What's in a Word | All Blogs


A sea monster of biblical proportions

By Debra Dobbins

In the modern sense used in the headline above, “leviathan” means something that is powerful or huge. Concluding his letter to the editor about his concerns over Obamacare, Alan Metcalfe refers to “a leviathan state consuming and controlling one-sixth of an economy already on the ropes.”

“Leviathan” comes to English from a Hebrew word and is found in the Old Testament. The book of Job lengthily describes it as a terrifying sea monster with flames shooting from its mouth.

According to Webster’s, the leviathan “was variously thought of as either a reptile or a whale.”

The complete description of the leviathan in Chapter 41 of Job can be found at http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Job+41&version=NI

"Destruction of Leviathan”
1865 engraving by Gustave Doré
Photo of engraving courtesy of Wikipedia

 

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