Job 40:24
He takes it with his eyes: his nose pierces through snares.
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(24) His nose pierceth through snares.—Some render, “Shall any take him with snares? while he is looking, shall any pierce through his nose?” The sense seems to be rather, Let one take him by his eyes: i.e., by allurements placed before him, as elephants are taken. By means of snares one may pierce his nose. The Authorised Version seems to be less probably right.

Job 40:24. He taketh it with his eyes — He imagines, when he sees it, that he can take the whole river and drink it up. His nose pierceth through snares — The elephant will not be kept from the water by any snares or impediments, but removes them all by his trunk; and both he and the river- horse securely thrust their snouts deep into the river, through their eagerness to satisfy their thirst. But different constructions are put upon this verse also by learned men. Bochart and several others think the former clause should be read with an interrogation, thus, Who will, or who can take him in his eyes? That is, while he sees them, and is sensible what they are about: or openly, and by manifest force? Surely none. His force and strength are too great for men to resist and overcome, and therefore they are compelled to make use of many wiles and stratagems to take him; which is true, both of the elephant and of the hippopotamus. And the latter clause is rendered by Heath, Can cords be drawn through his nose? and by Houbigant, Can his nose be perforated with hooks? “The way of taking these animals,” (the hippopotami,) says Dr. Dodd, “as related by Achilles Tatius, will explain this passage. The huntsmen, having found the places where they haunt, dig a trench or ditch, which they cover with reeds and earth, having placed underneath a wooden chest whose lids are opens like a folding-door, on each side, to the height of the cavity; after this they conceal themselves, watching till the beast is taken; for as soon as ever it treads on the surface of the hole, it is sure to fall to the bottom. The huntsmen run up immediately to the cavity and shut down the lids, and by these means catch the beast, which could not be taken by any other method, on account of its prodigious strength.” The latter clause of the verse signifies literally, Canst thou bore his nose with cords? But this kind of boring is made by a hook, in order to insert a cord to lead the creature about with pleasure. It is very remarkable, that this cord in the ox’s nose serves instead of a bit to guide him. This Thevenot confirms in his Voyage to Indostan, where, having mentioned that oxen are used instead of horses for travelling, he adds, “These creatures are managed like our horses, and have no other bits or bridles than a cord which passes through the tendon of their nose or nostrils.” So that this boring his nose and introducing a cord were not to take, but to keep him, in order to make him serviceable when taken. — Heath. I would just observe upon this and the following description, that nervous and excellent as they are, they do not strike us with the same degree of admiration as the foregoing description of the horse, because we are not so well acquainted with the nature of the animals described. Dr. Young renders the last two verses of this chapter thus:

“His eye drinks Jordan up, when fired with drought,

He trusts to turn its current down his throat:

In lessen’d waves it creeps along the plain,

He sinks a river, and he thirsts again.”

The reader who can have access to the Encyclop. Brit. may there find a full account both of the elephant and the hippopotamus. 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 taketh it with his eyes - Margin, "Or, will any take him in his sight, or, bore his nose with a gin!" From this marginal reading it is evident that our translators were much perplexed with this passage. Expositors have been also much embarrassed in regard to its meaning, and have differed much in their exposition. Rosenmuller supposes that this is to be regarded as a question, and is to be rendered, "Will the hunter take him while he sees him?" - meaning that he could not be taken without some snare or guile. The same view also is adopted by Bochart, who says that the hippopotamus could be taken only by some secret snare or pitfall. The common mode of taking him, he says, was to excavate a place near where the river horse usually lay, and to cover it over with reeds and canes, so that he would fall into it unawares. The meaning then is, that the hunter could not approach him openly and secure him while he saw him, but that some secret plan must be adopted to take him. The meaning then is, "Can he be taken when he sees the hunter?"

His nose pierceth through snares - Or rather, "When taken in snares, can anyone pierce his nose?" That is, Can the hunter even then pierce his nose so as to put in a ring or cord, and lead him wherever he pleases? This was the common method by which a wild animal was secured when taken (see the notes at Isaiah 37:29), but it is here said that this could not be done to this huge animal. He could not be subdued in this manner. He was a wild, untamed and fierce animal, that defied all the usual methods by which wild beasts were made captive. In regard to the difficulty of taking this animal, see the account of the method by which it is now done, in the notes at Job 40:15. That account shows that there is a striking accuracy in the description.

24. Rather, "Will any take him by open force" (literally, "before his eyes"), "or pierce his nose with cords?" No; he can only be taken by guile, and in a pitfall (Job 41:1, 2). According to this translation the sense is this, He taketh, or snatcheth, or draweth up (as was now said, Job 40:23)

it (to wit, the river Jordan) with his eyes, i.e. when he sees it, he trusteth that he can drink it all up; as we use to say, The eye is bigger than the belly: his nose or snout pierceth, &c., i.e. he securely thrusteth his snout into the river, even to the bottom of it, to stir up the mud, because he delights to drink muddy water; and if there be any snares laid for other creatures, he breaks them to pieces. But this verse is otherwise translated by others. Will or can any man take him in his eyes, (i.e. openly, and by manifest force? Surely no. His force and strength is too great for man to resist or overcome; and therefore men are forced to use many wiles and engines to catch him; which is true both of the elephant and of the hippopotamus,) or pierce his nose with snares or gins? No. He may be taken by art and cunning, but not by violence. He taketh it with his eyes,.... Or "can men take him before his eyes?" so Mr. Broughton; and others translate it to the same purpose; no, he is not to be taken openly, but privately, by some insidious crafty methods; whether it be understood of the elephant or river horse; elephants, according to Strabo (q) and Pliny (r) were taken in pits dug for them, into which they were decoyed; in like manner, according to some (s), the river horse is taken; a pit being dug and covered with reeds and sand, it falls into it unawares;

his nose pierceth through snares; he discerns them oftentimes and escapes them, so that he is not easily taken in them. It is reported of the sea morss (t), before mentioned; see Gill on Job 40:20, that they ascend mountains in great herds, where, before they give themselves to sleep, to which they are naturally inclined, they appoint one of their number as it were a watchman; who, if he chances to sleep or to be slain by the hunter, the rest may be easily taken; but if the watchman gives warning by roaring as the manner is, the whole herd immediately awake and fall down from the mountains with great swiftness into the sea, as before described; or, as Mr. Broughton, "cannot men take him, to pierce his nose with many snares?" they cannot; the elephant has no nose to be pierced, unless his trunk can be called so, and no hook nor snare can be put into the nose of the river horse. Diodorus Siculus (u) says, it cannot be taken but by many vessels joining together and surrounding it, and striking it with iron hooks, to one of which ropes are fastened, and so the creature is let go till it expires. The usual way of taking it now is, by baiting the hook with the roots of water lilies, at which it will catch, and swallow the hook with it; and by giving it line enough it will roll and tumble about, until, through loss of blood, it faints and dies. The way invented by Asdrubal for killing elephants was by striking a carpenter's chopping axe into his ear (w); the Jews (x) say a fly is a terror to an elephant, it enters into his nose and torments him grievously.

(q) Geograph. l. 15. p. 484. (r) Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 8. See Ovington's Voyage to Surat, p. 192, 193. (s) Apud Bochart. ut supra, col. 768. (t) Eden's Travels, p. 318. Supplement to the North East Voyages, p. 94. (u) Bibliothec, l. 1. p. 32. (w) Orosii Hist. l. 4. c. 18. p. 62. Liv. Hist. l. 27. c. 49. (x) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 77. 2. & Gloss. in ib.

He taketh it with his eyes: his nose pierceth through snares.
24. The meaning probably is,

Shall they take him before his eyes?

Or pierce through his nose with a snare?

“Before his eyes” or “in his sight” (Proverbs 1:17), that is, openly, when the animal is aware. The words might be taken ironically: Let them take him before his eyes! &c. (comp. Proverbs 1:32), but the interrogative form is more natural. Others consider the language to be a statement of fact: they take him before his eyes, &c. But with this sense the whole meaning of the introduction of the creature in this chapter disappears. Such a description might have found a place in the gallery of animal portraits in the previous chapter, but as a companion picture to that of Leviathan it is out of place.Verse 24. - He taketh it with his eyes; rather, Shall one take him when he is looking on? "Can he be captured." i.e. "when his eyes are open, and when he sees what is intended? No. If captured at all, it must be by subtlety, when he is not on the watch." His nose pierceth through snares; rather, Or can one bore his nostril with cords? i.e. can we lead him away captive, with a ring or hook passed through his nose, and a cord attached (compare the next chapter, ver. 2)?

15 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


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