12 March 2007

A Dragon in Job?

In Job 41 God describes "Leviathan" in what sounds more Arthurian than biblical. Evidently the creature breathes fire. Is this: a proleptic description of Satan, the "dragon" of Revelation? Is it God using human language to describe a non-existent creature with which Job and others would be familiar? Is it a real creature, described accurately and since extinct? Or is it a real creature (crocodile perhaps) described hyperbolically for rhetorical effect?

14 Who can open the doors of his face? Around his teeth is terror. 15 His back is made of rows of shields, shut up closely as with a seal. 16 One is so near to another that no air can come between them. 17 They are joined one to another; they clasp each other and cannot be separated. 18 His sneezings flash forth light, and his eyes are like the eyelids of the dawn. 19 Out of his mouth go flaming torches; sparks of fire leap forth. 20 Out of his nostrils comes forth smoke, as from a boiling pot and burning rushes. 21 His breath kindles coals, and a flame comes forth from his mouth. 22 In his neck abides strength, and terror dances before him. 23 The folds of his flesh stick together, firmly cast on him and immovable. 24 His heart is hard as a stone, hard as the lower millstone. 25 When he raises himself up the mighty are afraid; at the crashing they are beside themselves. 26 Though the sword reaches him, it does not avail, nor the spear, the dart, or the javelin. 27 He counts iron as straw, and bronze as rotten wood. 28 The arrow cannot make him flee; for him sling stones are turned to stubble. 29 Clubs are counted as stubble; he laughs at the rattle of javelins. 30 His underparts are like sharp potsherds; he spreads himself like a threshing sledge on the mire. 31 He makes the deep boil like a pot; he makes the sea like a pot of ointment. 32 Behind him he leaves a shining wake; one would think the deep to be white-haired. 33 On earth there is not his like, a creature without fear. 34 He sees everything that is high; he is king over all the sons of pride.

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