Ps 74:14; 104:26, an aquatic monster described in the book of Job, Job 41. Probably the animal denoted is the crocodile, the terror of the Nile; as BEHEMOTH, in Job 40, is the hippopotamus of the same river.
The crocodile is a native of the Nile, and other Asiatis and African rivers; in some instances even thirty feet in length; of enormous voracity and strength, as well as fleetness in swimming; attacks mankind and the largest animals, with most daring impetuosity; when taken by means of a powerful net, will often overturn the boats that surround it; has proportionally the largest mouth of all monsters whatever; moves both its jaws alike, the upper of which has not less than thirty-six, and the lower thirty sharp, but strong and massy teeth; and is furnished with a coat of mail so scaly and callous as to resist the force of a musket-ball in every part, except under the belly. The general character of the LEVIATHAN in fact seems so well to apply to this animal, in modern as well as in ancient times the terror of all the coasts and countries about the Nile, that it is unnecessary to seek further. In several passages in the Bible, the king of Egypt appears to be addressed as leviathan, Isa 27:1; Eze 29:3.
The following extract of a letter from an American gentleman in Manila gives a graphic view of the strength and size of the crocodile: "My last operation in the sporting line, was no less than killing a crocodile, which for a year or two before had infested a village on the borders of the lake, taking off horses and cows, and sometimes a man. Having understood that he had killed a horse a day or two before, and had taken him into a small river, I proceeded to the spot, accompanied by my host, closed the mouth of the river with strong nets, and attacked the huge brute with guns and spears. After something of a desperate battle, we succeeded in driving him against the nets, where, being considerably exhausted by the wounds he had received from balls and lances, he got entangled, was dragged on shore, and the coup de grace given to him. He measured twenty feet in length, and from eleven to thirteen feet in circumference, the smallest part being eleven and the largest thirteen. The head alone weighed two hundred and seventy-five pounds. He had nearly the whole of the horse in him, and the legs, with the hoofs, were taken out entire."
a transliterated Hebrew word (livyathan), meaning "twisted," "coiled." In Job 3:8, Revised Version, and marg. of Authorized Version, it denotes the dragon which, according to Eastern tradition, is an enemy of light; in Job 41:1 the crocodile is meant; in Ps 104:26 it "denotes any large animal that moves by writhing or wriggling the body, the whale, the monsters of the deep." This word is also used figuratively for a cruel enemy, as some think "the Egyptian host, crushed by the divine power, and cast on the shores of the Red Sea" (Ps 74:14). As used in Isa 27:1, "leviathan the piercing [R.V. 'swift'] serpent, even leviathan that crooked [R.V. marg. 'winding'] serpent," the word may probably denote the two empires, the Assyrian and the Babylonian.
From lewy "joined" (referring to its joined, plate armour like scales) and than a monster drawn out, i.e. long; or else Arabic lavah "to twist." So Job 41:15-17. The crocodile. The whale having a smooth skin and no scales cannot be meant. The crocodile's teeth, 30 on each side of each jaw, lock into each other. Lips are wanting, so that the teeth are seen even when the mouth is closed, illustrating Job 41:14, "who can open the doors of his face? his teeth are terrible round about." As behemoth is the hippopotamus, so leviathan is the crocodile, both found in Egypt along the Nile. The term elsewhere is used for any large monster of the "sea" or water. Ps 104:26; 74:13-14; "Thou breakest the heads of leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness." The king of Egypt is symbolized by the "dragons" and "leviathan" (compare Eze 32:2; 29:3); he and his host at their overthrow in the Red Sea became a spoil to Israel (compare "bread for us," Nu 14:9) "in the wilderness."
The context shows that it is the benefits of God to Israel that are here recounted. In Job 3:8 translated "let them curse it (my day of birth) ... who are ready to raise up a leviathan," i.e. necromancers who rouse and control wild beasts at will (compare Ps 58:5). In Isa 27:1, "leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked (wriggling) serpent," "the dragon in the sea," literally refers to the crocodile in the sea or Nile, or else to the great rock snakes. Spiritually every foe of Israel and the church. Antitypically and finally Satan "the dragon, that old serpent, which is the devil" (Re 20:2,10), whom finally "Jehovah with His sore, great, and strong sword shall punish." For" piercing" (bariach) translated "darting from side to side." Foiled on one side he tries to gain on the other side (Job 26:13; 2Co 11:14; 2:11). Typhon, the destroyer, was worshipped in Egypt under the form of a crocodile.
In four of the five passages where this word appears, the Septuagint have dragon, and their belief that a creature of serpentine form was meant is coo-firmed by the derivation of Heb. lav
This is really a Hebrew word (livyathan), and is generally believed to refer to any great sea or land monster, it is now postulated that the description is likely to be of a dinosaur.
It is thus an apt symbol of the enemy of God's people. Ps 74:14. In Isa 27:1 it also typifies Satan: "leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent," whom God will punish. In Ps 104:26 the reference may be to any sea monster, for it is in connection with the 'great and wide sea,' that is, the Mediterranean. In Job 3:8 it should be translated 'leviathan,' instead of 'their mourning,' and this confirms the general meaning of some monster.
(jointed monster) occurs five times in the text of the Authorized Version, and once in the margin of
where the text has "mourning." In the Hebrew Bible the word livyathan, which is, with the foregoing exception, always left untranslated in the Authorized Version, is found only in the following passages:
In the margin of
and text of
the crocodile is most clearly the animal denoted by the Hebrew word.
also clearly points to this same saurian. The context of
seems to show that in this passage the name represents some animal of the whale tribe, which is common in the Mediterranean; but it is somewhat uncertain what animal is denoted in
As the term leviathan is evidently used in no limited sense, it is not improbable that the "leviathan the piercing serpent," or "leviathan the crooked serpent," may denote some species of the great rock-snakes which are common in south and west Africa.
LEVIATHAN, ?????, Job 3:8; 41:1; Ps 74:14; 104:26; Isa 27:1. The old commentators concurred in regarding the whale as the animal here intended. Beza and Diodati were among the first to interpret it the crocodile: and Bochart has since supported this last rendering with a train of argument which has nearly overwhelmed all opposition, and brought almost every commentator over to his opinion. It is very certain that it could not be the whale, which does not inhabit the Mediterranean, much less the rivers that empty themselves into it; nor will the characteristics at all apply to the whale. The crocodile, on the contrary, is a natural inhabitant of the Nile, and other Asiatic and African rivers; of enormous voracity and strength, as well as fleetness in swimming; attacks mankind and the largest animals with most daring impetuosity; when taken by means of a powerful net, will often overturn the boats that surround it; has, proportionally, the largest mouth of all monsters whatever; moves both its jaws equally, the upper of which has not less than forty, and the lower than thirty-eight sharp, but strong and massy, teeth; and is furnished with a coat of mail, so scaly and callous as to resist the force of a musket ball in every part, except under the belly. Indeed, to this animal, the general character of the leviathan seems so well to apply, that it is unnecessary to seek farther.