Slaying the Dragon: Part 5, The Dragon Pharaoh

I want to return to the association between dragons and Egypt.

Recall from Part 3 that Rahab, the great sea dragon, is also a name for Egypt in the Old Testament. Then in Part 4 we noted that the sea dragons Rahab and Leviathan are proper names for specific tannin, the Hebrew word for "sea monster" or "dragon."

Another connection between Egypt and dragons comes from Ezekiel where Pharaoh is twice called a tannin:
Ezekiel 29.3
Speak, and say, Thus says the Lord God:

I am against you,
Pharaoh king of Egypt,
the great dragon sprawling
in the midst of its channels,
saying, “My Nile is my own;
I made it for myself.” (NRSV)

Ezekiel 32.2
Mortal, raise a lamentation over Pharaoh king of Egypt, and say to him:

You consider yourself a lion among the nations,
but you are like a dragon in the seas;
you thrash about in your streams,
trouble the water with your feet,
and foul your streams. (NRSV)
The point for drawing out the connection between Egypt and dragons--the nation called Rahab and Pharaoh called a dragon--is two-fold.

First, as we noted in the first post, the Old Testament image of dragons is a precursor for the New Testament language of "the principalities and powers." The association between Egypt and dragons is a nice illustration of this. And we can also note in this association how the "dragon" of Egypt involves a mix of the spiritual and the political. Political in that Egypt was a nation state and a geo-political power. But also spiritual in that the power of Egypt was due to the gods of Egypt and Pharaoh himself, considered to be the Son of Ra.

Second, and now getting to the point of this series, the association of dragons with Egypt brings out Exodus and New Exodus themes.

"Slaying the dragon" becomes an image of salvation and liberation.

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