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.(Isaiah 27:1) KJV
If we have two types of dragon which are both serpents, clearly identified physical traits, and one has a syndrome of characteristics which occurs in several groups, then we have the beginning of a hierarchical taxonomy.
We (that’s me and the Holy spirit) were recently told that Leviathan didn’t exist but that it’s used in the Bible as a metaphor for Babylon. It was on Twitter, therefore the individual didn’t know what they were talking about. They were simply bluffing along a narrative line that they picked up somewhere. Given that, there’s a connection between Leviathan and Babylon but it’s somewhat tenuous. It gives us an entry point into our discussion of Dragon Taxonomy.
We all have the same evidence. Our choice of paradigm determines what we think it’s evidence of.– Matty’s Razor
What Is or Isn’t Leviathan?
And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.(Revelation 12:3) KJV
Leviathan is described in today’s featured passage above as a creature which is both a serpent and a dragon, this is the beginning of our taxonomy. We find our connection to Babylon is through the dragon in Revelation 12, above. Seven heads and ten horns sounds superficially similar to the Hydra of Greek mythology.
A Great Red Dragon
And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.(Revelation 12:9) KJV
The dragon of Revelation 12 is identified as being Satan, the Devil. This dragon is connected to the beast in a prophecy.
And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.(Revelation 13:1-2) KJV
This beast also has seven heads and ten horns which sounds like the Hydra. However, its other characteristics are mammalian: those of the leopard, bear and lion. The dragon in Revelation 12 can’t BE the beast of Revelation 13 because this beast derives its power from the dragon.
So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.(Revelation 17:3-5) KJV
Seven heads and ten horns isn’t the trait which defines the origin of the entity, it’s a syndrome, repeated pattern, which occurs across at least three different groups. This beast is the one given as part of a metaphor for Babylon. Such as it is, the connection between Leviathan and Babylon is contrived, and we’re dealing with three different entities. Two of them are dragons:
- Great Red Dragon (Rev. 12:9)
- Hydra syndrome (7 heads),
- Old serpent, Satan, the Devil.
- crooked marine serpent.
- Scarlet Coloured Beast (Rev. 13:1-2, 17:3-5)
- Unknown, mammalian, features of leopard, bear, lion,
- Hydra syndrome.
What is Leviathan?
Let’s figure out what Leviathan is. We’ll use deduction and eliminate what it isn’t. Here’s part of the Wikipedia entry for Hydra:
The Lernaean Hydra or Hydra of Lerna (Greek: Λερναῖα Ὕδρα, Lernaîa Hýdra), more often known simply as the Hydra, is a serpentine water monster in Greek and Roman mythology.– Wikipedia
Hydra generally refers to:
- Lernaean Hydra, a many-headed serpent in Greek mythology
- Hydra (genus), a genus of simple freshwater animals belonging to the phylum Cnidaria
The Lernaean Hydra is serpentine. Serpents are Reptiles. This is consistent with the description we have of Satan from today’s featured passage. We could use this to write their names as latin binomials after the form developed by Carl Linnaeus. This requires us to give Dragon the taxonomic rank of family:
- Class Reptilia
- Order Serpentes
- Suborder Squamata
- Family Dragonis
- Dragonis satanas (Satan)
- Hydra lernaeana (the Lernaean Hydra)
- Leviathan sp. (Leviathan)
- Family Dragonis
- Suborder Squamata
- Order Serpentes
Clearly Leviathan isn’t a metaphor for anything, it’s Leviathan. We can use the Bible to test the hypothesis that Leviathan is a genus of the family Dragon.
The purpose of creation is to bring about the permanent physical separation of light from darkness, day from night, good from evil.– The Purpose of Creation
Leviathan Physical Features
Thou brakest the heads of leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness.(Psalms 74:14) KJV
Firstly we can deduce that Leviathan is a physical entity, as opposed to a metaphor or symbol, because God provided food for a group of people by allowing them to kill and eat a Leviathan.
The question is: does this refer to a single individual or a species? Leviathan is always referred to in the singular, which could mean that there’s only one. However, the passage in Psalms below has to predate the one from Isaiah, and Isaiah refers to Leviathan in the future. Therefore there are multiple examples, and Leviathan is a species of dragon.
So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts. There go the ships: there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein.(Psalms 104:25-26) KJV
Can we be certain that Leviathan, and thereby Dragons, are reptilian in nature? Yes we can . The entirety of Job chapter 41 is a description of Leviathan, including several specific physical features:
Leviathan, physical features
|Teeth||Who can open the doors of his face? his teeth are terrible round about.||14|
|Scales||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.
|Fire Breathing||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.||18-21|
|Physical Strength||In his neck remaineth strength, and sorrow is turned into joy before him.||41:22|
|Upon earth there is not his like, who is made without fear.||41:33|
|Habitat||He maketh a path to shine after him; one would think the deep to be hoary.||41:32|
It looks like Leviathan was a fire breathing dragon. Fire breathing dragons are part of our cultural heritage. Why? Is it because they are in The Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones? That’s ridiculous. Could it be that fire breathing dragons are part of our collective consciousness because they existed, the proof of this being that they are documented in God’s word?
Many people have worked on classification systems of Dragons. Some go so far as to rank Dragon as a separate class of vertebrates. That’s not necessary since the word is used interchangeably with Serpent, which belongs in the class of Reptiles.
The amount of variability and diversity we see in the Bible and mythology, plus the very basic grouping we have deduced so far, makes it appropriate for Dragon to have the taxonomic rank of Family. The tricky part is figuring out which Order to assign them to. It may make sense to classify them with the Dinosaurs. Tomorrow we will see if we can use the physical characteristics of Leviathan from the Bible to assign it to an order of Reptiles. There are three possibilities:
Leviathan, possible order assignments
- Kingdom Animalia
- Call upon the name of Jesus Christ,
- believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead,
- confess your sin.
Read through the Bible in a year
|Reading plan||May 6|
|Chronological||Psalms 89, 96, 100-101, 105, 132|