The word behemoth means any creature or thing of monstrous size or power. In Job 40:15-24, a mysterious creature is described. It is called a Behemoth. It is described to eat grass like an ox (v. 15), makes its tail move like cedar (v. 17), and its bones are like iron (v. 18). The rest of the chapter goes on to describe the creature’s personality.
Some strict creationists believe that the description of this creature best fits a sauropod–one of the long-necked, four-legged dinosaurs informally known as “brontosaurs. The strict creationists believe it was a dinosaur because they interpret the tail in verse 17 to be the size of a cedar.
Most scholars believe the creature may be an elephant or hippopotamus. Both of these animals fit the description and live in the region where it is believed Job was living. Again, verse 17 causes problems with this theory as well. Scholars note that the Hebrew term usually translated “tail” here can, and sometimes did, refer euphemistically to the genitalia of a male elephant or hippo; each have a penis that when erect, extends several feet in length. Those favoring this view note that the term for “move” can also mean “extend,” that the preceding verse describes strength being in the loins, and the verse that follows describes “stones wrapped in sinew,” which arguably refers to the animal’s testicles.
As we have established in class, the Bible is full of figurative language. A Behemoth may not have been a real creature but a figure of the writer’s imagination.