Michael D. Coogan: Genesis 1:2 and Enuma Elish

Michael D. Coogan, The Old Testament: A Historical and Literary Introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures, third edition (OUP, 2014), 38.

The second verse of Genesis seems to allude to the battle between the storm god and the primeval sea, found in Enuma Elish and in other ancient Near Eastern sources: “Darkness was on the face of Deep and a wind from God was swooping over the face of the waters.” Moreover, the Hebrew word for “deep,” tehom, is linguistically related to the name of the goddess Tiamat, and in the Bible, tehom never occurs with the definite article; thus it should be literally translated as “Deep” rather than “the deep” wherever it occurs. Genesis 1.2 thus seems to be setting the stage for a retelling of the battle, but instead we are told simply that God spoke.

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