A mythical beast described in Job 40.15–24 as the first of God's creations, an animal of enormous strength that inhabits the river valleys. Although frequently identified with the hippopotamus (as Leviathan is with the crocodile), not all the details of the creature's physiology fit that well‐known mammal. In view of the references to Behemoth in the apocrypha and pseudepigrapha, it is more likely that it is a form of the primeval monster of chaos, defeated by Yahweh at the beginning of the process of creation; in fact, according to Job 40.24, the monster is represented as tamed by him and with a ring through his lip, so that like Leviathan he has become a divine pet. According to later Jewish tradition, at the end time Behemoth and Leviathan will become food for the righteous (see 2 Esd. 6.52).
Michael D. Coogan