Job 36:32
With clouds he covers the light; and commands it not to shine by the cloud that comes between.
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(32) With clouds.—The word here rendered “clouds” really means hands, and there seems to be no good reason why it should be otherwise understood. The verse will then read, “He covereth the lightning with His hands, and giveth it a charge that it strike the mark;” or, according to some, “giveth it a charge against the assailant.” The figure is that of a man hurling a stone or bolt, and taking aim; and a very fine one the image is. The Authorised Version cannot be right with its five inserted words.

36:24-33 Elihu endeavours to fill Job with high thought of God, and so to persuade him into cheerful submission to his providence. Man may see God's works, and is capable of discerning his hand in them, which the beasts are not, therefore they ought to give him the glory. But while the worker of iniquity ought to tremble, the true believer should rejoice. Children should hear with pleasure their Father's voice, even when he speaks in terror to his enemies. There is no light but there may be a cloud to intercept it. The light of the favour of God, the light of his countenance, the most blessed light of all, even that light has many a cloud. The clouds of our sins cause the Lord to his face, and hinder the light of his loving-kindness from shining on our souls.Terrors come upon him like waters,

In the night a tempest stealeth him away.

The east wind carrieth him away, and he departeth,

And it sweeps him away from his place. Job 27:20-21.

(c) The dew had been carefully observed, yet the speakers did not understand its phenomena. How it was produced; whether it descended from the atmosphere, or ascended from the earth, they did not profess to be able to explain. It was regarded as one of the things which God only could understand; yet the manner in which it is spoken of shows that it had attracted deep attention, and led to much inquiry:

Hath the rain a father?

And who hath begotten the drops of the dew? Job 38:28.

(d) The same remarks may be made of the formation of the hoar frost, of snow, of hail, and of ice. There is no theory suggested to account for them but they are regarded as among the things which God alone could comprehend, and which evinced his wisdom. There had been evidently much careful observation of the facts, and much inquiry into the cause of these things but the speakers did not profess to be able to explain them. To this day, also, there is much about them which is unexplained, and the farther the investigation is carried, the more occasion is there to admire the wisdom of God in the formation of these things, See the notes on the passages that will now be referred to:

From whose womb came the ice;

The hoar-frost of heaven, who gave it birth? Job 38:29 (note).

By the breath of God frost is produced,

And the broad waters become compressed. Job 37:10 (note).

For he saith to the snow, "Be thou on the earth." Job 37:6 (note).

Hast thou been into the storehouses of snow?


32. Rather, "He covereth (both) His hands with light (lightning, Job 37:3, Margin), and giveth it a command against his adversary" (literally, the one "assailing" Him, Ps 8:2; 139:20; Job 21:19). Thus, as in Job 36:31, the twofold effects of His waters are set forth, so here, of His light; in the one hand, destructive lightning against the wicked; in the other, the genial light for good to His friends, &c. (Job 36:33) [Umbreit]. With clouds; with thick and black clouds spread over the whole heavens, as it is in times of great thunders and lightnings. Heb. With hands; either the clouds are so called for their resemblance to hands, 1 Kings 18:4,1, as being hollow and spread abroad; or the meaning is, that God covereth the light as it were by the hollow of his hand, as a man sometimes covers the light of a candle.

The light; either the lightning, or rather the sun, which is fitly called light, Job 31:26 Psalm 136:7, as being the fountain of light.

Commandeth it not to shine; or, giveth a charge concerning it, to wit, that it shall be covered; or, forbiddeth it, as this Hebrew word, joined with this proposition, usually signifies, as Genesis 2:17 28:6 1 Kings 2:43 11:11, and elsewhere, i.e. hindereth it, as it were by an express command or prohibition, from its usual and proper work, to wit, from shining.

That cometh betwixt; which God interposeth as a veil between the sun and earth; by which he doth, as it were, deliver his command or prohibition to the sun, that he should not shine. With clouds he covereth the light,.... Either the lightning, which is hid and covered in the black dark cloud until it bursts out of it; or the light of the sun, which is wonderful, that waters naturally clear and transparent, when formed into clouds, should obstruct the rays of the sun and darken it; see Ezekiel 32:7; and thus it was in the storm and tempest the Apostle Paul was in many days, which was so thick and dark, that the sun and stars did not appear of a long time, Acts 27:20;

and commandeth it not to shine, by the cloud that cometh betwixt; that is, commands the sun that it shines not, or hinders it from shining, by reason of the intervening clouds; this is an emblem of sin interposing between God and his people, which causes him to hide his face from them and not shine upon them: sins are comparable to clouds for numbers, being more than can be told; and for their nature and quality, like clouds they rise out of the earthly and carnal heart of man; and which is also like a troubled sea which cannot rest; and which reach up unto heaven and bring down wrath and vengeance from thence on wicked men; and in God's own people, like the clouds they intercept the light of his countenance, the bright shining of the sun of righteousness, the comfort, peace, and joy of the Holy Spirit: the words may be rendered, "with hands he covers the light, and commands that it shine not by reason of what comes between": and they are understood by some, as by Schmidt particularly, of the eclipses of the sun and moon, when God as it were covers them with hands, and suffers them not to shine by intervening bodies; so the eclipse of the sun is occasioned by the moon's coming between that and the earth, and the eclipse of the moon by the interposition of the earth between that and the sun; the Targum is,

"because of rapine of hands he restrains rain, and commands it to descend because of him that prays,''

who comes between and intercedes for a sinful people, as Elijah did; or, as others, he commands the lightning that it harms not because of him that comes between and intercedes with his prayers.

With clouds he covereth the light; and commandeth it not to shine by the cloud that cometh {z} betwixt.

(z) That is, one cloud to dash against another.

32–33. The verses read,

32.  He covereth over his hands with light,

And giveth it commandment against the adversary;

33.  His thundering telleth concerning him;

Unto the cattle, even concerning him that cometh up;

32. The “light” here is the lightning, which grasped in His hands illuminates them. Hitzig refers to Hor. Od. 1. 2,

et rubente

dextera sacras jaculatus arces

terruit urbem.Verse 32. - With clouds he covereth the light; rather, he covereth both his hands with light, i.e. with the lightning. So Vul was represented in Assyrian and Zeus in Greek mythology, as filling their hands with thunderbolts, and hurling them upon their foes in their wrath. And commandeth it not to shine, etc. This rendering is wholly indefensible. Translate, And layeth command upon it that it strike the mark (compare the Revised Version). 26 Behold, God is exalted-we know Him not entirely;

The number of His years, it is unsearchable.

27 For He draweth down the drops of water,

They distil as rain in connection with its mist,

28 Which the clouds do drop,

Distil upon the multitude of men.

29 Who can altogether understand the spreadings of the clouds,

The crash of His tabernacle?

The Waw of the quasi-conclusion in Job 36:26 corresponds to the Waw of the train of thought in Job 36:26 (Ges. 145, 2). מספּר שׁניו is, as the subject-notion, conceived as a nominative (vid., on Job 4:6), not as in similar quasi-antecedent clauses, e.g., Job 23:12, as an acc. of relation. שׂגּיא here and Job 37:23 occurs otherwise only in Old Testament Chaldee. In what follows Elihu describes the wondrous origin of rain. "If Job had only come," says a Midrash (Jalkut, 518), "to explain to us the matter of the race of the deluge (vid., especially Job 22:15-18), it had been sufficient; and if Elihu had only come to explain to us the matter of the origin of rain (מעשׂה ירידת גשׁמים), it had been enough." In Gesenius' Handwrterbuch, Job 36:27 is translated: when He has drawn up the drops of water to Himself, then, etc. But it is יגרע, not גּרע; and גּרע neither in Hebr. nor in Arab. signifies attrahere in sublime (Rosenm.), but only attrahere (root גר) and detrahere; the latter signification is the prevailing one in Hebr. (Job 15:8; Job 36:7). With כּי the transcendent exaltation of the Being who survives all changes of creation is shown by an example: He draws away (draws off, as it were) the water-drops, viz., from the waters that are confined above on the circle of the sky, which pass over us as mist and cloud (vid., Genesis, S. 107); and these water-drops distil down (זקק, to ooze, distil, here not in a transitive but an intransitive signification, since the water-drops are the rain itself) as rain, לאדו, with its mist, i.e., since a mist produced by it (Genesis 2:6) fills the expanse (רקיע), the downfall of which is just this rain, which, as Job 36:28 says, the clouds (called שׁחקים on account of its thin strata of air, in distinction from the next mist-circle) cause to flow gently down upon the multitude of men, i.e., far and wide over the mass of men who inhabit the district visited by the rain; both verbs are used transitively here, both נזל as Isaiah 45:8, and רעף, as evidently Proverbs 3:20. אף אם, Job 36:29, commences an intensive question: moreover, could one understand equals could one completely understand; which certainly, according to the sense, is equivalent to: how much less (אף כּי). אם is, however, the interrogative an, and אף אם corresponds to האף in the first member of the double question, Job 34:17; Job 40:8. מפרשׂי are not the burstings, from פּרשׂ equals פּרס, frangere, findere, but spreadings, as Ezekiel 27:7 shows, from פּרשׂ, expandere, Psalm 105:39, comp. supra on Job 36:9. It is the growth of the storm-clouds, which collect often from a beginning "small as a man's hand" (1 Kings 18:44), that is intended; majestic omnipotence conceals itself behind these as in a סכּה (Psalm 18:12) woven out of thick branches; and the rolling thunder is here called the crash (תּשׁאות, as Job 39:7, is formed from שׁוא, to rumble, whence also שׁואה, if it is not after the form גּולה, migration, exile, from שׁאה morf ,, vid., on Job 30:3) of this pavilion of clouds in which the Thunderer works.

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