|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
40:15-24 God, for the further proving of his own power, describes two vast animals, far exceeding man in bulk and strength. Behemoth signifies beasts. Most understand it of an animal well known in Egypt, called the river-horse, or hippopotamus. This vast animal is noticed as an argument to humble ourselves before the great God; for he created this vast animal, which is so fearfully and wonderfully made. Whatever strength this or any other creature has, it is derived from God. He that made the soul of man, knows all the ways to it, and can make the sword of justice, his wrath, to approach and touch it. Every godly man has spiritual weapons, the whole armour of God, to resist, yea, to overcome the tempter, that his never-dying soul may be safe, whatever becomes of his frail flesh and mortal body.
Verse 24. - He taketh it with his eyes; rather, Shall one take him when he is looking on? "Can he be captured." i.e. "when his eyes are open, and when he sees what is intended? No. If captured at all, it must be by subtlety, when he is not on the watch." His nose pierceth through snares; rather, Or can one bore his nostril with cords? i.e. can we lead him away captive, with a ring or hook passed through his nose, and a cord attached (compare the next chapter, ver. 2)?
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
He taketh it with his eyes,.... Or "can men take him before his eyes?" so Mr. Broughton; and others translate it to the same purpose; no, he is not to be taken openly, but privately, by some insidious crafty methods; whether it be understood of the elephant or river horse; elephants, according to Strabo (q) and Pliny (r) were taken in pits dug for them, into which they were decoyed; in like manner, according to some (s), the river horse is taken; a pit being dug and covered with reeds and sand, it falls into it unawares;
his nose pierceth through snares; he discerns them oftentimes and escapes them, so that he is not easily taken in them. It is reported of the sea morss (t), before mentioned; see Gill on Job 40:20, that they ascend mountains in great herds, where, before they give themselves to sleep, to which they are naturally inclined, they appoint one of their number as it were a watchman; who, if he chances to sleep or to be slain by the hunter, the rest may be easily taken; but if the watchman gives warning by roaring as the manner is, the whole herd immediately awake and fall down from the mountains with great swiftness into the sea, as before described; or, as Mr. Broughton, "cannot men take him, to pierce his nose with many snares?" they cannot; the elephant has no nose to be pierced, unless his trunk can be called so, and no hook nor snare can be put into the nose of the river horse. Diodorus Siculus (u) says, it cannot be taken but by many vessels joining together and surrounding it, and striking it with iron hooks, to one of which ropes are fastened, and so the creature is let go till it expires. The usual way of taking it now is, by baiting the hook with the roots of water lilies, at which it will catch, and swallow the hook with it; and by giving it line enough it will roll and tumble about, until, through loss of blood, it faints and dies. The way invented by Asdrubal for killing elephants was by striking a carpenter's chopping axe into his ear (w); the Jews (x) say a fly is a terror to an elephant, it enters into his nose and torments him grievously.
(q) Geograph. l. 15. p. 484. (r) Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 8. See Ovington's Voyage to Surat, p. 192, 193. (s) Apud Bochart. ut supra, col. 768. (t) Eden's Travels, p. 318. Supplement to the North East Voyages, p. 94. (u) Bibliothec, l. 1. p. 32. (w) Orosii Hist. l. 4. c. 18. p. 62. Liv. Hist. l. 27. c. 49. (x) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 77. 2. & Gloss. in ib.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
24. Rather, "Will any take him by open force" (literally, "before his eyes"), "or pierce his nose with cords?" No; he can only be taken by guile, and in a pitfall (Job 41:1, 2).
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