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Job humbleth himself before God; who further challengeth him by a display of the works of his power. A description of the Behemoth.
Before Christ 1645.
Job 40:1. Moreover the Lord answered Job, and said— Houbigant subjoins the first five verses of this chapter to the 39th, after the Hebrew, and many of the versions. See the Polyglot.
Job 40:2. Shall he that contendeth, &c.— He who disputeth with the Almighty shall be chastised; he that will argue the point with God ought to answer for it: Heath: who, subjoining this after Job's confession, chap. 42: takes the argument to be this: "It is not sufficient that thou repentest in dust and ashes: the contending with God is a crime which deserves chastisement; and, according to strict justice, thou oughtest to answer for it." The latter clause of the verse refers to chap. Job 13:3.
Job 40:13. And bind their faces in secret— Shut up their faces in the secret place. Heath. Overwhelm their faces with darkness.
Job 40:15. Behemoth— The Hebrew word בהמות behemoth expresses that animal which eminently partakes of the bestial or brutish nature. Bochart seems to have proved to a demonstration, that the behemoth is the hippopotamus, the sea-horse, or, more properly, the river-horse. The Sieur Thevenot, saw one of these animals at Cairo. "This animal," says he, "was of a tan colour; its hind parts resemble those of an ox or buffaloe, excepting that its feet were shorter and thicker; in size it is equal to a camel; its snout, or nose, is like that of an ox, and its body twice as big; its head resembles that of a horse, and is of the same size; its eyes are small; its crest is very thick; its ears are small; its nostrils very wide and open; its feet are very thick, pretty large, and have each four toes, like those of a crocodile; its tail is small, without any hair, like that of an elephant; its lower jaw has four large teeth, about half a foot long, two of them crooked, and as thick as the horns of an ox, one of which is on each side of the throat; besides these, it has two others, which are straight, of the same thickness as those which are crooked, and project forwards." The river-horse shelters himself among the reeds; and the behemoth is said to be in the coverts of the reeds and fens, and to be compassed about with the willows of the brook. The river-horse feeds upon the herbage of the Nile; and the behemoth is said to eat grass as an ox. No creature is known to have stronger ribs than the river-horse; and the bones of the behemoth are as strong pieces of brass, like bars of iron. See Lowth's Notes on his 6th Prelection, 8vo. Edit.
Job 40:19. He that made him can make his sword to approach unto him— He who made him, hath furnished him with his scythe. Heath. The Hebrew word here rendered sword, or scythe, denotes the instrument by which this animal gathers his food.
Job 40:23. Behold, he drinketh up a river— Should an inundation of the river suddenly overtake him, he would not be in the least fear: he trusteth that he can spout forth Jordan through his mouth. Bochart and others say, that
Jordan is here put by a figure for any river; but Houbigant is of opinion, that the Jordan itself is meant, which was not far from the land of Uz, and in which, no doubt, there were hippopotami, as well as in the Nile.
Job 40:24. He taketh it with his eyes— Who can take him in his streams? Can cords be drawn through his nose? Heath. Can his nose be perforated with hooks? Houbigant. The way of taking these animals, as related by an ancient writer, Achilles Tatius, will explain this passage. "The huntsmen, having found the places where they haunt, dig a trench, or ditch, which they cover with reeds and earth, having placed underneath a wooden chest, whose lids are open like a folding door on each side, to the height of the cavity; after this they conceal themselves, watching till the beast is taken; for as soon as ever it treads on the surface of the hole it is sure to fall to the bottom. The huntsmen run up immediately to the cavity, and shut down the lids, and by these means catch the beast, which could not be taken by any other method, on account of its prodigious strength." The latter clause of the verse signifies literally, Canst thou bore his nose with cords? but this kind of boring is made with a hook, in order to insert a cord to lead the creature about at pleasure. It is very remarkable, that this cord in the ox's nose serves instead of a bit to guide him. This Thevenot confirms in his voyage to Indostan, where having mentioned that oxen are used instead of horses for travelling, he adds, "These creatures are managed like our horses, and have no other bits or bridles than a cord, which passes through the tendon of their nose or nostrils." So that this boring of his nose, and introducing a cord, was not to take, but to keep him in order, and to make him serviceable when taken. Heath. I would just observe upon this and the following description, that, nervous and excellent as they are, they do not strike us with the same degree of admiration as the foregoing description of the horse, because we are not so well acquainted with the nature of the animals described. Dr. Young renders the two last verses of this chapter thus:
His eye drinks Jordan up; when fir'd with drought, He trusts to turn its current down his throat; In lessen'd waves it creeps along the plain: He sinks a river, and he thirsts again.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, Confounded in silence, Job dares not reply. When, after a short pause,
1. God farther expostulates with him; and, from a view of what he had spoken, demands an answer. Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty (an attempt how insolent!) instruct him? can he be taught knowledge? or, is every fretful murmurer a proper judge how God ought to direct his providences? surely not. Yet this had Job attempted; yea, and he had blamed God for his dispensations, as unjust and severe. He that reproveth God let him answer it, maintain, if he can, his charge, or confess his folly and sin for having done so.
2. Job confesses his error, and submits. He answered the Lord, and said, Behold, I am vile, I acknowledge my sin, I renounce my former opinion of myself, I am abominable in my own eyes, and how much more in thine? What shall I answer thee? I am unable to support the least charge that I have advanced against thee. I will lay mine hand upon my mouth in silence, and my mouth in the dust of humiliation. Once have I spoken in self-vindication; but I will not answer any more, convinced that I played the fool, and erred exceedingly; yea twice; repeatedly have urged my rash plea; but I will proceed no further; I own myself mistaken, and desire to take shame for my perverseness. Note; (1.) However high our former apprehension of our own goodness was, when the Spirit of God convinces the soul of sin, we shall not have a word to say to justify ourselves, but cry for mercy only from our offended God. (2.) The erroneous doctrines which they have maintained, or sinful practices which they indulged, are the shame and grief of true penitents; and they desire henceforward to retract, disclaim, and oppose them.
2nd, To fix more deeply and permanently on Job's mind the conviction which was begun, God proceeds to renew out of the whirlwind his awful challenges. Note; When our consciences are first alarmed, it is most dangerous to heal the hurt slightly: we should look further and deeper, that the discovery of greater abominations may produce abiding humiliation.
1. Wilt thou disannul my judgment, alter my designs, or frustrate their execution? Wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous? accuse me of injustice or severity, in older to support thy character, and maintain thy righteousness before men? how wicked and insolent must such a charge appear! Note; If we murmur, the fault is in ourselves; God's ways are equal, it is our way which is unequal.
2. Hast thou an arm like God? able to contend with the Almighty; or canst thou thunder with a voice like him? alas! man is but a worm, his whispers cannot be heard amid the thunders of God's mighty voice. Note; The sinner who looks biggest and talks loudest must be brought low, either here in repentance, or hereafter in ruin everlasting.
3. Deck thyself now with majesty and excellency, If thou canst vie with me, and array thyself with glory and beauty; how despicable will it appear? not so much as the glow-worm's light compared with the meridian sun. Or it may be spoken ironically; take my throne, and try how thou canst govern the world; that thou mayst feel how unequal thou art to the task.
4. Shew thy universal dominion. Put on the monarch's rage and frown: look sternly at the proud, if thou canst abase him; tread down the wicked from their height, lay them in the dust of death, lead them forth, with their faces covered, to execution as malefactors, or hide them in the grave as slain. Then, when in these acts of justice, power, majesty, and dominion, he can vie with God, he may be allowed to contend with him, and trust in his own right hand for salvation. But when the contrary was so evident, he must submit entirely to God's sovereignty, and expect his salvation temporal, spiritual, and eternal, from his grace and strength alone.
3rdly, To prove his own infinite superiority, God bids him regard Behemoth and Leviathan, those wonders of creation; if he cannot contend with them, much less can he with their maker.
As to what beast is meant by Behemoth, the learned are divided in opinion. It signifies Beasts in general, but must here mean some particular species: two have been suggested, to which the description may be applicable; the hippopotamus, or river horse, and the elephant. He is described as feeding on the grass as the ox; and amazingly strong and large. The mountains provide him food, and harmless around him the other beasts feed without molestation. Under spreading trees near rivers' banks, is his abode. Thirsty, the river scarce affords a draught, and in his greedy eye he thinks he can drain it to its source. No fear interrupts him, he hasteth not away: no snares can bind him: and yet, great and mighty as he is, God made him: his creature he is, as well as man; the work of the same hand, and on the same day: and, terrible as he may appear to us, he is crushed as the worm when God causes his sword to approach him. Let man then own his own littleness, and humbly yield up himself to his Almighty Creator.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Job 40". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25