Saturday, January 11, 2014

Animals in the Bible: Beasts and Dragons


Chapter 2: Beasts and Dragons

The prophet Isaiah spoke of the desolation of the land after the judgment of God:
The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the wild beasts of the isle, and the satyr shall cry to his fellow; the screech-owl also shall rest there, and find for herself a place of rest.
Other translations use different words for beasts, such as wild animals or desert creatures. Young’s Literal Translation uses Ziim and Aiim. What? The Hebrew words are tsiyiy (a specific wild beast but not certainly identified) and ’iy ( wild beasts of the islands) so there’s a lot of speculation as to what these beasts are. But let’s get to the best beast of all – the dragon.


Dragons are mentioned at least 34 times in the Bible, depending on the translation. Are you thinking of some long-necked, winged, fire-breather? Think again. The word that gets translated to dragon in the Old Testament is tanniyn (dragon, serpent, sea or river monster, dinosaur, or venomous snake) and in the New Testament it’s the Greek word drakon (a dragon, a great serpent, a name for Satan).

Looking closely at the use of tanniyn and drakon we learn a lot about dragons. In the Old Testament we get this picture:

1)      They have venom.
2)     They have pleasant palaces.
3)     They can be trampled under foot.
4)     God can break their heads.
5)     They lie in grass with weeds.
6)      They thirst for blood.
7)     They lie in the midst of rivers.

These dragons sound like snakes to me. Hmm, the ultimate snake is Satan in the garden of Eden. Let’s look at the picture of dragons in the New Testament:

1)      The red dragon has seven heads and ten horns.
2)     He has a tail.
3)     He fights.
4)     He fought in a war in Heaven and was cast out. Hmm, definitely Satan.
5)     He can speak.
6)     He is powerful.
7)     People worship him.

Do you wonder what will happen to this dragon? Revelation 20:2 tells us as if it happened already:
 And he [Jesus] laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years