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The Destruction of Leviathan by Gustave Doré (1865)

Lotan (Ugaritic: 𐎍𐎚𐎐-ltn, transliterated Lôtān,[1] Litan,[2] or Litānu,[3] meaning "coiled") is a servant of the sea god Yam defeated by the storm god Hadad-Baʿal in the Ugaritic Baal Cycle.[3] possibly with the help or by the hand of his sister ʿAnat.[4] Lotan seems to have been prefigured by the serpent Têmtum represented in Syrian seals of the 18th–16th century BC, [5] and finds a later reflex in the sea monster Leviathan, whose defeat at the hands of Yahweh is alluded to in the biblical Book of Job and in Isaiah 27:1.[5][3] Lambert (2003) went as far as the claim that Isaiah 27:1 is a direct quote lifted from the Ugaritic text, correctly rendering Ugaritic bṯn "snake" as Hebrew nḥš "snake".[6][7]

Lotan (ltn) is an adjectival formation meaning "coiled", here used as a proper name;[4] the same creature has a number of possible epitheta, including "the fugitive serpent" (bṯn brḥ) and maybe (with some uncertainty deriving from manuscript lacunae) "the wriggling serpent" (bṯn ʿqltn) and "the mighty one with seven heads" (šlyṭ d.šbʿt rašm).[5]

The myth of Hadad defeating Lotan, Yahweh defeating Leviathan, Marduk defeating Tiamat (etc.) in the mythologies of the Ancient Near East are classical examples of the Chaoskampf mytheme, also reflected in Zeus' slaying of Typhon in Greek mythology[8] and Thor's struggle against Jörmungandr in the Gylfaginning portion of the Prose Edda.[9]

The Litani River that winds through the Beqaa Valley in Lebanon is named after Lotan as the river was believed to be the personification of the god.[10][11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Uehlinger (1999), p. 514.
  2. ^ Barker (2014).
  3. ^ a b c Herrmann (1999), p. 133.
  4. ^ a b Baumgarten (1981), p. 208.
  5. ^ a b c Uehlinger (1999), p. 512.
  6. ^ W.G. Lambert, "Leviathan in Ancient Art" in FS Shlomo Moussaieff (ed. R. Deutsch), 2003, 147–154 (p. 154)
  7. ^ Barker (2014), p. 152.
  8. ^ Ogden (2013).
  9. ^ Sturluson, Snorri (2005). The Prose Edda. London: Penguin Classics.
  10. ^ Price, Robert. Bart Ehrman Interpreted. Pitchstone Publishing, Durham, NC. 2018, page 153
  11. ^ Price (2018), p. [1].