Jehovah and Job, Part 4 of 4 & Leviathan

Years ago when I didn’t believe in You I had believed in the Loch Ness Monster, but then I realized that it was a hoax and of course I thought You were a hoax too.

Facts About Leviathan, the Giant Prehistoric Whale
The biggest prehistoric whale that ever lived, and a pound-for-pound match for the giant shark Megalodon, Leviathan did its Biblical namesake proud. Below, you’ll discover 10 fascinating Leviathan facts according to our archaeologists/scientists, not God’s.

Leviathan Is More Properly Known as “Livyatan”
The name Leviathan–after the fearsome sea monster in the Old Testament–seems more than appropriate for a giant prehistoric whale. The trouble is, shortly after researchers assigned this name to their discovery, they learned that it had already been “preoccupied” by a genus of Mastodon erected a full century before. The quick fix was to substitute the Hebrew spelling Livyatan, though for all practical purposes most people still refer to this whale by its original name.

Leviathan Weighed as Much as 50 Tons
Extrapolating from its 10-foot-long skull, paleontologists believe that Leviathan measured upwards of 50 feet from head to tail and weighed as much as 50 tons, about the same size as a modern Sperm Whale. This made Leviathan by far the largest predatory whale of the Miocene epoch, about 13 million years ago, and it would have been secure in its position at the top of the food chain if not for the equally ginormous prehistoric shark Megalodon (see next slide).

Leviathan May Have Tangled with the Giant Shark Megalodon
Because of the lack of multiple fossil specimens, we’re not sure exactly how long Leviathan ruled the seas, but it’s a sure bet that this giant whale occasionally crossed paths with the equally giant prehistoric shark Megalodon. While it’s dubious that these two apex predators would have deliberately targeted one another, they may well have butted heads in the pursuit of the same prey, a scenario explored in depth in Megalodon vs. Leviathan – Who Wins?

Leviathan’s Species Name Honors Herman Melville
Fittingly enough, the species name of Leviathan–L. melvillei–pays homage to the 19th-century writer Herman Melville, creator of Moby Dick. (It’s unclear how the fictional Moby measured up to the real-life Leviathan in the size department, but it would likely have caused its distant ancestor to at least take a second look.) Melville himself, alas, died long before the discovery of Leviathan, though he may have been aware the existence of another giant prehistoric whale, the North American Basilosaurus.

Leviathan Is One of the Few Prehistoric Animals to Be Discovered in Peru
The South American country of Peru hasn’t exactly been a hotbed of fossil discovery, thanks to the vagaries of deep geologic time and continental drift. Peru is best known for its prehistoric whales–not only Leviathan but other “proto-whales” that preceded it by tens of millions of years–and also, oddly enough, for giant prehistoric penguins like Inkayacu and Icadyptes, which were roughly the size of full-grown human beings (and presumably a lot tastier).

Leviathan Was an Ancestor of the Modern Sperm Whale
Leviathan is technically classified as a “physeteroid,” the family of toothed whales that stretches back about 20 million years in the evolutionary record. The only physeteroids extant today are the Pygmy Sperm Whale, the Dwarf Sperm Whale and the full-sized Sperm Whale that we all know and love; other long-extinct members of the breed include Acrophyseter and Brygmophyseter, which looked positively petite next to Leviathan and its Sperm Whale descendants.

Leviathan Had the Longest Teeth of Any Prehistoric Animal
You think Tyrannosaurus Rex was equipped with some impressive choppers? How about the Saber-Toothed Tiger? Well, the fact is that Leviathan possessed the longest teeth (excluding tusks) of any animal living or dead, about 14 inches long, which were used to tear into the flesh of its unfortunate prey. Amazingly, Leviathan even had bigger teeth than its undersea arch-enemy Megalodon, though the slightly smaller teeth of this giant shark were considerably sharper.

Leviathan Possessed a Large “Spermaceti Organ”
All physeteroid whales (see slide #7) are equipped with “spermaceti organs,” structures in their heads consisting of oil, wax and connective tissue that served as ballast during deep dives. To judge by the enormous size of Leviathan’s skull, though, its spermaceti organ may also have been employed for other purposes; possibilities include echolocation of prey, communication with other whales, or even (and this is a long shot) intra-pod head-butting during mating season!

Leviathan Probably Preyed on Seals, Whales and Dolphins
Leviathan would have needed to eat hundreds of pounds of food every day–not only to maintain its bulk, but also to fuel its warm-blooded metabolism (let’s not lose sight of the fact that whales were mammals!) Most likely, Leviathan’s preferred prey included the smaller whales, seals and dolphins of the Miocene epoch–perhaps supplemented with small servings of fish, squids, sharks, and any other undersea creatures that happened across this giant whale’s path on an unlucky day.

Leviathan Was Doomed by the Disappearance of its Accustomed Prey
Due to lack of fossil evidence, we don’t know precisely how long Leviathan persisted after the Miocene epoch. But whenever this giant whale went extinct, it was almost certainly because of the dwindling and disappearance of its favorite prey, as prehistoric seals, dolphins and other, smaller whales succumbed to changing ocean temperatures and currents. (This, not-so-incidentally, is the same fate that befell Leviathan’s arch-nemesis, Megalodon.)

 

Now that I know You are real, I’m not sure what to think of the Loch Ness Monster because You made Leviathan.

The Loch Ness Monster can’t be Leviathan because You killed it.  So is the Loch Ness Monster real or not?

Jehovah and Job
Part 4 of 4

“Then answered the Lord unto Job out of the whirlwind, and said,

Gird up thy loins now like a man: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me.

Wilt thou also disannul my judgment? wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous?

Hast thou an arm like God? or canst thou thunder with a voice like him?

Deck thyself now with majesty and excellency; and array thyself with glory and beauty.

Cast abroad the rage of thy wrath: and behold every one that is proud, and abase him.

Look on every one that is proud, and bring him low; and tread down the wicked in their place.

Hide them in the dust together; and bind their faces in secret.

Then will I also confess unto thee that thine own right hand can save thee” (Job 40:6-14).

The prologue to the second divine discourse, which ends at 41:34 Unlike the first discourse, God here addresses the issues of His own justice and Job’s futile attempt at self-justification.  In chs 21 and 24, Job had complained about God’s indifference toward the wickedness of evil men. 

Here the Lord asserts His ability and determination to administer justice – a matter over which Job has no control.  Therefore by implication Job is admonished to leave all this, including his own vindication (see v 14), under the power of God’s strong arm (see v 9).

“Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox.

Lo now, his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly.

He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together.

Leviathan’s skull was clearly more robust and toothy than that of today’s sperm whale, which feeds through suction.

Like a modern killer whale, it would have grabbed its prey with a powerful bite, but one that was at least three times bigger.

Its temporal fossa – the shallow depression on the side of the skull – was enormous and could old huge jaw-closing muscles. (Photo by O.Lambert)

Today’s sperm whale has no functional teeth in its upper jaw and only small ones in its lower jaw (which are mostly used in fights). It feeds through suction, relying on a rush of water to carry its prey into its open mouth.

But Livyatan’s mouth was full of huge teeth, the largest of which were a foot long and around 4 inches wide.

This was no suction feeder! Livyatan clearly grabbed its prey with a powerful bite, inflicting deep wounds and tearing off flesh as killer whales do, but with a skull three times bigger.

His bones are as strong pieces of brass; his bones are like bars of iron.

He is the chief of the ways of God: he that made him can make his sword to approach unto him.

Surely the mountains bring him forth food, where all the beasts of the field play.

He lieth under the shady trees, in the covert of the reed, and fens.

The shady trees cover him with their shadow; the willows of the brook compass him about.

Behold, he drinketh up a river, and hasteth not: he trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth.

He taketh it with his eyes: his nose pierceth through snares” (Job 40:15-24).

The first two poems (ch 41 constitutes the second) in this discourse, each describing a huge beast an d resuming the animals theme of ch 39.

reed, and fens…willows…Jordan – The area described is probably the Huleh region, north of the sea of Galilee.

The second of two poems in the Lord’s final discourse.

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

leviathan – The Old Testament uses the word in both a figurative and a literal sense.  Literally, the leviathan (meaning coiled one) was a large sea creature.  His description in ch 41 indicated that he’s even more terrifying than the behemoth in ch 40

Canst thou put an hook into his nose? or bore his jaw through with a thorn?

Will he make many supplications unto thee? will he speak soft words unto thee?

Will he make a covenant with thee? wilt thou take him for a servant for ever?

Wilt thou play with him as with a bird? or wilt thou bind him for thy maidens?

Shall the companions make a banquet of him? shall they part him among the merchants?

Canst thou fill his skin with barbed irons? or his head with fish spears?

Lay thine hand upon him, remember the battle, do no more.

Behold, the hope of him is in vain: shall not one be cast down even at the sight of him?

None is so fierce that dare stir him up: who then is able to stand before me? (Job 41:2-10).

The leviathan is mighty, but God is infinitely more powerful.

Who hath prevented me that I should repay him? whatsoever is under the whole heaven is mine (Job 41:11).

Perhaps alluded to, though not directly quoted, by Paul in Rom 11:35.

I will not conceal his parts, nor his power, nor his comely proportion.

Who can discover the face of his garment? or who can come to him with his double bridle?

Who can open the doors of his face? his teeth are terrible round about.

His scales are his pride, shut up together as with a close seal.

One is so near to another, that no air can come between them.

They are joined one to another, they stick together, that they cannot be sundered.

By his neesings a light doth shine, and his eyes are like the eyelids of the morning.

Out of his mouth go burning lamps, and sparks of fire leap out.

Out of his nostrils goeth smoke, as out of a seething pot or caldron.

His breath kindleth coals, and a flame goeth out of his mouth (Job 41:12-21).

leviathan – the face looks similar to that of a crocodile with the features of a mythical dragon.

In his neck remaineth strength, and sorrow is turned into joy before him.

The flakes of his flesh are joined together: they are firm in themselves; they cannot be moved.

His heart is as firm as a stone; yea, as hard as a piece of the nether millstone.

When he raiseth up himself, the mighty are afraid: by reason of breakings they purify themselves.

The sword of him that layeth at him cannot hold: the spear, the dart, nor the habergeon.

He esteemeth iron as straw, and brass as rotten wood.

The arrow cannot make him flee: slingstones are turned with him into stubble.

Darts are counted as stubble: he laugheth at the shaking of a spear.

Sharp stones are under him: he spreadeth sharp pointed things upon the mire.

He maketh the deep to boil like a pot: he maketh the sea like a pot of ointment.

He maketh a path to shine after him; one would think the deep to be hoary.

Upon earth there is not his like, who is made without fear.

He beholdeth all high things: he is a king over all the children of pride (Job 41:22-34).

King over all the children of pride – The Lord alone can humble such creatures.  Job cannot be expected to do so, thought God challenges him to attempt it – if he so desires (see 40:11-12).

Leviathan 

The modern sperm whale is very different to its ancient cousin. It grow sto about the same size as Leviathan but it hunts squid rather than other whales.
It has no functional teeth in its upper jaw and only small ones in its lower jaw that are probably used for fighting. (Image by NOAA). The skull also creates a mystery Sperm whales have a unique organ in their heads called the spermaceti, and Livyatan’s was particularly large. The spermaceti is full of a waxy substance that was originally thought to be the animal’s sperm (hence the name). Its purpose isn’t clear although there are many theories, all of which must now be considered in the light of Livyatan’s very different lifestyle.

The sperm whale might use it to control its buoyancy during a dive by pumping in cold water, solidifying the wax and increasing the density of its head. At the depths, the energy expended during a hunt heats up the wax and melts it again.

But Livyatan probably didn’t hunt for squid and probably wasn’t a deep-diver like the modern sperm whale. In light of this, other explanations become more intriguing. The case containing the spermaceti could be used as a battering ram during fights. It could also boost the sperm whale’s echolocation, allowing it to stun its prey with sound, or woo females (the male’s organ is particularly big).

Leviathan is a sea monster referenced in the Tanakh  or the Old Testament.

The word has become synonymous with any large sea monster or creature. In literature (e.g., Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick) it refers to great whales, and in Modern Hebrew, it simply means “whale”.

It is described extensively in Job 41 and mentioned in Is 27:1.

Tanakh

The Leviathan is mentioned six times in the Tanakh, with Job 41:1–34 being dedicated to describing him in detail.

Psalm 74 –  God is said to “break the heads of Leviathan in pieces” before giving his flesh to the people of the wilderness.

Psalm 104 – God is praised for having made all things, including Leviathan.

Isaiah 27:1 – he is called the “wriggling serpent” that will be killed at the end of time.

Ancient Middle Eastern Origins

Sea serpents feature prominently in the mythology of the Ancient Near East, attested as early as the 3rd millennium B.C. in Sumerian iconography depicting the myth of the god Ninurta overcoming the seven-headed serpent.

Examples of the storm god vs. sea serpent trope in the Ancient Near East can be seen with Baʿal vs. Yam (Canaanite), Marduk vs. Tiamat (Babylonian), and Atum vs. Nehebkau (Egyptian) among others, with attestations as early as the 2nd millennium as seen on Syrian seals.

In the Ugaritic texts Lotan, or possibly another of Yam’s helpers, is given the epithets “wriggling serpent” and “mighty one with the seven heads”.

Leviathan’s teeth (A-C) could grow up to a foot long and were around 4 inches wide.
Similarly sized teeth had been found as early as 1877, providing tantalising hints of a giant, predatory sperm whale.

But the skull that matched those teeth has only just been found. (Photo by G. Bianucci, O.Lambert, P.Loubry)

Livyatan was at the very top of the food chain and it must have needed a lot of food.

While modern sperm whales mainly eat squid, Lambert thinks that Livyatan used its fearsome teeth to kill its own kind – the giant baleen whales.

At the same point in prehistory, baleen whales started becoming much bigger and they were certainly the most common large animals in the area that Leviathan lived in.

Lambert thinks that the giant predator evolved to take advantage of this rich source of energy.

He says, “We think that medium-size baleen whales, rich in fat, would have been very convenient prey for Livyatan .”

It’s perhaps no coincidence that the biggest shark in history – the mighty Megalodon – also appeared at the same time in the same part of the world.

It too was thought to have hunted whales and many of its teeth have also been found at Cerro Colorado.

For the moment, it’s hard to say if the two predators were direct competitors, since they may have swum in different parts of the Peruvian seas.

Lambert speculates that the adults of either species could have eaten the young of the other but there’s no evidence for this yet.

In the last few years, other smaller prehistoric sperm whales have been found in Peru and Italy.

Their powerful teeth told us that these predators bit their prey in the manner of killer whales.

The teeth were generally quite small but, as early as 1877, fossil hunters have found much larger teeth that looked very much like those of a sperm whale.

The teeth provided tantalising hints of a much bigger animal but they were never accompanied by an actual skull.

Their owner remained an enigma.

Is 27:1 – uses the first of these phrases to describe Leviathan (although in this case the name “Leviathan” may refer to an unnamed historical/political enemy of Israel rather than the original serpent-monster).

Psalm 104 – Leviathan is not described as harmful in any way, but simply as a creature of the ocean, part of God’s creation.

It is possible that the authors of the Job 41:2–26, on the other hand, based the Leviathan on descriptions of Egyptian animal mythology where the crocodile is the enemy of the solar deity Horus (and is subdued either by Horus, or by the Pharaoh). This is in contrast to typical descriptions of the sea monster trope in terms of mythological combat.

Later Jewish Literature

Leviathan the sea-monster, with Behemoth the land-monster and Ziz the air-monster.

And on that day were two monsters parted, a female monster named Leviathan, to dwell in the abysses of the ocean over the fountains of the waters. But the male is named Behemoth, who occupied with his breast a waste wilderness named Duidain (1 Enoch 60:7–8).

Later Jewish sources describe Leviathan as a dragon who lives over the Sources of the Deep and who, along with the male land-monster Behemoth, will be served up to the righteous at the end of time.

When the Jewish midrash (explanations of the Tanakh) were being composed, it was held that God originally produced a male and a female leviathan, but lest in multiplying the species should destroy the world, he slew the female, reserving her flesh for the banquet that will be given to the righteous on the advent of the Messiah.

Rashi’s commentary on Gen 1:21 repeats the tradition:

“God created the great sea monsters—taninim.  According to legend this refers to the Leviathan and its mate.

God created a male and female Leviathan, then killed the female and salted it for the righteous, for if the Leviathans were to procreate the world could not stand before them.”

The Leviathan of the Middle Ages was used as an image of Satan, endangering both God’s creatures—by attempting to eat them—and God’s creation—by threatening it with upheaval in the waters of Chaos.

In LaVeyan Satanism, according to the author of The Satanic Bible, Anton Szandor LaVey, Leviathan represents the element of Water and the direction of West.

The element of Water in Satanism is associated with life and creation, and may be represented by a Chalice during ritual.

In The Satanic Bible, Leviathan is listed as one of the Four Crown Princes of Hell. This association was inspired by the demonic hierarchy from The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abra-Melin the Mage.

The Church of Satan uses the Hebrew letters at each of the points of the Sigil of Baphomet to represent Leviathan.

Starting from the lowest point of the pentagram, and reading counter-clockwise, the word reads “לִוְיָתָן”. Translated, this is (LVIThN) Leviathan.

In demonology, the Leviathan is one of the seven princes of Hell (envy) and its gatekeeper.