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Index / Religions / West Semitic religions
Leviathan


The Destruction of Leviathan, by Gustave Dore (1865).
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The Destruction of Leviathan, by Gustave Dore (1865).

In Judaism, a primordial sea serpent, symbolizing negative powers. Leviathan is also part of general West Semitic mythology.
In Job 40:20-41:25 it is presented as a gruesome creature which no man can defeat, only God.
In Isaiah 27:1 it is presented as a contemporary monster, which will be killed by God in the future, when peace is established and the dead have been resurrected, i.e. at the end of time. It may be taken from this verse, that Leviathan is a symbol of the enemies of Israel, or that he represents the climax of the destruction of everything that threatens Israel.
According to Psalms 74:14, Leviathan is already crushed, and was given as food to the Hebrews in the wilderness.
The myth of Leviathan is linked to a central motif in many other religions, in this case especially Mesopotamian religions and Canaanite and Phoenician religions: The primordial battle between the creator and the monster, from which earthly stability was created.
From Canaanite and Phoenician religions the sea god Yamm was killed by Baal, and this myth seems to be directly linked to the myth of Leviathan.




By Tore Kjeilen