Job 41:21
His breath kindleth coals, and a flame goeth out of his mouth.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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.His breath kindleth coals - It seems to be a flame, and to set on fire all around it. So Hesiod, "Theog." i. 319, describing the creation of the Chimera, speaks of it as

πνέουσαν ἀμαισάκετον πῦρ

pneousan amaimaketon pur.

"Breathing unquenchable fire," So Virgil, "Georg." ii.:140:

Haec loca non tauri spirantes naribus ignem Invertere.

"Bulls breathing fire these furrows ne'er have known."

Warton

A similar phrase is found in a sublime description of the anger of the Almighty, in Psalm 18:8 :

There went up a smoke out of his nostrils,

And fire out of his mouth devoured:

Coals were kindled by it.

21. kindleth coals—poetical imagery (Ps 18:8). An hyperbolical expression, noting only extraordinary heat.

His breath kindles coals, and a flame goeth out of his mouth. Hyperbolical expressions, which the above observations may seem to justify. His breath kindleth coals, and a flame goeth out of his mouth.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 21. - His breath kindleth coals, and a flame goeth out of his mouth. All the representations of dragons breathing smoke and flames, found in the myths and sagas of so many countries, probably rest upon the observed fact of team or spray streaming forth from the mouth and widely opened nostrils of the crocodile. The steam has seemed to be smoke, and smoke has naturally suggested flame and fire. Job 41:2118 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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