an animal doubtless referred to under the name Leviathan (לַויָתָן) in the famous description of Job 41 (Job 40:24), of which the following is a close rendering:
Canst thou draw out Leviathan with a hook, Or with a cord canst thou press down his tongue? Say, canst thou put a rush-[rope] in his nose, Or with a tholn-[hook] canst thou bore his jaw? Will he multiply to thee supplications; Supposest thou he will speak to thee soft [things]? Will he ratify a covenant with thee? Wilt thou take him for a servant [for] ever? Wilt thou play with him as with the sparrow, Or tie him for thy maidens? Shall there dig [a pit] for him partners, [And] share him between Canaanites [i.e. merchants]? Canst thou fill with darts his skin, Or with a fish-spear [i.e. harpoon] his head? Lay upon him [but] thy hand Thou wilt remember battle no more! Lo! his [i.e. the assailant's] hope has been belied: At the very sight of him will he be prostrated? None [so] bold that will rouse him! (Then who [is] he [that] before Me shall take a stand? Who has anticipated me [in giving], that I should repay? Under the whole heavens to me [belongs] that!) I will not pass in silence his members, And famed strength, and beauteous armature. Who has disclosed the surface of his covering? In his double [row] of grinders who can enter? The valves of his face who has opened? The circuits of his teeth [are] frightful! A pride [are his] strong shields [i.e. scales], Shut [with] a close seal:
One in [the] other will they join, And a breath cannot come between them: Each in its fellow will adhere They will cling together that they cannot be parted [At] his sneezings a light will flash, And his eyes [are] like the lashes of dawn: From his mouth will flames proceed; Sparks of fire will escape: From his nostrils a smoke will go, Like a pot blown with [blazing] reeds: His breath-coals will it kindle, And a flame from his mouth will go. In his neck force shall lodge, And before him terror shall run. The flaps of his flesh have stuck [fast]; Solid upon him, it cannot be shaken: His heart [is] solid like a stone, Even solid like [the] under mill-stone, From his rising [the] mighty shall fear, From terrors they shall stray. [One] hitting him [with the] sword, it will not at all stand [the shock] Lance, dart, or mail: He will regard as straw, iron; As rotten wood, copper: The bow-shotcannot make him flee, To chaff have sling-stones been changed for him. Like chaff clubs have been regarded [by him], And he will laugh at the brandishing of the javelin. Under him [are] points [as] of pottery, He will strew [his spiked belly like] a threshing-sledge upon [the] mud: He will cause [the] deep to boil like the poti [The] sea he will make like the unguent-kettle: Behind him lie will illuminate a path; [One] would regard [the] main as hoary. [There is] not upon [the] dust his ruler The [one] made without dismayt Everything lofty will he behold. He, [the] king over all the sons of pride [i.e. larger beasts].
This description is in the main strikingly applicable to animals of the alligator tribe, although highly colored in the poetic style. Yet, as observed with regard to the associated animal, SEE BEHEMOTH, the phraseology is perhaps rather intended generically for large amphibious monsters of the saurian or lizard family, than for anyone creature distinctively; a conclusion that is confirmed by the employment of the Hebrews term leviathan to other animals of the fishy and reptile kinds. Indeed, as in the case of the hippopotamus, despite the formidable attributes ascribed to the beast in question by the writer in Job, it appears to have been attacked without much fear by the ancients; and although held sacred in some parts of Egypt, where it is especially found, in other nomes it was hunted successfully (Wilkinson, Anc. Eg. 1:241 sq.). The crocodile, however, is apparently elsewhere definitely referred to in Scripture by other names, especially as the reed-beast (Ps 68:31; see Schramm, De bestia arundineti, F. ad O. 1713). SEE RAHAB.
"The crocodiles, constituting the order Loricata among reptiles, are distinguished pre-eminently by the character noticed in Holy Writ. They are clothed on the entire upper parts of the body with distinct series of bones, imbedded in the substance of the skin, and for the most part furnished with a ridge or crest, which greatly augments their strength, and constitutes the whole a coat of plate-mail which is able to resist the assaults of the most powerful enemy. The structure of the skull is remarkably solid, and it is surmounted by bony crests. There is a single row of teeth in each side of each jaw, locking into each other. The gape is enormous; the lips are altogether wanting, so that the teeth are visible when the mouth is closed; hence the animal, even when tranquil, seems to be grinning with rage. The tongue is fleshy, flat, but free only at the extreme edge, the inferior surface being adherent to the chin and throat; hence the crocodile has been erroneously represented as tongueless.
"All the species of this order are of huge size: not only are they the hugest of reptiles, but they are among the most gigantic of all animals. Crocodiles have been described as attaining a length of twenty-five feet, but no specimens have been brought to Europe of nearly that size. They are probably long-lived, and perhaps their increase of dimensions is commensurate with their age. Highly carnivorous and predaceous, fierce and cunning, they are greatly dreaded in all the tropical regions which they inhabit. Lurking in the dense reeds or tangled herbage that grows rank and teeming at the edges of rivers in hot climates, or under the mangroves that interweave their myriad roots in arches above the water, or concealed among the bleaching trunks and branches of trees that have fallen into the stream, these huge reptiles watch for the approach of a living prey, or feed at leisure on the putrid carcasses with which the waters daily supply them. It is even affirmed that they prefer a condition of putrescence in their prey, and that their practice, when not pressed by immediate hunger, is, on seizing a living prey to plunge into the stream in order to drown it, after which it is dragged away to some hole, and stored until decomposition has commenced.
"Among the decorations of the palace of Shalmaneser, M. Botta discovered a bas-relief continued over five slabs, and representing a great naval expedition against a maritime city. A fleet of ships transport timber along a coast washed by the sea, and studded with fortified islands-perhaps the siege of Tyre by this Assyrian monarch. The sea is represented as filled with various marine animals, such as fishes of various forms, turtles, turbinate shells, crabs, and crocodiles (Mon. de Ninive). This, it is true, may have been but a license of the artist; but Mr. Lyell, in his Principles of Geology, observes that the gavial, a larger species than the crocodile of the Nile, inhabiting the Ganges, descends beyond the brackish water of the delta to the sea. And other species of the genus Crocodilus (as restricted) are frequently known not only to haunt the mouths of rivers, but even to swim among islands, and pass from one to another, though separated by considerable spaces of open sea." See the Penny Cyclopaedia, s.v. SEE LEVIATHAN.
"The crocodiles consist of three varieties, or perhaps species, all natives of the Nile, distinguishable by the different arrangement of the scutae or bony studs on the neck, and the number of rows of the same processes along the back. Their general lizard-form is too well known to need particular description; but it may be remarked that of the whole family of crocodiles, comprehending the sharp-beaked gavials of India, the alligators of the West, and the crocodiles properly so called, the last are supplied with the most vigorous instruments for swimming, both from the strength and vertical breadth of their tails, and from the deeper webs of the fingers of their paws. Although all have from thirty to forty teeth in each jaw, shaped like spikes, without breadth so as to cut, or surface so as to admit of grinding, the true crocodile alone has one or more teeth. on each side in both jaws, exerted, that is, not closing within, but outside the jaw. They have no external ear beyond a follicle of skin, and the eyes have a position above the plane of the head, the pupils being contractile, like those of a cat, and in some having a luminous greenish tinge, which may have suggested the comparison of the eyes of leviathan to 'the eyelids of the dawn' (Job 41:10 [A. V. 18]). The upper jaw is not movable, but, as well as the forehead, is extremely dense and bony; the rest of the upper surface being covered with several rows of bosses, or plated ridges, which on the tail are at last reduced from two to one, each scale having a high horny crest, which acts as part of a great fin. Although destitute of a real voice, crocodiles when angry produce a snorting sound, something like a deep growl [or rather grunt]; and occasionally they open the mouth very wide, remain for a time thus exposed facing the breeze, and, closing the jaws with a sudden snap, cause a report like the fall of a trap-door. It is an awful sound in the stillness of the night in tropical countries. The gullet of the crocodile is very wide, the tongue being completely tied to the lower jaw, and beneath it are glands exuding a musky substance. On land the crocodile, next to the gavial, is the most active, and in the water it is also the species that most readily frequents the open sea. Of the immense number of genera examined, none reached to 25 feet in length, and the specimen in the British Museum is believed to be one of the largest. Sheep are observed to be unmolested by these animals; but where they abound no pigs can be kept, perhaps from their frequenting the muddy shores; for we have known only one instance of crocodiles being encountered in woods not immediately close to the water's side: usually they bask on sandy islands. They rarely attack men, but women are sometimes seized by them: in Nubia they are much more dangerous than in Egypt. (See Wilkinson's Modern Egypt and Thebes, 2:127.) As their teeth are long, but not fitted for cutting, they seize their prey, which they can not masticate, and swallow it nearly entire, or bury it beneath the waves to macerate. Having very small excretory organs, their digestion requires, and accordingly they are found to possess, an immense biliary apparatus. They are oviparous, burying their eggs in the sand; and the female remains in the vicinity to dig them out on the day the young have broken the shell. Crocodiles are caught with hooks, and they seldom succeed in cutting the rope when properly prepared. Though a ball fired point blank will penetrate between the scales which cover the body, the invulnerability of these great saurians is sufficiently exemplified by the following occurrence. One being brought well bound to the bazaar at Cawnpore on the Ganges, it was purchased by the British officers on the spot, and carried farther inland for the purpose of being baited. Accordingly, the ligatures, excepting those which secured the muzzle, being cut asunder, the monster, though it had been many hours exposed to the heat, and was almost suffocated with dust, fought its way through an immense crowd of assailants, soldiers and natives, armed with staves, lances, swords, and stones, and worried by numerous terriers, hounds, and curs; overturning all in its way, till, scenting the river, it escaped to the water at a distance of two miles, in spite of the most strenuous opposition!
"With the ancient Egyptians the crocodile was a sacred animal, not, however, one of those revered by the whole nation, but only locally held in honor. Of old it was found in Lower as well as Upper Egypt; now it is restricted to the latter region, never descending as low as Cairo, and usually not being seen until the traveler approaches the Thebais. In hieroglyphics it bears the name msuh, literally 'in the egg,' as though expressing surprise that so great an animal should issue from so small an egg. From this name the Coptic and Arabic names take their origin. The crocodile was sacred to the god Sebak, represented with the head of this animal and the body of a man, and of uncertain place in the Egyptian mythology. It was not only not worshipped throughout Egypt, but was as much hated in some as venerated in other parts of the country: thus in the Ombite nome it was worshipped, and hunted in the Apollinopolite and Tentyrite nomes. The worship of this animal is no doubt of Nigritian origin, like all the low nature-worship of Egypt. It is not certain that the crocodile was an emblem of the king with the Egyptians, but it seems probable that this was the case.
"There is evidence that the crocodile was found in Syria at the time of the Crusades. A reptile of this kind has lately been discovered in the Nahr el- kelb, the ancient Lycus.
"The exploit of Dieudonné de Bozon, knight of St. John, who, when a young man, slew the dragon of Rhodes, an exploit which Schiller has celebrated in his 'Kampf mit dem Drachen,' must be regarded as a combat with a crocodile, which had probably been carried northward by the regular current of the eastern Mediterranean; for so the picture still extant in the harem of a Turkish inhabitant represents the Hayawan Keber, or Great Beast — a picture necessarily painted anterior to the expulsion of the knights in 1480. As De Bozon died Grand Master of the Order at Rhodes in 1353, and the spoils of the animal long remained hung up in a church, there is not, we think, any reason to doubt the fact, though most of the recorded circumstances may be fabulous. SEE DRAGON. All the ancient Greek and the later Mediterranean dragons, as those of Naples, Arles, etc., where they are not allegorical or fictitious, are to be referred to the crocodile." SEE LIZARD.