The Book of Job, one of the earliest documents of the Old Testament, has much to teach us, just as Job had much to learn from the Lord’s lengthy Natural History Lesson in the final chapters of the Book. In this posting we shall focus on one word, BEHEMOTH, used in 40:15 of a magnificent creature God had made. Here is the passage. (Job 40:15-24)
“Behold, Behemoth, which I made as I made you; he eats grass like an ox. Behold, his strength in his loins, and his power in the muscles of his belly. He makes his tail stiff [or, moves his tail] like a cedar; the sinews of his thighs are knit together. His bones are tubes of bronze, his limbs like bars of iron. He is the first of the works of God; let him who made him bring near his sword! For the mountains yield food for him where all the wild beasts play. Under the lotus plants he lies, in the covert of the reeds and in the marsh. For his shade the lotus trees cover him; the willows of the brook surround him. Behold, if the river is turbulent he is not frightened; he is confident though Jordan rushes against his mouth. Can one take him with hooks, or pierce his nose with a snare?”
Expositors declare almost uniformly that this creature is either a Hippopotamus, a Rhinoceros, or an Elephant. Likewise in the margins of our Bibles. But a moment’s reflection concerning the tails of these three creatures should tell us we have made a blunder. None of them “move their tail like a cedar tree”. In fact they all have but flimsy little tails.
The Hebrew word BEHEMOTH (pronounced B’haymoth) is plural of BEHEMAH, a feminine noun used for all different beasts, whether domestic or wild. The fact that it is plural in Job 40 is an example of what is called pluralis majestatis, the use of plural as with ELOHIM for God. Indeed BEHEMOTH was “the first of the works of God”.
Based on the fossil records we can more easily identify this majestic creature as being of the Brachiosaur family, perhaps a Diplodocus. Such creatures lived on the earth before the Flood of Noah’s day as long as we believe what God said to Job. The Diplodocus was reptilian, and like all reptiles possessed no growth hormone inhibitor in its pituitary gland, and was therefore able to grow continually until death. Conditions on earth before the Flood were ideal for growth. Man could live almost 1,000 years, so likewise many reptilian creatures would grow to enormous sizes as depicted in this diagram.
The only reason why expositors refuse to entertain the idea of such creatures when reading Job is that the theory of evolution has relegated their extinction to a time some 70 million years ago. These are the days when the words “millions of years” are dropped from the tongue without the slightest qualm. But Jesus spoke about Adam and Eve as being the first humans, and therefore the creation of living things only came about some 6,000 years ago.
And Jesus answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ Matt.19:4 If Jesus upheld Genesis, and believed in Adam and Eve, what right have I as a Christian to espouse evolutionary theory? Science, properly understood, is able to interpret the fossil record in accordance with the Bible. But it takes some courage these days to do so!
On April 3rd this year news came through of the finding of huge footprints in the Isle of Skye, Scotland. The picture shows one of these, and it measures just over 27 inches in diameter. Compare this with an Elephant’s footprint of some 8 inches diameter. Surely this is the evidence that a creature like Diplodocus walked in Britain in former days?
But the story, as printed in all the news media, spoke of the creature having lived some 70 million years ago.
Are we prepared to stand by the early chapters of Genesis, regardless of mockery, and claims that we are hiding our heads in the sand?