Isaiah 40:12
Parallel Verses
New International Version
Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?

New Living Translation
Who else has held the oceans in his hand? Who has measured off the heavens with his fingers? Who else knows the weight of the earth or has weighed the mountains and hills on a scale?

English Standard Version
Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?

New American Standard Bible
Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, And marked off the heavens by the span, And calculated the dust of the earth by the measure, And weighed the mountains in a balance And the hills in a pair of scales?

King James Bible
Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?

Holman Christian Standard Bible
Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand or marked off the heavens with the span of his hand? Who has gathered the dust of the earth in a measure or weighed the mountains in a balance and the hills in the scales?

International Standard Version
"Who has measured the waters of the sea in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens by the width of his hand? Who has enclosed the dust of the earth in a measuring bowl, or weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?

NET Bible
Who has measured out the waters in the hollow of his hand, or carefully measured the sky, or carefully weighed the soil of the earth, or weighed the mountains in a balance, or the hills on scales?

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Who has measured the water of the sea with the palm of his hand or measured the sky with the length of his hand? Who has held the dust of the earth in a bushel basket or weighed the mountains on a scale and the hills on a balance?

Jubilee Bible 2000
Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and prepared the heavens with his palm and with three fingers measured the dust of the earth and weighed the mountains in a balance and the hills with weights?

King James 2000 Bible
Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and measured out heaven with the span, and known the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?

American King James Version
Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?

American Standard Version
Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?

Douay-Rheims Bible
Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and weighed the heavens with his palm? who hath poised with three fingers the bulk of the earth, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?

Darby Bible Translation
Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out the heavens with [his] span, and grasped the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in a balance, and the hills in scales?

English Revised Version
Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?

Webster's Bible Translation
Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and measured heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?

World English Bible
Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and marked off the sky with his span, and calculated the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?

Young's Literal Translation
Who hath measured in the hollow of his hand the waters? And the heavens by a span hath meted out, And comprehended in a measure the dust of the earth, And hath weighed in scales the mountains, And the hills in a balance?
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

40:12-17 All created beings shrink to nothing in comparison with the Creator. When the Lord, by his Spirit, made the world, none directed his Spirit, or gave advice what to do, or how to do it. The nations, in comparison of him, are as a drop which remains in the bucket, compared with the vast ocean; or as the small dust in the balance, which does not turn it, compared with all the earth. This magnifies God's love to the world, that, though it is of such small account and value with him, yet, for the redemption of it, he gave his only-begotten Son, Joh 3:16. The services of the church can make no addition to him. Our souls must have perished for ever, if the only Son of the Father had not given himself for us.

Pulpit Commentary

Verses 12-31. - THE MIGHT AND GREATNESS OF GOD CONTRASTED WITH THE WEAKNESS OF MAN AND THE FUTILITY OF IDOLS. If captive Israel is to be induced to turn' to God, and so hasten the time of its restoration to his favour and to its own land, it must be by rising to a worthy conception of the nature and attributes of the Almighty. The prophet, therefore, in the remainder of this chapter, paints in glorious language the power and greatness, and at the same time the mercy, of God, contrasting him with man (vers. 15-17, 23, 28-31), with idols (vers. 19, 20), and with the framework of material things (vers. 21, 22, 26), and showing his infinite superiority to each and all. In contrasting him with man, he takes occasion to bring into prominence his goodness and loving-kindness to man, to whom he imparts a portion of his own might and strength (vers. 29-31 ). Verse 12. - Who hath measured the waters? (comp. Proverbs 30:4 and Job 38:4-6). The might of God is especially shown in creation, which Isaiah assumes to be God's work. How infinitely above man must he be, who arranged in such perfection, "by measure and number and weight" (Wisd. 11:20), the earth, the waters, and the heavens, so proportioning each to each as to produce that admirable order and regularity which the intelligent observer cannot but note in the material universe as among its chief characteristics! In the hollow of his hand. The anthropomorphism is strong, no doubt, but softened by the preceding mention (in ver. 10) of God's "arm," and by the comparison of God to a shepherd (in ver. 11). Isaiah's exalted notion of God renders him fearless with regard to anthropomorphism. And meted out heaven with the span; rather, with a span (comp. Isaiah 48:13, "My right hand hath spanned the heavens"). And comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure; literally, in a tierce (as in the margin). The measure intended is probably the seah, which was the third part of an ephah, and held about three gallons. The seah was "the ordinary measure for household purposes." In scales... in a balance. The peles, here translated "scales," is probably the steelyard, while the mozenaim is "the balance" or "pair of scales" ordinarily used for weighing. God metes out all things with measures, scales, and balances of his own, which are proportioned to his greatness.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand?.... The following account of the power, wisdom, and all sufficiency of God, and which is to be understood of Christ, is to show that he is equal to the work of redemption and salvation he has engaged in, and was about to come and perform, and that he is able to do it, as well as to execute his office as a shepherd; and also to observe, that though his rich grace and goodness he had condescended to take upon him the work of a saviour, and the office of a shepherd, yet this was not to be interpreted as if he had lost his dignity and glory as a divine Person, or as if that was in the least diminished; for he was no other than that infinite Being, "who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand"; the waters of the seas, for which he has provided a receptacle, where he has collected and put them together; the dimensions of which are exactly known to him, and the vast confluence of water is no more in his hands than so much water as a man can hold in the hollow of his hand, in his fist, or hand contracted:

and meted out heaven with the span; which he has stretched out as a curtain, Isaiah 40:22, and the measure of which is but one hand's breadth with him; and is no more to him than stretching out a carpet or canopy; and as easily measured by him as a piece of cloth is by a man with the span of his hand, or any measuring rule or yard:

and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure; the word (r) used signifies the third part of some larger measure, as of a sextarius, as some; or of an ephah, or bath as others; or of some other measure not known; See Gill on Psalm 80:5. The Vulgate Latin version renders it, "with three fingers"; and the sense may be, that the dust of the earth, or the earth itself, which is but dust, is no more with the Lord than so much earth or dust as a man can hold between his thumb and two fingers; and in like manner is the whole earth comprehended by the Lord:

and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance; as easily as a man can throw in his goods into a pair of scales, and take the true weight of them, with equal ease did the Lord raise the mountains and the hills in a proper proportion, and has so exactly poised them, as if he had weighed them in a pair of scales; this seems to hint at the use of mountains and hills to be a sort of ballast to the earth, and shows the original formation of them from the beginning. The answer to the above question is, that it was the same divine Person of whom it is said, "behold your God, and who should come with a strong hand, and feed his flock."

(r) "in mensura ternaria", Montanus; "trientali", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius, Vitringa.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

12. Lest the Jews should suppose that He who was just before described as a "shepherd" is a mere man, He is now described as God.

Who—Who else but God could do so? Therefore, though the redemption and restoration of His people, foretold here, was a work beyond man's power, they should not doubt its fulfilment since all things are possible to Him who can accurately regulate the proportion of the waters as if He had measured them with His hand (compare Isa 40:15). But Maurer translates: "Who can measure," &c., that is, How immeasurable are the works of God? The former is a better explanation (Job 28:25; Pr 30:4).

span—the space from the end of the thumb to the end of the middle finger extended; God measures the vast heavens as one would measure a small object with his span.

dust of the earth—All the earth is to Him but as a few grains of dust contained in a small measure (literally, "the third part of a larger measure").

hills in a balance—adjusted in their right proportions and places, as exactly as if He had weighed them out.

Isaiah 40:12 Additional Commentaries
Context
Here is Your God!
11Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, In His arm He will gather the lambs And carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes. 12Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, And marked off the heavens by the span, And calculated the dust of the earth by the measure, And weighed the mountains in a balance And the hills in a pair of scales? 13Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, Or as His counselor has informed Him?…
Cross References
Hebrews 1:10
He also says, "In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.

Job 38:5
Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it?

Job 38:8
"Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb,

Psalm 102:25
In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.

Psalm 102:26
They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded.

Isaiah 48:13
My own hand laid the foundations of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I summon them, they all stand up together.

Jeremiah 31:37
This is what the LORD says: "Only if the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth below be searched out will I reject all the descendants of Israel because of all they have done,"

Amos 4:13
He who forms the mountains, who creates the wind, and who reveals his thoughts to mankind, who turns dawn to darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth-- the LORD God Almighty is his name.
Treasury of Scripture

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?

measured

Isaiah 48:13 My hand also has laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand …

Job 11:7-9 Can you by searching find out God? can you find out the Almighty …

Job 38:4-11 Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, …

Psalm 102:25,26 Of old have you laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens …

Psalm 104:2,3 Who cover yourself with light as with a garment: who stretch out …

Proverbs 8:26-28 While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest …

Proverbs 30:4 Who has ascended up into heaven, or descended? who has gathered the …

Hebrews 1:10-12 And, You, Lord, in the beginning have laid the foundation of the …

Revelation 20:11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose …

measure. Heb. tierce
weighed

Job 28:25 To make the weight for the winds; and he weighs the waters by measure.

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