Job 40:17
He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(17) The sinews of his stones.—Rather, of his thighs.

Job 40:17. He moveth his tail like a cedar — Though the tail be but short, both in the elephant, and in the hippopotamus; yet, when it is erected, it is exceeding stiff and strong. The sinews of his stones, &c. — Rather, of his thighs, as the Hebrew may be rendered. The thighs and feet of the river- horse are so sinewy and strong that one of them is able to break or overturn a large boat.

40:15-24 God, for the further proving of his own power, describes two vast animals, far exceeding man in bulk and strength. Behemoth signifies beasts. Most understand it of an animal well known in Egypt, called the river-horse, or hippopotamus. This vast animal is noticed as an argument to humble ourselves before the great God; for he created this vast animal, which is so fearfully and wonderfully made. Whatever strength this or any other creature has, it is derived from God. He that made the soul of man, knows all the ways to it, and can make the sword of justice, his wrath, to approach and touch it. Every godly man has spiritual weapons, the whole armour of God, to resist, yea, to overcome the tempter, that his never-dying soul may be safe, whatever becomes of his frail flesh and mortal body.He moveth his tail like a cedar - Margin, "setteth up." The Hebrew word (חפץ châphêts) means "to bend, to curve;" and hence, it commonly denotes "to be inclined, favorably disposed to desire or please." The obvious meaning here is, that this animal had some remarkable power of "bending" or "curving" its tail, and that there was some resemblance in this to the motion of the cedar-tree when moved by the wind. In "what" this resemblance consisted, or how this was a proof of its power, it is not quite easy to determine. Rosenmuller says that the meaning is, that the tail of the hippopotamus was "smooth, round, thick, and firm," and in this respect resembled the cedar. The tail is short - being, according to Abdollatiph (see Ros.), about half a cubit in length. In the lower part, says he, it is thick, "equalling the extremities of the fingers;" and the idea here, according to this, is, that this short, thick, and apparently firm tail, was bent over by the will of the animal as the wind bends the branches of the cedar.

The point of comparison is not the "length," but the fact of its being easily bent over or curved at the pleasure of the animal. Why this, however, should have been mentioned as remarkable, or how the power of the animal in this respect differs from others, is not very apparent. Some, who have supposed the elephant to be here referred to, have understood this of the proboscis. But though "this would be" a remarkable proof of the power of the animal, the language of the original will not admit of it. The Hebrew word (זנב zânâb) is used only to denote the tail. It is "possible" that there may be here an allusion to the unwieldy nature of every part of the animal, and especially to the thickness and inflexibility of the skin and what was remarkable was, that notwithstanding this, this member was entirely at its command. Still, the reason of the comparison is not very clear. The description of the movement of the "tail" here given, would agree much better with some of the extinct orders of animals whose remains have been recently discovered and arranged by Cuvier, than with that of the hippopotamus. Particularly, it would agree with the account of the ichthyosaurus (see Buckland's "Geology, Bridgewater Treatise," vol. i. 133ff), though the other parts of the animal here described would not accord well with this.

The sinews of his stones are wrapped together - Good renders this, "haunches;" Noyes, Prof. Lee, Rosenmuller, and Schultens, "thighs;" and the Septuagint simply has: "his sinews." The Hebrew word used here (פחד pachad) means properly "fear, terror," Exodus 15:16; Job 13:11; and, according to Gesenius, it then means, since "fear" is transferred to cowardice and shame, anything which "causes" shame, and hence, the secret parts. So it is understood here by our translators; but there does not seem to be any good reason for this translation, but there is every reason why it should not be thus rendered. The "object" of the description is to inspire a sense of the "power" of the animal, or of his capacity to inspire terror or dread; and hence, the allusion here is to those parts which were fitted to convey this dread, or this sense of his power - to wit, his strength. The usual meaning of the word, therefore, should be retained, and the sense then would be, "the sinews of his terror," that is, of his parts fitted to inspire terror, "are wrapped together;" are firm, compact, solid. The allusion then is to his thighs or haunches, as being formidable in their aspect, and the seat of strength. The sinews or muscles of these parts seemed to be like a hard-twisted rope; compact, firm, solid, and such as to defy all attempts to overcome them.

17. like a cedar—As the tempest bends the cedar, so it can move its smooth thick tail [Umbreit]. But the cedar implies straightness and length, such as do not apply to the river horse's short tail, but perhaps to an extinct species of animal (see on [561]Job 40:15).

stones—rather, "thighs."

wrapped—firmly twisted together, like a thick rope.

He moveth his tail; which though it be but short, both in the elephant and in the hippopotamus, yet when it is erected is exceeding stiff and strong. But this may be understood, either,

1. Of his generative part, which is off called by that or the like name, which the following close of the verse may seem to favour. Or,

2. Of the elephant’s trunk, which being so eminent and remarkable a part, would not probably be omitted in this description, to which these words very fitly agree, because of its admirable motion and strength. Nor is it strange that this is called his tail, because that word is oft used improperly for any end of a thing, as Isaiah 7:4. See also Deu 25:18 28:13,44.

The sinews of his stones: this may be noted, because the elephant’s testicles do not hang down below the belly, as they do in other beasts, but are contained within his belly, where they are fastened by ligaments of extraordinary strength. Or, the sinews of the terror thereof, to wit, of the trunk last mentioned, under the name of the

tail, i.e. its terrible sinews are strongly and strangely wrapped together, that he can move it as he listeth with wonderful dexterity and strength. Or,

the sinews of his thighs, as the latter word oft signifies in the Arabic tongue, which is very near akin to the Hebrew. The thighs and feet of the hippopotamus are noted to be so sinewy and strong, that one of them is able to break or overturn a large boat.

He moveth his tail like a cedar,.... To which it is compared, not for the length and largeness of it; for the tail both of the elephant and of the river horse is short; though Vartomannus (c) says, the tail of the elephant is like a buffalo's, and is four hands long, and thin of hair: but because of the smoothness, roundness, thickness, and firmness of it; such is the tail of the river horse, being like that of a hog or boar (d); which is crooked, twisted, and which it is said to turn back and about at pleasure, as the word used is thought to signify. Aben Ezra interprets it, "maketh to stand": that is, stiff and strong, and firm like a cedar. One writer (e) speaks of the horse of the Nile, as having a scaly tail; but he seems to confound it with the sea horse. Junius interprets it of its penis, its genital part; to which the Targum in the King's Bible is inclined: and Cicero (f) says, the ancients used to call that the tail; but that of the elephant, according to Aristotle (g), is but small, and not in proportion to the size of its body; and not in sight, and therefore can hardly be thought to be described; though the next clause seems to favour this sense:

the sinews of his stones are wrapped together; if by these are meant the testicles, as some think, so the Targums; the sinews of which were wreathed, implicated and ramified, like branches of trees, as Montanus renders it. Bochart interprets this of the sinews or nerves of the river horse, which having such plenty of them, are exceeding strong; so that, as some report, this creature will with one foot sink a boat (h); I have known him open his mouth, says a traveller (i), and set one tooth on the gunnel of a boat, and another on the second strake from the keel, more than four feet distant, and there bite a hole through the plank, and sink the boat.

(c) Navigat. l. 4. c. 9. (d) Aristot. Plin. Solin. & Isidore ut supra. (See Job 40:16.) (e) Nicet. Choniat. apud Fabrit. Gr. Bibliothec. vol. 6. p. 410. (f) Epist. l. 9. Ephesians 22. (g) Hist. Amimal. l. 2. c. 1.((h) Apud Hierozoic, par. 2. l. 5. c. 14. col. 758. (i) Dampier's Voyages, vol. 2. part 2. p. 105.

He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
17. The “tail” of the hippopotamus is short, naked and muscular, resembling that of the hog. The great strength of the animal may be inferred from the muscular stiffness of the tail, which bends like the branch or young stem of a cedar.

Verse 17. - He moveth his tail like a cedar. The tail of the hippopotamus is remarkably short and thick. It only bends slightly, being stiff and unyielding, like the stem of a cedar. The sinews of his stones (rather, of his thighs) are wrapped together; or, interwoven one with another (so Professor Lee and Mr. Houghton). Job 40:1715 Behold now the behmth,

Which I have made with thee:

He eateth grass like an ox.

16 Behold now, his strength is in his loins,

And his force in the sinews of his belly.

17 He bendeth his tail like a cedar branch,

The sinews of his legs are firmly interwoven.

18 His bones are like tubes of brass,

His bones like bars of iron.

בּהמות (after the manner of the intensive plur. הוללות, חכמות, which play the part of the abstract termination), which sounds like a plur., but without the numerical plural signification, considered as Hebrew, denotes the beast κατ ̓ ἐξοχήν, or the giant of beasts, is however Hebraized from the Egyptian p-ehe-mau, (muau), i.e., the (p) ox (ehe) of the water (mau as in the Hebraized proper name משׁה). It is, as Bochart has first of all shown, the so-called river or Nile horse, Hippopotamus amphibius (in Isaiah 30:6, בּהמות נגב, as emblem of Egypt, which extends its power, and still is active in the interest of others), found in the rivers of Africa, but no longer found in the Nile, which is not inappropriately called a horse; the Arab. water-hog is better, Italian bomarino, Eng. sea-cow ?, like the Egyptian p-ehe-mau. The change of p and b in the exchange of Egyptian and Semitic words occurs also elsewhere, e.g., pug' and בּוּץ, harpu and חרב (ἅρπη), Apriu and עברים (according to Lauth). Nevertheless p-ehe-mau (not mau-t, for what should the post-positive fem. art. do here?) is first of all only the בהמות translated back again into the Egyptian by Jablonsky; an instance in favour of this is still wanting. In Hieroglyph the Nile-horse is called apet; it was honoured as divine. Brugsch dwelt in Thebes in the temple of the Apet.

(Note: In the astronomical representations the hippopotamus is in the neighbourhood of the North Pole in the place of the dragon of the present day, and bears the name of hes-mut, in which mut equals t. mau, "the mother." Hes however is obscure; Birch explains it by: raging.)

In Job 40:15 עמּך signifies nothing but "with thee," so that thou hast it before thee. This water-ox eats חציר, green grass, like an ox. That it prefers to plunder the produce of the fields - in Arab. chadı̂r signifies, in particular, green barley - is accordingly self-evident. Nevertheless, it has gigantic strength, viz., in its plump loins and in the sinews (שׁרירי, properly the firm constituent parts,

(Note: Staring from its primary signification (made firm, fast), Arab. srı̂r, שׁרירא can signify e.g., also things put together from wood: a throne, a hand-barrow, bedstead and cradle, metaphor. the foundation. Wetzst. otherwise: "The שׂרירי הבטן are not the sinews and muscles, still less 'the private parts' of others, but the four bearers of the animal body equals arkân el-batn, viz., the bones of the מתנים, Job 40:16, together with the two shoulder-blades. The Arab. sarı̂r is that on which a thing is supported or rests, on which it stands firmly, or moves about. Neshwn (i. 280) says: ‛sarı̂r is the substratum on which a thing rests,' and the sarı̂r er-ra's, says the same, is the place where the head rests upon the nape of the neck. The Kms gives the same signification primo loco, which shows that it is general; then follows in gen. Arab. muḍṭaja‛, "the support of a thing.")

therefore: ligaments and muscles) of its clumsy belly. The brush of a tail, short in comparison with the monster itself, is compared to a cedar (a branch of it), ratione glabritiei, rotunditatis, spissitudinis et firmitatis (Bochart); since the beast is in general almost without hair, it looks like a stiff, naked bone, and yet it can bend it like an elastic cedar branch; חפץ is Hebraeo-Arab., ḥfḍ

continued...

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