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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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תן and תנין , Genesis 1:21 ; Job 7:12 ; Ezekiel 32:2 ; κητος , Matthew 12:40 ; the largest of all the inhabitants of the water. A late author, in a dissertation expressly for the purpose, has proved that the crocodile, and not the whale, is spoken of in Genesis 1:21 . The word in Job 7:12 , must also be taken for the crocodile. It must mean some terrible animal, which, but for the watchful care of Divine Providence, would be very destructive. Our translators render it by dragon in Isaiah 27:1 , where the prophet gives this name to the king of Egypt: "He shall slay the dragon, that is in the sea." "The sea there is the river Nile, and the dragon the crocodile, Ezekiel 32:2 . On this passage Bochart remarks, "The תנין is not a whale, as people imagine; for a whale has neither feet nor scales, neither is it to be found in the rivers of Egypt; neither does it ascend therefrom upon the land; neither is it taken in the meshes of a net; all of which properties are ascribed by Ezekiel to the תנין of Egypt. Whence it is plain that it is not a whale that is here spoken of, but the crocodile. Merrick supposes David, in Psalms 74:13 , to speak of the tunnie, a kind of whale, with which he was probably acquainted; and Bochart thinks it has its Greek name thannos from the Hebrew thanot. The last mentioned fish is undoubtedly that spoken of in Psalms 104:26 . We are told, that, in order to preserve the Prophet Jonah when he was thrown overboard by the mariners, "the Lord prepared a great fish to swallow him up." What kind of fish it was, is not specified; but the Greek translators take the liberty to give us the word κητος , whale; and though St.

Matthew 12:40 , makes use of the same word, we may probably conclude that he did so in a general sense; and that we are not to understand it as an appropriated term, to point out the particular species of fish. It is notorious that sharks are common in the Mediterranean.

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Whale'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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