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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Job 41

Verses 1-9

Leviathan


The second beast that God presents to Job is Leviathan, a sea creature also made by Him (Psa 104:26). The description shows a beast that has a very different character from the previous beast. It is not an herbivore, like Behemoth, but a predator. The first beast shows the soft, peaceful, feminine side, the second beast shows the brute, ferocious side and is out to destroy. Neither of them can be conquered by humans.

The sea in which this beast lives is a picture of rebellious, wicked powers in general and of raging nations in particular (Isa 17:12-13; Isa 57:20; Psa 65:8; Rev 17:15). Therefore there is no more sea on the new earth (Rev 21:1). But now it is still so that satan rages therein and makes her boil (Job 41:31). We see in Leviathan the character of satan as a “roaring lion” (1Pet 5:8). He is completely insensitive and unapproachable, because his heart is “hard as a stone” (Job 41:24). God will crush him completely (Psa 74:14; cf. Rom 16:20).

God begins by asking Job if he could draw this great beast out of the water with a fishhook, as if it were a fish that you could easily catch with a fishing rod (Job 41:1). The question of God indicates the impossibility for Job to catch that beast. What Job cannot do, God can do (cf. Eze 29:3-4; Eze 38:3-4; Isa 37:29).

Then God points Job to the tongue in the mouth of the beast. Is Job able to press down his tongue with a cord, i.e. tie it to the lower jaw? The tongue is used to taste and swallow food. When the tongue is tamed, the beast can no longer swallow. But is Job able to control the tongue? That too is impossible for Job. He can’t even catch it and drag it towards him, let alone get so close that he could grab it by his mouth to bind his tongue. By the way, it would be his end, for the beast would devour him.

It is remarkable that the tongue is explicitly mentioned here. Satan is the “father of lies” (Jn 8:44), and he incites the tongues of men to speak evil (cf. Jam 3:6). “But no one can tame the tongue; it [is a] restless evil [and] full of deadly poison” (Jam 3:8). But who can? The Lord Jesus! He will finally bring every tongue under His authority. Even the tongue of satan will swear by Him (Isa 45:23) and confess Him as Lord (Rom 14:11; Phil 2:11).

God continues to tell Job if he can show by any act that he is in control of Leviathan. Is Job able to put a rope in his nose or pierce his jaw with a hook (Job 41:2)? These too are actions that require great courage and strength, because they require him to get close to the beast. Job will not dare, for it will result in certain death. He has no power to curb this evil power, which is a picture of satan. Only God has that power.

Also here we see that God uses the picture of Leviathan for satan and also for anti godly powers (e.g. Egypt and Assyria) and persons (e.g. the pharaoh, Gog and Sennacherib) used by satan, as He does more often in the Bible. We see that God does exactly what He asks of Job here: “Behold, I am against you, Pharaoh king of Egypt, … I will put hooks in your jaws” (Eze 29:3-4); “Behold, I am against you, O Gog, … I will … put hooks into your jaws” (Eze 38:3-4); Sennacherib king of Assyria … I will put My hook in your nose” (Isa 37:21; 29).

In Job 41:3 God points out the character of the beast. Does Job think that the beast is willing to beg him not to kill him and to speak sweet, soft words because he recognizes his boss in Job? God here speaks about the beast in a human way, but it makes the intention clear. This beast will never surrender to man and will never be willing to make a covenant with him (Job 41:4). Job will never succeed in accepting him “for a servant forever”.

This situation is the consequence of the Fall. Then man lost the dominion that God had given him over the beasts (Gen 1:28) and became a slave to satan with all that he had dominion over. Satan is now “the ruler of the world” (Jn 14:30) and “the god of this age” (2Cor 4:4). We therefore see behind this beast the picture of satan looming up, who will never make a deal with man. He knows that he has man in his power. Only God is above him, as is everyone who is in Christ.

Leviathan, a picture of satan, does not allow to be played with like birds that are captured (Job 41:5). He is not a toy for little girls, not even if Job would tie him up so that he cannot leave. This is an important warning. Even today there are many people who playfully use evil powers through occult practices (such as turning a glass, commuting, soothsaying) and are fascinated by them. They should know that satan never puts his power at the service of man as entertainment, but pursues his own goals.

He is also not a merchandise for traders, from which profit can be made by several merchants because it is such an enormous beast with many parts of its body (Job 41:6). He cannot be caught, killed, cut up and sold in parts. He does not let himself be pushed around. When people make large profits with the help of the power of satan and earn their living with it (Acts 16:16), they make themselves dependent on him, a dependence that will usually cost them their souls.

Job should also take a good look at the skin of the beast (Job 41:7). Can he fill it with harpoons and spears, so that the beast will be killed? He cannot, for his skin is a scaly armor (Job 41:16). The same goes for his head. You won’t get a fish harpoon through that.

The last suggestion to Job that he can show that he is the master of this monster is to put his hand on him (Job 41:8). No fishhook, no rope, no spears, no fish harpoon, but his hand. Does Job have so much power in his hand, that he can hold the beast under it and make it feel that he is the boss? Job has to think of the (short) battle the beast would have with him, after which he would be devoured. He would never do it again, because he would never be able to do it.

Any expectation to overpower this monster is a vain expectation, a lie (Job 41:9). Just when you see that beast, you are nowhere. Your courage sinks, you are caught by fear and you collapse. With this God’s presentation to Job of Leviathan ends. It has become clear that Job is no match for this monster and that his power is nothing compared to that of this beast. He can in no way exercise any authority over this creature of God. All he can do is look upon it with awe and trembling and stay at a safe distance from it.

God here shows Job how hopeless a dispute with the Almighty is for him. Man trembles and loses his courage by the mere sight of one of God’s creatures. Overwhelmed by fear, he withdraws from that power and runs away. How, then, can he presume to enter into a dispute with God? What hope can he have of a lawsuit with Him (cf. Job 13:3; Job 23:3)?

In the next section God speaks further about Leviathan, but then in connection with the power He has over this mighty beast. Then it becomes clear how powerful He is.

Verses 10-34

Leviathan (continued)


God continues to speak to Job about Leviathan, but He changes the form of address. He no longer speaks in questioning form, but in descriptive form. The previous section deals with the relationship of this beast to Job. In this part it is about the relationship of this beast to God. God gives an impressive description of the beast. He points Job to different parts of the body. The intention is to make it extra clear who He is in comparison with this mighty, dangerous beast. He is the only One Who has complete control over it. After the inability of man in the face of this monster has been demonstrated, here follows the climax in the complete authority of God over him.

There is no one, neither Job nor any other man, who dares to come near Leviathan to awaken him (Job 41:10). The meaning is clear. God says here: If one of My creatures is so formidable that man does not dare to challenge him, how can man enter into battle with the great Creator? Here we can listen to a reprimand to Job. After all, Job said that he wanted to submit his case to God so that God would justify him.

If the creature is so impressive, for whom no one can stand, who can stand before its Creator (cf. Psa 76:7)? This is even more daring and dangerous than defying Leviathan. Can Job, who said he would come to meet God “as a prince” if he had the chance (Job 41:11; Job 31:37)? If man is unable to catch a creature of the Almighty by surprise and submit to serve him, how can he expect to force the Creator to grant him the favors he requests?

And would God repay him for what he has done, as if God were in his debt (cf. Rom 11:35)? With one mighty word God silences anyone who takes up the word against Him: “What is under all heaven is mine” (cf. Psa 24:1; Psa 50:10-12). God says here: ‘Everything belongs to Me, everything is subject to Me. I dispose of it according to My pleasure. No one can claim anything as his own. No one can deprive Me of anything.’ This claim to the ownership of all things created is made here to show Job that no one can exercise control over Someone Who is so exalted. It is therefore Job’s duty to submit to Him without any complaint and to receive with gratitude from Him what He chooses to give.

After this interlude about His exaltation, God continues with the description of Leviathan. It will be a more detailed description than in the previous chapter. There it is a general description and the beast is presented as a great power. God is now going to describe the various “limbs” of the beast that confirm the general impression (Job 41:12). As a result, the listener will be even more deeply impressed by it and, as a consequence, by its Creator. The description of the limbs includes in particular his beak, his teeth, his skin (“outer armor”), his eyelids, his nose, his neck, and his heart.

God does not remain silent about this. He wants to emphatically draw our attention to this. He does so by talking about it, through which we get His view, the right view, on this beast. He will speak “of his mighty strength”, and “his orderly frame”. God knows what He is talking about. Everything that characterizes this beast, He has given it. That is about his strength and his form, the right proportions of all the limbs. In it the creativity and skill of the Creator can be admired. It isn’t the admiration of the beast but the admiration of the Creator Who is capable of such a work of art.

What is visible first is “outer armor”, that is his skin (Job 41:13). Is there anyone who would dare to “strip off” his garment, that is to say to strip him of his skin and make him defenseless? No one has the courage to do that. Nobody dares to approach him, because his skin is a “double mail”. The scales are so layered that they form a double armor. The beast is truly an unapproachable and impregnable walking fortress. With regard to satan, of whom this beast is a picture, only the Lord Jesus is the Stronger. He has taken away from this strong satan, invincible to man, “all his armor on which he had relied” (Lk 11:22) and completely “disarmed” him (Col 2:15).

And then his mouth, his mighty jaws, which here poetically are called “the doors of his face” (Job 41:14; cf. Psa 141:3). Who can force the beast to open its huge beak, whose jaws look like gate doors? No one shall dare to do so; for whoever does it shall be devoured by it. When it opens its jaws, teeth appear which are an utter terror. What once is caught between those awfully big teeth is irreversibly grinded.

In Job 41:15-17, the strong scales with which the beast is covered are exposed. The scales are “[his] pride”. They look like strong shields. Each scale is attached to the skin as a tight seal. They are so tightly connected and are so close together, “that no air can come between them”. They lie on the beast like tiles on a house. It gives the impression of a solid whole in which there is not a single weak spot, not a single hole. It has been laid like an artistic mosaic by God on this beast. The scales are glued together and interlock in a way that makes separation between the scales impossible. There is no gap and no gap can be forced.

A sneeze from the beast is impressive. In Job 41:18-21, God describes in poetic language what becomes visible during a sneeze, whereby we can probably best think of a sneeze in the sunlight. A sneeze can be caused by a stimulation of the nose as a result of looking in the sun. When the beast sneezes (Job 41:18), numerous drops, moisture particles, come out of its nose and mouth. In this beast, this is an enormous bundle of water particles, which in sunlight looks like an enormous bundle of light spreading light. During the sneeze, the eyes light up, reflecting the glistening of the dawning day, and they become like “the eyelids of the morning”.

A similar effect can be seen in the moisture particles coming out of his mouth (Job 41:19). They look like torches in the sunlight from which fiery sparks leap forth. The vapor coming out of his nostrils is reminiscent of smoke, just as it comes from “a boiling pot and [burning] rushes” (Job 41:20). The breath coming out of his mouth seems to set the whole environment on fire as if it were coal (Job 41:21). The mass of water that comes out of his mouth when he sneezes, looks like the flame of a fire-breathing mountain in the sunlight.

In the book of Revelation, beasts, horses in that case, are described of which it is said, “and out of their mouths proceed fire and smoke and brimstone” (Rev 9:17). They are symbols of demonic powers connected to hell. The symbolic description of the manifestations of Leviathan as torches, fiery sparks, smoke, fire and flame indicates once again that this beast represents a demonic power with a relationship to hell. Incidentally, it may be that God really did make this monster spit fire. A sea dragon could have had an explosion-producing mechanism to make it a real fire breathing dragon. [http://creationwiki.org/Fire_breathing_dragon]

His enormous neck is the seat of his strength (Job 41:22). Wherever he goes, dismay leaps before him. Everything and everyone flees, for fear of being grabbed and devoured by him. The beast is one great mass of flesh (Job 41:23). But every softness and weakness are lacking. It is a solid, contiguous whole. There is no movement in it. If you try to push your finger into it, it feels like steel.

The beast is totally insensitive to what it does to others. God indicates this by saying of this beast that his heart is “hard as stone” (Job 41:24). He emphasizes the hardness of his heart by adding that his heart is as hard “as a stone, Even as hard as a lower millstone”. The lower millstone is the hardest of the two millstones and is also immovable. Everything that needs to be grinded is placed on it.

Here again God speaks in human language about this beast, a beast that knows no fear. It again makes it clear that this monster has a symbolic meaning and that it represents satan. Satan also has a heart of stone. He is a ruthless and unparalleled monster who is only out to devour and destroy.

So is Leviathan. As the beast raises himself up and moves, it immediately becomes dangerous (Job 41:25). This terrifying monster inspires fear. The strong, those who are otherwise not easily daunted, are overwhelmed by fear. When it breaks through the protection behind which the strong believe they are safe, they are completely upset and do not know where to go from fear. They flee in all directions.

There is no fighting against him (Job 41:26). Any attempt by a man with any weapon to subdue this monstrous apparition is futile. Nothing bothers him. He considers sword, spear, lance or arrow as straw (Job 41:27). Whoever is given the chance to strike him with the sword, stands the next moment unarmed, for the sword has been smashed upon him. You might as well hit him with a straw, because the effect of both is the same, namely none. Using a weapon of bronze against him to defeat him is equivalent to using “rotten wood”. He doesn’t bother, he doesn’t care.

He is not impressed by distance weapons used as an arrow and slingstones (Job 41:28). For an arrow pointed at him, he does not flee. Stones thrown towards him hit him as if they were stubble. The same goes for clubs that would be used against him (Job 41:29). The javelin that vibrates in the hand of the thrower to be thrown at him is a joke to him. That weapon can’t hurt him either, let alone kill him. This beast is afraid of nothing and no one. He is inviolable and cannot be intimidated.

The parallel with satan is obvious, because no one can stand up to satan. But the Lord Jesus can. He has come to him and conquered him (Lk 11:22). Just as satan cannot be conquered by a mortal, the flesh in the believer cannot be tamed by himself (Rom 8:7). Only through the Spirit of life is it possible to give the flesh no chance to assert itself (Gal 5:16; Rom 8:13b).

The underparts of Leviathan’s are sharp points that are compared to “sharp potsherds” (Job 41:30). When he lies in the mud and moves on his belly, the trace he leaves looks as if a threshing sledge has been pulled over it. In the depths of the sea he rages so wildly that he makes the sea to “boil like a pot” (Job 41:31). It is a jar in which various ointments is brought to the boil.

In his course through the water, he draws a trail behind him that is, as it were, a shining path on the dark surface of the sea (Job 41:32). The white foam, which we also see behind the propeller of a boat, resembles silvery-white hair. The comparison with gray-haired also brings up the thought of enforcing respect (cf. Lev 19:32).

With this, God ends His description of this dreadful, frightening and awe-inspiring creature. He states that “nothing on earth is like him” (Job 41:33). This beast towers high above all His works of creation. At the same time, we are reminded that this beast was “made” by Him, though with the curious characteristic of being “without fear”. He is and remains only a creature. But also this creature was created by God with a purpose, as shown in the following verses.

It is a beast that is characterized by a special pride. He stands above all that is high and looks down upon it as subordinate (Job 41:34). It points both to the huge stature of the beast through which it stands above every other creature and to its proud, arrogant attitude toward every other creature. “He is king”, the most proud, the most important, of all the proud beasts. He is at the head of all God’s creative works.

Here, too, the parallel with satan is obvious. We see in this monstrous creature the power of God to create a covering cherub who becomes arrogant and therefore becomes satan, the adversary of God (Eze 28:12-17). This is not to instill fear in us of satan, but of God Himself. The greatest hostile power in the universe is nothing but a creature of God, a creature that He dominates and controls and uses for His purpose (cf. Rom 9:17). He is God.

This takes nothing away from the responsibility of satan who, as the most important, privileged angel, has rebelled against God. God will judge him for that. God is always and in all things perfect Lord and Master. Nothing ever gets out of hand with Him. And not only that. He also never has to adjust anything, because otherwise things are in danger of going wrong. He has everything perfectly under control. Everything serves His purpose, even though we do not always understand the path He chooses to reach that goal.

God has spoken to Job severely, but never mocked him. By ‘meeting’ with the two most impressive beasts that God has created, Job must learn that he is utterly powerless to judge an evildoer. God also wants to teach him that His actions sometimes go beyond human logic and that man cannot explain everything He does. If Job is so incapable of constructing, maintaining, or subjugating some of God’s works of creation, it is unthinkable that he can accuse the Creator of them of maladministration.

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Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Job 41". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/job-41.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.