Tehilim 74:13-17 recounts a series of victories of Hashem. The first couplet documents victories in battle against both the tanin and the Leviathan:

אַתָּ֤ה פוֹרַ֣רְתָּ בְעׇזְּךָ֣ יָ֑ם שִׁבַּ֖רְתָּ רָאשֵׁ֥י תַ֝נִּינִ֗ים עַל־הַמָּֽיִם׃

13 You divided the sea by your might; you broke the heads of the dragons in the waters. (NSRV)

אַתָּ֣ה רִ֭צַּצְתָּ רָאשֵׁ֣י לִוְיָתָ֑ן תִּתְּנֶ֥נּוּ מַ֝אֲכָ֗ל לְעָ֣ם לְצִיִּֽים׃

14 You crushed the heads of Leviathan; you gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness.

Then turns to acts of creating day/night, waters, stars, and seasons:

אַתָּ֣ה בָ֭קַעְתָּ מַעְיָ֣ן וָנָ֑חַל אַתָּ֥ה ה֝וֹבַ֗שְׁתָּ נַהֲר֥וֹת אֵיתָֽן׃

15 You cut openings for springs and torrents; you dried up ever-flowing streams.

לְךָ֣ י֭וֹם אַף־לְךָ֥ לָ֑יְלָה אַתָּ֥ה הֲ֝כִינ֗וֹתָ מָא֥וֹר וָשָֽׁמֶשׁ׃

16 Yours is the day, yours also the night; you established the luminaries and the sun.

אַתָּ֣ה הִ֭צַּבְתָּ כׇּל־גְּבוּל֣וֹת אָ֑רֶץ קַ֥יִץ וָ֝חֹ֗רֶף אַתָּ֥ה יְצַרְתָּֽם׃

17 You have fixed all the bounds of the earth; you made summer and winter.

What is the connection between the victories against these monsters and the creation account here? Why does one follow the other?

1 Answer 1


With regards to the first part, namely the sea serpent and the levyoson, both are used as they are descriptions of Pharoah who saw himself as a deity.

Radak tells us on pasuk 13:

ושברת ראשי אויבינו במים דימה מצרים לתנינים

And breaking the heads of our enemies in the water, Egypt was likened to serpents

Indeed, refer to Yechezkel 29:3:

הִנְנִ֤י עָלֶ֙יךָ֙ פַּרְעֹ֣ה מֶלֶךְ־מִצְרַ֔יִם הַתַּנִּים֙ הַגָּד֔וֹל הָרֹבֵ֖ץ בְּת֣וֹךְ יְאֹרָ֑יו אֲשֶׁ֥ר אָמַ֛ר לִ֥י יְאֹרִ֖י וַאֲנִ֥י עֲשִׂיתִֽנִי

I am going to deal with you, O Pharaoh king of Egypt, mighty monster, sprawling in your channels, who said, my Nile is my own; I made it for myself.

In a similar vein, Radak continues on the next pasuk (14):

ראשי לויתן. הוא פרעה כי לויתן פירושו התנין הגדול כמו על לויתן נחש בריח: ואמר ראשי. על שלישיו ועל גבוריו

The head of the Levyoson - this is Pharoah because Levyoson mean the big serpent like the fleeing snake/serpent. And the heads said - this is a reference to his officers and generals (of his army).

It therefore follows that the proceeding verses go on to talk about G-d's creation in order to demonstrate how Hashem it is so vastly superior to Pharoah, who was a mere, self-proclaimed deity.

The commentaries on the subsequent pesukim really underline this vast difference by showcasing just how wondrous G-d's creation is. For example, in pasuk 17 where it says:

אַתָּ֣ה הִ֭צַּבְתָּ כׇּל־גְּבוּל֣וֹת אָ֑רֶץ

You fixed all the boundaries of the earth

Note the Ibn Ezra who observes that Hashem created seven distinctly different climate zones, each precisely placed in the right geographical location (Metzudos Dovid) and how each landscape contributes a unique purpose Radak.

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