Out of whose womb came the ice? and the hoary frost of heaven, who has gendered it?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
And the hoary frost of heaven - Which seems to fall from heaven. The sense is, that it is caused wholly by God; see the notes at Job 37:10.Psalm 147:17. Here the Lord is represented as a mother, and so he is by Orpheus (b) called "metropator", or "mother-father";
and the hoary frost of heaven, who hath gendered it? this is of God, and by his breath; see Job 37:10.Out of whose womb came the ice? and the hoary frost of heaven, who hath gendered it?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)29. who hath gendered it] Rather, brought it forth, or borne it (Isaiah 49:21), as the parallelism of the first clause requires.Verse 29. - Out of whose womb came the ice? Modern scientists admit that the process by which a liquid is metamorphosed into a solid transcends their utmost power of thought. They know nothing more than the fact that at the temperature of 32° Fahr. water, and at other temperatures other liquids, are solidified (see an article by Professor Tyndall on the generation of a snowflake in the Contemporary Review of 1880). It is thus not only creation itself, but the transformations of created things, that transcend the scientific intellect and are inexplicable. And the hoary frost of heaven, who hath gendered it? This is the same question as that of the previous clause, expressed in different words
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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