Job 41:5
Wilt thou play with him as with a bird? or wilt thou bind him for thy maidens?
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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.Wilt thou play with him as with a bird? - A bird that is tamed. The art of taming birds was doubtless early practiced, and they were kept for amusement. But the leviathan could not thus be tamed.

Or wilt thou bind him for thy maidens? - For their amusement. For such purposes doubtless, birds were caught and caged. There is great force in this question, on the supposition that the crocodile is intended. Nothing could be more incongruous than the idea of securing so rough and unsightly a monster for the amusement of tender and delicate females.

5. a bird?—that is, tamed. As with a bird; as children play with little birds kept in cages, or tied with strings, which they do at their pleasure, and without any fear?

For thy maidens; for thy little daughters; which he mentions rather than little sons, because such are most subject to fear.

Wilt thou play with him as with a bird?.... In the hand or cage: leviathan plays in the sea, but there is no playing with him by land, Psalm 104:26;

or wilt thou bind him for thy maidens? or young girls, as Mr. Broughton renders it; tie him in a string, as birds are for children to play with? Now, though crocodiles are very pernicious to children, and often make a prey of them when they approach too near the banks of the Nile, or whenever they have an opportunity of seizing them (k); yet there is an instance of the child of an Egyptian woman that was brought up with one, and used to play with it (l), though, when grown up, was killed by it; but no such instance can be given of the whale of any sort.

(k) Aelian. l. 10. c. 21. (l) Maxim. Tyr. Sermon. 38.

Wilt thou play with him as with a bird? or wilt thou bind him for thy maidens?
5. Wilt thou make a pet thing of him? The commentators quote Catullus, passer, deliciœ meœ puellœ.

Verse 5. - Wilt thou play with him as with a bird? The Egyptians were especially fond of pet animals, and Job's countrymen, it may be assumed, were the same. Besides dogs, we find the Egyptians keeping tame antelopes, leopards, and monkeys. A tame crocodile would certainly seem to be an extraordinary pet, but Herodotus says that the Egyptians tamed them (2:39), and Sir Gardner Wilkinson informed me that he had known some tame ones at Cairo. The Mesopotamian Arabs domesticate falcons to assist them in the chase of the bustard and the gazelle (Layard, 'Nineveh and Babylon,' pp. 481-483). And this usage, though not represented on the Assyrian monuments, is likely to have been ancient. Or wilt thou bind him for thy maidens? i.e. Wilt thou so secure him that he may be delivered over to thy handmaidens, to be made their pet and playfellow? Job 41:5 1 Dost thou draw the crocodile by a hoop-net,

And dost thou sink his tongue into the line?!

2 Canst thou put a rush-ring into his nose,

And pierce his cheeks with a hook?

3 Will he make many supplications to thee,

Or speak flatteries to thee?

4 Will he make a covenant with thee,

To take him as a perpetual slave?

5 Wilt thou play with him as a little bird,

And bind him for thy maidens?

In Job 3:8, לויתן signified the celestial dragon, that causes the eclipses of the sun (according to the Indian mythology, râhu the black serpent, and ketu the red serpent); in Psalm 104:26 it does not denote some great sea-saurian after the kind of the hydrarchus of the primeval world,

(Note: Vid., Grsse, Beitrge, S. 94ff.)

but directly the whale, as in the Talmud (Lewysohn, Zoologie des Talm. 178f.). Elsewhere, however, the crocodile is thus named, and in fact as תּנּין also, another appellation of this natural wonder of Egypt, as an emblem of the mightiness of Pharaoh (vid., on Psalm 74:13.), as once again the crocodile itself is called in Arab. el-fir‛annu. The Old Testament language possesses no proper name for the crocodile; even the Talmudic makes use of קרוקתא equals κροκόδειλος (Lewysohn, 271). לויתן is the generic name of twisted, and תנין long-extended monsters. Since the Egyptian name of the crocodile has not been Hebraized, the poet contents himself in תּמשׁך with making a play upon its Egyptian, and in Arab. tmsâḥ, timsâḥ,

(Note: Herodotus was acquainted with this name (χάμψαι equals κροκόδειλοι); thus is the crocodile called also in Palestine, where (as Tobler and Joh. Roth have shown) it occurs, especially in the river Damr near Tantra.)


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