For much of history dragons were thought of as being like any other exotic animal: sometimes useful and protective, other times harmful and dangerous. That changed when Christianity spread across the world. With misinterpretations of Hebrew writings beginning in the 7th century, dragons came to represent Satan. In medieval times, most people who heard anything about dragons knew them from the Bible, generally with evil intent, and it is likely that most Christians at the time believed in the literal existence of dragons; huge, flying serpents were described by the ancient Greeks and Sumerians.
Leviathan — the massive monster described in detail in the Book of Job, chapter 41 — seems to describe a dragon in detail. (Book of Job is of the Hebrew Bible written approximately 2100-1800 b.c.e., and among the first books translated into the Christian Old Testament.)
The 33rd book of the Old Testament, Micah 1:8 gives insight into the vocalization of a particular kind of dragon that “wailed.” The “wailing dragon” is thought to reference a flying reptile (or pterosaur). In verse 3 the prophet mentions that the land of Edom would become a wasteland, inhabited by the dragons of the wilderness.
Edom was directly south of Israel, a region known for flying serpents (Isaiah 14:29). The walking dragons (like Behemoth) would have preferred more typical reptilian swampy habitat (Job 40:21-23).
The Hebrew word תנין (tannin) has been translated in several ways, but the term likely refers to both land and sea serpents . . . or dragons, which were created on on the fifth day of creation.
And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.
~ Malachi 1:2 (ykalm meaning messenger of Yahweh or my messenger), 433 b.c.e.
There are at least twenty-two places in King James’ Old Testament where the word dragons (or its singular form) are found, including
~ Deuteronomy 32:33, Nehemiah 2:13, Psalm 44:19, 91:13, Isaiah 13:22, 27:1, 43:20, 51:9, Jeremiah 49:33, 51:34, Ezekiel 29:3 and Malachi 1:3.
His breath kindles coals, and a flame goes out of his mouth.
~ Job 41:21
Out of his mouth go burning lights; sparks of fire shoot out.
~ Job 41:19
Dinosaur is a relatively new word, having been coined in 1841 by British scientist Sir Richard Owen. Prior to this time, another word was used for large reptilian creatures: dragon. Many of the characteristics of historical dragons match those of certain dinosaurs.
Confusion exists over two very similar words: tannin and tannim.
Tannin is the singular form of a creature like a serpent or dragon (whether land-dwelling or sea-dwelling)—the plural form would be tanninim as used in Genesis 1:21 (“sea creatures”).
Tannim is the plural form of tan (jackal).
The Woman and the Dragon: Revelation 12
And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.
She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth.
And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.
The Lost Tribes of The House of Israel
The peoples we refer to as the Lost Tribes were part of the Northern Kingdom of Israel which was conquered by the Assyrians around 740-720 BC. and exiled to areas in Assyria and to the north. This is told in the the Bible in 2Kings chapters 17 and 18. About the same time a contingent from the Kingdom of Judah were also exiled to the northern lands. It is these peoples and their immediate descendants that are also variously referred to as the Lost Tribes, and the subject of many works and studies.
Being both Irish and Jewish, I grew up familiar with customs and the cultures of both peoples, only in later years becoming aware that they were quite difference cultures and had greatly varying cultural characteristics. Yet growing up with both cultures… over the years I began to see similarity… including language, agriculture, religion and taboos, burial practices, music and folk dancing, the traditions and self determinations and self-identification of the Celts and other areas as the arise… Considering the long period of time from the expulsion of the Israelites to our time, it would seem unlikely that there would be little, if any, common letters, words or structure, but that is not the case – there is indeed much in common.
The Gaelic alphabet as well as the ordinal numbers show more commonality than could be expected after 2,700 years of divergence; for example we have a Hebrew “S” retained in the modern Gaelic – the Hebrew Sheen, pronounced Shh is found in the Irish “S” as in the name Sean pronounced Shawn. Other letters are similar, the ordinal numbers 6 & 7 are pronounced almost the same as Hebrew and Gaelic. Words with same or similar meanings abound; for instance the Hebrew word for holy in common usage according to Halacha (Jewish law) is Kasher. The word in Manx Gaelic for hallowed or holy is Casherick. The syntax of Gaelic is entirely different from any other European language, especially English. RL Thompson, in his work Outline of Manx Literature and Language says that “in several respects Gaelic syntax has similarities with that of languages like Hebrew and Arabic”.