You [Yahweh] divided the sea by your might; you broke the heads of the dragons in the waters. You crushed the heads of Leviathan; you gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness. You cut openings for springs and torrents; you dried up ever-flowing streams. Yours is the day, yours is the night; you established the luminaries and the sun. You have fixed all the bounds of the earth; you made summer and winter. (Psalm 74:13-17)
I am in shock! Not only are there two very different Creation stories in the first two chapters of Genesis…there are even older Creation stories, completely different from the two in Genesis, in other parts of the Bible! And these Biblical Creation accounts are exactly the same Creation stories (myths) as other ancient Canaanite and Mesopotamian cultures!
Copied from: Dr. Steven DiMattei
The two creation accounts that open the book of Genesis, the Priestly and Yahwist, are not the only creation stories found in the Bible. A much older mythic tale is preserved in passages from the Psalms, the book of Job, and the Prophets. In fact, there are remarkably few references in the Bible to the Priestly creation account (which perhaps attests to its late date of composition), while conversely, there are a number of passages that directly reference or allude to this more archaic Near Eastern myth—a myth which describes the creation of the heavens and the earth in terms of the creator deity, in the biblical sources Yahweh, slaying a primeval sea monster, variously represented as Leviathan or Rahab, as the first act of creation. Psalm 74:13-17 is one such example:
You [Yahweh] divided the sea by your might; you broke the heads of the dragons in the waters. You crushed the heads of Leviathan; you gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness. You cut openings for springs and torrents; you dried up ever-flowing streams. Yours is the day, yours is the night; you established the luminaries and the sun. You have fixed all the bounds of the earth; you made summer and winter.
By his power he stilled the sea and by his skill he crushed Rahab, by his wind the heavens were made clear, his hand pierced the fleeing serpent. (Job 26:12-13)
The biblical origins of Rahab are obscure. Its close proximity with the Hebrew tannin (variously ‘serpent’ ‘crocodile’) in Is 51:9 and other passages indicates that is was a creature of the sea, mostly likely parallel to the Babylonian Tiamat, Canaanite Yam, whom Baal battles. Interesting that the translations you mention try to demythologize the account by reducing the mythic creature to a ‘storm’ and thus drawing it further away from its literary context!
That the biblical scribes were pulling from the mythic traditions of their ancient Near Eastern predecessors—this is what I mean by understanding these texts in their literary contexts—will become more transparent when we get to the crossing of the Sea of Reeds story, soon now that we’re in the book of Exodus. Passages like Is 59 personify the Sea as Rahab and thus read this ancient mythological struggle between a storm deity—Yahweh, Marduk, Baal—and the Sea—Rahab, Tiamat, Yam—into the crossing of the Sea of Reeds in Exodus. In fact, this mythology is more transparent here. The Enuma elish ends with the establishment of Marduk as the God of gods on his mountain, where he is also proclaimed king. Likewise, Exodus 15 presents Yahweh in the same manner!
The Enuma elish, although seemingly a harmless piece of mythological lore was actually a very alluring piece of political propaganda. The story of how Marduk, and Marduk alone, was able to defeat the primaeval chaotic sea waters, Tiamat, create the earth and humans from her slain parts, and then lead a procession to his mountain where he was proclaimed God of the gods was politically used to legitimate and justify, as well as answer the questions of how and why, Babylon came to rule the rest of the known world—because its god, Marduk, subdued Tiamat and was proclaimed King! Scholars have noticed many parallels between the Babylonian Enuma elish and the Priestly creation account (appendix of #1). I would even say the same political message is also inherent in the Genesis account, albeit much less transparent. At any rate, reading these stories in their natural and rightful contexts displays how powerful they were as tools of promoting/legitimating political supremacy over one’s neighbors, real or implied, by creating narratives that displayed one’s national deity as creating the world, and thus legitimating that nation’s rule.