The Vocalization of the Dragon
Do we have any idea what sounds dragons made? Were they mute like the giraffe? Did they hiss like a snake? Probably different great reptiles had different calls, but we get some clues in the Scripture about the sounds of dragons that lived in the Middle East. Micah 1:8 gives us insight into the vocalization of a particular kind of dragon that “wailed.” I believe the “wailing dragon” references a flying reptile (or pterosaur). This is based upon three things. Firstly, in verse 3 the prophet mentions that the land of Edom would become a wasteland, inhabited by the dragons of the wilderness. Edom was directly south of Israel, a region known for flying serpents (Isaiah 14:29). Secondly, the walking dragons (like Behemoth) would have preferred more typical reptilian swampy habitat (Job 40:21-23). Thirdly, on an expedition our Genesis Park Team believes we actually heard the screech of a pterosaur and it makes a haunting raspy wail.
We have discussed how the Hebrew word for dragon is “tannin” or “tanyin.” There is a feminine version of the root “tan,” which is “tannah.” It means to howl mournfully. This led some modern translators who were dubious about having dragons in the Bible to translate “tannin” as “jackal,” a misguided effort which falls apart when it came to translating “tannin of the sea” (Psalm 74:12-13). But there is further evidence that dragons were known for their howling. There is an intriguing Hebrew word found in Isaiah 13:21. The word “oach” is actually translated “dragouns” in the Wycliffe Bible of 1388. Other translators have translated it “ostriches,” “doleful creatures,” or “howling creatures.” It seems that this word doesn’t name a particular animal, but describes it as a “howler.” It is fascinating that Wycliffe in the Middle Ages identified this howler with the dragon. (For more information see Issacs, Darek, Dragons or Dinosaurs, 2010, pp. 161-199.)
Lastly, we have another Old Testament clue about the sounds emitted by dragons in Jeremiah 14:6 which states, “And the wild asses did stand in the high places, they snuffed up the wind like dragons; their eyes did fail, because there was no grass.” During the time of famine the wild donkeys would snort their displeasure at all of the grasses dying out. The donkey’s bray is a harsh, discordant sound. But the snorting would likely be a noise emitted from the nostrils, and not a true vocalization (involving the vocal chords). Apparently dragons were known to make this sound as well.