In the biblical imagination, the heavens are teeming with life—and it isn’t all angels singing. God is surrounded by hybrid creatures, vengeful spirits, divine hitmen, and other bizarre figures who commit remarkably violent acts, all in God’s employ. God is surrounded by an entourage of monsters. Many of these find their roots in the divine monsters of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, particularly the model of a high deity attended by a company of monsters which is known from broader Near Eastern literary patterns. How should we understand the monsters of God’s entourage, and what do they indicate about biblical conceptions of God?
Esther Hamori is a professor of Hebrew Bible at Union Theological Seminary in New York. She is currently writing a book on the biblical monsters of God’s entourage. Hamori specializes in ancient Israelite concepts of divine-human contact and communication, and is the author of Women’s Divination in Biblical Literature: Prophecy, Necromancy, and Other Arts of Knowledge (Yale University Press, 2015) and other works. Hamori has a PhD in Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near East from New York University (2004), an MDiv from Yale Divinity School (1997), and a BA in Violin Performance from Sarah Lawrence College (1994).