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Job 41:1 . Canst thou draw out leviathan? This word is rendered by the LXX, “dragon.” It occurs in Isaiah 27:1, and is rendered whale, dragon, and serpent. Men are now satisfied that it is not the whale but the crocodile to which this description exactly refers. The harpooners can easily pierce a whale, as is denied of leviathan; the flesh of the whale is soft, but that of the crocodile is hard. Men never sling stones at the whale; but these have been tried in vain against the dragon. But the term crooked serpent, found in many versions, applies neither to the whale nor the crocodile; and must have been occasioned by the imperfect knowledge which the learned world then had of natural history. The crocodile, common to most of the great rivers and lakes under the torrid zone, is a most terrific animal. His figure nearly resembles the lizard. His length is usually from twelve to twenty feet, his body is covered with an almost impenetrable coat of mail, and the hunters can pierce him only between his legs and his body, which they sometimes do while he is asleep. In the water he reigns lord and king, and darts on the finny tribes with amazing velocity. Designed to float on the waters he moves his upper jaw, and when he closes it on his prey, he makes the valleys echo by the collision of his grinders. On the land, happy for man, his motion is slow. Maillet and Bartram have given the history of this animal at large, and the reader will be entertained in perusing their travels.
Pharaoh, king of Egypt, is called by Ezekiel, “the great dragon,” or crocodile, “that lieth in the midst of the rivers, which hath said, my river is my own: I have made it myself.”
Job 41:10 . None dare stir him up. When he sleeps, resting his side against a tree, the beasts are afraid to awake him.
Job 41:21 . His breath kindleth coals. His stomach is so hot that his breath, on a cold morning, appears like the steam of boiling water. The hyperbole of the ancients was sometimes very strong. The vine is said to have boughs like the cedar. Psalms 80:10.
Job 41:25 . When he raiseth up himself, the mighty are afraid; that is, the beasts of the forest. This animal is the dragon or crocodile. A traveller in Africa reports that a tiger leaped on a sleeping crocodile, and began to tear his scales. The dragon by some means got hold of the tiger’s foot, and dragged him into the river, where he soon discoloured the water with his gore.
Job 41:29 . Darts are counted as stubble. The whale cannot here be understood, for his body is exposed to the harpoon or dart: but of the scales of the crocodile all this is true.
Many of the creatures are so powerful and formidable, that we are by no means able to cope with them: how mad then must the presumptuous transgressor be, who defies the power and wrath of the Creator! If such sublime language were proper in describing the terrible force of leviathan; what words can express the power of God’s indignation, who is a consuming fire? He indeed beholdeth all high things in order to abase them, and will show himself the offended avenger of all those who proudly exalt themselves against him: and who may stand in his sight when he is angry? But he more delights in showing his glory from the mercyseat, in encouraging sinners to take refuge under the shadow of his wings, and to prostrate themselves before him. If his anger be thus turned away from us, his omnipotence will be our protection; and then we need fear no enemy, though we shall have those that are far more formidable than leviathan. Satan the king and father of all the children of pride, with all his legions, is not confined to the ocean; nor can he be fenced out or fled from, or resisted by our puny arm. Our wisdom, strength, and resolution will be unavailing in this unequal contest; and far more useless, than sword or spear against leviathan; all opposition, all hope of overcoming or escaping, if left to ourselves, would be in vain. His heart is stoned against compassion, and he has been the cruel murderer of souls from the beginning; he rejoices in causing destruction, and looks on all the proud and lofty of the earth as his own. But the poor in spirit, who humbly trust in the Lord’s mercy, are safe; relying on their Almighty helper they may defy and resist this tremendous foe, and be made more than conquerors over him. But they must remember that they are saved wholly by grace; for who hath prevented the Lord, that he should repay him? And if they are mercifully rescued from deserved wrath, and from the malice of Satan, they have no right to complain of any affliction or distress; or to boast of any wisdom, strength, or endowment of their own. Submission, dependance, and grateful obedience are their part; it behoves them to revere the divine Majesty, to be abased under a consciousness of their own vileness, to take and fill their allotted place, to cease from their own wisdom, and to give all glory to God their Saviour. When any man becomes proud of his personal strength and courage; let him be reminded of leviathan, that he may feel his inferiority. When he is vain of his sagacity, ingenuity, or mental endowments, let him consider how much Satan excels him in them all. Let us all consider the holiness of God, that we may be ashamed of our remaining unholiness; and remembering from whom every good gift cometh, and for what end it was given, let us walk uprightly and humbly with the Lord; for before honour is humility.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Job 41". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Sunday after Epiphany