The Meaning Of “Behemoth” And “Leviathan” In Job -- By: René A. López
BSac 173:692 (October-December 2016) p. 401
The Meaning Of “Behemoth” And “Leviathan” In Job
René A. López is Assistant Professor of New Testament, Liberty University, Lynchburg, Virginia, and Adjunct Professor, Grace School of Theology, The Woodlands, Texas, and Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas.
Examination of four prominent theories about the identities of Behemoth and Leviathan in Job finds that they represent evil in general or Satan.
Anyone engaged in wisdom studies quickly discovers that the book of Job “is a unique literary masterpiece.”1 Part of this literary masterpiece appears as Yahweh’s second speech, encompassing Job 40-41. Some may expect the Lord’s speech, coming just before the epilogue, would resolve the book’s major conflict (i.e., why do “the righteous” suffer?) and leave the reader “with a sense of completion and satisfaction.” David Wolfers says otherwise, “Instead, after a promising opening, it tails away into a wordy description of two beasts, Behemoth and Leviathan.”2 But does the identification of these two “ambiguous” creatures help in understanding the overarching dilemma of suffering, without impugning God’s character? Answering this question becomes vital to understanding the book in relation to people suffering, Satan, and God, a threefold thread running through Scripture.
Identifying the two beasts known as בְּהֵמוֹת and לִוְיָתָן has been “a long-standing tug-of-war among scholars”3 that surprisingly at one level may be irrelevant to answering the book’s main issues of theodicy
BSac 173:692 (October-December 2016) p. 402
and suffering.4 Nevertheless, at another level, it is relevant to understanding God, suffering, and how to respond, since man’s deification of himself above God5 seems to be directly related to understanding the meaning of these two creatures and how they are used to humble Job6 and the book’s readers and present God’s character and attribute of patience in the clearest light.7
Four major interpretations attempt to decipher the meaning of Behemoth and Leviathan: (1) They are physical animals. (2) They ar...
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