Online Encyclopedia

LEVIATHAN

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V16, Page 511 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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LEVIATHAN, the Hebrew name (livyathan), occurring in the poetical books of the Bible, of a gigantic animal, apparently the sea or water equivalent of behemoth (q.v.), the king of the animals of the dry land. In Job xli. 15 it would seem to represent the crocodile, in Isaiah xxvii. 1 it is a crooked and piercing serpent, the dragon of the sea; cf. Psalms civ. 26. Theetymology of the word is uncertain, but it has been taken to be connected with a root meaning " to twist." Apart from its scriptural usage, the word is applied to any gigantic marine animal such as the whale, and hence, figuratively, of very large ships, and also of persons of outstanding strength, power, wealth or influence. Hobbes adopted the name as the title of his principal work, applying it to " the multitude so united in one person . . . called a commonwealth. . . . This is the generation of that Leviathan, or rather . . . of that mortal God, to which we owe under the immortal God, our peace and defence."
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