I’m not sure what to do with Leviathan

97% of all animals, marine and land, which have ever existed, are not found as fossils. The Leviathon in my mind is an animal that is among the 97% who left no fossils. I will quote something from my blog:

Colin Tudge observes,

" Logic dictates, too, that the oldest known fossils cannot possibly be the oldest representatives of their kind. Fossilization is a rare event, after all; and when animals first appear, they are rare. The earliest fossil bones are therefore likely to date from a time when their erstwhile owners were already common. Logic similarly dictates that if an animal is particularly unlikely to form fossils–as primates seem to be–then paleontologists are particularly unlikely to find the very earliest types. In fact, this logic can be translated into a mathematical formula (see Robert D. Martin, ““Primate Origins: Plugging the Gaps,”” Nature, May 20, 1993, pp 223-234). The fewer fossils there are (relative to the calculated number of extinct species), the older the group is liable to be, relative to the number of fossils found. " 2

So, how rare is the fossilization of a species ? To answer that, we must ask look at how many species alive today are found as fossils. Consider what Foote et al,

" The number of living species that have been described is about 1.5 million…If we focus on the paleontologically important groups, present-day diversity is about 180,000 species. …Suppose we assume that the present-day level of diversity was attained immediately at the beginning of the Cambrian Period and has been maintained since then. Then 25 percent of 180,000 species, or 45,000 species became extinct and were replaced by new species every million years. In rough terms, the Phanerozoic is 550 million years log. this leads to an estimate that there have been 180,000+(45,000 X 550) or about 25 million species. Comparing this with the 300,000 described fossil species implies that between 1 percent and 2 percent of species are known as fossils. " 3

So,98-99% of species were never fosilized.

Hebrew Leviathan & Behemoth seemingly correspond to Greek Hydra & Minotaur

While the Greeks emphasize the “good gods” defeating the beasts through human heroes (Theseus, Herakles), the Hebrew tales emphasize God’s role more directly

But whatever “Hydra” & “Minotaur” mean in the Greek myths, and they seem to have some historical roots, so “Leviathan” & “Behemoth” may mean in Hebrew?

Like Paul. Good explanation. Thanks!

1 Like

Implicit in that is that those two adjectives are not incompatible with being righteous, and may be a part of it. Remember Phinehas.

Of course, those attributes can also be sinful. Some of us know too well.

1 Like

It’s a metaphor for the powerful enemies of Israel, like Assyria and Egypt in Isaiah 27:1-13

It’s not only a metaphor., not unlike much of scripture.

So where’s the literal? What is it?

[content removed by moderator]

And no, my question was rhetorical and no link is necessary. There is no literal meaning. The original mythic meaning, of the monstrous forces of chaos, were later applied to actual large sea creatures as well as nasty geopolitical neighbours where such myths were originally spawned. Myths of redemptive violence by mythical embodiments, ancestors of those states against chaos that in turn brings chaos to poor little Israel hemmed in by them all.

If all the verses of Levithan was to be taken literal that would mean there was a multiheaded fire breathing oceanic serpent dragon that god battled eventually and won by crushing its heads…

That seems very much like a metaphor using common Mesopotamian mythology found among the Semites and Sumerians.


Based on my understanding of Egyptian prehistory (e.g. the “King Scorpion defeats King Bull’s Head” engraving) and Australian aboriginal mythology, as well as Iroquois history, it seems universal that originally, all human groups adopted & identified animal totems

The surviving “echo” of the same in the west would be identification with favorite sports teams, like the “Raptors”, “Falcons”, “Bears” and so on

If so, “talking animal” imagery may symbolically recall ancient human groups, remembered according to their animal totem?

For example, there were many Australian aboriginal groups who identified with a “(Rainbow) serpent” totem

The Eden story might possibly refer (in part) to some sort of “snake people”, maybe ever so vaguely like “Thulsa Doom” from Conan or “Cobra” from GI Joe or some such – some sort of Biblically villainized “tribe of the snake” ?

And Leviathan, as the Hebrew version of the Ketos or Hydra, might refer to (say) 7 related “serpent snake clans” all descended from the same “snake culture”… which was defeated & suppressed by the Hebrews? As the likes of Joseph Campbell & Marija Gimbutas say is described by the Greek myths (which they interpret as reflecting the “Aryan Indo-European” conquest of the prior Neolithic farming serpentine “Goddess culture”)??

Leviathan breathes “fire” and “fire from heaven” will torch earth at the 2nd Coming & Final Judgement (Rev 20:9)

Since my 12 and 9 year old boys have been instructed to only draw Bible stuff in their sketchbooks during sermons, they LOVE Leviathan as a subject (next to Behemoth). Their interpretations are quite amazing. For what it is worth…imagination.may stand them in good stead when these deep questions arise. I wish I could give you more as a serious insight.


“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

This is a place for gracious dialogue about science and faith. Please read our FAQ/Guidelines before posting.