Did Behemoth Have a Navel?
The rendition “navel” as found in the King James Version of 1611 derives from the original Hebrew term,
Scholars suggest that the term originally meant “firm, hard,” hence, denoted “the firm parts of the belly” (Gesenius, 850).
In Job 40:16, it simply signifies “sinew, muscle” (Brown, 1057; cf. Harris, II.957).
Modern scholars contend that the term merely means “the muscles of his belly” (Hartley, 525). The King James Version thus reflects an erroneous translation of the original term.
Here is another important fact. In the Hebrew text
sharir is plural. If the King James Version was correct, it would suggest that behemoth had more than one navel. This 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” (II.248).
The “navel” quibble that purports to negate any identification of Job’s behemoth with some dinosaur species in the ancient world is void of merit.
- Barnes, Albert. n.d. The Book of Job. London: Blackie & Son.
- Francis Brown, Francis, S. R. Driver, Charles Briggs. 1907. Hebrew-English Lexicon. London: Oxford University Press
- Harris, R. L., Gleason Archer, Bruce Waltke. 1980. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. Chicago: Moody.
- Hartley, J. E. 1988. The Book of Job. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
- Gesenius, William. 1979. Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker.