In the Book of Job, God describes an animal that He called ‘behemoth’. The literal translation of the Hebrew word ‘behemoth’ is ‘beast’. Many Bibles today will have notes at the bottom of the page that says behemoth was either a hippo or an elephant. Are the notes right?
The first thing you need to understand is the difference between the Bible and Bible notes. The Bible is God’s Word. God directed each and every word written in the Bible. We refer to them as being the ‘inspired’ Word of God. Bible notes were written by men and are not ‘inspired’ by God. The notes are simply the opinions of the men who wrote them. If the men that wrote the notes believe in some form of theistic evolution, that will influence their notes and therefore, they are not always right.
In our article last week on the Garden of Eden, we learned that the Bereans always searched the Scriptures to see what was true and what was not true. Like the Bereans, we are going to start with the Bible to see what it tells us about behemoth in Job 40:15-24.
15″Behold, Behemoth, which I made as I made you; he eats grass like an ox.
16Behold, his strength in his loins, and his power in the muscles of his belly.
17He makes his tail stiff like a cedar; the sinews of his thighs are knit together.
18His bones are tubes of bronze, his limbs like bars of iron.
19″He is the first of the works of God; let him who made him bring near his sword!
20For the mountains yield food for him where all the wild beasts play.
21Under the lotus plants he lies, in the shelter of the reeds and in the marsh.
22For his shade the lotus trees cover him; the willows of the brook surround him.
23Behold, if the river is turbulent he is not frightened; he is confident though Jordan rushes against his mouth.
24Can one take him by his eyes, or pierce his nose with a snare?
In verse 15, we learn that behemoth is a real animal that lived at the same time as Job and he must be familiar with it. It also tells us that behemoth eats grass. Elephants generally eat from tress and shrubs. Sometimes they will eat tall grass, but this is not their normal food so this would not be a good description of an elephant. Hippos do feed on grass, so it is possible so far that this could be a hippo. We cannot say for sure what dinosaurs ate, but from the evidence we find, it is safe to say that a number of dinosaurs ate many different kinds of plants including grass, so it is possible that behemoth could be a dinosaur.
In verse 16, we learn that behemoth has great strength in his belly. Elephants, hippos and dinosaurs all have large strong bellies but when you compare them to each other, it is obvious that the dinosaur had greater strength in their bellies than elephants or hippos.
In verse 17, we learn that behemoth has a tail like a cedar. Cedars in that area were known to be tall and lofty trees like the Cedars of Lebanon we read about in Isaiah 2:13. Elephants only have a small tail that they use to swish flies away from the rear ends. Hippos have such a little flap of skin for a tail that it couldn’t even be compared to a twig. Large sauropod dinosaurs, like the Brachiosaurus had huge long tails that were very strong. Scientists have found the fossil remains of extra support bones called struts in the tails of Brachiosaurus and other large sauropod dinosaurs.
In verse 18, we learn that behemoth has bones like brass and iron. That means that they were very hard and strong. Elephants definitely have strong bones and so do hippos. However, the bones of a Brachiosaurus are even larger and stronger than those of an elephant or hippo. The femur or thigh bone of an African elephant seems large at 39 inches in length, but the thigh bone of a Brachiosaurus can reach 80 inches in length and is more than twice big around than the elephant’s thigh bone. There have been times when wild elephants have been found with broken legs, probably from falling or stumbling in a hole. The leg bones of the Brachiosaurus were much stronger like iron and brass and less likely to break by accident.
In verse 19, we learn that behemoth is first in the ways of God. This means that behemoth was the largest and most powerful of God’s animals. While a hippo is a fairly big animal I would not consider it to be that large or powerful, so it would not have been chief in the ways of God. In today’s world it would seem that the elephant is the largest and most powerful land animal and could be considered to be first in the ways of God. However, a Brachiosaurs is several times larger than an elephant and since they both lived at the same time, which we believe they did, the Brachiosaurs would certainly be the largest and most powerful of the land animals and first in the ways of God.
In verse 20, we learn that the mountains provide grass the behemoth to feed upon. Yes, this verse could be used for elephants, hippos and dinosaurs.
In verse 21, we learn that behemoth lies in the waters under the tress and in the marsh. Elephants definitely love water, but as a rule, they do not lie in the waters in the shades of the trees and reeds for any length of time. Hippos spend a great deal of time in the water just lying around. We do not know that behavior of the large sauropod dinosaurs, but it is very possible that they would spend a great deal of time in the water where its weight would not be much of a stress on it huge frame, so this is a maybe.
In verse 22, we learn that behemoth spends time in the trees and bushes (lotus and willows) along the river banks. It would be possible that all three of the animals could fit this description.
In verse 23, we learn that behemoth is so large and strong that it is not afraid of the strong currents of the Jordan River. Strong and turbulent currents of a river could be troublesome for both elephants and hippos. It is uncommon for elephants or hippos to spend much time in strong currents as they prefer slower and calmer waters. However, an animal the size of Brachiosaurus with its larger size and greater weight would be better equipped to stand up in the strong fast current of a river.
In verse 24 we learn that behemoth is very difficult for anyone to snare while it is watching you. Again, the elephant, hippo and dinosaur are difficult to while they are watching, so this verse could apply to all three.
Now lets check out this chart to see which animal has the most Yes’s. That is the animal that best fits the descriptions in each verse.
|16||strength in belly||Some||Less||Yes|
|17||tail like a cedar||No||No||Yes|
|18||bones like brass & iron||No||No||Yes|
|19||chief in ways of God||No||No||Yes|
|20||mountains provide grass||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|21||lie water in shade||Some||Yes||Maybe|
|22||spend time along river banks||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|23||not afraid of strong current||No||No||Yes|
|24||hard to catch and snare||Yes||Yes||Yes|
From our comparison, the Brachiosaurus fits the description of behemoth better than either the elephant or the hippo, especially when you think about the description of the tail. There is just no way the tail of an elephant or a hippo can be compared to a cedar tree.
You will hear so many people say that behemoth could not be a dinosaur because dinosaurs went extinct millions of year before man, but that is not what the Bible says. Again, like the Bereans, let’s search the Scriptures to see if dinosaurs could have lived with men.
Genesis 1:24-27 tells us: And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Then God tells us in Genesis 1:31 when He made the land animals and man: And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
God made ALL of the land animals including beasts AND man on Day 6 of Creation. Since behemoth also means beast, and dinosaurs are land animals, then they had to be made on Day 6 which also means that they lived at the same time as Adam and Eve.
Now we have to consider the Flood. Some Christians say that all of the dinosaurs were drowned in the Genesis Flood, and that is why we don’t see them today. Again we will see if that is true or not by searching the Bible like the Bereans. In Genesis 6:19-20, God gave Noah these instructions: And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive.
It is clear that God told Noah to take 2 of every kind of animal on board the Ark. That would have included dinosaurs. Therefore, we know that dinosaurs were not killed off during the Genesis Flood, which also means that dinosaurs were alive during the time of Job when God spoke to him about the behemoth. Did you know that the word ‘dinosaur’ was not invented until the early 1840s? Before that time, other words would have been used for what we know of as dinosaurs, words like behemoth, leviathan, serpent and dragon.
Starting with the Bible like the Bereans did, and then weighing all of the evidence, it is safe to say that the behemoth that God describes to Job was a large sauropod dinosaur, possibly even the mighty Brachiosaurus.