Q & A: Ask the Rabbi

Did Dinosaurs Exist according to the Torah?

What does Judaism say about dinosaurs? Do the findings of giant reptile fossils contradict the Torah?

creation
Question:
What is the view of Torah about Dinosaurs did they in fact exist?

Answer:
To the Questioner:

The esteemed Rabbi Zamir Cohen has compiled an entire essay on this topic, soon to be published in English by Hidabroot - with G-d's help. 

Here are some quotes from his essay that address your question:

"The Bible’s account of Creation explains that the animals were not created at the same time, but they appeared in stages. The “large serpents”, water creatures and birds were first created.
Mammals were created after them, and last of all, man.

There was a certain period of time in which only sea creatures, flying birds and large serpents existed. What were those “large serpents”?

The account of the world’s Creation was written extremely brief. The individual names of all the animals are not mentioned, just the general species: birds, creeping animals, beasts and domesticated animals. Why were the serpents alone mentioned by their name?

In modern Hebrew, a crocodile is called a tanin, the word used by the Torah for the “large serpent”. But wherever the Torah uses the term “tanin”, it is not referring to the specific reptile which dwells in rivers and is called a crocodile, but to reptiles in general. 

In this verse recounting Creation, the Torah isn’t mentioning the name of a particular animal, but is saying instead, “And G-d created the large reptiles, and all the living creatures which swarm…”

Accordingly, during the fifth stage of Creation, after plants had already been created in an earlier period, there now appeared from within the water - flying creatures, sea animals and large reptiles. They were already alive in the period of time in the world before mammals and men were created.

In any case, not only is there no conflict between the Bible and the discovery of giant reptiles that were given the name “dinosaurs”, but the Bible reported them thousands of years before science learned of their existence. This is hardly surprising, for who like the Creator of the universe knows all the details of His creation? The mistake (one can even say dereliction) of those who think that the giant reptile fossil findings contradict the Torah comes from the fact that they never properly tried to understand the Bible’s perspective."

With Blessing, 

Rav Nachum
 
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