Genesis 1:21

Hebrew Bible

20 God said, “Let the water swarm with swarms of living creatures and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.” 21 God created the great sea creatures and every living and moving thing with which the water swarmed, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds multiply on the earth.”

Neofiti Genesis 1:21


20 And the Memra of the Lord said: “Let the waters swarm forth a swarm of living creatures, and birds that fly* above the earth, across the air of the firmament of the heavens.” 21 And the Lord created the two great monsters and every living creature that creeps, which the waters swarmed forth according to their species, and every bird that flies ^ according to its species. And it was manifest before the Lord that it was beautiful and proper. 22 And the Memra of the Lord blessed them saying: “Be strong and multi ply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply upon the earth.”

 Notes and References

"... If this mythical sea is not itself personified, it is the abode of monstrous creatures of malevolent will which embody the threat of terminal disorder directed against the inhabitants of dry land, a threat which is checked but not eliminated by the first creation. The best-known of these creatures is Leviathan (litānu in the Ugaritic texts), an immense, serpentine creature, seven-headed like the Hydra slain by Heracles. According to a later opinion, Leviathan was female like Tiāmat, the salt-ocean goddess, while its male counterpart, Behemoth, was a land creature (1 Enoch 60:7-9, 24). Yet later tradition mitigated the terror and threat by representing Leviathan as a source of protein for the elect (2 Esdras 6:49-52; 2 Baruch 29:4; Targum on Genesis 1:21). Closely associated, if not actually identical with Leviathan under different names, are the Dragon (Tannin) and Rahab. The former is perhaps the product of a mythicization of very large aquatic creatures (whales, narwhals, sharks) no doubt known to Eastern Mediterranean peoples from early times. Such tannînîm were created on the fifth day of the first week (Genesis 1:21) and are admonished by the psalmist to praise God (Psalm 148:7). The great Tannin is however a creature of a quite different kind, a monstrous being which opposed God in the cosmic war preceding the six-day creation (Isaiah 27:1; 51:9) and will no doubt ‘raise its fabulous green head’ at the end of the age. The same role and much the same characteristics are assigned to Rahab (Psalm 89:11; Job 9:13; 26:12; Isaiah 51:9), though both Tannin and Rahab are historicized as personifications of Egypt and its Pharaoh ..."

Blenkinsopp, Joseph Creation, Un-creation, Re-creation: A Discursive Commentary on Genesis 1-11 (p. 38) T&T Clark, 2011

 User Comments

Do you have questions or comments about these texts? Please submit them here.