Crocodiles and alligators tend to share the same symbolic meaning. Some Christians believe the crocodile is the Leviathan mentioned in the Bible (Job 3:8; 41:1; Psa 74:14; 104:26; Isa 27:1). Early naturalists sometimes call the crocodile "cocodrille" or "cockatrice" although these terms more properly refer to other legendary creatures.
Because it flourished in the waters of the Nile, the crocodile came to signify the country of Egypt. It was believed to be born - not from a mother - but from the water itself. Its sudden attacks caused the crocodile to be associated with fury, strength, evil, destruction, chaos, power, and death. It became symbolic of silence because it was thought to be tongueless. The term "crocodile tears" refers to the crocodile's alleged habit of luring its victim into its reach by feigning tears. This strategy caused it to become a symbol of deceit.
The symbolism of the crocodile is not entirely unflattering. Its physical resemblance to the dragon and the serpent have caused it to share some of their symbolic attributes, especially that of wisdom. The Egyptians sometimes portrayed the dead as "crocodiles of knowledge" and associated them with renewal and the afterlife.
In Christian symbolism the crocodile sometimes replaced the dragon as the "guardian of knowledge" and its mouth was used to represent the entrance to hell. Its association with the gates of hell led to a strange series of symbolic associations. The hydra (an imaginary octopus-like creature) was invented to be the invincible enemy of the crocodile. This creature was believed to cover itself with mud, fly into the crocodile's mouth, tear out its entrails, and fly out its flank. Within this fantasy, early Christians found an illustration of Christ's victorious descent into Hades. Jesus covered Himself with the clay of humanity, entered Hades, tore out its entrails (the righteous dead), and emerged victorious.
Unless otherwise noted all scripture quotes are from the NKJV Bible.
Read more about crocodiles & alligators at:
To cite this page:
Tucker, Suzetta. "ChristStory Crocodile Page." ChristStory Christian Bestiary. 1997. http://ww2.netnitco.net/users/legend01/crocodi.htm ().