Behemoth, commonly known as the hippopotamus: he is the chief of the ways of God

Job 40:15-24 describes a creature called “behemoth”, which is a hippopotamus.

First, this creature eats grass like an ox (ref. Job 40:15). It is a herbivore: it is nourished by vegetation and fruits.

… he eateth grass as an ox.

Job 40:15
Hippos in a zoo eating watermelons

This food grows as a result of rain, and water flow from mountains, which creates rivers (ref. Job 40:20).

Surely the mountains bring him forth food, where all the beasts of the field play.

Job 40:20

Second, the strength of a hippopotamus is in his loins, and its force is in the navel of its belly (ref. Job 40:16): a hippopotamus is large and heavy, with a low centre of gravity, yet it can run surprisingly fast, both on land and underwater, because of its loins.

Lo now, his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly.

Job 40:16
Hippo chasing a speed boat

On one occasion at a safari reserve, a fast and agile hippopotamus even chased and caught a cheetah.

Hippo on land chasing and catching a cheetah

Third, the tail of a hippopotamus, when it swings, moves left and right like a cedar tree. And the stones (testicles) of a hippopotamus are wrapped and protected by muscle (ref. Job 40:17).

He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together.

Job 40:17

Fourth, the bones of a hippopotamus are like brass and iron, because its bones would have to be that strong so as to support its considerable weight (ref. Job 40:18). What is more, the bite force of a hippopotamus is the strongest of all mammals, strong enough to even pierce and cut a crocodile in two. This means, the jaw bones of a hippopotamus must also be like brass and iron.

His bones are as strong pieces of brass; his bones are like bars of iron.

Job 40:18

Fifth, the hippopotamus prefers to spend time underwater, or else in the shade, among willows, reed and fens (ref. Job 40:21-22).

He lieth under the shady trees, in the covert of the reed, and fens. The shady trees cover him with their shadow; the willows of the brook compass him about.

Job 40:21-22

Sixth, the river is the natural habitat of a hippopotamus. The word hippopotamus literally means “water horse”. A hippo is comfortable underwater.

Behold, he drinketh up a river, and hasteth not: he trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth. He taketh it with his eyes: his nose pierceth through snares.

Job 40:23-24

A hippopotamus cannot swim or float because it is too heavy, so it runs and leaps off the riverbed.

Typically, a hippopotamus even sleeps underwater, reflexively bobbing up every 3 to 5 minutes to breathe.

Hippo sleeping underwater

The only verse left to explain is Job 40:19.

He is the chief of the ways of God: he that made him can make his sword to approach unto him.

Job 40:19

What does it mean that “he that made him can make his sword to approach unto him”?

In nature, a hippopotamus is extremely territorial. Once a pod of hippos claims a section of a river, they will typically defend that area from threats and even passers-by, both carnivores that might eat their young and herbivores that might disturb their habitat.

Crocodiles and hippos often live in the same river. Should a crocodile venture into the area claimed by a pod of hippos, the crocodile will be aggressively attacked, and often killed.

Hippos vs crocodile

While the hippopotamus seems like a gentle giant at first glance, actually it is Africa’s deadliest creature.

Generally, in the wild, no one can approach a hippopotamus – neither beast nor human. In Africa, apparently, the hippopotamus kills around 500 humans every year. This is more than any other animal, including carnivores that hunt prey to live.

In the next clip, a hippopotamus can be seen charging at 3 lions trying to cross its section of the river.

Hippos vs 3 lions

So, only God himself, whose sword proceeds out of his mouth (ref. Revelation 19:15), and who made the hippopotamus in the first place, can approach it. This is what Job 40:19 is saying.

Now, what does it mean for a hippopotamus to be “the chief of the ways of God”?

First of all, I interpret, behemoth to be a metaphor for God, because of this passage, “He is the chief of the ways of God” (ref. Job 40:19), and because the next chapter Job 41 describes Satan, “leviathan” – picture a crocodile-like creature that can breath fire, who is the source of all evil and who is “king over all the children of pride” (ref. Job 41:34). If the two chapters are meant to juxtapose, then “behemoth” in Job 40:15-24 must be God, as in Jesus Christ, the epitome of good.

As the Son of God, the first begotten of God the Father, and the only one who is completely righteous, Jesus Christ is the “chief”, as in the leader, of the ways of God the Father (ref. John 1:18).

The next thing is, the two forward protruding lower teeth of a hippopotamus basically function like two swords. So when one male hippopotamus fights another for dominance, the two will open their mouths and try to stab each other’s gums with their sword-like teeth. Often, they don’t actually bite each other. Rather they stab each other, until one of the two, realising that he has been bloodied too much, gives ground.

Hippos fight for dominance using their sword like teeth

The metaphorical twoedged sword of Jesus Christ also proceeds from his mouth (ref. Revelation 19:15), and that sword is even mentioned in Job 40:19.

He is the chief of the ways of God: he that made him can make his sword to approach unto him.

Job 40:19

To my mind, the sword of Jesus Christ is not a literal sword, or anything like an actual sword. I think it means, Jesus Christ can slay a creature by merely speaking words (ref. Revelation 19:21, Zephaniah 2:12, Isaiah 66:16). The Bible, being “the word of God”, is also described as a “sword” (ref. Ephesians 6:17, Hebrews 4:12).

Next, in a pod, the largest male hippopotamus is typically the dominant one, in effect the king. Similarly, among all who will have the morning star, the one with the greatest amount will naturally be the strongest, and also the brightest in the sense of light or glory.

And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. And I will give him the morning star.

Revelation 2:27-28

The concept is similar to that of actual stars around which planets gravitate. The gravity of a large star, a celestial body with more star-like substance, will naturally overwhelm a small star when the two stars happen to clash.

There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.

1 Corinthians 15:41

Even though Jesus Christ is God and the Son of God, unique in the universe as the Creator, with his words that can serve as a sword, in Revelation 22:16 he also describes himself as the bright and morning star.

I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.

Revelation 22:16

This means, in time to come, among everyone with star-like bodies, Jesus Christ will be the one with the greatest substance and the brightest light. Therefore, being this way and also having his sword, he is the King of the saints (ref. Revelation 15:3).

… Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.

Revelation 15:3-4

So, this is another similarity between a pod of hippos and the kingdom of heaven.

Yet another thing is that a hippopotamus, being a herbivore, essentially peaceful by nature, does not seek bloodshed the way that a predator hungers for its prey. Even so, a hippopotamus will aggressively kill when it has to defend itself and its territory. This is Isaiah 27:4.

Fury is not in me: who would set the briers and thorns against me in battle? I would go through them, I would burn them together.

Isaiah 27:4

Check out the following video of a hippopotamus crushing the skull and jaw of a lioness because the lioness had threatened it. No longer able to hunt and eat, the lioness later died.

Hippo catching and killing a lion

There is also this next one of a hippopotamus chasing away some wild dogs and then killing an antelope that was fleeing from the same dogs but found itself stuck in the mud, an area claimed by the hippopotamus.

Hippo attacking both wild dogs and an antelope

The point is, the hippopotamus is surprisingly fierce.

Likewise, many might find the fierceness and wrath of Jesus Christ, who is to judge the world, surprising.

For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son

John 5:22

… in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire…

Revelation 19:12

The Bible explains that on the day of the LORD, all of the promised land will be taken by the angels and the saints of Jesus Christ.

The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Matthew 13:41-42

Never before in the history of the world have the borders of a nation been established in one day, 24 hours.

Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.

Isaiah 66:8

What is more, once the land is taken and made holy, the whole area is to remain holy until the earth is no more.

Today, already, you can see the world upset about and protesting the death toll in Gaza, currently around 18000.

But the Bible prophesies that all of Gaza is forsaken, and all of it will be cleared for the kingdom of God.

For Gaza shall be forsaken, and Ashkelon a desolation: they shall drive out Ashdod at the noon day, and Ekron shall be rooted up. Woe unto the inhabitants of the sea coast, the nation of the Cherethites! the word of the LORD is against you; O Canaan, the land of the Philistines, I will even destroy thee, that there shall be no inhabitant. And the sea coast shall be dwellings and cottages for shepherds, and folds for flocks. And the coast shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah; they shall feed thereupon: in the houses of Ashkelon shall they lie down in the evening: for the LORD their God shall visit them, and turn away their captivity.

Zephaniah 2:4-7

Not even animals in the area will be spared – certainly not any animal that has been possessed by a demon.

I will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the LORD. I will consume man and beast; I will consume the fowls of the heaven, and the fishes of the sea, and the stumblingblocks with the wicked; and I will cut off man from off the land, saith the LORD.

Zephaniah 1:2-3

Once more, the point is, all of the holy land is to become holy.

When two sides claim a territory, only one can be victorious. This is the nature of war, and this is how war is in nature!

The American way of things – fight, or pretend to fight, for decades in Afghanistan and Iraq only to give back all that land to Islam – is not how war is supposed to be.

For that matter, you may have heard the Islamic and Palestinian chant, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”. Clearly, the other side covets all of the land of Zion, and if they could they would kill everyone that is against them. They also insist that their god, Allah, is greater.

Yet, prophetically, it will be the other way around, and it will be not just from the river to the sea, but rather from one river to another.

In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates

Genesis 15:18

In fact, the whole earth (ref. Exodus 19:5-6) and even the entire universe belongs to God, who created everything.

… all the earth is mine …

Exodus 19:5

This is why, after securing the kingdom of God, the saints will spread outwards such that eventually all of the earth will be recovered from evil.

For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.

Isaiah 54:3

… and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.

Daniel 2:35

At some point during the Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ, the entire planet will be properly Christian.

For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.

1 Corinthians 15:27

The Bible promises that those who are meek and obedient to God shall inherit the earth. This means, there is no place for the rest. Every other religion, and every pretender among the angels, is to be destroyed.

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Matthew 5:5

For the kingdom is the LORD’S: and he is the governor among the nations. All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul.

Psalms 22:28-29

So, behemoth or the hippopotamus is a metaphor for Jesus Christ.

Many suppose that the hippopotamus is not violent, for it is not a carnivore and it does not lust for blood. Yet the hippopotamus will aggressively kill when necessary. When defending itself or its territory, a hippopotamus can be extremely fierce.

Behemoth, a most dangerous creature

Similarly, the ferocity to come will be like nothing ever before.

For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by his sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many.

Isaiah 66:15-16

Such is the wrath of Almighty God.

And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.

Revelation 19:15

This is the time of the end, and there must be an end to evil.