A finite element analysis is performed for large deformations of a flexible beam. The total Lagrangian formulation for a general large deformations, which involves finite rotations, is chosen and the exponential map is used to treat finite rotations from the Eulerian point of view. The finite element results are confirmed for several cases of deformations through comparison to a first order elasticity solution obtained by numerical integration, and the agreement between the two is found to be excellent. For lateral buckling, the point of vanishing determinant of the resulting unsymmetric tangent stiffness is traced to examine its relationship to bifurcation points. It is found that the points of vanishing determinant is not corresponding to bifurcation points for large deformations in general, which suggests that the present unsymmetric tangent stiffness is not an exact first derivative of internal forces with respect to displacement.