Daniel’s ‘dreaming’ not a good reason for Sirach to omit him

Image result for prophet daniel dreams


 Damien F. Mackey


“This raises the question of what reason Ben Sira might have had for not wanting to mention Daniel or single him out for special praise. As it happens, a very plausible and straightforward answer to the above question is available, but it has nothing to do with when the book of Daniel was written. Ben Sira [Sirach] held the opinion, and stated it in so many words, that dreamers and dreams were fools and foolishness, respectively”.

Frank W. Hardy



Might not the reason why Sirach (“Ecclesiasticus”) seemingly failed to refer to the great prophet Daniel – not to mention Ezra the scribe, the very “Father of Judaïsm” – in his “praises of famous men”, beginning with 44:1:


“Let us now sing the praises of famous men,

our ancestors in their generations”,


be because Daniel was – Ezra was – referred to in the Book of Sirach under some other name?

It was common for the ancients to have more than the one name. To give just one example, from I Maccabees 2:2-5: “John surnamed Gaddi, Simon called Thassi, Judas called Maccabeus, Eleazar called Avaran, and Jonathan called Apphus”.

And I have already suggested that:

Ezra the Scribe [be] Identified as Nehemiah the Governor



which, if this be the case, would mean that Ezra was included by Sirach, when he wrote (49:13): “The memory of Nehemiah is also great. He rebuilt the ruined walls of Jerusalem, installing the gates and bars. He rebuilt our homes”.


Other inspired scribes did not fail to mention Daniel. Nor could they have?

Ezekiel, for example, mentions Daniel three times (14:14 and 20): “Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord God”.

And 28:3: “Are you wiser than Daniel? Is no secret hidden from you?”

Whilst Mattathias, the father of the five Maccabean sons, encouraged them with the examples of holy men such as Daniel (I Maccabees 2:60-61): “Daniel was a man of integrity, and the Lord rescued him from the mouth of the lions. Take each of these ancestors of ours as an example, and you will realize that no one who puts his trust in the Lord will ever lack strength”.


It is likewise quite inconceivable that Sirach could possibly have omitted reference to Ezra. Henry Englander has, in his article “Ezra the Scribe” (Journal of Jewish Lore and Philosophy

Vol. 1, No. 3/4 (JULY/OCTOBER 1919)), written, with reference to “H. P. Smith, following Torrey” (p. 322-323):


[Smith] notes that Ezra was unknown to Jesus ben Sirach the author who lived in the early part of the second century before the common era …. It is impossible, he believes, that ben Sirach would have ignored Ezra in his praise of Israel’s worthies had he been known to him. But, the omission of any reference to Ezra does not necessarily mean that he was the creation of the Chronicler. This omission, however, calls for an adequate explanation on the part of those who hold Ezra to be historical. If it could be shown that the identification of Ezra with “Malachai” [Malachi] … was current in the time of ben Sirach then it could be said that Ezra was included in his praise of the Minor Prophets.


On the possible identification of Ezra with Malachi, see my article:


“By the hand of Malachi … whose name is called Ezra the scribe”




I think that the alter ego explanation for Sirach, in the case of Daniel – of Ezra – is far preferable to the following version (whose BC dating I may not accept either) as given by Frank W. Hardy in his article, “Ben Sira’s Silence Concerning Daniel” (2008):



Jesus Ben Sira … was a Jew from Jerusalem who, in approximately 190 or 180 B.C. … wrote a book of religious wisdom and pious advice on a variety of topics. In 132 B.C.—the thirty-eighth year of Ptolemy Physcon VII Euergetes II (170-164, 147-117 B.C.)–Ben Sira’s grandson went to live in Egypt and sometime after the death of Euergetes II, i.e., sometime after 117 B.C., translated his grandfather’s book from Hebrew into Greek. Although translations were subsequently made into Latin, Syriac, and a number of other languages it is primarily in its Greek form–with the Latin title “Ecclesiasticus”–that the book has come down to us as one of the deuterocanonicl books of the Septuagint. ….


In Ben Sira chaps. 44-49 the author comments on the outstanding lives of some 28 individual Old Testament heroes … along with the judges as a group (46:11) and the twelve minor prophets (49:10). This long section ends with the following summary: ….


No one like Enoch has been created on earth, for he was taken up from the earth. And no man like Joseph has been born, and his bones are cared for. Shem and Seth were honored among men, and Adam above every living being in the creation. ….


The significance for Daniel research of Ben Sira’s “Praise of the Fathers” lies in what he

does not say. Throughout this extended section of six chapters Daniel is passed over in silence; there is no mention of him at all. Such an omission is conspicuous when compared with 1 Maccabees, written somewhat later at around 100 B.C. Daniel appears at the end of a passage that mentions a number of ancient heroes.


(51) “Remember the deeds of the fathers, which they did in their generations; and receive great honor and an everlasting name. (52) Was not Abraham found faithful when tested, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness? (53) Joseph in the time of his distress kept the commandment, and became lord of Egypt. (54) Phinehas our father, because he was deeply zealous, received the covenant of everlasting priesthood. (55) Joshua, because he fulfilled the command, became a judge in Israel. (56) Caleb, because he testified in the assembly, received an inheritance in the land. (57) David, because he was merciful, inherited the throne of the kingdom for ever. (58) Elijah because of great zeal for the law was taken up into heaven. (59) Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael believed and were saved from the flame. (60) Daniel because of his innocence was delivered from the mouth of the lions” (1 Macc 2:51-60).


The fact that Ben Sira, writing early in the second century B.C., says nothing about Daniel, while the author of 1 Maccabees does refer to him, writing at the end of the second century B.C., is taken by some scholars to indicate that the book of Daniel originated sometime in between Ben Sira and 1 Maccabees–i.e., in the mid-second century B.C. …. Eissfeldt evaluates the evidence from Ben Sira as follows, as it bears on the dating of Daniel:


We may leave the matter there, with the broader period 167-163 in mind. This dating [for Daniel] is then supported by a whole series of further observations. The fact that the book was not included in the canon of the prophets (p. 565) shows already that it can only have been composed very late. This is confirmed by the fact that Ben Sira, writing in about 190, does not mention it in his Praise of the Fathers (xliv-l) whereas 1 Maccabees, compiled probably in about 100 B.C., has in ii,59-60 a reference to it, more precisely to i, iii and vi. . . . ….


But Eissfeldt’s conclusion is not required by the evidence. There is no reason—even under preterist presuppositions–why Ben Sira should not have been well informed concerning the main events of Daniel’s life. Mertens shows that the claim that Daniel was written entirely within the second century B.C., with no sources or fragments coming from an earlier time, is a minority view even among critical scholars and one which he considers extreme. ….


According to F. Nötscher the substance, content and even formulation of individual reports go back to the time of the exile; similarly J. Goettsberger; H. Schneider also takes the position that the oldest parts of the book of Daniel derive from the sixth century B.C. ….


Thus, the claim that Ben Sira did not mention Daniel because the book of Daniel was not

written until after Ecclesiasticus requires one to assume that Rowley’s view of how Daniel originated was substantially the correct one. Rowley held that a single author produced the entire work in the second century B.C. …. There are no preterist scholars at present, however, who would accept this assumption or defend it. I submit that, whether one proceeds under preterist or historicist assumptions, Ben Sira could not have been unaware of Daniel’s life story when he wrote his book.


This raises the question of what reason Ben Sira might have had for not wanting to mention Daniel or single him out for special praise. As it happens, a very plausible and straightforward answer to the above question is available, but it has nothing to do with when the book of Daniel was written. Ben Sira held the opinion, and stated it in so many words, that dreamers and dreams were fools and foolishness, respectively.


A man of no understanding has vain and false hopes, and dreams give wings to fools. (2) As one who catches at a shadow and pursues the wind, so is he who gives heed to dreams. (3) The vision of dreams is this against that, the likeness of a face confronting a face. (4) From an unclean thing what will be made clean? And from something false what will be true? (5) Divinations and omens and dreams are folly, and like a woman in travail the mind has fancies. (6) Unless they are sent from the Most High as a visitation, do not give your mind to them. (7) For dreams have deceived many, and those who put their hope in them have failed. (8) Without such deceptions the law will be fulfilled, and wisdom is made perfect in truthful lips. (Ben Sira 34:1-8)


If Ben Sira believed dreamers were fools, and thought of Daniel primarily as a dreamer … one could hardly expect Ben Sira to name Daniel as one of Israel’s great and illustrious figures of the past. For Daniel to be passed over in silence would be much more consistent with the passage just quoted than prominent mention of him a few chapters later would be.


It is not necessary therefore to suggest that the book of Daniel came into existence after

Ben Sira wrote in order to account for the latter’s silence regarding him. Ben Sira was a man of deep convictions, some of which bordered on prejudice. …. One of these convictions was that dreams were not a dependable criterion for behaviour. …. Seeing Daniel primarily as a dreamer he was not inclined to praise him.

[End of quote]


Clever though all this may be, I shall be looking amongst Sirach’s ‘praises of famous men’ for a worthy alter ego for the great and famous prophet Daniel, who had miraculously told the King’s Dream.



“By the hand of Malachi … whose name is called Ezra the scribe”

Image result for prophet malachi


Damien F. Mackey



Here I consider the view expressed in a gloss to Malachi (1:1),

in the Targum of Jonathan ben Uzziel,

that the prophet Malachi was Ezra the scribe.





That Jewish tradition variously identifies the prophet Malachi as Mordecai, or Ezra, is apparent from the following piece in the Jewish Encyclopedia article, “Malachi, Book of” (http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/10321-malachi-book-of):


—In Rabbinical Literature:

Malachi is identified with Mordecai by R. Naḥman and with Ezra by Joshua b. Ḳarḥa (Meg. 15a). Jerome, in his preface to the commentary on Malachi, mentions that in his day the belief was current that Malachi was identical with Ezra (“Malachi Hebræi Esdram Existimant”). The Targum of Jonathan ben Uzziel to the words “By the hand of Malachi” (i. 1) gives the gloss “Whose name is called Ezra the scribe.” According to Soṭah 48b, when Malachi died the Holy Spirit departed from Israel.


The article continues:

According to R. H. 19b, he was one of the three prophets concerning whom there are certain traditions with regard to the fixing of the Jewish almanac. A tradition preserved in pseudo-Epiphanius (“De Vitis Proph.”) relates that Malachi was of the tribe of Zebulun, and was born after the Captivity. According to the same apocryphal story he died young, and was buried in his own country with his fathers.


Was Malachi, Mordecai, or was he Ezra?


Though either person appears to have been considered a candidate for Malachi, I would definitely favour the priestly Ezra over the Benjaminite Mordecai, given Malachi’s priestly proclivities (e.g., his desire for a sincere priesthood and right Temple worship), and his lateness: “The Book of Malachi is the last in the canon of the Old Testament Prophets” (Jewish Encyclopedia, “Malachi, Book of”).


Mordecai belonged to the early Persian period, and Ezra, to the later Persian period.


It is commonly thought that Malachi (Heb: מַלְאָכִי) was not actually the prophet’s (or writer’s) name. Thus we read again in Jewish Encyclopedia (“Malachi, Book of”):


—Critical View:

The name is not a “nomen proprium”; it is generally assumed to be an abbreviation of (=”messenger of Yhwh”), which conforms to the Μαλαχίας of the Septuagint and the “Malachias” of the Vulgate. The Septuagint superscription is ὲν χειρὶ ἀγγήλου αὐτοῦ, for . Wellhausen, Kuenen, and Nowack consider ch. i. 1 a late addition, pointing to Zech. ix. 1, xii. 1. Cornill states that Zech. ix.-xiv. and Malachi are anonymous, and were, therefore, placed at the end of the prophetical books. Mal. iii. 1 shows almost conclusively that the term was misunderstood, and that the proper name originated in a misconception of the word.


Times of the Prophet Malachi


“The Book of Malachi fits the situation amid which Nehemiah worked

as snugly as a bone fits its socket”.



[BC dates used below are conventional – not necessarily the ones that I would accept]


Now, the prophet Malachi is considered to have been largely a contemporary of Ezra-Nehemiah: “On internal evidence the book, a collection of prophetic oracles, is usually dated c. 460 B.C. [conventional dating], shortly before the reforms of Nehemiah and Ezra” (http://www.reference.com/browse/malachi).


Let us look further into this.


We read about the likely true era of Malachi in the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [ISBE] article, “Malachi”, at: http://biblehub.com/topical/m/malachi.htm



  1. The Prophet’s Times:

Opinions vary as to the prophet’s exact date, but nearly all scholars are agreed that Malachi prophesied during the Persian period, and after the reconstruction and dedication of the second temple in 516 B.C. (compare Malachi 1:10; Malachi 3:1, 10). The prophet speaks of the people’s “governor” (Hebrew pechah, Malachi 1:8), as do Haggai and Nehemiah (Haggai 1:1 Nehemiah 5:14; Nehemiah 12:26). The social conditions portrayed are unquestionably those also of the period of the Restoration. More specifically, Malachi probably lived and labored during the times of Ezra and Nehemiah. Serious abuses had crept into Jewish life; the priests had become lax and degenerate, defective and inferior sacrifices were allowed to be offered upon the temple altar, the people were neglecting their tithes, divorce was common and God’s covenant was forgotten and ignored; just such abuses as we know from the Book of Ne[hemiah] were common in his day (compare Nehemiah 3:5; Nehemiah 5:1-13). Yet, it is doubtful whether Malachi preached during Nehemiah’s active governorship; for in Malachi 1:8 it is implied that gifts might be offered to the “governor”, whereas Nehemiah tells us that he declined all such (Nehemiah 5:15, 18).


The Pulpit Commentary, though, takes a somewhat different view of this gubernatorial situation (http://biblehub.com/malachi/1-8.htm):


Offer it now unto thy governor. The word for “governor” is pechah, as in Haggai 1:1 (where see note). It denotes a ruler set over a province by a Persian king. As Nehemiah had refused to be burdensome to the people (Nehemiah 5:14-18), it is thought that Malachi must have written this when some other person was acting as governor. But Nehemiah’s generosity was exhibited in his earlier administration, and he may have thought it right to take the dues under a more prosperous state of affairs. The prophet may be putting the ease generally – Would you dare offer such things to your governor? At any rate, the question is not about provisions and dues supplied to the governor and liable to be exacted by him in his official capacity, but about voluntary offerings and presents, without which no inferior would presume to appear before his prince (see Introduction, § II.). To offer to such a one what was mean and defective would be nothing less than an insult; and yet they thought this was good enough for God.


Fr. C. Stuhlmueller (C.P.), writing on “Malachi” for The Jerome Biblical Commentary, regards him similarly (to rabbinical literature) as Ezra-like (23:54): “This unknown Prophet shows himself to be a patriotic Jew unable to tolerate mixed marriages lest the land become “unclean” from the “abominable” and sensuous types of worship common among the pagans (Ezr 9:11)”.


And again (23:56):


The religious abuses that Malachi excoriated are exactly the same crimes that Nehemiah and Ezra combatted and successfully stamped out ….

Jewish men were divorcing “the wives of their youth” (Mal 2:14) and marrying pretty girls of foreign extraction (Ezr 9-10). The wealthy were cheating the poor (Mal 3:5), even seeling them into slavery (Neh 5), and the scandalous cry was heard that irreligious people got along better than devout people (Mal 3:14-15). The leaders, and especially the priests, bore the greatest responsibility for the general collapse of sincere fervor (Mal 2:1-3, 8-9; Ezr 10:15-16, 18-24; Neh 13:4-13, 22, 28-31). Temple worship could not even claim to be correct externally; it was as sick as the animals offered in sacrifice (Mal 1:7-8, 13; Neh 13:15-22).


Returning to the ISBE article, we find that ‘snug fit’ for Malachi at the time of Nehemiah:


On the other hand, the abuses which Malachi attacked correspond so exactly with those which Nehemiah found on his 2nd visit to Jerusalem in 432 B.C. (Nehemiah 13:7) that it seems reasonably certain that he prophesied shortly before that date, i.e. between 445 and 432 B.C. As Dr. J.M.P. Smith says, “The Book of Malachi fits the situation amid which Nehemiah worked as snugly as a bone fits its socket” (ICC, 7). That the prophet should exhort the people to remember the law of Moses, which was publicly read by Ezra in the year 444 B.C., is in perfect agreement with this conclusion, despite the fact that Stade, Cornill and Kautzsch argue for a date prior to the time of Ezra. On the other hand, Nagelsbach, Kohler, Orelli, Reuss and Volck rightly place the book in the period between the two visits of Nehemiah (445-432 B.C.).


In Conclusion


As far as I can tell, there appears to be no major obstacle towards accepting the view of the Targum of Jonathan ben Uzziel that “Malachi”, so-called, is to be identified with the priest, Ezra (whom I have further identified with – the Malachi-like – Nehemiah the governor):


Ezra the Scribe Identified as Nehemiah the Governor




Nehemiah bridges Persia and Greece

Image result for nehemiah and sanballat



Damien F. Mackey


 “Years later, when it pleased God, the Persian emperor sent Nehemiah back to Jerusalem, and Nehemiah told the descendants of those priests to find the fire. They reported to us that they had found no fire but only some oily liquid. Nehemiah then told them to scoop some up and bring it to him”.

 2 Maccabees 1:20




This verse from Second Maccabees greatly intrigues me because, according to it, governor Nehemiah of the Persian era was in contact with priests of the Maccabean era.


Consider what this means from a chronological point of view.


Nehemiah, customarily dated to c. 445 BC, the Persian era, is said to have been personally in touch with “priests” of the Hellenistic era.


The “us” to whom these priests “reported” were, as we learn at the beginning of this Maccabean chapter, “the Jews of Jerusalem and Judea” (1:1), these living in “the year 169” of the Greeks (1:7), which date, we are told, “corresponds to 143 B.C”.


Nehemiah must have been extraordinarily old these three centuries (445-143) later!

Poor Nehemiah really gets played around with. As if three centuries of life span were not enough for him, “he” re-emerges later, supposedly – still as an agent of Persia – in the C7th AD. See my article:


Two Supposed Nehemiahs: BC time and AD time



Now that is really stretching things!


“Two Sanballats”


“If we are to put any confidence in the story of Josephus, then there must have been at least two Sanballats, and probably two Jadduas, and at two different times a son of a high priest must have married a daughter of a Sanballat”.


Conventional patterns of history are famous for having to invent extra persons of the same name (e.g. a “Sanballat” I, II and III; a “Jaddua” I and II) in order to bridge over-inflated chronological estimations. Thus we read in an article, “Ezra-Nehemiah”


…. Neither language nor style can be assigned as a ground for asserting a date later than the 5th century BC as the time of the composition of the book. A much stronger reason against placing the final redaction of the books at so early a time is the mention of a Jaddua among the high priests in Nehemiah 12:11,22, it being assumed that this is the same Jaddua whom Josephus mentions (Ant., XI, viii, 4) as having filled the high-priestly office in the time of Alexander the Great. In view of the fact that Josephus is the only source of information as to the period between 400 and 300 BC, it seems unfair to accept what he says as to the existence of this Jaddua, while rejecting substantially all the rest of the same chapter in Josephus which tells about Sanballat, Manasseh and Alexander’s meeting with Jaddua. Inasmuch as the Sachau papyri, written in the 17th year of Darius Nothus, that is, in 410-408 BC, mention the sons of Sanballat the governor of Samaria, the Sanballat who was their father must have lived about 450 BC. The same papyrus mentions Jehohanan (Johnnan of Nehemiah 12:22) as the high priest of the temple at Jerusalem, and Bagohi (Bagoas) was the Persian governor of Jerusalem in 410-408 BC. Since, according to Nehemiah 13:6, Nehemiah was governor in 434-433 BC, the 32nd year of Artaxerxes, Bagoas would be perhaps his immediate successor. If we are to put any confidence in the story of Josephus, then there must have been at least two Sanballats, and probably two Jadduas, and at two different times a son of a high priest must have married a daughter of a Sanballat. While this is not impossible, it seems better to suppose that Josephus has confused matters beyond any possibility of disentanglement, and we might be justified in throwing over entirely his account of a Sanballat, a Manasseh, and a Jaddua as living in the year 330 BC, when Alexander conquered Syria. As far, of course, as the Jaddua of Nehemiah 12:11,22 is concerned, he may well have been high priest as early as 406 BC, and have continued to serve till 330 BC. On the other hand, another of the same name, probably a grandson, may, for all we know to the contrary, have been high priest in 330 BC. ….


Such painful duplicating ceases to be necessary within my revision, according to which the Medo-Persian kingdom is to be greatly streamlined, enabling for Nehemiah himself to become a bridge between it and the Hellenistic period inaugurated by Alexander the Great.







Ezra the Scribe Identified as Nehemiah the Governor

Image result for nehemiah


 Damien F. Mackey



The books of Ezra and Nehemiah, combined with information from the Maccabees,

may necessitate a profound revision of Persian (and Greek) history.



Tracing Ezra’s Career


Ezra 1-2


When Cyrus king of Persia issued his famous proclamation in his first year of rule (Ezra 1:1) – {in c. 539 BC, according to conventional dating} – then more than 42,000 exiles returned to Jerusalem (2:64), led by “Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah … Mordecai … (2:2).


No mention here of Ezra (qua Ezra).


Now, according to my biblico-historical revision series so far for the era of this king Cyrus:


“King Ahasuerus” of [the] Book of Esther 




this Great King was also the “King Ahasuerus” (var. “Artaxerxes”) of the Book of Esther, whom Esther (“Hadassah”) married, and the “Darius the Mede” of the Book of Daniel.


Ezra 3


“The altar was set up on its old site” (v. 3).

And, afterwards, the foundations of the Temple of Yahweh were laid (v. 10).


Ezra 4


This chapter 4 provide us with an historical overview of the work, and the interruptions to it, from the reign of Cyrus until the Temple’s completion in the reign of Darius king of Persia.

The “Xerxes” referred to in v. 6 can still be Cyrus, as “Ahasuerus”, since the latter name is thought to equate very well with the name “Xerxes”. In “The Hadassah File”, Herb Storck has written regarding this (pp. 1-2):


The question as to which king is meant by the name Ahasuerus has been met with an impressive list of candidates over the centuries. Every King from Cyaxares I, ca. 600 B.C., to Artaxerxes III, ca. 350 B.C., has been advanced in solution to this dilemma. … [An assessment of these views can be found by L. B. Paton in the International Critical Commentary (ICC) “Esther”, p. 51-54].

The modern identification has fallen upon Xerxes, king of Persia from 486-465 B.C., this contention having been linguistically established. The name Ahasuerus has been demonstrated to be the equivalent of Xerxes …. [For a discussion in this connection I refer you to William H. Shea, “Esther and History”, Andrews University Seminary Studies 14 (1976) p. 227-46 and C. Moore, “Archaeology and the Book of Esther”, Biblical Archaeologist 38 (1975) p. 70]. …


Some versions actually replace “Xerxes” with “Ahasuerus” in v. 6: “At the beginning of the reign of Xerxes [Ahasuerus], they lodged an accusation against the people of Judah and Jerusalem”.

Moreover, since the “Ahasuerus” of the Esther story is also referred to as “Artaxerxes”, so the same king may still possibly be the “Artaxerxes” of vv. 7-8:


And in the days of Artaxerxes, Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel and the rest of his colleagues wrote to Artaxerxes king of Persia; and the text of the letter was written in Aramaic and translated from Aramaic. Rehum the commander and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to King Artaxerxes, as follows–…


Rehum and his colleagues denounce the allegedly “rebellious” Jews to King Artaxerxes in terms highly reminiscent of Haman’s denunciation (decree) in Esther 3:3-15, which may be a contemporaneous action. Consequently, by order of the Great King, the work was “stopped … by force of arms” (v. 23).


Ezra 5-6


Now in the reign of Darius the Persian, the work resumes, and is finally brought to its completion. (6:15-16): “This Temple was finished on the twenty-third day of the month of Adar; it was the sixth year of the reign of king Darius”.


Ezra 7


It is only now, in this chapter 7, that we are introduce to Ezra qua Ezra.

It is (v. 8) “the seventh year of the reign of king Artaxerxes”.

Herb Storck has argued forcibly that this particular “Artaxerxes” was Darius the Persian, and that the seventh year occurred directly after the completion of the Temple in the sixth year (History and Prophecy: A Study in the Post-Exilic Period, House of Nabu, 1989, p. 15):


This historical scenario seems to be fully appreciated by the author of Ezra chapter vii. There is an extraordinary preoccupation with continuity with the First Temple, and a connection with Aaron and Moses. This chapter is placed immediately after the completion of the Temple where it is both historically and logically expected. It moves from the sixth year of Darius to the seventh year of Artaxerxes without blinking. Everything is carried out with majesty, a sense of urgency and historical dynamism so reminiscent of the reign of Darius the Great. Yet the events are chronicled under a king called Artaxerxes. How is this to be explained? The best explanation is that Artaxerxes is a title for Darius ….


In conventional history, of course, Ezra’s Artaxerxes is well separated from Darius the Great (c. 522-486 BC) if the former is Artaxerxes I (c. 464-424 BC) – or by considerably more years if he is Artaxerxes II (c. 404-358 BC). The uncertainty about Ezra is noted in the following



When Ezra went to Jerusalem is the subject of great controversy. …. Ezra might have gone to Jerusalem about 458 BC, during the reign of Artaxerxes I, or he might have gone about 398 BC, during the reign of Artaxerxes II.

No such controversy exists for dating Nehemiah … there is enough information in the text to make it clear that it was during the reign of Artaxerxes I that Nehemiah came to Jerusalem — therefore Nehemiah was appointed governor in 445 BC.


Biblical scholar, A. van Hoonacker, had strongly argued for Nehemiah’s having actually preceded Ezra, as we learn in the following quotation from Fr. North again (op. cit., 24:82):


In his lectures at Louvain from 1880, and especially in a series of publications since 1890 (RB 33 [1924] 33-64), A. van Hoonacker dropped a bombshell into the staid fixity of exegetical preconceptions by claiming that Ezra first appeared under Artaxerxes II in 398. His arguments are reduced to eight points: 1) The wall for which Nehemiah is chiefly renowned already exists when Ezra reaches Jerusalem (9:9; qãdêr). 2) Ezra (10:1) finds Jerusalem already repopulated (by Nehemiah, 11:1). 3) Nehemiah is put before Ezra in Nehemiah 12:26; 8:1. 4) Eliashib, contemporary of Nehemiah (13:4), is (grand-?)father of Jehohanan, Ezra’s contemporary (Ezr 10:6 = Neh 12:23?). 5) The silence of Nehemiah’s memoir about Ezra’s allegedly earlier Torah promulgation is inexplicable. 6) Nehemiah (11:3) enumerates repatriates led by Sheshbazzar and/or Zerubbabel, but not those led by Ezra (8:2). 7) Ezra (8:33) makes use of a committee of four resembling that instituted by Nehemiah (13:13). 8) Nehemiah’s handling of mixed marriages, delayed until his second tour of duty (13:23), could not suppose Ezra (9:14) to have preceded.


However, if Ezra were Nehemiah as I am suggesting, then the matter of precedence becomes a non issue.

Ezra is grandly introduced in chapter 7 as follows (vv. 1-6):


… during the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah, the son of Shallum, the son of Zadok, the son of Ahitub, the son of Amariah, the son of Azariah, the son of Meraioth, the son of Zerahiah, the son of Uzzi, the son of Bukki, the son of Abishua, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the chief priest— this Ezra came up from Babylon. He was a teacher well versed in the Law of Moses, which the Lord, the God of Israel, had given.


We go on to read of this most learned man as highly favoured by the Great King, whose support he had won owing to the grace of God.

It is very reminiscent of what Tobit 1:13-14 had recorded about himself in relation to king “Shalmaneser” of Assyria.

Thus Ezra (v. 6): “The king had granted him everything he asked, for the hand of the Lord his God was on him” (cf. v. 25, 27-28).

In most similarly terms will Nehemiah record (Nehemiah 2:8): “And because the gracious hand of my God was on me, the king granted my requests”.


So, at this point, we can now begin our task of merging Ezra with Nehemiah.




(Nehemiah 1:1): “The words of Nehemiah son of Hakaliah”.

Whilst Nehemiah is a Hebrew name, I have already suggested that Nehemiah may appear in Esther as “Mehuman”. That would leave open the possibility that, if Nehemiah were Ezra, then the name “Nehemiah” may have been a Hebraïsed version of his Persian name. In Ezra 7:14 we read of “the king and his seven counsellors”, which may be another connection with the Book of Esther in which the king’s seven are actually named (Esther 1:14): “ … Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, Memucan, seven heads of Persia and Media seeing the face of the king, who are sitting first in the kingdom”.

Again, “the queen” referred to in Nehemiah 2:6: “Then the king, with the queen sitting beside him …”, may be – as some have surmised – Queen Esther herself.

“Hacaliah” and other versions of the name of Nehemiah’s father’s name (e.g. “Helcias”) are, as we read in The Jerome Biblical Commentary’s article on “Nehemiah”, highly problematical. Fr. R. North tells of the situation in “Nehemiah” (The Jerome Biblical Commentary, 24:101):


Both Hacaliah (MT) and Halakiah [var. Helcias] (supposed by LXX) defy known Hebr. patterns. The MT reading is defended by H. Gotthard (Text des Buches Nehemia [Wiesbaden, 1958] 1, 19) along with the eunuch hypothesis. H. Ginsberg (BASOR 80 [1940] 12) doubts that Hakal-yâ is the correct reading of the Lachish letter 20. I.


In my revised context, “Hacaliah” would find its resolution in “[Ezra … ] son of Hilkiah”.




Ezra, like Nehemiah, will administer, command and appoint, by command of the Great King, in the province of Trans-Euphrates (vv. 21-26):


And I, even I Artaxerxes the king, do make a decree to all the treasurers which are beyond the river, that whatsoever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, shall require of you, it be done speedily, Unto an hundred talents of silver, and to an hundred measures of wheat, and to an hundred baths of wine, and to an hundred baths of oil, and salt without prescribing how much.

Whatsoever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be diligently done for the house of the God of heaven: for why should there be wrath against the realm of the king and his sons?

Also we certify you, that touching any of the priests and Levites, singers, porters, Nethinims, or ministers of this house of God, it shall not be lawful to impose toll, tribute, or custom, upon them.

And thou, Ezra, after the wisdom of thy God, that is in thine hand, set magistrates and judges, which may judge all the people that are beyond the river [var. “the province of Trans-Euphrates”], all such as know the laws of thy God; and teach ye them that know them not.

And whosoever will not do the law of thy God, and the law of the king, let judgment be executed speedily upon him, whether it be unto death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment.


Likewise, when we turn to 2 Maccabees, we learn that Nehemiah was in charge of the priests (1:20-21, 30):


But after many years had passed, when it pleased God, Nehemiah, having been commissioned by the king of Persia, sent the descendants of the priests who had hidden the fire to get it. And when they reported to us that they had not found fire but only a thick liquid, he ordered them to dip it out and bring it. When the materials for the sacrifices were presented, Nehemiah ordered the priests to sprinkle the liquid on the wood and on the things laid upon it.

…. Then the priests sang the hymns.


Ezra 8


Continuing in this same vein, of priestly and liturgical administration, Ezra tells (vv. 15-17):


When I checked among the people and the priests, I found no Levites there. So I summoned Eliezer, Ariel, Shemaiah, Elnathan, Jarib, Elnathan, Nathan, Zechariah and Meshullam, who were leaders, and Joiarib and Elnathan, who were men of learning, and I ordered them to go to Iddo, the leader in Kasiphia. I told them what to say to Iddo and his fellow Levites, the temple servants in Kasiphia, so that they might bring attendants to us for the house of our God.


Some thirteen years later, now in the 20th year of this same Persian king (Nehemiah 1:1), Nehemiah (my Ezra) will again take royal instructions to the governors of Trans-Euphrates. But, whereas he formerly (as Ezra) had not been accompanied by any of the king’s cavalry (Ezra 8:21-22):


Then, there at the Ahava River, I proclaimed a fast; so that we could humble ourselves before our God and ask a safe journey of him for ourselves, our little ones and all our possessions. For I would have been ashamed to ask the king for a detachment of soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies along the road, since we had said to the king, “The hand of our God is on all who seek him, for good; but his power and fury is against all who abandon him.”[,]


he now, as Nehemiah, did have a military escort (Nehemiah 2:9): “So I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king’s letters. The king had also sent army officers and cavalry with me”.







And, just as Ezra had proclaimed a fast at the outset “before our God” (above), so would Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1:4): “For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven”. (Cf. Nehemiah 9:1)


Three days


Upon their arrival at Jerusalem, Ezra and his party (v. 32) “rested for three days”.

Likewise Nehemiah (2:11) “went to Jerusalem, and after staying there three days …”.


Everything Recorded


Ezra (8:33, 34): “… we weighed out the silver and gold and the sacred articles …. Everything was accounted for by number and weight, and the entire weight was recorded at that time”.

Nehemiah 10 is a detailed record of the promises made by the community. And it, in turn, reflects Ezra 10.


Ezra 9


Ezra, shamefaced and overcome at the news that the people had been marrying foreign wives (vv. 1-7):


… the leaders came to me and said, “The people of Israel, including the priests and the Levites, have not kept themselves separate from the neighboring peoples with their detestable practices, like those of the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians and Amorites. They have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, and have mingled the holy race with the peoples around them. And the leaders and officials have led the way in this unfaithfulness.”

When I heard this, I tore my tunic and cloak, pulled hair from my head and beard and sat down appalled. Then everyone who trembled at the words of the God of Israel gathered around me because of this unfaithfulness of the exiles. And I sat there appalled until the evening sacrifice.

Then, at the evening sacrifice, I rose from my self-abasement, with my tunic and cloak torn, and fell on my knees with my hands spread out to the Lord my God and prayed:


‘I am too ashamed and disgraced, my God, to lift up my face to you, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens. From the days of our ancestors until now, our guilt has been great. Because of our sins, we and our kings and our priests have been subjected to the sword and captivity, to pillage and humiliation at the hand of foreign kings, as it is today. …’.


He, as Nehemiah, will later “in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon” (13:6) face the same problem again. And this time he – still calling it ‘sin’ – will react most angrily (13:23-27):


… in those days I saw men of Judah who had married women from Ashdod, Ammon and Moab. Half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod or the language of one of the other peoples, and did not know how to speak the language of Judah. I rebuked them and called curses down on them. I beat some of the men and pulled out their hair. I made them take an oath in God’s name and said: ‘You are not to give your daughters in marriage to their sons, nor are you to take their daughters in marriage for your sons or for yourselves. Was it not because of marriages like these that Solomon king of Israel sinned? Among the many nations there was no king like him. He was loved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel, but even he was led into sin by foreign women. Must we hear now that you too are doing all this terrible wickedness and are being unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women?’


Part of Ezra’s prayer on the above occasion, Ezra 9:6-15, mirrors both that of Nehemiah 9 and that which is attributed to Nehemiah in 2 Maccabees 1:24-30:


And the prayer was after this manner; O Lord, Lord God, Creator of all things, who art fearful and strong, and righteous, and merciful, and the only and gracious King,

The only giver of all things, the only just, almighty, and everlasting, thou that deliverest Israel from all trouble, and didst choose the fathers, and sanctify them: Receive the sacrifice for thy whole people Israel, and preserve thine own portion, and sanctify it. Gather those together that are scattered from us, deliver them that serve among the heathen, look upon them that are despised and abhorred, and let the heathen know that thou art our God.

Punish them that oppress us, and with pride do us wrong.

Plant thy people again in thy holy place, as Moses hath spoken.

And the priests sang psalms of thanksgiving.


Nehemiah and Ezra Named Separately?


In Nehemiah 8:9, one reads a verse that could distinguish Ezra from Nehemiah.

The NIV renders it as: “Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher of the Law, and the Levites …”. However, in The Jerusalem Bible that I have been chiefly following in this case because it had seemed to present a coherent overview, the reference to Nehemiah is given in brackets, as follows: “Then (Nehemiah – His Excellency – and) Ezra, priest and scribe … said to all the people …”. With the brackets removed, this becomes: “Then Ezra, priest and scribe … said …”.


Given the Hebrew use of waw consecutive, with “and” to be replaced by “even” in translation, then the sense of Nehemiah 8:9 might actually be: “Then Nehemiah … even Ezra …”.

The same comment may apply to Nehemiah 12:26: “They served … in the days of Nehemiah the governor and of Ezra the priest, the teacher of the Law”.


Concluding Note


My argument for Ezra and Nehemiah as just the one person, if legitimate, would add weight to the early view that the two separate books, Ezra and Nehemiah, were actually a unity.




My revision of Ezra and Nehemiah re-locates the terminus ad quem for these events in the 32nd year of Darius the Great (in c. 490 BC conventional dating). The problem is that, according to 2 Maccabees, Nehemiah appears to have been communicating with priests who were actually contemporaneous with the Maccabean period. Thus 1:20:


Years later, when it pleased God, the Persian emperor sent Nehemiah back to Jerusalem, and Nehemiah told the descendants of those priests to find the fire. They reported to us that they had found no fire but only some oily liquid. Nehemiah then told them to scoop some up and bring it to him.


In conventional terms, 2 Maccabees is supposed to begin in c. 180 BC.

That is a long, long way from 490 BC! What, then, is the extent of the revision required for properly co-ordinating the Persian period and the early Greek (Macedonian) period?



Job not ‘oldest book of the Bible’

Book of Job probably dependent upon Tobit


Part Two:

Job not ‘oldest book of the Bible’




 Damien F. Mackey

“I proposed long ago that Job actually lived during the Biblical ice age …. I consider the book of Job to be the oldest book of the Bible, written no more than 700 years after the Noahic flood …”.


Dr Bernard E. Northrup


 “Most Bible scholars agree that Job is probably the oldest book of the Bible.  The timeframe of Job is probably somewhere between Noah and Moses since it does not refer to Israel, the Old Testament law or any reference to God’s covenant with Abraham”.




“The Book of Job is full of fascinating paradoxes: despite it’s being the oldest book of the Bible (Job 19:23), it is very badly known …”.


Gerard Gertoux


“Job is probably the oldest book in the Bible. … contains some of the most difficult and archaic Hebrew in the Bible. Even the name Job is known to be an ancient name. …. Job probably dates back to the time of the patriarchs, around 2100-1700BC”.


Rob Buckingham

Certainly it is true that many, if not necessarily (as above): “Most Bible scholars agree that Job is [or] probably [is] the oldest book of the Bible”. 

Despite all that, there is still a great degree of uncertainty about it as I wrote in my article:


Book of Job a Puzzle to Scholars



“The authorship, date, and place of composition of the Book of Job constitute some of the most keenly contested and most uncertain problems in Biblical Criticism. There is perhaps no book in the Canon of Scripture to which more diverse dates have been assigned. Every period of Jewish history, from BC 1400 to BC 150, has had its advocates as that to which this mysterious and magnificent poem must be relegated, and this criticism ranges over 1200 years of uncertainty”.


And if, as I concluded in Part One of this series:

https://www.academia.edu/36193236/Book_of_Job_probably_dependent_upon_Tobit the Book of Tobit would have pre-dated Job, then the Book of Job must be quite a late product – later than 700 BC (conventional dating), at least, given that: “Tobit …. Date Written: 300-200 BC. Date of Narrative: c. 700 BC” (Catholic News Agency).

Whilst my own estimation would be a date much closer to 700 BC than to 300 BC, the essential point here is that the Book of Job, post-dating 700 BC, could not possibly be “the oldest book of the Bible”.

Genesis itself, for instance, I believe to be far, far earlier. See e.g. my:


Structure of the Book of Genesis


The prophet Job was, according to my article:


Job’s Life and Times



the same as Tobias, the son of Tobit, the family being Naphtalian Israelite exiles in Nineveh during the C8th BC (conventional dating). This is at last a most solid biographical anchor for the otherwise mysterious Job, yet few appear to have taken it up. One reason is probably because the Book of Tobit is not yet accepted as canonical by Jews and Protestants (and the average Catholic is not very Old Testament minded). However, the following is encouraging:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Tobit [emphasis added]


… it could be hypothesized that some ancient Jewish rabbinic scholars considered Tobit to be historical. Midrash Bereishit Rabbah, an aggadic commentary on the Book of Genesis compiled circa 400–600 AD, includes a truncated Aramaic version of Tobit. Tobit was also considered part of the Septuagint (the Greek translation/interpretation of the Hebrew Bible).[8] In more contemporary times, a number of Jews in Israel have sought to reclaim Tobit as part of the canon.[16]


An important historical clue may be that holy Job’s camels were taken by a band of “Chaldeans” (Job 1:17): “The Chaldeans formed three companies [Heb: רָאשִׁ֑ים], raided the camels, captured the servants, and killed them with swords”. For, the long-lived Tobias endured into the Chaldean era.

For my condensing of the neo-Assyrian and neo-Babylonian eras, see e.g. my:


Ashurbanipal and Nabonidus


Added to this piece of evidence, I have previously written: “… I would suggest that the Book of Job drew heavily upon the Book of Tobit, the events in which historically, at least (leaving aside the matter of dates of composition), preceded the events as narrated in the Book of Job. This prompted me to write in:


Similarities to The Odyssey of the Books of Job and Tobit. Part Two: Tobit’s Dog and ‘Argus’ in Homer


“Though historically, the events described in the Book of Tobit would have pre-dated those narrated in the Book of Job, with Job, who is Tobias, now being an old man. So there may be good reason to think, instead, that the Book of Job was likely dependent upon Tobit”.


In this article, “Similarities to the Odyssey”, I included eight points of “similar motifs and common literary structures between the books of Tobit and of Job: as listed by JiSeong J. Kwon in Meaning and Context in Job and Tobit (JSOT; 2018 Forthcoming): https://www.academia.edu/34905218/Meaning_and_Context_in_Job_and_Tobit_JSOT_2018_Forthcoming_



Book of Job probably dependent upon Tobit

Image result for suffering job


 Damien F. Mackey


Tobias was ‘a chip off the old block’. Hence Raguel, when he first laid eyes on the young man, would exclaim “to his wife Edna, ‘Doesn’t this young man look just like my cousin Tobit?’” (Tobit 7:2). And, as I pointed out … Job (my Tobias) answered the accusations of his three ‘friends’ with the maxims that his father Tobit had taught him – maxims which he had faithfully observed … very much influenced by his pious father.



Biblical commentators can really scratch their heads when trying to solve the problems of the Book of Job:


Book of Job a Puzzle to Scholars



“The authorship, date, and place of composition of the Book of Job constitute some of the most keenly contested and most uncertain problems in Biblical Criticism. There is perhaps no book in the Canon of Scripture to which more diverse dates have been assigned. Every period of Jewish history, from BC 1400 to BC 150, has had its advocates as that to which this mysterious and magnificent poem must be relegated, and this criticism ranges over 1200 years of uncertainty”.


So I wrote in:


Job’s Life and Times



in which article I was able to lift the veil of obscurity at least concerning the identity of the prophet Job, his tribe and family, his historical era, and his geography.

The fact that many scholars have recognised strong parallels between the books of Job and Tobit, despite the great uncertainty about when Job may have lived, has only served to strengthen me in my view that Job was Tobias, the son of Tobit.

Tobias was ‘a chip off the old block’. Hence Raguel, when he first laid eyes on the young man, would exclaim “to his wife Edna, ‘Doesn’t this young man look just like my cousin Tobit?’” (Tobit 7:2). And, as I pointed out in the above article, Job (my Tobias) answered the accusations of his three ‘friends’ with the maxims that his father Tobit had taught him – maxims which he had faithfully observed. Tobias (Job) was very much influenced by his pious father.

Given that, then I would suggest that the Book of Job drew heavily upon the Book of Tobit, the events in which historically, at least (leaving aside the matter of dates of composition), preceded the events as narrated in the Book of Job. This prompted me to write in:

Similarities to The Odyssey of the Books of Job and Tobit. Part Two: Tobit’s Dog and ‘Argus’ in Homer



“Though historically, the events described in the Book of Tobit would have pre-dated those narrated in the Book of Job, with Job, who is Tobias, now being an old man. So there may be good reason to think, instead, that the Book of Job was likely dependent upon Tobit”.


In this article, “Similarities to the Odyssey”, I included eight points of “similar motifs and common literary structures between the books of Tobit and of Job: as listed by JiSeong J. Kwon in Meaning and Context in Job and Tobit (JSOT; 2018 Forthcoming): https://www.academia.edu/34905218/Meaning_and_Context_in_Job_and_Tobit_JSOT_2018_Forthcoming_ Here is part of that author’s Introduction to his article, in which he suggests “a probable dependence of Tobit upon Job”:


The book of Tobit describes the protagonist as someone located in Galilee, a member of the tribe of Naphtali, in the Assyrian city of Nineveh …. Because of the imprecise chronological order and geographical inaccuracy [sic] …


Mackey’s comment: But see my:


A Common Sense Geography of the Book of Tobit



… it has been supposed that the story and characters are fictional.

This deuterocanonical book has frequently been compared with the book of Job, and previous studies have suggested that the author of Tobit draws heavily upon Israelite wisdom materials and especially the book of Job as its plausible predecessor ….

For instance, Irene Nowell insists that “the structure of the two  books is similar” and “the progress of Tobit’s life is modelled on that of Job”; similarily Devorah Dimant maintains that Tobit refers to the Greek Job, not the MT Job;  Francis Macatangay that “Tobit employs motifs and contents found in Job, thereby making Job a literary model evoked in Tobit”. Among scholars studying the book of Job, Choon-Leong Seow in his commentary claims that “pride of place in terms of the book’s most substantial early influence must go to the book of Tobit”. Among recent interpreters, some point out that the common imagery of “light” and “darkness” is found frequently in both books. For instance, Anathea Portier-Young insists that the author of Tobit “in conversation with the book of Job” develops common themes such as “blindness, sight, and the hidden presence of God”, “advocate and accuse”, “chaos, providence, and holy help”. Although pointing out differences between them, her claim is allegedly prompted by the presupposition that Tobit uses the earlier [sic] book of Job. ….




Monsters in Book of Job

Image result for apatosaurus

Part One:

Were Dinosaurs Intended?



Damien F. Mackey


“Look at Behemoth, which I made along with you and which feeds on grass like an ox.
What strength it has in its loins, what power in the muscles of its belly!”

Job 40:15-16

“Can you pull in Leviathan with a fishhook or tie down its tongue with a rope?
Can you put a cord through its nose or pierce its jaw with a hook?”

Job 41:1-2



Some Creationists think dinosaurs were probably intended in these biblical descriptions.

Wayne Jackson, for example, referring to Creationist Dr. Henry Morris, will ask the question: Why do you suppose that a dinosaur is rarely proposed as a candidate for behemoth?”





Why do you suppose that a dinosaur is rarely proposed as a candidate for behemoth? The answer is very simple. As noted earlier, the common perception is that dinosaurs became extinct long before man arrived upon this planet (approximately 65 million years, it is alleged).Accordingly, behemoth simply could not be a variety of dinosaur — because the chronological disparity prohibits such. Dr. Henry Morris has addressed the matter in this fashion.


“Modern Bible scholars, for the most part, have become so conditioned to think in terms of the long ages of evolutionary geology that it never occurs to them that mankind once lived in the same world with the great animals that are now found only as fossils” (p. 115).


As we have demonstrated already, there is unequivocal biblical testimony that human beings and dinosaurs inhabited the same early environment of the earth, and there is not a shred of scientific evidence that proves otherwise. ….


And Mart-Jan Paul, in “Behemoth and leviathan in the book of Job”, asking, “What, then, was behemoth?”, will suggest that it may have been a now extinct apatosaur, or something akin to it: https://creation.com/behemoth-and-leviathan


What, then, was behemoth?


If we take extinct animals into consideration, a herbivorous dinosaur seems a more likely candidate. The apatosaur had a large tail, lived on green plants and weighed about 30 tonnes. The ultrasaur could reach a height of 18 m and a length of 30 m, with a weight of 136 tonnes. It also was a herbivore with an enormous tail. The brachiosaur was 12 m tall, 23 m long and 60 to 70 tonnes in weight. Its tail could reach a length of nearly 6 m and a breadth of nearly 1.5 m. In the sauropods, large bundles of muscles are visible on the outside of the body of the animal. Behemoth is not only a herbivore, but more specifically it is a grass-eater. An animal that does fit this aspect is the 15 m long nigersaur, found in the Republic of Niger in Africa.13


Because new kinds of extinct animals continue to be found in our time, and because the description in Job 40 is not specific enough, we cannot identify precisely which animal is described. Neither do we know whether the above-mentioned animals still lived in the time of Job, but it is useful for our exegesis to include such examples. ….


Allan Steel has, for his part, written an entire article on the subject, “Could Behemoth Have Been a Dinosaur?”: https://answersingenesis.org/dinosaurs/could-behemoth-have-been-a-dinosaur/ in which he concludes:



The whole passage in Job 40 concerning Behemoth certainly suggests a large animal, and no known living animal fits the passage adequately (for various reasons, including the detailed habitat presented).


The most natural interpretation of the key clause Job 40:17a is that the tail of Behemoth is compared to a cedar for its great size, and there is nothing in the context which contradicts this possibility, even though the exact sense of the verb is extremely difficult to determine.

Consequently, the most reasonable interpretation (which also takes the whole passage into account) is that Behemoth was a large animal, now extinct, which had a large tail. Thus some type of extinct dinosaur should still be considered a perfectly reasonable possibility according to our present state of knowledge. ….


Some Creationists are actually of the view that there were dinosaurs on board Noah’s Ark.


The ridiculousness of such a view has been painfully – but also humorously (as well it should be) – exposed by professor Ian Plimer in his book, Telling Lies for God.

Plimer, whom Creationists are quick to denounce, has actually done a service for conservative biblical scholars throughout much of this book.


But such science-based criticisms do not deter not stop the likes of John Mackay, “DINOSAURS: How could Noah have fitted such huge animals on the Ark?”: http://askjohnmackay.com/dinosaurs-how-could-noah-have-fitted-such-huge-animals-on-the-ark/ Apparently Noah and his family had been busy collecting dinosaur eggs:


Many years ago sceptic and Geology Professor Ian Plimer made this same challenge in his book Telling Lies for God (Random House, 1994) where he claimed Noah had to take on board two “80 tonne Ultrasaurus dinosaurs”. (pp105 & 115) Other critics have challenged: “How could you fit a four story high Brachiosaurus on a three story high boat?”


But these questions expose a hidden assumption: Why do most people think that all the creatures that got on the ark were overgrown adults? Why not babies or juveniles, and if so, how big was a baby dinosaur? Genesis specifies the size of the ark, but not the size of the animals that came to get on board. However, since it was God who sent the land dwelling, air breathing creatures to Noah, and since this God had told Noah how big to build the Ark, (Genesis 6:14-16) then it shouldn’t surprise you that the same God would have known exactly what size Diamantinasaurus or Deinonychus to send.


So how small could dinosaurs have been? It may surprise you to know that all dinosaur eggs discovered to date can be held in your hand. The largest dinosaur egg known is 16” (41 cm) long. All others are smaller than the biggest bird eggs. It seems that just like their living cousins the crocodiles, dinosaurs hatched out of eggs and were born cute little guys. Just as present day 10cm (4 inch) long baby crocs make neat little pets, so ‘hold in your hand’ size baby dinos would have also.


Noah could easily have taken two of every kind of dinosaur hatchling onto the Ark in his pockets. It also seems that like their living relatives the crocodiles, (and most modern reptiles), dinosaur bones show that dinosaurs grew fairly fast for the first 25 years of their life, and then their growth slowed down – but most never seemed to cease growing till they died. So in the world before the Noah’s Flood where even men lived to nearly 1,000 years of age, a cute little 6 month old Dino could have reached adult size by the time he was 25 and would then grown to be even more impressive by the time he was 250 yrs old.

But it doesn’t matter how big he could have become – only how small he was when he turned up at the bottom of Noah’s plank.


Of course there is one question still in abeyance here. Since the Bible says that God sent two of every kind of land dwelling air breathing creatures to Noah, then did dinosaurs only live on the dry land? Sir Richard Owen who invented the term Dinosaur said so, and it’s been the trend ever since to think this way. Dino’s are certainly reptilian, but then so are sea snakes and crocodiles. Increasingly there is evidence some Dinosaurs lived along the edge of the water (fresh or salt ) where they used the buoyancy of water to hold up their massive weight. Be worth keeping your eye on that research to see where it goes next.

Part Two:

Were they non dinosaur animals?


Now the word Behemoth is undoubtedly a Hebrew attempt to render the Egyptian, p-ehe-mau, ‘hippopotamus’, probably not found in Palestine. Leviathan is obviously, from its description, the crocodile. These fierce creatures were both natives of the Nile in Egypt. They were not dinosaurs.




In Part One we saw that some Creationists favour, for the identification of the monsters in the Book of Job (and here I am most interested in the pair, “Behemoth” and “Leviathan”), now-extinct dinosaurs.


I personally would not admit dinosaurs, though, either to Noah’s Ark (refer to Part One), or to the Book of Job. For one thing, the Book of Job is far too late by my estimations of it, according to which the prophet Job was the C8th BC (conventional dating) Tobias, son of Tobit. See e.g. my article:


Job’s Life and Times



That is not to say that there were no dinosaurs on earth at that time, or even much later.

There is, for instance, that intriguing bas-relief of what looks like a Stegosaurus carved on the Ta Prohm temple in Cambodia, built supposedly around 1186 AD.


But dinosaurs were not wandering around in the region where Job-Tobias lived, the Fertile Crescent (where evidence for dinosaurs tends to be scarcer, anyway), as late as the C8th BC.


Others think that the Job-ian monsters were meant to intend, either regular animals, or demons. Or, that they were somewhat exaggerated descriptions of regular animals intended also to symbolise demons.


I personally would favour that firstly regular animals are intended.

After all, the horse which is so majestically described in Job 39:19-25:


“Do you give the horse his strength or clothe his neck with a flowing mane?

Do you make him leap like a locust, striking terror with his proud snorting?

He paws fiercely, rejoicing in his strength, and charges into the fray.

He laughs at fear, afraid of nothing; he does not shy away from the sword.

The quiver rattles against his side, along with the flashing spear and lance.

In frenzied excitement he eats up the ground; he cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds.

At the blast of the trumpet he snorts, ‘Aha!’ He catches the scent of battle from afar, the shout of commanders and the battle cry. …”.


is simply a horse, though poetically described.

But that secondly they (Behemoth” and “Leviathan” at least) can be extended to symbolise (figurative sense) demons.


If they indeed were regular animals, then which ones might have been intended?

Eric Lyons, in a well titled article, “Behemoth and Leviathan–Creatures of Controversy”, refers to the view of St. Thomas Aquinas, that “Behemoth” was the elephant, whilst “Leviathan” was the whale:




For centuries, students of the Bible have questioned the identity of behemoth and leviathan. “In the Middle Ages, some theologians, like Albert Magnus, conceived of behemoth as a symbol of sensuality and sin. Others, like Thomas Aquinas, equated behemoth with the elephant, and leviathan with the whale” (Gordis, 1978, p. 569)—both being natural monsters in the literal sense, but representing diabolical power in a figurative sense. In 1663, Samuel Bochart published a two-volume work identifying the two animals under consideration as the hippopotamus and the crocodile. Then, as additional extrabiblical literature came to light in the middle-to-late nineteenth century (most notably from Mesopotamia), the mythological interpretation was revived and comparative mythology became very popular among biblical scholars.


By the closing of the nineteenth century, some scholars began to see mythology as the solution to the “identification problem” of the creatures described in Job 40-41. That problem was stated by T.K. Cheyne as early as 1887 when he observed that “…neither Behemoth nor Leviathan corresponds strictly to any known animal” (p. 56). In 1892, C.H. Toy argued that behemoth and leviathan were water animals associated with the “primeval seas Apsu and Tiamat as they appeared to be presented in the emerging Babylonian Epic of Creation” (as quoted in Wilson, 1975, 25:2). In his commentary on Job, Tur-Sinai dismissed behemoth altogether, and suggested instead that the passage of Scripture from Job 40:15 through the end of the chapter is concerned with only one powerful figure—the mythological leviathan (1967, p. 558). Marvin Pope probably is the most recent well-known supporter of the mythological view. Using the Ugaritic texts as support for his theory, Pope has proposed that behemoth and leviathan of Job 40-41 are the same mythological creatures found in the ancient Jewish writings of Enoch, IV Ezra, and the Apocalypse of Baruch. ….


Given traditions associating the prophet Job with Egypt, The Testament of Job going so far as to make Job a king in Egypt, a tradition that I have embraced:


Stellar Life and Career of the holy Prophet Job



then I would favour the view that these were animals well-known to Egypt, Behemoth being the hippopotamus and Leviathan the crocodile.


I have previously written on this:


As those in the know have shown, however, the Book of Job is saturated with Egyptianisms – just as is the Book of Genesis – indicating an author/editor who had spent much time in Egypt (as Moses certainly had – but I have also argued this for Job as a long time resident in Egypt) …. Now the word Behemoth is undoubtedly a Hebrew attempt to render the Egyptian, p-ehe-mau, ‘hippopotamus’, probably not found in Palestine. Leviathan is obviously, from its description, the crocodile. These fierce creatures were both natives of the Nile in Egypt. They were not dinosaurs.


But as wise commentators have also discerned down through the centuries, these Job-ian creatures also symbolically denoted demons. The hippopotamus and the crocodile were often depicted together by Egyptian artists as savage and vengeful demon-idols. The Egyptians, unlike modern skeptics, believed in the powers of darkness and worshipped them. In this they were philosophically advanced at least over the skeptics, then and now, who can believe in nothing beyond matter. Skeptics therefore cannot explain psychic phenomena, miracles, and diabolical possessions – in some cases of which even physically small people have been known to resist the efforts of six strong men to hold them down.


That the supernatural and preternatural are factors in the Book of Genesis, and indeed throughout the entire Bible – with cases of demonic possession being recorded in the New Testament – I find quite in keeping with reality in all of its totality, with the perennial philosophy (philosophia perennis) of humankind. The typical modern-day ‘philosopher’, due to his lack of courage to search for the whole truth, but preferring only bits of truth,  lives on a flatlining level of existence, admitting nothing vertical or transcendent, nothing to relieve the bitter passions. ….


Part Three: The demonic aspect


 “… [Job] chapters 38 and 39 … God had asked Job to survey the universe and ponder its complexity and intricacy. Here, in chapters 40 and 41, God is saying something more than that. Leviathan and Behemoth are representatives of evil, of Satan!

 Derek Thomas



New World Encyclopedia (“Leviathan”) entertains the possibility that “a demonic beast” may be intended in the Book of Job: http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Leviathan


The Leviathan is a Biblical sea monster, a mythical creature referred to in sections of the Old Testament, and while a popular metaphor in both Judaism and Christianity, the creature nonetheless is viewed differently in each religion. The creature can either be seen as a metaphor for the sheer size and power of God‘s creative abilities, or a demonic beast. In this context, the Leviathan is regarded as the monster of the waters, while the Behemoth and the Ziz are regarded as monsters of the earth and the air, respectively. Outside of religion, leviathan has become synonymous with any large sea creature, particularly whales. ….



And Derek Thomas has provided this original discussion (a sermon) of Job-ian monsters, according to which “Behemoth” is not a hippopotamus, nor “Leviathan” a crocodile: https://www.fpcjackson.org/resource-library/sermons/behemoth-and-leviathan


Behemoth and Leviathan


Did you ever ask yourself, Why did God make the hippopotamus?


Strange question? Yes! Especially in the context Job was in. Imagine it! Job is dying; he has suffered incalculable loss and pain. And He is asked: “Did you ever think about the hippopotamus?” You have to admit, this is a little weird.


Actually, the creature God alludes to in chapter 40 is not really a hippopotamus at all, but something called “the Behemoth.” “Look at the behemoth, which I made” (Job 40:15). Modern interpretations of this creature have tried to identify it with the hippo, but not with any great enthusiasm. Others have declared their allegiance to the rhinoceros. Older interpreters preferred to think that what God was talking about here was an elephant. Truth is, the description does not fit any of these creatures with ease.


Nor is this all. The next chapter opens with a description of something called “the Leviathan” (Job 41:1). Again, modern interpreters sometimes think this is a crocodile, whilst older ones prefer to think of it as a whale. A creature of the water certainly, but read the description of it and you will find yourself scratching your head and saying, “This is not like anything I’ve ever seen!”


Elephant, rhinoceros, or hippopotamus; whale, or crocodile, it doesn’t really matter; all are creatures that look a little odd. …. Everything about them seems out of proportion; cartoon-like exaggerations of mysterious creatures hard to describe without raising a wry smile.


What is more puzzling is not so much the identity of Behemoth or Leviathan, but that forty-four verses should be devoted to them at this point in the story. Think about it: Job is at his wits end, and finally God has spoken! He has come with a series of about fifty questions on the nature and origin of the universe. Job has responded to this “ordeal” for that is what it was, a trial of wisdomѕ by submitting to his divine opponent the response of ignorance. He simply did not know the answer to any of God’s questions. Job has to confess to his limitations as a finite human being. He cannot possibly be expected to understand God’s providence any more than he can understand the complexity of the origin and behaviour of the universe I which he lives.


But, there is more to Job’s dilemma. He has not only been unreasonable in his demands, asking for answers that he could not possibly have understood even if they had been given him; Job has also been sinful in his criticisms of the Almighty. Job has already lost the first round of this battle, saying: “I put my hand over my mouth, I will say no more” (Job 40:4-5). “Best of three” we almost hear Job saying! And so he must now prepare for another round:


“Brace yourself like a man;

I will question you,

and you shall answer me”

(Job 40:7)


The Ultimate Challenge

S. Lewis noted in his book A Grief Observed, that we can sometimes ask questions which God finds unanswerable! Questions like, How many hours are there in a mile? ….

But Job’s problem had extended further than merely asking silly questions. Job had been angry with God. In being angry, he had entered into judgment of God and His ways. God had been placed “in the dock.” Job had, in effect, set himself above God. He had committed man’s most prevalent sin: of making himself a god. As Eden-like as this is, Job must now face a deeper reality than his ignorance. He must face up to the sinfulness of his response. If Job had been morally “blameless” before the trial, he had not been during it.

In what must be one of the most startling passages in this extraordinary book, God throws down the gauntlet. If Job really does can discern right and wrong, then let him extend his fury and judge accordingly.

Do you have an arm like God’s,
and can your voice thunder like His?
Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor,
and clothe yourself in honor and majesty.
Unleash the fury of your wrath,
look at every proud man and bring him low,
look at every proud man and humble him,
crush the wicked where they stand.
Bury them all in the dust together;
shroud their faces in the grave.
Then I myself will admit to you
that your own right hand can save you.

(Job 40:9-14)

…. This reduction of God in our minds, has been going on since Adam’s time. We think we know better than God does. Not only that we know better, but that this gives us the moral edge. We are better than God! Somehow, in this whole business of asking moral and theological questions, we assume that our opinion is the right one. We do it all the time, putting God in the dock along with everyone and everything else. We make ourselves God, by making our moral sense the judge of everything. It is not so much our ignorance as it is our impiety that offends.


Dungeons and Dragons


Don’t you think Job might have been saying to himself: “This is like a nightmare! Here I am, about to die, and God is asking me about scary animals! He cannot be serious!”

Yes, He is!

But why does God ask about Behemoth and Leviathan? And what are they exactly?

And what in the world has this to do with Job’s problem?


Behemoth! We have already noted such suggestions as the elephant, or the rhinoceros, or even the hippopotamus. But the description that follows, especially of “his tail sways like a cedar” (40:17), doesn’t fit any of these creatures. ….


So too, Leviathan. This creature is capable of breathing out fire!


His snorting throws out flashes of light;
his eyes are like the rays of dawn.
Firebrands stream from his mouth;
sparks of fire shoot out.



A fire-breathing dragon! ….


Interesting as this is, there is another interpretation which calls for our attention. The book of Job has already used the word “Leviathan” in chapter 3. There, it seems to function as a synonym for “death” (Job 3:8). Jewish interpreters have been almost unanimous in their interpretation of both Leviathan and Behemoth as symbolic of all that is evil. An entire mythology of evil grew using these creatures to depict it. Nor is this difficult for us to imagine. Those who love the writings of C. S. Lewis or J. R. R. Tolkien are familiar enough with the genre of mythological creatures depicting forces of good and evil, whether it be The Chronicles of Narnia, or The Lord of the Rings. The Egyptians, for example, represented Seti, god of darkness, as a hippopotamus, and Canaanite myth often depicted the god of death skulking in swamps. The Gilgamesh epic has as its central character a bull.


Perhaps, the point of this passage is to further elucidate the point made in chapters 38 and 39. God and His ways are unknowable. What better way to reinforce that truth by asking the question: “Did you ever ask yourself why God made the hippopotamus? Or the whale?” The answer, of course, is that we have no idea. And pain is like that! We don’t understand it! But it is not important that we understand it; what is important for us to know is that God understands it!


It may be that this section is reinforcing the idea that much of God’s providence is incomprehensible to us.

To us not to God!


We are to live with mystery every day of our lives, just as we will in heaven. Even there, there will be things that will baffle us, confound us, knock us off our feet. With angels, we will be in awe of the complexity of what God does.

But there will never be a moment when we shall conclude: this isn’t fair.



The truth encapsulated in Romans 8:28, that everything works out in fulfillment of a divine and all-wise plan does not imply that we can fathom its intricate blue-prints. Sometimes all we can do is gasp at its audacity and sublimity. God’s providence takes out breath away.


But perhaps there is more here than that. That, after all, had been the message of chapters 38 and 39 as God had asked Job to survey the universe and ponder its complexity and intricacy. Here, in chapters 40 and 41, God is saying something more than that. Leviathan and Behemoth are representatives of evil, of Satan! Job, remember, knew virtually nothing about Satan. He was certainly entirely ignorant of the first two chapters where we are told of Satan’s wager: “allow me to take away from Job all that he has and you will see him in full scale denial.” That, mercifully, had proved to be false. But Job had very close to it, blaming God for what in fact had been Satan’s doing. Now he is being told in the language of pictures that another being as at work in the universe. This creature is powerful and threatening.

And fearsome! “he is king over all that are proud” (Job 41:34).


Is this what Job confesses following the depictions of these two beasts, whenever he says, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you” (Job 42:5)? Has Job come to realize that God is so powerful that not even the threats of Satan himself can undo his purpose towards his own? Satan may well be uncontrollable as far as we are concerned:

“Can you make a pet of him like a bird
or put him on a leash for your girls?” (Job 41:5)

But he is not uncontrollable as far as God is concerned. Job may not be able to overcome Leviathan’s power. He may not be able to “pull in leviathan with a fishhook or tie down his tongue with a rope [or] put a cord through his nose or pierce his jaw with a [hook] …” (Job 41:1-2). But God can! That is what Job has come to see. No matter how evil things may appear, or how afraid he may be, God is in control of everything and nothing is a threat to Him. To put it in a form in which the New Testament might say it: “neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 8:37-39). He who is able to “seize the dragon” (Rev 20:2), the “great dragon, who leads the whole world astray” (Rev 12:9), will be victorious. How come? “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (1 John 3:8).

There is no power that can undo the purposes of Almighty God. Job finds himself reduced to confessing his ignorance and his sinfulness:

“I know that You can do all things;
no plan of Yours can be thwarted.
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
Things too wonderful for me to know.
My ears had heard of You
But now my eyes have seen You.
Therefore I despise myself
And repent in dust and ashes.”

(Job 42:2,3,5)

Job had failed to consider the complexity of God’s ways. He had also failed to consider the malevolence of Satan. Who can fathom how God “allows sin and evil” but yet, is not the author of it? Who of us can understand how God can bring Satan into the picture as He does in the opening chapters, saying to him, “Have you considered My servant Job?” while at the same time maintaining His moral goodness and perfection.

The Devil wants us to think about him as little as possible. He is never happier than when he is ignored. As Lewis so cleverly put it:


“the more a man was in the Devil’s power, the less he would be aware of it, on the principle that a man is still fairly sober as long as he knows he’s drunk. It is the people who are fully awake and trying hard to be good who would be most aware of the Devil. It is when you start arming against Hitler that you first realize your country is full of Nazi agents. Of course, they don’t want you to believe in the Devil. If devils exist, their first aim is to give you an anaestheticѕ to put you off your guard. Only if that fails, do you become aware of them.” ….

For a while, a good while, the Devil had gained such a victory over Job. But now the anaesthetic has worn off. His mask has fallen. Job has come to see that the universe is much more complicated than he first assumed.

But God is still in control. And that is the best instruction he can receive. The shadow of the cross falls over every Christian’s pain and says: that pain is mine; it fills up “what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions” (Col 1:24). And what is more wondrous still, God has sent His Son into the world so that in His life and death, He has “disarmed the powers and authorities, [making] a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Col. 2:15).

Job has only glimpsed it, of course. Like a man who desires to see over a wall, jumps into the air to catch a fleeting glimpse of what lies the other side, so Job has caught a moments glance at what lies “the other side” of the cross. He has caught sight of the … victory which he cannot fully explain, but which he knows to be a certainty.

It is something that holds true for every believer. For you and for me. ….


Conclusion: Real animals are intended in the Book of Job because of the sober instance of the horse, but “Behemoth” and “Leviathan” in particular – respectively hippo and crocodile? – are presented in the Book of Job in such a highly poetic and exaggerated fashion as to suggest that they may be pointing to something more sinister lurking beyond the animal world.