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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 41:1 the crocodile is meant; in Psalms 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" ( Psalms 74:14 ). As used in Isaiah 27:1 , "leviathan the piercing [RSV 'swift'] serpent, even leviathan that crooked [RSV marg. 'winding'] serpent," the word may probably denote the two empires, the Assyrian and the Babylonian.
Canst thou draw out LEVIATHAN with an hook? or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down? Canst thou put an hook into his nose? or bore his jaw through with a thorn? Who can open the doors of his face? his teeth are terrible round about. His scales are his pride, shut up together as with a close seal. ( Job 41:1 )
(jointed monster ) occurs five times in the text of the Authorized Version, and once in the margin of ( Job 3:8 ) 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: ( Job 3:8 ; 41:1 ; Psalms 74:14 ; 104:26 ; Isaiah 27:1 ) In the margin of ( Job 3:8 ) and text of ( Job 41:1 ) the crocodile is most clearly the animal denoted by the Hebrew word. ( Psalms 74:14 ) also clearly points to this same saurian. The context of ( Psalms 104:26 ) 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 ( Isaiah 27:1 ) 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.
le-vi'-a-than (liwyathan (Job 41:1-34), from [~lawah, "to fold"; compare Arabic name of the wry neck, Iynx torquilla, abu-luwa, from kindred lawa, "to bend"):
(1) The word "leviathan" also occurs in Isaiah 27:1, where it is characterized as "the swift serpent .... the crooked serpent"; in Psalms 104:26, where a marine monster is indicated; also in Psalms 74:14 and Job 3:8. The description in Job 41 has been thought by some to refer to the whale, but while the whale suits better the expressions denoting great strength, the words apply best on the whole to the crocodile. Moreover, the whale is very seldom found in the Mediterranean, while the crocodile is abundant in the Nile, and has been known to occur in at least one river of Palestine, the Zarqa, North of Jaffa. For a discussion of the behemoth and leviathan as mythical creatures, see EB, under the word "Behemoth" and "Leviathan." The points in the description which may well apply to the crocodile are the great invulnerability, the strong and close scales, the limbs and the teeth. It must be admitted that there are many expressions which a modern scientist would not use with reference to the crocodile, but the Book of Job is neither modern nor scientific, but poetical and ancient.
(2) See ASTRONOMY, sec. II, 2, 5.
Alfred Ely Day
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