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Bible Commentaries

Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

Job 41

Verses 1-34

JOB - CHAPTER 41

GOD’S POWER IN THE LEVIATHAN

Verses 1-34:

Verse 1, 2 rhetorically inquire of Job, as Jehovah asks, "you can not even draw out (entrap or catch) leviathan, meaning a whale or crocodile, with an hook, can you? Or "his tongue you cannot entrap with a cord which you let down to catch other water creatures, can you?" Verse 2 adds, "neither can you put an hook in his nose (through his nose) to hook and control him, or bore his hole through with a thorn, or sharp instrument, to hook and capture him as you do other wild creatures, can you?" The inferred answer is that he could not do either of the four things mentioned, to capture leviathan, the ruler of the Nile and the sea. The term is used to refer to the Egyptian tyrant ruler, Psalms 104:26; Isaiah 27:1; It also refers to the "Leviathan, that crooked serpent," when speaking of the Babylonian tyrant.

The term Leviathan is a generalized term referring to any huge crooked serpentine creature of the river or sea and specifically to the crocodile of the Nile in Egypt, Psalms 74:14; Job 40:15; See also Isaiah 37:29; Ezekiel 39:4. After fish were caught by hooks they were hooked by a sharp instrument, as a thorn or metal hook, through the nose or jaw, and thrown back into the water to keep them alive. But leviathan, which God too had made and preserved, could not be so subdued by the limited power of man.

Verses 3, 4 inquire whether or not leviathan will make any soft words of pleading that Job may spare his life. No, for he is an untamable creature.

Verse 4 asks if he will make a covenant with Job, to be tamed and fed by him for domestic purposes? The answer inferred is that such is not possible, because of his nature, Job 39:10-12.

Verses 5, 6 Inquire further whether Job may play with him, as with a bird he had fed and tamed, or tie him with a string to give to his maidens, as a toy? The necessary inference is that he can not, and would not try. Would Job’s companions (in fishing) make a banquet of him, to kill and eat leviathan? as they ate fish and eel? Hosea 12:7. For the Cananites were great fish merchants, Deuteronomy 2:6.

Verses 7, 8 continue Jehovah’s inquiry of Job’s knowledge of leviathan. He is asked if he can fill his skin or penetrate it with barbed, sharpened irons, or penetrate his head with fish spears? He cannot for his head can not be penetrated by a spear, because it is so hard and thick. If Job should lay his hand on him, to capture him, he will always remember the battle with him that he could not win and never attempt it again, lest he should lose his own life.

Verse 9 states that the hope of anyone to capture him is vain, v.8. After one has attempted to capture leviathan, and his determination has been exposed as a vain, unreasonable thing, he will be cast down with fear at the very sight of him thereafter.

Verse 10 declares that none is foolhardy enough to dare stir him up or attack him, if he has ever once tried it, Genesis 49:9; Numbers 24:9. The Lord inquires of Job, "who then is able to stand before him?" And the Creator is greater than any and all of His creatures, to be feared, Exodus 9:14-17; 1 Corinthians 10:22. Who then will dare stand up and contest the God of the universe? Psalms 2:2; Job 9:4; Jeremiah 12:5.

Verse 11 Inquires of Job just who has prevented (done Jehovah a favor heretofore) obligated Him to return the favor of his service? Psalms 21:3. None can call God to account to stand before him, as unjust, v.10, as Job had done, or attempted to do. Who can give anything or require anything of Him who owns everything, Romans 11:35. Man can not even make all creatures to be his servants, much less the Creator who owns all, including man himself, Ezekiel 18:4; Job 35:7; Matthew 20:15; 1 Corinthians 2:6; Romans 11:35; See also Genesis 14:19; Exodus 9:29; Exodus 19:5; Deuteronomy 10:14; Psalms 24:1; Psalms 94:4; Psalms 94:6; Jeremiah 7:5-6; 1 Corinthians 10:26; 1 Corinthians 10:28; 1 Timothy 6:17.

Verse 12 continues, declares, that the Lord will not conceal or shield his parts (ways of his strength) nor the comeliness or proportion of his shield-like covering, so graciously given to the leviathan, Deuteronomy 19:4; Judges 17:10.

Verses 13, 14 ask just who can 1) discover or uncover, strip off the surface of his skin-garment, 2) or who can dare come to leviathan to put a double bridle in his mouth, insert it as it is placed in the mouth of other animals? v. 4; Job 39:10; Job 3) Who can open the doors of his face (open his jaws)? or 4) for his teeth, 60 in number, are terrible, some serrated, and some sticking out to cut like knives, at the side swing of his head.

Verses 15-17 continue an extended description of leviathan, the untamable monstrous creature of the Nile river and the sea, v.1. Verse 15 declares that his scales or pieces of hard shield are his pride. These rows of shield-like scales are his covering pride, Job 40:18. They shut up together like a close seal. Seventeen rows of furrowed shield-like scales cover the crocodile, one of the leviathan monsters. A musket ball or bullet can not penetrate its shield, except about the eyes, mouth and under the belly. Verse 16 describes these shields as being so close together that no air can come between them, as they overlap each other, like a hinge. Verse 17 adds that they are joined one to another. They "stick together, that they cannot be sundered or separated."

Verse 18 asserts that by his neesings or sneezings, after he has long stayed under the water, as amphibious animals come up after a long time beneath the water, violently expell the breath like some sneezing, their breath seems to expel light like fire in the sunshine. His eyes are said to be like the "eyelids of the morning," because his eyes are the first thing one can see as the leviathan rises from beneath the water, for his nostrils to exhale or expel stale air and take in fresh air.

Verses 19-21 extend a description of his appearance as out of his mouth goes burning lamps and sparks of fire leap out of his mouth like flames, as he blows water in the reflecting morning sunshine. It is added that out of his nostrils that rise through the water goes smoke, like a seething or boiling caldron. Verse 21 declares that his breath kindles coals, a poetic image, as expressed Psalms 18:8. A flame was said to go forth from his mouth, an apt description of the rising of a huge crocodile from the Nile river of Egypt, or the whale from beneath the sea, after a long submersion.

Verse 22, 23 declare that in his neck permanently abides or exists his chief strength. And sorrow, anxiety, or dismay personified, is turned into joy before him. Wherever he goes he spreads terror "before him." The flakes of his flesh are joined fast and firm together, not loose like the flesh of an ox. The flakes are hard and firm so that they are like metal poured out firmly over all his body.

Verse 24 declares that the heart of the leviathan is firm as a’ stone, even as hard as a piece of nether, hardest, flintlike part of a millstone. In large beasts that are less acute in feelings, there is a greater firmness of the heart.

Verse 25 relates that when leviathan rises up, the mighty are afraid of his very appearance. The terror he stirs in men is a symbol of the fear that the Creater inspires when He arises in wrath. By reason of breaking (terror) they (men) purify themselves, or draw away to a more holy place.

Verses 26, 27 discloses that the sword of one who attacks the leviathan cannot hold or cut through the shield-like skin armor, but simply glances off, or is stopped with a thud, as if struck against a flintstone. The leviathan esteems or disregards iron, as straw and brass, as if it were rotten wood, as they strike against his armored skin.

Verses 28, 29 relate that the arrow can not make him flee and slingstones are of no more fear to him than stubble. The arrow, called "son of the bow," does not strike this monstrous creature with the least fear, La 3:11. While darts or clubs are as stubble used against him, and he laughs or takes pleasure at the shaking of a spear.

Verses 30-34 conclude an entire chapter of Jehovah’s description of the mighty leviathan. Verse 30 relates that so sharp are the scaly shields on his belly that imprints left where he has laid in the mire look like they were made by sharp stones, Isaiah 28:27.

Verse 31 explains that when he moves he makes deep waters to boil like a pot; so that he makes the sea (the Nile) Isaiah 19:5; Nahum 3:8, like a pot of ointment; the crocodile emits a musky smell where he moves about. Verse 32 explains that he maketh a path to shine after him, where he moves in the water, so that one thinks the deep to be hoary, as the hair of the aged.

Verse 33 declares that upon all the earth there is no animal or beast of his order, that is made without fear, like the leviathan; Verse 34 concludes that leviathan beholds all things, as their superior; He is or exists as a king over all the "children of pride," the proud and fierce beasts. So if leviathan is king over all; and Job cannot successfully deny it, He is to respect the Lord as King over all of the "Sons of pride" on earth, as they are to bow to His Lordship, Job 28:8; Job 38:2; Exodus 5:2; Psalms 74:13-14; Isaiah 27:1; Ezekiel 29:3.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Job 41". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/job-41.html. 1985.