You actually won’t find mermaids mentioned anywhere in the Bible. These mythical creatures who have human upper bodies, and fish lower bodies, are in fact just that – myths and folklore.
History and Origin of Mermaids
While there is no mention of mermaids in the Bible, we do see them in other sources. Some consider the image of the ancient Philistine god Dagon (half man/ half fish) that is mentioned in the Old Testament (1 Samuel 5:2) a resemblance to a modern merman. These believe that the word translated “Dagon” is linked to the Hebrew word dag, meaning “fish,” and that the god was shaped like a man above the waist, and like a fish below the waist.
Tales of such creatures first appeared in ancient Assyria—the Assyrian goddess Atargatis transformed herself into a mermaid out of shame for unintentionally committing murder.
The mention of creatures like mermaids also appeared in Layard’s Nineveh. There is an account of a bas-relief from Khorsabad representing a war between the Assyrians and the inhabitants of the Syrian seacoast. The relief portrays a figure, the upper half of which is man with a beard, and the lower half a fish like creature.
Mythology and Stories of Mermaids
Mermaids are also associated with Sirens in Greek mythology, specifically in Homer’s The Odyssey.
Later on, Christopher Columbus and other sailors mentioned seeing half woman/half fish creatures in their Caribbean excursions. But it is believed that these reports were basically only encounters with sea creatures such as manatees and dugongs.
Hans Christian Andersen’s popular fairy tale “The Little Mermaid” that was written in 1836 started a new craze for such legendary creatures in the literature and media.
It wasn’t until July 2012 the National Ocean Service (NOS) settled this question when it issued a statement that “no evidence of aquatic humanoids has ever been found.” They gave this statement in response to public inquiries following a pseudo scientific documentary on mermaids which was aired in May 2012 on the Animal Planet program. Many people actually mistook the fictional film as an actual documentary.
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