Job 37:4
After it a voice roareth: he thundereth with the voice of his excellency; and he will not stay them when his voice is heard.
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(4) After it a voice roarethi.e., the thunderclap which follows the lightning-flash.

And he stayeth them not (or will not stay them) when his voice is heard.—What does this mean? We understand it, “Yet none can track them (i.e., the thunder and the lightning) when His voice is heard. They travel in paths which none can explore. Vivid as the lightning is, who shall pursue its course?”

37:1-13 The changes of the weather are the subject of a great deal of our thoughts and common talk; but how seldom do we think and speak of these things, as Elihu, with a regard to God, the director of them! We must notice the glory of God, not only in the thunder and lightning, but in the more common and less awful changes of the weather; as the snow and rain. Nature directs all creatures to shelter themselves from a storm; and shall man only be unprovided with a refuge? Oh that men would listen to the voice of God, who in many ways warns them to flee from the wrath to come; and invites them to accept his salvation, and to be happy. The ill opinion which men entertain of the Divine direction, peculiarly appears in their murmurs about the weather, though the whole result of the year proves the folly of their complaints. Believers should avoid this; no days are bad as God makes them, though we make many bad by our sins.After it a voice roareth - After the lightning; that is, the flash is seen before the thunder is heard. This is apparent to all, the interval between the lightning and the hearing of the thunder depending on the distance. Lucretius, who has referred to the same fact, compares this with what occurs when a woodman is seen at a distance to wield an axe. The glance of the axe is seen long before the sound of the blow is heard:

Sed tonitrum fit uti post antibus accipiamus,

Fulgere quam cernunt ocuil, quia semper ad aures

Tardius adveniunt, quam visum, guam moveant res.

Nunc etiam licet id cognoscere, caedere si quem

Ancipiti videas ferro procul arboris actum.

Ante fit, ut cernas ictum, quam plaga per aures

Det sonitum: Sic fulgorem quoque cernimus ante.

Lib. vi.

He thundereth with the voice of his excellency - That is, with a voice of majesty and grandeur.

And he will not stay them - That is, he will not hold back the rain, hail, and other things which accompany the storm, when he begins to thunder. "Rosenmuller." Or, according to others, he will not hold back and restrain the lightnings when the thunder commences. But the connection seems rather to demand that we should understand it of the usual accompaniments of a storm - the wind, hail, rain, etc. Herder renders it, "We cannot explore his thunderings." Prof. Lee, "And none can trace them, though their voice be heard." According to him, the meaning is, that "great and terrific as this exhibition of God's power is, still the progress of these, his ministers, cannot be followed by the mortal eye." But the usual interpretation given to the Hebrew word is that of "holding back," or "retarding," and this idea accords well with the connection.

4. The thunderclap follows at an interval after the flash.

stay them—He will not hold back the lightnings (Job 37:3), when the thunder is heard [Maurer]. Rather, take "them" as the usual concomitants of thunder, namely, rain and hail [Umbreit] (Job 40:9).

After it a voice, i.e. after the lightning. For though the thunder be in order of nature before the lightning, yet the lightning is seen before the thunder is heard.

With the voice of his excellency, or, with his excellent, or high, or lofted voice, both loud and full of majesty and awfulness.

He will not stay; or, delay. Heb. take them by the heel, as Jacob did Esau in the womb, to delay or stop him from entering into the world before him. Them; either,

1. The lightnings spoken of in the beginning of the verse. But these do not stay till his voice be heard, but come before it. Or rather,

2. The rains and storms, of which he spoke before, and will speak again, Job 37:6.

After it a voice roareth,.... After the lightning comes a violent crack or clap of thunder, which is like the roaring of a lion. Such is the order of thunder and lightning, according to our sense and apprehension of them; otherwise in nature they are together: but the reasons given why the lightning is seen before, and so the same in the flash and report of a gun, are, because the sense of seeing is quicker than the sense of hearing (y); and the motion of light is quicker than that of sound; which latter is the truest reason (z). The roaring voice of thunder may be an emblem of the thunder of the law; its dreadful volleys of curses, vengeance, and wrath on the breakers of it, as delivered out by Boanergeses, sons of thunder, Mark 3:17, or the loud proclamation of the Gospel, made by the ministers of it; and the alarming awakening sound of the word, when attended with the Spirit and power of God, to sinners asleep and dead in trespasses and sins; upon which they awake, hear, and live;

he thundereth with the voice of his excellency: that is, God thunders with such a voice, an excellent and majestic one; for his voice of thunder is full of majesty, Psalm 29:4. So is the voice of Christ in the Gospel; he spake when on earth as one having authority, and he comes forth and appears in it now with majesty and glory; and speaks in it of the excellent things which he has done, of the excellent righteousness he has wrought out, of the excellent sacrifice he has offered up, and of the excellent salvation he is the author of;

and he will not stay them when his voice is heard; either the thunder and the lightning, as some; which he does not long defer after he has given out the decree concerning them, the order and disposition for them: or rather the rain and hail; these are not stayed, but quickly follow the flash of lightning and clap of thunder: "for when he utters his voice of thunder, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens"; and these quickly come down and are not stopped, Jeremiah 10:13. The word for "stay" signifies "to supplant", or "act deceitfully"; the name of Jacob is derived from this root, because he supplanted his brother, Genesis 25:26; and so it may be rendered here, "he will not supplant", or "deceive them (a), when his voice is heard": that is, either he does not subvert them, the heavens and earth, but preserves them; though he makes them to tremble with his voice of thunder (b): or he does not act the part of a secret, subtle, and deceitful enemy, when he thunders; but shows himself openly as a King, executing his decrees with authority (c): or rather he deceives none with his voice; none can mistake it; all know it to be the voice of thunder when it is heard: so Christ's sheep know his voice in the Gospel, and cannot be deceived; the voice of a stranger they will not follow, John 10:4.

(y) Senec. Nat. Quaest. l. 2. c. 12. so Aristot. Meteorolog. l. 2. c. 9. (z) The noise is commonly about seven or eight seconds after the flash, that is, about half a quarter of a minute; but sometimes much sooner, in a second or two, or less than so, and almost immediately upon the flash: this is when the explosion is very near us. Philosoph. Transact. abridged, vol. 2. p. 183. see vol. 4. p. 398. (a) "non supplantabit ea", Munster; so Schmidt, Michaelis, Gussetius, p. 633. (b) So Schmidt. (c) So Gussetius.

After it a voice roareth: he thundereth with the voice of his excellency; and he will not stay {c} them when his voice is heard.

(c) Meaning, the rains and thunders.

4. with the voice of his excellency] Rather, with his voice of majesty.

he will not stay them] Rather, he stayeth them not; He restrains not His lightnings. The words describe the play of the lightning, rapidly succeeding the thunder. When God’s presence is announced by His terrible voice, there also are His awful ministers, the lightnings, swift to do His commandments against His adversaries (ch. Job 36:32).

Verse 4. - After it a voice roareth. After the lightning-flash has been seen, the thunderclap comes. In their origin they are simultaneous; but, as light travels faster than sound, unless we are close to the flash, then is an interval, the thunder following on the lightning. He thundereth with the voice of his excellency (see the comment on ver. 2). And he will not stay them when his voice is heard. The words are plain, but the meaning is obscure. What will not God stay? His lightnings? His thunderings? His rain? His hail? There is no obvious antecedent. And in what sense will he not "stay" them? Some explain, "He will not slacken their speed; "others, "He will not cause them to Cease." Job 37:4 1 Yea, at this my heart trembleth

And tottereth from its place.

2 Hear, O hear the roar of His voice,

And the murmur that goeth out of His mouth.

3 He sendeth it forth under the whole heaven,

And His lightning unto the ends of the earth.

4 After it roareth the voice of the thunder,

He thundereth with the voice of His majesty,

And spareth not the lightnings, when His voice is heard.

5 God thundereth with His voice marvellously,

Doing great things, incomprehensible to us.

Louis Bridel is perhaps right when he inserts after Job 36 the observation: L'clair brille, la tonnerre gronde. לזאת does not refer to the phenomenon of the storm which is represented in the mind, but to that which is now to be perceived by the senses. The combination שׁמעוּ שׁמוע can signify both hear constantly, Isaiah 6:9, and hear attentively, Job 13:17; here it is the latter. רגז of thunder corresponds to the verbs Arab. rḥz and rjs, which can be similarly used. The repetition of קול fo noititeper eh five times calls to mind the seven קולות (ἑπτὰ βρονταί) in Psalm 29:1-11. The parallel is הגה, Job 37:2, a murmuring, as elsewhere of the roar of the lion and the cooing of the dove. The suff. of ישׁרהוּ refers to the thunder which rolls through the immeasurable breadth under heaven; it is not perf. Piel of ישׁר (Schlottm.), for "to give definite direction" (2 Chronicles 32:30) is not appropriate to thunder, but fut. Kal of שׁרה, to free, to unbind (Ew., Hirz. and most others). What Job 37:3 says of thunder, Job 37:3 says of light, i.e., the lightning: God sends it forth to the edges, πτέρυγες, i.e., ends, of the earth. אחריו, Job 37:4, naturally refers to the lightning, which is followed by the roar of the thunder; and יעקּבם to the flashes, which, when once its rumble is heard, God does not restrain (עקּב equals עכּב of the Targ., and Arab. ‛aqqaba, to leave behind, postpone), but causes to flash forth in quick succession. Ewald's translation: should He not find (prop. non investigaverit) them (the men that are to be punished), gives a thought that has no support in this connection. In Job 37:5 נפלאות, mirabilia, is equivalent to mirabiliter, as Daniel 8:24, comp. Psalm 65:6; Psalm 139:14. ולא נדע is intended to say that God's mighty acts, with respect to the connection between cause and effect and the employment of means, transcend our comprehension.

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