Behemoth and Leviathan. Who exactly are they? The following brothers in the faith all concluded that both are analogues for Satan: Gregory the Great, the first commentator on Job; Thomas Aquinas, the greatest raw genius in Church History; John Calvin, the greatest systematic theologian in Church History, Joseph Caryl, writer of the longest commentary on Job in Church History, Matthew Henry, Jonathan Edwards, Silas Durand, and A.W. Pink.
Ed: This article was made when I was a Protestant and upon greater learning and reflection my thoughts may have evolved.
How about our modern, 20th century brothers? Many are content to believe Behemoth and Leviathan are dinosaurs, if for no better reason than to snub the evolutionists like this:
Apparently, taking the time-honored allegorical view is too non-literal for modern fundamentalist types. The problem is, you miss out on some really awesome Biblical parallels you would otherwise never catch.
|Ezek 31: Assyria||Job 40: Behemoth|
|Preeminence:||“No tree…could compare.”||“He is the first of the ways of God.”|
|Tree metaphor:||“A cedar of Lebanon.”||“He bends his tail like a cedar.”|
|Animals (nations) in its midst:||“Birds…nested in its boughs.”||“All the beasts…play there.”|
|Stationed in water:||“It roots extended to many waters.”||“The Jordan rushes to his mouth.”|
We see similar language invoked in Ezekiel 17:22-24 concerning Babylon:
Thus says the Lord God, “I will also take a sprig from the lofty top of the cedar and set it out; I will pluck from the topmost of its young twigs a tender one and I will plant it on a high and lofty mountain. On the high mountain of Israel I will plant it, that it may bring forth boughs and bear fruit and become a stately cedar. And birds of every kind will nest under it; they will nest in the shade of its branches. All the trees of the field will know that I am the Lord; I bring down the high tree, exalt the low tree, dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish. I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will perform it.”
What’s going on here? In short, the Bible has common metaphors for Satan. He is called “Babylon the Great,” but he may also be understood as Assyria, Egypt, or anywhere else the Israelites were put into captivity.
As prince of this world, the nations are in his hands. He is preeminent, not only because he is a ruler but he is one of God’s first creations. He is in the waters, for the chaotic waters are where the “harlot sits” (Rev 17:1) and where Leviathan makes his abode (Is 27:1). This same Leviathan that God “gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness” (Ps 74:14) is much like Egypt in that Ezekiel writes that she is “like the monster in the seas” (Ezek 32:2) whose flesh will “satisfy the beasts of the whole earth” (Ezek 34:4).
So, to write off Behemoth and Leviathan simply as dinosaurs (1) robs the meaning behind God’s whole answer to the problem of evil in Job 40-41 and (2) makes Ps 74, Is 14, Is 26-27, Ezek 17, Ezek 31-32, and Rev 17 much more difficult to understand contextually. When we understand that Leviathan was destroyed before creation (Job 3), was judged with the destruction of Egypt/Assyria/Babylon, and will be destroyed in the end, we can see how God throughout history has dealt and will deal with evil (or, we are reading chronological events incorrectly and should be interpreting them as analogues to a past event, likely Satan’s fall from heaven.)
Why not have it both ways…they’re both dinosaurs AND analogues for Satan! Yeah, that’ll do it.