Sunday, March 3, 2013


Descturction of Leviathan
Gustave Doré (1885)
Image wikimedia
The word Leviathan appears five times in the Old Testament: twice in Isaiah, once in Job and twice in the Psalms:

Isaiah 27:1  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.

Job 41:1  Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down?

Psalm 74:14  Thou brakest the heads of leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness.

Psalm 104:26  There go the ships: there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein.
King James Version

Intriguing, eh!

Psalm 74:17 - Scholars discuss in this context Babylonian Tiamat, the mythical being at the beginning of world, that Marduk cut with his sword into two creating heaven and earth from the parts. Babylonian cuneiform tablets have several versions of this mighty Urgeschichte. The engraving by Gustave Doré has strong underpinnings in the Tiamat myth.

Isaiah 27:1 - leviathan the piercing, crooking serpent is a mysterious reference to a sea monster translated by KJV as a dragon (see the next blog text).

Job 41:1-34 describes leviathan in detail. The text apparently refers to a powerful creature living in the water. The text brings to mind the scary crocodile.

Ps 104:26 talks about a benevolent leviathan created by God to play out there in the open sea where ships are sailing.

Book of Jonah does not use the word leviathan or explain the "big fish" in the terse verses about the event. From the Bible passages above the others are very aggressive and hostile. Only Psalm 104:26 would seem possibly associated with the great sea creatures created by God.

And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures,and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” So God created the great creatures of the seaand every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
Genesis 1:20-21 NIV

Thomas Hobbes
Online dictionary Wikipedia tells
Leviathan or The Matter, Forme and Power of a Common Wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil — commonly referred to as Leviathan — is a book written by Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679) and published in 1651. Its name derives from the biblical Leviathan. The work concerns the structure of society and legitimate government, and is regarded as one of the earliest and most influential examples of social contract theory.

Leviathan ranks as a classic western work on statecraft comparable to Machiavelli's The Prince. Written during the English Civil War (1642–1651), Leviathan argues for a social contract and rule by an absolute sovereign. Hobbes wrote that civil war and situations identified with a state of nature and the famous motto Bellum omnium contra omnes ("the war of all against all") could only be averted by strong central government.

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