a transliterated Hebrew word (livyathan), meaning "twisted,"
"coiled." In Job 3:8, Revised Version, and marg. of
Version, it denotes the dragon which, according to
tradition, is an enemy of light; in 41:1 the
crocodile is meant;
in Ps. 104:26 it "denotes any large animal that
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
cast on the shores of the Red Sea" (Ps. 74:14). As
used in Isa.
27:1, "leviathan the piercing [R.V. 'swift']
leviathan that crooked [R.V. marg. 'winding']
serpent," the word
may probably denote the two empires, the Assyrian
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. Psalm 104:26; Psalm
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 Ezekiel 32:2; Ezekiel
29:3); he and his host at their overthrow in the Red Sea
became a spoil to Israel (compare "bread for us," Numbers
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 Psalm 58:5). In Isaiah 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" (Revelation 20:2;
Revelation 20:10), 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; 2
Corinthians 11:14; 2 Corinthians 2:11). Typhon, the
destroyer, was worshipped in Egypt under the form of a
Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? or his tongue with
a cord [which] thou lettest down?
Thou brakest the heads of leviathan in pieces, [and] gavest
him [to be] meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness.
There go the ships: [there is] that leviathan, [whom] thou
hast made to play therein.
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 Isa 27:1, where it
is characterized as "the swift serpent .... the crooked
serpent"; in Ps 104:26, where a marine monster is indicated;
also in Ps 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 Israel,
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
-Possibly a crocodile
Job 41; Ps 104:26
-"The crooked (R. V.) serpent."
(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; Ps 74:14; 104:26; Isa 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. Ps 74:14
also clearly points to this same saurian. The context of Ps
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 Isa 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.
Leviathan. - The word Leviathan (Hebrew, líweyãthãn), which occurs six times in the Hebrew Bible, seems to have puzzled not a little all ancient translators. The D.V. has kept this name, Job, iii, 8; xl, 20; Is., xxvii, 1; it is rendered by dragon Ps. lxxiii (Hebr., lxxiv), 14, and ciii (Hebr., civ), 26; The word leviathan means:
(1) crocodile (Job 40:20 and Psalm 73:14);
(2) a sea-monster (Psalm 103:26, Isaiah 27:1);
(3) possibly the Draco constellation (Job 3:8).
(4) a Dinosaur, possibly the Kronosaurus.