“All forest creatures are mine already, as are the animals [behemot] on a thousand hills …” (Psalm 50:10).
The word behemoth is the plural of behemah referring to a ‘beast of burden.’ Behemoth is first among the works of Adonai on the sixth day of creation, and only He can approach the animal with His sword. The physical description of Behemoth, like Leviathan, is given to Job by Elohim (Job 40:15-24). Some consider this animal to be a hippopotamus or an Egyptian water buffalo as it eats grass like an ox, has strength in its loins, and power in its abdominal muscles. The muscles in its thighs are like cables, its bones are like bronze, and its limbs are like iron. He can stiffen his tail like a cedar.
From a spiritual perspective, Behemoth is a ‘beast.’ The mountains produce food for it suggesting that it receives its nourishment from the power hungry nations of the world. It is compared to bronze and iron like the beast nations shown to Daniel in Babylon (Daniel 2).
Behemoth lies down under thorns and is hidden by reeds in the swamp. Because this beast is thought to have Egypt as its origin, Moshe being hidden in the swamp of Egypt in a reed basket could be an allusion.
Lotus bushes shade the beast and it is surrounded by willows by a stream. During the dry season in the Jordan valley, water levels in ponds and streams drop until the dry ground cracks. Lotus seeds and roots remain dormant in the dry ground. When the spring rains come, the lotus puts down its roots in the mud. The leaves and flowers soon appear growing out of the water showing that life that endures in spite of adversity.
He doesn’t worry if the river overflows, he has confidence even if the Jordan rushes by his mouth (Job 40:23).
The Jordan River had to be crossed to enter the Promised Land. It seems that Behemoth hangs out in the desert west of the Jordan. The Hebrew word for ‘river’ in this verse is vadi and is a dry stream or river bed in the desert that fills with water when there is excessive rain. In Hebrew, the word ‘overflowing,’ is ashaq and means ‘to oppress.’ The verse could be more accurately translated, “Behemoth doesn’t worry if he is oppressed, he is [so large and] able to drink a river, even if the Jordan gushes into his mouth.”
“How long must the land mourn and the grass in all the fields wither? The wild animals [behemot] and birds are consumed because of the wickedness of those who live there; for they say, “He will not see how we end up” (Jeremiah 12:4).
The books of Edras and Enoch describe the creation of Behemoth and Leviathan. While Leviathan was given the Abyss, the watery dark regions of the earth; Behemoth was given the dried up parts of the earth, the desert.
“Then you kept in existence two living creatures; the name of one you called Behemoth and the name of the other Leviathan. And you separated one from the other, for the seventh part where the water had been gathered together could not hold them both. And you gave Behemoth one of the parts which had been dried up on the third day, to live in it, where there are a thousand mountains; but to Leviathan you have the seventh part, the watery part; and you have kept them to be eaten by whom you wish, and when you wish” (4 Edras 6:49-52).
“And that day [of judgment] 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).
Hebrew Word Pictures
Behemoth – בהמות
ב Bet is A House and means ‘house’ or ‘family.’
ה Hey is A Window and means ‘reveal.’
מ Mem is Water and means ‘mighty’ or ‘chaos.’
ו Vav is A Nail and means ‘binding.’
תTav is Crossed Sticks and means ‘sign’ or ‘covenant.’
The Hebrew Word Picture for behemoth: house reveals chaos binding covenant.
“By your strength you split the sea in two, in the water you smashed sea monsters’ heads, you crushed the heads of Livyatan and gave it as food to the creatures of the desert” (Psalm 74:13-14).
Behemoth is a ‘sign’ for the final judgment and the binding of chaos. Because Leviathan is split in half, its other half will receive the same judgment. Behemoth will have its ‘head’ crushed –– a ‘shadow’ of what will happen to the Adversary.
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