The book of Job is a fascinating publication. First book of the bible that has been written, it gives yet the answers to the main questions of men: why is there evil, and what is the remedy. The book of Job not only recounting the ups and downs of its main character, but offers the hope that human race will experience the relief of his pain by revealing the identity of the redeemer. We must not believe that the question of the universal sovereignty of Jehovah only looks at our little planet, but on the contrary it has an universal dimension: Satan has posed a challenge to Jehovah, thinking that he would not be able to meet it without breaking his own laws. In the heaven a chess game is played that is beyond us.
Gérard Gertoux, in his publication The Book of Job - Chronological, Historical and Archaeological Evidence, try to combine archaeology and biblical text in order to demonstrate the usefulness of the book of Job. The reading may seem daunting, and requires an intense thought to be able to hang on to the ideas of his author, and, even if the thesis is seductive, some doubts remain on some of the explanations. Below you will find an excerpt under the title: The Book of Job: Why? As always, you are encouraged to give your point of view in the space for comments.
The book of Job was written to answer two crucial questions: one asked by Satan at the beginning of the narrative: Is it for nothing that Job has feared God? Have you not put up a protective hedge around him and his house and everything he has? (Job 1:9-10) and a second by Job towards the end of his misfortunes: Why do the wicked live on, grow old, and become wealthy? (...) and God does not punish them with his rod (Job 21:7,9). The first question did not involve only Job but also all men who serve God: Satan answered Jehovah: Skin for skin. A man will give everything that he has for his life. But, for a change, stretch out your hand and strike his bone and flesh, and he will surely curse you to your very face (Job 2:4-5). The exemplary behavior of Job facing hardships clearly showed that upright men do what is right by principle rather than by interest (such as the Epicureans). The answer to the question of Job is given in two steps: Jehovah continued to answer Job: Should a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? Let the one who wants to reprove God answer (...) Brace yourself, please, like a man; I will question you, and you inform me. Will you call into question my justice? Will you condemn me so that you may be right? Do you have an arm as powerful as the true God’s, or can your voice thunder like his? Adorn yourself, please, with glory and majesty; Clothe yourself with dignity and splendor. Release the fury of your anger; Look at everyone who is haughty, and bring him low. Look at everyone who is haughty, and humble him, and tread down the wicked where they stand. Hide them all in the dust; Bind them in the hidden place, then even I would acknowledge to you that your right hand can save you (Job 40:1-14). This preliminary basically points out that for justice prevails, one must have the means to enforce it, that is to say be more powerful than the aggressor. After all, Job who was complaining only had to act himself. Thus Job realized how he was unable to eradicate the evil, unlike God. The chief Adversary of God is clearly identified: it’s Satan (Job 1:6-2:7), the Resister. Satan’s power exceeds human power, he is able to encourage looters stealing (Job 1:15,17), he is able to produce storms (Job 1:16,19), diseases (Job 2:7) and generate bad influence upon intimate friends of Job by means of spiritualism (Job 4:15). The answer to the first question is simple: the righteous one serves God by principle, not by interest. The first part of the answer to the second question is also simple: Satan is responsible for evil and is more powerful than men (1Ch 21:1; Zc 3:1-2), however the second part is quite confusing indeed: consider Behemoth and Leviathan (Job 40:15; 41:1). What does this gibberish mean? The two words behemoth “the Beast” and leviathan “encircling”, close to the name Lotan (Gn 36:29), are enigmatic.
The more puzzling regarding the answer about Behemoth and Leviathan is that it was understood by Job (Job 42:1-6) but not by most of his successors since God would be regularly charged by senseless ones either of slowness (2Pe 3:9), or impotence (Ezk 8:12), or even to be inexistent (Ps 14:1). However one reads: the wicked ones will act wickedly, and none of the wicked will understand; but those having insight will understand (Dn 12:9-10). The Book of Job gave a warning (Job 5:13) quoted by Paul to the Corinthians influenced by philosophers: For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God, for it is written: He catches the wise in their own cunning. And again: Jehovah knows that the reasonings of the wise men are futile (1Co 3:19-20), consequently the true insight about the origin and end of evil comes from the Bible itself, not from the wise men of this world. When the Bible says that the wisdom of this world is foolishness, is this warning baseless or not? Currently most translations of the Bible indicate in their notes that Behemoth and Leviathan are two encrypted names in Hebrew for hippopotamus (sûs- ye’or) and crocodile (tannin) “sea monster” in Job 7:12, some translations replace these two names of mammals inside the very text (some even suggest to translate as “dinosaurs”). This bewildering explanation is straightforwardly absurd for the following reasons:
The translators of the Septuagint who knew Hebrew and were living in Alexandria and thus well knew hippopotamus and crocodiles, did not translate Behemoth and Leviathan into “hippopotamus (ỉππο-πόταμος)” and “crocodile (κροκοδείλια)” but “wild beasts (θηρία)” and “dragon (δράκος)”.
The crocodile has an immovable tongue as already noted by Herodotus (The Histories II:68), this is not the case of Leviathan (Job 41:1), who has also several heads (Ps 74:14), that is obviously not the case of a real animal.
Likewise the hippopotamus bends its tail like a cedar tree (Job 40:17), that is obviously not possible for a real animal because its tail is tiny. In fact, the tail of Behemoth is straight unlike the one of the tortuous dragon (Rv 12:4).
The text of Job 40:19 about Behemoth: It is the beginning of the ways of God, has puzzled many Jewish commentators from the 2nd century BCE to the 2nd century CE. If Behemoth was a literal domestic animal (hippopotamus, elephant, water buffalo, etc.), it should be classified among mammals however, according to Genesis, they appeared at the 5th day of creation, that is to say, a day after and not before the great sea animals (Gn 1:20- 25). Jewish commentators logically concluded that Behemoth and Leviathan were to be fantastically powerful animals that were to appear in messianic times for killing each other. One can read in a book written around 150 BCE: the Holy Michael said to me (...) when the Day, and the Power, and the Punishment, and the Judgment come that the Lord of Spirits has prepared for those who worship the Righteous Judgment, and for those who deny the Righteous Judgment, and for those who take His name in vain —and that Day has been prepared. For the chosen a covenant, but for the sinners a visitation. And on that day two monsters will be separated from one another, a female monster whose name is Leviathan, to dwell in the depths of the sea, above the springs of the waters. And the name of the male is Behemoth who occupies with his breast an immense desert named Dendayn on the east of the Garden where the chosen and the righteous dwell. And I asked that other Angel to show me the power of those monsters, how they were separated on one day, and thrown, one into the depths of the sea and the other on to the dry ground of the desert (...) These two monsters, prepared in accordance with the greatness of the Lord, will feed them that Punishment of the Lord. And children will be killed with their mothers and sons with their fathers. When the punishment of the Lord of Spirits rests upon them it will remain resting so that the punishment of the Lord of Spirits may not come in vain upon these (The Book of Enoch LIIX:4-9,24-25). The Babylonian Talmud offers the fanciful explanation (c. 190- 220 CE): All that the Holy One, blessed be He, created in his world he created male and female. Likewise, Leviathan the slant serpent and Leviathan the tortuous serpent he created male and female; and had they mated with one another they would have destroyed the whole world. What [then] did the Holy One, blessed be He, do? He castrated the male and killed the female preserving it in salt for the righteous in the world to come; for it is written: And he will slay the dragon that is in the sea. And also Behemoth on a thousand hills were created male and female, and had they mated with one another they would have destroyed the whole world. What did the Holy One, blessed be He, do? He castrated the male and cooled the female and preserved it for the righteous for the world to come (Baba Batra 74b).
It is therefore evident that Behemoth and Leviathan are two symbolic animals and not mammals (including dinosaurs). How did skilled specialists succeeded in twisting and turning such an explanation so elementary? Actually, the changes occurred gradually. Jerome (347-420), who translated the Hebrew Bible into Latin, came to the conclusion that Behemoth was an evil force because the description of its fantastic strength looked like the one of Leviathan, while noting that the text of Job 40:19 usually applied to Jesus because of Colossians 1:15, was strange. He deduced, to remain consistent with his interpretation that Good and Evil had been created together at the beginning. The few commentators who would follow would develop especially the interpretation of a diabolical Behemoth and would seek to identify it either to the Antichrist described as an angel of light (2Co 11:14) in the writings of Olympiodorus (500-565) or an allegorical representation of human passions considered as evil. Then, unexpectedly in the late 12th century, two commentators, a Jew and a Christian, will stand out from the previous interpretations. Maimonides, connoisseur of the Talmud, stated that the book of Job was connected to deep thoughts and from the context the evil and good inclination, contrary to what Jewish tradition usually said, could not be inherent tendencies of man, but rather two angels (Talmud Shabbat 119b). Satan was the evil inclination and another angel being the good inclination (not elucidated by Maimonides). At about the same time (c. 1190) Martin of Leon, a Roman Catholic, had reached a more surprising conclusion, he thought that if Leviathan was the Dragon, Behemoth which was depicted in parallel should represent a resurrected Jesus. Although very revolutionary, the contribution of these two scholars did not change the works that followed, they marked rather the end of allegorical researching about those two powerful creatures. The remarks of two theologians, Albert the Great (1206-1280), and Thomas Aquinas (1227-1274), were decisive. Their interpretation, mostly accepted today directed subsequent research toward the literal meaning. Whereas the allegorical interpretations were “rantings” and too complicated, they finally opted for a literal interpretation of the two animals, Behemoth was identified as an elephant (despite Job 40:19!) and Leviathan as a whale (Job 41:18-19!). After the 13th century, some researchers would be directed back to a symbolic identification, but their works remained anecdotal.
Archaeological discoveries in the 19th century revealed that Mesopotamian and Egyptian myths already were describing from long ago evil forces under the form of monstrous animals. These findings have convinced theologians and biblists that Leviathan and Behemoth were in fact mythological animals and that ancient myths must have inspired the biblical narratives. Although there has been a debate for choosing between the Mesopotamian myth, representing evil forces in the form of a bull and a snake, and the Egyptian myth representing these forms as a hippopotamus and a crocodile, a consensus has emerged in favor of the Egyptian myth for the following reasons:
The Egyptian myth that describes some ambivalent evil forces in the form of a hippopotamus associated with a crocodile is very old. The evil form is represented by Seth (male)/ Sobek against Horus, the beneficial form by Thueris (female)/ Sobek.
The Egyptian myth of the hippopotamus associated with the crocodile (Dragon) is shown in several ancient zodiacal astronomical ceilings like the one of Senenmut’s tomb dated year 9 of Thutmose III (1463 BCE) or Seti I’s tomb, the two mythological monsters being in the midst of star constellations represented by cosmological goddesses and gods. This coincidence was considered crucial because the text of Job in the Septuagint describes several constellations of stars, including the stars of Pleiades and Orion, just before the description of Behemoth and Leviathan: Did you understand the bond of Pleiades and did you open the barrier of Orion (Job 38:31-32).
A coincidence of sonority between the Egyptian word pa-ìḥ-mu “the water ox” and the Hebrew word behema (singular of behemoth) was considered as a final argument.
The above arguments are really of great learning, but what is the most impressive is that they are all wrong. The word pa-ih-mu is a modern invention that has never existed. The hippopotamus was well known in Egypt and there are indeed several Egyptian words to describe it (db, ḫ3b) including the very colorful term “bull of marshes” (k3 mhy), but the fanciful word ìḥ-mu “water ox” was never used to refer to the hippopotamus. Regarding the Septuagint translation, Pleiades and Orion constellations are also inventions because the word “constellation” does not appear in the Hebrew text and the translation of Hebrew words kimah “herd” and kesil “fool” into Pleiades and Orion is pure speculation. Lastly the fact to assume that the symbolism of biblical animals was inspired by Egyptian cosmogony shows a profound ignorance of the Bible because there has always been a conflict between the Egyptian and Israelite concepts about interpretations from the divine (Gn 40:8; 41:8). Moreover there is a powerful biblical warning against myths: For there will be a period of time when they will not put up with the wholesome teaching, but according to their own desires, they will surround themselves with teachers to have their ears tickled. They will turn away from listening to the truth and give attention to myths (2Ti 4:3-4). Theological speculations have favored cataclysmic or spooky interpretations: Behemoth and Leviathan could be symbols of frightening dictatorships like the one of Nazis, for others they are allegories of absurdity of the world as for Kafka or dreamlike madness like “The Wonderful Wizard (Satan) of Oz (Uz)”.
BEHEMOTH AND LEVIATHAN: WHAT DOES IT MEAN THIS GIBBERISH?
It must be remembered that Behemoth and Leviathan are the final answer to the nagging question of Job: Why do the wicked live on, grow old, and become wealthy? (...) and God does not punish them with his rod (Job 21:7,10) and he was able to understand it (Job 42:1-6). First of all Job knew the Leviathan and understood what Behemoth meant. We read: Job said: Let the day perish on which I was born also the night when someone said: A man has been conceived! (...) Let those who curse the day put a curse on it, those who are able to awaken Leviathan. Let the stars of its twilight grow dark (Job 3:2,8-9); And those who provoke God are secure, those who have their god in their hands. However, ask, please, Behemoth (Heb. בְהֵמ֣וֹת), and it will instruct you; Also the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you. Or give consideration to the earth, and it will instruct you; And the fish of the sea will declare it to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of Jehovah has done this? (Job 12:6-9). Job viewed very differently these two symbolic creatures; indeed the behavior of Leviathan is depicted as malefic whereas that of Behemoth is beneficial. Similarly the presentation of Behemoth is positive: Here, now, is Behemoth, which I made as I made you (Job 40:15); unlike the Leviathan, which is ironic: Can you catch Leviathan with a fishhook or hold down its tongue with a rope? Can you put a rope through its nostrils or pierce its jaws with a hook? (...) Will you play with it as with a bird or tie it on a leash for your little girls? (Job 41:1-2,5). It must be remembered that Job was speaking Old Canaanite and was able to understand it so the words Behemoth and Leviathan had meaning for him. Behemoth is the plural of behemah which means “domestic animal” (Gn 1:24) consequently it means “domestic animals” or “beasts” (Dt 32:24). However, when a plural is used with a singular verb it becomes a plural of abstraction or majesty, for example hokhmoth means “wisdom” or “wise ones” depending on the verb, singular or plural. As the translation of behemoth into “beasts” in Job 12:7 and 40:15 does not make clear sense: ask, please, the beasts, and it will instruct you, it must be considered rather as a prestigious name which was understood by Job as “the Creature”. The meaning of Leviathan (“dragon” LXX) is not as clear, some scholars link this name to Levi “adherence” (Gn 29:34) or to first sheik called Lotan “wrapping up” (Gn 36:29). Anyway, Job was aware of Leviathan long before his misfortunes and knew that it was an evil creature, a gliding serpent (Job 3:8-9; 26:13), a resister (“Satan”).
What did Job know exactly about the dragon Leviathan? One can read in a text dated c. 2000 BCE: He brought forth the Warrior dragon from the great fortress of the mountains (...) He brought forth the Seven-headed serpent from the ... of the mountains (...) He hung the Seven-headed serpent on the shining (Ninurta’s return to Nippur §§ 33,39,62).
On a Sumerian seal dated under Sargon of Akkad (2243-2187) there is a 7-headed dragon which is attacked from the front by a god (Ninurta?) with an attendant, and from behind by another god with a smaller follower. Three of the heads of the dragon are alive and fighting, while four heads hang limp and defeated. Flames are seen arising from the back of the dragon. On a small shell plaque dated c. 2500-2400, six of the heads of the dragon are alive and fighting, while one head hangs limp and defeated.
The name of the 7-headed dragon was Lotan “wrapping up” (Gn 36:29) or Leviathan “encircling” as some epics found in Ugarit show (dated 1350-1200). For example, one reads: Serves Puis[sant] Baal, ministers to the Prince, Lord of Earth (...) What enemy’s ris[en] against Baal, what foe against the Rider of Clouds? (...) Did I not, pray, muzzle the Dragon? I did crush the crooked serpent, tyrant of the seven-headed (...) If thou smite Lotan, gliding serpent, destroy the crooked serpent, tyrant of the seven-heads. The identification of Satan, an evil god (Job 5:19) and gliding serpent (Job 26:12-13), with the monstrous animal called Leviathan, a 7-headed dragon, is confirmed by other biblical texts: In that day Jehovah, with his hard and great and strong sword, will turn his attention to Leviathan, the gliding serpent, even to Leviathan, the crooked serpent, and he will certainly kill the sea monster that is in the sea (Is 27:1); You yourself stirred up the sea with your own strength; You broke the heads of the sea monsters in the waters. You yourself crushed to pieces the  heads of Leviathan (Ps 74:13-14); And another sign was seen in heaven, and, look! a great fiery-colored dragon, with 7 heads and 10 horns and upon its heads seven diadems; and its tail drags a third of the stars of heaven, and it hurled them down to the earth. And the dragon kept standing before the woman who was about to give birth, that, when she did give birth, it might devour her child (...) And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels battled with the dragon, and the dragon and its angels battled but it did not prevail, neither was a place found for them any longer in heaven. So down the great dragon was hurled, the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth; he was hurled down to the earth, and his angels were hurled down with him (Re 12:3-9).
The final answer of God enabled Job to understand that his misfortunes were coming not from God as he believed (Job 1:21) but from Satan, known at that time under the name Leviathan (Job 3:8). Despite the tremendous power of Satan (Job 41:29-34), Job learned that there was an even more powerful creature, Behemoth: Its bones are tubes of copper; its strong bones are like wrought-iron rods. It is the beginning of the ways of God; its Maker can bring near his sword (...) If the river acts violently, it does not run in panic. It is confident, although the Jordan should burst forth against its mouth (Job 40:18-23). Some translators have suggested that the divine sword (חרב) was symbolizing a tusk (no comment!). Consequently this divine sword gave hope to Job that in the future Behemoth would receive the power of beheading the Leviathan since he stated: Be frightened for yourselves because of a sword, for the sword means a raging against errors, in order that you men may know there is a judge (Job 19:29). The final outcome was different from that which Job wished: O that in the Grave you would conceal me, that you would hide me until your anger passes by, that you would set a time limit for me and remember me! If a man dies, can he live again? I will wait all the days of my compulsory service until my relief comes. You will call, and I will answer you. You will long for the work of your hands (Job 14:13-15). In order not to suffer any longer Job wanted to die waiting for a resurrection, he was convinced he had earned his resurrection and that he had a redeemer with God: For I well know that my redeemer is alive; He will come later and rise up over the dust. After my skin has thus been destroyed, while yet in my flesh, I will see God, whom I will see for myself, whom my own eyes will see, not someone else’s (Job 19:25-27). The identity of this redeemer is not clear but Job was convinced that he had to exist on account of his concept of justice (Job 29:14-25). Job’s hope (mentioned in Job 19:26) was unanimously understood by readers as the resurrection to come. Elihu would correct Job’s point of view about the redeemer’s identity. This redeemer exists but not independently of God (as Job believed), it is an angel, a mediator from God: Then, if there is an Angel near him, a Mediator, one in a thousand, to remind him where his duty lies, to take pity on him and to say, ‘Spare him from going down to the abyss: I have found the ransom for his life, his flesh will recover its childhood freshness, he will return to the days of his youth. He will pray to God who has restored him to favor, and will come into his presence with joy. He will tell others how he has received saving justice and sing this hymn before his companions, ‘I sinned and left the path of right, but God has not punished me as my sin deserved. He has spared my soul from going down to the abyss and is making my life see the light. All this is what God keeps doing again and yet again for human beings, to snatch souls back from the abyss and to make the light of the living still shine (Job 33:23-31). Thus Job was able to understand that Satan, an evil heavenly creature (a snake with 7 heads) at the origin of his misfortunes would be soon destroyed in the future by his redeemer (with a sword) who was actually the first creature of God. These explanations enabled Job to understand that the final conflict between Behemoth and Leviathan also involves other angels (depicted by stars): Now the day came when the sons of the true God entered to take their station before Jehovah, and Satan also entered among them (...) When the morning stars joyfully cried out together, and all the sons of God began shouting in applause? (Job 1:6; 38:7). In the past, stars were usually regarded as celestial beings (Nb 24:17; Jg 5:20), but star worship was condemned (Dt 4:19). Once more, translators have been puzzled by the literal meaning of God’s response which seems to be incomprehensible: Then Jehovah answered Job (...) Can you tie the ropes of Kimah or untie the cords of Kesil? Can you lead out Mazaroth in its season or guide Ash along with its sons? Do you know the laws governing the heavens, or can you impose their authority on the earth? (Job 38:1,31-33). Although the four un-translated bold words have a meaning in Hebrew, all translators have thought it was an encryption of some constellations of the zodiac. That is absolutely absurd for the following reasons:
The word constellation (mazal in Hebrew) appears nowhere in the original verse. The very notion of “group of stars” is not even referred to.
The translation of certain words is problematic such as: ”Mazaroth [plural form] in its season [singular]” or “Ash along with its sons [constellation’s sons?]”.
The description of constellations (mazaloth) has no bearing on the question about the destruction of the wicked (it would have been a real gibberish).
Job was not an astronomer and would therefore not have understood technical terms (as us today), which remain unknown, used by ancient astrologers (Is 47:13)!
Constellations are associated with false worship and have always a negative meaning in the Bible: So he put out of business the foreign-god priests, whom the kings of Judah had appointed to make sacrificial smoke on the high places in the cities of Judah and the surroundings of Jerusalem, as well as those making sacrificial smoke to Baal, to the sun, to the moon, to the constellations [of the zodiac], and to all the army of the heavens (2Ki 23:5), as well as astrologers (Dn 2:7).
The literal translation of Job 38:31-33 is strange but not meaningless. If one uses the literal meaning of kimah ”herd [of camels]”, kesil ”stupid one” (Pr 1:32), mazaroth ”scatterers” (Job 37:9) and ash ”moth” (Job 4:19), the verse reads: Can you tie the ropes of a herd or untie the cords of a stupid? Can you lead out a scattering in its season or guide a moth along with its sons? Do you know the laws governing the heavens, or can you impose their authority on the earth? Job likely understood that the stars mentioned in God’s answer were representing angels and in the same way that he had inferred there was two powerful creatures, a beneficial Behemoth and a malevolent Leviathan, he had to infer that there were beneficial stars (angels) and also some malevolent stars (demons) whose names were ironic (herd, stupid, scattering, moth) like the one of Leviathan (crooked snake). Before God’s final answer, Job had stated some mundane truths: He is making the earth go quaking from its place, so that its very pillars shudder. He is saying to the sun that it should not shine forth, and around stars he puts a seal, stretching out the heavens by himself and treading upon the high waves of the sea; Making moth stupid and herd [of camels] and the interior rooms of Teman; Doing great things unsearchable, and wonderful things without number (Job 9:6- 10), but after God’s answer, his statement gained a new sense: Can you tie the “evil” stars (Job 38:7) and guide them, as God will do with Leviathan (Job 41:1-5)? Do you know the laws governing the heavens (Job 1:6), if you can impose their authority on the earth (Job 1:12; 2:6)? The response to Job was not esoteric (or dreamlike as some would like to believe) but rather an eschatological prophecy similar to the one of the New Testament: I want to remind you that Jehovah, having saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those not showing faith. And the angels who did not keep their original position but forsook their own proper dwelling place, he has reserved with eternal bonds in dense darkness for the judgment of the great day (...) when Michael the archangel had a difference with the Devil and was disputing about Moses’ body, he did not dare to bring a judgment against him in abusive terms, but said: May Jehovah rebuke you (...) stars with no set course, for which the blackest darkness stands reserved forever (Jd 5-6,9,13).
The question of the origin and end of evil, first arisen in the book of Job, would occur again at the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple by the Babylonians. It is noteworthy that the same symbols were used when a descendant of Asaph asked God: They say: How does God know? Does the Most High really have knowledge? Yes, these are the wicked, who always have it easy. They keep increasing their wealth. Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and washed my hands in innocence. And I was troubled all day long (...) They have given the dead bodies of your servants as food to the birds of the heavens and the flesh of your loyal ones to the wild beasts of the earth. They have poured out their blood like water around Jerusalem, and no one is left to bury them. We have become an object of reproach to our neighbors; Those around us ridicule and jeer us. How long, O Jehovah, will you be furious? Forever? (Ps 73:11-13; 79:2-5). Asaph’s statement is quite similar to Job’s response, including Behemoth and Leviathan: How long, O God, will the adversary keep taunting? Will the enemy treat your name with disrespect forever? Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand? Draw it out of your bosom and put an end to them. But God is my King from long ago, the one performing acts of salvation on the earth. You stirred up the sea with your strength; You smashed the heads of the sea monsters in the waters. You crushed the [seven] heads of Leviathan; You gave it as food to the people, to those inhabiting the deserts (Ps 74:10-14). The last point about the “food” is further developed in the Book of Revelation: Write: Happy are those invited to the evening meal of the Lamb’s marriage (...) I saw also an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice and said to all the birds that fly in midheaven: Come here, be gathered together to the great evening meal of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of military commanders and the flesh of strong men and the flesh of horses and of those seated on them, and the flesh of all, of freemen as well as of slaves and of small ones and great. And I saw the wild beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the one seated on the horse and against his army. And the wild beast was caught, and along with it the false prophet that performed in front of it the signs with which he misled those who received the mark of the wild beast and those who worship its image (Re 19:9,17-19). It is noteworthy that if Leviathan’s heads are crushed (prophetic past!), Behemoth is also mentioned in Asaph’s response: Until I proceeded to come into the grand sanctuary of God. I wanted to discern their future. Surely on slippery ground is where you place them. You have made them fall to ruins. O how they have become an object of astonishment as in a moment! [How] they have reached their end, have been brought to their finish through sudden terrors! Like a dream after awaking, O Jehovah, [So] when arousing [yourself] you will despise their very image. For my heart was soured and in my kidneys I was sharply pained, and I was unreasoning and I did not know Behemoth, I was with you, I am constantly with you; You have taken hold of my right hand. With your counsel you will lead me, and afterward you will take me even to glory. Whom do I have in the heavens? And besides you I do have no other delight on the earth (Ps 73:17-25). Most translators, who did not understand the role of Behemoth in the final resolution of the conflict with Leviathan, have invented a translation of Behemoth more or less understandable like ”brutish” in the Jerusalem Bible!
In the same way that in the book of Job the final outcome about wickedness is related to the final fight between Behemoth and Leviathan and to the fall of evil stars like kesil “stupid one” or kimah “herd”: A pronouncement against Babylon (...) Look! The day of Jehovah is coming, cruel both with fury and with burning anger, to make the land an object of horror, and to annihilate the land’s sinners from it. For the stars of the heavens and their stupid [kesil] ones will not give off their light; the sun will be dark when it rises, and the moon will not shed its light. I will call the inhabited earth to account for its badness, and the wicked for their error. I will put an end to the pride of the presumptuous, and I will humble the haughtiness of tyrants (...) How you have fallen from heaven, o shining one [Lucifer in the Vulgate], son of the dawn! How you have been cut down to the earth, you who vanquished nations! You said in your heart :I will ascend to the heavens. Above the stars of God I will lift up my throne, and I will sit down on the mountain of meeting, in the remotest parts of the north. I will go up above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself resemble the Most High. Instead, you will be brought down to the Grave, to the remotest parts of the pit (...) In that day Jehovah will turn his attention to the army of the heights above and to the kings of the earth upon the earth. And they will be gathered together like prisoners gathered into a pit, and they will be shut up in the dungeon; after many days they will be given attention. The full moon will be abashed, and the shining sun will be ashamed, for Jehovah of armies has become King in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem (Is 13:1,9-11; 14:12-15; 24:21-23). Most translators, influenced by the Septuagint, changed the surprising word “their stupid ones” by “their constellations”, but this choice is just a guess because the literal meaning is quite clear, the “stupid stars” are demons (Re 12:3,7-9; 20:1-4). Similarly, one reads: The virgin, Israel, has fallen (...) The One who made a herd (kimah) and stupid one (kesil), the One who turns deep shadow into morning, the One who makes day as dark as night (...) Jehovah is his name. He will cause destruction to burst out against the strong, bringing destruction on fortified places (...) Now you will have to carry away Sakkuth your king and Kaiwan, your images, the star of your god, whom you made for yourselves (Am 5:2,8,9,26). The literal meaning is surprising but not absurd: God created the stars that have become stupid but they will be destroyed by Him. Moreover Satan is also presented as the leader of the opposition to God: And he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of Jehovah, and Satan was standing at his right hand to resist him. Then the angel of Jehovah said to Satan: May Jehovah rebuke you, O Satan, yes, may Jehovah, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this one a burning log snatched out of the fire? (Zc 3:1-2).
The question of the end of wickedness is dealt with only twice in all the Old Testament, first during the slavery in Egypt (Book of Job), then during the destruction of Jerusalem. Both times God’s response was the same: the seven-headed serpent, Leviathan (Satan), and the herd of stupid stars will be destroyed in the future. The Bible describes the Leviathan only at these two dramatic events and also once when David made an illegal census (around 1025 BCE) in order to clarify that Satan, or Leviathan (Ps 104:26), was the real instigator of this evil (1Chronicles 21:1). The Seven-headed Serpent (from Sumerian muš-saĝ-7: snake with 7 heads), one of the oldest dragons belongs both to the Bible and Sumerian mythology, but contrary to the Bible which kept the original model, the following mythologies, as the Babylonian mythology (c. 1100 BCE), turned the dragon into a multitude of infernal monsters: [Tiamat] gave birth to giant serpents (...) She clothed the fearful monsters with dread, she loaded them with an aura and made them godlike (...) She created the Hydra, the Dragon, the Hairy Hero, The Great Demon, the Savage Dog, and the Scorpion-man (Enuma Elish 134-142). In the same way Homer wrote (c. 850 BCE): he first commanded Bellerophon to kill that savage monster, the Chimaera, who was not a human being, but a goddess, for she had the head of a lion and the tail of a serpent, while her body was that of a goat, and she breathed forth flames of fire; but Bellerophon slew her, for he was guided by signs from heaven (Iliad VI:181-182). Hesiod wrote (c. 700 BCE): So she conceived and brought forth fierce offspring; first she bare Orthus the hound of Geryones, and then again she bare a second, a monster not to be overcome and that may not be described, Cerberus who eats raw flesh, the brazen-voiced hound of Hades, 50-headed, relentless and strong. And again she bore a third, the evil-minded Hydra of Lerna, whom the goddess, white-armed Hera nourished, being angry beyond measure with the mighty Heracles. And her Heracles, the son of Zeus, of the house of Amphitryon, together with warlike Iolaus, destroyed with the unpitying sword through the plans of Athene the spoil-driver. She was the mother of Chimaera who breathed raging fire, a creature fearful, great, swift-footed and strong, who had 3 heads, one of a grim-eyed lion; in her hinderpart, a dragon; and in her middle, a goat, breathing forth a fearful blast of blazing fire. Her did Pegasus and noble Bellerophon slay (Theogony 306-325). Consequently these mythological monsters do not have much to do with the snake with 7 heads of the Bible, since neither its origin (a fallen angel) nor its appearance are known (the number of heads for the Hydra or Cerberus is very varying):
The 7-headed serpent is therefore a biblical innovation that has not been influenced by various and fanciful mythologies. However, the 1st-century Jewish literature was partly influenced since it describes Satan as the ruler of demons with a multitude of names: Beelzebub (Mt 12:24-28), Belial (2Co 6:15), Azazel (Lv 16:8), etc. Satan appears little in the writings of Qumran except in certain treaties of demonology or in worship of the angels (Col 2:18). As noted in the answer to Job, the end of wickedness will occur when Leviathan will have its 7 heads severed. It is a prophecy and according to the Talmud: all the prophecies are relating to the days of the Messiah (Talmud Shabbat 63a); and according to the New Testament: For no matter how many the promises of God are, they have become “yes” by means of him. Therefore, also through him is the “Amen” said to God, which brings him glory through us. But the one who guarantees that you and we belong to Christ (Messiah) and the one who anointed us is God (2Co 1:20-21); Worship God! For the witness concerning Jesus is what inspires prophecy (Rv 19:10). Consequently the response to Job gives a deep insight into the origin and the end of evil.
THE FIRST CREATURE VERSUS THE 7-HEADED SERPENT: THE END
The last book of the Christian Bible, the Book of Revelation, reveals clearly who were behind the first creature and the 7-headed serpent: A revelation by Jesus Christ, which God gave him (...) write: These are the things that the Amen says, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation by God (...) Another sign was seen in heaven. Look! A great fiery-coloured dragon, with 7 heads and 10 horns and on its heads 7 diadems; and its tail drags a third of the stars of heaven, and it hurled them down to the earth (...) And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels battled with the dragon, and the dragon and its angels battled but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them any longer in heaven. So down the great dragon was hurled, the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth; he was hurled down to the earth, and his angels were hurled down with him. I heard a loud voice in heaven say: Now have come to pass the salvation and the power and the Kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ (...) On this account be glad, you heavens and you who reside in them! Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing that he has a short period of time (Rv 1:1; 3:14; 12:3-12). This chapter 12 reveals several crucial points about Jesus and Satan. Jesus was actually God’s first creature (Col 1:15; Pr 8:22) and Satan “resister” the Devil “slanderer” was behind the original serpent (Gn 3:1-15), he is still the ruler of the world (2Co 4:4; Ep 2:2; 1Jo 5:19) but he will soon be defeated by Christ “the messiah” (Lk 10:18, Jo 12:31, Heb 2:14). The struggle between Satan and Jesus is announced at the very outset of the Gospels: Then Jesus was led by the spirit up into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil (...) the Devil took him along to an unusually high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him: All these things I will give you if you fall down and do an act of worship to me. Then Jesus said to him: Go away, Satan! For it is written: It is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service. Then the Devil left him, and look! angels came and began to minister to him (Mt 4:1-11; Lk 4:1-8). The Book of Revelation also explains the meaning of the 7 heads: And it [the dragon] stood still on the sand of the sea. And I saw a wild beast ascending out of the sea, with 10 horns and 7 heads, and on its horns 10 diadems, but on its heads blasphemous names. Now the wild beast that I saw was like a leopard, but its feet were like those of a bear, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. And the dragon gave to the beast its power and its throne and great authority. I saw that one of its heads seemed to have been fatally wounded, but its mortal wound had been healed, and all the earth followed the wild beast with admiration. And they worshipped the dragon because it gave the authority to the wild beast, and they worshipped the wild beast (...) and it was given authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation. And all those who dwell on the earth will worship it. From the founding of the world, not one of their names has been written in the scroll of life of the Lamb (Jesus) who was slaughtered (...) So the angel said to me: Why is it that you were amazed? I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the wild beast that is carrying her and that has the 7 heads and the 10 horns (Leviathan): The wild beast that you saw was, but is not, and yet is about to ascend out of the abyss, and it is to go off into destruction. And the inhabitants of the earth —those whose names have not been written in the scroll of life from the founding of the world— will be amazed when they see how the wild beast was, but is not, and yet will be present. This calls for a mind that has wisdom: The 7 heads mean 7 mountains, where the woman sits on top. And there are 7 kings: 5 have fallen, one is [Roman Empire in the 1st century], and the other [7th] has not yet arrived; but when he does arrive, he must remain a short while. And the wild beast that was but is not, it is also an 8th king, but it springs from the 7, and it goes off into destruction. The 10 horns that you saw mean 10 kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but they do receive authority as kings for 1 hour with the wild beast. These have one thought, so they give their power and authority to the wild beast. These will battle with the Lamb, but because he is Lord of lords and King of kings, the Lamb will conquer them. Also, those with him who are called and chosen and faithful will do so. He said to me: The waters that you saw, where the prostitute is sitting, mean peoples and crowds and nations and tongues. And the 10 horns that you saw and the wild beast, these will hate the prostitute and will make her devastated and naked, and they will eat up her flesh and completely burn her with fire. For God put it into their hearts to carry out his thought, yes, to carry out their one thought by giving their kingdom to the wild beast, until the words of God will have been accomplished. And the woman whom you saw means the great city that has a kingdom over the kings of the earth (...) And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven with the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. He seized the dragon, the original serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for 1,000 years. And he hurled him into the abyss and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not mislead the nations anymore until the 1,000 years were ended. After this he must be released for a little while (Rv 13:1-8; 17:7-18; 20:1-3). Consequently the 7 heads of Leviathan mean 7 kings spread over time. The 5th head (1st century) is the Roman Empire and the 7th head is associated with 10 small kings, “10 toes” (Dn 2:40-44; 12:1-2) which rule at the end.
Most translators who liken the Leviathan to a crocodile have changed the last verse of Job 41 “it is king over all dignity” into ”it is king over all majestic wild beasts”. The word “sons of pride” must be translated by “dignity” because the verb is singular: No dignity (plural) has (singular) trodden on it; the young lion has not prowled there (Job 28:8). The ambiguity is probably desired between the “sons of pride” and the “young lion”, a symbol of invincibility and great authority for humans (1Pe 5:8; Rv 13:2). As we saw, before God’s response, Job believed in a redemptive and a destructive which proved to be Behemoth and Leviathan: For I well know that my redeemer is alive; He will come later and rise up over the dust. After my skin has thus been destroyed (Job 19:25-27; 33:21-28). According to the New Testament, Jesus is the Redeemer (Rv 5:9-10) designed to crush Satan under his feet (Rm 16:20), he is also the Lion of Judah mentioned in Genesis 49:10 and the morning star of Numbers 24:17 (Rv 5:5; 22:16). The conclusion of the matter: Behemoth is described similarly to Jesus.
The dragon in the Book of Job, called Leviathan, has a few similarities with the 7- headed Serpent in Mesopotamian accounts, but this monstrous serpent is different on two fundamental points: he is responsible for present evil and not only from the original chaos, and he is still not dead but will be destroyed in the future by a mighty angel of God. For example, the 7-headed Serpent in Sumerian mythology was one of the Heroes slain by Ninurta, patron god of Lagash. His body was hung on the “shining cross-beam” of Ninurta’s chariot (Ninurta’s return to Nibru, line 63). He was created by Tiamat (Epic of Creation) under several names: Mušmaḫḫū “Exalted Serpent”; Bašmu “Venomous Snake”; Ušumgallu “Great Dragon” or Mušḫuššu “Furious Snake”.
There are also a few similarities with the Egyptian snake called Apep. In Egyptian mythology, Apep (Apophis in Greek) was an evil demon, the deification of darkness and chaos (isfet in Egyptian), and thus opponent of light and Maat (order/truth) and the god Seth in order to protect the sun god Ra, who was traveling in his boat, would slay the serpent Apep whose blood colored in red each sunrise and sunset.
In addition, the goddess Taweret (Thoueris in Greek), whose name means “(one) who is great” is represented as a hippopotamus. When paired with another deity, she became the demon-wife of Apep, the original god of evil. Since Apep was viewed as residing below the horizon, and only present at night, evil during the day then was envisaged as being a result of Taweret’s maleficence. As the counterpart of Apep, who was always below the horizon, Taweret was seen as being the northern sky, the constellation roughly covering the area of present-day Draco (Dragon), which always lies above the horizon.
Unlike the Mesopotamian and Egyptian mythology the 7-headed serpent is the god of evil, past and present (1Jn 5:19), that will be destroyed at the end of time: Then Jehovah God said to the serpent: Because you have done this, you are the cursed one out of all the domestic animals and out of all the wild animals of the field (...) And I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and her offspring. He will crush your head, and you will strike him in the heel (Gn 3:14-15); For his part, the God who gives peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. May the undeserved kindness of our Lord Jesus be with you (Rm 16:20); I saw an angel coming down out of heaven with the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. He seized the dragon, the original serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for 1,000 years (...) Now as soon as the 1,000 years have ended, Satan will be released from his prison (...) the Devil who was misleading them was hurled into the lake of fire and sulphur (Rv 20:1-2,7,10). The book of Job introduced a new concept: the Redeemer will operate at the end of time simultaneously with the end of evil (Job 14:13-15; 19:25). This was in fact a messianic concept which would become dateable with Daniel’s prophecies: In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed. And this kingdom will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it alone will stand forever (...) During that time Michael will stand up, the great prince who is standing in behalf of your people. And there will occur a time of distress such as has not occurred since there came to be a nation until that time. And during that time your people will escape, everyone who is found written down in the book. And many of those asleep in the dust of the earth will wake up, some to everlasting life and others to reproach and to everlasting contempt (Dn 2:44; 12:1-2). A new question would arise: when would the messianic paradise come at the end of time?
The Book of Job
Chronological, Historical and Archaeological Evidence