Job 38:32
Can you bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? or can you guide Arcturus with his sons?
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(32) Mazzaroth is commonly understood to mean the signs of the Zodiac, and by the children of Arc-turus the three stars in the tail of Ursa Major.

Job 38:32-33. Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth? — Namely, into view? Canst thou make the stars in the southern signs arise and appear? Or canst thou guide Arcturus? — A northern constellation; with his sons? — The lesser stars which belong to it, which are placed round about it, and attend upon it as children upon their parents. Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? — The laws which are firmly established concerning their order, motion or rest, and their powerful influences upon this lower world. Didst thou give these laws? Or dost thou perfectly know them? Canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth? — Canst thou manage and overrule their influences, that they shall bring such seasons and such weather as thou wouldest have?38:25-41 Hitherto God had put questions to Job to show him his ignorance; now God shows his weakness. As it is but little that he knows, he ought not to arraign the Divine counsels; it is but little he can do, therefore he ought not to oppose the ways of Providence. See the all-sufficiency of the Divine Providence; it has wherewithal to satisfy the desire of every living thing. And he that takes care of the young ravens, certainly will not be wanting to his people. This being but one instance of the Divine compassion out of many, gives us occasion to think how much good our God does, every day, beyond what we are aware of. Every view we take of his infinite perfections, should remind us of his right to our love, the evil of sinning against him, and our need of his mercy and salvation.Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? - Margin, "the twelve signs;" that is, the twelve signs of the zodiac. There has been much diversity of opinion about the meaning of this word. It occurs nowhere else in the Scriptures, and of course it is not easy to determine its signification. The Septuagint retains the word μαξσυρὠθ maxsurōth, without attempting to translate it. Jerome renders it, "Luciferum - Lucifer," the morning-star. The Chaldee, מזליא שטרי - the constellations of the planets. Coverdale, "the morning-star;" and so Luther renders it. Rosenmuller, "signa celestia" - the celestial signs, and so Herder, Umbreit, Gesenius, and Noyes, "the zodiac." Gesenius regards the word מזרה mazzârâh, as the same as מזלה mazzâlâh, properly "lodgings, inns;" and hence, the "lodgings" of the sun, or the places or "houses" in which he appears in the heavens, and thus as meaning the signs in the zodiac. Most of the Hebrew interpreters adopt this view, but it rests on no certain foundation, and as we are not certain as to the meaning of the word, the only safe way is to retain the original, as is done in our common version. I do not see how it is possible to determine its meaning with certainty, and probably it is to be regarded as a name given to some constellation or cluster of stars supposed to exert an influence over the seasons, or connected with some change in the seasons, which we cannot now accurately understand.

Or canst thou guide Arcturus? - On the constellation "Arcturus" (עשׁ ‛ayish), see the notes at Job 9:9. The word rendered "guide" in the text, is in the margin "guide them." The Hebrew is, "and עשׁ ‛ayish upon (or near - על ‛al) her sons, canst thou lead them?" Herder and Umbreit render it, "And lead forth the Bear with her young," or her children. The reference is to the constellation Arcturus, or Ursa Major, in the northern sky. The "sons" referred to are the stars that accompany it, probably the stars that are now called the" tail of the bear." "Umbreit." Another interpretation is suggested by Herder, which is that this constellation is represented as a nightly wanderer - a mother, who is seeking her lost children, the stars that are no longer visible, and that thus revolves around the heavens. But the probable reference is to the constellation conducted round and round the pole as by some unseen hand, like a mother with her children, and the question is, whether Job had skill and power to do this? God appeals to it as a manifestation of his majesty and power, and as far above the skill of man. Who ever looked upon that beautiful constellation and marked its regular revolutions, without feeling that its position and movements were such as God only could produce?

Job 38:32By number - As if he had numbered, or named them; as a military commander would call forth his armies in their proper order, and have them so numbered and enrolled in the various divisions, that he can command them with ease.

He calleth them all by names - This idea is also taken from a military leader, who would know the names of the individuals that composed his army. In smaller divisions of an army, this could of course be done; but the idea is, that God is intimately acquainted with all the hosts of stars; that though their numbers appear to us so great, yet he is acquainted with each one individually, and has that knowledge of it which we have of a person or object which we recognize by a name. It is said of Cyrus, that he was acquainted by name with every individual that composed his vast army. The practice of giving names to the stars of heaven was early, and is known to have been originated by the Chaldeans. Intimations of this custom we have not unfrequently in the Scriptures, as far back as the time of Job:

Which maketh Arcturus, and Orion, and Pleiades,


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.

Canst thou bring forth to wit, into view? canst thou make him to arise and appear in thy hemisphere?

Mazzaroth; by which he designs either,

1. All the constellations, and especially the twelve sign of the zodiac; or rather

2. Some particular constellation, as all the rest here mentioned are understood. But whether this be that which is called the chambers of the south, Job 9:9, or the Dog Star, or some other visible in Job’s country, but not in ours we may be safely and contentedly ignorant, seeing even the Hebrew doctors are not agreed therein.

Arcturus; a northern constellation, of which See Poole "Job 9:9".

With his sons, to wit, the lesser stars which belong to it, and are placed round about it, and attend upon it, as children upon their parents. Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season?.... Which are thought to be the same with "the chambers of the south", Job 9:9; the southern pole (m) with its stars, signified by chambers, because hidden from our sight in this part of the globe; and here by Mazzaroth, from, "nazar", to separate, because separated and at a distance from us; some think (n) the twelve signs of the Zodiac are meant, each of which are brought forth in their season, not by men, but by the Lord; see Isaiah 40:26;

or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons? a constellation of many stars called its sons, of which see Job 9:9. Schmidt conjectures that Jupiter and his satellites are meant; but rather what we call the greater and lesser Bear, in the tail of which is the north pole star, the guide of mariners, said (o) to be found out by Thales, by which the Phoenicians sailed, but is not to be guided by men; this, constellation is fancied to be in the form of a wain or wagon, and is called Charles's wain; could this be admitted, there might be thought to be an allusion to it (p), and the sense be, canst thou guide and lead this constellation, as a wagon or team of horses can be guided and led? stars have their courses, Judges 5:20; but are not steered, guided, and directed by men, but by the Lord himself.

(m) David de Pomis, Lexic. fol. 77. 3.((n) Vatablus, Codurcus, Schultens; so Suidas in voce (o) Callimachus apud Laert. Vit. Thalet. p. 16. (p) Vid. Hinckelman. Praefat. ad Alkoran. p. 29, 30.

Canst thou bring forth {s} Mazzaroth in his season? or canst thou guide {t} Arcturus with his sons?

(s) Certain stars so called, some think they were the twelve signs.

(t) The north star with those that are about him.

32. canst thou bring forth] Rather, dost thou …? and similarly, dost thou guide? The meaning of Mazzaroth is uncertain. The word has been supposed to be another form of Mazzaloth, 2 Kings 23:5, which is thought to mean the signs of the Zodiac. The connexion as well as the parallelism of the next clause suggests that some single star or constellation is meant. Others would render the bright stars; the planets, perhaps, or some of them being referred to.

Arcturus with his sons] Or, the bear with her young. The reference is supposed to be to the constellation of the Great Bear. Her “young” are the stars that project from the square; or, taking the popular conception of the constellation as a “plough,” they are the bright stars that form the “beam.”Verse 32. - Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? The context implies that "Mazzaroth' is a constellation on a par with the Pleiades, Orion, and the Bear (Kimah, Kesil and 'Aish). This makes it impossible to accept the meaning, so generally assigned, of "the twelve signs of the Zodiac." Again, the plural form is fatal to the conjecture that "Mazzaroth" designates a single star or planet, as Jupiter, Venus, or Sirius (Cook). The word is derived probably from the root zahar, "to shine," "to be bright," and should designate some especially brilliant cluster of stars Whether it is to be regarded as a variant of Mazzaloth (2 Kings 23:5) is uncertain. Or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons? (On the identity of 'Ash or 'Aish with the Great Bear, see the comment on Job 9:9.) The "sons" of 'Aish are conjectured to be the three large stars in the tail of Ursa Major (Stanley Leathes); but the grounds on which the conjecture rests are very slight. 22 Hast thou reached the treasures of the snow,

And didst thou see the treasures of the hail,

23 Which I have reserved for a time of trouble,

For the day of battle and war?

24 Which is the way where the light is divided,

Where the east wind is scattered over the earth?

25 Who divideth a course for the rain-flood

And the way of the lightning of thunder,

26 That it raineth on the land where no one dwelleth,

On the tenantless steppe,

27 To satisfy the desolate and the waste,

And to cause the tender shoot of the grass to spring forth?

The idea in Job 38:22 is not that - as for instance the peasants of Menn, four hours' journey from Damascus, garner up the winter snow in a cleft of the rock, in order to convey it to Damascus and the towns of the coast in the hot months - God treasures up the snow and hail above to cause it to descend according to opportunity. אצרות (comp. Psalm 135:7) are the final causes of these phenomena which God has created - the form of the question, the design of which (which must not be forgotten) is ethical, not scientific, is regulated according to the infancy of the perception of natural phenomena among the ancients; but at the same time in accordance with the poet's task, and even, as here, in the choice of the agents of destruction, not merely hail, but also snow, according to the scene of the incident. Wetzstein has in his possession a writing of Muhammed el-Chatb el-Bosrwi, in which he describes a fearful fall of snow in Hauran, by which, in February 1860, innumerable herds of sheep, goats, and camels, and also many human beings perished.

(Note: Since the Hauranites say of snow as of fire: jahrik, it burns (brlant in French is also used of extreme cold), Job 1:16 might also be understood of a fall of snow; but the tenor of the words there requires it to be understood of actual fire.)


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