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Author Topic: Proof of Behemoth and Leviathan being dinosaurs?  (Read 6138 times) Average Rating: 0
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erracht
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« on: March 12, 2004, 11:04:26 AM »

Look at this article: http://www.clarifyingchristianity.com/dinos.shtml

Do "Behemoth" and "Leviathan" seem like they could be dinosaurs (this question is part of my study of creationism) to you?

This text from Psalm 74 catches my interest:

13 Thou didst divide the sea by Thy strength;
     Thou didst break the heads of the sea-monsters in the waters.

14 Thou didst crush the heads of Leviathan;
     Thou didst give him as food for the creatures of the wilderness.

15 Thou didst break open springs and torrents;
     Thou didst dry up ever-flowing streams.

Could Asaph be writing about an extinction of dinosaurs during the flood?
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« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2004, 11:51:14 AM »

I've always considered them to be dinosaurs.  I could be wrong though.
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« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2004, 02:54:55 PM »

Well they're certainly something akin to dinosaurs... or at least something that's not around any longer. I don't find it a stretch to affirm some of the creationist theories for these being dinosaurs (oral traditions; dinosaur eggs on the ark; etc.).
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« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2004, 03:07:59 PM »

Well they're certainly something akin to dinosaurs... or at least something that's not around any longer. I don't find it a stretch to affirm some of the creationist theories for these being dinosaurs (oral traditions; dinosaur eggs on the ark; etc.).

Me neither.
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« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2005, 11:43:20 AM »

The problem with them being "dinosaurs" (as we think of them) is that the Scriptures seem to talk about these strange fellows in the present (and even future) tense (Job 41;Ps. 74:14; 104:26; Is. 27:1). That said, I still don't have a problem with them them being something akin to dinosaurs: it is for example interesting that the Scriptures and Fathers connect Leviathan with something akin to a dragon or sea monster, while the word dinosaur really means "Monstrous Lizard" or something like that; there seems to be a good bit of leeway in how we understand this creature (though it does seem to be an amphibian and not a reptile). It could be any of them in part, or all of them put together in some form or fashion, IMO. More importantly, I think, is the more "spiritual" side of what we should make of Leviathan. "For, behold, the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants o fthe earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain. In that day the Lord with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea." (Is. 26:21-27:1) It is interesting to compare this with Rev. 20.
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« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2005, 02:05:47 PM »

I like the Jordanville translation of the Psalter - with Psalm 103 using Dragon.  Nice and poetic an easy to chant.
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« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2010, 09:52:26 PM »

I know this is an old thread but I didn't see another made recently on these 'monsters', if it is referenced in Revelation does that just mean they should be seen as something spiritual?
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« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2010, 12:57:00 PM »

Actually the whole thing is not quite as confusing as it first seems. I remember reading this stuff for years and come up with all sorts of "what ifs" trying to figure it out. Is Leviathan a "sea serpent?" A whale? The devil? Or dinosaurs? Or something else entirely? Maybe dragons really did exist at one time and now they don't? Or maybe they are all hibernating waiting to awake once again like in the movie Reign of Fire. Wink (cool movie BTW) More recently some ultra literalist (yet very liberal) theologians have tried to identify these creatures with hippos or elephants or crocodiles. (as if the ancients were so stupid they couldn't tell the difference between a crocodile and a giant many headed beast rising up out of the sea to destroy the world)

It's all very confusing, that is until you start to dig into the religion of the ancient Israelites as it actually was and begin to read all the other religious texts of the surrounding cultures at the time these books of the Bible were written. All the ancient near eastern religions had these exact same "monsters", often described in similar fashions with 7 or 9 heads, huge legs, terrible teeth, beasts rising up out of the sea etc. They are known as "chaos gods" or beings or entities. These are essentially just Hebrew versions of these same chaos monsters or gods. Tiamat  the multi headed beast who brought chaos into the world was slayed by the god Marduk the son of the Babylonian creator god. Leviathan and Behemoth are just Hebrew names/versions for these types of gods. They are so darn similar in their descriptions that once you become familiar with all these various versions of the the same stories, there similarities just can't be ignore.

 Even the Psalms talk about how YHWH (not Marduk) slayed Leviathan;



You divided the sea by Your strength; You broke the heads of the sea monsters in the waters. You crushed the heads of Leviathan; You gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness. You broke open springs and torrents; You dried up ever-flowing streams.
Psalm 74:13-15, NASB

The book of Job chapter 41 has God asking Job, can you tame leviathan? Can you crush him? Can you subdue him? etc. The Old Testament is full of these texts. There is just no way, in their historical context, that these things can be talking about dinosaurs. The ancients had a very specific idea of what it was they were talking about. Did they take these stories literally? Who knows? I certainly don't. However I tend to think that in our age we tend to over literalize so many things that it is likely we're reading these texts as though they were scientific texts and not as scriptures. Maybe some of the authors DID take them literally. But perhaps other did not.

I think the point is, in particular with passages like in Pslam 74 that YHWH is the one who is in control of the world and NOT Marduk or any other gods. It is YHWH who reigns, who is able to subdue the chaos deities. I think a lot of these things are intentional jabs or digs against Polytheism. "oh, you think you're god is great, well let me to you something, it's not Baal or Marduk who is number one, but in fact it is YHWH who not only subdues Leviathan/Tiamat/chaos, but in fact it was YHWH who CREATED Tiamat! Take that you pagans!" (tongue in cheek of course) Even Job says that God created leviathan, unlike the babylonian myths.

indentifying these chaos beasts with chaos or disorder itself, or the failure of human government seems to be what the later Apocalyptic literature picked up on in great detail. When Revelation mentions that there is a great best rising up out of the sea, in refers back to to Tiamat aka Leviathan. The Greek word for Tiamat is almost the exact same word for "sea". see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiamat

So when John is describing a seven headed beast (Tiamat was a seven headed dragon) rising up out of the sea, he is identifying the sea itself with chaos. (as many of the ancients did). The word for Tiamat is Thalatte, the greek word for sea is thalassa; almost the same word. So it's imagery that the readers of John (and books like 1 Enoch) would have been very familiar with. In a sense "the sea is rising up out of the sea". That's why John, in Revelation 21:1 writes:Then I saw  a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. , in other words in the reconstituted earth there will be no more "chaos". It's shouldn't be taken to literally mean Jesus hates the sea and will stomp it out, but He will overcome chaos, or disorder, disunity, etc. John doesn't mean that literally there will be no water, but no more chaos. YHWH will over come chaos or evil itself. (perhaps a metaphor for death since death brings about chaos in our lives)

This seems to be how most scholars today understand this imagery. And I think it is imagery. Not to be taken literally because if we take it literally it makes no sense. I think God spoke through the writers of the Bible in language and mythology that people at the time would have understood. They understood that confusion in the world was personified by these sea monsters, and the Hebrews understood that God was somehow in control of it all even if it doesn't make sense. I suppose one can find dinosaurs or hippos in this but personally I find this imagery of life, death, chaos and YHWH slaying and/or taming the beast far more interesting. But I'm a Tolkien geek too and like the Silmarillion better than LOTR, so it's just my cup of tea I guess. However this is where Tolkien got so much material for the Silmarillion from Old Testament scholarship.



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« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2010, 01:26:32 PM »

I like the Jordanville translation of the Psalter - with Psalm 103 using Dragon.  Nice and poetic an easy to chant.

Easier than "Plesiosaurus" at least. Smiley
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« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2010, 01:30:36 PM »

That's what Tiamat is about:



(Just kidding, NorthernPines nailed it.)

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« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2010, 02:21:48 PM »

This thread pleasantly caused me to recall Ishmael's treatment of Leviathan (as well as Jonah) in Moby Dick.
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« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2010, 03:45:35 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
The problem with them being "dinosaurs" (as we think of them) is that the Scriptures seem to talk about these strange fellows in the present (and even future) tense (Job 41;Ps. 74:14; 104:26; Is. 27:1). That said, I still don't have a problem with them them being something akin to dinosaurs: it is for example interesting that the Scriptures and Fathers connect Leviathan with something akin to a dragon or sea monster, while the word dinosaur really means "Monstrous Lizard" or something like that; there seems to be a good bit of leeway in how we understand this creature (though it does seem to be an amphibian and not a reptile). It could be any of them in part, or all of them put together in some form or fashion, IMO. More importantly, I think, is the more "spiritual" side of what we should make of Leviathan. "For, behold, the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants o fthe earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain. In that day the Lord with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea." (Is. 26:21-27:1) It is interesting to compare this with Rev. 20.
I agree more with this.  Looking for dinosaurs is silly, my mom used to laugh and say perhaps there never were any dinosaurs to begin with, as Baptists sternly believe that God created the Earth with the appearance of age, including all the geological features and fossils we find, and she got quite a kick out of just how much scientists made of all these fossil records.  She often imagined how silly they looked to God, speculating the ages and eras of the earth based upon bones and rocks and theories and assumptions! In a deep way, that very much connects with the way you just interpreted these mythical beasts! The Devil and Serpent is the origin and source of deception, particular those "what if" deceptions that lead folks away from God in their hearts, like "what if I'm all alone in the world" or "what if the universe can be explained without the need for a Creator?"

I've been reading the Bible a Chapter A Day, for ten years nearly now, I am on my third run through, just finished Job last night as a matter of coincidence, and I was also meditating just on this very topic and on the spiritual nature of those beasts, the leviathan and the dragon.  Standard, Orthodox rabbinical interpretations claim very confidently the inspiration for thethe Behemoth is the Hippopotamus and the Leviathan is the Nile Crocodile, both of which were quite common in the swamps of the Jordan. When you reexamine the text in this context and in the light of historicity, that seems to be obviously a correct interpretation.  But it is a parable, an allegory, and an allusion, as is most Hebrew and Biblical poetry.

I am less confident in how I feel the Behemoth represents, perhaps the stubborn, obstinant, hardheartedness that lies in the resistant nature of Humanity, which leads us to defiance, rebellion and sin. 
There is a distinction made between the Behemoth and the Leviathan, as the it says that inevitably a man can catch with cords and rings the Behemoth, but that this can not be so with the Leviathan!

In our theology, humanity alone cannot conquer the Dragon, the Devil, Satan, only Christ through the power of the Resurrection, finally conquered Death and the Dragon, and finally with the purchase of His atoning Flesh and Blood put away the Wicked One.  Humanity cannot conquer the Devil in its own power, that is why we need God in our midst, that is the saving miracle of Jesus Christ in our lives, to continually say, "Get ye behind me Satan, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but those of men!"



It seems clear that the Leviathan is the Devil, and to re-read in that context is far more edifying then to search for the material, physical, animal equivalents.  I believe Joseph Campbell explained it best,
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But to read a (religious) poem as a chronicle of fact is to say the least, to miss the point.  To say a little more, it is to prove oneself a dolt, and to add to this, the men who put these (Holy) books together were not dolts but knew precisely what they were doing.."
Hero With a Thousand Faces

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #12 on: November 17, 2010, 12:57:03 PM »

That's what Tiamat is about:





LOL!

As a one time avid player of Dungeons and Dragons I find it incredibly hard to write about Tiamat and NOT think of an image like that...Smiley She was one tough dragon indeed. Smiley
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« Reply #13 on: November 17, 2010, 01:17:25 PM »

It's shouldn't be taken to literally mean Jesus hates the sea and will stomp it out, but He will overcome chaos, or disorder, disunity, etc. John doesn't mean that literally there will be no water, but no more chaos.

God- Gatoraid.... GAAAATORAIIID!


Seriously though, great post.
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