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Job 25-27. offer a difficult critical problem. “ The phenomena which excite attention are these: ( a) Bildad’ s speech is unusually short; ( b) Job’ s reply contains a section ( Job 26:5-14) very like Bildad’ s speech; ( c) Zophar fails to speak; ( d) ch. 27 has a title prefixed, which has no real parallel elsewhere in the middle of a speech belonging to the original poem (ch. 29 forming no real exception); ( e) the greater part of ch. 27 so completely contradicts Job’ s views as elsewhere expressed, that it seems very hard to believe that it can have formed part of this speech” (Peake).
Here what is a very usual rearrangement will be adopted. We shall take Job 25 and Job 26:5-14 as Bildad’ s speech, Job 26:1-4 and Job 27:2-6 as Job’ s reply, and Job 27:7-23 as the missing third speech of Zophar. This seems the simplest arrangement, though it is open to objections. For this and alternative views, see Peake’ s Commentary.
Job 26:2-4 . Beginning of Job’ s Reply to Bildad.— He speaks sarcastically of the helpfulness and instructiveness of Bildad’ s speech. He must have been inspired ( Job 26:4)!
Job 26:5-14 . Conclusion of Bildad’ s Speech.— Bildad pursues the theme of the greatness of God, begun in Job 25:2-3.
The giants ( Deuteronomy 2:11-20) tremble at God ( Job 26:5). Rephaim ( Genesis 14:5 *) means both shades ( mg.) and “ giants” ; perhaps the connexion is that the giants, the oldest inhabitants of the earth, were the first to go down to Sheol, and so gave their name to all the shades. In any case it is best to translate here “ giants.” It gives an excellent illustration of God’ s power that these mighty men, who are conceived as having once done battle with Him, tremble under it. Abaddon ( Job 26:6) is a synonym for Sheol, which lies open to God’ s eyes ( Proverbs 15:11 *). The “ north” in Job 26:7 is that part of the earth known to the Jews as the place of great mountains, whose weight makes the wonder that the earth rests upon nothing more wonderful still. “ Nothing” and “ empty space” mean chaos.
Job 26:8 passes to the wonder of the clouds, the bottles of heaven ( Job 38:37), whose thin skins do not burst in spite of their enormous content.
Job 26:9 a is somewhat obscure; the meaning apparently is that God conceals His throne behind the clouds.
Job 26:10 is to be explained by reference to the Babylonian cosmology, adopted in Genesis 1. The earth is a flat disc resting on the great deep “ or chaos, an ocean of waters. Above it rises the vault of heaven or firmament, which is the sphere of light. Outside is darkness. In Job 26:11 the pillars of heaven are the mountains. In the Babylonian cosmology these rise from the extreme edge of the disc of the earth, and upon them is set the vault of heaven: their roots go down into the “ great deep.”
Job 26:12 refers again to the “ great deep” or chaos under the names of the sea and Rahab (= Tiamat), the chaos monster ( cf. Job 7:12, Job 9:13). We may translate either “ stirreth up,” when the meaning is God first incites and then destroys the rebellion of Tiamat, or else “ stilleth,” when the two lines of the verse become parallel.
Job 26:13 refers to the clearing of the storm-clouds. “ By his breath the heavens are bright.” The swift serpent is the leviathan of Job 3:8.
Job 26:14 . Bildad has enumerated all these instances of the Divine power, but concludes by saying that all this is only the mere fringe of its manifestation.
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Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Job 26". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Sunday after Epiphany