|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 20. - Surely the mountains bring him forth food. Neither the hippopotamus nor the elephant is an inhabitant of "mountains," according to our use of the word. But the harim (הָרִים) of the original is used of very moderate eminences. In the highly poetical language of Job, and especially of this passage, the term may well be applied to the hills on either side of the Nile, which approach closely to the river, and to this day furnish the hippopotamus with a portion of its food (see Hasselquist, ' Travels,' p. 188). Where all the beasts of the field play. By "the beasts of the field" seem to be meant the cattle and other do-mastic animals which are not driven from their pasture-grounds by the "river-horse" (Tristram, 'Nat. Hist. of the Bible,' p. 52).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Surely the mountains bring him forth food,.... Grass, which grows on mountains, and is the food of the river horse as well as of the elephant; and therefore is furnished with teeth like a scythe to mow it down; and it is not a small quantity that will suffice it, mountains only can supply it; and marvellous it is that a creature bred in a river should come out of it to seek its food on mountains. There is a creature in the northern parts, as in Russia, Greenland, &c. which is called morss and sea morss, and by the description of it is much like the river horse, of the size of an ox, and having an head like one, with two large long teeth standing out of its upper jaw, and an hairy skin (a), said to be an inch thick, and so tough that no lance will enter it (b); it comes out of the sea, and by its teeth gets up to the tops of mountains, and having fed on grass rolls itself down again into the sea; and this it does by putting its hinder feet to its teeth, and so falls from the mountain with great celerity, as on a sledge (c);
where all the beasts of the field play; skip and dance, and delight in each other, being in no fear of behemoth; whether understood of the elephant or river horse; since neither of them are carnivorous creatures that feed on other animals, but on grass only; and therefore the beasts of the field may feed with them quietly and securely. Pliny (d) says of the elephant, that meeting with cattle in the fields, it will make signs to them not to be afraid of it, and so they will go in company together.
(a) Olaus Magus ut supra, (De Ritu. Septent. Gent.) l. 21. c. 19. Vid. Bochart. ut supra, (Apud Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 5. c. 14.) col. 763. Eden's Travels, p. 318. (b) See the North West Fox, p. 232. Voyage to Spitzbergen, p. 115, 120. Supplement, p. 194. (c) Olaus Magnus, ut supra, (De Ritu. Septent. Gent. l. 21. c. 19.) & Eden's Travels, ut supra. (p. 318.) (d) Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 7.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
20. The mountain is not his usual haunt. Bochart says it is sometimes found there (?).
beasts … play—a graphic trait: though armed with such teeth, he lets the beasts play near him unhurt, for his food is grass.
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