What was Leviathan described in Job 41?
God himself describes two creatures in Job 40 and 41: Behemoth and Leviathan. God calls Behemoth the chief of all his creations—the grandest, most colossal land creature He ever made. God says Behemoth is unapproachable by anyone but his maker. For reasons described in this video, we believe a sauropod dinosaur fits Behemoth’s description perfectly.
When it comes to Leviathan, God says “On earth there is nothing like him, which is made without fear” and “He beholds every high thing; He is king over all the children of pride.” The Hebrew for Leviathan means “sea monster,” “dragon,” or “wreathed animal,” like a serpent or a crocodile. As we travel through God’s description of Leviathan in Job 41, we believe you’ll see just how perfectly it fits a Deinosuchus, a 7-ton, 35-foot,[i] dinosaur-eating monster with teeth the size of bananas.
God says this creature feared nothing and was impervious to all of man’s weapons: Harpoons, fishing spears, swords, spears, darts, javelins, arrows, or slingstones. Nothing could harm this monster! Keep watching to see us try to breach Leviathan’s suit of interlocking, God-engineered super armor using these ancient weapons—you’re not going to believe what we found. Also consider the mysterious fenestrae in its snout that secular experts cannot figure out.[ii] Could this be the fire-breathing apparatus described in Job 41?
To understand Leviathan, we first need to lay out some theological groundwork. You see, the first 37 chapters of the book of Job describe how Job responds to suffering and his quest to understand his relationship with the Creator. Job’s life gets turned upside down and his friends come alongside and provide chapter after chapter of worldly philosophy to apply to his situation.
After all human attempts fail, God shows up in a whirlwind to have the last word in the discussion. The first thing God says to Job is “Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me.” God is not playing. He begins by stating He is the Creator of all things, and beckons Job, asking: “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding.” Job is starting to understand that he’s a created being, and the Creator is much, much more than he can fathom. God is beginning the process of humbling Job, and this is for Job’s own good.
Next God describes 13 of his created animals to Job, demonstrating his power as the Almighty Creator of life on earth. The last two creatures are Behemoth and Leviathan. It’s not until God describes Leviathan that Job finally abandons his empty philosophizing and repents, stating: “I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Listen, please, and let me speak; You said, ‘I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’ I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You.”
It’s the last part of Job’s response that provides the key. Job says to God “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You.” Like many of our journeys—even many watching right now—Job shifts from understanding there is some general “god” or “creator,” to really knowing that there is, and then finding out that He is the God of the Bible. Leviathan helped take Job to this place. Job truly begins to fear the Lord, understanding what God said about Leviathan and its maker, that: “No one is so fierce that he would dare stir him up. Who then is able to stand against Me?” God is saying: “If Leviathan is so terrifying that you wouldn’t even approach him, and I am the One who made him, how much more reverence should you have for me?”
Do you see the shift? When Job gives up on his own attempts—and the attempts of his culture—to explain life and all of life’s questions, and finally acknowledges that God is the Almighty Creator who has a purpose for the pain, then God restores Job’s life, health, family, and wealth. Job took the right path. But God’s wrath remained upon his unrepentant friends who had no such change of heart: “The Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, ‘My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has. Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, go to My servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and My servant Job shall pray for you. For I will accept him, lest I deal with you according to your folly; because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.”
Behemoth and Leviathan were God’s “trump cards” to bring Job to the understanding that God is the sovereign Creator over the universe, with the right to create and do as He pleases and the ability to build a relationship through suffering. When God describes these creatures, he does so with real anatomy that matches real creatures—creatures that we can identify today.
In fact, the Bible describes 14 characteristics about Behemoth that perfectly match a sauropod dinosaur, saying it was the largest creature to ever walk the earth, had a tail that swayed like a cedar tree, legs like tubes of bronze, ribs that were fully ossified like bars of iron, and capable of standing in a raging river while taking a drink. Leviathan’s description is just as fitting, with 27 features[iii] that match a Deinosuchus. God even says it had scales or shields that were aligned in rows, tightly sealed, and inseparably interconnected. These creatures were not mythical.
Would it make any sense for God to use imaginary creatures to change Job’s mind and heart? Like “Hey Job, let me show you I’m the Creator by describing some scary imaginary creatures to you.” God had to be describing real animals because it was this very experience that shifted Job’s understanding about God’s position as the Creator of all life. We hope and pray this is the same for each of you.
Now that the important things have been covered, let’s get to the fun stuff! First, God was clear that this creature was unapproachable by man. Job 41 states, “Can you draw out Leviathan with a hook, or snare his tongue with a line which you lower? Can you put a reed through his nose, or pierce his jaw with a hook?” “Will Leviathan make many supplications to you? Will he speak softly to you? Will he make a covenant with you? Will you take him as a servant forever? Will you play with him as with a bird, or will you leash him for your maidens? Will your companions make a banquet of him? Will they apportion him among the merchants?”
Psalms 104 even says that Leviathan literally “played in the shipping lanes,” having no fear of what man or his vessels could do. There is no metaphor being used here—this animal played in a real seaway where there were real ships. We also have indication that Leviathan dwelled in the swamplands: “His undersides are like sharp potsherds; he spreads pointed marks in the mire.” The underside of a Deinosuchus and his feet would absolutely do this, just like alligators do today. The fact that he’s walking in mud rules out plesiosaurs and mosasaurs, and research has confirmed that Deinosuchus could have dwelled in both sea and swamplands.
God adds: “Lay your hand on him; remember the battle—Never do it again! Indeed, any hope of overcoming him is false; shall one not be overwhelmed at the sight of him? No one is so fierce that he would dare stir him up.” Right after listing all the reasons that man would not want to mess with this beast, God slips into the main point: “Who then is able to stand against Me? Who has preceded Me, that I should pay him? Everything under heaven is Mine.” This is the part of the account where God says, “If you fear this monster, you should fear the one who made him even more.”
Consider how God designed this creature, starting with his armor system, which God says is Leviathan’s “pride.” God says that his rows of scales are “shut up tightly as with a seal; one is so near another that no air can come between them; they are joined one to another,” and they “stick together and cannot be parted.” Deinosuchus was very similar to alligators and crocodiles we see today, although he was about three times larger than alligators and twice the size of the largest crocs. Just like alligators, Deinosuchus had a “horn back,” shield system on its back. Horn backs on alligators today have 15 rows of 6 large plates and another 5 rows of 3 smaller plates near the rear. These boney plates—called “scutes—are closely knit together with connective tissues, just like the Bible says about Leviathan. Each osteoderm is 2 to 3 inches wide on alligators today, but they grew almost 6 inches wide and over an inch-and-a-half thick on Deinosuchus. The middle of each scute has a keel, giving the spiked look on the back of the animal. Tissues anchor to this structure. These bones—not connected to the skeleton—also provide calcium storage and act like solar panels to absorb heat for thermoregulation. They are lightweight because they are porous, yet hard where they need to be. They are also woven together in a way that makes a rigid structure, distributing weight along the body like an arch that spans between columns so it’s easier to walk on land.
Strong collagen fibers bind the osteoderms together, making them flexible, yet tough. This is just like God said: they are “shut up tightly as with a seal” and they “stick together and cannot be parted.” They even have serrated edges that interlock like puzzle pieces, allowing for 20 degrees of movement for flexibility. They are designed to distribute a load from top to bottom, with certain types of bone material at the peak of the hardened keel, down through the spongy bone that absorbs energy, all the way to where they are sewn together in a way that distributes energy between the plates. They even dissipate energy in the direction expected from a predator’s bite.
You can’t get better than this. In fact, researchers have uncovered three very intentional toughening mechanisms in these scutes that dissipate energy under pressure: First, there’s the flattening of pores; second, collagen bridges stop cracks from spreading, and third, the formation of mineral bridges. Researchers have also learned they can be severely bent without being permanently deformed, even when bent repeatedly. Rather than splitting and cracking as a hard bone would, these plates can bend and twist repeatedly. Indeed, God was correct when He said: “The folds of his flesh are joined together; they are firm on him and cannot be moved.”
This is the perfect body armor for this creature, with no possible improvements. Perhaps this is why alligator armor was prized by ancient warriors. God knew it, and he even described it thousands of years ago in the way that scientists are just figuring it out today. God knows that His design is impervious, and sarcastically asks Job, “Can you fill his skin with harpoons, or his head with fishing spears?” and asks “Who can remove his outer coat?”
We even checked this out for ourselves, on two levels. First, we ran some advanced physics calculations to see if any ancient weapons could breach Leviathan’s armor. It turns out that even the much smaller alligator scutes withstand high levels of punishment and this is exactly what other researchers have found. Next, we ran some simulations with weapons that matched the speeds, weights, and materials of ancient weapons.
Arrows launched from a 60-pound Turkish warbow bent ancient-style warheads if they squarely hit the scutes of just a 5-foot alligator, breaking off tips and spinning off arrows. Just imagine how these arrows would do against a 12-foot gator. Then imagine arrows against a 35-foot Deinosuchus with scutes that are 2 to 3 times larger than big gator scutes, and over one and a half inches thick. They wouldn’t even stand a chance!
Even when a shot is placed perfectly in the seams between the scutes of just a small alligator, arrows were pinched by the joining scutes, preventing deep penetration. That’s because, just like God says, “One is so near another that no air can come between them; they are joined one to another, they stick together and cannot be parted.” Imagine what type of force it would take to breach scutes that were 4 to 5 times larger than these.
What about spears? Well, we tried that too. A viking-style spear is capable of breaking through a large horse shoulder blade, a layer of top grain leather, and a couple inches of ballistic gel. But remember—Leviathan’s scutes were 3 to 4 times thicker than horse shoulder blades, and the bone structure was even tougher.
Even if a spear or arrow could break one of the plates, it still has to maintain enough energy to travel through the narrow split it created for several inches until reaching vital organs beneath layers of fat, muscle, and ribs. Indeed, this is why God says, “His rows of scales are his pride” and “When he raises himself up, the mighty are afraid; because of his crashings they are beside themselves.”
Even when hunting alligators today, bang sticks loaded with 44 magnum rounds are used for penetrating the thick armor of animals that are only a third of Leviathan’s size. Some hunt alligators today with compound bows that are twice as powerful as ancient bows, but unless the arrow misses the horn back and hits the neck perfectly, they end up just wrecking arrows.
Perhaps this is why God said about Leviathan: “Though the sword reaches him, it cannot avail; nor does spear, dart, or javelin. He regards iron as straw, and bronze as rotten wood. The arrow cannot make him flee; slingstones become like stubble to him. Darts are regarded as straw; he laughs at the threat of javelins.”
Next, Leviathan had huge teeth! God says to Job: “Who can open the doors of his face, with his terrible teeth all around?” With teeth the size of bananas and confirmed dinosaur kills, truly this was a creature that feared nothing.
Next, we have a very interesting description about Leviathan’s behavior: “He makes the deep boil like a pot; he makes the sea like a pot of ointment.” Could this be describing the Deinosuchus water dance? Alligators today perform the “water dance” during mating season by making loud, very low-pitched vocalizations to attract mates. The vibrations cause the water around the gator to shoot up above the surface like an array of tiny, bubbling fountains. The words, “He makes the deep boil like a pot” could hardly fit this unique behavior more accurately. God also says this creature could move quickly in the water, stating: “He leaves a shining wake behind him; one would think the deep had white hair.”
Finally, we have fire breathing—yes, fire breathing, like a dragon. Job says, “His sneezings flash forth light, and his eyes are like the eyelids of the morning. Out of his mouth go burning lights; sparks of fire shoot out. Smoke goes out of his nostrils, as from a boiling pot and burning rushes. His breath kindles coals, and a flame goes out of his mouth.” Here we have light, burning, sparks, smoke, and flame coming out of his nostrils and mouth. Before dismissing this as impossible for some alligator-like creature, consider the electric eel, bombardier beetle, and firefly.
God made electric eels capable of generating over 600 volts of electricity in short, intense bursts. They come from specialized tissues designed to generate and direct electric current. The Bombardier beetle has two chambers with different chemicals that, when mixed, eject a 212-degree spray at 22 miles per hour out of nozzles that the beetle can actually aim! These chambers and nozzles have special coatings to withstand the toxic chemicals, high temperatures, and elevated pressures of the beetle’s explosive discharge. Fireflies produce light in a similar way to how a glowstick works. The light results from a catalyzed and controlled chemical reaction called bioluminescence. If God can create animals that zap, blast, and glow, then He can make animals that breathe fire.
God closes His description of Leviathan by saying, “On earth there is nothing like him, which is made without fear. He beholds every high thing; He is king over all the children of pride.” God’s description of Leviathan should lead us to understand that the God of the Bible is the Almighty Creator of all life. We should remember what God said to Job: “Who then is able to stand against Me? Who has preceded Me, that I should pay him? Everything under heaven is Mine.” God blessed Job when he acknowledged God’s rightful place not only as the Creator of everything, but as the Creator Who cares enough to bring greater good out of evil moments. Let us do the same.
[ii] “The fenestrae lead to an internal hollow space with the pre-maxillae and appear to have connected with the paranasal air sinus in the interior of the element. The anterior wall of the pre-maxilla bears a dorsoventrally located, mediolaterally thing ridge extending from the roof of the element to the middle of the interior wall (Fig. 7I). It is approximately 3 cm long and projects posteriorly into the hollow of the premaxilla. Although likely, it is unknown whether the feature extended further to the posterior to form a wall separating the nasal passage from the paranasal air sinus.” (Cossette & Brochu, 2020); “The function of the very large premaxillary fenestrae in D. riograndensis is unknown. It is unlikely that they are for receiving enlarged dentary teeth; the anterior dentary teeth would have to reach unprecedented lengths and diameters for a crocodylian to form these fenestrae.” (Cossette & Brochu, 2020); “But the D. riograndensis holotype (AMNH 3073) preserves a dorsoventrally oriented osteological projection along the anterior margin of the internal premaxillary surface. This feature is presumed to have extended further to the posterior, forming a wall of bone separating the paranasal air sinus from the nasal passage, and indicates that the fenestrae would have been indirectly associated with the respiratory system. Soft tissues in this area could have been used as a means of thermoregulation, generation of vocalizations, or otherwise. In addition to an association with the respiratory system, the pneumatization of the anterior snout would have been comparatively lighter relative to a solid structure.” (Cossette & Brochu, 2020); “The functional significance of the premaxillary fenestrae in D. riograndensis is unknown. It is possible that they were a means by which to lighten the long, wide, robust snout. However, an additional hole placed at the extreme tip of the snout would presumably form a weaker architecture than otherwise—but no specimens preserve evidence of breakage and healing in this region. Alternatively, in crocodylians demonstrating fenestrae in this region, they are for receiving the anterior dentary teeth. This hypothesis must be discounted because the anterior dentary teeth in D. riograndensis are not long enough to project through the fenestrae, nor wide enough to form such expansive fenestration due to progressive wear. In the D. riograndensis holotype specimen, the anterior wall of the premaxilla bears a dorsoventrally oriented structure extending from the roof of the element to the middle of the anterior wall. A 3-cm shelf-like projection extends posteriorly into the hollow of the premaxilla. This bony structure may have extended to the posterior, effectively walling off the nasal cavity from the paranasal air sinus. This suggests that the fenestra opened into the sinus and would have been connected to the respiratory system. The functional significance of this association is unknown.” (Cossette & Brochu, 2020).
What about those verses that refer to fire and smoke from leviathan’s mouth and nostrils (vv. 20-21)? Smoke doesn’t fossilize, but nostrils do. Deinosuchus had an enlarged chamber at the tip of its snout, and “the reason for its enlarged nose is unknown.”2 Could this extra space have housed a fire-making biochemistry setup? In addition, “it had two large holes…at the tip of the snout in front of the nose. These holes are unique to Deinosuchus, and we do not know what they were for.” One set of nostrils on top were for breathing, and a second set of nostrils aimed forward.” (https://www.icr.org/article/leviathan-legend-croc-or-something-else)
“It had two large holes are present at the tip of the snout in front of the nose,” Dr. Cossette says. “These holes are unique to Deinosuchus and we do not know what they were for, further research down the line will hopefully help us unpick this mystery and we can learn further about this incredible creature.” https://phys.org/news/2020-08-power-deinosuchus-teeth-size-bananas.html
“The premaxillae have large fenestrations (i.e., openings—literally translated as “windows”) in their anterodorsal surfaces, connecting with large internal hollows in the snout. These fenestrae almost look like nostrils, but they are not because the real nostrils are evident on the dorsal surface” (Schwimmer, p. 25). See also Colby & Berg 1954, p. 8; “No such fenestrae are to be found in any other known crocodilians. It is difficult to guess at their functional significance…” and “It is not very probable that Phobosuchus had a double set of nostrils, nor were these openings for the accommodation of long lower teeth, as is the case in some crocodilians. Whatever may have been their purpose, they make Phobosuchus unique among the Crocodilia and therefore may be regarded as a very good generic character for this crocodile.”
[iii] These features include: Cannot be caught by fishing; cannot be captured or tamed; skin/body cannot be pierced by ancient weapons; head cannot be pierced by ancient weapons; cannot be overcome by humans in battle; overwhelmingly fearsome appearance; has limbs; powerful; graceful proportions; mouth cannot be opened by humans; terrifying teeth all around jaw circumference; scales aligned in rows; scales tightly sealed; scales near each other so that no air can pass; scales joined together so that they are inseparable; breathes fire (smoke, flame, and sparks noted from nostrils and/or mouth); astounding eyes; unusually strong neck; folded skin; hard heart/inner parts; large enough to create significant water disturbances; scaly underside that leaves a trail; lives in the mire and in the sea (Psalm 104); can make the deep/water “boil”; leaves a wake behind in travel; one-of-a-kind among all fearsome creatures; and fearless.