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The Lord Answers Job

1Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:

2“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
3Dress for action11Hebrew Gird up your loins like a man;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.

4“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
5Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
6On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone,
7when the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

8“Or who shut in the sea with doors
when it burst out from the womb,
9when I made clouds its garment
and thick darkness its swaddling band,
10and prescribed limits for it
and set bars and doors,
11and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther,
and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?

12“Have you commanded the morning since your days began,
and caused the dawn to know its place,
13that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth,
and the wicked be shaken out of it?
14It is changed like clay under the seal,
and its features stand out like a garment.
15From the wicked their light is withheld,
and their uplifted arm is broken.

16“Have you entered into the springs of the sea,
or walked in the recesses of the deep?
17Have the gates of death been revealed to you,
or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?
18Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth?
Declare, if you know all this.

19“Where is the way to the dwelling of light,
and where is the place of darkness,
20that you may take it to its territory
and that you may discern the paths to its home?
21You know, for you were born then,
and the number of your days is great!

22“Have you entered the storehouses of the snow,
or have you seen the storehouses of the hail,
23which I have reserved for the time of trouble,
for the day of battle and war?
24What is the way to the place where the light is distributed,
or where the east wind is scattered upon the earth?

25“Who has cleft a channel for the torrents of rain
and a way for the thunderbolt,
26to bring rain on a land where no man is,
on the desert in which there is no man,
27to satisfy the waste and desolate land,
and to make the ground sprout with grass?

28“Has the rain a father,
or who has begotten the drops of dew?
29From whose womb did the ice come forth,
and who has given birth to the frost of heaven?
30The waters become hard like stone,
and the face of the deep is frozen.

31“Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades
or loose the cords of Orion?
32Can you lead forth the Mazzaroth22Probably the name of a constellation in their season,
or can you guide the Bear with its children?
33Do you know the ordinances of the heavens?
Can you establish their rule on the earth?

34“Can you lift up your voice to the clouds,
that a flood of waters may cover you?
35Can you send forth lightnings, that they may go
and say to you, ‘Here we are’?
36Who has put wisdom in the inward parts33Or in the ibis
or given understanding to the mind?44Or rooster
37Who can number the clouds by wisdom?
Or who can tilt the waterskins of the heavens,
38when the dust runs into a mass
and the clods stick fast together?

39“Can you hunt the prey for the lion,
or satisfy the appetite of the young lions,
40when they crouch in their dens
or lie in wait in their thicket?
41Who provides for the raven its prey,
when its young ones cry to God for help,
and wander about for lack of food?


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Job 38:1-41.

1. Jehovah appears unexpectedly in a whirlwind (already gathering Job 37:1, 2), the symbol of "judgment" (Ps 50:3, 4, &c.), to which Job had challenged Him. He asks him now to get himself ready for the contest. Can he explain the phenomena of God's natural government? How can he, then, hope to understand the principles of His moral government? God thus confirms Elihu's sentiment, that submission to, not reasonings on, God's ways is man's part. This and the disciplinary design of trial to the godly is the great lesson of this book. He does not solve the difficulty by reference to future retribution: for this was not the immediate question; glimpses of that truth were already given in the fourteenth and nineteenth chapters, the full revelation of it being reserved for Gospel times. Yet even now we need to learn the lesson taught by Elihu and God in Job.

2. this—Job.

counsel—impugning My divine wisdom in the providential arrangements of the universe. Such "words" (including those of the friends) rather obscure, than throw light on My ways. God is about to be Job's Vindicator, but must first bring him to a right state of mind for receiving relief.

3. a manhero, ready for battle (1Co 16:13), as he had wished (Job 9:35; 13:22; 31:37). The robe, usually worn flowing, was girt up by a girdle when men ran, labored, or fought (1Pe 1:13).

4. To understand the cause of things, man should have been present at their origin. The finite creature cannot fathom the infinite wisdom of the Creator (Job 28:12; 15:7, 8).

hast—"knowest."

understanding—(Pr 4:1).

5. measures—of its proportions. Image from an architect's plans of a building.

line—of measurement (Isa 28:17). The earth is formed on an all-wise plan.

6. foundations—not "sockets," as Margin.

fastened—literally, "made to sink," as a foundation-stone let down till it settles firmly in the clay (Job 26:7). Gravitation makes and keeps the earth a sphere.

7. So at the founding of Zerubbabel's temple (Ezr 3:10-13). So hereafter at the completion of the Church, the temple of the Holy Ghost (Zec 4:7); as at its foundation (Lu 2:13, 14).

morning stars—especially beautiful. The creation morn is appropriately associated with these, it being the commencement of this world's day. The stars are figuratively said to sing God's praises, as in Ps 19:1; 148:3. They are symbols of the angels, bearing the same relation to our earth, as angels do to us. Therefore they answer to "sons of God," or angels, in the parallel. See on Job 25:5.

8. doors—floodgates; these when opened caused the flood (Ge 8:2); or else, the shores.

womb—of chaos. The bowels of the earth. Image from childbirth (Job 38:8, 9; Eze 32:2; Mic 4:10). Ocean at its birth was wrapped in clouds as its swaddling bands.

10. brake up for—that is, appointed it. Shores are generally broken and abrupt cliffs. The Greek for "shore" means "a broken place." I broke off or measured off for it my limit, that is, the limit which I thought fit (Job 26:10).

11. stayedHebrew, "a limit shall be set to."

12-15. Passing from creation to phenomena in the existing inanimate world.

Hast thou—as God daily does.

commanded the morning—to rise.

since thy days—since thou hast come into being.

his place—It varies in its place of rising from day to day, and yet it has its place each day according to fixed laws.

13. take hold of the ends, &c.—spread itself over the earth to its utmost bounds in a moment.

wicked—who hate the light, and do their evil works in the dark (Job 24:13).

shaken out of it—The corners (Hebrew, "wings" or "skirts") of it, as of a garment, are taken hold of by the dayspring, so as to shake off the wicked.

14. Explaining the first clause of Job 38:13, as Job 38:15 does the second clause. As the plastic clay presents the various figures impressed on it by a seal, so the earth, which in the dark was void of all form, when illuminated by the dayspring, presents a variety of forms, hills, valleys, &c.

turned—(Hebrew, "turns itself") alludes to the rolling cylinder seal, such as is found in Babylon, which leaves its impressions on the clay, as it is turned about; so the morning light rolling on over the earth.

they stand—The forms of beauty, unfolded by the dawn, stand forth as a garment, in which the earth is clad.

15. their light—by which they work; namely, darkness, which is their day (Job 24:17), is extinguished by daylight.

high—Rather, "The arm uplifted" for murder or other crime is broken; it falls down suddenly, powerless, through their fear of light.

16. springs—fountains beneath the sea (Ps 95:4, 5).

search—Rather, "the inmost recesses"; literally, "that which is only found by searching," the deep caverns of ocean.

17. seen—The second clause heightens the thought in the first. Man during life does not even "see" the gates of the realm of the dead ("death," Job 10:21); much less are they "opened" to him. But those are "naked before God" (Job 26:6).

18. Hast thou—as God doth (Job 28:24).

19-38. The marvels in heaven. "What is the way (to the place wherein) light dwelleth?" The origin of light and darkness. In Ge 1:3-5, 14-18, "light" is created distinct from, and previous to, light-emitting bodies, the luminaries of heaven.

20. Dost thou know its place so well as to be able to guide, ("take" as in Isa 36:17) it to (but Umbreit, "reach it in") its own boundary, that is, the limit between light and darkness (Job 26:10)?

21. Or without the interrogation, in an ironical sense [Umbreit].

then—when I created light and darkness (Job 15:7).

22. treasures—storehouses, from which God draws forth snow and hail. Snow is vapor congealed in the air before it is collected in drops large enough to form hail. Its shape is that of a crystal in endless variety of beautiful figures. Hail is formed by rain falling through dry cold air.

23. against the time of trouble—the time when I design to chastise men (Ex 9:18; Jos 10:11; Re 16:21; Isa 28:17; Ps 18:12, 13; Hag 2:17).

24. is … parted—parts, so as to diffuse itself over the whole earth, though seeming to come from one point. Light travels from the sun to the earth, ninety millions of miles, in eight minutes.

which scattereth—rather, "And by what way the east wind (personified) spreads (scattereth) itself." The light and east wind are associated together, as both come from one quarter, and often arise together (Jon 4:8).

25. waters—Rain falls, not in a mass on one spot, but in countless separate canals in the air marked out for them.

way for the lightning—(Job 28:26).

26. Since rain fails also on places uninhabited by man, it cannot be that man guides its course. Such rain, though man cannot explain the reason for it, is not lost. God has some wise design in it.

27. As though the desolate ground thirsted for God's showers. Personification. The beauty imparted to the uninhabited desert pleases God, for whom primarily all things exist, and He has ulterior designs in it.

28. Can any visible origin of rain and dew be assigned by man? Dew is moisture, which was suspended in the air, but becomes condensed on reaching the—in the night—lower temperature of objects on the earth.

29. Job 37:10.

30. The unfrozen waters are hid under the frozen, as with a covering of stone.

frozen—literally, "is taken"; the particles take hold of one another so as to cohere.

31. sweet influences—the joy diffused by spring, the time when the Pleiades appear. The Eastern poets, Hafiz, Sadi, &c., describe them as "brilliant rosettes." Gesenius translates: "bands" or "knot," which answers better the parallelism. But English Version agrees better with the Hebrew. The seven stars are closely "bound" together (see on Job 9:9). "Canst thou bind or loose the tie?" "Canst thou loose the bonds by which the constellation Orion (represented in the East as an impious giant chained to the sky) is held fast?" (See on Job 9:9).

32. Canst thou bring forth from their places or houses (Mazzaloth, 2Ki 23:5, Margin; to which Mazzaroth here is equivalent) into the sky the signs of the Zodiac at their respective seasons—the twelve lodgings in which the sun successively stays, or appears, in the sky?

Arcturus—Ursa Major.

his sons?—the three stars in his tail. Canst thou make them appear in the sky? (Job 9:9). The great and less Bear are called by the Arabs "Daughters of the Bier," the quadrangle being the bier, the three others the mourners.

33. ordinances—which regulate the alternations of seasons, &c. (Ge 8:22).

dominioncontrolling influence of the heavenly bodies, the sun, moon, &c., on the earth (on the tides, weather) (Ge 1:16; Ps 136:7-9).

34. Jer 14:22; above Job 22:11, metaphorically.

35. Here we are—at thy disposal (Isa 6:8).

36. inward parts … heart—But "dark clouds" ("shining phenomena") [Umbreit]; "meteor" [Maurer], referring to the consultation of these as signs of weather by the husbandman (Ec 11:4). But Hebrew supports English Version. The connection is, "Who hath given thee the intelligence to comprehend in any degree the phenomena just specified?"

heart—not the usual Hebrew word, but one from a root "to view"; perception.

37. Who appoints by his wisdom the due measure of the clouds?

stay—rather, "empty"; literally, "lay down" or "incline" so as to pour out.

bottles of heaven—rain-filled clouds.

38. groweth, &c.—rather, pour itself into a mass by the rain, like molten metal; then translate Job 38:38, "Who is it that empties," &c., "when," &c.? The English Version, however, is tenable: "Is caked into a mass" by heat, like molten metal, before the rain falls; "Who is it that can empty the rain vessels, and bring down rain at such a time?" (Job 38:38).

39. At Job 38:39-39:30, the instincts of animals. Is it thou that givest it the instinct to hunt its prey? (Ps 104:21).

appetite—literally, "life," which depends on the appetite" (Job 33:20).

40. lie in wait?—for their prey (Ps 10:9).

41. Lu 12:24. Transition from the noble lioness to the croaking raven. Though man dislikes it, as of ill omen, God cares for it, as for all His creatures.




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