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Bible Commentaries
Job 26

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

Verses 1-14

Job’s denunciation of Bildad’s wisdom ch. 26

"Chapter 26 is one of the grandest recitals in the whole book. It is excelled only by the Lord’s speeches, as is fitting. It sounds well in Job’s mouth, and ends the dialogue, like the first movement of a symphony, with great crashing chords." [Note: Andersen, p. 216.]

Job began by rebuking Bildad’s attitude (Job 26:1-4). Sarcastically he charged Bildad with the same weakness and inability Bildad had attributed to all men (Job 26:2-3). Bildad’s words were not profound but quite superficial (Job 26:4).

"These verses contain Job’s harshest rejection of a friend’s counsel." [Note: Hartley, p. 362.]

Next, Job picked up the theme of God’s greatness that Bildad had introduced (Job 26:5-14). Some commentators have understood this pericope to be the words of Bildad or Zophar. However, the lack of textual reference to either Bildad or Zophar, plus the content of the section, which is more consistent with Job’s words than theirs, makes this an unattractive view. [Note: See Andersen, p. 216.] Job’s beautiful description of God’s omnipotence in these verses shows that he had a much larger concept of God than Bildad did (cf. Job 25:3; Job 25:5-6).

"Departed spirits" (Job 26:5) is literally rephaim in Hebrew. The Rephaim, meaning giants, were both the mythical gods and human warlords of ancient Ugaritic (Canaanite) culture. They were the elite, and the Canaanites thought that those of them who had died were the most powerful and worthy of the dead. [Note: Conrad L’Heureax, "The Ugaritic and Biblical Rephaim," Harvard Theological Review 67 (1974):265-74.] Job said these trembled "under the waters" (i.e., in Sheol) because they are under God’s authority. "Abaddon" is a poetic equivalent for Sheol (cf. Job 26:6; Job 28:23; Job 31:12; Psalms 88:11 margin; Proverbs 15:11; Proverbs 27:20). Job viewed the earth as sustained only by God (Job 26:7). God bottles the rain in clouds, but they do not break (Job 26:8). Probably the circle in view (Job 26:11) is the horizon that appears as a boundary for the sun. The pillars of heaven (Job 26:11) are doubtless the mountains that in one sense appear to hold up the sky. "Rahab" was a mythical sea monster that was symbolic of evil (cf. Job 9:13). The "fleeing serpent" (Job 26:13) is a synonym for Rahab.

"God’s power over and knowledge of Sheol, His creation of outer space and the earth, His control of the clouds, His demarcating of the realms of light and darkness, His shaking of the mountains, His quelling of the sea, His destruction of alleged opposing deities-to call these accomplishments the bare outlines or fragmentary sketches of God’s activities [Job 26:14] gives an awareness of the vast immensity and incomprehensible infinity of God!" [Note: Zuck, Job, p. 119.]

Verses 1-23

4. Job’s third reply to Bildad chs. 26-27

Job’s long speech here contrasts strikingly with Bildad’s short preceding speech (ch. 25). In the first of these two chapters, Job addressed his remarks to Bildad’s most recent comments. In the second, he broadened his view to include all three of his companions. The "you" in Job 26:2-4 is singular in Hebrew, but the "you" in Job 27:5 is plural.

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Job 26". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/job-26.html. 2012.
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