Job 41:1—”Why does this passage describe a mythical creature?”
The Bible sometimes compares Satan to evil mythological creatures such as “dragon” (Revelation 12:9) or “Leviathan” (Isaiah 27:1). Such passages do not assume that such creatures exist, they merely express Satan’s evil character with such familiar metaphors. These passages in Job might likewise be simply using metaphor to illustrate God’s supreme power.
There is little question that the “behemoth” of Job 40:15-24 is simply a large wild bovine or hippopotamus. Many commentators suggest that the “leviathan” described in Job refers to a large crocodile, with the name leviathan used to emphasize its uncontrollability. Furthermore, it may be describing a now-extinct creature that we do not know about. Just recently scientists were shocked to discover the remains of a 43-foot, 1000-kilogram serpent that swallowed crocodiles and lived long after dinosaurs died out. The antiquity of these great creatures is hinted at in 40:19: “He is the first of the works of God.”
In the Qur’ān we read that Hazrat Solomon talked with a mythical creature called the ‘ifrit (Al-Naml 27:15-44) which was, according to Hamidullah, “a type of evil devil which one encounters in many fabulous stories.” Encyclopaedia Britannica’s definition runs as follows:
in Islāmic mythology, a class of infernal jinn (spirits below the level of angels and devils) noted for their strength and cunning. An ifrit is an enormous winged creature of smoke, either male or female, who lives underground and frequents ruins. Ifrits live in a society structured along ancient Arab tribal lines, complete with kings, tribes, and clans. They generally marry one another, but they can also marry humans. While ordinary weapons and forces have no power over them, they are susceptible to magic, which humans can use to kill them or to capture and enslave them.
In the account of the Mir’aj, the Prophet (pbuh) was said to physically ride on a white winged horse with a peacock’s tail and an angel’s head. If this ‘ifrit and buraq are acceptable, surely discussing wild oxen and large crocodiles is acceptable.
Leave a Reply