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Bible Commentaries

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

Job 26

Verse 1

JOB 26

JOB'S NINTH SPEECH:

JOB'S EVALUATION OF HIS FRIENDS' "CONSOLATIONS"

Job 26:1-4

"Then Job answered, and said,

How hast thou helped him who is without power!

How hast thou saved the arm that hath no strength!

How hast thou counseled him that hath no wisdom,

And plentifully declared sound knowledge!

To whom hast thou uttered words?

And whose spirit came forth from thee?"

Our interpretation of this passage is that it is an ironic and sarcastic rejection by Job of his friends' inability to bring him any consolation whatever. We believe that all of the opening clauses here are interrogatives and should be followed by question marks.

"Whose spirit came forth from thee?" (Job 26:4). Driver gave the meaning here as, "You are comforting me with words you have plagiarized."[1] Kelly agreed with this, writing that, "Job implies that Bildad's speech is not his own view, that he parrots another, or is repeating what some evil spirit has told him."[2]

Verse 5

JOB EXTOLS THE WONDER OF GOD'S GREAT WORKS

"They that are deceased tremble

Beneath the waters and the inhabitants thereof.

Sheol is naked before God,

And Abaddon hath no covering.

He stretcheth out the North over empty space,

And hangeth the earth upon nothing.

He bindeth up the waters in the thick clouds;

And the cloud is not rent under them."

There is an amazing comprehensiveness in Job's understanding of God's power in these verses. "He recognizes God's dominion as not only existing in heaven and upon earth, but under the earth as well, even over the inhabitants of Hades, spoken of here as being under the oceans."[3] Here is a reference to persons under the earth, as also in the New Testament (Revelation 5:3).

"And hangeth the earth upon nothing" (Job 26:3). The amazing truth of what is said here was unknown in pre-Christian ages and thus anticipates scientific information of modern times by thousands of years. Incidentally, the truth of these things here spoken with regard to God positively identifies these words as Job's, not Bildad's, as some have vainly supposed. Job spoke truth; Bildad did not (Job 42:7).

Job 26 is one of the grandest recitals in the whole book. It is excelled only by the Lord's speeches.

"It sounds well in Job's mouth. It ends the dialogue, like the first movement of a symphony, with great crushing chords."[4] Stealing parts of this chapter and putting the words in the mouth of Job's friends is ridiculous, a vandalism on this chapter that has actually been committed by, "So many scholars."[5]

"He bindeth up the waters in the thick clouds, and yet the cloud is not rent" (Job 26:8). Only in the wonderful power of God Himself is there any full understanding of the mysteries that lie about us in the natural creation.

Verse 9

JOB'S THOUGHT REGARDING THE CREATION BY GOD'S SPIRIT

"He that encloseth the face of his throne,

And spreadeth his cloud upon it.

He hath described a boundary upon the face of the waters,

Unto the confines of light and darkness.

The pillars of heaven tremble.

And are astonished at his rebuke.

He stirreth up the sea with his power,

And by his understanding smiteth through Rahab.

By his Spirit the heavens are garnished;

His hand hath pierced the swift serpent.

Lo, these are but the outskirts of his ways:

And how small a whisper do we hear of him!

But the thunder of his power who can understand?"

"By his Spirit" (Job 26:13). Corresponding with the great truth in Genesis 1:2, it is God's Spirit that performs all the wonders of Creation.

The general thought of this paragraph, according to Heavenor, is that, "Earth and sea alike bear witness to the mighty power of God; how mighty must be the God of an ordered universe"![6]

Some scholars find all kinds of references in this section to Babylonian mythology; but Job's statement in Job 26:7 absolutely contradicts the Babylonian Creation myth. "That myth supposed that the earth was a flat disc resting on the `great deep,' an ocean of waters, standing for Chaos."[7] Job taught that God suspended the earth on nothing (Job 26:7). We challenge anyone to find a more perpendicular contradiction of Babylonian mythology than that. Oh yes, some terms that are suggestive of ancient myths are found here, such as the "swift serpent," and "Rahab"; but the cosmology here is Biblical, it is absolutely not mythological.

Moffatt's translation of the last few lines of this chapter is beautiful:

"And all this is the mere fringe of his force,

The faintest whisper we can hear of him!

Who knows then the full thunder of his power!"

Copyright Statement
Coffman's Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Job 26". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bcc/job-26.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.