|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
40:15-24 God, for the further proving of his own power, describes two vast animals, far exceeding man in bulk and strength. Behemoth signifies beasts. Most understand it of an animal well known in Egypt, called the river-horse, or hippopotamus. This vast animal is noticed as an argument to humble ourselves before the great God; for he created this vast animal, which is so fearfully and wonderfully made. Whatever strength this or any other creature has, it is derived from God. He that made the soul of man, knows all the ways to it, and can make the sword of justice, his wrath, to approach and touch it. Every godly man has spiritual weapons, the whole armour of God, to resist, yea, to overcome the tempter, that his never-dying soul may be safe, whatever becomes of his frail flesh and mortal body.
Verse 16. - Lo now, his strength is in his loins. The strength of the hippopotamus is its principal characteristic. Weighing often two thousand kilogrammes, and of a short thick make, when roused to anger it has a force which is irresistible. In the water it upsets large beats; on land it forces its way through dense thickets and fences of all kinds. The loins are especially strong, being deep, broad, and immensely muscular. And his force is in the navel of his belly; rather, in the muscles of his bell'i. The word used (שׁרידים) occurs only in this place. It is a plural form, and therefore cannot designate a single object, like the navel. The root seems to be the Syriac serir "firm," whence Schultens proposes to translate שׁרירים by firmitates.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Lo now, his strength is in his loins,.... The strength of the elephant is well known, being able to carry a castle on its back, with a number of men therein; but what follows does not seem so well to agree with it;
and his force is in the navel of his belly; since the belly of the elephant is very tender; by means of which the rhinoceros, its enemy, in its fight with it, has the advantage of it, by getting under its belly, and ripping it up with its horn (s). In like manner Eleazar the Jew killed one of the elephants of Antiochus, by getting between its legs, and thrusting his sword into its navel (t); which fell and killed him with the weight of it. On the other hand, the "river horse" is covered with a skin all over, the hardest and strongest of all creatures (u), as not to be pierced with spears or arrows (w); and of it dried were made helmets, shields, spears, and polished darts (x). That which Monsieur Thevenot (y) saw had several shot fired at it before it fell, for the bullets hardly pierced through its skin. We made several shot at him, says another traveller (z), but to no purpose; for they would glance from him as from a wall. And indeed the elephant is said to have such a hard scaly skin as to resist the spear (a): and Pliny (b), though he speaks of the hide of the river horse being so thick that spears are made of it; yet of the hide of the elephant, as having targets made of that, which are impenetrable.
(s) Aelian. de Amimal. l. 17. c. 44. Plin. l. 8. c. 10, 20. Vid. Solin. c. 38. Diodor. Sic. l. 3. p. 167. & Strabo. Geograph. l. 16. p. 533. (t) Joseph. Ben Gorion. Hist. Heb. l. 3. c. 20. 1 Maccab. vi. 46. (u) Diodor. Sic. ut supra. (l. 3. p. 167) Plin. l. 8. c. 25. (w) Ptolem. Geograph. l. 7. c. 2. Fragment. Ctesiae ad Calcem Herodot. p. 701. Ed. Gronov. Boius apud Kircher. China cum Momument. p. 193. (x) Herodot. ut supra. (p. 701) Aristot. Hist. Animal. l. 2. c. 7. Plin. l. 11. c. 39. (y) Travels, part 1. c. 72. (z) Dampier's Voyages, vol. 2. part 2. p. 105. (a) Heliodor. Ethiop. Hist. l. 9. c. 18. (b) Nat. Hist. l. 11. c. 39. Vid. Vossium in Melam. de Situ Orbis, l. 1. c. 5. p. 28.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
16. navel—rather, "muscles" of his belly; the weakest point of the elephant, therefore it is not meant.
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