( Job 40:15-24 ). Some have supposed this to be an Egyptian word meaning a "water-ox." The Revised Version has here in the margin "hippopotamus," which is probably the correct rendering of the word. The word occurs frequently in Scripture, but, except here, always as a common name, and translated "beast" or "cattle."
A huge, strong animal.
Behold now BEHEMOTH, which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox. Lo now, his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly. ( Job 40:15-16 )
(great beasts ). There can be little or no doubt that by this word, ( Job 40:15-24 ) the hippopotamus is intended since all the details descriptive of the behemoth accord entirely with the ascertained habits of that animal. The hippopotamus is an immense creature having a thick and square head, a large mouth often two feet broad, small eyes and ears, thick and heavy body, short legs terminated by four toes, a short tail, skin without hair except at the extremity of the tail. It inhabits nearly the whole of Africa, and has been found of the length of 17 feet. It delights in the water, but feeds on herbage on land. It is not found in Palestine, but may at one time have been a native of western Asia.
be'-he-moth, be-he'-moth (behemoth:
Job 40:15): Apparently the plural of behemah, "a beast," used of domestic or wild animals. The same form, behemoth, occurs in other passages, e.g. Deuteronomy 28:26; 32:24; Isaiah 18:6; Habakkuk 2:17, where it is not rendered "behemoth" but "beasts." According to some, the word behemoth, occurring in Job 40:15, is not a Hebrew word, the plural of behemah, but a word of Egyptian origin signifying "water ox." This etymology is denied by Cheyne and others. The word has by various writers been understood to mean rhinoceros and elephant, but the description (Job 40:15-24) applies on the whole very well to the hippopotamus (Hippopotamus arnphibius) which inhabits the Nile and other rivers of Africa. Especially applicable are the references to its great size, its eating grass, the difficulty with which weapons penetrate its hide, and its frequenting of streams. - "He lieth under the lotus-trees, In the covert of the reed, and the fen. The lotus-trees cover him with their shade; The willows of the brook compass him about." + The remains of a fossil hippopotamus of apparently the same species are found over most of Europe, so that it may have inhabited Palestine in early historical times, although we have no record of it. There is a smaller living species in west Africa, and there are several other fossil species in Europe and India. The remains of Hippopotamus minutus have been found in enormous quantities in caves in Malta and Sicily.
For an elaborate explanation of behemoth and leviathan (which see) as mythical creatures, see Cheyne, EB, under the word
Alfred Ely Day
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