Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Job 40:17

"He bends his tail like a cedar; The sinews of his thighs are knit together.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Leviathan;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Behemoth;   Cedar;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Behemoth;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Animals;   Behemoth;   Hippopotamus;   Job, the Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Stone;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Behemoth;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Be'hemoth;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Delight;   Sinew;   Stone;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Behemoth;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

He moveth his tail like a cedar - Therefore it was neither the elephant, who has a tail like that of the hog, nor the hippopotamus, whose tail is only about a foot long.

The sinews of his stones - I translate with Mr. Good, and for the same reasons, the sinews of his haunches, which is still more characteristic; as the animal must have excelled in leaping.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Job 40:17". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/job-40.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

He moveth his tail like a cedar - Margin, “setteth up.” The Hebrew word (חפץ châphêts ) means “to bend, to curve;” and hence, it commonly denotes “to be inclined, favorably disposed to desire or please.” The obvious meaning here is, that this animal had some remarkable power of “bending” or “curving” its tail, and that there was some resemblance in this to the motion of the cedar-tree when moved by the wind. In “what” this resemblance consisted, or how this was a proof of its power, it is not quite easy to determine. Rosenmuller says that the meaning is, that the tail of the hippopotamus was “smooth, round, thick, and firm,” and in this respect resembled the cedar. The tail is short - being, according to Abdollatiph (see Ros.), about half a cubit in length. In the lower part, says he, it is thick, “equalling the extremities of the fingers;” and the idea here, according to this, is, that this short, thick, and apparently firm tail, was bent over by the will of the animal as the wind bends the branches of the cedar.

The point of comparison is not the “length,” but the fact of its being easily bent over or curved at the pleasure of the animal. Why this, however, should have been mentioned as remarkable, or how the power of the animal in this respect differs from others, is not very apparent. Some, who have supposed the elephant to be here referred to, have understood this of the proboscis. But though “this would be” a remarkable proof of the power of the animal, the language of the original will not admit of it. The Hebrew word (זנב zânâb ) is used only to denote the tail. It is “possible” that there may be here an allusion to the unwieldy nature of every part of the animal, and especially to the thickness and inflexibility of the skin and what was remarkable was, that notwithstanding this, this member was entirely at its command. Still, the reason of the comparison is not very clear. The description of the movement of the “tail” here given, would agree much better with some of the extinct orders of animals whose remains have been recently discovered and arranged by Cuvier, than with that of the hippopotamus. Particularly, it would agree with the account of the ichthyosaurus (see Buckland‘s “Geology, Bridgewater Treatise,” vol. i. 133ff), though the other parts of the animal here described would not accord well with this.

The sinews of his stones are wrapped together - Good renders this, “haunches;” Noyes, Prof. Lee, Rosenmuller, and Schultens, “thighs;” and the Septuagint simply has: “his sinews.” The Hebrew word used here (פחד pachad ) means properly “fear, terror,” Exodus 15:16; Job 13:11; and, according to Gesenius, it then means, since “fear” is transferred to cowardice and shame, anything which “causes” shame, and hence, the secret parts. So it is understood here by our translators; but there does not seem to be any good reason for this translation, but there is every reason why it should not be thus rendered. The “object” of the description is to inspire a sense of the “power” of the animal, or of his capacity to inspire terror or dread; and hence, the allusion here is to those parts which were fitted to convey this dread, or this sense of his power - to wit, his strength. The usual meaning of the word, therefore, should be retained, and the sense then would be, “the sinews of his terror,” that is, of his parts fitted to inspire terror, “are wrapped together;” are firm, compact, solid. The allusion then is to his thighs or haunches, as being formidable in their aspect, and the seat of strength. The sinews or muscles of these parts seemed to be like a hard-twisted rope; compact, firm, solid, and such as to defy all attempts to overcome them.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Job 40:17". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/job-40.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

He moveth his tail like a cedar,.... To which it is compared, not for the length and largeness of it; for the tail both of the elephant and of the river horse is short; though VartomannusF3Navigat. l. 4. c. 9. says, the tail of the elephant is like a buffalo's, and is four hands long, and thin of hair: but because of the smoothness, roundness, thickness, and firmness of it; such is the tail of the river horse, being like that of a hog or boarF4Aristot. Plin. Solin. & Isidore ut supra. (See Job 40:16.) ; which is crooked, twisted, and which it is said to turn back and about at pleasure, as the word used is thought to signify. Aben Ezra interprets it, "maketh to stand": that is, stiff and strong, and firm like a cedar. One writerF5Nicet. Choniat. apud Fabrit. Gr. Bibliothec. vol. 6. p. 410. speaks of the horse of the Nile, as having a scaly tail; but he seems to confound it with the sea horse. Junius interprets it of its penis, its genital part; to which the Targum in the King's Bible is inclined: and CiceroF6Epist. l. 9. ep. 22. says, the ancients used to call that the tail; but that of the elephant, according to AristotleF7Hist. Amimal. l. 2. c. 1. , is but small, and not in proportion to the size of its body; and not in sight, and therefore can hardly be thought to be described; though the next clause seems to favour this sense:

the sinews of his stones are wrapped together; if by these are meant the testicles, as some think, so the Targums; the sinews of which were wreathed, implicated and ramified, like branches of trees, as Montanus renders it. Bochart interprets this of the sinews or nerves of the river horse, which having such plenty of them, are exceeding strong; so that, as some report, this creature will with one foot sink a boatF8Apud Hierozoic, par. 2. l. 5. c. 14. col. 758. ; I have known him open his mouth, says a travellerF9Dampier's Voyages, vol. 2. part 2. p. 105. , and set one tooth on the gunnel of a boat, and another on the second strake from the keel, more than four feet distant, and there bite a hole through the plank, and sink the boat.

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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.
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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Job 40:17". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/job-40.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

like a cedar — As the tempest bends the cedar, so it can move its smooth thick tail [Umbreit]. But the cedar implies straightness and length, such as do not apply to the river horse‘s short tail, but perhaps to an extinct species of animal (see on Job 40:15).

stones — rather, “thighs.”

wrapped — firmly twisted together, like a thick rope.

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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 40:17". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/job-40.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together.

Tail — Which though it be but short, yet when it is erected, is exceeding stiff and strong.

Thighs — The sinews of his thighs. His thighs and feet are so sinewy and strong, that one of them is able to break or over-turn a large boat.

Copyright Statement
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 40:17". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/job-40.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Job 40:17 He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together.

Ver. 17. He moveth his tail like a cedar] The elephant hath but a small and short tail for his bulk; Beza, therefore, rendereth it his prominent part, which is as the cedar, and interpreteth it to be his proboscis, or large snout, which truly, saith he, as being proper to the elephant, and of very great use, might not in any wise be pretermitted in this description. See Job 40:15.

The sinews of his stones are wrapped together] This is also another of the elephant’s properties, whose testicles are hidden and stick to his belly, fastened there by certain sinews and ligaments, and do not hang, as other beasts’ testicles do. As his genital members are but small, considering his size; so his lust to the female is not great, never coupling with her but in secret, and when she is once filled, forbearing her company.

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Job 40:17". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/job-40.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

He moveth his tail; which though it be but short, both in the elephant and in the hippopotamus, yet when it is erected is exceeding stiff and strong. But this may be understood, either,

1. Of his generative part, which is off called by that or the like name, which the following close of the verse may seem to favour. Or,

2. Of the elephant’s trunk, which being so eminent and remarkable a part, would not probably be omitted in this description, to which these words very fitly agree, because of its admirable motion and strength. Nor is it strange that this is called his tail, because that word is oft used improperly for any end of a thing, as Isaiah 7:4. See also Deuteronomy 25:18 28:13,44.

The sinews of his stones: this may be noted, because the elephant’s testicles do not hang down below the belly, as they do in other beasts, but are contained within his belly, where they are fastened by ligaments of extraordinary strength. Or, the sinews of the terror thereof, to wit, of the trunk last mentioned, under the name of the

tail, i.e. its terrible sinews are strongly and strangely wrapped together, that he can move it as he listeth with wonderful dexterity and strength. Or,

the sinews of his thighs, as the latter word oft signifies in the Arabic tongue, which is very near akin to the Hebrew. The thighs and feet of the hippopotamus are noted to be so sinewy and strong, that one of them is able to break or overturn a large boat.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Job 40:17". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/job-40.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

17.Like a cedar — Short and firm though the tail may be, it is swayed by the volition of the vast animal like a cedar bough by the wind. The interpretation turns on , moveth, the fundamental meaning of which is “to will,” “move at pleasure.” The name for cedar, , “has been handed down on the spot [Lebanon] intact throughout all the changes of language, and the name arz is never applied by the natives to any tree but the true cedar.” — Tristram. See farther his Land of Israel, 40:628-632.

The sinews, etc. — Rather, The sinews of his thighs.

Are wrapped together . Better, knit together. According to Gesenius and Delitzsch the cognate noun , signifies “vine branches;” the speaker evidently choosing this word on account of its beautiful appropriateness for expressing complex and delicate intertwining of texture.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Job 40:17". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/job-40.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Job 40:17. He moveth his tail like a cedar — Though the tail be but short, both in the elephant, and in the hippopotamus; yet, when it is erected, it is exceeding stiff and strong. The sinews of his stones, &c. — Rather, of his thighs, as the Hebrew may be rendered. The thighs and feet of the river- horse are so sinewy and strong that one of them is able to break or overturn a large boat.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Job 40:17". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/job-40.html. 1857.

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

"He bends his tail like a cedar": Or his tail sways like a cedar. Some argue that his means a cedar branch and not a cedar tree, but that seems to dismiss the power of this animal. What is so impressive about a tail the size of a little branch? To me this appears to rule out such animals as the hippo and elephant that do not have impressive tails. Compare this with verses 40:17-18. Everything about this beast is impressive, strong and huge.

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Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Job 40:17". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dun/job-40.html. 1999-2014.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(17) The sinews of his stones.—Rather, of his thighs.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Job 40:17". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/job-40.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together.
moveth
or, setteth up. the.
41:23
Reciprocal: Job 10:11 - fenced

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Job 40:17". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/job-40.html.