Leviathan

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. Like behemoth, it also lived at the water, possibly to support its great size (but not as large as behemoth).

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, which lived in or near the water's edge. And large, fearsome animals in Bible times were called "dragons".

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 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. Moreover, its hide was virtually impervious to even spears and harpoons. One interesting point is the weapon "harpoon," as this is a weapon for those on ships. 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.

The mere sight of it is overpowering.
The sight of a crocodile 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. Or something akin the what covered the back of an ankylosaurus, which was like rock.

Who dares open the doors of its mouth,
ringed about with fearsome teeth?
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.

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 - the good stuff. I think that this is where we got our dragon legends from. This was such a scary and dangerous animal that its infamy spread to all nations, 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.

Its undersides are jagged potsherds,
leaving a trail in the mud like a threshing sledge.
"Leaving a trail in the mud." 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 occasionally came ashore, probably to feed or mate. Hippos 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 defninitely a water creature. The text mentions "the depths" and "the deep," so it probably didn't stay along the shoreline to feed, much like reports of the mokele-mbembe in Central Africa. Rather, due to its massive size, it preferred to venture into 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 and 2. the devouring capacity of a tyrannosaur.


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