|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 17. - He moveth his tail like a cedar. The tail of the hippopotamus is remarkably short and thick. It only bends slightly, being stiff and unyielding, like the stem of a cedar. The sinews of his stones (rather, of his thighs) are wrapped together; or, interwoven one with another (so Professor Lee and Mr. Houghton).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
He moveth his tail like a cedar,.... To which it is compared, not for the length and largeness of it; for the tail both of the elephant and of the river horse is short; though Vartomannus (c) says, the tail of the elephant is like a buffalo's, and is four hands long, and thin of hair: but because of the smoothness, roundness, thickness, and firmness of it; such is the tail of the river horse, being like that of a hog or boar (d); which is crooked, twisted, and which it is said to turn back and about at pleasure, as the word used is thought to signify. Aben Ezra interprets it, "maketh to stand": that is, stiff and strong, and firm like a cedar. One writer (e) speaks of the horse of the Nile, as having a scaly tail; but he seems to confound it with the sea horse. Junius interprets it of its penis, its genital part; to which the Targum in the King's Bible is inclined: and Cicero (f) says, the ancients used to call that the tail; but that of the elephant, according to Aristotle (g), is but small, and not in proportion to the size of its body; and not in sight, and therefore can hardly be thought to be described; though the next clause seems to favour this sense:
the sinews of his stones are wrapped together; if by these are meant the testicles, as some think, so the Targums; the sinews of which were wreathed, implicated and ramified, like branches of trees, as Montanus renders it. Bochart interprets this of the sinews or nerves of the river horse, which having such plenty of them, are exceeding strong; so that, as some report, this creature will with one foot sink a boat (h); I have known him open his mouth, says a traveller (i), and set one tooth on the gunnel of a boat, and another on the second strake from the keel, more than four feet distant, and there bite a hole through the plank, and sink the boat.
(c) Navigat. l. 4. c. 9. (d) Aristot. Plin. Solin. & Isidore ut supra. (See Job 40:16.) (e) Nicet. Choniat. apud Fabrit. Gr. Bibliothec. vol. 6. p. 410. (f) Epist. l. 9. Ephesians 22. (g) Hist. Amimal. l. 2. c. 1.((h) Apud Hierozoic, par. 2. l. 5. c. 14. col. 758. (i) Dampier's Voyages, vol. 2. part 2. p. 105.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
17. like a cedar—As the tempest bends the cedar, so it can move its smooth thick tail [Umbreit]. But the cedar implies straightness and length, such as do not apply to the river horse's short tail, but perhaps to an extinct species of animal (see on Job 40:15).
wrapped—firmly twisted together, like a thick rope.
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