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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]


The word is found in the NT only in  Revelation 12:3-17;  Revelation 13:2;  Revelation 13:4;  Revelation 13:11;  Revelation 16:13;  Revelation 20:2. In each case, with the exception of 13:11 (‘as a dragon’), the reference is to the symbolical ‘great red dragon’ with seven heads and ten horns (12:3) who is expressly identified with ‘the old serpent, he that is called the Devil and Satan’ (v. 9; cf. 20:2). When inquiry is made into the origin and meaning of the symbolism, it becomes evident that what we find in Rev. is an adoption and application to Christian purposes of certain conceptions that played a large part in the literature of pre-Christian Judaism, and had originally been suggested to the Jewish mind by its contact with the Babylonian mythology. The Apocryphal book of Bel and the Dragon testifies to the existence in Babylon of a dragon-worship that must have been associated with belief in the ancient dragon-myth which forms so important a feature of the Babylonian cosmogony. In the Creation-epic Tiâmat is the power of chaos and darkness, personified as a gigantic dragon or monster of the deep, who is eventually overcome by Marduk, the god of light. In the post-exilic Jewish apocalyptic literature a dragon of the depths becomes the representative of the forces of evil and opposition to goodness and God. But it was characteristic of Judaism, with its fervent Messianic expectations, that the idea of a conflict between God and the dragon should be transferred from the past to the future, from cosmogony to history and eschatology, so that the revolt of the dragon and his subjection by the Divine might became an episode not of pre-historic ages but of the last days (cf.  Isaiah 21:1,  Daniel 7:3). In Rev. the visions of non-canonical as well as canonical apocalyptists have been freely made use of; and the Jewish features of the story of the dragon are apparent (cf.  Revelation 12:7 with Eth. Enoch , xx. 5, Assumption of Moses , x. 2). But what is characteristic is that the figure and functions of the dragon are turned to Christian uses, so that they have a bearing upon Christ’s earthly birth and heavenly glory ( Revelation 12:5), upon the present conflict of Christianity with the world’s evil powers and its victory over them by ‘the blood of the Lamb’ and ‘the testimony of Jesus Christ’ ( Revelation 12:11;  Revelation 12:13;  Revelation 12:17), and above all upon the assurance of Christian faith that God will destroy the dragon’s present power to accuse His people and persecute them even unto death ( Revelation 12:10-11;  Revelation 12:13;  Revelation 12:17), and will at the appointed time send forth His angel to subdue him utterly ( Revelation 20:1-3).

Literature.-H. Gunkel, Schöpfung und Chaos , Göttingen, 1895; W. Bousset, The Antichrist Legend , Eng. translation, London, 1896; article‘Dragon’ in Encyclopaedia Biblica .

J. C. Lambert.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [2]

Τannin , Tan . Τan in  Jeremiah 14:6, "dragons" "snuffing up the wind" is translated by Henderson jackals; rather the great boas and python serpents are meant, which raise their body vertically ten or twelve feet high, surveying the neighborhood above the bushes, while with open jaws they drink in the air. They were made types of the deluge and all destructive agencies; hence the dragon temples are placed near water in Asia, Africa, and Britain, e.g. that of Abury in Wiltshire. The ark is often associated with it, as the preserver from the waters. The dragon temples are serpentine in form; dragon standards were used in Egypt and Babylon, and among the widely-scattered Celts.

Apollo's slaying Python is the Greek legend implying the triumph of light over darkness and evil. The Tannin are any great monsters, whether of land or sea, trans.  Genesis 1:21 "great sea monsters." So ( Lamentations 4:3) "even sea monsters ( Tannin ) draw out the breast," alluding to the mammalia which sometimes visit the Mediterranean, or the halichore cow whale of the Red Sea. Large whales do not often frequent the Mediterranean, which was the sea that the Israelites knew; they apply "sea" to the Nile and Euphrates, and so apply " Tannin " to the crocodile, their horror in Egypt, as also to the large serpents which they saw in the desert. "The dragon in the sea," which Jehovah shall punish in the day of Israel's deliverance, is Antichrist, the antitype to Babylon on the Euphrates' waters ( Isaiah 27:1).

In  Psalms 74:13, "Thou brokest the heads of the dragons in the waters," Egypt's princes and Pharaoh are poetically represented hereby, just as crocodiles are the monarchs of the Nile waters. So ( Isaiah 51:9-10) the crocodile is the emblem of Egypt and its king on coins of Augustus struck after the conquest of Egypt. "A habitation of dragons" expresses utter desolation, as venomous snakes abound in ruins of ancient cities ( Deuteronomy 32:33;  Jeremiah 49:33;  Isaiah 34:13). In the New Testament it symbolizes Satan the old serpent (Genesis 3), combining gigantic strength with craft, malignity, and venom ( Revelation 12:3). The dragon's color, "red," fiery red, implies that he was a murderer from the beginning.

Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [3]

 Deuteronomy 32:33 (a) The counsel of wicked leaders and teachers is compared to the poison of cruel animals.

 Job 30:29 (a) Job compares his companions to evil, ugly, horrible animals who brought only dismay to his heart.

 Psalm 44:19 (a) The writer compares his spiritual condition with the dark, dank place inhabited by wild animals.

 Psalm 74:13 (b) These dragons probably refer to the enemies of Israel whom they met on the way to the promised land. The "waters" represent peoples, nations and tongues, all of whom GOD subdued before His people who were marching to Canaan.

 Psalm 91:13 (a) Here is a type of the public enemies of Israel who were openly and outwardly enemies of GOD and of His people. The adder represents hidden dangers and seductive sins that do not operate openly.

 Psalm 148:7 (a) It is quite evident that GOD will make all the great nations of the earth (the dragons). to bow the knee, to acknowledge the Lord, and to yield to His power.

 Isaiah 13:22 (a) This is probably a type of the powers, such as Babylon, Egypt, Assyria, who invade Jerusalem and take up their dwelling places in the palaces of the GOD's city. (See also  Isaiah 34:13;  Jeremiah 9:11;  Jeremiah 10:22;  Jeremiah 49:33;  Jeremiah 51:37;  Malachi 1:3).

 Isaiah 35:7 (a) These are the great leaders of foreign countries who have been taking their places in the palaces of Jerusalem, but now are cast out, and the blessing of GOD has taken their place.

 Revelation 12:3 (a) This is a picture of Satan, in his cruelty, wickedness and evil actions. He is the enemy of Israel, of the Church, and of Christ

 Revelation 13:2 (a) This reveals the antichrist who exercises tremendous power over the people of the world, and he receives this power from the Devil. He is like a leopard because of his swift and cruel actions. He is like a bear because of his subtlety. He is like a lion because of his tremendous strength.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [4]

DRAGON . (1) tannîm (pl.), AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ‘dragons,’ but RV [Note: Revised Version.] ‘jackals,’   Isaiah 13:22;   Isaiah 34:13;   Isaiah 35:7 ,   Job 30:29 ,   Psalms 44:19 ,   Jeremiah 10:22;   Jeremiah 49:33 . (2) tannôth , AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ‘dragons,’ but RV [Note: Revised Version.] ‘jackals,’   Malachi 1:3 . See Jackal. (3) tannîm (sing.), ‘dragon,’   Ezekiel 29:3;   Ezekiel 32:2 , refers to Egypt, and probably means specially the crocodile (wh. see). (4) tannîn (pl. tannînim ), tr. [Note: translate or translation.] in RV [Note: Revised Version.] of   Genesis 1:21 and   Job 7:12 ‘ sea monster(s) ’ (AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ‘whale(s)’); Aaron’s rod became a tannîn (  Exodus 7:9-12 , EV [Note: English Version.] serpent [wh. see, §11]). The same term, tannîn , is also applied metaphorically to Pharaoh (  Psalms 74:13 ,   Isaiah 51:9; and thus perhaps refers to the crocodile), and to Nebuchadnezzar (  Jeremiah 51:34 ). Doubtless many references here and elsewhere are tinged by current mythological tales of ‘dragons,’ such as that preserved in the Assyrian creation-epic of the contest between Marduk and Tiamat. The reference in   Revelation 12:3 ff. is certainly of this nature.

E. W. G. Masterman.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [5]

Dragon. The translators of the Authorized Version, apparently following the Vulgate, have rendered by the same word "dragon" the two Hebrew words, tan and tannin , which appear to be quite distinct in meaning.

1. The former, tan , is used, always in the plural, in  Job 30:29;  Psalms 44:19;  Isaiah 34:13;  Isaiah 43:20;  Jeremiah 9:11. It is always applied to some creatures inhabiting the desert, and we should conclude from this that it refers rather to some wild beast than to a serpent. The Syriac renders it by a word which, according to Pococke, means a "jackal."

2. The word tannin seems to refer to any great monster, whether of the land or the sea, being indeed more usually applied to some kind of serpent or reptile, but not exclusively restricted to that sense.  Exodus 7:9-10;  Exodus 7:12;  Deuteronomy 32:33;  Psalms 91:13, In the New Testament, it is found only in the Apocalypse,  Revelation 12:3-4;  Revelation 12:7;  Revelation 12:9;  Revelation 12:16-17, etc., as applied metaphorically to "the old serpent, called the devil, and Satan."

Holman Bible Dictionary [6]

tannim tannin  Isaiah 13:22 Isaiah 35:7 Isaiah 43:20 Lamentations 4:3 Genesis 1:21 Psalm 148:7 tannin   Exodus 7:9-10 7:12 Deuteronomy 32:33 Psalm 91:13 Jeremiah 51:34 Ezekiel 29:3 Ezekiel 32:3 Psalm 74:12-14 Job 7:12 Job 26:12-13 Isaiah 27:1 Isaiah 51:9-10

In the New Testament Revelation develops sense 4, describing the dragon as a great, red monster with seven heads and ten horns. This dragon is clearly identified with Satan (the Devil) and is termed the deceiver and the accuser of the saints. As in the Old Testament texts, the dragon is put under guard ( Revelation 20:1-3; see ( Job 7:12 ) and later released for final destruction ( Revelation 20:7-10; see  Isaiah 27:1 ).

Morrish Bible Dictionary [7]

tannin , δράκων. It may signify any great serpent or sea monster, symbolical of a huge destructive creature. Nations doomed to destruction and desolation, including Jerusalem, are said to become habitations of dragons.  Isaiah 34:13;  Isaiah 35:7;  Jeremiah 9:11;  Jeremiah 10:22;  Jeremiah 51:37 . Pharaoh, king of Egypt, is called the great dragon.  Ezekiel 29:3 . As one of God's creatures the dragon is called upon to praise Jehovah.  Psalm 148:7 . In the N.T. the dragon is a type of Satan and those energised by him. In  Revelation 12:3 the "great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns," is symbolical of Satan's power in the form of the Roman empire: it endeavoured, in the person of Herod, to destroy Christ when born. In   Revelation 13:2,4 it is Satan who gives the resuscitated Roman empire in a future day its throne and great authority. In   Revelation 13:11 the Antichrist, who has two horns like a lamb, speaks as a dragon. In   Revelation 16:13 it is Satan, and in   Revelation 20:2 he is described as "that old serpent, which is the Devil and Satan."

Webster's Dictionary [8]

(1): ( n.) A fabulous animal, generally represented as a monstrous winged serpent or lizard, with a crested head and enormous claws, and regarded as very powerful and ferocious.

(2): ( n.) A fierce, violent person, esp. a woman.

(3): ( n.) A constellation of the northern hemisphere figured as a dragon; Draco.

(4): ( n.) A luminous exhalation from marshy grounds, seeming to move through the air as a winged serpent.

(5): ( n.) A short musket hooked to a swivel attached to a soldier's belt; - so called from a representation of a dragon's head at the muzzle.

(6): ( n.) A small arboreal lizard of the genus Draco, of several species, found in the East Indies and Southern Asia. Five or six of the hind ribs, on each side, are prolonged and covered with weblike skin, forming a sort of wing. These prolongations aid them in making long leaps from tree to tree. Called also flying lizard.

(7): ( n.) A variety of carrier pigeon.

(8): ( n.) A fabulous winged creature, sometimes borne as a charge in a coat of arms.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [9]

  • Heb. tannin. Some great sea monster ( Jeremiah 51:34 ). In  Isaiah 51:9 it may denote the crocodile. In   Genesis 1:21 (Heb. plural tanninim) the Authorized Version renders "whales," and the Revised Version "sea monsters." It is rendered "serpent" in   Exodus 7:9 . It is used figuratively in  Psalm 74:13;  Ezekiel 29:3 .

    In the New Testament the word "dragon" is found only in  Revelation 12:3,4,7,9,16,17 , etc., and is there used metaphorically of "Satan." (See Whale .)

    Copyright Statement These dictionary topics are from M.G. Easton M.A., DD Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain.

    Bibliography Information Easton, Matthew George. Entry for 'Dragon'. Easton's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/ebd/d/dragon.html. 1897.

  • Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [10]

    This word is frequently to be met with in our English translation of the Bible. It answers generally to the Hebrew תן , תנין , תנים ; and these words are variously rendered dragons, serpents, sea- monsters, and whales. The Rev. James Hurdis, in a dissertation relative to this subject, observes, that the word translated "whales," in   Genesis 1:21 , occurs twenty-seven times in Scripture; and he attempts, with much ingenuity, to prove that it every where signifies the crocodile. That it sometimes has this meaning, he thinks is clear from  Ezekiel 29:3 : "Behold, I am against thee, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great dragon that lieth in the midst of his rivers." For, to what could a king of Egypt be more properly compared than the crocodile? The same argument he draws from  Isaiah 51:9 : "Art thou not he that hath cut Rahab, [Egypt,] and wounded the dragon?" Among the ancients the crocodile was the symbol of Egypt, and appears so on Roman coins. Some however have thought the hippopotamus intended; others, one of the larger species of serpents.

    People's Dictionary of the Bible [11]

    Dragon. The original word for this in the Bible has three meanings. Very commonly, where it occurs in connection with ostriches, owls, deserts, and ruins, it denotes the jackal, whose characteristics are unmistakably indicated, such as his "wailing" and "snuffing up the wind." So in  Job 30:29, the R. V. reads "jackals," and also in  Psalms 44:19 and  Jeremiah 9:11, in which passages solitude and desolation are illustrated. The same idea is in  Micah 1:8. In some passages it denotes monsters of the deep or huge land- reptiles, as in  Psalms 91:13; R. V. reads "serpent." In  Deuteronomy 32:33 it refers to some poisonous reptile, being used in connection with the asp, a poisonous snake. The figurative use of this term, as in  Psalms 74:13;  Ezekiel 29:3;  Revelation 12:3;  Revelation 20:2, is quite obvious.

    King James Dictionary [12]

    DRAGON, n. L., Gr., G.

    1. A kind of winged serpent, much celebrated in the romances of the middle ages. 2. A fiery, shooting meteor, or imaginary serpent.

    Swift, swift, ye dragons of the night! That dawning may bear the ravens eye.

    3. A fierce, violent person, male or female as, this man or woman is a dragon. 4. A constellation of the northern hemisphere. See Draco.

    In Scripture, dragon seems sometimes to signify a large marine fish or serpent,  Isaiah 27 . Where the leviathan is also mentioned also  Psalms 74 .

    Sometimes it seems to signify a venomous land serpent.  Psalms 91 . The dragon shalt thou trample under foot.

    It is often used for the devil, who is called the old serpent.  Revelation 20:2 .

    DRAGON, n. A genus of animals, the Draco. They have four legs, a cylindrical tail, and membranaceous wings, radiated like the fins of a flying-fish.

    American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [13]

    Answers, in the English Bible, the Hebrew word signifying a sea-monster, huge serpent, etc. Thus in  Deuteronomy 32:33   Jeremiah 51:34   Revelation 12:1-17 , it evidently implies a huge serpent; in  Isaiah 27:1   51:9   Ezekiel 29:3 , it may mean the crocodile, or any large sea-monster; while in  Job 30:29   Lamentations 4:3   Micah 1:8 , it seems to refer to some wild animal of the desert, most probably the jackal. The animal known to modern naturalists under the name of dragon, is a harmless species of lizard, found in Asia and Africa.

    Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [14]

    1: Δράκων (Strong'S #1404 — Noun Masculine — drakon — drak'-own )

    denoted "a mythical monster, a dragon;" also a large serpent, so called because of its keen power of sight (from a root derk, signifying "to see"). Twelve times in the Apocalypse it is used of the Devil, 12:3,4,7,9,13,16,17; 13:2,4,11; 16:13; 20:2.

    Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [15]

    One of the names of the devil. ( Revelation 12:9) Hence, in allusion to the Lord Jesus Christ's victory over hell, the Psalmist saith, "Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder, the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet."

    Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology [16]

    See Antichrist

    International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [17]

    drag´un ( תּנּין , tannı̄n , plural תּנּים , tannı̄m , תּנּות , tannōth  ; δράκων , drákōn ):

    Ṭannı̄n and the plural tannı̄nı̄m occur 14 times, and in English Versions of the Bible are variously rendered "dragon," "whale," "serpent" or "sea-monster"; but  Lamentations 4:3 , the King James Version "sea-monster," the King James Version margin"sea calves," the Revised Version (British and American) "jackals." Ṭannı̄m occurs 12 times, and is rendered "dragons," the Revised Version (British and American) "jackals," except in  Ezekiel 29:3 , where the King James Version has "dragon" (the American Standard Revised Version "monster"), and in  Ezekiel 32:2 , where the King James Version has "whale" and the English Revised Version and the King James Version margin"dragon" (the American Standard Revised Version "monster"). Ṭannōth occurs once, in  Malachi 1:3 , where it is rendered "dragons," the Revised Version (British and American) "jackals." Drakōn occurs 12 times in Rev 12; 13; 16; and 20, where it is uniformly rendered "dragon." (Compare Arabic tinnı̄n , the constellation, Draco.) Ṭannōth Septuagint δώματα , dṓmata , "dwellings") is a feminine plural form as if from tannāh , but it suits the context to give it the same meaning as tannı̄m ̌ .

    In  Exodus 7:9 ,  Exodus 7:10 ,  Exodus 7:12 , tannı̄n is used of the serpents which were produced from Aaron's rod and the rods of the Egyptian magicians, whereas in  Exodus 4:3 and   Exodus 7:15 , for the serpent produced from Aaron's rod, we find nāḥāsh , the ordinary word for serpent. In two passages we find "whale," the Revised Version (British and American) "sea-monster";  Genesis 1:21 : "And God created the great sea-monsters, and every living creature that moveth";   Job 7:12 : "Am I a sea, or a sea-monster, that thou settest a watch over me?" Other passages (the English Revised Version and the King James Version) are   Deuteronomy 32:33 : "Their wine is the poison of dragons (the American Standard Revised Version "serpents"), and the cruel venom of asps";   Nehemiah 2:13 : "And I went out by night by the valley gate, even toward the dragon's (the American Standard Revised Version "jackal's") well" (the King James Version "dragon well");   Psalm 91:13 : "Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the serpent (the King James Version "dragon") shalt thou trample under foot";   Psalm 148:7 : "Praise Yahweh from the earth, ye sea-monsters (the King James Version "dragons"), and all deeps";   Jeremiah 51:34 : "Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon hath devoured me,... like a monster" (the King James Version "dragon"). Here also two tannı̄m passages;  Ezekiel 29:3 : "Thus saith the Lord Yahweh: Behold, I am against thee, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great monster (the King James Version "dragon") that lieth in the midst of his rivers, that hath said, My river is mine own, and I have made it for myself"; and   Ezekiel 32:2 : "Son of man, take up a lamentation over Pharaoh king of Egypt, and say unto him, Thou wast likened unto a young lion of the nations: yet art thou as a monster (the English Revised Version "dragon," the King James Version "whale") in the seas; and thou didst break forth with thy rivers and troubledst the waters with thy feet, and fouledst their rivers."

    The foregoing passages offer no especial difficulties in the interpretation of the word tannı̄n ̌ . All may fairly be understood to refer to a serpent or sea-monster or some imaginary creature, without invoking any ancient myths for their elucidation. The same may be said of the passages in Revelation. A dragon is taken as the personification of Satan, as of Pharaoh in the passages in Ezekiel. It is of course true that ancient myths may more or less distantly underlie some of these dragon and serpent references, and such myths may be demonstrated to throw additional light in certain cases, but at least the passages in question are intelligible without recourse to the myths. This however is not equally true of all the tannı̄n passages. In  Psalm 74:12 we read: "Yet God is my King of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth. Thou didst divide the sea by thy strength: thou brakest the heads of the sea-monsters (the King James Version "dragons") in the waters." Compare   Isaiah 27:1;  Isaiah 51:9 f.

    The three passages just cited seem to denote each some particular act, and are referred by Canon Cheyne ( Encyclopedia Biblica , under the word "Dragon") to the old Babylonian myth of the conflict of Marduk and Tı̄amat in the Assyrian creation-legend (Thus Gunkel, etc.). Indeed he refers to that myth not only these passages, but also Jer 5:34;   Ezekiel 29:3-6;  Ezekiel 32:2-8 and   Job 7:12 , which have been cited above. In translating the last two passages, Canon Cheyne uses the definite article, " the dragon," instead of " a " as in the Revised Version (British and American), which makes a great difference in the meaning. In  Psalm 87:4 , it is clear that Rahab is a country, i.e. Egypt.  Isaiah 30:7 is to the same point. In   Isaiah 51:9 ,  Isaiah 51:10 , "that didst cut Rahab in pieces" and "that didst pierce the monster" (the King James Version "dragon"), are two coördinate expressions of one idea, which is apparently the defeat of the Egyptians, as appears in the reference to the passage of the Red Sea. In  Isaiah 27:1 , "leviathan the swift serpent" and "leviathan the crooked serpent" and "the monster (the King James Version and the English Revised Version "dragon") that is in the sea" have been identified with Babylon, Persia and Egypt ( Encyclopedia Biblica , under the word "Dragon," 4). It is more probable that the first two expressions are coördinate, and amount to "leviathan the swift and crooked serpent," and that the verse may therefore refer to Babylonia and Egypt.  Psalm 74:12-15 is more in line with the idea of the article in EB , but it is nevertheless susceptible of an explanation similar to that of the other two passages.

    Ṭannı̄m , "dragons" (the Revised Version (British and American) "jackals") occurs in  Job 30:29;  Psalm 44:19;  Isaiah 13:22;  Isaiah 34:13;  Isaiah 35:7;  Isaiah 43:20;  Jeremiah 9:11;  Jeremiah 10:22;  Jeremiah 14:6;  Jeremiah 49:33;  Jeremiah 51:37; tannōth , "dragons" (the Revised Version (British and American) "jackals") is found in  Malachi 1:3 . In all these passages, "jackal" suits the context better than "dragon," "sea-monster" or "serpent." An exception to the rendering of "dragon" or "serpent" or "sea-monster" for tannı̄n is found in  Lamentations 4:3 : "Even the jackals draw out the breast, they give suck to their young ones." the King James Version has "seamonster," the King James Version margin"sea calves." A mammal is indicated, and the Revised Version (British and American) apparently assumes that tannı̄n is an error for tannı̄m ̌ . Two other exceptions are in  Ezekiel 29:3 and   Ezekiel 32:2 , where English Versions of the Bible renders tannı̄m by "dragon," since in these two passages "jackal" obviously will not suit. See Jackal .

    On the constellational dragons or snakes, see Astronomy , II, 1-5.

    Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [18]

    (from the Greek Δράκων , as in the Apocrypha and Revelation frequently), an imaginary serpent of antiquity, especially in mythology, supposed to be supplied with feet and often with wings, stands in our version usually as a translation of two Hebrews words of different signification, but common derivation Tan , תִּן , and Tannian , תִּנַּין (according to Gesenius, from תָּנִן , to extend, with reference to the great length of one or both of them). The similarity of the forms of the words may easily account for this confusion, especially as the masculine plural of the former, Tannin , actually assumes (in  Lamentations 4:3) the form Tannin , and, on the other hand, Tannim is evidently written for the singular tannin in  Ezekiel 29:3;  Ezekiel 32:2. But the words appear to be quite distinct in meaning; and the distinction is generally, though not universally, preserved by the Sept. Bochart, however, proposes (Hieroz. 2:429) to read uniformly tannin as the plur. of tan, and thus merge both terms into one. (See Whale).

    1.' The former (always "dragon" except  Ezekiel 32:2 "whale") is used, always in the plural, in  Job 30:29;  Isaiah 34:13;  Isaiah 43:20 (Sept. Σειρῆνες ); in  Isaiah 13:22 ( Ἐχῖνοι ); in  Jeremiah 10:22;  Jeremiah 49:33 ( Στρουθοί ); in  Psalms 44:19 ( Τόπῳ Κακώοντες ); and in  Jeremiah 9:11;  Jeremiah 14:6;  Jeremiah 2:37;  Micah 1:8 ( Δράκοντες ). The feminine plural תִּנּוֹת , tannoth', is found in  Malachi 1:3; a passage altogether differently translated by the Sept. It is always applied to some creatures inhabiting the desert, and connected generally with the words יִעֲנָה ("ostrich") and אַי ("jackal"?). We should conclude from this that it refers rather to some wild beast than to a serpent, and this conclusion is rendered almost certain by the comparison of the tannim in  Jeremiah 14:6, to the wild asses snuffing the wind, and the reference to their "wailing" in  Micah 1:8, and perhaps in  Job 30:29. The Syriac renders it by a word which, according to Pococke, means a "jackal" (a beast whose peculiarly mournful howl in the desert is well known), and it seems most probable that this or some cognate species is to be understood whenever the word tan occurs. This interpretation, however, although favored by the grammatical forms, is supported by little more than conjecture as to the identification with the jackal, or wild dog of the desert, which the Arabs call Awi , plur. Awin (corresponding to the Hebrew אַיִּים אַי , '"wild beasts of the islands,"  Isaiah 13:22;  Isaiah 34:13; Jeremiah 1, 39, i.e., jackals), so called from their howling, although they call the wolf by the name taynan, which is somewhat like תִּנַּין . (See Jackal).

    2. The word Tannin , תִּנַּין (plur. תִּנַּינַים ), is always rendered by Δράκων in the Sept. except in  Genesis 1:21, where we find Κῆτος . It generally occurs in the plural, and is rendered "whale" in  Genesis 1:21;  Job 7:12; "serpent" in  Exodus 7:9-12; "sea-monster" in Lath. 4:3. It seems to refer to any great monster, whether of the land or the sea, being indeed more usually applied to some kind of serpent or reptile, but not exclusively restricted to that sense. When referring to the sea it is used as a parallel to לַוְיָתָן ("Leviathan "), as in  Isaiah 27:1; and indeed this latter word is rendered in the Sept. by Δράκων , in  Psalms 74:14;  Psalms 104:26;  Job 40:20;  Isaiah 27:1; and by Μἐγα Κῆτος in  Job 3:8. When we examine special passages we find the word used in  Genesis 1:21, of the great sea-monsters, the representatives of the inhabitants of the deep. The same sense is given to it in  Psalms 74:13 (where it is again connected with "Leviathan "),  Psalms 148:7, and probably in  Job 7:12 (Vulg. Cetus ). On the other hand, in  Exodus 7:9-10;  Exodus 7:12;  Deuteronomy 32:33;  Psalms 91:13, it refers to land-serpents of a powerful and deadly kind. It is also applied metaphorically to Pharaoh or to Egypt ( Isaiah 51:9;  Ezekiel 29:3;  Ezekiel 32:2; perhaps  Psalms 74:13), and in that case, especially as feet are attributed to it, it most probably refers to the crocodile as the well-known emblem of Egypt. When, however, it is used of the king of Babylon, as in  Jeremiah 51:34, the same propriety would lead us to suppose that some great serpent, such as might inhabit the sandy plains of Babylonia, is intended. (See Leviathan).

    3. In the New Test. dragon ( Δράκων ) is only found in the Apocalypse ( Revelation 12:3-4;  Revelation 12:7;  Revelation 12:9;  Revelation 12:16-17, etc.), as applied metaphorically to "the old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan," the description of the "dragon" being dictated by the symbolical meaning of the image rather than by any reference to any actually existing creature. Of similar personification, either of an evil spirit or of the powers of material Nature as distinct from God, we have traces in the extensive prevalence of dragon-worship, and existence of dragon temples of peculiar serpentine form, the use of dragonstandards both in the East, especially in Egypt, and in the West, more particularly among the Celtic tribes. The most remarkable of all, perhaps, is found in the Greek legend of Apollo as the slayer of the Python, and the supplanter of the serpent-worship by a higher wisdom. The reason, at least of the scriptural symbol, is to be sought not only in the union of gigantic power with craft and malignity, of which the serpent is the natural emblem, but in the record of the serpent's agency in the temptation (Genesis 3). For the ancient allusions to these fabulous or monstrous animals, see Smith's Dict. of Class. Antiq. s.v. Draco. A well-known story of one of these occurs in the mediaeval legend of "St. George (q.v.) and the Dragon," and a still earlier one is named below. (See Monster).

    Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [19]

    Dragon occurs principally in the plural form (;;;;;;;; and ). These texts, in general, present pictures of ruined cities and of desolation in the wilderness. Where dragons are associated with birds of the desert, they clearly indicate serpents of various species, both small and large, as already noticed in the article Adder. In , where wild asses snuffing up the wind are compared to dragons, the image will appear in its full strength, if we understand by dragons, great boas and python-serpents, such as are figured in the Prænestine mosaics. They were common in ancient times, and are still far from rare in the tropics of both continents. Several of the species grow to an enormous size, and, during their periods of activity, are in the habit of raising a considerable portion of their length into a vertical position, like pillars, 10 or 12 feet high, in order to survey the vicinity above the surrounding bushes, while with open jaws they drink in a quantity of the current air. The same character exists in smaller serpents; but it is not obvious, unless when, threatening to strike, they stand on end nearly three-fourths of their length. Most, if not all, of these species are mute, or can utter only a hissing sound; and although the mallipambu, the great rock-snake of Southern Asia, is said to wail in the night, we have never witnessed such a phenomenon, nor heard it asserted that any other boa, python, or erpeton had a real voice; but they hiss, and, like crocodiles, may utter sounds somewhat akin to howling.

    The Nuttall Encyclopedia [20]

    A fabulous monster, being a hideous impersonation of some form of deadly evil, which only preternatural heroic strength and courage can subdue, and on the subdual and slaying of which depends the achievement of some conquest of vital moment to the human race or some members of it; is represented in mediæval art as a large, lizard-like animal, with the claws of a lion, the wings of an eagle, and the tail of a serpent, with open jaws ready and eager to devour, which some knight high-mounted thrusts at to pierce to death with a spear; in the Greek mythology it is represented with eyes ever on the watch, in symbol of the evil that waylays us to kill us if we don't kill it, as in guarding the "Apples of the Hesperides" and the "Golden Fleece," because these are prizes that fall only to those who are as watchful of him as he is of them; and it is consecrated to Minerva to signify that true wisdom, as sensible of the ever-wakeful dragon, never goes to sleep, but is equally ever on the watch.