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Job Retracts His Charges
v. 1. Moreover, since Job was still silent, the Lord answered Job and said,
v. 2. Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct Him, continue his critical attitude after all that had now been laid before him? He that reproveth God, let him answer it, giving the proper replies and explanations of all the marvels set forth. Job had censured: let him now make good his charges.
v. 3. Then Job answered the Lord and said,
v. 4. Behold, I am vile, too base to offer a solution of the problems presented; what shall I answer Thee? He was unable to present so much as another argument. I will lay mine hand upon my mouth, closing it tightly, imposing absolute silence upon himself.
v. 5. Once have I spoken, in making his challenge against God; but I will not answer, not making another attempt to censure the Lord; yea, twice, referring to his repeated charges; but I will proceed no further. He retracted his former statements, he no longer dared to criticize God, since the Lord's miraculous wisdom and providential care was too evident to permit of his further opposition.
The Lord Rebukes Job's Presumption.
v. 6. Then answered the Lord unto Job out of the whirlwind, in order to lead him to a still higher stage of humiliation, so that he would willingly bow under the chastening hand of God, and said,
v. 7. Gird up thy loins now like a man, again making ready for a sharp encounter; I will demand of thee, asking some further explanations, and declare thou unto Me. Cf 38:3.
v. 8. Wilt thou also disannul My judgment, altogether abolishing and setting aside God's right? Wilt thou condemn Me, boldly stating that God was unjust, that thou mayest be righteous? For that is what Job's contentions really had been equivalent to.
v. 9. Hast thou an arm like God, possessing almighty power? Or canst thou thunder with a voice like Him? this being an evidence of divine omnipotence and government in nature.
v. 10. Deck thyself now with majesty and excellency, Job should put on these attributes of divine greatness and authority, if he made such claims; and array thyself with glory and beauty, with all the proofs of the Creator's majesty.
v. 11. Cast abroad the rage of thy wrath, letting it break forth and overflow in a flood, as the almighty Lord is able to do; and behold everyone that is proud, and abase him, displaying such authority to punish as God exercises continually.
v. 12. Look on everyone that is proud and bring him low, as God can by a mere angry glance destroy the wicked; and tread down the wicked in their place, overthrowing them and annihilating their power.
v. 13. Hide them in the dust together, so that the earth covers their graves; and bind their faces in secret, in the darkness and secrecy of death's realm, with the voice of their presumption and pride forever stilled.
v. 14. Then will I also confess unto thee, joining in Job's praise of himself, that thine own right hand can save thee, bringing him help and salvation, this idea being implied in Job's charges, together with this, that he would vigorously administer true justice. The Lord's questions are full of majestic irony, in order to bring Job to the full realization of his untenable position.
Job's Weakness Contrasted with the Strength Even of the Hippopotamus
v. 15. Behold now behemoth, a monster beast, the water-ox, or hippopotamus, which I made with thee, created by the hand of God like the human beings and living with them on the earth; he eateth grass as an ox, the tender plants, the reeds of the Nile, after the manner of domesticated cattle.
v. 16. Lo, now, his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly, in the sinews and muscles of his abdomen.
v. 17. He moveth his tail like a cedar, bending it like a cedar bough, with great firmness and elasticity; the sinews of his stones, rather, of his thighs, are wrapped together, firmly knit or twisted, like the tendrils of the vine or like a strong rope.
v. 18. His bones are as strong pieces of brass, tubes or channels of strength; his bones are like bars of iron, tenacious as wrought iron.
v. 19. He is the chief of the ways of God, the firstling of God's almighty power, among the mightiest of His creatures; He that made him can make his sword to approach unto him, literally, his Maker furnished to him his sword, the sharp teeth with which he cuts down his food and which he uses in his own defense.
v. 20. Surely the mountains bring him forth food, being obliged to provide food for him, if need be, where all the beasts of the field play, unhurt by him, since he is not a beast of prey, but a herbivorous animal.
v. 21. He lieth under the shady trees, the lotus-bushes of the lowlands of Egypt and the eastern Mediterranean countries, in the covert of the reed and fens; for the lowlands near the river are his habitat.
v. 22. The shady trees, the lotus-bushes, cover him with their shadow; the willows of the brook compass him about, there are his favorite haunting-places.
v. 23. Behold, he drinketh up a river and hasteth not, rather, the river becomes violent, turbulent with a quick rise, but he is not startled; he trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth, he is unconcerned even if a river with the swiftly rushing course of Jordan overflows its banks, swelling up to its mouth during the spring freshets.
v. 24. He taketh it with his eyes; his nose pierceth through snares. The Hebrew rather seems a challenging question: Will anyone take him before his eyes, with open force, or pierce through his nose with cords? The answer is implied: No man will dare to undertake such a dangerous attack; the only way of taking the hippopotamus being by guile, in pitfalls. This picture was painted before Job's eyes in order to make him realize his own insignificance, because one of his own fellow-creatures, entirely in the power of God's providence, was mightier than he himself. What little cause, then, did he have for arrogance and conceit!
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Job 40". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent