The Behemoth

“Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox. . . . He is the chief of the ways of God.” (Job 40:15, 19)

Whatever this animal was, it was not small! The Hebrew word has merely been transliterated rather than translated. Some Bible margins suggest that the writer of the book really meant elephant or that the Hebrew word is derived from the Egyptian term for hippopotamus.

But the description given by God Himself does not illustrate an animal that you and I would be familiar with. Look carefully at God’s narrative in Job 40:15-24.

  • Behemoth is a land animal whose normal habitat is in wetlands.
  • The creature is a vegetarian, with grazing habits similar to an ox.
  • This animal is very large, with strong hips and power in the stomach muscles.
  • When the tail moves, it is like a cedar tree.
  • The bones are like “strong pieces of brass,” and the ribs are like “bars of iron.”
  • Behemoth is so large and so placid a beast that a raging river or an attempt to pierce its nose does not rile it.
  • God names behemoth the “chief of the ways of God.”

This information is passed on to us by God Himself. Job needs to understand how small and insignificant he really is when compared to the majestic wild creatures on the one hand and the omniscient and omnipotent Creator on the other.

No wonder Job concludes: “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6). HMM III

Adapted from Unlocking the Mysteries of Genesis by Dr. Henry Morris III.