Dragons and the Bible

Dinosaur-like creatures are mentioned in the Bible. The Bible uses ancient names like “behemoth” and “tannin.”



Hebrew: תַּנִּין —transliteration: tannin —English pronunciation: tan-NEEN —meaning: serpent, dragon, sea monster

singular: tannin
plural: tanninim or tanniym

This very ancient Hebrew word refers to some very great sea creature(s)—sea monster(s), and it is not likely to be whales.

God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind… —Genesis 1:21 NASB excerpt

Other translations: great “sea creatures” (Gen. 1:21 NKJV; Gen. 1:21 ESV) / great “creatures of the sea” (Gen. 1:21 NIV) / great “whales” (Genesis 1:21 KJV)

In the King James Version, the word tannin is often translated as “dragon.” The New American Standard Bible does so twice.

He hath swallowed me up like a dragon,
He hath filled his belly with my delicates,
He hath cast me out. —Jeremiah 51:34 KJV

A Divine prophecy in the Book of Isaiah uses tannin metaphorically of the great serpent Satan.

In that day the Lord will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent,
With His fierce and great and mighty sword,
Even Leviathan the twisted serpent;
And He will kill the dragon who lives in the sea. —Isaiah 27:1 NASB excerpt

Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord;
Awake as in the days of old, the generations of long ago.
Was it not You who cut Rahab in pieces, Who pierced the dragon [Hebrew: tannin] ? —Isaiah 51:9 NASB

Other translations of tannin in this verse: “monster” (Jeremiah 51:34 NKJV; Jer. 51:34 NASB; Jer. 51:34 ESV

Land tannin

This word tannin is also used to refer to some land animal(s) inhabiting desert places and ruins. As the original identification is unknown, translators have guessed what they are. The King James Version says dragons, others say jackals, which may not be a correct identification.

Satan, “The Great Red Dragon”

Greek: δράκων —transliteration: drakón —meaning: a dragon —occurrences: 13

The ancient Greeks classified a “dragon” as a type of serpent.

In the New Testament, the word “dragon” is found in the book of Revelation, and is almost exclusively used metaphorically for Satan.


Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child. —Rev. 12:3-4 NASB and LSB

And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. —Rev. 12:7-9 NASB

So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children [literally: seed], who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. —Rev. 12:17 NASB

And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; —Revelation 20:2 NASB

A “beast” that speaks like a dragon

The following verses refer to the final false prophet in Revelation who is “a persuasive proponent of Satanic religion,” leading the world to worship the Antichrist.

Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb and he spoke as a dragon.

…And I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs; for they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty. —Revelation 13:11-13 NASB excerpt

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Article Version: August 1, 2021