Job 26:5
Dead things are formed from under the waters, and the inhabitants thereof.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(5) Dead things are formed.—The Hebrew word is the Rephaim, who were among the aboriginal inhabitants of the south of Palestine and the neighbourhood of the Dead Sea, and it is used to express the dead and the inhabitants of the nether world generally. The word rendered are formed probably means either are pierced or tremble: that is, they are pierced through with terror, or they tremble, with a possible reference to the state of the dead as the prey of corruption, though spoken of them where they are beyond the reach of it. All the secrets of this mysterious, invisible, and undiscoverable world are naked and open before Him—the grave lies naked and destruction is uncovered.

Job 26:5. Dead things, &c. — That is, according to several interpreters, those seeds which are sown and die in the earth quicken again and grow. Or, as R. Levi rather thinks, an allusion is made to those vegetables, stones, or metals, which are found in the earth under the waters. The Hebrew word here for dead things is רפאים, rephaim, which is generally rendered dead men; thus, Psalm 88:10, we read, Wilt thou show wonders to methim, the dead? Shall rephaim, the dead, arise and praise thee? Isaiah 26:14. The dead, methim, shall not live: the deceased, rephaim, shall not rise. In these passages, therefore, and many others that might be produced, methim and rephaim are both translated dead or deceased. Instead of this, however, the LXX., the Vulgate Latin, and the Targum, render rephaim, giants, or mighty men. “Their interpretation is very just,” says Chappelow, “if, as R. Bechai writes, they were so named because their countenance was so austere, that whoever looked on them, manus ejus remissæ fuerunt, his hands were weakened with the terror that was upon him, (Buxtorf in rapha.) From hence it is that our learned Mede explains rephaim, in Proverbs 21:16, not of the dead, but of the giants or rebels against God, of whom we read, Genesis 6., namely, those mighty men of the old world, whose wickedness was so great as to occasion the deluge. Therefore, to ‘remain in the congregation of rephaim,’ is the same as to go and keep them company; that is, to go to that accursed place and condition in which they are. Thus, S. Jarchi’s gloss is, In cœtu rephaim, that is, in cœtu gehinnom, the congregation of those in hell. His gloss is the very same on our text here in Job. Again, Proverbs 9:17-18, ‘He knoweth not that rephaim, the dead, (the mighty ones,) are there, and that her (the harlot’s) guests are in the depths of hell,’ that is, she will bring them, who frequent her, to hell, to keep the apostate giants company. From all which we conclude, with the ingenious author above mentioned, that the place before us, and the verse following, seem to be no other than a description of hell.” Peters, Dodd, and many other critics, view the passage in the same light. Houbigant renders it, Behold the giants tremble beneath the waters in their habitations; and, he says, “Job means those giants who were overwhelmed with the flood; having their overthrow as immediately present before his eyes, because the deluge at this time was fresh in the memory of men.” Poole, whose note on the passage is well worth the reader’s attention, comprehends all the forementioned particulars in his interpretation, thus: Job, having censured Bildad’s discourse, proceeds to show how little he needed his information in that point. He shows that the power and providence of God reach not only to the things we see, but also to the invisible parts of the world; not only to the heavens above and their inhabitants, and to men upon earth, of which Bildad discoursed, Job 25:2-3, but also to such persons or things as are under the earth, or under the waters; which are out of our sight and reach, yet not out of the view of Divine Providence: including, 1st, dead or lifeless things, such as amber, pearl, coral, metals, or other minerals, which are formed or brought forth, by the almighty power of God, from under the waters; either in the bottom of the sea, or within the earth, which is the lowest element, and in the Scripture and other authors spoken of as under the waters. And, 2d, dead men, and the worst of them, such as died in their sins, and after death were condemned to further miseries; of whom this very word seems to be used, (Proverbs 2:18; Proverbs 9:18,) who are here said to mourn or groan from under the waters, from the lower parts of the earth; or from under those subterranean waters which are supposed to be within and under the earth; and from under the inhabitants thereof; either of the waters or of the earth, under which these waters are; or with the other inhabitants thereof; of that place under the waters; namely, the apostate spirits. So the sense is, that God’s dominion is over all men, yea, even the dead, and the worst of them, who, though they would not own God, nor his providence, while they lived, yet now are forced to acknowledge and feel that power which they despised, and bitterly mourn under the sad effects of it in their infernal habitations.

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.Dead things - Job here commences his description of God, to show that his views of his majesty and glory were in no way inferior to those which had been expressed by Bildad, and that what Bildad had said conveyed to him no real information. In this description he far surpasses Bildad in loftiness of conception, and sublimity of description. Indeed, it may be doubted whether for grandeur this passage is surpassed by any description of the majesty of God in the Bible. The passage here has given rise to much discussion, and to a great variety of opinion. Our common translation is most feeble, and by no means conveys its true force. The object of the whole passage is to assert the universal dominion of God. Bildad had said Job 25:1-6 that the dominion of God extended to the heavens, and to the armies of the skies; that God surpassed in majesty the splendor of the heavenly bodies; and that compared with him man was a worm. Job commences his description by saying that the dominion of God extended even to the nether world; and that such were his majesty and power that even the shades of the mighty dead trembled at his presence, and that hell was all naked before him. The word רפאים râphâ'ı̂ym - Rephaim - so feebly rendered "dead things," means the shades of the dead; the departed spirits that dwell in Sheol; see the word explained at length in the notes at Isaiah 14:9. They are those who have left this world and who have gone down to dwell in the world beneath - the great and mighty conquerors and kings; the illustrious dead of past times, who have left the world and are congregated in the land of Shades. Jerome renders it, "gigantes," and the Septuagint, γίγαντες gigantes - giants; from a common belief that those shades were larger than life. Thus, Lucretius says:

Quippe et enim jam tum divum mortalia secla

Egregias animo facies vigilante videbant;

Et magis in somnis, mirando corporis aucter

Rer. Nat. ver. 1168.

The word "shades" here will express the sense, meaning the departed spirits that are assembled in Sheol. The Chaldee renders it, גבריא - mighty ones, or giants; the Syriac, in like manner, giants.

Are formed - The Syriac renders this, are killed. Jerome, gemunt - groan; Septuagint, "Are giants born from beneath the water, and the neighboring places?" What idea the authors of that version attached to the passage it is difficult to say. The Hebrew word used here (יחוּללו yechôlālû, from חוּל chûl), means to twist, to turn, to be in anguish - as in child birth; and then it may mean to tremble, quake, be in terror; and the idea here seems to be, that the shades of the dead were in anguish, or trembled at the awful presence, and under the dominion of God. So Luther renders it - understanding it of giants - Die Riesen angsten sich unter den Wassern. The sense would be well expressed, "The shades of the dead tremble, or are in anguish before him. They fear his power. They acknowledge his empire."

Under the waters - The abode of departed spirits is always in this book placed beneath the ground. But why this abode is placed beneath the waters, is not apparent. It is usually under the ground, and the entrance to it is by the grave, or by some dark cavern; compare Virgil's Aeniad, Lib. vi. A different interpretation has been proposed of this verse, which seems better to suit the connection. It is to understand the phrase (תחת tachath) "under," as meaning simply beneath - "the shades beneath;" and to regard the word (מים mayı̂m) waters as connected with the following member:

"The shades beneath tremble;

The waters and the inhabitants thereof."

Thus explained, the passage means that the whole universe is under the control of God, and trembles before him. Sheol and its Shades; the oceans and their inhabitants stand in awe before him.

And the inhabitants thereof - Of the waters - the oceans. The idea is, that the vast inhabitants of the deep all recognize the power of God and tremble before him. This description accords with that given by the ancient poets of the power and majesty of the gods, and is not less sublime than any given by them.

5-14. As before in the ninth and twelfth chapters, Job had shown himself not inferior to the friends' inability to describe God's greatness, so now he describes it as manifested in hell (the world of the dead), Job 26:5, 6; on earth, Job 26:7; in the sky, Job 26:8-11; the sea, Job 26:12; the heavens, Job 26:13.

Dead things are formed—Rather, "The souls of the dead (Rephaim) tremble." Not only does God's power exist, as Bildad says (Job 25:2), "in high places" (heaven), but reaches to the region of the dead. Rephaim here, and in Pr 21:16 and Isa 14:9, is from a Hebrew root, meaning "to be weak," hence "deceased"; in Ge 14:5 it is applied to the Canaanite giants; perhaps in derision, to express their weakness, in spite of their gigantic size, as compared with Jehovah [Umbreit]; or, as the imagination of the living magnifies apparitions, the term originally was applied to ghosts, and then to giants in general [Magee].

from under—Umbreit joins this with the previous word "tremble from beneath" (so Isa 14:9). But the Masoretic text joins it to "under the waters." Thus the place of the dead will be represented as "under the waters" (Ps 18:4, 5); and the waters as under the earth (Ps 24:2). Magee well translates thus: "The souls of the dead tremble; (the places) under the waters, and their inhabitants." Thus the Masoretic connection is retained; and at the same time the parallel clauses are evenly balanced. "The inhabitants of the places under the waters" are those in Gehenna, the lower of the two parts into which Sheol, according to the Jews, is divided; they answer to "destruction," that is, the place of the wicked in Job 26:6, as "Rephaim" (Job 26:5) to "Hell" (Sheol) (Job 26:6). "Sheol" comes from a Hebrew root—"ask," because it is insatiable (Pr 27:20); or "ask as a loan to be returned," implying Sheol is but a temporary abode, previous to the resurrection; so for English Version "formed," the Septuagint and Chaldee translate; shall be born, or born again, implying the dead are to be given back from Sheol and born again into a new state [Magee].

Job having censured Bildad’s discourse concerning God’s dominion and power, as insignificant and impertinent to their question, he here proceedeth to show how little he needed his information in that point, and that he was able to instruct him in that doctrine, of which accordingly he gives divers proofs or instances. Here he showeth that the power and providence of God reacheth not only to the things which we see, but also to the invisible parts of the world; not only to the heavens above, and their inhabitants, and to men upon earth, of which Bildad discoursed Job 25:2,3, but also to such persons or things as are under the earth, or under the waters, which are under the earth; which are out of our sight and reach, and might be thought to be out of the ken or care of Divine Providence. This Hebrew word sometimes signifies giants, as Deu 2:11,20 3:13 1 Chronicles 20:8; whence it may be translated to other great and, as it were, gigantic creatures, and more commonly dead men, as Psalm 88:11 Proverbs 2:18 9:18 21:16 Isaiah 14:9 Isaiah 26:14,19 whence it is supposed metaphorically to signify also dead or lifeless things; though there be no example of that use of the word elsewhere; and it may seem improper to call those things dead, which never had nor were capable of life. The next Hebrew word, or the verb, is primarily used of women with child, and signifies their bringing forth their young ones with travail or grievous pains, as Job 39:3 Psalm 29:9 Isaiah 23:4 45:10; and thence it signifies either to form or bring forth, as below, Job 26:13 Proverbs 26:10; or to grieve or mourn, or to be in pain. Accordingly these words are diversely understood; either,

1. Of dead or lifeless things, such as amber, pearl, coral, metals, or other minerals, which are formed or brought forth, to wit, by the almighty power of God, from under the waters, i.e. either in the bottom of the sea, or within the earth, which is the lowest element, and in the Scripture and other authors spoken of as under the waters; this being observed as a remarkable work of God’s providence, that the waters of the sea, which are higher than the earth, do not overwhelm it; and from under (which may be repeated out of the former clause of the verse, after the manner of the Hebrews)

the inhabitants thereof, i.e. either of the waters, which are fishes; or of the earth, which are men. Or rather,

2. Of the giants of the old world, which were men of great renown whilst they lived, Genesis 6:4, and the remembrance of them and of their exemplary destruction was now in some sort fresh and famous; who once carried themselves insolently towards God and men, but were quickly subdued by the Divine power, and drowned with a deluge, and now mourn or groan from under the waters, where they were buried, and from under the present inhabitants thereof, as before. Or,

3. Of vast and gigantic fishes, or monsters of the sea, who by God’s infinite power were formed or brought forth under the waters with the other inhabitants thereof, to wit of the waters, the lesser fishes. Or,

4. Of dead men, and of the worst sort of them, such as died in their sins, and after death were condemned to further miseries; for of such this very word seems to be used, Proverbs 2:18 9:18, who are here said to mourn or groan from under the waters, i.e. from the lower parts of the earth, or from under those subterranean seas of waters which are by Scripture and by philosophers supposed to be within and under the earth; of which see Deu 8:7 Job 28:4,10 Psa 33:7; and from under

the inhabitants thereof, i.e. either of the waters, or of the earth, under which these waters are, or with the other inhabitants thereof, i.e. of that place under the waters, to wit, the apostate spirits. So the sense is, that God’s dominion is over all men, yea, even the dead, and the worst of them, who though they would not own God nor his providence whilst they lived, yet now are forced to acknowledge and feel that power which they despised, and bitterly mourn under the sad effects of it in their subterranean and infernal habitations, of which the next verse speaks more plainly. And this sense seems to be favoured by the context and scope of the place, wherein Job begins his discourse of God’s power and providence at the lowermost and hidden parts of the world, and thence proceeds to those parts which are higher and visible. Nor is it strange that Job speaks of these matters, seeing it is evident that Job, and others of the holy patriarchs and prophets of old, did know and believe the doctrine of the future life, and of its several recompences to good and bad men. Others understand this of the resurrection of the dead; The dead shall be born (as this word is used, Psalm 2:7 Proverbs 8:24,25, i.e. shall be raised, which is a kind of regeneration, or second birth, and is so called, Matthew 19:28 Acts 13:33)

from under the waters, ( i.e. even those of them that lie in the waters, Revelation 20:13, that were drowned and buried in the sea, and devoured by fishes, &c., whose case may seem to be most desperate, and therefore they only are here mentioned,) and (or even, this particle being oft used expositively) the inhabitants thereof, i.e. those dead corpses which lie or have long lain there.

Dead things are formed from under the waters,.... It is difficult to say what things are here meant; it may be understood of "lifeless" things, as Mr. Broughton renders it; things that never had any life, things inanimate, that never had at least an animal life, though they may have a vegetable one; and so may be interpreted of grains of corn, and which indeed die before they are quickened; to which both Christ and the apostle allude, John 12:24; and which, as they cannot grow without water, and their fructification and increase are owing to the earth being plentifully watered with rain, may be said to be formed under the waters; and of these Aben Ezra and Ben Gersom interpret the words; and the latter also makes mention of herbs, plants, and trees in the sea, particularly almug trees, as being probably intended; to which may be added, corals, and other sea plants, formed from under the waters; yea, some make mention of woods and forests there: but the last mentioned writer, seems inclined to think that metals and minerals may be intended; and it is well known that much of gold is taken out of rivers, as also pearls and precious stones; and that iron is taken out of the earth, and brass molten out of stone; and that the several metals and minerals are dug out of mountains and hills, from whence fountains and rivers flow; but as the word used has the signification of something gigantic, it has inclined others to think of sea monsters, as of the great whales which God made in the seas, and the leviathan he has made to play therein:

and or "with"

the inhabitants thereof; the innumerable company of fishes, both of the larger and lesser sort, which are all formed in and under the waters: but why may not giants themselves be designed, since the word is sometimes used of them, Deuteronomy 2:11; and so the Vulgate Latin and the Septuagint version here render the word, and may refer to the giants that were before the flood, and who were the causes of filling the world with rapine and violence, and so of bringing the flood of waters upon it; in which they perished "with the inhabitants thereof"; or their neighbours; of whom see Genesis 6:4; and the spirits of these being in prison, in hell, as the Apostle Peter says, 1 Peter 3:19; which is commonly supposed to be under the earth, and so under the waters, in which they perished; they may be represented as in pain and torment, and groaning and trembling under the same, as the word here used is by some thought to signify, and is so rendered (t); though as the word "Rephaim" is often used of dead men, Psalm 88:10; it may be understood of them here, and have respect to the formation of them anew, or their resurrection from the dead, when the earth shall cast them forth; and especially of those whose graves are in the sea, and who have been buried in the waters of it, when that shall deliver up the dead that are therein, Revelation 20:13; which will be a wonderful instance of the mighty power of God. The Targumist seems to have a notion of this, or at least refers unto it, paraphrasing the words thus,

"is it possible that the mighty men (or giants) should be created (that is, recreated or regenerated; that is, raised from the dead); seeing they are under the waters, and their armies?''

(t) "gemunt", V. L. "cruciabuntur", Bolducius; "cruciantur, dolore contremiscunt", Michaelis; "intremiscunt", Schultens. Vid. Windet. de Vita Funct. Stat. p. 90.

{d} Dead things are formed from under the waters, and the inhabitants thereof.

(d) Job begins to declare the force of God's power and providence in the mines and metals in the deep places of the earth.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
5, 6. God’s presence and power in the underworld. Job 26:5 reads according to the pointing,

The Shades tremble

Underneath the waters and their inhabitants.

The “Shades” (Heb. Refáim, the flaccid) are the departed persons, whose place of concourse is Sheol. Comp. Isaiah 14:9, where “the dead” are the shades, so Isaiah 26:14 (the deceased). This abode of deceased persons lies deep down under the waters of the sea and all the inhabitants of these waters, for the sea belongs to the upper world. Yet the power of God is felt even at this immeasurable distance from His abode on high. Bildad had referred to the power of God as “making peace” on high; Job points to what is a more wonderful illustration of His power, it pervades the underworld, and the dead tremble under its influence. Whether the statement is general, or whether perhaps there may not be allusion to great convulsions in nature, shaking the earth, and rousing up out of their lethargy even the drowsy, nerveless, shades with terror, may be doubtful.

5–13. That Job has no need to be instructed regarding the greatness of God he now shews, by entering upon an exhibition of its operations in every sphere of that which exists, Hades, the Earth and Heaven, in which he far outstrips the feeble effort of Bildad.

Verses 5-14. - Job now turns from controversy to the realities of the case, and begins with a full acknowledgment of God's greatness, might, and inscrutableness. As Bildad seemed to have supposed that he needed enlightenment on these points (Job 26:2-4), Job may have thought it right to make once more a plain profession of his belief (comp. Job 9:4-18; Job 12:9-25, etc.). Verse 5. - Dead things are formed from under the waters; rather, the dead from under the waters tremble. Hehraists generally are agreed that one of the meanings of Rephaim (רְפָאִים) is "the dead" or the departed, considered especially as inhabitants of Hades (comp. Psalm 88:11; Proverbs 2:18; Isaiah 14:9; Isaiah 26:14). And if so, this meaning is certainly appropriate here. Blidad had illustrated God's dominion from his power in heaven. Job shows that it exists alike in heaven and earth (vers. 7-13), and in the region under the earth (vers. 5, 6). There, in Sheol, under the waters of the ocean, the dead tremble at the thought of the Most High; they tremble together with other inhabitants thereof, as evil spirits, rebel intelligences, east down to Hades, and there held in durance (Jude 1:6). Job 26:5 5 - The shades are put to pain

Deep under the waters and their inhabitants.

6 Shel is naked before him,

And the abyss hath no covering.

7 He stretched the northern sky over the emptiness;

He hung the earth upon nothing.

Bildad has extolled God's majestic, awe-inspiring rule in the heights of heaven, His immediate surrounding; Job continues the strain, and celebrates the extension of this rule, even to the depths of the lower world. The operation of the majesty of the heavenly Ruler extends even to the realm of shades; the sea with the multitude of its inhabitants forms no barrier between God and the realm of shades; the marrowless, bloodless phantoms or shades below writhe like a woman in travail as often as this majesty is felt by them, as, perhaps, by the raging of the sea or the quaking of the earth. On רפאים, which also occurs in Phoenician inscriptions, vid., Psychol. S. 409; the book of Job corresponds with Psalm 88:11 in the use of this appellation. The sing. is not רפאי (whence רפאים, as the name of a people), but רפא (רפה), which signifies both giants or heroes of colossal stature (from רפה equals Arab. rafu‛a, to be high), and the relaxed (from רפה, to be loose, like Arab. rafa'a, to soften, to soothe), i.e., those who are bodiless in the state after death (comp. חלּה, Isaiah 14:10, to be weakened, i.e., placed in the condition of a rapha). It is a question whether יחוללוּ be Pilel (Ges.) or Pulal (Olsh.); the Pul., indeed, signifies elsewhere to be brought forth with writing (Job 15:7); it can, however, just as well signify to be put in pain. On account of the reference implied in it to a higher causation here at the commencement of the speech, the Pul. is more appropriate than the Pil.; and the pausal , which is often found elsewhere with Hithpael (Hithpal.), Psalm 88:14; Job 33:5, but never with Piel (Pil.), proves that the form is intended to be regarded as passive.

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