King James Version
The Second Speech of the
1 Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down?
2 Canst thou put an hook into his nose? or bore his jaw through with a thorn?
3 Will he make many supplications unto thee? will he speak soft words unto thee?
4 Will he make a covenant with thee? wilt thou take him for a servant for ever?
5 Wilt thou play with him as with a bird? or wilt thou bind him for thy maidens?
6 Shall the companions make a banquet of him? shall they part him among the merchants?
7 Canst thou fill his skin with barbed irons? or his head with fish spears?
8 Lay thine hand upon him, remember the battle, do no more.
9 Behold, the hope of him is in vain: shall not one be cast down even at the sight of him?
10 None is so fierce that dare stir him up: who then is able to stand before me?
11 Who hath prevented me, that I should repay him? whatsoever is under the whole heaven is mine.
12 I will not conceal his parts, nor his power, nor his comely proportion.
13 Who can discover the face of his garment? or who can come to him with his double bridle?
14 Who can open the doors of his face? his teeth are terrible round about.
15 His scales are his pride, shut up together as with a close seal.
16 One is so near to another, that no air can come between them.
17 They are joined one to another, they stick together, that they cannot be sundered.
18 By his neesings a light doth shine, and his eyes are like the eyelids of the morning.
19 Out of his mouth go burning lamps, and sparks of fire leap out.
20 Out of his nostrils goeth smoke, as out of a seething pot or caldron.
21 His breath kindleth coals, and a flame goeth out of his mouth.
22 In his neck remaineth strength, and sorrow is turned into joy before him.
23 The flakes of his flesh are joined together: they are firm in themselves; they cannot be moved.
24 His heart is as firm as a stone; yea, as hard as a piece of the nether millstone.
25 When he raiseth up himself, the mighty are afraid: by reason of breakings they purify themselves.
26 The sword of him that layeth at him cannot hold: the spear, the dart, nor the habergeon.
27 He esteemeth iron as straw, and brass as rotten wood.
28 The arrow cannot make him flee: slingstones are turned with him into stubble.
29 Darts are counted as stubble: he laugheth at the shaking of a spear.
30 Sharp stones are under him: he spreadeth sharp pointed things upon the mire.
31 He maketh the deep to boil like a pot: he maketh the sea like a pot of ointment.
32 He maketh a path to shine after him; one would think the deep to be hoary.
33 Upon earth there is not his like, who is made without fear.
34 He beholdeth all high things: he is a king over all the children of pride.1
1 The leviathan is described in detail and is worthy of his position as the climax of God's whirlwind talk. Leviathan is a transliteration of the Heb. liwyathan. Liwyathan is also translated "their mourning". The identity of leviathan is unclear from its name. It is not conclusive whether this animal is a whale, dragon or serpent. To determine its identity, it is necessary to look at the word in the context of the detailed description given of it over some 34 verses. From
Psalm 104:26 we know that the leviathan plays in the ocean. Of all animals in existence today, most Bible commentators would agree that the crocodile and whale (or "orca", a large fish of the whale kind with many teeth) are the most likely candidates for the animal "leviathan".2
Other commentators suggest that this animal may be extinct. If the physical description of leviathan doesn't match that of the crocodile or whale, then this animal could now be extinct. Support for this possibility comes from Isaiah 27:1 where we read: the Lord will destroy leviathan as a crooked and piercing serpent, with a strong sword and will slay the dragon in the sea. If leviathan refers to an extinct animal, possible candidates
to consider might include the Plesiosaurus and Tyrannosaurus Rex. The
first physical description of leviathan is that it has a tongue. A crocodile has a tongue, however it is so small that it is not seen, and cleaves close to its lower jaw, which never moves.2 A whale doesn't have a
tongue. The plesiosaur had a small, short head, a long,
snakelike neck with sharp interlocking teeth. It possibly
had a tongue. The tyrannosaurus most likely had a tongue. Tyrannosaurus was a fairly large dinosaur, which came in a variety of sizes. They grew to 7 metres tall, 15 metres long and weighed up to 30 tonnes. It had a huge head with teeth up to 20 centimetres long. His back legs were 3 metres high. God said to Job, Canst thou draw out Leviathan with an hook? If leviathan was a tyrannosaurus, who could seriously contemplate drawing out such a creature with a hook? The questions that God asked Job were not designed to get answers but were intended to change his attitude.
2 The leviathan cannot be caught with a hook or "a rush". A "rush ring" is a loop cord spun from rush fibre. Fishermen tie the crocodile with it so that it cannot escape, and thus becomes a slave. The word for "bore" or "pierce" is
tiqob and refers to a "hook ring" ubechoach forced through the "cheek"
lecheyo of the creature, keeping it captive. Captives of rank were led around by a ring, perhaps with a cord through the nose. Thus they were led before the monarch who had captured them.3 Fishermen do this with herrings or other small fish, for the convenience of carrying them, or hanging them up to dry.2 The whale cannot be used in such a manner: but the
Tentyritae, a people in Egypt, great enemies to crocodiles, had methods of taking thorn in nets, and of binding and bridling them, and carrying them as they pleased.2
3 Will the leviathan behave as a human captive
and seek favor? Of course not. The leviathan cannot be subjugated by humans any more than a wild bull can be subjugated (39:9). He cannot be placed into a position where he makes supplication.3
4 Will the leviathan agree to live in friendship or servitude to Job? Job cannot take a leviathan as a servant forever, not even for a short time.3
This seems to imply that Leviathan was a land creature
rather than a sea creature like the whale or plesiosaur. Leviathan cannot be tamed or brought into subjection; which is true of the whale
and plesiosaur, but not of the crocodile. Several authors speak of crocodiles as making a sort of a truce with the priests of Egypt for a certain time, and of their being tamed so as to be handled, and fed, and brought up in the house.2
5 Egyptians tamed antelope, leopards and monkeys. And sometimes they tamed a crocodile. But this leviathan can never be tamed.3 Leviathan may play in the sea, but there is no playing with him by land (Ps 104:26).2 A 30 tonne tyrannosaurus would definitely not be an animal to play with. The thought of play is continued.
Job 39:10 speaks of the inability to bind the unicorn or "wild bull." The word for "maidens"
lena'aroteka may be for either a female child, a girl or female slave. Job cannot tie the leviathan and bring him home for his daughters or maidens to play with.3
6 The word for "fisher community" chabariym simply means "companions" and here fishermen are considered as an association. Obviously one fisherman could not prevail against a leviathan, but even a whole group could not prevail.3 There is no opportunity or occasion for a feast on leviathan. The flesh of crocodiles is by some eaten, and said to be very savoury, but not the flesh of the whale. Whales have been commercialised for the sake of the bone and oil, but not the leviathan. Crocodiles are not usually part of merchandise.2,3
7 Fish spears or harpoons are only effective against fish. The leviathan's thick skin and many scales prevent these weapons from injuring him. The skin of the leviathan is protected by plates, close to one another, as in a turtle. Darts bounce off him. You cannot touch the skin or head of the leviathan. On crocodiles there is a joint where neck and head are joined where a harpoon could be effective.3 Fishermen have little difficulty in piercing the skin and several parts of the whale's body with harpoons and lances. They cut whale's flesh in pieces with their knives. The skin of the crocodile is so hard and closely set with scales, that it is impenetrable.2 However zoos are full of crocodiles: they have been so successfully hunted that they are often considered an endangered species. The same applies to whales.
The plesiosaur was very vulnerable because it didn't have
tough hide. Some traces of skin discovered suggest that it's
body was smooth, not scaly.
8 When you lay your hand on this creature, the battle will be so fierce you will never again do it nor forget it.3 If thou canst by any means escape, take care never to do the like again; or thou wilt never do so any more, thou wilt certainly die for it.
9 The "hope" teochaleto refers to hope of the assailant, not to hope of the beast. In this section there are sudden changes in subject, and here the subject is the fisherman. His hope of catching this creature is altogether false.3 Both crocodiles and whales have been taken; and the taking of them is not something to be despaired of, but it seems the "orca", or the whale with many teeth, has never been taken and killed. The very sight of a leviathan causes one to fall prostrate. Just looking at him would scare you to death.
10 This verse contains the point of the entire argument. A creature that God has made is so formidable that man dares not "stir him up". How, then, dares any man to contend with the creator?3 This is doubtless intended as a rebuke to Job for his rashness in desiring to argue with God.
To "stir the creature up" tends to imply that the creature
lived on land, even though it may have played in the sea.
This description would fit the crocodile or T Rex.
11 The thought of this text seems to be, "Who hath placed Me under obligation to him that I should repay him?" The argument is, if man cannot control such creatures as leviathan, how can he expect to force the hand of the Creator for special favours? The allusion seems to be to Job's repeated demands for a hearing (chps. 9:34, 35; 13:3, 22; 23:3-7). God resists every challenge that He justify Himself. He is not in debt to any of His creatures. In Rom. 11:35 Paul writes that no one can demand of God; perhaps he quotes Job.3 God is greater than any of His created creatures; therefore, He cannot be challenged. God reminds Job of his ownership of the universe.
12 God declares that he will not keep silent about the comely proportions
of the leviathan, in particular his strength, beauty of structure
and scales or armature.3
13 Who can uncover the face of leviathan's clothing or who can strip off his scaly outer hide? No one is able to tear off the covering of the scales and sharp stones, here pictured as clothing.3
This description does not fit with the whale or plesiosaurus
which had soft rubbery body exteriors, however the
description of scales fits with that of a crocodile or T Rex
dinosaur. It would be an extremely brave or fool hearted man who tried to open the jaws of a 30 tonne tyrannosaurus with head almost 2 metres in length and try to put a curb bridle into his mouth between his 20 centimetre sharp teeth. If per chance he got the bridle on, would he be able to lead, direct and rule the tyrannosaurus at pleasure, as with a horse? Apparently the
Tentyritae had a way of getting upon the back of the crocodile; and by putting a stick across its mouth, as it opened it to bite them, they held both the ends of it with the right and left hands, as with a bridle, brought them to land.2
The plesiosaur had only a small, short head, a long,
snakelike neck, a broad, solid body, and a short tail. It
had sharp interlocking teeth.
14 The jaws of the leviathan are hinged as doors and its teeth protruded. No one would dare try to open its mouth for it would snap its powerful jaws and teeth. It is poised and skilled in using its jaws as hinged doors.3 That the teeth of the leviathan inspired terror, indicates he was a fierce meat-eater. The fiercest of meat-eaters known is the Tyrannosaurus Rex. Crocodiles tear prey with their teeth rather than masticating them. The crocodile has 36 sharp upper teeth and 30 lower teeth.3 The common whale has no teeth; though the "ceti dentati" are a sort of whales that have many teeth in the lower jaw, white, large, solid, and terrible. Some have jaws twelve or fourteen feet long; and teeth of six, eight, and twelve feet; and there is a sort called "trumpo", having teeth resembling those of a mill. In the spermaceti whale are rows of fine ivory teeth in each jaw, about five or six inches long.2
15 The pride of the leviathan is his scales, which look like many shields. The crocodile is covered with scales, which are in a measure impenetrable and invincible. They are firmly attached to one another in almost impenetrable layers, like a shield or defence, in which it prides itself. Whales do not have scales. Their skin is smooth; the outward skin is thin, like parchment, and is easily pulled off with the hand; and its under skin, though an inch thick, is never stiff nor tough, but soft.2
The plesiosaur was not believed to have scales.
16 Leviathan's shields or scales are so close together like a seal, that no air can come between them.
17 The scales or shields of leviathan are held or joined together so as to give him a strong armour.
The scales of a crocodile are so closely joined and sealed together,
that there is no parting them.2
18 The word "neesings" means to blow air out of the nose voluntarily, whereas sneezing is involuntary. The neesings or sneezing causes some sort of light to shine. A crocodile delights in sunning itself on land, turning its open jaws toward the sun. When it sneezes, water is thrown out through the nostrils and the rays of the sun may seem to shine and give light.2 Commentators struggle to learn how a crocodile's eyes are as eyelids of the dawn. The word for "eyelids"
ke'aphe'apeey is used already in 3:9 where Job says he wished he had not been born and not seen "the eyelids of the dawn" or "dawning of the day."
Apheapo refers to something fluttering or winking, hence, eyelashes. In 16:16 Job says death is on his eyelids. Here reference seems to be to rays of the morning sun. Eyelashes or eyelids refer to the first rays of the morning sun. The crocodile's eyes shine from the water before its head is seen, thus depicting dawning.3
19 The leviathan is described as a fire-breathing dragon. However both the crocodile and whale do not breathe fire. No animal alive today fits this description however there are many traditions that dragons of various kinds were capable of breathing out fire, eg
"St. George and the Dragon" in Europe is
a true story of a
knight killing a monster like a dinosaur.4 Given that these tales come from all parts of the world, it is possible that there may be a factual basis to these tales. The Bible often mentions dragons and unicorns in such a way as to show that the writers believed they were real animals. It seems implausible to think that God after describing all manner of real animals from
ch. 39, would suddenly start describing in a particular detail a mythological creature to make His point. There are some creatures today that do, in effect, give out light or fire. Fire flies produce light, eels produce electricity, and bombardier beetles produce explosive chemical reactions. All of these involve complex chemical processes, and it does not seem at all impossible that an animal might be given the ability to breathe out certain gaseous fumes which, upon coming in contact with oxygen, would briefly ignite. Dinosaur fossils have been excavated that show a strange protuberance, with internal cavity, on the top of the head. It is conceivable that this could have served as a sort of mixing chamber for combustible gases that would ignite when exhaled into the outside oxygen.4,7
20 The word for "nostrils" minechiyrayw is used only this once in Scripture. This is real smoke. Fire exudes from the mouth and smoke, accompanying fire, issues from the nose. It is not steam created in water; it is real smoke. The combination of fire and smoke indicates it is real, not vapour.3
21 This creature's breath had the capacity to set coal on fire. Mixing of chemicals such as sulphur and phosphorous may cause a flame to issue from leviathan's mouth.3
A fire breathing creature is more likely to be land based
rather than a sea creature such as a whale or plesiosaur. We
know the whale doesn't breath fire or blow smoke.
22 As the strength of "behemoth" is in his loins (ch. 40:16), so the
strength of leviathan is in his neck. A whale has no neck or, at least, none that is visible.2 The crocodile has a small neck which it moves and which enables it to turn its head upwards. At the point of junction it is nearly the same diameter as the head. The neck of a plesiosaurus or tyrannosaurus is significant both in size and strength. Literally we read "and before him dances dismay". The idea is that everything trembles before him. Wherever he goes he causes terror. People take flight in panic.3
23 The fleshy parts of leviathan are not flabby, but solid and firmly compacted.2 They fit the creature like a metal casting, without moving, for the skin is very thick and covered with thick scales. His fleshy parts are tight against the bones and do not move of themselves. No weak parts can be found by spears, javelins, bows or darts.3
A creature resembling a crocodile, larger and more fierce, e.g., a
tyrannosaurus, would fit.
The plesiosaur was very vulnerable because it didn't have
24 Leviathan has a particularly hard physical heart. Reptiles, crocodiles and also this leviathan, are torpid and sluggish, having a physically harder heart than warm-blooded creatures. Such a description of the leviathan indicates he was a fierce and large reptile. The nether millstone is the lower millstone. It was larger and harder than the upper. In Dt.24:6 we read that neither upper nor nether millstone was to be taken as a pledge, for they represented a man's livelihood. Here emphasis is on the hardness of the stone. Generally they were of basalt. Today we regard diamonds as being the hardest of stones. Diamonds were not as well known as nether millstones.3
25 When leviathan “raiseth himself up, the mighty are afraid: By reason of consternation they are beside themselves. Here the most
stout-hearted and courageous, such as mariners and masters of vessels, turn from the path of this creature out of fear.2 True, crocodiles are frightening creatures. Yet they are no more frightening standing up than when sitting, because their legs are so short.7
The T Rex is believed to have stood up to 7 metres in height
and clearly would have fitted this description.
26 The sword is not used in fishery,2 which suggests that
leviathan's habitat was not only the sea but the land also. If struck with a sword, it either broke or was unable to pierce leviathan or stick into him. Likewise weapons used by fishermen such as spear, darts and harpoons had similar effect on him. Such weapons cannot enter into the crocodile or tyrannosaurus, being so fenced with scales. However when the whale is struck with it, the harpoon enters deep into his flesh, and he is wounded by it. Men approach nearer to him and thrust a long steeled lance or spear under his gills into his breast, and through the intestines, which dispatches him.2,3
27 Iron and bronze were the most effective metals for implements of warfare known to Job, but they were like straw or rotten wood in dealing with leviathan.
28 Leviathan is not afraid of the puny inventions of men such as bows and arrows. The skin of the crocodile or tyrannosaurus is so hard, that it cannot be pierced with arrows, therefore it is not afraid of them, nor will flee from them.2 Sling stones, used effectively in war in those days, were harmless as stubble against the leviathan. Such is the hardness of the skin of the crocodile, that the strokes of the strongest stones are rebounded by it. It is even said to withstand against musket shot.2,3
29 Leviathan cannot be touched with sword, spear, dart, javelin, iron, brass, arrow, slingstone,
club or whirring spear. The leviathan was impregnable to human
efforts to capture or slay him.3 Yet zoos are full
of crocodiles, and crocodiles have been hunted so successfully that
they are often considered an endangered species. The same applies to
30 Literally, this reads "under him sharp pieces of potsherd". The underparts of the
leviathan were covered with scales like pieces of broken pottery. Although
the hide that covers the crocodile’s back is extremely thick and
difficult to penetrate, this is not true of his belly. The
crocodile is most vulnerable to spears and javelins on his
underside; hence, it could not be said of him that "his
underparts are like sharp potsherds".3,7 Here is another example that a crocodile
is not meant; a more fierce creature is intended. In many
respects he is like a crocodile because he is a reptile. One of
the most important clues to Leviathan's identity is given by the
next description, "he spreadeth sharp pointed things
upon the mire".
This describes the manner in which he walks. What creature has feet like
sharp pointed things? None other than the huge two legged dinosaurs such as the
tyrannosaurus and allosaurus! The plesiosaur was an aquatic creature
with four large flippers. The whale, also an aquatic
creature does not fit this description.
31 The deep does not describe the Nile River nor the ordinary Nile River crocodile. Given that leviathan is a fire-breathing dragon it is probable that he does more than merely churning the ocean. He literally makes it boil, using his own supply of sulphur which also causes him to exhale fire and smoke.
Whether or not the Loch Ness monster actually exists, it is interesting that in his book on the Loch Ness monster, author Thompson notes that people who have sighted this monster, say it emits a terrible stink with a purposeful repellent on its skin, like sulphur. The word for "pot of ointment"
kamereqacheh possibly refers to sulphur because sulphur is an ingredient of ointment.3
32 Leviathan maketh a path to shine after him. The word for "make to shine"
ya'iyr has a causative effect. Here it causes light to shine, and does not refer merely to an appearance of light as, for example, white foam caused by travelling through water.
The word for "path" natiyb refers to a trodden or well worn path. It causes some type of light, not just foam. If leviathan were in some respects like the electric eel and firefly, as a source of phosphorous, then this would allow him to leave trailing behind a shining trail of light. The light made by the leviathan looks like hoary hair and he causes it to shine after him. When Scripture speaks in picture form, it tells you so. Here it tells you it is speaking in picture form.3
33 Leviathan is a unique creature. He fears nothing. This description
does not agree with either the crocodile nor the whale. The
whale will make off and depart at the shoutings of men, blowing of
trumpets, and making use of any tinkling instruments, at which it is
34 Crocodiles are frightening creatures. Yet they are no more frightening standing up than when sitting, because their legs are so short. How could it thus be said of the crocodile that "he beholdeth everything that is high" when he himself is so close to the ground?7
The whale, being a marine creature, is also
incapable of beholding all high things. The tyrannosaurus with back legs some 3 metres high and his head 7 metres from the ground is certainly an animal that could behold things from on high. God can tame both the behemoth and leviathan, as strong and proud as they are. This discourse concerning them was brought in, to prove that it is God only, who can look upon proud men and abase them, bring them low. He beholdeth all high things, and wherein men dealt proudly, he is above them. He is king over all the children of pride, brutal or rational, and makes them either bend or break before him.7
In conclusion, the favourite candidates for
'leviathan' as proposed by Bible Commentators, ie the
crocodile and whale, clearly do not fit many aspects of the
biblical leviathan. Similarly with the plesiosaurus, there
are many inconsistencies. Tyrannosaurus Rex was the king of
the dinosaurs, and from our review the characteristics and
behaviour of this creature were entirely consistent with
those described of the biblical leviathan.
References and notes
1. King James Authorized Version
2. The New John Gill's
Exposition of the Entire Bible on Job 41 - http://www.searchgodsword.org/com/geb/view.cgi?book=job&chapter=041
3. Job and Science, by Walter Lang - Book of Job Chapter 41 -
4. Chapter 10 - Dinosaurs in the Bible - http://home.hkstar.com/~johnfok1/Apologetics/10.htm
5. Dinosaurs and the Bible by Wayne Jackson -
6. Creation, Dinosaurs, etc. By Rob Williams -
7. John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible - The
Book of Job Chapter 41 - http://bible.crosswalk.com/Commentaries
8. Job - http://www.stbarnabas-sbnj.org/ministry/msg020305.htm