Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Behemoth & Leviathan

Was Behemoth an elephant or a hippo?  Was Leviathan a crocodile?  The Lord describes these creatures in Job 40 and 41.
The 1959 scifi movie The Giant Behemoth from the UK got it right – this creature was a dino!  The film can be seen here.  In the story, paleontologist Dr. Samson says, “I knew these creatures [dinos] were alive somewhere.”

The Apologetics Study Bible suggests that Behemoth may have been a buffalo, dino, rhino or hippo, but says that the hippo is the “most likely” identification. [1]  It even points out the tail being like a cedar!  This reference Bible favors the crocodile as being the Leviathan.
The NIV Study Bible claims that the description of Leviathan’s fire-breathing abilities (Job 41:18-21) is “highly figurative, exaggerated poetic imagery.” [2]  In contrast, we read this account from 1685 with the title A True Relation of the Dreadful Combat between More of More Hall and the Dragon of Wantley [3]:

The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge (TSK) says the following about the Behemoth:

Perhaps an extinct dinosaur, maybe a Diplodocus or Brachiosaurus, the exact meaning is unknown. Some translate as elephant or hippopotamus but from the description in Job 40:15-24, this is patently absurd.
Carl Sagan (d. 1996), host of the PBS Cosmos series, made this startling admission:

Is it possible that dragons [dinos] posed a problem for our protohuman ancestors of a few million years ago, and that the terror they evoked and the deaths they caused helped bring about the evolution of human intelligence? … Could there have been manlike creatures who actually encountered Tyrannosaurus rex?  Could there have been dinosaurs that escaped the extinctions in the late Cretaceous Period?  Could the pervasive dreams and common fears of “monsters,” … be evolutionary vestiges of quite adaptive baboon-like responses to dragons and owls? ... [4]

Sagan’s last interview may be found here.
Here are fascinating firsthand accounts of Mkele Mbembe (a small dino) from the History Channel.

There’s nothing on this earth quite like him [Leviathan], not an ounce of fear in that creature!  He surveys all the high and mighty - king of the ocean, king of the deep!  Job answered GOD:  I’m convinced:  You can do anything and everything. Nothing and no one can upset your plans (Job 41:33 – 42:2, Message).

1)  The Apologetics Study Bible ed. by Ted Cabal (Holman, Nashville, TN, 2007), p. 781.
2)  The NIV Study Bible ed. by Kenneth Barker (Zonderven, Grand Rapids, MI, 1995), p. 770.
3)  British Dragons by Jacqueline Simpson (Wordsworth Editions, London, 2001, orig. pub. 1980), pp. 147, 150.
4)  The Dragons of Eden by Carl Sagan (Ballantine Books, NYC, 1977), pp. 150, 151.