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Bible Dictionaries

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary

Behemoth

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A huge amphibious animal, described in Job 40:15-24 . Commentators are now generally agreed that it is the hippopotamus, or river horse, which is found only in the Nile and other great rivers of Africa. This is a very large, powerful, and unwieldy animal, which lives in the water, but comes out upon the banks to feed on grass, grain, green herbs, and branches of trees. The appearance of the hippopotamus when on land is altogether uncouth, the body being extremely large, flat, and round, the head enormously large in proportion, and the legs as disproportionately short. Then length of a male has been known to be seventeen feet, the height seven feet, and the circumference fifteen; the head three feet; the mouth in width about two feet. The general color of the animal is brownish; the ears small and pointed; the eyes small and black; the lips very thick and broad; the nostrils small. The armament of teeth is its mouth is truly formidable; more particularly the tusks of the lower jaw, which are of a curved form, somewhat cylindrical; these are so strong and hard that they will strike fire with steel, are sometimes more that two feet in length, and weigh upwards of six pounds each. The other teeth are much smaller. The tail is short and thick; and the whole body is protected by a thick and tough hide, which swords and arrows cannot penetrate, thickly covered with short hair.

Mr. Ruppell gives the following graphical account of a combat on the upper Nile.

"One of the hippopotami which we killed was a very old male, and seemed to have reached his utmost growth. He measured, from the snout to the end of the tail, about fifteen feet; and his tusks, from the root to the point, along the external curve, twenty-eight inches. We had a battle with him four hours long, and that too in the night. Indeed, he came very near destroying our large bark; and with it, perhaps, all our lives. The moment he saw the hunters in the small canoe, as they were about to fasten the long rope to the buoy in order to draw him in, he threw himself with on rush upon it, dragged it with him under water, and shattered it to pieces. Out of twenty- five musket ball, which were fired into the monster's head at the distance of five feet, only on penetrated the hind and the bones near the nose; so that, every time he breathed, he snorted a stream of blood upon the bark. All the other balls remained sticking in the thickness of the hide. We had at last to employ a small cannon; but it was only after five of its balls, fired at the distance of a few feet, had mangled most shockingly the head and body of the monster, that he died. This gigantic hippopotamus dragged our large bark at his will in every direction of the stream."


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of the topics are from American Tract Society Bible Dictionary published in 1859.

Bibliography Information
Rand, W. W. Entry for 'Behemoth'. American Tract Society Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/ats/b/behemoth.html. 1859.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, August 14th, 2020
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19
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