The Info List - Leviathan

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(/lɪˈvaɪ.əθən/; Hebrew: לִוְיָתָן‬, Modern Livyatan, Tiberian Liwyāṯān) is a sea monster referenced in the Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
in the Book of Job, Psalms, the Book of Isaiah, and the Book of Amos. The Leviathan
of the Book of Job
Book of Job
is a reflection of the older Canaanite Lotan, a primeval monster defeated by the god Hadad. Parallels to the role of Mesopotamian Tiamat
defeated by Marduk
have long been drawn in comparative mythology, as have been wider comparisons to dragon and world serpent narratives such as Indra slaying Vrtra
or Thor
slaying Jörmungandr,[1] but Leviathan
already figures in the Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
as a metaphor for a powerful enemy, notably Babylon
( Isaiah
27:1), and some scholars have pragmatically interpreted it as referring to large aquatic creatures, such as the crocodile.[2] The word later came to be used as a term for "great whale" as well as of sea monsters in general.


1 Etymology and origins 2 Hebrew Bible 3 Judaism 4 Christianity 5 Modern reception

5.1 Satanic Bible

6 See also 7 References 8 Bibliography 9 External links

Etymology and origins[edit] See also: Lotan, Tannin (monster), Tiamat, Tehom, and Chaoskampf The name לִוְיָתָן is a derivation from the root לוה lvh "to twine; to join", with an adjectival suffix ן-, with a literal meaning of "wreathed, twisted in folds".[2] Both the name and the mythological figure are a direct continuation of the Ugaritic
sea monster Lôtān, one of the servants of the sea god Yammu defeated by Hadad
in the Baal Cycle.[3][4] The Ugaritic
account has gaps, making it unclear whether some phrases describe him or other monsters at Yammu's disposal such as Tunannu (the Biblical Tannin).[5] Most scholars agree on describing Lôtān as "the fugitive serpent" (bṯn brḥ)[4] but he may or may not be "the wriggling serpent" (bṯn ʿqltn) or "the mighty one with seven heads" (šlyṭ d.šbʿt rašm).[6] His role seems to have been prefigured by the earlier serpent Têmtum whose death at the hands Hadad
is depicted in Syrian seals of the 18th–16th century BCE.[6] Sea serpents
Sea serpents
feature prominently in the mythology of the Ancient Near East.[7] They are attested by the 3rd millennium BCE in Sumerian iconography depicting the god Ninurta
overcoming a seven-headed serpent. It was common for Near Eastern religions to include a Chaoskampf: a cosmic battle between a sea monster representing the forces of chaos and a creator god or culture hero who imposes order by force.[8] The Babylonian creation myth describes Marduk's defeat of the serpent goddess Tiamat, whose body was used to create the heavens and the earth.[9] Hebrew Bible[edit] The Leviathan
is mentioned six times in the Tanakh, in Job 3:8, Job 40:15–41:26, Amos 9:3, Psalm 74:13–23, Psalm 104:26 and Isaiah 27:1. Job 41:1–34 is dedicated to describing him in detail: "Behold, the hope of him is in vain; shall not one be cast down even at the sight of him?"[10] In Psalm 74, God is said to "break the heads of Leviathan in pieces" before giving his flesh to the people of the wilderness. In Psalm 104, God is praised for having made all things, including Leviathan, and in Isaiah
27:1, he is called the "tortuous serpent" who will be killed at the end of time.[7] The mention of the Tannins in the Genesis creation narrative[11] (translated as "great whales" in the King James Version)[12] and Leviathan
in the Psalm[13] do not describe them as harmful but as ocean creatures who are part of God's creation. The element of competition between God and the sea monster and the use of Leviathan to describe the powerful enemies of Israel[14] may reflect the influence of the Mesopotamian and Canaanite legends or the contest in Egyptian mythology
Egyptian mythology
between the Apep
snake and the sun god Horus. Alternatively, the removal of such competition may have reflected an attempt to naturalize Leviathan
in a process that demoted it from deity to demon to monster.[8][15] Judaism[edit]

the sea-monster, with Behemoth
the land-monster and Ziz
the air-monster. "And on that day were two monsters parted, a female monster named Leviathan, to dwell in the abysses of the ocean over the fountains of the waters. But the male is named Behemoth, who occupied with his breast a waste wilderness named Duidain." (1 Enoch 60:7–8)

Later Jewish sources describe Leviathan
as a dragon who lives over the Sources of the Deep and who, along with the male land-monster Behemoth, will be served up to the righteous at the end of time. The Book of Enoch
Book of Enoch
(60:7–9) describes Leviathan
as a female monster dwelling in the watery abyss (as Tiamat), while Behemoth
is a male monster living in the desert of Dunaydin ("east of Eden").[7] When the Jewish midrash (explanations of the Tanakh) were being composed, it was held that God originally produced a male and a female leviathan, but lest in multiplying the species should destroy the world, he slew the female, reserving her flesh for the banquet that will be given to the righteous on the advent of the Messiah.[16] Rashi's commentary on Genesis 1:21 repeats the tradition:

"Leviathan" (1983) a painting by Michael Sgan-Cohen, the Israel Museum Collection, Jerusalem

the...sea monsters: The great fish in the sea, and in the words of the Aggadah
(B.B. 74b), this refers to the Leviathan
and its mate, for He created them male and female, and He slew the female and salted her away for the righteous in the future, for if they would propagate, the world could not exist because of them. הַתַּנִינִם is written. [I.e., the final “yud,” which denotes the plural, is missing, hence the implication that the Leviathan
did not remain two, but that its number was reduced to one.] – [from Gen. Rabbah 7:4, Midrash
Chaseroth V’Yetheroth, Batei Midrashoth, vol 2, p. 225].[17]

In the Talmud
Baba Bathra 75a it is told that the Leviathan
will be slain and its flesh served as a feast to the righteous in [the] Time to Come, and its skin used to cover the tent where the banquet will take place. The festival of Sukkot
(Festival of Booths) therefore concludes with a prayer recited upon leaving the sukkah (booth): "May it be your will, Lord our God and God of our forefathers, that just as I have fulfilled and dwelt in this sukkah, so may I merit in the coming year to dwell in the sukkah of the skin of Leviathan. Next year in Jerusalem."[18] The enormous size of the Leviathan
is described by Johanan bar Nappaha, from whom proceeded nearly all the aggadot concerning this monster: "Once we went in a ship and saw a fish which put his head out of the water. He had horns upon which was written: 'I am one of the meanest creatures that inhabit the sea. I am three hundred miles in length, and enter this day into the jaws of the Leviathan'".[19] When the Leviathan
is hungry, reports Rabbi Dimi in the name of Rabbi Johanan, he sends forth from his mouth a heat so great as to make all the waters of the deep boil, and if he would put his head into Paradise
no living creature could endure the odor of him.[19] His abode is the Mediterranean Sea; and the waters of the Jordan fall into his mouth.[20] In a legend recorded in the Midrash
called Pirke de-Rabbi Eliezer it is stated that the fish which swallowed Jonah
narrowly avoided being eaten by the Leviathan, which eats one whale each day. The body of the Leviathan, especially his eyes, possesses great illuminating power. This was the opinion of Rabbi Eliezer, who, in the course of a voyage in company with Rabbi Joshua, explained to the latter, when frightened by the sudden appearance of a brilliant light, that it probably proceeded from the eyes of the Leviathan. He referred his companion to the words of Job xli. 18: "By his neesings a light doth shine, and his eyes are like the eyelids of the morning" (B. B. l.c.). However, in spite of his supernatural strength, the leviathan is afraid of a small worm called "kilbit", which clings to the gills of large fish and kills them (Shab. 77b).[21] In the eleventh century piyyut (religious poem), Akdamut, recited on Shavuot
(Pentecost), it is envisioned that, ultimately, God will slaughter the Leviathan, which is described as having "mighty fins" (and, therefore, a kosher fish, not an inedible snake or crocodile), and it will be served as a sumptuous banquet for all the righteous in Heaven. Christianity[edit]

in the fresco The Last Judgment; painted by Giacomo Rossignolo, c. 1555

can also be used as an image of Satan, endangering both God's creatures—by attempting to eat them—and God's creation—by threatening it with upheaval in the waters of Chaos.[22] St. Thomas Aquinas described Leviathan
as the demon of envy, first in punishing the corresponding sinners (Secunda Secundae Question 36). Peter Binsfeld likewise classified Leviathan
as the demon of envy, as one of the seven Princes of Hell corresponding to the seven deadly sins. Leviathan
became associated with, and may originally have referred to, the visual motif of the Hellmouth, a monstrous animal into whose mouth the damned disappear at the Last Judgement, found in Anglo-Saxon art from about 800, and later all over Europe.[23][24] The Revised Standard Version
Revised Standard Version
of the Bible[25] suggests in a footnote to Job 41:1 that Leviathan
may be a name for the crocodile, and in a footnote to Job 40:15, that Behemoth
may be a name for the hippopotamus. Young Earth
Creationists have also identified Leviathan and Behemoth
with dinosaurs.[26] Modern reception[edit] The word Leviathan
has come to refer to any sea monster, and from the early 17th century has also been used of overwhelmingly powerful people or things (comparable to Behemoth
or Juggernaut), influentially so by Hobbes' book (1651). As a term for sea monster, it has also been used of great whales in particular, e.g. in Herman Melville's Moby-Dick. In Modern Hebrew, the word now simply means "whale". Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
wrote a sonnet, "The Kraken" (1830), which describes the massive creature that dwells at the bottom of the sea.[27]

Below the thunders of the upper deep; Far far beneath in the abysmal sea, His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep The Kraken
sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee About his shadowy sides; above him swell Huge sponges of millennial growth and height; And far away into the sickly light, From many a wondrous grot and secret cell Unnumber'd and enormous polypi Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green. There hath he lain for ages, and will lie Battening upon huge seaworms in his sleep, Until the latter fire shall heat the deep; Then once by man and angels to be seen, In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.

Satanic Bible[edit] Anton Szandor LaVey
Anton Szandor LaVey
in his Satanic Bible (1969) has Leviathan representing the element of Water and the direction of west, listing it as one of the Four Crown Princes of Hell. This association was inspired by the demonic hierarchy from The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abra-Melin the Mage. The Church of Satan
uses the Hebrew letters at each of the points of the Sigil of Baphomet
Sigil of Baphomet
to represent Leviathan. Starting from the lowest point of the pentagram, and reading counter-clockwise, the word reads "לִוְיָתָן". Transliterated, this is (LVIThN) Leviathan.[28] See also[edit]

Adamastor Aspidochelone Bakunawa Book of Job
Book of Job
in Byzantine illuminated manuscripts Christian demons in popular culture Kraken Lernaean Hydra Leviathan
in popular culture Lilith Ouroboros Rahab (Egypt) Shesha Tarasque Ziz


 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Singer, Isidore; et al., eds. (1901–1906). "Leviathan". Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company. 

^ Cirlot, Juan Eduardo (1971). A Dictionary of Symbols (2nd ed.). Dorset Press. p. 186.  ^ a b Wilhelm Gesenius, Samuel Prideaux Tregelles (trans.) (1879). Hebrew and Chaldee lexicon to the Old Testament . ^ Uehlinger (1999), p. 514. ^ a b Herrmann (1999), p. 133. ^ Heider (1999). ^ a b Uehlinger (1999), p. 512. ^ a b c K. van der Toorn, Bob Becking, Pieter Willem van der Horst, eds. (1999). Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. pp. 512–14. Retrieved 13 July 2012. CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link) ^ a b Hermann Gunkel, Heinrich Zimmern; K. William Whitney Jr., trans., Creation And Chaos in the Primeval Era And the Eschaton: A Religio-historical Study of Genesis 1 and Revelation 12. (Grand Rapids: MI: Erdmans, 1895, 1921, 2006). ^ Enuma Elish, Tablet IV, lines 104–105, 137–138, 144 from Alexander Heidel (1963) [1942], Babylonian Genesis, 41–42. ^ Jewish Publication Society translation (1917). ^ Gen. 1:21. ^ Gen. 1:21 (KJV). ^ Ps. 104. ^ For example, in Isaiah
27:1. ^ Watson, R.S. (2005). Chaos Uncreated: A Reassessment of the Theme of "chaos" in the Hebrew Bible. Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 3110179938, ISBN 9783110179934 ^ Babylonian Talmud, tractate Baba Bathra 74b. ^ Chabad. "Rashi's Commentary on Genesis". Retrieved 25 October 2012.  ^ Finkel, Avraham (1993). The Essence of the Holy Days: Insights from the Jewish Sages. Northvale, N.J.: J. Aronson. p. 99. ISBN 0-87668-524-6. OCLC 27935834.  ^ a b Baba Bathra 75a ^ Bekorot 55b; Baba Bathra 75a ^ Hirsch, Emil G.; Kaufmann Kohler; Solomon Schechter; Isaac Broydé. " Leviathan
and Behemoth". JewishEncyclopedia.com. Retrieved 3 September 2009.  ^ Labriola, Albert C. (1982). "The Medieval View of History in Paradise
Lost". In Mulryan, John. Milton and the Middle Ages. Bucknell University Press. pp. 115–34. ISBN 978-0-8387-5036-0.  p. 127. ^ Link, Luther (1995). The Devil: A Mask Without a Face. London: Reaktion Books. pp. 75–6. ISBN 0-948462-67-1.  ^ Hofmann, Petra (2008). Infernal Imagery in Anglo-Saxon Charters (PDF) (Thesis). St Andrews. pp. 143–44. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-10-01.  ^ The Holy Bible Revised Standared Version. New York: Thomas Nelson and Sons. 1959.  pp. 555–56 ^ "Genesis Park, Room 1: The Dinosaurs". Genesispark.com. Retrieved 13 July 2012.  Taylor, Paul S. (13 February 2008). "Were Dinosaurs alive after Babel?". Answersingenesis.org. Retrieved 13 July 2012.  ^ ""The Kraken" (1830)". www.victorianweb.org. Retrieved 2017-09-03.  ^ "The History of the Origin of the Sigil of Baphomet
Sigil of Baphomet
and its Use in the Church of Satan". Church of Satan
website. Retrieved 3 September 2009. 


Heider, George C. (1999), "Tannîn", Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, 2nd ed., Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, pp. 834–836 . Herrmann, Wolfgang (1999), "Baal", Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, 2nd ed., Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, pp. 132–139 . Uehlinger, C. (1999), "Leviathan", Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, 2nd ed., Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, pp. 511–515 .

External links[edit]

Look up leviathan in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

'Sea monster' whale fossil unearthed. Named Leviathan
by scientists 30 June 2010. Putting God on Trial – The Biblical Book of Job
Book of Job
contains a major section on the literary use of Leviathan. Job 41:1–41:34 (KJV) The fossilised skull of a colossal "sea monster" has been unearthed along the UK's Jurassic Coast. 27 October 2009 'Sea monster' whale fossil unearthed 30 June 2010 Enuma Elish
Enuma Elish
(Babylonian creation epic) Philologos concordance page Text of the Leviathan
passage from Job 40 and 41

v t e

Book of Job


In Islam In rabbinic literature

People and entities

Job's family members

Jemima Keziah Keren-happuch

Job's friends and supporters

Bildad Elihu Zophar Eliphaz

Behemoth Jobab ben Zerah Leviathan Rahab Ziz

Related religious texts

Testament of Job

In art


Adam's Apples
Adam's Apples
(2005) The Reverend (2011) A Serious Man (2009) Leviathan


Answer to Job (1952 analysis) God's Favorite (1974 play) J.B. (1958 play) Job (1930 novel) Job's Passion (1981 play) Job's Wife (2002 play) Silverlock
(1949 novel)


Byzantine illuminated manuscripts Job (Bronze sculpture by Judith Shea) William Blake's Illustrations of the Book of Job


Tomb of Job