Has the rain a father? or who has begotten the drops of dew?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Job 38:28-30. Hath the rain a father? — Is there any man that can beget or produce rain at his pleasure? No; this is my peculiar work. The hoary frost, who hath gendered it? — What man can either produce, or doth fully understand where or how it is generated? The waters are hid as with a stone — That is, with ice as hard as a stone. And the face of the deep is frozen — Of the great sea, which is often called the deep, and which in some parts is frozen, so that its surface grows solid. The ice and the frost are very common things, and therefore do not appear to us remarkable; but considering what a mighty change is made by them in a little time, and how the waters of rivers, lakes, and oceans, are hid by them, as though a grave- stone were laid upon them, we may well ask, Out of whose womb came the ice? What created power could produce such a wonderful work?
Questions like these would early excite inquiry, and we are not to suppose that in the time of Job science was so far advanced that they could be answered; see the notes at Job 26:8; compare Job 38:37 notes. The laws of the production of rain are now better understood, but like all other laws discovered by science, they are adapted to elevate, not to diminish, our conceptions of the wisdom of God. It may be of interest, and may serve to explain the passages in this book which refer to rain, as illustrating the wisdom of God, to state what is now the commonly received theory of its cause. That theory is the one proposed by Dr. James Hutton, and first published in the Philosophical Transactions of Edinburgh, in 1784. In this theory it is supposed that the cause consists in the vapor that is held dissolved in the air, and is based on this principle - "that the capacity of the air for holding water in a state of vapor increases in a greater ratio than its temperature;" that is, that if there are two portions of air which would contain a certain quantity of water in solution if both were heated in an equal degree, the capacity for holding water would be alike; but if one of them be heated more than the other, the amount of water which it would hold in solution is not exactly in proportion to the heat applied, but increases much more rapidly than the heat.
It will hold much more water when the temperature is raised than is proportionate to the amount of heat applied. From the experiments which were made by Sanssure and others, it was found that while the temperature of the air rises in arithmetical progression, the dissolving power of the air increases nearly in geometrical progression; that is, if the temperature be represented by the figures 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, etc., the capacity for holding moisture will be nearly represented by the figures 2, 8, 16, 32, 64, etc. Rain is caused in the following manner. When two portions of air of different temperature, and each saturated with moisture, are intermixed, the quantity of moisture in the air thus intermixed, in consequence of the decrease of temperature, will be greater than the air will contain in solution, and will be condensed in a cloud or precipitated to the earth. This law of nature was of course unknown to Job, and is an arrangement which could have been formed only by the all-wise Author of nature; see "Edin. Ency., Art. Meteorology, p. 181."
Or who hath begotten the drops of the dew? - Who has produced them - implying that they were caused only by the agency of God. No one among mortals could claim that he had caused the dew to fall. God appeals to the dew here, the causes of which were then unknown, as an evidence of his wisdom and supremacy. Dew is the moisture condensed from the atmosphere, and that settles on the earth. It usually falls in clear and calm nights, and is caused by a reduction of the temperature of that on which the dew falls. Objects on the surface of the earth become colder than the atmosphere above them, and the consequence is, that the moisture that was suspended in the atmosphere near the surface of the earth is condensed - in the same way as in a hot day moisture will form on the outside of a tumbler or pitcher that is filled with water. The coldness of the vessel containing the water condenses the moisture that was suspended in the surrounding atmosphere.
The cold, therefore, which accompanies dew, precedes instead of following it. The reason why the surface of the earth becomes cooler than the surrounding atmosphere at night, so as to form dew, has been a subject of considerable inquiry. The theory of Dr. Wells, which is now commonly adopted, is, that the earth is continually radiating its heat to the high and colder regions of the atmosphere; that in the day-time the effects of this radiation are not sensible, being more than counterbalanced by the greater influx of heat from the direct influence of the sun; but that during the night, when the counteracting cause is removed, these effects become sensible, and produce the reduction of temperature which causes dew. The surface of the earth becomes cool by the heat which is radiated to the upper regions of the atmosphere, and the moisture in the air adjacent to the surface of the earth is condensed. This occurs only in a clear and calm night. When the sky is cloudy, the clouds operate as a screen, and the radiation of the heat to the higher regions of the atmosphere is prevented, and the surface of the earth and the surrounding atmosphere are kept at the same temperature; see the Edinburgh Encyclopedia, "Meteorology," pp. 185-188. Of course, these laws were unknown to Job, but now that they are known to us, they constitute no less properly a proof of the wisdom of God.Jeremiah 14:22; he that is our Father in heaven is the Father of rain, and him only; whatever secondary causes there be, God only is the efficient cause, parent, and producer of it: so the Gospel is not of men but of God, is a gift of his, comes down from heaven, tarries not for men, and is a great blessing, as rain is;
or who hath begotten the drops of the dew? which are innumerable; he that is the parent of the rain is of the dew also, and he only (a); to which sometimes not only the word of God, and his free favour and good will, but the people of God themselves are compared for their number, influence, and use; see Psalm 110:3; and their new birth is similar to the generation of dew, it being not of the will of man, but of God, according to his abundant mercy, free favour, and good will, is from above, from heaven, and is effected silently, secretly, suddenly, at an unawares; John 1:13.
(y) Aristot. de Mundo, c. 7. (z) Pausan. Attica, sive, l. 1. p. 60. (a) Though a certain poet (Alcman Lyricus apud Macrob. Saturnal. l. 7. c. 16.) says that dew is the offspring of the air and of the moon; but these can only at most be reckoned but secondary causes. The Arabs speak of an angel over dew. Abulpharag, Hist. Dynast. p. 75.Hath the rain a father? or who hath begotten the drops of dew?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)28. the rain a father] That is, a human father; does any man, Job perhaps, beget the rain or the drops of dew?—They are marvels of God’s creative power.
28–30. Rain, dew, frost and ice.Verse 28. - Hath the rain a father? or who hath begotten the drops of dew? How do rain and dew come into existence? Can Job make them, or any other man? Can man even conceive of the process by which they were made? If not, must not their Maker, who is God, be wholly inscrutable?
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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