Does the Bible mention dinosaurs?

The Bible does not overtly describe dinosaurs. However, several Hebrew words describe creatures so large and ferocious that some believe they might refer to dinosaurs.

One recurring Hebrew word in the Old Testament, TANNIN, can be translated in a variety of different ways. It appears 27 distinct times, translated as "monster," "sea-monster," or "serpent," but most frequently as "dragon."

Another more familiar term to English speakers, LEVIATHAN, appears six distinct times in the Old Testament. As with TANNIN, scholars translate LEVIATHAN in a variety of ways ranging from "serpent" to "sea monster" to "dragon.”

However, a particularly intriguing word used in the Old Testament only once is the also familiar, BEHEMOTH. Usually left untranslated, some ascribe it to dinosaurs by citing the contextual description of this massive and powerful creature in Job 40:15-24:

15 "Look at Behemoth,

which I made along with you

and which feeds on grass like an ox.

16 What strength it has in its loins,

what power in the muscles of its belly!

17 Its tail sways like a cedar;

the sinews of its thighs are close-knit.

18 Its bones are tubes of bronze,

its limbs like rods of iron.

19 It ranks first among the works of God,

yet its Maker can approach it with his sword.

20 The hills bring it their produce,

and all the wild animals play nearby.

21 Under the lotus plants it lies,

hidden among the reeds in the marsh.

22 The lotuses conceal it in their shadow;

the poplars by the stream surround it.

23 A raging river does not alarm it;

it is secure, though the Jordan should surge against its mouth.

24 Can anyone capture it by the eyes,

or trap it and pierce its nose?

In particular, the description of Behemoth's tail swaying like a cedar seems to distance its identity from other possibilities offered - usually the hippopotamus.

While we don't know for sure if the Bible mentions dinosaurs, our currently limited understanding of a few ancient Hebrew words leaves open some intriguing possibilities.

SOURCES

James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

NAS Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible with Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries. Copyright © 1981, 1998 by The Lockman Foundation.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

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