Job 38:1
Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
XXXVIII.

(1) Then the Lord answered Job.—This chapter brings the grand climax and catastrophe of the poem. Unless all was to remain hopelessly uncertain and dark, there could be no solution of the questions so fiercely and obstinately debated but by the intervention of Him whose government was the matter in dispute. And so the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, or tempest: that is to say, the tempest which had been long gathering, and which had been the subject of Elihu’s remarks. The one argument which is developed in the remaining chapters is drawn from man’s ignorance. There is so much in nature that man knows not and cannot understand, that it is absurd for him to suppose that he can judge aright in matters touching God’s moral government of the world. Though Job is afterwards (Job 42:8) justified by God, yet the tone of all that God says to him is more or less mingled with reproach.

Job 38:1. Then the Lord answered Job — No sooner had Elihu uttered the words last mentioned, but there was a sensible token of the presence of that dreadful majesty of God among them, spoken of Job 38:22, and Jehovah began to debate the matter with Job, as he had desired; out of the whirlwind — Out of a dark and thick cloud, from which he sent a terrible and tempestuous wind, as the harbinger of his presence. The LXX. render the clause, δια λαιλαπος και νεφων, perturbinem et nubes, by a tempest and clouds. It is true, the Chaldee paraphrast, by the addition of a word, has given a very different exposition of this text, thus: Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind of grief; taking the word סערה, segnarah, rendered whirlwind, not in a literal, but in a metaphorical sense: as if the meaning were only this: that amidst the tumult of Job’s sorrows, God suggested to him the following thoughts, to bring him to a sense of his condition. The matter is viewed in nearly the same light by a late writer in a periodical work, styled The Classical Journal, who contends that this Hebrew word properly means trouble, and may be rendered whirlwind only when it is applied to the elements, denoting the troubled state of the atmosphere; but when it has reference to man, it can have no such signification. In answer to this it must be observed, that many passages occur in the Old Testament, in which the word evidently means, and is rightly translated, whirlwind, or tempest, as that writer himself acknowledges; but probably not one can be found, at least he has not produced one, in which, as a noun, it means merely trouble, nor can it with propriety be so translated here, on account of the preposition מן, min, which properly means a, ab, de, e, ex, from, or out of, and not because of, as he proposes rendering it: for surely it would be improper to read the passage, “The Lord answered Job out of his trouble, &c.” Accordingly the generality of expositors agree to understand it of a sensible and miraculous interposition of the Deity appearing in a cloud, the symbol of his presence, not to dispute, but absolutely to decide the controversy. God appeared and spoke to him in this manner, says Poole, 1st. Because this was his usual method of manifesting himself in those times, and declaring his will, as we see Exodus 19:13; Numbers 9:15; 1 Kings 19:11; Ezekiel 1:4; Ezekiel 2 d, To awaken Job and his friends to a more serious and reverent attention to his words; 3d, To testify his displeasure both against Job and them; and, lastly, that all of them might be more deeply and thoroughly humbled, and prepared to receive and retain the instructions which God was about to give them. “There arose,” says Bishop Patrick, “an unusual cloud, after the manner of God’s appearing in those days, and a voice came out of it, as loud as a tempest, which called to Job.” “Nothing can be conceived more awful than this appearance of Jehovah; nothing more sublime than the manner in which this speech is introduced. Thunders, lightnings, and a whirlwind announce his approach: all creation trembles at his presence: at the blaze of his all-piercing eye every disguise falls off; the stateliness of human pride, the vanity of human knowledge, sink into their original nothing. The man of understanding, the men of age and experience; he who desired nothing more than to argue the point with God; he that would maintain his ways to his face; confounded and struck dumb at his presence, is ready to drop into dissolution, and repents in dust and ashes.” See Heath.

38:1-3 Job had silenced, but had not convinced his friends. Elihu had silenced Job, but had not brought him to admit his guilt before God. It pleased the Lord to interpose. The Lord, in this discourse, humbles Job, and brings him to repent of his passionate expressions concerning God's providential dealings with him; and this he does, by calling upon Job to compare God's being from everlasting to everlasting, with his own time; God's knowledge of all things, with his own ignorance; and God's almighty power, with his own weakness. Our darkening the counsels of God's wisdom with our folly, is a great provocation to God. Humble faith and sincere obedience see farthest and best into the will of the Lord.Then the Lord answered Job - This speech is addressed particularly to Job, not only because he is the principal personage referred to in the book, but particularly because he had indulged in language of murmuring and complaint. God designed to bring him to a proper state of mind before he appeared openly for his vindication. It is the purpose of God, in his dealings with his people, "to bring them to a proper state of mind" before he appears as their vindicator and friend, and hence, their trials are often prolonged, and when he appears, he seems at first to come only to rebuke them. Job had indulged in very improper feelings, and it was needful that those feelings should be subdued before God would manifest himself as his friend, and address him in words of consolation.

Out of the whirlwind - The tempest; the storm - probably that which Elihu had seen approaching, Job 37:21-24. God is often represented as speaking to people in this manner. He spake amidst lightnings and tempests on Mount Sinai Exodus 19:16-19, and he is frequently represented as appearing amidst the thunders and lightnings of a tempest, as a symbol of his majesty; compare Psalm 18:9-13; Habakkuk 3:3-6. The word here rendered "whirlwind" means rather "a storm, a tempest." The Septuagint renders this verse, "After Elihu had ceased speaking, the Lord spake to Job from a tempest and clouds."

CHAPTER 38

Job 38:1-41.

1. Jehovah appears unexpectedly in a whirlwind (already gathering Job 37:1, 2), the symbol of "judgment" (Ps 50:3, 4, &c.), to which Job had challenged Him. He asks him now to get himself ready for the contest. Can he explain the phenomena of God's natural government? How can he, then, hope to understand the principles of His moral government? God thus confirms Elihu's sentiment, that submission to, not reasonings on, God's ways is man's part. This and the disciplinary design of trial to the godly is the great lesson of this book. He does not solve the difficulty by reference to future retribution: for this was not the immediate question; glimpses of that truth were already given in the fourteenth and nineteenth chapters, the full revelation of it being reserved for Gospel times. Yet even now we need to learn the lesson taught by Elihu and God in Job.The Lord answers Job, Job 38:1-3: declareth his works of creation; the foundation and the measures of the earth, Job 38:4-6; the stars; the sea, and its bounds, Job 38:7-11; the morning, and its light, Job 38:12-15; the depth of the sea; the gates and shadow of death; the breadth of the earth, Job 38:16-18; the place of light and darkness; the treasures of snow and hail for battle, Job 38:19-23; the east wind, springs, and rain for the earth, Job 38:24-30; the planets, ordinances of heaven, and their dominion on the earth; clouds and lightning, Job 38:31-35. Wisdom and understanding in the heart of man, and in his works more than we can understand: he feedeth the lion and the raven, Job 38:36-41.

Answered Job, i.e. began to debate the matter with him, as Job had desired.

Out of the whirlwind, i.e. out of a dark and thick cloud, from which he sent a terrible and tempestuous wind, as the harbinger of his presence. In this manner God appears and speaks to him, partly, because this was his usual method in those times, as we see, Exodus 19:18 Numbers 9:15,16; see also 1 Kings 19:11 Ezekiel 1:4; partly, to awaken Job and his friends to the more serious and reverent attention to his words; partly, to testify his displeasure, both against Job, and against his three friends; and partly, that all of them night be more deeply and thoroughly humbled and abused within themselves, and prepared the better to receive, and longer to retain, the instructions which God was about to give them.

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind,.... As soon as Elihu had done speaking, who saw the tempest rising, and gave hints of it, Job 37:2; and hastened to finish his discourse. This was raised to give notice of the Lord being about to appear, and to display his majesty, and to command reverence and attention. The Targum calls it the whirlwind of distress, as it might be to Job; and a representation of the distressed and disturbed state and condition in which he was. The person that spoke out of it is Jehovah the Son of God, the eternal Word, who very probably appeared in an human form; there was an object seen, Job 42:5; and spoke with an articulate voice to Job;

and said; in answer to his frequent wishes and desires that the Lord would appear and take his cause in hand.

Then the LORD answered Job out of the {a} whirlwind, and said,

(a) That his words might have greater majesty, and that Job might know with whom he had to do.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1. out of the whirlwind] Rather, out of the storm. Jehovah, even when condescending to speak with men, must veil Himself in the storm cloud, in which He descends and approaches the earth. Even when He is nearest us, clouds and darkness are round about Him. His revelation of Himself to Job, at least, was partly to rebuke him, for he had sinned against His majesty. and He veils Himself in terrors. The storm is not necessarily that which Elihu describes; the Art. is rather generic, the meaning being that thus Jehovah spoke, namely, out of storm.

Verse 1. - Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind. It is remarked, with reason, that the special mention of Job as the person answered "implies that another speaker had intervened" (Wordsworth); while the attachment of the article to the word "whirlwind" implies some previous mention of that phenomenon, which is only to be found in the discourse of Elihu (Job 37:9). Both points have an important bearing on the genuineness of the disputed section, ch. 32- 37. And said. The question whether there was an objective utterance of human words out of the whirlwind, or only a subjective impression of the thoughts recorded on the minds of those present, is unimportant. In any case, there was a revelation direct from God, which furnished an authoritative solution of the questions debated to all who had been engaged in the debate. Job 38:1 1 Then Jehovah answered Job out of the storm, and said:

2 Who then darkeneth counsel

With words without knowledge?

3 Gird up now thy loins as a man:

I will question thee, and inform thou me!

"May the Almighty answer me!" Job has said, Job 31:35; He now really answers, and indeed out of the storm (Chethib, according to a mode of writing occurring only here and Job 40:6, מנהסערה, arranged in two words by the Keri), which is generally the forerunner of His self-manifestation in the world, of that at least by which He reveals Himself in His absolute awe-inspiring greatness and judicial grandeur. The art. is to be understood generically, but, with respect to Elihu's speeches, refers to the storm which has risen up in the meanwhile. It is not to be translated: Who is he who ... , which ought to be המחשׁיך, but: Who then is darkening; זה makes the interrogative מי more vivid and demonstrative, Ges. 122, 2; the part. מחשׁיך (instead of which it might also be יחשׁיך) favours the assumption that Job has uttered such words immediately before, and is interrupted by Jehovah, without an intervening speaker having come forward. It is intentionally עצה for עצתי (comp. עם for עמי, Isaiah 26:11), to describe that which is spoken of according to its quality: it is nothing less than a decree or plan full of purpose and connection which Job darkness, i.e., distorts by judging it falsely, or, as we say: places in a false light, and in fact by meaningless words.

(Note: The correct accentuation is מחשׁיך with Mercha, עצה with Athnach, במלין with Rebia mugrasch, bly (without Makkeph) with Munach.)

When now Jehovah condescends to negotiate with Job by question and answer, He does not do exactly what Job wished (Job 13:22), but something different, of which Job never thought. He surprises him with questions which are intended to bring him indirectly to the consciousness of the wrong and absurdity of his challenge - questions among which "there are many which the natural philosophy of the present day can frame more scientifically, but cannot satisfactorily solve."

(Note: Alex. v. Humboldt, Kosmos, ii. 48 (1st edition), comp. Tholuck, Vermischte Schriften, i.354.)

Instead of כגבר (the received reading of Ben-Ascher), Ben-Naphtali's text offered כּג (as Ezekiel 17:10), in order not to allow two so similar, aspirated mutae to come together.

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