15 "Look at Behemoth, which I made just as I made you; it eats grass like an ox. 16 Its strength is in its loins, and its power in the muscles of its belly. 17 It makes its tail stiff like a cedar; the sinews of its thighs are knit together. 18 Its bones are tubes of bronze, its limbs like bars of iron. 19 "It is the first of the great acts of God-- only its Maker can approach it with the sword."
A. Behemoth is usually understood to be some great land animal whom God has subdued. Is there any significance in the words in v.15, "which I made just as I made you?"
B. Why does God emphasize that the one made "like" Job is now eating grass like an ox?
C. VV.16-18 seem to be dual images of strength and virility. Indeed, the description in v.18 could have been the name of an aerobics video that Leviathan cut--"tubes of bronze" or "bars of iron" is like "abs of steel." Why the emphasis on his strength?
D. Continuing with the metaphor in vv.16 and 17, do you see any sexual connotation in the words? Would that shock you if it was there?
E. In what way is Behemoth the first of the great acts of God? In Prov. 8:22, wisdom is called the first of the acts of God. Which is it?
F. In what way can only God approach it with the sword?
G. Do you agree that the language here is more suggestive than precise, more of a stimulus to thought than conducive to giving precise and crisp answers about Behemoth?
20 For the mountains yield food for it where all the wild animals play. 21 Under the lotus plants it lies, in the covert of the reeds and in the marsh. 22 The lotus trees cover it for shade; the willows of the wadi surround it. 23 Even if the river is turbulent, it is not frightened; it is confident though Jordan rushes against its mouth. 24 Can one take it with hooks or pierce its nose with a snare?
A. If God indeed approached Behemoth with the sword and defeated it in primeval times, how is Behemoth now portrayed?
B. V. 24 serves as a transitional verse to 41:1. How so?
C. So, what is the point of God's telling the story of Behemoth, in your judgment?
1 "Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook, or press down its tongue with a cord? 2 Can you put a rope in its nose, or pierce its jaw with a hook? 3 Will it make many supplications to you? Will it speak soft words to you? 4 Will it make a covenant with you to be taken as your servant forever? 5 Will you play with it as with a bird, or will you put it on leash for your girls? 6 Will traders bargain over it? Will they divide it up among the merchants? 7 Can you fill its skin with harpoons, or its head with fishing spears?
A. We know more about Leviathan than we do about Behemoth. He was a great sea creature who opposed God and was defeated (Ps.74:14)--"You crushed the heads of Leviathan; you gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness." Does this seemingly echo 41:6?
B. Leviathan also appears in Is. 27:1--"On that day the Lord with his cruel and great and strong sword will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, Leviathan the twisting serpent, and he will kill the dragon that is in the sea." In this passage does Leviathan appear to be more of a sea or land creature?
C. Finally, in Ps. 104:26, in speaking of the sea, the Psalmist says, "There go the ships, and Leviathan that you formed to sport in it." Now, what is Leviathan depicted as doing?
D. So, the story of Leviathan elsewhere in the Bible emphasizes a creature whom God has subdued, possibly divided up and/or plays with, and now is subservient to God. Does that background help to clarify or explain some of the questions God poses to Job here?
E. I wonder if we can take the questions as indications of what the combat between God and Leviathan looked like. If we try that mental exercise, what was the battle like?
F. The thesis that I would like to work with at this juncture is that Job 40-41 show God conquering great land and sea creatures, who are even more powerful than the beasts of Job 39. Sound right?
We need to do one more study before we ask the final question about the purpose of these two divine speeches. Just as the speeches of Job take us into his mind, however, God's speeches also reveal to us something about how God thinks. How would you characterize the mind of God, at least from what you have seen so far in chs.38-41?