Skip to content

James Walter McIver

Leviathan, Behemoth, and Ziz oh my! This week on The Malliard Report Jim welcomes a guest that dives into a realm in which many may not know about, but certainly makes impact on the world around us. Spiritual warrior and Seventh Day Adventist, James Walter McIver brings his insight to spiritual warfare, demonic and angelic beings, and the possibility of ancient biblical monsters still lurking within our midst.

James refers to three large beasts that are mentioned within biblical texts that many may be unfamiliar with, or simply skimmed over because they seemed oddly out of context. Such is the first monster mentioned and that is the Leviathan. Found with the Christian scriptures (Job 3:8/Job 41:1/ Psalms 104:26 and Isaiah 27:1) it is described as “…a derivation from the root לוהlvh to twine; to join”, with an adjectival suffix with a literal meaning of “wreathed, twisted in folds”. Both the name and the mythological figure are a direct continuation of the Ugaritic sea monster Lôtān, one of the servants of the sea god Yammu defeated by Hadad in the Baal Cycle. The Ugaritic account has gaps, making it unclear whether some phrases describe him or other monsters at Yammu’s disposal such as Tunannu (the Biblical Tannin). Most scholars agree on describing Lôtān as “the fugitive serpent” (bṯn brḥ) but he may or may not be “the wriggling serpent” (bṯn ʿqltn) or “the mighty one with seven heads” (šlyṭ d.šbʿt rašm) His role seems to have been prefigured by the earlier serpent Têmtum whose death at the hands Hadad is depicted in Syrian seals of the 18th–16th century BCE Sea serpents feature prominently in the mythology of the Ancient Near East. They are attested by the 3rd millennium BCE in Sumerian iconography depicting the god Ninurtaovercoming a seven-headed serpent. It was common for Near Eastern religions to include a Chaoskampf: a cosmic battle between a sea monster representing the forces of chaos and a creator god or culture hero who imposes order by force. The Babylonian creation myth describes Marduk‘s defeat of the serpent goddess Tiamat, whose body was used to create the heavens and the earth.”

The second creature (and one of the more interesting sounding ones) is Ziz. Found in 2nd Chronicles 20:16, the Ziz is describes as “…as Leviathan is the king of fishes, so the Ziz is appointed to rule over the birds. His name comes from the variety of tastes his flesh has; it tastes like this, zeh, and like that, zeh. The Ziz is as monstrous of size as Leviathan himself. His ankles rest on the earth, and his head reaches to the very sky. It once happened that travelers on a vessel noticed a bird. As he stood in the water, it merely covered his feet, and his head knocked against the sky. The onlookers thought the water could not have any depth at that point, and they prepared to take a bath there. A heavenly voice warned them: “Alight not here! Once a carpenter’s axe slipped from his hand at this spot, and it took it seven years to touch bottom.” The bird the travelers saw was none other than the Ziz. His wings are so huge that unfurled they darken the sun. They protect the earth against the storms of the south; without their aid the earth would not be able to resist the winds blowing thence. Once an egg of the Ziz fell to the ground and broke. The fluid from it flooded sixty cities, and the shock crushed three hundred cedars. Fortunately such accidents do not occur frequently. As a rule the bird lets her eggs slide gently into her nest. This one mishap was because the egg was rotten, and the bird cast it away carelessly.”

The last of the creatures is that of the Behemoth. A term that we often use to associate with something of large scale fittingly enough is a creature of similar stature. Found in Job 40:15. Biblical description of the beasts reads: “…Behold, Behemoth, which I made as I made you; he eats grass like an ox Behold, his strength in his loins and his power in the muscles of his belly. He makes his tail stiff like a cedar; the sinews of his thighs are knit together. His bones are tubes of bronze, his limbs like bars of iron…”

James has a fascinating story to tell and is definitely worth a listen. If you want to keep up with James, you can follow him via Twitter @McIverWalter and remember for all things Malliard head over to or via Twitter @Malliard.