the destruction of Edom in Isaiah 34:11. << good point
            One thing we can infer from both of these passages, is that the phrase “tohu wa bohu” refers to “a state of material prior to its creation.” (24) An orderly arrangement, a cosmos, has not yet taken place. It denotes the “contrary of creation, not merely an inferior stage of creation.” (24)
          3. Lucifer in Isaiah 14 probably does not refer to Satan. The King of Tyre in Ezekiel 28 is Satan. Either way, neither passage says that God judged the universe when these kings rose up in hubris against his reign.
          4. 2 Peter 3:5-7 only mentions two world judgments: in the past by flood/ in the future by fire.
      2. Verse 2 is a circumstantial clause with verse 1.
        • Gen. 1:2 consists of three circumstantial clauses that describe conditions at the time of the action in v. 1 or that give a reason for the action.
        • Support for this view - Why would a perfect God create and original imperfect and chaotic earth?
          Isaiah 45:18 For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it and did not create it a waste place, but formed it to be inhabited), “I am the Lord, and there is none else.
          Job 38:4-7 the heavenly hosts celebrate the glory of creation.
          >> I don’t think Isaiah 48:15 is a problem for Waltke’s view, because v. 2 is at the beginning of the creative process. It isn’t the final product.
        • Objections to this view
          1. Genesis 1:2 is not a circumstantial clause
          2. Job 38 corresponds to Genesis 1:9-10, not Genesis 1:1-2.
    2. The initially chaotic theory: The chaos of Genesis 1:2 occurred in connection with the original creation.
      • God created the original mass called heaven and earth out of nothing.
      • When the earth came from God’s hand it was unformed and unfilled.
      • V. 1 = independent clause; v. 2 = description of the earth when it first came into being.
      • Two sub views here
        • v. 1-2 = a chronological unity | gap | v. 3ff
        • v. 1-5 = a chronological unity
      • This is the traditional view.
        • A classic Hebrew grammar endorsed the view that v. 2 is a circumstantial clause with v. 1
        • This view satisfies strict monotheism.
      • Problems with this view:
        1. It misunderstands the term “heaven and earth.”
          In this and many other Hebrew phrases, opposites are contrasted to express totality (e.g. they came, great and small = everyone; meditate on the law “day and night” = all the time). “Heaven and earth” refers to everything, the entire organized and completed universe (see Gen 2:1,4), not to disorder. “Logic will not allow us to entertain the contradictory notions: god created the organized heaven and earth; the earth was unorganized.” (27) Various attempts to resolve this problem don’t hold up to scrutiny.
        2. Isaiah 45:18 says that God did not form the earth for the purpose of being a waste.
          “For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it and did not create it a waste place, but formed it “to be inhabited), “I am the Lord, and there is none else.
        3. Jeremiah 4:23 and Isaiah 34:11 teach that formless and void is the antithesis of creation.
        4. In the new and perfect cosmos to come, there will be no sea or darkness (Rev. 21:1,25).
    3. The pre-creation chaos theory: The chaos of Genesis 1:2 existed before the creation mentioned in the Bible.
      1. Verse 1 is a dependent clause.
        • e.g. “In the beginning of creation, when God made heaven and earth, the earth was without form and void, with darkness over the face of the abyss, and a mighty wind that swept over the surface of the waters…”
        • This is a widely held view, but there is disagreement about whether verse 2 or verse 3 is a dependent clause.
        • Most interpreters analyze the text as follows:
          • 1:1 Protasis: “When God began to create…”
          • 1:2 Parenthesis: “the earth being/was”
          • 1:3 Apodosis: “God said…”
        • Objections:
          1. “Both the Jewish and Christian tradition unanimously understood the first word as in the absolute state and the first verse as an independent clause.” (30)
          2. The Hebrew word for “beginning” in v. 1 can be in the “absolute” or “construct” state. If it is in the absolute state, v. 1 is an independent clause. “Moses could not have used any other construction to denote [“beginning”] in the absolute state, but he could have opted for a different construction to indicate clearly the construct state.
          3. Waltke also points out that the grammatical construction in Genesis 1:1 is not as similar to the Enuma Elish as some scholars claim. This further undermines the notion that Genesis 1:1 is a dependent clause.
      2. Verse 1 is a summary statement. (Waltke’s view)
        • 1:1 An introductory summary statement and independent clause which is “expegeted” in the rest of the chapter.
        • 1:2 A circumstantial clause connected with verse 3, describing the negative state before creation.
        • 1:3 A main clause describing the creation.
        • This pattern is also repeated in 2:4-7.
        • Support:
          1. There are many examples in Hebrew grammar where a circumstantial clause precedes the main verb.
          2. Other ANE creation stories have a similar structure, although they lack a summary statement.
          3. It was typical in Semitic thought to first state the general proposition and then to state the particulars.
        • Waltke also argues that v. 2 should read “the earth was” not “the earth became.” No ancient or modern translate the passage, “the earth became.”
        • Summary:
          1. 1:1 Introductory Summary Statement.
          2. 1:2 Pre-creation situation.
          3. 1:3-31 Narrative of creation.
          4. 2:1 Concluding summary statement.
          5. 2:2,3 Epilogue: Sabbath rest.
  2. The theology of Genesis 1:1-2:3
    • Waltke’s goal is to understand why Genesis was written, i.e. what is the author trying to teach us?
    • A word about the nature of theology:
      “Theology is the attempt of man to analyze, classify and systematize the particulars of God’s revelation into universal truths.” (40) It is the nature of the human mind to do this. Various authors have proposed different universals under which the various particulars in the Bible can be subsumed. Waltke has chosen “God establishing his kingdom, or rule, on earth” (41) or as Jesus put it “thy kingdom come, they will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.”
    • Notes on the author of the Pentateuch:
      1. The Bible says Moses wrote it.
      2. Higher critics regard it as a compilation of at least four literary sources. But Kitchen and Cassuto have successfully defended the unity of the text.
      3. Most would not deny “that the text was modernized in the course of its transmission according to the common Near Eastern scribal practices.” (41)
      4. Even liberal critics admit Moses likely did exist and that the Pentateuch represents some of his work.
      5. Waltke concludes that Moses wrote it.
      6. << Under “c.” above, what does “modernized in the course of its transmission” mean? Who modernized it? Why? I think it’s clear that the school of prophets added some explanatory notes in the text. But what else is Waltke suggesting may have happened?
    • Moses’ revelation of God differed in many ways from existing belief systems in the Ancient Near East. “Moses, the founder of the new nation, intended this introductory chapter to have both a negative and positive function. Negative in that it serves as a polemic against the myths of Israel’s environment; positive in that it teaches us about the nature of God.” (43)
      1. The Polemical function of Genesis 1.
        • Points of continuity between Genesis 1 and the Enuma Elish.
          1. Literary continuity (e.g. the Enuma Elish and Genesis 1 begin with the same grammatical structures). << But didn’t Waltke say in 2.c.1.c. above that the grammar is not as similar as some people claim.
          2. The pre-created state: primeval dark, watery, and formless. Neither account attributes this state to the creator.
          3. The order of creation. << Striking similarities here. See p. 45.
            What is the explanation for this continuity?
            • Israel’s neighbors may have borrowed from her. “But this is improbable for it is almost certain that many of these ancient Near Easter myths antedate Moses.” (45)
            • The similarities may be coincidental. Scholars who take this view de-emphasize the similarities.
            • Israel borrowed these mythologies, demythologized them, and adopted them into their own growing, higher theology.
              Waltke agrees that Israel knew the myths of the cultures around them. He also agrees that Moses used sources to write parts of the Pentateuch. But he rejects the idea that Israel borrowed their creation account. What man was present at creation to know how it went? This kind of info can only be given through revelation. << But this doesn’t address the problem of similarities.
            • The concept of primeval water is found across a broad spectrum of ancient myths in a wide geographic area. These versions may have sprung from a common source.
              “Early races of men wherever they wandered took with them these earliest traditions of mankind, and in varying latitudes and climes have modified them according to their religions and mode of thought. Modifications as time proceeded resulted in the corruption of the original pure tradition. The Genesis account is not only the purist, but everywhere bears the unmistakable impress of divine inspiration when compared with the extravagances and corruptions of other accounts. The Biblical narrative, we may conclude, represents the original form these traditions must have assumed.” (46 – citing Merrill F. Unger, Archaeology and the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1954), p. 37.)
              See also Isaiah 40:24.
        • Points of discontinuity between Genesis 1 and pagan creation accounts.
          1. Pagan deities are nature deities… they personify various forces in nature. Yahweh transcends nature. The sun and moon are merely “lights.”
          2. Pagan myth and ritual guarantees the stability of life and effects the renewal and revitalization of nature.
          3. Pagan deities are born. But no one begot God.
          4. Pagan deities win supremacy by combat with an equal. But God is supreme over all. “There is no more danger that (Yahweh) will fall before the monster of chaos than there is that the chair will devour the carpenter.” (48)
        • Genesis 1 is “not a demythologized narrative, but a distinctly anti-mythical narrative.” (D.F. Payne, Genesis 1 Reconsidered (London: Tyndale Press, 1962), p. 22 quoting Von Rad.)
        • The Theology of God According to Genesis 1.
          1. God is creator above and apart from his creation.
            • Melchizadek did not worship the creation, but rather the creator of heaven and earth. (Gen. 14:15) Melchizadek used an unusual word for create, probably because of his Canaanite background. Some argue that this word (bara) means to create out of nothing, because it only has God as the subject and uses the accusative only to designate the thing made. But Waltke points out that bara can refer to creation from pre-existing material (compare Gen. 1:27 and 2:7). He also shows that bara is synonymous with the more “colorless” word csa.
              Aside: Csa, bara, and other words for creation can refer to creation ex nihilo. But not always. Either way, the doctrine of creation ex nihilo doesn’t depend on how these verbs are used. The lights didn’t come from chaos. God created them from nothing.
            • God used the Sabbath to underscore that he is creator above and beyond his creation:
              (Ex. 31:13,16,17) “But as for you, speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘You shall surely observe My Sabbaths; for this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you. 16 ‘So the sons of Israel shall observe the Sabbath, to celebrate the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.’ 17 “It is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased from labor, and was refreshed.”
            • Through this covenant, Israel bore witness amongst the pagan nations that they were in covenant with the transcendent creator. The pagans manipulated their nature deities by their magical words and mimetic ritual of the creation myth. But Israel showed by the mimetic ritual of working 6 days and resting the seventh day that they were under the Word, the Law of the Creator who brought the universe into existence by his command.” (52)
            • Pagans – the gods and cosmos originated form the same primordial source.
            • Yahweh – exists before, apart from and over his creation.
            • Pagans – reenacted the events of creation so that each year, the forces of life overcome the forces of death
            • Yahweh – God is not subject to magic. Israel imitated the creator by working and resting. This pattern reminded Israelites of their transcendent God.
            • Aside: The Bible never says God brought the darkness and deep in Genesis 1:2 into existence. What about them? Genesis never explains how the serpent came to be in the garden and never tells us how something devoid and dark came to be either. But it assumes that both are under the dominion of God.
          2. God is a savior who “overcame all that was contrary to his character.” (58) The deep and darkness in Genesis 1:2 was a state of existence contrary to the character of God. The poets of Israel likened it to a monster.
            “In contrast to the pagan celebrations reenacting an annual victory over the hostile forces of nature, all of Israel’s celebrations commemorated God’s victories in history in His ongoing program of establishing His righteous rule on earth. At the Passover ritual Israel celebrated the deliverance from the oppressive Pharaoh: at first fruits he celebrated the victory of taking the land from the resisting Canaanites; and at Tabernacles he anticipated the ultimate establishment of God’s universal rule over the world which he had created in the first place.” (58)
          3. God is the supreme ruler over all creation.
            • Throughout Genesis 1, God speaks his will (the word) and creates. This follows a discernable pattern:
              • Announcement: “and God said…”
              • Command: “let there be…let it be gathered…let it bring forth…”
              • Report: “and it was so”
              • Evaluation: “and God saw that it was good.”
              • Temporal framework: “and there was evening, and there was morning, the … day.”
            • The creation arises from God’s command and is the expression of his will.
            • God names, or takes lordship over, the various aspects of creation. He let Adam name everything else (the animals) because he delegated his authority over them to humans.
              • When it came time to name Eve, Adam named her after himself. “He was ‘ish’; she would be ‘ishshah,” the feminine form of “ish”; that is to say she is my equal. He was her lord, but he recognized her as his equal. What a perfect blending of leadership and love in the first husband.” (60)
              • The sun and moon rule over the night and day and are examples of how we should rule: with beauty, faithfulness, and dependability.
              • Israel was to extend this rule and create a peaceful and righteous society.
              • God finished his creation and surely his people would succeed in establishing his rule.
          4. God is great – God is all the more greater than his creation.
          5. God is wise – His wisdom was demonstrated in the creation. In the first 3 days, God overcame lack of form; in the second 3 days, he overcame the void.
            Model of Creation
            Tohu - unformed Bohu - unfilled
            Day   Day  
            1 Light 4 Luminaries
            2 Water 5 Fish
              Sky   Birds
            3 Land 6 Beasts
              Vegetation   Man

            The universe is not the product of gods locked in deadly conflict, but rather of one mind acting alone.
            See Isaiah 40:13,14. Waltke likes Whybray’s translation:

            “Who has understood the mind of Yahweh,
            or who was is counselor, who instructed him?
            Whom did he consult for guidance,
            and who taught him the way to achieve order,
            And showed him how to exercise creative skill?”

            Waltke and Whybray see this passage as a polemic against the Babylonian creation myth. In the Enuma Elish, the storm god Marduk is counseled by his father Ea, the god of wisdom. But no one in Yahweh’s court can serve as his counselor.

          6. God is good – God’s creation is good and he gave it all to man as a gift. Everything was given for man’s benefit, so he could distinguish day from night, observe seasons, raise livestock, and eat.
            • Tablet 6 of the Enuma Elish: Man was created from the blood of a rebel deity for the purpose of doing the work of the gods. The creation myth underscored that man was created to be enslaved. Pagans also saw the seventh day not as a day of rest but as a day of bad luck. By contrast Yahweh is gracious and benevolent.
            • >> Aside: Waltke’s take on the uniqueness of the creation of man:
            • “Whereas everything else was created remotely from God, man came directly from the heart, hand, and nostrils of God. The darkness and sea are brought under God’s protective order and design as they serve together with light and dry land respectively. The vegetation springs from the earth, the sea creatures originate out of the sea, and the beasts likewise trace their origin back to the earth. All these are created through the mediacy of other agents. (>> is he allowing for evolution??) But not man. At the chronological pyramid of creation stands man, and there is nothing between him and God. He originates from the hand and breath of God. The creator resolves in his heart to make him; ‘Let us make man in our own image and our likeness.’ Here then is God’s counterpart; not His equal, but sharing His nature and dominion. He too is crowed with glory and honor as the Psalmist understood (Ps. 8). As God is a plurality so also man is a plurality. ‘Let us,’ said the Creator and He made ‘them.’ Both are a plural unity. Upon him the Creator pronounced His effective word of blessing. The same word that brought the heavens and earth into existence placed his word of blessing on the head of man: ‘Be fruitful and multiply.’ Surely Israel must have had a good self image, that psychological necessity for mental health.” (64-65)

Texts from the wisdom literature on creation

  • Psalm 104
    This poet celebrates God’s creative work according to the 6 days of creation. Only the 5th and 6th days are out of order and this is probably to emphasize that leviathan is the work of God, not a manifestation of cosmic forces. This passage is not a description of the creation, but a summary of the creation as it is now.
  • Job 38:4-11
    vs. 4-7 = the creation of the earth
    vs. 8-11 = the creation of the sea
    “Laying the foundation of the earth” in Job 38:4 corresponds to the dry land in Genesis 1:9-10. It can’t refer to formless and void in Genesis 1:2, because tohu wa bohu means “not built.” The bounding of the seas in Job 38:8 corresponds to the gathering of the waters “in one place” in Genesis 1:9.
    The creator calmed the sea and this recounting of creation calmed job.
  • Proverbs 8:22-31
    This passage mentions that God’s creation of the world included the depths and the springs. Waltke argues that these depths refer to those formed on the second and third days of creation and NOT the depths covering the unformed earth in Genesis 2. Waltke resists this translation because it would mean Genesis 1:2 was a creative act of God, which contradicts his view of Genesis 1:1-3. His argument is based on the similarity between this passage and Genesis 1:1-3.
    >> Waltke uses hard to follow arguments in Job 28 and Proverbs 8 to avoid the conclusion that God created the chaos and deep in Genesis 1:2.

Isaiah 45:7 “The one forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity.”

The darkness in this passage is a metaphor for the calamity God will bring upon Israel’s enemies. This passage doesn’t contradict Waltke’s assertion that God did not create the darkness in Genesis 1:2.


“The creation account of the Old Testament finds its full explication in Jesus of Nazareth, the God-Man. As God He is the Creator, the one full of light, life, wisdom and goodness. As man he is the one who is bringing the earth under his dominion. The earth that the first Adam lost to Satan through his disobedience to the command of God, the Second Adam is winning back through His obedience to the Cross. He is presently winning it back by His spiritual victories in the lives of men and He will finally put all things under His feet at the Second Advent.” (71)

Jesus is creator (John 1:1-5; Col. 1:16,17).

Jesus restores God’s dominion (Hebrews 2:5-8).


  • a fortiori: for a still stronger reason; even more certain; all the more.
  • a priori: from general law to particular instance; existing in the mind prior to and independent of experience, as a faculty or character trait
  • a posteriori: from particular instance to general law; not existing in the mind prior to or independent of experience
  • cosmogony: a theory or story of the origin and development of the universe, the solar system, or the earth-moon system.
  • libretto: the text of an opera
  • philology: the study of literary texts and of written records, the establishment of their authenticity and their original form, and the determination of their meaning.
  • proleptic: the representation of something in the future as if it already existed or had occurred.

OT passages on “Rahab,” “Leviathan,” “serpent,” “sea monster.”


7293. רַהַב  Rahab (923c); from 7292; “storm,” a sea monster:— Rahab(4).
The name of the prostitute in Joshua who dies the Jewish spies is unrelated to this word.

  • Job 9:13 “God will not turn back His anger; Beneath Him crouch the helpers of Rahab.
  • Job 26:12 “He quieted the sea with His power, And by His understanding He shattered Rahab.
  • Ps 89:10 You Yourself crushed Rahab like one who is slain; You scattered Your enemies with Your mighty arm.
  • Isa 51:9 Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord; Awake as in the days of old, the generations of long ago. Was it not You who cut Rahab in pieces, Who pierced the dragon?


3882. לִוְיָתָן  Leviathan (531b); from the same as 3880; “serpent,” a sea monster or dragon:— Leviathan(6).

  • Job 3:8     “Let those curse it who curse the day, Who are prepared to rouse Leviathan.
  • Job 41:1     “Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook? Or press down his tongue with a cord?
  • Ps 74:14     You crushed the heads of Leviathan; You gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness.
  • Ps 104:26     There the ships move along, And Leviathan, which You have formed to sport in it.
  • Isa 27:1     In that day the Lord will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, With His fierce


5175. נָחָשׁ  nachash (638a); from an unused word; a serpent:— serpent(24), serpent’s(2), serpents(2), snake(1).

  • Gen 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?”
  • Gen 3:2 The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat;
  • Gen 3:4 The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die!
  • Gen 3:13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
  • Gen 3:14 The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you will go, And dust you will eat All the days of your life;
  • Gen 49:17 “Dan shall be a serpent in the way, A horned snake in the path, That bites the horse’s heels, So that his rider falls backward.
  • Exod 4:3 Then He said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it.
  • Exod 7:15 “Go to Pharaoh in the morning as he is going out to the water, and station yourself to meet him on the bank of the Nile; and you shall take in your hand the staff that was turned into a serpent.
  • Num 21:7 So the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, because we have spoken against the Lord and you; intercede with the Lord, that He may remove the serpents from us.” And Moses interceded for the people.
  • Num 21:9 And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived.
  • 2 Kings 18:4 He removed the high places and broke down the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah. He also broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the sons of Israel burned incense to it; and it was called Nehushtan.
  • Job 26:13 “By His breath the heavens are cleared; His hand has pierced the fleeing serpent.
  • Ps 58:4 They have venom like the venom of a serpent; Like a deaf cobra that stops up its ear,
  • Ps 140:3 They sharpen their tongues as a serpent; Poison of a viper is under their lips. Selah.
  • Prov 23:32 At the last it bites like a serpent And stings like a viper.
  • Prov 30:19 The way of an eagle in the sky, The way of a serpent on a rock, The way of a ship in the middle of the sea, And the way of a man with a maid.
  • Eccles 10:8 He who digs a pit may fall into it, and a serpent may bite him who breaks through a wall.
  • Eccles 10:11 If the serpent bites before being charmed, there is no profit for the charmer.
  • Isa 14:29 “Do not rejoice, O Philistia, all of you, Because the rod that struck you is broken; For from the serpent’s root a viper will come out, And its fruit will be a flying serpent.
  • Isa 27:1 In that day the Lord will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, With His fierce and great and mighty sword, Even Leviathan the twisted serpent; And He will kill the dragon who lives in the sea.
  • Isa 65:25 “The wolf and the lamb will graze together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox; and dust will be the serpent’s food. They will do no evil or harm in all My holy mountain,” says the Lord.
  • Jer 8:17 “For behold, I am sending serpents against you, Adders, for which there is no charm, And they will bite you,” declares the Lord.
  • Jer 46:22 “Its sound moves along like a serpent; For they move on like an army And come to her as woodcutters with axes.
  • Amos 5:19 As when a man flees from a lion And a bear meets him, Or goes home, leans his hand against the wall And a snake bites him.
  • Amos 9:3 “Though they hide on the summit of Carmel, I will search them out and take them from there; And though they conceal themselves from My sight on the floor of the sea, From there I will command the serpent and it will bite them.
  • Micah 7:17 They will lick the dust like a serpent, Like reptiles of the earth. They will come trembling out of their fortresses; To the Lord our God they will come in dread And they will be afraid before You.

Sea monster

8577. תַּנִּין  tannin (1072c); from the same as 8565; serpent, dragon, sea monster:— dragon(2), monster(3), sea monster(1), sea monsters(3), serpent(3), serpents(2).

  • Gen 1:21 God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind; and God saw that it was good.
  • Exod 7:9 “When Pharaoh speaks to you, saying, ‘Work a miracle,’ then you shall say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh, that it may become a serpent.’ ”
  • Exod 7:10 So Moses and Aaron came to Pharaoh, and thus they did just as the Lord had commanded; and Aaron threw his staff down before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent.
  • Exod 7:12 For each one threw down his staff and they turned into serpents. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs.
  • Deut 32:33 “Their wine is the venom of serpents, And the deadly poison of cobras.
  • Job 7:12 “Am I the sea, or the sea monster, That You set a guard over me?
  • Ps 74:13 You divided the sea by Your strength; You broke the heads of the sea monsters in the waters.
  • Ps 91:13 You will tread upon the lion and cobra, The young lion and the serpent you will trample down.
  • Ps 148:7 Praise the Lord from the earth, Sea monsters and all deeps;
  • Isa 27:1 In that day the Lord will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, With His fierce and great and mighty sword, Even Leviathan the twisted serpent; And He will kill the dragon who lives in the sea.
  • Isa 51:9 Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord; Awake as in the days of old, the generations of long ago. Was it not You who cut Rahab in pieces, Who pierced the dragon?
  • Jer 51:34 “Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon has devoured me and crushed me, He has set me down like an empty vessel; He has swallowed me like a monster, He has filled his stomach with my delicacies; He has washed me away.
  • Ezek 29:3 “Speak and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I am against you, Pharaoh king of Egypt, The great monster that lies in the midst of his rivers, That has said, ‘My Nile is mine, and I myself have made it.’
  • Ezek 32:2 “Son of man, take up a lamentation over Pharaoh king of Egypt and say to him, ‘You compared yourself to a young lion of the nations, Yet you are like the monster in the seas; And you burst forth in your rivers And muddied the waters with your feet And fouled their rivers.’ ”