Job 11:9
The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea.
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Job 11:9. The measure thereof is longer than the earth — From one end to the other. And broader than the sea — Called the great and wide sea, Psalm 104:25. It infinitely exceeds the limits of the whole creation. Examine the earth in its utmost dimensions: consider all the beauties and excellences belonging to it. Having done this, compare it with the vast, unbounded wisdom of God, and thou wilt soon be sensible how small and inconsiderable the one will be in proportion to the other. The sea, how wide and broad soever it may seem to be; though, at first view, it may appear to be immeasurable; yet, should you examine it in the scale with the divine perfections, the whole ocean, in its utmost extent, would be only as the drop of a bucket, and the waters thereof such as he could measure in the hollow of his hand.11:7-12 Zophar speaks well concerning God and his greatness and glory, concerning man and his vanity and folly. See here what man is; and let him be humbled. God sees this concerning vain man, that he would be wise, would be thought so, though he is born like a wild ass's colt, so unteachable and untameable. Man is a vain creature; empty, so the word is. Yet he is a proud creature, and self-conceited. He would be wise, would be thought so, though he will not submit to the laws of wisdom. He would be wise, he reaches after forbidden wisdom, and, like his first parents, aiming to be wise above what is written, loses the tree of life for the tree of knowledge. Is such a creature as this fit to contend with God?The measure thereof is longer than the earth - The measure of the knowledge of God. The extent of the earth would be one of the longest measures known to the ancients. Yet it is now impossible to ascertain what ideas were attached, in the time of Job, to the extent of the earth - and it is not necessary to know this in order to understand this expression. It is morally certain that the prevailing ideas were very limited, and that a small part of the earth was then known. The general belief seems to have been, that it was a vast plain, surrounded by water - but how supported, and what were its limits, were evidently matters to them unknown. The earliest knowledge which we have of geography, as understood by the Arabs, represents the earth as wholly encompassed by an ocean, like a zone. This was usually characterized as a "Sea of Darkness;" an appellation usually given to the Atlantic; while to the Northern Sea was given the name of "The Sea of Pitchy Darkness." Edrisi imagined the land to be floating in the sea, and only part appearing above, like an egg in a basin of water. If these views prevailed so late as the tenth and eleventh centuries of the Christian era, it is reasonable to conclude that the views of the figure and size of the earth must have been extremely limited in the time of Job. On the ancient views of geography, see the notes at Job 26:7-10, and the maps there, also Murray's Encyclopaedia of Geography, Book I, and Eschenberg's Manual of Classical Literature, by Prof. Fiske, Part I.

And broader than the sea - What was the idea of the breadth of the sea, which was supposed to surround the earth, it is now wholly impossible to determine. Probably there were no ideas on the subject that could be regarded as settled and definite. The ancients had no means of ascertaining this, and they perhaps supposed that the ocean extended to an unlimited extent - or, perhaps, to the far distant place where the sky and the water appeared to meet. At all events it was an illustration then, as it is now, of a vast distance, and is not inappropriately used here to denote the impossibility of fully understanding God. This illustration would be far more striking then than now. We have crossed the ocean; and we do not deem it an impracticable thing to explore the remotest seas. But not so the ancients. They kept close to the shore. They seldom ventured out of sight of land. The enterprise of exploring and crossing the vast ocean, which they supposed encompassed the globe, was regarded by them as wholly impracticable - and equally so they correctly supposed it was to find out God.

8. It—the "wisdom" of God (Job 11:6). The abruptness of the Hebrew is forcible: "The heights of heaven! What canst thou do" (as to attaining to them with thy gaze, Ps 139:8)?

know—namely, of His perfections.

Longer than the earth, from one end to the other.

Broader than the sea; which is called the great and wide sea, Psalm 104:25. The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea. Length is generally ascribed to the earth, and width to the sea; the ends of the earth are used for a great distance, and the sea is called the great and wide sea; see (k) Psalm 72:1; but God and his perfections, particularly his wisdom and understanding, are infinite, Psalm 147:5; and will admit of no dimensions; as his love, so his wisdom, has an height which cannot be reached, a depth that cannot be fathomed, and a length and breadth immeasurable; see Ephesians 3:18; from hence it appears that God is omniscient, omnipresent, and incomprehensible; and since he is to be found in Christ, and in him only, it is in vain for us to seek for him elsewhere: next the sovereignty of God is discoursed of.

(k) "Quid oceano longius inveriri potest", Cicero. Orat. 36.

The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea.
Verse 9. - The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea. Zophar's metaphors are drawn from the objects which, to his mind, exceed in extent all others. "The earth" and "the sea" represent to him the illimitable. 1 Then began Zophar the Naamathite, and said:

2 Shall the torrent of words remain unanswered,

And shall the prater be in the right?

3 Shall thy vain talking silence the people,

So that thou mockest without any one putting thee to shame,

4 And sayest: my doctrine is pure,

And I am guiltless in Thine eyes?

5 But oh that Eloah would speak,

And open His lips against thee,

6 And make known to thee the secrets of wisdom,

That she is twofold in her nature -

Know then that Eloah forgetteth much of thy guilt.

When Job has concluded his long speech, Zophar, the third and most impetuous of the friends, begins. His name, if it is to be explained according to the Arabic Esauitish name el-assfar,

(Note: Vid., Abulfeda's Historia anteislamica ed. Fleischer, p. 168.)


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