In the first part of God’s reply to Job, He pointed out that Job really didn’t know anything. Compared to God who has created, named, and sustained the stars, Job really knew nothing. And that is how Job responded: he put his hand over his mouth. In the second and final section, God asks Job if he is in a position take over as God? He then talks about two fierce creatures that He had made and asked Job how he would match up with them.
- Are you in a position to take over as God? (40:6-14)
Job had made some strong statements about how God was doing things. He had said that he him was righteous and not deserving of the suffering he was going through. He had impugned God’s character by suggesting that God was not doing His job right. And Job wanted to talk with God about doing things better. Wow! Spurred on by his friends’ accusations, Job had gone off the deep end. So God chose to confront Job’s wrong thinking.
With a series of questions, God confronted Job’s wrong attitude toward Him. Job had questioned God’s justice in allowing him to go through such suffering. However, God didn’t even address Job’s questions. Instead, He asked Job if he could annul God’s judgments, condemn God, be stronger than God, or speak like Him. “The word ‘condemn’ is the word rasa, ‘to act wickedly or to condemn as wicked.’ This is an amazing reprimand by God, for this verb has occurred several times already in the Book of Job.”1 Was this what Job wanted to say to God!?
God knew that Job could not do these things, but He challenged Job to take His place as God. “Defaming God, as Job had done, was in essence a usurping of divine authority, and attempt to put himself in God’s place. So, as God reasoned, if Job wanted the job of world Ruler, then he would need to prove he was qualified.”2 He told him to make himself majestic and glorious, to display his wrath against the proud, and to trample down the wicked. As soon as Job accomplished those things, God would confess to him that he was able to save himself. In other words, God was telling Job to sit down and shut his mouth. He had stepped over the line in his comments and needed to be put in his place.
- Are you stronger than creatures I have made?
While that would have been enough for most of us, God did not stop there. Job had put himself on level with God by telling God that he wasn’t right to make him suffer. To show him his puny strength, God pointed Job to two incredibly strong creatures which He had created. If Job was in a position to argue with God, could he show his strength by facing these creatures?
God’s description of Behemoth does not match any creature existing today. But it must have existed at that time because God referred to it as if Job would know what he was talking about.
• eats grass like an ox
• strong hips and stomach muscles
• large tree-like tail
• strong bones and muscles
• unapproachable with a sword5
• food from the mountains4
• lies in the shade near water
• undisturbed by a raging river
The Behemoth, whatever it was, was something that humans could not fight against. It was something that God had created to show His incredible power.
God’s description of Leviathan does not match any creature existing today. But it must have existed at that time because God referred to it as if Job would know what he was talking about.
• cannot be captured or kept as a pet6
• can’t be caught with harpoons
• You will never forget battling against him.
• Nobody is fierce enough to fight him.
If this creature was so fierce that nobody could fight against it, who would be able to stand against the One who created it? God has existed before all of creation and owes nothing to anyone.
• has limbs and graceful proportions (a sea creature)
• can’t be bridled because of great teeth
• rows of scales with no openings
• fire breathing7
• strong neck
• firm flesh
• his arrival scares the mighty
• weapons cannot harm it
• undersides like pottery shards
• his movements cause a wake
• no fear
The Leviathan, whatever it was, was something that humans could not fight against. It was something that God had created to show His incredible power. While it would be interesting to figure out what creatures these are, that isn’t the point. Job knew what they were and agreed with God’s assessment of their abilities. But what was the point God was making?
“God was … challenging Job to subdue these monsters—a task he obviously could not do—if he wanted to maintain order in God’s universes. Job had been concerned that God had not dealt with evil; so God was showing Job that he was unqualified to take over God’s job.”3
The point being made by God was that Job needed to get off of his high horse and realize how foolish he had been. These two creatures were so powerful that Job could do nothing against them. God, who made these enormous creatures, was greater than them. So, Job needed to remember who God was and how he couldn’t even come close to being like Him or doing His job.
1 Zuck 770.
2 Zuck 771.
3 Zuck 773.
4 Davidson 280. “The verse seems to mean that in order to satisfy his hunger the animal depastures whole mountains, tracts where all the beasts of the field play.”
5 Paul. “The animal is here seen as invincible (v. 19), while in Egypt the hippopotamus was hunted. A favourite tactic was to pierce the nose, forcing the animal to breathe through its opened mouth (figure 1). Following this the fatal blow could be inflicted in the mouth. Egyptian pharaohs were proud of being able to kill a hippopotamus, since this contributed to the praise of their power as an incarnated god.”
6 Paul. “It is unlikely that the animal referred to is a crocodile, because the tongue of this animal is hardly noticeable and also because crocodiles were caught and killed in Egypt. Papyrus Cha (ca. 1430 BC) depicts a man keeping a crocodile under control with a rope that comes from the mouth of the animal. He threatens to kill the crocodile with a knife that he holds in his hand, ready to strike.”
7 Paul. “Both the other verses, though, speak of torches or flames coming from the mouth of the animal. That description fits better with a fire-breathing dragon, as we know them from many oral traditions. Although we have never seen such animals, we do know, however, of other animals that produce hot gasses, electrical currents and light.”
Davidson, A. B., The Book of Job, Cambridge: University Press, 1899.
McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee Vol. II Joshua through Psalms, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982.
Paul, Mart-Jan, “Behemoth and leviathan in the book of Job” as viewed at https://creation.com/behemoth-and-leviathan on 8/9/2023.
Zuck, Roy B., “Job” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary Old Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1989.