Job 38:5
Who has laid the measures thereof, if you know? or who has stretched the line on it?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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.Who hath laid the measures thereof - That is, as an architect applies his measures when he rears a house.

If thou knowest - Or rather, "for thou knowest." The expression is wholly ironical, and is designed to rebuke Job's pretensions of being able to explain the divine administration.

Or who hath stretched the line upon it - As a carpenter uses a line to mark out his work; see the notes at Isaiah 28:17. The earth is represented as a building, the plan of which was laid out beforehand, and which was then made according to the sketch of the architect. It is not, therefore, the work of chance or fate. It is laid out and constructed according to a wise plan, and in a method evincing infinite skill.

5. measures—of its proportions. Image from an architect's plans of a building.

line—of measurement (Isa 28:17). The earth is formed on an all-wise plan.

Who hath prescribed how long and broad and deep it should be?

Or who hath stretched the line, to wit, the measuring line, to regulate all its dimensions, so as might be most convenient both for beauty and use? Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest?.... Did God or a creature? The Lord, no doubt. He laid them out in his divine mind, and laid them forth by his divine power; who does all things by weight and measure. He fixed the dimensions of the earth, how long, how thick, and how broad it should be; he settled the borders and boundaries of it. This Job might know that the Lord did; but he laid them, and what they are that are laid, he knew not. Mathematicians pretend to give us the circumference and diameter of the earth; but in their accounts are not agreed, but widely differ; which shows they are at no certainty about them (e); and Job and the men of his age might be still less knowing: though the words may be rendered, "for thou knowest" (f); surely such a knowing man as thou art must needs know this and so are a severe sarcasm upon him;

or who hath stretched the line upon it? The measuring line being formed according to rule, with exact symmetry and proportion. This may be the same with the circle of the earth, and the compass set upon the face of the deep or terraqueous globe, Proverbs 8:27. And with the same exactness and just proportion are the ways and works of Providence, which Job ought to have acquiesced in as being well and wisely done.

(e) The mathematicians in Aristotle's time reckoned the breadth of the earth a little less than forty myriads of furlongs, and the length of it seventy myriads. Aristot. de Mundo, c. 3. Vid. Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 2. c. 108, 109. According to the moderns, the circumference of the earth is 25,031.5 of our statute miles, and its diameter 7967 such miles. See Chamber's Dictionary on the word "Earth". (f) "quadoquidem", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "quia", Michaelis; "nam", Schultens; so Broughton.

Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
5. if thou knowest] Rather, that thou shouldest know. Job knew well who laid (rather, fixed) the measures of the earth, but the point of the question is, Was he present to see who fixed them and how they were fixed, so as to be able to speak with knowledge?Verse 5. - Who determined the measures thereof? Everything in creation is orderly, measured, predetermined, governed by law and will The actual weight of the planets is fixed by Divine wisdom, with a view to the stability and enduringness of the solar system (comp. Isaiah 40:12). If thou knowest; literally, for thou knowest - an anticipation of the lofty irony which comes out so remarkably in ver. 21. Or who hath stretched the line upon it? Human builders determine the dimensions of their constructions by means of a measuring-line (Ezekiel 40:3-49, etc.). The writer carries out his metaphor of a building by supposing a measuring-rod to have been used at the creation of the earth also. Some find a trace of the idea in Genesis 1:9, where they translate קָווּ הַמַּיִם, "Let the waters be marked out with a line." 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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