[COMPETITION: This list includes a competition. See the bottom of the list for more details.] Humans have always been fascinated by monsters and creatures through out the ages, especially those that make them feel small and timid. Religious texts and folklore are filled with the descriptions of such things, and the Holy Bible is no exception to this. Ranging from fire-breathing dragons to angels with the faces of lions, this book has it all. Of course, many of these are also seen as visions of the future or signs that remind us of the past, but that doesn’t make them any less frightening. And so here are 10 Biblical entities that would give even Satan, the lord of Hell, the occasional nightmare.
“There we saw the Nephilim (the Anakites come from the Nephilim); and to ourselves we seemed like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.” – Numbers 13:33
When the Israelite spies scouted the land of Canaan, instead of being welcomed with milk and honey, I bet they certainly weren’t expecting these giants.
Popular beliefs are that the Nephilim are the offspring of fallen angels and women who were mortals, or that the angels possessed ungodly men to have children with women. Another view is that they were born when men from the lineage of Seth (Adam and Eve’s third son and a righteous man) disobeyed God and married women from the lineage of Cain, who of course needs no introduction. An even crazier but unbiblical rumour is that they were extraterrestrials. What we can be sure is that they left quite an image in the minds of Moses and his undefeated Israelite army after the spies’ report.
9 The Second Beast
“Then I saw another beast that rose out of the earth; it had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon.” – Apocalypse (Revelation) 13:11
Don’t let the short illustration fool you. This is, in fact, one of the most iconic beasts of the Book of Apocalypse, where demons and devils are the norm.
Even though it seems like an indestructible force on its own, its intentions are quite different. The Bible further explains that it’s almost like a hype man for the infamous First Beast, and makes humans worship the latter, as well as performing illusions and, scarily enough, killing anyone who disobeys the order. What’s really interesting is that some scholars see the Second Beast as a future political or religious leader who convinces the world population to follow them. Eyes open everyone, you never know who it can be.
8 The First Beast
“And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads; and on its horn were ten diadems, and on its heads were blasphemous names. And the beast that I saw was like a leopard, its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth.” – Apocalypse 13:1-2
You can never talk about the Second Beast without including the First. Because, well, why settle at one when you can have two?
Even Saint John of Patmos (the Book of Apocalypse’s author) struggled to describe this monstrosity. The Bible goes on to say that authority was given to it by the Dragon, presumed to be Satan, and that it had a severe wound. Wonder where that came from. Humans are also said to be worshipping this Beast because, to them, no one can defeat it. I don’t blame them. Similar to the interpretations of the Second Beast, the First Beast is also seen as a whole empire, or perhaps a new world order.
7 The Four Beasts of Daniel
“The first was like a lion and had eagles’ wings. Then, as I watched, its wings were plucked off, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a human being; and a human mind was given to it.” – Daniel 7:4
Sounds like something straight out of a horror movie, or something straight out of the Book of Daniel.
If summarised, the four beasts are described as being a lion with eagles’ wings, a bear, a leopard and a mysterious fourth beast. Although this might seem petty to most readers, the Bible describes the bear as having “three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it”, the leopard having “four wings of a fowl” and “four heads”, and the fourth beast having “great iron teeth” and “ten horns”. Not feeling very safe anymore, are we? However, most of Daniel’s visions were figurative, and in fact these four beasts symbolized four great kingdoms of that time: Babylon (lion), Medes and Persia (bear), Greece (leopard) and the Roman Empire (last beast).
“As for the appearance of their faces: the four had the face of a human being, the face of a lion on the right side, the face of an ox on the left side, and the face of an eagle; such were their faces.”—Ezekiel 1:10-11
And we all thought they were the small, innocent baby angels you see in church paintings…
In fact, they’re quite the opposite. The Cherubim are described in the Bible as blazing, extraordinary celestials that have had quite a respected image among humans. They’re also mentioned as guarding the path to the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden after Adam and Eve were banished and are also renowned for having sculptures of themselves on the Ark of the Covenant. In multiple instances in the Bible, they’re known for being angels that are very close with God, and so clearly they shouldn’t be messed with.
5 Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
“I looked and there was a pale green horse! Its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed with him; they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, famine and pestilence, and by the wild animals of the earth.” – Apocalypse 6:8
Imagine Hades, yes the Greek god of death, trailing behind a man on a horse. This is serious business.
Said to be the most recognisable sign of the apocalypse, the Four Horsemen have become a familiar sight in society. However, almost everyone agrees on the fact that these men are symbolic of Conquest (the white horse), War (the red horse), Famine (the black horse) and Death (the green horse). There are even more speculations about who the rider of the white horse is, with some taking the obvious answer and saying it’s Jesus by the looks of the rider, while many are thinking outside the box and say it’s the Antichrist. Whoever they may be, do remember that out of the Seven Seals in Apocalypse 6, these lot are only the first four. Oh boy.
4 200 Million Horsemen
“the riders wore breastplates the colour of fire and of sapphire and sulfur; the heads of the horses were like lions’ heads, and fire and smoke and sulfur came out of their mouths.” -Apocalypse 9:17
It’s true, there are 200 million more to top off the insanity of the previous four.
Not to be confused with the Four Horsemen, this horde of killers are part of the events unfolding during the sounding of the Seven Trumpets in Apocalypse 9. Looking at the descriptions, I’m not even sure what these things are. Lion-headed and fire-breathing horses, storming in from the River Euphrates. It truly is a spectacular scene. What’s mind-blowing is that due to the precise geographical location listed and that the current population in Asia is of a stupefying size, it’s leading some to believe that this swarm of horsemen could be a modern-age army from unified Asian nations. I just hope they’re not riding fire-breathing horses.
3 Abaddon’s Pit Locusts
“On their heads were what looked like crowns of gold; their faces were like human faces, their hair like women’s hair, and their teeth like lions’ teeth; they had scales like iron breastplates” -Apocalypse 9:7-8
And you thought normal locusts were bad enough!
These brutes, along with the 200 Million Horsemen, are responsible for the deaths of a whopping THIRD of mankind. Locusts have been and still are feared in society for their capability of efficiently destroying food supplies, but the Bible states that these ones are commanded to not touch a single crop but to instead torture the ones who don’t have the sign of the Lord on their foreheads. Their controversial leader, the angel Abaddon, is believed to either be an angel in God’s army or a fallen angel. What you can take away from this is that not many people think it’s a metaphor…
“It’s strength is in its loins, and its power in the muscles of its belly. It makes its tail stiff like a cedar; the sinews of its thighs are knits together. Its bones are tubes of bronze, its limbs like bars of iron.” -Job 40:16-18
Now we’ve reached the top dogs.
The name itself means ‘huge’ and ‘monstrous’ in contemporary society. The Book of Job is noted for containing vivid descriptions of two of God’s most powerful creations, one of which is the Behemoth. It’s believed to be the primal land creature and feared by many animals because of its mighty roar. However, no matter how hair-raising its description is, it’s said to be mostly peaceful as it was never corrupted by Chaos, and also due to it being a herbivore. The authentic descriptions of its tail are what makes some believe it’s a Biblical-era dinosaur, while others think that it’s a distant ancestor of the modern-day hippo or elephant.
“Out of its nostrils come smoke, as from a boiling pot and burning rushes. Its breath kindles coals, and a flame comes out of its mouth. In its neck abides strength, and terror dances before it.” -Job 41:20-22
I think it’s worth mentioning that the entirety of Job 41 is dedicated to this abnormality.
No list of Biblical creatures would be complete without it, said to be God’s strongest creation. While Behemoth controlled the land, Leviathan was the big boss of the seas, and unfortunately wasn’t anywhere near as peaceful as its monster cousin due to chaos corrupting and changing it after its creation. Big RIP for us. The Bible tells us that God actually defeated this monster, although this is most likely an allegory for a kingdom, before you start celebrating. Similar to the Behemoth, some believe Leviathan is a sea-based dinosaur, while others think it’s the mutant ancestor of the modern-day crocodile or whale, but last time I checked, I don’t think they breathe fire.
As this list is about the Bible (the first in a while) we are running a competition. All you have to do to enter is be a registered commenter and make a comment related to the list. Simply sign in with Disqus, Twitter, Google, Facebook, or Listverse to be an entrant. Three commenters on this list (randomly selected so no country has an advantage) will receive a beautiful leather bound copy of the Bible pictured above (value: $125 US).
It is the Haydock Douay-Rheims Bible– a beautiful edition with the complete books (some Bibles have fewer books than others) in very easy but elegant English. It is unique in that it comes with the extensive Haydock commentary – explanations and important information on each verse in the book as found in the writings of the great Christian thinkers through history. This is the Bible edition that I use myself for research for Listverse. It also includes a Biblical dictionary and a history of the Bible.
It is a big book – family size – so it is well worth entering. Comments must be coherent and to the point – comments that are obviously posted with no relevance to the topic won’t be included. This is not a US-only competition. If you are from Timbuktu you can still enter. The competition will end at 11:59pm tonight (California time). You can enter as many times as you like but do make sure your comments are all adding to the discussion in a useful way.
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About The Author: Charles Baker is a new writer on Listverse, just providing new facts to the people.