Job 37:18
Have you with him spread out the sky, which is strong, and as a molten looking glass?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(18) Spread out the sky.—Some understand this of the action of the sun in dispersing the clouds; but it seems more probable that it refers to God. “Hast thou spread out with Him the magnificent dome of heaven?” The words used, however, imply the clouds rather than the cloudless sky which resembles a burnished mirror; so that it is not improbable that the sun may be the subject here and in the following verses.

Job 37:18-19. Hast thou, with him, spread out the sky — Wast thou his assistant in spreading out the sky, like a canopy, over the earth? Which is strong — Which, though it be very thin and transparent, yet is also firm, and compact, and steadfast. As a molten looking-glass — Made of brass and steel, as the manner then was. Smooth and polished, without the least flaw. In this, as in a glass, we may behold the glory of God, and the wisdom of his handiwork. Teach us — If thou canst; what we shall say unto him — Of these his wonderful works, or of his divine counsels and ways. For we cannot order our speech — We know neither with what words or matter, nor in what manner, to maintain discourse with him, or plead against him. By reason of darkness — Both because of the darkness of the matter, God’s counsels and ways being a great depth, and far out of our reach; and because of the darkness, or blindness, of our minds.37:14-20 Due thoughts of the works of God will help to reconcile us to all his providences. As God has a powerful, freezing north wind, so he has a thawing, composing south wind: the Spirit is compared to both, because he both convinces and comforts, So 4:16. The best of men are much in the dark concerning the glorious perfections of the Divine nature and the Divine government. Those who, through grace, know much of God, know nothing, in comparison with what is to be known, and of what will be known, when that which is perfect is come.Hast thou with him spread out the sky? - That is, wert thou employed with God in performing that vast work, that thou canst explain how it was done? Elihu here speaks of the sky as it appears, and as it is often spoken of, as an expanse or solid body spread out over our heads, and as sustained by some cause which is unknown. Sometimes in the Scriptures it is spoken of as a curtain (Notes, Isaiah 40:22); sometimes as a "firmament," or a solid body spread out (Septuagint, Genesis 1:6-7); sometimes as a fixture in which the stars are placed (Notes, Isaiah 34:4), and sometimes as a scroll that may be rolled up, or as a garment, Psalm 102:26. There is no reason to suppose that the true cause of the appearance of an expanse was understood at that time, but probably the prevailing impression was that the sky was solid and was a fixture in which the stars were held. Many of the ancients supposed that there were concentric spheres, which were transparent but solid, and that these spheres revolved around the earth carrying the heavenly bodies with them. In one of these spheres, they supposed, was the sun; in another the moon; in another the fixed stars; in another the planets; and it was the harmonious movement of these concentric and transparent orbs which it was supposed produced the "music of the spheres."

Which is strong - Firm, compact. Elihu evidently supposed that it was solid. It was so firm that it was self-sustained.

And as a molten looking-glass - As a mirror that is made by being fused or cast. The word "glass" is not in the original, the Hebrew denoting simply "seeing," or a "mirror" (ראי re'ı̂y). Mirrors were commonly made of plates of metal highly polished; see the notes at Isaiah 3:23; compare Wilkinson's Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians, vol. iii. p. 365. Ancient mirrors were so highly polished that in some which have been discovered at Thebes the luster has been partially restored, though they have been buried for many centuries. There can be no doubt that the early apprehension in regard to the sky was, that it was a solid expanse, and that it is often so spoken of in the Bible. There is, however, no direct declaration that it is so, and whenever it is so spoken of, it is to be understood as popular language, as we speak still of the rising or setting of the sun, though we know that the language is not philosophically correct. The design of the Bible is not to teach science, but religion, and the speakers in the Bible were allowed to use the language of common life - just as scientific men in fact do now.

18. with him—like as He does (Job 40:15).

spread out—given expanse to.

strong pieces—firm; whence the term "firmament" ("expansion," Ge 1:6, Margin; Isa 44:24).

molten looking glass—image of the bright smiling sky. Mirrors were then formed of molten polished metal, not glass.

Wast thou his co-worker or assistant in spreading out the sky like a tent or canopy over the earth? or canst thou spread out such another sky? Then indeed thou mayst with some colour pretend to be privy to his counsels, and to judge of his works.

Which is strong; which though it be very thin and transparent, yet is also firm, and compact, and stedfast, and of great force when it is pent up.

As a molten looking-glass, made of brass or steel, as the manner then was. Hast thou with him spread out the sky?.... Wast thou concerned with him at the first spreading out of the sky? wast thou an assistant to him in it? did he not spread it as a curtain or canopy about himself, without the help of another? verily he did; see Job 9:8, Isaiah 44:24;

which is strong: for though it seems a fluid and thin, is very firm and strong, as appears by what it bears, and are contained in it; and therefore is called "the firmament of his power", Psalm 150:1;

and as a molten looking glass; clear and transparent, like the looking glasses of the women, made of molten brass, Exodus 38:8; and firm and permanent (u); and a glass this is in which the glory of God, and his divine perfections, is to be seen; and is one of the wondrous works of God, made for the display of his own glory, and the benefit of men, Psalm 19:1. Or this may respect the spreading out a clear serene sky, and smoothing it after it has been covered and ruffled with storms and tempests; which is such a wonderful work of God, that man has no hand in.

(u) . Pindar. Nem. Ode 6.

Hast thou with him spread out the sky, which is strong, and as a molten looking {o} glass?

(o) For the clearness.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
18. The present tense is better in this verse,

Canst thou with him spread out the skies,

Strong, as a molten mirror?

“With Him” may mean “along with Him,” or rather like Him. The comparison of the clear, dry, burnished summer skies of the East to “brass” is made in other parts of Scripture. The Eastern mirrors were plates of metal, Exodus 38:8.Verse 18. - Hast thou with him spread out the sky? Didst thou assist in the spreading out of the sky, that great and magnificent work of the Creator, transcending almost all others (see the comment on Job 9:8)? Or did not God effect this work alone, without even a counsellor (Isaiah 40:13, 14), so that thou hadst no part in it? Which is strong, and as a molten looking-glass. The sky is "strong" or "firm;" i.e. enduring or permanent, though not really hard like a mirror. Elihu, however, seems to have regarded it, like many of the ancients, as a solid mass, resembling a concave mirror of metal. The translation, "looking-glass," is wrong, both here and in Exodus 38:8, since glass was not used for mirrors until the period of the early Roman empire. The earlier mirrors were of polished metal (see Smith's 'Dict. of Antiquities,' vol. 3. pp. 1052, 1212). 11 Also He loadeth the clouds with water,

He spreadeth far and wide the cloud of His light,

12 And these turn themselves round about,

Directed by Him, that they execute

All that He hath commanded them

Over the wide earth.

13 Whether for a scourge, or for the good of His earth,

Or for mercy, He causeth it to discharge itself.

With אף extending the description, Elihu, in the presence of the storm that is in the sky, continually returns to this one marvel of nature. The old versions connect בּרי partly with בּר, electus (lxx, Syr., Theod.) or frumentum (Symm., Jer.), partly with בּרה equals בּרר in the signification puritas, serenitas (Targ.); but בּרי is, as Schultens has already perceived, the Hebr.-Arabic רי, Arab. rı̂yun, rı̂j-un (from רוה equals riwj), abundant irrigation, with בּ; and יטריח does not signify, according to the Arab. atraha, "to hurl down," so that what is spoken of would be the bursting of the clouds (Stick.),

(Note: This "atraha" is, moreover, a pure invention of our ordinary Arabic lexicons instead of ittaraha (VIII form): (1) to throw one's self, (2) to throw anything from one's self, with an acc. of the thing. - Fl.)

but, according to טרח, a burden (comp. Arab. taraha ala, to load), "to burden;" with fluidity (Ew., Hirz., Hahn, Schlottm.), better: fulness of water, He burdens the clouds (comp. rawij-un as a designation of cloud as the place of rain). ענן אורו, His cloud of light, is that that is charged with lightning, and הפיץ has here its Hebr.-Arab. radical signification effundere, diffundere, with a preponderance of the idea not of scattering, but of spreading out wide (Arab. faid, abundance). והוּא, Job 37:12, refers to the cloud pregnant with lightning; this turns round about (מסבּות, adv. as מסב, round about, 1 Kings 6:29) seeking a place, where it shall unburden itself by virtue of His (God's) direction or disposing (תחבּוּלת, a word belonging to the book of Proverbs; lxx, Cod. Vat. and Alex., untranslated: εν θεεβουλαθωθ, Cod. Sinait. still more monstrous), in order that they (the clouds full of lightning) may accomplish everything that He commands them over the surface of the earth; ארצה as Job 34:13, and the combination תּבל ארצה as Proverbs 8:31, comp. ארץ ותבל, Psalm 90:2. The reference of the pronominal suff. to men is as inadmissible here as in Job 37:4. In Job 37:13 two אם have certainly, as Job 34:29, two ו, the correlative signification sive ... sive (Arab. in ... wa-in), in a third, as appears, a conditional, but which? According to Ew., Hirz., Hahn, Schlottm., and others, the middle one: if it (the rod) belongs to His land, i.e., if it has deserved it. But even the possessive suff. of לארצו shows that the ל is to be taken as dat. commodi: be it for a rod, be it for the good of His land; which is then followed by a conditional verbal clause: in case He mercifully causes it (the storm) to come, i.e., causes this His land to be overtaken by it (המציא here with the acc., the thing coming, whereas in Job 34:11 of the thing to be overtaken). The accentuation, indeed, appears to assume a threefold sive: whether He causeth it to discharge itself upon man for punishment, man for mercy, or His earth for good with reference to man. Then Elihu would think of the uninhabited steppe in connection with אם לארצו. Since a conditional אם by the side of two correlatives is hazardous, we decide finally with the lxx, Targ., and all the old versions, in favour of the same rendering of the threefold אם, especially since it corresponds to the circumstances of the case.

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