Can you draw out Leviathan with a hook, or snare his tongue with a line which you lower? Can you put a reed through his nose, or pierce his jaw with a hook? Will he make many supplications to you? Will he speak softly to you? Will he make a covenant with you? Will you take him as a servant forever? Will you play with him as with a bird, or will you leash him for your maidens? Will your companions make a banquet of him? Will they apportion him among the merchants? Can you fill his skin with harpoons, or his head with fishing spears? Lay your hand on him; remember the battle — never do it again! Indeed, any hope of overcoming him is false; shall one not be overwhelmed at the sight of him? No one is so fierce that he would dare stir him up. Who then is able to stand against Me? Who has preceded Me, that I should pay him? Everything under heaven is Mine. “I will not conceal his limbs, his mighty power, or his graceful proportions. Who can remove his outer coat? Who can approach him with a double bridle? Who can open the doors of his face, with his terrible teeth all around? His rows of scales are his pride, shut up tightly as with a seal; one is so near another that no air can come between them; they are joined one to another, they stick together and cannot be parted. His sneezing’s flash forth light, and his eyes are like the eyelids of the morning. Out of his mouth go burning lights; sparks of fire shoot out. Smoke goes out of his nostrils, as from a boiling pot and burning rushes. His breath kindles coals, and a flame goes out of his mouth. Strength dwells in his neck, and sorrow dances before him. The folds of his flesh are joined together; they are firm on him and cannot be moved. His heart is as hard as stone, even as hard as the lower millstone. When he raises himself up, the mighty are afraid; because of his crashings they are beside themselves. Though the sword reaches him, it cannot avail; nor does spear, dart, or javelin. He regards iron as straw, and bronze as rotten wood. The arrow cannot make him flee; slingstones become like stubble to him. Darts are regarded as straw; he laughs at the threat of javelins. His undersides are like sharp potsherds; he spreads pointed marks in the mire. He makes the deep boil like a pot; he makes the sea like a pot of ointment. He leaves a shining wake behind him; one would think the deep had white hair. On earth there is nothing like him, which is made without fear. He beholds every high thing; he is king over all the children of pride.” (Job 41)
Growing up in Florida seeing large alligators was not uncommon. Visiting zoos revealed animals of voracious appetites thankfully enclosed behind secure bars of metal or glass or roaming safely at a distance. The waters of earth teem with large creatures that remind man of how small he is and nearly powerless to tame. There are some frightening creations walking and swimming in the world. It is difficult to imagine the kind of creature that Job knew so well and other Old Testament writers were familiar with. In the closing account of the book of Job, the Lord God brings to the mind of Job the powerful image of Leviathan. Reading the description seems almost impossible. Leviathan was an incredible sea-creature of serpent proportions. Created on the fifth day of the early world, Leviathan was nearly unrealistic in its reality. Job was well aware of Leviathan and what made this creature so powerful.
Leviathan was not a parabolic representation of the Lord to draw Job’s attention. This creature was a real, living and awesome thing to behold. There was nothing to compare with Leviathan save the behemoth. Man was given dominion over all the animals of the earth but Leviathan was a dominant foe. Job had questioned God and the Lord put Leviathan before the eyes of Job and challenged him to tame the beast. The physical description is incredible. Leviathan has impenetrable defenses with his outer coat, terrible teeth and massive proportions. It would seem almost fairy tale to accept a creature that shoots forth light from its nostrils or burning lights with sparks of fire from its mouth. God created this powerful sea-beast and all of it is true. Nothing can prevail upon this creature and he is the king over prideful men. It is easy to say Leviathan is not a creature you would want to meet in the day or night.
The message of God affected Job’s heart. There were many things the Lord told Job about the conflict this righteous man was having with his circumstance. Reminded in a very visible way the greatness of the Almighty, Job acknowledges the power of the Lord. If the creator of the world can fashion an animal like Leviathan, what can man do to challenge the word of God. Job realized that as terrifying as the sea creature was, there was little to compare with the terror of the one who made Leviathan. This creature does not exist today but the Lord does. He is the one who fashioned man and rules over man. Proud men are nothing in the eyes of the Lord. The psalmist Asaph speaks of the Lord breaking the heads of Leviathan showing the power of the creator. Leviathan is fed by the hand of the Lord and lives and dies according to the will of God. Isaiah declared the majesty of God in his power to destroy Leviathan reminding Israel of the coming judgment.
In the history of man there seems to be no better time than to bring back Leviathan to remind man of how puny he is and wasteful his pride. Job gives us a detailed description of the beast to be taken literal and true exemplifying the omnipotence of the one who rules the universe by his mighty power. Read again the testimony of Leviathan. Stand in awe of this mighty creature but do not fear him. Rather, fear the one who made Leviathan.
His wisdom and power in creating an ant or bee is no less than in the making of the sun and its spheres. (Judah Halevi, Cuzari, c. 1135)