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by Albert Barnes
Introduction to Job
In reference to no part of the Scriptures have so many questions arisen as to the Book of Job. The time of its composition; the author; the country where the scene was laid; the question whether Job was a real person; the nature and design of the poem; have been points on which a great variety of opinion has been entertained among expositors, and on which different views still prevail. It is important, in order to have a correct understanding of the book, that all the light should be thrown on these subjects which can be; and though amidst the variety of opinion which prevails among men of the highest distinction in learning absolute certainty cannot be hoped for, yet such advances have been made in the investigation that on some of these points we may arrive to a high degree of probability.
The stars were early observed in Chaldea, where the science of astronomy had its origin. A pastoral people always have some knowledge of the heavenly bodies. The tending of flocks by night, under a clear Oriental sky, gave abundant opportunity for observing the motions of the heavenly bodies, and names would soon be given to the most important of the stars; the difference between the planets and the fixed stars would be observed, and the imagination would be employed in grouping the stars into fanciful resemblances to animals and other objects. In like manner, as caravans traveled much at night through the deserts, on account of the comparative coolness then, they would have an opportunity of observing the stars, and some knowledge of the heavenly bodies became necessary to guide their way. The notices of the heavenly bodies in this poem show chiefly that names were given to some of the stars; that they were grouped together in constellations; and that the times of the appearance of certain stars had been carefully observed, and their relation to certain aspects of the weather had been marked. There is no express mention of the planets as distinguished from the fixed stars; and nothing to lead us to suppose that they were acquainted with the true system of astronomy.
He commandeth the sun, and it riseth not,
And he sealeth up the stars.
He alone stretcheth out the heavens
And walketh upon the high waves of the sea.
He maketh Arcturus, Orion,
The Pleiades, and the secret chambers of the south.
Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades,
Or loose the bands of Orion?
Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season,
Or lead forth the Bear with her young?
Knowest thou the laws of the heavens,
Or hast thou appointed their dominion over the earth?
It would seem from these passages, that the allusion to the clusters of stars here, is made to them as the harbingers of certain seasons. “It is well known, that, in different regions of the earth, the appearance of certain constellations before sunrise or after sunset, marks the distinction of seasons, and regulates the labors of the farmer.” Wemyss. It is also known that the appearance of certain constellations - as Orion - was regarded by mariners as denoting a stormy and tempestuous season of the year. See Job 9:7-9, notes; and Job 38:31-33, notes. This seems to be the knowledge of the constellations referred to here, and there is no certain evidence that the observation of the heavens in the time of Job had gone beyond this.
A somewhat curious use has been made of the reference to the stars in the book of Job, by an attempt to determine the time when he lived. Supposing the principal stars here mentioned to be those of Taurus and Scorpio, and that these were the cardinal constellations of spring and autumn in the time of Job, and calculating their positions by the precession of the equinoxes, the time referred to in the book of Job was found to be 818 years after the deluge, or 184 years before the birth of Abraham. “This calculation, made by Dr. Brinkley of Dublin, and adopted by Dr. Hales, had been made also in 1765 by M. Ducontant in Paris, with a result differing only in being forty-two years less.” The coincidence is remarkable, but the proof that the constellations referred to are Taurus and Scorpio, is too uncertain to give much weight to the argument.
The intimations about the structure, the size, and the support of the earth, are also very obscure, and the views entertained would seem to have been very confused. Language is used, doubtless, such as would express the popular belief, and it resembles that which is commonly employed in the Scriptures. The common representation is, that the heavens are stretched out as a curtain or tent, or sometimes as a solid concave sphere in which the heavenly bodies are fixed (see the notes at Isaiah 34:4), and that the earth is an immense plain, surrounded by water, which reached the concave heavens in which the stars were fixed. Occasionally, the earth is represented as supported by pillars, or as resting on a solid foundation; and once we meet with an intimation that it is globular, and suspended in space.
In the following passages the earth and the sky are represented as supported by pillars:
He shaketh the earth out of her place,
And the pillars thereof tremble. Job 9:6
The pillars of heaven tremble,
And are astonished at his rebuke. Job 31:11.
In the latter passage the reference is to mountains, which seem to uphold the sky as pillars, in accordance with the common and popular representation among the ancients. Thus Mount Atlas, in Mauritania, was represented as a pillar on which heaven was suspended:
“Atlas’ broad shoulders prop th’ incumbent skies,
Around his cloud-girt head the stars arise,”
In the following passage the earth is represented as suspended on nothing, and there would seem to be a slight evidence that the true doctrine about the form of the earth was then known:
He stretcheth out the North over the empty space,
And hangeth the earth upon nothing.Job 26:7; Job 26:7.
See particularly the notes on that passage. Though the belief seems to nave been that the earth was thus “self-balanced,” yet there is no intimation that they were acquainted with the fact that it revolves on its axis, or around the sun as a center.
There are few intimations of the prevalent knowledge of geography in the time of Job. In one instance foreign regions are mentioned, though there is no certainty that the countries beyond Palestine are there referred to:
Have ye not inquired of the travelers?
And will ye not hear their testimony? Job 21:29.
In the close of the book, in the mention of the hippopotamus and the crocodile, there is evidence that there was some knowledge of the land of Egypt, though no intimation is given of the situation or extent of that Country.
The cardinal points are referred to, and there is evidence in this book, as well as elsewhere in the Scriptures, that the geographer then regarded himself as looking toward the East. The South was thus the “right hand,” the North the left hand, and the West the region “behind:”
Behold, I go to the East, and he is not there;
And to the West, but I cannot perceive him;
To the North, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him;
He hideth himself on the South, that I cannot see him.
See the notes on this verse for an explanation of the terms used; compare the following places, where similar geographical terms occur; Judges 18:12; Deuteronomy 11:24; Zechariah 14:8; Exodus 10:19; Jos 17:7; 2 Kings 23:13; 1 Samuel 23:24; Genesis 14:15; Joshua 19:27.
Whatever was the form of the earth, and the manner in which it was sustained, it is evident from the following passage that the land was regarded as surrounded by a waste of waters, whose outer limit was deep and impenetrable darkness:
He hath drawn a circular bound upon the waters,
To the confines of the light and darkness. Job 26:10.
Yet the whole subject is represented as one with which man was then unacquainted, and which was beyond his grasp:
Hast thou observed the breadths of the earth?
Declare, if thou knowest it all. Job 38:18.
For a full illustration of this passage, and the views of geography which then prevailed, the reader is referred to the notes. It is evident that the knowledge of geography, so far as is indicated by this book, was then very limited, though it should also be said that in the argument of the poem there was little occasion to refer to knowledge of this kind, and that few intimations are to be expected on the subject.
There are much more frequent intimations of the state of knowledge on the various subjects embraced under this head, than of either astronomy or geography. These intimations show that these subjects had excited much attention, and had been the result of careful observation; and in regard to some of them there are indications of a plausible theory of their causes, though most of them are appealed to as among the inscrutable things of God. The facts excited the wonder of the Arabian observers, and they clothed their conceptions of them in the most beautiful language of poetry; but they do not often attempt to explain them. On the contrary, these obvious and undisputed facts, so inscrutable to them, are referred to as full proof that we cannot hope to comprehend the ways of God, and as reason why we should bow before him with profound adoration. Among the things referred to are the following:
(a) The Aurora Borealis, or Northern lights. Thus the magnificent description of the approach of the Almighty to close the controversy Job 37:21-23, seems to have been borrowed by Elihu from the beautiful lights of the North, in accordance with the common opinion that the North was the seat of the Divinity:
And now - man cannot look upon the bright splendor that is
On the clouds:
For the wind passeth along and maketh them clear.
golden splendor approaches from the North:
How fearful is the majesty of God!
The Almighty! we cannot find him out!
Great in power and in justice, and vast in righteousness!
Compare Isaiah 14:13, notes; and Job 23:9, notes.
(b) Tornadoes, whirlwinds, and tempests, were the subject of careful observation. The sources from where they usually came were attentively marked, and the various phenomena which they exhibited were so observed that the author of the poem was able to describe them with the highest degree of poetic beauty:
With his hands be covereth the lightning
And commandeth it where to strike.
He pointeth out to it his friends -
The collecting of his wrath is upon the wicked.
At this also my heart palpitates,
And is moved out of its place.
Hear, O hear, the thundrer of his voice!
The muttering thunder that goes forth from his mouth!
He directeth it under the whole heaven,
And his lightning to the ends of the earth.
He thundereth with the voice of his majesty,
And he will not restrain the tempest when his voice is heard.
Job 36:32-33; Job 37:1-4.
Terrors come upon him like waters,
In the night a tempest stealeth him away.
The east wind carrieth him away, and he departeth,
And it sweeps him away from his place. Job 27:20-21.
(c) The dew had been carefully observed, yet the speakers did not understand its phenomena. How it was produced; whether it descended from the atmosphere, or ascended from the earth, they did not profess to be able to explain. It was regarded as one of the things which God only could understand; yet the manner in which it is spoken of shows that it had attracted deep attention, and led to much inquiry:
Hath the rain a father?
And who hath begotten the drops of the dew? Job 38:28.
(d) The same remarks may be made of the formation of the hoar frost, of snow, of hail, and of ice. There is no theory suggested to account for them but they are regarded as among the things which God alone could comprehend, and which evinced his wisdom. There had been evidently much careful observation of the facts, and much inquiry into the cause of these things but the speakers did not profess to be able to explain them. To this day, also, there is much about them which is unexplained, and the farther the investigation is carried, the more occasion is there to admire the wisdom of God in the formation of these things, See the notes on the passages that will now be referred to:
From whose womb came the ice;
The hoar-frost of heaven, who gave it birth? Job 38:29 (note).
By the breath of God frost is produced,
And the broad waters become compressed. Job 37:10 (note).
For he saith to the snow, “Be thou on the earth.” Job 37:6 (note).
Hast thou been into the storehouses of snow?
Or seen the storehouses of hail, that and Which I have reserved until the time of trouble,
To the day of battle and war? Job 38:22-23 (note).
(e) The dawning of the morning is described with great beauty, and is represented as wholly beyond the power of man to produce or explain:
Hast thou, in thy life, given commandment to the morning?
Or caused the dawn to know His place?
That it may seize on the far corners of the earth,
And scatter the robbers before it?
It turns itself along like clay under the seal,
And all things stand forth as if in gorgeous apparel.
NOTE: For the meaning of this uncommonly beautiful imagery, see the notes on this place.
(f) So all the phenomena of light are represented as evincing the wisdom of God, and as wholly beyond the ability of man to explain or comprehend them; yet so represented as to show that it had been a subject of careful observation and reflection:
Where is the way to the dwelling-place of light?
And the darkness, where is its place?
That thou couldest conduct it to its limits,
And that thou shouldest knorr the path to its dwelling?
(g) The clouds and rain also had been carefully observed, and the laws which governed them were among the inscrutable things of God:
Who can number the clouds by wisdom?
And who can empty the bottles of heaven?Job 38:37; Job 38:37.
The clouds seem to have been regarded as a solid substance capable of holding rain like a leather bottle, and the rain was caused by their emptying themselves on the earth. Yet the whole phenomena were considered to beyond the comprehension of man. The laws by which the clouds suspended in the air, and the reason why the rain descended in small drops, instead of gushing floods, were alike incomprehensible:
Who also can understand the outspreading of the clouds,
And the fearful thunderings in his pavilion? Job 36:29.
For he draweth up the drops of water;
They distil rain in his vapor,
Which the clouds pour down;
They pour it upon man in abundance. Job 36:27-28.
He bindeth up the waters in the thick clouds,
And the cloud is not rent under them. Job 26:8.
(h) The sea had also attracted the attention of these ancient observers and there were phenomena there which they could not explain:
Who shut up the sea with doors,
In its bursting forth as from the womb?
When I made the cloud its garment,
And swathed it in thick darkness?
I measured out for it its limits.
And fixed its bars and doors,
And said, Thus far shalt thou come, but no farther.
And here shall thy proud waves be stayed! Job 38:8-11.
There is a reference here, undoubtedly, to the creation; but as this is the language of God describing that event, it cannot be determined with certainty that a knowledge of the method of creation had been communicated to them by tradition. But language like this implies that there bad been a careful observation of the ocean, and that there were things in regard to it which were to them incomprehensible. The passage is a most sublime description of the creation of the mighty mass of waters, and while it is entirely consistent with the account in Genesis, it supplies some important circumstances not recorded there.
V. Mining Operations
Job 28:0 - one of the most beautiful portions of the Bible - contains a statement of the method of mining then practiced, and shows that the art was well understood. The mechanical devices mentioned, and the skill with which the process was carried on, evince considerable advance in the arts:
Truly there is a vein for silver,
And a place for gold where they refine it.
Iron is obtained from the earth,
And ore is fused into copper.
Man putteth an end to darkness,
And completely searches every thing -
The rocks, the thick darkness, and the shadow of death
He sinks a shaft far from a human dwelling;
They, unsupported by the feet, hang suspended;
Far from men they swing to and fro.
The earth - out of it cometh bread;
And when turned up beneath, it resembles fire.
Its stones are the places of sapphires,
And gold dust pertains to it.
The path thereto no bird knoweth,
And the vulture’s eye hath not seen it.
The fierce wild beasts have not trodden it,
And the lion hath not walked over it.
Man layeth his hand upon the flinty rock;
He overturneth mountains from their foundations;
He cutteth out canals among the rocks,
And his eye seeth every precious thing.
He restraineth the streams from trickling down,
And bringeth hiddden things to light. Job 28:1-11.
The operation of mining must have early attracted attention, for the art of working metals, and of course their value, was understood in a very early age of the world. Tubal Cain is described as an “instructor of every artificer in brass and iron;” Genesis 4:22. The description in Job shows that this art had received much attention, and that in his time it had been carried to a high degree of perfection; see the notes at Job 28:1-11.
VI. Precious Stones
There is frequent mention of precious stones in the book of Job, and it is evident that they were regarded as of great value, and were used for ornament. The following are mentioned, as among the precious stones, though some of them are now ascertained to be of little value. There is evidence that they judged, as was necessarily the case in the early age of the world, rather from appearances than from any chemical knowledge of their nature. The onyx and sapphire:
It (wisdom) cannot be estimated by the gold of Ophir
By the precious onyx, or the sapphire. Job 28:16.
Coral, crystal, and rubies:
No mention shall be made of coral or of crystal;
For the price of wisdom is above rubies. Job 28:18.
The topaz found in Ethiopia, or Cush:
The topaz of Cush cannot equal it,
Nor can it be purchased with pure gold. Job 28:19.
These were found as the result of the processes of mining, though it is not known that the art of engraving on them was known. It is, moreover, not entirely easy to fix the signification of the original words used here. See the notes at Job 28:0.
VII. Coining, Writing Engraving
It is not quite certain, though there is some evidence, that the art of coining was known in the days of Job. The solution of this question depends on the meaning of the word rendered “a piece of money,” in Job 42:11. For an examination of this, the reader is referred to the notes on that verse. There is the fullest evidence that the art of writing was then known:
O that my words were now written!
O that they were engraved on a tablet!
That with an iron graver, and with lead,
They were engraven upon a rock forever.Job 19:23-24; Job 19:23-24.
O that He would hear me!
Behold my defense! May the Almighty answer me!
Would that he who contends with me would write down his charge!
Truly upon my shoulder would I bear it;
I would bind it upon me as a diadem.Job 31:35-36; Job 31:35-36.
The materials for writing are not indeed particularly mentioned, but it is evident that permanent records on stone were made; that this was done sometimes by making use of lead; and also that it was common to make use of portable materials, and as would seem of flexible materials, since Job speaks Job 31:0 of binding the charge of his adversary, when written down, around his head like a turban or diadem; compare Isaiah 8:1, note; Isaiah 30:8, note. Though the papyrus, or “paper reed,” of Egypt, seems to be once alluded to (see the notes at Job 8:11), yet there is no evidence that it was known as a material for writing.
VIII. The Medical Art
Physicians are once mentioned.
For truly are ye forgers of fallacies;
Physicians of no value, all of you. Job 13:4.
But there is no intimation of the methods of cure, or of the remedies that were applied. It is remarkable that, so far as appears, no methods were taken to cure the extraordinary malady of Job himself. He excluded himself from society, sat down in dust and ashes, and merely attempted to remove the offensive matter that the disease collected on his person; Job 2:8. So far as appears from the Scriptur early times were chiefly external applications. See Isaiah 1:6, note; Isaiah 38:21-22, note. “Physicians” are mentioned in Genesis 50:2, but only in connection with embalming, where it is said that “Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father, and the physicians embalmed Israel.”
Musical instruments are mentioned in the book of Job in such a manner as to show that the subject of music had attracted attention, though we may not be able now to ascertain the exact form of the instruments which were employed:
They excite themselves with the tabor and the harp,
And rejoice at the sound of the pipe. Job 21:12 (note).
My harp also is turned to mourning,
And my pipes to notes of grief. Job 30:31 (note).
For an explanation of these terms, the reader is referred to the notes on these passages. We have evidence that music was cultivated long before the time in which it is supposed Job lived Genesis 4:21, though there is no certainty that even in his time it had reached a high degree of perfection.
One of the earliest arts practiced in society would be that of taking and destroying wild beasts, and we find several allusions to the methods in which this was done, in the book of Job. Nets, gins, and pitfalls, were made use of for this purpose, and in order to drive the wild beasts into the nets or pitfalls, it was customary for a number of persons to extend themselves in a forest, enclosing a large space, and gradually drawing near to each other and to the center:
His strong steps shall be straitened,
And his own plans shall cast him down.
For he is brought into his net by his own feet,
And into the pitfall he walks.
The snare takes him by the heel,
And the gin takes fast hold of him.
A net is secretly laid for him in the ground,
And a trap for him in the pathway. Job 18:7-10.
The howling of dogs, and the shouts of the hunters, are represented as filling the wild animal with dismay, and as harassing him as he attempts to escape:
Terrors alarm him on every side,
And harass him at his heels. Job 18:11.
While spent with hunger and fatigue, he is entangled in the spread nets, and becomes an easy prey for the hunter:
His strength shall be exhausted by hunger,
And destruction shall seize upon his side.
It shall devour the vigour of his frame,
The first-born of Death shall devour his limbs.
Compare Psalms 140:4-5; Ezekiel 19:6-9.
XI. Methods of Husbandry
The customs of the pastoral life, one of the chief employments of early ages, are often referred to; Job 1:3,Job 1:16; Job 42:12.
He shall never look upon the rivulets -
The streams of the valleys - of honey and butter.
When I washed my steps with cream,
And the rock poured me out rivers of oil. Job 29:6.
Plowing with oxen is mentioned, Job 1:14.
So also Job 31:38-40 :
If my land cry out against me,
And the furrows likewise complain;
If I have eaten its fruits without payment,
And extorted the living of its owners;
Let thistles grow up instead of wheat,
And noxious weeds instead of barley. Job 31:38-40.
The cultivation of the vine and the olive, and the pressure of grapes and olives, is mentioned:
He shall cast his unripe fruit as the vine,
And shed his blossoms like the olive. Job 15:33.
They reap their grain in the field (of others),
And they gather the vintage of the oppressor. Job 24:6.
They cause them to express oil within their walls;
They tread their wine-presses, and yet they suffer thirst.
It is remarkable that in the book of Job there is no mention of the palm, the pomegranate, or any species of flowers. In a country like Arabia, where the date now is so important an article of food, it would have been reasonable to anticipate that there would have been some allusion known, from what is said, of the implements of husbandry, and nothing forbids us to suppose that they were of the rudest sort.
XII. Modes of Traveling
From the earliest period in the East the mode of traveling to any distance appears to have been by caravans, or companies. Two objects seem to have been contemplated by this in making long journeys across pathless deserts that were much infested by robbers; the one was the purpose of selfdefense, the other mutual accommodation. For the purposes of those traveling companies, camels are admirably adapted by nature, alike from their ability to bear burdens, from the scantiness of food which they require, and for their being able to travel far without water. Caravans are first mentioned in Genesis 37:25, “And they sat down to eat bread, and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and behold a company of Ishmaelites came from Gilead, with their camels bearing spicery, and balm, and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt.” A beautiful notice of this mode of traveling occurs in Job Job 6:15-20, as being common in his time:
My brethren are faithless as a brook,
Like the streams of the valley that pass away;
Which are turbid by means of the (melted) ice,
In which the snow is hid (by being dissolved).
In the time when they become warm they evaporate.
When the heat cometh, they are dried up from their place;
The channels of their way wind round about;
They go into nothing, and are lost.
The caravans of Tema look;
The traveling companies of Sheba expect to see them.
They are ashamed that they have relied on them,
They come even to the place, and are confounded.
There is, in one place in Job, a slight intimation that runners or carriers were employed to carry messages when extraordinary speed was demanded, though there is no evidence that this was a settled custom, or that it was regulated by law:
And my days are swifter than a runner;
They flee away, and they see no good. Job 9:25.
Connected with the subject of traveling, we may remark, that the art of making light boats or skiffs from reeds appears to have been known, though there is no mention of ships, or of distant navigation:
They pass on like the reed-skiffs;
As the eagle darting on its prey. Job 9:26.
XIII. The Military Art
There are in the book of Job frequent allusions to weapons of war, and to modes of attack and defense, such as to show that the subject had attracted much attention, and that war then was by no means unknown. In the poem we find the following allusions to the weapons used, and to the methods of attack and defense.
To poisoned arrows:
For the arrows of the Almighty are within me,
Their poison drinketh up my spirit;
The terrors of God set themselves in array against me.
To the shield:
He runneth upon him with outstretched neck,
With the thick bosses of his shields. Job 15:26.
To the methods of attack, and the capture of a walled town:
He set me up for a mark,
His archers came around me;
He transfixed my reins, and did not spare;
My gall hath he poured out upon the ground.
He breaketh me with breach upon breach;
He rusheth upon me like a mighty man. Job 16:12-14.
To the iron weapon and the bow of brass:
He shall flee from the iron weapon,
But the bow of brass shall pierce him through.
To the works cast up by a besieging army for the annoyance of a city by their weapons of war:
His troops advanced together against me;
They throw up their way against me,
And they encamp round about my dwelling. Job 19:12.
In this connection, also, should be mentioned the sublime description of the war-horse in Job 39:19, following The horse was undoubtedly used in war and a more sublime description of this animal caparisoned for battle, impatient for the contest, does not occur in any language:
Hast thou given the horse his strength?
Hast thou clothed his neck with thunder?
Dost thou make him to leap as the locust?
How terrible is the glory of his nostrils!
He paweth in the valley; he exulteth in his strength;
He goeth forth into the midst of arms.
He laugheth at fear, and is nothing daunted;
And he turneth not back from the sword.
Upon him rattleth the quiver;
The glittering spear and the lance.
In his fierceness and rage he devoureth the ground,
And will no longer stand still when the trumpet sounds.
When the trumpet sounds, he saith,
And from afar be snuffeth the battle -
The war-cry of the princes, and the battle-shout.
The references to zoology in this book, which are numerous, and which show that the habits of many portions of the animated creation had been observed with great care, may be ranked under the heads of insects, reptiles, birds, and beasts.
1. Of insects, the only two that are mentioned are the spider and the moth:
His hope shall rot,
And his trust shall be the building of the spider.
He shall lean upon his dwelling, and it shall not stand;
He shall grasp it, but it shall not endure.
Behold, in his servants he putteth no confidence,
And his angels he chargeth with frailty;
How much more true is this of those who dwell in houses of clay,
Whose foundation is in the dust;
They are crushed before the moth-worm! Job 4:18-19.
He buildeth his house like the moth,
Or like a shed which the watchman maketh.Job 27:18; Job 27:18.
2. Of reptiles, we find the asp and the viper mentioned:
He shall suck the poison of asps;
The viper’s tongue shall destroy him. Job 20:16.
3. The birds or fowls that are mentioned in this book, are much more numerous. They are the following, nearly all so mentioned as their habits had been the subject of careful observation.
The path thereto no bird knoweth,
And the vulture’s eye hath not seen it. Job 28:7.
Who provideth for the raven his food,
When his young ones cry unto God,
And wander for lack of food? Job 38:41.
The stork and the ostrich:
A wing of exuiting fowls moves joyfully!
Is it the wing and plumage of the stork?
For she leaveth her eggs upon the ground,
And upon the dust she warmeth them,
And forgetteth that her foot may crush them,
And that the wild beast may break them.
She is hardened toward her young, as it they were not hers;
In vain is her travail, and without solicitude;
Because God hath withheld wisdom from her,
And hath not imparted to her understanding.
In the time when she raiseth herself up on high,
She laugheth at the horse and his rider.
The eagle and the hawk:
Is it by thy understanding that the hawk flieth,
And spreadeth his wings toward the south?
Is it at thy command that the eagle mounteth up,
And that he buildeth his nest on high?
He inhabiteth the rock and abideth there -
Upon the crag of the rock, and the high fortress.
From thence he spieth out his prey,
His eyes discern it from afar.
His young ones greedily gulp down blood;
And where the slain are, there is he.
4. The beasts that are mentioned are, also, quite numerous, and the description of some of them constitutes the most magnificent part of the poem. The descriptions of the various animals are also more minute than any thing else referred to, and but a few of them can be copied without transcribing whole chapters. The beasts referred to are the following.
The camel, sheep, ox, and she-ass: Job 1:3; Job 42:12.
The roaring of the lion, and the voice of the fierce lion (are silenced),
And the teeth of young lions are broken out.
The old lion perishes for want of prey,
And the whelps of the lioness are scattered abroad.
The wild ass:
Doth the wild donkey bray in the midst of grass?
Or loweth the ox over his fodder? Job 6:5.
Who hath sent forth the wild donkey free;
Or who hath loosed the bonds of the wild ass?
Whose home I have made the wilderness,
And his dwellings the barren land.
He scorneth the uproar of the city;
The cry of the driver he heedeth not.
The range of the mountains is his pasture:
He searcheth after every green thing.
But now they who are younger than I have me in derision,
Whose fathers I would have disdained to set with the
Dogs of my flock. Job 30:1.
I am become a brother to the jackal,
And a companion to the ostrich. Job 30:29.
The mountain-goat and the hind:
Knowest thou the time when the wild goats of the rock bring forth?
Or canst thou observe the birth-throes of the hind?
Canst thou number the months that they fulfil?
Knowest thou the season when they bring forth?
They bow themselves; they give birth to their young;
They cast forth their sorrows.
Their young ones increase in strength,
They grow up in the wilderness,
They go from them, and return no more. Job 39:1-4.
Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee?
Will he abide through the night at thy crib?
Wilt thou bind him with his band to the furrow?
And will he harrow the valleys after thee?
Wilt thou trust him because his strength is great?
Or wilt thou commit thy labor to him?
Wilt thou have confidence in him to bring in thy grain?
Or to gather it to thy threshing-floor? Job 39:9-12.
The war-horse, in a splendid passage already quoted, Job 39:19-25 (notes). And, finally, the behemoth or hippopotamus, and the leviathan or crocodile, in Job 40:15-24 (notes); Job 40:21 (note) - perhaps the most splendid descriptions of animals to be found any where in poetry. For the nature and habits of the animals there described, as well as of those already referred to, the reader is referred to the notes.
Such is a mere reference to the various topics of science and the arts referred to in the book of Job. Though brief, yet they furnish us with an invaluable account of the progress which society had then made; and in order to obtain an estimate of the state of the world on these subjects at an early period, there is no better means now at command than a careful study of this book. The scene of the book is laid in the vicinity of those portions of the earth which had made the greatest progress in science and the arts, and from this poem we may learn with considerable accuracy, probably, what advances had then been made in Babylon and in Egypt.
Second Part - The Argument, or Controversy, in Verse, Job 3–42:6
I. The first series in the controversy, Job 3–14
(1.) Job opens the discussion by cursing his birth-day, and by a bitter complaint of his calamity, Job 3:0
(2.) Speech of Eliphaz, Job 4–5
(3.) Answer of Job, Job 5–6
(4.) Speech of Bildad, Job 8:0
(5.) Answer of Job, Job 9–10
(6.) Speech of Zophar, Job 11:0
(7.) Answer of Job, Job 12–14
II. The second series in the controversy, Job 15–21
(1.) Speech of Eliphaz, Job 15:0
(2.) Answer of Job, Job 16–17
(3.) Speech of Bildad, Job 18:0
(4.) Answer of Job, Job 19:0
(5.) Speech of Zophar, Job 20:0
(6.) Answer of Job, Job 21:0
III. The third series in the controversy, Job 22–31
(1.) Speech of Eliphaz Job 22:0
(2.) Answer of Job, Job 23–24
(3.) Speech of Bildad, Job 25:1-6
(4.) Answer of Job, Job 26–31
IV. Speech of Elihu, Job 32–37
V. The close of the discussion, Job 38–42:6
(1.) The speech of the Almighty, Job 38–41
(2.) The response and penitent confession of Job, Job 42:1-6.
Third Part - The Conclusion, in Prose, Job 42:7-17
the Third Week after Epiphany