King James Version
The First Speech of the
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.
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
5 Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no
The Second Speech of the
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
8 Wilt thou also disannul my judgment? wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest
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
11 Cast abroad the rage of thy wrath: and behold every one that is proud, and
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
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
18 His bones are as strong pieces of brass; his bones are like bars
19 He is the chief of the ways of God: he that made him can make his
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
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
draw up Jordan into his mouth.
24 He taketh it with his eyes: his nose pierceth through snares.1
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.
verse 15, God says that He made Behemoth at the same time that He
made man, "which I made with thee". This
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
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
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
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
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
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 -
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 - http://www.geocities.com/drkenfaulkner/AnimalsOfTheBible
10. The First Earth Age -
11. Chapter 10 - Dinosaurs in the Bible - http://home.hkstar.com/~johnfok1/Apologetics/10.htm
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 -
19. Some thoughts from the Book of Job by Elder Kenneth
20. WAS THE “BEHEMOTH” A DINOSAUR? by Eric Lyons,
21. Walking Thru the Bible - Job - http://fly.hiwaay.net/~wgann/walk_ot/job.htm
22. Job - Abstract - http://familytreemaker.genealogy.com/users/c/r/a/Robert-b-Craig/FILE/0063page.html?Welcome=1064569208