Job 38:8
Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it broke forth, as if it had issued out of the womb?
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Job 38:8-10. Who shut up the sea with doors? — Who was it that set bounds to the vast and raging ocean, and shut it up, as it were, with doors within its proper place, that it might not overflow the earth? When it brake forth, &c. — From the womb or bowels of the earth, within which the waters were for the most part contained, and out of which they were by God’s command brought forth into the channel which God had appointed for them. When I made the cloud the garment thereof — When I covered it with vapours and clouds which rise out of the sea, and hover above it, and cover it like a garment. And thick darkness — Black and dark clouds; a swaddling-band for it — Having compared the sea to a new-born infant, he continues the metaphor, and makes the clouds as swaddling-bands, to keep it within its bounds; though indeed neither clouds, nor air, nor sands, nor shores, can bound the sea, but God alone. And brake up for it my decreed place — Made those hollow places in the earth, which might serve for a cradle to receive and hold this great and goodly infant when it came out of the womb. And set bars and doors — Fixed its bounds as strongly as if they were fortified with bars and doors.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.Or who shut up the sea with doors - This refers also to the act of the creation, and to the fact that God fixed limits to the raging of the ocean. The word "doors" is used here rather to denote gates, such as are made to shut up water in a dam. The Hebrew word properly refers, in the dual form which is used here דלתים delethiym), to "double doors," or to folding doors, and is also applied to the gates of a city; Deuteronomy 3:5; 1 Samuel 23:7; Isaiah 45:1. The idea is, that the floods were bursting forth from the abyss or the center of the earth, and were checked by placing gates or doors which restrained them. Whether this is designed to be a poetic or a real description of what took place at the creation, it is not easy to determine. Nothing forbids the idea that something like this may have occurred when the waters in the earth were pouring forth tumultuously, and when they were restrained by obstructions placed there by the hand of God, as if he had made gates through which they could pass only when he should open them. This supposition also would accord well with the account of the flood in Genesis 7:11, where it is said that "the fountains of the great deep were broken up," as if those flood-gates had been opened, or the obstructions which God had placed there had been suffered to be broken through, and the waters of their own accord flowed over the world. We know as yet too little of the interior of the earth, to ascertain whether this is to be understood as a literal description of what actually occurred.

When it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb - All the images here are taken from child-birth. The ocean is represented as being born, and then as invested with clouds and darkness as its covering and its swaddling-bands. The image is a bold one, and I do not know that it is any where else applied to the formation of the ocean.

8. doors—floodgates; these when opened caused the flood (Ge 8:2); or else, the shores.

womb—of chaos. The bowels of the earth. Image from childbirth (Job 38:8, 9; Eze 32:2; Mic 4:10). Ocean at its birth was wrapped in clouds as its swaddling bands.

Who was it, thou or I, that did set bounds to the vast and raging ocean, and shut it up as it were with doors within its proper place and storehouse, that it might not overflow the earth; which without God’s powerful restraint it would do? See Psalm 33:7 104:9. This sense seems most proper, and to be confirmed by the following verses.

When it brake forth, or, after it had broken forth, to wit, from the womb or bowels of the earth, within which the waters were for the most part contained, Genesis 1:2; compare 2 Peter 3:5; and out of which they were by God’s command brought forth into the proper place or channel which God had appointed for them. Or who shut up the sea with doors,.... From the earth the transition is to the sea, according to the order of the creation; and this refers not to the state and case of the sea as at the flood, of which some interpret it, but as at its first creation; and it is throughout this account represented as an infant, and here first as in embryo, shut up in the bowels of the earth, where it was when first created with it, as an infant shut up in its mother's womb, and with the doors of it; see Job 3:10; the bowels of the earth being the storehouses where God first laid up the deep waters, Psalm 33:7; and when the chaos, the misshapen earth, was like a woman big with child;

when it brake forth out of the abyss, as the Targum, with force and violence, as Pharez broke out of his mother's womb; for which reason he had his name given, which signifies a breach, Genesis 38:29; so it follows,

as if it had issued out of the womb; as a child out of its mother's womb; so the sea burst forth and issued out of the bowels of the earth, and covered it all around, as in Psalm 104:6; and now it was that the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters, before they were drained off the earth; this was the first open visible production of the sea, and nay be called the birth of it; see Genesis 1:2. Something like this the Heathen philosopher Archelaus had a notion of, who says (g), the sea was shut up in hollow places, and was as it were strained through the earth.

(g) Laert. Vit. Philosoph. l. 2. p. 99.

Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb?
8. as if it had issued] Rather, and issued out of the womb.

8–10. The sea.Verse 8. - Or who shut up the sea with doors? From the earth a transition is made to the sea, as the second great wonder in creation (comp. Genesis 1:9, 10; Exodus 20:11; Psalm 104:24, 25). God's might is especially shown in his power to control and confine the sea, which rages so terribly and seems so utterly uncontrollable. God has blocked it in "with doors" - i.e. with "bounds that it cannot pass, neither turn again to cover the earth" (Psalm 145:9). Sometimes the barrier is one of lofty and solid rock, which seems well suited to confine and restrain; but sometimes it is no more than a thin streak of sliver sand or a bank of loose, shifting pebbles. Yet, in both cases alike, the restraint suffices. "The sand is placed for the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it" (Jeremiah 5:22); the beach of shifting pebbles remains as firm as the rock itself, and never recedes or advances more than a few feet. When it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb; i.e. at its birth, when it was first formed, by the gathering together of the waters into one place (see Genesis 1:9). 1 Then Jehovah answered Job out of the storm, and said:

2 Who then darkeneth counsel

With words without knowledge?

3 Gird up now thy loins as a man:

I will question thee, and inform thou me!

"May the Almighty answer me!" Job has said, Job 31:35; He now really answers, and indeed out of the storm (Chethib, according to a mode of writing occurring only here and Job 40:6, מנהסערה, arranged in two words by the Keri), which is generally the forerunner of His self-manifestation in the world, of that at least by which He reveals Himself in His absolute awe-inspiring greatness and judicial grandeur. The art. is to be understood generically, but, with respect to Elihu's speeches, refers to the storm which has risen up in the meanwhile. It is not to be translated: Who is he who ... , which ought to be המחשׁיך, but: Who then is darkening; זה makes the interrogative מי more vivid and demonstrative, Ges. 122, 2; the part. מחשׁיך (instead of which it might also be יחשׁיך) favours the assumption that Job has uttered such words immediately before, and is interrupted by Jehovah, without an intervening speaker having come forward. It is intentionally עצה for עצתי (comp. עם for עמי, Isaiah 26:11), to describe that which is spoken of according to its quality: it is nothing less than a decree or plan full of purpose and connection which Job darkness, i.e., distorts by judging it falsely, or, as we say: places in a false light, and in fact by meaningless words.

(Note: The correct accentuation is מחשׁיך with Mercha, עצה with Athnach, במלין with Rebia mugrasch, bly (without Makkeph) with Munach.)

When now Jehovah condescends to negotiate with Job by question and answer, He does not do exactly what Job wished (Job 13:22), but something different, of which Job never thought. He surprises him with questions which are intended to bring him indirectly to the consciousness of the wrong and absurdity of his challenge - questions among which "there are many which the natural philosophy of the present day can frame more scientifically, but cannot satisfactorily solve."

(Note: Alex. v. Humboldt, Kosmos, ii. 48 (1st edition), comp. Tholuck, Vermischte Schriften, i.354.)

Instead of כגבר (the received reading of Ben-Ascher), Ben-Naphtali's text offered כּג (as Ezekiel 17:10), in order not to allow two so similar, aspirated mutae to come together.

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