Behemoth. A “behemoth” has the general idea of a very large animal. While this is its idea, the specific animal referred to in the Bible is in question, a bison, or some other animal.
The largeness or large size of the animal is what is the concept. These animals were like elephants only bigger. They move about and anything or anybody in their way is in danger of their weight and size.
Behemoth is mentioned only in Job 40:15-24, “Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox. 16 Lo now, his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly. 17 He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together. 18 His bones are as strong pieces of brass; his bones are like bars of iron. 19 He is the chief of the ways of God: he that made him can make his sword to approach unto him. 20 Surely the mountains bring him forth food, where all the beasts of the field play. 21 He lieth under the shady trees, in the covert of the reed, and fens. 22 The shady trees cover him with their shadow; the willows of the brook compass him about.23 Behold, he drinketh up a river, and hasteth not: he trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth. 24 He taketh it with his eyes: his nose pierceth through snares.”
The word entered the English language with the translation of John Wycliffe in 1382, and the spelling changed for a while but was settled in the King James Version of the Bible in (1611).
The word in Hebrew means a “great animal” with an intensive plural. This is common in Hebrew to intensify a word, which would make it mean, the greatest, largest, and most powerful of the beasts.
Characteristics of the Beast. Job describes the Behemoth as being created along beside man (Job 40:15a); is herbivorous (Job 40:15b); has very strong muscles and bones; and lives in the swamp (Job 40:21). Although many people try to interpret this animal a mythical animal, its mention alongside other common animals would suggest that it is a real animal. The mention of a tail which is like a cedar tree (Job 40:17) would indicate that this animal is probably not an elephant, hippopotamus, or rhinoceros since they all have small short tails.
God says “which I made with thee” (Job 40:15). This phrase is curious because it appears to place the creation of this beast with man somehow. The beasts were made before man as we see in Genesis 1:23-26, 31, but this animal is somehow associated with the creation of man.
Job 40:19 “He is the chief of the ways of God: he that made him can make his sword to approach unto him.” would also seem to make the beast untameable.
Traditions and Ideas. The Jews believed that the Behemoth was the unconquerable primal monster of land, and the leviathan was of the sea, and Ziz was the monster of the sky (wikipedia.com). There is a legend that the Leviathan and the Behemoth will hold a battle at the end of the world, and they will kill each other, and the surviving men will feast on their flesh. The haggadic tradition adds the Ziz to this feast. The Midrash proposes that nobody can kill the behemoth except God who created it.
“There is another Jewish hymn recited on the festival of Shavuot (celebrating the giving of the Torah), known as Akdamut, wherein it says: “…The sport with the Leviathan and the ox (Behemoth)…When they will interlock with one another and engage in combat, with his horns the Behemoth will gore with strength, the fish [Leviathan] will leap to meet him with his fins, with power. Their Creator will approach them with his mighty sword [and slay them both].” Thus, “from the beautiful skin of the Leviathan, God will construct canopies to shelter the righteous, who will eat the meat of the Behemoth [ox] and the Leviathan amid great joy and merriment, at a huge banquet that will be given for them.” Some rabbinical commentators say these accounts are allegorical (Artscroll siddur, p. 719), or symbolic of the end of conflict.” – Wikipedia.com
The Behemoth is mentioned in the book of Enoch, “And that day will two monsters be parted, one monster, a female named Leviathan in order to dwell in the abyss of the ocean over the fountains of water; and (the other), a male called Behemoth, which holds his chest in an invisible desert whose name is Dundayin, east of the garden of Eden.” – 1 Enoch 60:7-8″ It places the behemoth as being masculine, and the leviathan as female.
Identifying the Beast. Most probably the Behemoth was a dinosaur (sauropod) which had a large tail fitting this description. “Cedar trees” in the Bible always have the idea of strong, high (tall) tree, and very large (Psa 92:12; Isa 2:13; 37:24; Eze 17:22; 31:3; Amos 2:9). These cedar trees in Israel are juniper-like trees, probably the “Cedrus libani” (Lebanon Cedar), and they grow 40 meters tall, and can have a diameter of greater than 3 meters.
The arguments against a sauropod is that the fossils that we have of them today do not have molars for chewing the cud like a ox, and that they are hatched from eggs (oviparous), and thus would not have a navel. The word for navel [sharir] perhaps can be translated “belly” (firm or hard) instead of what we think of as a navel, and indicates its strength is in the hard muscles of its belly. This word is in the plural, which does not necessarily mean it had more than one, because the Hebrew uses the plural to mean an amplification of the quality or thing which it is applied to. This would mean that the strength of its muscles was extreme.
Scientists have found dinosaur bones that dwarf elephant bones which they call “Baluchitherium” which looks something like a hornless rhinoceros. The Baluchitherium had a head 5 feet long and stood 18 feet at the shoulder (“The Fossil Book”, Fenton, page 406) and was about 25 feet long (“Historical Geology”, Dunbar page 413). “It was the LARGEST OF ALL LAND MAMMALS” (“Time, Life, and Man”, Stirton, page 325). It is said that the Baluchitherium was the fastest of these great land animals (elephants, rhinoceroses) because of his long legs (“The Wonder Books”, Janssen & Cole, page 324). This animal also has huge bones (“Time, Life, and Man”, Stirton, page 325″).
Dinosaurs in the Bible. Did you know that the word “dinosaur” wasn’t invented until 1841? The distinction that we make of a “dinosaur” being prehistoric didn’t exist before the 19th century, and usually people considered them being ancient “dragons”. Both the concept of dragons and beasts fitting the appearance of dinosaurs are common in old cultures, and pictures in caves of men and dinosaurs would seem to be obvious evidence that they coexisted if it were not for evolution.
Behemoth. Behemoth could mean elephant, crocodile, hippopotamus, water buffalo, or mythological monster. The word appears in (Job 40:15), where God humbles Job by praising two of His creations, behemoth and Leviathan. Hippopotamus is the best choice for the precise meaning of behemoth. Hippos submerge themselves in rivers and bask in cool marshes. Yet they can climb up riverbanks and hillsides, devouring vegetation. An angered hippo can bite a man in half or crush a canoe with his enormous jaws.
Behemoth, is generally translated by “great beasts”; in its wider signification it includes all mammals living on earth, but in the stricter sense is applied to domesticated quadrupeds at large. However in Job, xl, 10, where it is left untranslated and considered as a proper name, it indicates a particular animal. The description of this animal has long puzzled the commentators. Many of them now admit that it represents the hippopotamus, some Young Earth Creationists think it’s a dinosaur like the Apatosaurus or the Brachiosaurus, so well known to the ancient Egyptians; it might possibly correspond as well to the rhinoceros.