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Yamm or Yaw, Yammu, Yamm is the Ugaritic god of Rivers and Sea.


From the Canaanite word Yam, meaning Sea. Also called Judge Nahar ("Judge River"). Others dispute the existence of the alternative names, claiming it is a mistranslation of a damaged tablet. Despite linguistic overlap, theologically this god is not a part of the later subregional monotheistic theology, but rather is part of a broader and archaic Levantine polytheism.


Yam is one of the 'ilhm (Elohim) or sons of El. The deity of the primordial chaos represents the power of the sea untamed and raging; he is seen as ruling tempests and the disasters they wreak. The gods cast out Yam from the heavenly mountain Sappan (modern Jebel Aqra) is cognate to Tsephon (zion).


The seven-headed dragon Lotan is associated closely with him and the serpent is frequently used to describe him.


Of all the gods, despite being the champion of El, Yam holds special hostility against Baal Hadad, son of Dagon. Yam is a deity of the sea and his palace is in the abyss associated with the depths, or Biblical tehwom, of the oceans. (This is not to be confused with the abode of Mot, the ruler of the netherworlds.) In Ugaritic texts, Yam's special enemy Hadad is also known as the "king of heaven" and the "first born son" of El, whom ancient Greeks identified with their god Kronos, just as Baal was identified with Zeus, Yam with Poseidon and Mot with Hades. Yam wished to become the Lord god in his place. In turns the two beings kill each other, yet Hadad is resurrected and Yam also returns. Some authors have suggested that these tales reflect the experience of seasonal cycles in the Levant.

Comparative mythology

  • The battle between Yam and Baal (the Storm God) resembles the battle in Hurrian and Hittite mythology between the sky God Teshub (or Tarhunt) with the serpent Illuyanka.
  • In this respect the battle with Baal resembles the battle between Tiamat and Enlil (Sumerian = Lord of the Command) and Babylonian Marduk. In the case of Yam, however, there is no indication that he was slain, as it appears from the texts that he was put to sleep through the intervention of Baal's "sister" and wife, Anath.
  • Since Yam wishes to raise himself to the lofty heights of Baal whom he hates, and since he is the lord of chaos and destruction, in some Christian interpretations of Genesis 3:15, because of his connections with the Leviathan, equated sometimes with the the serpent of Eden, some feel he may have been in eternal conflict with the Messiah, Jehovah's son.
    • A relevant passage in the Christian book of Revelation reads: "And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world" (Revelation 12:9).
    • Also, the chaotic coiling sea serpent Leviathan appears as hated by Jehovah (Isaiah 27:1).
    • In the Apocalypse of Abraham, the enemy of Yahweh is called Azazel and is described as a dragon with "hands and feet like a man's, on his back six wings on the right and six on the left." (23:7) Some Christian interpretations identify Azazel with the serpent who tempted Eve.
  • Moreover, a comparison with the evil Jörmungandr (Norse world-serpent and deity of the sea) is accurate, given his description. Like Yam and Hadad, he and Thor (son of Odin) slay each other at the end of the world (Ragnarök or Twilight of the Gods).
  • There are also many similarities with the Egyptian chaos serpent, Apep and his animosity with the sun god Ra.
  • In addition, the serpent-Titan Typhon battled the god Zeus over Olympus and was cast into the pits of the Earth.
  • Yam shares many characteristics with Greco-Roman Ophion, the serpentine Titan of the sea whom Kronos cast out of the heavenly Mt. Olympus.
  • The story is also analogus to the war between the serpent Vritra and the god Indra, son of the 'Sky Father' Dyaus Pita.


  • Cassuto, U., trans. by Israel Abrahams. The Goddess Anath, (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, Hebrew University, 1951).
  • Coogan, Michael D., trans. & ed., Stories from Ancient Canaan, (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1978), 86-89.
  • De Moor, Johannes, The Seasonal Pattern in the Myth of Ba' lu according to the version of Ilimilku, (1971).
  • Driver, G.R., trans., J. C. L. Gibson, ed., Canaanite Myths and Legends, (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark Ltd., 1977).
  • The Rise of Yahwism: The Roots of Israelite Monotheism, (Peeters Publishers, 2001).
  • Theodor Gaster, trans., Thespis: Ritual, Myth & Drama in the Ancient Near East (New York: Harper & Row, 1966), 114-244.
  • Ginsberg, H. L., trans., in The Ancient Near East, An Anthology of Tests and Pictures, James B. Pritchard, Ed., (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1958), 92-118.
  • Smith, Mark S., The Ugaritic Ba'al Cycle; Vol. I: Introduction with Text, Translation & Commentary of KTU 1.1-1.2, (New York: E. J. Brill, 1994).
  • Thompson, Thomas L., The Mythic Past; Biblical Archaeology and the Myth of Israel, (New York: Basic Books, 1999).

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