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Behemoth and Leviathan, watercolour by William Blake from his Illustrations of the Book of Job.

Behemoth (Hebrew בהמות, behemot; Arabic بهيموث bahīmūth, or بهموت bahamūt), pronounced /bɨˈhiməθ/ or, /bɛɪəmɔθ/ in some translations of the Bible, is a biblical creature mentioned in the Book of Job, 40:15-24. The word is most likely a plural form of בהמה (bəhēmāh), meaning beast or large animal. It may be an example of pluralis excellentiae, a Hebrew method of expressing greatness by pluralizing a noun; it thus implies that Behemoth is the largest and most powerful animal ever to exist. Metaphorically, the name has come to be used for any extremely large or powerful entity.



The text from the Book of Job 40 (Judaica Press Bible) is as follows:

15 Behold now the behemoth that I have made with you; he eats grass like cattle.
16 Behold now his strength is in his loins and his power is in the navel of his belly.
17 His tail hardens like a cedar; the sinews of his tendons are knit together.
18 His limbs are as strong as copper, his bones as a load of iron.
19 His is the first of God's ways; [only] his Maker can draw His sword [against him].
20 For the mountains bear food for him, and all the beasts of the field play there.
21 Does he lie under the shadows, in the cover of the reeds and the swamp?
22 Do the shadows cover him as his shadow? Do the willows of the brook surround him?
23 Behold, he plunders the river, and [he] does not harden; he trusts that he will draw the Jordan into his mouth.
24 With His eyes He will take him; with snares He will puncture his nostrils.

The passage describes Behemoth in this way: it was created along with man (40:15a), it is herbivorous (40:15b), it has strong muscles and bones, and it lives in the swamps (40:21).

In Jewish belief, Behemoth is the primal unconquerable monster of the land, as Leviathan is the primal monster of the waters of the sea and Ziz the primordial monster of the sky. There is a legend that the Leviathan and the Behemoth shall hold a battle at the end of the world. The two will finally kill each other, and the surviving men will feast on their meat. According to midrash recording traditions, it is impossible for anyone to kill a behemoth except for the person who created it, in this case the God of the Hebrews. A later Jewish haggadic tradition furthermore holds that at the banquet at the end of the world, the behemoth will be served up along with the Leviathan and Ziz.

Behemoth also appears in the Apocryphal Book of Enoch, giving the following description of this monster's origins there mentioned as being male, as opposed to the female Leviathan:

"And that day 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

There is another Jewish hymn recited on the festival of Shavuot (celebrating the giving of the Torah), known as Akdamut, wherein it says: "...The sport with the Leviathan and the ox (Behemoth)...When they will interlock with one another and engage in combat, with his horns the Behemoth will gore with strength, the fish [Leviathan] will leap to meet him with his fins, with power. Their Creator will approach them with his mighty sword [and slay them both]." Thus, "from the beautiful skin of the Leviathan, God will construct canopies to shelter the righteous, who will eat the meat of the Behemoth [ox] and the Leviathan amid great joy and merriment, at a huge banquet that will be given for them." Some rabbinical commentators say these accounts are allegorical (Artscroll siddur, p. 719), or symbolic of the end of conflict.


Leviathan, Behemoth and Ziz

Many have interpreted Behemoth as a mythical animal. However, some have attempted to identify it with real animals. In the book of Job, both Behemoth and Leviathan are listed alongside a number of mundane animals, such as goats, eagles, and hawks, leading many Christian scholars to surmise that Behemoth and Leviathan may also be mundane creatures.

Behemoth as depicted in the Dictionnaire Infernal.

Suggested animals include the water buffalo, rhinoceros, crocodile, and the elephant, but the most common suggestion is the hippopotamus.[1] Some readers also identify a hippopotamus in Isaiah's bahamot negeb or "beasts of the south" (30:6).

Others disagree with these identifications, pointing to the fact that the animal's tail "moves like a cedar" (40:17), an unlikely description for any of these animals. Scholars maintaining identification with the elephant say that "tail" could describe an elephant's trunk.[2] Moreover, some suggest that "tail" is a euphemism for male genitalia. Support for this is based on another meaning of the Hebrew word "move" which means "extend" and on the second last part of verse 17 describing the sinew around its "stones" (the Vulgate uses the word "testiculorum").[2]

Young Earth Creationist identification

Some Young Earth Creationists propose that the Behemoth is a dinosaur. Some sort of sauropod is usually proposed since large sauropods had tails "like a cedar". Adherents of the sauropod-behemoth viewpoint hold that the further descriptions given in Job (i.e., bone strength equaling bronze and iron; the use of Hebrew plural to describe a singular specimen), along with the attributive "chief of the ways of God," and the description "like a cedar" (זְנָבוֹ כְמוֹ-אָרֶז z'navo kamo arez) to describe the tail itself point to an animal of immense proportions; hence a sauropod or equivalent. Some however argue that the references to a cedar-like tail refer to bristles resembling the cedar's needle-like leaves which are present on the tails of elephants and hippopotamus.[3]

Critics argue that according to the fossil record, and the spoon or pencil-shaped teeth of the sauropods themselves, sauropods were tree-browsers that lived 225 million years ago, and went extinct some 65 million years ago. Furthermore, they cite that the earliest grass fossils date to the late Cretaceous,[4] at which time the sauropods were already in decline; as such, critics insist that Sauropods would pre-date the appearance and rise of both people and grasses.

Critics also note that, according to the Biblical text, the Behemoth is said to eat grass in the manner of an ox, meaning it would chew cud; a requirement of such behaviour is the possession of molar teeth, an attribute sauropods lacked. The spoon or pencil-shaped teeth of sauropods allowed them to pull vegetation into their mouths, then to be swallowed. It may also be noted that the hippopotamus does not chew cud as it is not a ruminant artiodactyl. Critics also argue that the description of the creature possessing a navel (Job 40:16) in the King James Version also contradicts the sauropod hypothesis, because sauropods were oviparous.

In response to these objections, creationists argue that the Hebrew term used in Job for ox (baqar) can denote any classification of (presumably domesticated) herding animals that were common at the time of writing.[citation needed] According to Strong,[5] the Hebrew word ׁשר (shôr) means a twisted string, specifically the umbilical cord. Shôr also has a figurative meaning as the centre of strength. More recent translations such as the New American Standard Bible state "Behold now, his strength in his loins and his power in the muscles of his belly" (Job 40:16).[6]

Other cultures

The Hebrew behemoth is sometimes equated with the Persian Hadhayosh, as the Leviathan is with the Kar and the Ziz with the Simurgh. The Arabic behemoth is known by the name Bahamut, a vast fish that supports the earth. Bahamut is sometimes described as having a head resembling a hippopotamus or elephant. In Russian and Ukrainian, behemoth (бегемот) means hippopotamus.

Literary references

Classicist philosopher Thomas Hobbes named Long Parliament as Behemoth in his book Behemoth. It accompanies his book of political theory that draws on the lessons of that civil war, the rather more famous Leviathan. It is also the name of a character in Mikhail Bulgakov's novel, The Master and Margarita.

See also


  1. ^ Metzeger & Coogan (1993) Oxford Companion to the Bible, p76.
  2. ^ a b Mitchell (1987)
  3. ^ Bright, Michael (2006). Beasts of the Field: The Revealing Natural History of Animals in the Bible. pp. 346. ISBN 1861058314. 
  4. ^ The Earliest Remains of Grasses in the Fossil Record
  5. ^ "Strong's Concordance"
  6. ^ NASB - Job 40:15-24


  • Metzeger, Bruce M. (ed); Michael D. Coogan (ed) (1993). The Oxford Companion to the Bible. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-504645-5. 
  • Mitchell, Stephen, 1987. The Book of Job. San Francisco: North Point Press. Cited in R. T. Pennock, 1999, Tower of Babel, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

BEHEMOTH (the intensive plural of the Hebrew b'hemah, a beast), the animal mentioned in the book of Job (ch. xl. 15),. probably the hippopotamus, which in ancient times was found in Egypt below the cataracts of Syene. The word may be used in Job as typical of the primeval king of land animals, as leviathan of the water animals. The modern use expresses the idea of a very large and strong animal.

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From Hebrew בהמות (Bəhēmôth), the name of a creature mentioned in the Book of Job (XL.xv). It is most likely a plural form of בהמה (bəhēmāh), animal). It may be an example of pluralis excellentiae, a Hebrew method of expressing greatness by pluralizing a noun; it thus indicates that Behemoth is the largest and most powerful animal. It is also suspected that it is derived from the ancient Egyptian name for the hippopotamus, 'p-ehe-mau', which literally translates as "water ox." [1] The word entered into Middle English at around the 14th century from late Latin.





behemoth (plural behemoths)

  1. A great and mighty beast described in Job 40:15-24 used to illustrate God's mightiness.
  2. A great and mighty monster.
  3. Something which has the qualities of great power and might, and monstrous proportions.



  • 1611King James Version of the Bible, Job 40:15-18
    Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox.
    Lo now, his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly.
    He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together.
    His bones are as strong pieces of brass; his bones are like bars of iron.
  • 2001Eoin Colfer, Artemis Fowl, p 58
    Next she doused the smouldering troll with the contents of the restaurant's fire extinguisher, hoping the icy powder wouldn't revive the sleeping behemoth.


Derived terms

See also

Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

(Job 40:15). Some have supposed this to be an Egyptian word meaning a "water-ox." The Revised Version has here in the margin "hippopotamus," which is probably the correct rendering of the word. The word occurs frequently in Scripture, but, except here, always as a common name, and translated "beast" or "cattle."

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

what mentions this? (please help by turning references to this page into wiki links)

Name of gigantic beast or monster described in Job xl. The plural form of "behemah"="beast."


—Biblical Data:

Ever since Bochart ("Hierozoicon," iii. 705), "behemoth" has been taken to denote the hippopotamus; and Jablonski, to make it correspond exactly with that animal, compared an Egyptian form, "p-ehe-mu" (= "water-ox"), which, however, does not exist. The Biblical description contains mythical elements, and the conclusion is justified that this monsters was not real, though the hippopotamus may have furnished in the main the data for the description. Only of a unique being, and not of a common hippopotamus, could the words of Job 40:19 have been used: "He is the first [A. V. "chief"] of the ways of God [comp. Prov 8:22]; he that made him maketh sport with him" (as the Septuagint reads, πεποιημένον ἐγκαταπαιζέσΘαι; A. V. "He that made him can make his sword to approach unto him"; comp. Ps 10426); or "The mountains bring him forth food; where all the beasts of the field do play" (Job 40:20). Obviously behemoth is represented as the primeval beast, the king of all the animals of the dry land, while leviathan is the king of all those of the water, both alike unconquerable by man (ib. xl. 14, xli. 17-26). Gunkel ("Schöpfung und Chaos," p. 62) suggests that behemoth and leviathan were the two primeval monsters corresponding to Tiamat (= "the abyss"; comp. Hebr. "tehom") and Kingu (= Aramaic "'akna" = serpent") of Babylonian mythology. Some commentators find also in Isa 30:6 ("bahamot negeb" = "beasts of the south") a reference to the hippopotamus; others again, in Ps 7322 ("I am as behemoth [="beasts"; A. V. "a beast"] before thee"); but neither interpretation has a substantial foundation. It is likely that the leviathan and the behemoth were originally referred to in Hab 2:15: "the destruction of the behemoth [A. V. "beasts"] shall make them afraid" (comp. LXX., "thee" instead of "them").

—In Apocryphal Literature:

Both leviathan and behemoth are prominent in Jewish eschatology. In the Book of Enoch (lx. 7-9), Enoch says: "On that day [the day of judgment] two monsters will be produced: a female monster, named 'Leviathan,' to dwell in the depths of the ocean over the fountains of the waters; but the male is called 'Behemoth,' who occupies with his breast a waste wilderness named 'Dendain' [read "the land of Naid" after LXX., ἐν γη Ναί&#948, Gen 4:16], on the east of the garden, where the elect and the righteous dwell. And I besought that other angel that he should show me the might of these monsters; how they were produced on one day, the one being placed in the depth of the sea and the other in the main land of the wilderness. And he spake to me: 'Thou son of man, dost seek here to know what is hidden?'"

According to 4 Ez 6:49ff, God created on the fifth day the two great monsters, leviathan and behemoth, and He separated them because the seventh part of the world which was assigned to the water could not hold them together, and He gave to the behemoth that part which was dried up on the third day and had the thousand mountains which, according to Ps 110, as understood by the haggadists ("the behemoth [A. V. "cattle"] upon a thousand hills"; comp. Lev. R. xxii.; Num. R. xxi.; and Job 40:20), furnish behemoth with the necessary food. To the leviathan God gave the seventh part of the earth filled with water; and He reserved it for the future to reveal by whom and at what time the leviathan and the behemoth should be eaten.

In the Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch, xxix. 4, also, the time is predicted when the behemoth will come forth from his seclusion on land and the leviathan out of the sea, and the two gigantic monsters, created on the fifth day, will serve as food for the elect who will survive in the days of the Messiah.

Among the Gnostics.

Behemoth and leviathan form in the Gnostic system of the Ophites and others two of the seven circles or stations which the soul has to pass in order to be purged and to attain bliss (Hippolytus, "Adversus Omnes Hæreses," v. 21; Origen, "Contra Celsum," vi. 25). As if the meat of the "wild ox" behemoth and the fish leviathan were not deemed sufficient for the great banquet of the righteous in the future, a fowl was added, i.e., the "ziz" (A. V. "the wild beasts" of the field), mentioned in Psalm 1. 11 after the account of the behemoth in verse 10, and understood by the Rabbis to signify a gigantic bird (B. B. 73b). Thus the Apocalypse of Simeon b. Yoḥai (Jellinek, "B. H." iii. 76) has the three animals, the monster ox behemoth, the fish leviathan, and the gigantic bird ziz, prepared for the great banquet. This tradition, however, indicates Persian influence, for it is of the Parsee cosmology that the existence of such primeval representatives of the classes of animals is a part. There are four such species mentioned in "Bundahis," xviii.-xix.: (1) "the serpent-like Kar fish, the Arizh of the water, the greatest of the creatures of Ahuramazda," corresponding to the leviathan; (2) the three-legged ass Khara, standing in the midst of the ocean ("Yasna," xli. 28); it is mentioned in the Talmud as the "unicorn ḳeresh," "ṭigras" (i.e., "thrigaṭ" = "three-legged"), the gazel of the heights (Ḥul. 59b), and forms, under the name "Ḥarish," in Mohammedan eschatology a substitute for behemoth and leviathan (see Wolff, " Muhammedanische Eschatologie," 1872, pp. 174, 181); (3) the ox Hadhayosh, from which the food of immortality is prepared, and which forms the parallel of behemoth; and (4) the bird Chamrosh, the chief of the birds, which lives on the summit of Mount Alburz (comp. "Bundahis," xix. 15); compare also Simurgh (Avesta "Saena Meregha," eagle-bird, griffin, Hebraized "Bar Yokneh"), the fabulous giant-bird, which the Rabbis identified with ziz (see Windischman, "Zoroastrische Studien," pp. 91-93; West, "Pahlavi Texts," in Max Müller, "S. B. E." v. 65-71).


  • The commentaries of Dillmann, Delitzsch, and others on Job;
  • Gunkel, Schöpfung und Chaos, Göttingen, 1895;
  • Eisenmenger, Entdecktes Judenthum, ii. 296 et seq., 873 et seq.;
  • Weber, System der Altsynagogalen Theologie, 1880, p. 195;
  • Hastings, Dict. Bible;
  • Cheyne and Black, Encyc. Bibl.
This entry includes text from the Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906.

Simple English

Origin Gdańsk, Poland
Genres Black metal[1][2] (early)
Blackened death metal
Years active 1991–present
Labels Metal Blade Records, Nuclear Blast, Pagan Records, Avantgarde Music, Regain Records, Century Media Records
Adam Darski
Tomasz Wróblewski
Zbigniew Robert Promiński
Patryk Dominik Sztyber

Behemoth is a black / death metal band from Danzig, Poland [3]. Their early albums were black metal, but later they switched to a mixture of death metal and black metal.


  • Sventevith (Storming Near the Baltic) (1995)
  • Grom (1996)
  • Pandemonic Incantations (1998)
  • Satanica (1999)
  • Thelema.6 (2000)
  • Zos Kia Cultus (Here and Beyond) (2002)
  • Demigod (2004)
  • The Apostasy (2007)
  • At the Arena ov Aion – Live Apostasy (2008)
  • Evangelion (2009)


  1. Demigod review at Popmatters
  2. The Apostasy review at JustPressPlay
  3. Band bio on

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