The Leviathan reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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<em>Leviathan</em> an engraving by [[Gustav DoreEnlarge

Leviathan an engraving by [[Gustav Dore


Leviathan (לויתן "Twisted; coiled", Standard Hebrew Livyatan, Tiberian Hebrew Liwyāṯān) was a Biblical multi-headed sea monster, referred to in passing in the Old Testament (Psalms 74:13-14; Job 41; Isaiah 27:1), probably referring to crocodile or whale. The word leviathan has become synonymous with any large monster or creature. It is also mentioned in earlier Ugaritic mythology, under the name Ltn (*Lôtân), in which it is associated with the sea-god Yam.

The Biblical leviathan is often considered to be a demon associated with Satan or the Devil, and held by some to be the same monster as Rahab (Isaiah 51:9). The Biblical references to leviathan appear to have evolved from a Canaanite legend involving a confrontation between Hadad (Baal) and a seven headed sea monster which Hadad defeats, and they also resemble a Babylonian myth in which the storm god Marduk slays the sea monster Tiamat and creates the earth and sky from the two halves of her corpse.

In his book, In Search of Prehistoric Survivors, renowned cryptozoologist Dr. Karl Shuker considers the Leviathan to be a myth inspired, at least in part, by sightings of a Mosasaur-type sea monster. Bernard Heuvelmans, in his book In the Wake of Sea Serpents (Dans le sillage des monstres marins) considered the entity to be of the "Marine centipede" type.

Legend has it that in the banquet after Armageddon, the carcass of the leviathan will be served as a meal, along with the behemoth and the ziz. Leviathan may also be interpreted as the sea itself, with its counterparts behemoth being the land and ziz being the air and aerospace.

Certain Jewish legends consider leviathan as an androgynous dragon that seduced Eve in his male form, and Adam in his female form.

In demonology a leviathan is every aquatic demon. They are great liars. Leviathans can also possess persons, being very difficult to exorcise; they try to possess every person, but especially women.

Some biblical scholars considered Leviathan to represent the pre-existent forces of chaos. In Psalm 74:13-14 it says "it was You who drove back the sea with Your might, who smashed the heads of the monsters in the waters; it was You who crushed the heads of Leviathan, who left him as food for the creatures of the wilderness. (JPS edition)" God drove back the waters of the pre-existent Earth (Genesis 1:2 "the earth being unformed and void with darkness over the surface of the deep and a wind from God sweeping over the water-" [JPS edition]) and destroyed the chaotic marine monster Leviathan in order to shape the unformed and void Earth in his liking.

During sea-faring's Golden Age, European sailors saw Leviathan as gigantic whale-like sea monster, usually a sea serpent, that devoured whole ships by swimming around the vessles so quickly as to create a whirlpool.


The word has been reused (not only in literature) over and again:

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In Hebrew, leviathan also means a device for washing raw wool.