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 Book of Job

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Job 40

King James Version
The First Speech of the Lord (continued)
1 Moreover the LORD answered Job, and said,
2 Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? he that reproveth God, let him answer it.

Job’s Reply
3 Then Job answered the LORD, and said,
4 Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.
5 Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further.

The Second Speech of the Lord
6 Then answered the LORD unto Job out of the whirlwind, and said,
7 Gird up thy loins now like a man: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me.
8 Wilt thou also disannul my judgment? wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous?
9 Hast thou an arm like God? or canst thou thunder with a voice like him?
10 Deck thyself now with majesty and excellency; and array thyself with glory and beauty.
11 Cast abroad the rage of thy wrath: and behold every one that is proud, and abase him.
12 Look on every one that is proud, and bring him low; and tread down the wicked in their place.
13 Hide them in the dust together; and bind their faces in secret.
14 Then will I also confess unto thee that thine own right hand can save thee.
15 Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox.
16 Lo now, his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly.
17 He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together.
18 His bones are as strong pieces of brass; his bones are like bars of iron.
19 He is the chief of the ways of God: he that made him can make his sword to
approach unto him.
20 Surely the mountains bring him forth food, where all the beasts of the field play.
21 He lieth under the shady trees, in the covert of the reed, and fens.
22 The shady trees cover him with their shadow; the willows of the brook compass him about.
23 Behold, he drinketh up a river, and hasteth not: he trusteth that he can
draw up Jordan into his mouth.
24 He taketh it with his eyes: his nose pierceth through snares.1

Bible Commentary
15  There is no consensus from Bible translators and commentators as to what animal the passage of Job 40:15-24 is describing. Some commentators have suggested behemoth is a hippopotamus or elephant. Others have suggested the crocodile or maybe some extinct animal2 such as a dinosaur. The name behemoth, meaning gigantic or colossal beast, does not clearly identify this animal. Therefore it is necessary to interpret the word behemoth in relation to its sentence and context. This is one of the principles of Bible interpretation.  It means that the context will almost always tell you a great deal about the word.11 The description given of behemoth is one of the very few detailed descriptions of animals found in the Bible. To identify behemoth we need to consider the characteristics it bears in the description given of it. Most Bible translators and commentators who have carefully considered and deeply investigated the characteristics have concluded that of all animals living today, either the elephant, or hippopotamus or river-horse, is the animal in question. On comparing the characteristics between these two, the balance is considerably in favour of the hippopotamus. But even here there are still some difficulties, as there are some parts of the description which do not well suit even the hippopotamus.2 Another animal suggested has been the crocodile. However this animal fits less the description of behemoth than the elephant and hippopotamus. If none of the three main candidates clearly fit the description of behemoth then consideration should be given to animals now extinct that may have lived in Job's time. While the dinosaur has been mentioned as a candidate for the behemoth, some commentators have rejected this possibility on the assumption that dinosaurs and man were never contemporary, according to evolutionary presuppositions. The popular evolutionary theory with regard to dinosaurs is that they became extinct about 65 million years before man "evolved".  However this theory would appear inconsistent and contradictory with the biblical account of species origin.  In verse 15, God says that He made Behemoth at the same time that He made man, "which I made with thee".  This is consistent with the Genesis account that man and animals were made in the same day (Gen. 1: 24-27).  In Mark 10:6 Jesus affirmed that mankind has existed "from the beginning of the creation", which certainly excludes the notion that dinosaurs became extinct millions of years before man appeared upon the planet.  While the word "dinosaur" does not appear in the Bible, there is a good reason for it. The King James Version (KJV) was translated in 1611, before the first fossils of dinosaurs were found in 1820 and before the invention of the word "dinosaur" meaning "terrible lizard" in 1841. Most modern translations of the Bible were written by people who believe that dinosaurs lived millions of years ago. Notwithstanding this, the Bible does include some 37 references to dragons and 6 of these are with known animals.  The Bible also has 2 references to "fiery flying serpents" that sound like ancient descriptions of pterodactyl or other flying dinosaurs (Isa. 14:29, 30:6).5  Thus, to determine behemoth's identity this commentary will look at all the animals which may have been alive in Job's day with regard to the physical descriptions given in Job 40: 15-24.  The first clue to the identity of the behemoth is that he ate grass like an ox.  A study of stomachs of elephants reveals they ate mainly grasses (9,148 pounds worth) rather than material from trees, shrubs or herbs, which accounted for only 1,147 pounds worth. They also ate material from reeds and sedges in swamps.8  The hippopotamus which inhabits the rivers of Africa and the lakes of Ethiopia is herbivorous feeding on grass, vegetables and roots of trees, but never on fish; lays waste whole plantations of the sugar-cane, rice, and other grain.2 Crocodiles being carnivorous do not eat grass like an ox. The largest sauropod dinosaurs were herbivorous.
16 The behemoth's strength was in its loins. The word loins is mothen, which is the waist or the small of the back. The word rendered "navel" derives from the Hebrew term sharir. Scholars have suggested that the term originally meant "firm, hard," hence, denoted "the firm parts of the belly". Therefore this animal is described as a very strong animal with a muscular belly.  In other words, it was very powerful in the mid-section of its body.3,10  This description does not fit the elephant whose strength is in his neck, head, and tusks, not in his “belly.”  In fact, he is most vulnerable in the abdominal region.7 The sauropod dinosaur with its very large mid-section stands out as the most likely of the candidates to fit this description. The strength of crocodiles does not emanate from their "loins."
17  Behemoth tails were so long, thick and powerful that God compared them to cedars: one of the largest and most spectacular trees of the ancient world. In the Middle East, there are several species of trees that would qualify for "cedar" status. Basically, any juniper-like tree can be called a cedar. However, the tree most likely referred to is the famous well-known species called "Cedrus libani", or "cedar-of-Lebanon," a beautiful and stately tree that grows in the Middle East. These trees can be quite large. The tree can attain heights greater than 40 meters with a diameter greater than 3 meters. What land creatures do we know of today that have tails the size of a cedar tree? The elephant's tail is like that of the hog, whilst the hippopotamus tail is a little 6-8 inch stubby appendage. The only creatures known to us today that had tails as big as a cedar tree were the largest of the known dinosaurs.2,12  Another clue is that the sinews of his stones are wrapped together.  The word "stones" comes from the Hebrew pachad. Pach is a plate, and as a verb, pachad is to be startled or make to shake the plates on its backbone.  The most recent portrayals of the stegosaurus show it shaking the plates on it's backbone in a most fearful way.6
18 The word "bones" is translated from "etsem", which means the body, substance. "Strong pieces" is translated from "aqhiyq", which means, containing. The word "aqhiyq" has a play on a riverbed or valley of a stream, in the sense that the riverbed is strong to hold the river. The body of this creature is a strong as brass, and would need to be if it were as big as a dinosaur. The second time "bones" is used it is "gerem", which is the skeleton. The skeletal structure of this large beast is as strong as bars of iron. Only a very large animal would need these strong bones to support its sheer bulk.10 Crocodiles don't have bones like iron bars.
19 Chief is translated from the word reshiyth which means, first in rank, time, or order.  Ways is translated from derek, which is a road as trodden, a course of life.10  The behemoth was the largest and strongest of all land animals.

Physical Dimensions of Hippopotamus, Elephant and Sauropod13,14,15
Animal Height (m) Length (m) Weight (kg)
Hippopotamus 1.5 3-4 2,000
Elephant 3.5 6 7,000
Diplodocus 16.5 42 55,000

The hippopotamus is third in line among the larger varieties of earth’s creatures, being surpassed by both the elephant and the rhinoceros. He is not the “chief” in the modern world, much less the ancient one.7  No power of man or beast could overcome the behemoth. This cannot be said of the elephant which is sometimes regarded as a docile, sagacious animal relatively easily tamed and frequently occurring in exhibitions of wild beasts. The habits of the hippopotamus or river-horse will not permit him to be tamed. Both the elephant and hippopotamus are naturally quiet animals; and never interfere with the grazing of others of different kinds unless they be irritated. The text indicates that no man could approach the behemoth with a sword.  Yet the hippopotamus was hunted frequently and captured successfully by the Egyptians.  Egyptian pharaohs took pride in slaying a hippopotamus. Egyptians even celebrated festivals known as "Harpooning the Hippopotamus"  Additionally, Egyptian monuments frequently picture single hunters attacking the hippo with a spear.  How could one accurately compare the unapproachable and unseizable behemoth with the hippopotamus?20  God alone can overcome the behemoth, and God alone could make his sword approach to him.2  The dinosaur has become extinct whilst elephants, hippopotamus and crocodiles are very much with us today. Job and his contemporaries probably saw other kinds of animals that are now extinct, eg the unicorn (Job 39:9), due to the earth's more rigorous climate and vastly depleted resources after the Flood. Imagine what quantities of food and water would have been required to feed and sustain the largest dinosaurs!
20  Being a herbivore the behemoth posed no threat to the beasts of the field. While they played in the hills the behemoth ate grass and possibly other vegetation. A sauropod dinosaur with its long neck would have had little difficulty finding food from trees like the giraffe does today. The description of the behemoth's habitat being in the mountains does not fit in well with the known habitat of the hippopotamus. The hippopotamus is seldom found far from the rivers where he has his chief residence.2 The crocodile are not land-dwelling creatures; nor do they feed upon the mountains.
21  A certain habit of the behemoth was lying under the shady trees concealed by the reeds and fens. The shady trees is a translation of se'elim, believed to be a kind of lotus. Reeds and fens are found in swampy areas. The behemoth was also apparently an aquatic animal.  The elephant retreats to the depths of the forest during the hot part of the day, not marshy areas.  The hippopotamus stays in the deeper water, whereas the behemoth stays under the trees on the bank.9 The hippopotamus inhabits the rivers of Africa and the lakes of Ethiopia and does not wander far from water.2 Crocodiles do not venture far from water. Dinosaurs also frequented water spots.
22  The shady trees cover behemoth with their shadow. The willows of the brook compass him about. This further describes behemoth as a swamp dwelling creature, which fits in well with the known habits of the crocodile and dinosaur. The hippopotamus described as a river horse, sleeps in reedy places.
23  From the mention of Jordan it is probable that the behemoth was once an inhabitant of the mountains, marshes, and woods of the land of Palestine.2 The word "drinketh" is derived from "ashaq", which means to press upon. The word "hasteth" is derived from "chaphaz", which means to start up suddenly. What is being said here is that though the river should swell with floodwaters, Behemoth is not worried about it. This animal is so huge he could drink up a river. His sheer bulk will keep him put, while the flood surges around him.10 One reason he didn't need to hurry was that his massive size insured he need not fear any animal who also would have approached the river to drink. A very large dinosaur is probably the only animal which fits this description.
24 The behemoth looks at the sweeping tide, and defies it. The very narrow elongated neck and small head of the sauropod dinosaur would have enabled them to pierce their nose through snares. It is difficult to picture the elephant, hippopotamus or crocodile fitting this description. Although the behemoth was obviously vegetarian, its size was overwhelming. Its hips were built to withstand the enormous force of each pounding step and its midsection was a mass of muscle. Its gigantic tail extended far behind, not unlike a giant cedar tree swaying behind its body. Its bones were built like steel girders with ribs like iron bars to support his enormous weight. Surely this was the greatest among the creatures ever to roam the swamps and rivers of the earth. The animal that most clearly satisfies the description of behemoth would be the sauropod dinosaur, Diplodocus or Apatosaurus. The other three animals considered, the elephant, hippopotamus and crocodile, do not satisfy all the physical and behavioural characteristics ascribed to the behemoth.

References and notes
1.  King James Authorized Version
2.  Adam Clarke's Bible Commentary - Job 40 -
3.  Was the "Behemoth" of Job 40:15-24 a dinosaur? by Wayne Jackson -
4.  Dinosaurs in the Bible -
5.  Are dinosaurs mentioned in the Bible? -
6.  Dinosaurs in the Bible by Richard Clarke -
7.  Behold, Behemoth by Wayne Jackson -
8.  Job and Science - A commentary on the Book of Job in the Bible by Reverend Walter Lang -
9.  Animals of the Bible -

10.  The First Earth Age -
11.  Chapter 10 - Dinosaurs in the Bible -
12.  Job 40:15-24 "Behemoth" description fits that of a dinosaur -
Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) -
Africa - African Elephant -
15. Supersaurus "Super Lizard" -
16.  Job Chapter One Introduction -
17. Knowing God through Job -
Genealogies -
19.  Some thoughts from the Book of Job by Elder Kenneth Clevenger -
20.  WAS THE “BEHEMOTH” A DINOSAUR? by Eric Lyons, M.Min -
21. Walking Thru the Bible - Job -
22. Job - Abstract -


Learn More About ...
Job 40
Bible Commentary
Story of Job
Reduced Lifespan after Flood



Bible Author

It is believed that the book of Job is the most ancient of the inspired writings we have come to know as the Bible. It predates the first five books of the Bible, the books of Moses, and its exact origin is a mystery. We don't know who is the author of the book of Job. Ancient Jewish sources say "The only tradition which has come down to us with respect to the authorship of the Book of Job ascribes it to Moses."21


Behemoth & Leviathan

Another Song Page that may be of interest is Job 41 "Leviathan".


Story of Job

Job 1:1 tells us that Job lived in the land of Uz. Genesis 10:22-23 tells us that Uz was a grandson of Shem, and great grandson to Noah. The exact location of Uz is not known, however the most likely location was northeast of Palestine in the land of Aram (modern Syria). Genesis 10:23 states that Uz was the son of Aram.  The land was subject to raids by the Chaldeans and the Sabaeans (Job 1:15, 17); Job's three friends were a Temanite, a Naamathite and a Shuite (2:11). Elihu was a Buzite (32:2) and Job himself is called one of the children of the East (Kedhem). The Chaldaeans (Kasdim, descendants of Chesed, son of Nahor, Gen. 22:22), inhabited Mesopotamia; a branch of the Sabaeans also appears to have taken up its abode in Northern Arabia. Abraham sent his children, other than Isaac (so including Shuah), "eastward to the land of "Kedhem" (Gen. 25:6). The Historian Josephus tells us that Uz was the founding father of Damascus located in the Syrian desert! This eastern location is supported by the fact that Job was referred to as "the greatest of all the people of the East" (Job 1:3).18 


Reduced Lifespan after Flood

We know that after the biblical flood man's lifespan gradually decreased. Shem lived 600 years and his descendants to the third generation (Arphaxad to Eber) lived over 400 years. However his ninth generation descendant Abraham lived only 175 years (Gen 25:11). We know from Bible genealogies that Uz (second generation from Shem) and Abraham were born about 65 and 292 years, respectively, after the biblical flood of 2348 b.c.
Job, very likely a descendent of Uz living before the time of Abraham (based on his longer lifespan), was possibly born about 150 years after the flood at about 2200 b.c. The time of 2200 b.c. fits with other known facts: Job was priest for his family (Job 1:5), his wealth was in domesticated animals (Job 1:3), no mention of Israel was made, and the mention of Sabeans (Job 1:15) and Chaldeans (Job 1:17) fits the time historically.17



Job & Noah Contemporaries

Interestingly, Noah lived for 350 years and Shem for 500 years after the great flood (Genesis 9:28-11:10, 11), so it is possible that Job's life overlapped the lives of these patriarchs. The name Job has been found in a number of tablets dated 2,000 B.C. (the time of Abraham) or earlier.19


Job highly Praised by Notables

Many people consider the Book of Job to be the most remarkable book in the Holy Scriptures. Martin Luther regarded it as “more magnificent and sublime and any other Book of Scriptures.” Thomas Carlyle wrote of it as “one of the grandest things ever written with pen.” Victor Hugo speaks of the Book of Job as “the greatest product of the human mind of all ages. “Alfred Lord Tennyson called it, “the great test poem, whether of ancient or modern literature.”22


Job Song Category

The Job Song Category is a great starting point for searching the songs which make up this music category. The song category page contains Daily Scriptures and easy links to song previews and song pages. The song pages include interesting background information and commentary about the songs and the Bible author. Sometimes there are links to related web pages including Bible Quotes, Sermons, Music samples, and Bible Puzzles.

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