Job 36:33
The noise thereof shows concerning it, the cattle also concerning the vapor.
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(33) The noise thereof sheweth concerning it.—This verse is extremely difficult, and the sense very uncertain. We may translate the first clause, “The noise thereof (i.e., the crash of the thunder) declareth concerning Him:” it is His voice, and speaks of Him; but the last clause is almost unintelligible. The words as they stand mean, or may mean, cattle even concerning a goer up; but what this means who shall say? Possibly, the thunder-crash telleth the cattle even concerning Him who goeth up: i.e., even the cattle show, by their terror, that the thunder speaketh to them of God, who goeth up on high. (See Psalm 29:9; Psalm 68:4; Psalm 68:18; Psalm 47:5.) Some render the last clause, “The cattle also concerning Him as He riseth up;” or, “The cattle also concerning the rising storm.” There can be no doubt but that the general meaning is that all nature participateth in the terror caused by the thunder, which is regarded as the audible voice of God; but what the exact expression of this general thought may be it is very hard to say.

There should he no break between this chapter and the next.

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.The noise thereof showeth concerning it - The word "noise" here has been inserted by our translators as a version of the Hebrew word (רעו rê‛ô), and if the translators attached any idea to the language which they have used, it seems to have been that the noise attending the lightning, that is, the thunder, furnished an illustration of the power and majesty of God. But it is not possible to educe this idea from the original, and perhaps it is not possible to determine the sense of the passage. Herder renders it, "He pointeth out to them the wicked." Prof. Lee, "By it he announceth his will." Umbreit, "He makes known to it his friend;" that is, he points out his friend to the light, so that it may serve for the happiness of that friend. Noyes, "He uttereth to him his voice; to the herds and the plants." Rosenmuller," He announces what he has decreed against people, and the flocks which the earth has produced."

Many other expositions have been proposed, and there is no reasonable ground of hope that an interpretation will be arrived at which will be free from all difficulty. The principal difficulty in this part of the verse arises from the word רעו rê‛ô, rendered in our version, "The noise thereof." This may be from רוע rûa‛, and may mean a noise, or outcry, and so it is rendered here by Gesenius, "He makes known to him his thunder, that is, to man, or to his enemies." Or the word may mean "his friend," as the word רע rêa‛ is often used; Job 2:11; Job 19:21; Proverbs 27:17; Sol 5:16; Hosea 3:1. Or it may denote "will, thought, desire;" Psalm 139:2, Psalm 139:17. A choice must be made between these different meanings according to the view entertained of the scope of the passage. To me it seems that the word ""friend"" will better suit the connection than anyone of the other interpretations proposed. According to this, the idea is, that God points out "his friends" to the lightning which he holds in his hand, and bids it spare them. He has entire control of it, and can direct it where he pleases, and instead of sending it forth to work indiscriminate destruction, he carefully designates those on whom he wishes it to strike, but bids it spare his friends.

The cattle also concerning the vapour - Margin, "that which goeth up." What idea the translators attached to this phrase it is impossible now to know, and the probability is, that being conscious of utter inability to give any meaning to the passage, they endeavored to translate the "words" of the original as literally as possible. Coverdale evidently felt the same perplexity, for he renders it, "The rising up thereof showeth he to his friends and to the cattle." Indeed almost every translator and expositor has had the same difficulty, and each one has proposed a version of his own. Aa examination of the "words" employed is the only hope of arriving at any satisfactory view of the passage. The word rendered "cattle" (מקנה miqneh), means properly:

(1) expectation, hope, confidence; Ezekiel 28:26; Ezra 10:2;

(2) a gathering together, a collection, as

(a) of waters, Genesis 1:10; Exodus 7:19,

(b) a gathering together, a collection, or company of people, horses, etc. - a caravan. So it may possibly mean in 1 Kings 10:28, where interpreters have greatly differed.

The word "cattle," therefore, by no means expresses its usual signification. That would be better expressed by "gathering, collecting," or "assembling." The word rendered also (אף 'aph), denotes:

(1) also, even, more, besides, etc., and

(2) "the nose," and then "anger" - from the effect of anger in producing hard breathing, Proverbs 22:24; Deuteronomy 32:22; Deuteronomy 29:20.

Here it may be rendered, without impropriety, "anger," and then the phrase will mean, "the collecting, or gathering together of anger." The word rendered "vapour" (עולה ‛ovelâh - if from עלה ‛âlâh), means that which "ascends," and would then mean anything that ascends - as smoke, vapor; or as Rosenmuller supposes, what "ascends" or "grows" from the ground - that is, plants and vegetables, And so Umbreit, "das Gewachs" - "plants of any kind." Note. But with a slight variation in the pointing עולה ‛ovelâh - instead of עולה ‛oleh), the word means "evil, wickedness, iniquity" - from our word "evil;" Job 24:20; Job 6:29; Job 11:14; Job 13:7; and it may, without impropriety, be regarded as having this signification here, as the points have no authority. The meaning of the whole phrase then will be, "the gathering, or collecting of his wrath is upon evil, that is, upon the wicked;" and the sense is, that while, on the one hand, God, who holds the lightning in his hands, points out to it his friends, so that they are spared; on the other hand the gathering together, or the condensation, of his wrath is upon the evil. That is, the lightnings - so vivid, so mighty, and apparently so wholly beyond law or control, are under his direction, and he makes them the means of executing his pleasure. His friends are spared; and the condensation of his wrath is on his foes. This exposition of the passage accords with the general scope of the remarks of Elihu, and this view of the manner in which God controls even the lightning, was one that was adapted to fill the mind with exalted conceptions of the majesty and power of the Most High.

33. noise—rather, He revealeth it (literally, "announceth concerning it") to His friend (antithesis to adversary, Job 36:32, so the Hebrew is translated, Job 2:11); also to cattle and plants (literally, "that which shooteth up"; Ge 40:10; 41:22). As the genial effect of "water" in the growth of food, is mentioned, Job 36:31, so here that of "light" in cherishing cattle and plants [Umbreit]. If English Version, "noise" be retained, translate, "His noise (thunder) announces concerning Him (His coming in the tempest), the cattle (to announce) concerning Him when He is in the act of rising up" (in the storm). Some animals give various intimations that they are sensible of the approach of a storm [Virgil, Georgics, I.373, &c.]. The noise thereof, to wit. of or within the black or thick cloud, spoken of Job 36:32. Or, his, i.e. God’s, noise, to wit, the thunder, which is called God’s voice, Psalm 29:4,5.

Showeth concerning it, to wit, the rain, which is the principal subject of these verses, of which he speaketh expressly Job 36:27,28; and of its companions, the clouds, and thunder and lightning, in all the following verses. The sense is, The thunder gives notice of the approaching rain. And as the thunder, so also the cattle, showeth (which verb is, understood out of the foregoing clause, after the manner) concerning the vapour, i.e. concerning the coming of the rain; but he puts vapour for the rain, because divers cattle are very sagacious in this matter, and do not only perceive the rain when it is ready to fall, but foresee it at some distance by the vapours, which are drawn up by the sun in great abundance, and by divers motions and actions, give men timely notice of it, as hath been observed not only by husbandmen, but also by learned authors. The noise thereof showeth concerning it,.... The rain, that it is coming; it is a presage and prognostic of it, namely, the noise of the clouds in the air, the sound of abundance of rain there; or the noise of the winds, which is often a forerunner of it: or the noise of thunder when rain frequently follows, Jeremiah 10:13;

the cattle also concerning the vapour; that is, the cattle likewise show signs of rain, being sensible of the vapours which rise up out of the earth, and are drawn up into the air and form clouds there; these, through their sharp sight, discern the vapours rising out of the earth insensible by men; or by their quick smell (p) or taste discern them, these leaving some tincture upon the grass they are feeding on; and which occasion some motions and gestures in them by which husbandmen, and those that are accustomed to them, know that the rain is at hand: and there are various things observable in brutes, fowls, and cattle, and other creatures, which are signs of approaching rain; as the cawing of crows, the croaking of frogs, the flying about of cranes and swallows, the motion of ants, the retire of cattle to places of shelter, and the like; Aben Ezra observes that sheep lying on their right side portends rain; the above things with others are most beautifully expressed by Virgil (q) and which with many others are collected together by Pliny (r); and though there are various interpretations given of this passage, this seems to be the most agreeable, and which suits with our version; unless the following, which I only propose, should be more eligible, "he", that is, God, "by it", the rain, "declares his good will" to men, likewise to "the cattle, and also towards what rises up" out of the earth, the herbs and plants; all which receive much benefit by the clouds and rain.

(p) Vid. Democrit. Fragment. & Rendtorf. Not. in ib. apud Fabritii Bibliothec. Gr. l. 4. c. 29. p. 338, 362. (q) "Aut illum surgentem vallibus imis", c. Georgic, l. 1. v. 374, &c. Bacon's Nat. Hist. cent. 9. p. 208. (r) Nat. Hist. l. 18. c. 35. Vid. Democrit. Fragm. ut supra, p. 335, 358, 362, 366.

{a} The noise thereof sheweth concerning it, the cattle also concerning the vapour.

(a) The cold vapour shows him: that is, the cloud of the hot exhalation, which being taken in the cold cloud mounts up toward the place where the fire is, and so anger is engendered; that is, noise and thunderclaps.

33. the cattle also] The A. V. makes “cattle” subject—they also tell of God; in which case the reference would be to their presentiments of a coming storm. The context, however, describes a storm actually present, and it is more natural to repeat the words “it telleth” from the first clause and render, (it telleth) unto the cattle; for the reference throughout appears to be to the impression produced on all creatures by God’s mighty thunderings and how these reveal His majesty—even the cattle hearing with terror His awful voice; just as in ch. Job 37:1 Elihu describes the effect produced on himself.

concerning the vapour] Rather as above, concerning Him that cometh up, i. e. approaches or advances in the thunder cloud.

The above rendering assumes that the present Heb. text is correct. Others by alterations in the pointing elicit various senses.Verse 33. - The noise thereof showeth concerning it; or, concerning him. The loud crash proclaims the fierceness of God's anger. The cattle also concerning the vapour; rather, it sheweth the cattle also concerning him that goeth up; i.e. the very cattle also feel that God is in the storm, rides upon it, and "goeth up" (comp. Psalm 47:5). The rendering of the Revised Version, "(it showeth) the cattle also concerning the storm that cometh up," is very weak, and unworthy of such an orator as Elihu.

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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