God’s conversation with the patriarch Job, recorded in Job 41, was intended to show him that “God is God and Job is not.” In contemplating taking up his complaints with God, Job had been concerned with being overcome by terror (cf. Job 9:32-35; 13:20-22). In Job 41, Jehovah showed the suffering Job that his apprehensions were not misplaced. If Job would have to retreat in terror before a creature like leviathan, he certainly was unfit to argue with Almighty God! In the middle of His description of leviathan, the Lord asked Job: “No one is so fierce that he would dare stir him [leviathan—EL] up. Who then is able to stand against Me? Who has preceded Me, that I should pay him?” (Job 41:10-11). The Lord’s questions, of course, are meant to be rhetorical. No one can stand against God. He is the Almighty. He is Lord of all—even of the magnificent leviathan.
What is this amazing creature that God described in Job 41? God called it “leviathan.” But what is a leviathan? There are no animals today known by that name, are there?
Some modern scholars suggest that leviathan is a crocodile. In fact, certain versions of the Bible identify this creature in the marginal notes or chapter headings as the crocodile. But is God’s description of leviathan really consistent with a crocodile? By way of summary, Job was told
You can’t catch leviathan with a hook. You can’t kill him with a spear. In fact, leviathan laughs at the threat of javelins. When he raises himself up, the mighty are afraid. When he swims, the water boils with commotion. His underside is like sharp pieces of broken pottery that tear up the ground underneath him. Flashes of light and smoke expel from his nostrils like steam coming out of a boiling pot. Sparks of fire shoot out of his mouth, and his eyes glow like the morning sun. Leviathan is too powerful and ferocious to be captured by man.
God’s description of leviathan simply does not fit the crocodile (or any other another animal present in the world today). Steve Irwin, better known as “the crocodile hunter,” and his associates have shown us that crocodiles can be captured by man with little (if any) “high-tech weaponry,” just as they were by the ancient Egyptians. The Greek historian Herodotus discussed how the Egyptians captured crocodiles, and how that, after being seized, some even were tamed (Rowley, 1980, p. 259; Jackson, 1983, p. 87). Such a scene hardly depicts the animal of Job 41. If it did, then one would have to wonder what the purpose was behind God’s speech? If Job or others of his day could capture and tame this animal, could he also “stand against” God? That seems to be the conclusion one would have to draw if this creature were anything other than the untamable, ferocious creature God described. Thus, reason compels us to admit that leviathan must be some other kind of creature. But what kind? God’s description of leviathan is similar in every way with the descriptions we have of dinosaur-like, water-living reptiles that once roamed the Earth.
Some may wonder why this topic deserves to be “tackled” in an article such as this? Why not just accept what the “scholars” tell us about the identity of leviathan? Why? Because many of those who teach that this creature was a crocodile, and who reject the possibility of this creature being a dinosaur-like, water-living reptile, do so on the basis that dinosaurs and humans never lived together on the Earth at the same time. They believe and teach that dinosaurs, and dinosaur-like, water living reptiles, lived many millions of years ago—long before Job ever came along. Yet the Bible says: “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them” (Exodus 20:11). He created water living animals on day five, and land animals on day six—the same day He created man (see Genesis 1:20-31; cf. Mark 10:6). The bottom line is: man and dinosaurs did live together. Job and dinosaurs easily could have been contemporaries (and, in my judgment, were). To say that leviathan could not have been a dinosaur-like, water living reptile because dinosaurs lived millions of years ago is to reject the biblical truth that God created everything in six days.
Jackson, Wayne (1983), The Book of Job (Abilene, TX: Quality).
Rowley, Harold Henry (1980), Job (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans)