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Job 41:1 Can you draw out Leviathan- Leviathan and Behemoth are monster figures appearing at the end of the book of Job, to form a kind of inclusio with the opening reference to Satan; and they are clearly part of God’s final answer to Job’s “case”. Leviathan appears to be the Canaanite version of the orthodox ‘Satan’ figure, perhaps a reference to the ‘Lotan’ of the Ugaritic myths. In great detail, these figures are deconstructed. They are shown to be created beings – created by the one almighty God of the Old Testament, to be completely under His control to the point that He can even tease them, so enormously greater is His power than theirs. These Canaanite ‘Satan’ figures are thereby shown to have no significant existence; and they certainly don’t exist as opposed to God. They are totally under His control. And yet these monster figures clearly have characteristics shared by known animals, such as the hippopotamus, crocodile etc. Those similarities are intended. It’s been well observed: “To say that Leviathan has characteristics of the crocodile and the whale is not to say that it is such a creature, but rather to suggest that evil is rooted in the natural world” (Robert S. Fyall, Now My Eyes Have Seen You: Images of Creation and Evil in the Book of Job (Leicester: I.V.P. / Apollos, 2002) p. 27) – and the point is so laboured in Job that the natural world is of God’s complete creation. ‘Evil’ in a form independent of Him, in radical opposition to Him, simply isn’t there.

It’s significant that dragons in the form of serpents were common in Babylonian theology. Figures on vases show serpent griffins, there was one on Marduk’s temple in Nippur, and also on the Ishtar Gate in Babylon. These would have been familiar to Judah in Babylonian captivity; and we have suggested that the book of Job was edited there, under inspiration, for their benefit. They may well have seen a similarity between the Babylonian monsters and the Leviathan / Behemoth beasts. That God is greater than Leviathan and can do what He wills with him would therefore have had a special meaning to the faithful Jew in exile. In a restoration context, Isaiah comforted Judah that God would destroy “Leviathan the gliding serpent; He will slay the monster of the sea” (Is. 27:1). The real ‘monster’ faced by Judah in exile wasn’t a supernatural being; it was a concrete kingdom of men on earth, namely Babylon. God taught Job, and through him showcased to the watching world, that all such imaginations of Leviathan, monsters in the raging sea, crooked serpents etc. were vain – in any case, God had created them and used them to do His will with His people, symbolized as they were by Job. His sitting in dust and ashes is very much the picture of Judah sitting by the rivers of Babylon, bemoaning their losses. The language of Job’s captivity being ‘turned’ (Job 42:10) is the very term used about the restoration of Judah from Babylon (Jer. 29:14; Ps. 126:4).

With a fishhook, or press down his tongue with a cord?- God almost jokes with Job, that he had been trying to draw out Leviathan with a fish hook (Job 41:1), and I see that as a commentary upon so many human attempts to get a handle on the way God is the adversary / Satan figure in our lives. Shrugging it off as chance and bad luck, believing in a personal Satan in the sea or in Heaven, thinking God is punishing us... all this is trying to capture Leviathan with a mere fishing rod. The book of Job isn’t an explanation for specific human suffering – and many who turn to the book looking for that come away disappointed. Rather is it an account of God’s sovereign power, putting meaning into the word “All–mighty” when applied to God. On a ‘doctrinal’ level it is indeed a deconstruction of the ideas of supernatural ‘Satan’ figures. But on a more personal level, it challenges us to follow in Job’s faithful footsteps, as it challenged Judah in captivity. See on Job 42:2.

I suggested on Job 40:16 that Behemoth was a hippopotamus which arose from a river. "Look now" could suggest they were standing by a river, and the animal arose out of it at God's command. The theophany in a whirlwind by a river, with lightnings, is what Ezekiel experienced. The hope was that the exiles would likewise be moved to follow Job's path through repentance to restoration. Here now God seems to bring a crocodile out of the same river, "Leviathan". Unlike the hippopotamus which is a herbivore, the crocodile was likely to attack and eat Job. He was thrown back to the promise of the prologue that God would preserve his life, just as He would the national life of Judah from every wild beast. Job's experience with Behemoth was to prepare him for the encounter now with Leviathan the crocodile.

Job 41:2 Can you put a rope into his nose, or pierce his jaw through with a hook?-
This and the following verses use the language of captivity. Prisoners were treated in this way in victory processions. The language is so relevant to the exiles who had been led away into captivity; and God could lead their captors captive, in a way only He could, just as He as it were led Job's captivity captive.

Job 41:3 Will he make many petitions to you, or will he speak soft words to you?-
This is exactly how captives spoke to their captors; see on :2 (cp. 1 Kings 20:32).

Job 41:4 Will he make a covenant with you-
Captive kings were forced to make covenants with their captors; see on :2.

That you should take him for a servant forever?- Just as Job is described as God’s “servant” (Job 1:8), so is Leviathan (Job 40:28; 41:4). No evil power uncontrolled by God is at work in Job’s life. We also need to give due weight to the fact that God speaks the Leviathan / Behemoth passages “out of the storm”, which had been gathering since Job 37:2. This is significant because storms were seen as manifestations of evil powers. Yet here (and elsewhere in Scripture), the one true God speaks out of such storms, to demonstrate how far greater He is than any storm god; and showing by implication that such storm gods don’t exist, and the ‘evil’ which supposedly came from them was in fact under His control.

In pagan myth, Baal was temporarily conquered by Mot, and the Ugaritic poem about their conflict which was found in the Ras Shamra texts speaks of how Baal was made a “slave forever” (Umberto Cassuto, Biblical and Oriental Studies (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1975) Vol. 2 p. 6). This very language is picked up in Job 41:4, where God mocks that in no way would He become a “slave forever”. The allusion shows that the one true God is in no way Baal. He is greater than Baal. Unlike Baal, He is in no conflict with Mot nor anyone. Baal’s sister, Anath, muzzled a dragon with great difficulty – but Yahweh muzzled Leviathan and then sported with him (Job 41:1–5). The poem challenges Baal to “Pierce through Lotan the serpent, destroy the serpent the seven headed tyrant” (Cassuto, ibid p. 7). Yet this is exactly the language picked up in Is. 27:1: “Yahweh will punish with His powerful, great and mighty sword Leviathan the serpent, Leviathan the serpent, and He will slay the dragon”. Yahweh’s utter supremacy over any other god is so great that it makes all ideas of cosmic conflict simply laughable. Ps. 92;10 likewise: “Lo, thine enemies, I YHWH, lo, thine enemies shall perish, all evil doers shall be scattered” alludes to Part 3 lines 8 and 9 of the poem about the Mot–Baal conflict: “Lo, thine enemies, O Baal, lo thine enemies wilt thou pierce through, lo, thou wilt destroy thine adversaries” (Cassuto, ibid p. 8). Note too that Baal’s enemies, i.e. Mot and the demons of the underworld, are paralleled with “evildoers”. Human sinners rather than demons are the real issue.


Job 41:5 Will you play with him as with a bird? Or will you bind him for your girls?-
God is not only the victorious captor of leviathan, but He can play with him as a pet, and even give him as a pet to His children. And God's children are His people. The same idea is in Job 40:19 LXX "This is the chief of the creation of the Lord; made to be played with by his angels".


Job 41:6 Will traders barter for him? Will they part him among the merchants?-
This alludes to how captives were sold into slavery; see on :2.

Job 41:7 Can you fill his skin with barbed irons, or his head with fish spears?-
These weapons would have no effect on the head of a crocodile, which is covered by extremely hard skin. No human device or weapon could destroy the crocodile, only God could take him captive.

Job 41:8 Lay your hand on him. Remember the battle, and do so no more-
The idea may be that if Job tries to lay hands on the crocodile, he will do it only once and will not live to do it again. Eliphaz claims that God is preparing to judge Job like a king ready to ride into the battle (Job 15:24). But God's later revelation includes Him demonstrating that man cannot participate successfully in any battle with what God has willed (Job 41:8), and the horse runs foolishly into battle with no regard for consequence (Job 39:25). The connection with the words of Eliphaz may be in that it was effectively Eliphaz who was rushing into battle to do judgment against Job; and he was acting like the foolish horse, forgetting that God alone will fight in the battle, and win (Job 38:23).

Job 41:9 Behold, the hope of binding him is vain. Won’t one be cast down even at the sight of him?-
"Vain" is literally "a liar". In Job 24:25 he has boasted of the strength of his own speeches: "If it isn’t so now, who will prove me a liar [s.w. "vain"], and make my speech worth nothing?". Job has argued himself into an invincible position, in his own eyes. Indeed, all he says is true; but like the friends, truths are expressed but within a wrong context. Finally Job is to lay his hand upon his mouth in repentance (Prov. 30:32; Mic. 7:16) and recognize he has not spoken rightly (Job 40:4), although he earlier demanded the friends lay their hands upon their mouths before the power of his arguments (Job 21:5). God confirms this here by remarking that whoever has hope of overcoming Leviathan, His great beast (perhaps representing death and human mortality) is a liar to think he has such hope. Job has forgotten his humanity, despite being 'right' in his arguments. This is the problem with possessing truth; it can lead us to wrongly forget our humanity and consider ourselves invincible. 

Job 41:10 None is so fierce that he dare stir him up. Who then is he who can stand before Me?-
The reference is to how crocodiles are seen sleeping by the banks of rivers, but no man dare "stir him up" or even creep near him. But despite God's awesomeness, Job at that point was standing before God. The "sons of God" of the prologue likewise stood before the Lord. The idea is that this can only be possible through God's grace, and Job and the friends had been unaware of how awesome it was to be able to stand before God.

Job 41:11 Who has first given to Me, that I should repay him?-
This is quoted in Rom. 11:35 AV: "who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?". The context is Paul marvelling at God's utter grace. This was clearly how he was led to interpret this verse in Job. There is again legal language here; as if to say 'Who has put me under any legal obligation, forcing Me to do what you say and repay you what I owe you?". All Job's persistent demands to meet God in judgment were therefore inappropriate (Job 9:34,35; 10:3; 13:3,22; 23:3-7).


Everything under the heavens is Mine- Much of the language used about Leviathan and Behemoth is also used about God’s manifestation of Himself. Smoke from nostrils, flame from mouth (Job 41:11,12)= Ps. 18:8; Strength before and dismay behind (Job 41:14 Heb.) = Pestilence before and plague behind (Hab. 3:5); Strong ones and leaders cringe in fear (Job 41:17 Heb.) = Earth reels (Ps. 18:7) and mountains tremble (Hab. 3:6); Deep sea stirred up (Job 41:23,24 Heb.) = Deep sea laid bare (Ps. 18:5) ; Terrible teeth = Job felt that God was gnashing His teeth at him (Job 16:9); Breath carries men away = The breath of God’s mouth will carry away the wicked (Job 15:30); On earth there is not his equal (Job 41:33) = Only ultimately true of God. Leviathan is called the ‘cruel one’ (Job 41:10) – and the very same word is used by Job about God in His afflicting Job in Job 30:21. Leviathan, the seemingly overbearing power of evil in the world, be it in the early satan myths or Baylon, is in fact a manifestation of God to such an intense degree that effectively it ‘is’ God; God, ultimately, is the adversary / Satan to Job. The epilogue and prologue to Job are evidently related; see on Job 42:6.

Job 41:12 I will not keep silence concerning his limbs, nor his mighty strength, nor his goodly frame-
LXX "I will not be silent because of him: though because of his power one shall pity his antagonist". God pities Job because he had thought that in his own strength he could be right with God. This is perhaps what is in view in James 5:11, where we learn that at "the end of the Lord" in His relationship with Job, He showed Himself "very pitiful". This means that God is not shooting out these challenges to Job in anger or in offence at a mortal man, but rather in pity.

Job 41:13 Who can strip off his outer garment? Who shall come within his jaws?-
The reference is to the scaly "coat" of the crocodile. If that cannot be taken off, there is no chance to open his mouth and enter between his jaws, where crocodiles have ""two rows of sharply pointed teeth, thirty or more on each side".

Job 41:14 Who can open the doors of his face? Around his teeth is terror-
This may be an answer to Job's complaint in Job 16:9 that God "has gnashed on me with His teeth". Job 41:14 speaks of how terrible are the teeth of the creature God has made; but He alone can open the mouth of it and is fearless before its' teeth. The idea of the connection back to Job 16:9 is that God knows all about teeth. He has designed them, and even if Job thinks God is gnashing at Him like a beast, he must accept that God creates the beast and its teeth.

It is God alone who can "open" or "shut up" Leviathan (:15). Ginzberg demonstrates that the Jews saw the monster ‘Rahab’ and Leviathan as the same entity; and twice Job stresses how infinitely greater than Rahab is Yahweh. When God starts speaking about Leviathan, He is therefore confirming the truth of what Job has earlier said about His power over Rahab / Leviathan. The context of Job’s comments was to answer the theories of the friends – and God is as it were confirming that Job’s deconstruction of their ‘Satan’ theories was correct. The same Hebrew words are used about God’s binding and loosing of the stars [which were thought to control evil on earth] and His binding, loosing and opening of Leviathan’s mouth (Job 38:31 cp. Job 40:29). Whether or not Leviathan / a ‘Satan’ figure, or the bad stars, are for real... God is in utter control of them, and there is thus no conflict, no war in Heaven, no ultimate dualism at all in the cosmos. Which is just the message we would expect from a monotheistic Old Testament book. Israel’s God is truly the Almighty.

"Open" is the word for 'loosing'. Job sees God as capable of binding and loosing him, untying the cords that restrain affliction and then binding them up again (Job 30:11 s.w.). God's response is that indeed this is the case, and such binding and loosing is seen throughout the natural creation (s.w. Job 38:31; 39:5; 41:14). And therefore, Job and the exiles are to live in hope of being bound up in safety from affliction, just as God "untied His cord and afflicted me" in Job 30:11.

"Terror" is what the friends believed would come upon Job (Job 20:25 s.w.). "Terrors" are again the judgment of God upon an apostate Israel, whom Job was suffering for whilst innocent, after the pattern of the later Lord Jesus (Dt. 32:25 s.w.). Those "terrors" were likely understood by the friends as some kind of demonic beings. God deconstructs this by explaining that the great beasts He has created likewise were 'terrible' (s.w. "terrors"). But the simple point was that He had created them and was totally in control (s.w. Job 39:20; 41:14).

Job 41:15 Strong scales are his pride, shut up together with a close seal-
The scales of the crocodile resemble shields. The idea is that this beast represents the enemies of God's people, with none of their soldiers breaking rank, just as the prophets envisage Israel's enemies. But these are also all designed and created by God and can be manipulated by Him at will.

Job 41:16 One is so near to another, that no air can come between them-
"Air" here is ruach, the usual word for wind or spirit. If "air" was all that was meant, a different Hebrew word would be used. The idea is that there is a designed unity here between the shields / scales which God's Spirit will not break apart. This is a unity created by God. Unity comes from Him alone. And this is what we see in functional relationships within marriages and true churches.

Job 41:17 They are joined one to another. They stick together, so that they can’t be pulled apart-
The idea is that they are soldered to each other by God; see on :16.

Job 41:18 His sneezing flashes out light. His eyes are like the eyelids of the morning-
In Job 15:12 Eliphaz condemned Job: "Why do your eyes flash?". Job was indeed angry, with flashing eyes. But the expression of emotion is misinterpreted as being angry with God (:13). God's special creation, Leviathan, also had flashing eyes (Job 41:18,19). Perhaps this is God's way of saying that eyes flashing with anger is not necessarily sinful of itself, and is all part of the natural created order, and is not worthy of rebuke in itself. This is said against the backdrop of a Bedouin culture where expressions of emotion were only to be made in appropriate ways.

Job 41:19 Out of his mouth go burning torches. Sparks of fire leap forth-
The crocodile which had crawled up to Job is now transformed by God into more than an animal (:20 too). He starts to appear like part of the cherubim vision. The "burning torches" is s.w. "burning lamp" in the theophany of Gen. 15:17; Ez. 1:13; Dan. 10:6 and Ex. 20:18. This apparently frightful beast is actually a manifestation of Yahweh's glory. And that burning torch is how Yahweh's salvation shone forth for the exiles (s.w. Is. 62:1), and how the revived Judah could become (s.w. Zech. 12:6).

Job 41:20 Out of his nostrils a smoke goes, as of a boiling pot over a fire of reeds-
This continues the language of God manifestation / theophany; see on :19. The "smoke" is s.w. Gen. 15:17; Ex. 19:18 and other visions of God manifestation. "Goes" is the word for 'bring forth' in Job 28:11: "The thing that is hidden He brings forth to light". God can reveal everything physical, if He wishes. But man will still not find "wisdom" if he is searching for it as a 'physical' thing, obtained by a process of mining and subsequent refining. That reveals merely "stones of obscurity" (Job 28:3), nuggets of isolated truth. This message needs to be heeded by those who consider the Christian duty is to search out academic truth, mining it from the pages of the Bible and further processing it. This of itself is not to be despised, but this can be done as the Pharisees did it, and as the friends did- without coming to the awesome personal encounter with God and His grace with which the book of Job concludes. God can dry up the streams so that those panning in them thigh deep for precious stones- find them. He can bring them to light, but this is not the same thing as the "wisdom" of personal relationship with Him and departing from evil in our hearts (Job 28:9,10,28). This is what was happening on Job's life; God was 'bringing forth' light from death, deep things from darkness (s.w. Job 12:22). And this was realized by God bringing it forth, and not man's search for 'truth'. Job as a person was to be 'brought forth' by God as gold from that fire of affliction (Job 23:10 s.w.). Just as plants are 'brought forth' from the earth without the need for mining under the earth (Job 28:5 s.w.). This is why God's reply to Job keeps on using this word for 'bring forth', labouring the point that God 'brings forth' by His processes and initiatives, and not man. And that is as a code stamped upon all of creation (Job 38:8,29,32; 39:4,21; 41:20,21).

Job 41:21 His breath kindles coals. A flame goes forth from his mouth-
LXX "His breath is as live coals, and a flame goes out of his mouth". All this is the language of the cherubim. Leviathan, the great wild beast, was under God's control and Judah's whole experience with Babylon would result finally in the glory of Yahweh being revealed through this beast. The tragedy is that Babylon didn't fall as prophesied, at the time (it will in the last days, as Rev. 18 makes clear). The Jews preferred to remain in Babylon, and those who returned didn't act as they ought to have done. But it was the Divine intention that His glory be revealed through the fall of Babylon leading to Judah's exit from exile.

Job 41:22 There is strength in his neck. Terror dances before him-
This would be true of the crocodile, whose neck is about the same diameter as its head. AV "Sorrow is turned into joy before him". "Sorrow" or "terror" is also translated "fear". This creature which would strike fear into any man actually turns fear into joy. Through this awful, terrifying beast under God's control, fear of judgment is turned into joy in God's presence.


Job 41:23 The flakes of his flesh are joined together. They are firm on him. They can’t be moved-
The body of the crocodile is so compacted together that all its parts must move together, and the crocodile therefore has difficulty in turning. This theme is continued in the reference to him having a stone firm heart (:24). This is all similar language to that of the cherubim, who turned not as they went (Ez. 10:11). See on :19,20. God's movement is likewise multi factorial, all touched by it are part of the wider plan to manifest His saving glory, and it moves one way- towards human salvation.

Job 41:24 His heart is as firm as a stone, yes, firm as the lower millstone-
See on :23, which uses the same word for "firm".

Job 41:25 When he raises himself up, the mighty are afraid. They retreat before his thrashing-
Likewise Job and all men must retreat before God's raising up of Himself in manifestation, as was happening in the ongoing theophany. Job has already perceived this in theory, saying that he can do nothing when God raises Himself up (s.w. Job 31:23). But now what he had heard by the ear, known in theory, his eye was seeing (Job 42:5). "Retreat" is AV "they purify themselves"; and the friends would soon have to do this, through Job's agency in offering for them as he had once offered for the purifying of his children. "Thrashing" is the word for 'destruction', commonly used of the exiles' destruction (Is. 51:19 etc.). The exiles needed to see in that the raising up of God as leviathan, and to purify themselves in repentance.

Job 41:26 If one attacks him with the sword, it can’t prevail; nor the spear, the dart, nor the pointed shaft-
No weapon formed could prosper against Leviathan, just as no weapon formed against Israel would (Is. 54:17)- if they were on the side of God's manifestation, if this theophany was for and not against them.

Job 41:27 He counts iron as straw; and brass as rotten wood-
All human strength was as nothing before leviathan; and Job grasps this lesson with both hands in the next chapter. See on :26.

Job 41:28 The arrow can’t make him flee. Sling stones are like chaff to him-
Or "slingers". All the military strength and device of Gentile nations against Babylon would come to nothing. And yet Judah trusted desperately in Egypt and other Gentile nations to save them from Babylon. But God as the creator of this beast would remove it in due time. See on :26.

Zophar claims that Job was going to flee from the arrow of Divine judgment, but would all the same be struck through by it (Job 20:24,25). God's response was that His creatures didn't flee from His arrows (s.w. Job 41:28). Neither did Job flee from God; he uses the same term to describe how the wicked vainly tried to flee from God (Job 27:22). He was in harmony with the natural creation. Zophar was wrong. Job didn't flee from God but quite the opposite- he keeps begging God to reveal Himself, and He does so at the end of the book.


Job 41:29 Clubs are counted as stubble. He laughs at the rushing of the javelin-
This is all the language of Divine judgment (Nah. 3:3; Lam. 3:13). The horse doesn't fear that (Job 39:23), just as Leviathan doesn't (Job 41:29). He is as he is, not always wise, but free from the fear of judgment, not fearing the battle as men fear it. And this was perhaps how God wants His people to be, and this was in fact how Job was. See on :26.

Job 41:30 His undersides are like sharp potsherds, leaving a trail in the mud like a threshing sledge-
"His belly is covered with jagged scales"—a thing which is true of the crocodile, but scarcely of any other beast. LXX appears to more pointedly refer to Babylon, the 'golden city': "His lair is formed of sharp points; and all the gold of the sea under him is an immense quantity of clay".


Job 41:31 He makes the deep to boil like a pot. He makes the sea like a pot of ointment-
Referring to how the path of the crocodile through water causes an impression of boiling water. The sea / water was seen as the habitation of evil, radical evil out of God's control. But Leviathan / the manifestation of God could make it boil, and yet also make it as placidly calm as a pot of ointment when he is finished. And that was what was about to happen to Job.

"Boil" is the word used of Job's afflictions in Job 30:27 AV "My bowels boiled". This is the word used for the boiling of the exiles under Divine judgment (Ez. 24:5). God is able to make things boil in the natural creation and then make them perfectly still (Job 41:31 s.w.); and the message was that the days of affliction, the intense boiling of Job and later the exiles, could be made still in a moment.

Job 41:32 He makes a path shine after him. One would think the deep had white hair-
Referring to the white path of spray left by the crocodile as it passes through water. Job's experiences were of affliction set in his "path" (s.w. Job 19:8). And the Bedouins he curses in Job 30:1-12 were those who had abused him in that "path" (Job 30:13). So it seems he has in view the Sabeans who had abused him in the prologue, and yet this section also has clear reference to the friends. Yet that "path" of affliction which God had given Job was the path of wisdom and relationship with Him which was indiscernible to the human eye (Job 28:7 cp. 28); the fact that the ultimate path is invisible to the secular, naked eye is a truth stamped upon the natural creation (Job 38:20), and yet after the affliction or trouble caused by the passing of Leviathan, perhaps symbolic of the huge grief in Job's life, the pattern for Israel's future suffering at the hands of the beast... this path shines clearly (Job 41:32). And this was to be Job's experience at his restoration, as it could have been likewise for the exiles.

Job 41:33 On earth there is not his equal, that is made without fear-
LXX "There is nothing upon the earth like to him, formed to be sported with by my angels". Again, we see taught the utter supremacy of God over the greatest of the wild beasts, Babylon.

Job 41:34 He sees everything that is high. He is king over all the sons of pride
- The idea may be that the crocodile is king over all the animals, even the proud lions- representative of Babylon, in the context of the exiles. LXX "He is king of all that are in the waters", speaking of Babylon's supremacy over the nations.