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Job's Weakness when Compared with the Strength of the Crocodile
v. 1. Canst thou draw out leviathan, the great and fierce crocodile of Egypt and other Mediterranean countries, with an hook, or purse-net, or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down? Rather, "Into the line dost thou press down his tongue," namely, when he has taken the bait and the drawing of the line pushes aside his tongue.
v. 2. Canst thou put an hook, a ring made of plaited rushes, such as were drawn through the gills of captured fishes to prevent their escaping, into his nose, or bore his jaw through with a thorn, with an iron hook or ring, in order to tame him?
v. 3. Will he, in order to regain his freedom, make many supplications unto thee? Will he speak soft words unto thee, pleading for the master's favor with flatteries, as a domesticated animal might?
v. 4. Will he make a covenant with thee, an agreement to submit himself? Wilt thou take him for a servant forever, making him a slave?
v. 5. Wilt thou play with him as with a bird, as one coddles and teases a pet canary? Or wilt thou bind him for thy maidens, making him a pet of the female house-slaves? The answer is implied in every case: No; for he is utterly untamable.
v. 6. Shall the companions make a banquet of him? That is, Do the members of the fishermen's guild make him an object of trade and barter? Shall they part him among the merchants? Can they divide him among the Canaanites? Can they handle him that easily?
v. 7. Canst thou fill his skin with barbed irons, in trying to kill him with a spear or dart? or his head with fish-spears, in hunting him with a harpoon?
v. 8. Lay thine hand upon him; remember the battle, do no more, that is, if one should have the foolhardiness to attempt a fight with a fierce crocodile, he would never try it again, the remembrance of that one attempt would last forever.
v. 9. Behold, the hope of him is in vain, namely, the hope of the man who would risk an encounter with such a monster. Shall not one be cast down even at the sight of him? The very sight of the fierce amphibian fills the heart of the beholder with terror.
v. 10. None is so fierce, rash or foolhardy, that dare stir him up, although, after all, he is a mere animal. Who, then, is able to stand before Me? Who will dare to appear before the Lord as His adversary?
v. 11. Who hath prevented Me, having given something to God in the first place, having become His creditor, that I should repay him? Who among all men has the right to claim anything at the hand of God? Whatsoever is under the whole heaven is Mine; therefore He owes nothing to any creature. To these facts the Lord adds an impressive description of the crocodile's structure and mode of living.
v. 12. I will not conceal his parts, He feels constrained to mention also his members, nor his power, nor his comely proportion, his gracefulness in spite of his great size.
v. 13. Who can discover the face of his garment, the scaly coat of mail on his back? This is so firmly connected with his body that no man can take it off. Or who can come to him with his double bridle? Who would venture to enter into the open jaws of the crocodile, as he stretches his mouth with its double row of sharp teeth?
v. 14. Who can open the doors of his face, the mighty, slashing jaws? His teeth are terrible round about, their terror being all the greater since his sixty-six teeth are not covered by the lips.
v. 15. His scales are his pride, the bony shields of his back, divided by furrows, shut up together as with a close seal, fitted together with the exactness of a seal pressed down on paper or parchment.
v. 16. One is so near to another that no air can come between them.
v. 17. They are joined one to another, they stick together that they cannot be sundered, they form a perfect and impenetrable shield.
v. 18. By his neesings, when he blows out his breath, together with water and slime, through his nostrils, a light doth shine, it seems like a flash of light, and his eyes are like the eyelids of the morning, of the dawn, when the first red glow appears in the east.
v. 19. Out of his mouth go burning lamps, streams of water shining like torches, and sparks of fire leap out.
v. 20. Out of his nostrils goeth smoke, as out of a seething pot or cauldron, as when a kettle is heated over a strongly smoking fire of reeds, all this describing the snorting and fretting of the crocodile when angry.
v. 21. His breath kindleth coals, and a flame goeth out of his mouth, this being a highly poetic description of the crocodile's fiery breath, of the steaming of his nostrils.
v. 22. In his neck remaineth strength, dwelling there, making its permanent home there, and sorrow is turned into joy before him, before his advance terror and despair leap with fearful strides, this showing the effect of his appearance upon men and beasts.
v. 23. The flakes of his flesh are joined together, his very flanks and dewlaps make no impression of looseness or flabbiness; they are firm in themselves; they cannot be moved, being fixed upon him in rows of smaller scales, solid as a shield.
v. 24. His heart is as firm as a stone, molded into a solid piece, yea, as hard as a piece of the nether millstone, which was always particularly hard, in order to bear the movement of the grinding.
v. 25. When he raiseth up himself, with all this fierceness of his heart, the mighty are afraid; by reason of breakings they purify themselves, that is, they are so overcome with astonishment and terror that they miss their aim.
v. 26. The sword of him that layeth at him, in an effort to wound or kill him, cannot hold, it glances off without effect; the spear, the dart, nor the habergeon, no matter what weapon or missile is used.
v. 27. He esteemeth iron as straw, for it has no effect on his mailed hide, and brass as rotten wood, since it bends and breaks on the shield of his back.
v. 28. The arrow, literally, "the son of the quiver," cannot make him flee; slingstones are turned with him into stubble, utterly powerless to harm him.
v. 29. Darts are counted as stubble, large clubs considered as so much chaff; he laugheth at the shaking of a spear, mocking at all human weapons.
v. 30. Sharp stones are under him, the ventral part, or plastron, of his skin consists of pointed shards, sharp scales; he spreadeth sharp pointed things upon the mire, the pointed scales of his plastron leaving marks on the soft ground like those made by the iron spikes of the ancient threshing sledge.
v. 31. He maketh the deep to boil like a pot, namely, by his threshings and slashings of the water; he maketh the sea like a pot of ointment, all frothy and foamy as a result of his tumbling and rushing in the water.
v. 32. He maketh a path to shine after him, his trail, or wake, on the surface of the water is shiny; one would think the deep to be hoary, the foam looking like gray hair scattered on the water.
v. 33. Upon earth there is not his like, or, "one who has dominion over him," who is made without fear, he is altogether fearless.
v. 34. He beholdeth all high things, looking them boldly in the face, without the slightest flinching; he is a king over all the children of pride, a tyrant and ruler even in the midst of animals who are fearless. This being true, and man being powerless to control this creature, how dare he criticize the great Creator?
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Job 41". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent