1. leviathan—literally, "the twisted
animal," gathering itself in folds: a synonym to the Thannin (Job 3:8, Margin; see Ps 74:14; type of the Egyptian tyrant; Ps
104:26; Isa 27:1; the Babylon
tyrant). A poetical generalization for all cetacean, serpentine, and
saurian monsters (see on Job 40:15, hence
all the description applies to no one animal); especially
the crocodile; which is naturally described after the river
horse, as both are found in the Nile.
tongue … lettest down?—The
crocodile has no tongue, or a very small one cleaving to the lower jaw.
But as in fishing the tongue of the fish draws the baited hook to it,
God asks, Canst thou in like manner take leviathan?
2. hook—rather, "a rope of rushes."
thorn—rather, a "ring" or "hook." So
wild beasts were led about when caught (Isa 37:29; Eze 29:4); fishes also were secured thus and
thrown into the water to keep them alive.
3. soft words—that thou mayest spare his
life. No: he is untamable.
4. Can he be tamed for domestic use (so Job
5. a bird?—that is, tamed.
6. Rather, "partners" (namely, in
make a banquet—The parallelism rather
supports Umbreit, "Do partners (in
trade) desire to purchase him?" So the Hebrew (De 2:6).
merchants—literally, "Canaanites," who
were great merchants (Ho 12:7,
7. His hide is not penetrable, as that of
8. If thou lay … thou wilt have
reason ever to remember … and thou wilt never try it
9. the hope—of taking him.
cast down—with fear "at the (mere)
sight of him."
10. fierce—courageous. If a man
dare attack one of My creatures (Ge 49:9; Nu 24:9), who will dare (as Job has wished)
oppose himself (Ps 2:2) to Me,
the Creator? This is the main drift of the description of
11. prevented—done Me a favor first:
anticipated Me with service (Ps 21:3).
None can call Me to account ("stand before Me," Job 41:10) as unjust, because I have withdrawn
favors from him (as in Job's case): for none has laid Me under a prior
obligation by conferring on Me something which was not already My own.
What can man give to Him who possesses all, including man himself? Man
cannot constrain the creature to be his "servant" (Job 41:4), much less the Creator.
12. I will not conceal—a resumption of
the description broken off by the digression, which formed an agreeable
his power—literally, "the way," that
is, true proportion or expression of his strength (so
Hebrew, De 19:4).
comely proportion—literally, "the
comeliness of his structure" (his apparatus: so "suit of
apparel" Jud 17:10)
[Maurer]. Umbreit translates, "his armor." But that follows
13. discover—rather, "uncover the
surface" of his garment (skin, Job 10:11): strip off the hard outer coat
with which the inner skin is covered.
with—rather, "within his double jaws";
literally, "bridle"; hence that into which the bridle is put, the
double row of teeth; but "bridle" is used to imply that none dare put
his hand in to insert a bridle where in other animals it is placed
14. doors of … face—his mouth. His
teeth are sixty in number, larger in proportion than his body, some
standing out, some serrated, fitting into each other like a comb [Bochart].
15. Rather, his "furrows of shields" (as
"tubes," "channels," see on Job 40:18),
are, &c., that is, the rows of scales, like shields
covering him: he has seventeen such rows.
shut up—firmly closed together. A
musket ball cannot penetrate him, save in the eye, throat, and
18. Translate: "his sneezing, causeth a light
to shine." Amphibious animals, emerging after having long held their
breath under water, respire by violently expelling the breath like one
sneezing: in the effort the eyes which are usually directed
towards the sun, seem to flash fire; or it is the expelled
breath that, in the sun, seems to emit light.
eyelids of morning—The Egyptian
hieroglyphics paint the eyes of the crocodile as the symbol for
morning, because the eyes appear the first thing, before the
whole body emerges from the deep [Horæ Hierogliphicæ
19. burning lamps—"torches"; namely, in
respiring (Job 41:18),
seem to go out.
20. seething—boiling: literally, "blown
under," under which a fire is blown.
21. kindleth coals—poetical imagery
22. remaineth—abideth permanently. His
chief strength is in the neck.
sorrow—anxiety or dismay
is turned into joy—rather, "danceth,"
"exulteth"; wherever he goes, he spreads terror "before him."
23. flakes—rather, "dewlaps"; that which
falls down (Margin). They are "joined" fast and
firm, together, not hanging loose, as in the ox.
are firm—Umbreit and Maurer,
in themselves—rather, "upon him."
24. heart—"In large beasts which are
less acute in feeling, there is great firmness of the heart, and
slower motion" [Bochart]. The nether
millstone, on which the upper turns, is especially hard.
25. he—the crocodile; a type of the awe
which the Creator inspires when He rises in wrath.
breakings—namely, of the mind, that
purify themselves—rather, "they wander
from the way," that is, flee away bewildered [Maurer and Umbreit].
26. cannot hold—on his hard skin.
habergeon—coat of mail; avail
must be taken by zeugma out of "hold," as the verb in the second
clause: "hold" cannot apply to the "coat of mail."
27. iron … brass—namely,
28. arrow—literally, "son of the bow";
Oriental imagery (La 3:13;
stubble—Arrows produce no more effect
than it would to throw stubble at him.
29. Darts—rather, "clubs"; darts have
been already mentioned (Job 41:26).
30. stones—rather, "potsherds," that is,
the sharp and pointed scales on the belly, like broken pieces of
sharp-pointed things—rather, "a
threshing instrument," but not on the fruits of the earth, but
"on the mire"; irony. When he lies on the mire, he leaves the
marks of his scales so imprinted on it, that one might fancy a
threshing instrument with its sharp teeth had been drawn over it (Isa 28:27).
31. Whenever he moves.
sea—the Nile (Isa 19:5; Na
pot of ointment—the vessel in which it
is mixed. Appropriate to the crocodile, which emits a musky smell.
32. path—the foam on his track.
hoary—as hair of the aged.
33. who—being one who, &c.
34. beholdeth—as their superior.
children of pride—the proud and fierce
beasts. So Job 28:8;
Hebrew, "sons of pride." To humble the pride of man and
to teach implicit submission, is the aim of Jehovah's speech and of the
book; therefore with this as to leviathan, the type of God in His
lordship over creation, He closes.