Dragons and the Difficulty Level

In the creation account God creates seven categories of creatures, the fish, the birds, dragons (tanniyn), cattle, creepies, beasts, and man.

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”

In the first declaration of the Dominion mandate mankind is put over: 1.Fish 2.Fowl 3.Cattle 4.All the Earth 5.Creepies: you’ll notice that Dragons are missing as well as Beasts of the earth. Then in Gen 1.28 God says:

“and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”

1.Fish 2.Fowl 3.Living Things Upon the Earth. The last category would include Beasts of the earth, but it is curious that they aren’t mention explicitly. Dragons are left off the list again. I think beasts are not explicitly mentioned because to tame a lion is much more difficult than to tame a cow. Dominion is always a work in progress, but some things come farther down the line than others. Both the beasts and particularly the dragons are at a different level of difficulty. You’ll notice that both Dragons and Beasts are centered:

v.20,21: Fish>Fowl>Dragons<Fish<Fowl

v.24,25: Cattle>Creepies>Beasts:Beasts<Cattle<Creepies

The next step in the story comes at Noah. Gen 9.2:

“And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.”

Presumably, cattle is left off the list because they’re domesticated already, but Dragons are still left off the list. The beasts of the earth have been explicitly mentioned under this covenant, which wasn’t the case in Gen 1.28.


A curious event happens in Exodus that needs to be considered. In Ex.4 God tells Moses to cast his rod down and it becomes a serpent (nachash). In Ex.7 in the showdown with Pharaoh and his magicmen Moses tells Aaron to throw down his rod and it becomes a dragon (tanniyn), though your Bible may translate it serpent. Pharaoh’s men cast their rods down and they too become tanniyn, but we know they are smaller because Aaron’s rod swallows them. I like to think they were baby crocs and Aaron’s is a big croc.

Dragons seem to be beyond man’s ability to deal with. God asks Job (ch.41) if he can handle the Leviathan, the great sea-beast, and the answer is pretty clearly no. But in Psalm 74 we learn that Yahweh breaks the dragons and feeds us Leviathan meat. Plus there are hints that things will change. Ps.91 says: “Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.” While this primarily refers to Christ we no doubt partake of this in him.

Psalm 8 says speaking of man, “Thou made him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou has put all things under his feet: sheep and oxen, all, and beasts of the field; the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and [whatsoever passes] through the paths of the seas.”

“Beasts of the field” seems to be a generic “things that live on the land” (see Gen 2.19 as opposed to “beasts of the earth” in Gen 1), so it highlights two sacrificial animals and then the generic term for the other cattle, beasts of the earth, and the creepies. Next it mentions fowl and fish and if we take the brackets as an accurate translation then the “whatsoever” would include the tanniyn. Though part of me wants to translate it as “the fish of the sea, passing in the paths of the sea” which would exclude the tanniyn. Either way, David is looking ahead to the time when dragons are under man’s feet.

The verse that connects serpent to dragon is Is. 27.1 where the Leviathan is described as a serpent:

“In that day Yahweh 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.”

So as we learn from the Greek testament, Satan is the serpent of old and the dragon of later. In the Hebrew testament even though serpents are afflictions they are under man’s feet, but man doesn’t mess with dragons until Jesus comes. To go from serpent to dragon also means a change in tactics. The serpent seeks to win through deceit, but the dragon through violence. The serpent lies at first, but then it grows; the serpent increases becoming a dragon and the dragon devours.

.   .   .

Mark 9: 21-29

And he asked his father, “How long is it ago since this came unto him?”

And he said, :Of a child. And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.”

Jesus said unto him, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.”

And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”

When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, “Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him.” And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead. But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose.

And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could not we cast him out?”

And he said unto them, “This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.”

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