Job 26:10
He has compassed the waters with bounds, until the day and night come to an end.
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(10) He hath compassed the waters with bounds.—Rather, He hath described a circle upon the face of the waters, unto the confines of light and darkness. The phenomenon described is that of the horizon at sea, which is a perfect circle, and which is the limit apparently of light, and beyond which is darkness, for all is invisible.

Job 26:10. He hath compassed the waters — Namely, of the sea; for of the waters of the clouds he had just spoken; with bounds — With rocks and shores, and principally his own decree, formed at the creation, and renewed after the deluge, (Genesis 9:11; Genesis 9:15,) that the waters should not overwhelm the earth; until the day and night come to an end — Until the end of the world, for so long these vicissitudes of day and night are to continue.26:5-14 Many striking instances are here given of the wisdom and power of God, in the creation and preservation of the world. If we look about us, to the earth and waters here below, we see his almighty power. If we consider hell beneath, though out of our sight, yet we may conceive the discoveries of God's power there. If we look up to heaven above, we see displays of God's almighty power. By his Spirit, the eternal Spirit that moved upon the face of the waters, the breath of his mouth, Ps 33:6, he has not only made the heavens, but beautified them. By redemption, all the other wonderful works of the Lord are eclipsed; and we may draw near, and taste his grace, learn to love him, and walk with delight in his ways. The ground of the controversy between Job and the other disputants was, that they unjustly thought from his afflictions that he must have been guilty of heinous crimes. They appear not to have duly considered the evil and just desert of original sin; nor did they take into account the gracious designs of God in purifying his people. Job also darkened counsel by words without knowledge. But his views were more distinct. He does not appear to have alleged his personal righteousness as the ground of his hope towards God. Yet what he admitted in a general view of his case, he in effect denied, while he complained of his sufferings as unmerited and severe; that very complaint proving the necessity for their being sent, in order to his being further humbled in the sight of God.He hath compassed the waters with bounds - The word rendered "compassed" (חוּג chûg), means to describe a circle - to mark out with a compass; and the reference is to the form of the horizon, which appears as a circle, and which seems to be marked out with a compass. A similar idea Milton has beautifully expressed in his account of the creation:

"Then staid the fervid wheels, and in his hand

He took the golden compasses, prepared

In God's eternal store, to circumscribe

This universe, and all created things:

One foot he centered, and the other turned

Round through the vast profundity obscure;

And said, 'Thus far extend thy bounds,

This be thy just cirrumference, O world! '"

Paradise Lost, B. vii.

In the passage before us, we have a statement of the ancient views of geography, and of the outer limits of the world. The earth was regarded as a circular plane, surrounded by waters, and those waters encompassed with perpetual night. This region of night - this outer limit of the world, was regarded as at the outer verge of the celestial hemisphere, and on this the concave of heaven seemed to rest. See Virgil, Geor. i.247.

Illie, ut perhibent, aut intempesta silet nox

Semper, et obtenta densantur, nocte tenebrae;


10. Rather, "He hath drawn a circular bound round the waters" (Pr 8:27; Ps 104:9). The horizon seems a circle. Indication is given of the globular form of the earth.

until the day, &c.—to the confines of light and darkness. When the light falls on our horizon, the other hemisphere is dark. Umbreit and Maurer translate "He has most perfectly (literally, to perfection) drawn the bound (taken from the first clause) between light and darkness" (compare Ge 1:4, 6, 9): where the bounding of the light from darkness is similarly brought into proximity with the bounding of the waters.

The waters, to wit, of the sea; for of the upper waters coming out of the clouds he spoke before.

With bounds; which are partly the rocks and shores, and principally God’s appointment, made at the first creation, and renewed after the deluge, Genesis 9:11,15, that the waters should not overwhelm the earth: see Job 38:8,10,11 Psa 104:3 Jeremiah 5:22.

Until the day and night come to an end, i.e. unto the end of the world, for so long these vicissitudes of day and night are to continue, Genesis 8:22 9:9 Jeremiah 5:22 31:35,36. He hath compassed the waters with bounds,.... Not the waters above the firmament, compassed by that, as if Job was contemplating on and discoursing about what is done in the heavens above; though the Targum seems to incline to this sense, paraphrasing the words,

"he hath decreed that the firmament should be placed upon the face of the waters unto the end of light, with darkness;''

but the waters of the sea, Job descending now to consider the waters of the great deep, and the wonderful restraint that is laid upon them; which is as astonishing as the binding up of the waters in the clouds without being rent by them; for this vast and unwieldy body of waters in the ocean Jehovah manages with as much ease as a mother or nurse does a newborn infant, makes the cloud its garment, and thick darkness a swaddling band for it, Job 38:8; he has as it were with a compass drawn a line upon the face of it; he has broke up for it its decreed place, and set bars, and doors, and bounds to its waves, that they, nay come no further than is his pleasure, as is observed in the same place; the bounds he hath compassed it with are the shores, rocks, and cliffs, so that the waters cannot return and cover earth, as they once did; yea, which is very surprising, he has placed the sand, as weak and fluid as it is, the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree; so that though its waves toss and roar, they cannot prevail, nor pass over it; which must be owing to the almighty power and sovereign will of God, who has given the sea a decree that its waters should not pass his commandment; and it must be ascribed to his promise and oath that the waters no more go over the earth to destroy it; see Psalm 104:9, Proverbs 8:27; until the dark and night come to an end; that is, as long as there will be the vicissitudes of day and night, till time shall be no more, as long as the world stands; for the those shall constitute so long are the ordinances of God, which shall never depart, and the covenant he has made, which shall never become void; wherefore, as long as they remain, the sea and its waters will be bounded as not to overflow the earth, Genesis 8:22; or "until the end of light with darkness" (a); until both these have an end in the same form and manner they now have; otherwise, after the end of all things, there will be light in heaven, and darkness in hell. Aben Ezra interprets it thus,

"unto the place which is the end of light, for all that is above it is light, and below it the reverse;''

he seems to have respect to the place that divides the hemispheres, where when one is light the other is dark; and so others seem to understand it of such places or parts of the world as are half day and half night, and where one half of the year is light, and the other dark; but the first sense is best.

(a) "usque ad finem lucis cum tenebris", Cocceius, Michaelis; so Targum & Sept.

He hath {h} compassed the waters with bounds, until the {i} day and night come to an end.

(h) That is, he hid the heavens which are called his throne.

(i) So long as this world endures.

10. The verse reads,

He hath drawn as a circle a bound upon the face of the waters,

At the confines of light and darkness.

The second clause is literally; even to the confines of light with (or, by) darkness, i. e. as far as where the utmost bound of light borders with darkness. The idea seems to be this: around the surface of the earth flows the ocean (“the face of the waters”); upon this like a circle all around the earth the arch of heaven comes down; all within this bound is light, for the sun rises on one side of it and goes down at the other; beyond this circle lies the utter darkness. Comp. ch. Job 38:19 seq.Verse 10. - He hath compassed the waters with bounds. God restrains within limits alike the "waters that are above the firmament" and those that are beneath it (Job 38:11). The boundary is placed, somewhat vaguely, "at the confines of light and darkness." Until the day and night come to an end is a mistranslation. Instead of the appellation מרומיו, which reminds one of Isaiah 24:21, - where a like peacemaking act of judgment on the part of God is promised in reference to the spirit-host of the heights that have been working seductively among the nations on earth, - גּדוּדיו, of similar meaning to צבאיו, used elsewhere, occurs in this verse. The stars, according to biblical representation, are like an army arrayed for battle, but not as after the Persian representation - as an army divided into troops of the Ahuramazd and Angramainyus (Ahriman), but a standing army of the children of light, clad in the armour of light, under the guidance of the one God the Creator (Isaiah 40:26, comp. the anti-dualistic assertion in Isaiah 45:7). The one God is the Lord among these numberless legions, who commands their reverence, and maintains unity among them; and over whom does not His light arise? Umbr. explains: who does not His light, which He communicates to the hosts of heaven, vanquish (קוּם על in the usual warlike meaning: to rise against any one); but this is a thought that is devoid of purpose in this connection. אורהו with the emphatic suff. hu (as Job 24:23, עיניהוּ) at any rate refers directly to God: His light in distinction from the derived light of the hosts of heaven. This distinction is better brought out if we interpret (Merc., Hirz., Hahn, Schlottm., and others): over whom does (would) not His light arise? i.e., all receive their light from His, and do but reflect it back. But יקוּם equals יזרח cannot be justified by Job 11:17. Therefore we interpret with Ew. and Hlgst. thus: whom does not His light surpass, or, literally, over whom (i.e., which of these beings of light) does it not rise, leaving it behind and exceeding it in brightness (יקוּם as synon. of ירוּם)? How then could a mortal be just with God, i.e., at His side or standing up before Him; and how could one of woman born be spotless! How could he (which is hereby indirectly said) enter into a controversy with God, who is infinitely exalted above him, and maintain before Him a moral character faultless, and therefore absolutely free from condemnation! In the heights of heaven God's decision is revered; and should man, the feeble one, and born flesh of flesh (vid., Job 14:1), dare to contend with God? Behold, עד־ירח (עד, as usually when preceded by a negation, adeo, ne ... quidem, e.g., Exodus 14:28, comp. Nahum 1:10, where J. H. Michaelis correctly renders: adeo up spinas perplexitate aequent, and אל used in the same way, Job 5:5, Ew. 219, c), even as to the moon, it does not (ולא with Waw apod., Ges. 145, 2, although there is a reading לא without ו) shine bright, יאחיל equals יהל, from אהל equals הלל.

(Note: It is worthy of observation, that hilâl signifies in Arabic the new moon (comp. Genesis, S. 307); and the Hiphil ahalla, like the Kal halla, is used of the appearing and shining of the new moon.)

Thus lxx, Targ. Jer., and Gecatilia translate; whereas Saadia translates: it turns not in (Arab. lâ ydchl), or properly, it does not pitch its tent, fix its habitation. But to pitch one's tent is אהל or אהל, whence יהל, Isaiah 13:20, equals יאהל; and what is still more decisive, one would naturally expect יאהיל שׁם in connection with this thought. We therefore render אהל as a form for once boldly used in the scriptural language for הלל, as in Isaiah 28:28 אדשׁ once occurs for דּוּשׁ. Even the moon is only a feeble light before God, and the stars are not clean in His eyes; there is a vast distance between Him and His highest and most glorious creatures - how much more between Him and man, the worm of the dust!

The friends, as was to be expected, are unable to furnish any solution of the mystery, why the ungodly often live and die happily; and yet they ought to be able to give this solution, if the language which they employ against Job were authorized. Bildad alone speaks in the above speech, Zophar is silent. But Bildad does not utter a word that affects the question. This designed omission shows the inability of the friends to solve it, as much as the tenacity with which they firmly maintain their dogma; and the breach that has been made in it, either they will not perceive or yet not acknowledge, because they think that thereby they are approaching too near to the honour of God. Moreover, it must be observed with what delicate tact, and how directly to the purpose in the structure of the whole, this short speech of Bildad's closes the opposition of the friends. Two things are manifest from this last speech of the friends: First, that they know nothing new to bring forward against Job, and nothing just to Job's advantage; that all their darts bound back from Job; and that, though not according to their judgment, yet in reality, they are beaten. This is evident from the fact that Bildad is unable to give any answer to Job's questions, but can only take up the one idea in Job's speech, that he confidently and boldly thinks of being able to approach God's throne of judgment; he repeats with slight variation what Eliphaz has said twice already, concerning the infinite distance between man and God, Job 4:17-21; Job 15:14-16, and is not even denied by Job himself, Job 9:2; Job 14:4. But, secondly, the poet cannot allow us to part from the friends with too great repugnance; for they are Job's friends notwithstanding, and at the close we see them willingly obedient to God's instruction, to go to Job that he may pray for them and make sacrifice on their behalf. For this reason he does not make Bildad at last repeat those unjust incriminations which were put prominently forward in the speech of Eliphaz, Job 22:5-11. Bildad only reminds Job of the universal sinfulness of the human race once again, without direct accusation, in order that Job may himself derive from it the admonition to humble himself; and this admonition Job really needs, for his speeches are in many ways contrary to that humility which is still the duty of sinful man, even in connection with the best justified consciousness of right thoughts and actions towards the holy God.

1 Then Job began, and said:

2 How has thou helped him that is without power,

Raised the arm that hath no strength!

3 How hast thou counselled him that hath no wisdom,

And fully declared the essence of the matter!

4 To whom hast thou uttered words,

And whose breath proceeded from thee?

Bildad is the person addressed, and the exclamations in Job 26:2, Job 26:3 are ironical: how thy speech contains nothing whatever that might help me, the supposedly feeble one, in conquering my affliction and my temptation; me, the supposedly ignorant one, in comprehending man's mysterious lot, and mine! ללא־כח, according to the idea, is only equivalent to כח לו (אין) לאשׁר לא, and זרוע לא־עז equivalent to זרוע בלא־עז (לא עז לו); the former is the abstr. pro concreto, the latter the genitival connection - the arm of the no-power, i.e., powerless (Ges. 152, 1). The powerless one is Job himself, not God (Merc., Schlottm.), as even the choice of the verbs, Job 26:2, Job 26:3, shows. Respecting תּוּשׁיּה, which we have translated essentiality, duration, completion, we said, on Job 5:12, that it is formed from ישׁ (vid., Proverbs 8:21), not directly indeed, but by means of a verb ושׁי brev a fo (ושׁה), in the signification subsistere (comp. Arab. kân, and Syriac קום);

(Note: Comp. also Spiegel, Grammatik der Huzvresch-Sprache, S. 103.)

it is a Hophal-formation (like תּוּגה), and signifies, so to speak, durability, subsistentia, substantia, ὑπόστασις, so that the comparison of ושׁי with אשׁשׁ, Arab. 'ss (whence אשׁישׁ, Arab. ası̂s, asâs, etc., fundamentum) is forced upon one, and the relationship to the Sanskrit as (asmi equals εἰμὶ) can remain undecided. The observation of J. D. Michaelis


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