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Bible Commentaries
Job 40

Peake's Commentary on the BiblePeake's Commentary


Job 38:1 to Job 42:6 . The Divine Speeches.— Here after the Elihu interpolation Job 32-37, we return to the original poem and the solution of Job 31, in which Job summed up his second problem, that of Divine Providence, by challenging God to show the justice of His treatment of himself. The poet has no direct answer to give to the problem Job has raised. He cannot lift the veil of the future, and show another world where wrongs are righted and the balance of this world is redressed. He can only point to the creation and say, “ God is there; how wonderful is His creative power.” The world is certainly an enigma; well, let it be an enigma. God is greater than we. Moreover, the poet teaches that, enigma or no enigma, piety is still possible. Though Job never comes to understand the Divine Providence, yet he sees God face to face and bows in humility before Him. We may compare with the argument of the poet, “ Providence is a mystery, but so is the creation,” that of Butler’ s Analogy, “ Revelation is a mystery, but so is nature.”

Verses 1-14

Job 40:1-14 . Divine Irony. The passage opens with a challenge to Job ( Job 40:2) in which God drives home the lesson of the previous speech.

Job 40:1 is wanting in LXX and is a gloss.

Job 40:3-5 contains Job’ s reply, in which he humbles himself before God. Peake and Strahan, however, both think that these verses are properly to be taken immediately before Job 42:1-6; so that there is only one reply from Job. If Job had already humbled himself, there seems no need of a second Divine speech. If, however, Job 40:3-5 are part of Job’ s one and only reply then Job 40:6 f. is a gloss ( Job 40:7 is repeated from Job 38:3), and Job 40:2, Job 40:8-14 are to be read continuously; Job 40:8 joins on well to Job 40:2. “ Disannul my judgment” means “ deny my justice.” Job, in order to demonstrate his own innocence, has been led to challenge the moral order of the universe. He has not, however, taken a sufficiently wide point of view.

Job 40:9-14 explains why Job has failed. He cannot put himself in the place of God, and govern the world: thus neither can he understand the method of its government. In Job 40:13 c “ the hidden place” seems to mean Sheol.

Job 40:14 . “ Then will I praise thee, that thy right hand getteth thee victory.” Duhm explains this: “ Thou hast so much care for my government of the world, thou wouldest no doubt maintain it better than I can do, for thou wouldst straightway smite down everyone who in any way seemed to thee dangerous or made himself displeasing to thee by arrogance. Man would, if he had God’ s power, in his zeal for righteousness and for his own honour become a tyrant. God because of His true superiority is patient, His apparent equanimity is therefore no proof of want of feeling for the right.”

Verses 15-24

Job 40:15 to Job 41:34 . Behemoth and Leviathan. Most scholars regard this passage as a later addition to the poem. The point of Job 40:8-14 is God’ s reply to Job’ s criticism of His righteousness; the description of these beasts, however, illustrates at great length man’ s impotence, which is only a secondary thought in the previous Divine speech. They therefore divert attention from the main issue. Moreover, there is a great difference between these descriptions and those of Job 38:39 to Job 39:30. “ Here the descriptions are heavy and laboured, gaining their effect, such as it is, by an accumulation of details, a catalogue of their points and minute descriptions of the various parts of their bodies. But the poet who gave us the pictures of the wild ass, the horse, and the eagle was a swift impressionist, springing imagination with a touch, not stifling it with the fullness of detail proper to a natural historian” (Peake).

A further question is whether, in accordance with the generally accepted view, Behemoth is the hippopotamus, and Leviathan the crocodile. Some modern scholars think they are mythological figures. Gunkel, followed by Zimmern, identifies Leviathan with the chaos-monster Tiamat, and Behemoth with her consort Kingu. In some cases this identification suits, while certain details do not fit the usual explanation. Still the mythological interpretation has not been generally accepted; the inappropriateness of details on the usual theory is explained by the imperfect knowledge or the poetical exaggeration of the author.

Job 40:15-24 . Behemoth— The name means a huge beast; it is an intensive plural of b e hç mâ h, beast. In Job 40:17 “ He moveth his tail like a cedar” is an exaggeration: the tail is only a short, naked stump.

The statement that Behemoth is the chief of the ways of God ( Job 40:19) suggests that he is God’ s masterpiece. We may, however, render “ the beginning of the ways of God.” The idea that Behemoth was the first animal might be derived from Genesis 1:24, where cattle ( b e hç mâ h) are placed first.

Job 40:19 b is corrupt. Giesebrecht reads “ who is made to be ruler over his fellows.” In Job 40:23 translate “ a Jordan,” the appellative denoting any torrent: the hippopotamus is not found in the Jordan. In Job 40:24 “ when he is on the watch” is literally “ in his eyes.” The parallelism suggests that the meaning is “ attack him in his eyes.”

Duhm would place Job 41:9-12 here as the conclusion of the description of Behemoth.

Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Job 40". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pfc/job-40.html. 1919.
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