Job 38:25
Who hath divided a watercourse for the overflowing of waters, or a way for the lightning of thunder;
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(25) Who hath divided a watercourse.—Rather, cleft a channel for the water-flood.

Job 38:25. Who hath divided a water-course, &c. — For the showers of rain, which come down orderly and gradually, as if they were conveyed in pipes or channels; which, without the care of God’s providence, would fall confusedly, and overwhelm the earth. Or a way for the lightning — For lightning and thunder? — Who opened a passage for them out of the cloud in which they were imprisoned? And these are joined with the rain, because they are commonly accompanied with great showers of rain.

38:25-41 Hitherto God had put questions to Job to show him his ignorance; now God shows his weakness. As it is but little that he knows, he ought not to arraign the Divine counsels; it is but little he can do, therefore he ought not to oppose the ways of Providence. See the all-sufficiency of the Divine Providence; it has wherewithal to satisfy the desire of every living thing. And he that takes care of the young ravens, certainly will not be wanting to his people. This being but one instance of the Divine compassion out of many, gives us occasion to think how much good our God does, every day, beyond what we are aware of. Every view we take of his infinite perfections, should remind us of his right to our love, the evil of sinning against him, and our need of his mercy and salvation.Who hath divided a water-course for the overflowing of waters - That is, for the waters that flow down from the clouds. The idea seems to be this, that the waters of heaven, instead of pouring down in floods, or all coming down together, seemed to flow in certain canals formed for them; as if they had been cut out through the clouds for that purpose. The causes of rain, the manner in which water was suspended in the clouds, and the reasons why the rain did not come down altogether in floods, early attracted attention, and gave occasion to investigation. The subject is more than once referred to in this book; see the notes at Job 26:8.

Or a way for the lightning of thunder - For the thunder-flash. The idea is this: a path seems to be opened in the dark cloud for the passage of the flash of lightning. How such a path was made, by what agency or by what laws, was the question proposed for inquiry. The lightning seemed at once to burst through the dark cloud where there was no opening and no sign of a path before, and pursue its zig-zag journey as if all obstructions were removed, and it passed over a beaten path. The question is, who could have traced out this path for the thunder-flash to go in? Who could do it but the Almighty? And still, with all the light that science has cast on the subject, we may repeat the question.

25. waters—Rain falls, not in a mass on one spot, but in countless separate canals in the air marked out for them.

way for the lightning—(Job 28:26).

For the overflowing of waters; for the showers of rain which come down out of the clouds, orderly, moderately, and gradually, as if they were conveyed in pipes or channels; which, without the care of God’s providence, would fall confusedly, and all together; and, instead of refreshing, would overwhelm the earth.

For the lightning of thunder, i.e. for that lightning which, breaking out of the cloud with violence, causeth thunder. Or, for lightning and thunder. Who opened a passage for them out of the cloud in which they were imprisoned? And these are here joined with the rain, because they are commonly accompanied with great showers of rain; which is here noted as a wonderful work of God, that fire and water should come out of the same cloud.

Who hath divided a watercourse for the overflowing of waters,.... For a very large shower of rain, as the Vulgate Latin version: for this is not to be understood of an aqueduct, channel, or canal made on earth, either for the draining of waters off of land overflowed thereby, or for the conveyance of it to different parts to overflow it; such as were cut out of the Nile in Egypt, for the overflowing of the land, to make it fruitful; such may be and have been made by men: but of a watercourse in the air or atmosphere, as a canal or channel, for the rain to come down upon the earth; and this is the work of God, and him only, who directs and steers the course of rain, that it falls regularly and gently, not in spouts and floods, but in drops larger or lesser, on what spot of ground, or part of the earth, he pleases: and if what Jarchi says true, that every drop has its course, its canal, through which it passes, it is still more wonderful;

or a way for the lightning of thunder: which generally go together, and are of God. His fire and voice, and for which he makes a way, by which they burst and break forth out of the cloud, and their course is directed by him under the whole heavens; see Job 28:26. So the Gospel, compared to rain and lightning, has its direction and its course steered to what part of the world, he pleases; see Psalm 19:4.

Who hath divided a watercourse for the overflowing of waters, or a way for the lightning of thunder;
25. for the overflowing of waters] Rather, for the rain-flood. The second clause indicates that by the “watercourse” is meant the conduit (Isaiah 7:3) or channel cut through the arch of the heavens, down which the rain-flood pours to the earth. In like manner the lightning follows a track or path prepared for it through the heavens.

Verse 25. - Who hath divided a water-course for the overflowing of waters? rather, as in the Revised Version, Who hath cleft a channel for the water-flood? i.e. Who has furrowed and seamed the ground (in Western Asia) with deep gullies, or "water-courses," for the rapid carrying off of the violent rains to which those regions are subject? The wadies of Syria and Arabia seem to be alluded to. They too are God's work, not Job's. Or a way for the lightning of thunder? The "way" for the passage of the electric current is not marked out beforehand, like the way for the escape of the superfluous waters; but it is equally determined on and arranged previously by God, who has laid down the laws which it is bound to follow. Job 38:2522 Hast thou reached the treasures of the snow,

And didst thou see the treasures of the hail,

23 Which I have reserved for a time of trouble,

For the day of battle and war?

24 Which is the way where the light is divided,

Where the east wind is scattered over the earth?

25 Who divideth a course for the rain-flood

And the way of the lightning of thunder,

26 That it raineth on the land where no one dwelleth,

On the tenantless steppe,

27 To satisfy the desolate and the waste,

And to cause the tender shoot of the grass to spring forth?

The idea in Job 38:22 is not that - as for instance the peasants of Menn, four hours' journey from Damascus, garner up the winter snow in a cleft of the rock, in order to convey it to Damascus and the towns of the coast in the hot months - God treasures up the snow and hail above to cause it to descend according to opportunity. אצרות (comp. Psalm 135:7) are the final causes of these phenomena which God has created - the form of the question, the design of which (which must not be forgotten) is ethical, not scientific, is regulated according to the infancy of the perception of natural phenomena among the ancients; but at the same time in accordance with the poet's task, and even, as here, in the choice of the agents of destruction, not merely hail, but also snow, according to the scene of the incident. Wetzstein has in his possession a writing of Muhammed el-Chatb el-Bosrwi, in which he describes a fearful fall of snow in Hauran, by which, in February 1860, innumerable herds of sheep, goats, and camels, and also many human beings perished.

(Note: Since the Hauranites say of snow as of fire: jahrik, it burns (brlant in French is also used of extreme cold), Job 1:16 might also be understood of a fall of snow; but the tenor of the words there requires it to be understood of actual fire.)


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