What Is The Leviathan In The Bible?

What Is The Leviathan In The Bible? August 22, 2015

What was the Leviathan in the Bible? What could this creature have been? How does the Hebrew language help us find out?

Self-Righteous Job

In Job 41:1 God asks Job a rhetorical question, “Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook or press down his tongue with a cord?” The obvious answer is no, it can’t be done. God was answering Job who had been questioning God so God came back and asked Job a lot of questions which basically says “Job, who do you think you are? I am the Creator! How could you even question me?” God begins to humble Job by reminding him of the creation and to put himself into the right perspective of the Creator and His creation compared to that which He created (Job).

The Leviathan in the Book of Job

What are the leviathans that are mentioned in the Book of Job and in the psalms as well as the Book of Isaiah? The Hebrew word for leviathan is “livyathan” so it’s not really a translation but a transliteration. To the author, the leviathan (livyathan) is apparently a sea monster or dragon, perhaps the extinct dinosaur, plesiosaurus but the exact meaning is unknown. This “leviathan,” whatever it was, is “so fierce that [who] dares to stir him up” (Job 41:10), who could possibly “fill his skin with harpoons or his head with fishing spears” (Job 41:7), or can “put a rope in his nose or pierce his jaw with a hook” (Job 41:2), and which “counts iron as straw, and bronze as rotten wood” (Job 41:27). This is not a whale or a sea serpent (sea snake) but something much greater. What it is exactly is insignificant next to what and Who God is and that is the whole point of this chapter. God reigns supreme above and over His creation, no matter how formidable it looks.


The Leviathan in the Book of Isaiah

The leviathan is also mentioned in the Book of Isaiah where he writes “In that day the Lord with his hard and great and strong sword will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, Leviathan the twisting serpent, and he will slay the dragon that is in the sea” (Isaiah 27:1). The word for “Leviathan” is the same as it is in the Book of Job, “livyathan” and means a sea monster or dragon. The Leviathan is described as “the twisting serpent” like a “dragon.” The Hebrew word for serpent is “nachash” and actually refers to a snake but then there’s the Hebrew word “tanniyn” and this means “sea dragon.” Is his is a physical description of the leviathan or a description of the leviathan’s attributes…or both? The leviathan resembles a twisting serpent but is also like a dragon. In the context of Isaiah 27 this reference may refer to the redemption of Israel as this is what the whole chapter is about. The reference may be about that old serpent, the Devil, which is what he is referred to elsewhere in the Bible (Rev 12:9) and that God will take hold of “the dragon” (Rev 20:2). To state that Isaiah is talking about a physical monster-like creature of the sea might be taking this one verse too far (in Isaiah 27:1).

The Leviathan in the Book of Psalms

In Psalm 74:14 it says “You crushed the heads of Leviathan; you gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness.” Who is able to crush all resistance to Him? The context of this chapter is about God protecting and avenging Mount Zion. The Leviathan seems to portray the enemy and the “creatures” are actually people or a nation as the Hebrew word for creatures is “`am” meaning a nation or a people. This word (`am) is even embedded within Abraham’s name as He was known as the father of many nations (Gen 17:5). Another psalm also mentioned the leviathan in Psalm 104:26 where it says “There go the ships, and Leviathan, which you formed to play in it” almost seeming to indicate that the psalmist could still observe leviathans at play. The word for “play” is “sachaq” and means “to play, to laugh,” or “to mock” so maybe this represents the Devil mocking God and toying around with His people, Israel (Mount Zion). Either way, these two verses in the Book of Psalms doesn’t seem to specifically be about a creature on the earth but an invisible foe and God’s ability to protect His chosen people


The point of the verses referring to the leviathan is always to make the point that God’s creatures, no matter how big they are to us, is nothing to Him. He should receive all the glory for the created thing has nothing to boast in except its creator and in this case, THE Creator.

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon.

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  • pud

    Hey “pastor jack” Did you hear about the Ashley Madison Sex Site that got hacked and all the members information posted on the internet?

    Did you know that of all the Universities in America …Liberty Baptist University had 278 members and was #5 nationally…Rounding out the top ten were Oral Roberts University and Notre Dame…

    Aren’t they all good christian schools? How come 3 of the top 10 nationally are christian colleges?

    Perhaps they have no issue with deception like you huh “pastor jack” who refuses to come clean about the lie you posted when you posted a false web site as part of your religious propaganda

    You aren’t on that list are you “pastor jack”?

    • Dave

      Christians are no different than non-Christians other than they are redeemed and make every effort to avoid & resist temptation; however, 30% as you state compared to 70% is actually a victory in & of itself. That means non-Christians are over twice as likely to sin than Christians!

      • pud

        Christians are way different than normal rational non superstitious people. Not even in the same league. Rational people grow up while delusional religious people never do. OH! Look out!! You might offend the invisible creator of the universe and you know how pissed off he gets at the littlest things…LOL

        • Dave

          You avoided the stats? Changed direction, you must be a democrat & probably believe in evolution don’t you? Again, I’ll pray for you… but you really should expand your research and not just fall back on misdirects & name calling; it usually demonstrates a lack of maturity, usually. Not sure when I’ll get back to you… I have other more important issues. Have a great Day.

          • pud

            Evolution is not something you “believe” in…it is a scientific fact like gravity. Rational people accept the theory because of the enormous weight of evidence that supports it…unlike bible physics where invisible beings speak things into existence by magic incantation. Don’t care if you ever get back to me..you are delusional with nothing of value to say

          • Dave

            Well others may appreciate the information, it is a lot to get through; however, you really should read it, so here it goes:

            Miller’s Experiment – In 1952, grad student Stanley Miller designed an experiment to attempt to create “Chemical Evolution”. Miller discharged an electric spark into a mixture thought at that time to resemble the primordial composition of the atmosphere. In a water receptacle, designed to model an ancient ocean, Miller recovered 5 amino acids (later, said to be 11). But his proteins were glycerin & the atmosphere on earth was not methane & ammonia… as science now shows today! After the electrical charge, another problem arose; the formation of Tar and Carboxylic acid. Which is vastly toxic to any form of life. Then there is the problem of oxygen (O2). Oxygen is very hostile to small organic molecules. It tends to oxidize or “burn” them back into CO2, N2, and H2O. He had a lot more concerns; with Right & Left handed amino, separating the proteins & so on.

            Haekels Embryos – Known as the Recapitulation Theory; “Animal’s embryonic development follows the exact same sequence as that of its evolutionary ancestors.” He was convicted of fraud by 6 professors from his own college; Gill theory was wrong. Even the late Stephen Gould – one of the most famous and fervent supporters of biological evolution during the later decades of the Twentieth Century added that Haeckel’s drawings were known to be fraudulent by Haeckel’s scientific peers from the onset. Yet Sylvia Mader’s 2010 textbook,
            “Biology”, uses colorized versions of Haeckel’s embryo drawings with only a few small modifications. Brown University biologist Ken Miller & National Academy of Sciences President Bruce Alberts, Said they did not know that Haeckel’s drawings were fraudulent when they included the drawings in their textbooks. So, either they are guilty of purposely deceiving students, OR NOT familiar enough with their own subject matter and thus, should not be writing textbooks.

            Archaeoraptor Liaoningensis 1999 – National Geographic published perhaps the most infamous evolution fraud that was committed in China. Bones from several dinosaurs were connected to bones of a species of bird (STILL LIVING) and they tried to pass it off as an evolutionary intermediate. Taught today in textbooks as fact!

            Are we not justified in asking; “How much informed, critical thinking is really going into textbook writing when it comes to evolution?”

            Horse Evolution – The so-called horse series is one of the most-used “proofs” of evolution. The “evidence” is a series of neatly progressing – from the small, four-toed “dawn horse” or Eohippus (supposedly living 50 million years ago) to the large, one-toed “modern” horse, Equus. Facts which they don’t tell you: Nowhere in the world can these fossils be found sequenced “correctly” in successive strata. Three-toed horses are alive today, in the American southwest, with all three toes of nearly equal size. Oregon – three-toed and one-toed species were found in same strata. South America – one-toed species was found below its supposed three-toed ancestor.
            Number of ribs – the theoretical sequence, jumps from 18 pairs to 19, then to 15, and finally back to 18 in the “modern” horse. Fact – living, modern horses can have 17, 18 or 19 pairs of ribs.
            Teeth – Shapes vary considerably among the (living) species of a given kind, such as the equines (horses). Isotopic analyses of fossil horse teeth show that the different tooth shapes do not indicate adaptation to different diets.
            Eohippus – the small, four-toed “dawn horse” does not even look like a horse. As a matter of fact; 1841 – Richard Owen, a leading paleontologist and originator of the term “dinosaur” discovered the creature. He named it Hyracotherium, because its skeleton is identical to that of the hyrax or rock badger, a small animal alive today in the African bush. Eohippus fossils have been found in surface strata together with two modern species. These “distant evolutionary relatives,” supposedly marking the beginning and end of the horse series, actually coexisted?

            And of Course MAN! – Lucy – The man who discovered “Lucy” later confessed that she was only an ape; not the “missing link” he had hoped her to be.
            Heidelberg Man – came from a jawbone, a chin section and a few teeth. Most scientists reject the jawbone because it’s so similar to that of modem man.

            NEBRASKA MAN – Found in 1922, well not exactly. A SINGLE TOOTH was found in 1922, some pictures drawn and called “Nebraska Man”! From a single tooth! And his mate, village, tools and offspring also; however, In 1928, it was discovered the tooth belonged to “an extinct pig”! In 1972, living specimens of the same pig were found in Paraguay foraging for food. But it is still taught today in High School & college.

            The “First Englishman” he was proudly called Piltdown Man when Charles Dawson found him in 1908, 1911, 1912, 1913 & 1915… In 1953, the fragments, including a jawbone, were tested: they did not contain enough fluorine to be the age that Dawson claimed. Worse, the jawbone was later found to be that of a 10-year-old orangutan. Its teeth had been ground down to simulate age! And a crude chemical wash applied to the bone to make it appear ancient.

            Peking Man – One of the “missing links” in the 1920’s, from a single tooth near Peking, China. (Again with the single tooth?) After a grant of $80,000.00 from the Rockefeller Foundation, it was later discovered the tooth had been found in a town garbage dump. The site contained thousands of animal bones & a few human bone fragments. From these fragments Peking Man was declared the “missing link” in the evolution of ape to man. Now, all evidence of the Peking Man has strangely disappeared even though it is still featured as one of the great “missing links” in many text books.

            Neanderthal Man – In 1908 a typical Neanderthal skeleton was found & identified in Poland. It had been buried in a suit of chain mail that was not yet fully rusted.

            NEW GUINEA MAN – Proven to Date way back to 1970’s, another “missing link”, has been found in Australia . . . ALIVE & Well!

            JAVA MAN: Eugene Dubois, 1891, a man searching for evidence to support the theory of evolution. After dropping out of school, on the island of Java, he found a skull cap. A year later and fifty feet from where he found the skull cap, he found a leg bone. Later still, at another location, he found three teeth. British zoologist thought his finds were human, but German experts decided it was an ape. When further examination of the bones was requested, Dubois refused to show his “bone collection” to anyone.

            Cro-Magnon man – One of the earliest and best established fossils. Found to be equal in physique and brain capacity as a modern man . . . . . So what is the difference?

            “Modern Man” – This genius thinks he came from Apes! Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. Romans 1:22
            Carbon Dating discovered in 1949 – Based on 3 assumptions: Decay has been constant. Isotope has not been altered – parent or daughter isotopes. Rock first formed with a known amount of material.

            Scientists “KNEW” that atmospheric carbon would reach equilibrium in 30,000 years. They assumed that the earth was millions of years old, therefore it was already at equilibrium. However, each time they test it, they find more C14 in the atmosphere. They have since realized that we are only 1/3 the way to equilibrium. Which means that the earth has to be 1/3 of 30,000 years or 10,000 years old or less! But since there is more carbon in the atmosphere now than there was 4 thousand years ago. The earth is even younger, more likely closer to 6000 years ago.

            Oak Ridge National Laboratory, dated dinosaur bones using the Carbon dating method. The age they came back with was only a few thousand years old.

            Recently Carbon Dated – Live penguins – dead 8,000 years, Shells of live mollusks – dead for 23,000 years, a Seal that had been dead for 30 years in a campus refrigerator- dead only 4,600 years, Shells from live snails – dead 27,000 years.

            Recent Potassium-argon Dated – Hawaiian lava flows from KNOWN DATES of 1800 & 1801 – dated 164 million & 3 billion years, Lava flows in New Zealand observed 25-50 years ago – dated <0.27 to 3.5 (± 0.2) million years! Checked twice!!

            The biggest problem with dating methods is the assumption that the rate of decay has remained constant. There is no way to prove its constant. In fact there is much evidence to show that it is decaying quicker and quicker; just as the Bible says AND a degenerating model of the earth would predict.

            Time Magazine, 1964 reported an intriguing item which was OVERLOOKED by much of the scientific community. Although scientists generally consider that no known force can change the rate of atomic disintegration of radioactive elements, researchers at Westinghouse laboratories have actually done it. They placed inactive “dead” iron next to radioactive iron. The result was that the disintegration rate was altered!

            ACCELARATOR MASS SPECTROMETER – A fairly recently developed research tool, the AMS, provides dating that is more accurate than the other dating method so far. The following statement by Brown University is highly significant. It tells us this: The AMS actually counts C-14 atoms and gives more accurate totals. The earliest skeletal remains in the Western hemisphere have been dated by this method, and found to be only about 5,000 years old.

            And you learned what in college? (they lied)

            Don’t believe me do your own research; however, check your sources out carefully, as I have done.

            And last but by no means least – FACT: The Bible has NEVER failed a scientific test.

            Still praying for you,

  • pud

    “You crushed the heads of Leviathan; you gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness.” Who is able to crush all resistance to Him?

    How’s that song go that you all love to sing?

    “Our god is a crushing god he stomps from heaven above, his crush is the crush of love our god is a crushing god”

    Is that it?

    That is the god you worship huh?

    • Dave

      A new spin on the song perhaps; however, basically you are right. Yup, He crushed a lot of dangers to His people. You may well have meant it to be embarrassing but it is meant to demonstrate GOD’s awesome power. You see, the people KNEW what this creature was; they had seen it, so the Psalm clearly depicts the Great Power of GOD. Yup, that’s the GOD I worship!

      • pud

        AWESOME POWER!! wow! Better run along and grovel before he smites you for not being an obedient enough slave. Maybe sacrifice something..you know he’s a sucker for blood

        • Dave

          You really have a lot of anger issues… I’ll pray for you.

          • pud

            Not angry at all. I simply can’t stand you mindless theocratic irrational cult members and your superstitious drivel that you indoctrinate children with. Give me a rough guess of how many “prayers” have been sent up to sky daddy through the ages? How many of those pitiful begging request for favors can you absolutely prove came to be? Wish thinking by simpletons