Job 40:15

Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox.

Behold, now behemoth,.... The word is plural, and signifies beasts, and may be used to denote the chiefest and largest of beasts, and therefore is commonly understood of the elephant; and certain it is that a single beast is described in the following account, and so the word is rendered, Psalms 73:22; The word is here rendered by the Septuagint yhria, "beasts"; which is the word used by the Greeks {c} for elephants as "belluae", a word of the same signification, is by the Latins {d}: and so the Sabines called an elephant "barrus", and the Indians "barro" {e}, reb, a "beast"; and it may be observed, that ivory is called "shenhabbim", 1 Kings 10:22; that is, "shenhabehim", "behem" or "behemoth" {f}, the tooth of the beast: and it may be also observed, that Seneca {g} says, that the Nile produces beasts like the sea; meaning particularly the crocodile and hippopotamus. Bochart dissents from the commonly received opinion of the elephant being meant; and thinks the "hippopotamus", or river horse, is intended so called from its having a head like a horse; and is said to have a mane, and to neigh like one, and to bear some resemblance to it in its snout, eyes, ears, and back {h}. And the reasons that celebrated author has given for this his opinion have prevailed on many learned men to follow him; and there are some things in the description of behemoth, as will be observed, which seem better to agree with the river horse than with the elephant. It is an amphibious creature, and sometimes lives upon the land, and sometimes in the water; and by various {i} writers is often called a beast and four footed one:

which I made with thee; or as well as thee; it being equally the work of my hands, a creature as thou art: or made on the continent, as than art, so Aben Ezra; and made on the same day man was made; which those observe, who understand it of the elephant; or, which cometh nearest to thee, the elephant being, as Pliny {k} says, the nearest to man in sense; and no beast more prudent, as Cicero {l} affirms. But the above learned writer, who interprets it of the river horse, takes the meaning of this phrase to be; that it was a creature in Job's neighbourhood, an inhabitant of the river Nile in Egypt, to which Arabia joined, where Job lived; which is testified by many writers {m}: and therefore it is thought more probable that a creature near at hand, and known should be instanced in, and not one that it may be was never seen nor known by Job. But both Diodorus Siculus {n} and Strabo {o} speak of herds of elephants in Arabia, and of that as abounding: with them; and of various places called from them, and the hunting of them, and even of men from eating them;

he eateth grass as an one; which is true both of the elephant and of the river horse: that a land animal should eat grass is not so wonderful; but that a creature who lives in the water should come out of it and eat grass is very strange and worthy of admiration, it is observed: and that the river horse feeds in corn fields and on grass many writers {p} assure us; yea, in the river it feeds not on fishes, but on the roots of the water lily, which fishermen therefore use to bait their hooks with to take it. Nor is it unlike an ox in its shape, and in some parts of its body: hence the Italians call it "bomaris", the "sea ox"; but it is double the size of an ox {q}. Olaus Magnus {r} speaks of a sea horse, found between Britain and Norway; which has the head of a horse, and neighs like one; has cloven feet with hoofs like a cow; and seeks its food both in the sea and on the land, and grows to the bigness of an ox, and has a forked tail like a fish.

(See Definition for 0930. Editor)

{c} Suidas in voce yhria. Plutarch in Eumenc.
{d} Terent. Eunuch. Act. 3. Sc. 1. Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 3.
{e} Isidor. Origin. l. 12, c. 2. Vid. Horat. Epod. 12. v. 1.
{f} Hiller. Oaomastic, Sacr. p. 434.
{g} Nat. Quaest. l. 4. c. 2.
{h} Vid. lsidor. Origin. l. 12. c. 6. Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 25. Aristot. Hist. Animal. l. 2. c. 7.
{i} Herodot. Euterpe, sive, l. 2. c. 71. Plin. ib. Ammian, Marcellin. l. 22. Leo African. Descript. African, l. 9. p. 758.
{k} Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 1.
{l} De Natur. Deor. l. 1.
{m} Solin. Polyhist. c. 45. Aelian. de Animal. l. 5. c. 53. Philo de Praemiis, p. 924. Plin. Afric. ut supra. (Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 1.)
{n} Bibliothec. l. 2. p. 136. & l. 3. p. 173, 174, 175.
{o} Geograph. l. 16. p. 531, 533.
{p} Diodor. Sic. l. 1. p. 31. Aelian. Plin. Solin. Ammian. ut supra.
{q} Ludolf. Ethiop. Hist. l. 1. c. 11.
{r} De Ritu Septent. Gent. l. 21. c. 26.