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EXCURSUS No. VIII.
BEHEMOTH AND LEVIATHAN.
The word behemoth, in its Hebrew aspect, is generally assumed to be the plural form of behemah, “beast,” from baham, “to be mute,” (see note on Job 12:7,) and by some it is supposed to be used collectively for beasts in general, as in the Septuagint, ( θηρια ,) and in the Chaldee, ( בעיריא ;) the Syriac and Vulgate, like ourselves, meanwhile retaining the Hebrew word. On the assumption of such a derivation of the word, it may be regarded as “a plural of excellency,” a not uncommon form in the Hebrew for the superlative qualities of an object. The scholarship of the day, however, inclines to the view that this word behemoth, though it bears a Hebrew form, is an importation into that language from Egypt, (thus Dillmann and Hitzig;) its resemblance to the Coptic pehemaut, water ox, ( p, the; ehe, ox; mau, water,) having been noted by the best biblical scholars from the times of Jablonski to the present: for instance, Gesenius, Winer, Furst, Delitzsch, etc. In the hieroglyphs, the Nile-horse or ox (hippopotamus) was called apet or rert, the meaning of which was, according to Brugsch, “that which rolls or turns itself in the mud or water; that is, a beast that rolls in the mud.” Hieroglyph. Demot. Worterbuch, p. 867. The hieroglyphic representation of the hippopotamus as given by Canon Cook, and on page 262 of this work, is taken from the description of a fishing party in the times of the seventeenth or eighteenth dynasty, a period earlier than that of Moses, and is read by Birch, who follows Champollion, bechama, the resemblance of which to the word before us, behemoth, is unmistakable. It is proper to remark, however, that Brugsch transcribes it cheb.
The etymology, then, of the word behemoth, as seen through the more recent philological discoveries, points to the hippopotamus, and makes quite unnecessary any enlarged reference to the various speculations indulged in by various interpreters of behemoth. Drusius, Grotius, Schultens, J.D. Michaelis, Scott, Henry, P.H. Gosse, (Fairbairn’s Bib. Dic.,) suppose that the elephant is meant by behemoth; others, again, (as Professors Lee, Rosenmuller, W.F. Ainsworth, in Journal of Sacred Literature, 1859, p. 44,) regard the word as collective, and standing for beasts in general, while Dr. Good and a few others think that behemoth answers to some extinct pachyderm of the mammoth or mastodon species. On the supposition that no living species of the hippopotamus, as respects bulk, shape, or disposition, fills all the demands of this detailed description given in Job, it is not improbable that all the conditions may have been fulfilled by some one of the various species of the same animal living at the same time as Job. Six species of the hippopotamus have been found in the fossil state, and even in England one species has been discovered as much larger than his living congener as its companion, the mammoth, was larger than the living elephant. See Chambers’s Cyclopaedia, s.v. Rabbinical writers in the Talmud depicted this animal supposed by them also to be alluded to in Psalms 50:10 as a monster, every day devouring “the grass of a thousand hills,” destined himself in turn to furnish a feast for God’s people when the Messiah shall come. According to the legend, behemoth was created male and female; but the latter was destroyed, lest the earth should be unable to sustain their progeny, while the male is doomed to live on until all the faithful Israelites shall have been raised from the dead, at which time he himself shall be slaughtered. (See Kitto, Bib. Illus., in loc. Allen, Modern Judaism, p. 271. Samuel Wesley, Dissertationes, pp. 295-297.)
The word leviathan (Hebrew, livyathan) occurs five times in the Scriptures: Job 3:8; Job 41:1; Psalms 74:14; Psalms 104:26; Isaiah 27:1, and, with the exception of Job 3:8, is uniformly rendered leviathan. The term livyathan is from lavah, to “writhe,” “wind,” “twist;” a like meaning to which the cognate word in the Arabic and Syriac also bears. See on Job 41:1. The term, then, may be used in a by no means restricted sense, but one wide enough to embrace some unknown monster of the deep. Psalms 104:26. In Isaiah 27:0, Job 41:1, the word appears twice, first as the synonyme of “the piercing serpent,” nahhash bariahh, the “fleeing” or “fleet serpent,” from barahh “to flee,” (same as in Job 26:13; see note,) and secondly, as equivalent to “the crooked serpent,” nahhash ‘ hakallathon, from ‘hakal, “to twist,” “wind,” or “coil,” in allusion to the sinuosities into which serpents form themselves in order that rapid motion may be effected. Such an association of the term leviathan evidently indicates a wide use of the word for any great monster, whether of the ocean, (Psalms 104:26,) the air, (Job 26:13,) or the land. There can be but little doubt that here, and in Job 3:8, (on which see extended note,) as well as in Psalms 74:14, leviathan answers to the ancient crocodile. The number of names given to the crocodile in very ancient times points to a great variety of species, and “crocodiles which differ from all living species have also actually been found in Egyptian tombs.” Schmarda, cited by Delitzsch, ii, p. 366.
Among the many considerations that might be urged, that in neither case has the modern critic erred in his designation of behemoth and leviathan, is the interesting fact that the hippopotamus and crocodile appear together as typical monsters in the most ancient times; perhaps, because they were found together in the Nile, and also because of the profound impression which both of those monstrosities made upon that intelligent but most superstitious people, the Egyptians. Bochartus furnishes a formidable array of authorities and gives copious citations in illustration of this strange association of the two by the ancients. Among those who thus speak of behemoth and leviathan are Herodotus, Diodorus Siculus, Pliny, Solinus, Philo, Pausanias, Marcellinus, etc. Clemens, according to Wilkinson, (v, p. 180,) substitutes the crocodile for the hippopotamus in the sentence which he cites from a temple at Dispolis. Bunsen ( Egypt’s Place, etc., 1:516) gives a hieroglyph in which the two are conjoined. According to Jewish traditions, a fierce battle is yet to be waged between behemoth and leviathan, in which neither shall be victorious; but when both shall fall exhausted, they shall be stabbed and slain by Messiah. (Allen, Modern Judaism, 270.)
An exceedingly difficult question, forced upon the commentator, is that of determining the significance of these two animals, of which the sacred writer gives so long and detailed a description. The cursory notes already given have glanced at some of the greatly diversified views held by ancient and modern writers. That these beasts are introduced into the address of Jehovah for the purpose of inculcating upon Job some deep ethical lesson is admitted by all those who do not, like Ewald, Simson, Furst, and Dillmann, go to the extreme of excluding the behemoth-leviathan section from the word of God. Delitzsch thinks that “these two descriptions are designed to teach Job 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 him alone. It is, perhaps, an emblem that is not without connexion with the book of Job, that these, behemoth and livyathan, ( tannin,) in the language of the prophets and the psalms are the symbols of a worldly power at enmity with the God of redemption and his people.”… “To show Job how little capable he is of governing the world, and how little he would be in a position to execute judgment on the evil doer, two creatures are described to him two unslain monsters of gigantic structure and invincible strength, which defy all human attack.” Vol. ii, p. 384. Zockler, (in Lange,) whom Zschokke follows, regards them as “awe-inspiring examples for us; symbols, as it were, or pictorial embodiments, of the divine wrath.” He says, “After the repeated intimations which the passage itself conveys especially in Job 40:19; Job 41:10-18.41.11; Job 41:22; Job 41:25 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 finally 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.”
The Fathers of the Church, for instance, Origen, Athanasius, Augustine, Cyril, Gregory the Great, Jerome, ( Comment. on Job,) Olympiodorus, attached to leviathan a mystical sense, and conceived him to symbolize the Satan who appeared so prominently in the prologue of the book. The theory has been most unequivocally endorsed by Bishop Wordsworth, who approvingly cites Samuel Wesley, the latter of whom regarded leviathan “as an adumbration of the king of evil spirits;” and saw in him “a picture of the tyrannical oppressors of God’s people, who are types and instruments of Satan;” and deemed that “something greater and more terrible than a crocodile, and than any dragon of the earth or sea, or than Pharaoh himself, lies concealed in the words of Jehovah under the figure of leviathan.” Dissertationes in Librum Jobi, xxxviii, pp. 299-301. What makes the theory more impressive and worthy of consideration is, that the very word behemah, beast, appears again and again in the Scriptures as an unindividualized symbol of godless men. Psalms 49:12-19.49.20; Psalms 73:22; Jeremiah 5:8; comp. Psalms 68:30, (margin,) etc. The Scriptures, too, intimately associate Satan with the “serpent,” (Genesis 3:1; 2 Corinthians 11:3,) the “dragon,” (Revelation 13:2,) the “old serpent,” (Revelation 12:9; Revelation 20:2;) in all which, we may remark, that it is the reptile or saurian creation which the spirit of evil has chosen through whom to work ruin to our race. But this theory, on the one hand, does not account for the associated prominence accorded to behemoth, (not to speak of the pacific disposition ascribed to him,) and on the other, attributes to Satanic leviathan a dominion, embracing the brute creation, which is quite too universal (Job 41:26) to comport with other representations of Scripture. Wordsworth vainly tries to account for the two in their conjoined capacity of Satanic medium, by the constrained view 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 may help, in deciphering the hidden meaning of these two animals, to look a little more closely at the marks by which they are distinguished from the brute world which had previously passed in array before us. As before remarked, they are both amphibious, representatives of two modes of life which, because of its comprehensiveness gives them a greater claim upon our attention. Belonging, one of them to the class pachydermata, and the other to that of saurians, they, quite as much as any of the surviving creation, are linked with pre-adamite monsters and possibly with a regime of evil which is supposed by some to have preceded the period when the world came distinctly under our own recorded spiritual economy, connected with the garden of Eden. (See Kurtz’s Bible and Astronomy, section 18.) Both of them, consequently, belong to that portion of God’s creation which may be characterized as abnormal, grotesque, and monstrous. What is of greater significance yet, is, that they both figured most conspicuously in the mythologies and symbols of the ancient world. “The hippopotamus was said to have been a symbol of the western pole, or the region of darkness: distinct, of course, from that primeval darkness which covered the deep, and from which sprang the light supposed to have been seen by the Mygale, the emblem of Buto.” WILKINSON’S Ancient Egyptians, 5:181. For this reason, it may have been, that in astronomical representations the hippopotamus was assigned to the neighbourhood of the north pole, a place now filled by the dragon. Eusebius informs us, ( Praep. Evang. iii, chap. 12,) that the hippopotamus was seen figured in this view in the temple of Apollinopolis, standing with open jaws and gaping upwards as if to engulf the descending lights of heaven. Wilkinson ( Anc. Eg., 5:87, 88) refers to a well-known god with the head of a hippopotamus, who, he says, “may be one of the characters of the Egyptian Mars, the animal itself being worshipped at Papremis, the city of that deity.
I have only found him so represented in small pottery figures, but never in the sculptures, though the hippopotamus-headed goddess occurs in monuments of an early date. The connexion of the god Mars and this Typhonian animal is remarkable.” Compare Herodotus, 2:59-71. Plutarch, speaking of the symbolic figures to be seen in the porch of the temple of Minerva at Sais, introduces, last of all, the sea-horse [hippopotamus] as the symbol of impudence. The meaning of the entire series of symbols, he says, is this: “O you who are coming into the world, and who are going out of it, (that is, both young and old,) God hateth impudence.” De Iside, sec. 32. Horapollo (i, 56) assigns to the claws of the hippopotamus the signification of “injustice and ingratitude,” as well as to the whole animal the force of “time,” or “an hour.” What is of greater consideration, even yet, is the relation which the hippopotamus sustained to the soul in the infernal regions the Kerneter or Amenti “the place of the gods.” (Concerning Amenthes or Amenti, see p. 74, and Bunsen’s Egypt’s Place in History, 1:433.) If, after the deceased had been judged by Osiris and his forty-two deputies he was convicted of unpardonable faults, he became the prey of an infernal monster with the head of a hippopotamus. This monster was the goddess Thoueris devourer of souls. See further, Lenormant, Chald. Mag., p. 86. Also note Job 31:6. The significance of the discovery made by Schliemann at Hissarlik (which he supposes to have been ancient Troy) does not yet appear. “It is that of a brilliant red terra-cotta hippopotamus, at a depth of twenty-three feet. It is still an enigma how the animal was so well known here as to have been made of clay in a form quite faithful to nature.” Troy and its Remains, p. 228. On the wide diffusion of the hippopotamus in ancient times, see Meth. Quar. Revelation, 1877, p. 248; also, Murray’s Geog. Dist. of An., p. 165.
Not unlike the hippopotamus, a crocodile couching was, says Horapollo, a symbol of the west, and the tail of the crocodile was the hieroglyphic character which expressed darkness in the sacred sculpture of the Egyptians. On the contrary, “the crocodile was supposed by some to be an emblem of the sun, its number, sixty, being thought to agree with that luminary; and Clemens tells us, ( Strom., lib. v,) the sun was sometimes in a boat, and at others on a crocodile.” WILKINSON, Ibid., 5:233. The crocodile was peculiarly sacred to the god Sevek. Its worship did not extend to every part of Egypt: some places, considering it the representative of the evil being, bore the most deadly enmity to it, which led to serious feuds between neighbouring towns. Ibid., 5:229. “Nor, indeed,” says Plutarch, “has the crocodile itself those great honours paid it, without some probable show of reason for so doing. For, as this animal has no tongue, [see note, p. 267,] it has, on that account, been esteemed as the image, as it were, of the deity himself. For the divine reason stands not in need of speech, but,
Marching through still and silent paths,
The world administers with justice.
It is observed, likewise, as another property of this animal, that though, while it is in the water, its eyes are covered by a thin, pellucid membrane, which comes down from its forehead, yet it is able to see when it cannot be perceived that it sees, so that in this respect, likewise, it bears some resemblance to the first God. It is further remarked, that in whatever part of the country the female crocodile lays her eggs, so far will be the extent of the rise of the Nile for that season.” De Iside, etc., sec. 75.
The crocodile also figured among the terrors which the Egyptian fancied the soul to encounter in its journeyings and transmigrations after the close of life. Chapter 32 of the Ritual of the Dead describes the departed as turning back four crocodiles, each one of which came from a different cardinal point.
The most important characteristic of these two animals, (behemoth and leviathan,) and one for which the preceding citations have prepared us, is, that they were typhonian a word which Luke uses (Acts 27:14) in describing the Euroclydon, when he calls it τυφονικος , a typhonic, “tempestuous” wind. In explanation of the word, Plutarch remarks: “Every thing that is of an evil and malignant nature, either in the animal, vegetable, or intellectual world, is looked upon in general as the operation of Typhon, as part of him, or as the effect of his influence.” See De Iside, 49.
“Furthermore,” says Plutarch. abruptly, “in the city of Apollo it is an established custom that every one must eat of a crocodile.” Modern travellers (Denon, 1. 16) speak of Egyptian temples (at Ombos) in which the paintings mostly related to the worship of the crocodile. The god, in one of the temples, bore in part the form of a man, only that it was surmounted by the crocodile’s head. The name given to this deity was Sevek.
It was a very generally embraced belief among the Egyptians that it was by taking on himself the form of a crocodile that Typhon escaped from Horus, the avenger of the murder of Osiris, his father. In an invocation of Horus we find the following: “Come to me quickly on this day to guide the holy bark, (the sun’s boat,) to force back… all crocodiles into the Nile. Shamelessness and sin (?) come and appear upon earth; but when Horus is invoked he destroys them. All mankind rejoice when they see the sun. They praise the son of Osiris, and the serpent turns back.” (From Brugsch, cited by Duncker, History of Antiq., 1:60.) The hieroglyph of Sevek was, according to Birch, a crocodile seated on a pylon. In this and other tropic hieroglyphics, “it appears from the ritual that there undoubtedly was an inward or esoteric meaning.” Hieroglyphics, p. 221. (On its typhonian character see note, Job 3:8.) In India, on each day of the great and horrible festival of Siva, the devotees worship the sun, pouring waters and flowers on a clay image of the alligator. (Ward, History, etc., of the Hindus, 1:26.) In South Africa, “if the Bakwains happened to go near to an alligator they would spit on the ground, and indicate its presence by saying, ‘There is sin.’” Livingstone.
The Egyptian mythology selected animals of hideous aspect, or of fierce and untamable disposition, or “the most senseless and stupid, such as the ass,” (Plutarch,) to stand as embodiments, or more properly as living representatives, of Typhon. The statement, however, which Bunsen makes ( Egypt, etc., 1:442) is not to be overlooked, and is to be accounted at its proper worth, that prior to the time of Rameses and his successor, about 1300 B.C., “Typhon is one of the most venerated and powerful gods; a god which pours blessings and life on the rulers of Egypt, just as the hateful Nephthys is called ‘the benevolent, protecting sister.’”
Unquestionably, at the head of typhonian animals stand the two, with a protracted description of which the address of the Almighty closes. They pre-eminently represent, according to Plutarch, “the wilder kind, the most fierce and untamable,” and are consequently devoted to Set or Typhon. (Compare Bunsen’s Egypt, 1:425-430.) At Hermopolis there is shown a statue of Typhon which represents a hippopotamus, on the back of which stands a hawk, (the sacred bird of Horus,) fighting with a serpent. (Plutarch, ibid.) Typhon usually appears on the monuments as a hippopotamus walking on its hind legs, and with female breasts; sometimes, with sword in hand, to show his evil nature. Sharpe, Egypt. Mythol., p. 8. On the seventh of the month Tybi, when the Egyptians celebrated the arrival of Isis from Phoenicia, they made cakes stamped with the form of a river-horse, bound. (Plutarch, ibid.) Mr. Birch has found, in the Book of the Dead, the word BABA, signifying the beast, ( behemah.)
as an epithet of Typhon. As we have before seen, Cheb or Chab was, according to Brugsch, the hieroglyph for hippopotamus. The word, he says, literally signifies “the concealed,” “the crooked.” In the form of Chebu, it bears the meaning of “morally crooked, distorted; hence, sin, error, badness.” In illustration, he cites from the Book of the Dead, “nen ar-a Chebu em ma-t.” “I have not committed iniquities in the tribunal of truth, (justice,) in sede veritatis: (justitiae.)” Hieroglyph. Demot. Worterbuch, pp. 1030, 1031.
These varied, numerous, and necessarily abbreviated illustrations of the Egyptian view of embodied evil have been adduced, not with the supposition that specifically, or in detail, they were, or could be, known to Job, but simply to set before the reader in general the significance of behemoth and leviathan in ancient mythology, a significance of which Job who in his great lamentation (Job 3:8) naturally alludes to leviathan and the sorcerers, and who was profoundly versed in Egyptian matters, (see Excursus IX,) could not by any means have been ignorant. These two brutes, then, stood as types of evil; and one great lesson they taught Job may have been intimately connected with the subject of evil. These types of evil Job is called upon to comprehend and explain. That they belonged to the brute world would make the rebuke to Job more signal and humiliating. The rebuke assumes that the knowledge of that which is greater, should imply knowledge of that which is less. He who understands evil in its infinite relations to God, ought to understand it in its finite relations to earth. To illustrate by modern science: He who professes to unfold the cause of the magnetism of the interior of the earth should not stickle at the currents that play upon its surface. Job had pre-sumptuously challenged God to give account of his ways, (Job 13:20-18.13.28;) had defiantly charged upon him, that he had afflicted his servant beyond what was right, (Job 9:13-18.9.22;) in his murmurs and complaints had postulated a comprehensive knowledge of the unseen world of evil, (Job 16:9-18.16.14:) if he be so wise with respect to the spiritual and unseen the vast, throbbing currents of right and wrong which underlie the infinite moral world over which God rules and reigns, he must know all about evil in all its disclosures through the brute creation! “Behold behemoth!” Explain these typhonian creatures which live on the outskirts of the wide-extended sphere of hidden evil, (Job 40:20-18.40.22;) then Job may show reason for discoursing upon subjects which tower almost infinitely above every human understanding.
On account of greatly magnified difficulties which are supposed by some to adhere to the behemoth section, it has been regarded by De Wette, Ewald, and Stuhlmann as an interpolation, and attributed by them to the so-called “author of the Elihu section,” (on which see page 197,) and, to one’s surprise, assumed by Dillmann even, to be an addition from some “inferior Egyptian poet who undertook to describe monsters he had seen in his native land.” Ewald bases his objections to the section before us on the twofold ground of position, and of the different character existing between the description of these two and the earlier description of animals chapters 38 and 39. The first objection assumes that the sole object of this long delineation of the two animals is to set forth the power of God, and, therefore, should be connected with the first address, which had the same end in view, instead of being connected with the second address, which, it is also assumed, exclusively treats of the justice of God. Hirtzel replies that “the same objection holds against the challenge of God, (Job 40:9-18.40.14,) because it refers as little to the justice of God, but really is a question of power between Job and his Creator.” A consistent work of excision would then leave but two verses, (seven and eight,) for the second address of the Almighty. The stately tree which came forth from the divine hand in symmetrical proportion stands peeled and stripped, with a single, solitary, scragged bough. As to the second objection, it may be sufficient to indicate that a more close examination of the section shows the same artistic hand as in the earlier portions of the book. This may be tested by the comparison of unusual expressions and forms of Hebrew words, which it has in common with Job and his friends: for instance, “eyelids of the morning,”
Job 41:18 with Job 3:9: “children of pride,” Job 41:34 with Job 28:8; the personification in Job 41:22 with Job 17:2 and Job 29:19, literally, the dew lodged (passed the night) in every branch, branches of the body, for limbs, (Hebrew, baddim,) Job 41:12 with Job 18:13; the peculiar use of karah, to traffic, with על , in Job 41:6 and Job 6:27; the Jobesque use of על עפר , “upon the dust,” Job 41:33 and Job 19:25, (on which, see note;) the exceptional employment of אפיקים , with the meaning of “strong,” Job 41:15 and Job 12:21, (in each case see margin;) also of רפד , to “spread,” Job 41:30 and Job 17:13; the form העשׂו , Job 41:33, and צפו , Job 15:22, etc.
The theory above adduced, that the two animals stand as types of evil, meets objections raised against their long-drawn-out portraiture. From such a stand-point the space they fill in the work does not appear unseemly, even when compared with that accorded to animals not typhonic. Moreover, this theory brings forward into bold relief the subject of evil, which otherwise would not receive direct consideration in these discourses of Jehovah. Besides, if such a moral interpretation be not justifiable, it is to be specially remarked that a work which in other respects is perfect in its artistic and dramatic make, at the outset brought out into great prominence the emissary of evil only to thrust him, and the cause he so maliciously represented, entirely from the scene, unless, perchance, we are justified in fastening upon him oblique allusions to fiends who may have been human. (See notes on Job 16:9-18.16.11.) Since the chief objection to the behemoth section is artistic, it will suffice to offset it with the unquestionably unprejudiced view of Renan, (page 1,) who says, “We should guard ourselves from a desire to find in these ancient works our principles of composition and taste. The style of the fragment of which we speak (Job 40:15 to Job 41:34) is that of the better portions of the poem. Nowhere is the style ( la coup) more vigorous, the parallelism more sonorous; all indicates that this singular morceau is from the same hand, but not from the same jet, as the rest of the discourse of Jehovah.”
EXCURSUS No. IX.
JOB, EDOM, EGYPT, AND CHALDAEA.
In the necessarily brief note on the land of Uz, (page 13,) we were led to adopt the ancient view, that the home of Job was in Edom, (Idumaea,) a country no less interesting from its associations with the tribe of Esau than from the rugged grandeur of its mountain scenery, with its rock city Petra, (Hebrew, Selah,) the tombs, temples, theatres, and even private dwellings of which, were cut in “the clefts of the rock.” Obadiah 1:3. These remain to the present day, a naked, solitary monument, as everlasting as the mountains themselves, to the truthfulness of the word of God.
Isaiah 34:6-23.34.15; Jeremiah 49:7-24.49.17; Ezekiel 25:13; Ezekiel 35:3-26.35.9; Obadiah 1:3-31.1.4; and Malachi 1:3-39.1.4. This land first appears in history as mount Seir, the home of the Horites. (Genesis 14:6.) In the course of time the Horites were overpowered by “the children of Esau,”
(Deuteronomy 2:12,) whereupon the country took also the name of Edom, (redness,) a name it afterward bore in the Scriptures. The Greeks called the same country ‘ Ιδουμαια , (Idumaea;) which Josephus regarded as “a softer and more elegant pronunciation” of what should be more properly written Αδωμα , (Adoma.) The length of Edom proper was about one hundred miles, and its breadth about twenty miles, on an average. For the most part it consisted of mountain ranges, not far from two thousand feet above the sea, though not without extended valleys and plateaus of arable land, which in ancient times unquestionably furnished a richness of soil answering to “the fatness of the earth” which Isaac, in prophetic vision, promised his wayward and disappointed son. (Genesis 27:39.) Even of the present condition of this mountainous country Dean Stanley writes: “The first thing that struck me in turning out of the ‘ Arabah up the defiles that lead to Petra was, that we had suddenly left the desert. Instead of the absolute nakedness of the Sinaitic valleys, we found ourselves walking on grass, sprinkled with flowers, and the level platforms on each side were filled with sprouting corn; and this continues through the whole descent to Petra, and in Petra itself. The next peculiarity was, when, after having left the summit of the pass, or after descending from mount Hor, we found ourselves insensibly encircled with rocks of deepening and deepening red. Red, indeed, even from a distance, the mountains of ‘ red’ Edom appear, but not more so than the granite of Sinai; and it is not till one is actually in the midst of them that this red becomes crimson, and that the wonder of the Petra colors fully displays itself” Sinai and Palestine p. 88. The approach to Petra, even from a distance, deeply impresses the traveller. “We wound,” says Laborde, “round a peak surmounted by a single tree.
The view from that point exhibited a vast, frightful desert a chaotic sea, the waves of which were petrified. Following the beaten path, we saw before us mount Hor, crowned by the tomb of the prophet, if we are to credit the ancient traditions preserved by the people of that country… But at length the road leads the traveller to the heights above one more ravine, whence he discovers within his horizon the most singular spectacle, the most enchanting picture, which nature has wrought in her grandest mood of creation.” Arabia Petraea, p. 154.
“You descend from wide downs,… and before you opens a deep cleft between rocks of red sandstone rising perpendicularly to the height of one, two, three hundred feet. This is the sik or ‘cleft;’ through this flows if one may use the expression the dry torrent, which, rising in the mountains half an hour hence, gives the name by which alone Petra is now known among the Arabs, wady Mousa, [valley of Moses.]… Follow me, then, down this magnificent gorge the most magnificent, beyond all doubt, which I have ever beheld. The rocks are almost precipitous… The gorge is about a mile and a half long, and the opening of the cliffs at the top is throughout almost as narrow as the narrowest part of the defile of Pfeffers.” STANLEY, Sinai and Palestine, p. 89.
For the spectacle which rises before the vision at the end of the long defile we refer the reader to the works of Robinson, Olin, Laborde, and Stanley.
It does not lie within our province to treat of the eventful history of the strange people who inhabited these mountainous heights. After filling an important page in the history of the world, at about the Christian era, not only the nation, but even the name of the country itself, Idumaea, quite disappeared from the knowledge of men.
The readiest route for the long lines of caravans, laden with merchandise, which in ancient times travelled from the Persian Gulf to Egypt, and thence probably to Ethiopia, lay along the boundaries of Idumaea, so that in the course of time Petra became an entre-pot of great importance. (See Strabo, xvi, ch. 4:24.) Communication with the seaports of Phoenicia on the one hand was no more difficult in ancient times than now; while, on the other hand, the desert lying between Idumaea and Chaldaea was traversed at the time when Job lived no less easily than at the present. (See note, Job 1:17.) If the commonly accepted view, that the home of Job was in the land of Edom, be the correct one, we have the key to the great knowledge Job possessed of the outer world, even though he may have lived in patriarchal times, seventeen or eighteen centuries before Christ. Recent discoveries show that long before the centuries mentioned a high civilization had been attained in Chaldaea as well as in Egypt, and that thus early discoveries had been made in the sciences and the arts corresponding to the great knowledge displayed in the book of Job. “There is no reason,” says Layard, “why we should not assign to Assyria the same remote antiquity we claim for Egypt. The monuments of Egypt prove that she did not stand alone in civilization and power. At the earliest period we find her contending with enemies already nearly, if not fully, as powerful as herself; and amongst the spoil from Asia, and the articles of tribute brought by subdued nations from the northeast, are vases as elegant in shape, stuffs as rich in texture, and chariots as well adapted to war, as her own. It is not improbable that she herself [Egypt] was indebted to the nations of Western Asia for the introduction of arts in which they excelled, and that many things in common use were brought from the banks of the Tigris.” See further, his Nineveh, 2:225-235; and George Smith’s Chaldaean Account, pp. 28-31, 312.
The language of Accad, the dead language of primitive Chaldaea, together with its institutions and civilization, served as a fountain-head of knowledge to a large portion of the very ancient world. The Phoenician never forgot that his ancestors once dwelt along the Persian Gulf, and even the Israelite traced his ancestral home to Ur of the Chaldees. (See Kenrick’s Phoenicia, pp. 48, 52.) “These Accadians were the earliest civilizers of Western Asia, and it is to them that we have to trace the arts and sciences, the religious traditions and the philosophy, not only of the Assyrians, but also of the Phoenicians, the Aramaeans, and even the Hebrews themselves. It was, too, from Chaldaea that the gems of Greek art and of much of the Greek pantheon and mythology originally came. Columnar architecture reached its first and highest development in Babylonia… It is difficult to say how much of our present culture is not owed to the stunted, oblique-eyed people of ancient Babylonia… Both Jerusalem and Athens were profoundly influenced by the ideas which had their first starting point in primeval Accad.” SAYCE, Babylonian Literature, p. 6-14.
On the other hand, not many days’ journey from Petra lay the land of Canaan, (Phoenicia,) with its maritime cities, one of which, Zidon, was mentioned by Jacob in his dying addresses as “a haven for ships.”
Genesis 49:13; compare Joshua 19:28-6.19.29. As we have already seen, (note on Job 41:6,) at the time of Homer the Phoenicians were the merchants of the world. Their commercial activity took its rise with that of the people themselves. No sooner had they “settled in the parts which they now inhabit.” than they “began at once,” says Herodotus, (i, 1,) “to adventure on long voyages, freighting their vessels with the wares of Egypt and Assyria.” Not to speak of the ancient terminus of caravan lines at Gerrha, on the Persian Gulf, with its communications with India, Phoenicia itself would by its seaports open many outlooks through which Job might take a glimpse of the sea and the wonders of distant lands. Through the Canaanites Job may have obtained his varied knowledge of metallurgy, even if he had no information of the extensive mines in Arabia, and especially those of the land of Midian, the extent of which the recent exploration of Captain Burton (1878) serves to make known. Burton describes the country as the land of ruined mines, with shafts, tunnels, furnaces, workmen’s towns and princely cities, now the very picture of desolation. Comp. Numbers 31:1; Numbers 31:22-4.31.23. On this section see Heeren, Asiatic Researches, 1:325-368, 2:300-303; Rawlinson, Ancient Monarchies, 1:551-563, Job 3:14-18.3.16, sec. ed.; Kenrick, Phoenicia, chap. vi; Records of the Past, vol. 8.
To the south of Idumaea, within a few days’ journey, lay the wondrous land of Egypt, with its solemn temples, its pyramids, its tombs, and its repositories of religious knowledge. The monuments both in Egypt and Chaldaea bear witness to a wide-extended communication between the peoples of the ancient world. An inscription at Karnak shows that in the sixteenth century before Christ, Tuthmosis III. received tribute from Syria in a coin of such a make, and in such sums, as to justify the conclusion that both the Babylonian money weight and the imperial Babylonian weight were at that time in use in Syria. See further, Duncker, History of Antiquity, 1:304. Compare Joshua 7:21. There can be but little question that the commerce between Egypt and Chaldaea before alluded to reached as far back as two thousand years B.C., and that Arab merchants carried the products of South Arabia the spices of Yemen as well as the products and manufactures of India, especially their silks to Babylon, and that thence a similar commerce was maintained with Egypt. Duncker, ibid, 1:226, 305, 41:317-323.
It is not without deep significance that Job makes appeal to “wayfaring men” in confirmation of the advanced position he was taking against “the friends.” (See note, Job 21:29.) For, notwithstanding its abominable distortions, religious light was disseminated far and wide. This is indicated by the strikingly similar features of ancient idolatry, of which the worship of the bull may stand as a type, whether you speak of the Mnevis or Apis of Egypt, the winged bull of Assyria, the bull Nandi of the Hindu, or even the bull of Japan, with his horn breaking the mundane egg. A similar worship of the sun prevailed throughout the ancient world in Egypt under the form of Ra, (some say Osiris;) in Phoenicia, of Baal; in Arabia and Assyria, of Shams, or Shamas; among the Persians, of Mithras; in India, of Surya, or Mitra; and by the wandering Celt, of Beal or Bealam an almost universal worship, with which Job declared himself untainted. (Note Job 31:26-18.31.27.) In like manner Lenormant remarks that the Babylonian religion, adopted by the Assyrians with only one important modification, was, in its essential principles, and in the spirit which guided its ideas, a religion of the same kind as that of Egypt, and of nearly all other great heathen religions. See further, his Chaldaean Magic, pp. 111, 112.
The distance from Egypt was not so great but that it may have been as easily visited by Job as by Abraham, Thales, Pythagoras, Herodotus, and Plato. (Comp. Diodorus Siculus, i, chap. 7.) The free and natural use of figures based upon Egypt, its scenery, vegetation, customs, works, and its animal kingdom, must have arrested the attention of even the cursory reader of this book. For more easy reference, we group together the more important of these allusions. Such are leviathan with his sorcerers, (Job 3:8;) the building of mausolea or pyramidal structures for the burial of the mighty dead, (Job 3:13-18.3.15;) the mention of the Nile, (which Job calls a sea, as it was called in Egypt,) with its watchers, its rank mire-growths, (Job 7:12; Job 8:11;) the employment of Egyptian words, yeor, (aur,) for streams, a name also used for the Nile, (Job 28:10;) with which agrees the cuneiform yaruhu for the same river. We have also the Egyptian ahhou, “flag,” which occurs in a papyrus of early date, and is kindred with akh-akh, “green,” “verdant;” as well as gome for papyrus, which word Brugsch identifies with the Coptic, (Job 8:11;) and an allusion to the papyrus boats of the Nile, which corresponds with the view of Brugsch, that the papyrus was specially employed in Egypt for making light, swift boats, (Job 9:26.) Such also are the unmistakable references to Egyptian judicial customs, among which is the requiring of the accuser to present his accusation in writing, and of the accused to sign his reply, (Job 31:35;) the enlarged description of the war horse, as well as of several wild animals indigenous to Egypt, among which the hippopotamus and crocodile fill the most important place. (Job 39:19-18.39.25; Job 40:15-18.40.24; Job 41:0.)
Along the banks of the Nile the light of a primeval revelation shone with greater clearness and effulgence, we are disposed to think, than in any other part of the ancient heathen world. What has been said of Hindostan, that “one could almost imagine that before God planted Christianity upon earth he took a branch from the luxuriant tree and threw it down to India,” would hold equally true of ancient Egypt. The increasing discoveries of our age have called great attention to this ancient land, confirming the justness of the observation of Herodotus, (ii, 37,) that “they [the Egyptians] are religious to excess, far beyond any other race of men,” and revealing the possession of religious truths, in a crude form, it is true, but sufficiently distinct to show that they are the relics of a divine revelation, of which the mode of communication may never be known. The sceptical speculation of the day makes religious knowledge a gradual development; on the contrary, the readings of monumental remains disclose declension and loss of such knowledge; also, that the tendencies of all religions, with the exception of that of Christ, are downward, unless counteracted by the bringing in, from without, of religious truth. There is a disposition, too, to find a complete circle of such divine truth in olden false religions, so much so that the lover of antiquity beholds with perverted eye, its perverted religions, and becomes their devotee, if not their worshipper. Especially is this the case with Egypt. The life of its people, their customs, manners, sciences, thoughts, and inner being, stand before us in monumental array, with a distinctness hardly less vivid than that of mediaeval history. The mind is charmed at the contemplation, and disposed to find perfection not only in such a civilization, but in the religious belief of such a people. It is quite prepared to see in the brilliant light-points which beautify and somewhat relieve the Egyptian night, well-rounded orbs of doctrine and of faith. Among recent writers on Egyptology (1877) is L’abbe Ancessi. With an imagination as vivid as that which he ascribes to the Egyptians themselves, he conceives a comprehensive scheme of spiritual belief, and invests the crude conceptions of a debased mythology with the garb of the advanced doctrines of Christian faith. The casual reader might easily suppose that Nile papyri, painted tombs, and sculptured stelae contain “the oracles of God” no less truly than the Holy Scriptures themselves.
The most significant of the resemblances which L’abbe finds is here adduced, for its strange coincidence with one of the sentiments of Job’s proposed inscription, (p. 131 and Excursus V,) as well as for its bearing upon the exegesis of the passage it so closely resembles. It appears in the “Book of the Dead;” the authority is that of Lepsius, Todtenbuch, 130, 28.
The personal pronoun is repeated three times; the same particle is used before the word “flesh” in both languages; in the Egyptian e M-haaouef from his flesh; in the Hebrew, Mibbesari from my flesh. By the citation of another formula from the same “Book of the Dead,” “He sees from his eyes, he hears from his ears, the truth,” in which the same prepositione e M, “ from,” is used, Ancessi claims that in neither case can it be used in a separistic sense, to wit: that the soul sees “away from,” or apart from the body. With this interpretation agrees grammatical usage elsewhere, as Ancessi shows in his Comparative Grammar of the Semitic and Hamitic Languages Etudes de Grammaire Comparee, etc., le theme M. Parity of reason, he claims, demands that the preposition min should be rendered in like manner from in the book of Job, ( Job et l’ Egypte, etc., 144, 146,) in other words, that Hebrew and hieroglypt both taught that the time should come in the history of the disembodied soul when, through the medium of the flesh, it should behold God.
After the fullest and frankest recognition of the great light the Egyptian, and even the Assyrian, once enjoyed, there rises before our eyes an obverse view painful to contemplate. The ghastliness of a mummy with which frequently the evidences and memorials of their faith were entombed symbolizes the degradation, despair, and death which characterized their religion, and which are not to be covered up nor ignored by splendid sentiments gathered here and there from Egyptian rituals; even though their substratum may have been the immortality of some souls, a rigid ordeal for the soul and its deeds, and the future revivifying of the body.
A marked, and, indeed, the most salient feature of Egyptian worship, was its adoration of brutes. This worship reaches back to the most ancient times. To a contemplative mind the spectacle is painful and unaccountable that of the most enlightened nation of antiquity prostrate before the bestial world. It is to be confessed that the serious view which the heathen Plutarch takes of this worship is more worthy of consideration than that of the Christian Clemens, which we adduce below. The former wrote: “The Egyptians, at least the greater part of them, by adoring the animals themselves, and caring for them as for gods, have crammed their ritual full with subjects of laughter and opprobrium. Nor is this the least evil which results from their stupidity. A dangerous notion is implanted, which drives the weak and simple-minded into the worst forms of superstition, and the shrewder and more daring into atheism and beast-like speculations.” De Iside, 71. Clemens of Alexandria, who was himself, when a heathen, initiated into the Egyptian mysteries, escorts us into the remotest part of the sacred adytum, and under the guidance of a shrine-bearer, who, as “with a grave air he sings a paean in the Egyptian tongue, draws aside a small portion of the veil, as if about to show us the god, and makes us burst into a loud laugh. For the god you sought is not there, but a cat, or a crocodile, or a serpent sprung from the soil, or some such brute animal, which is more suited to a cave than a temple. The Egyptian deity appears, a beast rolling himself on a purple coverlet.” Hardwick, 2:271.
The remark of Olympiodorus, that “what the images of the gods are to the Greeks, that the beasts are to the Egyptians symbols of the gods to whom they are consecrated,” does not include the whole truth. Plutarch institutes a like comparison between the Egyptians and the Greeks, but charges upon the former, or at least the greater part of them, the adoring of the animals themselves, and the revering of them as gods. ( Ibid., 71.)
“They reverence some animals,” says Diodorus Siculus, “extravagantly καθ ’ υπερβολην not only when they are alive, but after they are dead.” Of this worship the same author gives an enlarged description, together with its inexpressible abominations, (i, 41:83-88, Booth edit.;) mournful facts to which both Herodotus and Strabo bear witness. On the Egyptian worship of beasts see Dollinger, The Gentile and the Jew, 1:454-460; Prichard, Egyptian Mythology, 41:301-343.
According to Bunsen, ( God in History, 1:226,) the worship of brutes was introduced into the established religion of Egypt about the second century after Menes, and not earlier than the second dynasty. It gradually displaced the purer worship of Osiris, together with the complicated hierarchy of gods, who are generally comprehended in three orders. The principle before suggested, of the tendency of false religions to deterioration and debasement, thus finds ready and painful illustration in Egypt no less than among the Semites generally, as well as in India in the transition from Vedism to Brahminism and thence to Buddhism.
At what time the abominations of phallic worship were introduced into Egypt does not so readily appear. No degradation of religion of its rites and culture can be imagined, more outrageous than this. Certainly this worship in Egypt was closely linked with that of Osiris, to whose tragic dismemberment Egyptian mythology traced its origin. (See Plutarch, ibid., xviii; Maurice, Indian Antiquities, 2:101-172; Hardwick, ibid., 2:279-283.) A veil should be drawn over the subject, even in the opinion of Plutarch, who declares that he “omits the more harsh and shocking parts of it,” and that “the mouth should be washed after the recital of them.” ( Ibid, sec. 20.) That veil has been sufficiently uplifted by Herodotus, (ii, 48, 49,) who “relates things which bear witness to such a bestiality that we would gladly be able for the honour of human nature to deny them.” Tholuck. The only justification for the reference to the subject here, is found in the disposition on the part of sceptical philosophy to find on the banks of the Nile the fountainhead of religion, and that, too, to the disparagement of the Bible.
The monuments testify of an ancient practice of sacrificing human beings in connexion with the worship of serpents, as is evinced by the accompanying picture, from a tomb first discovered by Belzoni at Thebes. Before the erected head of the serpent, the attitude of which, on a line with the throats of the victims, tells its gratification in the offered blood, are three human beings just beheaded by the officiating priest. Beneath the arch of the serpent sits the goddess, while the
sacred asp, bearing a human head, is seated upon the serpent’s tail. For other pictorial illustrations of this mournful subject the reader is referred to Kitto’s History of Palestine, 1:583, 584. In one of these, women, probably priestesses, are the active agents who bind the victims and hold them as they bleed to death. Notwithstanding the denial by Egypto-lovers that the Egyptians sacrificed men to their idols, (for instance, Wilkinson in Rawlinson’s Herodotus, 2:71,) the evidence of the monuments confirm the testimony of Manetho and many Greek writers (to wit, Plutarch, Diodorus Siculus, etc.) to the prevalence among the Egyptians of this revolting practice. The testimony of Manetho, who was a native Egyptian priest, and lived in the third century B.C., is to the effect that in the city Eileithyia, every year, in the dog days, some so-called typhonian men (that is, red-haired men) were burnt alive, and their ashes thrown into the air with winnowing shovels, (Plutarch, Moralia, p. 380;) and that three men were sacrificed to Hera in times remote at Heliopolis, but that King Amosis (about B.C. 1500) put an end to the custom by substituting images of wax. (Porphyry, De Abst., 2:55.) Athenaeus speaks of a work written by Seleucus which treats expressly of the human sacrifices offered by the Egyptians. Osburn declines that “human sacrifices always formed an essential part of the ritual of their idolatry.” Mon. His. of Egypt, 2:454. See Kenrick, Anc. Egypt, 1:440-448; Denon, Trav., 2:181, 208.
Such are some of the dark features which the gloomy and austere religion of the Nile must have presented in the days of Job. Notwithstanding his extensive acquaintance with the country and the institutions of its people, the candid reader of Job, and the no less candid student of Egypt, cannot fail, we think, of the conviction that the religion of Job differed “by a whole heaven” from that of Egypt. Compare Hardwick, Christ and other Masters, 2:306-360.
But, first, before pronouncing upon Job’s relationship to contemporary religions, let us again glance at the other greatly enlightened neighbour, Chaldaea. The pantheon of the Chaldaean, from most ancient times, was well stocked with divinities, the leading ones of which bore a remarkable family resemblance to those of Egypt, as well as to the more sanguinary deities of Phoenicia. The Chaldaeans, however, do not seem to have ever degraded themselves to the level of the Egyptians, either in worship of the brute creation or in the adoption into their cultus of the shocking phallic worship. Lenormant supposes that underneath their idolatrous worship lay a belief in a sole and universal Divine Being, whose nature, as in all the ancient pantheisms, was to be at the same time one and many. ( Chald. Magic, 41:128-131.) This may have been true of the primordial faith transmitted by Noah, in some stages of its deterioration, but the first records in monumental history point to an idolatry unmistakably corrupt, from which, so far as concerns the popular mind, the essence of true religion had been lost. Lenormant, without sufficient reason, regards this supposed pantheism as the primordial notion of all the ancient Kuschito-Semitic religions.
Unquestionably, at the time of Job, whether he lived early or comparatively late, the popular religion of Egypt, Arabia, Phoenicia, Syria in general, (Chaldaea, and Assyria, was marked by most revolting features, for which it is difficult for the lovers of natural religion to find theories of extenuation or even words of apology. It now appears that the Chaldaean was equally barbarous with the Egyptian and the Phoenician, for the latest researches affirm the prevalence in early Babylonia of human sacrifices. Of greater importance yet, to the religious mind, is the fact that the victim was evidently offered vicariously, which is sufficiently confirmed from the earlier inscriptions. (See W.R. Cooper, Resurrection of Assyria, p. 58,) “A curious fragment of an old Accadian hymn describes how the sinner must give his dearest and nearest, even his offspring, for the sin of his soul, ‘the head of his child for his own head, the brow of his child for his own brow, the breast of his child for his own breast;’ and a passage in the great work on astronomy informs us, that the innocent sacrifice must be offered up by fire. The bloody sacrifices offered to Moloch, therefore, were no Semitic invention, but handed on to them, with so much else, by the Turanian population of Chaldaea.” Sayce, Bab. Lit., p. 46, (1878.) (See also his article, “Human Sacrifice among the Ancient Babylonians, in Trans. Sac. Bib. Arch, Job 4:1, pp. 25-31.) Comp. Micah 6:7. This fact assumes a deep interest from the consideration that the early Babylonian language combined distinctly marked Turanian, Semitic, and Aryan elements, as though the great races were more or less revolved in this awful form of sacrifice. Such a conglomeration of language serves as a confirmation to the Scripture truth of the dispersion, and the confusion of tongues, events which took place in the land of Shinar, where Babylon was situated. For information on the early Chaldaean religion the reader is referred to Rawlinson, Ancient Mon., 1:110-141; his Herodotus, 1:480-517; and Lenormant, Chald. Magic, ch. 10.
In the midst of universal idolatry Job stands forth the worshipper of one God. The book of Job discloses God as a spiritual being, (Job 9:11; Job 10:4; Job 23:8-18.23.9,) unlimited in power, (Job 9:4-18.9.13; Job 10:7; Job 11:10; Job 12:14-18.12.25, etc.,) unchangeable, (Job 23:13,) omniscient, (Job 11:11; Job 21:22; Job 28:24; Job 34:21-18.34.22,) holy, (Job 4:18; Job 15:15; Job 25:5; Job 34:10,) and merciful, (Job 5:17-18.5.27; Job 22:17-18.22.18; Job 33:24; Job 36:15-18.36.16.) Job displays a consummate knowledge of the moral law in its most subtle relations to evil, (see p. 189,) and a philosophy of morals which constantly reminds us of the teaching of Christ and his apostles. The theory of the moral government of God during the course of the controversy was beclouded, but the sequel discloses God as Jehovah, who chastens that he may save, and who afflicts that man’s highest good may be secured, (Job 5:17-18.5.26; Job 33:19-18.33.30; Job 36:8-18.36.12; Job 42:12.) This moral government grasps the minutiae of life’s actions, (Job 10:14; Job 11:10; Job 14:3; Job 14:16; Job 23:10-18.23.12; Job 31:4; Job 34:21-18.34.22,) adequately recompenses both the just and the wicked, (Job 8:3-18.8.7; Job 22:2-18.22.7; Job 27:13-18.27.23; Job 34:11-18.34.12; Job 34:19,) even to the punishment of the latter in another life, (see p. 149,) and comprehends the entire world of the dead, (Job 20:11; Job 26:5-18.26.6; Job 36:20,) holding forth to the just the prospect of a final deliverance from the gloom of sheol. See pp. 74, 109.
If Job speaks of idolatry it is in unreserved condemnation, and that he may absolve himself from any conceivable taint, (Job 31:26-18.31.28.) And what is of greater moment is, that the idolatry which he specifies is that most common to ancient times the worship of the sun and moon which, however disguised, lay at the basis of ancient mythology; for the sun everywhere came to be regarded as the source of life, and the moon was taken up as the feminine complement; all which sooner or later drifted into the corruptions of phallic or procreative worship.
On the subject of satanology or demonology, the views of the book are clear and distinct. There is disclosed, in antagonism to the good, one powerful, subtle, pervasive spirit of evil, endowed with conscious and extended knowledge, whose theatre of activity is the world, and whose subordinate power over nature is not confined to “outward circumstances” the bare employment of physical resources as some would hold, but reaches to a certain persuasive influence over men, as is evinced by the by no means fortuitous movement of Chaldaean hordes against Job. (Pp. 23, 34.) In contrast with such enlightened views, views which wonderfully anticipate those of the New Testament, recent exploration has brought to light from among the Babylonians a system of demonology which crowded the elements with evil spirits, who were apparently outside the control of higher spirits, and who wrought inconceivable mischief. These demons spread snares for men, and were the cause of all evils. Diseases were pre-eminently their work. The most formidable demons took the form of the most dreaded diseases. This probably gave rise to the belief that various members of the body were acted upon by particular classes of evil spirits. One class, for instance, seized upon the head; another, upon the forehead; another, upon the chest; while another, supreme in malice, came down upon the life of man, and “bent him like a bundle.” The bodies of men, together with uncultivated wilds and deserts, furnished them a dwellingplace. Even the dead arose from their graves, and in the form of vampires attacked the living. The under world sent forth its horrible sprites, called innin, and the enormous uru-ku, a species of hobgoblins and larvae, to haunt and terrify men. By incantations, demons of various grades might be exorcised, and even the highest genii or demigods be driven away. By the use of charms, amulets, and magic words, the Chaldaean conceived that the bodies and homes of men might be protected against their baleful presence. This belief gave rise to an extensive system of magic. Forms of conjuration, which we cite from Lenormant, ( ibid., p. 30,) will further illustrate the terrorism winch everywhere prevailed:
On high they bring trouble, and below they bring confusion.
Falling in rain from the sky, issuing from the earth, they penetrate the strong timbers, the thick timbers; they pass from house to house.
Doors do not stop them. Bolts do not stop them.
They glide in at the doors like serpents. They enter by the windows like the wind… They take the child from the knees of the man, They make the free woman leave the house when she has borne a child. They, they are the voices which cry and which pursue mankind.
From the four cardinal points the impetuosity of their invasion burns like fire. They violently attack the dwellings of man.
They wither everything in the town or in the country. They oppress the free man and the slave.
They pour down like a violent tempest in heaven and earth. Ibid., p. 29.
The reader is referred to Lenormant for numerous illustrations.
From such considerations it is clear that the religious light reflected from the book of Job did not emanate either from Chaldaea, ancient Canaan, (Phoenicia,) or Egypt. On every subject embraced by the natural religion of the ancients this book speaks with a voice distinct and clear, and from a plane as much more elevated above that of his times as the supernatural is above the natural. Of all the doctrines considered by Job, that on which the least light is shed, is the subject of the intermediate state of the dead. Even here, the simplicity of Job’s belief stands in impressive contrast to the cumbrous faith of the Egyptian, with its long and complicated series of transformations, and its silly punitive transmigrations, (pp. 190, 191,) as well as to that of the Chaldaean, overladen not only by hobgoblins, larvae, and every conceivable grade of demoniacal existence, but by human dead metamorphosed into vampires. Against such beliefs Job, by implication, utters his protest, (Job 7:9-18.7.10; Job 14:21-18.14.22; comp. Job 14:12;) at least, in his profoundest melancholy he never involves himself in any entanglement which conflicts with the pure and eventual hope of the pious Semite. The work is as remarkable for what it does not, as for what it does, say. Job stands forth from the degraded environment of his times, an exponent of truth, the elements of which are no less simple, pure, and ultimate, than those of light. The age in which he lived was as powerless to taint his mind or pollute his heart as the Egyptian morass of which he himself speaks was to corrupt the light cast back from its surface. The conclusion we deem legitimate, that “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,” (Hebrews 1:1,) elected from the broad wastes of heathendom a Job, together with a Chaldaean Abraham, to the divine order of prophets, (Genesis 20:7;) to receive from above the light of divine truth, that, purely and without contamination, it might be communicated to the darkened family of man.
EXCURSUS No. X.
ASTRONOMY AND THE BOOK OF JOB.
The advanced knowledge of astronomy displayed in the book of Job may, humanly speaking, seem to demand a later period for its writing than that which has been assumed during the progress of the present work. Among scholars, it is recognised that this science received early and profound attention among nations widely separated, and that, in some cases at least, important discoveries were made beyond the mere superficial survey of the heavens. Until recently it has been in dispute which of the four great astronomical peoples, the Chinese, the Hindu, the Egyptian, or the Chaldee, have taken the lead in the discovery of the principles of astronomical science. The first of those mentioned boasts of attainments in this science which, if valid, would give that people the priority and the palm. It seems now to be conceded that the earliest Chinese observations we are acquainted with, sufficiently precise to afford any result useful to astronomy, were made about the year 1100 before our era. These related to meridianal altitudes of the sun, the obliquity of the ecliptic, and the position of the winter solstice in the heavens. See further, Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2:745, ninth edition.
The whole matter of Hindu astronomy is still involved in uncertainty. The more prevalent view is, that the knowledge of the Hindu was derived from foreign sources, either through Greek or Arabian channels.
As we draw nearer to the home of Job it is important to call attention to the fact that the astronomical knowledge of the Greek was borrowed either from the Egyptian or the Chaldaean. the near neighbors of Job. (See Excursus IX, p. 284.) Thales,
“Wisest of the seven sages,
That great astronomer,”
(thus Timon, cited by Laertius,) as we have before seen, early visited Egypt. Greek writers acknowledge that in this visit he gathered much astronomical and geometrical knowledge. Herodotus declares that Thales predicted an eclipse of the sun, which, from astronomical considerations, Mr. Grote and others suppose to have taken place 610 B.C. Sir Henry Rawlinson ( Herodotus, 1:168) is of the opinion that all the knowledge Thales had upon the subject of a solar eclipse was derived from the Chaldaeans, and even the possession of any true scientific knowledge he regards as problematical Diogenes Laertius, however, (s.v., section vii,) attributes the knowledge Thales possessed to the Egyptians, and states that this knowledge indicated the shape of the earth to be that of a sphere, and the eclipse of the moon to arise from its falling into the shadow of the earth. Cicero ( De Republica, Job 1:14) also declares that the first model of a celestial globe was made by Thales. On the contrary, Sir G.C. Lewis, in his work on the “Astronomy of the Ancients,” denies that Thales was cognizant of the shape of the earth. Strabo (iii, 29) affirms that the length of the year, even, was unknown to the Greeks until Eudoxus and Plato went down to Egypt, where they are reputed to have lived thirteen years in the society of the priests. These priests, he says, “were distinguished for their knowledge of the heavenly bodies, but were mysterious and uncommunicative; yet after a time were prevailed upon by courtesy to acquaint them with some of the principles of their science, but the barbarians concealed the greater part of them.” Aristotle (B.C. 384-322) unquestionably taught the circular form of the earth, deducing it from the fact that “although the moon in its monthly phases has all diversities of outline, so as to be at one time straight, again gibbous or convex, and again concave, yet in its eclipses it has the defining or intersecting line (made by the shadow of the earth) invariably curved. So that, since the moon suffers eclipse by the interposition of the earth, it must be the periphery (of the earth’s shadow) that is the cause, because the earth itself is spherical.” He also still further argues that the earth is round, and of no very great magnitude, “since even in a small change of distance, either to the north or south, there is a manifest change in respect to the horizon, so that the stars which were over our heads undergo a change of position, and do not appear the same, as we travel either to the north or south. In this way some stars are seen in Egypt and in the neighbourhood of Cyprus
which are not visible in the more northerly regions.” De Coelo, Job 14:8. It does not appear that at any reasonable period as yet assigned for the writing of the book of Job, any proper view of the earth’s shape had been taken by either Chaldaean, Egyptian, or Greek. Even the enlightened Chaldaeans, Diodorus Siculus informs us, (lib. ii, sec. 31,) “have quite an opinion of their own about the shape of the earth. They imagine it to have the form of a boat turned upside down, and to be hollow underneath.” “This opinion,” says Lenormant, “remained to the last in the Chaldaean sacerdotal schools; their astronomers believed in it, and tried, according to Diodorus, to support it by scientific arguments. It is of very ancient origin, a remnant of the ideas of the purely Accadian period.… Let us imagine, then, a boat turned over; not such a one as we are in the habit of seeing, but a round skiff, like those which are still used under the name of kufa on the shores of the lower Tigris and Euphrates, and of which there are many representations in the historical sculptures of the Assyrian palaces. The sides of this round skiff bend upward from the point of the greatest width, so that they are shaped like a hollow sphere deprived of two thirds of its height, and showing a circular opening at the point of division. Such was the form of the earth according to the authors of the Accadian magical formula and the Chaldaean astrologers of after years.… The interior concavity, opening from underneath, was the terrestrial abyss, ge, where the dead found a home.” Chaldaean Magic, pp. 150, 151.
The book of Job commits itself to no such trivialities as this. Its sublime, God-inspired conception, notwithstanding Job’s proximity to the Chaldaeans, lifted him above his contemporaries, and saved him from the rock on which they split. In sublime language he says of God, “He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing.” Job 26:7. (See note, also, on Job 37:3; Job 38:6.) The Septuagint renders the passage literally into Greek, and that, too, about two centuries before Ovid wrote,
Pendebat in aere tellus Ponderibus librata suis.
Met., Job 1:11 .
Earth, self-poised and self-balanced.
Job makes great note of a constellation, ( nahhash bariahh,) “the fleeing serpent,” (Draco or Dragon,) see note on Job 26:13; and Excursus VIII, p. 275 . The stars forming this constellation have borne this name from very ancient times. The Arabs called it El hajje, “the serpent.” Virgil thus speaks of it,
Maximus hic flexu sinuoso elabitur anguis Circum,
perque duas in morem fluminis Arctos. Georg, 1:244.
Which Dryden renders:
Around our pole the spiry Dragon glides, And, like a winding stream, the Bear divides.
Cicero ( De Nat. Deorum, 2:42) cites an extended description of this constellation from the poet Aratus, who wrote nearly three centuries before Christ. The association in the text, (Job 36:13,) of the wounding of the fleeing serpent with the preceding clause, “by his breath [or spirit] the heavens are bright.” is worthy of special note; the making bright the heavens by the breath of God grandly suggests the wounding, by the divine hand, of the serpent, which is the scriptural as well as the Egyptian type of evil. In the mythologies of many nations the struggle with evil necessitates the interposition of a divine agent, who crushes or wounds the typical serpent, as is seen in this very constellation, whose head is beneath the foot of Hercules. (See M’Clintock & Strong, Cyclop., vol. 5, page 164.) The Egyptian hieroglyph for “the snake Apop, the symbol of sin,” (Wilkinson,) represents him in the act of flight, but again and again wounded. Brugsch gives five variants of this hieroglyph, in three of which the serpent is pierced with arrows. Hieroglyph. Demot. Worterbuch, i, p. 181. The word Apop or Apep (Apophis) signifies to “mount on high,” (Bunsen,) with the idea, says Brugsch, of “running with elevated head to ascend the heights.” This hieroglyphic determinative was “a very common designation of the serpent Apophis, enemy of the light and of the good; which, therefore, arrays itself against the beaming deity of Ra, and seeks to hinder the good.”
BRUSCH, ibid., i, p. 180. This name, Apep, it will be perceived, strikingly embodies the solemn Hebrew tradition of Satanic ambition to rise, and his correspondingly ignominious fall. See Ancessi, ibid., pp. 233-241, and George Smith, Chaldaean Account, pp. 14, 41:87-100. The root of this word, Apep, Ap, will remind scholars of the Hebrew אוב , ob, “soothsaying demon,” (Gesenius;) the Sanscrit Ahi, “the serpent,” to wit, the demon Vritra; and the Greek οφις , ophis, the name which Aratus (82) gives to the constellation of which Job speaks.
It is of interest to note that the very constellations of which Job so grandly sings, Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, are also mentioned by Hesiod ( Works and Days, Bohn, pp. 105, 106) and by Homer, ( Iliad, 18:486-488,) each of whom associates them with the Hyades, the former also adding Sirius. See Job 9:9; Job 38:31-18.38.32.
An interesting and important link between the two great ancient rivals in astronomical knowledge is the patriarch Abraham, who, an exile from Chaldaea, resided in Egypt, in the sacred city of On, and, according to Eupolemus, taught the Egyptians astronomy. (Eusebius, Praep. Evang., Job 9:17.) The Oriental accounts unite in ascribing to Abraham a high degree of astronomical knowledge, as appears from Berosus, cited by Josephus, ( Antiq., i, chap. vii,) for he says of Abraham that he was “righteous, and great, and skilful in the celestial science.” Antiquities, i, chap. 7. Josephus also remarks that “before Abraham came into Egypt they [the Egyptians] were unacquainted with those parts of learning,” [astronomy, etc.] ( Ibid., i, chap. 8.) As respects Abraham, the traditions of the Arabian tribes agree with Josephus.
To the Egyptians are ascribed the observation and establishment of the Sothis periods. They early made lists of the rising of stars. The painting in the Ramesseum at Thebes presents a complete map of the Egyptian sky. In the tomb of Rameses IV. (so Brugsch informs us) the thirty-six Decan stars are given, together with their deities.
The great discoveries which have recently been made concerning Chaldaean science confirm the view of Diodorus Siculus, that “the Chaldaeans are far above all other nations in their knowledge of the heavens, and they devote the greatest attention and labour to this science.” Cicero, in his work on “Divination,” (i, 41,) had previously noted that the Chaldaeans excel in their knowledge of the stars, and in the subtlety of their genius. Among others, Josephus ( ibid.) also bears witness that “the science of astronomy came from the Chaldaeans into Egypt, and from thence to the Greeks also.” The superiority of the Chaldaeans, even at a comparatively late period, is further evinced by the fact that Ptolemy, though he lived at Alexandria, cites thirteen Chaldaean observations, ranging from B.C. 721 to B.C. 229, while he does not deign to mention the Egyptians as astronomers (Ideler, cited by Grote, History of Greece, 3:293.) We have not to seek long to find the secret of such lore. The wide Assyrian plains, unbroken by mountain range,
Spread like a sea Beneath the concave of unclouded skies.
(See farther, Wordsworth’s Excursion, book 4.) The monotony of the landscape naturally led to the contemplation of the variegated heavens. The singular transparency of the atmosphere brought out in surpassing brilliancy the heavenly bodies, and seemed to draw the heavens nearer to man, so that the stars wielded a fascinating power over the minds of men, as Job himself also had observed, (see note Job 31:26,) and unceasingly lured the thoughtful to the study of the skies. Fragments of planispheres which still remain show that the Chaldaeans early formed maps of the heavens, and grouped the stars into constellations. The constellations which seemed to touch nearest upon the path of the sun they marked off, and eventually gathered together in the signs of the zodiac. (See Records of the Past, 1. 165) At an early period they divided the year into twelve months of thirty days, and by intercalations of various kinds they brought it into harmony with the astronomical year of three hundred and sixty-five and a quarter days. The important discovery, implying long-protracted observations, was also made early, that eclipses of the moon repeat themselves after a period of two hundred and twenty-three lunations. The records of them usually begin with the words “According to calculation,” or, “Contrary to calculation, the moon was eclipsed.” In connexion with which statement Sayce remarks, “As the same formulae are sometimes employed for solar eclipses also, it would seem that the problem of calculating them by tracing the shadow as projected on a sphere had already presented itself. The problem, however, was not always successfully solved; and even as late as the seventh century B.C. we find the state astronomer of Assyria, Abil-Istar, reporting that although a watch had been kept on the 28th, 29th, and 30th of Sivan, or May, for an expected eclipse of the sun, the eclipse did not take place after all.” Bab. Lit., 53. See also Records of the Past, 1:155, 156.
A large proportion of the surviving literature of this people was devoted to treatises on astronomical subjects. The most famous of the libraries of Babylonia, that of Agane, founded by Sargon I., probably in the seventeenth century B.C., contained a great work on astronomy and astrology, entitled “The Observations of Bel,” in seventy two books, which Berosus translated into Greek. (The reader is referred to Rec. of the Past, 1:151-163, for a translation of some of these tablets.) Such attainments were made in this science that, as Sayce informs us, “The catalogue of the astronomical works in the library of Agane enjoins the reader to write down the number of the book he needs, and the librarian will thereupon give him the tablet required.” These books, it seems, were many of them either translated for the library of Sargon from Accadian originals, or based on old Accadian texts.
On Chaldaean science, see also Duncker, History of Antiq., 1:264-286, and Trans. of Soc. of Bib. Archaeology, vol. iii, article by Sayce, “The Astronomy, etc., of the Babylonians.”
b. SECONDLY, LEVIATHAN, WHOSE HOME, LIKE THAT OF BEHEMOTH, IS BOTH IN THE WATER AND ON LAND. LIKE HIM, HE IS HIDEOUS AND FORMIDABLE IN HIS STRUCTURE; BUT, UNLIKE HIM, HE IS A FEARLESS AND RAPACIOUS MONARCH OVER THE BESTIAL WORLD: A MONSTER BEFORE WHICH HEROES TREMBLE; AND INDEED THE VERY EMBODIMENT OF TERROR ITSELF. YET EVEN HE IS THE HANDIWORK OF GOD, verses, Job 41:1-18.41.34.
α . Leviathan his intractableness and invincibility, Job 41:1-18.41.11.
a. If Job be what he professes to be, let him catch, tame, and reduce to perpetual servitude leviathan, and in full confidence enter into contract with the merchants to deliver unto them on demand, leviathan: if he feel himself impotent to essay such an enterprise as this, he may form some idea of the folly of contending with Him who made leviathan, and of his foolhardiness in summoning a being of such power and wisdom to the tribunal of human judgment, Job 41:1-18.41.7.
1. Canst thou draw out leviathan with a hook? According to the almost unanimous opinion of recent commentators, the term leviathan is here used of the crocodile. See Excursus VIII. This animal, together with the hippopotamus, formerly abounded in the Nile; and it is possible that both, in very ancient times, were to be found in some of the rivers of Palestine, though rarely, we may assume, because of the comparative smallness of these rivers. It is supposed by some that the lengthy description given of these monsters is due to their being entirely unknown, except by vague report, to the people among whom Job lived, and that this is the ground for their having been selected for the climactical closing of the object lessons from nature, set before Job by his Creator. But the lesson would have been none the less impressive on the supposition that, now and then, one of these monsters should have been seen among the marshes either of the Jordan, of Merom, of the Wady Zerka, or of the lower portions of Esdraelon, in which the crocodile would have enjoyed a decided vantage ground in case of any effort to take or destroy him. Dr. Tristram speaks of various reports of the existence of the crocodile in the Wady Zerka or “Blue River,” on the plain of Sharon, a little to the south of Carmel, and says, “I have not the smallest doubt that some few specimens of this monster reptile, known to the natives under the name of timsah, still linger among the marshes of the Zerka. This is undoubtedly the Crocodile River of the ancients, and it is difficult to conceive how it should have acquired the name, unless by the existence of the animal in its marshes.… The crusading historians mention the existence of the crocodile in their day in this very river.… When we observe the strong affinity between the herpetological and ichthyological fauna of Egypt and Palestine, there is scarcely more reason to doubt the past existence of the crocodile in the one, than its present continuance in the other.” The Land of Israel, 103, 104. “There is nothing,” says Zockler, “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.” See Pierrotti, ( Cust. and Trad. of Palestine, pp. 33-39;) also Dr. Robinson, ( Phys. Geog., p. 175,) who remarks that “it does not appear that any person, either native or foreigner, has ever himself actually seen a living crocodile in this region.” These animals belong to the class of saurian reptiles, crocodilidae, and sometimes attain to the enormous length of thirty or even thirty-five feet. AElian relates that during the reign of Psammetichus a crocodile was seen of more than thirty-seven feet, and speaks of another under Amasis more than thirty-nine feet in length. (Larcher’s Herodotus, 1:283.) Sonnini and Captain Norden declare, that they have been sometimes met with in the Nile, fifty feet in length. They are of a bronzed green color, speckled with brown; are covered with bony plates in six rows of nearly equal size all along the back, giving it the appearance of Mosaic; they have as many as sixty vertebrae. The head is oblong, about half as broad as it is long; there are, according to Oken, fifteen teeth on each side of the lower jaw, and eighteen on each side of the upper. “Naturalists,” says Chabas, cited by Delitzsch, “count five species of crocodiles living in the Nile, but the hieroglyphics furnish a greater number of names determined by the sign of the crocodile.” There was certainly a great variety of species of this monster, and some which differ from all living species have, according to Delitzsch, also actually been found in Egyptian tombs. This animal is exceedingly fierce, wily, and treacherous, and its destructive voracity may be symbolized by the immense size of its mouth.
Canst thou draw תמשׁךְ , timshok. This, the first word in this abrupt and startling introduction of leviathan, appears without the mark of interrogation, unless, with Hitzig, we find it in the א , nose, with which the preceding description closes, and which also signifies “even,” “yea even,” and in ironical affirmation is used with the force of a question, as in the sneering remark of the serpent to Eve, Genesis 3:1, which commences with an א “really?” “is it really so?” Compare 1 Samuel 14:30; Habakkuk 2:5. In the opinion of some there is peculiar reason for the use of this word timshok, from the fact that the Egyptian hieroglyph msuh for crocodile, (Coptic, temsah; Arabic, timsah,) had not been Hebraized, and they (Ewald, Delitzsch, and Dillmann) find in the likeness of the Hebrew verb and the Egyptian noun, a possible play upon words: but all such constrained allusion is rather a play of critical fancy, and is unworthy of the occasion. The employment of the Hebrew verb may, possibly, serve as a finger pointer to the animal intended by livyathan.
With a hook The hhakkah was a draw net, (Delitzsch, Hitzig,) or, according to Ewald and Furst, an ordinary fishhook. Literally: Thou drawest out leviathan with a hoop net! Job’s moral prowess must have received a severe shock as the intensified irony of this verse which, with great significance, waited not for an interrogation particle burned down into his soul.
Or his tongue It is worthy of special notice, that the wisest naturalists of antiquity, Herodotus, (ii, 68,) Aristotle, Plutarch, (De Iside., 75,) Pliny, ( H. N., 8:37,) etc., either denied that the crocodile had a tongue, or, in the case of Pliny, any use for it; while the text unpretendingly assumes its existence, indicating a minuteness of knowledge upon natural subjects, which should make modern naturalists wary of questioning the poet’s statements, even in a single point. The peculiar form of the question of the text seems to imply special knowledge of the structure of the tongue of the crocodile, which is fleshy and flat, and attached nearly the whole of its length to the jaw. On this account the animal is not able to protrude it forth. Sir Samuel Baker says, “The tongue of the crocodile is so unlike that of any other animal, that it can hardly be called by the same name; no portion throughout the entire length is detached from the flesh of the lower jaw it is more like a thickened membrane from the gullet, to about half way along the length of the jaw.” Nile Tributaries, 241.
With a cord which thou lettest down And with a cord dost thou press down his tongue? or “sinkest thou his tongue into the line?” The latter reading, of Schultens, Hirtzel, Delitzsch, is grammatically admissible, but as Dillmann well says, “presents an impracticable idea.” The question rather looks to the compressing of the tongue by some rope of the net alluded to in the preceding clause. The accompanying engraving exhibits a portion of an ancient Egyptian net now in the Berlin Museum. It was of a long form, says Wilkinson, like the common dragnet, with wooden floats on the upper, and leads on the lower, side; but, though it was sometimes let down from a boat, those who pulled it generally stood on the shore, and landed the fish on a shelving bank.
2. A hook Hebrew, agmon, rush, cord, or reed. (Note, Job 40:21.) Wilkinson (iii, 6) says of the ancient Egyptians, they passed the stalk of a rush through the gills, and thus attached the fish together, in order the more conveniently to carry them home.
Nose The second word rendered nose is lehi, jaw bone or jaw.
Thorn Hhoahh, either a hook or a thorn. These four questions imply that the huge monster here described was taken with great difficulty at the time the scenes of this book took place. These questions do not contemplate the improvements made in modern times in all kinds of murderous instruments, but simply the relation man sustained in ancient times to this ferocious monster, and “are shaped according to the measure of power man had then obtained over nature.” Delitzsch. Also, it is the beast as he then existed, in his primitive vigour and in his untamed wildness, that we have to consider, with his wondrous coat of armour and his powerful weapons of attack, which unquestionably made him the terror of beasts and men. In later times (about B.C. 450) Herodotus (ii, 70) describes at large the mode of taking the crocodile in his day.
3. Many supplications unto thee? That thou mayest set him, a captive, at liberty. The preceding verses evidently refer to the taking of the crocodile alive. Suspended on a rush cord, he is now represented as begging for his life. The ancients fancied that the dolphin, the supposed mortal enemy of the crocodile, would make supplications for its life. Eichhorn’s rendering. “Will he (sincerely) make moan unto thee,” were it correct, might justify his note based on a singular fancy of the ancients, that the crocodile moaned simply that he might entice the wanderer to sure destruction. Thence rises the idea, which, in the form of “crocodile’s tears,” has become proverbial.
4. Will he make a covenant? The same phrase, כרת ברית , is used in the description in Genesis 15:18, of the covenant between the Lord and Abraham. The phrase means literally, “cut a covenant,” and reappears in the Greek and the Latin, and apparently springs from a like primeval custom common to them all.
A servant for ever Will he, as a consideration for sparing his life, enter into a covenant of perpetual service? On the hypothesis that this book was written subsequently to the Mosaic economy, there may be in the phrase “servant for ever,” an allusion to the mode by which Israelitish servants covenanted to serve for ever. Exodus 21:6.
5. As with a bird Catullus (ii, 1) speaks of “the sparrow, the delight of my girl.” Generically, the crocodile was probably the most untamable of animals, and yet even they have now and then been tamed to do the will of man. A Roman statue now in the British Museum represents an Egyptian tumbler performing on the back of a crocodile, as exhibited in the theatre at Rome. See note on Job 3:8; and Sharpe’s Bible Texts, page 96.
6. The companions חברים . There can be but little question that the word refers to partners in trade. Compare Luke 5:7-42.5.10. Fishermen in ancient Egypt were banded together in fraternities or guilds. Ruppell ( Reisen, 1:254) speaks of the existence of such fraternities in Abyssinia, even at the present day.
Make a banquet of him? (Septuagint, Targum, Schultens;) but better, traffic in him, (Ewald, Delitzsch, Zockler,) a meaning for karah which corresponds with the Arabic kara, “to buy,” also with the Sanscrit kri, ( kara;) and at the same time helps to confirm the rendering of the same word in Job 6:27, on which see note. The mention of “merchants” in the next clause substantiates such an interpretation, notwithstanding it is against the view of Gesenius and Conant, who, with Winer, ( Lex., s.v.,) hold to the radical meaning of the word “to dig,” and read: “Will partners dig a pit for him?” But this substantially repeats what had been said before about catching the crocodile with a hook; and while it does violence to the parallelism, it gives an incongruous meaning. Carey follows Schultens in the speculation “that originally passing the contract of a purchase was signified or ratified by some such act as digging, as being perhaps significant that payment of a purchase was originally made in manual labor or tillage.”
Merchants כנענים , literally, Canaanites; unquestionably Phoenicians, who were pre-eminently the merchants of the ancient world. Isaiah, (Isaiah 23:8,) speaking of the merchants of Tyre, calls them, in the Hebrew, “Canaanites.” In Hosea 12:7, Canaan stands as the synonyme of merchant. Homer also speaks of the arrival of a Phoenician merchant, ( Φοινιξ ,) “skilled in wiles, a greedy knave, working much ill to men.” Odys., 14:288, 289. These merchants were notorious in the ancient world as slave dealers and kidnappers. The Phoenicians called their primogenitor כנע , ( Χνα ,) chna, which, according to Sanchoniatho, was changed into Phoenix, thence “Phoenicians.” See Cory’s Anc. Frag., p. 16. A Phoenician coin is still extant bearing the inscription, “Laodicea, Mother in Canaan.” The Septuagint here, as well as frequently elsewhere, renders the word Canaanite, Phoenicians, Φοινικων εθνη . The reference in the text is to caravans like that of the Midianites, which in patriarchal times visited Egypt, bringing back with them various commodities taken in barter. “It is an evidence of the antiquity of this book, unless there is interposed the objection, which grows weaker the more it is studied, that the writer cunningly adapts every thing to the patriarchal times, without ever forgetting himself, or failing in any part of his picture.” Tayler Lewis.
7. Barbed irons Sukkoth; a general term for pointed weapons.
Fish spears Tsiltsal dagim. At the root of tsiltsal lies the idea of “tinkling,” or “clanging,” and “buzzing,” and is spoken of insects, cymbals, fishing instruments, etc. The spear was evidently hurled from the hand like a harpoon. The weapon was used in taking the life of the hippopotamus. See note, Job 40:24; also, Gesenius, Thesaurus, 1167.
b. If Job by no means dare to stand before the creature, how dare he appear before the Creator, prating of his rights, and urging preposterous claims upon a Being who has received nothing from man, and is, therefore, untrammelled by obligaions; but who is, on the contrary, the sole proprietor of all things, Job 41:8-18.41.11. “In these two questions, Who am I? and Who art thou? is expressed the ruling thought of the Almighty’s discourses.” Hengstenberg.
8. Do no more The Hebrew may be rendered either as an imperative or as a second person singular. He who enters alone upon an encounter with this monster will not care to try it again.
9. Of him The rash assailant.
10. Fierce Zockler renders “foolhardy,” which is not to be preferred to the text, since the same word akzar, fierce, is in Job 30:21 applied by Job to God.
Dare stir him up The same Hebrew word עור , “stir up,” is used in Job 3:8, of “raising up” leviathan, where it is implied that the only conceivable mode of dealing with him was by incantations possibly spells of Satan, certainly by power supposed to be derived from the invisible world. See note on Job 3:8. The coincidence between the two passages should be noted, and is among many similar ones scattered through the Jehovistic section, which point to its integral oneness with the rest of the book. See Excursus VIII, page 281. In an inscription on a tablet at Karnak, Amun Ra thus addresses Thothmes III.: “I have made them behold thy majesty like unto a crocodile: he is the terrible master of the waters: no one ventures to approach him.”
11. Prevented me First given to me. Tyndale’s rendering will express the idea: “Or who hathe given me anye thinge afore hand, that I am bounde to reward him agayne.” Comp. Job 34:13; Isaiah 40:13-23.40.15; and Romans 11:35-45.11.36. The lengthened description of leviathan is interrupted, that Job may be again reminded of its moral import that God is governor; that his dominion is world wide, because all belongs to him: that he is under no obligations to his creatures on account of favours received; therefore, if he give, it must be exclusively of grace. “This digression in Jehovah’s speech does not disturb the harmony of the passage. It is an agreeable change, after the long description of the sea monster.” Umbreit.
β The divine Speaker resumes the description of leviathan, in order that he may dwell more at large upon the artistic skill and the esthetic wisdom displayed in the making of a reptile whose eyes, mouth, nostrils and breath are a source of terror: and show that even so insignificant a thing as his garment has been exquisitely elaborated, so as to serve the twofold object of covering and martial defence, Job 41:12-18.41.22.
12. Conceal his parts Hebrews, baddim; pass in silence his members. Same as in Job 18:13. See note. The divine Being has thus far spoken of the invincibility of leviathan; he will now speak of his bodily structure and mode of life.
Nor his power Literally, and the word of powers. דבר , word, Vaihinger understands to mean “fame;” Delitzsch, “proportion.”
13. Who can discover Rather, uncover, in the sense of lift up, as one would a veil, his outside garment; his closely wrought and scaly coat of mail. The text beautifully calls it his “garment” לבושׁ a description of which is given at large, Job 41:15-18.41.17. The double bridle Literally, the double of his bridle, is here used figuratively for the jaws, each of which contained a double row of teeth, numbering, in the upper jaw, as many as thirty-six, and in the lower, thirty; and as they were uncovered by the lip, presenting a frightful appearance. Into his double jaws, who enters?
14. The doors of his face His mighty jaws, which extend back of his eyes and ears. Martial (iii, 90) jests over a large mouth, and compares it to that of the crocodile of the Nile.
His teeth… terrible Literally, Round about his teeth is terror: within his teeth terror takes up its abode. The lofty conception of the speaker which clothed the war horse with thunder, (Job 39:19,) now finds within the ugly jaws of leviathan the dwelling place of terror.
15. Scales Literally, strong shields, (Rosenmuller, Furst;) or, according to others, (Delitzsch, Hitzig,) furrows of the shields. Tristram observes that the whole head, back, and tail are covered with quadrangular horny plates or scales, which not only protect the body, so that a rifle ball glances from them as from a rock, but also serve as ballast, enabling the creature to sink rapidly on being disturbed, by merely expelling the air from its lungs.
Shut up together… a close seal Each shield fits as closely as the seal to the clay; nay, more closely, as the next verse shows, for no air can penetrate nature’s work; it is airtight. (See note on Job 38:14.)
16. No air Rouahh, used in an active sense for air in motion, and poetically rendered by Scott, “no breath of wind.”
17. Joined one to another The beauty of the original is lost. Literally, This holds fast to that, (Hitzig,) or “each to its fellow (literally, brother) is firmly attached.”
They stick together The same word in Job 38:30, was used of the formation of ice.
18. By his neesings a light doth shine Rather, His sneezings flash forth light. “This delicate observation of nature is here compressed into three words; in this concentration of whole grand thoughts and pictures we recognise the older poet.” Delitzsch. This animal, as travellers have remarked from the days of Herodotus to the present, delights to he on the sandbank, turning his open jaws to the sun an act which naturally gives rise to sneezing. The sun’s light, shining through the abundant spray thrown from the nostrils, produces a striking luminous appearance. A like delicate observation of the hippopotamus is made by Dr. Schweinfurth, an African traveller: “In the sunlight the fine spray emitted from their nostrils gleamed like a ray of light.” Heart of Africa, 2:315. The Jews, according to Buxtorf, (col. 1599,) connect with this text a notion that sneezing saves life by the light which it gives. In keeping with this conceit, the Jews, says Chappelow, when any one sneezes, say: “A happy life to thee.”
The eyelids of the morning (See Job 3:9.) The Egyptian made the flashing, cat-like eyes of this animal the symbol of the morning. A passage from Horus-Apollos, who wrote on hieroglyphs about 500 A.D., furnishes a remarkable illustration: “To describe the dawn, the Egyptians depict two eyes of a crocodile, inasmuch as the eyes make their appearance out of the deep before its entire body.”
19. Burning lamps Flames better expresses the root idea of the Hebrew lappidh, and it is the rendering of Gesenius. A forcible figure for the burning, fiery breath.
caldron Thus Hitzig, Delitzsch, etc. The same word, agmon, appears in the second verse, and is here correspondingly read by some, kindled reeds. See note on Job 40:21.
21. His breath kindleth coals A highly poetical description of the beast when engaged in the pursuit of his prey, or when inflamed with rage. In equally bold and high-wrought figure, Ovid describes a ferocious wild boar: Fulmen ab ore venit, frondesque adflatibus ardent: “Lightning comes from his mouth, and the boughs burn with his breath.”
22. Remaineth Literally, pass the night, same as in Job 19:4. A literal rendering brings out the personification:
In his neck lodgeth strength;
Before him runneth terror.
His neck at night is the resting place of strength; terror is his avant-courier by day; “terror bounds before him.” Renan.
Is turned into joy before him The Septuagint gives better sense, as it more correctly interprets the original runs before him. The word דוצ , douts, means “to jump,” “to leap,” and in the Targum is used for “rejoicing,” “leaping for joy:” a sense our translators have entered in the margin. The Arabic name for the Sphinx is “father of terror.”
γ . This section resumes the subject left at Job 41:17, (from which Job 41:18-18.41.22 are a digression, setting forth the terribleness of leviathan,) and shows that even the fleshy parts of this monster have been fitted close to it like a metal casting, and his heart made firm as a stone, and that even his path through the mire resembles the impress of a threshing machine; so that he fears neither the assaults of man nor those of the entire brute creation. Monster of monsters! there is not on earth a dominion like his, who is made without fear, and who looketh down upon every high thing, Job 41:23-18.41.34.
23. Firm in themselves Literally, molten upon them. On him is no flabby, pendulous flesh as on other animals; all is welded together as if made of metal.
24. Hard… millstone Hard as the nether millstone. This was, in general, compact and heavy, often made of sandstone, and quite thick, while the upper one, having to be driven round by the hand, was made lighter, and of more porous texture. The hardness spoken of may be the cold, sluggish action of the heart, that characterizes all the saurians, which, on this account, are distinguished as cold-blooded; or the disposition of the reptile, of which AElian says, he is the most pitiless of animals.
25. By reason of breakings The word שׁברים , from shabar, (Arabic shabara,) “to break,” blends the twofold effect of fear the breaking down of the nervous force, the morale of the man, and the confounding, the bewildering, of the judgment. Among Orientals terror is expressed by verbs of breaking, as Bochartus has observed.
They purify themselves יתחשׂאו The meaning of the hithpael form of the verb hhatah is not essentially different from the kal form, commented upon in Job 5:24, (which see,) and may be read, they miss their way; or, according to Delitzsch and Zockler, miss their aim, so confused are these “heroes” by reason of overpowering fear. The word is spoken, says Gesenius, of those who wander from the way, driven into precipitate flight by excessive terror. ( Thes., 465.) Like our own translators, who mystified the passage by rendering the word hhatah “purify,” Hengstenberg adopts this secondary meaning of “absolving,” and thinks that in their great fear they betake themselves to God as their only hope, “in other words, repeat a pater noster.” “Absolution (he says) is the means of obtaining help from God.” His views may serve as a gloss upon our Authorized Version, but will not help toward the interpretation of the passage.
26. The sword of him that layeth at him, etc. If one (literally, he who) reaches him with the sword.
Cannot hold Literally, stand, stand fast, keep hold.
The spear Hhanith, Delitzsch erroneously supposes to be the long lance, in contradistinction to the kidhon. See on Job 41:29. The dart Massa’h, from nasa’h. “to move on,” “to hasten,” probably signified some missile. The Septuagint and Targum regard this and the preceding word as one, and render it “spear.”
The habergeon French, haubergeon. The rendering of our Authorized Version answers to the hauberk, the old Norman armour for the neck, head, and breast, formed of rings. (Dr. Clarke.) The shiryah, of which the Hebrew speaks, was a coat of mail. (Furst.) Others suppose some kind of missile to be meant. “The poet means to say, the defensive weapons, also, are useless, and that the breastplate of the warrior affords no protection against the monster.” Umbreit.
27. He esteemeth iron as straw An expression some suppose to refer to the enormous power of the crocodile’s snap. Kitto cites a case which occurred in Ceylon, in which an enraged alligator bit the barrel of a gun completely in two. On the contrary, the text describes the crocodile’s contemptuous disregard of the missiles employed by the ancients in their assaults upon him.
28. The arrow Literally, the son of a bow. Compare “sons of his quiver,” Lamentations 3:13. See note on chap. 5. 7.
29. Darts Thothahh. Either clubs, battle axe, or bludgeon. (Furst.) The like meaning of the same word in the Arabic favours the first of these definitions. The boomerang, or club-stick, (now called lissan, tongue,) was much in use among the ancient Egyptian soldiers, and, in close combat, was really a formidable weapon, as the experience of modern times sufficiently testifies. It was about two and a half feet long, and made of hard acacia wood. See Wilkinson, Anc. Egyptians, (P.A., i, p. 365.)
The spear The kidhon (javelin) or spear was borne upon the shoulder, as in the case of Goliath, (1 Samuel 17:6-9.17.7,) and was in common use among the Babylonians and Persians. Jeremiah 6:23; Jeremiah 50:42.
30. Sharp stones Literally, pieces of potsherd. For description of potsherd, see Job 2:8. AElian, (H.A., 10:24,) also compares the sharp-edged scales, on the under side of the crocodile, to pointed potsherds, οστρακοις καρτεροις .
Sharp pointed things Hharouts, signifies “a threshing sledge;” also “gold;” a sense in which Carey takes it, who remarks “that the crocodile is said to spread gold upon the mud when his tail, the upper part of which is of a saffron colour, trails along, or lies upon, a bed of mud… A kind of seeming incongruity is doubtless intended in the notion of the crocodile spreading gold upon the mud. It is what man would not do.… The crocodile, on the contrary, spreads the gold-entinted portions of his belly and tail on the mud.” The word is almost unanimously accepted to signify an instrument for threshing, and is here used tropically. The impression that the tail of the animal (which is half his length) makes on the mire, is as if a threshing sledge had lain there. “This sledge consisted simply of two planks fastened together side by side, and bent upward in front; precisely as is the common stone-sledge of New England, though less heavy. Many holes are bored in the bottom beneath, and into these are fixed sharp fragments of hard stone.” Dr. Robinson, ii, p. 307. “This comparison is somewhat ironical, as it is not customary to spread out threshing instruments ‘upon the mire,’ but upon the fruits of the ground.” Umbreit.
31. The sea The Arabs still call the Nile bahr, a sea.
Pot of ointment This figure rests, as some suppose, upon the strong, musk-like odour emitted by the crocodile. “There is a follicle, of the bigness of a hazel nut, under the shoulders of the old crocodiles; this contains a thick matter which smells like musk. The Egyptians are very anxious to get this when they kill a crocodile, it being a perfume much esteemed by the grandees.” HASSELQUIST, Travels, page 215. The preparation of perfumes, in ancient times, evidently involved the process of boiling. Wilkinson’s statement, that ointment (found in an alabaster vase) two or three thousand years old still retained its odour, seems to indicate a lost art. ( Ancient Egyptians, i, p. 34 . ) A scene which Dr. Livingstone describes gives a curious insight into the habits of the crocodile, and forcibly illustrates this and the following verse: “The corpse of a boy floated past the ship; a monstrous crocodile rushed at it with the speed of a greyhound, caught it, and shook it as a terrier dog does a rat. Others dashed at the prey, each with his powerful tail causing the water to churn and froth as he ferociously tore off a piece. In a few seconds it was all gone.” Zambesi, p. 477.
32. Hoary This figure (comparing the foaming water to hair white with age) is one of great dignity, and is common in the classics. For instance, Homer ( Iliad, 1:350) speaks of “the hoary sea,” and Moschus of “the hoary deep.” Id., Job 5:5.
33. Upon earth there is not his like Thus the Septuagint, Delitzsch, and Umbreit. The word משׁלו , his like, may also signify “his ruler,” (Hitzig, Ewald, etc.,) and the sentence be read literally, There is not on the dust his ruler: among beasts and among men he has no king. The reason is obliquely given for the honour accorded the two monsters, of crowning the tableau held up from nature; the one is a firstling of God’s works; the other is one of nature’s monarchs, which acknowledges no superior.
34. He beholdeth all high things Without fear he looks in the face of man, the monarch, here standing in contradistinction to the king of beasts, in the second clause. Comp. Job 40:11-18.40.12. Children of pride Rendered “the lion’s whelps,” in Job 28:8. It is here used of the most formidable of beasts, with their characteristically majestic and haughty step. Aben Ezra, however, remarks that בני שׁחצ “is a comprehensive expression, including whatsoever hath its birth in the waters.” That pride should be the last word of this wonderful description is orthy of note; and may help somewhat to solve the mystery of the divine address. The figure with which it closes is a startling one that of the most fearful of all reptiles their king, and, as the ancients thought, the embodiment of evil staring not only at all that is high, but at poor, humbled Job. His pride if such were his infirmity is now all broken, and the work of discipline is complete.
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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Job 41". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent