Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Job 36:32

"He covers His hands with the lightning, And commands it to strike the mark.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Meteorology and Celestial Phenomena;   The Topic Concordance - God;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Clouds;  
Dictionaries:
Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Providence of God;   Testimony;   Holman Bible Dictionary - God;   Job, the Book of;   Lightning;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Elihu;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Lightning;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

With clouds he covereth the light - This is all extraordinary saying, אור כמה כפים על al cappayim kissah or, which Mr. Good translates, "He brandisheth the blaze athwart the concave." The Vulgate, with which all the other versions less or more agree, has, In manibus abscondit lucem, "In his hands he hideth the light;" or, more literally, "By the hollow of his hands (כפים cappayim ) he concealeth the light, (אור or,") the fountain of light, i.e., the Sun.

And commandeth it not to shine by the cloud that cometh betwixt - I am afraid this is no translation of the original. Old Coverdale is better: - And at his commandement it commeth agayne; which is a near copy of the Vulgate. Here again Mr. Good departs from all the versions, both ancient and modern, by translating thus: - "And launcheth his penetrating bolt." Dr. Stock, in my opinion, comes nearer the original and the versions in his translation: -

"And giveth charge as to what it shall meet."

The mending of the text by conjecture, to which we should only recur in desperate necessity, has furnished Mr. Good and Reiske with the above translation. For my own part, I must acknowledge an extreme difficulty both here and in the concluding verse, on which I am unwilling to lay a correcting hand. I think something of the doctrine of eclipses is here referred to; the defect of the solar light, by the interposition of the moon. So in the time of an eclipse God is represented as covering the body of the sun with the hollow of his hand, and thus obscuring the solar light, and then removing his hand so as to permit it to re-illuminate the earth.

Mr. Good gets his translation by dividing the words in a different manner from the present text. I shall give both: -

Hebrew:

במפגיע עליה ויצו

Vayetsav aleyha bemaphgia

Mr. Good:

מפגיע ליהב ויצוע

Veyezvo liahbe mapegio .

Of which he learnedly contends, "And launcheth his penetrating bolt," is the literal sense. The change here made, to produce the above meaning, is not a violent one; and I must leave the reader to judge of its importance.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Job 36:32". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/job-36.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

With clouds he covereth the light - The Hebrew here is, על־כפים ‛al -kaphiym - “upon his hands.” Jerome, “In manibus abscondit lucem,” “he hideth the light in his hands.” Septuagint, Ἐπὶ χειρῶν ἐκάλυψε φῶς Epi cheirōn ekalupse fōs - “he covereth the light in his hands.” The allusion is, undoubtedly, to the lightning, and the image is, that God takes the lightning in his hands, and directs it as he pleases. There has been great variety however, in the exposition of this verse and the following. Schultens enumerates no less than “twenty-eight” different interpretations, and almost every commentator has had his own view of the passage. It is quite evident that our translators did not understand it, and were not able to make out of it any tolerable sense. What idea they attached to the two verses Job 36:32-33, it would be very difficult to imagine, for what is the meaning Job 36:33 of the phrase, “the cattle also concerning the vapor?”

The general sense of the Hebrew appears to be, that God controls the rapid lightnings which appear so vivid, so quick, and so awful; and that he executes his own purposes with them, and makes them, when he pleases, the instruments of inflicting punishment on his foes. The object of Elihu is to excite admiration of the greatness of God who is “able” thus to control the lightning‘s flash, and to make it an obedient instrument in his hands. The particular expression before us, “By his hands he covereth the light,” seems to mean that he seizes or holds the lightning in his hands (Herder), or that he covers over his hands with the lightning (Umbreit), and has it under his control. Prof. Lee supposes that it means, that he holds the lightning in the palms of his hands, or between his two hands, as a man holds a furious wild animal which he is about to let loose for the purpose of destroying. With this he compares the expression of Shakespeare, “Cry havock, and let slip the dogs of war. There can be no doubt, I think, that the phrase means that God has the lightning under his control that it is in his hands, and that he directs it as he pleases. According to Umbreit (Note) the allusion is to the “double use” which God makes of light, in one hand holding the lightning to destroy his foes, and in the other the light of the sun to bless his friends, as he makes use of the rain either for purposes of destruction or mercy. But this idea is not conveyed in the Hebrew.

And commandeth it not to shine - The phrase “not to shine” is not in the Hebrew, and destroys the sense. The simple idea in the original is, “he commandeth it;” that is, he has it under his control, directs it as he pleases, makes use even of the forked lightning as an instrument to execute his pleasure.

By the cloud that cometh betwixt - The words “the cloud” are also inserted by our translators, and destroy the sense. There is no allusion to a cloud, and the idea that the light is intercepted by any object is not in the original. The Hebrew word (במפגיע bemapgiy‛ ) means “in occurring, in meeting, in striking upon,” (from פגע pâga‛ - to strike upon, to impinge to fall upon, to light upon), and the sense here would be well expressed‘ by the phrase “in striking.” The idea is exactly that which we have when we apply the word “strike” or “struck” to lightning, and the meaning is, that he gives the lightning commandment “in striking,” or when “it strikes.” Nothing could better answer the purpose of an illustration for Elihu in exciting elevated views of God, for there is no exhibition of his power more wonderful than that by which he controls the lightning.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Job 36:32". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/job-36.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

With clouds he covereth the light,.... Either the lightning, which is hid and covered in the black dark cloud until it bursts out of it; or the light of the sun, which is wonderful, that waters naturally clear and transparent, when formed into clouds, should obstruct the rays of the sun and darken it; see Ezekiel 32:7; and thus it was in the storm and tempest the Apostle Paul was in many days, which was so thick and dark, that the sun and stars did not appear of a long time, Acts 27:20;

and commandeth it not to shine, by the cloud that cometh betwixt; that is, commands the sun that it shines not, or hinders it from shining, by reason of the intervening clouds; this is an emblem of sin interposing between God and his people, which causes him to hide his face from them and not shine upon them: sins are comparable to clouds for numbers, being more than can be told; and for their nature and quality, like clouds they rise out of the earthly and carnal heart of man; and which is also like a troubled sea which cannot rest; and which reach up unto heaven and bring down wrath and vengeance from thence on wicked men; and in God's own people, like the clouds they intercept the light of his countenance, the bright shining of the sun of righteousness, the comfort, peace, and joy of the Holy Spirit: the words may be rendered, "with hands he covers the light, and commands that it shine not by reason of what comes between": and they are understood by some, as by Schmidt particularly, of the eclipses of the sun and moon, when God as it were covers them with hands, and suffers them not to shine by intervening bodies; so the eclipse of the sun is occasioned by the moon's coming between that and the earth, and the eclipse of the moon by the interposition of the earth between that and the sun; the Targum is,

"because of rapine of hands he restrains rain, and commands it to descend because of him that prays,'

who comes between and intercedes for a sinful people, as Elijah did; or, as others, he commands the lightning that it harms not because of him that comes between and intercedes with his prayers.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Job 36:32". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/job-36.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

With clouds he covereth the light; and commandeth it [not to shine] by [the cloud] that cometh z betwixt.

(z) That is, one cloud to dash against another.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Job 36:32". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/job-36.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Rather, “He covereth (both) His hands with light (lightning, Job 37:3, Margin), and giveth it a command against his adversary” (literally, the one “assailing” Him, Psalm 8:2; Psalm 139:20; Job 21:19). Thus, as in Job 36:31, the twofold effects of His waters are set forth, so here, of His light; in the one hand, destructive lightning against the wicked; in the other, the genial light for good to His friends, etc. (Job 36:33) [Umbreit].

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 36:32". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/job-36.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

With clouds he covereth the light; and commandeth it not to shine by the cloud that cometh betwixt.

Clouds — With thick and black clouds spread over the whole heavens.

Light — The sun.

The cloud — Which God interposes as a veil between the sun and earth.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Job 36:32". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/job-36.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Job 36:32 With clouds he covereth the light; and commandeth it [not to shine] by [the cloud] that cometh betwixt.

Ver. 32. With clouds he covereth the light] Heb. With the palms of his hands (so the clouds are called, see 1 Kings 18:44) he hideth light; that is, the sunbeams, viz. when he sendeth rain, the heavens are masked.

And commandeth it not to shine] Heb. And forbiddeth it (those words, not to shine, are not in the original), propter intercedentem, for the sake of those that intercede. He giveth rain or fair weather upon the prayers of his faithful people; who can thereby open and shut heaven, as did Elijah and the thundering legion. R. Levi interpreteth this and the following verse concerning thunder.

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Job 36:32". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/job-36.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

With clouds; with thick and black clouds spread over the whole heavens, as it is in times of great thunders and lightnings. Heb. With hands; either the clouds are so called for their resemblance to hands, 1 Kings 18:4,1, as being hollow and spread abroad; or the meaning is, that God covereth the light as it were by the hollow of his hand, as a man sometimes covers the light of a candle.

The light; either the lightning, or rather the sun, which is fitly called light, Job 31:26 Psalms 136:7, as being the fountain of light.

Commandeth it not to shine; or, giveth a charge concerning it, to wit, that it shall be covered; or, forbiddeth it, as this Hebrew word, joined with this proposition, usually signifies, as Genesis 2:17 28:6 1 Kings 2:43 11:11, and elsewhere, i.e. hindereth it, as it were by an express command or prohibition, from its usual and proper work, to wit, from shining.

That cometh betwixt; which God interposeth as a veil between the sun and earth; by which he doth, as it were, deliver his command or prohibition to the sun, that he should not shine.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Job 36:32". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/job-36.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

32.With clouds’ betwixt Both hands he covereth over with light, and giveth it command against the adversary. According to Delitzsch, God appears here under a military figure as a slinger of lightnings, (light.) The lightning, like a slinger’s cord, he wraps around his hand that he may give it greater force against the enemy. “It scorches the world, but does not hurt him [God]; nay, rather, is the vesture and instrument of his power.” — Wordsworth.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Job 36:32". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/job-36.html. 1874-1909.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Hands, or clouds, which are compared to a hand, 3 Kings xviii. 44. He opens his hand, and light appears. This expression denotes the utmost facility with which a very surprising thing is effected. --- To come. Hebrew, "by this obstacle." He alludes to the sun's eclipse, as if God's hand covered its disk. (Calmet) --- Protestants, "He....commandeth it not to shine, by the cloud thta cometh betwixt."

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Job 36:32". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/job-36.html. 1859.

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

Lightning is poetically spoken as if coming from God"s own hands, as if God was sending lightning, as an archer shoots arrows at a target.

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Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Job 36:32". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dun/job-36.html. 1999-2014.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

With clouds he covereth the light; and commandeth it not to shine by the cloud that cometh betwixt.

Rather, 'He covereth (both) His hands with light (lightning, Job 37:3, margin: literally, 'upon both hands He spreads light as a covering' [ `al (Hebrew #5921) kanpowt (Hebrew #3671], and giveth it a command against his adversary'-literally, the one assailing Him [ `aaleyhaa (Hebrew #5921) b

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 36:32". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/job-36.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(32) With clouds.—The word here rendered “clouds” really means hands, and there seems to be no good reason why it should be otherwise understood. The verse will then read, “He covereth the lightning with His hands, and giveth it a charge that it strike the mark;” or, according to some, “giveth it a charge against the assailant.” The figure is that of a man hurling a stone or bolt, and taking aim; and a very fine one the image is. The Authorised Version cannot be right with its five inserted words.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Job 36:32". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/job-36.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

With clouds he covereth the light; and commandeth it not to shine by the cloud that cometh betwixt.
26:9; Exodus 10:21-23; Psalms 18:11; 135:7; 147:8,9; 148:8; Acts 27:20
Reciprocal: Job 28:26 - he made;  Job 37:11 - he scattereth;  Job 37:21 - General

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Job 36:32". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/job-36.html.