Job 26:9
He holdeth back the face of his throne, and spreadeth his cloud upon it.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(9) He holdeth back the face.—Or, covereth the face of his throne in the heavens, spreading his rack of cloud upon it.

Job 26:9. He holdeth back — Namely, from our view, that its effulgent brightness may not dazzle our sight; the face of his throne — The heaven of heavens: where he dwells, its light and glory being too great for mortal eyes; and spreadeth his clouds upon it — And thereby mercifully hides from our eyes those overpowering splendours which we could not bear to behold. Bishop Patrick, however, understands this merely of God’s covering the face of the sky with clouds, to prevent “the beams of the sun from scorching the earth.”

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 holdeth back the face of his throne - That is, he does not exhibit it - he covers it with clouds. The idea seems to be, that God sometimes comes forth and manifests himself to mankind, but that he comes encompassed with clouds, so that his throne cannot be seen. So in Psalm 18:11, "He made darkness his secret place, his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies." God is often represented as encompassed with clouds, or as accompanied with tempests.

And spreadeth his cloud upon it - That is, so that it cannot be seen. There is much poetic beauty in this image. It is, that the clouds are made to conceal the splendor of the throne of God from the sight of man, and that all their sublimity and grandeur, as they roll on one another, and all their beauty when painted with so many colors in the evening, are designed to hide that throne from mortal eyes. No one sees God; and though it is manifest that he is every where employed, and that he comes forth with amazing grandeur in the works of creation and providence, yet he is himself invisible.

9. Rather, He encompasseth or closeth. God makes the clouds a veil to screen the glory not only of His person, but even of the exterior of His throne from profane eyes. His agency is everywhere, yet He Himself is invisible (Ps 18:11; 104:3). He holdeth back, i.e. to wit, from our view, that its lustre and glory should not reach us, and so dazzle our sight; he covereth it with a cloud, as the next words explain it. Or, he holdeth fast, or binds together, or strengthens it, that it may be able to bear that burden.

The face of his throne; either,

1. This lower air, which is as the face or open part of the heavens, which is often called God’s throne, as Psalm 11:4 Isaiah 66:1 Amos 9:6. Or,

2. The appearance or manifestation of the heaven of heavens, where he dwelleth, whose light and glory is too great for mortal eyes, which therefore by clouds and other ways he hides from us.

He holdeth back the face of his throne,.... His throne is the heaven of heavens; the face of it, or what is before it, is the starry and airy heavens; this face of his throne is sometimes held back, or covered with clouds, that so his throne is so far from being visible, that even the face of it, or the outside or external appearance of it, is not to be seen, as follows:

and spreadeth his cloud upon it; and both he and his throne are invisible; clouds and darkness are round about him, and his pavilion round about are dark waters, and thick clouds of the skies, Psalm 18:11; and even the light in which he dwells, and with which he clothes himself, is impervious to us, and is so dazzling, that itself covers and keeps back himself and throne from being seen by mortals. The Targum suggests, that what is here said to be done is done that the angels may not see it; but these always stand before the throne of God, and always behold the face of God himself.

He holdeth back the face of his throne, and spreadeth his cloud upon it.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
9. he holdeth back] Or, he shutteth up, or, enshrouds. The “face of his throne” is perhaps the outside of it, or that view which it would present if seen; and the meaning is that He enshrouds His throne so that it is not seen by those below. The idea cannot be that this is an occasional phenomenon, as if sometimes His throne could be seen, for though He has set His glory on the heavens, Psalm 8:2 (comp. Exodus 24:10; Psalm 18:12), this is but a reflection of the inner glory. The conception rather is that clouds are ever about Him, in His lofty abode, and even accompany and enshroud Him in all His movements; ch. Job 38:1; Amos 9:6; Psalm 104:3-13.

Verse 9. - He holdeth back the face of his throne; rather, he covereth up. He makes the clouds to gather in the vault of heaven, above which is his throne, and in this way conceals it and covers it up. And spreadeth his cloud upon it; or, over it, so blotting it out from sight. Behind the more obvious meaning lies one which is deeper and more spiritual. God withdraws himself from sight, gathers clouds and darkness around him to be the habitation of his seat, hides from men the principles of his government and administration, makes himself unapproachable and inscrutable, is a mystery and an enigma which man cannot hope to understand or solve (comp. 1 Kings 8:12; Psalm 18:11; Psalm 97:2). Job 26:9 8 He bindeth up the waters in His clouds,

Without the clouds being rent under their burden.

9 He enshroudeth the face of His throne,

Spreading His clouds upon it.

10 He compasseth the face of the waters with bounds,

To the boundary between light and darkness.

The clouds consist of masses of water rolled together, which, if they were suddenly set free, would deluge the ground; but the omnipotence of God holds the waters together in the hollow of the clouds (צרר, Milel, according to a recognised law, although it is also found in Codd. accented as Milra, but contrary to the Masora), so that they do not burst asunder under the burden of the waters (תּחתּם); by which nothing more nor less is meant, than that the physical and meteorological laws of rain are of God's appointment. Job 26:9 describes the dark and thickly-clouded sky that showers down the rain in the appointed rainy season. אחז signifies to take hold of, in architecture to hold together by means of beams, or to fasten together (vid., Thenius on 1 Kings 6:10, comp. 2 Chronicles 9:18, מאחזים, coagmentata), then also, as usually in Chald. and Syr., to shut (by means of cross-bars, Nehemiah 7:3), here to shut off by surrounding with clouds: He shuts off פּני־כסּה, the front of God's throne, which is turned towards the earth, so that it is hidden by storm-clouds as by a סכּה, Job 36:29; Psalm 18:12. God's throne, which is here, as in 1 Kings 10:19, written כּסּה instead of כּסּא (comp. Arab. cursi, of the throne of God the Judge, in distinction from Arab. 'l-‛arš, the throne of God who rules over the world),

(Note: According to the more recent interpretation, under Aristotelian influence, Arab. 'l-‛rš is the outermost sphere, which God as πρῶτον κινοῦν having set in motion, communicates light, heat, life, and motion to the other revolving spheres; for the causae mediae gradually descend from God the Author of being (muhejji) from the highest heaven into the sublunary world.)

is indeed in other respects invisible, but the cloudless blue of heaven is His reflected splendour (Exodus 24:10) which is cast over the earth. God veils this His radiance which shines forth towards the earth, פּרשׁז אליו עננו, by spreading over it the clouds which are led forth by Him. פּרשׁו is commonly regarded as a Chaldaism for פּרשׁז (Ges. 56, Olsh. 276), but without any similar instance in favour of this vocalizaton of the 3 pr. Piel (Pil.). Although רענן and שׁאנן, Job 15:32; Job 3:18, have given up the i of the Pil., it has been under the influence of the following guttural; and although, moreover, i before Resh sometimes passes into a, e.g., ויּרא, it is more reliable to regard פרשז as inf. absol. (Ew. 141, c): expandendo. Ges. and others regard this פרשז as a mixed form, composed from פרשׁ and פרז; but the verb פרשׁ (with Shin) has not the signification to expand, which is assumed in connection with this derivation; it signifies to separate (also Ezekiel 34:12, vid., Hitzig on that passage), whereas פרשׂ certainly signifies to expand (Job 36:29-30); wherefore the reading פּרשׂז (with Sin), which some Codd. give, is preferred by Br, and in agreement with him by Luzzatto (vid., Br's Leket zebi, p. 244), and it seems to underlie the interpretation where פרשז עליו is translated by עליו (פּרשׂ) פרש, He spreadeth over it (e.g., by Aben-Ezra, Kimchi, Ralbag). But the Talmud, b. Sabbath, 88 b (פירש שדי מזיו שכינתו ועננו עליו, the Almighty separated part of the splendour of His Shechina and His cloud, and laid it upon him, i.e., Moses, as the passage is applied in the Haggada), follows the reading פּרשׁז (with Shin), which is to be retained on account of the want of naturalness in the consonantal combination שׂז; but the word is not to be regarded as a mixed formation (although we do not deny the possibility of such forms in themselves, vid., supra, p. 468), but as an intensive form of פרשׂ formed by Prosthesis and an Arabic change of Sin into Shin, like Arab. fršḥ, fršd, fršṭ, which, being formed from Arab. frš equals פּרשׂ (פּרשׂ), to expand, signifies to spread out (the legs).

Job 26:10 passes from the waters above to the lower waters. תּכלית signifies, as in Job 11:7; Job 28:3; Nehemiah 3:21, the extremity, the extreme boundary; and the connection of תּכלית אור is genitival, as the Tarcha by the first word correctly indicates, whereas אור with Munach, the substitute for Rebia mugrasch In this instance (according to Psalter, ii. 503, 2), is a mistake. God has marked out (חן, lxx ἐγύρωσεν) a law, i.e., here according to the sense: a fixed bound (comp. Proverbs 8:29 with Psalm 104:9), over the surface of the waters (i.e., describing a circle over them which defines their circuit) unto the extreme point of light by darkness, i.e., where the light is touched by the darkness. Most expositors (Rosenm., Hirz., Hahn, Schlottm., and others) take עד־תכלית adverbially: most accurately, and refer חג to אור as a second object, which is contrary to the usage of the language, and doubtful and unnecessary. Pareau has correctly interpreted: ad lucis usque tenebrarumque confinia; עם in the local sense, not aeque ac, although it might also have this meaning, as e.g., Ecclesiastes 2:16. The idea is, that God has appointed a fixed limit to the waters, as far as to the point at which they wash the terra firma of the extreme horizon, and where the boundary line of the realms of light and darkness is; and the basis of the expression, as Bouillier, by reference to Virgil's Georg. i. 240f., has shown, is the conception of the ancients, that the earth is surrounded by the ocean, on the other side of which the region of darkness begins.

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