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Bible Commentaries
Job 40

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-5

The Third Stage of the Disentanglement

Job 38:1 to Job 42:6

JEHOVAH’S DISCOURSE.—The aim of which is to prove that the Almighty and Only Wise God, with whom no mortal man should dispute, might also ordain suffering simply to prove and test the righteous: (Second Half of the positive solution of the problem.)

Job 38:1 to Job 40:5

First Discourse of Jehovah (together with Job’s answer): With God, the Almighty and Only Wise, no man may dispute. Job 38:1 to Job 40:5

1. Introduction: The appearance of God; His demand that Job should answer Him

Job 38:1-3

1          Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said:

2     2 Who is this that darkeneth counsel

by words without knowledge?

3     Gird up now thy loins like a man;

for I will demand of thee, and answer thou Me!

2. God’s questions touching His power revealed in the wonders of creation

Job 38:4 -Job 39:30

a. Questions respecting the process of creation:

Job 38:4-15.

4     Where wast thou, when I laid the foundations of the earth?

declare, if thou hast understanding.

5     Who hath laid the measure thereof, if thou knowest?

or who hath stretched the line upon it?

6     Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened?

or who laid the corner-stone thereof:

7     when the morning-stars sang together,

and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

8     Or who shut up the sea with doors,

when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb?

9     When I made the cloud the garment thereof,

and thick darkness a swaddling-band for it;

10     and brake up for it my decreed place,

and set bars and doors,

11     and said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further;

and here shall thy proud waves be stayed?

12     Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days;

and caused the day spring to know his place;

13     that it might take hold of the ends of the earth,

that the wicked might be shaken out of it?

14     It is turned as clay to the seal;

and they stand as a garment.

15     And from the wicked their light is withholden,

and the high arm shall be broken.

b. Respecting the inaccessible depths and heights below and above the earth, and the forces proceeding from them

Job 38:16-27

16     Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea?

or hast thou walked in the search of the depth?

17     Have the gates of death been opened unto thee?

or hast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death?

18     Hast thou perceived the breadth of the earth?

declare if thou knowest it all.

19     Where is the way where light dwelleth?

and as for darkness, where is the place thereof,

20     that thou shouldest take it to the bound thereof,

and that thou shouldest know the paths to the house thereof?

21     Knowest thou it because thou wast then born?

or because the number of thy days is great?

22     Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow?

or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail,

23     which I have reserved against the time of trouble,

against the day of battle and war?

24     By what way is the light parted,

which scattereth the east wind upon the earth?

25     Who hath divided a watercourse for the overflowing of waters,

or a way for the lightning of thunder;

26     to cause it to rain on the earth, where no man is;

on the wilderness, wherein there is no man;

27     to satisfy the desolate and waste ground;

and to cause the bud of the tender herb to spring forth?

c. Respecting the phenomena of the atmosphere, and the wonders of the starry heavens

Job 38:28-38

28     Hath the rain a father?

or who hath begotten the drops of dew?

29     Out of whose womb came the ice?

and the hoary frost of heaven, who hath gendered it?

30     The waters are hid as with a stone,

and the face of the deep is frozen.

31     Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades,

or loose the bands of Orion?

32     Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season?

or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons?

33     Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven?

canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth.

34     Canst thou lift up thy voice to the clouds,

that abundance of waters may cover thee?

35     Canst thou send lightnings, that they may go,

and say unto thee, Here we are?

36     Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts?

or who hath given understanding to the heart?

37     Who can number the clouds in wisdom?

or who can stay the bottles of heaven,

38     when the dust groweth into hardness,

and the clods cleave fast together?

d. Respecting the preservation and propagation of wild animals, especially of the lion, raven, wild goat, oryx, ostrich, war-horse, hawk, and eagle

Job 38:39 to Job 39:30

39     Wilt thou hunt the prey for the lion?

or fill the appetite of the young lions,

40     when they couch in their dens,

and abide in the covert to lie in wait?

41     who provideth for the raven his food?

when his young ones cry unto God,
they wander for lack of meat.

Chap. 39

1          Knowest thou the time when the wild goats of the rock bring forth?

or canst thou mark when the hinds do calve?

2     Canst thou number the months that they fulfil?

or knowest thou the time when they bring forth?

3     They bow themselves, they bring forth their young ones,

they cast out their sorrows.

4     Their young ones are in good liking, they grow up with corn;

they go forth, and return not unto them.

5     Who hath sent out the wild ass free?

or who hath loosed the bands of the wild ass?

6     Whose house I have made the wilderness,

and the barren land his dwellings.

7     He scorneth the multitude of the city,

neither regardeth he the crying of the driver.

8     The range of the mountains is his pasture,

and he searcheth after every green thing.

9     Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee,

or abide by thy crib?

10     Canst thou bind the unicorn with his band in the furrow?

or will he harrow the valleys after thee?

11     Wilt thou trust him because his strength is great?

or wilt thou leave thy labor to him?

12     Wilt thou believe him, that he will bring home thy seed,

and gather it into thy barn?

13     Gavest thou the goodly wings unto the peacocks?

or wings and feathers unto the ostrich?

14     Which leaveth her eggs in the earth,

and warmeth them in the dust,

15     and forgetteth that the foot may crush them,

or that the wild beast may break them.

16     She is hardened against her young ones, as though they were not hers:

her labor is in vain without fear;

17     because God hath deprived her of wisdom,

neither hath He imparted unto her understanding.

18     What time she lifteth up herself on high,

she scorneth the horse and his rider.

19     Hast thou given the horse strength?

hast thou clothed his neck with thunder?

20     Canst thou make him afraid as a grasshopper?

the glory of his nostrils is terrible.

21     He paweth in the valley, and rejoiceth in his strength:

he goeth on to meet the armed men.

22     He mocketh at fear, and is not affrighted;

neither turneth he back from the sword.

23     The quiver rattleth against him,

the glittering spear and the shield.

24     He swalloweth the ground with fierceness and rage;

neither believeth he that it is the sound of the trumpet.

25     He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha!

and he smelleth the battle afar off,
the thunder of the captains, and the shouting.

26     Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom,

and stretch her wings toward the south?

27     Doth the eagle mount up at thy command,

and make her nest on high?

28     She dwelleth and abideth on the rock,

upon the crag of the rock and the strong place.

29     From thence she seeketh the prey,

and her eyes behold afar off.

30     Her young ones also suck up blood;

and where the slain are, there is she.

3. Conclusion of the discourse, together with Job’s answer, announcing his humble submission

Job 40:1-5

Chap. 40.

1          And Jehovah answered Job, and said,

2     Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct Him?

he that reproveth God, let him answer it.

3     Then Job answered the Lord, and said,

4     Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee?

I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.

5     Once have I spoken, but I will not answer:

yea, twice; but I will proceed no further.


1. The appearance of God, which Job had again and again expressly wished for, a wish which recurs in Job 23:3 seq., and especially towards the end of his last discourse (Job 31:35), and for which Elihu’s preaching of doctrine and of repentance had prepared the way—this appearance now takes place during that storm, of fearful beauty, which had supplied the last of Elihu’s discourses with the material for its impressive descriptions of the greatness of God in His works. This Divine manifestation, which is not to be understood as taking place corporeally in a human form; see on Job 38:1—corresponds moreover to the preparatory representations proceeding from Elihu in this respect, that like those representations it bears testimony at the same time in behalf of Job and against him. It testifies for Job in that it brings about the actual realization of the ardent longing which he had so often uttered, and in that it is not accompanied by that terrifying and crushing effect on the bold challenger which he himself had several times dreaded as possible (Job 9:34; Job 13:21; Job 23:6), and had on that account deprecated. It testifies against him by means of the deep humiliation which the majesty of the Almighty occasions to him, by means of the consciousness wrought within him of his own insignificance and limitation in contrast with this fulness of power and wisdom, and by means of the principle which in this very way is brought forth into full expression, and which is expressly acknowledged by him at the close of this first address of Jehovah—the principle, namely, that from henceforth he must lay aside entirely all condemnation of God’s ways, and be willing to submit himself in absolute humility to His decree.—Again the rich illustration, elaborated in the most elevated style of poetic discourse, which in this first address God gives of His all-transcending majesty in contrast with man’s insignificance (chs. Job 38:4 to Job 39:30) is also such as testifies at once for and against Job, and thus continues with increased emphasis the strain already begun by Elihu (especially in his fourth discourse). On the one side it serves to confirm the previous descriptions given by Job himself of God’s greatness, wonderful power, and plenitude of wisdom; on the other side it transcends the same in the incomparably more elevated and impressive power of its representation, under the influence of which the last remainder of insolent pride still adhering to Job must of necessity dissolve and disappear. The discourse forms one well-conceived, harmoniously constructed whole, consisting of two principal divisions of almost equal length, of which the first (Job 38:4-38) refers to the creation and to inanimate nature, the second (chs. Job 38:39; Job 39:30) to the animal kingdom, as sources of evidence proving the divine majesty. It is not necessary to resolve these two divisions into two separate discourses, as is done by Köster and Schlottmann, the former of whom even deems it necessary to resort to the violent operation of transposing the conclusion in Job 40:1-5, and putting it after Job 38:36.—Each of these divisions may be subdivided into three strophegroups, or long strophes, consisting of 11–12 verses each, which may again be subdivided, according to the subjects described, into subordinate strophes or paragraphs, now longer and now shorter. Of these simple, short strophes the three long strophes of the first principal division (a, b and c) contain respectively three to four, whereas the last two long strophes, at least of the second chief division, which dwell on themes derived from the animal world, consist of but two short strophes respectively.

2. The Introduction: Job 38:1-3.—Then Jehovah answered Job out of the storm.—The “answering” or “replying” refers back to Job’s repeated challenges, and especially to the last, found in Job 31:35 : “Let the Almighty answer me!”—מִנְהַסְּעָרָה (here, as also in Job 40:6 with medial נ; comp. Ewald, § 9, 11, c [Green, § 4, a]; which the K’ri in both cases sets aside) “out of the storm (thunderstorm);” not (as Luther translates) “out of a storm.” It is beyond question an unsatisfactory explanation of the definite article to say that as applied to סערה it means that storm, which “always, or as a rule, is wont to announce and to accompany the appearance of God, whenever He draws nigh to the earth in majesty and in the character of a judge” (Dillmann). In view of the way in which the most ancient Old Testament sources describe the theophanies of the patriarchal age in general, this generic rendering of the article is not at all suitable (comp. also 1 Kings 19:11 : “the Lord was not in the wind”). The only explanation of the הסערה here, as well as in Job 40:6, which is linguistically and historically satisfactory, is that which finds in it a reference to Elihu’s description of a violent thunder-storm in his last discourse (Job 36:37)—a reference which at the same time confirms not only our interpretation of this discourse given above, but also its genuineness, and the authenticity of Elihu’s discourses in general. Placing ourselves (along with the commentators cited above on Job 36:0.) on this, the only correct point of view, we see at once the impossibility of viewing “God’s speaking out of the storm” as taking place through a corporeal appearance of Jehovah in human form. On the contrary, precisely in the same way that Elihu’s description pre-supposed only an invisible approach and manifestation of God in the storm-clouds, in their thunder and lightning, so also here a similar presence and self-manifestation of the Highest is intended, taking place under the veil of those mighty phenomena of nature; hence only a symbolical, not a corporeal appearance of God. For this reason we may with some propriety describe the solution of the whole problem of our poem which is introduced by this divine appearance as “a solution in the consciousness” (Delitzsch). In any case the theophany which effects it is to be conceived of as one in which God “drew near to the earth veiled, perceptible indeed to the ear, and in His shining veil visible to the eye, but nevertheless veiled, and not presenting a bodily appearance” (Ewald). [In accordance with the explanation given above of Job 37:21-22, the סערה out of which Jehovah speaks is not to be limited to the storm while raging, but refers rather to “the dark materials of the storm now pacified,” the mountainous cloud-masses in the north, which having spent their thunder, were now looming up in “terrible majesty,” while their open rifts disclosed the golden irradiation of the sunlight, a scene we may suppose not unlike that described by Wordsworth near the close of the Second Book of the Excursion. Such a scene, just preceded as it had been by the awe-inspiring phenomena of the storm at its height would fitly usher in the Divine Presence, from which the words which are to end the controversy are about to proceed.—E.]

Job 38:2. Who is this that darkens counsel: lit. “who is this, who is here (מִי זֶה, comp. Gesenius, § 122 [§ 120], 2) darkening counsel?” עֵצָה without the article (instead of הָעֵצָה, or instead of עֲצָתִי) is used intentionally in order to describe that which is darkened by Job qualitatively, as something “which is a counsel (or a plan),” as opposed to a whim, or a cruel caprice, such as Job had represented God’s dealings with him as being. [“Two things are implied in what is here said to Job: that his suffering is founded on a plan of God’s, and that he by his perverse speeches is guilty of distorting and mistaking this plan (in representing it as caprice without a plan).” Dillm. Job’s ignorant words had “darkened” God’s plan by obscuring or keeping out of sight its intelligent benevolent features]. The participle מַחֲשִׁיךְ is used rather than the Perf., because down to the very end of his speaking Job had misunderstood God’s counsel, and even during Elihu’s discourses he had recalled nothing of what he had said in this particular. For to the instruction and reproofs of this last speaker he had made no other response than persistent profound silence. He actually appeared accordingly at the moment when Jehovah himself began to speak as still a “darkener of counsel,” however true it might be that his conversion to a better frame of mind had already begun inwardly to take place under the influence of the addresses of his predecessor. This participle מַחֲשִׁיךְ accordingly furnishes no argument against the genuineness of chap. 32-37. (against Ewald, Delitzsch, Dillmann, etc.): and all the less seeing that a direct interruption of Job at the moment when he had last spoken contentiously and censoriously in respect to God’s plan (Job 31:35 seq.) by the appearance of God cannot be intended even if these chapters were in fact not genuine (comp. remarks on that passage). And especially would the assumption that the interpolator of the Elihu discourses had been prompted by this expression, מַחֲשִׁיךְ, purposely to avoid introducing Job within the limits of that section as making any confession whatever of his penitence, presuppose on the part of the interpolator a degree of artistic deliberation, nay more, of crafty cunning absolutely without a parallel in the entire Bible literature.

Job 38:3. Gird up now thy loins like a mani.e., in preparation for the contest with me (comp. Job 12:21). According to b this contest is to consist in a series of questions to be addressed by God to Job and to be answered by the latter; hence formally or apparently in the very thing which Job himself had in Job 13:22 wished for; in reality however God so overwhelms him by the humiliating contents of these questions that the absolute inequality of the contending parties and Job’s guilt become apparent at once.

3. The argument: a. God’s questions respecting the process of creation: Job 38:4-15. [This division consists of three minor strophes of four verses each, the fourth verse in each forming, as Schlottmann observes, a climax in the thought].

a. Questions touching the foundation of the earth: Job 38:4-7.

Job 38:4. Where wast thou when I founded the earth? (A question similar to that of Eliphaz above: Job 15:7 seq.). Declare it if thou hast understanding—to wit, of the way in which this process was carried on. This same How of the process of founding the earth is also the unexpressed object of הַגֵּד “declare!” In respect יָדַע בִּינָה, “to have an understanding of anything,” comp. Isaiah 29:24; Pro 4:1; 2 Chronicles 2:12.

Job 38:5. Who hath fixed its measure that thou shouldest know it?—כִּי תֵדַע, not: “for thou surely knowest it” (Schlottmann) [Good, Lee, Barnes, Carey, Renan, Elzas], but “so that thou shouldest know it” (כִי as in Job 3:12). [Dillmann objects to the rendering, “for thou knowest,” that the verb should be in that case יָדַעְתָּ; an objection which may also be urged against the rendering of E. V., Sept., Vulg., Umbreit, Rosenmüller, Bernard, “if thou knowest.” Compare אִם יָדַעְתָּ in Job 38:4 b.]. “The מִי inquires not after the person of the Architect, the same being sufficiently known, but rather after His character, and that of His activity:—what kind of a being must He be who could fix the earth’s measure like that of a building?” (Dillmann).

Job 38:6. Whereon were its pillars sunkeni.e., on what kind of a foundation? אֲדָנִים lit. “pedestals,” comp. Exodus 26:19 seq.; Song of Solomon 5:15. The meaning of the question is of course that already indicated in Job 9:6; Job 26:7, according to which passages the earth hangs free in space. The question in b refers to the same thing: “or who laid down her corner-stone?” where the “laying down” (יָרָה, jacere) of the corner-stone points to the wonderful ease with which the entire work was accomplished.

Job 38:7. When the morning-stars sang out together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.—The Infinitive רֹן is continued in b by the finite verb, as in Job 38:13, and often. The whole description determines the time of the fact of the founding of the earth (καταβολὴ κόσμου) spoken of in Job 38:6. The founding is here set forth as a festal celebration (comp. Ezra 3:10; Zechariah 4:7) attended by all the heavenly hosts, which are here mentioned by the double designation “sons of God” (comp. Job 1:6; Job 2:1) and “morning stars, i.e., creatures of such glory, that they surpass all other creatures of God in the same way that the brightness of the morning-star (=כּוֹכַב בֹּקֶר הֵילֵל, Isaiah 14:12, Lucifer) eclipses all the other stars. As another example of this generic generalized form of expression here found in the word “morning-stars,” compare the כִּסִילִים of Isaiah 13:10, i.e., the Orion-like constellations. The expression “morning-stars” moreover is scarcely to be understood as a tropical designation of that which is literally designated by the expression “sons of God,” that is to say, the angels (Hirzel, Dillmann [Carey, Wemyss, Barnes] etc.). Rather are the angels and stars mentioned together here in precisely the same way that in Job 15:15 “heaven” and “the holy ones” of God are mentioned together, this being in accordance with the mysterious connection which the Holy Scriptures generally set forth as existing between the starry and angelic worlds (comp. also on Job 25:6). Such a representation of the brightly shining and joyously “jubilating” stars (comp. Psalms 19:2; Psalms 148:3) as present when the earth was founded by God by no means contradicts the Mosaic account of creation in Genesis 1:0. where verse 14 (according to which the sun, moon and stars were not made until the fourth day) is assuredly to be interpreted phenomenally, not as descriptive of the literal fact.

β. Questions respecting the shutting up of the sea within bounds: Job 38:8-11.

Job 38:8. And (who) shut up the sea with doors?—וַיָּסֵךְ, which is attached to מִי יָרָה in Job 38:6, is used with reference to the waters of the sea in the newly-created earth, which at first wildly swelling and raging had in consequence to be enclosed, penned up, as it were, behind the doors (comp. Job 3:23) of a prison (comp. Genesis 1:2; Genesis 1:9 seq.). The second member introduces a clause determining the time of the first which continues to the end of Job 38:11.—When it burst forth, came out from the wombi.e., out of the interior of the earth (comp. Job 38:16). The verb גִּיחַ, which is used in Psalms 22:10 [9] of the bursting forth of the fœtus out of the womb, is explained by the less bold word יֵצֵא (which follows the Infinitive in the same way as the finite verb above in Job 38:7). The representation of the earth as the womb, out of which the waters of the sea burst forth, seems to contradict the modern geological theory, which on the contrary makes the earth to emerge out of the primitive sea, which enveloped and covered everything. But the science of geology recognizes not only elevations, but depressions by sinking of land or mountain masses (comp. Friedr. Pfaff, Das Wasser, Munich, 1870, p. 250 seq.). Especially do the recent “Deep Sea Explorations,” as they are called, seem to be altogether favorable to the essential correctness of the biblical view presented here and also in Genesis 7:11; Genesis 8:2, which regards the interior of the earth as originally occupied by water (comp. Pfaff, p. 90 seq.; Hermann Gropp, Untersuchungen und Erfahrungen über das Verhalten des Grundwassers und der Quellen, Lippstadt, 1868).

Job 38:9. When I made the cloud its garment, etc. A striking poetic description of that which in Genesis 2:6 seq. is narrated in historic prose. In respect to חֲתֻלָּה, “wrapping, swaddling-cloth,” comp. the corresponding verb in Ezekiel 16:4. [By this expression the ocean is obviously compared to a babe. “God thus in grand language expresses how manageable was the ocean to Him.” Carey].

Job 38:10. And brake for it (lit. “over it”) my bound, etc. The verb שָׁבַר which is not here equivalent to גּזר, “to appoint,” as Arnheim, Wette, Hahn [Lee, Bernard, Noyes, Conant, Wemyss, Barnes, Renan] think, [or according to Rosenmüller, Umbreit, Carey, “to span,” after the Arabic] vividly portrays the abrupt fissures of the sea-coast, which is often so high and steep. Comp. the Homeric ἐπὶ ῥηγμῖνι θαλασσης. On חֹק, “bound,” comp. Job 26:10; Proverbs 8:29; Jeremiah 5:22. On b comp. Job 38:8 a.

Job 38:11. Hitherto shalt thou come, and no further (וְלֹא תֹסִיף scil. לָבוֹא); here let one set against the pride of thy waves, scil. “a dam, a bound.” The verb יָשִׁית, “let one place” is used passively [and impersonally] for “let there be placed” (comp. Gesen. § 137 [§ 134]). It is not necessary, with the Vulg. and Pesh. to read תָּשִׁית, “here shalt thou stay the pride of thy waves,” or, with Codurcus, Ewald, and others to make פא the subj. (in the sense of “this place”). On the pride of the waves”=“proud waves,” comp. Psalms 89:10 [9].

γ. Questions respecting the regular advance of the light of morning upon the earth: Job 38:12-15. [“The transition from the sea to the morning is not so abrupt as it appears. For the ancients supposed that the sun sets in the ocean, and at his rising comes out of it again.” Noyes. “Here with genuine poetry the dawn sending forth its rays upon the earth immediately after creation is represented in its regular recurrence and in its moral significance. This member accordingly forms the transition to the following strophe; it is however first of all the logical conclusion of the first.” Schlottmann].

Job 38:12. Hast thou since thy birth (lit. “from thy days”) commanded the morning (i.e., to arise at its time), made known to the dawn its place, (lit. “made the dawn to know its place”). Instead of the K’thibh, יִדַּעְתָּה שַׁחַר it is certainly admissible to read with the K’ri יִדַּעְתָּ הַשַּׁחַר; the anarthrous בֹּקֶר of the first member by no means requires us to remove the definite article from the dawn, which is always only one. [“The mention of its ‘place’ here seems to be an allusion to the fact that it does not always occupy the same position. At one season of the year it appears on the equator, at another north, at another south of it, and is constantly varying its position. Yet it always knows its place. It never fails to appear where by the long-observed laws it ought to appear.” Barnes].

Job 38:13. That it may take hold on the borders (or “fringes”) of the earth. The surface of the earth is conceived of as an outspread carpet, of the ends of which the dawn as it were takes hold all together as it rises suddenly and spreads itself rapidly (comp. Job 37:3; Psalms 139:9), and this with the view of shaking out of it “the wicked, the evil-doers who, dreading the light, ply their business upon it by night;” i.e., of removing them from it at once. The passage contains an unmistakable allusion to Job’s own previous description in Job 24:13 seq. God, anticipating herein in a certain measure the contents of His second discourse, would give Job to understand “how through the original order of creation as established by Himself human wrong is ever annulled again”) Ewald. Comp. also Job 5:15).

Job 38:14. That it may change like signet-clayi.e., the earth (γῆ σημανρίς, Herod. II. 38), which during the night is, as it were, a shapeless mass, like unsealed wax, but which, in the bright light of the morning, reveals the entire beauty of its changing forms, of its heights and depths, etc. The subj. of יִתְיַצְּבוֹ is to be sought neither in the “morning” and “day-spring” of Job 38:12 (Schultens, Rosenmüller), which is altogether too far removed from this clause, nor in the “borders” of Job 38:13 (Ewald), but in the particular things found on the earth’s surface. The effect of the morning on them is that “they set themselves forth (or, all sets itself forth) like a garment,” i.e., in all the manifold variegated forms and colors of gay apparel.

Job 38:15. From the wicked their light is withheldi.e., the darkness of the night with which they are so familiar [and which is to them what light is to others], comp. Job 24:16 seq. (Delitz.: “the light to which they are partial” [ihr Lieblingslicht]). And the uplifted arm (is) brokeni.e., figuratively, in the sense that the light of the day compels it to desist from the violence, to fulfil which it had raised itself (comp. Job 22:8).

4. Continuation: b. Questions respecting the heights and depths above and below the earth, and the natural forces proceeding from them: Job 38:16-27.

a. The depths under the earth: Job 38:16-18.

Job 38:16. Hast thou come to the well-springs of the sea?—i.e., to those “fountains of the deep” of which the Mosaic account of the Flood makes mention; Genesis 7:11; Genesis 8:2 (comp. above on Job 38:8). The phrase נִבְכֵי־יָם, found only here, is not, with Olshausen and Hitzig, to be changed into נִבְלֵי־יָם, for the root נבךְ is evidently only a harsher variation of נבע, and so beyond a doubt expresses the notion of “welling, springing.” Thus correctly the LXX: πηγὴ θαλάσσης. [Jarchi, followed by Bernard, Lee, (and see Ewald and Schlottmann) defines נבכים to mean “entanglements, mazes” (comp. בוךְ); but this meaning is less probable than the one more commonly received after the Sept.].—In respect to חֵקֶר in b, comp. above, Job 8:8; Job 11:7.

Job 38:17. Have the gates of death opened themselves to thee, etc.—Comp. Job 26:6, where the mention of the realm of the dead follows that of the sea precisely as here. On “death,” as meaning the realm of the dead, comp. Job 28:22; and on צלמות in the same sense, see Job 10:21 seq.

Job 38:18. Hast thou made an examination unto the breadths of the earth.—התבונן עד signifies, as also in Job 32:12, “to attend to anything strictly, to take a close observation of anything,” the עד indicating that this observation is complete, that it penetrates through to the extreme limit. The interrogative הֲis omitted before הִתְבֹּנַנְתָּ, in order to avoid the concurrence of the two aspirates (Ewald, § 324, b). On b comp. Job 38:4, כֻּלָהּ refers not to the earth, but in the neuter sense, to the things spoken of in the questions just asked. [“To see the force of this (question), we must remember that the early conception of the earth was that it was a vast plain, and that in the time of Job its limits were unknown.” Barnes. “Too much stress is commonly laid on the fact that when the poet wrote this, only a small part of the earth was known. Unquestionably the consciousness of the limitation of man’s vision was in some respects strengthened by that, fact; but that which is properly the main point here, to wit, the inability of man, at one glance to compass the whole earth and all its hidden depths retains all its ancient stress in connection with the widest geographical acquaintance with the surface of the earth.” Schlottmann].

β. The heights of light above the earth: Job 38:19-21.

Job 38:19. What is the way (thither, where) the light dwells.—On the relative clause יִשְּׁכּוֹן אוֹר comp. Ges. § 123 [§ 121], 3, c. On b, comp. Job 28:1-12. The meaning of the whole verse is as follows: Both light and darkness have a first starting point or a final outlet, which is unapproachable to man, and unattainable to his researches. [“As in Genesis 1:0., the light is here regarded as a self-subsistent, natural force, independent of the heavenly luminaries by which it is transmitted: and herein modern investigation agrees with the direct observations of antiquity.” Schlottm.]

Job 38:20. That Thou mightest bring them (light and darkness) to their bound [lit. “it to its bound,” the subjects just named considered separately]. כִּי as above in Job 38:5. לקח lit. “to bring, to fetch;” comp. Genesis 27:13; Genesis 42:16; Genesis 48:9.—And that thou shouldest know the paths of their house, i.e. “to their home, their abiding place” (comp. Job 28:23). It is possible that by this “knowing about the paths of their house” is meant taking back [escorting home] the light and darkness, just as in the first member mention is made of fetching, bringing them away; for the repetition of כִּי seems to indicate that the meaning of the two halves of the verse is not identical (Dillmann).

Job 38:21 is evidently intended ironically: Thou knowest, for then wast thou born, i.e. at the time when light and darkness were created, and their respective boundaries were determined. The meaning is essentially the same as in Job 15:7. On the Imperf. with אָז comp. Gesenius, § 127 [§ 125], 4, a; Ewald, § 136, b.—And the number of thy days is many.—The attraction in connection with מִסְפַּר as in Job 15:20; Job 21:21. [The interrogative rendering of this verse, as in E. V.: “Knowest thou it, because thou-wast then born?” etc., is excessively flat. It may be undesirable, as Barnes says, “to represent God as speaking in the language of irony and sarcasm, unless the rules of interpretation imperatively demand it.” But humiliating irony surely accords better with the dignity and character of the speaker, as well as with the connection, than pointless insipidity.—E.]

γ. Snow and hail, light and wind: Job 38:22-24.

Job 38:22. Hast thou come to the treasuries of the snow? Comp. on Job 37:9. The figure of the “treasuries” (אֹצָרוֹת, magazines, storehouses) vividly represents the immense quantities in which snow and hail are wont to fall on the earth; comp. Psalms 135:7.

Job 38:23 gives the purpose and rule of the Divine Government of the world, which snow and hail are constrained to subserve.—Which I have reserved for the time of distress.—Such an עֵת צָר (comp. Job 15:24; Job 36:16) may be caused in the east not only by a hailstorm (Exodus 9:22; Haggai 2:17; Sir 39:29), but even by a fall of snow. In February, 1860, innumerable herds of sheep, goats and camels, and also many men, were destroyed in Hauran by a snow-storm, in which snow fell in enormous quantities, as described by Muhammed el-Chatib el-Bosrawi in a writing still in the possession of Consul Wetzstein (Delitzsch).—The second member refers to such cases as Joshua 10:11 (comp. Isaiah 28:17; Isaiah 30:30; Ezekiel 13:13; Psalms 68:15 [14]; 1 Samuel 7:10; 2 Samuel 23:20), where violent hail or thunder-storms contributed to decide the issues of war in accordance with the divine decrees.

Job 38:24. What is the way to where the light is parted [where] the east wind spreadeth over the earth.—The construction as in Job 38:19 a. The light and the east wind (i.e. a violent wind, a storm in general, comp. Job 27:21) are here immediately joined together, because the course of both these agents defies calculation, and because they are incredibly swift in their movements [possibly also because they both proceed from the same point of the compass]. אוֹר scarcely denotes the lightning, as in Job 37:3 seq. (Schlottmann), which is first spoken of in Job 38:25, and then again in Job 38:35, and to which the verb יחלק, “divides, scatters itself,” is less suitable than to the bright day-light (comp. Job 38:13 seq.) In respect to הֵפִיץ, se diffundere, comp. Exo 5:12; 1 Samuel 13:8. [According to the E. V. the light is the subject of both members: “By what way is the light parted, which scattereth the east wind upon the earth.” But this construction is less probable and suitable than that given above, which recognizes the “light” as the subject of the first member, and the “east-wind” of the second.—E.]

d. The rain-storm and the lightning considered as divinely appointed phenomena which, while they inspire terror, are productive of beneficent results: Job 38:25-27.

Job 38:25. Who hath divided a watercourse for the rain-torrent, i.e., conducted the rain through the thick masses of clouds to specific portions of the thirsty earth. שֶׁטֶף, which of itself means “flood, torrent of waters” in general, is used here of a down-pouring beneficent torrent of rain [“the earthward direction assigned to the water-spouts is likened to an aqueduct coming downwards from the sky;” Delitzsch], and hence in a different sense from e.g., Psalms 32:6. The second member is taken verbally from Job 28:26.

Job 38:26. That it may rain on the land where no man is; lit. “to cause it to rain,” etc. The subject of לְהַמְטִיר is of course God who has been already indicated by מִי in Job 38:25. That it should rain on a land of “no-man” (the construction as in Job 10:22), i.e., on a land destitute of men, not artificially irrigated and tilled by men, is here set forth as a wise and loving providential arrangement of God’s. [“God lays stress on this circumstance in order to humiliate man, and to show him that the earth was made neither by him, nor for him.” Renan. “Man who is so prone to put his own interests above everything else, and to judge everything from his own human point of view, is here most strikingly reminded, how much wider is the range of the Divine vision, and how God in the exercise of His loving solicitude remembers even those regions, which receive no care from man, so that even there the possibility of life and growth is secured to His creatures.” Dillmann].

Job 38:27 then states more definitely this beneficent purpose of God: to satisfy the wild and wilderness, (שֹׁאָה וּמְשׁוֹאָה as in Job 30:3) [“the desert is thus like a thirsty pilgrim; it is parched, and thirsty, and sad, and it appeals to God, and He meets its wants and satisfies it,” Barnes], and to make the green herb to sprout; lit. “to make the place (the place of going forth, מֹצָא, comp. Job 28:1) of the green herb to sprout.”

5. Continuation. c. Questions respecting the phenomena of the atmosphere and the wonders of the starry heavens: Job 38:28-38.

α. Respecting rain, dew, ice, and hoar-frost: Job 38:28-30.

Job 38:28-29. Is there a father to the rain? As this member, together with the following inquires (through the formula מִי הוֹלִיד) after a male progenitor for the atmospheric precipitations of moisture, so does Job 38:29 inquire after the mother of ice and hoar-frost, for the formula מִי ילֳדוֹ in b also refers to the agency of a mother, as well as the question in a. This variation of gender in the representation is to be explained by the fact that rain and dew come from heaven, the abode of God, while ice and hoarfrost come out of the earth, out of the secret womb of the waters (verse 8).—אֶגְלֵי טָל in Job 38:28 b are not “reservoirs of dew” (Gesenius), for which the verb הוֹלִיד would not be suitable, but drops (lit. balls, globules; LXX.: βῶλοι) of dew, whether the root אגל be associated with גללִ, volvere (which is the view commonly held), or with the Arab, agal, retinere, colligere (so Delitzsch).

Job 38:30 describes more specifically the wonderful process which takes place when water is frozen into ice. The water hardens like stone. יִתְחַבָּאוּ, lit. “they hide themselves, draw themselves together, thicken” (a related form is חָמָא, whence הֶמְאָה, curdled milk). The same representation of the process of freezing as producing contraction or compression (a representation which in the strict physical sense is not quite correct, seeing that water on the contrary always expands in freezing—comp. Pfaff, in the work cited above, pp. 103, 189 seq.), was given above by Elihu, chapter Job 37:10, not however without indicating in what sense he intended this compression, a sense which is by no means incorrect; see on the passage. A similar intimation is conveyed here by the second member: and the face of the deep cleaves together, and thus constitutes a firm solid mass (continuum), instead of fluctuating to and fro, as in the fluid state. הִתְלַכֵּד as in Job 41:8 [17]; comp. the Greek ἔχεσθαι.

β. Respecting the control of the stars, and of their influence upon earth: Job 38:31-33.

Job 38:31. Canst thou bind the bands of the Pleiades?—מַעֲדַנּוֹת here not = amœnitates, as in 1 Samuel 15:32, [E. V., “sweet influences,” referring to the softening and gladdening influences of spring-time, when that constellation makes its appearance] but vincula (LXX.: δεσμόν; Targ. שֵׁירֵי=σειράς) as appears from קשר “to bind,” and the parallel מוֹשְׁכוֹת in b, and not less from the testimony of all the ancient versions, of Talmudic usage, and of the Masora. It is to be derived accordingly by transposition from ענד, “to bind” (comp. Job 31:36) not from עדן. The arranging of the stars of the Pleiades (כִּימָה as in Job 9:9) in a dense group is with poetic boldness described here as the binding of a fillet, or of a cluster of diamonds. (See a similar conception copied out of Persian poets in Ideler, Sternennamen, p. 147).—Or loose the bands of Orion, so that this brilliant constellation would fall apart, or fall down from heaven, to which the presumptuous giant is chained (comp. on Job 9:9). The explanation preferred by Dillmann is admissible, and even perhaps, in view of the etymon of מוֹשְׁכוֹת, to be preferred to the one more commonly adopted: “Or canst thou loose the lines [German—Zugseile, draw-lines, traces, the cords by which he is drawn up to his place, suggested by סשׁךְ] of Orion (the giant suspended in heaven), and thus canst thou now raise, and now lower him in the firmament?” The reference of the passage to the Star Suhêl = Canopus (Saad., Gekat., Abulwalid, comp. also Delitzsch) is uncertain, and conflicts with the well-known signification of כְּסִיל, which is also firmly established by Job 9:9.

Job 38:32. Canst thou bring forth the bright stars in their time (בְּעִתּוֹ as in Job 5:26; Psalms 104:27; Psalms 145:15). The word מַזָּרוֹת, to which such a variety of interpretations have been given, which already the LXX. did not understand, and accordingly rendered by μασουρώθ [followed herein by E. V., “Mazzaroth”], seems to be most simply explained (with Dillmann) as a contracted form of מַזְהָרוֹת, from זהר, splendere, and to mean accordingly “the brightly shining, brilliant stars,” in which case we may assume the planets to be intended, particularly such as are pre-eminently brilliant, as Venus, Jupiter, Mars, (comp. Vulg., “Luciferum”) [Fürst: Jupiter, the supreme god of good fortune]. The “being brought forth in their time” seems to suit better these wandering stars than e.g., “the two crowns,” the Northern and Southern (Cocceius, Eichhorn, Michaelis, Ewald, by comparison with נזר) [these constellations being, as Dillmann objects, too obscure and too little known], or the twelve signs of the Zodiac (so the majority of moderns, on the basis of the very precarious identification of מַזָּרוֹת with מַזָּלוֹת, 2 Kings 23:5), or the twenty-eight stations (Arab. menâzil) of the moon (so A. Weber, in his Abhandlung über die vedischen Nachrichten von den naxatra, oder Mondstationen, 1860), or, finally, any prophetic stars whatever, astra, præsaga, præmonentia (Gesenius, who refers the word to נזר in the Arabic signification).—And guide the Bear (lit., “the she-bear,” עַיִשׁ, comp. Job 9:9) together with his [lit., her] young?i.e., the constellation of the Bear with the three stars forming its tail, which are regarded as its children (בָּנִים, in Arab. בָּנוֹת); see on Job 9:9. The evening star (vesperus, Vulg.) is far from being intended, and equally so the comparatively unimportant constellation Capella (Eichhorn, Bibliothek, Vol. VII., p. 429).

Job 38:33. Knowest thou the laws of heaven?i.e., the laws which rule the course of the stars, the succession of seasons and periods, annual and diurnal, etc., (comp. Genesis 1:14 seq.; Job 8:22).—Or dost thou establish its dominion over the earth?i.e., dost thou ordain and confirm its influence (that of heaven, here personified as a king; comp. Ewald, § 318 a) on earthly destinies. מִשְׁטָר, “dominion,” is construed [with בְּ] after the analogy of the verbs משׁל בְּ ,רדה בְ.

γ. Respecting the Divine control of clouds and lightnings: Job 38:34; Job 38:36. On Job 38:34 b, comp. Job 22:11 b (which is here verbally repeated). On Job 38:35 comp. Psalms 104:3; Psalms 33:9.

δ. Additional questions relating to the clouds, and their agencies: Job 38:36-38.

Job 38:36. Who put wisdom in the dark clouds, who gave understanding to that which appears in the sky [Germ. “Luftgebilde” atmospheric phenomena]; i.e., who has given to them an intelligent arrangement and significance, טֻחוֹת, from טוּחַ, signifies here as in Psalms 51:8, dark, hidden places,” meaning here, as the connection shows, “dark clouds, black cloud-layers” (Eichhorn, Umbr., Hirz., Stickel, Hahn, Dillmann, etc., by comparison with the Arabic טחא, and its derivative nouns. In that caseשֶׂכְוִי, from the Hebr. and Aram, שׂכה, “to see,” (comp. שְׂכִיּוּת and מַשְׂכִּית), signifies “appearance, phenomenon, form,” here according to the parallelism of the first member, “a form, phenomenon of the atmosphere, or the clouds.” It can scarcely mean (the rainbow being certainly called קֶשֶׁט, Genesis 9:13) “an appearance of light, fiery meteor” (Ewald, Hahn), or “the full moon,” (so Dillmann, at least tentatively, assuming at the same time that טֻחוֹת refers to the dark phases of the moon). At all events the explanation which refers both parallel expressions to phenomena of the cloud-heavens is the only one suited to the context (as was the case with the meteorological sense of “gold” in Job 37:22; whereas on the contrary the interpretation long ago adopted by the Vulg., the 2d Targ., and many Rabbis [and E. V.] and recently by Delitzsch [Gesenius, Noyes, Conant, Barnes, Wordsworth, Schlottmann, Renan], according to which טֻחוֹת means “the reins,” or “entrails,” (comp. Psalms 51:8 [6]), and שֶׂכְוִי the “cock” [as “the weather-prophet κατ̓ ἐξοχήν among animals,” Delitzsch: while Gesenius, Schlottmann, Noyes, Conant, Wordsworth, Renan, as also E. V., render by “heart, intelligence”] yields a meaning that is singular enough, and which is made no better when the cock is regarded as speculator et præco auroræ, as ales diei nuntius (Prudentius), or as a weather-prophet (after Cicero, de divin. II., 26), and the reins are supposed to be mentioned because of their power of foretelling the weather and presaging the future. Still more singular and opposed to the context is the rendering of the LXX.: Τίς ἔδωκεν γυναικὶ ὐφάσματος σοφίαν καὶ ποικιλτικὴν ἐπιστήμην [And who has given to woman skill in weaving, or knowledge of embroidery]? They seem to have read in the first member טֹווֹת, in the second שָׂכוֹת, “embroidering women,” or שַׂכּוֹת “to embroider.”

Job 38:37. Who numbers the clouds in Wisdom.—סִפֵּר as elsewhere the Kal: “to number” (Job 28:27). And the bottles of the heavens—who inclines themi.e., who causes them to be emptied, to pour out their fluid contents. The comparison of the clouds, laden with rain, to bottles, or pitchers occurs frequently also in Arabic poets (see Schultens on the passage). [E. V. “Who can stay the bottles of heaven?” which is less suitable to השׁכיב, and to the context. Jerome, taking, נבלי to mean “harps,” renders uniquely: et concentrum cœlorum quis dormire faciet?]

Job 38:38. When the dust flows together into a molten mass. מוּצָק, “fused, solid metal,” a word which is to be explained in accordance with Job 37:18 (not in accordance with Job 22:16). צֶקֶת here, as in 1 Kings 22:35, to be rendered intransitively: “When the dust pours itself,” i.e., when it flows, runs, as it were, together. In respect to רְגָבים, “clods,” comp. Job 21:33.

6. Continuation and conclusion, d. Questions respecting the propagation and preservation of wild beasts as objects of the creative power and wise providence of God. chap. 38–39:30. a. The lion, the raven, the wild goat, the stag, and the wild ass: Job 38:39 to Job 39:8.

Job 38:39. Dost thou hunt the prey for the lioness, and dost thou appease the craving of the young lions?—Respecting the lion’s names, לָבִיא and כְּפִיר, comp. on Job 4:11. “To appease (lit. to fill) the craving” (מִלֵּא חַיָּה), means the same as “to fill the soul” (מ׳ נֶפֶשׁ), Proverbs 6:30.

Job 38:40. When they crouch in the dens. On יָשֹׁחוּ comp. Psalms 10:10. On מְעוֹנוֹתlustra, comp. Psalms 104:22. In respect to סֻכָּה in b, comp. סֹךְ, used elsewhere in the sense of “thicket,” Psalms 10:9; Jeremiah 25:38. On לְמוֹ־אָֽרֶב, which gives the object of the “crouching” and “sitting” [or “dwelling”], comp. Job 31:9 b.

Job 38:41. Who provides for the raven its prey, when its young ones cry unto God, [wander without food?—The interrogation properly extends over the whole verse, not, as in E. V., over the first member only, which makes the remainder of the verse meaningless.—E.]. הֵכִין, “to prepare, to provide,” as in Job 27:16 seq. כִּי “when,” as in Job 38:40 a. The ravens are introduced here, as in the parallel passages, Psalms 147:9; Luke 12:24, as objects of God’s fatherly care, rather than any other description of birds, because they are specially noticeable among birds in search of food, by reason of their hoarse cries. Observe moreover the contrast, which is surely intentional between the mighty monarch of the beasts, which in Job 38:39 seq. is put at the head of beasts in search of food, and the contemptibly small, insignificant, and uncomely raven. [“Jewish and Arabian writers tell strange stories of this bird, and its cruelty to its young; hence, say some, the Lord’s express care for the young ravens, after they had been driven out of the nests by the parent birds; but this belief in the ravens’ want of affection to its young is entirely without foundation. To the fact of the raven being a common bird in Palestine, and to its habit of flying restlessly about in constant search for food to satisfy its voracious appetite, may perhaps be traced the reason for its being selected by our Lord and the inspired writers as the especial object of God’s providing care.” Smith’s Bib. Dict. Art. “Raven.”]

 Job 39:1-4 : Propagation and increase of the wild goats (rock-goats, ibices) and stags.

Job 39:1. Knowest thou the time when the wild goats bear? observest thou the travail of the hinds?—חוֹלֵל Inf. Pilel of חול, “to be in labor,” ὠδίνειν (comp. the Pulal in Job 15:7), here the object of תִּשְׁמֹר, to which verb the influence of the הֲ before יָדַעְתָּ in the first member extends.

Job 39:2. Dost thou number the months which they (must) fulfil;i.e., until they bring forth, hence their period of gestation. [The point of the question can scarcely be that Job could have no knowledge whatever of the matters here referred to, but that he could have no such knowledge as would qualify him to stand toward these creatures at such a time in the place of God; or, as Carey expresses it: “Can you keep an exact register of all this, and exercise such providential care over these creatures, the mountain goats and hinds, as to preserve them from dangers during the time of gestation, and then deliver them at the proper period?”—E.]. In the second member לִדְתָּנָה, with full-toned suffix, is used for לִדְתָּן; comp. Ruth 1:19, and Gesenius, § 91 [§ 89], 1, Rem. 2. [Green, § 104, g].

Job 39:3. They bow themselves (comp. 1 Samuel 4:19), they let their young ones break through (lit. “cleave;” comp. Job 16:13), they cast away their pains;i.e., the fruit of their pains, their fœtus, for this is what חֶבֶל here signifies, not the after-pains, as Hirzel and Schlottmann think. Comp. ῥίψαι ὠδῖνα = edere fœtum, in Euripides, Ion 45; also examples of the same phraseology from the Arabic in Schultens on the passage. It will be seen further that תפלחנה (instead of which Olshausen needlessly conjectures תפלטנה after Job 21:10) forms a paronomasia with תשלחנה.

Job 39:4. Their young ones become strong (חלם, lit. “to grow fat,” pinguescere), grow up in the desert.—בַּחוּץ=בַּבָּר, or בַּשָּדֶה, as often in the Targ. [a meaning more suitable to the context than that of E. V. “with corn “]. They go away, and return not to them;i.e., to the parents, לָמוֹ however might also be explained after Job 6:19; Job 24:16 as Dat. commodi: sibi=sui juris esse volentes (Schultens, Delitzsch).

Vers 5–8. The wild ass, introduced as an example of many beasts, the life of which is characterized by unrestricted liberty, defying and mocking all human control and nurture.

Job 39:5. Who hath sent out the wild ass free, and who hath loosed the bands of the fugitive?—The words פֶּרֶא (Arab, ferâ; comp. above Job 6:5; Job 11:12; Job 24:5) and עָרּוֹד denote one and the same animal, the wild ass or onager (the ὄνος ἄγριος of the LXX., the “Kulan” of the eastern Asiatics of to-day), which is characterized by the first name as the “swift runner,” by the latter (which in Aramaic, and particularly in the Targum is the common name), as the “shy, fleeing one.” As to the predicate accusative חָפְּשִׁי, “free, set loose,” comp. Deuteronomy 15:12; Jeremiah 34:14. As to the second member, comp. Job 38:31.

Job 39:6. Whose home [lit. “house”] I have made the desert, and his abode the salt-steppe.—The word “salt-steppe” (מְלֵחָה) which is here used as parallel to “waste, desert” (ערבה, Job 24:5 b), stands in Psalms 107:34 as the opposite of אֶרֶץ פְּרִי (comp. Judges 9:45, where mention is made of sowing a destroyed city with salt). On the preference of the wild ass for saline plants, and on his disposition to take up his abode in salt marshes, comp. Oken, Allg. Naturgesch. Vol. VII., p. 1230.

Job 39:7. [He laughs at the tumult (E. V. “multitude,” but the parallelism favors “tumult”) of the city], the driver’s shouts he hears not;i.e., he flees from the control of the drivers, to which the tamed ass is subjected. On תְּשֻׁאוֹת, comp. Job 36:29.

Job 39:8. He ranges through the mountains as his pasture.—So according to the reading יָתוּר (Imperf. of תּוּר, investigare), which is attested by almost all the ancient versions, by the LXX, Vulg., Targum. The Masoretic reading יְתוּר is either (with the Pesh. Le Clerc, etc.) to be taken as a variant of תּוּר, abundantia, or as a derivative of תּוּר with the meaning, “that which is searched out” (investigatum, investigabile). But the statement that “the abundance of the mountains is the pasture of the wild ass” would be at variance with the fact in respect to the life of these animals, which inhabit the bare mountain-steppes (comp. Oken in the work cited above). On the other hand we should expect the normal form יְתוּר, following the analogy of such words as יָקוּם to have an active rather than a passive signification. יְתוּר however can scarcely mean “circle, compass,” [E. V. “range”] here (Hahn).

β. The oryx and ostrich: Job 39:9-18.

Job 39:9. Will the oryx be pleased to serve thee?—רֵים, contracted from רְאֵם (comp. the full written form רִאֵים, Psalms 92:11), assuredly denotes not the rhinoceros (Aq., Vulgate) [Good, Barnes], because the animal intended must be one that was common in Western Asia, and especially in the regions of Syria and Palestine. Comp. the reference to it in Psalms 22:22 [21]; Job 29:6; Deuteronomy 33:17; Isaiah 34:7. It would be more natural, with Schultens, Gesenius, De Wette, Umbreit, Hirzel [Robinson, Noyes, Carey, Wordsworth, Renan, Rodwell, Conant, Fürst, Smith’sBib. Dict. Art. “Unicorn”], etc., to understand the buffalo or wild ox [bos bubalus) to be intended, seeing that this animal is still quite common in Palestine, and that here a contrast seems to be intended between this wild ox and the tame species (see Job 39:10). But this particular buffalo of Palestine is an animal which is not particularly strong, or characterized by untamable wildness, as is shown by the fact that it is frequently used in tilling the land (Russell, Naturgesch. von Aleppo, II. 7) [Thomson’sLand and the Book, I. 386, 387]. The μονοκέρως of the LXX. [E. V.: “unicorn”] (of which the Talmudic קרש is a mutilated form, and the ῥινοκἑρως of Aquila and Jerome is a misunderstanding) points to an animal which is, if not always, yet often, represented as having one horn, i.e., as being armed with one horn on the forehead, consisting of two which have grown together. Such an animal seems in ancient times to have been somewhat common in Egypt and South-western Asia, the same being a species nearly related to the oryx—antelope (Antil. loucoryx) of to-day. It is represented on Egyptian monuments, now with two horns, and now with one. It is described by Aristotle and Pliny as a one-horned, cloven hoof (Aristotle, Hist. Anim. II. 1; De Partib. Anim. III. 2; Pliny, Hist. Nat. XI. 106); and in all probability it has been again discovered recently in the Tschiru, or the Antil. Hodgsonii of Southern Thibet (Hue and Gabet, Journeyings through Mongolia and Thibet, Germ. Edit., p. 323; see the passage quoted in Delitzsch, II., p. 334, n. 2). The name רים in the passage before us is all the more suitably applied to such an animal of the oryx species, in view of the fact that the corresponding Arabic word still signifies a species of antelope among the Syro-Arabians of to-day, and that this same oryx-family embraces sub-species which are particularly wild, largely and powerfully built, and almost bovine in their characteristics. Accordingly, Luther’s translation of the word by “unicorn,” in this passage, and probably in every other where ראם occurs in the Old Testament, supported as it is by the LXX., might be justified without our being compelled to understand by this “unicorn” a fabulous animal like that of the Perso-Assyrian monuments, or of the English royal coat-of-arms. Comp. on the subject S. Bochart, Hierozoicon, II. 335 seq.; Rosenmüller, Bibl. Alterth. IV. 2, 288 seq.; Lichtenstein, Die Antilopen, 1824; Lewysohn, Zoologie des Talmud, 1858, § 146, 174; Sundewall, Die Thierarten des Aristoteles, Stockholm, 1863, p. 64 seq.; also Koner’s Zeitschr. für allgem. Erdkunde, 1862, II., H. 3, p. 227, where interesting information is given respecting the researches of the Englishman, W. B. Bailie, touching the existence of a one horned animal still to be found in the regions of Central Africa, south of the Sea of Tsad, differing both from the rhinoceros and from the unicorn of the British coat-of-arms, which is probably, therefore, an African variety of the oryx—antelope, and possibly the very same variety as that represented on the old Egyptian monuments. [See Robinson’s Researches in Palestine, III, 306, 563; Wilson, Lands of the Bible, II., p. 167 seq.; and the remarks of Dr. Mason, of the Assam Mission, in the Christian Review, January, 1856, quoted by Conant in this verse.] Will he lodge [lit. “pass the night,” יָלִיןat thy crib?—lit. “over thy crib” [hence אֵבוּם cannot be, as defined by Gesenius, “stall, stable”], for the crib being very low, the cattle of the ancients in the East reached over it with the head while lying beside it. Comp. Isaiah 1:3 and Hitzig on the passage.

Job 39:10. Dost thou bind the oryx to the furrow of his cord?i.e., to the furrow (comp. Job 31:38) which he raises by means of the ploughshare, as he is led along by the cord. Or will he harrow the valleys (Ps. 65:14) after thee (אַחֲרֶיךָ), i.e., while following thee, when thou seekest to lead him in the act of ploughing [rather, as in the text, harrowing, שִׂדֵּד, to level].

Job 39:11. Wilt thou trust him because his strength is great?i.e., will the great strength which he possesses awake thy confidence, and not rather thy mistrust? On יְגִיעַ, “labor” [“wilt thou commit to him thy labor”], in the sense of the fruit of labor, the product of tilling, comp. Psalms 78:46; Psalms 128:2. The verse following is decisive in favor of this interpretation of the verse before us; otherwise the word might, in accordance with Genesis 31:42, denote the labor or the toil itself.

Job 39:12. Wilt thou trust to him that he bring home thy sowing?—Respecting כִּי as exponent of the object, see Ewald, § 336, b.יָשׁוּב, if we adhere to it, with the K’thibh, is used in the transitive sense, as in Job 42:10; Psalms 85:5. The K’ri, however, substitutes for it the Hiphil, which, in this sense, is the form more commonly used. And that he gather (into) thy threshing-floor.—גָּרְנְךָ is probably locative (בַּגָּרְנְךָ=). It may possibly, however, be taken as accusative of the object per synecdochen continentis pro contento (threshing-floor=fruits of the threshing-floor, yield of the harvest), as in Ruth 3:2; Matthew 3:12.

Job 39:13-18. The ostrich (lit. the female ostrich) introduced as an example of untamable wildness from among the birds. The wing of the (female) ostrich waves joyously.—רְנָנִים, lit. “wailings, shrill cries of mourning” plur. abstr.) is a poetic designation of the ostrich here, or of the female ostrich, noted for its piercing cries. So correctly the Vulg., Bochart, and almost all the moderns. The Targ. arbitrarily understands the bird designated to be the “mountain-cock,” Kimchi and Luther the “peacock” [and so E. V.: “Gavest thou the goodly wings unto the pea-cocks?”] As to נֵעֱלָם, “to move itself joyously,” comp. Job 20:18; also the Homeric expression, ἀγάλλεσθαι πτερύγεσσιν. Is it a pious pinion and plumage?i.e., is the wing of this bird, the waving of which is so powerful and wonderfully rapid, a pious one, productive of mild and tender qualities, like that of the stork? For it is to that bird—which in its build resembles the ostrich, but which is more mild in disposition, and is, in particular, more affectionate and careful in the treatment of its offspring—that the predicate חֲסִידָה, pia with its double meaning, refers (which Delitzsch accordingly translates storchfromm [stork-pious], pia instar circoniæ). This is evident from the description which follows.

Job 39:14. Nay, she abandons her eggs to the earth.—כִּי here “nay, rather,” as in Job 22:2. The subj. of תעזב is the רננים of Job 39:13, construed here as Fem. Sing. The same construction obtains in the following verbs (Ew. §318 a).

Job 39:15. And forgets that the foot can crush them.—וַתִּשְׁכַּח, simply consecutive, and hence present; comp. Job 3:21. On the sing, suffix in תְּזוּרֶהָ, referring to the eggs, see Gesenius, § 146 [§ 143], 3. The fact here described, to wit, that the mother ostrich easily forgets her eggs, at least while she is not yet through with laying them, as well as in the beginning of the period of incubation, and that she leaves them unprotected, especially on the approach of hunters, is true of this animal only in its wild condition. In that state it shares these and similar habits, proceeding from excessive wildness and fear of man, with many other birds, as, e. g., the partridge. In its tamed condition, the ostrich watches over its young very diligently indeed,—and, moreover, shows nothing of that stupidity popularly ascribed to it, and which has become proverbial (to which Job 39:17 alludes). Comp. the Essay entitled: Die Zuchtung des Straussen als europäisches Hausthier, in the Ausland, 1869, No. 13, p. 30.6. The opinion moreover, partially circulated among the ancients, that the ostrich does not at all incubate its eggs, belongs to that class of scientific fables which, as in the case of those strange animals the basilisk, the dragon, the unicorn, etc., have been incorrectly imputed to the Old Testament. The verse before us furnishes no support whatever to that opinion. [See Smith’s Bib. Dict., Art, “Ostrich.” “The habit of the ostrich leaving its eggs to be matured by the sun’s heat is usually appealed to in order to confirm the Scriptural account, ‘she leaveth her eggs to the earth;’ but this is probably the case only with the tropical birds; the ostriches with which the Jews were acquainted were, it is likely, birds of Syria,. Egypt and North Africa; but even if they were acquainted with the habits of the tropical ostriches, how can it be said that ‘she forgetteth that the foot may crush.’ the eggs, when they are covered a foot deep or more in sand? We believe the true explanation of this passage is to be found in the fact that the ostrich deposits some of her eggs not in the nest, but around it; these lie about on the surface of the sand, to all appearance forsaken; they are however designed for the nourishment of the young birds, according to Levaillant and Bonjainville (Cuvier, An. King. by Griffiths and others, Job 8:432),” and see below on Job 39:16].

Job 39:16. She deals hardly with her young, as though they were not hers; lit. “for not to her” (i.e., belonging to her) הִקְשִׁיחַ, lit. “he deals hardly;’ which, bearing in mind [the suffix in בָּנֶיהָ, and] the clause לְלֹא־ לָהּ, which immediately follows, gives a change of gender which is intolerably harsh, which we may perhaps obviate (with Ewald, etc.) by pointing הַקְשֵׁיחַ (Inf. Absol., comp Ewald, § 280, a). The correction תַּקְשִׁיחַ (Hirzel, Dillmann) [Merx] is less plausible. In vain is her labor without her being distressed; lit. “without fear” (בְּלִי־פחד), i.e., her labor in laying her eggs is in vain (inasmuch as many of her eggs are abandoned by her to destruction), without her giving herself any trouble or anxiety on that account. This unconcern and carelessness of the female ostrich touching the fate of her young, which stands in glaring contrast with the tender anxiety of the stork-mother (Job 39:13 b), is carried to such a length, that she herself often stamps to pieces her eggs (the shells of which moreover are quite hard), when she observes that men or beasts have been about; and even uses the eggs which are left to lie unhatched in feeding the young ones as they creep forth. Comp. Wetzstein, in Delitzsch II., p. 339 seq.

Job 39:17. For God made her to forget wisdom, and gave her no share in understanding.—הִשָּׁהּ Perf. Hiph. with the suffix ־ָהּ from נשׁה (comp. Job 11:6). חָלַק בַּבִּינָה, “to give a share in understanding” (comp. Job 7:13; Job 21:25). For parallel expressions as to the thought, to wit, Arabic proverbs about the stupidity of the ostrich, see Schultens and Umbreit on the passage. The only other passage in the Old Testament where the cruelty of the ostrich is set forth in proverbial form is Lamentations 4:3.

Job 39:18. At the time when she lashes herself aloft, she laughs at the horse and his rider.—כָּעֵת, here not “at this time, just now” (Gesen., Schlott,), but=כָעֵת אֲשֶׁר, and hence with an elliptical relative clause following. Respecting מרא, which both in Kal. and Hiphil can signify “to lash, to beat,” and which in Hebrew is found in this signification only here, see Gesenius in the Lexicon. The whole verse describes in a way which combines simplicity and terseness with vividness, the lightning-like swiftness of an ostrich, or a herd of such birds, fleeing before hunters on horseback, the running movement of the bird being aided by the vibration of the wings. At the same time the mention of “the horse and his rider” prepares the transition to the description which follows, the only one in this series which refers to a tamed animal.

Job 39:19-25. The war-horse—a favorite subject of description also on the part of Arabian and other oriental poets; comp. the “Praise of the Horse” in 5. Hammer—Purgstall’s Duftkörner: Amrul-Keis, Moallakat, 39:50, 64, and other parallels to this passage cited by Umbreit. Of all these poetic descriptions which have come down from antiquity (to which also may be added Virgil, Georg. III, 75 seq.)., the present one is the oldest and most beautiful. [“In connection with this description of the war-horse, which among many similar ones is the most splendid, it has been justly observed that to a Hebrew the horse as a theme of description must seem all the more noble in that he was known not as a beast of draught, but only as a war-horse.” Schlottmann].

Job 39:19. Dost thou give strength (גְּבוּרָה used specially of warlike strength, fortitudo; comp. Judges 8:21; 2 Kings 18:20) dost thou clothe his neck with fluttering hair?i.e., with quivering, waving mane? It is thus that most moderns explain the word רַעְמָה, not found elsewhere, from the root רעם, “to quake” (Ezekiel 27:35), by comparison with the Greek φόβη (related to φόβος). The signification “thunder, neighing” (Symmach., Theodot., Jerome, Luther, Schlottmann) [E. V.] would indeed be etymologically admissible, but it would not be suited to the words “neck,” and “clothe.” Umbreit and Ewald, (§ 113, d) [the latter however in his Commentary as above—“quivering mane”] explain it by “dignity;” but the identity of רעמה with רַאְמָה is questionable, and such words as גָּאוֹן, or שְׂאֵת would have been more naturally used to express that idea.

Job 39:20. Dost thou make him leap like the locust?i.e., when he rushes along on the gallop, like a vastly enlarged bounding troop of locusts (comp. Joel 2:4). “What is intended, is a spiral motion in leaps, now to the right, now to the left, which is called the caracol, a word used in horsemanship, borrowed from the Arabic har-gala-l-farasu (comp. חַרְגֹּל), through the medium of the Moorish Spanish” (Delitzsch). [The rendering of E. V.: “canst thou make him afraid as a grasshopper”—is at variance with the spirit of the description, which, in each member, sets forth some trait which commands admiration.—E.]. The glory of his snorting is a terror,—or, “since the glory of his snorting,” etc. (descriptive clause without וְ). On נחר “snorting,” comp. the Arabic nachir, “the death-rattle, snoring,” Greek, φρύαγμα, Lat., fremitus. חוד here denoting not a splendid appearance, but a majestic peal or roar.

Job 39:21. They explore in the valley, then he rejoiceth in strength.—The subject of יַחְפְּרוּ can scarcely be the hoofs of the horse (Delitzsch [“the representation of the many pawing hoofs being blended with that of the pawing horse”]), and the use throughout thus far of the singular in speaking of the horse (so also again in וְיָשִׂישׂ) makes it impossible that the plural here should refer to him. Hence the signification “pawing” preferred here by the ancient versions [and E. V.], and most of the moderns seems inadmissible, even admitting that חפר is the word commonly used for the pawing of the horse (see Schultens on the passage). We must rather with Cocceius and Ewald understand the subject to be the riders, or the warriors; “they take observations,” or “observations are taken in the valley (while it is uncertain whether the fighting should begin): then he rejoiceth in strength.” The meaning “to paw” is to be retained only in case we adopt with Dillmann [Merx] the reading יחְפֹּר, or with Böttcher יְחַפְּרֵר. He goes forth against an armed host, lit. “the armor;” נֶשֶׁק here otherwise than in Job 20:24.—On Job 39:22 comp. Job 39:7; Job 39:18.

Job 39:23. The quiver rattleth upon him;i.e. the quiver of the horseman who is seated upon him, not the hostile contents of the quiver, the whirring arrows of the enemy, as Schultens [Conant, Rodwell] explain. Besides this part of the armor, the second member mentions the “spear and the lance” [not “shield,” E. V.], or rather with poetic circumlocution, “the lightning (lit. flame) of the spear and the lance,” להב synonymous with בָּרָק, Job 20:25; comp. להט, Genesis 3:24; also Judges 3:22; 1 Samuel 17:7; Nahum 3:3.

Job 39:24. With rushing and raging he swallows the ground;i.e. in sweeping over the ground at full gallop, he swallows it up as it were; a figure which is current also among Arabic poets (see Schultens and Delitzsch on the passage). The assonance of רגז־רעש may be represented by “rushing and raging.”—And he does not stand still when the trumpet sounds.—Lit. “he does not show himself fixed, does not stay fixed, does not contain himself:” יַאֲמִין accordingly in its primitive sensuous meaning; not “he believes not” (Kimchi, Aben Ezra) [E. V. i.e. for joy; it is too good to be true]. As to קוֹל comp. Ewald, § 286, f [adverbial use of קול here=when the trumpet is loud]. As parallel in thought comp. beyond all other passages that of Virgil referred to above (Georg. III. 83 seq.):

… . Turn, si qua sonum procul arma dedere,
Stare loco nescit, micat auribus et tremit artus
Collectumque fremens volvit sub naribus ignem.

Job 39:25. As often as the trumpet (sounds), he says, Aha! i. e., he neighs, full of a joyous eagerness for the battle. On בְּרֵיquotiescunque (lit. “in sufficiency”), comp. Ewald, § 337, c.And from afar he smells the battle, the thunder (comp. Job 36:29) of the captains, and the shouting (the battle-cries of the contestants; comp. Judges 7:18 seq.). Similarly Pliny, N. H. VIII. Job 42:0 : præsagiunt pugnam: and of moderns more particularly Layard (New Discoveries, p. 330): “Although docile as a lamb, and requiring no other guide than the halter, when the Arab mare hears the war-cry of the tribe, and sees the quivering spear of her rider, her eyes glitter with fire, her blood-red nostrils open wide, her neck is nobly arched, and her tail and mane are raised and spread out to the wind,” etc.

Job 39:26. The hawk, as the first example of birds of prey, distinguished by their strength, lightning-like swiftness, and lofty flight.—Doth the hawk fly upward by thy understanding?—נֵץ (the “high flyer”) is, according to the unanimous testimony of the ancient versions, the hawk, a significant bird, as is well known, in the Egyptian hieroglyphics, which is here introduced on account of its mysteriously note-worthy characteristic of taking its flight southwards at the approach of winter (Pliny, N. H. x. 8). For it is to this that the apocop. Imperf. Hiph. יַאֲבֶר (denominative from אֶבְרָה, “wing”) refers: assurgit, attollitur alis, not to the yearly moulting, which precedes the migration southward (Vulg.: plumescit; in like manner the Targ., Gregory the Great, Rosenm.). For this annual renewal of plumage (πτεροφυεῖν, see LXX., Isaiah 40:31) is common to all birds, and is predicated elsewhere in the Old Testament only of the eagle (Psalms 103:5; Micah 1:16; Isaiah 40:31), not of the hawk.

Job 39:27-30. The eagle, as king of the birds, closing the series of native animals here described, in like manner as the lion, as king of the mammalia, had opened the series. נֶשֶׁר is in the Holy Scriptures of the Old Testament, like ἀετός in the New Testament (comp. Matthew 24:28; Luke 17:37), a. common designation of the eagle proper, and of the vulture: and the characteristic of carnivorousness which is here and often elsewhere referred to belongs in fact not only to the varieties of the vulture (such as the carrion-kite and lammergeyer), but also to the more common varieties of the eagle, such as the golden eagle and the osprey, which do not disdain to eat the carcasses of animals which have recently died. Comp. Winer’s Real-Wörter-Buch, under Adler.—Doth the eagle soar at thy command? lit. make high (יגביה, scil. עוף) his flight; comp. Job 5:7.—And build his nest on high? lit. “is it at thy command that he builds his nest on high?” Comp. Obadiah 1:4; Jeremiah 49:16; Proverbs 30:19.

Job 39:28. With the phrase שֶׁן־סֶלַע, lit. “tooth of the rock,” comp. the names Dent du midi, Dent-blanche, Dent de Moreles, etc.

Job 39:30. And his young ones lap up blood.—[The gender throughout is masculine, not fem. as in E. V.] יְעַלְעוּ from עלע, an abbreviated secondary form of עִלְעֵל, Pilp. of עוּל, “to suck.” Possibly, however, we should read (with Gesen. and Olsh.) יְלַעְלְעוּ, from לעע לוּע=, deglutere. On the sucking of blood by the young eagles, comp. Ælian, H. anim. x. Job 14:0 : σαρκῶν ἤδεται βορᾶ καὶ πίνει αἶμα καὶ τὰ νεόττια ἐκτρέφει τοῖς αὐτοῖς.

 7. Conclusion of the discourse, together with Job’s answer: Job 40:1-5.

Job 40:2. Will the censurer contend with the Almighty ? to wit, after all that has here been laid before him in proof of the greatness and wonderful power of God. Observe the return to Job 38:2, which this question brings about. רֹב Inf. absol. of רִיב (as in Judges 11:25) here in the sense of a future. The adoption of this construction in preference to the finite verb gives a meaning that is particularly forcible. Comp. the well-known sentence: mene incepto desistere victim? Also Ewald, § 328, a.He who hath reproved God, let him answer it;i.e. let him reply to all the questions asked from Job 38:2 on.

Job 40:4. Behold, I am too base;i.e. to solve the problem presented, I am not equal to it.—I lay my hand on my mouth; i.e. I impose on myself absolute silence; comp. Job 21:5; Job 29:9.

Job 40:5. Once have I spoken, and I will not again begin, will no more undertake to speak; see on Job 3:2. “Once—twice,” as in Psalms 62:12 [11], are used only because of the poetic parallelism for “often;” comp. Gesenius, § 120 [§ 118], 5. The solemn formal retractation which Job here makes of his former presumptuous challenges of God marks the first stage of his gradual return to a more becoming position toward God. It is God’s purpose, however, to lead him forward from this first stage, consisting in true self-humiliation (in contrast to his former self-exaltation) to a still more advanced stage—even the complete melting down of his heart in sincere penitence. It is the realization of this purpose which Jehovah seeks in His second and last discourse.


1. As a magnificent specimen of physico-the-ological demonstration in poetic form, the present discourse of God, the first and longest which He delivers, is incomparable. With wonderful symmetry of treatment, it makes first the inanimate, and then the animate creation the theme of profound contemplation; each of these domains being treated with about the same fulness, and with a homologous arrangement of strophes (see Exegetical Remarks, No. 1), in order thus to impress Job with the highest admiration of the divine power, wisdom and goodness, as these attributes are revealed in the entire world of nature. The First Long Strophe (Job 38:4-15) which makes the creation of the heavens, the earth, and the sea, the theme of contemplation serves to illustrate principally the divine omnipotence, together with the attributes most immediately related to it, eternity, infinity and omnipresence, or the divine being as transcending space and time. Towards the close of this strophe the attribute of justice is also drawn into the circle of contemplation, it being one chief object of the whole description to represent the Almighty God as being also just in His vast activities, always and everywhere just (see Job 40:13-15). The consideration of omnipotence is next followed by that of wisdom, together with the attribute of omniscience which stands most closely connected with it, the discussion having reference to the hidden heights and depths above and below the earth, from which the phenomena of the atmosphere and of light, proceed (Second Long Strophe, Job 38:16 seq.). Already toward the end of this description the attribute of God’s goodness emerges into view, as it is shown in the beneficent effects of the rain-showers (Job 40:25-27). Afterwards in the third Long Strophe (Job 40:28-38) this attribute retires again to the background, while the power manifested in the heavens, and the wisdom revealed in the atmosphere, occupy the foreground. All the more decidedly however in the last three Long Strophes, or in the zoological and biological description constituting the section which we have marked d (Job 38:39 to Job 39:30), is the discourse again directed to the goodness of God, or to the Creator’s fatherly care, which is most intimately united with His power and wisdom, and which in the exercise of them takes the most particular interest in the life of His earthly animate creation. For all that is advanced in this section in the way of proof of the wonderful wisdom and all-penetrative knowledge of the Most High in the sphere of animal life, and of its ordinary as well as its extraordinary phenomena is subordinated to the teleological reference to His special providence, in view of which not one of His creatures is indifferent to Him. (Comp. Bochart’s Remarks on Job 39:1-4 : The knowledge here spoken of is not passive and speculative simply, but that knowledge which belongs to God, by which He not only knows all things, but directs and governs them, etc.). That which makes this survey of the most exalted attributes of God as reflected in the wonders of His creation especially impressive is the accumulation of so many examples and illustrations from the domain of physical theology, and the wonderful art with which they are elaborated in the minutest detail, together with the striking harmony and consistency which their arrangement exhibits, notwithstanding all the flow and freedom of the poetic sweep of thought. Not one of these illustrations from the great book of creation is absolutely new. Job himself has more than once in his discourses introduced brief reflective descriptions of nature similar in kind, and scarcely inferior in beauty (Job 9:4-10; Job 12:7-10; Job 12:12-25; Job 26:5-14); even Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar have at least occasionally described, not without skill and taste, the divine power and wisdom, as they are revealed in the works of His creation; and Elihu near the close of his discourses dwelt on this theme at length, and with powerful effect. The grandeur and superiority of that which Jehovah here advances, in part confirming, in part going beyond those utterances of the former speakers, consists in the way in which, alike with artless simplicity, and with harmonious and connected order, He has accumulated such an array of the most manifold and luminous evidences of His majesty as revealed in the wonders of nature. Comp. Julius Fürst, Geschichte der biblischen Literatur, etc., II., p. Job 418: “The poet has here artistically combined the utmost polish of diction, the greatest abundance of natural pictures, the most thrilling and winning vividness in the succinct descriptions given of the wonders of creation; and the effect on Job must have been really overpowering. The reader also finds the discourse distinguished by tone and harmony, by power, acuteness, and clearness, by method, order, and plan, so that it presents itself as the most beautiful discourse in the Old Testament Scriptures. In this discourse, cast in the form of questions, Jehovah exhibits the animate and inanimate creation, the manifold channels in which the forces of nature secretly operate, its wonderful and mysterious phenomena, as they are held together in glorious order by His creative hand, as they are ruled by His nod. The eternal creative energy, which bears witness to a wisdom that is unsearchable, to a providential love, to a wise moral order of the universe, appears to the weak human spirit as an insoluble mystery, which has for its aim to put Job to shame. In this discourse, embracing six long strophes, each consisting for the most part of twelve verse-lines, the exhibition of the transcendent wonders of nature certainly imparts indescribable power to the contemplation of the greatness of the Creator. Every one must see however that these natural wonders, after we have explained them in their immediate foundations through our knowledge of natural laws, and after we have understood them from the general laws of nature, must be understood according to the effects which they produce. The next thing to be noticed is the poetic conception of the beauty of nature, the deep mental contemplation of the Cosmos, as it shows itself among all the civilized nations of antiquity; and then the poetry of nature found among the Hebrews, considered particularly as the reflex of monotheism. The characteristic marks of the Hebrew poetry of nature, as A. Von Humboldt strikingly observes in his Cosmos, are that “it always embraces the whole universe in its unity, comprising both terrestrial life and the luminous realms of space. It dwells but rarely on the individuality of phenomena, preferring the contemplation of great masses. The Hebrew poet does not depict nature as a self-dependent object, glorious in its individual beauty, but always as in relation and subjection to a higher spiritual power. The natural wonders here sung by the poet point to the invariableness, the amazing regularity of the operations of nature, i.e., to its laws, which lead us to adore supreme wisdom, power, and love, lead us in a word to religion. Finally, it is to be borne in mind that the century in which the poet lived was one of the earliest in which such questions were propounded, and sketches of nature made.”—Comp. the still more decided appreciation of the contents of our discourse as respects its natural theology and its æsthetic features in the book of Jos. L. Saalschütz, entitled Form und Geist der biblisch-hebräischen Poesie, Königsb., 1853, (Third Lecture: Biblisch-hebräische Naturanschau-ung und Natur-poesie); also Ad. Kohnt’s Alexander v. Humboldt und das Judenthum, Leipzig, 1871 (Fourth Part: Humboldt’s Stellung zur Bibel), also the striking observations of Reuss, in his Vortrag über das Buch Job towards the end), which show with peculiar beauty how that, notwithstanding the vast enlargement of our knowledge of nature in modern times, the larger number of the questions here addressed by Jehovah to Job, still remain as unanswerable as at the time when the poem was composed; the fact being that it is only the old formulas in respect to particular mysterious phenomena which have disappeared before a clearer and fuller knowledge, not the mysteries themselves, and that accordingly even to the naturalist of the present, God remains a hidden God. See further on this subject in the Doctrinal and Ethical Remarks on the following discourse of God (Job 40-41).

2. Notwithstanding all the admiration which this first discourse of Jehovah evokes in view of the evidences here presented of its beauty, and in particular of the value of its contributions to natural theology, we might still continue in doubt respecting its congruity to the plan and connection of the poem as a whole. It might seem singular and incongruous: (1) That the discourse from beginning to end runs through a series of questions from God to Job, calculated to shame and humiliate the latter, when he has already (Job 9:3) declared his shrinking from such a rigid inquisition, and his inability to answer even one in a thousand of such questions as the Most High might ask of him. (2) Fault might be found moreover with the contents of these questions, as exhibiting too little that is new, that has not already been touched upon, as being in too close agreement with what has been advanced by Job himself in respect to the greatness and wisdom revealed in the Cosmos, as being therefore too exclusively physical, i.e. as being too little adapted to produce a direct impression on the inward perversity and blindness of him who is addressed (an objection which has in fact been to some extent urged by some expositors and critics, as e. g. by de Wette, Knobel, Arnheim, etc.). The first of these objections, however, is directed against what is simply a misconception; for that declaration of Job in respect to his inability to answer God is made only incidentally, and in no wise conditions the final issue of the action of the poem. On the contrary Job had in the course of his discourses wished often enough that God might enter into a controversy with him. And, most of all, the questions which God puts to him, and of which he cannot answer one, are significantly related in the way of contrast to the last of the presumptuous challenges which Job had put forth. Whereas in Job 31:35 he had exclaimed: “Let the Almighty answer me!” God now fulfils this wish, although in quite another way than that which he had expected. He speaks to him out of the storm, not however by way of reply or self-vindication, but throughout asking questions, and so overwhelming the presumptuous fault-finder with a series of unanswerable queries, permanently silencing him, and compelling him at last to acknowledge his submission. At the same time the tendency of these divine questions is by no means to stun, to crush, to annihilate. Here and there it is true their tone borders on irony (see especially Job 38:21; Job 38:28; Job 39:1 seq.). It never, however, becomes harsh or haughty; on the contrary it is throughout affectionately condescending, lifting up at the same time that it humbles, gently administering instruction and consolation.—And as with this interrogative form of the discourse, so also is its natural theology thoroughly suited to the divine purpose in regard to Job. That self-humiliation, that silent submission to the divine will as being always and in every case wise, just and good, which was to be wrought in Job, how could it have been more suitably promoted than by pointing him to the visible creation, which already in and of itself is full, nay which overflows with facts adapted to vanquish all human pride and presumption? And especially may we ask in respect to that, presumptuous argument, on which Job had continually planted himself in opposition to God: “I have not transgressed; therefore my grievous suffering is absolutely inexplicable—may more, is unreasonable and unjust,”—how could the error and folly of that position have been more effectually demonstrated to him than by a reference to the numberless inexplicable and incomprehensible subjects which continually present themselves to us in the realms of nature, in its life, processes and events? how could the doubt respecting the logical and ethical grounds of the apparently harsh treatment to which God had subjected him, be more effectually disposed of than by bringing forward various phenomena of physical life on earth and elsewhere, each one of which stands before us as an amazing wonder, and as an eloquent witness of the unsearchableness of God’s ways, who in what He does is ever wise, and whose purpose is ever one of love? Comp. Delitzsch (II., p. 354): “From the marvellous in nature, he divines that which is marvellous in his affliction. His humiliation under the mysteries of nature is at the same time humiliation under the mystery of his affliction.” And a little before (p. 352): “Contrary to expectation, God begins to speak with Job about totally different matters from His justice or injustice in reference to his affliction. Therein already lies a deep humiliation for Job. But a still deeper one is God’s turning, as it were, to the abecedarium naturæ, and putting the censurer of His doings to the blush. That God is the almighty and all-wise Creator and Ruler of the world, that the natural world is exalted above human knowledge and power, and is full of marvellous divine creations and arrangements, full of things mysterious and incomprehensible to ignorant and feeble man, Job knows even before God speaks, and yet he must now hear it, because he does not know it rightly; for the nature with which he is acquainted as the herald of the creative and governing power of God, is also the preacher of humility; and exalted as God the Creator and Ruler of the natural world is above Job’s censure, so is He also as the author of His affliction. That which is new therefore in the speech of Jehovah is not the proof of God’s exaltation in itself, but the relation to the mystery of his affliction, and to his conduct towards God in this his affliction, in which Job is necessitated to place perceptions not in themselves strange to him. He who cannot answer a single one of those questions taken from the natural kingdom, but, on the contrary, must everywhere admire and adore the power and wisdom of God—he must appear as an insignificant fool, if he applies them to his limited judgment concerning the Author of his affliction.”


In the homiletic treatment of this first discourse of Jehovah’s, it will be necessary of course to explain its position in the structure of the poem as a whole, and the significance of its contents for the solution of the problem of the book. All that pertains to this, however, will evidently possess only a subordinate practical value. For the practical treatment, on the contrary, it is of the highest importance suitably to set forth the value of the contents of the discourse for modern doubters, or those who after Job’s fashion find fault with divine providence; to show accordingly that the questions contained in it touching natural theology are still in a certain sense unanswerable, and that the mysteries to which allusion is made ever remain real mysteries, even to the greatest intellects in the world of science. In this connection use might be made, in the way of illustration and exemplification, of the many confessions which have been made by the greatest investigators of nature touching the incompleteness and limitation of all earthly knowledge and of all the discoveries which have hitherto been achieved in the department of natural science (especially the confessions of astronomers like Newton, Herschel, A. V. Humboldt, Laplace, and recently by Proctor [Other worlds than ours, Preface], and also by chemists and biologists, such as J. V. Liebig, Darwin, Laugel, etc.) The phenomena described in the first half of the discourse (Job 38:4-38), derived from the consideration of the heavens and of atmospheric meteorology, being pre-eminently rich in convincing examples of the mystery and unsearchableness which characterize the divine procedure in the economy of nature, also admit evidently of being considered with particular thoroughness (as e.g., a point which obviously suggests itself—by calling attention in connection with such passages as Job 38:22 seq., Job 38:29 seq. to the fruitlessness, and indeed the hopelessness of the attempts hitherto made to reach the North Pole). The zoological and biological phenomena, on the other hand, which form the subject of the second half of the divine description, it will be better to present together in brief outline, in so far at least as the purpose of illustrating the incomprehensibility of the divine agency in creating and governing the universe is concerned. This second series of natural facts on the contrary are all the better suited to the basis of meditations on the fatherly love of God which remembers and cares for all His creatures, whether brutes or men.

Particular Passages

Job 38:4 seq. Brentius: The aim of this discourse is to show that no one has the right to accuse the Lord of injustice. The proof of this point is that the Lord alone is the Creator of all things, which with a certain amplification is illustrated from various classes of creatures. … From the history of these creatures God proves that it is permitted to no one to accuse Divine sovereignty of injustice, or to resist it; for of all creatures not one was the Lord’s counsellor, or rendered Him any aid in the creation of the world. He can without any injustice therefore dispose of all creatures according to His own will, and create one vessel to honor, another to dishonor, as it may please Him.—Oecolampadius: No other reason can be given than His own good pleasure why God did not make the earth ten times larger. He had the power to enlarge it, no less than to confine it within such narrow limits; He would have been able to make valleys, where there are mountains, and conversely, etc. But He is Lord, and it pleased Him to assign to things the length and depth and breadth which they now have.—Cramer: That God, who has from eternity dwelt in inaccessible light, has revealed Himself through the work of creation, receives its explanation out of the depth of His great goodness and mercy. When therefore we treat of God, of His works and mysteries, we must do it with beseeming modesty and reverence. … If even the book of nature transcends our ability to decipher it fully, how much more incomprehensible and mysterious will the book of Holy Scripture be for us.—von Gerlach: The fundamental thought of these representations which God here puts forth is that only He who can create and govern all things, who superintends everything and adjusts all things in their relation to each other, can also comprehend the connection of human destinies. Inasmuch however as feeble short-sighted man cannot understand and fathom the created things which are daily surrounding him, how can he assume to himself any part of God’s agency in administering the universe?

Job 38:16 seq. von Gerlach: Of the particular subject here referred to [scientific discoveries in the natural world], it is true that the later researches of mankind have accomplished much, only however to reveal new depths of this immeasurable creation. In seeking to penetrate into the meaning of these words, we are not to dwell on the literal features of each separate statement. It is a poetic and splendid description of the greatness and unsearchableness of God in creation, from the point of view which men then occupied, a description which retains its lofty internal truth, although the letter of it, regarded from the stand-point of our present knowledge of nature no longer seems as striking to us as the ancients. Indeed it may be said that this more thorough investigation of natural laws has itself vastly increased the number and greatness of such wonders as are set forth in this description for him who enters into the spirit of it.

Job 38:39 seq.; Job 40:1 seq. Cramer: The volume of natural history [das Thierbuch] which God here writes out for us, should be a genuine text-book to all the virtues.—Starke: If animals, whether strong or despicable, great or small, are embraced in God’s merciful providential care, we can regard their need as a silent appeal to the goodness of the Lord, and in this sense even the ravens cry to God when they cry out from hunger.

Job 39:27 seq. Vict. Andrea: From that which is here intimated (to wit, that other animals must sacrifice their life, in order to satisfy the blood-thirsty brood of an eagle) do we not see that the suffering of a simple creature might in God’s plan be designed to benefit other creatures of God?—So the death of a man may, through the terrifying effect which it has on others, often be a blessing to them. And how often is severe sickness, wholly irrespective of the end which the suffering may have for the patient himself, a most effective school of sympathy, yea, of the most self-sacrificing love for all who surround the sufferer. Very often such a sufferer, if he diligently strives to exhibit in his own person a pattern of resignation and praise to God, has been a rich source of light and blessing for those who are round about him! How short-sighted it is therefore for the sick to complain that their life is wholly without use, that they are only a burden to those who are about them, etc. In short the majesty of God has only to question man, in order to bring into the dearest consciousness his narrow limitations.

Verses 6-24

Second Discourse of Jehovah (together with Job’s answer):

To doubt God’s justice, which is most closely allied to His wonderful omnipotence, is a grievous wrong, which must be atoned for by sincere penitence:

Job 40:6 to Job 42:6

1. Sharp rebuke of Job’s presumption, which has been carried to the point of doubting God’s justice:

Job 40:6-14

Job 40:6.          Then answered the Lord unto Job out of the whirlwind, and said:

7     Gird up thy loins now like a man:

I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me.

8     Wilt thou also disannul my judgment?

wilt thou condemn me that thou mayest be righteous?

9     Hast thou an arm like God?

or canst thou thunder with a voice like Him?

10     Deck thyself now with majesty and excellency,

and array thyself with glory and beauty.

11     Cast abroad the rage of thy wrath;

and behold every one that is proud, and abase him.

12     Look on every one that is proud, and bring him low;

and tread down the wicked in their place.

13     Hide them in the dust together:

and bind their faces in secret.

14     Then will I also confess unto thee

that thine own right hand can save thee.

2. Humiliating exhibition of the weakness of Job in contrast with certain creatures of earth, not to say with God; shown

a. by a description of the behemoth (hippopotamus):

Job 40:15-24

15     Behold now behemoth,

which I made with thee;
he eateth grass as an ox.

16     Lo now, his strength is in his loins,

and his force is in the navel of his belly.

17     He moveth his tail like a cedar:

the sinews of his stones are wrapped together.

18     His bones are as strong pieces of brass;

his bones are like bars of iron.

19     He is the chief of the ways of God:

He that made him can make his sword to approach unto him.

20     Surely the mountains bring him forth food,

where all the beasts of the field play.

21     He lieth under the shady trees,

in the covert of the reed, and fens.

22     The shady trees cover him with their shadow;

the willows of the brook compass him about.

23     Behold, he drinketh up a river, and hasteth not:

he trusteth that he can draw up Jordan in his mouth.

24     He taketh it with his eyes:

his nose pierceth through snares.

b. by a description of the leviathan (crocodile): Job 40:25–41:26 [E. V. Job 41:1-34]

E.V. [Heb.]
41. [40.]

1     [25] Canst thou draw out leviathan with a hook?

or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down?

2     [26] Canst thou put a hook into his nose?

or bore his jaw through with a thorn?

3     [27] Will he make many supplications unto thee?

will he speak soft words unto thee?

4     [28] Will he make a covenant with thee?

wilt thou take him for a servant for ever?

5     [29] Wilt thou play with him as with a bird?

or wilt thou bind him for thy maidens?

6     [30] Shall the companions make a banquet of him?

shall they part him among the merchants?

7     [31] Canst thou fill his skin with barbed irons?

or his head with fish spears?

8     [32] Lay thine hand upon him,

remember the battle, do no more.


9     [1] Behold the hope of him is in vain:

shall not one be cast down even at the sight of him?

10     [2] None is so fierce that dare stir him up;

who then is able to stand before Me?

11     [3] Who hath prevented me that I should repay him?

whatsoever is under the whole heaven is mine.

12     [4] I will not conceal his parts,

nor his power, nor his comely proportion.

13     [5] Who can discover the face of his garment?

or who can come to him with his double bridle?

14     [6] Who can open the doors of his face?

his teeth are terrible round about.

15     [7] His scales are his pride,

shut up together as with a close seal.

16     [8] One is so near to another,

that no air can come between them.

17     [9] They are joined one to another,

they stick together that they cannot be sundered.

18     [10] By his neesings a light doth shine,

and his eyes are like the eyelids of the morning.

19     [11] Out of his mouth go burning lamps,

and sparks of fire leap out.

20     [12] Out of his nostrils goeth smoke,

as out of a seething pot, or cauldron.

21     [13] His breath kindleth coals,

and a flame goeth out of his mouth.

22     [14] In his neck remaineth strength,

and sorrow is turned into joy before him.

23     [15] The flakes of his flesh are joined together:

they are firm in themselves; they cannot be moved.

24     [16] His heart is as firm as a stone;

yea, as hard as a piece of the nether millstone.

25     [17] When he raiseth up himself the mighty are afraid:

by reason of breakings they purify themselves.

26     [18] The sword of him that layeth at him cannot hold:

the spear, the dart, nor the habergeon.

27     [19] He esteemeth iron as straw,

and brass as rotten wood.

28     [20] The arrow cannot make him flee;

slingstones are turned with him into stubble.

29     [21] Darts are counted as stubble;

he laugheth at the shaking of a spear.

30     [22] Sharp stones are under him:

he spreadeth sharp-pointed things upon the mire.

31     [23] He maketh the deep to boil like a pot;

he maketh the sea like a pot of ointment.

32     [24] He maketh a path to shine after him;

one would think the deep to be hoary.

33     [25] Upon earth there is not his like,

who is made without fear.

34     [26 He beholdeth all high things:

he is a king over all the children of pride.

3. Job’s answer: Humble confession of the infinitude of the divine power, and penitent acknowledgment of his guilt and folly:

Job 42:1-6

1     Then Job answered the Lord and said:

2     I know that Thou canst do everything,

and that no thought can be withholden from Thee.

3     “Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge?”

therefore have I uttered that I understood not;
things too wonderful for me which I knew not;

4     Hear, I beseech Thee, and I will speak:

I will demand of Thee, and declare Thou unto me.

5     I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear;

but now mine eye seeth Thee:

6     Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent

in dust and ashes.


1. That the omnipotent and infinitely wise activity of the Creator in nature is at the same time just, was in the first discourse of God affirmed for the most part only indirectly, or implicite. Only once, in Job 38:13-15, was this aspect of His character expressly presented, and then only incidentally. The second discourse of Jehovah is intended to supply what is still lacking as to this point, to constrain Job fully to recognize the justice of God in all that He does, and in this way to vanquish the last remainder of pride and presumption in his heart. It accomplishes this end by a twofold method of treatment. First by the direct method of severely censuring the doubt which Job had uttered as to the divine justice, and by vindicating God’s sole and exclusive claim to the power requisite for exercising sovereignty over the universe (first, and shorter part: Job 40:6-14). Next by the indirect method of attacking his pride through a lengthened description of two proud monster-beasts, mighty creations of God’s hand, which after all the amazing wonder which their gigantic power calls forth, are nevertheless only instruments in the hand of the Almighty, and must submit, if not to the will of man, at least to the will of God, who crushes all tyrannous pride (second, and longer part: Job 40:15 to Job 41:26 [ Job 41:34]). This second part, which is again divided into two unequal halves-the shorter describing the behemoth- Job 40:15-24, the longer the leviathan, Job 40:25-41:26. [E. V., Job 41:1-34], falls back on the descriptive and interrogative tone of the first discourse of God; in contrast with which however it is characterized by an allegorizing tendency. It directly prepares the way for Job’s second and last answer, in which he renews the humble submission which he had previously made, and strengthens it by a penitent confession of his own sinfulness.-The strophic arrangement of this second discourse of Jehovah is comprehensively simple and grand, corresponding to the contents, which are thoroughly descriptive, with a massive execution. It embraces in all five Long Strophes, of 8–12 verses each, not less than three of which are devoted to the description of the leviathan in Job 40:25–41:26, [E. V., Job 41:0.] These five Long Strophes include indeed shorter subordinate divisions, but not, strictly speaking, regularly constructed strophes.-Against the modern objections to the authenticity of the episode referring to the behemoth and leviathan, see above in the Introd. § 9, II. (also the notice taken of the peculiar theory of Merx in the Preface).

2. First Division (Long Strophe): Severe censure of Job’s presumptuous doubt respecting the justice of the divine course of action: Job 40:6-14.

Job 40:6. Then answered Jehovah Job out of the storm, etc.-This intentional repetition of Job 38:1 is to show that God continues to present Himself to Job as one who, if not exactly burning with wrath towards him, would have him feel His mighty superiority. That here also, instead of מנ סעוה, the original text was מִנְהַסְּעָוָה, is evident from the Masorah itself. The absence of the art. ה, if it originally belonged here, is by no means to be explained, with Ramban, as designed to indicate that the storm was no longer as violent as before.

Job 40:7 precisely as in Job 38:3.

Job 40:8. Wilt thou altogether annul my right?-הֲאַף stands in a climactic relation to Job’s “contending” (רֹב) reproved in Job 40:2. “To break” (הפר) God’s right would be the same as “to abolish, annul” the same (comp. Job 15:4). Job was on the point of becoming guilty of this wickedness, in that he sought to substitute what he assumed to be right, his idea of righteousness, for that of God, so that he might be accounted righteous, and God unjust, (see the second member).

Job 40:9. Or hast thou an arm like God?-וְאִם interrogative, as in Job 8:3; Job 21:4; Job 34:17. The “arm” of God as a symbol of His power, comp. Job 22:8; so also the “thunder-voice” spoken of in the second member; comp. Job 37:2 seq.-תַּרְעֵם, lit., “wilt, canst thou thunder? dost thou pledge thyself to thunder?”

Job 40:10. Then put on majesty and grandeur, as an ornament; clothe, deck thyself with these attributes of divine greatness and sovereignty (comp. Psalms 104:1 seq.; Job 21:6 [5]. The challenge is intended ironically, since it demands of Job that which is in itself impossible; in like manner all that follows down to Job 40:13 (comp. Job 38:21).

Job 40:11. Let the outbreakings of thy wrath pour themselves forth.-הֵפִֹץ, effundere, to pour forth, to cause to gush forth, as in Job 37:11; Proverbs 5:16. עַבְרוֹת, lit., “over-steppings,” are here the overflowings, or outbreakings of wrath; comp. Job 21:30; and for the thought, particularly in the second member, comp. Isaiah 2:12 seq. The fact that Jehovah ironically summons Job to display such manifestations of holy wrath and of stern retributive justice against sinners, conveys an indirect, but sufficiently clear and emphatic assurance of the truth that He Himself, Jehovah, governs the world thus rigidly and justly; comp. above, Job 38:13 seq.

Job 40:12. Look on all that is proud, and bring it low.-This almost verbal repetition of Job 40:11 b is intended to emphasize the fact that at the moment when God casts His angry glance upon the wicked, the latter is cast down; comp. Psalms 34:17 [16].-And overturn the wicked in their place, הָדַךְ, ἅπ. λεγ., “to throw down,” or perhaps “to tread down” (related to דּוּךְ). In the latter case the passage might be compared with Romans 16:20.-On תַּחְתָּם “in their place” [= “on the spot”], comp. Job 36:20.

Job 40:13. Hide them in the dust altogether;i.e., in the dust of the grave (hardly in holes of the earth, or of rooks, as though Isaiah 2:10 were a parallel passage).-Shut up fast (lit., “bind, fetter”) their faces in secret, i.e., in the interior of the earth, in the darkness of the realm of the dead; טָמוּן here substantially = שְׂאֹל Comp. the passage out of the Book of Enoch Job 10:5, cited by Dillmann: καὶ τὴν ὄψιν αὐτοῦ πώμασον, καὶ φῶς μὴ θεωρείτω.

Job 40:14. Then will I too praise thee, not only wilt thou praise thyself (comp. Job 40:8)-That thy right hand brings thee succor;i.e., that thou dost actually possess the power (the “arm,” Job 40:9) to put thy ideas of justice into execution with vigor; comp. the similar expressions in Psalms 44:4 [3]; Isaiah 59:18; Isaiah 63:5. This conclusion of the rebuke which Jehovah administers directly to Job’s insolent presumption, as though he only knew what is just, prepares at once the transition to the description which follows of the colossal animals which are introduced as eloquent examples of God’s infinite creative power, which for the very reason of its being such is of necessity united to the highest justice.

3. Second Division: The descriptions of animals, given for the purpose of humiliating Job by showing his weakness, and the absolute groundlessness of his presumptuous pride.

a. The description of the behemoth: Verses 15–24.

Job 40:15. Behold now the behemoth.-Even Dillm., one of the most zealous opponents of the genuineness of the whole section, is obliged to admit that the connection with what precedes by means of הִנֵּהּ is an “easy” one. Moreover it is by no means one that is “purely external,” for the behemoth is brought to Job’s attention for the very purpose of illustrating the proposition that no creature of God’s, however mighty, can succeed against Him, can “with his right hand obtain for himself help against Him” (see Job 40:14 b). This is clearly enough indicated by the second member: which I have made with thee;i.e. as well as thee (עִם as though it were comparative, as in Job 9:26; comp. Job 37:18). Job is bid to contemplate his fellow-creature, the behemoth, far huger and stronger than himself, that he may learn how insignificant and weak are all created beings in contrast with God, and in particular how little presumptuous and proud confidence in external things can avail against Him (comp. the passage of Horace; Vis consilî expert mole ruit sua, etc.). The name בְּהֵמוֹת (which the ancient versions either misinterpreted as a plural [so the LXX.: θηρία], or left untranslated, as a proper name [Vulg., etc.]), in itself denotes, in accordance with the analogy of other plural formations with an intensive signification: “the great beast, the colossus of cattle, the monster animal.” The word is, however, a Hebraized form of the Egyptian p-ehe-mau, “the water-ox” (p=the, ehe=ox, mau or mou=water), and like this Egypt, word (besides which indeed the hieroglyphic apet is more frequently to be met with), and the Ital. bomarino, it signifies the Nile-horse, or hippopotamus. For it is to this animal that the whole description which follows refers, as is most distinctly and unmistakably shown by the association with another monster of the Nile, the crocodile: not to the elephant, of which it is understood by Thom. Aquinas, Oecolampadius, the Zürich Bib., Drusius, Pfeifer, Le Clerc, Cocceius, Schultens, J. D. Michaelis [Scott, Henry. Good refers the description to some extinct pachyderm of the mammoth or mastodon species. Lee, following the LXX., understands it of the cattle, first collectively, and then distributively]. The correct view was taken by Bochart (Hieroz. iii. 705 seq.), and after him has been adopted by the great majority of moderns. With the following vivid description of this animal’s way of living and form, beginning with the mention of his “eating grass” (supporting himself on tender plants, the reeds of the Nile, roots, etc.), may be compared Herod, ii. 69–71; Pliny viii. 25; Aben Batuta, ed. Defrem 4., p. 426; among the moderns, Rüppell: Reisen in Nubien, 1829, p. 52 seq.; and in particular Sir Sam. Baker in his travels, as in The Nile and its Tributaries, The Albert Nyanza, etc. (See extracts from these works, with striking illustrations of the hippopotamus in the Globus, Vol. XVII., 1870, Nos. 22–24) [Livingstone, Travels and Researches, p. 536].

Job 40:16. Lo now, his strength is in his loins, etc.-אוֹן as in Job 18:7; Job 18:12. שְׁרִירִים in b, a word found only here (derived from the root שׁר, “to wind, to twist,” which is contained also in שֹׁר, “navel,” as also in שֹׁרֶשׁ “root”), cannot signify, the “bones,” of which mention is first made in Job 40:18 (against Wetzstein in Delitzsch), but the cords, the sinews and muscles, which in the case of the hippopotamus (not, however, of the elephant) are particularly firm and strong just in the region of the belly.

Job 40:17. He bends his tail like a cedar;i.e. like a cedar-bough; the tert. comp. lies in the straightness, firmness and elasticity of the tail of the hippopotamus (which is furthermore short, hairless, very thick at the root, of only a finger’s thickness, however, at the end, looking therefore somewhat like the tail of the hog, but not at all like that of the elephant). יַחְפֹּץ, instead of being translated “he bends” (Targ.), may possibly be explained to mean “he stiffens, stretches out” (LXX., Vulg., Pesh.).-The sinews of his thighs are firmly knit together; or also “the veins of his legs” (by no means nervi testiculorum ejus, as the Vulg. and Targ. [also E. V.] render it). With יְשׂרָגוּ, “they are wrapped together, they present a thick, twig-like texture,” comp. שָׂרִגִים, “vine-tendrils” [the interweaving of the vine-branches being before the poet’s eye in his choice of the word. Del.].

Job 40:18. His bones are pipes of brass.-אֲפִיקִים here “pipes, tubes, channels,” as in Job 41:7; comp. נַחַל, Job 28:4. נְחוּשָׁה, a word peculiar to our book, instead of the form which obtains elsewhere, נְחשֶׁת (comp. further Job 20:24; Job 28:2; Job 41:19). Concerning מְטִיל, “staff, pole, bar,” probably the Semitic etymological basis of μέταλλον, comp. Delitzsch on the passage. In respect to the similes in both members of the verse, comp. Song of Solomon 5:15 a.

Job 40:19. He is a firstling of God’s ways;i.e. a master-piece of His creative power (comp. Genesis 49:3). רֵאשִׁית can all the more easily dispense with the article here, seeing that it denotes only priority of rank (as in Amos 6:1; Amos 6:6; comp. also בְּכוֹר in Job 18:13, and often), not of time (as e.g. in Proverbs 8:22; Numbers 24:20). In respect to “God’s ways” in the sense of the displays of His creative activity in creating and governing the universe, comp. Job 26:14. The whole clause refers to the immense size and strength of the hippopotamus, which, at least in length and thickness, if not in height, surpasses even the elephant, and overturns with ease the ships of the Nile, vessel, crew and cargo. In reality therefore there is no exaggeration in the statement; and only an exegetical misapprehension of it, and an idle attempt at allegorizing it (stimulated in the present instance by the resemblance to Proverbs 8:22) could have influenced the Jewish Commentators, and those of the ancient Church, to find in this designation of the behemoth as a “firstling of God’s ways” a symbolic representation of Satan (comp. Book of Enoch, 60, 6 seq.; many Rabbis of the Middle Ages; the Pseudo-Melitonian Clavis Scripturœ Sacræ [in Pitra, Spicileg. Salesm. Vol. II.], Eucherius of Lyons in his Formulæ maj. et minores [Idem, Vol. III., p. 400 seq.], Gregory the Great, and most of the Church Fathers on the passage; Luther also in his marginal gloss on the passage, Brentius [see below, Doctrinal and Ethical Remarks.-The same view is taken moreover by Wordsworth, who explains: “It seems probable that Behemoth represents the Evil One acting in the animal and carnal elements of man’s own constitution, and that Leviathan symbolizes the Evil One energizing as his external enemy. Behemoth is the enemy within us; Leviathan is the enemy without us”].-It only remains to say, that there is nothing surprising in the fact that here, in a discourse by God, He should speak of Himself in the third person; comp. above Job 39:17; Job 38:41.-He who made him furnished to him his sword, viz. his teeth, his two immense incisors (which according to Rüppell in l. c. grow to be twenty-six French inches long), with which as with a sickle (a ἅρπη, Nicander, Theriac. 566; Nonnus, Dionysiac. 26) he mows down the grass and green corn-blades. הָעשֹׁוֹ stands for הָעשֵֹׁהוּ, “He who hath made him, his Creator” (the article being used as demonstrative; comp. Gesenius § 109 [§ 108, 2, a]), and יַגֵשׁ elliptically for יַגֵשׁ לוֹ, “brought near to him, furnished to him.” The emendation suggested by Böttcher and Dillmann-חֵעָשׁוּ instead of הָעשֹׁוֹ: “which was created [lit. plur. ‘which were created’] so as to attach thereon a sword” (יַגֵשׁ as Jussive)-is unnecessary, as is also Ewald’s rendering of הִגִּישׁ in the sense of “to blunt, to make harmless.”

Job 40:20 gives a reason for Job 40:19 b:For the mountains bring him forth food.-יְבוּל=בּוּל, produce, fruit, vegetation. The clause is not intended to describe the hippopotamus as an animal that commonly or frequently grazes on the mountains (in point of fact it is only in exceptional instances that he ascends the mountains or high “grounds, when the river-banks and the grounds immediately around them have been eaten up). It only intends to say that entire mountains, vast upland tracts, where large herds of other animals abide, must provide for him his food (see b).

Job 40:21 states where the hippopotamus is in the habit of staying: He lies down under the lotus-trees, in the covert of reeds and fens (comp. Job 8:11)-צֶאֱלִים, plur. of צִאְל, or of צֶאֱלָה (a word which occurs also in the Arabic), are not the lotus-flowers, i.e., the water-lilies (Nymphæa Lotus) [so Conant], but the lotus-bushes, or trees (Lotus silvestris s. Cyrenaica), a vegetable growth frequently found in the hot and moist lowlands of Egypt, Cyrenaica, and Syria, with thorny branches, and a fruit like the plum. On b comp. the description of the hippopotamus given by Ammianus Marcellinus (XXII. 15): Inter arundines celsas et squalentes nimia densitate hæc bellua cubilia ponit.

Job 40:22. Lotus-trees cover him as a shade.-צִלְלוֹ (resolved from צִלּוֹ, like גֶּלְלוֹ, Job 20:7, from גִּלּוֹ) is in apposition to the subject, with which it forms at the same time a paronomasia. Another paronomasia occurs between יְסֻכֻּהוּ and יְסֻבֻּהוּ in b.

Job 40:23. Behold, the river shows violence; he trembles not; lit., “he does not spring up, is not startled. הֵן at the beginning of this clause has, as in Job 12:11; Job 23:8, substantially the force of a conditional particle. עָשַׁק here without an object: “to exercise violence, to act violently,” (differing from Job 10:3) a word which strikingly describes a river wildly swelling and raging [sweeping its borders with tyrannous devastation. E. V., following the Vulg. absorbebit fluvium (Targ. “he doth violence to the river”) gives to עשק a meaning not warranted]. He remains unconcerned (lit. “he is confident”) when a Jordan rushes (lit. “bursts through, pours itself forth,” גִּיחַ as in Job 38:8) into his mouth. The Jordan, (יַרְדֵּן without the Art.) is used here in an appellative sense of a river remarkable for its swiftly rushing course, not as a proper name, for hippopotami scarcely lived in the Jordan. There is nothing strange in this mention of the Jordan in order vividly to illustrate the description, the same being a river well known to Job, and also to his friends. It certainly cannot be urged as an argument for the hypothesis that the author of this section is not the same with the author of the remainder of the book (against Ewald and Dillmann). [“The reason why the Jordan is the river particularly here used as an illustration is, I suppose, because not unlikely, rising as it does at the foot of the snow-clad Lebanon, it was liable to more sudden and violent swellings than either the Euphrates or the Nile. It is, in fact, more of a mountain torrent than either, and probably in its irruptions it drove away in consternation the lions and other wild beasts, located in the thickets on its banks.” Carey. Comp. Jeremiah 12:5 and Jer 41:19].

Job 40:24. Before his eyes do they take him, pierce through his nose with snares.-The position and tone of the words forbid one taking this verse as an ironical challenge: “Let one just take him!” or as a question: “Shall, or does any one take him,” etc.? Instead of בְּעֵֹנָיו (i.e., “while he himself is looking on, under his very eyes;” comp. Proverbs 1:17), we must at least have read הַבְּעֵינָיו. Moreover instead of the 3d Pers. we should rather have looked for the 2d, if either of the above constructions had been the true one (comp. the questions in Job 40:25 seq.) [Job 41:1 seq.]. The clause accordingly is to be taken, with the ancient versions, and with Stickel, Umbreit, Ewald, Dillmann [Conant] as descriptive of something which actually takes place, and hence as referring to the capture of the river-horse. By the ancients in like manner as by the Nubians of to-day this was accomplished by means of harpoons fastened to a long rope. It is either to this harpoon-rope, or to a switch drawn through the nose after the capture has been effected that the word מוֹקֵשׁ in b refers. It can hardly mean a common trap (Delitzsch [“let one lay a snare which, when it goes into it, shall spring together and pierce it in the nose”]).-Why does God close the description of the hippopotamus with a reference to its capture? Evidently because He wishes thereby to emphasize the thought that this animal is wholly and completely in His power, that all its size and strength are of no avail to it, and that when God determines to deliver it into the hands of men, its pride is humbled without fail. Whereas on the other hand the description of the leviathan which follows contains no such reference to its capture, but sets forth throughout only the difficulty, or indeed the impossibility of becoming its master by the use of ordinary strength and cunning; this indicates an advance over what goes before.

 4. Continuation, b. First part of the description of the leviathan: Job 41:1-11 [Heb. Job 40:25-41:3]: the untamableness and invincibility of the leviathan.-Dost thou draw out the leviathan with a net? [or as E. V., Gesen., Fürst, etc., “with a hook”]. The name לִוְיָתָן denotes here neither the mythical dragon of heaven, as in Job 3:8 (see on the passage), nor the whale, as in Psalms 104:26, but the crocodile, whose structure and mode of life are in the following description depicted with fidelity to the minutest particular (comp. the evidence in detail in Bochart, Hieroz. III., 737 seq.). In and of itself לויתן is the generic name of any monster capable of wreathing itself in folds, in like manner as תַּנִּין (comp. τείνω) may denote any monster that is long stretched out. But as the latter name is become the prevalent designation of the whale, (see on Job 7:12), so the name leviathan seems to have attached itself from an early period to the crocodile, that particularly huge and terrible amphibious monster of Bible lands, for which animal there was no special name appropriated in the primitive Hebrew, as it was not indigenous to Palestine, or at all events was but rarely found in its waters (traces indeed are not absolutely wanting of its having existed in them at one time: see the remarks of Robinson in respect to the “coast-river Nahr ez Zerka, or Maat-Temsâh [“crocodile-waters”], and also in respect to the city Crocodilon, not far from Cesarea, in his “Physical Geography,” etc., p. 191). The name leviathan does not involve the Hebraizing of an Egyptian name of the crocodile, (analogous to that of pe-ehe-mou in behemoth). By so much the more probable is it that in the interrogative תִּמְשֹׁךְ “drawest thou” (without הֲ, see Ew., § 324, a), the poet intends an allusion to the well-known Egyptian name of the animal, which in Copt, is temsah, in modern Arab, timsah (Ew., Del., Dillm., etc).-Dost thou with a cord press down his tongue? i.e., when, liks a fish, be has bitten the fishing-hook, dost thou, in pulling the line, cause it to press down the tongue? The question is not (with Schult., Hirzel, Delitzsch, etc.) to be rendered: “Canst thou sink a line into his tongue [or “his tongue into a line”]? a rendering which is indeed verbally admissible, but which yields an idea that is not very intelligible. This member expresses, only with a little more art, the same thought as the first. It is not at all necessary to assume (with Ewald, Dillmann and other opponents of the genuineness of the present section), that the poet represents the capture of the crocodile as absolutely impossible, thus contradicting the fact attested by Herodotus, II., 7, that the ancient Egyptians caught this animal with fishing-hooks. That which the ironical question of God denies is simply the possibility of overcoming this animal, like a harmless fish, with ordinary craft or artifice, not the possibility of ever capturing it.-There is nothing to forbid the assumption that instead of the Egyptian crocodile (or at least along with it) the author had in view a Palestinian species or variety of the same animal, which is no longer extant, and that this Palestinian crocodile, just because it was rarer than the saurian of the Nile, was in fact held to be impossible of capture, (comp. Delitzsch II, p. 366, n. 2). It is, generally speaking, a very precarious position to question the accuracy of our poet’s statements even in a single point: compare e.g., the perfectly correct mention in this passage of the tongue of the crocodile, with the ridiculous assertion of Herodot. (II. 68), Aristotle, and other ancients, that the crocodile has no tongue.

Job 41:2 [Job 40:26]. Canst thou put a rush-ring into his nose, and bore through his jaw (or, “his cheek”) with a hook?-i.e.. canst thou deal with him as fishermen deal with the fish captured by them, piercing their mouths with iron hooks in order afterwards to thrust through them rush-cords (σχοίνους), or iron rings (the fishermen of the Nile use the latter to this day, see Bruce, Travels, etc.), and to lay the fish thus tied together in the water?

Job 41:3 [Job 40:27.] Will he make many supplications to thee, etc., i. e., will he speak thee fair, in order to retain his freedom? The question which follows in Job 41:28 enlarges upon this thought, with a somewhat different application. “For a servant for ever” is here equivalent to “for a tamed domestic animal” (comp. Job 39:9).

Job 41:5 [Job 40:29]. Wilt thou play with him as with a bird?-שִׂחַק בְּ differently from Psalms 104:26, where it signifies to play in something. By the “bird” here spoken of is meant neither the “golden beetle” (which in the language of the Talmud is called “bird of the vineyard”), nor the grasshopper (comp. Lewysohn, Zool. des Talmud. § 364). We are rather to compare with it the sparrow of Catullus: Passer, deliciæ meæ puellæ, and, as in that poem, we are to understand by the נערות “female slaves;” scarcely the “little daughters” of the one who is addressed (as Dillmann thinks, who takes pains to exhibit here a new reason for suspecting the genuineness of this section).

Job 41:6 [Job 40:30]. Do fishermen-partners trade in him? [do they divide him among the Canaanites?]חַבָּרִים (different from חֲבֵרִיםIsa 44:11) are fishermen as members of a guild, or as partners in a company associated together for the capture of fish; comp. Luke 5:7; Luke 5:10, יִכְרוּ with עַל as in Job 6:27, “to make bargains for anything, to traffic with it;” not “to feast upon anything, to make a banquet,” as the phrase is rendered by the LXX. (ἐνσιτοῦνται), Targum [E. V.], Schult., Rosenmüller, etc.; for כָּרָה “to banquet” (2 Kings 6:23) agrees neither with the construction with עַל, nor the mention of the “Canaanites,” i.e., the Phenician merchants (Isaiah 23:8; Zechariah 14:21; Proverbs 31:24) in the second member. [Gesenius, Conant, etc., less simply take כָּרָה in its more usual sense, “to dig,” i.e., dig pits, lay snares for. Merx. reads יִכְּרוּ from כרר, and translates: The animal, against which hunters go in troops].

Job 41:7 [Job 40:31]. Not only is the crocodile unsuited to be an article of commerce, but. coated as he is with scales, he is equally unsuited to be the object of an exciting harpoon-hunt. With שֻׂכּוֹת, “pointed darts,” comp. the Arab, sauke, which signifies both “thorn” and “spear.”

Job 41:8 [Job 40:32]. Remember the battle, thou wilt not do it again-i. e., shouldst thou presume to fight with him (זְכֹר, not Infinit. dependent on תּוֹסַף, but Imperat. consecut., comp. Ew., § 347, b), thou wilt not repeat the experiment (תּוֹסַף pausal form for תּוֹסֶף, see Ew., § 224, b). Needless violence is done to this verse also, if (as by Dillmann) the attempt be made to deduce from it the idea of the absolute impossibility of capturing and conquering the crocodile. Let it be borne in mind that the words are addressed to a single individual.

Job 41:9 [Job 41:1], Behold, every hope is disappointed; lit. “behold, his hope is disappointed,” that viz. of the man who should enter into a contest with the monster (the use of the suffix accordingly being similar to that of Job 37:12). Even at the sight of him one is cast down; lit. as a question: “is one cast down?” etc.; i.e., is it. not the fact that the mere sight of him is enough to cast one down with terror? On מַרְאָיו, which is not plur.. but sing, comp. Gesenius, § 93 [§ 91], 9, Rem.

Job 41:10 [Job 41:2], None so fool-hardy that he would stir him up.-רֹא is not, without further qualification, אֵין (Hirz.), but the lacking subj. is to be supplied out of the next member, and the whole clause is exclamatory: “not fierce (fool-hardy, rash) enough, that he should rouse him up!” Respecting אַכְזָר, (comp. Job 30:21. And who will take his stand before Me?-i.e., appear against Me as Mine adversary; התיצב here in another sense than in Job 1:6; Job 2:1. According to some MSS. and the Targ. the text should be לְפָנָיו, referring to the crocodile: and who will stand before him?” But this would destroy the characteristic fundamental thought of the verse, which consists in a conclusio a min. ad majus: “If no one ventures to stir up that creature which I have made, how much less will any one dare to contend with Me, the Almighty Creator?”

Job 41:11 [3]. Who gave to me first of all that I must requite it?-i. e., who would dare to appear against me as my accuser or my enemy, on the ground that he has perchance given me something, and is thus become my creditor? (Romans 11:35). As to the second half of the verse which gives the reason for the question, in which God claims all created beings as His property, comp. Psalms 50:10 seq.; on תַּחַת כָּל־הַשָּׁמַיִם see Job 28:24; on the neuter הוּא see Job 13:16; Job 15:9.-The general thoughts advanced in Job 41:2 b, and Job 41:3 are a suitable close to what is said of the invincibility of the crocodile, as a mighty illustration of God’s creative power, so that we are required neither to transpose the passage (as e.g., by placing it after Job 40:14), nor to deem it out of place here, between the description of the leviathan’s untamableness, and that of his bodily structure (against Dillmann).

5. Conclusion: c. Second part of the description of the leviathan: The bodily structure and mode of life characteristic of the leviathan, the king of all proud beasts: Job 41:12-34 [4–20].

Job 41:12 [4]. I will not keep silent as to his members (בַּדִּים, see Job 18:13). So according to the K’thibh לֹא אַחֲרִישׁ; the K’ri לוֹ אח׳ would give the idea in the form of a question: “as to him should I pass his limbs in silence?” which as being a little more difficult is to be preferred. In no case does the clause deserve to be called “a prosaic and precise announcement of the subject to be treated of,” such as would seem to be “not very suitable” in a discourse delivered by God (Dillmann): the idea of the ancients touching what might be suitable and in taste, and what might not be so, were quite different from our modern notions. Nor as to the fame of his powers (so Vaihinger strikingly); lit. “nor of the word of his powers” i.e., of their kind and arrangement (Ewald), how the case stands with respect to them; comp. דָּבָר in Deuteronomy 15:2; Deuteronomy 19:4. In the final clause וְחִין עֶרְכּוֹ the word עֶרֶךְ is in any case equivalent to “disposition, structure” (Aq.: τάξις), and הִין seems to be a secondary form of חֵן= come-liness, gracefulness, with which the tenor of this description which follows well agrees, setting forth as it does not only that which is fearful, but also that which is beautiful and elegant in the structure of the leviathan. For this reason it is unnecessary either with Ewald to identify the word with הִין, “measure” (dry measure), or with Dillmann to amend the text (to עֵין? or חֹסֶן?)

Job 41:13-17 [5–9]: The upper and foreside [face] of the crocodile.-Who has uncovered the face of his garment?i.e., no one can uncover, lift up the upper side (פָּנִים as in Isaiah 25:7) of his scaly coat of mail; this lies on his back with such tenacity that it cannot be removed, nor broken. [Others, Ewald, Schlott., etc., explain פָּנִים of the anterior part of his garment, or armor, that which pertains to the head or face; but this would be less natural, and would involve tautology-the. “opening of the jaws” being referred to again in the next ver.].-Into his doable jaws who enters in?-Lit., “into the double of his jaws;” רֶסֶן here accordingly in a different sense from Job 30:11 [where it means “bridle,” the meaning which E. V. gives to it here]. The fact mentioned by Herod. II., 68, and confirmed by modern observations, to wit, that a little bird, the plover, (Charadrius Ægyptius, in Herod, τροχίλος) enters the open jaw of the crocodile, in order to look for insects there, need not be deemed unknown to our author; only we are not to insist on his having such an incident in mind in the passage before us.

Job 41:14 [6]. The doors of his face-who has opened them?i.e., his jaws, his mouth, the aperture of which reaches back of the eyes and ears (comp. the well-known picture, taken from the Description de l’Egypte, and introduced into several pictorial works on zoology, e.g., into Klotz and Glaser’s Leben und Eigenthümlichkeiten der mittleren und niederen Thierwelt, Leipzig, 1869, p. 15, representing the mouth of a crocodile wide open, with a Charadrius in it).-Round about his teeth is terror; comp. Job 39:20. The crocodile has thirty-six long, pointed teeth in the upper jaw, and thirty in the lower, the appearance of which is all the more terrible that they are not covered by the lips.

Job 41:15 [7]. A pride are the furrows of the shields (comp. Job 40:18), referring to the arched bony shields, of which the animal has seventeen rows, all equally large and square in form. [According to this interpretation אֲפִיקֵי means first channels, and then the shields bounded by those channels. Others (Gesenius, Conant, etc.) take it as an adj. = robusta (robora) scutorum].-Fastened together like a closely, fitting seal; or, construing חותם צר not as appositional, but as instrumental accusative (according to Ewald, § 297, b): “fastened together as with a closely-fitting seal” [so E. V.]. How this is to be understood is shown by the two verses which follow; in which comp., as to the phrase, אישׁ באחיהו, Gesen., § 124, [§ 122], Rem. 4; as to the verbs דבקִ and יתלכדJob 38:30; Job 38:38.

Job 41:18-21 [10–13]. The sneezing and breathing of the crocodile.-His sneezing flashes forth light (תָּהֶל, abbreviated from תָּהֵל, Hiph. of הלל, comp. Job 31:26); i.e., when the crocodile turned toward the sun with open jaws is excited to sneezing (which in such a posture happens very easily, see Bochart III., 753 seq.), the water and slime gushing from his mouth glisten brilliantly in the sunbeams. As Delitz. says truly: “This delicate observation of nature is here compressed into three words; in this concentration of whole, grand thoughts and pictures, we recognize the older poet.”-And his eyes are as eyelids of the dawn (Job 3:9); i.e., when with their red glow they glimmer in the water, before the animal’s head becomes visible above the surface of the water. This cat-like sparkle of the crocodile’s eyes was observed from an early period, and is the reason why in the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics two crocodiles’ eyes became the hieroglyph for the dawn, according to the express statement of Horus, Hierogl. I., Job 68: ἐπειδὴ πρὸ παντὸς σώματος ζώου οἱ ὀφθαλμοὶ ἐκ τοῦ βύ̓θου�.

Job 41:19 [11]. Out of his mouth proceed torches;i.e., not literal torches, but streams of water shining like torches, when the animal emerging out of the water breathes violently.-Out of his nostrils goes forth smoke, like a seething pot with reeds [lit., “like a kettle blown and reeds”]; i.e., like a heated kettle standing over a crackling and strongly smoking fire of reeds (Ewald, Böttcher, Delitzsch, Dillm.) [Conant]. The common rendering is: “as a seething pot and caldron;” but אַגְמוֹן is scarcely to be taken to signify something else here than above in Job 40:26 [Job 41:2]; “caldron” would be אַגָּן, Arab, iggane. With the description before us, as well as with the still more strongly hyperbolical description in the verse which follows, comp. the description of Bochart, l. c.: Turn spiritus diu pressus sic effervescit et erumpit tam violenter, ut flammas ore et naribus videatur evomere. Also what the traveler Bartram (in Rosenmüller’s Alterth., p. 250) relates of an alligator in Carolina, that a thick smoke streamed out of its distended nostrils, with a noise which made the earth shake. [Schlottmann calls attention to the close parallelism between Job 41:18-19 and Job 41:20-21].

Job 41:22 [14]. On his neck dwells (lit., “passes the night, lodges,” יָלִין as in Job 17:2) strength, and despair danceth hence before him. תָּדוּץ, leaps, springs up suddenly. Both members of the verse refer to the crocodile suddenly emerging out of the water, and terrifying men or beasts, and particularly to the violent movements of its neck or head, which are sufficient to overturn ships, etc. [“The trepidation, the confused running to and fro of one who is in extreme anguish (comp. יתחטאו Job 41:17) is compared to the dancing of one who is crazed, and this is attributed to the דאבה as the personification of the anguish.” Schlott.-E. V., less suitably: “and sorrow is turned into joy before him”].

Job 41:23 [15] seq., describe the lower and hinder parts of the animal.-The flanks [מפלי, the flabby pendulous parts of the body, especially the belly] of his flesh are closely joined together, are fixed fast upon him, are not moved; i.e., they do not shake with the motions of the body, being thickly lined with strong scales, smaller however than those on the back. יָצּוּק, pass. partic. of יצק, differing accordingly from Job 28:2; Job 29:6.

Job 41:24 [16]. His heart is firmly cast as a stone, firmly cast as a nether millstone, [not as E. V., “as a piece of the nether millstone,” for פלח, as that which is split off, or produced by cleavage, refers to the whole stone; hence elsewhere (Judges 9:53; 2 Samuel 24:6), פֶלַח רֶֹכֶב for the upper millstone]. It was necessary that the nether millstone should be particularly hard, because it has to bear the weight and friction of the upper stone; comp. the Biblical Archæologies and Dictionaries, under the word “Mill.” Besides the physical hardness of the crocodile’s heart (in respect to which comp. Arist. De partib. animal. 3, 4), the poet here has in view the firmness of his heart in the tropical or ethical sense, i.e., the courage and fierceness of the beast, as the following verses show clearly enough.

Job 41:25 [17]. At his rising up heroes tremble.-אֵילִים, or, as many MSS. read אֵלִים “mighty ones,” from אוּל “to be thick, strong:” comp. Exodus 15:15 with Ezekiel 31:11; Ezekiel 32:21. מִשֵּׂתוֹ, contracted from מִשְּׂאֵתוֹ, cannot mean here “before his majesty” (Job 13:11; Job 31:23), but simply: “at his rising, when he raises himself up.”-From terror they miss their aim. מִשְּׁבָרִים, lit., “from brokenness [breakings];” not however “from wounds.” Jerome correctly: tẹrriti (comp. Isaiah 65:14). הִתְחַטֵּא, lit., “they miss,” i.e., “their mark” (to wit, here, the slaying of the monster). [Gesenius, Conant, etc., “they lose themselves for terror,” spoken of a person in astonishment and terror missing his way in precipitate flight.-Fürst: “they disappear, i.e., they cannot hold out.”-E. V., under the influence of the Vulg. and Targ. “by reason of breakings they purify themselves,” which hardly yields an intelligible meaning].

Job 41:26 [18]. If one reaches him with the sword, lit., he who reaches him with the sword, it doth not hold, i.e., the sword, (lit., “it does not get up”), it glances off without effect from the scaly armor of the beast. As to the construction comp. Ewald, § 357, c; on the use of בְּלִי with the finite verb, which occurs only here, Ew., § 322, a. In the second member, which introduces three additional subjects to the verb תָּקוּם, this בְּלִי is to be again supplied: “nor spear, dart, and armor.”-According to the testimony of the ancient versions it would seem that שִׁרְיָה must be rendered as a synonym of שִׁרְיוֹן, “coat of mail,” although the context, and a comparison with the Arab, sirwe, or surwe, “arrow,” would favor rather the meaning “missile,” either the harpoon, or some peculiar kind of arrow. For מַסָּע the definition “sling-stone” has the support of the Targ., while the LXX and the Vulg. associate the word with the preceding חֲנִית in the sense of hasta missilis.

Verses 27–29 [19–21] describe more at length the ineffective rebound of ordinary human weapons from the armor of the leviathan, together with the animal’s fearlessness in encountering all assaults by means of such weapons. Respecting נְחוּשָׁה in Job 41:19, b, comp. on Job 40:18. רִקָּבוֹן in the same member is a poetic form for רָקָב (Job 13:28). The “son of the bow,” Job 41:20 a is the arrow, as the “ son of the flame “ in Job 5:7 meant the spark of fire. The “turning to stubble,” Job 41:20 b is of course to be taken only in the subjective sense of becoming as it were stubble.

Job 41:29 [21]. Clubs are accounted (by him) as chaff; lit. “a club;” תּוֹתַח, as a generic term, is construed with the plur. On b (רַעַשׁ and כִּידוֹן), comp. Job 39:23-24.

Job 41:30 [22] continues the description of the under side of the body begun in Job 41:23 [16]. His under parts are pointed shards; lit. “the sharpest of shards,” חַדּוּדֵי הָרֶשׁ; on this mode of expressing the superlative, which occurs also in Job 30:6, comp. Gesen., § 112 [§ 110], Rem. 1. The comparison of the scales on the under side of the crocodile, and especially on his tail, with pointed sherds, is found also in Aelian, H. N. 10, 24. He spreadeth a threshing sledge upon the mire; i.e., by means of those same pointed scales, which leave a mark on the soft mire, like that made by the iron spikes of a threshing-sledge (comp. Isaiah 28:27).

Job 41:31 [23]. He maketh the deep to boil like a pot.-On הִרְתִּיחַ, “to cause to seethe, to boil and foam violently,” comp. Job 30:27. The “deep” [מְצוּלָה), i.e., literally, the deep of the sea. (=יָם) is a word which can also be applied to a great river, like the Nile; comp. Isaiah 19:5; Nahum 3:8. The Bedouins to this day call the Nile bahr. “sea,” it being quite like a sea when it overflows its banks. He maketh the sea (comp. Job 14:11) like a pot of ointment, i.e., as respects its bubbling and foaming. An Egyptian sea may here be assumed, standing in connection with the Nile, or perhaps one of the seas of the Jordan, if the author took a Palestinian crocodile as the object of his description. The figure of the pot of ointment can hardly allude to the strong odor of musk which the crocodile emits when playing in the water (Bochart, Del.) seeing that the poet is describing here only the visible effects of his tumbling and rushing in the water.

Job 41:32 [24]. After him he maketh the path to shine, by means of the bright white trail which he leaves behind him on the surface of the water, and which in b is compared to the silver bright whiteness of hoary hair (שֵׂיבָה), in the same way that the classic poets speak of a πολιὴ ἅλς (Il. I. 350; Od. IV. 405), or of a canescere (incanescere) of the waves (Catull. Epithal. Pelei; Manilius, Astron.: Ut freta canescunt, sulcum ducente carina, etc.).

Job 41:33 [25] seq.: Conclusion of the whole description, repeating the affirmation of the invincibility of the leviathan as a proud tyrant in the animal kingdom. There is not upon the earth one who commands him; lit. “there is not upon the dust (comp. Job 19:25) dominion over him,” comp. Zechariah 9:10. So correctly the Targ., Pesh., and most of the moderns, while the LXX, Vulg., [E. V.], Umbreit, Delitzsch, [Lee, Noyes, Merx] translate: “on earth there is not his like.” By itself מָשְלוֹ could certainly be thus rendered; but the second member-“he who is made (הֶעָשׂוּ comp. Job 15:22) [Green, § 172, 5] for no-fear” (or “for, into a fearless creature,” לִבְלִי־חָת)-favor rather the meaning given above.

Job 41:34 [26]. He looks on all that is high; i.e., looks it boldly in the face, without fearing or turning back before it (comp. Job 40:11). He is king overall the sons of pride, i.e., over all the huge, proudly stalking beasts of prey (comp. Job 28:8), he is therefore a tyrant in the midst of the animal kingdom, to whom the larger quadrupeds must submit, especially in consequence of the violent blows which he inflicts with his tail (Bochart, p. 767; Oken, Allgem. Naturgesch., VI, 654 seq.).

 6. Job’s answer and penitent confession: Job 42:1-6.

Job 42:2. Now I know that Thou canst do all things-now that in these two animal colossi Thou hast set before me the most convincing proofs of Thine omnipotence, and at the same time of the constant justice of Thy ways. And that no undertaking (no thought, or purpose, which Thou dost undertake to carry out; מְּזִמָּהsensu bono, comp. זִמָּה Job 17:11) is forbidden to Thee (lit. “cut off”) [rendered inaccessible, impracticable]. To these thoughts, which God has the power to execute without condition or any limitation whatever, belongs, in the very first rank, the appointment of severe sufferings for men who, apparently, are innocent. This Job here recognizes as the normal result of the operations of the All-wise, All-merciful, and Righteous God in His government of the world, being just as truly the result of His operations as the terrible forms and activities of the behemoth and leviathan.

Job 42:3. “Who is this that obscureth counsel without knowledge?” thus, namely hast thou rightly spoken to me. The words of God at the beginning of the first discourse (Job 38:2), are cited here verbally; and from this divine verdict, as one that cannot be assailed nor abrogated, the inference which follows is immediately drawn: thus have I judged, without understanding, what was too wonderful for me, without knowing;i.e., the judgments which I have heretofore pronounced respecting my sufferings as unmerited and unreasonably cruel, were uttered without understanding or knowledge. To the idea, complete in itself, conveyed by הִגַּדְתִּי, “I have judged (uttered),” an object is emphatically added in the following member, so that the notion of judging passes over into that of deciding or passing judgment upon something.

Job 42:4 contains another expression, cited both from the first discourse of Jehovah (Job 38:3), and from the introduction to the second (Job 40:7), here however preceded and strengthened by the short introductory clause: “Hear, I pray thee, and I will speak,” and for this reason to be regarded as only a free citation, to which Job then appends the observation contained in Job 42:5. This verse (4) is not therefore to be regarded as an independent entreaty on the part of Job to Jehovah, framed however in imitation of the words of Jehovah in the passages referred to (as Rosenm., Stick., Hirz., Hahn., Del. [Scott, Noyes, Barnes] think). The meaning is: “Thou hast demanded of me to make my answer to Thee, as in a judicial trial; my answer can be none other than that which now follows (Job 42:5-6). [To the view that this is the language of humility on the part of Job, seeking for further instruction from God, Carey objects: “(1) That Job does not ask God any particular question on which he requires information. (2) That on the supposed view the first clause, “Hear now, and I will speak,” would be the formula of an opening address, leading one to expect that that address was to be of some length, at least, whereas no such address does actually follow. (3.) That the words themselves would be too arrogant for Job to use in his present humbled state of mind. (4.) That as Job 42:3 is manifestly a citation from Job 38:2, and as the words in this present verse occur in Job 38:3, they may reasonably be supposed to be a citation also. (5.) On the supposition of their being a citation, a more natural, and, at the same time, a more pregnant sense is obtained”].

Job 42:5. I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear.-“According to (לְ, as, e.g., in Job 28:22; Psalms 18:45) the hearing of the ear,” i.e., on the basis of a knowledge which was mediate only, and therefore incomplete, the opposite information resting on the firm basis of immediate perception, observation, or experience; comp. Psalms 48:9. But now mine eye hath seen thee-i.e., not externally, or corporeally, but intuitively, by means of that intellectual faith-perception which, in the visible manifestations of creation, beholds the Creator Himself; comp. the νοούμενα καθορᾶται of Romans 1:19; also above on Job 38:1.

Job 42:6. Therefore do I recant-lit. “I reject [repudiate],” that, viz., which I have heretofore said”; the object omitted, as in Job 7:16; Job 36:5. The LXX., Symm., and Vulg. read אֶמָּאֵם: “I reject, blame, accuse myself” (Luth.) [E. V.: “abhor myself”], which gives substantially the same sense with the Masoretic reading (for Böttcher’s rendering of this Niphal-“I despair”-finds no conclusive support in Job 7:5), but is by no means of necessity to be substituted for the same. And I repent (am sorry, נִחַמְתִּי, Niph.) in dust and ashes-i.e., like one in deep mourning, one who feels himself completely broken and humbled; comp. Job 2:8; Job 2:12. And so Job returns, as it were, to his heap of ashes, the symbol of his voluntary submission under the mighty hand of God. He perfectly resumes that patient resignation to the will of God, out of which he had allowed himself to be provoked by the accusation of the friends, in that he recognizes the divine decree of suffering as one that has been inflicted on him not unjustly, and holds his peace, until the sentence of the Most High, pronouncing His blessing upon him, again exalts the upright penitent.


1. The progress which this second discourse of God, taken in connection with Job’s confession of penitence, marks in the inward development of the poem, is in general clear. The destruction and punishment of the proud self-exaltation of the presumptuous censurer of God’s ways, which had constituted the aim and issue of the first discourse (see on Job 40:5), must be followed by the entire overthrow of the presumption in Job’s heart, in consequence of which he had not deeply and earnestly enough perceived his sinfulness, had doubted whether the severe visitation which had come upon him was deserved, and had thus assailed God’s justice. In addition to the complete humiliation of Job it was necessary still further to produce in him entire contrition, the voluntary confession of his guilt; and this is exactly what this second discourse aims at and accomplishes. It accomplishes this, as may be seen from the first part, which is in the form of a direct rebuke (Job 40:7-14), by the ironical challenge addressed to Job, to take the government of the world into his own hand, and to judge the proud transgressors on the earth (see Job 40:10 seq.). This is a challenge which shows an advance beyond the series of ironical questions in the first discourse, in that it imputes to him who is addressed not merely the exercise of a high, wonderful, and all-embracing divine knowledge, but rather of an omnipotent activity resembling that of God, the ruler of the universe. God now no longer says, “knowest thou?” or “canst thou?” but “do it! seat thyself on my judicial throne!” and the stronger irony which flashes forth from such appeals must in the nature of things be accompanied by a stronger power to cause shame to him who is addressed, so that the last remnant of presumption in his heart is swept away. “By thus thinking of himself as the ruler and judge of the world, Job is obliged to think of the cutting contrast between his feebleness and the divine rule, with which he has ventured to find fault; at the same time, however, he is taught that-what he would never be able to do-God really punishes the ungodly, and must have wise purposes when He does not, as indeed He might, let loose at once the floods of His wrath” (Del.). In other words: Job, brought to the lowest depths of shame, must, by that challenge, be made sensible of two things in one, the omnipotence and the inflexible justice of the divine government of the world. He is compelled to see that there cannot be, and least of all in the administration of the Most High, a “bare omnipotence,” disjoined from justice and love.

2. So far the purpose of this discourse is clear. But is the second part of it, which is characterized by disproportionate length, and in which nature, or rather, more particularly, the animal world, is described, in accordance with this purpose? Are we, with a number of critics (see Introd. § 9) to reject this part of the book as not genuine? Or, instead of resorting to this violent operation, favored as it is by nothing in the historic transmission of the text, are we, by more profoundly fathoming the meaning and aim of this wonderful description of animals, to exhibit its original organic connection with its surroundings? Obviously there is little to be gained from such ingenious, and yet at bottom, superficial remarks as that of Herder: “Behemoth and Leviathan are the pillars of Hercules at the end of the book, the Non plus ultra of another world;” and just as little from the flat and shallow physical theology of the vulgar rationalism, which represents the poet as finding in these “prodigies of the amphibious world” (Job 40:9) the hippopotamus and the crocodile, “the power, wisdom, and goodness of God” (see, e.g., Wohl-farth on the passage), or from the downright allegorizing of the Church Fathers, who in the leviathan and also in behemoth found the devil, with whom also Luther is in accord, when he says; “By behemoth is meant all the large monster beasts, and by leviathan all the large monster fishes. But under these names he describes the power and might of the devil, and of his servants, the ungodly multitude in the world.”1 On the other side, the opinion favored by most moderns, that the hippopotamus and crocodile, like the animal pictures grouped together in the first discourse of Jehovah (Second Part, Job 38:39 seq.), are designed to illustrate the greatness and wonderful glory of God’s creative energy, and so to present impressive pictures of created existence mirroring the omnipotence of God-this opinion is far from furnishing a perfectly satisfactory explanation of the poet’s purpose in describing so earnestly and elaborately these two animals, and in this way dissipating completely the doubt which has been raised touching the genuineness of this section of the book. That which alone can help us to a correct appreciation of the poet’s purpose is the truth, flowing from the view of nature presented throughout the revealed Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, that the entire animal world is a living text-book, a mirror of morals, now warning, now encouraging and shaming us, a gallery of pictures, ethical and parenetic, collected for men by God Himself; and that in particular the animals distinguished for ferocity and size are awe-inspiring examples for us, symbols, as it were, or pictorial embodiments of the Divine Wrath. Novatian, in his work on the Jewish legislation touching food (De cibis Judaicis), says: In animalibus mores depinguntur humani et actus et voluntates; and most of the Church Fathers express themselves in substantial agreement with this view in respect to the more profound ethical and symbolical significance of the animal world. So, e.g., Clement of Alexandria, among whose utterances on this subject (Pædag. III. 11; Strom. II., p. 389 C; 405 D, etc.), that which he has said respecting the sphinx (Strom. V., p. 561 C) deserves to be mentioned here as being of special significance: “the human half of this creature teaches us that God is to be loved, the animal (τὸ υηρίον) that He is to be feared.” Comp. also Irenæus (Adv. hær. V. 8), Tertullian (Adv. Marc. II. 18; IV. 24; De Resurr. carn. 52), Origen (Homil. VII. in Levit.), Gregory of Nyssa (Opp. T. I., p. 165, 166), Chrysostom (Homil. in Genes. XII.), and Jerome, who (Comm. in Isaj. l. VI. c. 14, p. 259, Vall.) sets forth with peculiar vividness the ethical significance of animals, especially of the poisonous and ravenous sort: Mores igitur hominum in diversis animantibus monstrantur, sicut Pharisæi et Sadducæi propter nequitiam appellantur genimina viperarum et propter dolos Herodes vulpus dicitur, etc.2 That this ethico-symbolical, or, if you please, ethico-allegorical, conception of the animal world is most deeply rooted in the Sacred Scriptures, and especially in the Old Testament, scarcely requires to be more particularly proved. We need only refer to the many passages where godless men, who have sunk beneath their proper dignity, are described as “beasts” (בְּהֵמָה), such as Psalms 49:13 [Psalms 49:12], Psa 49:21 [Psalms 49:20]; Psalms 73:22; Jeremiah 5:8; Daniel 4:12 seq.; comp. also Psalms 32:9; 2 Kings 19:28; Titus 1:12, etc. Is it likely that our passage, which, with the most penetrating sympathy, describes two species of wild beasts, whose ferocity and strength make them dangerous, setting forth their physical constitution and mode of life, was composed without any reference to this deeper symbolical significance of the animals for man? Because it has nothing in common with that archetypal ideal significance which belongs to those royal beasts which appear in Ezekiel’s description of the cherub, the lion, the eagle, and the ox, is it therefore devoid of all and every profounder meaning, and entitled simply to the claim of being a broad, detailed, poetic description of natural objects, without any religious and ethical purpose? If the passage did not itself repeatedly call attention to the deeper meaning of that which is described, we might possibly entertain in regard to it that depreciative opinion which regards it as not genuine. But after the repeated intimations which itself conveys-especially in Job 40:19; Job 41:19; Job 2:0 [Job 2:10], Job 2:3 [Job 2:11], Job 2:14 [Job 2:22], Job 2:17 [Job 2:25]-concerning the presumptuous pride and the tyrannical ferocity of the two animals described, it is scarcely to be doubted that, according to the clearly defined and firmly maintained purpose of the poet, these are to be regarded as symbols not merely of the power, but also of the justice of God; or, in other words, that the divine attribute of which the poet desires to present them as the vivid living mirror and manifesting medium is omnipotence in the closest union with justice (more particularly with punitive justice, or wrath), or omnipotence in its judicial manifestations. These two pictures from the animal world are designed to hold up before Job the truth that all pride and presumption shown by God’s creatures towards Him, the Creator, can avail nothing; and that there is nothing in the creation so powerful and fearful, or even so invincible to man, but that it is compelled to serve the wise and exalted purposes of God in governing the world. They are intended to teach him “how little capable of passing sentence upon the evil-doer he is, who cannot even draw a cord through the nose of the behemoth, and who, if he once attempted to attack the leviathan, would have reason to remember it so long as he lived, and would henceforth let it alone” (Delitzsch).-To go further in the direction of a symbolical and allegorical explanation of the two monsters, and to find in them emblems of the world-power which is hostile to God, but which is powerless as against Him, would not be advisable. At least the description contains no sort of intimation, pointing more definitely to such an emblematic application to any historical empires or nations; and the pre-eminently significant and instructive passage at the close of the discourse in which the leviathan is described as “king overall the proud,” gives us to understand clearly enough what is the deeper meaning which the poet wishes to put in the very foreground of his description. [See further the very striking remarks on the view of the animal kingdom conveyed by these descriptions, in their “contradiction to those oriental dreams which made the animal creation an occasion of offense to the languid, oriental devotee,” and their “accordance with those juster views of the economy of the animal system which modern science has lately brought itself to approve,” in Isaac Taylor’s Śpirit of the Hebrew Poetry, Ch. VIII.]


It will not be found difficult in the homiletic treatment of this discourse rightly to apprehend and profitably to apply both the fundamental parenetic thought which it presents (as distinguished from that of the first discourse of Jehovah), and the allegorical vesture and illustrative treatment which it receives in the second longer part. The older practical expositors indeed do not furnish much help, because they wander for the most part into the extreme of unhealthy allegorical exaggerations, just as the modern scientific exegesis, in the majority of its representatives, strays into the opposite extreme of a superficial, barren, literal interpretation. A few hints deserving attention may be introduced here from the older as well as the more recent expositions of the discourse.

Job 40:7 seq. Brentius: Thus doth the Lord say to Job: Is my judgment, by which I either afflict the pious, or declare all men to be liars, to be made void and of no effect by thy opinion? Does it behoove me to be unrighteous, in order that thy righteousness may be established? Thou art righteous indeed, and to this thou hast my own testimony (in Job 2:0), but thou art not therefore at liberty to calumniate God’s judgments in the afflictions which He sends.-Cramer: Those who ascribe to themselves any righteousness before God proceeding from their own powers, they do nothing else than condemn God, and attempt to annul His sentence, as though He had no authority and power to judge, and to condemn them (Romans 3:4)!-Starke: God seeks to remind man, not once simply, but again and again, of the sins which he has committed, and to work in him thorough conviction, in order that his repentance may be sincere (Matthew 23:37).-Wohlfarth: As God repeatedly challenges Job to convict Him, the author of his lot, if he can, so does the Lord in His works and word call upon us to do the same. And if we do not succumb to the power of sorrow on account of our sufferings, if on the contrary we hearken to the voice of divine truth which everywhere surrounds us, we shall be constrained to acknowledge that the sufferings of the pious are always under God’s oversight, and that, so far from making the friend of virtue wholly unfortunate, it is absolutely certain that He, the Almighty and Holy One, guards innocence, and that if He will not deliver it here, He will recompense it hereafter for the pain which it has endured here below.

Job 40:15 seq. Cocceius: It will be easy, if we wish to follow Scripture, to resolve into an allegory those things which are here spoken to Job, both in general and in detail (!), and from the physical object described to learn a notable lesson. For it is a remarkable feature of God’s plan that He makes the most savage of men subserve the good of the Church, so that although they may not love God from the heart, nor understand the truth, they will nevertheless, notwithstanding their own wisdom and judgments be thereby condemned, embrace the pious, hear cheerfully the word of truth, take pleasure in the reputation of the faithful, … so that now with the whole world raging against the truth of the doctrine of Christ, it is a great and blessed dispensation that many vain, proud, fierce, pleasure-loving men are so softened that they will endure the doctrine and reproofs of Christ’s peaceful ministers, and wish to be esteemed among Christ’s, without being such, etc.-V. Gerlach: That which this second discourse of God shows to Job is this, that justice and omnipotence are inseparable, and that in order to establish his righteousness, man must have as much power as God himself. … If any creature feels that in itself it is powerless, it thereby confesses at the same time that it is not righteous, but is in a moral, as well as a natural sense, dependent. For righteousness is nought else than that which the Almighty has established as the law after which the world is governed; In order now to make this principle clear to Job’s perception, God does not stop in His discourse with that which He says to Job with a view to his humiliation and reconciliation; but in like manner as in the series of natural wonders presented in the previous discourse, the Lord exhibits His surpassing wisdom, so by these two most powerful beasts, which man is unable to subdue, He exhibits His power, in order to prove that man, who is not able to tame these animals, is still less able to carry out his will in the government of the world, and to humble beneath himself the pride of the unrighteous.

Job 41:1 seq. H. Vict. Andreä: If in what is said of the leviathan we find it expressly set forth how utterly powerless in his own strength is man as compared with him, we are naturally led to regard this leviathan as a type of the evil, and of the human misery connected with it, which existing on the earth as they do in accordance with the divine decree and permission, present in the world without so mighty a power adverse to humanity, that the individual man, even when in his own person he is able, as in fact is the case, inwardly to release himself from their hold upon him by dint of a living faith, he is nevertheless, as regards his external participation in the evil which has come through sin into the world subject to the evil and the misery, and seeks in vain to become their master. At the close (Job 41:33 [26]), God points as with the finger to the pride of the leviathan, and characterizes him as king of all the “children of self-exaltation,” whose servants they make themselves through their own pride. … Thus, at least in general, does that “accuser [murderer] of men from the beginning” (John 8:44), in harmony with the antecedent scenes in heaven mentioned in the prologue, present himself to us here at the close as a highly expressive figure, nay as the right key to the interpretation of Job’s own history, as well as of the entire history of humanity.

Job 42:1-6. v. Gerlach: Job, in repeating here the words of God in His first address to him, acknowledges to his own shame the truth of that which God had held up before him. God’s incomprehensible wisdom and omnipotence have convinced him that the ways of His providence also are inscrutable.-Vilmar. (Past.-theol. Blätt XI, 70): By Elihu’s discourses and God’s judicial manifestation, and then by the repentance which is in this way produced within him, Job is brought back to the stand-point at first occupied by him (comp. Job 2:10), and the close of the book in general must be brought back rigidly to this initial point. The bodily disease remains at first unrelieved, but the sting which by the intervention of the three friends it had inflicted on the sufferer, is plucked out of his soul. In a sense that is absolutely proper the book forms a περίοδος; after long wandering the resignation to God which marks the beginning of the book reappears in the resignation of its close. And after that the inward disease has been overcome, the outward is also healed by God.


[1]Concerning Luther’s predecessors in this Satanological allegoristic interpretation (which of late H. V. Andrea has again attempted to revive up to a certain point, see Homiletic Remarks below-but which the representation of Satan in the prologue clearly shows to be inadmissible), see above on Job 40:19, and comp. G. M. Dursch, Symbolik der Christichen Religion, Vol. II, (1859), p. 344seq. [Wordsworth also adopts this allegoristic interpretation, and applies in detail to Satan the description of both behemoth and leviathan.]

[2]Among later advocates of the same idea, comp., e.g., Peter Damiani, Opusc. 52; de bono religiosi status et variarum animantium tropologiis; Pierre Viret. Metamorphose Chrestienne, Genève, 1561; Joh. Bapt. Porta († 1561), De physiologia humana; Jac. Böhme. Gnadenw. VII. 3, 4; V. 20, etc.; John Bunyan, in his Autobiography [Works, Vol. I., p. 28, Newhaven, 1831]; also G. H. v. Schubert, Geschichte der Seele, 4th Ed., p. 732 seq.; Lotze, Mikro kosmos. II. p. 108 seq; also my Theol. Naturalis, I. p. 537 seq.; 541 seq.

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Job 40". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/job-40.html. 1857-84.
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