Leviathan is one of the most unusual and unique animals described in the Bible, and indeed, all of historical literature.

Job chapter 41 speaks of an incredible creature called "leviathan," and it truly describes an animal that is unlike any that God has ever created. It lived primarily in the water, possibly to support its great size, though it was not as large as behemoth (which was solely a land-dweller).

God used behemoth as an example to show the largest animal He had made. Now He uses leviathan as the most fearsome and dangerous animal on earth.

Scripture References

Many times the Bible speaks of "dragons", especially in the Old Testament, though some versions have translated this word as "jackal". One must remember that none of the writers of the Holy Scriptures had ever heard of the word "dinosaur", so they came up with their own word to describe fearsome beasts.

Dragons have always been portrayed in art as having fierce, gargoyle-like faces. Interestingly enough, "gargoyle" is a French word, originating from "dragons which roamed the riverbanks" in times past. This certainly fits the description of leviathan, though it spent most of its time in the water. And large, fearsome animals in Bible times were called "dragons".

Job 41:1-5
Can you pull in Leviathan with a fishhook
or tie down its tongue with a rope?
Can you put a cord through its nose
or pierce its jaw with a hook?
Will it keep begging you for mercy?
Will it speak to you with gentle words?
Will it make an agreement with you
for you to take it as your slave for life?
Can you make a pet of it like a bird
or put it on a leash for the young women in your house?
This creature, like behemoth, was impossible to capture. Not necessarily because of its size, but because it was such a fearsome animal!

Can you fill its hide with harpoons
or its head with fishing spears?
If you lay a hand on it,
you will remember the struggle and never do it again!
Any hope of subduing it is false.
Like behemoth, this creature couldn't be captured - unlike the hippo or the crocodile (the absurd suggestions by the NIV translators in the notes). Moreover, its hide was virtually impervious to even spears and harpoons. One interesting point is the weapon "harpoon," as this is a weapon for hunting creatures in the sea. So this animal mainly resided in the water - again, like behemoth, although it doesn't mean that it was a fish like a plesiosaur or kronosaurus.

v .9
The mere sight of it is overpowering.
The sight of a crocodile, even a massive one, can be impressive, but it's not overpowering. Far from it. A Hollywood version of a dragon (minus the obligatory wings, of course), seen coming out of the woods, would be overpowering, and I tend to believe that the Hollywood version is probably more accurate to what the real thing looked like.

Who can strip off its outer coat?
Who can penetrate its double coat of armor?
Double coat of armor? This was indeed an animal impervious to attack. Its armor may have been similar to today's pangolin, only more so and to a larger degree. However, the scales on a pangolin aren't true armor; they're made of keratin, like our fingernails. Perhaps leviathan had something similar to what covered the back of an ankylosaurus, which was like rock.

Who dares open the doors of its mouth,
ringed about with fearsome teeth?
Leviathan's teeth were probably something like the teeth of a tyrannosaur. Its teeth were 12-inches-long, housed in a mouth with a bite force of 12,800 psi.

Its back has rows of shields
tightly sealed together;
each is so close to the next
that no air can pass between.
Imagine a semi-aquatic Tyrannosaur with rock-hard armor on its body.

Its snorting throws out flashes of light;
its eyes are like the rays of dawn.
Flames stream from its mouth;
sparks of fire shoot out.
Smoke pours from its nostrils
as from a boiling pot over burning reeds.
Its breath sets coals ablaze,
and flames dart from its mouth.
Here we go - leviathan's main weapon. I think that this is where we got our dragon legends from. This was such a terrifying and dangerous animal that its infamy spread to all corners of the globe, either by people seeing it firsthand or by word of mouth. This would make sense if there really was such a thing as a fire-breathing dragon. Parallels have been made between leviathan and the bombardier beetle, which can shoot out streams of boiling water at its enemies. Impressive, yes, but it's not like an animal breathing fire.

The sword that reaches it has no effect,
nor does the spear or the dart or the javelin.
Iron it treats like straw
and bronze like rotten wood.
Arrows do not make it flee;
slingstones are like chaff to it.
A club seems to it but a piece of straw;
it laughs at the rattling of the lance.
The strongest metals of the day - iron and bronze - had no effect on it. The hardiest weapons, the sword and spear, also no effect. One didn't try to kill or capture this animal - one just got out of its way.

Another interesting point here is that all these weapons - swords, spears, darts, javelins, arrows, slingstones, clubs, and lances are what one would use to hunt a LAND animal, not a large, dangerous fish like a plesiosaur, much less a whale. However, "harpoons" and "fishing spears" are mentioned in verses 7-8, so this suggests that leviathan was both aquatic AND terrestrial (like a hippo).

Its undersides are jagged potsherds,
leaving a trail in the mud like a threshing sledge.
"Leaving a trail in the mud." Sole water-dwellers like plesiosaurs and kronosaurs didn't come ashore; they had flippers and were fish, which converted oxygen in the water to breathe. This animal sounded like an air-breather which also occasionally came ashore, probably to feed or mate. Crocodiles, for example, certainly aren't fish, yet they spend 80% of their time in the water.

It makes the depths churn like a boiling caldron
and stirs up the sea like a pot of ointment.
It leaves a glistening wake behind it;
one would think the deep had white hair.
Leviathan was definitely a water-loving creature. The text mentions "the depths" and "the deep," so it probably didn't stay along the shoreline to feed. Rather, due to its massive size, it preferred to lurk in deeper water, where it would find bigger fish to feed its bigger appetite.

Nothing on earth is its equal—
a creature without fear.
And why SHOULD it fear? No attack on it would succeed, and even if one came, it could respond with 1. a flame-thrower or 2. the devouring ability of a tyrannosaur.

An excerpt from my book "Noah: A Novel" of an attacking leviathan

Suddenly, a great crashing sound drew their attention to the jungle just ahead of them. Simultaneously they felt the water under their boat vibrating from ground impacts on shore, which caused small ripples to form around their boat. They all had enough traveling experience to know what was happening – something very large was heading for the water from within the jungle.

Noah called out, “Stop rowing!”

The rowers ceased their rowing and scanned the shoreline wildly as the boat slowly coasted to a stop.

“Ready yourselves!” Noah commanded. The rowers took up the spears, bows, and arrows, while Noah and Asahel each grabbed a crossbow.

“We should move out into deeper water!” Asahel bellowed as he gripped his crossbow with white fingers. He was hyperventilating and sweating even more than usual.

“No time,” Noah replied grimly.

The trees and foliage near the shore suddenly began to jerk violently as the crashing became more pronounced. Then they heard a great ear-splitting roar from near the treetops, which lasted nearly twenty seconds. The creature’s bellow seemed like it would burst their eardrums, and the sound actually knocked leaves off the trees.

“Leviathan!” Asahel screeched. His face drained white as he fumbled with the crossbow in his hands, and it tumbled overboard into the murky depths of the bay.

Without thinking, the rowers began rowing madly in an attempt to escape. They all knew in the pit of their stomachs that there was no defense against this creature.

Several smaller trees at the water’s edge suddenly collapsed forward into the water, pushed over by the body of a huge animal which came into view. It was fully fifteen feet at the shoulder, and its head stood atop a stout neck, adding another eight feet to its height. The sunlight gleamed off its armored scales, which covered its body from head to toe, and its mouth was slightly open, revealing a mouthful of curving, razor-sharp teeth that dripped a rancid mixture of blood and saliva. Even from this distance they could see a mass of green and black flies which swarmed its open maw. Long sharp claws adorned its webbed feet, and they saw a long serpentine tail behind it moving back and forth along the ground in an agitated fashion, scouring the jungle floor of vegetation.
This was a creature that had no fear and stopped for nothing, and the mere sight of it would often make people freeze up in sheer terror. Its armor-plating made it virtually impervious to attack by man or beast. Its size made it one of God’s largest predators, but by far its deadliest weapon was its ability to breathe fire. When it was ashore, it could blow a stream of hottest flame up to fifty feet away and keep it up for twenty seconds. Nothing living in its path could withstand the fiery blast, and if this weren’t enough, its powerful jaws could crush and devour as efficiently as a tyrannosaur. It was highly aggressive and would usually attack on sight.

The dragon saw an alien thing in its path – Noah and his crew – and abruptly stopped short. Not out of fear, but of surprise.
Unfortunately, they were directly in its path.

Asahel screamed to the crew, “Get us out of here!”

Two rowers began paddling even more furiously while the other two took their chances in the bay by promptly jumping overboard. This resulted in the other two rowing the boat in a circle, since they were on the same side, and they went nowhere.

Noah exclaimed, “Blast it! Get ready to jump!”

Meanwhile, Asahel − in a fit of bravery − grabbed a spear, stood uncertainly in the boat, and heaved it toward the leviathan’s head. It flew true, hitting it just behind the jaw. Instead of impaling the monster, however, the spear just ricocheted off at a right angle. Noah raised his crossbow to his shoulder and fired an arrow. He had aimed at the head, but aside from a slight flinch from the monster, the iron-tipped arrow apparently had no effect, though a metal arrow fired from this kind of crossbow could cripple a mastodon with the right placement. He doubted that he could kill this creature, but he was hoping to somehow deter it in some fashion.

The leviathan produced another tremendous bellow, temporarily deafening them. As it glared at them, it pulled its head and neck back slightly, like a snake preparing to strike.

Noah knew what this meant – it was preparing to burn them to a crisp. He only had time to yell out “Jump!” before he went overboard and hit the water.

The monster’s head shot forward and breathed out a massive stream of flame, which sounded like the fury of the hottest furnace. The fire covered the boat from stem to stern along with those in it. Asahel and the remaining crew emitted terrible screams as the flesh cooked off their bones.

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