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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Job 40

Verse 1

Moreover the LORD answered Job, and said,

Job 40:1-18.40.24. He had paused for a reply, but Job was silent.

The Lord - Hebrew, Yahweh (H3068).

Verse 2

Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? he that reproveth God, let him answer it.

He that contendeth - as Job had so often expressed a wish to do (cf. Isaiah 45:9). Or, rebuketh [ rob (H7230), the same as riyb (H7378), to hold a law controversy with]. Does Job now still (after seeing and hearing of God's majesty and wisdom) wish to set God right! [ yicowr (H3250) - literally, chastise, so teach, or instruct, with, however, the idea of reproof and rebuke added].

Answer it - namely, the questions I have asked.

Verse 3

Then Job answered the LORD, and said,

Lord - Yahweh (H3068).

Verse 4

Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.

I am (too) vile - to reply. It is a very different thing to vindicate ourselves before God from what it is before men. Job could do the latter, not the former.

Lay ... hand upon ... mouth - I have no plea to offer (Job 21:5; Judges 18:19).

Verse 5

Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further.

Once ... twice - oftentimes, more than once (Job 33:14, cf. with 29, margin; Psalms 62:11), "I have spoken''-namely, against God.

Not answer - not plead against thee.

Verse 6

Then answered the LORD unto Job out of the whirlwind, and said,

The Lord - Yahweh (H3068).

Verse 7

Gird up thy loins now like a man: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me.

(Note, 38:3.) Since Job has not only spoken against God, but accused Him of injustice, God challenges him to try could he govern the world as God by His power doth, and punish the proud and wicked (Job 40:7-18.40.14).

Verse 8

Wilt thou also disannul my judgment? wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous?

Wilt thou not only contend with, but set aside my judgment, or justice in the government of the world.

Condemn - declare me unrighteous, in order that thou mayest be accounted righteous (innocent); undeservingly afflicted.

Verse 9

Hast thou an arm like God? or canst thou thunder with a voice like him? Arm - God's omnipotence (Isaiah 53:1).

Thunder - God's voice (Job 37:4). 10. See, hast thou power and majesty like God's, to enable thee to judge and govern the world.

Verse 10

Deck thyself now with majesty and excellency; and array thyself with glory and beauty.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 11

Cast abroad the rage of thy wrath: and behold every one that is proud, and abase him.

Rage - rather, 'pour out the redundant floods of,' etc. [ `ebrowt (H5678), the unrestrained overflowings].

Behold - try, canst thou, as God, by a mere glance, abase the proud, (Isaiah 2:12, etc.)

Verse 12

Look on every one that is proud, and bring him low; and tread down the wicked in their place.

Proud - high (Daniel 4:37, "Those that walk in pride He is able to abase").

In their place - on the spot: suddenly, before they can move from their place (note, Job 34:36; Job 36:20).

Verse 13

Hide them in the dust together; and bind their faces in secret.

(Isaiah 2:10.) Abase and remove them out of the sight of men.

Bind ... faces - i:e., shut up their persons (Maurer). But it refers rather to the custom of binding a cloth over the faces of persons about to be executed (Job 9:24; Esther 7:8).

In secret - consign them to darkness. Umbreit translates, 'Veil their face in concealment' or 'darkness.

Verse 14

Then will I also confess unto thee that thine own right hand can save thee.

Confess - rather extol: 'I also,' who now censure thee, 'will extol thee, because thine own hand saves thee,' without requiring my help. But since thou canst not do these works, thou must, instead of censuring, extol my government (contrast Psalms 44:3). So as to eternal salvation by Jesus Christ (Isaiah 59:16; Isaiah 63:5).

Verses 15-24

Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox.

God shows that if Job cannot bring under control the lower animals, of which he selects the two most striking (Behemoth on land, Leviathan in the water), how much less is he capable of governing the world!

Verse 15. Behemoth, [ bªheemowt (H929)]. The description in part agrees with the hippopotamus, in part with the elephant, but exactly in all details with neither. It is rather a poetical personification of the great Pachydermata, or Herbiuora (so "he eateth grass," etc.), the idea of the hippopotamus being predominant. In Job 40:17 "the tail like a cedar" hardly applies to the elephant (so also Job 40:20; Job 40:23, "Jordan," a river which elephants alone could reach [Colonel C. H. Smith in Kitto's 'Cyclopaedia']; but see note, Job 40:23). On the other hand, Job 40:21-18.40.22 are characteristic of the amphibious river-horse. So leviathan (the twisting animal, Job 41:1) is a generalized term for cetacea, pythons, saurians, of the neighbouring seas and rivers, including the crocodile, which is the most prominent, and is often associated with the river-horse by old writers. "Behemoth" seems to be the Egyptian or Coptic Pehemout, 'water-ox' [from P, the article, che, ox, and mout, water], Hebraized: so, called as being like an ox, whence the Italian 'bomarino.'

With thee - as I made thyself. Yet how great the difference! The manifold wisdom and power of God! With thee - as I made thyself. Yet how great the difference! The manifold wisdom and power of God!

He eateth grass - marvelous in an animal living so much in the water: also strange that such a monster should not be carnivorous.

Verse 16. Navel - rather, muscles of his belly; the weakest point of the elephant: therefore it is not meant. But this verse is true of the hippopotamus, which has its belly guarded by a thick skin, whereas the skin of the elephant's belly is thin and easily pierced, so that in this part he is stung even by insects.

Verse 17. Tail like a cedar - as the tempest bends the cedar, so it can move its smooth thick tail [ haapeets (H6327), bend] (Umbreit). But the cedar implies straightness and length, such as do not apply to the river-horse's short tail, but perhaps to an extinct species of animal (see note, Job 40:15). However, the inflexibility of the tail, which remains straight and rigid as a cedar, moved by the wind, applies well to the hippopotamus, though it does not resemble the cedar in length: so that the English version, "moveth," is better than Umbreit's 'bendeth.'

Stones - rather, thighs [ pachad (H6343), literally, fear; object of fear: his formidable strength of thighs]. The English version, which is consistent with the Hebrew, arises from shame (and so the secret parts) being associated with fear.

Wrapped - firmly twisted together, like a thick rope.

Verse 18. Strong pieces - rather, tubes of copper [ 'ªpiyqeey (H650)] (Umbreit). The English version is good Hebrew.

Verse 19. Chief of the works of God: so "ways" (Job 26:14; Proverbs 8:22).

Can make his sword to approach - rather, has furnished him with his sword (harpe) - namely, the sickle-like teeth with which he cuts down grain [Hebrew, charbow (H2719)]. The English version however, is literally right [ yageesh (H5066)].

Verse 20. The mountain is not his usual haunt. Bochart says it is sometimes found there (?).

Beasts ... play - a graphic trait: though, armed with such teeth, he lets the beasts play near him unhurt, because his food is grass.

Verse 21. Lieth - he leads an inactive life.

Shady trees - rather, lotus-bushes; as Job 40:22 requires, where it cannot be said with propriety 'shady trees are entwined in order to shade him' [tse'ªliym] (Umbreit).

Verse 22. Translate, lotus-bushes.

Verse 23. Rather, '(Though) a river be overwhelming (overflow), he trembleth not (for though living on land, he can live in the water too); he is secure, though a Jordan swell up to his mouth.' Though finding his food on land, and reposing under the shady lotus at times, he can live in the water as well as on the land, and therefore has no fear of the overflowing river [ `aashaq (H6231), oppress (margin) or overwhelm: yaagiyach (H1518), literally, draw out, then rush forth]. "Jordan" is used for any great river; consonant with the "behemoth" being a poetical generalization (note, Job 40:15). The author cannot have been a Hebrew, as Umbreit asserts, or he would not adduce the Jordan, where there were no river-horses. He alludes to it as a name for any river, but not as one known to him, except by hearsay.

Verse 24. Rather, 'Will any take him by open force (literally, before his eyes), or pierce his nose with cords?' No: he can only be taken by guile, and in a pitfall (Job 41:1-18.41.2). (Bochart.) Can the hunter even then pierce his nose, so as to put in a cord and lead him wherever he pleases? That which was the common method in taming wild animals that had been captured (Isaiah 37:29), could not be done in his case (Barnes). (Compare the margin.)

Remarks:

(1) When once a man has had the majesty and all-wise perfection of Yahweh revealed to him in all their overwhelming grandeur, self-justification is at an end: like Job, no longer does he dare to impugn God's justice and goodness, as though man could instruct his Maker (Job 40:2). Whatever Job had to say in self-vindication before the three friends, he has not a word to say in his own behalf before God.

(2) Self-wise men see imperfections in God's moral government of the world; but it is because they know not all the circumstances of the case. Could those who presume to arraign the justice and goodness of Yahweh govern the world themselves? Could they, like God, with almighty arm and voice of thunder (Job 40:9), command the elements at will, and, clothed in majesty and glory, by a mere glance "abase the proud" (Job 40:11) "tread down the wicked" (Job 40:12) suddenly, before they can stir from their place., and lay their bodies low in the dust, and consign their soul to outer darkness (Job 40:13). Man's utter want of the Almighty's power should for ever silence the presumption with which he sets himself up as judge of God's dealings, as though man were capable of judging, and as though God must be unrighteous in order that man may appear righteous (Job 40:8).

(3) Man is not now so much as able to tame and govern many of the lower creatures of God's manifold creation, the river-horse etc.; how, then, could man control the world, with its countless orders of beings, and complicated mutual relations? (Job 40:15-18.40.24.)

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 40". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/job-40.html. 1871-8.