The Leviathan: What Does the Book of Job Say?

Fausset’s Bible Dictionary, the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, the King James Dictionary, Nave’s Topical Bible, Smith’s Bible Dictionary, and Webster’s 1828 Dictionary list the leviathan as being some form of crocodile (or whale or serpent, but mostly the crocodile).

But what does the Book of Job say about the mighty leviathan? Is this creature really a crocodile?

A cursory reading of Job 41 would certainly leave us with an image of the crocodile or some other marine creature. However, several bits lead us to believe that the leviathan is no creature known to modern biology.

Verse 10 says that none are brave enough to stir up the leviathan, except for God. However, we know that there are men brave enough to stir up crocodiles. In fact, there have been television shows created specifically for that. However, none have dared mess with the leviathan.

Verses 18 and 19 state that the leviathan bears light and fire from within, which come out his nostrils and mouth. No crocodile has ever been found that could be used like a flash light. While it could be said that the language of Job is symbolic (Job being typically classified as poetry), there is nothing within the text itself indicating that we are to understand it in any other way save literally.

Verses 19-21 indicate that the leviathan was a fire breather. Sparks and smoke certainly would indicate such, and a fire-breathing leviathan would certainly provide an original basis for all the fire-breathing monster stories that are told, especially in the East.

Verse 25 says that when the leviathan raises itself up, even mighty men are afraid. Crocodiles do not raise up except for but a few inches off the ground for mobility. To raise up brings to mind the action of the cobra snake, which certainly could apply to leviathan if it too is a serpent.

Verses 26-29 indicate the incredible strength and protection of the leviathan, that sword, spear, and stone are powerless to stop him. One swift attack with the sword could decapitate or otherwise mortally wound a crocodile.

Verse 34 is the clincher: It states that the leviathan is “king over all the children of pride” and that he “beholdeth all high things.” A crocodile fits neither of those descriptions, though I am fairly certain I know who does.

So who is the leviathan? Most probably, he is Satan. The serpent of Genesis and the dragon of Revelation is the leviathan of Job.

Much more could be said about the connections between Satan and leviathan (more so than between Satan and Lucifer, actually), but this post should get you started.

Remember that Bible dictionaries and references are fallible. Just because many of them list the crocodile as being the leviathan doesn’t mean that it is true or that it even makes sense.

7 thoughts on “The Leviathan: What Does the Book of Job Say?

  1. Rick Beckman says:
    Student of the sciences, the religions, the science fictions, and the fantasies… But mostly I’m just trying to find my groove in this big, crazy world.

    As I have also heard, and mostly believed before coming to the realization that it is more likely Satan. Ministries such as Answers in Genesis use mention of the leviathan as evidence of man living with dinosaurs, if I am not mistaken.

    However, and I did not mention this in the above post due to the fact that it focused solely on Job, in the Bible’s other mentions of leviathan, God is very antagonistic toward it, and it toward God & man. If it was merely a dinosaur or other creature, the language used of it is very harsh, and I cannot help but wonder why.

  2. Glen says:

    Perhaps the language used against it that is harsh is cause it was a wicked creator. And why can it not be “both”. A lot of places Satan is compared to a creature, such as a lion etc, God can as well use Him as a Great Serpent or a Leviathan. There’s a lot of creatures that existed in the past that do not today. I have yet to see evidence of why this can not be a creature as well and used to describe Satan.

    love the topic :)

    Glen

  3. Rick Beckman says:
    Student of the sciences, the religions, the science fictions, and the fantasies… But mostly I’m just trying to find my groove in this big, crazy world.

    Satan is constantly described as actually being the serpent or (in the future) the dragon. He is only “like” a roaring lion.

    If Satan is not the serpent-dragon, then we have no idea what he is. The commonly held theories — that he is a fallen cherub, that he was once Lucifer, and so on — have pathetically little actual scriptural support in comparison to his being a serpent-dragon.

    Likewise, we have no description of Satan prior to his fall, if there was such a thing — the passage in the Gospels that is commonly used to say Satan is a fallen angel refers to a defeat of Satan caused by the apostles casting out demons. As a result of that, Jesus beheld Satan falling from Heaven. But we know he was evil prior to that, so that isn’t a fall in the sense that Adam & Eve fell.

  4. Justin says:

    Where’s that one description of a king, I think it was the king of Assyria, in the Major Prophets section of the Old Testament? Because I’ve heard the argument that this gives us another view of Satan.

    ~~

    Nope, it was the king of Babylon, and it was Isaiah 14. Although there might be some way to construe it as refering to Satan, I think it still refers to a human, not Satan.

  5. Rick Beckman says:
    Student of the sciences, the religions, the science fictions, and the fantasies… But mostly I’m just trying to find my groove in this big, crazy world.

    Yeah, that’s the “how thou hast fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning.” But the only connection to Satan that has is purely assumption, as far as I’m concerned. I often hear about the “I wills” of Satan (I will ascend above God, blah blah blah), but I don’t find it hard to believe a human king would say such things. Triumphing over all creation (which happens to be an impossible task) is the only way one may save himself apart from Christ, according to the book of Job, so a proud king could certainly make such a boast and endeavor.

    I see no reason that Satan would fit the bill there. His ambitions, according to Christ, are to steal, kill and destroy — that he has been a murderer and liar from the beginning, not that he has some delusional pride “I’m the greatest” complex.

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