Hippo or dinosaur?

Ok, if forced to make a decision do you believe the Bible talks about dinosaurs or not?  Come on – stand up and be counted?  Which is it?

Today’s Reading:  Job 40:6-42:17 contains two descriptions of two animals the Behemoth and the Leviathan.  That is today’s question – what are they?

Behemoth – Job 40: 15 – 24 NLT

15 “Take a look at Behemoth,
      which I made, just as I made you.
      It eats grass like an ox.
16 See its powerful loins
      and the muscles of its belly.
17 Its tail is as strong as a cedar.
      The sinews of its thighs are knit tightly together.
18 Its bones are tubes of bronze.
      Its limbs are bars of iron.
19 It is a prime example of God’s handiwork,
      and only its Creator can threaten it.
20 The mountains offer it their best food,
      where all the wild animals play.
21 It lies under the lotus plants,
      hidden by the reeds in the marsh.
22 The lotus plants give it shade
      among the willows beside the stream.
23 It is not disturbed by the raging river,
      not concerned when the swelling Jordan rushes around it.
24 No one can catch it off guard
      or put a ring in its nose and lead it away.

To some it appears the author is describing a hippopotamus.


Others say it is not a hippo but some sort of dinosaur- a key reason is found in verse 17 where it says that the tail is as strong as a cedar.  The hippo’s tail would not be considered as strong as a cedar tree trunk, especially a tall cedar of Lebanon.

Leviathan – Job 41:12 – 17 and  22 – 34 NLT

12 “I want to emphasize Leviathan’s limbs
      and its enormous strength and graceful form.
13 Who can strip off its hide,
      and who can penetrate its double layer of armor?[f]
14 Who could pry open its jaws?
      For its teeth are terrible!
15 Its scales are like rows of shields
      tightly sealed together.
16 They are so close together
      that no air can get between them.
17 Each scale sticks tight to the next.
      They interlock and cannot be penetrated.

22 “The tremendous strength in Leviathan’s neck
      strikes terror wherever it goes.
23 Its flesh is hard and firm
      and cannot be penetrated.
24 Its heart is hard as rock,
      hard as a millstone.
25 When it rises, the mighty are afraid,
      gripped by terror.
26 No sword can stop it,
      no spear, dart, or javelin.
27 Iron is nothing but straw to that creature,
      and bronze is like rotten wood.
28 Arrows cannot make it flee.
      Stones shot from a sling are like bits of grass.
29 Clubs are like a blade of grass,
      and it laughs at the swish of javelins.
30 Its belly is covered with scales as sharp as glass.
      It plows up the ground as it drags through the mud.

31 “Leviathan makes the water boil with its commotion. 
      It stirs the depths like a pot of ointment.
32 The water glistens in its wake,
      making the sea look white.
33 Nothing on earth is its equal,
      no other creature so fearless.
34 Of all the creatures, it is the proudest.
      It is the king of beasts.”

Some say that the description of the Leviathan is that of a Crocodile.


Doesn’t it look and read like Job 41 is talking about a crocodile?  Sure it does – but I left out a few verses.  What do these verses add to the conversation…

Job 41:18 – 21 NLT

18 “When it sneezes, it flashes light!
      Its eyes are like the red of dawn.
19 Lightning leaps from its mouth;
      flames of fire flash out.
20 Smoke streams from its nostrils
      like steam from a pot heated over burning rushes.
21 Its breath would kindle coals,
      for flames shoot from its mouth.

The leviathan no longer sounds like a crocodile!  We do not know of any fire breathing animals at all.  Sure we have mythological tales of fire breathing dragons, but whether they came from history, or as a result of these passages is unknown to us.

Of course there are Christian intelligent design and creationists books and websites that will tell you that these were dinosaurs.  They have since become extinct but their inclusion in ancient literature like the Book of Job supports the idea of a young earth creation point of view.

The Definitive Answer

Well, if you really thought I could give you the definitive answer, then you came to the wrong place.  I don’t know what they are or were.  I would support the idea that there are creatures that people knew 3000 + years ago that we know longer know.  We ourselves know that animal species commonly disappear and are no longer seen.  This is even more possible before we had cameras, encyclopedias’ and a strong need to document the animal kingdom.  Is it possible that God created these beings and they walked on earth at the same time as man – of course it is.  That is a sure definitive answer I will give you.  He is God and we are not.

The point of the two chapters are not to describe and document two strange animals.  The point was to show us, that God is the creator of all, able to do what he wants.  Even controlling the biggest beasts of the world.  He challenges Job to compare himself to God.

Job 40:6 – 7 NLT

6 Then the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind:

7 “Brace yourself like a man,
      because I have some questions for you,
      and you must answer them.

The passage then describes the beasts and Job must respond.  Job’s response…

Job 42:1 – 6 NLT

1 Then Job replied to the Lord:

2 “I know that you can do anything,
      and no one can stop you.
3 You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’
      It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about,
      things far too wonderful for me.
4 You said, ‘Listen and I will speak!
      I have some questions for you,
      and you must answer them.’
5 I had only heard about you before,
      but now I have seen you with my own eyes.
6 I take back everything I said,
      and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.”

Therefore the point of the chapters is not so much about created things as it is about the creator.  Whatever those animals are, we did not create them, God did and that puts him in a whole different realm of existence than us.  Let’s make sure we give God his perfect respect, even when we go through the trials of life as Job did.

Photo Credits:  Hippo  gipukan (rob gipman), Crocodile geoftheref

About plimtuna

I am just an average guy trying to find his way along this journey of life. I am definitely middle aged. I am definitely happily married with a wife and two children. Personally, I have a passion for things eternal. Professionally, I have a passion for things that are securely in control.
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One Response to Hippo or dinosaur?

  1. Rapid Roy says:

    I have always loved these verses ! There is no doubt that these awesome and big and amazing creatures were part of man’s world in ancient days. I just watched a movie called “Dragons or Dinosaurs? Creation or Evolution?” where they show that all supposedly isolated ancient peoples have dragon tales in thier history. Most ancient cultures also talk of the great flood as well. If you have not seen that movie.. it is put out by Cloud Ten and very good. Take Care Tim!!

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