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Bible Commentaries
Job 41

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-34

Second Discourse of Jehovah (together with Job’s answer):

To doubt God’s justice, which is most closely allied to His wonderful omnipotence, is a grievous wrong, which must be atoned for by sincere penitence:

Job 40:6 to Job 42:6

1. Sharp rebuke of Job’s presumption, which has been carried to the point of doubting God’s justice:

Job 40:6-14

Job 40:6.          Then answered the Lord unto Job out of the whirlwind, and said:

7     Gird up thy loins now like a man:

I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me.

8     Wilt thou also disannul my judgment?

wilt thou condemn me that thou mayest be righteous?

9     Hast thou an arm like God?

or canst thou thunder with a voice like Him?

10     Deck thyself now with majesty and excellency,

and array thyself with glory and beauty.

11     Cast abroad the rage of thy wrath;

and behold every one that is proud, and abase him.

12     Look on every one that is proud, and bring him low;

and tread down the wicked in their place.

13     Hide them in the dust together:

and bind their faces in secret.

14     Then will I also confess unto thee

that thine own right hand can save thee.

2. Humiliating exhibition of the weakness of Job in contrast with certain creatures of earth, not to say with God; shown

a. by a description of the behemoth (hippopotamus):

Job 40:15-24

15     Behold now behemoth,

which I made with thee;
he eateth grass as an ox.

16     Lo now, his strength is in his loins,

and his force is in the navel of his belly.

17     He moveth his tail like a cedar:

the sinews of his stones are wrapped together.

18     His bones are as strong pieces of brass;

his bones are like bars of iron.

19     He is the chief of the ways of God:

He that made him can make his sword to approach unto him.

20     Surely the mountains bring him forth food,

where all the beasts of the field play.

21     He lieth under the shady trees,

in the covert of the reed, and fens.

22     The shady trees cover him with their shadow;

the willows of the brook compass him about.

23     Behold, he drinketh up a river, and hasteth not:

he trusteth that he can draw up Jordan in his mouth.

24     He taketh it with his eyes:

his nose pierceth through snares.

b. by a description of the leviathan (crocodile): Job 40:25–41:26 [E. V. Job 41:1-34]

E.V. [Heb.]
41. [40.]

1     [25] Canst thou draw out leviathan with a hook?

or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down?

2     [26] Canst thou put a hook into his nose?

or bore his jaw through with a thorn?

3     [27] Will he make many supplications unto thee?

will he speak soft words unto thee?

4     [28] Will he make a covenant with thee?

wilt thou take him for a servant for ever?

5     [29] Wilt thou play with him as with a bird?

or wilt thou bind him for thy maidens?

6     [30] Shall the companions make a banquet of him?

shall they part him among the merchants?

7     [31] Canst thou fill his skin with barbed irons?

or his head with fish spears?

8     [32] Lay thine hand upon him,

remember the battle, do no more.


9     [1] Behold the hope of him is in vain:

shall not one be cast down even at the sight of him?

10     [2] None is so fierce that dare stir him up;

who then is able to stand before Me?

11     [3] Who hath prevented me that I should repay him?

whatsoever is under the whole heaven is mine.

12     [4] I will not conceal his parts,

nor his power, nor his comely proportion.

13     [5] Who can discover the face of his garment?

or who can come to him with his double bridle?

14     [6] Who can open the doors of his face?

his teeth are terrible round about.

15     [7] His scales are his pride,

shut up together as with a close seal.

16     [8] One is so near to another,

that no air can come between them.

17     [9] They are joined one to another,

they stick together that they cannot be sundered.

18     [10] By his neesings a light doth shine,

and his eyes are like the eyelids of the morning.

19     [11] Out of his mouth go burning lamps,

and sparks of fire leap out.

20     [12] Out of his nostrils goeth smoke,

as out of a seething pot, or cauldron.

21     [13] His breath kindleth coals,

and a flame goeth out of his mouth.

22     [14] In his neck remaineth strength,

and sorrow is turned into joy before him.

23     [15] The flakes of his flesh are joined together:

they are firm in themselves; they cannot be moved.

24     [16] His heart is as firm as a stone;

yea, as hard as a piece of the nether millstone.

25     [17] When he raiseth up himself the mighty are afraid:

by reason of breakings they purify themselves.

26     [18] The sword of him that layeth at him cannot hold:

the spear, the dart, nor the habergeon.

27     [19] He esteemeth iron as straw,

and brass as rotten wood.

28     [20] The arrow cannot make him flee;

slingstones are turned with him into stubble.

29     [21] Darts are counted as stubble;

he laugheth at the shaking of a spear.

30     [22] Sharp stones are under him:

he spreadeth sharp-pointed things upon the mire.

31     [23] He maketh the deep to boil like a pot;

he maketh the sea like a pot of ointment.

32     [24] He maketh a path to shine after him;

one would think the deep to be hoary.

33     [25] Upon earth there is not his like,

who is made without fear.

34     [26 He beholdeth all high things:

he is a king over all the children of pride.

3. Job’s answer: Humble confession of the infinitude of the divine power, and penitent acknowledgment of his guilt and folly:

Job 42:1-6

1     Then Job answered the Lord and said:

2     I know that Thou canst do everything,

and that no thought can be withholden from Thee.

3     “Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge?”

therefore have I uttered that I understood not;
things too wonderful for me which I knew not;

4     Hear, I beseech Thee, and I will speak:

I will demand of Thee, and declare Thou unto me.

5     I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear;

but now mine eye seeth Thee:

6     Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent

in dust and ashes.


1. That the omnipotent and infinitely wise activity of the Creator in nature is at the same time just, was in the first discourse of God affirmed for the most part only indirectly, or implicite. Only once, in Job 38:13-15, was this aspect of His character expressly presented, and then only incidentally. The second discourse of Jehovah is intended to supply what is still lacking as to this point, to constrain Job fully to recognize the justice of God in all that He does, and in this way to vanquish the last remainder of pride and presumption in his heart. It accomplishes this end by a twofold method of treatment. First by the direct method of severely censuring the doubt which Job had uttered as to the divine justice, and by vindicating God’s sole and exclusive claim to the power requisite for exercising sovereignty over the universe (first, and shorter part: Job 40:6-14). Next by the indirect method of attacking his pride through a lengthened description of two proud monster-beasts, mighty creations of God’s hand, which after all the amazing wonder which their gigantic power calls forth, are nevertheless only instruments in the hand of the Almighty, and must submit, if not to the will of man, at least to the will of God, who crushes all tyrannous pride (second, and longer part: Job 40:15 to Job 41:26 [ Job 41:34]). This second part, which is again divided into two unequal halves-the shorter describing the behemoth- Job 40:15-24, the longer the leviathan, Job 40:25-41:26. [E. V., Job 41:1-34], falls back on the descriptive and interrogative tone of the first discourse of God; in contrast with which however it is characterized by an allegorizing tendency. It directly prepares the way for Job’s second and last answer, in which he renews the humble submission which he had previously made, and strengthens it by a penitent confession of his own sinfulness.-The strophic arrangement of this second discourse of Jehovah is comprehensively simple and grand, corresponding to the contents, which are thoroughly descriptive, with a massive execution. It embraces in all five Long Strophes, of 8–12 verses each, not less than three of which are devoted to the description of the leviathan in Job 40:25–41:26, [E. V., Job 41:0.] These five Long Strophes include indeed shorter subordinate divisions, but not, strictly speaking, regularly constructed strophes.-Against the modern objections to the authenticity of the episode referring to the behemoth and leviathan, see above in the Introd. § 9, II. (also the notice taken of the peculiar theory of Merx in the Preface).

2. First Division (Long Strophe): Severe censure of Job’s presumptuous doubt respecting the justice of the divine course of action: Job 40:6-14.

Job 40:6. Then answered Jehovah Job out of the storm, etc.-This intentional repetition of Job 38:1 is to show that God continues to present Himself to Job as one who, if not exactly burning with wrath towards him, would have him feel His mighty superiority. That here also, instead of מנ סעוה, the original text was מִנְהַסְּעָוָה, is evident from the Masorah itself. The absence of the art. ה, if it originally belonged here, is by no means to be explained, with Ramban, as designed to indicate that the storm was no longer as violent as before.

Job 40:7 precisely as in Job 38:3.

Job 40:8. Wilt thou altogether annul my right?-הֲאַף stands in a climactic relation to Job’s “contending” (רֹב) reproved in Job 40:2. “To break” (הפר) God’s right would be the same as “to abolish, annul” the same (comp. Job 15:4). Job was on the point of becoming guilty of this wickedness, in that he sought to substitute what he assumed to be right, his idea of righteousness, for that of God, so that he might be accounted righteous, and God unjust, (see the second member).

Job 40:9. Or hast thou an arm like God?-וְאִם interrogative, as in Job 8:3; Job 21:4; Job 34:17. The “arm” of God as a symbol of His power, comp. Job 22:8; so also the “thunder-voice” spoken of in the second member; comp. Job 37:2 seq.-תַּרְעֵם, lit., “wilt, canst thou thunder? dost thou pledge thyself to thunder?”

Job 40:10. Then put on majesty and grandeur, as an ornament; clothe, deck thyself with these attributes of divine greatness and sovereignty (comp. Psalms 104:1 seq.; Job 21:6 [5]. The challenge is intended ironically, since it demands of Job that which is in itself impossible; in like manner all that follows down to Job 40:13 (comp. Job 38:21).

Job 40:11. Let the outbreakings of thy wrath pour themselves forth.-הֵפִֹץ, effundere, to pour forth, to cause to gush forth, as in Job 37:11; Proverbs 5:16. עַבְרוֹת, lit., “over-steppings,” are here the overflowings, or outbreakings of wrath; comp. Job 21:30; and for the thought, particularly in the second member, comp. Isaiah 2:12 seq. The fact that Jehovah ironically summons Job to display such manifestations of holy wrath and of stern retributive justice against sinners, conveys an indirect, but sufficiently clear and emphatic assurance of the truth that He Himself, Jehovah, governs the world thus rigidly and justly; comp. above, Job 38:13 seq.

Job 40:12. Look on all that is proud, and bring it low.-This almost verbal repetition of Job 40:11 b is intended to emphasize the fact that at the moment when God casts His angry glance upon the wicked, the latter is cast down; comp. Psalms 34:17 [16].-And overturn the wicked in their place, הָדַךְ, ἅπ. λεγ., “to throw down,” or perhaps “to tread down” (related to דּוּךְ). In the latter case the passage might be compared with Romans 16:20.-On תַּחְתָּם “in their place” [= “on the spot”], comp. Job 36:20.

Job 40:13. Hide them in the dust altogether;i.e., in the dust of the grave (hardly in holes of the earth, or of rooks, as though Isaiah 2:10 were a parallel passage).-Shut up fast (lit., “bind, fetter”) their faces in secret, i.e., in the interior of the earth, in the darkness of the realm of the dead; טָמוּן here substantially = שְׂאֹל Comp. the passage out of the Book of Enoch Job 10:5, cited by Dillmann: καὶ τὴν ὄψιν αὐτοῦ πώμασον, καὶ φῶς μὴ θεωρείτω.

Job 40:14. Then will I too praise thee, not only wilt thou praise thyself (comp. Job 40:8)-That thy right hand brings thee succor;i.e., that thou dost actually possess the power (the “arm,” Job 40:9) to put thy ideas of justice into execution with vigor; comp. the similar expressions in Psalms 44:4 [3]; Isaiah 59:18; Isaiah 63:5. This conclusion of the rebuke which Jehovah administers directly to Job’s insolent presumption, as though he only knew what is just, prepares at once the transition to the description which follows of the colossal animals which are introduced as eloquent examples of God’s infinite creative power, which for the very reason of its being such is of necessity united to the highest justice.

3. Second Division: The descriptions of animals, given for the purpose of humiliating Job by showing his weakness, and the absolute groundlessness of his presumptuous pride.

a. The description of the behemoth: Verses 15–24.

Job 40:15. Behold now the behemoth.-Even Dillm., one of the most zealous opponents of the genuineness of the whole section, is obliged to admit that the connection with what precedes by means of הִנֵּהּ is an “easy” one. Moreover it is by no means one that is “purely external,” for the behemoth is brought to Job’s attention for the very purpose of illustrating the proposition that no creature of God’s, however mighty, can succeed against Him, can “with his right hand obtain for himself help against Him” (see Job 40:14 b). This is clearly enough indicated by the second member: which I have made with thee;i.e. as well as thee (עִם as though it were comparative, as in Job 9:26; comp. Job 37:18). Job is bid to contemplate his fellow-creature, the behemoth, far huger and stronger than himself, that he may learn how insignificant and weak are all created beings in contrast with God, and in particular how little presumptuous and proud confidence in external things can avail against Him (comp. the passage of Horace; Vis consilî expert mole ruit sua, etc.). The name בְּהֵמוֹת (which the ancient versions either misinterpreted as a plural [so the LXX.: θηρία], or left untranslated, as a proper name [Vulg., etc.]), in itself denotes, in accordance with the analogy of other plural formations with an intensive signification: “the great beast, the colossus of cattle, the monster animal.” The word is, however, a Hebraized form of the Egyptian p-ehe-mau, “the water-ox” (p=the, ehe=ox, mau or mou=water), and like this Egypt, word (besides which indeed the hieroglyphic apet is more frequently to be met with), and the Ital. bomarino, it signifies the Nile-horse, or hippopotamus. For it is to this animal that the whole description which follows refers, as is most distinctly and unmistakably shown by the association with another monster of the Nile, the crocodile: not to the elephant, of which it is understood by Thom. Aquinas, Oecolampadius, the Zürich Bib., Drusius, Pfeifer, Le Clerc, Cocceius, Schultens, J. D. Michaelis [Scott, Henry. Good refers the description to some extinct pachyderm of the mammoth or mastodon species. Lee, following the LXX., understands it of the cattle, first collectively, and then distributively]. The correct view was taken by Bochart (Hieroz. iii. 705 seq.), and after him has been adopted by the great majority of moderns. With the following vivid description of this animal’s way of living and form, beginning with the mention of his “eating grass” (supporting himself on tender plants, the reeds of the Nile, roots, etc.), may be compared Herod, ii. 69–71; Pliny viii. 25; Aben Batuta, ed. Defrem 4., p. 426; among the moderns, Rüppell: Reisen in Nubien, 1829, p. 52 seq.; and in particular Sir Sam. Baker in his travels, as in The Nile and its Tributaries, The Albert Nyanza, etc. (See extracts from these works, with striking illustrations of the hippopotamus in the Globus, Vol. XVII., 1870, Nos. 22–24) [Livingstone, Travels and Researches, p. 536].

Job 40:16. Lo now, his strength is in his loins, etc.-אוֹן as in Job 18:7; Job 18:12. שְׁרִירִים in b, a word found only here (derived from the root שׁר, “to wind, to twist,” which is contained also in שֹׁר, “navel,” as also in שֹׁרֶשׁ “root”), cannot signify, the “bones,” of which mention is first made in Job 40:18 (against Wetzstein in Delitzsch), but the cords, the sinews and muscles, which in the case of the hippopotamus (not, however, of the elephant) are particularly firm and strong just in the region of the belly.

Job 40:17. He bends his tail like a cedar;i.e. like a cedar-bough; the tert. comp. lies in the straightness, firmness and elasticity of the tail of the hippopotamus (which is furthermore short, hairless, very thick at the root, of only a finger’s thickness, however, at the end, looking therefore somewhat like the tail of the hog, but not at all like that of the elephant). יַחְפֹּץ, instead of being translated “he bends” (Targ.), may possibly be explained to mean “he stiffens, stretches out” (LXX., Vulg., Pesh.).-The sinews of his thighs are firmly knit together; or also “the veins of his legs” (by no means nervi testiculorum ejus, as the Vulg. and Targ. [also E. V.] render it). With יְשׂרָגוּ, “they are wrapped together, they present a thick, twig-like texture,” comp. שָׂרִגִים, “vine-tendrils” [the interweaving of the vine-branches being before the poet’s eye in his choice of the word. Del.].

Job 40:18. His bones are pipes of brass.-אֲפִיקִים here “pipes, tubes, channels,” as in Job 41:7; comp. נַחַל, Job 28:4. נְחוּשָׁה, a word peculiar to our book, instead of the form which obtains elsewhere, נְחשֶׁת (comp. further Job 20:24; Job 28:2; Job 41:19). Concerning מְטִיל, “staff, pole, bar,” probably the Semitic etymological basis of μέταλλον, comp. Delitzsch on the passage. In respect to the similes in both members of the verse, comp. Song of Solomon 5:15 a.

Job 40:19. He is a firstling of God’s ways;i.e. a master-piece of His creative power (comp. Genesis 49:3). רֵאשִׁית can all the more easily dispense with the article here, seeing that it denotes only priority of rank (as in Amos 6:1; Amos 6:6; comp. also בְּכוֹר in Job 18:13, and often), not of time (as e.g. in Proverbs 8:22; Numbers 24:20). In respect to “God’s ways” in the sense of the displays of His creative activity in creating and governing the universe, comp. Job 26:14. The whole clause refers to the immense size and strength of the hippopotamus, which, at least in length and thickness, if not in height, surpasses even the elephant, and overturns with ease the ships of the Nile, vessel, crew and cargo. In reality therefore there is no exaggeration in the statement; and only an exegetical misapprehension of it, and an idle attempt at allegorizing it (stimulated in the present instance by the resemblance to Proverbs 8:22) could have influenced the Jewish Commentators, and those of the ancient Church, to find in this designation of the behemoth as a “firstling of God’s ways” a symbolic representation of Satan (comp. Book of Enoch, 60, 6 seq.; many Rabbis of the Middle Ages; the Pseudo-Melitonian Clavis Scripturœ Sacræ [in Pitra, Spicileg. Salesm. Vol. II.], Eucherius of Lyons in his Formulæ maj. et minores [Idem, Vol. III., p. 400 seq.], Gregory the Great, and most of the Church Fathers on the passage; Luther also in his marginal gloss on the passage, Brentius [see below, Doctrinal and Ethical Remarks.-The same view is taken moreover by Wordsworth, who explains: “It seems probable that Behemoth represents the Evil One acting in the animal and carnal elements of man’s own constitution, and that Leviathan symbolizes the Evil One energizing as his external enemy. Behemoth is the enemy within us; Leviathan is the enemy without us”].-It only remains to say, that there is nothing surprising in the fact that here, in a discourse by God, He should speak of Himself in the third person; comp. above Job 39:17; Job 38:41.-He who made him furnished to him his sword, viz. his teeth, his two immense incisors (which according to Rüppell in l. c. grow to be twenty-six French inches long), with which as with a sickle (a ἅρπη, Nicander, Theriac. 566; Nonnus, Dionysiac. 26) he mows down the grass and green corn-blades. הָעשֹׁוֹ stands for הָעשֵֹׁהוּ, “He who hath made him, his Creator” (the article being used as demonstrative; comp. Gesenius § 109 [§ 108, 2, a]), and יַגֵשׁ elliptically for יַגֵשׁ לוֹ, “brought near to him, furnished to him.” The emendation suggested by Böttcher and Dillmann-חֵעָשׁוּ instead of הָעשֹׁוֹ: “which was created [lit. plur. ‘which were created’] so as to attach thereon a sword” (יַגֵשׁ as Jussive)-is unnecessary, as is also Ewald’s rendering of הִגִּישׁ in the sense of “to blunt, to make harmless.”

Job 40:20 gives a reason for Job 40:19 b:For the mountains bring him forth food.-יְבוּל=בּוּל, produce, fruit, vegetation. The clause is not intended to describe the hippopotamus as an animal that commonly or frequently grazes on the mountains (in point of fact it is only in exceptional instances that he ascends the mountains or high “grounds, when the river-banks and the grounds immediately around them have been eaten up). It only intends to say that entire mountains, vast upland tracts, where large herds of other animals abide, must provide for him his food (see b).

Job 40:21 states where the hippopotamus is in the habit of staying: He lies down under the lotus-trees, in the covert of reeds and fens (comp. Job 8:11)-צֶאֱלִים, plur. of צִאְל, or of צֶאֱלָה (a word which occurs also in the Arabic), are not the lotus-flowers, i.e., the water-lilies (Nymphæa Lotus) [so Conant], but the lotus-bushes, or trees (Lotus silvestris s. Cyrenaica), a vegetable growth frequently found in the hot and moist lowlands of Egypt, Cyrenaica, and Syria, with thorny branches, and a fruit like the plum. On b comp. the description of the hippopotamus given by Ammianus Marcellinus (XXII. 15): Inter arundines celsas et squalentes nimia densitate hæc bellua cubilia ponit.

Job 40:22. Lotus-trees cover him as a shade.-צִלְלוֹ (resolved from צִלּוֹ, like גֶּלְלוֹ, Job 20:7, from גִּלּוֹ) is in apposition to the subject, with which it forms at the same time a paronomasia. Another paronomasia occurs between יְסֻכֻּהוּ and יְסֻבֻּהוּ in b.

Job 40:23. Behold, the river shows violence; he trembles not; lit., “he does not spring up, is not startled. הֵן at the beginning of this clause has, as in Job 12:11; Job 23:8, substantially the force of a conditional particle. עָשַׁק here without an object: “to exercise violence, to act violently,” (differing from Job 10:3) a word which strikingly describes a river wildly swelling and raging [sweeping its borders with tyrannous devastation. E. V., following the Vulg. absorbebit fluvium (Targ. “he doth violence to the river”) gives to עשק a meaning not warranted]. He remains unconcerned (lit. “he is confident”) when a Jordan rushes (lit. “bursts through, pours itself forth,” גִּיחַ as in Job 38:8) into his mouth. The Jordan, (יַרְדֵּן without the Art.) is used here in an appellative sense of a river remarkable for its swiftly rushing course, not as a proper name, for hippopotami scarcely lived in the Jordan. There is nothing strange in this mention of the Jordan in order vividly to illustrate the description, the same being a river well known to Job, and also to his friends. It certainly cannot be urged as an argument for the hypothesis that the author of this section is not the same with the author of the remainder of the book (against Ewald and Dillmann). [“The reason why the Jordan is the river particularly here used as an illustration is, I suppose, because not unlikely, rising as it does at the foot of the snow-clad Lebanon, it was liable to more sudden and violent swellings than either the Euphrates or the Nile. It is, in fact, more of a mountain torrent than either, and probably in its irruptions it drove away in consternation the lions and other wild beasts, located in the thickets on its banks.” Carey. Comp. Jeremiah 12:5 and Jer 41:19].

Job 40:24. Before his eyes do they take him, pierce through his nose with snares.-The position and tone of the words forbid one taking this verse as an ironical challenge: “Let one just take him!” or as a question: “Shall, or does any one take him,” etc.? Instead of בְּעֵֹנָיו (i.e., “while he himself is looking on, under his very eyes;” comp. Proverbs 1:17), we must at least have read הַבְּעֵינָיו. Moreover instead of the 3d Pers. we should rather have looked for the 2d, if either of the above constructions had been the true one (comp. the questions in Job 40:25 seq.) [Job 41:1 seq.]. The clause accordingly is to be taken, with the ancient versions, and with Stickel, Umbreit, Ewald, Dillmann [Conant] as descriptive of something which actually takes place, and hence as referring to the capture of the river-horse. By the ancients in like manner as by the Nubians of to-day this was accomplished by means of harpoons fastened to a long rope. It is either to this harpoon-rope, or to a switch drawn through the nose after the capture has been effected that the word מוֹקֵשׁ in b refers. It can hardly mean a common trap (Delitzsch [“let one lay a snare which, when it goes into it, shall spring together and pierce it in the nose”]).-Why does God close the description of the hippopotamus with a reference to its capture? Evidently because He wishes thereby to emphasize the thought that this animal is wholly and completely in His power, that all its size and strength are of no avail to it, and that when God determines to deliver it into the hands of men, its pride is humbled without fail. Whereas on the other hand the description of the leviathan which follows contains no such reference to its capture, but sets forth throughout only the difficulty, or indeed the impossibility of becoming its master by the use of ordinary strength and cunning; this indicates an advance over what goes before.

 4. Continuation, b. First part of the description of the leviathan: Job 41:1-11 [Heb. Job 40:25-41:3]: the untamableness and invincibility of the leviathan.-Dost thou draw out the leviathan with a net? [or as E. V., Gesen., Fürst, etc., “with a hook”]. The name לִוְיָתָן denotes here neither the mythical dragon of heaven, as in Job 3:8 (see on the passage), nor the whale, as in Psalms 104:26, but the crocodile, whose structure and mode of life are in the following description depicted with fidelity to the minutest particular (comp. the evidence in detail in Bochart, Hieroz. III., 737 seq.). In and of itself לויתן is the generic name of any monster capable of wreathing itself in folds, in like manner as תַּנִּין (comp. τείνω) may denote any monster that is long stretched out. But as the latter name is become the prevalent designation of the whale, (see on Job 7:12), so the name leviathan seems to have attached itself from an early period to the crocodile, that particularly huge and terrible amphibious monster of Bible lands, for which animal there was no special name appropriated in the primitive Hebrew, as it was not indigenous to Palestine, or at all events was but rarely found in its waters (traces indeed are not absolutely wanting of its having existed in them at one time: see the remarks of Robinson in respect to the “coast-river Nahr ez Zerka, or Maat-Temsâh [“crocodile-waters”], and also in respect to the city Crocodilon, not far from Cesarea, in his “Physical Geography,” etc., p. 191). The name leviathan does not involve the Hebraizing of an Egyptian name of the crocodile, (analogous to that of pe-ehe-mou in behemoth). By so much the more probable is it that in the interrogative תִּמְשֹׁךְ “drawest thou” (without הֲ, see Ew., § 324, a), the poet intends an allusion to the well-known Egyptian name of the animal, which in Copt, is temsah, in modern Arab, timsah (Ew., Del., Dillm., etc).-Dost thou with a cord press down his tongue? i.e., when, liks a fish, be has bitten the fishing-hook, dost thou, in pulling the line, cause it to press down the tongue? The question is not (with Schult., Hirzel, Delitzsch, etc.) to be rendered: “Canst thou sink a line into his tongue [or “his tongue into a line”]? a rendering which is indeed verbally admissible, but which yields an idea that is not very intelligible. This member expresses, only with a little more art, the same thought as the first. It is not at all necessary to assume (with Ewald, Dillmann and other opponents of the genuineness of the present section), that the poet represents the capture of the crocodile as absolutely impossible, thus contradicting the fact attested by Herodotus, II., 7, that the ancient Egyptians caught this animal with fishing-hooks. That which the ironical question of God denies is simply the possibility of overcoming this animal, like a harmless fish, with ordinary craft or artifice, not the possibility of ever capturing it.-There is nothing to forbid the assumption that instead of the Egyptian crocodile (or at least along with it) the author had in view a Palestinian species or variety of the same animal, which is no longer extant, and that this Palestinian crocodile, just because it was rarer than the saurian of the Nile, was in fact held to be impossible of capture, (comp. Delitzsch II, p. 366, n. 2). It is, generally speaking, a very precarious position to question the accuracy of our poet’s statements even in a single point: compare e.g., the perfectly correct mention in this passage of the tongue of the crocodile, with the ridiculous assertion of Herodot. (II. 68), Aristotle, and other ancients, that the crocodile has no tongue.

Job 41:2 [Job 40:26]. Canst thou put a rush-ring into his nose, and bore through his jaw (or, “his cheek”) with a hook?-i.e.. canst thou deal with him as fishermen deal with the fish captured by them, piercing their mouths with iron hooks in order afterwards to thrust through them rush-cords (σχοίνους), or iron rings (the fishermen of the Nile use the latter to this day, see Bruce, Travels, etc.), and to lay the fish thus tied together in the water?

Job 41:3 [Job 40:27.] Will he make many supplications to thee, etc., i. e., will he speak thee fair, in order to retain his freedom? The question which follows in Job 41:28 enlarges upon this thought, with a somewhat different application. “For a servant for ever” is here equivalent to “for a tamed domestic animal” (comp. Job 39:9).

Job 41:5 [Job 40:29]. Wilt thou play with him as with a bird?-שִׂחַק בְּ differently from Psalms 104:26, where it signifies to play in something. By the “bird” here spoken of is meant neither the “golden beetle” (which in the language of the Talmud is called “bird of the vineyard”), nor the grasshopper (comp. Lewysohn, Zool. des Talmud. § 364). We are rather to compare with it the sparrow of Catullus: Passer, deliciæ meæ puellæ, and, as in that poem, we are to understand by the נערות “female slaves;” scarcely the “little daughters” of the one who is addressed (as Dillmann thinks, who takes pains to exhibit here a new reason for suspecting the genuineness of this section).

Job 41:6 [Job 40:30]. Do fishermen-partners trade in him? [do they divide him among the Canaanites?]חַבָּרִים (different from חֲבֵרִיםIsa 44:11) are fishermen as members of a guild, or as partners in a company associated together for the capture of fish; comp. Luke 5:7; Luke 5:10, יִכְרוּ with עַל as in Job 6:27, “to make bargains for anything, to traffic with it;” not “to feast upon anything, to make a banquet,” as the phrase is rendered by the LXX. (ἐνσιτοῦνται), Targum [E. V.], Schult., Rosenmüller, etc.; for כָּרָה “to banquet” (2 Kings 6:23) agrees neither with the construction with עַל, nor the mention of the “Canaanites,” i.e., the Phenician merchants (Isaiah 23:8; Zechariah 14:21; Proverbs 31:24) in the second member. [Gesenius, Conant, etc., less simply take כָּרָה in its more usual sense, “to dig,” i.e., dig pits, lay snares for. Merx. reads יִכְּרוּ from כרר, and translates: The animal, against which hunters go in troops].

Job 41:7 [Job 40:31]. Not only is the crocodile unsuited to be an article of commerce, but. coated as he is with scales, he is equally unsuited to be the object of an exciting harpoon-hunt. With שֻׂכּוֹת, “pointed darts,” comp. the Arab, sauke, which signifies both “thorn” and “spear.”

Job 41:8 [Job 40:32]. Remember the battle, thou wilt not do it again-i. e., shouldst thou presume to fight with him (זְכֹר, not Infinit. dependent on תּוֹסַף, but Imperat. consecut., comp. Ew., § 347, b), thou wilt not repeat the experiment (תּוֹסַף pausal form for תּוֹסֶף, see Ew., § 224, b). Needless violence is done to this verse also, if (as by Dillmann) the attempt be made to deduce from it the idea of the absolute impossibility of capturing and conquering the crocodile. Let it be borne in mind that the words are addressed to a single individual.

Job 41:9 [Job 41:1], Behold, every hope is disappointed; lit. “behold, his hope is disappointed,” that viz. of the man who should enter into a contest with the monster (the use of the suffix accordingly being similar to that of Job 37:12). Even at the sight of him one is cast down; lit. as a question: “is one cast down?” etc.; i.e., is it. not the fact that the mere sight of him is enough to cast one down with terror? On מַרְאָיו, which is not plur.. but sing, comp. Gesenius, § 93 [§ 91], 9, Rem.

Job 41:10 [Job 41:2], None so fool-hardy that he would stir him up.-רֹא is not, without further qualification, אֵין (Hirz.), but the lacking subj. is to be supplied out of the next member, and the whole clause is exclamatory: “not fierce (fool-hardy, rash) enough, that he should rouse him up!” Respecting אַכְזָר, (comp. Job 30:21. And who will take his stand before Me?-i.e., appear against Me as Mine adversary; התיצב here in another sense than in Job 1:6; Job 2:1. According to some MSS. and the Targ. the text should be לְפָנָיו, referring to the crocodile: and who will stand before him?” But this would destroy the characteristic fundamental thought of the verse, which consists in a conclusio a min. ad majus: “If no one ventures to stir up that creature which I have made, how much less will any one dare to contend with Me, the Almighty Creator?”

Job 41:11 [3]. Who gave to me first of all that I must requite it?-i. e., who would dare to appear against me as my accuser or my enemy, on the ground that he has perchance given me something, and is thus become my creditor? (Romans 11:35). As to the second half of the verse which gives the reason for the question, in which God claims all created beings as His property, comp. Psalms 50:10 seq.; on תַּחַת כָּל־הַשָּׁמַיִם see Job 28:24; on the neuter הוּא see Job 13:16; Job 15:9.-The general thoughts advanced in Job 41:2 b, and Job 41:3 are a suitable close to what is said of the invincibility of the crocodile, as a mighty illustration of God’s creative power, so that we are required neither to transpose the passage (as e.g., by placing it after Job 40:14), nor to deem it out of place here, between the description of the leviathan’s untamableness, and that of his bodily structure (against Dillmann).

5. Conclusion: c. Second part of the description of the leviathan: The bodily structure and mode of life characteristic of the leviathan, the king of all proud beasts: Job 41:12-34 [4–20].

Job 41:12 [4]. I will not keep silent as to his members (בַּדִּים, see Job 18:13). So according to the K’thibh לֹא אַחֲרִישׁ; the K’ri לוֹ אח׳ would give the idea in the form of a question: “as to him should I pass his limbs in silence?” which as being a little more difficult is to be preferred. In no case does the clause deserve to be called “a prosaic and precise announcement of the subject to be treated of,” such as would seem to be “not very suitable” in a discourse delivered by God (Dillmann): the idea of the ancients touching what might be suitable and in taste, and what might not be so, were quite different from our modern notions. Nor as to the fame of his powers (so Vaihinger strikingly); lit. “nor of the word of his powers” i.e., of their kind and arrangement (Ewald), how the case stands with respect to them; comp. דָּבָר in Deuteronomy 15:2; Deuteronomy 19:4. In the final clause וְחִין עֶרְכּוֹ the word עֶרֶךְ is in any case equivalent to “disposition, structure” (Aq.: τάξις), and הִין seems to be a secondary form of חֵן= come-liness, gracefulness, with which the tenor of this description which follows well agrees, setting forth as it does not only that which is fearful, but also that which is beautiful and elegant in the structure of the leviathan. For this reason it is unnecessary either with Ewald to identify the word with הִין, “measure” (dry measure), or with Dillmann to amend the text (to עֵין? or חֹסֶן?)

Job 41:13-17 [5–9]: The upper and foreside [face] of the crocodile.-Who has uncovered the face of his garment?i.e., no one can uncover, lift up the upper side (פָּנִים as in Isaiah 25:7) of his scaly coat of mail; this lies on his back with such tenacity that it cannot be removed, nor broken. [Others, Ewald, Schlott., etc., explain פָּנִים of the anterior part of his garment, or armor, that which pertains to the head or face; but this would be less natural, and would involve tautology-the. “opening of the jaws” being referred to again in the next ver.].-Into his doable jaws who enters in?-Lit., “into the double of his jaws;” רֶסֶן here accordingly in a different sense from Job 30:11 [where it means “bridle,” the meaning which E. V. gives to it here]. The fact mentioned by Herod. II., 68, and confirmed by modern observations, to wit, that a little bird, the plover, (Charadrius Ægyptius, in Herod, τροχίλος) enters the open jaw of the crocodile, in order to look for insects there, need not be deemed unknown to our author; only we are not to insist on his having such an incident in mind in the passage before us.

Job 41:14 [6]. The doors of his face-who has opened them?i.e., his jaws, his mouth, the aperture of which reaches back of the eyes and ears (comp. the well-known picture, taken from the Description de l’Egypte, and introduced into several pictorial works on zoology, e.g., into Klotz and Glaser’s Leben und Eigenthümlichkeiten der mittleren und niederen Thierwelt, Leipzig, 1869, p. 15, representing the mouth of a crocodile wide open, with a Charadrius in it).-Round about his teeth is terror; comp. Job 39:20. The crocodile has thirty-six long, pointed teeth in the upper jaw, and thirty in the lower, the appearance of which is all the more terrible that they are not covered by the lips.

Job 41:15 [7]. A pride are the furrows of the shields (comp. Job 40:18), referring to the arched bony shields, of which the animal has seventeen rows, all equally large and square in form. [According to this interpretation אֲפִיקֵי means first channels, and then the shields bounded by those channels. Others (Gesenius, Conant, etc.) take it as an adj. = robusta (robora) scutorum].-Fastened together like a closely, fitting seal; or, construing חותם צר not as appositional, but as instrumental accusative (according to Ewald, § 297, b): “fastened together as with a closely-fitting seal” [so E. V.]. How this is to be understood is shown by the two verses which follow; in which comp., as to the phrase, אישׁ באחיהו, Gesen., § 124, [§ 122], Rem. 4; as to the verbs דבקִ and יתלכדJob 38:30; Job 38:38.

Job 41:18-21 [10–13]. The sneezing and breathing of the crocodile.-His sneezing flashes forth light (תָּהֶל, abbreviated from תָּהֵל, Hiph. of הלל, comp. Job 31:26); i.e., when the crocodile turned toward the sun with open jaws is excited to sneezing (which in such a posture happens very easily, see Bochart III., 753 seq.), the water and slime gushing from his mouth glisten brilliantly in the sunbeams. As Delitz. says truly: “This delicate observation of nature is here compressed into three words; in this concentration of whole, grand thoughts and pictures, we recognize the older poet.”-And his eyes are as eyelids of the dawn (Job 3:9); i.e., when with their red glow they glimmer in the water, before the animal’s head becomes visible above the surface of the water. This cat-like sparkle of the crocodile’s eyes was observed from an early period, and is the reason why in the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics two crocodiles’ eyes became the hieroglyph for the dawn, according to the express statement of Horus, Hierogl. I., Job 68: ἐπειδὴ πρὸ παντὸς σώματος ζώου οἱ ὀφθαλμοὶ ἐκ τοῦ βύ̓θου�.

Job 41:19 [11]. Out of his mouth proceed torches;i.e., not literal torches, but streams of water shining like torches, when the animal emerging out of the water breathes violently.-Out of his nostrils goes forth smoke, like a seething pot with reeds [lit., “like a kettle blown and reeds”]; i.e., like a heated kettle standing over a crackling and strongly smoking fire of reeds (Ewald, Böttcher, Delitzsch, Dillm.) [Conant]. The common rendering is: “as a seething pot and caldron;” but אַגְמוֹן is scarcely to be taken to signify something else here than above in Job 40:26 [Job 41:2]; “caldron” would be אַגָּן, Arab, iggane. With the description before us, as well as with the still more strongly hyperbolical description in the verse which follows, comp. the description of Bochart, l. c.: Turn spiritus diu pressus sic effervescit et erumpit tam violenter, ut flammas ore et naribus videatur evomere. Also what the traveler Bartram (in Rosenmüller’s Alterth., p. 250) relates of an alligator in Carolina, that a thick smoke streamed out of its distended nostrils, with a noise which made the earth shake. [Schlottmann calls attention to the close parallelism between Job 41:18-19 and Job 41:20-21].

Job 41:22 [14]. On his neck dwells (lit., “passes the night, lodges,” יָלִין as in Job 17:2) strength, and despair danceth hence before him. תָּדוּץ, leaps, springs up suddenly. Both members of the verse refer to the crocodile suddenly emerging out of the water, and terrifying men or beasts, and particularly to the violent movements of its neck or head, which are sufficient to overturn ships, etc. [“The trepidation, the confused running to and fro of one who is in extreme anguish (comp. יתחטאו Job 41:17) is compared to the dancing of one who is crazed, and this is attributed to the דאבה as the personification of the anguish.” Schlott.-E. V., less suitably: “and sorrow is turned into joy before him”].

Job 41:23 [15] seq., describe the lower and hinder parts of the animal.-The flanks [מפלי, the flabby pendulous parts of the body, especially the belly] of his flesh are closely joined together, are fixed fast upon him, are not moved; i.e., they do not shake with the motions of the body, being thickly lined with strong scales, smaller however than those on the back. יָצּוּק, pass. partic. of יצק, differing accordingly from Job 28:2; Job 29:6.

Job 41:24 [16]. His heart is firmly cast as a stone, firmly cast as a nether millstone, [not as E. V., “as a piece of the nether millstone,” for פלח, as that which is split off, or produced by cleavage, refers to the whole stone; hence elsewhere (Judges 9:53; 2 Samuel 24:6), פֶלַח רֶֹכֶב for the upper millstone]. It was necessary that the nether millstone should be particularly hard, because it has to bear the weight and friction of the upper stone; comp. the Biblical Archæologies and Dictionaries, under the word “Mill.” Besides the physical hardness of the crocodile’s heart (in respect to which comp. Arist. De partib. animal. 3, 4), the poet here has in view the firmness of his heart in the tropical or ethical sense, i.e., the courage and fierceness of the beast, as the following verses show clearly enough.

Job 41:25 [17]. At his rising up heroes tremble.-אֵילִים, or, as many MSS. read אֵלִים “mighty ones,” from אוּל “to be thick, strong:” comp. Exodus 15:15 with Ezekiel 31:11; Ezekiel 32:21. מִשֵּׂתוֹ, contracted from מִשְּׂאֵתוֹ, cannot mean here “before his majesty” (Job 13:11; Job 31:23), but simply: “at his rising, when he raises himself up.”-From terror they miss their aim. מִשְּׁבָרִים, lit., “from brokenness [breakings];” not however “from wounds.” Jerome correctly: tẹrriti (comp. Isaiah 65:14). הִתְחַטֵּא, lit., “they miss,” i.e., “their mark” (to wit, here, the slaying of the monster). [Gesenius, Conant, etc., “they lose themselves for terror,” spoken of a person in astonishment and terror missing his way in precipitate flight.-Fürst: “they disappear, i.e., they cannot hold out.”-E. V., under the influence of the Vulg. and Targ. “by reason of breakings they purify themselves,” which hardly yields an intelligible meaning].

Job 41:26 [18]. If one reaches him with the sword, lit., he who reaches him with the sword, it doth not hold, i.e., the sword, (lit., “it does not get up”), it glances off without effect from the scaly armor of the beast. As to the construction comp. Ewald, § 357, c; on the use of בְּלִי with the finite verb, which occurs only here, Ew., § 322, a. In the second member, which introduces three additional subjects to the verb תָּקוּם, this בְּלִי is to be again supplied: “nor spear, dart, and armor.”-According to the testimony of the ancient versions it would seem that שִׁרְיָה must be rendered as a synonym of שִׁרְיוֹן, “coat of mail,” although the context, and a comparison with the Arab, sirwe, or surwe, “arrow,” would favor rather the meaning “missile,” either the harpoon, or some peculiar kind of arrow. For מַסָּע the definition “sling-stone” has the support of the Targ., while the LXX and the Vulg. associate the word with the preceding חֲנִית in the sense of hasta missilis.

Verses 27–29 [19–21] describe more at length the ineffective rebound of ordinary human weapons from the armor of the leviathan, together with the animal’s fearlessness in encountering all assaults by means of such weapons. Respecting נְחוּשָׁה in Job 41:19, b, comp. on Job 40:18. רִקָּבוֹן in the same member is a poetic form for רָקָב (Job 13:28). The “son of the bow,” Job 41:20 a is the arrow, as the “ son of the flame “ in Job 5:7 meant the spark of fire. The “turning to stubble,” Job 41:20 b is of course to be taken only in the subjective sense of becoming as it were stubble.

Job 41:29 [21]. Clubs are accounted (by him) as chaff; lit. “a club;” תּוֹתַח, as a generic term, is construed with the plur. On b (רַעַשׁ and כִּידוֹן), comp. Job 39:23-24.

Job 41:30 [22] continues the description of the under side of the body begun in Job 41:23 [16]. His under parts are pointed shards; lit. “the sharpest of shards,” חַדּוּדֵי הָרֶשׁ; on this mode of expressing the superlative, which occurs also in Job 30:6, comp. Gesen., § 112 [§ 110], Rem. 1. The comparison of the scales on the under side of the crocodile, and especially on his tail, with pointed sherds, is found also in Aelian, H. N. 10, 24. He spreadeth a threshing sledge upon the mire; i.e., by means of those same pointed scales, which leave a mark on the soft mire, like that made by the iron spikes of a threshing-sledge (comp. Isaiah 28:27).

Job 41:31 [23]. He maketh the deep to boil like a pot.-On הִרְתִּיחַ, “to cause to seethe, to boil and foam violently,” comp. Job 30:27. The “deep” [מְצוּלָה), i.e., literally, the deep of the sea. (=יָם) is a word which can also be applied to a great river, like the Nile; comp. Isaiah 19:5; Nahum 3:8. The Bedouins to this day call the Nile bahr. “sea,” it being quite like a sea when it overflows its banks. He maketh the sea (comp. Job 14:11) like a pot of ointment, i.e., as respects its bubbling and foaming. An Egyptian sea may here be assumed, standing in connection with the Nile, or perhaps one of the seas of the Jordan, if the author took a Palestinian crocodile as the object of his description. The figure of the pot of ointment can hardly allude to the strong odor of musk which the crocodile emits when playing in the water (Bochart, Del.) seeing that the poet is describing here only the visible effects of his tumbling and rushing in the water.

Job 41:32 [24]. After him he maketh the path to shine, by means of the bright white trail which he leaves behind him on the surface of the water, and which in b is compared to the silver bright whiteness of hoary hair (שֵׂיבָה), in the same way that the classic poets speak of a πολιὴ ἅλς (Il. I. 350; Od. IV. 405), or of a canescere (incanescere) of the waves (Catull. Epithal. Pelei; Manilius, Astron.: Ut freta canescunt, sulcum ducente carina, etc.).

Job 41:33 [25] seq.: Conclusion of the whole description, repeating the affirmation of the invincibility of the leviathan as a proud tyrant in the animal kingdom. There is not upon the earth one who commands him; lit. “there is not upon the dust (comp. Job 19:25) dominion over him,” comp. Zechariah 9:10. So correctly the Targ., Pesh., and most of the moderns, while the LXX, Vulg., [E. V.], Umbreit, Delitzsch, [Lee, Noyes, Merx] translate: “on earth there is not his like.” By itself מָשְלוֹ could certainly be thus rendered; but the second member-“he who is made (הֶעָשׂוּ comp. Job 15:22) [Green, § 172, 5] for no-fear” (or “for, into a fearless creature,” לִבְלִי־חָת)-favor rather the meaning given above.

Job 41:34 [26]. He looks on all that is high; i.e., looks it boldly in the face, without fearing or turning back before it (comp. Job 40:11). He is king overall the sons of pride, i.e., over all the huge, proudly stalking beasts of prey (comp. Job 28:8), he is therefore a tyrant in the midst of the animal kingdom, to whom the larger quadrupeds must submit, especially in consequence of the violent blows which he inflicts with his tail (Bochart, p. 767; Oken, Allgem. Naturgesch., VI, 654 seq.).

 6. Job’s answer and penitent confession: Job 42:1-6.

Job 42:2. Now I know that Thou canst do all things-now that in these two animal colossi Thou hast set before me the most convincing proofs of Thine omnipotence, and at the same time of the constant justice of Thy ways. And that no undertaking (no thought, or purpose, which Thou dost undertake to carry out; מְּזִמָּהsensu bono, comp. זִמָּה Job 17:11) is forbidden to Thee (lit. “cut off”) [rendered inaccessible, impracticable]. To these thoughts, which God has the power to execute without condition or any limitation whatever, belongs, in the very first rank, the appointment of severe sufferings for men who, apparently, are innocent. This Job here recognizes as the normal result of the operations of the All-wise, All-merciful, and Righteous God in His government of the world, being just as truly the result of His operations as the terrible forms and activities of the behemoth and leviathan.

Job 42:3. “Who is this that obscureth counsel without knowledge?” thus, namely hast thou rightly spoken to me. The words of God at the beginning of the first discourse (Job 38:2), are cited here verbally; and from this divine verdict, as one that cannot be assailed nor abrogated, the inference which follows is immediately drawn: thus have I judged, without understanding, what was too wonderful for me, without knowing;i.e., the judgments which I have heretofore pronounced respecting my sufferings as unmerited and unreasonably cruel, were uttered without understanding or knowledge. To the idea, complete in itself, conveyed by הִגַּדְתִּי, “I have judged (uttered),” an object is emphatically added in the following member, so that the notion of judging passes over into that of deciding or passing judgment upon something.

Job 42:4 contains another expression, cited both from the first discourse of Jehovah (Job 38:3), and from the introduction to the second (Job 40:7), here however preceded and strengthened by the short introductory clause: “Hear, I pray thee, and I will speak,” and for this reason to be regarded as only a free citation, to which Job then appends the observation contained in Job 42:5. This verse (4) is not therefore to be regarded as an independent entreaty on the part of Job to Jehovah, framed however in imitation of the words of Jehovah in the passages referred to (as Rosenm., Stick., Hirz., Hahn., Del. [Scott, Noyes, Barnes] think). The meaning is: “Thou hast demanded of me to make my answer to Thee, as in a judicial trial; my answer can be none other than that which now follows (Job 42:5-6). [To the view that this is the language of humility on the part of Job, seeking for further instruction from God, Carey objects: “(1) That Job does not ask God any particular question on which he requires information. (2) That on the supposed view the first clause, “Hear now, and I will speak,” would be the formula of an opening address, leading one to expect that that address was to be of some length, at least, whereas no such address does actually follow. (3.) That the words themselves would be too arrogant for Job to use in his present humbled state of mind. (4.) That as Job 42:3 is manifestly a citation from Job 38:2, and as the words in this present verse occur in Job 38:3, they may reasonably be supposed to be a citation also. (5.) On the supposition of their being a citation, a more natural, and, at the same time, a more pregnant sense is obtained”].

Job 42:5. I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear.-“According to (לְ, as, e.g., in Job 28:22; Psalms 18:45) the hearing of the ear,” i.e., on the basis of a knowledge which was mediate only, and therefore incomplete, the opposite information resting on the firm basis of immediate perception, observation, or experience; comp. Psalms 48:9. But now mine eye hath seen thee-i.e., not externally, or corporeally, but intuitively, by means of that intellectual faith-perception which, in the visible manifestations of creation, beholds the Creator Himself; comp. the νοούμενα καθορᾶται of Romans 1:19; also above on Job 38:1.

Job 42:6. Therefore do I recant-lit. “I reject [repudiate],” that, viz., which I have heretofore said”; the object omitted, as in Job 7:16; Job 36:5. The LXX., Symm., and Vulg. read אֶמָּאֵם: “I reject, blame, accuse myself” (Luth.) [E. V.: “abhor myself”], which gives substantially the same sense with the Masoretic reading (for Böttcher’s rendering of this Niphal-“I despair”-finds no conclusive support in Job 7:5), but is by no means of necessity to be substituted for the same. And I repent (am sorry, נִחַמְתִּי, Niph.) in dust and ashes-i.e., like one in deep mourning, one who feels himself completely broken and humbled; comp. Job 2:8; Job 2:12. And so Job returns, as it were, to his heap of ashes, the symbol of his voluntary submission under the mighty hand of God. He perfectly resumes that patient resignation to the will of God, out of which he had allowed himself to be provoked by the accusation of the friends, in that he recognizes the divine decree of suffering as one that has been inflicted on him not unjustly, and holds his peace, until the sentence of the Most High, pronouncing His blessing upon him, again exalts the upright penitent.


1. The progress which this second discourse of God, taken in connection with Job’s confession of penitence, marks in the inward development of the poem, is in general clear. The destruction and punishment of the proud self-exaltation of the presumptuous censurer of God’s ways, which had constituted the aim and issue of the first discourse (see on Job 40:5), must be followed by the entire overthrow of the presumption in Job’s heart, in consequence of which he had not deeply and earnestly enough perceived his sinfulness, had doubted whether the severe visitation which had come upon him was deserved, and had thus assailed God’s justice. In addition to the complete humiliation of Job it was necessary still further to produce in him entire contrition, the voluntary confession of his guilt; and this is exactly what this second discourse aims at and accomplishes. It accomplishes this, as may be seen from the first part, which is in the form of a direct rebuke (Job 40:7-14), by the ironical challenge addressed to Job, to take the government of the world into his own hand, and to judge the proud transgressors on the earth (see Job 40:10 seq.). This is a challenge which shows an advance beyond the series of ironical questions in the first discourse, in that it imputes to him who is addressed not merely the exercise of a high, wonderful, and all-embracing divine knowledge, but rather of an omnipotent activity resembling that of God, the ruler of the universe. God now no longer says, “knowest thou?” or “canst thou?” but “do it! seat thyself on my judicial throne!” and the stronger irony which flashes forth from such appeals must in the nature of things be accompanied by a stronger power to cause shame to him who is addressed, so that the last remnant of presumption in his heart is swept away. “By thus thinking of himself as the ruler and judge of the world, Job is obliged to think of the cutting contrast between his feebleness and the divine rule, with which he has ventured to find fault; at the same time, however, he is taught that-what he would never be able to do-God really punishes the ungodly, and must have wise purposes when He does not, as indeed He might, let loose at once the floods of His wrath” (Del.). In other words: Job, brought to the lowest depths of shame, must, by that challenge, be made sensible of two things in one, the omnipotence and the inflexible justice of the divine government of the world. He is compelled to see that there cannot be, and least of all in the administration of the Most High, a “bare omnipotence,” disjoined from justice and love.

2. So far the purpose of this discourse is clear. But is the second part of it, which is characterized by disproportionate length, and in which nature, or rather, more particularly, the animal world, is described, in accordance with this purpose? Are we, with a number of critics (see Introd. § 9) to reject this part of the book as not genuine? Or, instead of resorting to this violent operation, favored as it is by nothing in the historic transmission of the text, are we, by more profoundly fathoming the meaning and aim of this wonderful description of animals, to exhibit its original organic connection with its surroundings? Obviously there is little to be gained from such ingenious, and yet at bottom, superficial remarks as that of Herder: “Behemoth and Leviathan are the pillars of Hercules at the end of the book, the Non plus ultra of another world;” and just as little from the flat and shallow physical theology of the vulgar rationalism, which represents the poet as finding in these “prodigies of the amphibious world” (Job 40:9) the hippopotamus and the crocodile, “the power, wisdom, and goodness of God” (see, e.g., Wohl-farth on the passage), or from the downright allegorizing of the Church Fathers, who in the leviathan and also in behemoth found the devil, with whom also Luther is in accord, when he says; “By behemoth is meant all the large monster beasts, and by leviathan all the large monster fishes. But under these names he describes the power and might of the devil, and of his servants, the ungodly multitude in the world.”1 On the other side, the opinion favored by most moderns, that the hippopotamus and crocodile, like the animal pictures grouped together in the first discourse of Jehovah (Second Part, Job 38:39 seq.), are designed to illustrate the greatness and wonderful glory of God’s creative energy, and so to present impressive pictures of created existence mirroring the omnipotence of God-this opinion is far from furnishing a perfectly satisfactory explanation of the poet’s purpose in describing so earnestly and elaborately these two animals, and in this way dissipating completely the doubt which has been raised touching the genuineness of this section of the book. That which alone can help us to a correct appreciation of the poet’s purpose is the truth, flowing from the view of nature presented throughout the revealed Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, that the entire animal world is a living text-book, a mirror of morals, now warning, now encouraging and shaming us, a gallery of pictures, ethical and parenetic, collected for men by God Himself; and that in particular the animals distinguished for ferocity and size are awe-inspiring examples for us, symbols, as it were, or pictorial embodiments of the Divine Wrath. Novatian, in his work on the Jewish legislation touching food (De cibis Judaicis), says: In animalibus mores depinguntur humani et actus et voluntates; and most of the Church Fathers express themselves in substantial agreement with this view in respect to the more profound ethical and symbolical significance of the animal world. So, e.g., Clement of Alexandria, among whose utterances on this subject (Pædag. III. 11; Strom. II., p. 389 C; 405 D, etc.), that which he has said respecting the sphinx (Strom. V., p. 561 C) deserves to be mentioned here as being of special significance: “the human half of this creature teaches us that God is to be loved, the animal (τὸ υηρίον) that He is to be feared.” Comp. also Irenæus (Adv. hær. V. 8), Tertullian (Adv. Marc. II. 18; IV. 24; De Resurr. carn. 52), Origen (Homil. VII. in Levit.), Gregory of Nyssa (Opp. T. I., p. 165, 166), Chrysostom (Homil. in Genes. XII.), and Jerome, who (Comm. in Isaj. l. VI. c. 14, p. 259, Vall.) sets forth with peculiar vividness the ethical significance of animals, especially of the poisonous and ravenous sort: Mores igitur hominum in diversis animantibus monstrantur, sicut Pharisæi et Sadducæi propter nequitiam appellantur genimina viperarum et propter dolos Herodes vulpus dicitur, etc.2 That this ethico-symbolical, or, if you please, ethico-allegorical, conception of the animal world is most deeply rooted in the Sacred Scriptures, and especially in the Old Testament, scarcely requires to be more particularly proved. We need only refer to the many passages where godless men, who have sunk beneath their proper dignity, are described as “beasts” (בְּהֵמָה), such as Psalms 49:13 [Psalms 49:12], Psa 49:21 [Psalms 49:20]; Psalms 73:22; Jeremiah 5:8; Daniel 4:12 seq.; comp. also Psalms 32:9; 2 Kings 19:28; Titus 1:12, etc. Is it likely that our passage, which, with the most penetrating sympathy, describes two species of wild beasts, whose ferocity and strength make them dangerous, setting forth their physical constitution and mode of life, was composed without any reference to this deeper symbolical significance of the animals for man? Because it has nothing in common with that archetypal ideal significance which belongs to those royal beasts which appear in Ezekiel’s description of the cherub, the lion, the eagle, and the ox, is it therefore devoid of all and every profounder meaning, and entitled simply to the claim of being a broad, detailed, poetic description of natural objects, without any religious and ethical purpose? If the passage did not itself repeatedly call attention to the deeper meaning of that which is described, we might possibly entertain in regard to it that depreciative opinion which regards it as not genuine. But after the repeated intimations which itself conveys-especially in Job 40:19; Job 41:19; Job 2:0 [Job 2:10], Job 2:3 [Job 2:11], Job 2:14 [Job 2:22], Job 2:17 [Job 2:25]-concerning the presumptuous pride and the tyrannical ferocity of the two animals described, it is scarcely to be doubted that, according to the clearly defined and firmly maintained purpose of the poet, these are to be regarded as symbols not merely of the power, but also of the justice of God; or, in other words, that the divine attribute of which the poet desires to present them as the vivid living mirror and manifesting medium is omnipotence in the closest union with justice (more particularly with punitive justice, or wrath), or omnipotence in its judicial manifestations. These two pictures from the animal world are designed to hold up before Job the truth that all pride and presumption shown by God’s creatures towards Him, the Creator, can avail nothing; and that there is nothing in the creation so powerful and fearful, or even so invincible to man, but that it is compelled to serve the wise and exalted purposes of God in governing the world. They are intended to teach him “how little capable of passing sentence upon the evil-doer he is, who cannot even draw a cord through the nose of the behemoth, and who, if he once attempted to attack the leviathan, would have reason to remember it so long as he lived, and would henceforth let it alone” (Delitzsch).-To go further in the direction of a symbolical and allegorical explanation of the two monsters, and to find in them emblems of the world-power which is hostile to God, but which is powerless as against Him, would not be advisable. At least the description contains no sort of intimation, pointing more definitely to such an emblematic application to any historical empires or nations; and the pre-eminently significant and instructive passage at the close of the discourse in which the leviathan is described as “king overall the proud,” gives us to understand clearly enough what is the deeper meaning which the poet wishes to put in the very foreground of his description. [See further the very striking remarks on the view of the animal kingdom conveyed by these descriptions, in their “contradiction to those oriental dreams which made the animal creation an occasion of offense to the languid, oriental devotee,” and their “accordance with those juster views of the economy of the animal system which modern science has lately brought itself to approve,” in Isaac Taylor’s Śpirit of the Hebrew Poetry, Ch. VIII.]


It will not be found difficult in the homiletic treatment of this discourse rightly to apprehend and profitably to apply both the fundamental parenetic thought which it presents (as distinguished from that of the first discourse of Jehovah), and the allegorical vesture and illustrative treatment which it receives in the second longer part. The older practical expositors indeed do not furnish much help, because they wander for the most part into the extreme of unhealthy allegorical exaggerations, just as the modern scientific exegesis, in the majority of its representatives, strays into the opposite extreme of a superficial, barren, literal interpretation. A few hints deserving attention may be introduced here from the older as well as the more recent expositions of the discourse.

Job 40:7 seq. Brentius: Thus doth the Lord say to Job: Is my judgment, by which I either afflict the pious, or declare all men to be liars, to be made void and of no effect by thy opinion? Does it behoove me to be unrighteous, in order that thy righteousness may be established? Thou art righteous indeed, and to this thou hast my own testimony (in Job 2:0), but thou art not therefore at liberty to calumniate God’s judgments in the afflictions which He sends.-Cramer: Those who ascribe to themselves any righteousness before God proceeding from their own powers, they do nothing else than condemn God, and attempt to annul His sentence, as though He had no authority and power to judge, and to condemn them (Romans 3:4)!-Starke: God seeks to remind man, not once simply, but again and again, of the sins which he has committed, and to work in him thorough conviction, in order that his repentance may be sincere (Matthew 23:37).-Wohlfarth: As God repeatedly challenges Job to convict Him, the author of his lot, if he can, so does the Lord in His works and word call upon us to do the same. And if we do not succumb to the power of sorrow on account of our sufferings, if on the contrary we hearken to the voice of divine truth which everywhere surrounds us, we shall be constrained to acknowledge that the sufferings of the pious are always under God’s oversight, and that, so far from making the friend of virtue wholly unfortunate, it is absolutely certain that He, the Almighty and Holy One, guards innocence, and that if He will not deliver it here, He will recompense it hereafter for the pain which it has endured here below.

Job 40:15 seq. Cocceius: It will be easy, if we wish to follow Scripture, to resolve into an allegory those things which are here spoken to Job, both in general and in detail (!), and from the physical object described to learn a notable lesson. For it is a remarkable feature of God’s plan that He makes the most savage of men subserve the good of the Church, so that although they may not love God from the heart, nor understand the truth, they will nevertheless, notwithstanding their own wisdom and judgments be thereby condemned, embrace the pious, hear cheerfully the word of truth, take pleasure in the reputation of the faithful, … so that now with the whole world raging against the truth of the doctrine of Christ, it is a great and blessed dispensation that many vain, proud, fierce, pleasure-loving men are so softened that they will endure the doctrine and reproofs of Christ’s peaceful ministers, and wish to be esteemed among Christ’s, without being such, etc.-V. Gerlach: That which this second discourse of God shows to Job is this, that justice and omnipotence are inseparable, and that in order to establish his righteousness, man must have as much power as God himself. … If any creature feels that in itself it is powerless, it thereby confesses at the same time that it is not righteous, but is in a moral, as well as a natural sense, dependent. For righteousness is nought else than that which the Almighty has established as the law after which the world is governed; In order now to make this principle clear to Job’s perception, God does not stop in His discourse with that which He says to Job with a view to his humiliation and reconciliation; but in like manner as in the series of natural wonders presented in the previous discourse, the Lord exhibits His surpassing wisdom, so by these two most powerful beasts, which man is unable to subdue, He exhibits His power, in order to prove that man, who is not able to tame these animals, is still less able to carry out his will in the government of the world, and to humble beneath himself the pride of the unrighteous.

Job 41:1 seq. H. Vict. Andreä: If in what is said of the leviathan we find it expressly set forth how utterly powerless in his own strength is man as compared with him, we are naturally led to regard this leviathan as a type of the evil, and of the human misery connected with it, which existing on the earth as they do in accordance with the divine decree and permission, present in the world without so mighty a power adverse to humanity, that the individual man, even when in his own person he is able, as in fact is the case, inwardly to release himself from their hold upon him by dint of a living faith, he is nevertheless, as regards his external participation in the evil which has come through sin into the world subject to the evil and the misery, and seeks in vain to become their master. At the close (Job 41:33 [26]), God points as with the finger to the pride of the leviathan, and characterizes him as king of all the “children of self-exaltation,” whose servants they make themselves through their own pride. … Thus, at least in general, does that “accuser [murderer] of men from the beginning” (John 8:44), in harmony with the antecedent scenes in heaven mentioned in the prologue, present himself to us here at the close as a highly expressive figure, nay as the right key to the interpretation of Job’s own history, as well as of the entire history of humanity.

Job 42:1-6. v. Gerlach: Job, in repeating here the words of God in His first address to him, acknowledges to his own shame the truth of that which God had held up before him. God’s incomprehensible wisdom and omnipotence have convinced him that the ways of His providence also are inscrutable.-Vilmar. (Past.-theol. Blätt XI, 70): By Elihu’s discourses and God’s judicial manifestation, and then by the repentance which is in this way produced within him, Job is brought back to the stand-point at first occupied by him (comp. Job 2:10), and the close of the book in general must be brought back rigidly to this initial point. The bodily disease remains at first unrelieved, but the sting which by the intervention of the three friends it had inflicted on the sufferer, is plucked out of his soul. In a sense that is absolutely proper the book forms a περίοδος; after long wandering the resignation to God which marks the beginning of the book reappears in the resignation of its close. And after that the inward disease has been overcome, the outward is also healed by God.


[1]Concerning Luther’s predecessors in this Satanological allegoristic interpretation (which of late H. V. Andrea has again attempted to revive up to a certain point, see Homiletic Remarks below-but which the representation of Satan in the prologue clearly shows to be inadmissible), see above on Job 40:19, and comp. G. M. Dursch, Symbolik der Christichen Religion, Vol. II, (1859), p. 344seq. [Wordsworth also adopts this allegoristic interpretation, and applies in detail to Satan the description of both behemoth and leviathan.]

[2]Among later advocates of the same idea, comp., e.g., Peter Damiani, Opusc. 52; de bono religiosi status et variarum animantium tropologiis; Pierre Viret. Metamorphose Chrestienne, Genève, 1561; Joh. Bapt. Porta († 1561), De physiologia humana; Jac. Böhme. Gnadenw. VII. 3, 4; V. 20, etc.; John Bunyan, in his Autobiography [Works, Vol. I., p. 28, Newhaven, 1831]; also G. H. v. Schubert, Geschichte der Seele, 4th Ed., p. 732 seq.; Lotze, Mikro kosmos. II. p. 108 seq; also my Theol. Naturalis, I. p. 537 seq.; 541 seq.

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Job 41". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/job-41.html. 1857-84.
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