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.” 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.  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.)

The final 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.

Only one New Testament book mentions dragons and that is the book of the Revelation. The Greek word dragon (drakon) is mentioned a dozen times in this book. In 13:11 the Bible talks of a beast rising from the sea that had two horns like a lamb “and he spake as a dragon.” This doesn’t give a lot of additional insight into the vocalization of the dragon. Was there some common knowledge of dragons at that time during the Roman Empire such that this description would be understood by readers (perhaps as a “hissing” or “screeching” voice)? Did John have unique knowledge from his previous interaction with a dragon-like creatures in his heavenly vision (Rev. 12:1-17)? The only thing that we can conclude from this passage is that the dragon’s vocalization is distinctive.