How Revelation 13 may echo two dinosaur-like creatures in Job

Job 40:15 “Behold now, Behemoth, which I made as well as you;He eats grass like an ox.”

Revelation 13:1 “And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore. Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names.”

Job 41:1 “Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook? Or press down his tongue with a cord?”

Revelation 13:11-12 “Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb and he spoke as a dragon. 12 He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed.

Introduction: Defining the idea of scripture echo                                                           I can recall living as a boy in between two mountains up in South Western Pennsylvania. On a still spring or summer day my sister and I would clap our hands or yell our names to see how many times we could get the sound to echo off the mountains. There was an outcropping of rocks half-way up one of the mountain sides that we surmised was responsible for enabling us to get our voices or clapping to echo two, three or even four times. 

In the Bible, God’s voice is seen and heard in words. The Bible is a vast plateau of revelation with mountain ranges and valleys of words and phrases revealed by God through the apostles and prophets. Scholars have identified a particular phenomena called “scripture echo”, whereby a Biblical author in the New Testament will allude to an Old Testament passage without directly quoting it. The echo often times may not be at the center of the main interpretation of the passage insomuch as it occupies the background of thought in the author’s mind. However it may be used by the Holy Spirit to give “texture” and “coloring” to an already rich text.

Thus when reading scripture, you may say to yourself “this sounds familiar” or “I’ve read this before”. If you have had that experience, you most likely hearing an “echo” of a previous Old Testament text in the New Testament text. Just like real-life echoes, Scripture echoes serve to aid the mind in connecting one part of scripture to another in the interpretive process.

Hearing the echo of Job’s Behemoth and Leviathan in Revelation 13

When we come to Revelation 13, John the Revelator introduces us to two beasts: a beast coming up out of the sea in Revelation 13:1-10 and another beast coming up out of the earth in Revelation 13:11-18. We won’t get too much into the exact identity of the first and second beasts, since we are mainly in this post interested in seeing whether or not Job 40:15-41:34 is echoed in Revelation 13. Nevertheless one observation from John Walvoord on these two beasts merits quotation: “There is some evidence pointing to the conclusion that the second beast is the head of the apostate church during the first half of Daniel’s seventieth week. With the rise of the first beast to a place of worldwide dominion, the apostate church is destroyed according to Revelation 17:16, and the worship of the whole world is directed to the beast out of the sea.”1

We undoubtedly see two beasts, both spawned and empowered by Satan to lead the world in political/economic rebellion (1st beast) and spiritual rebellion (2nd beast) against God and the Lord Jesus Christ. Many commentators have seen references to Daniel’s visions of beasts coming out of the sea in Daniel 7 in making clearer the imagery of Revelation 13, and is certainly worth a separate post at a future time. However for our interests today, is there any evidence that the Apostle John is possibly alluding to the two dinosaur-like beasts called Behemoth and Leviathan in Job 40:15-41:34? The short answer to this question would be: maybe.

What do the books of the Old Testament teach about the beasts called “Behemoth” and “Leviathan”?

THE BEHEMOTH

This word “behemoth” is found some fourteen times in the Hebrew Old Testament. In thirteen of those passages, when context and description is considered, the typical animals described refer to “cattle” or any type of land animal, mainly, but not always, in the domesticated sense. One reference, Job 40:15-24, uses this term to describe an animal that is unlike the other references in the Hebrew Bible. Whenever we look in Job 40:15-24, we see the beast “Behemoth” described as:
a. eating grass (40:15)
b. strength in his loins (40:16)
c. a tail like the cedar (40:17)
d. bones like brass and iron (40:18).

Among all of these descriptions, we find this phrase in verse 19: “He is chief of the ways of God”. Most Hebrew Dictionaries, such as the Lexicon written the authors Brown, Driver and Briggs, translated this word “Hippopotamos”. The more recent Hebrew Dictionary of James Swanson Entitled: “Dictionary of Biblical Languages of Semantic Domains” does not do much better, stating that either a mythical beast or hippo is in view. Thankfully the Reader’s Hebrew Bible, edited by A. Philip Brown II and Bryan W. Smith, has the courage to offer the rendering “sauropod” in the notes at the bottom of the page – i.e a dinosaur.

The meaning of the passage dictates this animal to be literal. Why else would God use this animal as an illustration of His own reality as being omnipotent and unique? The phrase “chief of the ways of God” would immediately reject the translation “hippopotamus”, not only by the difference in physical description between hippos and the animal here in Job 40, but also by virtue that there are animals larger than the hippo (like the Elephant for instance). It makes more sense to render this term as some sort of dinosaurian land beast. In short, only God can control this beast and only God is stronger than it.

THE LEVIATHAN

This term is found at least five times in the Hebrew Bible. The passages that refer to this animal are Job 3:8; Job 41:1,5; Psalm 74:14, 104:26 and Isaiah 27:1. Unlike the Behemoth passages, all of these passages can be translated in the below proposed translation. Of all these references, Job 41 is the chapter that gives one of the most detailed descriptions of this beast. Modern versions such as the New Revised Standard and New Living Translation render the word as “crocodile”. All other versions and translations choose to leave the word as “Leviathan”.

The older Strong’s Concordance gives a possibility of “pleisiosaur”. This is a definite step in the right direction, since the animal in Job 41 cannot be caught by men and is clearly king of the sea. Just like Behemoth, Leviathan can only be controlled by God, and only God is stronger than it as well.

Interestingly enough the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, in Job 40:25 (English text 41:1) uses the Greek term “draconta”, from whence we get our term “dragon”. In looking at “A Reader’s Hebrew Bible”, Job 40:25 (which corresponds to Job 41:1 in the English text), Brown and Smith offer the rendering of “sea monster, serpent, dragon”.

 Why God referred to Behemoth and Leviathan in Job 40-41

As in the case of Behemoth, Leviathan is being used to illustrate the power and uniqueness of the omnipotence and infinity of God to Job. Certainly a crocodile would never do the passage justice. From the Greek Old Testament word “draconta” and usage in the Hebrew Bible, I would propose viewing Leviathan as some sort of fire-breathing marine plesiosaur-type creature. 

Thus we can say with a measure of confidence that both Behemoth and Leviathan are referring to Dinosaurs in the canonical text.2  Both beasts are (or we could say were) in the physical realm incapable of taming and control of men. God alone is stronger and capable of overpowering these otherwise unruly and untamable creatures.

One scholar weighs in on answering this question

Whenever I do any Bible study, I like to make sure that what I am gleaning from the text has been stated by other Bible teachers and scholars with far better credentials than my own. Dr. Timothy Paul Jones is a professor at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary who has written quite a bit of material on matters pertaining to Bible prophecy (or eschatology). Dr. Jones gives a pretty credible statement regarding John’s possible echo of Job’s imagery: “John’s vision of the two beasts echoes God’s description of two mysterious creatures in the Old Testament book of Job (40:15-41:34). 3  With Dr. Jones verifying the above statements, it would seem that the case for John echoing Job’s references to Behemoth and Levithan are likely. 

Conclusion:                                                                                                                              Today we considered whether or not Revelation 13 is echoing Job 40:15-41:34 in presenting the two future beasts as those who can only be controlled and defeated by the Lord. Though the echo of Job 40-41 may very well be more of a background issue in comparison to John’s use of Daniel’s imagery of beasts in Daniel 7, nonetheless the Holy Ghost’s possible inclusion of the echo serves to add even more richness to an already amazing passage of scripture. The purpose of the echo seems to show that only Christ will be able to defeat both Anti-Christ and the False prophet. 

From scholars such as Dr. Timothy Jones and the cross references we considered from other Biblical texts, word studies and other material, we can say that it does appear that John is echoing Job’s imagery of Behemoth and Leviathan in Revelation 13. The point? Only the Lord Jesus Christ will be able to defeat both, which of course is stated clearly in 2 Thessalonians 2:8 and Revelation 19:19-20. We close with this insight from Dr. Timothy Paul Jones: Jones later writes: “By borrowing the imagery from Job, John reminds his readers that God remains in control even when evil rulers rise to persecute God’s people. Neither the dragon nor the two beasts can thwart God’s eternal plan.”4

Endnotes:                                                                                                                               1. John Walvoord. The Revelation of Jesus Christ – A Commentary. 1966. Moody. Page 205.

2. In personal studies of the inter-testamental, Jewish Pseude-pigraphical, non-inspired Jewish literature, it is clear that the Jewish mind saw these animals as apocalyptic and believed that God would have some kind of final showdown with them at the end of history. Our purposes in this post only concern the Divinely inspired Canonical books.  Jewish literature’s statements on the possible existence of Dino-saur like creatures is surprisingly quite extensive.

3. Timothy  Paul Jones. Rose Guide to Endtimes Prophecy. Rose Publishing. 2011. Page 248. Jones writes further on the same page: In Job, these two creatures are known as “Behemoth” and “Leviathan”. The word “Behemoth” is a form of the Hebrew word for ‘beast’; some take this beast from the earth to be an elephant or hippopotamus while others see it as a dinosaur of the sauropod variety. ‘Levaithan’ means ‘coiled’ and points to beast from the sea. Again, there’s a difference of opinion when it comes to classifying this creature: some understand Levithan to be a crocodile, others argue that it might resemble a now extinct plesiosaur. Either way, the primary point in Job is that God controls both Behemoth and Levithan. 

4. Timothy  Paul Jones. Rose Guide to Endtimes Prophecy. Rose Publishing. 2011. Page 248.

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About pastormahlon

By the grace of God I was converted to saving faith in Jesus Christ at the age of 10 and called into the Gospel ministry by age 17. Through the Lord's grace I completed a Bachelors in Bible at Lancaster Bible College in 1996 and have been married to my beautiful wife since that same year. We have been blessed with four children, ranging from 7-18 years of age. In 2002 the Lord enabled me to complete a Master of Arts in Christian Thought at Biblical Theological Seminary, Hatfield PA. For nearly 25 years I have been preaching and teaching God's Word and have been studying the original languages since 1994. In 2016 God called my family and me to move to begin a pastorate at a wonderful Southern Baptist Congregation here in Northern New York.
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2 Responses to How Revelation 13 may echo two dinosaur-like creatures in Job

  1. Excellent post! Something that I find interesting and to add is what the Pseudo-Jonathan Targum paraphrases Gen 1:21 into Aramaic: “And the Lord created the great tannîns—the leviathan and his spouse which are prepared for the day of consolation.”

    • pastormahlon says:

      Thanks Eric for the comment. I wrote this piece after reading through the wider jewish intertestamental literature on the subject. Though speculative for sure, the vastness of the literature amazed me and I found the subject fun and interesting. Moreover, it shed light on what the Jews took those passages in Job to mean, and how such literature is not always based on imagination, but may very well include a bit of actual truth and fact.

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