|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
41:1-34 Concerning Leviathan. - The description of the Leviathan, is yet further to convince Job of his own weakness, and of God's almighty power. Whether this Leviathan be a whale or a crocodile, is disputed. The Lord, having showed Job how unable he was to deal with the Leviathan, sets forth his own power in that mighty creature. If such language describes the terrible force of Leviathan, what words can express the power of God's wrath? Under a humbling sense of our own vileness, let us revere the Divine Majesty; take and fill our allotted place, cease from our own wisdom, and give all glory to our gracious God and Saviour. Remembering from whom every good gift cometh, and for what end it was given, let us walk humbly with the Lord.
Verses 1-34. - The crowning description of a natural marvel - the "leviathan," or crocodile - is now given, and with an elaboration to which there is no parallel in the rest of Scripture. It forms, however, a fit climax to the gradually more and more elaborate descriptions of Job 38:39-41; Job 39:1-30; and Job 40:15-24. Verse 1. - Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? The word leviathan, or more properly livyathan, which has previously occurred in ch. 3:8, and is found also in Psalm 74:14; Psalm 104:26; and Isaiah 27:1, seems to be derived from לוי, "twisting," and תן, "a monster," whence the תּנּין or תּנּים of the Pentateuch and also of Job (Job 7:12), Jeremiah (Jeremiah 9:11), and Ezekiel (Ezekiel 29:3). It is thus a descriptive epithet rather than a name, and has not unnaturally been used to designate more than one kind of animal. The best modern critics regard it as applied sometimes to a python or large serpent, sometimes to a cetacean, a whale or grampus, and sometimes, as hero, to the crocodile. This last application is now almost universally accepted. The crocodile was fished for by the Egyptians with a hook, and in the time of Herodotus was frequently caught and killed (Herod., 2:70); but probably in Job's day no one had been so venturous as to attack him. Or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down? rather, or press down his tongue with a cord? (see the Revised Version); i.e. "tie a rope round his lower jaw, and so press down his tongue." Many savage animals are represented in the Assyrian sculptures as led along by a rope attached to their mouths.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook?.... That is, draw it out of the sea or river as anglers draw out smaller fishes with a line or hook? the question suggests it cannot be done; whether by the "leviathan" is meant the whale, which was the most generally received notion; or the crocodile, as Bochart, who has been followed by many; or the "orca", a large fish of the whale kind with many teeth, as Hasaeus, it is not easy to say "Leviathan" is a compound word of than the first syllable of "thanni", rendered either a whale, or a dragon, or a serpent, and of "levi", which signifies conjunction, from the close joining of its scales, Job 41:15; the patriarch Levi had his name from the same word; see Genesis 29:34; and the name bids fairest for the crocodile, and which is called "thannin", Ezekiel 29:3. Could the crocodile be established as the "leviathan", and the behemoth as the river horse, the transition from the one to the other would appear very easy; since, as Pliny says (a), there is a sort of a kindred between them, being of the same river, the river Nile, and so may be thought to be better known to Job than the whale; though it is not to be concealed what Pliny says (b), that whales have been seen in the Arabian seas; he speaks of one that came into the river of Arabia, six hundred feet long, and three hundred and sixty broad. There are some things in the description of this creature that seem to agree best with the crocodile, and others that suit better with the whale, and some with neither;
or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down? into the river or sea, as anglers do, with lead to it to make it sink below the surface of the water, and a quill or cork that it may not sink too deep; but this creature is not to be taken in this manner; and which may be objected to the crocodile being meant, since that has no tongue (c), or at least so small that it is not seen, and cleaves close to its lower jaw, which never moves; and is taken with hooks and cords, as Herodotus (d), Diodorus Siculus (e), and Leo Africanus (f), testify; but not so the whale.
(See definition for 03882. Editor.)
(a) Nat. Hist. l. 28. c. 8. (b) Ib. l. 32. c. 1.((c) Diodor. Sicul. l. 1. p. 31. Herodot. Euterpe, sive, l. 2. c. 68. Solin. c. 45. Plutarch. de Is. & Osir. Vid. Aristot. de Animal. l. 2. c. 17. & l. 4. c. 11. Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 11. c. 37. Thevenot, ut supra. (Travels, part 1. c. 72.) Sandys's Travels, l. 2. p. 78. (d) Ut supra, (Herodot. Euterpe, sive, l. 2.) c. 70. (e) Ut supra. (Diodor. Sicul. l. 1. p. 31.) (f) Descriptio Africae, l. 9. p. 762. See Sandy's Travels, ut supra, (l. 2.) p. 79.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
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?
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