Job 41:19
Out of his mouth go burning lamps, and sparks of fire leap out.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Job 41:19-21. Out of his mouth go burning lamps — “This,” says Dr. Young, “is nearer truth than at first view may be imagined. The crocodile, says the naturalists, lying long under water, and being there forced to hold its breath, when it emerges, the breath, long repressed, is hot, and bursts out so violently that it resembles fire and smoke. The horse suppresses not his breath, by any means, so long, neither is he so fierce and animated; yet the most correct of poets venture to use the same metaphor concerning him. By this I would caution against a false opinion of the eastern boldness, (the boldness of their metaphors,) from passages in them ill understood.” We add the doctor’s paraphrase on these verses:

“His bulk is charged with such a furious soul,

That clouds of smoke from his spread nostrils roll,

As from a furnace; and, when roused his ire,

Fate issues from his jaws in streams of fire.”


Smoke, as out of a caldron — Hebrew, אגמן, agmon, sometimes rendered bulrush, and, Job 41:2, put for a hook; but the word likewise signifies a pool, or stagnating water, and is here rendered a caldron, because a caldron sends forth a great smoke, as a pool doth vapours. By a like figure, the great brazen laver, in the temple, was called a sea, on account of the great quantity of water which it contained. His breath kindleth coals — A hyperbolical expression, signifying only extraordinary heat.

41:1-34 Concerning Leviathan. - The description of the Leviathan, is yet further to convince Job of his own weakness, and of God's almighty power. Whether this Leviathan be a whale or a crocodile, is disputed. The Lord, having showed Job how unable he was to deal with the Leviathan, sets forth his own power in that mighty creature. If such language describes the terrible force of Leviathan, what words can express the power of God's wrath? Under a humbling sense of our own vileness, let us revere the Divine Majesty; take and fill our allotted place, cease from our own wisdom, and give all glory to our gracious God and Saviour. Remembering from whom every good gift cometh, and for what end it was given, let us walk humbly with the Lord.Out of his mouth go burning lamps - The word "lamps" here is probably used to denote torches, or fire-brands. The animal is here described as in pursuit of his prey on land; and the description is exceedingly graphic and powerful. His mouth is then open; his jaws are distended; his breath is thrown out with great violence; his blood is inflamed, and the animal seems to vomit forth flames. The description is of course to be regarded as figurative. It is such as one would be likely to give who should see a fierce animal pressing on in pursuit of its prey.

And sparks of fire leap out - There is an appearance like sparks of fire. The animal, with an open throat highly inflamed, seems to breathe forth flames. The figure is a common one applied to a war-horse. Thus, Ovid:

"From their full racks the generous steeds retire,

Dropping ambrosial foam and snorting fire."

Dr. Good

The same thing is remarked by Achilles Tatius, of the hippopotamus, "With open nostrils, and breathing smoke like fire (πυρώδη καπνόν purōdē kapnon) as from a fountain of fire." And in Eustathius it is said, "They have an open nostril, breathing forth smoke like fire from a furnace " - πυρώδη καπνόν, ὠς ἐκ καμίνου πνέοντα purōdē kapnon, hōs ek kaminou pneonta. See Bochart.

19. burning lamps—"torches"; namely, in respiring (Job 41:18), seem to go out. i.e. His breathings and blowings are very hot, or flaming, as the following verses explain this. This also may seem better to agree to the crocodile, which breathes (as Aristotle affirms) like the hippopotamus, of which ancient authors affirm, that his nostrils are very large, and he breathes forth a fiery smoke like that of a furnace, than to the whale, which rather casts forth streams of water, as was noted before, than flames of fire, there being no such great heat observed in whales, nor, as far as I know, in any other fishes.

Out of his mouth go burning lamps, and sparks of fire leap out. Which, though hyperbolical expressions, have some foundation for them in the latter; in the vast quantities of water thrown out by the whale, through its mouth or hole in its frontispiece, which in the sun may look like lamps and sparks of fire, as before observed; and especially in the "orcae", or whales with teeth, which eject in the same way an oily mucus, or the fat liquor of the brain, commonly called spermaceti, which may appear more bright and glittering. Ovid (t) says much the same of the boar as is here said of the leviathan.

(t) "Fulmen ab ore venit; frondesque adflatibus ardent". Metamorph. c. 8. Fab. 4.

Out of his mouth go burning lamps, and sparks of fire leap out.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
19. burning lamps] Or, burning torches.

19–21. These verses refer probably to the animal’s emergence from the water, when the long-repressed hot breath is blown out along with water from his mouth, and shines in the sun like a fiery stream.

Verse 19. - Out of his mouth go burning lamps, and sparks of fire leap out. The description now becomes highly poetical, and it would be a mistake to endeavour to substantiate it. The intention is to represent the impression which the animal would make on an impressible but unscientific observer viewing it in its native haunts for the first time. Splashing, snorting, and throwing up spray all around, it would seem to be breathing out steam and smoke, from which the idea of fire is inseparable (see the next verse). Job 41:1918 His sneezing sendeth forth light,

And his eyes are like the eyelids of the dawn;

19 Out of his mouth proceed flames,

Sparks of fire escape from him;

20 Out of his nostrils goeth forth smoke

Like a seething pot and caldron;

21 His breath kindleth coals,

And flames go forth out of his mouth.

That the crocodile delights to sun itself on the land, and then turns its open jaws to the sunny side, most Nile travellers since Herodotus have had an opportunity of observing;

(Note: Dieterici, Reisebilder, i.:194: "We very often saw the animal lying in the sand, its jaws wide open and turned towards the warm sunbeams, while little birds, like the slender white water-wagtail, march quietly about in the deadly abyss, and pick out worms from the watery jaws." Herodotus, ii. 68, tells exactly the same story; as the special friend of the crocodile among little birds, he mentions τὸν τροχῖλον (the sand-piper, Pluvianus Aegyptius).)

and in connection therewith the reflex action of sneezing may occur, since the light of the sun produces an irritation on the retina, and thence on the vagus; and since the sun shines upon the fine particles of watery slime cast forth in the act of sneezing, a meteoric appearance may be produced. This delicate observation of nature is here compressed into three words; in this concentration of whole, grand thoughts and pictures, we recognise the older poet. עטשׁ is the usual Semitic word for "sneezing" (Synon. זרר 2 Kings 4:35). תּהל shortened from תּהל, Job 31:26, Hiph. of הלל. The comparison of the crocodile's eyes with עפעפּי־שׁחר (as Job 3:9, from עפעף, to move with quick vibrations, to wink, i.e., tremble), or the rendering of the same as εἶδος ἑωσφόρου (lxx), is the more remarkable, as, according to Horus, i. 68, two crocodile's eyes are the hieroglyph

(Note: The eyes of the crocodile alone by themselves are no hieroglyph: how could they have been represented by themselves as crocodile's eyes? But in the Ramesseum and elsewhere the crocodile appears with a head pointing upwards in company with couching lions, and the eyes of the crocodile are rendered specially prominent. Near this group it appears again in a curved position, and quite small, but this time in company with a scorpion which bears a disc of the sun. The former (κροκοδείλου δύο ὀφθαλμοί) seems to me to be a figure of the longest night, the latter (κροκόδειλος κεκυφώς in Horapollo) of the shortest, so that consequently ἀνατολή and δύσις do not refer to the rising and setting of the sun, but to the night as prevailing against or succumbing to the day (communicated by Lauth from his researches on the astronomical monuments). But since the growth of the day begins with the longest night, and vice vers, the notions ἀνατολή and δύσις can, as it seems to me, retain their most natural signification; and the crocodile's eyes are, notwithstanding, a figure of the light shining forth from the darkness, as the crocodile's tail signifies black darkness (and Egypt as the black land).)

for dawn, ἀνατολή: ἐπειδ́περ (probably to be read ἐπειδὴ πρὸ) παντὸς σώματος ζώου οἱ ὀφθαλμοὶ ἐκ τοῦ βυθοῦ ἀναφαίνονται. There it is the peculiar brilliancy of the eyes of certain animals that is intended, which is occasioned either by the iris being furnished with a so-called lustrous substance, or there being in the pupil of the eye (as e.g., in the ostrich) that spot which, shining like metal, is called tapetum lucidum. For ἀναφαίνεσθαι of the eyes ἐκ τοῦ βυθοῦ, is the lustre of the pupil in the depth of the eye. The eyes of the crocodile, which are near together, and slanting, glimmer through the water, when it is only a few feet under water, with a red glow.

Nevertheless the comparison in Job 41:18 might also be intended differently. The inner (third) eyelid

continued...

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