A Hippopotamus It is Not

The book of Job presents a powerful account detailing the havoc God allowed Satan to wreak in one man’s life in order to demonstrate that physical circumstances can be completely unrelated to a person’s spiritual well-being. The lengthy discussion between Job and his friends provides insight into the assumptions and problems of the ancient doctrinal confusion on this matter, but the book as a whole provides God’s inspired explanation. When God entered the conversation, He took over Elihu’s emphasis on not questioning God’s character or behavior in the midst of suffering. His approach emphasized the weakness of man compared to the power of God to remind Job—and us—that we do not stand on equal footing with God and never will. However, as the LORD questioned Job and pointed to His own power by comparison, He also mentioned various parts of creation as evidence, reasoning that the grandeur, majesty, and power of these things He created proves that He is far greater still. This point is more relevant than ever when we consider the description of a particular animal—the behemoth.

In a lengthy reading in Job 40:15-24 the Bible records God saying, “Look now at the behemoth, which I made along with you; He eats grass like an ox. See now, his strength is in his hips, And his power is in his stomach muscles. He moves his tail like a cedar; The sinews of his thighs are tightly knit. His bones are like beams of bronze, His ribs like bars of iron. He is the first of the ways of God; Only He who made him can bring near His sword. Surely the mountains yield food for him, And all the beasts of the field play there. He lies under the lotus trees, In a covert of reeds and marsh. The lotus trees cover him with their shade; The willows by the brook surround him. Indeed the river may rage, Yet he is not disturbed; He is confident, though the Jordan gushes into his mouth, Though he takes it in his eyes, Or one pierces his nose with a snare” (Job 40:15-24). Without question, this paragraph describes a powerful animal, but what is it? The word “behemoth” is just a transliteration of the Hebrew word meaning “animal” or “beast.” Some translators, along with the Archaeological Study Bible, make suggestions in the footnotes such as “hippopotamus,” “elephant,” or “alligator.” But maybe they should read that passage again!

A hippopotamus most certainly does not move its tail like a cedar tree because its tail could never qualify as a cedar tree, which would miss the whole point of the passage pointing out this animal’s strength. Likewise, an elephant hardly fits this description. While both the hippopotamus and alligator do reside largely in the water, they fall far short of the description offered by God. So what is this beast? If given only the description provided in this text, and without any prejudice, only one animal that has lived could ever fulfill every characteristic. This was a dinosaur. It fits perfectly the description of something along the lines of a titanosaur sauropod such as the Alamosaurus, Puertasaurus, or Argentinosaurus. So what more does this tell us? This perfect description, the reference to man’s failure to hunt it, and Job’s apparent familiarity with it all demonstrate that such beasts not only were contemporaneous with man (as the creation account also shows) but that they lived even after the flood. However, despite how obvious this is, men wish to portray this as something other than a dinosaur to protect the evolutionary narrative. Nevertheless, despite their efforts to twist and contort the text and confuse readers, a hippopotamus it is not.

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