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England: Noah's Ark, tempera colours and gold leaf on parchment by an unknown artist, East Anglia, c. 1490. (Photo by: Pictures from History/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
History - Science
With all the offbeat surprises hidden in the Big Book, it should come as no surprise that the Bible bestiary gets wonky at times. Sure, everyone remembers the whale that swallowed Jonah (or was it just a big fish?) and Daniel in the lions' den, but how much do you know about these crazy creatures in the Bible?
Yep, Job describes the Leviathan as having scales, double-plated armor, and the ability to breath fire. The Leviathan has been the subject of plenty of debate over the years, with some suggesting it is a crocodile, but that doesn't quite fit the very intricate description.
The descriptively named First Beast is laid out for the reader in Revelation 13:1, and it has ten horns with crowns on top of them, "the name of blasphemy" written across all seven of its heads, the feet of a bear, and the mouth of a lion. The Beast of the Sea takes a lethal beating to one of its heads, but eventually heals itself.
Believe it or not, dragons are mentioned 34 times in the King James Bible, although it is undoubtedly a matter of creative translation. Some mentions are just allusions, while other mentions, like Isaiah claiming they will infest the fallen Babylon, seem to refer to them literally.
The Bible has been translated into just about every real language (and a few fictional ones), and that means that gaps have to be filled in when there isn't a word for something. One 17th century translation of the King James Bible mentions unicorns nine times, and while most are simply allusions, Isaiah (again!) says unicorns will overrun the land of Idumea.
Balaam and God have a disagreement about a trip the former is taking, so God sends an angel to appear to the donkey he is riding. The donkey understandably freaks out, and Balaam attacks it, so the donkey is given the power of speech and asks Balaam why he would hit it. Balaam, terrified and confused, repents.