Behemoth and Leviathan, an engraving by
Behemoth and Leviathan, an engraving by William Blake

Behemoth (Hebrew בהמות Bəhēm๔th, Behemot, B'hemot "Beasts; animals"; Arabic بهيموث Bahīmūth or بهموت Bahamūt) is the untranslated name of an amphibious animal mentioned in the Book of Job, 40:15-24. Suggestions as to his identity include a hippopotamus, a water buffalo, a crocodile, and a dinosaur.

Most probably, בהמות bəhēm๔th is plural for בהמה bəhēmāh, meaning "animals" in Hebrew, this structure (pluralis excellentieae, used to express greatness by means of pluralizing the noun) indicates that behemoth is the largest and most powerful animal. Behemoth is the primal unconquerable monster of the land, as Leviathan is the primal monster of the waters of the sea, for this is no mere giant hippopotamus but "He is the first [Authorized Version "chief"] of the ways of God." (Job 40:14)

Some readers see a hippopotamus also in Isaiah 30:6 (bahamot negeb "beasts of the south").

According to midrash recording traditions, it is impossible for anyone to kill a behemoth except for the person who created it, in this case YHWH. 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. The Hebrew behemoth is equated with the Persian Hadhayosh, as the leviathan is with the Kar and the ziz with the Simurgh.

The text from the Book of Job 40 (King James Version Bible) is as follows:

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.
23 Behold, he drinketh up a river, [and] hasteth not: he trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth.
24 He taketh it with his eyes: [his] nose pierceth through snares.

Metaphorically, the name has come to be used for any extremely large or powerful creature.

Behemoth in pop culture

  • In the Japanese anime series Big O, the Megadeus of the same name was compared to Behemoth. Also in an episode, there was Megadeus named 'Behemoth' that briefly appeared in the finale.

External links

es:Behemot he:בהמות (חיה מיתולוגית) ja:ベヒモス nl:Behemoth pl:Behemot zh:比蒙


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