Job 38:32
Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons?
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(32) Mazzaroth is commonly understood to mean the signs of the Zodiac, and by the children of Arc-turus the three stars in the tail of Ursa Major.

Job 38:32-33. Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth? — Namely, into view? Canst thou make the stars in the southern signs arise and appear? Or canst thou guide Arcturus? — A northern constellation; with his sons? — The lesser stars which belong to it, which are placed round about it, and attend upon it as children upon their parents. Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? — The laws which are firmly established concerning their order, motion or rest, and their powerful influences upon this lower world. Didst thou give these laws? Or dost thou perfectly know them? Canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth? — Canst thou manage and overrule their influences, that they shall bring such seasons and such weather as thou wouldest have?

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.Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? - Margin, "the twelve signs;" that is, the twelve signs of the zodiac. There has been much diversity of opinion about the meaning of this word. It occurs nowhere else in the Scriptures, and of course it is not easy to determine its signification. The Septuagint retains the word μαξσυρὠθ maxsurōth, without attempting to translate it. Jerome renders it, "Luciferum - Lucifer," the morning-star. The Chaldee, מזליא שטרי - the constellations of the planets. Coverdale, "the morning-star;" and so Luther renders it. Rosenmuller, "signa celestia" - the celestial signs, and so Herder, Umbreit, Gesenius, and Noyes, "the zodiac." Gesenius regards the word מזרה mazzârâh, as the same as מזלה mazzâlâh, properly "lodgings, inns;" and hence, the "lodgings" of the sun, or the places or "houses" in which he appears in the heavens, and thus as meaning the signs in the zodiac. Most of the Hebrew interpreters adopt this view, but it rests on no certain foundation, and as we are not certain as to the meaning of the word, the only safe way is to retain the original, as is done in our common version. I do not see how it is possible to determine its meaning with certainty, and probably it is to be regarded as a name given to some constellation or cluster of stars supposed to exert an influence over the seasons, or connected with some change in the seasons, which we cannot now accurately understand.

Or canst thou guide Arcturus? - On the constellation "Arcturus" (עשׁ ‛ayish), see the notes at Job 9:9. The word rendered "guide" in the text, is in the margin "guide them." The Hebrew is, "and עשׁ ‛ayish upon (or near - על ‛al) her sons, canst thou lead them?" Herder and Umbreit render it, "And lead forth the Bear with her young," or her children. The reference is to the constellation Arcturus, or Ursa Major, in the northern sky. The "sons" referred to are the stars that accompany it, probably the stars that are now called the" tail of the bear." "Umbreit." Another interpretation is suggested by Herder, which is that this constellation is represented as a nightly wanderer - a mother, who is seeking her lost children, the stars that are no longer visible, and that thus revolves around the heavens. But the probable reference is to the constellation conducted round and round the pole as by some unseen hand, like a mother with her children, and the question is, whether Job had skill and power to do this? God appeals to it as a manifestation of his majesty and power, and as far above the skill of man. Who ever looked upon that beautiful constellation and marked its regular revolutions, without feeling that its position and movements were such as God only could produce?

Job 38:32By number - As if he had numbered, or named them; as a military commander would call forth his armies in their proper order, and have them so numbered and enrolled in the various divisions, that he can command them with ease.

He calleth them all by names - This idea is also taken from a military leader, who would know the names of the individuals that composed his army. In smaller divisions of an army, this could of course be done; but the idea is, that God is intimately acquainted with all the hosts of stars; that though their numbers appear to us so great, yet he is acquainted with each one individually, and has that knowledge of it which we have of a person or object which we recognize by a name. It is said of Cyrus, that he was acquainted by name with every individual that composed his vast army. The practice of giving names to the stars of heaven was early, and is known to have been originated by the Chaldeans. Intimations of this custom we have not unfrequently in the Scriptures, as far back as the time of Job:

Which maketh Arcturus, and Orion, and Pleiades,


32. Canst thou bring forth from their places or houses (Mazzaloth, 2Ki 23:5, Margin; to which Mazzaroth here is equivalent) into the sky the signs of the Zodiac at their respective seasons—the twelve lodgings in which the sun successively stays, or appears, in the sky?

Arcturus—Ursa Major.

his sons?—the three stars in his tail. Canst thou make them appear in the sky? (Job 9:9). The great and less Bear are called by the Arabs "Daughters of the Bier," the quadrangle being the bier, the three others the mourners.

Canst thou bring forth to wit, into view? canst thou make him to arise and appear in thy hemisphere?

Mazzaroth; by which he designs either,

1. All the constellations, and especially the twelve sign of the zodiac; or rather

2. Some particular constellation, as all the rest here mentioned are understood. But whether this be that which is called the chambers of the south, Job 9:9, or the Dog Star, or some other visible in Job’s country, but not in ours we may be safely and contentedly ignorant, seeing even the Hebrew doctors are not agreed therein.

Arcturus; a northern constellation, of which See Poole "Job 9:9".

With his sons, to wit, the lesser stars which belong to it, and are placed round about it, and attend upon it, as children upon their parents.

Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season?.... Which are thought to be the same with "the chambers of the south", Job 9:9; the southern pole (m) with its stars, signified by chambers, because hidden from our sight in this part of the globe; and here by Mazzaroth, from, "nazar", to separate, because separated and at a distance from us; some think (n) the twelve signs of the Zodiac are meant, each of which are brought forth in their season, not by men, but by the Lord; see Isaiah 40:26;

or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons? a constellation of many stars called its sons, of which see Job 9:9. Schmidt conjectures that Jupiter and his satellites are meant; but rather what we call the greater and lesser Bear, in the tail of which is the north pole star, the guide of mariners, said (o) to be found out by Thales, by which the Phoenicians sailed, but is not to be guided by men; this, constellation is fancied to be in the form of a wain or wagon, and is called Charles's wain; could this be admitted, there might be thought to be an allusion to it (p), and the sense be, canst thou guide and lead this constellation, as a wagon or team of horses can be guided and led? stars have their courses, Judges 5:20; but are not steered, guided, and directed by men, but by the Lord himself.

(m) David de Pomis, Lexic. fol. 77. 3.((n) Vatablus, Codurcus, Schultens; so Suidas in voce (o) Callimachus apud Laert. Vit. Thalet. p. 16. (p) Vid. Hinckelman. Praefat. ad Alkoran. p. 29, 30.

Canst thou bring forth {s} Mazzaroth in his season? or canst thou guide {t} Arcturus with his sons?

(s) Certain stars so called, some think they were the twelve signs.

(t) The north star with those that are about him.

32. canst thou bring forth] Rather, dost thou …? and similarly, dost thou guide? The meaning of Mazzaroth is uncertain. The word has been supposed to be another form of Mazzaloth, 2 Kings 23:5, which is thought to mean the signs of the Zodiac. The connexion as well as the parallelism of the next clause suggests that some single star or constellation is meant. Others would render the bright stars; the planets, perhaps, or some of them being referred to.

Arcturus with his sons] Or, the bear with her young. The reference is supposed to be to the constellation of the Great Bear. Her “young” are the stars that project from the square; or, taking the popular conception of the constellation as a “plough,” they are the bright stars that form the “beam.”

Verse 32. - Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? The context implies that "Mazzaroth' is a constellation on a par with the Pleiades, Orion, and the Bear (Kimah, Kesil and 'Aish). This makes it impossible to accept the meaning, so generally assigned, of "the twelve signs of the Zodiac." Again, the plural form is fatal to the conjecture that "Mazzaroth" designates a single star or planet, as Jupiter, Venus, or Sirius (Cook). The word is derived probably from the root zahar, "to shine," "to be bright," and should designate some especially brilliant cluster of stars Whether it is to be regarded as a variant of Mazzaloth (2 Kings 23:5) is uncertain. Or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons? (On the identity of 'Ash or 'Aish with the Great Bear, see the comment on Job 9:9.) The "sons" of 'Aish are conjectured to be the three large stars in the tail of Ursa Major (Stanley Leathes); but the grounds on which the conjecture rests are very slight. Job 38:3231 Canst thou join the twistings of the Pleiades,

Or loose the bands of Orion?

32 Canst thou bring forth the signs of the Zodiac at the right time,

And canst thou guide the Bear with its children?

33 Knowest thou the laws of heaven,

Or dost thou define its influence on the earth?

That מעדגּות here signifies bindings or twistings (from עדן equals ענד, Job 31:36) is placed beyond question by the unanimous translations of the lxx (δεσμόν) and the Targ. (שׁירי equals σειράς), the testimony of the Masora, according to which the word here has a different signification from 1 Samuel 15:32, and the language of the Talmud, in which מעדנין, Klim, c. 20, signifies the knots at the end of a mat, by loosing which it comes to pieces, and Succa, 13b, the bands (formed of rushes) with which willow-branches are fastened together above in order to form a booth (succa); but מדאני, Sabbat, 33a, signifies a bunch of myrtle (to smell on the Sabbath). מעדנות כּימה is therefore explained according to the Persian comparison of the Pleiades with a bouquet of jewels, mentioned on Job 9:9, and according to the comparison with a necklace (‛ipd-eth-thurajja), e.g., in Sadi in his Gulistan, p. 8 of Graf's translation: "as though the tops of the trees were encircled by the necklace of the Pleiades." The Arabic name thurajja (diminutive feminine of tharwân) probably signifies the richly-adorned, clustered constellation. But כּימה signifies without doubt the clustered group,

(Note: The verb כום is still in general use in the Piel (to heap up, form a heap, part. mukauwam, heaped up) and Hithpa. (to accumulate) in Syria, and kôm is any village desolated in days of yore whose stones form a desolate heap comp. Fleischer, De Glossis Habichtianis, p. 41f.]. If, according to Kamus, in old Jemanic kı̂m in the sense of mukâwim signifies a confederate (synon. chilt, gils), the כּימה would be a confederation, or a heap, assemblage (coetus) of confederates. Perhaps the כימה was regarded as a troop of camels; the Beduins at least call the star directly before the seven-starred constellation of the Pleiades the hâdi, i.e., the singer riding before the procession, who cheers the camels by the sound of the hadwa (חדוה), and thereby urges them on. - Wetzst.

On πλειάδες, which perhaps also bear this name as a compressed group (figuratively γότρυς) of several stars (ὅτι πλείους ὁμοῦ κατὰ συναγωγήν εἰσι), vid., Kuhn's Zeitschr. vi. 282-285.)

and Beigel (in Ideler, Sternnamen, S. 147) does not translate badly: "Canst thou not arrange together the rosette of diamonds (chain would be better) of the Pleiades?"

As to כּסיל, we firmly hold that it denotes Orion (according to which the Greek versions translate Ὠρίων, the Syriac gaboro, the Targ. נפלא or נפילא, the Giant). Orion and the Pleiades are visible in the Syrian sky longer in the year than with us, and there they come about 17 higher above the horizon than with us. Nevertheless the figure of a giant chained to the heavens cannot be rightly shown to be Semitic, and it is questionable whether כסיל is not rather, with Saad., Gecat., Abulwalid, and others, to be regarded as the Suhl, i.e., Canopus, especially as this is placed as a sluggish helper (כסיל, Hebr. a fool, Arab. the slothful one, ignavus) in mythical relation to the constellation of the Bear, which here is called עישׁ, as Job 9:9 עשׁ, and is regarded as a bier, נעשׁ (even in the present day this is the name in the towns and villages of Syria), which the sons and daughters forming the attendants upon the corpse of their father, slain by Ged, the Pole-star. Understood of Orion, משׁכות (with which Arab. msk, tenere, detinere, is certainly to be compared) are the chains (Arab. masakat, compes), with which he is chained to the sky; understood of Suhl, the restraints which prevent his breaking away too soon and reaching the goal.

(Note: In June 1860 I witnessed a quarrel in an encampment of Mo'gil-Beduins, in which one accused the others of having rendered it possible for the enemy to carry off his camels through their negligence; and when the accused assured him they had gone forth in pursuit of the marauders soon after the raid, and only turned back at sunset, the man exclaimed: Ye came indeed to my assistance as Suhl to Ged (פזעתם לי פזע סהיל ללגדי). I asked my neighbour what the words meant, and was informed they are a proverb which is very often used, and has its origin as follows: The Ged (i.e., the Pole-star, called mismâr, משׂמר, in Damascus) slew the Na‛sh (נעשׁ), and is accordingly encompassed every night by the children of the slain Na‛sh, who are determined to take vengeance on the murderer. The sons (on which account poets usually say benı̂ instead of benât Na‛sh) go first with the corpse of their father, and the daughters follow. One of the latter is called waldâne, a lying-in woman; she has only recently given birth to a child, and carries her child in her bosom, and she is still pale from her lying-in. (The clear atmosphere of the Syrian sky admits of the child in the bosom of the waldâne being distinctly seen.) In order to give help to the Ged in this danger, the Suhl appears in the south, and struggles towards the north with a twinkling brightness, but he has risen too late; the night passes away ere he reaches his goal. Later I frequently heard this story, which is generally known among the Hauranites. - Wetzst.

We add the following by way of explanation. The Pleiades encircle the Pole-star as do all stars, since it stands at the axis of the sky, but they are nearer to it than to Canopus by more than half the distance. This star of the first magnitude culminates about three hours later than the Pleiades, and rises, at the highest, only ten moon's diameters above the horizon of Damascusa significant figure, therefore, of ineffectual endeavour.)

מזּרות is not distinct from מזּלות, 2 Kings 23:5 (comp. מזּרך, "Thy star of fortune," on Cilician coins), and denotes not the twenty-eight menzil (from Arab. nzl, to descend, turn in, lodge) of the moon,


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