Lo, I pray thee, Behemoth, that I made with thee: Grass as an ox he eateth.
Job 40:15 Additional TranslationsClarke's Commentary on the Bible
Behold now behemoth - The word בהמות behemoth is the plural of בהמה behemah, which signifies cattle in general, or graminivorous animals, as distinguished from חיתו chayetho, all wild or carnivorous animals. See Genesis 1:24. The former seems to mean kine, horses, asses, sheep, etc., and all employed in domestic or agricultural matters; the latter, all wild and savage beasts, such as lions, bears, tigers, etc.: but the words are not always taken in these senses.
In this place it has been supposed to mean some animal of the beeve kind. The Vulgate retains the Hebrew name; so do the Syriac and Arabic. The Chaldee is indefinite, translating creature or animal. And the Septuagint is not more explicit, translating by θηρια, beasts or wild beasts; and old Coverdale, the cruell beaste, perhaps as near to the truth as any of them. From the name, therefore, or the understanding had of it by the ancient versions, we can derive no assistance relative to the individuality of the animal in question; and can only hope to find what it is by the characteristics it bears in the description here given of it.
These, having been carefully considered and deeply investigated both by critics and naturalists, have led to the conclusion that either the elephant, or the hippopotamus or river-horse, is the animal in question; and on comparing the characteristics between these two, the balance is considerably in favor of the hippopotamus. But even here there are still some difficulties, as there are some parts of the description which do not well suit even the hippopotamus; and therefore I have my doubts whether either of the animals above is that in question, or whether any animal now in existence be that described by the Almighty.
Mr. Good supposes, and I am of the same opinion, that the animal here described is now extinct. The skeletons of three lost genera have actually been found out: these have been termed palaeotherium, anoplotherium, and mastodon or mammoth. From an actual examination of a part of the skeleton of what is termed the mammoth, I have described it in my note on Genesis 1:24.
As I do not believe that either the elephant or the river-horse is intended here, I shall not take up the reader's time with any detailed description. The elephant is well known; and, though not an inhabitant of these countries, has been so often imported in a tame state, and so frequently occurs in exhibitions of wild beasts, that multitudes, even of the common people, have seen this tremendous, docile, and sagacious animal. Of the hippopotamus or river-horse, little is generally known but by description, as the habits of this animal will not permit him to be tamed. His amphibious nature prevents his becoming a constant resident on dry land.
The hippopotamus inhabits the rivers of Africa and the lakes of Ethiopia: feeds generally by night; wanders only a few miles from water; feeds on vegetables and roots of trees, but never on fish; lays waste whole plantations of the sugar-cane, rice, and other grain. When irritated or wounded, it will attack boats and men with much fury. It moves slowly and heavily: swims dexterously; walks deliberately and leisurely over head into the water; and pursues his way, even on all fours, on the bottom; but cannot remain long under the water without rising to take in air. It sleeps in reedy places; has a tremendous voice, between the lowing of an ox and the roaring of the elephant. Its head is large; its mouth, very wide; its skin, thick and almost devoid of hair; and its tail, naked and about a foot long. It is nearly as large as the elephant, and some have been found seventeen feet long. Mr. Good observes: "Both the elephant and hippopotamus are naturally quiet animals; and never interfere with the grazing of others of different kinds unless they be irritated. The behemoth, on the contrary, is represented as a quadruped of a ferocious nature, and formed for tyranny, if not rapacity; equally lord of the floods and of the mountains; rushing with rapidity of foot, instead of slowness or stateliness; and possessing a rigid and enormous tail, like a cedar tree, instead of a short naked tail of about a foot long, as the hippopotamus; or a weak, slender, hog-shaped tail, as the elephant."
The mammoth, for size, will answer the description in this place, especially Job 40:19 : He is the chief of the ways of God. That to which the part of a skeleton belonged which I examined, must have been, by computation, not less than twenty-five feet high, and sixty feet in length! The bones of one toe I measured, and found them three feet in length! One of the very smallest grinders of an animal of this extinct species, full of processes on the surface more than an inch in depth, which shows that the animal had lived on flesh, I have just now weighed, and found it, in its very dry state, four pounds eight ounces, avoirdupois: the same grinder of an elephant I have weighed also, and found it just two pounds. The mammoth, therefore, from this proportion, must have been as large as two elephants and a quarter. We may judge by this of its size: elephants are frequently ten and eleven feet high; this will make the mammoth at least twenty-five or twenty-six feet high; and as it appears to have been a many-toed animal, the springs which such a creature could make must have been almost incredible: nothing by swiftness could have escaped its pursuit. God seems to have made it as the proof of his power; and had it been prolific, and not become extinct, it would have depopulated the earth. Creatures of this kind must have been living in the days of Job; the behemoth is referred to here, as if perfectly and commonly known.
He eateth grass as an ox - This seems to be mentioned as something remarkable in this animal: that though from the form of his teeth he must have been carnivorous, yet he ate grass as an ox; he lived both on animal and vegetable food.
Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
behemoth. or, the elephant, as some think (The Hebrew word is probably the same as the Egyptian Pehemou, Pehemout, (from P, the article, ehe, a bull and mout, water:) the hippopotamus, or river horse. It is nearly as large as the elephant; its head is enormously large, its mouth very wide, the jaws extending upwards of two feet, armed with four cutting teeth, each twelve inches long; its hide is so tough and so thick as to resist the strokes of a sabre, and it thinly covered with hair of lightish colour; its legs are three feet long; though amphibious, its hoofs, which are quadrified??, are unconnected; and its tail is naked, about a foot in length, but exceedingly thick and strong. It inhabits the rivers of Africa; feeds on grass and other vegetables; moves slowly and heavily; swims dexterously; sleeps in reedy places; has a tremendous voice between the lowing of the ox and the roar of the elephant; and when irritated, will attack boats and men with fury.)
Genesis 1:24-26 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing...
Job 40:20 Surely the mountains bring him forth food, where all the beasts of the field play.
Job 39:8 The range of the mountains is his pasture, and he searches after every green thing.
Psalm 104:14 He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth;
Job 40:15 Parallel CommentariesBeast Eateth Eats Feeds Food Grass Great OxBeast Eateth Eats Feeds Food Grass Great OxTHE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica®.
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