[Job 40:15-20 CSB] (15) Look at Behemoth, which I made along with you. He eats grass like cattle. (16) Look at the strength of his back and the power in the muscles of his belly. (17) He stiffens his tail like a cedar tree; the tendons of his thighs are woven firmly together. (18) His bones are bronze tubes; his limbs are like iron rods. (19) He is the foremost [H7225] of God's works; only his Maker can draw the sword against him. (20) The hills yield food for him, while all sorts of wild animals play there.

Brenton LXX Job 40:19 This is the chief [G746] of the creation of the Lord; made to be played with by his angels.

[Pro 8:22 CSB] (22) "The LORD acquired me at the beginning [H7225] of his creation, before his works of long ago.

Brenton LXX Proverbs 8:22 The Lord made me the beginning [G746] of his ways for his works.

[Rev 3:14 NKJV] (14) "And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, 'These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning [G746] of the creation of God:

Does the reference in Job clash or play nicely with the other references?

1 Answer 1


This is a theologically loaded question on which much ink (and now electrons) have been spent.

In both Job 40:19 (Behemoth) and Prov 8:22 (wisdom) is described as רֵאשִׁית (reshith) meaning either: "beginning"/"first" or "chief". The same word occurs in Gen 1:1 - "in the beginning".

We have a very similar word in English, "principle" or "Principal" = first idea, or chief idea, or first teacher are all from the Latin word meaning beginning or chief. Our other English words "prince" and "principality" also come from the same root.

The Greek is also similar, ἀρχή (arche) means "beginning", "first", "ruler", or "chief". Indeed, John 1:1, a parody of Gen 1:1, used ἀρχή as does the LXX of Gen 1:1.

Taken together, this means there were many things the God created or existed at the beginning of creation, namely,

  • Gen 1:1 - the heavens and the earth
  • Job 40:19 - Behemoth
  • Prov 8:22 - widsom
  • Matt 19:14 - male and female
  • John 1:1 - the Word
  • Heb 1:10 - the foundation of the world
  • 1 John 3:8 - the Devils sin
  • Rev 3:14 - the Amen, the faithful and true witness = Jesus

Now, it clear that this word-idea does not always mean absolute beginning of something; it sometimes means "ruler", or, "Chief", or "most important". For example,

"Most important" is the obvious meaning of רֵאשִׁית (reshith)

  • Prov 4:7 (wisdom) - compare Prov 8:22.
  • Amos 6:1 - most important nation
  • Jer 49:25 - Most important bows (weapons)
  • Eze 20:40 - most important gift/oblations; see also 1 Sam 2:29
  • Amos 6:1 - best oils

"Start or beginning of something" meaning of רֵאשִׁית (reshith)

  • Ex 23:19 - best or beginning of the firstfruits
  • Gen 10:10 - kingdom
  • Num 24:20 - Amalek was the first of nations
  • Deut 11:12 - reign

In Greek we have a very similar state of affairs with ἀρχή (arche)

A. "beginning" or "start" meaning of ἀρχή (arche)

  • Matt 19:4 - male and female from the beginning of creation. See also V8 and Mark 10:6
  • Matt 24:8 - beginning of birth pains - see also mark 13:8
  • Matt 24:21 - beginning of the world
  • Mark 1:1 - beginning of the Gospel of Jesus
  • John 2:11 - beginning or start (= first) of Jesus miracles
  • Acts 10:11, 11:5 - corners of a sheet are the "start" of a sheet
  • Col 1:18 - And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.

B. "Ruler", or "rule"/"leadership" as meaning of ἀρχή (arche)

  • Luke 12:11 - brought before rulers and authorities
  • Luke 20:20 - They were hoping to catch Him in His words in order to hand Him over to the rule and authority of the governor.
  • Rom 8:35 - "principalities" = rulers
  • 1 Cor 15:24 - then the end, when He shall hand over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He shall have annulled all dominion, and all authority and power.
  • Eph 1:21 - far above all rule and authority
  • Eph 3:10 - the church to the rulers and the authorities
  • Eph 6:12 - For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities,
  • Col 1:16 - whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.
  • Col 2:15 - When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities

Note that in the above list, the well-educated apostle Paul uses ἀρχή (arche) in both sense of "beginning" (Col 1:18) and "ruler" (Col 1:16, 2:15).

Rev 3:14

What are we to make of Rev 3:14 which is translated variously as:

NIV: "To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation.

ESV: “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.

It is true that Jesus is described as the "beginning" (unambiguously) in Rev 22:13 but so is the Father in Rev 21:6.

It is possible to understand "beginning" in the sense in which BDAG describes it as (see arche #3), "the first cause"; or, (#5) "an authority figure who initiates activity or process".


Thus, by comparison with John 1:1-3 (and in harmony with BDAG #3) we may translate Rev 3:14 [Jesus] was "the beginning of God's creation", or better, "the beginner" of God's creation in the sense that Jesus was the first cause or initiator. However, the fact that Jesus was the first cause, also makes Him the ruler of God's creation consistent with statements of:

  • Jesus is "Lord of Lords", Rev 17:14, 19:16
  • "Lord of all", Acts 10:36, Rom 10:12, Col 1:15
  • Nicely organized info. The part I'm most interested in, to tell you the truth, is what Job is saying about Behemoth, which you didn't really weigh in on (though you provided help toward evaluating it for myself. But what do you think he's really saying about Behemoth? Thanks.
    – Ruminator
    Feb 6, 2021 at 22:00
  • @Ruminator - I think that is answered by the version you quoted - that Behemoth is the most impressive of all God's animals. I do not see anything more complex than this.
    – Dottard
    Feb 6, 2021 at 22:02

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