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Bible Commentaries

Dunagan's Commentary on the Bible

Job 26

Verse 1

“In contrast with the shortest speech in the book (chapter 25) chapters 26-31 comprise the longest. Job replied first to Bildad ('you' in 26:2-4 is singular), but later (in chapters 27-31) to all three (“you” in 27:5 is plural)” (Bible Knowledge Comm. p. 748). These chapters (26-31) are also Job's final response to his critics. In this section, Job will repudiate Bildad's wisdom (chapters 26-27), talk about God's wisdom (28), express a desire for his past glory (29), bemoan his present misery (30), and declare his innocence (31).

Verse 2

26:2 "What a help you are to the weak!": Job declares that Bildad's counsel and help have been absolutely worthless. 26:2-3 "Abundantly provided": "Speaking of the 'helpful insight' Bildad had 'abundantly provided', Job was no doubt sarcastically blasting Bildad's short speech, which was given without help, without insight, and without kindness" (Zuck pp. 115-116). "Job identifies his own position as powerless, weak, and without wisdom to deal with the mysterious circumstances of his suffering, Bildad, however, is commended as the one who could help him, hold him up, and counsel him (26:2-3). But rather than meeting his needs, Bildad charges him with sin, labels him as wicked, and reduces him to a worm" (McKenna pp. 186-187).

Verse 4

26:4 "And whose spirit was expressed through you?": Job seems to be saying that obviously God was not speaking through Bildad, so whose "spirit" was speaking through him? Was he just parroting someone else's theology?

Verse 5

26:5 "In contrast to his friend's limited exaltation of God (25:3-5), Job majestically sweeps beyond. Even those in Sheol (figuratively beneath the waters, or earth, Philippians 2:10) are naked before God" (Jackson p. 61). The expression "departed spirits" seems to refer to the "elite" among dead, i.e., the once powerful. Job notes that God rules over the realm of the dead, and the departed spirits tremble, which indicates consciousness after death.

Verse 6

26:6 The word "Abaddon" means "destruction" and is a synonym for the side of Sheol that includes the wicked. "Even the elite dead are in anguish because God knows and sees them" (Bible Knowledge Comm. p. 749).

Verse 7

26:7 "He stretches out the north over empty space": "God's creation of the skies was likened by Job to His stretching out a tent on a pole. The 'north' is the celestial pole around which the universe appears to revolve. The earth was viewed by Job as being supported by nothing material and therefore as being sustained only by God" (Zuck p. 117).

Verse 8

26:8 Job is amazed at how the clouds can be full of water like waterskins, and yet remain suspended in air without releasing their water.

Verse 9

26:9 God can even use the clouds to obscure the moon.

Verse 10

26:10 The term "circle" here may refer to the horizon, which appears to be circular, where light and darkness begin and end when the sun arises in the east and sets in the west. Or the term "circle" may refer to the dome shaped outline of the sky. This suggests the curvature of the earth, compare with Isaiah 40:22.

Verse 11

26:11 The "pillars of heaven" probably refer to the mountains that figuratively appear to support the sky. God can even shake the mighty mountains.

Verse 12

26:12 God controls the oceans. We literally see this when Jesus calmed the sea. The term "Rahab" appears to refer to a pagan sea monster, and the idea could be that God is superior to all mythological representations of evil.

Verse 13

26:13 God's mere breath completely clears the sky after a storm. The "fleeing serpent" may be a parallel to "Rahab" in 26:12.

Verse 14

26:14 "Behold, these are the fringes of His ways": This is just a sample, a meager fringe of God's power. This is just the outside edge! "How faint a word we hear of Him!" "People are so distant from God that they heard only a whisper and obviously then cannot possibly fully comprehend all God's activities in His power" (Bible Knowledge Comm. p. 750). This seems to be a rebuke to Bildad who claimed to understand God's providence. "If one can see that the Lord's operations in nature are not to be fully fathomed by man, how much more His working among humanity? Since Zophar fails to come forward at this time, Job continues" (Jackson p. 61).

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Bibliographical Information
Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Job 26". "Dunagan's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dun/job-26.html. 1999-2014.