Friday, March 19, 2021

Satan as a Dragon

Why is Satan depicted as a dragon in Revelation, and a multi-headed one?

Revelation 12:9 calls Satan δράκων (drakon, dragon) and ὄφις (ophis, snake), the later being used in Genesis 3 LXX. 

Revelation 12:3 says he has 7 heads, and this may refer to the apocalyptic heads of δράκων of Psalm 74:13 LXX and the “heads of Leviathan” of 74:14. The NET Bible footnote explains the origin of this imagery: “The imagery of vv. 13-14 originates in West Semitic [Ugaritic] mythology” which had a 7-headed leviathan chaos dragon.

Thus Revelation is harking back to Genesis 3 LXX ὄφις and to the West Semitic “heads of δράκων” imagery of Psalm 74:13, 14.

Lastly, one scholar stated:

“Dragon” (δράκων) is another OT word for the evil sea monster that symbolizes evil kingdoms who oppress Israel. Often the wicked kingdom of Egypt is portrayed by this emblem.[1]
Thus, it is a familiar sight, and even reminds one of the legend of Hercules battling the multi-headed Hydra.

[1] Gregory Beale, The Book of Revelation (The New International Greek Testament Commentary) (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1999), 632.