Unicorns & Satyrs in Scriptures?

God has revealed in holy scriptures all the wisdom that man needs to know—or so claim the fundamentalists who insist that everything in scripture should be taken literally.  Generally they purposefully ignore a few things scattered through “holy word” that tend to jar the hard-line stance that it is man’s righteous duty to accept biblical teachings without question.  To take everything in the Bible literally means that we should believe in the behemoth, the cockatrice, and dragons, the Leviathan, satyrs, and unicorns.

Think not?  The behemoth is mentioned in the book of Job (40:15-24).  The word comes from Hebrew and is intensive plural, meaning “great beasts.”  The book of Job where this is found happens to have been taken from a Babylonian tale and reworked into Jewish scripture.  It is for that reason that the character of Job never condemns himself for the misfortunes that befall him: he knows that he is innocent—which is not the same thing as being without sin.  The ending of the priest-plagiarized version was altered for Jewish consumption with Job “repenting” and god winning a rather stupid test of character.  Biblical scholars have attempted to get around the mythic “beast” part by saying that possibly the tale was referring to a hippopotamus!  Since the beast remains unexplained it must be placed as a mythological beast.

In the books of Jeremiah and Isaiah there is reference to a creature called cockatrice, an alleged serpent-like living-thing reputed to be hatched from a cock’s egg and having the power of killing with a glance.  It is telling that the cockatrice is mentioned by two major “prophets” who happened to forecast world threatening terror that would at times rampage out of the skies in that era. (See Jeremiah 8:17, and Isaiah 11:8, 14:29, and 59:5.)

Dragons play a role in scripture as symbolic of how one is to be judged and reproved for not measuring up.  Christian mythology inherited the Hebraic concept of the dragon, which is prominent in all the important apocalyptic literature of the Bible.  But the distended dragon role in Revelation seems like a distorted echo of two short closing verses of Isaiah 13:21-22; “…dragons in their pleasant palaces: and her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged.”

Leviathan is a term used in the Bible to designate an enormous scaly monster.  In Psalms 104 and in Isaiah 27, Leviathan is interpreted to mean “whale” because the creature is described in these verses as living in the great wide sea (waters of Creation).  But that is not what is said in much older writings upon which Genesis was crafted: in those ancient texts Yahweh battled with Leviathan, the dragon: a creation myth.  (The tale is reminiscent of Tiamat in Babylonian myths from which came the Old Testament expression T’hom, “deep.”)  Providing for newly created life is the meaning behind the words of Psalms 74 that says: “Thou breakest the heads of Leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness.”  Elsewhere, in the book of Job 41:10, “borrowed” from Babylonian literature, the truism is stated that God and Leviathan are as one.

Satyrs are spoken of in the book of Isaiah too (13:21-22), along with the aforementioned mythical dragon and cockatrice.  Satyrs of mythology referred to any class of woodland gods or demons, often depicted with pointed ears, and the short horns and legs of a goat.  What are they doing in the “revealed word of god”?

The fabulous unicorn, as fleshed-out in ancient Greek and Roman myths, supposedly had a body resembling that of a horse, but having a straight horn protruding from its forehead.  It is odd that this creature is spoken of in more than one of the books of the Bible: Numbers (23:22, 24:8), Deuteronomy (33:17), Job (39:9-10), Psalms (22:21, 29:6, 92:10), and Isaiah (34:7).

Funny—none of those creatures were ever mentioned as having been in Eden.

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