|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 23. - Behold, he drinketh up a river, and hasteth not; rather, behold let a river overflow he trembleth not (ἐὰν πλημμύρα γεηται, οὐ μὴ αἰσθηθῇ LXX). As an amphibious animal, the overflowing of a river has no terrors for the hippopotamus. But it would have some terrors for an elephant. He trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth. It is better to translate, he is steadfast (or, confident)' though Jordan swell even to his mouth. "Jordan" probably stands for any large and strong-flowing river. The conjecture that ירדן is a corruption of יר, which often stands for "the Nile," is ingenious, but unnecessary.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Behold, he drinketh up a river, and hasteth not,.... The elephant is indeed a very thirsty animal, and drinks largely; the philosopher (l) says it drinks nine Macedonian bushels at a feeding, and that it will drink fourteen Macedonian measures of water at once, and eight more at noon; but to drink up a river seems to be too great an hyperbole; wherefore the words may be rendered, "Behold, let a river oppress him", or "bear" ever so hard upon him, and come with the greatest force and pressure on him (m), "he hasteth not" to get out of it; or he is not frightened or troubled, as the Targum; which agrees with the river horse, who walks into the river, and proceeds on in it, with the greatest ease and unconcernedness imaginable; now and then lifting up his head above water to take breath, which he can hold a long time; whereas the elephant cannot wade in the water any longer than his trunk is above it, as the philosopher observes (n); and Livy (o) speaks of fear and trembling seizing an elephant, when about to be carried over a river in boats;
he trusteth that he can draw up Jordan in his mouth; so bold and confident he is, and not at all disturbed with its rapidity; or "though Jordan", or rather any descending flowing stream, "gushes into his mouth", so Mr. Broughton: for perhaps Jordan might not be known by Job; nor does it seem to have any connection with the Nile, the seat of the river horse; which has such large holes in its nostrils, and out of which, water being swallowed down, he can throw it with great force. Diodorus Siculus (p) represents it as lying all day in the water, and employing itself at the bottom of it, easy, careless, and unconcerned.
(l) Aristot. ut supra. (l. 9. c. 56.) (m) Vid. Bochart. ut supra, (Apud Hierozic. par. 2. l. 5. c. 14.) col. 766. (n) Aristot. ut supra. (l. 9. c. 56.) Vid Aelian. l. 7. c. 15. (o) Hist. l. 21. c. 28. (p) Bibliothec. l. 1. p. 31. Isidor. Origin. l. 12. c. 6.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
23. Rather, "(Though) a river be violent (overflow), he trembleth not"; (for though living on land, he can live in the water, too); he is secure, though a Jordan swell up to his mouth. "Jordan" is used for any great river (consonant with the "behemoth"), being a poetical generalization (see on Job 40:15). The author cannot have been a Hebrew as Umbreit asserts, or he would not adduce the Jordan, where there were no river horses. He alludes to it as a name for any river, but not as one known to him, except by hearsay.
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