|Let us first examine the Hebrew word tanniyn (strong's # 08577)
1. dragon, serpent, sea monster
a. dragon or dinosaur
b. sea or river monster
c. serpent, venomous snake
Very few animals are singled out in the Bible for such a detailed description. Dinosaurs get more mention in the Scriptures than most animals! The word dinosaur was invented in the 1800s. We would not expect to find the word dinosaur in Bibles like the KJV (1611), as it was translated well before the word dinosaur was ever used.
Tanniyn is always translated into another word when we write it in English. Tanniyn occurs twenty-eight times in the in the KJV: as dragon twenty-one times, serpent three, whale three, and sea monster one. In other versions it is also translated dinosaur, great creature, and reptile. Tanniyn is a general term while Behemoth and Leviathan are relatively specific creatures. In Genesis we see God created tanniyns and they were in the garden of Eden:
And God created great tanniyns, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
Dinosaurs and man originally existed in harmony along with all the other animals in a deathless Eden. The Bible plainly teaches from Genesis to Revelation that there was no death of animals or humans before Adam sinned.
'Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned
For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
'But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
I Corinthians 15:20-22
But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
Sadly, it did not stay this way for very long. Adam rebelled against his Creator, bringing sin into the world (Genesis 3:1-7; Romans 5:12). Because of this rebellion, Adam, and thus all of his descendants, gave up the right to live with a holy and just God. God therefore judged sin with death. And after Adam's sin, animals and people started to die. It was now a different world, one of death and strife. A world that was once beautiful now suffered under the curse placed upon it by the Creator (Genesis 3:14-19). But a promise was given (Genesis 3:15) that God would provide a way for the penalty of sin to be paid so there would be a way for man to come back to God.
Their wine is the poison of tanniyns, and the cruel venom of asps.
And I went out by night by the gate of the valley, even before the tanniyn well, and to the dung port, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem, which were broken down, and the gates thereof were consumed with fire.
I went mourning without the sun: I stood up, [and] I cried in the congregation: I am a brother to tanniyns, and a companion to owls.
Though thou hast sore broken us in the place of tanniyns, and covered us with the shadow of death.
Thou didst divide the sea by thy strength: thou brakest the heads of the tanniyns in the waters.
Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the tanniyn shalt thou trample under feet.
Praise the Lord from the earth, ye tanniyns, and all deeps:
And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and tanniyns in their pleasant palaces: and her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged.
In that day the Lord with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing tanniyn, even leviathan that crooked tanniyn; and he shall slay the tanniyn that is in the sea.
And thorns shall come up in her palaces, nettles and brambles in the fortresses thereof: and it shall be an habitation of tanniyns, and a court for owls.
And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of tanniyns, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes.
The beast of the field shall honour me, the tanniyns and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen.
Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord; awake, as in the ancient days, in the generations of old. Art thou not it that hath cut Rahab, and wounded the tanniyn?
And I will make Jerusalem heaps, and a den of tanniyns; and I will make the cities of Judah desolate, without an inhabitant.
Behold, the noise of the bruit is come, and a great commotion out of the north country, to make the cities of Judah desolate, and a den of tanniyns.
And the wild asses did stand in the high places, they snuffed up the wind like tanniyns; their eyes did fail, because there was no grass.
And Hazor shall be a dwelling for tanniyns, and a desolation for ever: there shall no man abide there, nor any son of man dwell in it.
Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon hath devoured me, he hath crushed me, he hath made me an empty vessel, he hath swallowed me up like a tanniyn, he hath filled his belly with my delicates, he hath cast me out.
And Babylon shall become heaps, a dwellingplace for tanniyns, an astonishment, and an hissing, without an inhabitant.
Even the tanniyns draw out the breast, they give suck to their young ones: the daughter of my people is become cruel, like the ostriches in the wilderness.
Speak, and say, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against thee, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great tanniyn that lieth in the midst of his rivers, which hath said, My river is mine own, and I have made it for myself.
Son of man, take up a lamentation for Pharaoh king of Egypt, and say unto him, Thou art like a young lion of the nations, and thou art as a tan in the seas: and thou camest forth with thy rivers, and troubledst the waters with thy feet, and fouledst their rivers. The word here is actually the root of tanniyn, tan (strong's # 08565)
Therefore I will wail and howl, I will go stripped and naked: I will make a wailing like the tanniyns, and mourning as the owls.
|Behemoth (strong's # 0930)
Though the root can be used of beasts in general, Job, the oldest book in the Bible, is the only place this is used and there is an obvious reference to a specific animal. The plural form of the noun, together with the fact that it is used with singular verbs and pronouns, indicates that a great beast is in view. Because the translators did not know what type of creature was under consideration in this context, they left the word untranslated, hence, the anglicized form behemoth appears in our common versions.
Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox. Lo now, his strength [is] in his loins, and his force [is] in the navel of his belly. He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together. His bones [are as] strong pieces of brass; his bones [are] like bars of iron. He [is] the chief of the ways of God: he that made him can make his sword to approach [unto him.] Surely the mountains bring him forth food, where all the beasts of the field play. He lieth under the shady trees, in the covert of the reed, and fens. The shady trees cover him [with] their shadow; the willows of the brook compass him about. Behold, he drinketh up a river, [and] hasteth not: he trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth. He taketh it with his eyes: [his] nose pierceth through snares.
The word fens is an archaic English word that means the swamp. Behemoth lives in the swamp. Another key phrase is chief of the ways of God. This phrase in the original Hebrew implied that behemoth was the biggest animal created. Some critics have laughably attempted to argue that behemoth was a elephant or a hippopotamus. Although an elephant or hippopotamus can eat grass or lie in a covert of reeds and marsh, neither an elephant or a hippopotamus has a tail like a cedar (that is, a tail like a large, tapered tree trunk). The behemoth of the Bible is a Apatasaurus-Diplodocus type dinosaur.
Deep in the heart of tropical Africa, the native people tell of strange encounters with giant dinosaur-like reptiles in modern times. Occasional visitors to an unexplored part of the Congo have returned with incredible stories over the last two centuries. They all confirm that the natives are absolutely honest in their reports of the mokele-mbembe (mo-KEL-ly-mm-BEM-be). They say these animals are huge, with small heads, long necks, and long massive tails, they wade in slow meandering rivers, and have been described as half elephant and half dragon.
Dr. Roy Mackal from the University of Chicago had read all of these stories about those creatures still alive in African swamps. He was a microbiology professor. So he decided he should go to the Congo Swamps and check it out for himself. He went over to the swamps and spent six weeks. He said it’s the most miserable swamp in the world. Right on the equator.
They were there for six weeks. They talked to the natives that lived in the swamp and said, "Do you have any crocodiles in this swamp?" And they said, "Oh, white man, we have big crocodiles!" They paced off on the sand bar how long they were and nobody would believe them, until one of the expeditions that went to that swamp saw a fifty foot crocodile! Now if you are a pygmy, four feet four inches tall, a fifty footer looks real big to you!
They asked the natives, they showed them pictures in a kid’s coloring book. They said, "Have you ever seen an animal that looks like this?" The natives said, "Oh yeah, that’s Mokele Mbembe. He lives in the swamp." Dr. Mackal said, "Fellows, that’s a dinosaur! Don’t you know they’ve been dead for 70 million years?" The natives said, "We’re sorry, we didn’t know about that. See we’ve never been to America to study evolution. All we know is we see them out there every once in a while when we’re fishing in the swamp."
The animals there that they call Mokele Mbembe are only about 20 feet long. Most of that is neck and tail. The body is about the size of a hippopotamus. Total of about 20 feet. They claim that these animals live under water. They live in caves or they live under water. And they come out, barely stick their necks out and grab the plants on the side of the river. Their favorite plant is the Malombo plant. There is Dr. Mackal holding one of the Malombo plants. It’s got a fruit kind of like an apple on it, only harder than an apple. And the animals just love these things. And the natives said, "If you’d like to find Mokele Mbembe just travel through the swamp until you find lots of Malombo plants and no hippopotamus." Hippos like to eat it also, but Mokele Mbembe doesn’t like hippos so he drives them out of the river or the swamp and he takes over that area for himself.
They did find footprints of the creatures on shore. Apparently they come out at night to get more plants and the footprints had claw marks on them. Elephants and hippos are about the same size but they do not have claws on their feet. The natives claim that these animals will sometimes surprise you when you are going in your canoe through the swampy area and they will come up out of the river, or the swamp holes they call them. And if you happen to get too close to it and startle it, its tail will smash your canoe and drown you.
|Leviathan (strong's # 03882)
A lot of people get confused because leviathan is also used as an allegorical name of the devil as in:
Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. For, behold, the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain. In that day the Lord with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that [is] in the sea. In that day sing ye unto her, A vineyard of red wine. I the Lord do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest [any] hurt it, I will keep it night and day. Fury [is] not in me: who would set the briers [and] thorns against me in battle? I would go through them, I would burn them together. Or let him take hold of my strength, [that] he may make peace with me; [and] he shall make peace with me.
Here we see Satan compared to the tanniyns of the sea.
O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.
[So is] this great and wide sea, wherein [are] things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts.
There go the ships: [there is] that leviathan, [whom] thou hast made to play therein.
These wait all upon thee; that thou mayest give [them] their meat in due season.
[That] thou givest them they gather: thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good.
Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.
It is obvious that above leviathan is referring to a physical creature (like Psalm 74:14) as it plays in the sea, waits upon God for its meat, and when God takes away its breath it dies and returns to dust.
Thou brakest the heads of leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness.
The following mention in Job seems to be referring to both the devil and the animal:
Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? or his tongue with a cord [which] thou lettest down? Canst thou put an hook into his nose? or bore his jaw through with a thorn? Will he make many supplications unto thee? will he speak soft [words] unto thee? Will he make a covenant with thee? wilt thou take him for a servant for ever? Wilt thou play with him as [with] a bird? or wilt thou bind him for thy maidens? Shall the companions make a banquet of him? shall they part him among the merchants? Canst thou fill his skin with barbed irons? or his head with fish spears? Lay thine hand upon him, remember the battle, do no more. Behold, the hope of him is in vain: shall not [one] be cast down even at the sight of him? None [is so] fierce that dare stir him up: who then is able to stand before me who hath prevented me, that I should repay [him? whatsoever is] under the whole heaven is mine. I will not conceal his parts, nor his power, nor his comely proportion. Who can discover the face of his garment? [or] who can come [to him] with his double bridle? Who can open the doors of his face? his teeth [are] terrible round about. [His] scales [are his] pride, shut up together [as with] a close seal. One is so near to another, that no air can come between them. They are joined one to another, they stick together, that they cannot be sundered. By his neesings a light doth shine, and his eyes [are] like the eyelids of the morning. Out of his mouth go burning lamps, [and] sparks of fire leap out. Out of his nostrils goeth smoke, as [out] of a seething pot or caldron. His breath kindleth coals, and a flame goeth out of his mouth. In his neck remaineth strength, and sorrow is turned into joy before him. The flakes of his flesh are joined together: they are firm in themselves; they cannot be moved. His heart is as firm as a stone; yea, as hard as a piece of the nether [millstone.] When he raiseth up himself, the mighty are afraid: by reason of breakings they purify themselves. The sword of him that layeth at him cannot hold: the spear, the dart, nor the habergeon. He esteemeth iron as straw, [and] brass as rotten wood. The arrow cannot make him flee: slingstones are turned with him into stubble. Darts are counted as stubble: he laugheth at the shaking of a spear. Sharp stones [are] under him: he spreadeth sharp pointed things upon the mire. He maketh the deep to boil like a pot: he maketh the sea like a pot of ointment. He maketh a path to shine after him; [one] would think the deep [to be] hoary. Upon earth there is not his like, who is made without fear. He beholdeth all high [things:] he [is] a king over all the children of pride.
|The following is fom the Times, 2lst July 1977:
"Japanese fishermen caught a dead monster, weighing two tons and 30 feet in length, off the coast of New Zealand in April, it was reported today. Believed to be a survivor of a prehistoric species, the monster was caught at a depth of 1000 feet off the South Island coast, near Christchurch. Paleontologists from the Natural Science Museum near Tokyo have concluded that the beast belonged to the plesiosaurus family - huge, small-headed reptiles with a long neck and four fins ... After a member of the crew had photographed and measured it, the trawler's captain ordered the corpse to be thrown back into the sea for fear of contamination to his fish."
|Here is the drawing by onboard government trained marine biologist Michihiko Yano of the plesiosaurus including it's bone stucture:|
|The Japanese issued a postage-stamp with a picture of a plesiosaurus to commemorate the find.|
|On the coast of California, in Monterey Bay, a plesiosaurus washed up on the beach in 1925. The neck was seven meters or twenty feet long. The guys who examined it, like the president of the Natural History Society in British Columbia, said, "My examination of the monster was quite thorough. It had no teeth. Its head is large and the neck is 20 feet long. I would call it a type of plesiosaurus.
The sardine fishermen there, often reported seeing creatures like this in the 1920-40 era. It was hardly reported in the media.
|Tecoluta Narwhal, Mexico 1969
Thirty five tons of something big and dead was found on the beach in Tecoluta, Mexico in March, 1969 and whatever it was, it certainly received a great deal of publicity. The strange carcass's serpent-like body was covered with hard jointed armor.
A 10 foot bone tusk--estimated to weigh a ton--protruded from its head. UPI reported that biologists thought that the creature might have been a narwhal--which has a long tusk--but that after seeing the carcass, "they could not match it with any sea creature known to man."
The international press reported that a prehistoric monster of some sort had been beached and the world awaited further word on the carcass.
A seven-man commission of scientists reported on April 20, 1969 that the monster was a rorqual whale, known as the finback whale, however, that particular explanation fell short of explaining the 1 ton horn and body armor. Not only that, the first group of biologists who thoroughly examined it with the idea that it might be a whale concluded that again; it did not match any sea creature known to man. It's head below:
|This creature with a long neck and four fins, a baby plesiosaur, was stuffed, mounted and preserved as you see it on this photo, by the person who found it dead along the beach of lake Erie in the U.S.A. This 31" creature was found on the shore of Lake Erie and mounted by taxidermist Pete Peterson. It is currently at the Creation Evidences Museum in Glen Rose, Texas. (254-897-3200) The creature has yet to be identified by the evolutionists. But they will never acknowledge it.|
|Plesiosaur like creatures like these have thousand upon thousand of documented encounters in a staggering number of places. However, I'm not going to go into any more of these due to space.|
"The burden of the beast of the south: into the land of trouble and anguish, from whence come the young and old lion, the viper and fiery flying serpent..."
Rejoice not thou, whole Palestina, because the rod of him that smote thee is broken: for out of the serpent’s root shall come forth a cockatrice, and his fruit [shall be] a fiery flying serpent.
But all other flying creeping things which have four feet shall be an abomination unto you.
What is a flying serpent? - The only known reptiles with the ability to fly are the Pterosaurs. In this verse we see them described as living alongside the other animals. The flying serpents are used in the text with other animals we readily recognize. They are not set apart in any way as to conclude they are fictitious. In fact, the verse continues and speaks of men carrying their riches "upon the bunches of camels". This makes it clear that these flying dinosaurs lived alongside mammals, and man.
Herodotus, a Greek Historian recorded his encounter with flying reptiles about 450B.C: "There is a place in Arabia...to which I went, on hearing of some winged serpents; and when I arrived there, I saw bones and spines of serpents, in such quantities as it would be impossible to describe. The form of the serpent is like that of a water-snake; but he has wings without feathers, and as like as possible to the wings of a bat." (Historiae, 1850, pp. 75-76)
Josephus, a Jewish historian born 37AD, wrote about flying reptiles who gave Moses and the Israelites a hard time in the desert. "When the ground was difficult to be passed over, because of the multitude of serpents (which it produces in vast numbers...some of which ascend out of the ground unseen, and also fly in the air, and do come upon men at unawares, and do them a mischief).... [Moses] made baskets like unto arks, of sedge, and filled them with ibes [i.e., birds], and carried them along with them; which animal is the greatest enemy to serpents imaginable, for they fly from them when they come near them; and as they fly they are caught and devoured by them." ( Antiquities of the Jews , n.d., 2:10:2)
Reports of Pterosaurs still alive are recorded in Ethiopia, India and the jungles of Africa. Some of the flying dinosaurs are said be nocturnal, and have a phosphorescent quality about them. These are the fiery flying serpents described in the book of Isaiah. A flying reptile the Natives call "Kongamato" is often seen in the jungles of South Africa. Still alive today.
The idea of pterosaurs living in caves is also supported by an account recorded in David Untred's book: "Dinosaurs and the Bible" This eyewitness account tells of workmen digging a railroad tunnel in France in 1856. These men were using gunpowder to remove a large boulder. After the dust from the explosion settled, the men found a large bat-like creature out of the cave. The creature was barely alive, and described as being black and shiny. It had a long neck and a beak like mouth filled with sharp teeth.
On being exposed to the light the creature shrieked and beat its wings. Its wings were measured giving a wingspan of nine feet! The helpless creature soon died. Upon being examined by a scientist, the animal was determined to be a pterosaur.
There is another account of a living Pterosaur from April of 1890:
This time the eyewitness were two men riding horses across the hot Arizona desert (just outside of Tombstone). They noticed a large flying reptile with a six foot wing span and long slender body. As it was about to land the men shot and killed the creature. Knowing this was a significant find, the men are said to have cut off part of the wing and brought it back to town with them.
In his book "Dinosaurs by Design" Duane Gish speaks of the above pterosaur and believes it is a Quetzalcoatlus (ket-sol-ko-AT-lus). He bases this on the fossil Quetzalcoatlus found in 1972 at Big Bend National Park, Texas. This confirms they did indeed live in the general area.
With a 48-foot wingspan the Quetzalcoatlus is the largest flying creature ever found. It is possible for a pterosaur to survive from the creation of the earth. But with the climate changes and loss of atmospheric pressure they would not likely grow to be as large as they once were.
The recent existence of pterosaurs is much harder to believe if you've been brainwashed into believing that dinosaurs lived millions of years ago. But if you believe the Biblical account of Creation, then these creatures did live alongside man and their survival makes perfect sense.
Bill Cooper has an excellent book called "After the flood" This book traces the post flood history of Europe back to the descendants of Noah. Bill Cooper tells of many pterosaur encounters that were a common feature in Welsh life, even as late as the beginning of this century.
A colony of these winged serpents lived in the woods nearby Penllin Castle, Glamorgan. Eyewitnesses describe them as very beautiful. Their bodies were covered with bright colors as if covered in jewels.
In 1793 the flying serpents were included in official Government reports. These were not the creatures of fairy tales or fables, but real live breathing creatures. This official report was penned only two hundred years ago in 1793 and describes creatures that sound suspiciously like pterodactyls or similar. Remember, it is an official and very sober government report that we are reading:
'In the end of November and beginning of December last, many of the country people observed dragons appearing in the north and flying rapidly towards the east; from which they concluded, and their conjectures were right, that...boisterous weather would follow.'
This report is intriguing for the fact that exactly one thousand years before an almost identical report made its appearance in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle under the year 793. The two accounts are nothing more than country people being able to predict the weather by observing the behaviour of the animals, which is a skill that they have always possessed and used, and these accounts, combined with later records of the years 1170, 1177, 1221 and 1222, of 1233 and of 1532, suggest that these creatures could tell the approach of bad weather coming in off the Atlantic and simply migrated to calmer regions while the bad weather lasted. Considering the flimsiness and fragility of the wings of pterodactyls and similar creatures, the reports make eminent sense. This was one thousand and seven years before present day Americans knew these creatures even existed.
|1870s - CIVIL WAR PTERODACTYLS. TWO OF THESE PTERODACTYLS ARE DOCUMENTED IN THE BOOK, "THE ILLUSTRATED ENCYCLOPEDIA OF DINOSAURS" BY DR. DAVID NORMAN & DR. PETER WELLNHOFER.|
|ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Oct 18 (Reuters) - A bird the size of a small airplane was recently spotted flying over southwest Alaska, puzzling scientists, the Anchorage Daily News reported this week.
The newspaper quoted residents in the villages of Togiak and Manokotak as saying the creature, like something out of the movie "Jurassic Park," had a wingspan of 14 feet (4.6 metres) -- making it the size of a small airplane.
"At first I thought it was one of those old-time Otter planes," the paper quoted Moses Coupchiak, 43, a heavy equipment operator from Togiak, as saying. "Instead of continuing toward me, it banked to the left, and that's when I noticed it wasn't a plane."
The Daily News, the largest daily in Alaska, said scientists had no doubt that people in the region, west of Dillingham, had seen the winged creature but they were skeptical about its reported size. "I'm certainly not aware of anything with a 14-foot wingspan that's been alive for the last 100,000 years," the paper quoted raptor specialist Phil Schemf as saying.
Coupchiak said the bird disappeared over the hill and he then radioed Togiak residents to tell them to keep their children in. Another local resident, a pilot who had initially dismissed the reports, said he recently saw the bird from a distance of just 1,000 feet (300 metres) while flying his airplane. "The people in the plane saw him," John Bouker was quoted as saying. "He's huge, he's huge, he's really, really big. You wouldn't want to have your children out."
|Many folks have claimed they’ve seen a Cadborosaurus in Cadboro Bay, British Columbia just north of Vancouver. It has been seen down as far south as Oregon. All up and down the Pacific Coast there. A baby one three meters long was found inside the stomach of a sperm whale.|
|In the 1500's A French farmer found a long necked "tany dragon" on his land. He killed the creature, then the body was stuffed and actually put in a local museum. It was accurately documented and sketched by a biologist of the time. The creature was for centuries in that museum and the town still derives its name of this historical fact that proves that 'dragons' were still around in the 1500's, even in France.|
|In Russia, there have been several sightings in some different lakes in Russia. There is one lake they call Mystery Lake. Some scientists went up there and said they saw a creature with a big fin on its back and a long skinny neck. A different spot up in the North Coast of Russia in the Arctic Ocean, what looked like a dinosaur washed up on coast just after a storm in the Arctic in 1994. A Russian news service reported the carcass was 39 feet long.|
|Something has been seen and reported in the Potomac River. They say it has a striking resemblance to the Loch Ness Monster. This creature washed up on the coast of Rhode Island a couple of years ago on Block Island. So of course they called it the Block Ness Monster. It was fourteen feet long and somebody stole the bones. Now nobody knows where it is. It has disappeared.|
|In 1970 newspapers reported the discovery of cave paintings in Zimbabwe. The paintings were made by bushmen who ruled that area from about 1500 B.C., until a couple of hundred years ago. Along with accurate representations of the elephant and the giraffe, is a painting of an Apatosaurus (brontosaurus). These art works have greatly puzzled scientists since bushmen are known to have painted from real life! (Bible-Science Newsletter, April 15, 1970, p. 2).|
|Dinosaurs and the Bible|
The Hebrew word, m'opheph Jpvfm, is a polal participle; a form used only by Isaiah when describing the reptilian saraph (14:29 and 30:6). The polal indicates an intensive of the root pvf ooph that means to fly or flutter. BDB, then, interprets it as meaning to "fly about, to and fro." The imperfect form of the polal is found in Gen. 1:20, "flying creatures that flutter to and fro" and Is. 6:2 "seraphim (the same word as the reptiles here used for angelic creatures) that fly to and fro." The meaning may be best illustrated by a polal infinitive construct in Ez. 32:10 "when I cause my sword to fly to and fro" or "when I brandish my sword." The rapid back and forth movement of the sword (brandishing) illustrates the emphasis of the polal intensive.
The idea of TWOT then, that m'opheph Jpvfm could indicate a serpent's swift bite, will not work since a serpent's strike is not a back and forth motion. The word indicates an animal with swift back and forth motion, like the flying of a humming bird.
The hapax legomenon of Nehushtan Ntwhn, apparently a compound word of nahash whn (serpent) and tan Nt (used in Ezekiel 32:2 for a tanniyn)
Isaiah then resurrected the word saraph JrW for the angelic creatures that he saw at God's throne (6:2). Later he would qualify the word with m'opheph Jpvfm when indicating mere animals (14:29 and 30:6) so the audience would know that flying reptiles were intended, not angelic beings (who are qualified by the word standing, o'mdim Mydmf, not flying Jpvfm).
Saraph JrW may be related to the cuneiform word for a "serpent;" siru. Archibald H. Sayce says that the Egyptian word seref means "flying serpent." An Egyptian origin for the word appears plausible since there is archaeological evidence and ancient accounts of the presence of flying reptiles there. Since the Israelites had lived there for many years, it is not surprising that they adopted the Egyptian name for them.
The Hebrew word for burning is also saraph JrW. Scholars appear uncertain about whether the animals were named for the burning effect their poison produced, their bright color, or there bioluminescent qualities. Perhaps it alludes to all three. Certainly they were poisonous as indicated by both the Pentateuch and Isaiah. Esarhaddon tells us that he saw yellow serpents that could fly when traveling to fight against Tirhaka, king of Egypt and Nubia. Certainly, also, some pterosaurs had a deadly poisonous bite according to many ancient authors and the context of Isaiah's allusions.
|The discovery of tropical fossils in the Arctic has stumped scientists with little explanation for their location and time. In 1996 fossil remains of turtles and champosaurs were found on Axel Heiberg Island at 79°N in northern Canada. The champosaur was an 8 foot long crocodile-like reptile that lived in sub tropical environments. Scientists frequently use this reptile to indicate the conditions of its time, because it neither migrated, nor hibernated during the winter. This creates a problem for geological evolutionism as their uniformitarian explanation of slow continental drift would only put the paleolatitude of Axel Heiberg Island at just a little less than where it is now. (Tarduno, Evidence for extreme climactic warmth from late Cretaceous Arctic vertebrates, Science 282, p2242, 1998)|