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Bible Commentaries
Job 26

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

But Job answered and said,

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verses 2-3

How hast thou helped him that is without power? how savest thou the arm that hath no strength?

Without power ... no strength ... no wisdom. The negatives are used instead of the positives, powerlessness, etc., designedly (so Isaiah 31:8; Deuteronomy 32:21, "That which is not God ... those which are not a people"): Granting I am, as you say (Job 18:17; Job 15:2). powerlessness itself, etc. How hast thou helped such a one?

Savest - helpest, supportest.

Plentifully ... the thing as it is - rather, 'abundantly-wisdom' [ tuwshiyaah (H8454)]. Bildad had made great pretensions to abundant wisdom. How has he shown it?

Verse 4

To whom hast thou uttered words? and whose spirit came from thee?

For whose instruction were thy words meant? If for me, I know the subject (God's omnipotence) better than my instructor: Job 26:5-14 is a sample of Job's knowledge of it.

Whose spirit - not that of God (Job 32:8): nay, rather, the spirit that came from thee in what thou hast just said is the borrowed sentiment of Eliphaz (Job 4:17-19; Job 15:14-16).

Verses 5-14

Dead things are formed from under the waters, and the inhabitants thereof. As before, in Job 9:1-35; Job 12:1-25, Job had shown himself not inferior to the friends in ability to describe God's greatness, so now he describes at as manifested in hell (the world of the dead), Job 26:5-6; on earth, Job 26:7; in the sky, Job 26:8-11; the sea, Job 26:12; the heavens, Job 26:13.

Dead things are formed - rather, 'the souls of the dead [ rªpaa'iym (H7496)] tremble' [ yªchowlaaluw (H2342) from chuwl (H2342)]. Not only does God's power exist, as Bildad says (Job 25:2), "in high places" (heaven), but reaches to the region of the dead, so that even they whose bodily powers are gone, feel the power of God. Rephaim here, and Proverbs 21:16; Isaiah 14:9, "the dead," is from Hebrew root [ raapaah (H7503)] meaning to be weak, hence, deceased; in Genesis 14:5 it is applied to the Canaanite giants; perhaps in derision, to express their weakness, in spite of their gigantic size, as compared with Yahweh (Umbreit); or as the imagination of the living magnifies apparitions, the term originally was applied to ghosts, and then to giants in general (Magee).

From under. Umbreit joins this with the previous word, 'tremble from beneath' (so Isaiah 14:9). But the Masoretic text joins it "under the waters." Thus, the place of the dead will be represented as under the waters (Psalms 18:4-5): and the waters as under the earth (Psalms 24:2). Magee translates thus well: 'The souls of the dead tremble; (the places) under the waters, and their inhabitants.' Thus the Masoretic connection is retained; and at the same time the parallel clauses are evenly balanced. 'The inhabitants of the places under the waters' are those in Gehenna, the lower of the two parts into which Sheol, according to the Jews, is divided: they answer to "destruction" - i:e., the place of the wicked in Job 26:6, as 'Rephaim,' the general term, (Job 26:5), to "hell" (Sheol) (Job 26:6). Sheol comes from a Hebrew root [ shaa'al (H7592), ask], because it is insatiable (Proverbs 27:20); or, ask as a loan to be returned, implying Sheol is only a temporary abode, previous to the resurrection; so for the English version "formed," the Septuagint and Chaldee (Aramaic) translate it as: shall be born, or born again, implying the dead are to be given back from Sheol and born again into a new state (Magee.)

Verse 6. (Job 38:17; Psalms 139:8; Proverbs 15:11. "Hell and destruction are before the Lord.") destruction-the abode of destruction - i:e., of lost souls. The Hebrew is [ 'Abadown (H11)] Abaddon (Revelation 9:11).

No covering - from God's eyes.

Verse 7. Hint of the true theory of the earth. Its suspension in empty space is stated in the second clause. The north in particular is specified in the first, being believed to be the highest part of the earth (Isaiah 14:13, "above the stars of God ... in the sides of the north"). The northern hemisphere stands for the whole vault of heaven, as being the only hemisphere visible to us: often compared to a stretched-out canopy (Psalms 104:2, "who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain"). The chambers of the south are mentioned (Job 9:9); i:e., the southern hemisphere, consistently with the earth's globular form.

Verse 8. In ... clouds - as if in airy vessels, which though light, do not burst with the weight of water in them (Proverbs 30:4, "who hath bound the waters in a garment").

Verse 9. Literally, He encompasseth or closeth [ 'aachaz (H2372)]. The English version is, virtually, God makes the clouds a veil to screen the glory not only of His person, but even of the exterior of His throne, from profane eyes. His agency is everywhere, yet Himself invisible (Psalms 18:11; Psalms 104:3).

Verse 10. Rather, 'He, hath drawn a circular bound round the waters' (Proverbs 8:27; Psalms 104:9). The horizon seems a circle. Indication is given of the globular form of the earth. Until the day ... - to the confines of light and darkness. When the light falls on our horizon, the other hemisphere is dark. Umbreit and Maurer translate, 'He has most perfectly (literally, to perfection) drawn the bound (taken from the first clause) between light and darkness;' the Hebrew, 'even to perfection the light with the darkness; cf. Genesis 1:4; Genesis 1:6; Genesis 1:9, where the bounding of the light from darkness is similarly brought into proximity with the bounding of the waters.

Verse 11. Pillars - poetically for the mountains, which seem to bear up the sky (Psalms 104:32).

Astonished - namely, from terror. Personification.

His reproof - (Psalms 104:7). The thunder reverberating from cliff to cliff (Habakkuk 3:10; Nahum 1:5).

Verse 12. Divideth - (Psalms 74:13). Perhaps at creation (Genesis 1:9-10). The parallel clause favours Umbreit, 'He stilleth.' But the Hebrew means He moves [raana`]. Probably such a 'moving' is meant as that at the assuaging of the flood by the wind which "God made to pass over" it (Genesis 8:1; Psalms 104:7).

The proud - rather, its pride [ raahab (H7293)]; namely, of the sea (Job 9:13). Maurer takes Rahab, as sometimes it means, 'the monsters of the sea.'

Verse 13. Umbreit, less simply. 'By, His breath He maketh the heavens to revive'-namely, His wind dissipates the clouds, which obscured the shining stars. And so the next clause, in contrast, 'His hand doth strangle' or pierce [ chowleel (H2490), from chaalal (H2490)]; i:e., obscures the north constellation, the dragon. Pagan astronomy typified the flood trying to destroy the ark by the dragon constellation about to devour the moon in its eclipsed crescent-shape like a boat (Job 3:8, margin, and notes). The English version (Psalms 33:6) takes chowleel from chuwl (H2342) or chiyl, to bring forth, to give birth to: so "formed:" the parallelism to the first clause favours this. If 'pierces' be preferred, then the 'dragon' or "serpent" must be regarded as a symbol of the hostile darkness which God pierced or overcame by light. 'By His Spirit he garnished the heaven, and His hand dispelled the fleeting darkness.' I prefer the English version.

Crooked - implying the oblique course of the stars, or the ecliptic. [ baariyach (H1281)] 'Fleeing' or 'swift,' an appropriate epithet of both the literal serpent and the constellation so called (Umbreit). (Isaiah 27:1.) This particular constellatiion is made to represent the splendour of all the stars which God "formed."

Verse 14. Parts - rather, 'only the extreme boundaries [ qªtsowt (H7098)] of, etc.; and how faint is the word-whisper [ sheemets (H8102) daabaar (H1697), the whisper of a word] that we hear of Him!'

Of his power, [ gªbuwrotaayw (H1369)] - of His acts of power; His miracles.

Thunder - the entire fullness. In antithesis to 'whisper' (1 Corinthians 13:9-10; 1 Corinthians 13:12).


(1) It is an easy thing to see the failings and imperfections of him whom we find fault with; but not so easy to give the helping hand, and speak the loving and wise counsel (Job 26:2). We speak to no purpose when we offer to one in affliction general maxims, true indeed in themselves, but not applicable to the particular case in hand, and known by him fully as well as we know them ourselves.

(2) There is no region of existence into which God's power does not extend-heaven, hell, earth, and sea. The law of attraction and gravitation, whereby the globular form of the earth and the heavenly bodies is maintained, is a beautiful instance of the sublime simplicity, universality, and efficiency of God's working in nature.

`The very law which moulds a tear, And makes it trickle from its source, That law preserves the earth a sphere. And keeps the planets in their course.'

Though the Bible was not designed to unfold physical science, yet the germ of the discoveries of modern science is often found in hints which it affords-as in Job 26:7. "He hangeth the earth upon nothing."

(3) The parts of God's glorious working which come under our cognizance (Job 26:14) are but as a faint 'whisper' compared with the "thunder" of the fullness of his power. But there is a 'still small voice' heard in the Gospel of the Lord Jesus which gives us a deeper insight into the glorious excellences of God's all-wise, all-powerful, and all-loving character than all His works of nature can afford. Here we are not merely astonished, but attracted; not merely overwhelmed with awe, but sweetly drawn to love, adoring gratitude, and joyful obedience.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 26". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/job-26.html. 1871-8.
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