Did Behemoth Have a “Navel”?

By Wayne Jackson

“Some have suggested that ‘behemoth,’ mentioned in Job 40:15ff, could have been some species of dinosaur. However, since verse 16 speaks of behemoth’s ‘navel,’ would not this exclude dinosaurs — since dinosaurs were egg-layers, and egg-layers have no navels?”

The rendition “navel,” as found in the King James Version of 1611, derives from the original Hebrew term, sharir. Scholars suggest that the term originally meant “firm, hard,” hence, denoted “the firm parts of the belly” (William Gesenius, Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979, p. 850).

In Job 40:16 it simply signifies “sinew, muscle” (Francis Brown, S.R. Driver, Charles Briggs, Hebrew-English Lexicon, London: Oxford University Press, 1907, p. 1057; cf. R.L. Harris, Gleason Archer, Bruce Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, Chicago: Moody, 1980, Vol. II, p. 957).

Modern scholars contend that the term merely means “the muscles of his belly” (J.E. Hartley, The Book of Job, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988, p. 525). The King James Version thus reflects an erroneous rendition of the original term.

Here is another important fact. In the Hebrew text sharir is plural. Would this suggest, as per the KJV, that behemoth had more than one navel? Such would be a unique feature indeed, indicating that behemoth was twice-born!

Note the judicious comments of Albert Barnes:

“The word here rendered navel means properly firm, hard, tough, and in the plural form, which occurs here, means the firm, or tough parts of the belly. It is not used to denote the navel in any place in the Bible, and should not have been so rendered here” (The Book of Job, London: Blackie & Son, n.d., Vol. II, p. 248).

The “navel” quibble, which is alleged to negate any identification of Job’s behemoth with some dinosaur species in the ancient world, is void of merit.

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About the Author

Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.