The Meaning Of The Leviathan In The Bible Explained

As described in the Old Testament portion of the Bible, Leviathan is a sea creature that fears no one but is feared by all of mankind (via Britannica).The origin of the name comes from the Hebrew word livyathan. It is one of the many creatures described in the Bible. Leviathan is said to be a water-borne serpent that God created, and is also considered a monster. Leviathan has also been described as a mammal, and based on some translations of the text, many have been likened to a crocodile, per Institute for Creation Research. A lot of people have even believed it to be a dinosaur, but that idea has long been debunked (via Answering Genesis).

The descriptions of the creature state that it is large, has big teeth, can shoot flames from its mouth, and has scaly skin. For the most part, most can say Leviathan is a huge fish (a whale if you will), as it lives in the sea. But it is an extremely horrifying aquatic animal. In Job 41, which describes how it looks, Leviathan is practically unconquerable. Leviathan is said to be enormously strong and is well protected, such as by having a chest "hard as rock" and how it can treat iron "like straw," per Bible Gateway.

Leviathan in the bible

According to Bible Study, Leviathan is mentioned about four times in the Bible. One of the first mentions of it is in Job 41 — but it is discussed again in three other places: Isaiah 27:1, Psalm 74:14, and Psalm 104:26. In Isaiah 27:1, Leviathan is described as a serpent. God comes down carrying a sword to eliminate Leviathan by killing it. In Psalm 74:14, God comes down to Earth and kills Leviathan, who is described there as having two heads. The remains of the creature are also left to be fed on: "It was you who crushed the heads of Leviathan and gave it as food to the creatures of the desert."

But Psalm 104:26 is a bit more simple. It only says that God created Leviathan to enjoy and play in the ocean, where it lives. The last verse confirms that Leviathan is a creation of God, though its mere existence is also meant to instill fear. And in Job 41, readers learn that not only is Leviathan a scary being that cannot be killed by man, it possesses a lot of traits comparable to a combination of what we know today as a whale, crocodile, and mythical dragons. While it's been debated whether Leviathan is fake or real, no evidence can confirm that it existed (yet), per Institute of Creation Research

What does Leviathian mean?

The fact that Job couldn't take down Leviathan doesn't go unnoticed. Not only is he not strong enough, but neither he nor any other man have the strength to conquer it. And they weren't meant to be. Only God himself can destroy Leviathan. Even though he tasked Job with the challenge of subduing it, he knew it was an impossible feat.

According to one interpretation, Leviathan actually symbolizes God's power over man. Per Compelling Truth, God uses the creature to exert his might and authority. God also demonstrates that even with all the adjectives for fear that Leviathan checks off, above all, it too had God to answer to, meaning that nothing on Earth is more powerful than God. Not even a creature that had powers above man could stand against God. In Job 41, it further explains that God has the ability to subjugate Leviathan to his servant, and suppress it to the point that it will speak to him gently. The ordeal humbles Job, and his inability to tame the creature exhibits a moral about pride and not questioning the Creator (via The Trumpet). 

Leviathan in religion and mythology

There are stories about Leviathan present in Jewish and Christian religions, as well as Middle Eastern mythology (via Learn Religions). It is a long-held and common belief that Leviathan was indeed a creation of God and could only be destroyed by him, says Mythology. In Jewish mythology, the story of Leviathan says that God slayed the female version of the creature, and fed it to starving Hebrew people. This is also recounted in the Bible, in Psalm 74:14. And in some mythology, the existence of Leviathan signified sin — envy, specifically, and perhaps even Satan himself, per Mythology.

While God created Leviathan, he also killed it. This is interpreted by many researchers that this means Leviathan was an enemy. It also aims to show that while God can create something as fearful to man as Leviathan, God can destroy it as well; leaving no doubt about his abilities to anyone, particularly Job.