What Does Leviathan Mean

Another edition of “You Searched for It” is upon us, and today I will answer the search, What Does Leviathan Mean, which led to The Leviathan: What does Job say? here at Timothy’s Burden.

In that post, I examined the verses from Job which are said to be the very words of God Himself, and so I trust that He knew what He was talking about when He called a creature called a leviathan the “king over all the children of pride.” That combined with other clues in Job leads me to believe that the leviathan is a form of Satan, an intermediary form between the serpent of Genesis and the great red dragon of Revelation. (Aside: In relation to yesterday’s Satan’s Progression post, I find it notable that in Psalm 74:14 the leviathan is said to have many heads which God will crush. In Revelation 12:3, the great red dragon, which we know with certainty to be Satan, is said to have seven heads. I find that reaffirming to my brainstormed ideas posted yesterday.)

So anyway, if someone were to ask me, “Who is the leviathan?” I would have to say that the leviathan is Satan. But, that isn’t what the question asks, is it? :) What does leviathan mean? I don’t know if using Hebrew text will work or not, but the word translated as the King James Version’s five occurences of “leviathan” is the word לויתן or livyaÌ‚thaÌ‚n. It is a derivitive word which comes from a root meaning “to twine,” and gives the idea, when used as “leviathan” of a twisted creature, one which can intertwine upon itself.

Such a description, for illustration, could be made of worms, snakes, some lizards, eels, and so on. We see Satan beginning as a serpent and later as a much larger “sea monster” creature called leviathan, and later as the dragon. The image of a long, slender, multi-headed (taking into account the “heads” passages mentioned above in the aside) creature which is capable of twisting. The popular dragon designs of the Far East would be a suitable comparison so far as body shape is concerned; the tubby dragons which show up in tales of knights rescuing princesses would not seem to fit the bill. But if you happen to slay one, the kingdom thanks you, but the princess is still missing. Thanks.

So, what does “leviathan” mean? As Strong’s says, it means “wreathed animal, that is, a serpent.”
What is a leviathan? Comparing multiple passages from the Bible, it is a large multi-headed, fire-breathing, crooked serpent.
Who is the leviathan? If there is but one, the leviathan is surely Satan, that old serpent. If there are many, then Satan is the archetype (epitome?) of what a leviathan is as described by Job.

7 thoughts on “What Does Leviathan Mean”

  1. Interesting post, just a quick question. It would seem that other names given to Satan are compared to creatures that we know of today, such as a serpeant, lion etc. Is it possible that this leviathan exists as well and writers in certain parts refers to Satan as being as the great leviathan? Ps. 104:26 sounds like a creature from this world.

    In Him
    Glen H.

  2. It is possible that there are creatures which are “leviathan” which aren’t Satan, sure. But I think calling them “only” creatures does great injustice to the language of Job. I can see no way to make that fit a mere creature without seriously changing the text around, and so I regard the giant leviathan in the same way as the subtle serpent and the great dragon: as Satan.

  3. Right Satan is “like” a subtle serpent and a great dragon (dinosaur) both of which existed. As Satan is like as well a Leviathan which at one time and perhaps even still alive today a Great Sea Creature that today is unknown to us. But with that said. Satan can still in places be described as this creature as he is to other creatures in the Bible.

  4. In light of the later half of Ps 71:14 “and gave him as meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness” I’d say that there certainly are Leviathans who are not Satan, and who are creatures, (though, I agree they are not merely creatures, but something incredible).

    I’d like to note that chapter breaks in the Bible are very often placed in dumb places, Isa 27:1 is certainly a key text that shows either Satan is a Levi or a metaphor or archetype of one. Much more interesting is the immedietly preceding verses”

    Isa 26:19 Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.
    Isa 26:20 Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.
    Isa 26:21 For, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.

    Resurrection-Gathering of God’s people-Judgment of the wicked-Slaying of Satan…

    With that context we can quite safely say we are not talking about events which have happened, and we do not have to worry that Isaiah was making a metaphore to some king.

    It also superficially appears that Isaiah was saying the same thing that was said in Revelation in more detail, I don’t have enough free time to read it more through but preliminary analysis makes it appear that we have the same pattern we see foretold in Rev. Now I really appreciate you opening this line of thought, I never noticed this before today. It is certainly very important.

  5. For hundreds of years, Leviathan and the behemoth have been obscured in mystery. What is the true meaning of these beasts? Is Leviathan an actuall fire breathing dragon that no man can kill? Why is the behemoth also written in a strange metaphoric language? I believe the one of the answers that will unravel the mystery of both these metaphors lies in the twenty nineth chapter of Ezekiel. The same language describe the king of Egypt as a river monster. Revelation 17:12 also cluse us that the seven headed, ten horned sea beast is also a metaphor. Its ten horns are actually ten kings. So when you try to compare the behemoth and Leviathan to a type of dinosauar or animal, I believe you are looking at scripture in a wrong direction.

  6. I have a question. Can this “leviathan” attach itself to people such as “demons” If so, is it a greater demonic power? Also, the leviathan that God destroyed before he parted the red sea & the people ate it’s flesh. . what kind of leviathan was that? and what does it represent. . .I ask the Holy Spirit. .the greatest teacher of all to reveal himself in the answers. Amen

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