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Bible Commentaries
Job 38

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-41

Job 38:1 . The whirlwind. Clouds and flames are the chariots of the Lord, in deigning to speak with men. When he spake to Elijah in Horeb, it was with wind, and fire, and earthquake. Likewise in Psalms 18:11, it is said, he clothed himself with thick clouds of darkness. It belongs to him alone to clear up the clouds of his providence.

Job 38:3 . Gird up now thy loins like a man, like the ancient Kibborim or giants. Oh Job, thou art ignorant of the cause of thy calamities; thou knowest not that thy character has been impeached in heaven; neither dost thou know the mysteries of creation and of providence, as it is insinuated in the following part of this chapter.

Job 38:7 . Sons of God. The hosts of angels shouted for joy.

Job 38:11 . Here shall thy proud waves be stayed, The laws of gravity which regulate the tides, are adjusted with the greatest nicety; and they vary not, except by winds and hurricanes, which drive the tides beyond the equilibrium.

Job 38:12 . The dayspring, according to the seasons in lengthening day or night, and also the refraction of light from the atmosphere, which occasions a twilight of an hour and a quarter, before the rising and after the setting of the sun.

Job 38:16 . The springs of the sea. The submarine rivers are sometimes so powerful as to freshen the sea-water for many leagues. Charibdis, in Sicily, is so powerful as to give an eddy to the whole current in the straits of Messina.

Job 38:17 . The doors of the shadow of death. This is copied in Psalms 23:4. The gates of death, or the gates of hell: the shadow of death, hades, or the abode of separate spirits. Both these passages indicate a world of spirits, for there could be no shadow effected by annihilation. All pagan mythology asserts the existence of a separate state, as well as the bible.

Job 38:22 . The treasures of the hail. Mount Lebanon being nine thousand six hundred feet high, occasions the most tremendous storms of hail in the east. Psalms 68:14.

Job 38:31 . Pleiades. The seven stars; the seventh is not often seen without a glass. Orion, a brilliant constellation in the southern hemisphere. Orion is represented as a gigantic man, with three stars on the scabbard of his sword, a club in his right hand, and a lion’s skin in his left.

Job 38:32 . Mazzaroth in his season. Here the LXX follow the Hebrew. The word is plural, and designates the zodiac, consisting of twelve signs, invented to instruct the husbandman in the seasons of the year. Mr. Lloyd, whose lectures I attended, had an oriental zodiac, which indicates the invention to be of the remotest antiquity.

Job 38:38 . When the dust groweth into hardness; Without a doubt the laws of gravity are here understood, as well as those of cohesion, though the idea of exsiccation only is conveyed to the English reader.

Job 38:39 . Wilt thou hunt the prey for the lion? In Campbell’s travels in South Africa, we are told that the lions hunt always to windward, by which they can smell their prey at a very great distance. The Hottentot servants therefore always watched leeward of the waggon and the bullocks.

Job 38:41 . The raven wander for lack of meat. In 1827, abundance of fish were thrown on the western shores of some parts of Scotland, and left to putrefy. In a few days, so great a multitude of ravens came as to alarm the inhabitants, because they remained covering the rocks. It is not doubted, but the offensive effluvia had attracted them from the Norwegian shores. After awhile, hunger induced them to take their flight. Is it credible that the effluvia had blown a thousand miles!


After a most arduous contest of eighteen speeches and replies, we are now come to a close. In these speeches we see the utmost strength of argument and efforts of reason. But what can reason do, when God has involved his steps in clouds of impervious darkness? Both the parties had ranged and exhausted the limits of human knowledge, and ended where they began. They seem to resemble those warriors who, after exhausting their ammunition and strength in vain efforts, sit down and look one upon another. Job had maintained his integrity, and his friends had done what they could to vindicate the equity of God’s afflicting hand; and in the issue we see he will clear up all the dark scenes of human life, and cause the equity of his ways to appear luminous as the lamp that burneth, and resplendent as the sun at noon-day.

We also learn that when God appears in a dark and cloudy day, his first object is to comfort and compose the afflicted. By a vast variety of arguments on the ignorance of man, and the insufficiency of human knowledge, he leads Job to calmness and composure under the strokes of providence. It therefore well becomes us to support afflictions with fortitude. Why should we be disspirited, while we have yet a God who is alsufficient? The blasts of winter are as essential in the seasons as the serenity of summer: and if God manage our afflictions as he manages the storms and tempests, he will most assuredly close them in scenes of serenity, and gain our fullest approbation to his severest strokes.

The subjects on which God addressed Job, were the imperfections of his knowledge, with regard to nature and her ancient economy. He asks him where he was when he laid the foundations of the earth, and finished all his works in glory and perfection; when, on every process of the creation, the morning stars (or angels created on the first day of his work) sang together, and shouted for joy? And consequently, if the Almighty was adequate to manage in all the heavenly worlds, and in all the glory of his work, Job was not to arraign his Maker as cruel or unjust; for the supreme Being is not bound to explain to man the reasons of his conduct. Who can stay his hand, or say to him, what doest thou? Lord, then make my soul as a weaned child. Let me be alike content when thou givest or withholdest health, and all other temporal good.

On the same grounds of imperfection in knowledge, God endeavours to reconcile Job to patience and submission, by asking a series of questions concerning his defects in the knowledge of natural history. And if he was defective in tracing the history of the lion, the raven, the goat, the hind, the ass, the unicorn, the peacock, the ostrich, the horse, the hawk, the eagle, and behemoth and leviathan; how could he expect a perfect acquaintance with the unsearchable ways of providence. All men should therefore learn submission to the visitations of God, should be confident that he is too wise to err, and too good to do his creatures harm. But oh how gracious and compassionate he is to condescend to reason with his creatures, that they may approve of his ways, and trust with a firm confidence in the most beclouded paths of providence.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Job 38". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/job-38.html. 1835.
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