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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Kraken down on a Leviathan

Colossal Octopus (by De Montfort)
The biblical Leviathan (Tiberian for “twisted, coiled”) is vividly described in Job 41:1-34.  God begins this “cross-examination” by asking Job:  Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook, or press down his tongue with a cord?  He then answers His own question in
this Mighty way:  No one is so fierce that he dares to stir him up…  Though the sword reaches him, it does not avail; nor the spear, the dart, or the javelin…     

In other words, that’s one Hellmouth of a sea monster.  But is It for real?

Some Jewish midrash sources said, “Yes - and yes, again!”  They claimed that there was originally not only one – but two such creatures.  Since one was male and the other was female, God allegedly slew the female so that they would not multiply and destroy the world.  Her flesh was then salted and saved for the banquet that was to come when the Messiah arrived.  The Talmud further elaborates that her skin would be used for the tent in which this banquet for the righteous will be held.

Lest these reports appear somewhat exaggerated and/or antiquated, consider this recent “update” from a research scientist at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts.  According to LiveScience, Professor Mark McMenamin claims that “the arrangement and markings on bones of giant sea creatures in a Nevada desert indicates that they were devoured by a giant mollusk.”  Not only that, this “giant mollusk” is being compared to the legendary kraken.

According to Wikipedia, “kraken” are “legendary sea monsters of giant proportions said to have dwelt off
the coasts of Norway and Iceland.”  An Old Icelandic saga refers to two such creatures named Hafgufa and
Lyngbakr “that fed on whales, ships and men.”  A circa-1250 Norwegian “scientific report” described this aquatic beast in detail.  In the first edition of his Systema Naturae (1735), Carolus Linnaeus “classified Kraken as cephalopods.”

Some skeptics are just “kraken up” over the likes of these reports.  Other folks are wondering whether science is finally “kraken down” on some age-old mysteries of the deep.


Copyright October 16, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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