Hello everybody and welcome in to episode #343 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Psalm 148 today and our focus is on Are Sea Monsters in the Bible? + A Wonderful Worship Song in Psalms. We are a daily 10ish minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in . Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
Back in the day, like all the way back in 2019, I used to do a podcast called, the “Bible Mystery podcast,” and boy oh boy did we love verses like Psalm 148:7
7 Praise the Lord from the earth,
all sea monsters and ocean depths,
I love mysteries, and I love the Bible, so it was quite fun to explore some of the more interesting mysteries in the Bible, such as this one. Are there sea monsters in the Bible? The obvious answer is yes, if you have a CSB translation – it’s right there in black and white – and it’s not the only place sea monsters are in the Bible:
You divided the sea with your strength; you smashed the heads of the sea monsters in the water; Psalm 74:13
or, how about Isaiah 27:1 On that day the Lord with his relentless, large, strong sword will bring judgment on Leviathan, the fleeing serpent—Leviathan, the twisting serpent. He will slay the monster that is in the sea.
Job 7:12 Am I the sea or a sea monster, that you keep me under guard?
Surely other Bible translations don’t use “sea monsters” here, right? And, of course, they don’t. Psalm 148:7 in the KJV says, “Praise the LORD from the earth, ye dragons, and all deeps:”
Ok – so, am I telling you that there are actually dragons and sea monsters in the Bible? That sounds pretty ludicrous. And my answer is – it depends on how you define “dragon” or “sea monster”. Let’s take a look at ou Hebrew word here and see if we can figure out what it means. Here’s the Hebrew word: תַּנִּין tannîyn, tan-neen – it is an intensive version of another Hebrew word, “Tan,” that the KJV translates as whale. Tanneen is the same Hebrew word that is used in Genesis 1:21, “And God created great whales and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.” Why it is translated “whale” in Genesis 1:21 and “dragon” in Psalm 148:7, I’ve no idea, but I tend to think that the best bet for what the writer of Psalms intended for Taneen is neither whale nor dragon. I think we get an excellent clue in Exodus 7:10, “And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the LORD had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent” The fact that tannin/taneen is translated as “serpent” in Exodus 7:10, “whale” in Genesis 1:21 and “dragon” in Psalm 148:7 tells me two things. Either A. the KJV translators had no idea what this word meant, and they were trying to guess in each instance or B. The word can refer to more than one animal – think similar to how we might use the word “beast” in English. My best guess is that A. and B. are both somewhat true – we don’t know exactly what animal the Biblical writers intended for the word tannin/taneen AND it does appear to be a word that can refer to more than one different animal. I’ll give you my guess, and it is based on two verses:
Deuteronomy 32:33, “Their wine is the poison of dragons, and the cruel venom of asps.” and Ezekiel 29:3 Speak, and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great dragon that lieth in the midst of his rivers, which hath said, My river is mine own, and I have made it for myself.
What great dragon lies in the Nile, the rivers of Egypt? How about the Nile Crocodile – who can reach a length of 20 feet long AND weigh over 1600 pounds. That could certainly pass for a dragon-like creature, or a sea monster of some sorts – a Nile crocodile is a fearsome beast, even today, and I suppose it is possible that they could have been bigger in Old Testament times. But what about the “poison of dragons?” Crocodiles don’t have venom, do they? Of course they don’t, and this gets back to our original contention- that Tannin/taneen appears to be a word that can stand for several creatures – and my belief is that “Reptile” is an excellent translation. A large venomous snake is a reptile, and so is the Nile crocodile. And that seems a far better translation than sea monster or dragon. Of course, our original guess could be accurate as well, and tannin/taneen doesn’t so much mean reptile, as it means “fearsome water creature” or fearsome water beast, and therefore, “sea monster” would be a good translation, as long as we recognize that creatures like saltwater crocodiles and great white sharks could be understood as sea monsters. Thus, let all reptiles/beasts of the waters praise the Lord! Well, that was interesting to me. Hopefully at least a little interesting to you. Let’s close out on a spiritual high note, and we’ll turn to Charles Spurgeon to give us some soaring words on the wonderful song of worship that is Psalm 148: (and I note, with some degree of chastening, that Spurgeon gives me a hard time for trying to figure out what is meant by “sea monster!”
The song is one and indivisible. It seems almost impossible to expound it in detail, for a living poem is not to be dissected verse by verse. It is a song of nature and of grace. As a flash of lightning flames through space, and enwraps both heaven and earth in one vestment of glory, so doth the adoration of the Lord in this Psalm light up all the universe and cause it to glow with a radiance of praise. The song begins in the heavens, sweeps downward to dragons and all deeps, and then ascends again, till the people near unto Jehovah take up the strain. For its exposition the chief requisite is a heart on fire with reverent love to the Lord over all, who is to be blessed for ever….
“Praise the LORD from the earth.” The song descends to our abode, and so comes nearer home to us. We who are “bodies terrestrial,” are to pour out our portion of praise from the golden globe of this favoured planet. Jehovah is to be praised not only in the earth but from the earth, as if the adoration ran over from this planet into the general accumulation of worship. In the first verse the song was “from the heavens”; here it is going “from the earth”; songs coming down from heaven are to blend with those going up from earth. The “earth” here meant is our entire globe of land and water: it is to be made vocal everywhere with praise. “Ye dragons, and all deeps.” It would be idle to enquire what special sea-monsters are here meant; but we believe all of them are intended, and the places where they abide are indicated by “all deeps.” Terrible beasts or fishes, whether they roam the earth or swim the seas, are bidden to the feast of praise. Whether they float amid the teeming waves of the tropics, or wend their way among the floes and bergs of polar waters, they are commanded by our sacred poet to yield their tribute to the creating Jehovah. They pay no service to man; let them the more heartily confess their allegiance to the Lord. About “dragons” and “deeps” there is somewhat of dread, but this may the more fitly become the bass of the music of the Psalm. If there be aught grim in mythology, or fantastic in heraldry, let it praise the incomprehensible Lord.
C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David: Psalms 120-150, vol. 6 (London; Edinburgh; New York: Marshall Brothers, n.d.), 439.
Bible Memory passage for the month of December: Revelation 5:12, “They said with a loud voice: Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing!”
Happy by Mike Leite https://soundcloud.com/mikeleite
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