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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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Levi´athan ( [mourning—A.V.]; 41:1; ; ; ) [BEHEMOTH, CROCODILE, DRAGON]. Gesenius very justly remarks that this word, which denotes any twisted animal, is especially applicable to every great tenant of the waters, such as the great marine serpents and crocodiles, and, it may be added, the colossal serpents and great monitors of the desert. In general it points to the crocodile, and Job 41 is unequivocally descriptive of that Saurian. Probably the Egyptian crocodile is therein depicted in all its magnitude, ferocity, and indolence, such as it was in early days, when as yet unconscious of the power of man, and only individually tamed for the purposes of an imposture, which had sufficient authority to intimidate the public and protect the species, under the sanctified pretext that it was a type of pure water, and an emblem of the importance of irrigation; though the people in general seem ever to have been disposed to consider it a personification of the destructive principle. At a later period the Egyptians, probably of such places as Tentyris, where crocodiles were not held in veneration, not only hunted and slew them, but it appears from a statue that a sort of Bestiarii could tame them sufficiently to perform certain exhibitions mounted on their backs. The intense musky odor of its flesh must have rendered the crocodile, at all times, very unpalatable food, but breast-armor was made of the horny and ridged parts of its back. We have ourselves witnessed a periodical abstinence in the great Saurians, and have known negro women, while bathing, play with young alligators; which, they asserted, they could do without danger, unless they hurt them and thereby attracted the vengeance of the mother; but the impunity most likely resulted from the period of inactivity coinciding with the then state of the young animals, or from the negro women being many in the water at the same time. The occurrence took place at Old Harbor, Jamaica.





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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Leviathan'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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