History: Biblical Beasts May Still Be Alive Today

Mozelle Martin

Per Bob Burridge at the Genevan Institute through the Biblical reference of Job 40:15-24, there is mention of what many scholars believe to be a dinosaur. In the Bible, it is called a “behemoth.” Many experts have speculated that a behemoth was anything from a dinosaur to an elephant.

Misunderstandings of the context itself that makes specific comparisons to the ox, cedars, bronze, and iron, have caused many theories and speculations. So, in this article, I urge you to attempt to set aside your assumptions to understand what the Bible says about the "dinosaur," as pointed out to Job.

As an aside... Job was the subject of a bet between God and the devil. In this bet, God told the devil he could do anything to Job as a way to test Job's faith and ultimately get Job to renounce God. The only thing the devil could not do to Job was kill him.

So, as God was helping Job understand that he [Job] - as a mere creature - was in no position to question His [God's] wisdom, no matter how much suffering he experienced. During this lesson, some say God explained to Job how dumb he was compared to God. In chapter 40:15-24, God showed Job how incredible the Behemoth was and how He created it with outstanding handiwork and design.

In Job 40:15, the word “Behemoth” is understood in various ways depending upon which scholar you follow. As with any topic of controversy, you will find varying opinions. For "behemoth," some scholars say the animal was a hippopotamus, others say elephant, while others have claimed a rhinoceros or dinosaur. Even with all that diversity of the animal kingdom, some scholars say it was none of them and was a purely mythical being.

Also, in other areas of the Bible, such as Deuteronomy 28:26, 32:24, Isaiah 18:6, and Habakkuk 2:17, the "behemoth" is just translated to the generic term of “beast", meaning a large, wild animal regardless of species.

Still, many scholars state that the context counteracts or contradicts the “mythical animal” view because the word "beast" is not specific enough to help Job understand the power and superior wisdom of God.

Job 40:15-24 (the LORD answered Job saying), “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 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 shelter of the reeds and 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 by his eyes or pierce his nose with a snare?” (ESV)

Note that the dietary and physical body descriptions are not in line with modern taxonomy or biology. For example, saying the "beast" is a vegetarian does not necessarily mean he only eats grass. If we look at the hippo, he eats fish while in water, and if fish become deficient, he becomes a vegetarian.

Saying that the "beast" or "behemoth" is very strong and powerful could describe most large, wild animals. However, if we pay attention to verse 16, "... strength in his loins, and his power in the muscles of his belly..." it would fit the hippo best since the elephant's belly is a vulnerable area.

What about the tail?

Perhaps the tail would tell us which animal the "behemoth" was in today's terms. Verse 17 says, “He makes his tail stiff like a cedar; …” (ESV). The King James and ASV translate it, “He moveth his tail like a cedar:" The verb in this phrase (“makes stiff” or “moveth”) is “kha-phets” (חפץ) which means to “incline toward, bend, or move.” It sometimes uses the figurative meaning of “to take delight in, favor, or desire.” The comparison to a “cedar” has nothing to do with the “tail’s” size or shape. It has to do with its “rigidity”; the “way it moves” is like the firm cedar. Rather than just a draping tail, it can stiffen out like a tree."

Again, the tail best fits the hippo.

However, perhaps the Armstrong Institute disagrees and believes it to be more of a dinosaur size and shape.

Either way, scholars who have studied the biological peculiarities of the "behemoth" and have examined the remains of ancient animals of that geographic time and location agree that this is likely a hippo. This is especially true when we study the Nile hippopotamus's habitat per verses 21-23.

Yet, the answers may be in the Book of Genesis.

While we don't have scientific evidence of what the Bible was referencing in terms of the "beastly behemoth," and the animal will likely continue to be a subject of debate, there is one thing scientists agree on. That is, they cannot use a Biblical reference to prove that dinosaurs were roaming around when the Book of Job occurred.

What do you think?

  • Was the "beast" or "behemoth" an ancient version of today's hippo OR was it a dinosaur?
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Job's BehemothPhoto byArmstrong Institute

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