on Job 41 :1
Canst thou draw out leviathan - We come now to a subject not less perplexing than that over which we have passed, and a subject on which learned men are less agreed than on the preceding. What is leviathan? The Hebrew word לויתן livyathan is retained by the Vulgate and the Chaldee. The Septuagint have, Αξεις δε δρακοντα; "Canst thou draw out the Dragon?" The Syriac and Arabic have the same. A species of whale has been supposed to be the creature in question; but the description suits no animal but the crocodile or alligator; and it is not necessary to seek elsewhere. The crocodile is a natural inhabitant of the Nile, and other Asiatic and African rivers. It is a creature of enormous voracity and strength, as well as fleetness in swimming. He will attack the largest animals, and even men, with the most daring impetuosity. In proportion to his size he has the largest mouth of all monsters. The upper jaw is armed with forty sharp strong teeth, and the under jaw with thirty-eight. He is clothed with such a coat of mail as cannot be pierced, and can in every direction resist a musket-ball. The Hebrew לוי levi תן ten signifies the coupled dragon; but what this is we know not, unless the crocodile be meant.
With a hook - That crocodiles were caught with a baited hook, at least one species of crocodile, we have the testimony of Herodotus, lib. ii., c. 70: Επεαν νωτον συος δελεασῃ περι αγκιστρον, μετιει ες μεσον τον ποταμον, κ. τ. λ. "They take the back or chine of a swine, and bait a hook with it, and throw it into the midst of the river; and the fisherman stands at some distance on the shore holding a young pig, which he irritates, in order to make it squeak. When the crocodile hears this he immediately makes towards the sound; and, finding the baited hook in his way, swallows it, and is then drawn to land, when they dash mud into his eyes, and blind him; after which he is soon despatched."
In this way it seems leviathan was drawn out by a hook: but it was undoubtedly both a difficult and dangerous work, and but barely practicable In the way in which Herodotus relates the matter.
Or his tongue with a cord - It is probable that, when the animal was taken, they had some method of casting a noose round his tongue, when opening his mouth; or piercing it with some barbed instrument. Thevenot says that in order to take the crocodile they dig holes on the banks of the river, and cover them with sticks. The crocodiles fall into these, and cannot get out. They leave them there for several days without food, and then let down nooses which they pitch on their jaws, and thus draw them out. This is probably what is meant here.
on Job 41 :1
Canst thou draw out - As a fish is drawn out of the water. The usual method by which fish were taken was with a hook; and the meaning here is, that it was not possible to take the leviathan in this manner. The whole description here is of an animal that lived in the water.
Leviathan - Much has been written respecting this animal, and the opinions which have been entertained have been very various. Schultens enumerates the following classes of opinions in regard to the animal intended here.
1. The opinion that the word leviathan is to be retained, without attempting to explain it - implying that there was uncertainty as to the meaning. Under this head he refers to the Chaldee and the Vulgate, to Aquila and Symmacbus, where the word is retained, and to the Septuagint, where the word Δράκοντα Drakonta, "dragon," is used, and also the Syriac and Arabic, where the same word is used.
2. The fable of the Jews, who mention a serpent so large that it encompassed the whole earth. A belief of the existence of such a marine serpent or monster still prevails among the Nestorians.
3. The opinion that the whale is intended.
4. The opinion that a large fish called "Mular," or "Musar," which is found in the Mediterranean, is denoted. This is the opinion of Grotius.
5. The opinion that the crocodile of the Nile is denoted.
6. The opinion of Hasaeus, that not the whale is intended, but the "Orca," a sea-monster armed with teeth, and the enemy of the whale.
7. Others have understood the whole description as allegorical, as representing monsters of iniquity; and among these, some have regarded it as descriptive of the devil! See Schultens. To these may be added the description of Milton:
- That sea-beast
Leviathan, which God of all his works
Created hug'st that swim the ocean-stream,
Him, haply, slumb'ring on the Norway foam,
The pilot of some small night-foundered skiff
on Job 41 :1
41:1 Leviathan - Several particulars in the following description, agree far better with the crocodile, than the whale. It is highly probable, that this is the creature here spoken of. Cord - Canst thou take him with a hook and a line, as anglers take ordinary fishes.