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Bible Commentaries
Job 41

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary


Job Chapter 41

Job 41:1 "Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? or his tongue with a cord [which] thou lettest down?" "Leviathan" means a serpent, or some believe a crocodile, or sea monster. God is speaking of the unlikelihood of catching one on a hook, or of tying his tongue down with a rope.

Job 41:2 "Canst thou put an hook into his nose? or bore his jaw through with a thorn?" This is speaking of having this thing in total subjection. The hook in the nose, or through his jaw, would make him easier to handle.

Job 41:3 "Will he make many supplications unto thee? will he speak soft [words] unto thee?" In this particular verse, it is as if this crocodile is human. This is a description of the way captives act sometimes. Could this be hinting at Satan?

Job 41:4 "Will he make a covenant with thee? wilt thou take him for a servant for ever?" Of course, this evil animal, or serpent, will do none of these things. This serpent would fight to the very end.

Job 41:5 "Wilt thou play with him as [with] a bird? or wilt thou bind him for thy maidens?" This crocodile, or serpent, would be far too dangerous to play with, as you would a bird. The maidens liked animals for pets, but this would not be wise to do with this crocodile. It appears that people in the time of Job, had pet birds, and antelopes and other animals that could be domesticated, but the crocodile could not.

Job 41:6 "Shall the companions make a banquet of him? shall they part him among the merchants?" Crocodile is eaten in some countries, and perhaps, that is what is meant by making a "banquet" of him. The merchants could cut him up, and each take whatever they needed of him.

Job 41:7 "Canst thou fill his skin with barbed irons? or his head with fish spears?" This would be highly unlikely to do, because of the rough exterior of the crocodile. They might harpoon him, but it would be next to impossible for one man to bring him in. Job 41:8 "Lay thine hand upon him, remember the battle, do no more." It would be a very dangerous thing to reach out a hand against the crocodile. You would be missing a hand, and perhaps, a whole body.

Job 41:9 "Behold, the hope of him is in vain: shall not [one] be cast down even at the sight of him?" Someone might be brave enough to go to try to capture him, but just one look at this ferocious thing would cause him to run in fright. Job 41:10 "None [is so] fierce that dare stir him up: who then is able to stand before me?" God is saying, "As ferocious as this crocodile is, he is nothing to compare to God, who made him". If you would be afraid of a crocodile, how much more you would be afraid of God?

Job 41:11 "Who hath prevented me, that I should repay [him? whatsoever is] under the whole heaven is mine." No one can prevent God from doing what He wants to do. The Creator can do whatever He desires to do with His creation. When it comes to God, man does not have an opinion. Job’s one mistake was thinking he might contend with God over his fate.

Job 41:12 "I will not conceal his parts, nor his power, nor his comely proportion." This is just saying, God will not hide any of this.

Job 41:13 "Who can discover the face of his garment? [or] who can come [to him] with his double bridle?" The only reason for having a double bridle would be because the animal being bridled was incorrigible. The second bridle would be to hold in case the first broke. The garment, here, is speaking of his outer skin. If this scaly skin were removed, he would be easy to kill.

Job 41:14 "Who can open the doors of his face? his teeth [are] terrible round about." The doors of his face is speaking of those huge jaws with the equally huge teeth. The top and the bottom jaws are covered with teeth. His bite could be vicious.

Job 41:15 "[His] scales [are his] pride, shut up together [as with] a close seal."

Job 41:16 "One is so near to another, that no air can come between them."

Job 41:17 "They are joined one to another, they stick together, that they cannot be sundered." This is just speaking of how difficult it would be to get a spear, or anything else, between the scales of his outer skin. They are like a shield that could not be penetrated very easily.

Job 41:18 "By his neesings a light doth shine, and his eyes [are] like the eyelids of the morning." "Neesings" means sneezings. The light shining is, possibly, when the light shines in his eyes. When he would be lying on the bank at night, the moon might shine in his eyes. They are rather small for such a great sized animal.

Job 41:19 "Out of his mouth go burning lamps, [and] sparks of fire leap out."

Job 41:20 "Out of his nostrils goeth smoke, as [out] of a seething pot or caldron."

Job 41:21 "His breath kindleth coals, and a flame goeth out of his mouth." This was speaking of him, as if he was a dragon. Crocodiles do not have fire in their mouths or smoke coming out of their nostrils. The only thing they do that might make a frightened viewer think these things, are the wild splashing they do in the water.

Job 41:22 "In his neck remaineth strength, and sorrow is turned into joy before him." His neck is very near the same size as his body. It appears that wherever he goes, everything in his path runs and hides. He has no competitor for his territory.

Job 41:23 "The flakes of his flesh are joined together: they are firm in themselves; they cannot be moved." These flakes are, possibly, speaking of his skin which is like flakes. They are so well put together, that he appears to be in just one piece. His scales are almost impossible to penetrate. Even his hide underneath is like very tough leather.

Job 41:24 "His heart is as firm as a stone; yea, as hard as a piece of the nether [millstone]." He has a heart of stone. Anything in his way is destroyed without repentance. A millstone has a hole in the middle to fit on the wheel. This is just saying the crocodile, or whatever he is, has no heart for anyone or anything.

Job 41:25 "When he raiseth up himself, the mighty are afraid: by reason of breakings they purify themselves." This could be a description of a crocodile or it could easily be a description of Satan himself. The traits of the crocodile, serpent, and Satan are very similar. Fear caused many people to worship the crocodile. Fear drives many to worship Satan, too. They feel they are headed for certain death when a crocodile breaks upon them.

Job 41:26 "The sword of him that layeth at him cannot hold: the spear, the dart, nor the habergeon." A sword would be no defense against a crocodile. "Habergeon" is a javelin, here. Not any of these weapons of war would penetrate the rough skin of the crocodile. He would snap any of the above weapons in two with his giant jaws.

Job 41:27 "He esteemeth iron as straw, [and] brass as rotten wood." The hardest metals are useless against the crocodile. It would take the bullet of a very large gun to kill a crocodile. A bullet from a 38 would bounce off his skin, like it would off solid steel.

Job 41:28 "The arrow cannot make him flee: slingstones are turned with him into stubble." A stone in a sling was enough to kill the giant Goliath in the hands of David. The crocodile has no exposed places where a stone could hit him, however. It would be impossible for an arrow to penetrate his skin.

Job 41:29 "Darts are counted as stubble: he laugheth at the shaking of a spear." None of these weapons of man would be counted as anything by the crocodile. Job 41:30 "Sharp stones [are] under him: he spreadeth sharp pointed things upon the mire." Even the hide underneath his stomach was very tough. He crawled across jagged rocks, and they did not break his skin. The only thing that happened, was the stone was just pressed down into the sand on the bank of the water as he crawled over them.

Job 41:31 "He maketh the deep to boil like a pot: he maketh the sea like a pot of ointment." This is speaking of the water being disturbed, as he turned or spewed water upward.

Job 41:32 "He maketh a path to shine after him; [one] would think the deep [to be] hoary." The river where his habitation was, is what is called being {hoary} old. When he moved in the water, there would be a white stream of bubbles which followed him.

Job 41:33 "Upon earth there is not his like, who is made without fear."

Job 41:34 "He beholdeth all high [things]: he [is] a king over all the children of pride." The crocodile is not afraid of anything on the earth. He could be classified as king of his territory. Again, this description fits that serpent the devil well. Satan is king over those filled with pride.

Job 41 Questions

1. What does "leviathan" mean?

2. What unlikelihood is God speaking of in Job 41:1?

3. What is Job 41:2 talking about?

4. In Job 41:3, what observation did the author make of leviathan?

5. This evil serpent would fight to the ______.

6. Why could they not make a pet of him?

7. What was meant by the "banquet" in Job 41:6?

8. Why would it be difficult to get a barb under his skin?

9. If you put out a hand to him, what would happen?

10. Just one look at that ferocious thing would cause a person to ________________.

11. If you could not stand before leviathan, how could you stand before ______.

12. What would be the need of a double bridle?

13. What was the garment in Job 41:13?

14. What were the doors of his face?

15. They were covered with _________.

16. Why would it be so hard to get a spear through his scales?

17. What are "neesings"?

18. What is the light that is shining?

19. What is verses Job 41:19-21 describing?

20. What was unusual about his neck?

21. What were the flakes of his flesh?

22. His heart is as a ________.

23. The author believe Job 41:25 could be a description of what?

24. When a crocodile came toward them, they were filled with _______.

25. What was the "habergeon", in Job 41:26, speaking of?

26. Darts were counted as _________ by him.

27. He maketh the deep to boil like a _______.

Verses 1-11

Job 41:1-11


Job 41


"Here we have the crowning description of a natural wonder, the leviathan (crocodile), with an elaboration to which there is no parallel in the rest of the Scriptures, forming a fitting climax to the gradually more and more elaborate descriptions in Job 39-41." Yes, "Leviathan is the name of a seven-headed sea-dragon in the old Canaanite myths current prior to the Israelite occupation; but that does not prove that Leviathan in the Book of Job is a mythological creature." "Once again the general features of the picture point to an actual animal, in this case, the crocodile." There is a consensus of practically all scholars on this. "Most scholars hold the view that it is the crocodile which is described."

Of course, "It must be admitted that there are many expressions here that a modern scientist would not use in describing a crocodile; but the Book of Job is neither modern nor scientific, but ancient and poetic." D. G. Stradling tells us that, "Leviathan is mentioned in six Old Testament passages: Psalms 74:14; Psalms 104:26; Isaiah 37:2; Ezekiel 29:3-5; and twice in the Book of Job." The other reference in Job is Job 3:8.

Job 41:1-11

"Canst thou draw out Leviathan with a fishhook?

Or press down his tongue with a cord?

Canst thou put a hook into his nose?

Or pierce his jaw through with a hook?

Will he make many supplications unto thee?

Or will he speak soft words unto thee?

Will he make a covenant with thee?

That thou shouldest take him for a servant forever?

Wilt thou play with him as a bird?

Or wilt thou bind him for thy maidens?

Will the bands of fishermen make traffic of him?

Will they part him among the merchants?

Canst thou fill his skin with barbed irons,

Or his head with fish-spears?

Lay thy hand upon him;

Remember the battle, and do so no more.

Behold, the hope of him is in vain:

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

None is so fierce that he dare stir him up;

Who then is he that can stand before me?

Who hath first given unto me, that I should repay him?

Whatsoever is under the whole heaven is mine."

"Will he make supplications unto thee" (Job 41:3)? There was an ancient tale that crocodiles shed tears over the creatures they devoured, from which came the modern expression "crocodile tears," insincere, or hypocritical tears. There seems to be a sarcastic reference to that here. "Will he make supplications unto thee"? might very well mean, "Will the crocodile cry over you"?

"Wilt ...thou take him for a servant" (Job 41:4)? "Here the impossibility of domesticating the crocodile is indicated." Heavenor described the import of these verses as God’s questions of Job: "Could Job consider the crocodile as a suitable object upon which to demonstrate his fishing ability (Job 41:1)? or as a domestic servant (Job 41:4)? or as a plaything (Job 41:5)"?

"Lay thy hand upon him; remember the battle, and do so no more" (Job 41:8). To paraphrase this, "Meddle with him (the crocodile) in any of the above ways, and you will rue the day."

"Will not one be cast down at the sight of him" (Job 41:9)? "Any man who would lay hands on Leviathan is warned not to do it, or he will regret it, since he will collapse as soon as he sees him."

"Who then is he that can stand before me" (Job 41:10)? The big point of the whole chapter is right here. If Job cannot vanquish a fellow-creature, such as either behemoth or leviathan, such a fact, "Contradicts Job’s claim of any right or claim against God." Another thought that arises from this verse is, "If even the most courageous man would not be so insane as to stir up leviathan," how could anyone be so foolish as to contend with God? "If one of God’s creatures is too formidable to assail, what must be thought of the Creator of all things"?

E.M. Zerr:

Job 41:1-9. Leviathian is from a Hebrew word that Strong defines, "a wreathed animal, i. e. a serpent (especially the crocodile or some other large sea-monster)." Moffatt’s version and Smith’s Bible Dictionary also render it crocodile. The word is also rendered, "great water animal" by Young, and "whale, dragon, serpent, sea-monster" by Robinson. The works of reference seem to intimate some indefiniteness as to the actual creature meant. The description as given in this chapter also seems to have both the crocodile and a large fish in mind. Part of the statements would apply to one and part to another. But the point under consideration is that man is frail when compared with the great brutes, and it is true of either of the ones named. I therefore shall refer to either as the language of the text suggests. Like the argument made about other creatures in the universe, the might of the one now being considered is cited to show the helplessness of man. It is true that man today can master this beast or brute by his late knowledge of scientific mechanics. But had man been the maker of all such creatures he would have known from the start how to manage them, and would not have needed to learn it by "the hard way" of experimentation and discovery.

Job 41:10. If man is not able to master this monster of the sea, who then could contend with the power that created it?

Job 41:11. Prevented is from QADAM and Strong defines it, "a primitive root; to project oneself, i. e. precede; hence to anticipate, hasten, meet (usually for help)." The word as used here means to help God and the question means to ask who has helped God in any of the works of nature.

Verses 12-17

Job 41:12-17

Job 41:12-17

"I will not keep silence concerning his limbs,

Nor his mighty strength, nor his goodly frame.

Who can strip off his outer garment?

Who shall come within his jaws?

Who can open the doors of his face?

Round about his teeth is terror.

His strong scales are his pride,

Shut up together as with a close seal.

One is so near to another,

That no air can come between them.

They are joined one to another;

They stick together so that they cannot be sundered."

"His mighty strength ... etc." (Job 41:12). Driver, and other scholars, have complained that the text here is corrupt; but one thing is clear, the mighty strength of the crocodile is stressed. Moreover, the crocodile of the Old Testament was a full 18 feet in length, contrasting with the American crocodile some four feet shorter.

"Who can open the doors of his face? Round about his teeth is terror" (Job 41:14). "`The doors of his face,’ his lower and upper jaws. `Round his teeth is terror,’ in the upper jaw usually 36, in the lower jaw 20, long and terrible to look at."[17] Rowley, however, wrote that, "The formidable teeth of the crocodile inspire terror; in the upper jaw, there are thirty-six, and in the lower thirty"! This writer must confess that he does not know which one of these scholars is correct regarding the number of crocodile teeth in that lower jaw!

"His strong scales are his pride" (Job 41:15). "These plates are of exceeding hardness, so hard, that they were employed as armour by ancient warriors, and one may see a coat of natural scale armour in the British Museum." "The skin (scales) of the crocodile is actually so hard that a musket ball will not penetrate it."

E.M. Zerr:

Job 41:12. I stands for God who declares that he will not conceal, that is, he will not refrain from mentioning all the parts of leviathan.

Job 41:13-14. This is a further challenge, expressed in figurative language, for man to match his strength against the creature being considered.Job 41:2015-17. Scales is from MEGINNAH and Strong defines it, "a shield (i. e. the small one or buckler); figuratively a protector; also the scaly hide of the crocodile." These scales resemble somewhat those of a large fish. Man did not form them for the crocodile or fisJob 41:22 ther has he learned from them to make metallic armor for himself.

Verses 18-25

Job 41:18-25

Job 41:18-25

"His sneezings flash forth light,

And his eyes are like the eyelids of the morning.

Out of his mouth goeth burning torches,

And sparks of fire leap forth.

Out of his nostrils a smoke goeth,

As of a boiling pot and burning rushes.

His breath kindleth coals,

And a flame goeth forth from his mouth.

In his neck abideth strength,

And terror danceth before him.

The flakes of his flesh are joined together:

They are firm upon him; they cannot be moved.

His heart is as firm as a stone;

Yea, firm as the nether millstone.

When he raiseth himself up, the mighty are afraid:

By reason of consternation, they are beside themselves."

"His sneezings flash forth light" (Job 41:18). "The spray breathed through the nostrils of the crocodile is luminous in the sunshine. His eyes are compared to the dawn, because they are visible from some distance under water." "When the crocodile comes up after being submerged in the water, he blows spray into the sunlight with an effect like fireworks. That impression is enhanced by the fact that his eyes shine like coals of fire through the water." As Kelly said, "All of this may be understood as an imaginative and exaggerated description of a crocodile, or as poetic imagery."

"Out of his nostrils a smoke goeth" (Job 41:20). This is a reference to that spray which the monster snorts out of his nostrils following a period of being submerged in the water. "It is compared here to the steam that comes off a pot boiling with a fire made of rushes under it."

"Terror dances before him" (Job 41:22). "This is a graphic description of the terrified movements of other creatures when the crocodile appears."[25]

"The flakes of his flesh are joined together" (Job 41:23). "These (literally the pendulous parts) under the neck and body, which in most animals are soft, are in the crocodile firm and hard, forming a horny, waterproof covering for the epidermis."

E.M. Zerr:

Job 41:18. Neesings is another word for sneezing. In the field of figurative language we should be careful to avoid speculation, and always remain within the bounds justified by the known facts. For instance, we know the inspired writer was describing a literal, fleshly creature. Whatever figures he used must be understood to be only some comparison to the thing named. Let us be careful not to formulate some far-fetched applications. When the hippopotamus sneezes, the vapor he forces from his nostrils would appear like a ray of light, and it would be reflected at the same time from his eyes.

Job 41:19-21. The breath of this large beast would be charged with the temperature of his body which is likened to the heat of a lamp.

Job 41:22. This creature is so mighty that what might have been meant as pain to him will fail, and he will be able to rejoice over the feeble attempt.

Job 41:23-25, This is a description of the powerful physical body of the beast.

Verses 26-34

Job 41:26-34

Job 41:26-34


"If one lay at him with the sword, it cannot avail;

Nor the spear, the dart, nor the pointed shaft.

He counteth iron as straw,

And brass as rotten wood.

The arrow cannot make him flee:

Sling-stones are turned with him into stubble.

Clubs are counted as stubble:

He laugheth at the rushing of the javelin.

His underparts are like sharp potsherds:

He spreadeth, as it were, a threshing-wain upon the mire.

He maketh the deep to boil like a pot:

He maketh the sea like a pot of ointment.

He maketh a path to shine after him;

One would think the deep to be hoary.

Upon earth there is not his like,

That is made without fear.

He beholdeth everything that is high:

He is king over all the sons of pride."

"Sling-stones are turned with him into stubble" (Job 41:28). The sling, of course, was a deadly weapon both for war and for hunting. David, it will be remembered, used this weapon in his triumph over Goliath of Gath. It is surprising that it is mentioned here; because, "There is no evidence that it was ever used in an effort to destroy a crocodile. What is meant is that no ordinary weapon of any kind was effective against the crocodile."

"His underparts are sharp like potsherds" (Job 41:30). See quotation from Driver under Job 41:23, above.

"He maketh the deep to boil like a pot ... a path to shine after him (in the deep); one would think the deep to be hoary" (Job 41:31-32). Barnes and other scholars remind us that "the deep" in these verses is not a reference to the ocean but to the Nile river, which in ancient times was often referred to as `the sea.’ The path that the crocodile made to shine after him appears to be a reference to the wake following the crocodile’s movement through the water, reflecting the sunlight. We also have here a reference to, "Leviathan’s motion in the water, which he churns up to a foam." "It is generally allowed that by `the sea’ here is meant `the Nile,’ as in Isaiah 19:2; Isaiah 18:5, and Nahum 3:8."

"He is king over all the sons of pride" (Job 41:34). "The sons of pride here are the proud beasts of prey." If one wonders why both the behemoth and the leviathan are called "kings," it is because behemoth was king of the beasts, and leviathan was king of the reptiles.

E.M. Zerr:

Job 41:26. The things named are articles of attack and defense used by man. The meaning is that all of them will be of no avail in an encounter with this monster.

Job 41:27-29. By comparison only this beast is said to be able to masticate iron as easily as straw. Other parts of the paragraph take comments at Job 41:26.

Job 41:30. His hair is so coarse that it is compared to stony points; he buries them in the mire on the floor of the sea.

Job 41:31-32. This paragraph evidently has special reference to the whale. (See my remarks at Job 41:1-9.) The statements are almost literally true. Standing on the rear deck of a large boat one can trace with his eye the path the boat has Just traveled by the foamy light streak on the surface of the water.

Job 41:33-34. This sums up the might of the monster that has been described. The helplessness of man in contact with the creature is the point of the writer.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Job 41". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/job-41.html.
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