Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary
I. Hebrew, "None is so fierce that dare stir it up." (Haydock) --- Cruel, or rash, like those to Tentyra, chap. iii. 8. (Calmet) --- This monster is terrible to those that flee, while it retires from the pursuer. --- But only these people dare to attack it. (Pliny, [Natural History?] viii. 25.) --- "I will not ask the crocodile to revenge me of my enemies," as some might do in a rage, through impotence. (Haydock) (Sanchez) (Menochius) --- Countenance, even though they might overcome the crocodile. God is here speaking. Septuagint, "Dost thou not fear, since it is ready for thee, (Grabe substitutes, "me," for who will resist me?" or, "who shall stand against me, and live? All," &c., ver. 2. (Haydock) --- God ruleth not with cruelty, like a tyrant, but with justice, ease, and power. (Worthington)
Supposition. This is explained by the Fathers as spoken of the devil. (Amama) --- But the Hebrew may signify, that God will reward each one according to his deserts, and that Job had consequently no reason to complain; or it means, that the strength and beauty of the crocodile should be made known. (Calmet) --- Protestants, "I will not conceal his parts, nor his power, nor his comely proportion." Theo.[Theodotion?] in Septuagint, "I will not keep silence on his account, and the word of power shall take pity on his equal." (Haydock)
Garment, or the skin. (Menochius) --- Who shall look steadfastly, or dare to take off its skin? --- Mouth. Protestants, "Who can come to him with his double bridle?" (Haydock) though it be of the greatest strength; or, who will enter its jaws, or put bits in them? It is reported that the Tentyrites jump on the crocodile's back, and having thrown a piece of wood into its open mouth, like bits, which they hold with both hands, they conduct it to the river side, and kill it. (Pliny viii. 25.) --- Septuagint, "Who would enter the wrinkles of his breast, (Calmet) or the folds of its coat of arms?" which may allude to the almost impenetrable scales of the leviathan. (Haydock) --- Symmachus, "Who will enter the folds of its scales?" The crocodile can open its mouth so wide as to swallow a heifer, or to let a man stand upright. (Calmet) --- Each jaw is furnished with thirty-six teeth. (Vansleb.)
Body. Septuagint, "entrails are like brazen shields." Protestants, "His scales are his pride shut up together, as with a close seal." (Haydock)
Sneezing. When the whale breathes, it causes the water to foam. (Pineda) (Menochius) --- The eyes of the crocodile are also (Haydock) very bright, when out of the water. (Pliny viii. 25.) They appear first, and therefore were used as an hieroglyphic of Aurora, (Horus i. 26.) or of the morning star. (Haydock) --- Syriac, "His look is brilliant." Arabic, "The apples of his eyes are fiery, and his eyes are like the brightness of the morning." Septuagint, "like Aurora." (Calmet) --- Olaus (xxi. 5.) says, "that they eyes of the whale shine at night,...and at a distance, are taken by fishermen for great fires."
Fire, when they spout water, (Menochius) or pursue their prey open mouthed. This description is extremely poetical, like that of anger, 2 Kings xxii. 9. (Calmet)
Smoke; breath, or streams of water sent upwards.
Breath, like bellows, ver. 10. (Menochius)
Neck. Some deny that the crocodile has any, being formed like a lizard. But it is a dispute about words. The animal turns with difficulty, so that Thomas Gage assures us he escaped one by going in different directions. --- Want. It ravages a whole country. Hebrew, "fear." (Calmet) --- Protestants, "sorrow is turned into joy before him;" which seems strange. Septuagint, "destruction runs before him." (Haydock) --- The poets place fear, carnage, &c., in the train of Mars. (Calmet)
Place; though people may shoot at him, they will make no impression, chap. xl. 20, 26. (Haydock) --- If God send his thunderbolts at him, the monster must however perish. (Calmet) --- Symmachus, "His flesh being cast for him, as in the foundry, (molten) is immoveable." (Haydock) --- Yet God destroyeth him whom man cannot overcome. (Worthington)
Stone. Pineda understands this of the whale's heart. Others suppose that it alludes to its cruel and fearless temper. (Menochius) --- The Arabs call a valiant man, "heart of stone." (Calmet) --- Smiths. Protestants, "as a piece of the nether millstone," (Haydock) which must be larger and more compact than that which is above. (Calmet) --- Septuagint, "He hath stood immoveable as an anvil." (Haydock)
Angels. Elim. That is, the mighty, the most valiant, shall fear this monstrous fish, and in their fear shall seek to be purified, (Challoner) by contribution. (Sanchez) --- R. Levi has given a ridiculous exposition, which is adopted by Sa (Amama) and others, (Haydock; see Ezechiel ii. 7.; Aristotle iv. prob. 32.) as the natural consequences of fear. (Calmet) (Menochius) --- The Fathers refer this to the fall of Lucifer, when the other angels might tremble for their own safety. (Haydock) --- Angels with reverent fear honour God's power, and his mot perfect servants are filled with apprehensions at his judgments; as the most valiant are terrified at the sight of this huge fish. (Worthington) --- Septuagint, "If he turn, there is fear among the wild quadrupeds, jumping on the land." Hebrew, 'When he raiseth up himself, the mighty are afraid: by reason of breakings, they purify themselves." (Protestants) or "spoil themselves," (Calmet) expecting nothing but certain death. (Amama)
Plate. Protestants, "habergeon." The precise nature of these arms is not known. (Calmet) --- Neither offensive or defensive weapons can avail. (Menochius) --- All agree that the crocodile can be pierced only under the belly. (Calmet)
Are. Literally, "are turned into stubble," as in Hebrew. (Haydock) --- They have no more effect. (Menochius)
Hammer. Septuagint Greek: sphura, means also, "the bottom of a rock." This would not overwhelm the whale; as some are represented like floating islands. Protestants, "darts." (Haydock) --- Chaldean, "axe." Others have, "the ballista;" an instrument to throw stones. (Calmet)
Under him. He shall not value the beams of the sun: and gold to him be like mire. (Challoner) (Menochius) --- Hebrew, "sharp stones (or potsherds) are under him; he spreadeth (or lieth upon) sharp-pointed things, as upon the mire." (Haydock) --- He is not afraid of being hurt.
When. Hebrew, "a pot of ointment." This boils out very much. (Calmet) --- The flesh of the crocodile has also the smell of musk; (Bochart) and Peter Martyr asserts, that Columbus found some in America, which plunged into the water, and left behind them the odour of musk or castor. When they are wounded, they give the same perfume to the sea, or rather to the waters, where they abide. The Hebrews style all deep rives and lakes, seas. (Calmet) --- Crocodiles were kept in the lake Mœris, being adored and honoured as gods. (Herodotus ii. 69.) --- Septuagint, "He deems the sea as a vase of ointment; (23) and the Tartarus of the abyss, like a prisoner." Theodotion adds, "He hath considered the abyss as a walk."
The deep as growing old. Growing hoary, as it were, with the froth which he leaves behind him. (Challoner) --- The Vulgate has well expressed the force of the original, and shews the rapidity with which the crocodile moves. (Calmet) --- Protestants, "one would think the deep to be hoary." The devil transforms himself into an angel (Haydock) of light. (Du Hamel)
Power. Hebrew and Septuagint, "none like him on earth," for bulk. --- One. Septuagint, "made to be played with, or beaten, by my angels." (Haydock)
He is king, &c. He is superior in strength to all that are great and strong amongst living creatures: mystically it is understood of the devil, who is king over all the proud. (Challoner) (St. Gregory xxxiv. 4., and 17.) (Worthington) --- Hence Job perceived that God has also now permitted this cruel foe to exercise a dominion over him, and to pull him from his high station, though innocent. (Haydock) --- This would henceforward be more frequently the order of Providence, and therefore he expresses his entire resignation, chap. xlii. (Houbigant) --- Pride: the strongest and fiercest animals. (Haydock) --- The crocodile has been seen encountering even the elephant, and gaining the victory. He is king of all fishes. Septuagint, "of all in the waters." Chaldean, "of all the sons of the mountains:" or Theodotion, "of arrogance." This may particularly denote the Egyptians, as the crocodile was one of their gods; and people are often styled after them, Numbers xxi. 29., and Jeremias xlviii. 46. (Calmet) --- Pharao even means "a crocodile," in Arabic. (Bochart, Anim. p. ii. b. v. 16.) --- He is styled simply, the proud, Psalm lxxxviii. 11. (Calmet) --- The pride of the Egyptians was notorious, Ezechiel xxxii. 12. (Calmet)