Lesson to learn from Behemoth, the animal in the book of Job
- Behemoth is probably the strongest and largest animal on land mentioned in the book of Job in the Bible. God mention to Job that Behemoth was one of the important creatures God had made (Job 40:19 "He is the chief of the ways of God"). The description of the behemoth is given in Job 40: 15 "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." (KJV)
The largest and strongest land animals we see today, like elephant, or hippopotamus do not fit well into these descriptions, as none of these have tail which moves (erect) like a cedar tree (In Septuagint (Greek) it reads as: He sets up/erects his tail like a cypress). Since Behemoth eateth grass as an ox, it has to be a land animal and thus can't be the other strong animals we know, such as whales which lives in the water. No animal existing today fits adequately with the description of Behemoth in the book of Job. So this animal may be extinct at an early period of time. Some people believe Behemoth as some type of the extinct dinosaurs in the infraorder Sauropoda (to match with its land and food habitat, and the large size) but some others believe it as an extinct species of rhinoceros called "Baluchitherium" (to match its strong bones, tail and the eating habitat).
Whichever is the real description given by man for this animal; God had a purpose for this animal when he made with the man. God used this unique animal to teach a lesson to Job. Job was a living saint and he lived according to the will of God in every sense, Job could think of. He offered sacrifice everyday on the behalf of his children, fearing that they might have committed sins. He did not let Satan win in his tests; neither did he lose the faith in God, during all the agonies and trials. Job was, absolutely a saint. However, Job was at fault, which was his self-righteousness. (Job 27:6 "My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live"). Self righteousness is one of the characters we see today in many people around us. Many of us, like Job, are sure in our own mind that we are righteous. We are pride in what we do. Many people want to boast about their own life style, about their own prayer life, or about observing fasting, like the Pharisees in Luke 18:11-12. St. Paul teaches us not to be self centered (Philippians 2:4 "Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others"). Many people try to justify everything they do the way they want. All these are part of self righteousness. Self righteousness is something God do not like and thus all of us need to keep away from it. Instead of self righteousness, we should seek the righteousness of God (Mathew 6:33 "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you".
Elihu (son of Barachel the Buzite), who was listening to Job's discussion with his friends, confronts with Job. He asked Job, `Are you more righteous than God?' (Job 35:2). In his self-righteousness, Job had to be brought low. So, God showed Behemoth, the largest of all land animals to teach Job that he really wasn't so supreme after all! God probably created this large creature to make man humble himself and to show that God (who made this huge animal) is greater and mightier than man (Job 36:5 "Behold, God is mighty, and despiseth not any: he is mighty in strength and wisdom"). Job was able to humble and repent in his faults at the end "Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes" (Job 42:6)".
King James Version of the verse Job 40: 19 say "he (Behemoth) that made him can make his `sword' to approach unto him". Different translations of Bible present this verse differently although KJV matches more closely to the Hebrew Bible. The NIV simplifies this to "He ranks first among the works of God, yet his Maker can approach him with his sword". In the Malayalam Peshitto Bible translation by Kaniamparampil achan, it read (when translated into English) as "He is important among the creation of God. He is made to fight". In brief, this verse gives an indication that man can't win a fight against this huge animal, but God can.
The book of Enoch, one of the apocryphal book canonized by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (no other church consider it as canonic) mentions that a Behemoth will be present during the judgment day of Messiah. The Book of Enoch 60: 7-8 "On that day two monsters will be produced: a female monster, named 'Leviathan,' to dwell in the depths of the sea over the fountains of the waters; but the masculine is named 'Behemoth,' who occupies with his breast, a void desert called 'Dendain', in the east of the garden, where the chosen and holy will dwell .". The presence of this animal `Behemoth' together with `Leviathan,' another animal which lives in water, during the coming of Messiah, can also be seen in the Second Book of Baruch, one of the apocryphal (other canonic) books in the Syriac Orthodox Bible. 2 Baruch 29: 3-4 "3And it shall come to pass when all is accomplished that was to come to pass in those parts, that the Messiah shall then begin to be revealed. 4 And Behemoth shall be revealed from his place and Leviathan shall ascend from the sea, those two great monsters which I created on the fifth day of creation, and shall have kept until that time, and then they shall be for food for all that is left". The last part of this verse is in agreement with the Psalms 74:14 "Thou brakest the heads of leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness".
Bible teaches us that, to fight against Satan (devil or 'agelkarutza'), we have to put on the armor of God (Ephesians 6:11 "Put on the whole armour of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil"). Satan can come to us in any form; he came in the form of a snake to Eve (Genesis 3:1). Satan may take the form of Behemoth, the strongest and the other important creature God made with man. To fight against Satan, we should take the `sword' of the God which is the `word' of God (Ephesians 6: 17 "And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God"). As God mentioned in Job 40: 19, the sword of God can fight against the strongest animal in the land, the Behemoth. So, even if Satan comes to us in the form of the strongest animal on land, that is the Behemoth, we will be able to fight against the Satan if we take the `sword' of God (which is the word of God). In the apocalyptical book Revelation, John mentions about two beasts (these creatures are mentioned in a figurative sense in all these books), one beast coming out of the earth and another one from sea (Revelation 13:1 "And I saw a beast coming out of the sea". Rev 13:11 "And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth"). But both these beasts will be cast alive into the lake of fire at the end, by Jesus Christ (Revelation 19:20). Those who put on the armor of God will win the fight against the Satan, who (Satan) may approach in any form (probably as Behemoth or Leviathan or as human being) against men. So, let us do not live in self righteousness, but be humble and put on the armor of God so no creature can destroy us in our life after.
Sinu P. John, PhD
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