corner graphic

Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Job 40

 

 

Verses 1-24

Job 40:1-2 — God Closes His First Speech to Job - In Job 40:1-2 God ends His first dialogue with Job with a rhetorical question asking who is able to contend with or instruct Him, the Creator and Overseer of the Earth. In other words, who dares to question God's ways.

Job 40:1 Moreover the LORD answered Job , and said,

Job 40:2 Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? he that reproveth God, let him answer it.

Job 40:2Comments- Job's contention was that he was suffering without a cause. He could not see its redemptive purpose, although his faith would testify to all generations following.

Job 40:3-5 — Job's First Reply to God - God has demanded a reply from Job in Job 38:8. This first reply is recorded in Job 40:3-5. While Job had replied to his three friends with lengthy discourses, he becomes speechless before Almighty God.

Job 40:6 to Job 41:34 — God's Second Speech to Job - Job 40:6 to Job 41:34 contains God's second speech to Job. Here is a proposed outline of this passage.

1. God's Challenge to Job — Job 40:6-14

2. Behemoth — Job 40:15-24

3. Leviathan — Job 41:1-34

Job 40:7 Gird up thy loins now like a man: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me.

Job 40:7 — "I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me" - Comments- God demands Job to reply a second time, which reply is recorded in Job 42:1-6.


Verses 15-24

God Describes Behemoth to Job (Historical Study on "Behemoth") - In Job 40:15-24 God describes to Job the greatest land animal under His creation, which in Hebrew is called "behemoth" ( בְּהֵמֹות) (H 930). Efforts to identify this creature continue into the present day. The oldest witnesses are found in the writings of the Jewish Pseudepigrapha, which refer to Leviathan and Behemoth as two, somewhat mythological creatures (1Enoch 607-9, 23-24, 4Ezra 49-52, 2Baruch 294). The tradition of Jewish rabbis reflects this mythological idea about these two creatures (The Targum of Jonathan, Genesis 1:21, The Targum on Psalm 50:10, Isaiah 27:1). The LXX translates the Hebrew word "behemoth" into the Greek ( θηρια) "wild beasts." Adam Clarke tells us the Vulgate, Syriac and Arabic versions transliterate the Hebrew name "behemoth," and he points out that the old English translations of the Scriptures are of no help in determining this creature's identity. 49] For example, the Wycliffite Version (1381) reads "behemot," 50] The Coverdale Bible (1535) reads "the cruell beaste," 51] and The Geneva Bible (1560) reads, "behemoth." 52] Matthew Henry notes that the most ancient Church tradition ascribes it to the elephant. 53] John Gill gives a lengthy discussion for the elephant. 54] However, with the development of comparative philology emerging out of the Renaissance, word studies favor a different animal. Modern scholarship suggests an Egyptian origin to this Hebrew word, meaning "water ox," "Nile horse," or "hippopotamus." BDB (1906) says it refers to the hippopotamus, with the origin "from an (assumed) Egyptian p-ehemau, "ox of the water." Therefore, most modern lexicons, dictionaries and commentators define "behemoth" as the hippopotamus (Watson, 1833], Gesenius 1834], Barr 1837], BTD 1854], Smith 1863], Eadie 1872], Zöckler 1872], 55] Strong 1896], Baker 2003]). However, this modern view is not exclusive. Driver (ICC), who is not alone in his view, denies this Egyptian word origin and translates it as "a colossal beast". 56] Holladay (1971) suggests either the hippopotamus or crocodile. The TWOT (1980) favors the hippopotamus, but allows for another creature. Because of the description of a large tail that fits neither an elephant nor hippopotamus ( Job 40:17), some suggest that "behemoth" refers to an extinct land creature (Good) 57], perhaps a mammoth (Clarke) 58], or a dinosaur, such as diplodocus or brachiosaurus (BDB).

49] Adam Clarke, Job to Song of Solomon , vol 3 , in The Holy Bible Containing the Old and New Testaments, 6 vols. (London: Thomas Tegg and Song of Solomon , 1836), 1895.

50] Josiah Forshall and Frederic Madden, editors, The Books of Job ,, Psalm ,, Proverbs ,, Ecclesiastes , and the Song of Solomon According to the Wycliffite Version made by Nicholas de Hereford About A.D 1381and Revised by John Purvey About A.D 1388 (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, c 1850, 1881), 54-5.

51] Myles Coverdale, The Holy Scriptures (London: Paternoster Press, 1535, reprint 1838).

52] The Bible: That is the Holy Scriptures Contained in the Old and New Testament. London: Robert Barker, c 1560, 1615.

53] Matthew Henry, Job, in Matthew Henry"s Commentary on the Whole Bible, New Modern Edition, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc, 1991), in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000), notes on Job 40:15. For example, Robertson's Compendious Hebrew Dictionary (c 1654) says behemoth refers to the elephant.

54] John Gill, Job , in John Gill's Expositor, in OnLine Bible, v 20 [CD-ROM] (Nederland: Online Bible Foundation, 1992-2005), notes on Job 40:15.

55] Otto Zckler, The Book of Job , trans. by L. J. Evans, in Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, ed. Philip Schaff (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1872), 619.

56] S. R. Driver and George B. Gray, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Job , vol 2, in The International Critical Commentary, 2vols. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1921), 326.

57] John M. Good, The Book of Job , Literally Translated From the Original Hebrew and Restored to its Natural Arrangement, (London: Bronxbourn, 1812), 476.

58] Adam Clarke, Job to Song of Solomon , vol 3 , in The Holy Bible Containing the Old and New Testaments, 6 vols. (London: Thomas Tegg and Song of Solomon , 1836), 1895.

The Elephant - The view of the elephant does not fit the entire description of behemoth. Although this beast is the largest land animal today ( Job 40:16-19), he does not eat grass like the ox ( Job 40:15), nor have a tail like a cedar ( Job 40:17). Although he plays in the rivers, he does not hide in the river under the lotuses ( Job 40:21-22).

The Hippopotamus - The view of the hippopotamus does not fit the entire description of behemoth. This beast does feed on grass like the ox ( Job 40:15), and is extremely large ( Job 40:16-19). However, he does not have a tail like a cedar ( Job 40:17), nor is he large enough to be considered the chief of the ways of God ( Job 40:19). He can hide in the rivers under the lotuses ( Job 40:21-22), and is not disturbed by a raging river ( Job 40:23), and would be difficult to capture ( Job 40:24).

The Crocodile- The view of the crocodile does not fit the entire description of behemoth. He does have a large tail ( Job 40:17), and he can hide in the river under the lotuses ( Job 40:21-22), and is not disturbed by a raging river ( Job 40:23). However, he does not feed on grass like the ox ( Job 40:15). Crocodiles can be large, and fossil records testify that they grew much larger, but he is not the largest land beast ( Job 40:19).

The Dinosaur - The suggestion that "behemoth" most closely describes one of the largest plant-eating land dinosaurs is the view that I favor since the testimony of fossil records is a relatively recent consideration in biblical scholarship, and this beast most closely fits the description of the biblical text in Job 40:15-24. The plant-eating dinosaurs would have eaten grass like an ox ( Job 40:15). The largest species, brachiosaurus and the titanosaurians, would best fit the description of enormous size described in Job 40:16-19. These dinosaurs had tails like a cedar ( Job 40:17), and were the largest land animals every created by God ( Job 40:19). They could have hidden in larger rivers from predators ( Job 40:21-22), and would not have been afraid of flooding rivers ( Job 40:23). This beast would have been difficult to capture ( Job 40:24). A dinosaur does not have stones, or testicles ( Job 40:17), but this Hebrew word is best translated "thighs", which large size would have been a prominent characteristic of these large plant-eating dinosaurs.

Job 40:15 Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox.

Job 40:15 — "Behold now behemoth" - Word Study on behemoth - The Hebrew word "bâhemowth" ( בְּהֵמֹות) (H 930) in Job 40:15 is transliterated into the KJV as "behemoth." BDB and Driver 59] call this grammatical construction the plural intensive of the Hebrew word ( בְּהֵמָה) (H 929) (meaning "beast, cattle"), so that "behemoth" carries the intensive meaning, "the great beast." Gesenius calls it the Hebrew plural of majesty. In all other Old Testament passages the plural Hebrew word "behemoth" is translated as "beasts" (see Deuteronomy 28:26; Deuteronomy 32:24, Job 12:7, Psalm 1:10, Isaiah 18:6; Isaiah 30:6, Jeremiah 12:4, Joel 1:20; Joel 2:22, Micah 5:8, Habakkuk 2:17).

59] S. R. Driver and George B. Gray, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Job , vol 2, in The International Critical Commentary, 2vols. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1921), 326.

Job 40:15 — "which I made with thee" - Comments- Driver translates the Hebrew preposition ( עִם) with its personal pronoun to mean, "which is beside thee." 60] This creature lived along side of mankind, so that the phrase means men could behold God's glory and majesty through the testimony of these enormous creatures. If behemoth refers to a dinosaur, then modern science teaches that these huge creatures died millions of years ago. However, there is growing evidence from creation scientists that many dinosaurs lived concurrently with mankind. This would allow man to observe behemoth as a large dinosaur, a majestic creature that testified to God's majesty.

60] S. R. Driver and George B. Gray, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Job , vol 2, in The International Critical Commentary, 2vols. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1921), 326.

Zckler gives the translation, "as well as thee," interpreting the phrase to mean that God made behemoth as well as man; He made them both. He believes this phrase compares behemoth and man as both being created by the handiwork of God, with the intent of further revealing to Job his frailty and weakness in the midst of God's creation. 61]

61] Otto Zckler, The Book of Job , trans. by L. J. Evans, in Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, ed. Philip Schaff (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1872), 619.

Job 40:15 — "he eateth grass as an ox" - Comments- This animal was not a fearsome predator, but a herbivore, which is normally docile when left to itself. These large vegetarians would have eaten enormous amounts of plant material in order to survive. It has been suggested by one creation scientist that God created the plant-eating dinosaurs in order to keep the large amount of vegetation in an ecological balance during the era before the Flood.

Within the context of this passage, the phrase "he eateth grass as an ox" is probably used to contrast the lower intelligence of this creature to man's higher intelligence. God takes time to divinely provide for this simple-minded giant, so that he can prosper on earth, a feat that can only be orchestrated by God Himself. If God daily intervenes in the affairs of His marvelous creation, how much more is He watching over Job.

Job 40:16-19 — Behemoth's Physical Features - Job 40:16-19 describes behemoth's physical features. The focus upon the creature's hindquarters and tail, and huge bones, being the largest creature made by God, leads me to support the view that behemoth was a large, plant-eating dinosaur.

Job 40:16 Lo now, his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly.

Job 40:16Word Study on "loins" - Gesenius says the Hebrew word "loins" "mothen" ( מָתְנַיִם) (H 4975) means, "the loins, the lower part of the back." Strong says it comes from an unused root word meaning, "to be slender"; properly, it means, "the waist or small of the back; the loins." The TWOT says, "the hips, or lower part of the back; i.e. the middle part of the body." This Hebrew word is used only in the plural form. The Enhanced Strong says it is used 47 times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as "loins 42, side 4, greyhound 1."

Job 40:16Word Study on "the navel" - Gesenius says the Hebrew word "navel" "shariyr" ( שָׁרִיר) (H 8306) means, "the firm part of the belly, i.e. the nerves, ligaments, muscles." Strong says it means, "a cord, i.e. (by analogy) sinew; a navel." The TWOT says it means, "sinew, muscle."

Job 40:16Comments- The most pronounced features of the large plant-eating dinosaurs, such as the titanosaurians, or diplodocus and brachiosaurus, were the tremendous size of their rear loins and bellies. Thus, Job 40:16 begins describing behemoth with its most outstanding features.

Job 40:17 He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together.

Job 40:17 — "He moveth his tail like a cedar" - Comments- The second most pronounced feature of the large plant-eating dinosaurs was the tremendous size of their tails. Thus, Job 40:17 continuing describing behemoth with its one of its most outstanding features. The view that behemoth refers to an elephant or hippopotamus fail when dealing with the description of a large tail, which neither have. Only the large dinosaurs had a tail of this size.

Job 40:17 — "the sinews of his stones are wrapped together" - Word Study on "stones" - Gesenius and TWOT say the Hebrew word "stones" "pachad" ( פַּחַד) (H 6344) means, "thighs." Strong says this word means, "testicle, stone." The Enhanced Strong says this Hebrew word is used once in the Old Testament Most modern English translations read "thighs." (ASV, Darby, NIV, RSV, YLT). The LXX reads, "navel." Other English translations read "legs" (BBE).

Job 40:18 His bones are as strong pieces of brass; his bones are like bars of iron.

Job 40:19 He is the chief of the ways of God: he that made him can make his sword to approach unto him.

Job 40:19 — "He is the chief of the ways of God" - Comments- The phrase "he is the chief of the ways of God" most likely refers to the size and strength of one of the largest beasts created by God. Thus, AmpBible reads "the first [in magnitude and power] of the works of God [in animal life]." Zöckler reads, "a master-piece of His creative power." 62] The NIV reads, "He ranks first among the works of God." Zöckler understands the phrase "of the ways of God" to refer to "the displays of His creative activity in creating and governing the universe." 63]

62] Otto Zckler, The Book of Job , trans. by L. J. Evans, in Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, ed. Philip Schaff (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1872), 620.

63] Otto Zckler, The Book of Job , trans. by L. J. Evans, in Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, ed. Philip Schaff (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1872), 620.

The tallest and heaviest dinosaur known today from good skeletal remains comes from the fossils of a Brachiosaurus brancai, discovered in Tanzania between 1907-12. This dinosaur has been mounted 39 feet tall and 74feet long. It could have weighted up to 70 ,000,130 ,000lb. when roaming on the earth. Partial remains of other larger dinosaurs suggest they may have reached 110 feet in length, some standing 59 feet tall, and others weighing up to 90 to 110 short tons. 64] Thus, the dinosaur was the "chief of God's ways."

64] "Dinosaurs," in The Free Encyclopedia (San Francisco, California: Wikipedia Foundation, Inc.) [on-line]; accessed 8 December 2008; available from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dinosaur; Internet.

Job 40:19 — "he that made him can make his sword to approach unto him" - Comments- The meaning of the phrase "he that made him can make his sword to approach unto him" has been a challenge for scholars.

Job 40:20-24 — Behemoth's Behaviour - While Job 40:16-19 described behemoth's physical features, Job 40:20-24 describes his instinctive behaviour. Although the physical features most closely resembles a large plant-eating dinosaur, the creature's behaviour clearly suggests the hippopotamus, since he grazes upon grass like an ox, and hides in the rivers. We do not know the behaviour patterns of the ancient dinosaurs, but we assume they could behave themselves in a similar fashion.

Job 40:20 Surely the mountains bring him forth food, where all the beasts of the field play.

Job 40:20Comments- "The mountains bring him forth food" in the sense that they provide grazing for behemoth. He grazes on the mountain slopes "where all the beasts of the field play" means that he grazes alongside other herbivores in the same way several species of animals, such as zebra and antelope, graze together as a means of protection on the grassy plains of Africa.


Verses 15-34

God Describes the Largest Animals in Creation- In Job 40:15 through Job 41:34 God describes the greatest land animal ( Job 40:15-24), then the greatest animal of the sea in His divine creation ( Job 41:1-34). The point of God describing these two majestic creatures is to point out to Job that if man cannot tame God's creatures, neither can he overcome a contest against God. This passage further reveals to Job his frailty and weakness as one of God's creatures.

The story of Leviathan and Behemoth are embedded in ancient Jewish mythology. The Jewish Pseudepigrapha refer to these two monsters on a number of occasions as figurative images of wickedness. According to ancient Jewish tradition, these two creatures were made on the fifth day of creation and are now reserved by God to be later used as a part of the fulfillment of their Messianic prophecies.

"And on that day were two monsters parted, a female monster named Leviathan, to dwell in the abysses of the ocean over the fountains of the waters. But the male is named Behemoth, who occupied with his breast a waste wilderness named Duidain, on the east of the garden where the elect and righteous dwell, where my grandfather was taken up, the seventh from Adam, the first man whom the Lord of Spirits created. And I besought the other angel that he should show me the might of those monsters, how they were parted on one day and cast, the one into the abysses of the sea, and the other unto the dry land of the wilderness." (1Enoch 607-9) 44]

44] 1Enoch, trans. R. H. Charles, ed. R. H. Charles, in The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament in English With Introductions and Critical and Explanatory Notes to the Several Books, vol 2 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), .

"And these things I saw towards the Garden of the Righteous. And the angel of peace who was with me said to me: These two monsters, prepared conformably to the greatness of God, shall feed. . ." (1Enoch 6023-24) 45]

45] 1Enoch, trans. R. H. Charles, ed. R. H. Charles, in The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament in English With Introductions and Critical and Explanatory Notes to the Several Books, vol 2 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), .

"Then didst thou preserve "two living creatures"; the name of the one thou didst call Behemoth and the name of the other thou didst call Leviathan. And thou didst separate the one from the other; for the seventh part, where the water was gathered together, was unable to hold them (both). And thou didst give Behemoth one of the parts which had been dried up on the third day to dwell in, (that namely) where are a thousand hills: but unto Leviathan thou gavest the seventh part, namely the moist: and thou hast reserved them to be devoured by whom thou wilt and when." (4Ezra 49-52) 46]

46] 4Ezra, trans. G. H. Box, ed. R. H. Charles, in The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament in English With Introductions and Critical and Explanatory Notes to the Several Books, vol 2 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), .

"And Behemoth shall be revealed from his place and Leviathan shall ascend from the sea, those two great monsters which I created on the fifth day of creation, and shall have kept until that time; and then they shall be for food for all that are left." (2Baruch 294) 47]

47] 2Baruch, trans. R. H. Charles, ed. R. H. Charles, in The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament in English With Introductions and Critical and Explanatory Notes to the Several Books, vol 2 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), .

Rabbinic tradition reflects a similar approach in identifying these two creatures.

"And the Lord said, Let the lakes of the waters swarm forth the reptile, the living animal, and the fowl which flieth, whose nest is upon the earth; and let the way of the bird be upon the air of the expanse of the heavens. And the Lord created the great tanins, the Leviticus -ya-than and his yoke-fellow which are prepared for the day of consolation, and every living animal which creepeth, and which the clear waters had swarmed forth after their kind; the kinds which are clean, and the kinds which are not clean; and every fowl which flieth with wings after their kinds, the clean and the unclean." (The Targum of Jonathan Genesis 1:21) 48]

48] J. W. Etheridge, The Targum of Jonathan Ben Uzziel On the Pentateuch With The Fragments of the Jerusalem Targum From the Chaldee (1862).

Church tradition has followed a literal interpretation for these two creatures, attempting to identify them with some of God's larger animals, such as the elephant and mastodon, the hippopotamus, the crocodile, the whale, and the dinosaur.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Job 40:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ghe/job-40.html. 2013.

Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology