Leviathan (Livyatan Tiberian Liwyāṯān ; "twisted, coiled"), is a sea monster referred to in the Bible. In Demonology, Leviathan is one of the seven princes of Hell and its gatekeeper

The Leviathan is mentioned six times in the Hebrew Bible, with Job 41 being dedicated to describing him in detail:

1 Can you pull in the leviathan with a fishhook or tie down his tongue with a rope?
2 Can you put a cord through his nose or pierce his jaw with a hook?
3 Will he keep begging you for mercy? Will he speak to you with gentle words?
4 Will he make an agreement with you for you to take him as your slave for life?
5 Can you make a pet of him like a bird or put him on a leash for your girls?
6 Will traders barter for him? Will they divide him up among the merchants?
7 Can you fill his hide with harpoons or his head with fishing spears?
8 If you lay a hand on him, you will remember the struggle and never do it again!
9 Any hope of subduing him is false; the mere sight of him is overpowering.
10 No-one is fierce enough to rouse him. Who then is able to stand against me?
11 Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me.
12 I will not fail to speak of his limbs, his strength and his graceful form.
13 Who can strip off his outer coat? Who would approach him with a bridle?
14 Who dares open the doors of his mouth, ringed about with his fearsome teeth?
15 His back has rows of shields tightly sealed together;
16 each is so close to the next that no air can pass between.
17 They are joined fast to one another; they cling together and cannot be parted.
18 His snorting throws out flashes of light; his eyes are like the rays of dawn.
19 Firebrands stream from his mouth; sparks of fire shoot out.
20 Smoke pours from his nostrils as from a boiling pot over a fire of reeds.
21 His breath sets coals ablaze, and flames dart from his mouth.
22 Strength resides in his neck; dismay goes before him.
23 The folds of his flesh are tightly joined; they are firm and immovable.
24 His chest is hard as rock, hard as a lower millstone.
25 When he rises up, the mighty are terrified; they retreat before his thrashing.
26 The sword that reaches him has no effect, nor does the spear or the dart or the javelin.
27 Iron he treats like straw and bronze like rotten wood.
28 Arrows do not make him flee, slingstones are like chaff to him.
29 A club seems to him but a piece of straw, he laughs at the rattling of the lance.
30 His undersides are jagged potsherds, leaving a trail in the mud like a threshing-sledge.
31 He makes the depths churn like a boiling cauldron and stirs up the sea like a pot of ointment.
32 Behind him he leaves a glistening wake; one would think the deep had white hair.
33 Nothing on earth is his equal— a creature without fear.
34 He looks down on all that are haughty; he is king over all that are proud.

In Psalm 74 Yahweh is said to "break the heads (sic) of Leviathan in pieces" before giving his flesh to the people of the wilderness; in Psalm 104 God is praised for having made all things, including Leviathan; and in Isaiah 27:1 he is called the "wriggling serpent" who will be killed at the end of time

Leviathan and similar serpent-demons have a long history in ancient Near Eastern mythology, with a seven-headed serpent being overcome by a hero-god being attested as early as the 3rd millennium BCE in Sumerian iconography. The same chaos-combat theme appears on 2nd millennium Syrian seals, where the storm-god is shown in combat with a serpent, and in the Ugarit tablets, where the sea-monster Lotan was one of the helpers of the sea-god Yamm in his battle with the weather-god Haddad Baal. In the Ugaritic texts Lotan, or possibly another of Yamm's helpers, is given the epithets "wriggling serpent" and "mighty One with the seven heads," and Isaiah 27:1 uses the first of these phrases to describe Leviathan, although in this case the name "Leviathan" apparently refers to an unnamed historical/political enemy of Israel rather than the original serpent-monster. In Psalm 104 Leviathan is not described as harmful in any way, but simply as a creature of the ocean, part of Yahweh's creation. In Job 41:2-26, on the other hand, he is definitely a crocodile-monster to be feared - the author appears to have based the passage on Egyptian animal mythology, where the crocodile is the enemy of the sun-god, but in contrast both to this source and to the Syrian chaos-battle he does not represent the image in terms of mythological combat

Leviathan's identification as a single named monster facilitated his survival through subsequent ages right up to the present. By the Hellenistic age he (or she - Leviathan was now represented as female) became a dragon who lives over the Sources of the Deep and who, along with the male land-dragon Behemoth, will be served up to the righteous at the end of time. A little later, when the Jewish midrash (explanations of the bible) 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 (B. B. 74b). Rashi's commentary on Genesis 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." [citation needed] In the Talmud Baba Bathra 74b it is told that the Leviathan will be slain and its flesh served as a feast to the righteous in [the] Time to Come, and its skin used to cover the tent where the banquet will take place. The festival of Sukkot (Festival of Booths) therefore concludes with a prayer recited upon leaving the sukkah (booth): "May it be your will, Lord our God and God of our forefathers, that just as I have fulfilled and dwelt in this sukkah, so may I merit in the coming year to dwell in the sukkah of the skin of Leviathan. Next year in Jerusalem." [citation needed]

The enormous size of the Leviathan is described by R. Johanan, from whom proceeded nearly all the haggadot concerning this monster: "Once we went in a ship and saw a fish which put his head out of the water. He had horns upon which was written: 'I am one of the meanest creatures that inhabit the sea. I am three hundred miles in length, and enter this day into the jaws of the Leviathan'" (B. B. l.c.). When the Leviathan is hungry, reports R. Dimi in the name of R. Johanan, he sends forth from his mouth a heat so great as to make all the waters of the deep boil, and if he would put his head into paradise no living creature could endure the odor of him (ib.). His abode is the Mediterranean Sea; and the waters of the Jordan fall into his mouth (Bek. 55b; B. B. l.c.). In a legend recorded in the Midrash called Pirke de-Rabbi Eliezer it is stated that the fish which swallowed Jonah narrowly avoided being eaten by the Leviathan, which eats one whale each day.

The body of the Leviathan, especially his eyes, possesses great illuminating power. This was the opinion of R. Eliezer, who, in the course of a voyage in company with R. Joshua, explained to the latter, when frightened by the sudden appearance of a brilliant light, that it probably proceeded from the eyes of the Leviathan. He referred his companion to the words of Job xli. 18: "By his neesings a light doth shine, and his eyes are like the eyelids of the morning" (B. B. l.c.). However, in spite of his supernatural strength, the leviathan is afraid of a small worm called "kilbit", which clings to the gills of large fish and kills 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. St. Thomas Aquinas described Leviathan as the demon of envy, first in punishing the corresponding sinners. Leviathan became associated with, and may originally have referred to, the visual motif of the Hellmouth, a monstrous animal into whose mouth the damned disappear at the Last Judgement, found in Anglo-Saxon art from about 800, and later all over Europe



Copyright(c) 2007 - 2020. All rights reserved.