We first meet descriptions of the Behemoth and Leviathan in the book of Job. In the prophecy of Daniel wild beasts are used to represent kingdoms. We have received a tradition that the Leviathan and the Behemoth will do battle in the end of days and slaughter each other. If the Leviathan and the Behemoth represent kingdoms that do battle in the end of days which kingdoms do they represent?

In tractate Avodah Zarah 2b we read:

It is because with regard to these, Rome and Persia, their kingship extends until the coming of the Messiah.

So we find that these two kingdoms of all the kingdoms of the earth will survive to the end of days. But the likeness doesn't stop there. Where do we find that these two kingdoms will do battle? In tractate Yoma 10 a we read:

Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said that Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said: Rome is destined to fall into the hands of Persia

and also the contrary opinion that:

In contrast, Rav said: Persia is destined to fall into the hands of Rome.

Either way we see they are destined to do battle. Interestingly both opinions can be seen to be correct if like Leviathan and Behemoth they slaughter each other.

We also read that Leviathan is a giant fish that resides in the Mediterranean sea with its mouth open towards the river Jordan see Bava Basra 74b:

And Rav Yehuda says that Rav says: The Jordan issues forth from the cave of Pamyas. That is also taught in a baraita: The Jordan issues forth from the cave of Pamyas, and travels in the Sea of Sivkhi, i.e., the Hula Lake, and in the Sea of Tiberias, the Sea of Galilee, and rolls down to the Great Sea, and rolls down until it reaches the mouth of the leviathan. As it is stated: “He is confident, though the Jordan rush forth to his mouth” (Job 40:23). Rava bar Ulla strongly objects to this explanation of the verse, stating: But this verse is written about the beasts on the thousand hills. Rather, Rava bar Ulla said that this is the meaning of the verse: When are the beasts on the thousand hills confident? When the Jordan rushes forth into the mouth of the leviathan.

If we turn a standard map of Italy such that East faces up rather then North then we see that Italy has the shape of a giant fish with its mouth open towards Israel and thus towards the Jordan river.

We also read that Behemoth resides to the East of Gan Eden and in Tehillim 50:10 we are told that Behemoth lives on a thousand mountains.

כִּי־לִ֥י כָל־חַיְתוֹ־יָ֑עַר בְּ֜הֵמ֗וֹת בְּהַרְרֵי־אָֽלֶף:

For all the beasts of the forest are Mine, the behemoth of the thousand mountains.

Iran is to the East and is a very mountainous country with an average elevation of about 1000 metres. It also has the rough shape of a beast with horns.

So my question is are there any reasons why I shouldn't believe that the war between Leviathan and Behemoth represents the war between Rome and Persia? Or could my chidush stand?

  • Some of the ideas mentioned here would do better with direct citations. The tradition of these beasts battling ended with us eating them (without shechita) I'm not sure how that plays into this theory.
    – user6591
    May 9, 2023 at 12:43
  • @user6591 I guess I would see the eating as a metaphorical way of saying we will enjoy the spoils of these fallen kingdoms. The Talmud says that nine tenths of the world's riches were given to Rome while one tenth was given to the rest of the nations.
    – James Read
    May 9, 2023 at 13:57
  • @JamesRead re: the eating, see this great answer: judaism.stackexchange.com/a/134308/31534, and this one judaism.stackexchange.com/a/134316/31534
    – Rabbi Kaii
    May 12, 2023 at 16:27
  • The “Cave of Pamyas” is referring to the source of the Jordan River, called today Baniais Spring in the Golan. It flows into the Kineret Sea (Sea of Galilee) and south into the Dead Sea (the Salt Sea which could be a reference to the mate of the Leviathan which was killed and salted). touristisrael.com/banias-nature-reserve/6233 May 14, 2023 at 21:45


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