Dragons in The Bible: The Truth

Read any list of great dragon books and you’re unlikely to see mention of The Bible. Little wonder, you may think, given that we don’t know for sure whether dragons have ever existed.

But, there are in fact numerous mentions of dragons in The Bible. And some of them are some of the greatest dragon legends you’ll read. In the Old Testament alone, there are more than 20 occasions where dragons appear. That’s way more than The Mummy 3, and it even has the word “dragon” in its official title!

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Dragons in The Bible…or Dinosaurs?

One of the more popular theories is that the references to dragons in The Bible are in fact references to dinosaurs. This theory has arisen due to the ancient Biblical text predating the word ‘dinosaur’ even being coined.

Many scoff at this idea though, given that traditional readings of The Bible, and those with strong faith, reject the theory of evolution, and therefore the existence of dinosaurs.

In that day, the Lord will punish with his sword— his fierce, great and powerful sword— Leviathan the gliding serpent, Leviathan the coiling serpent; he will slay the monster of the sea.

Isaiah 27:1

Speak, and say, Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I am against you, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great dragon that lies in the midst of his streams, that says, ‘My Nile is my own; I made it for myself.”

Ezekiel 29:3

He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.

Revelation 20:2

Dragons in The Bible…or giant reptiles?

This seems a little more likely than the references pertaining to dinosaurs. Jeremiah 51:34, for example, describes a scene where “he has swallowed me up like a dragon”.

Now this could easily be a reference to a fearsome creature, like he from the tale of St George and The Dragon. But it could easily refer to a giant lizard or the like.

Various references to dragons in The Bible also describe them as underwater creatures, much like the Loch Ness Monster of British mythology.

Either way, reading the verses provides no clear evidence on either side of this argument.

His breath kindles coals, and a flame comes forth from his mouth.

Job 41:21

Smoke rose from his nostrils; consuming fire came from his mouth, burning coals blazed out of it.

Psalm 18:8

Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads.

Revelation 12:3

Dragons in The Bible…or Satan?

The book of Revelation makes several references to dragons as powerful, fire-breathing monsters. On numerous occasions, it is either implicit or explicit that the dragon is Satan.

In Chapter 12, for example, we are told that “the great dragon was hurled down – the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan”. Powerful stuff, and quite definitive that the dragons in Revelation clearly refer for Satan.

This doesn’t explain all of the dragons in the Old Testament though. So there is still no definitive answer.

Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born.

Revelation 12:4

Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord…Art thou not it that hath cut Rahab, and wounded the dragon?

Isaiah 51:9

“Son of man, take up a lament concerning Pharaoh king of Egypt and say to him: ” ‘You are like a lion among the nations; you are like a monster in the seas thrashing about in your streams, churning the water with your feet and muddying the streams.”

Ezekiel 32:2

Dragons in The Bible…conclusion

For the most part, the dragons referred in verses and psalms throughout The Bible are from the Hebrew word tanniyn. This word can be translated into many different English words, although ‘dragon’ is the most common usage.

As you can imagine, as far as dragon names go, this is an area of some confusion.

For example, in Genesis, the very first book of The Bible, “God created great whales”. In the original text, God is said to have created “tanniyn”.

So maybe, just maybe on the fifth day, “God created great dragons”.

The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.

Revelation 12:9

I am a brother to dragons, and a companion to owls.

Job 30:29
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