The Bible and Pterosaurs:
Archaeological and Linguistic Studies of
Jurassic Animals that Lived Recently

Author: John Goertzen
Subject: Dinosaurs
Date: 09/30/1998
 

by John Goertzen,
Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary
M.S., Rutgers University

 

An Article for the 1998 Midwestern Evangelical Theological Society Conference

Held at GRBS, Grand Rapids, MI

ABSTRACT: There is an increasing amount of archaeological and linguistic evidence that pterosaurs (flying reptiles) were mentioned by several authors of Scripture. This introductory article will deal with some of those biblical words and what I’ve learned about them from word studies and archaeology. The scientific basis for this study has been established by articles for peer-reviewed scientific publications for both secular and creation groups. The spiritual symbolism for these animals and cultural relevance during the biblical era will also be looked at. Finally, some implications from this knowledge will be examined.

Introduction

There are interesting archaeological, grammatical, cultural and spiritual aspects of the biblical treatment of pterosaurs that this article will begin to examine. The scientific basis is established by unmistakable artifacts that depict morphological details of the animals that demonstrate that the ancients observed pterosaurs.

Scripture and other reliable accounts of ancient authors like Josephus shed additional light on the scientific knowledge of these now extinct animals. Those accounts lead to grammatical questions regarding the ancient vocabulary that will need additional study. However, enough is known to be fairly confident of the basic fact: flying reptiles were indeed mentioned by the writers of Scripture.

Archaeological knowledge, like grammatical knowledge, is beginning to accumulate. Already, however, more than enough, including seal and bowl inscriptions, is available to understand the cultural phenomenon of pterosaurs during Isaiah’s prophecy including the political connection with Egypt, and that geographically intermediate nation, Philistia.

The spiritual and symbolic knowledge of pterosaurs is found primarily from the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself when speaking with Nicodemus (Jn. 3:14). Isaiah’s glimmer of the typology that was to come later (Is. 14:29) has been recognized by Jewish and early Christian scholars.

Strong evidence has been found that pterosaurs lived during biblical times in the middle east. Moreover the Bible itself mentions these animals at least a half-dozen times. Though maintained by biblical scholars for more than two Millennia, until (and including) the NASB and NRSV translations, the popular NIV has abandoned Isaiah’s two allusions of these colorful creatures. Of course the reason for that is because mainstream science has maintained for more than a century that pterosaurs (i.e. flying reptiles) have been extinct for tens of millions of years and that no person ever saw them.

A Scientific Perspective

Recent studies of ancient Egyptian (and other) artifacts have revealed that they must have observed at least several pterosaur species now known from the fossil record because of the morphological characteristics that were depicted. Among these species are the: Pteranodon ingens, Quetzalcoatlus, Ornithoceras, Rhamphorhynchus, as well as the Scaphognathus crassirostris and Dimorphodon macronyx. Moreover the depictions of undetermined species of Rhamphorhynchoid (long tailed) pterosaurs with tail vanes demands that they observed pterosaurs since they wouldn’t depict reptiles with that feature if they hadn’t actually observed a living pterosaur.

A good number of the most reliable ancient historians attest the existence of flying reptiles (e.g. Herodotus, Josephus, Aelian, Mela, Ammianus, Esarhaddon’s inscription, anonymous 4’th century Coptic monks, the 13’th century Armenian historian Matthew of Edessa and dozens more could be cited). The four leading biologists of the Renaissance similarly maintained the existence of such animals. Their names and countries were Ulysses Aldrovandi, Italy; Conrad Gesner, Switzerland; Edward Topsell, England; and Pierre Belon, France.

During the 16’th century, Belon observed and provided a sketch of a flying reptile that can be strongly identified as the Dimorphodon macronyx species from the Rhamphorhynchoidea sub-order., Aldrovandi heard a description of and sketched a Scaphognathus., It is less accurate than Belon’sDimorphodon, yet remarkable for a scientist who had not actually seen the specimen. Another Italian taxonomist, Meier, had a Scaphognathus specimen in his museum. Samuel Bochart (17th century), in the most outstanding study of biblical reptiles ever accomplished, likewise maintained the existence of flying reptiles. However, the animals became extinct about then and within a century scientists were saying that they never had existed. The Swiss scientist Jacob Scheuchzer would claim that as well as the English naturalist Thomas Browne.

Hebrew and Greek Word Study

The BDB lexicon acknowledges the clear mention by Isaiah of “flying serpents,” but in keeping with their disbelief in biblical inerrancy, calls the animals fanciful. However, no less of an authority than E.J. Young maintained the real existence of such animals, Young being aware of some of the ancient pagan writers as well as Isaiah. In recent years P. J. Wiseman, wrongly, claimed there was no evidence for the existence of flying reptiles from the middle east in biblical times. That led the authors of TWOT to postulate a “metaphorical” use of the Hebrew word m’opheph Jpvfm that always indicates literal flying when used with any other animal (about 20x).

That Hebrew word, m’opheph Jpvfm, is a polal participle; a form used only by Isaiah when describing the reptilian saraph (14:29 and 30:6). The polal indicates an intensive of the root pvf ooph that means to fly or flutter. BDB, then, interprets it as meaning to “fly about, to and fro.” The imperfect form of the polal is found in Gen. 1:20, “flying creatures that flutter to and fro” and Is. 6:2 “seraphim (the same word as the reptiles here used for angelic creatures) that fly to and fro.” The meaning may be best illustrated by a polal infinitive construct in Ez. 32:10 “when I cause my sword to fly to and fro” or “when I brandish my sword.” The rapid back and forth movement of the sword (brandishing) illustrates the emphasis of the polal intensive.

The idea of TWOT then, that m’opheph Jpvfm could indicate a serpent’s swift bite, will not work since a serpent’s strike is not a back and forth motion. The word indicates an animal with swift back and forth motion, like the flying of a humming bird.

It appears that the word saraph JrW was forgotten by the reign of Hezekiah. After being used four times by Moses in the Pentateuch, it does not appear in Scripture again until Isaiah, about eight centuries later. Moreover those animals did not apparently exist in Judah; just in Arabia, the Sinai, and Egypt to the south.

That could explain the hapax legomenon of Nehushtan Ntwhn, apparently a compound word of nahash whn (serpent) and tan Nt (translated ‘dragon’ by the Septuagint, Vulgate, ASV, and KJV). That would be an apt description of a reptilian quadruped with a snake-looking appearance (according to the appearance of a rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur). The compound word idea appears linguistically and archaeologically more probable than the often repeated interpretation ‘a thing of brass.’

The “brass” idea is propounded because of the Hebrew word for copper; nehoshet twhn. Though it is similar to Nehushtan, the final nun there appears inexplicable if the word is based on the other word for copper. However, there is no problem like that for the compound word theory stated above. TWOT recognizes the common derivation of nahash whn (serpent) and Nehushtan Ntwhn.

The Septuagint word that is used, vneesqan, would argue for the compound word Nehushtan Ntwhn and against the copper idea nehoshet twhn. The second word, ‘tan,’ is present with both the Hebrew and Greek versions and the an at the end does not match the copper word idea. The first portion of the compound word is a reasonable match for ‘nahash.’ There is no ‘h’ in Greek, though that sound is sometimes indicated at the beginning of a Greek word by a rough breathing mark. Also, all the vowels match ‘nahash.’ If the word was ‘nehoshet’ the second e should be an o.

Finally, the compound word idea for Nehushtan during Hezekiah’s reign, is similar to the compound word used in the Pentateuch, saraph nahash. The only difference is the substitution of tan for saraph, a reason for which will be given later.

Isaiah then resurrected the word saraph JrW for the angelic creatures that he saw at God’s throne (6:2). Later he would qualify the word with m’opheph Jpvfm when indicating mere animals (14:29 and 30:6) so the audience would know that flying reptiles were intended, not angelic beings (who are qualified by the word standing, o’mdim Mydmf, not flying Jpvfm).

Saraph JrW may be related to the cuneiform word for a “serpent;” siru. Archibald H. Sayce says that the Egyptian word seref means “flying serpent.” An Egyptian origin for the word appears plausible since there is archaeological evidence and ancient accounts of the presence of flying reptiles there. Since the Israelites had lived there for many years, it is not surprising that they adopted the Egyptian name for them.

 

Currid says that the Egyptians revered the serpent for both the danger and protection it represented. An Egyptian coronation hymn, found in a Pyramid text, reads:

The doors of the horizon are opened, their bolts are slipped.

He (the king) comes to thee, O Red Crown; he comes to thee, O Fiery One (saraph).

and another hymn:

O Red Crown, O Inu, O Great One,

O Magician, O Fiery Snake! (saraph)

Let there be terror of me like the terror of thee.

Let there be fear of me like the fear of thee.

Let there be awe of me like the awe of thee.

The Hebrew word for burning is also saraph JrW. Scholars appear uncertain about whether the animals were named for the burning effect their poison produced or their bright color. There is support for both of those hypothesis. Certainly they were poisonous as indicated by both the Pentateuch and Isaiah. Esarhaddon tells us that he saw “yellow serpents that could fly” when traveling to fight against Tirhaka, king of Egypt and Nubia. Certainly, also, some pterosaurs had a deadly poisonous bite according to many ancient authors and the context of Isaiah’s allusions. The angels, seraphim, that Isaiah saw, probably were quite bright. Therefore I am unable to determine whether the usage of the word saraph should be traced to the reptile’s poisonous bite or, perhaps, its bright color.

Noth has theorized that the compound name saraph nahash whn JrW (a combination used in Numbers and Deuteronomy) was the designation of flying reptiles. The animal was not a saraph (griffin) and not a nahash (snake), it was kind of like a cross between them (pterosaur). Since there was probably no readily known word for that animal, a compound word was used based on the two other animals it was most like. Then throughout the Numbers pericope either of those two terms was used for the animals. Noth’s conclusion that the bronze figure was a flying reptile is shared by Milgrom though he doesn’t take the next step of concluding that the animals were pterosaurs.

I believe ‘tan’ was the word the Hebrews used later for griffins (which I think were formerly living animals based on the archaeological evidence). That could explain why the term nahash saraph became nahashtan many centuries later. Providing my reasons why the griffin was represented by the Hebrew word tan would be the subject of another article.

The Septuagint words for the Egyptian/Hebrew word saraph in Is. 14:29 are ofei” petamenoi (clearly words for a flying reptile) with no variants. There are four variant Septuagint words for the Is. 30:6 animals from Origen’s Hexaplorum. O’. reads ekgona aspidwn, ‘A. (Aquila) reads emprhsth”; and Q. (Theodotion) ek krufwn all contain a variant of petamenwn. That is a word that means “flying” and is often used of birds in the Greek TLG texts.

All of those variants indicate flying reptiles. aspidon (from O’)is used of non-flying serpents and fairly often of flying reptiles, often with a qualifying word like petomenwn. The words emprhsta” (from ‘A)and krufwn (from Q)are somewhat rare for reptiles in the TLG (Theasaurus Lingua Graecae).

The variant is basilisk from the S (Symmachi). According to the note in the Hexaplorum that is because of a misunderstanding of the Hebrew word for flying. Interestingly though, an ancient Greek writer, says that the equivalent Egyptian word, for the Greek basilisk, is ouraion; or uraeus with the last letter changed to Nu for the Greek accusative case.

In the middle ages the same word, basilisk, was used in Latin (basilic) for a flying reptile with a head crest. It could be that the Greek word basilisk indicated the ‘King of the serpents’ and had a ‘crown’ (or head crest) like a basileu” (the Greek word for King).

The outstanding naturalist, Prosper Alpin (c. 1600), explicitly tells of the basilic being a flying serpent with a head crest being an animal living in Ethiopia that he heard an accurate description of but didn’t see. The description closely matches the Scaphognathus crassirostris species. The length, like a palm frond, is about right. The tail vane is described, proving it had to be the Rhamphorhynchoidea (long-tailed) sub-order. Also a head crest is specified. The Scaphognathus was the only long-tailed pterosaur with a head crest known from the fossil record. Martin Luther may have been familiar with the Scaphognathus since he talked about the tongues at Pentecost being divided like the shape of the crest of the flying serpents. Modern science has preserved the tradition of the basilic by naming a lizard species with a head crest by that name.

Isaiah’s Experience at God’s Throne

Joines has documented the similarity between Isaiah’s description of God’s throne and Egyptian royal symbolism. The flying serpent was always associated with deity or royalty in the Egyptian court. Indeed it appears that the Pharaoh sometimes had a flying serpent head regalia (and only the Pharaoh or a god would wear that, see Fig. 7).

King Tutankhamun’s treasure is riddled through with flying serpents representations. Included are his throne, beaten gold work, etc. Then too, the Egyptians often depicted flying serpents with folded wings. It is also likely that some seal images that appear to be cobras are in reality flying serpents with folded wings.

It appears that Isaiah’s experience in the temple of the LORD caused quite a stir. He called the “angels” that he saw saraphs or the plural seraphim (the same word as the animals). It could be that some of the flying serpent symbolism influenced Isaiah when he called the two angelic beings near God’s throne ‘standing seraphim.’

Pterosaurs: A Cultural Phenomenon When Isaiah Prophesied

It is my belief, based on the biblical and archaeological evidence, that the pterosaurs became cultural icons for Judah after Isaiah’s vision in the year that King Uzziah died (740 B.C. according to Thiele). There are a number of factors that point to that such as the many seals, dating from that era, depicting those animals and also the worship of Nehushtan, the brazen saraph or pterosaur. Then, too, there is Isaiah’s mention of them at least twice (14:29, 30:6).

The worship of Nehushtan was very likely an unfortunate byproduct of Isaiah’s vision. As stated earlier, the Hebrew word, a hapax legomenon, appears to be a compound of nahash (serpent) and tan (griffin). That is an apt description of a pterosaur, having two legs and two wings yet a body like a snake, if the original word saraph had been forgotten, or the animal it represented was now known as tan. That eventuality is very likely since saraph is mentioned a few times in the Pentateuch and then never again until 700 years later by Isaiah.

Indeed a plate found with Sennacherib’s booty at Calah (Nimrud) depicts a winged serpent on a pole (i.e. Nehushtan and/or the brazen saraph of Moses [Fig. 2]). A lmlk seal, universally thought to date from Hezekiah’s reign and found in many excavations of the cities of Judah, was found in the same area at the Assyrian palace as well as other bronzes with Hebrew inscriptions. Therefore it appears likely that the plate is of Hebrew or Phoenician origin and represents Nehushtan.

Hezekiah, a godly king, realized that Moses’s symbol, though it had honored God, had become perverted into an idol. Therefore he destroyed it during the religious revival after he became first regent in c. 727. That would have been about 13 years after Isaiah’s vision of the seraphim (in the year that King Uzziah died). Seals from both the northern and the southern kingdoms attest to the cultural popularity of the pterosaurs at that time. It had been a primary symbol of Egypt for many centuries before that, but was new to Judean and Israelite culture during the eighth century B.C.

As well as the religious significance, the pterosaur symbol reflected the widespread popularity of the Egyptian military alliance against the Assyrians among Judah’s upper classes. The same strategy had been unsuccessfully pursued by Israel earlier; however their failure would not deter Judah. In fact, a Judean seal from that era has been found with a tripartite style including a Hebrew name; a pterosaur; and an Egyptian ankh (Fig. 4). Another northern kingdom flying serpent was found at Samaria with a Hebrew inscription of the “priest of Dor” on it (Fig. 5). A flying serpent seal from Judah was found at Lachish (Fig. 3). At least nine flying serpent seals with four wings have been found, some of them at or near Lachish (Fig. 6). All of them date from the eighth century. The reason for the four wings could be the prohibition of a graven image of anything on earth or heaven. The earthly animal had two wings and the heavenly angel had six. However, nothing is known with four wings. The flying reptile symbol appears to have continued in use for the next 100 years until the time of Jeremiah.

Isaiah’s reaction to that development may be seen in the progression of the writings he has given us. First the word is used of angelic beings (6:2, 743 B.C.); then it is a dangerous animal symbolizing the Messianic Davidic king (14:29, 727 B.C.); next it is a dangerous nuisance in the Sinai to the embassy traveling to Egypt (30:6, c. 717 B.C.). It is interesting that Isaiah once mentions the ibis bird (34:11 yanshup Jvwny, also found in Lev. 11:17, Deut. 14:16; see also the Septuagint, ‘ibis’, ibei”: the ibis was the natural predator of the pterosaurs according to many ancient witnesses. That may have been intended by Isaiah to allude to the spiritual and political weakness that had evolved regarding the pterosaur symbol. Isaiah’s mention of the ibis is the first, and only, since the two from the Pentateuch.

There appears to be clear allusions by Isaiah to the brazen serpent worship Judah had indulged in Isaiah 42:8: “I will not give My glory to another, Nor My praise to graven images.” Later, in chapter 44, Isaiah discourses against idolatry (vss. 9-20) and then says, “Remember these things, O Jacob … I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud and your sins like a heavy mist. Return to me for I have redeemed you (vss. 21-22).” Perhaps the remnant from Sennacherib’s invasion became conscious stricken about the past worship of Nehushtan and now they were assured of forgiveness. Of course these ideas are consistent with Isaiah chapters 40-66 occurring soon after the Assyrian crisis.

Pterosaurs: Dangerous Animals Encountered During the Exodus

I have often thought about the Israelites demise to the poisonous serpents during the Exodus. I could understand how a few might be surprised and bitten by lurking snakes, but have often been puzzled by the specter of tens of thousands continuing to be bitten. I have envisioned a snake quickly gliding across the desert after a desperately fleeing Israelite who would at last succumb and be bitten. That scenario just did not compute.

Recently I have realized just how realistic the danger was. Many ancient authors tell of aerial attack by flying reptiles who bit with venomous cruelty. If the flying reptiles were highly nimble in the air, as indicated by the Hebrew polal participle for flying, then they could have been difficult to avoid.

Josephus tells of a similar problem encountered by Moses when leading the Egyptian army against Nubia:

Moses … did not march by river, but by land, where he gave a wonderful demonstration of his sagacity; for when the ground was difficult to be passed over, because of the multitude of serpents (which it produces in vast numbers, and indeed is singular in some of those productions, which other countries do not breed, and yet such as are worse than others in power and mischief, and an unusual fierceness of sight, some of which ascend out of the ground unseen, and also fly in the air, and do come upon men at unawares, and do them mischief).

Moses invented a wonderful stratagem to preserve the army safe, and without hurt; for he made baskets like unto arks, of sedge, and filled them with ibes [ibis], and carried them along with them; which animal is the greatest enemy to serpents imaginable, for they fly from them when they come near them; and as they fly they are caught and devoured by them, as if it were done by the harts. …

As soon as Moses was come to the land which was the breeder of these serpents, he let loose the ibes [ibis], and by their means repelled the serpentine kind, and used them for his assistants before the army came upon that ground. When he had therefore proceeded thus on his journey, he came upon the Ethiopians before they had expected him; and joining battle with them he beat them (2,10,2).

However, there were no ibis birds to protect the Israelites in the wilderness. The apostle Paul confirms the historicity of the event with his first epistle to the Corinthians: Nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents (10:9). The Greek word that Paul uses, ofewn, is the dative plural of ofi”, a word used of both terrestrial and flying reptiles by first century Greek authors. A word for ‘winged,’ such as petein (like the Septuagint) sometimes modifies the subject when pterosaurs were being described.

Deuteronomy, recounting the miracle of the Exodus, confirms the danger of pterosaurs and God’s protection during the 40 years. Who led you through that great and terrible wilderness, in which were fiery serpents and scorpions (8:15). The “fiery serpents”, prw whn nahash saraph is the same compound word found in the Numbers account of the mass attack of venomous pterosaurs.

Isaiah’s derisive oracle (30:6-8) about the ill-fated expedition to seek Egyptian aid to defeat Assyria probably also remembers the Exodus experience. The Israelite envoys would risk all the dangerous animals of the desert to seek Egyptian aid that would not help them.

Pterosaurs: Symbolic of the Messiah

The pterosaur’s symbolism for Christ is found in both the Pentateuch and Isaiah. The Exodus event, with the brazen saraph being raised in the wilderness was explicitly mentioned by Christ to Nicodemus to be symbolic for his crucifixion (Jn. 3:14). His sacrifice would provide spiritual healing to all who would look in faith like the physical healing provided during the Exodus.

One interesting facet to be gained by acknowledging the saraph to be a pterosaur is the consistency of biblical symbolism. The serpent is universally a symbol of evil and of Satan from Gen. 3 right through to Rev. 20. How could an animal that almost always symbolized the Devil be taken to symbolize Christ? When the saraph is seen to be a pterosaur, distinct from the serpent, the imagery becomes clear.

The other allusions to pterosaurs, found in Is. 14:29 and 30:6, provide another symbol of the Messiah. When the young and inexperienced King Hezekiah was confronted by the condescending Philistine delegation attempting to coerce him into resisting Assyria with their doomed coalition, Isaiah prophesied a resurgence of the Davidic monarchy that had suffered such drastic defeats under King Ahaz, Hezekiah’s father who had just died (Is. 14:28).

Using the Philistine’s own royal imagery, modeled after the Egyptians, Isaiah predicted that from the broken Judean monarchy two increasingly deadly (to the Philistines) rulers would emerge. The tsepha and then, the most dangerous, the flying saraph. Philistine rulers, like their neighbors the Egyptians, often designated royalty with the serpent insignia. Sometimes the insignia was a flying serpent (see Fig. 7).

 

The tsepha is believed to represent Hezekiah who would defeat the Philistines to a greater extent than any other Israeli/Judean ruler. The church fathers Cyril and Theodoretus concurred with that idea. He conquered the Philistines all the way to Gaza, the furthest city of the territory (2 Ki. 18:8).

The saraph, a poisonous pterosaur, was none other than the Messiah Himself. This interpretation was recorded by the Jewish Targum for Is. 14:29. This symbolism is consistent with that of the saraph for Numbers and John. The pterosaurs were animals that once lived in the mid-east and were symbolic of Christ.

 

Jeremiah and the Pterosaur that Bit Cattle

An interesting hapax legomenon occurs in Jer. 46:20, the Creq, qeretz. Most modern versions translate that as ‘gadfly’ or ‘horsefly.’ However, we will demonstrate, that that is extremely doubtful. The picture the verse presents is an avian coming to bite a mammalian quadruped. The NASB translates it, “Egypt is a pretty heifer, but a Creq is coming from the north–it is coming.”

The meaning of that obscure Hebrew word was lost in antiquity before the Septuagint was translated. There are two variants for that word from the Septuagint, O translates it apospasma, meaning tearing away, severing; and and S egkentrizwn, meaning goading on, spurring on. Modern scholarship, however, has found equivalent Aramaic and Arabic words (to the Hebrew) that mean literally, ‘a biter.’ That would correspond best with the Oedition of the Septuagint. Specifically, the Arabic word is now ascribed to an insect (i.e. horsefly). Many animal words, though, change their meaning after the animal becomes extinct.

It is extremely unlikely that Creq meant a fly since the Hebrews had another word for the fly. That word, bUbz zebub, is found once in the plural (Ec. 10:1) and once in the singular (Is. 7:18). Like many animals, the root of that word appears to be descriptive one standing for erratic motion, hither and yonder. Clearly, Isaiah 7:18 suggests a troublesome insect since the context also mentions a bee. Therefore it cannot be argued that the Hebrews employed distinctive words for houseflies and the horseflies with a more painful sting. Archaeology suggests another identification for the Creq.

There are at least four ancient seals depicting an avian biting a large quadruped mammal. The first is a seal found in Israel with a long-tailed flying reptile attacking an ibex (Fig. 8). It is now owned by Tel Aviv U. The other three are all from Egypt. One is from Rowe’s encyclopedia of seals, with a pterodactyloid (short-tailed) flying reptile hunting an antelope (Fig. 9), another is from the Mitry Collection and is also a pterodactyloid pterosaur with a single wing claw for each wing hunting a gazelle (now with the author’s collection), the fourth is from Beth Pelet, a sketch of a seal with a flying reptile about to bite a quadruped (Fig. 10). For each of those the avian is a pterosaur or a now extinct flying reptile. Two rings (Figs. 8 and 10) depict the jaws open; about to bite just like the Hebrew name for the animal indicates. Although further work is necessary to determine the precise species, if it is now known from the fossil record, the preponderance of archaeological and linguistic evidence suggests that the qeretz was a pterosaur.

Conclusion

The archaeological evidence confirms the cultural phenomenon of flying reptiles in both the northern and southern kingdoms in the eighth century, corresponding with the time of Isaiah’s prophecy. The symbol was prominent in Egypt many centuries before its popularity in Israel and Judah. Indeed Isaiah’s word for pterosaurs, saraph, is a loan word from Egypt and probably represented a griffin, an animal unkown to modern science for which fossils may someday be found. The name of the griffin for Israel was probably tan, and therefore the usage of nehushtan instead of nahashsaraph.

The metal bowl found at Nimrud, among the Assyrian loot from late eighth century Judah, indicates that Nehushtan was a flying serpent. That would be consistent with Isaiah’s rediscovery of the word saraph that had not been used since the Exodus and had, apparently, been forgotten. That bowl is additional evidence of the cultural phenomenon that occurred when Isaiah had his dramatic experience at God’s throne. The many seals from Israel and Judah are also some of that evidence. The ancient accounts of some poisonous pterosaurs matches the context of the exotic animal that Isaiah mentioned.

The knowledge that the saraph was a pterosaur, not the cursed serpent who is a symbol of Satan, yields a consistent biblical imagery for the allusion of Christ in John 3:14 and Isaiah 14:29.

The strong evidence that pterosaurs lived recently, and were not extinct 140 million years ago, contradicts mainstream scientific theory and the idea of long geologic ages. Instead, it appears that the pterosaur fossils are from the Genesis flood and that those animals survived on the ark and lived afterwards until they became extinct hundreds of years ago.