Is It Reasonable to Suggest God Was Describing a Dinosaur in Job 40?
Several lines of evidence strongly suggest that biblical Job1 likely lived after the Flood and before the time of Moses, perhaps at roughly the time of Abraham or slightly before (ca. 2100-2000 B.C).2 In Job 40:15-24, God shows Job an herbivorous beast called Behemoth, presumably living at the time, which is described as “first” or “chief” of the ways of God.3 Behemoth’s precise identity still defies scholars since, upon examining its biblical description, there is no perfect equivalent among extant animal species. Many Bible believers have long observed that the description of Behemoth in the text matches best with that of a dinosaur,4 specifically a sauropod.5 That assessment, if true, would be a powerful biblical testimony of a young Earth and biblical Creation, as well as a refutation of evolution, since it would prove humans co-existed with dinosaurs and that they did not go extinct 65 million years ago—effectively falsifying evolution, its erroneous timeline, and uniformitarian geology.
In our experience, many have agreed with the suggestion that Behemoth may have been a sauropod. Others have (presumably) assessed the same evidence we present, but come to a different conclusion about the identity of Behemoth. We appreciate that they at least considered the evidence (1 Thessalonians 5:21), though we may not agree with their conclusion. We have encountered some Bible believing, young Earth individuals, however, who appear to refuse to fairly assess the arguments. Instead, they immediately scoff at the suggestion of a dinosaurian Behemoth without thought, believing it to be unreasonable at best and silly and hokey at worst. Why?
The reason for their resistance to the idea is not always clear. The individuals to which we are referring are young Earth, anti-evolution, Bible believers and, as such, we would think they would be willing to consider the implications of their position, as unconventional as those implications might be to the secular world. Is their resistance because they were trained (by evolution-believing teachers) to believe from a young age that dinosaurs and humans never co-existed? Do they realize in that conclusion that they are taking a position that is evolutionary and, therefore, unbiblical?6 In some cases, leading Job commentaries were written before dinosaurs had even been discovered in the 1800s (and, therefore, could not have yet been assessed as possible identities of Behemoth). Then, even after dinosaurs had been discovered, the anatomy of many dinosaurs was not even adequately understood for many years, disallowing by Hebrew scholars an anatomical comparison between the biblical description of Behemoth and dinosaurs. Further, since they were billed as the “poster children” of evolution, many within Christendom did not even accept the reality of dinosaurs for decades, again no doubt disallowing dinosaurs as possible Behemoth candidates by many Christian scholars up into the 1900s. Did those who so vehemently disregard dinosaurian options for Behemoth grow up reading or hearing lessons from preachers and scholars who accepted such mainstream Job commentaries or scholarly identifications from the 19th and 20th centuries? Were they taught the book of Job by teachers or professors who, themselves, did not know about the fossil record, much less thought through its implications regarding the possible interpretation of Job 40 from a young Earth perspective? Did they simply rely on the “expertise” of old Earth evolutionary paleontologists without realizing that such individuals interpret the fossil record in a completely unbiblical way (and without realizing that there was such a thing as a valid biblical interpretation of the same fossil evidence)? Since many Christians once assumed that these extinct animals never existed, were they trained to believe that Behemoth had to be referring to an extant animal, like an elephant or hippo? Did they accept as “gospel” the 1901 ASV footnote, identifying Behemoth as the hippopotamus? John 12:42 notes that “many” of the Jewish rulers believed in Jesus but would not confess Jesus out of fear—they did not want to be “expelled” from the synagogue. Similarly, is it possible that some today are intimidated by the repercussions of taking a position that would be scoffed at by academia?7
Whatever the reason, we have encountered such individuals over the years and scratched our heads wondering why they are seemingly closed-minded to the dinosaurian Behemoth position. They seem to reject the position without even considering for themselves, much less refuting, the evidence and rationale presented. From a biblical perspective, the position clearly fits the available scientific and textual evidence better than conventional interpretations of Behemoth’s identity and also provides powerful verification of biblical Creation predictions. For those young Earth, biblical creationists who are willing to consider the logical rationale for the position, here is the argument in succinct form.
First, even to be considered as candidates for the identity of Behemoth, dinosaurs had to have been extant at the time of Job.8 Would they have been alive at the time of Job?
- The Earth is roughly 6,000-8,000 years old.9
- The fossil record indicates that dinosaurs lived on the Earth in the past.
- Dinosaurs are understood to be land-dwelling animals, so they were created on the sixth literal day of Creation week alongside humans (Genesis 1:24-31). Humans and dinosaurs, therefore, co-existed on the Earth in the past.
To most who accept a young Earth created by God, there is little disagreement up to this point in the reasoning process, although it might take a moment for the third point to sink in since it flies in the face of conventional teaching in society.
According to the genealogies of Genesis 5, after Creation, roughly 1,600 to 1,700 years passed between Creation and the global Flood described in Genesis 6-9. Did the dinosaurs go extinct during that pre-Flood time period?
- In the geologic column, the Flood is believed by many Creation geologists to begin at roughly the Cambrian layers of the Paleozoic strata. The evidence for that interpretation is extensive.10 The Flood strata then continue upwards at least through the Paleozoic and Mesozoic strata.11 The dinosaur fossils are found in strata that are well above the initial rock layers of the Flood, in the Mesozoic strata, meaning that those strata were deposited after the Flood began.12 Notably, as evidenced by the many dinosaur footprints found across the world in Mesozoic strata, many dinosaurs were clearly still alive when the Flood reached and killed them.13
- Since dinosaurs were alive when the Flood began and, according to Genesis 6:19-20 and 7:2-3,8-9,13-16, representatives of all of the Earth’s extant land beasts at the time of Noah were represented on the Ark, dinosaurs would have been represented on the Ark, though likely in juvenile form.14
So, it is reasonable to conclude, based on the evidence, that dinosaurs survived the Flood on the Ark. But how soon after the Flood did they go extinct?15
- Historical accounts of interactions between humans and what seem to be dinosaurs provide powerful testimony that dinosaurs, though they did not thrive after the Flood, indeed survived after the Flood for several hundred, if not thousands of years.16
- Physical evidence of the co-existence of humans and what appear to be dinosaurs suggests that dinosaurs may have been alive in various remote places on the Earth only a few hundred years ago.17
Dinosaurs not only survived the Flood by being on the Ark, but may have survived for millennia after the Flood and, therefore, it is highly likely that they were on the Earth at the time of Job, who most likely lived within only 500 years of the Flood. Notice, then, without any further textual evidence from Job 40 concerning the identity of Behemoth, if God wished to show Job an animal that was “chief” or “first” in illustrating what He is like (Job 40:19), and sauropod dinosaurs were still alive on the Earth, would it not seem at least possible that Behemoth could be a sauropod dinosaur?
As we have shown elsewhere, the textual evidence would at least allow a dinosaurian identity, considering, for example, the text’s description of Behemoth’s tail, bone structure, weight distribution, eating habits, habitat, etc.18 But some presumably honest individuals still summarily dismiss the possibility because of what they see as practical issues with the sauropod option, like the following:
(1) “There would not have been sufficient vegetation in Job’s land (Uz) for a massive, herbivorous sauropod dinosaur to be able to survive. It’s a desert!” However, in the first place, the location of Uz is not known with certainty. Further, recent evidence suggests that the presumed Uz region of the Earth was not always as arid as it is today. Prior to roughly 1500 B.C., for example, the Sahara Desert is thought to have been tropical and lush.19 Dinosaurs could have survived in the area for several hundred years after the Flood.
(2) “Since there is no evidence of sauropod dinosaurs in Job’s area, God would not have been able to show Job a sauropod dinosaur as He showed him Behemoth.” Assuming we are correct in our understanding of which rock layers mark the end of the Flood,20 there is, as yet, no fossil evidence of dinosaurs after the Flood at all. However, as we have shown, dinosaurs would have survived the Flood on the Ark, and both physical and historical post-Flood evidence (e.g., archaeological artifacts and historical accounts) supports that supposition. We have also shown elsewhere that the absence of fossils of a species in rock strata is not a reliable indicator of the animal’s non-existence at the time (or the area in which) the strata were formed.21 Further, ancient Sumerian (in the supposed relative region of Uz) legends of humans interacting with what appears to be dinosaurs date back to the time likely after Job’s life.22 Dinosaurs were apparently still in Job’s region during his time. Even if they were not, however, it is reasonable to suggest that God could show Job Behemoth even if he had never seen it23 when we consider the fact that God, in his speech to Job, had already highlighted several other things that Job may not have ever seen or even known about (e.g., 38:4-21).
Why would a thoughtful scholar dismiss out-of-hand a viable possibility without an adequate response to its many evidences? The unbiased young Earth creationist must surely concede that the identity of Behemoth as a sauropod dinosaur is at least possible, given the physical, historical, and scientific evidence. When the actual information in the biblical text is added to the equation,24 does the identity of Behemoth as a sauropod dinosaur not become even probable? If not, why not? After all, if you were going to show Job an animal that was chief in exhibiting the ways of God, and a sauropod dinosaur was living at the time, what animal would you pick?
1 A real person who walked the Earth in the past [cf. Eric Lyons (2002), “Was Job a Real Person?” R&R Resources, 1:32-R, https://apologeticspress.org/questions-and-answers-was-job-a-real-person-618/].
2 Based on biblical genealogies coupled with history. Cf. Eric Lyons (2008), “When Did Job Live?,” R&R Resources, 7:28-R, https://apologeticspress.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/0807.pdf.
3 Cf. Dave Miller (2008), “The ‘First of the Ways of God,’” R&R Resources, 7:9R-12R, https://apologeticspress.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/0803.pdf.
4 Eric Lyons and Kyle Butt (2008), The Dinosaur Delusion (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press), pp. 113ff.; Dave Miller (2021), Behemoth & Leviathan (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
5 I.e., the massive, long neck, long tail dinosaurs (e.g., apatosaurus, brachiosaurus, etc.). Cf. Jeff Miller (2020), “More Scientific and Textual Evidence of Behemoth’s Identity,” Reason & Revelation, 40:128-129, https://apologeticspress.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/2011w.pdf; Dave Miller (2019), “Behemoth and Leviathan: Figurative or Literal? (Part 1),” Reason & Revelation, 39:56, https://apologeticspress.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/1905w.pdf; Eric Lyons (2000), “Was the ‘Behemoth’ a Dinosaur?” Apologetics Press, https://apologeticspress.org/was-the-behemoth-a-dinosaur-544/.
6 Evolutionists argue that dinosaurs went extinct roughly 63 million years prior to the emergence of humans (i.e., the homo genus).
7 A Christian should never forget that we have been warned beforehand that aspects of the Christian faith will be viewed by the world as “foolishness” (1 Corinthians 1:20-21,27). According to Jesus, in fact, it is a virtual certainty that the Christian will be hated by the world (John 15:18-21). Should the Christian compromise with the Devil to avoid being hated by his followers?
8 Unless, of course, God was showing Job the vision of a creature that He had made but was already extinct. The context, however, strongly suggests Behemoth was alive at the time (which is why many attempt to argue that Behemoth was a then currently living animal or one which would soon go extinct relative to Job, like the mammoth).
9 Jeff Miller (2019), “21 Reasons to Believe the Earth is Young,” Reason & Revelation, 39:2-11, https://apologeticspress.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/1901w.pdf.
10 Steven A. Austin and Kurt P. Wise (1994), “The Pre-Flood/Flood Boundary: As Defined in Grand Canyon, Arizona and Eastern Mojave Desert, California,” Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Creationism, ed. R.E. Walsh, pp. 37-47, http://static.icr.org/i/pdf/technical/The-Pre-Flood-Boundary-as-defined-in-Grand-Canyon.pdf; Jeff Miller (2019), “Was the Flood Global? Testimony from Scripture and Science,” Reason & Revelation, 39:38-47, https://apologeticspress.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/1904w.pdf.
11 S.A. Austin, J.R. Baumgardner, D.R. Humphreys, A.A. Snelling, L. Vardiman, and K.P. Wise (1994), “Catastrophic Plate Tectonics: A Global Flood Model of Earth History,” Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Creationism, ed. R.E. Walsh, pp. 609-621.
12 Based on the principle of superposition, the geologic assumption that a lower rock layer in a sequence of rock layers (if they are in their original positions/orientations) was deposited before a rock layer above it.
13 Since the dinosaurs were buried in the Flood only roughly 4,500 years ago (based on history coupled with the Genesis 11 genealogies), it should come as no surprise that many dinosaur fossils are being discovered that still have unfossilized tissue within [cf. Jeff Miller (2022), “More Unfossilized Evidence of ‘Dinosaurs’ Living in the Recent Past,” Reason & Revelation, 42:9-11, https://apologeticspress.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/2201-web.pdf].
14 Jeff Miller (2019), “Was the Ark Large Enough for ALL of the Animals?” Reason & Revelation, 39:82-83, https://apologeticspress.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/1907w.pdf.
15 For a discussion of why the dinosaurs may have gone extinct, see Eric Lyons (2008), “What Happened to the Dinosaurs?” Apologetics Press, https://apologeticspress.org/what-happened-to-the-dinosaurs-1771/.
16 Eric Lyons (2007), “Historical Support for the Coexistence of Dinosaurs and Humans [Part 1],” Reason & Revelation, 27:65-71, https://apologeticspress.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/0709.pdf.
17 Eric Lyons and Kyle Butt (2008), “Physical Evidence for the Coexistence of Dinosaurs and Humans [Parts 1-2],” Reason & Revelation, 28[3-4].
18 Cf. Dave Miller (2021); Jeff Miller (2020).
19 Conventional uniformitarian dating methods estimate the transformation as occurring 5,000-6,000 years ago [Becky Oskin (2013), “Sahara Went from Green to Desert in a Flash,” LiveScience.com, April 5, https://www.livescience.com/28493-when-sahara-desert-formed.html; Texas A&M University (2016), “6,000 Years Ago, the Sahara Desert Was Tropical—What Happened?” Phys.org, December 1, https://phys.org/news/2016-12-years-sahara-tropicalwhat.html]. Creationists, however, have provided evidence to show that radioactive decay was accelerated during and after the Flood [cf. Jeff Miller (2013), “Don’t Assume Too Much: Not All Assumptions in Science Are Bad,” Reason & Revelation, 33:62-70, https://apologeticspress.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/1306.pdf] for several hundred years. Therefore, conventional dating methods yield, at the very least, inflated (if not totally unreliable) dates for those rocks that formed during and immediately after the Flood for several hundred years. The Sahara Desert transition date is estimated to correlate to roughly 1500-2000 B.C. in real time—after the time of Job.
20 The end of the Cretaceous strata (i.e., the K-T/K-Pg boundary) or higher.
21 See the discussion of “living fossils” in Jeff Miller (2019), “Does the Fossil Record Support Creation and the Flood?” Reason & Revelation, 39:77-80, https://apologeticspress.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/1907w.pdf.
22 Samuel Noah Kramer (1959), History Begins at Sumer (Garden City, NY: Doubleday), p. 170; Peter Hogarth and Val Clery (1979), Dragons (New York: Viking Press), p. 13; Also, an ancient Mesopotamian cylinder seal depicting what could be sauropod dinosaurs with intertwined necks is on display at the Louvre in France, dating back to after the time of Job (again, after converting conventional uniformitarian dates to real time. Cf. https://collections.louvre.fr/en/ark:/53355/cl010171374).
23 E.g., through vision or miraculous transportation (e.g., Acts 8:39; Luke 4:5; 24:31). When God told Job to “look now at the behemoth,” did there happen to be a Behemoth nearby, or did God show Job Behemoth in a special way? When God next described Leviathan (a sea creature) in Job 41, did He show Job the beast? If so, how did He do so? Was there a miraculous transportation involved? A vision? Or was He merely describing the animal without showing Leviathan to Job? If God merely described Leviathan without showing Job, why could He not do the same with another creature that was alive at the time, but might not be living in Job’s vicinity?
24 Cf. Dave Miller, 2021, Behemoth & Leviathan; Jeff Miller, 2020, “More Scientific and Textual Evidence of Behemoth’s Identity.”
Behemoth and Leviathan
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