I write notes daily on readings from the Chumash (five books of Torah) and Gospels. You can sign up to receive these by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I thought today’s note on the bow of God from Genesis 9:8-17 was interesting.
Just as the creation story held allusions to Mesopotamian myth, such as God’s Spirit hovering over the tehom which would remind the reader of Marduk defeating Tiamat, so here we have another allusion. In every case the allusions in Genesis are polemical, denying certain aspects of the myth and asserting the Lord’s sovereign control. The word for rainbow is simply the word for a bow. God places his bow in the sky. Similarly in the Mesopotamian myth, Marduk made a constellation out of his bow (Enuma Elish 6.82-90), the one he used to defeat Tiamat (Sarna). God’s might, his bow, is no longer an object of fear (as when he decided to institute the flood) but of protection (though his covenant not to flood the world again).