Job 40:23
Behold, he drinketh up a river, and hasteth not: he trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth.
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(23) Behold, he drinketh up a river.—This verse is better rendered, Behold, if a river overflow (or, is violent), he trembleth not (or, hasteneth not); he is confident, though Jordan swell up to his mouth.

Job 40:23. Behold, he drinketh up a river — A great quantity of water, hyperbolically called a river. He swalloweth the waters to such a degree, says Aben Ezra, as to diminish their fulness. This may be fitly applied to the elephant, says Poole, ‘which, because of its great bulk and vehement thirst, drinks a great quantity of water at one draught, as naturalists and historians have observed.” And hasteth not — He does not drink with fear and caution, and sparingly, as the dogs do, who drink at the Nile, for fear of the crocodile; but such is his courage and self-confidence, that he fears no enemy either by water or by land, but drinks securely and freely. He trusteth he can draw up Jordan into his mouth — He drinks as if he designed, or hoped, to drink up the whole river. Bochart and others say that Jordan is put here, by a figure, for any river; but Houbigant is of opinion that Jordan itself is meant, which was not far from the land of Uz, and at which not only many elephants, no doubt, used to drink, but in which it is probable there were river-horses, as well as in the Nile. For, it is supposed, they might come into Jordan from the Dead sea, and into that by subterraneous passages from the Red, or the Mediterranean sea. It may be proper to observe here, that many other learned men who interpret this paragraph of the hippopotamus propose a different translation of this verse: thus, Behold, let the river press him, he will not tremble; he trusteth that he can spout forth Jordan with his mouth. And they paraphrase it thus, No sudden rising of the river, which makes it flow with uncommon violence and fury, gives him any alarm or fear. He is not borne away with the rapidity of the stream from his place, but enjoys himself the same as if the river ran with its usual flow: and, were such a river as Jordan to break forth suddenly from the earth, he would not be terrified; for he trusteth he can throw back its waters from his mouth.

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.Behold he drinketh up a river - Margin, "oppresseth." The margin expresses the proper meaning of the Hebrew word, עשׁק ‛âshaq. It usually means to oppress, to treat with violence and injustice; and to defraud, or extort. But a very different sense is given to this verse by Bochart, Gesenius, Noyes, Schultens, Umbreit, Prof. Lee, and Rosenmuller. According to the interpretation given by them the meaning is, "The stream overfloweth, and he feareth not; he is secure, even though Jordan rush forth even to his mouth." The reference then would be, not to the fact that he was greedy in his mode of drinking, but to the fact that this huge and fierce animal, that found its food often on the land, and that reposed under the shade of the lotus and the papyrus, could live in the water as well as on the land, and was unmoved even though the impetuous torrent of a swollen river should overwhelm him.

The "names" by which this translation is recommended are a sufficient guarantee that it is not a departure from the proper meaning of the original. It is also the most natural and obvious interpretation. It is impossible to make good sense of the phrase "he oppresseth a river;" nor does the word used properly admit of the translation "he drinketh up." The word "river" in this place, therefore (נהר nâhâr), is to be regarded as in the nominative case to יעשׁק ya‛âshaq, and the meaning is, that when a swollen and impetuous river rushes along and bears all before it, and, as it were, "oppresses" everything in its course, he is not alarmed; he makes no effort to flee; he lies perfectly calm and secure. What was "remarkable" in this appears to have been, that an animal that was so much on land, and that was not properly a fish, should be thus calm and composed when an impetuous torrent rolled over him. The Septuagint appears to have been aware that this was the true interpretation, for they render this part of the verse, Ἐάν γέηται πλνμμύρα, κ.τ.λ. Ean genētai plēmmura, etc. - "Should there come a flood, he would not regard it." Our common translation seems to have been adopted from the Vulgate - "Ecceabsorbebit fluvium."

He trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth - Or, rather, "He is confident, i. e. unmoved, though Jordan should rush forth to his mouth." The idea is, that though the whole river Jordan should seem to pour down upon him as "if" it were about to rush into his mouth, it would not disturb him. Even such an impetuous torrent would not alarm him. Being amphibious, he would not dread what would fill a land animal with alarm. There is no evidence that the hippopotamus was ever found in the river Jordan, nor is it necessary to suppose this in order to understand this passage. The mention of the Jordan shows indeed that this river was known to the writer of this book, and that it was probably written by someone who resided in the vicinity. In speaking of this huge foreign animal, it was not unnatural to mention a river that was familiarly known, and to say that he would not be alarmed should such a river rush suddenly and impetuously upon him. Even though the hippopotamus is an inhabitant of the Nile, and was never seen in the Jordan, it was much more natural to mention this river in this connection than the Nile. It was better known, and the illustration would be better understood, and to an inhabitant of that country would be much more striking. I see no reason, therefore, for the supposition of Bechart and Rosenmuller, that the Jordan here is put for any large river. The illustration is just such as one would have used who was well acquainted with the Jordan - that the river horse would not be alarmed even though such a river should pour impetuously upon him.

23. Rather, "(Though) a river be violent (overflow), he trembleth not"; (for though living on land, he can live in the water, too); he is secure, though a Jordan swell up to his mouth. "Jordan" is used for any great river (consonant with the "behemoth"), being a poetical generalization (see on [562]Job 40:15). The author cannot have been a Hebrew as Umbreit asserts, or he would not adduce the Jordan, where there were no river horses. He alludes to it as a name for any river, but not as one known to him, except by hearsay. He drinketh up; or, he snatcheth, or draweth, or drinketh up as it were with force and violence, as the word signifies.

A river, i.e. a great quantity of water, hyperbolically called a river, as it is also Psalm 78:16 105:41. This may be fitly applied to the elephant, which because of its great bulk and vehement thirst drinks a great deal of water at one draught, as naturalists and historians have observed.

Hasteth not; he drinks not with fear and caution, and sparingly, as the dogs do at Nilus, for fear of the crocodile; but such is his courage and self-confidence, that he fears no enemy, either by water or by land, but drinketh securely and liberally.

He trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth; he drinks as if he designed, or hoped, or desired to drink up the whole river. He mentions Jordan, either as a river well known in and nigh unto Job’s land; or because possibly there were many elephants which used to drink at it; or as a river in some parts of it but small, which therefore might give more colour to the hyperbole, and to the elephant’s fancy or expectation, than a vaster river, such as Euphrates, would have done. Bochart expounds this also of the hippopotamus, which though he cannot swim, and may be drowned, as naturalists report, yet will continue securely under water at the bottom of Nilus for some days together; and he renders the verse thus, Behold, if a river oppress or cover him, he fears not; he is confident or secure, though Jordan (which is here put for any river) should break forth or overflow above his mouth, i.e. should overwhelm him. But the judgment of this I leave to the reader.

Behold, he drinketh up a river, and hasteth not,.... The elephant is indeed a very thirsty animal, and drinks largely; the philosopher (l) says it drinks nine Macedonian bushels at a feeding, and that it will drink fourteen Macedonian measures of water at once, and eight more at noon; but to drink up a river seems to be too great an hyperbole; wherefore the words may be rendered, "Behold, let a river oppress him", or "bear" ever so hard upon him, and come with the greatest force and pressure on him (m), "he hasteth not" to get out of it; or he is not frightened or troubled, as the Targum; which agrees with the river horse, who walks into the river, and proceeds on in it, with the greatest ease and unconcernedness imaginable; now and then lifting up his head above water to take breath, which he can hold a long time; whereas the elephant cannot wade in the water any longer than his trunk is above it, as the philosopher observes (n); and Livy (o) speaks of fear and trembling seizing an elephant, when about to be carried over a river in boats;

he trusteth that he can draw up Jordan in his mouth; so bold and confident he is, and not at all disturbed with its rapidity; or "though Jordan", or rather any descending flowing stream, "gushes into his mouth", so Mr. Broughton: for perhaps Jordan might not be known by Job; nor does it seem to have any connection with the Nile, the seat of the river horse; which has such large holes in its nostrils, and out of which, water being swallowed down, he can throw it with great force. Diodorus Siculus (p) represents it as lying all day in the water, and employing itself at the bottom of it, easy, careless, and unconcerned.

(l) Aristot. ut supra. (l. 9. c. 56.) (m) Vid. Bochart. ut supra, (Apud Hierozic. par. 2. l. 5. c. 14.) col. 766. (n) Aristot. ut supra. (l. 9. c. 56.) Vid Aelian. l. 7. c. 15. (o) Hist. l. 21. c. 28. (p) Bibliothec. l. 1. p. 31. Isidor. Origin. l. 12. c. 6.

Behold, he drinketh up a river, {k} and hasteth not: he trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth.

(k) He drinks at leisure, and fears nobody.

23. The verse means,

Behold the stream swelleth, he trembleth not;

He is careless, though Jordan break forth upon his mouth.

The word “swelleth” means lit. oppresses, that is, rushes violently against him. The term “Jordan,” or “a Jordan,” is used by way of example, meaning a violent outbreak of water. The term “break forth” is that used of the sea, ch. Job 38:8.

Verse 23. - Behold, he drinketh up a river, and hasteth not; rather, behold let a river overflow he trembleth not (ἐὰν πλημμύρα γεηται, οὐ μὴ αἰσθηθῇ LXX). As an amphibious animal, the overflowing of a river has no terrors for the hippopotamus. But it would have some terrors for an elephant. He trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth. It is better to translate, he is steadfast (or, confident)' though Jordan swell even to his mouth. "Jordan" probably stands for any large and strong-flowing river. The conjecture that ירדן is a corruption of יר, which often stands for "the Nile," is ingenious, but unnecessary. Job 40:2319 He is the firstling of the ways of God;

He, his Maker, reached to him his sword.

20 For the mountains bring forth food for him,

And all the beasts of the field play beside him.

21 Under the lote-trees he lieth down,

In covert of reeds and marsh.

22 Lote-trees cover him as shade,

The willows of the brook encompass him.

23 Behold, if the stream is strong, he doth not quake;

He remaineth cheerful, if a Jordan breaketh forth upon his mouth.

24 Just catch him while he is looking,

With snares let one pierce his nose!

God's ways is the name given to God's operations as the Creator of the world in Job 40:19 (comp. Job 26:14, where His acts as the Ruler of the world are included); and the firstling of these ways is called the Behmth, not as one of the first in point of time, but one of the hugest creatures, un chef-d'oeuvre de Dieu (Bochart); ראשׁית not as Proverbs 8:22; Numbers 24:20, of the priority of time, but as Amos 6:1, Amos 6:6, of rank. The art. in העשׁו is, without the pronominal suff. being meant as an accusative (Ew. 290, d), equal to a demonstrative pronoun (comp. Ges. 109, init): this its Creator (but so that "this" does not refer back so much as forwards). It is not meant that He reached His sword to behmoth, but (on which account לו is intentionally wanting) that He brought forth, i.e., created, its (behmoth's) peculiar sword, viz., the gigantic incisors ranged opposite one another, with which it grazes upon the meadow as with a sickle: ἀρούρῃσιν κακὴν ἐπιβάλλεται ἅρπην (Nicander, Theriac. 566), ἅρπη is exactly the sickle-shaped Egyptian sword (harpu equals חרב). Vegetable food (to which its teeth are adapted) is appointed to the behmoth: "for the mountains produce food for him;" it is the herbage of the hills (which is scanty in the lower and more abundant in the upper valley of the Nile) that is intended, after which this uncouth animal climbs (vid., Schlottm.). בּוּל is neither a contraction of יבוּל (Ges.), nor a corruption of it (Ew.), but Hebraeo-Arab. equals baul, produce, from bâla, to beget, comp. aballa, to bear fruit (prop. seed, bulal), root בל, to soak, wet, mix.

(Note: Whether בּליל, Job 6:5; Job 24:6, signifies mixed provender (farrago), or perhaps ripe fruit, i.e., grain, so that jabol, Judges 19:21, in the signification "he gave dry provender consisting of barley-grain," would be the opposite of the jahushsh (יחשׁ) of the present day, "he gives green provender consisting of green grass or green barley, hashı̂sh," as Wetzst. supposes, vid., on Isaiah 30:24.)


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