SEA MONSTER of the Middle East; see Semim
Etymology: Hebrew (Semitic), livyatan, from
livyah (“twisted”) + tan (“monster”).
Variant names: Rahab, Tannin, Yam.
Physical description: Enormous size. Tightly
joined scales. Glowing red eyes. Fiery breath.
Large teeth. Strong neck. Has limbs or fins.
Behavior: Raises itself up on the water.
(1) A whale of some kind, especially the
Sperm whale (Physeter catodon), which is
found in the Mediterranean Sea and the
Indian Ocean. Its fiery breath could be the
whale spouting, while raising itself up on
the water could be the animal’s habit of
(2) The Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus),
suggested by Samuel Bochart, although this
is a freshwater animal and does not live in
the sea. The Egyptians occasionally hunted
this crocodile with baited hooks.
(3) The Saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus
porosus), but this reptile only lives in
Southeast Asia and Australasia.
(4) A Multifinned Sea Monster,
advocated by Bernard Heuvelmans.
(5) Karl Shuker suggested a surviving
mosasaur, a group of twenty genera that
includes some of the largest marine reptiles
ever, frequently exceeding 33 feet in length.
They lived in the Late Cretaceous, 95–65
million years ago.
(6) A mythical composite of several large