Tannin (monster)

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Tannin (Hebrew: תנין‎) or Tunannu (Ugaritic: 𐎚𐎐𐎐 tnn, vocalized tu-un-na-nu[1]) was a sea monster in Canaanite, Phoenician, and Hebrew mythology used as a symbol of chaos and evil.[2]


The name may derive from a root meaning "howling" or from coiling in a manner like smoke.[citation needed]

In modern Hebrew usage the word Tanin (תנין) means Crocodile.

Canaanite mythology[edit]

Tannin appears in the Baal Cycle as one of the servants of Yam (lit. "Sea") defeated by Baʿal (lit. "Lord")[3] or bound by his sister, ʿAnat.[4] He is usually depicted as serpentine, possibly with a double tail.[4]

Hebrew mythology[edit]

The tanninim (תַּנִּינִים) also appear in the Hebrew Bible's of Book of Genesis,[5] Exodus,[6] Deuteronomy,[7] Psalms,[9] Job,[10] Ezekiel,[11] Isaiah,[12] and Jeremiah.[13] They are explicitly listed among the creatures created by God on the fifth day of the Genesis creation narrative,[5] translated in the King James Version as "great whales".[14] The tannin is listed in the apocalypse of Isaiah as among the sea beasts to be slain by Yahweh "on that day",[15] translated in the King James Version as "the dragon".[16][n 1]

In Jewish mythology, Tannin is sometimes conflated with the related sea monsters Leviathan and Rahab.[19] Along with Rahab, "Tannin" was a name applied to ancient Egypt after the Exodus to Canaan.[2]

In modern scholarship, Tannin is sometimes associated with Tiamat and, in modern Hebrew, the name tannin means crocodile. The name has subsequently been given to three submarines in the Israeli Navy: the first, an S-class submarine formerly known as HMS Springer, was in commission from 1958 until 1972. The second, a Gal-class submarine, was in commission from 1977 until 2002. The third INS Tanin is a Dolphin-class submarine in commission since 2014.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ This passage in Isaiah directly parallels another from the earlier Baal Cycle. The Hebrew passage describing the tannin takes the place of a Ugaritic one describing "the encircler"[17] or "the mighty one with seven heads" (šlyṭ d.šbʿt rašm).[18] In both the Ugaritic and Hebrew texts, it is debatable whether three figures are being described or whether the others are epithets of Lotan or Leviathan.