So today, since my intended topic of circumcision (avoiding bad puns....) needs more research, let's dig up something that doesn't need quite as much for me. That is, yes there are sea serpents in the Bible. Take a look. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leviathan and of course, http://www.blueletterbible.org/Bible.cfm?b=Job&c=41&t=NIV#1. Let's take a look, I'll put more in later. The great sea serpent is called Leviathan.
So, a pastor I greatly admire and actually the man who helped me (over the radio) to accept Christ as Savior, one Chuck Swindoll, mentioned once in a sermon that Leviathan was a crocodile. (He also maintained that Behemoth was a hippo. more some other time). Chuck, as great as he is, is not alone in this assesment. Many pastors will say that Leviathan is just a crocdile. Heck, even Blue Letter Bible and my NLT Bible say that. I hate to do this, for one reason. I believe they are wrong.
The reason is, this makes it seem as though ancient people were too uneducated to know what things were so they described ordinary animals as though they were fantastic, or otherwise misunderstood and elaborated on things. I wouldn't say that this has never happened, or that people don't tell tall tales, but this makes it seem as though everyone in the past embellished everything. The big hang up i have though, is this opens up the can of worms that our ancestors didn't undrstand things they saw. Once you start doing that, then supernatural things can be explained away as mundane happenings. The parting of the Red Sea becomes a fortuitous gust of wind. Then you have crazies saying that there are UFOs in the Bible. That Elijah's fiery chariot, Ezekiel's description of angels, wheels and God's throne were actually UFOs. Once you do that, you've basically thrown away the Bible. So, please don't go there.
Some say that Leviathan is just symbolism for Satan. I won't dismiss the symbolism, and I think that Leviathan definitely can and should be viewed symbolically at times, but not totally. So, let's proceed to dismiss the crocodile aspect. Let's start with the most obvious example of why it is not a crocodile.
Everything below is pulled from Job 41 on the above BLB link. Go do your homework if you don't believe me. I'm going to just pull some chunks out mainly to give you the physical description. The Lord, in chiding Job makes some great points that emphasize the terror of this beast. So, go read the whole thing, but see here for the general physical description of Leviathan.
- "Can you pull in the leviathan [fn] with a fishhook or tie down his tongue with a rope?
- Can you put a cord through his nose or pierce his jaw with a hook?
- Can you make a pet of him like a bird or put him on a leash for your girls?
- Will traders barter for him? Will they divide him up among the merchants?
- Can you fill his hide with harpoons or his head with fishing spears?
- If you lay a hand on him, you will remember the struggle and never do it again!
- Any hope of subduing him is false; the mere sight of him is overpowering.
- No one is fierce enough to rouse him.
- Who can strip off his outer coat? Who would approach him with a bridle?
- Who dares open the doors of his mouth, ringed about with his fearsome teeth?
- His back has [fn] rows of shields tightly sealed together; each is so close to the next that no air can pass between. They are joined fast to one another; they cling together and cannot be parted. His snorting throws out flashes of light; his eyes are like the rays of dawn. Firebrands stream from his mouth; sparks of fire shoot out. Smoke pours from his nostrils as from a boiling pot over a fire of reeds. His breath sets coals ablaze, and flames dart from his mouth. His chest is hard as rock, hard as a lower millstone.
- When he rises up, the mighty are terrified; they retreat before his thrashing.
- The sword that reaches him has no effect, nor does the spear or the dart or the javelin. Iron he treats like straw and bronze like rotten wood. Arrows do not make him flee; slingstones are like chaff to him. A club seems to him but a piece of straw; he laughs at the rattling of the lance.
- His undersides are jagged potsherds, leaving a trail in the mud like a threshing sledge.
- He makes the depths churn like a boiling caldron and stirs up the sea like a pot of ointment.
- Behind him he leaves a glistening wake; one would think the deep had white hair.
- Nothing on earth is his equal-- a creature without fear.
You get the idea. Now, which part of this resembles a crocodile? I can debunk this with one point.Job 41:8 - 10. "If you lay a hand on him, you will remember the struggle and never do it again! Any hope of subduing him is false; the mere sight of him is overpowering. No one is fierce enough to rouse him."
Two words: Steve Irwin. This man wrestled AND SUBDUED crocodiles on almost every episode of his show. Why else do you think they called him the Crocodile Hunter? He did it not only once, but so many times, it became his nickname! Surely whatever Leviathan is must be more fierce than that.
But let's go on. One argument many pastors seem to use is this line. Job 41:20 "Smoke pours from his nostrils as from a boiling pot over a fire of reeds. " Many say that this just means that it's a crocodile that's hissing. Riiight.
We also see that iron weapons, arrows, swords, clubs, stones and basically every weapon of that age have the same affect as tickling the beast. I would be curious to see how bullets and bombs would fare, but I think in the end it would be a Godzilla like affair where they just ticked him off. I can pretty much guarantee that a crocodile would likley perish at the hand of these weapons. Croc hide may be strong against the most primitive forms of these weapons, but I would submit that most of these weapons would be more than enought to kill or subdue a croc.
Job 41:6 says that traders and merchants would not be able to divide him up or buy him. I would bet people buy, sell, trade and divide up crocodiles. I've eaten alligator, and while there are differences between crocs and gators, i would say it's not a huge stretch to imagine crocs having the same fate. Not to mention that I believe crocs were hunted for there hides at one point.
At any rate, go over the description again, piece by piece, ask God to show you the truth and you will see that it is clearly not a crocodile. If you still think so, support your points and post it in the comments. We can then have round 2 of this post sometime. If you can come up with another "real" world example of a better fit for this, let me know. I dare you to find any "real" animal that would explain this. And please do not say it's a whale as they do not have any armor, and whales are for the most part gentle, and quite vulnerable to harpoons (that's iron folks).
Now with the croc element out of the way, let's move on. I've read that Jewish myth (I believe Talmud and Midrash) suggests that Leviathan is a real flesh and blood creature. Not only that, it has to eat a whale every day. I'm still waiting to hear back from a local rabbi on this and other matters including nephilim. Whether there is any truth to those myths, who can say, but at any rate, it seems that traditionally, Judaism took it literally from what I can tell. I would love to have more info on this, but 1) it's merely speculation and myth 2) There's not really any point in going further there.
What is leviathan then? www.clarifyingchristianity.com/dinos.shtml suggests that Kronosaurus is a possibility. This is a species of sea dinosaur, that is believed to be extinct. But then again so was the coelocanth. I like this one. And while I would buy this story above the crocodile, I think it's too mundane. This would mean there were leviathanS, rather than Leviathan. Yes, it likely was ferocious and met many of the qualities of Leviathan, but it also lacks some of them. Pardon the secular link, but they give some good debunking here. The point I like the most is their mention of a lack of armor. www.stupiddinosaurlies.org/the-truth-about-leviathan. Keep in mind their anti-Christian bias.
My thoughts are that in the case of Leviathan, we have an (scientfically) undiscovered deep sea dwelling lifeform, probably larger than anything else down there. There are problems with this theory, I will admit. What does it eat? Why hasn't it surfaced? Why hasn't some deep sea submarine found it? (Maybe one has, and it was covered up). There are no doubt even more questions that could be raised.
But, I have some proof that there may well be an animal larger than a blue whale. Now, the blue whale is believed to be the largest animal to ever exist. They are big, go to the museum of natural history in New York City and see the model. Want proof? So, what proof do I have.
The Bloop. www.bloopwatch.org/thebloop.html and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloop. Go to the bloopwatch page and listen to the slowed-down-to-realtime version of the sound. It's creepy, cool and a little weird. Basically, underwater microphones picked up an unidentified noise. This noise is believed to have been made by an organic creature, but if that's the case it would have to be larger than the blue whale.
I asked the NOAA in an email years ago if they could play that into the ocean and see if there's a response. I was told this would be detrimental to marine life due to the noise. Yet, the creature that made it made the loud noise without affecting anything...but i digest.
[According to the NOAA description, it "rises rapidly in frequency over about one minute and was of sufficient amplitude to be heard on multiple sensors, at a range of over 5,000 km." The NOAA's Dr. Christopher Fox does not believe its origin is man-made, such as a submarine or bomb, or familiar geological events such as volcanoes or earthquakes. While the audio profile of the bloop does resemble that of a living creature, the source is a mystery both because it is different from known sounds and because it was several times louder than the loudest known animal, the blue whale.]
Does it have to be Leviathan? Does it have to be alive? I guess to me it doesn't matter a whole lot, but it is cool to think so.
The main thing I like to take away from this is that there are likely things in the depths of the ocean that man has no idea of. They are discovering new stuff all the time. Giant squids long thought to be mythical have been proven to exist, why not Leviathan? We haven't explored or mapped it very well. Bloop may be from something alive, and we don't know what it is. That alone should tell us 1) That a creature matching the description of Leviathan very well could be down there. somewhere. 2) If Leviathan is down there, and nobody knows it, God's word must be true. 3) even if Leviathan is no longer alive, or found in the ocean does not mean we should reject the truth of God's word.
So why does the mainstream Church right this off as a crocodile? Is it easier to accept? Is it less threatening to non-believers? Is it for our own pride? These are all possibilities. I give some of the creationists credit for at least suggesting it was a dinosaur. At least they're thinking a bit outside of the box.
Please share your thoughts on Leviathan, I'd be interested to see what people think about it before and after reading this. Again, if you have any conventional animal that matches this description EXACTLY please share it. Though I would be interested in random thoughts on the matter.
Coming up soon:
and let me know which interests you the most:
General Dinosaur isues
Lake Monsters - yes, more than Leviathan.
Martial arts and Christians (more general than the Qi Gong one.) I may try to do this one for the local Christian paper, so we'll see if it makes it here instead.