Is the Animal in Job with a Tail Like a Cedar Tree a Dinosaur?
Question of the Week: You said in one of your talks that there is no mention of dinosaurs in the Bible. What about Job 40:17’s description of an animal with a tail like a cedar tree?
My Answer: The Hebrew word for “tail” in this passage, zanab, refers to the hindquarters and the tail of an animal. Note how well the rest of Job 40’s description fits the morphology, behavior, and habitat of the hippopotamus. The hippopotamus has huge hindquarters that it often uses as a weapon to attack other creatures and small boats and canoes that invade its personal space.
Notice, too, the primary theme of Job 39–42. Here, God tells Job and his friends that they have been successful at taming all the nephesh (soulish) animals. However, some of these animals are much more difficult to tame than others. The most difficult to tame are the leviathan (crocodile) and the behemoth (hippopotamus). Dinosaurs are not part of the nephesh.
God’s primary point here is that it takes a higher being to tame a nephesh animal and some are more difficult to tame than others. Likewise, it takes a higher Being to “tame” a proud human heart and some are more difficult to tame than others. Job came to God for the taming that he needed. His three friends did not. You will find a much more detailed explanation and why the Bible does not mention dinosaurs in my book Hidden Treasures in the Book of Job, chapter 12.