Job 38:4
Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if you have understanding.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(4) Where wast thou?—The comparison of the creation of the world to the building of an edifice is such a concession to the feebleness of man as serves of itself to heighten the effect of the inevitable answer to the question preferred.

Job 38:4-5. Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? — When I settled it as firm upon its own centre as if it had been built upon the surest foundations? Then thou wast nowhere; thou hadst no being: thou art but of yesterday; and dost thou presume to judge of my eternal counsels? I made the world without thy help, and therefore can govern it without thy advice or direction. Declare who hath laid the measures thereof — Who hath prescribed how long, and broad, and deep it should be? Or who hath stretched the line upon it? — The measuring-line, to regulate all its dimensions, so that it might be as beautiful as useful; if thou knowest —

But if thou art ignorant of these manifest and visible works, do not pretend to the exact knowledge of my mysterious providences.38:4-11 For the humbling of Job, God here shows him his ignorance, even concerning the earth and the sea. As we cannot find fault with God's work, so we need not fear concerning it. The works of his providence, as well as the work of creation, never can be broken; and the work of redemption is no less firm, of which Christ himself is both the Foundation and the Corner-stone. The church stands as firm as the earth.Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? - The first appeal is to the creation. The question here, "Where wast thou?" implies that Job was not present. He had not then an existence. He could not, therefore, have aided God, or counselled him, or understood what he was doing. How presumptuous, therefore, it was in one so short-lived to sit in judgment on the doings of him who had formed the world! How little could he expect to be able to know of him! The expression, "laid the foundations of the earth," is taken from building an edifice. The foundations are first laid, and the super-structure is then reared. It is a poetic image, and is not designed to give any intimation about the actual process by which the earth was made, or the manner in which it is sustained.

If thou hast understanding - Margin, as in Hebrew "if thou knowest." That is, "Declare how it was done. Explain the manner in which the earth was formed and fixed in its place, and by which the beautiful world grew up under the hand of God." If Job could not do this, what presumption was it to speak as he had done of the divine adminisitration!

4. To understand the cause of things, man should have been present at their origin. The finite creature cannot fathom the infinite wisdom of the Creator (Job 28:12; 15:7, 8).

hast—"knowest."

understanding—(Pr 4:1).

Then thou wast no where, thou hadst no being; thou art but of yesterday; and dost thou presume to judge of my eternal counsels? I made the world without thy help, and therefore can govern it without thy counsel, and I do not need thee to be the controller or censurer of my works.

When I laid the foundations of the earth; when I made the earth, which is as the foundation or lower part of the whole world, and settled it as firm and fast upon its own centre as if it had been built upon the surest foundations. But if thou art ignorant of these manifest and visible works, do. not pretend to the exact knowledge of my secret counsels and mysterious providences. Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?.... The earth has foundations, and such firm ones that it cannot be moved; but what are they, since it is hung in the air on nothing! No other than the power and will of God, who laid these foundations, and the Son of God, who has created and upholds all things by the word of his power, Hebrews 1:3. Where was Job then? In a state of nothingness, a mere nonentity: he was not present when this amazing work of nature was done, and saw not how the Lord went about it; and yet takes upon him to dive into the secret works and ways of Providence, for which he is rebuked by this question and the following;

declare, if thou hast understanding: Job had the understanding of a man in things natural and civil, and of a good man in things spiritual and divine; but he had no understanding of this, of what he is questioned about; could not declare in what place he was, and where he stood, when the earth was founded.

Where wast thou when I {d} laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.

(d) Seeing he could not judge those things which were done so long before he was born, he was not able to comprehend all God's works: much less the secret causes of his judgments.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. Was Job present, possibly taking part in the operation, when Jehovah laid the foundations of the earth? Let him then “declare” how all was done. The word declare of course refers to the queries in Job 38:5-7.

4–11. Earth and sea.

4–38. A survey of the inanimate creation, the wonders of earth and sky—the earth, Job 38:4-18; the heavens, Job 38:18-38Verse 4. - Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Wast thou present? Didst thou witness it? If not, what canst thou know concerning it? And if thou knowest nothing of creation, what canst thou know of deeper things? The metaphor, by which the creation of the earth is compared to the foundation of an edifice, is a common one (Psalm 102:25; Psalm 104:5; Proverbs 8:29: Isaiah 48:13; Isaiah 51:13, 16; Zechariah 12:1; Hebrews 1:10, etc.), and is to be viewed as a concession to human weakness, creation itself, as it actually took place, being inconceivable. Declare, if thou hast understanding. That is, if thou hast any knowledge on the subject (comp. ver. 18). 21 Although one seeth now the sunlight

That is bright in the ethereal heights:

A wind passeth by and cleareth them up.

22 Gold is brought from the north, -

Above Eloah is terrible majesty.

23 The Almighty, whom we cannot find out,

The excellent in strength,

And right and justice He perverteth not.

24 Therefore men regard Him with reverence,

He hath no regard for all the wise of heart.

He who censures God's actions, and murmurs against God, injures himself - how, on the contrary, would a patiently submissive waiting on Him be rewarded! This is the connection of thought, by which this final strophe is attached to what precedes. If we have drawn the correct conclusion from Job 37:1, that Elihu's description of a storm is accompanied by a storm which was coming over the sky, ועתּה, with which the speech, as Job 35:15, draws towards the close, is not to be understood as purely conclusive, but temporal: And at present one does not see the light (אור of the sun, as Job 31:26) which is bright in the ethereal heights (בּהיר again a Hebr.-Arab. word, comp. bâhir, outshining, surpassing, especially of the moon, when it dazzles with its brightness); yet it only requires a breath of wind to pass over it, and to clear it, i.e., brings the ethereal sky with the sunlight to view. Elihu hereby means to say that the God who his hidden only for a time, respecting whom one runs the risk of being in perplexity, can suddenly unveil Himself, to our surprise and confusion, and that therefore it becomes us to bow humbly and quietly to His present mysterious visitation. With respect to the removal of the clouds from the beclouded sun, to which Job 37:21 refers, זהב, Job 37:22, seems to signify the gold of the sun; esh-shemsu bi-tibrin, the sun is gold, says Abulola. Oriental and Classic literature furnishes a large number of instances in support of this calling the sunshine gold; and it should not perplex us here, where we have an Arabizing Hebrew poet before us, that not a single passage can be brought forward from the Old Testament literature. But מצּפון is against this figurative rendering of the זהב (lxx νέφη χρυσαυγοῦντα). In Ezekiel 1:4 there is good reason for the storm-clouds, which unfold from their midst the glory of the heavenly Judge, who rideth upon the cherubim, coming from the north; but wherefore should Elihu represent the sun's golden light as breaking through from the north? On the other hand, in the conception of the ancients, the north is the proper region for gold: there griffins (grupe's) guard the gold-pits of the Arimaspian mountains (Herod. iii. 116); there, from the narrow pass of the Caucasus along the Gordyaean mountains, gold is dug by barbarous races (Pliny, h. n. vi. 11), and among the Scythians it is brought to light by the ants (ib. xxxiii. 4). Egypt could indeed provide itself with gold from Ethiopia, and the Phoenicians brought the gold of Ophir, already mentioned in the book of Job, from India; but the north was regarded as the fabulously most productive chief mine of gold; to speak more definitely: Northern Asia, with the Altai mountains.

(Note: Vid., the art. Gold, S. 91, 101, in Ersch and Gruber. The Indian traditions concerning Uttaraguru (the "High Mountain"), and concerning the northern seat of the god on wealth Kuvra, have no connection here; on their origin comp. Lassen, Indische Alterthumskunde, i.848.)

Thus therefore Job 28:1, Job 28:6 is to be compared here.

continued...

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