Job 9:9
Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south.
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(9) Which maketh Arcturus . . .—This shows us that in the time of this writer, whoever he was, his fellow-countrymen had attained to such knowledge of astronomy as is here implied in the specific names of definite constellations. The Great Bear is the glory of the northern hemisphere, Orion of the southern sky, and the Pleiades of the east; the chambers of the north are the unknown and unexplored regions, of which the speaker has no personal experience.

Job 9:9. Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, &c. — Who ordereth and disposeth them, as the word making is sometimes used in the Scriptures; governeth their rising and setting, and all their influences. These he names as constellations of greatest eminence; but under them he seems to comprehend all the stars, which, as they were created by God, so are under his government. Arcturus is a northern constellation, near that called the Bear. Orion is a more southerly constellation, that rises to us in December. The Pleiades is a constellation not far from Orion, which we call the Seven Stars. By the chambers (or inmost chambers, as the word signifies) of the south, he seems to understand those stars and constellations which are toward the southern pole, which are called inward chambers, because they are for the most part hid and shut up from these parts of the world.

9:1-13 In this answer Job declared that he did not doubt the justice of God, when he denied himself to be a hypocrite; for how should man be just with God? Before him he pleaded guilty of sins more than could be counted; and if God should contend with him in judgment, he could not justify one out of a thousand, of all the thoughts, words, and actions of his life; therefore he deserved worse than all his present sufferings. When Job mentions the wisdom and power of God, he forgets his complaints. We are unfit to judge of God's proceedings, because we know not what he does, or what he designs. God acts with power which no creature can resist. Those who think they have strength enough to help others, will not be able to help themselves against it.Which maketh Arcturus - This verse, with others of the same description in the book of Job, is of special importance, as they furnish an illustration of the views which prevailed among the patriarchs on the subject of astronomy. There are frequent references to the sciences in this book (see the Introduction), and there is no source of illustration of the views which prevailed in the earliest times in regard to the state of the sciences, so copious as can be found in this poem. The thoughts of people were early turned to the science of astronomy. Not only were they led to this by the beauty of the heavens, and by the instinctive promptings of the human mind to know something about them, but the attention of the Chaldeans and of the other Oriental nations was early drawn to them by the fact that they were shepherds, and that they passed much of their time in the open air at night, watching their flocks.

Having nothing else to do, and being much awake, they would naturally contrive to relieve the tediousness of the night by watching the movements of the stars; and they early gave employment to their talents, by endeavoring to ascertain the influence which the stars exerted over the fates of people, and to their imagination, by dividing the heavens into portions, having a fancied resemblance to certain animals, and by giving them appropriate names. Hence, arose the arrangement of the stars into constellations, and the names which they still bear. The Hebrew word rendered Arcturus, is עשׁ ‛ayı̂sh. The Septuagint renders it, Πλειάδα Pleiada - the Pleiades. Jerome, Arcturum. The Hebrew word usually means a moth, Job 4:19; Job 13:28; Job 27:18. It also denotes the splendid constellation in the northern hemisphere, which we call Ursa Major, the Great Bear, Arcturus, or the Wain; compare Niebuhr, Des. of Arabia, p. 114.

The word עשׁ ‛ayı̂sh does not literally mean a bear, but is made by aphaeresis from the Arabic nas, by the excision of the initial n - as is common in Arabic; see Bochart, Hieroz. P. II. Lib. I. c. xvi. p. 113, 114. The word in Arabic means a bier, and is the name given to the constellation which we denominate Ursa Major, "because," says Bochart, "the four stars, which are a square, are regarded as a bier, on which a dead body is borne. The three following (the tail of the bear) are the daughters or sons which attend the funeral as mourners." This name is often given to this constellation in Arabic. The Arabic name is Elna'sch, the bier. "The expression," says Ideler, "denotes particularly the bier on which the dead are borne, and taken in this sense, each of the two biers in the Ursa Major and Ursa Minor is accompanied by three mourning-women. The biers and the mourning-women together, are called Benâtna'sch, literally, daughters of the bier; that is, those who pertain to the bier."

Untersuchungen uber den Ursprung und die Bedeutung der Sternnamen, S. 419; compare Job 38:32 : "Canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons?" Schultens regards the word עשׁ ‛ayı̂sh as synonymous with the Arabic asson, night-vigil, from assa to go about by night, and supposes this constellation to be so called, because it always revolves around the pole, and never sets. The situation and figure of this constellation are well known. It is seen at all times in the northern part of the heavens, perpetually revolving around the North Star, and two of its principal stars point to the North Star always. Its resemblance to a bear, is quite fanciful - as it might be imagined as well to resemble any other object. The design of this fancy was merely to assist the memory. The only thing which seems to have suggested it was its slight resemblance to an animal followed by its young. Thus, the stars, now known as the "tail," might have been supposed to resemble the cubs of a bear following their dam.

The comparison of the constellation to a bier, and the movement to a funeral procession, with the sons or daughters of the deceased following on in the mourning train, is much more poetical and beautiful. This constellation is so conspicuous, that it has been an object of interest in all ages, and has been one of the groups of stars most attentively observed by navigators, as a guide in sailing. The reason was, probably, that as it constantly revolved around the North Pole, it could always be seen in clear weather, and thus the direction in which they were sailing, could always be told. It has had a great variety of names. The name Ursa Major, or the Great Bear, is that which is commonly given to it. It is a remarkable fact, also, that while this name was given to it in the East a tribe of the American Indians - the Iroquois, also gave the same name of the Great Bear to it. This is remarkable, because, so far as known, they had no communication with each other, and because the name is perfectly arbitrary.

Is this an evidence that the natives of our country, North America, derived their origin from some of the nations of the East? In some parts of England the constellation is called "Charles' Wain," or Wagon, from its fancied resemblance to a waggon, drawn by three horses in a line. Others call it the Plow. The whole number of visible stars in this constellation is eighty seven, of which one is of the first, three of the second, seven of the third, and about twice as many of the fourth magnitude. The constellations of Ursa Major and Ursa Minor were represented by the ancients, under the image of a waggon drawn by a team of horses. This is alluded to by the Greek poet, Aratus, in an address to the Athenians:

The one called Helix, soon as day retires.

Observed with ease lights up his radiant fires;

The other smaller and with feebler beams,

In a less circle drives his lazy teams:

But more adapted for the sailor's guide,

Whene'er by night he tempts the briny tide.

Among the Egyptians these two constellations are represented by the figures of bears, instead of waggons. Whence the Hebrew name is derived is not quite certain; but if it be from the Arabic, it probably means the same - a bier. There seems no reason to doubt, however, that the Ursa Major is intended; and that the idea here is, that the greatness of God is shown by his having made this beautiful constellation.

Orion - The Vulgate renders this Orion, the Septuagint, "Εσπερον Hesperon, Hesperus - that is, the evening star, Venus. The word כסיל kesı̂yl, is from כסל kâsal, to be fat or fleshy; to be strong, lusty, firm; and then to be dull, sluggish, stupid - as fat persons usually are. Hence, the word כסיל kesı̂yl means a fool, Psalm 49:11; Proverbs 1:32; Proverbs 10:1, It is used here, however, to denote a constellation, and by most interpreters it is supposed to denote the constellation Orion, which the Orientals call a giant. "They appear to have conceived of this constellation under the figure of an impious giant bound upon the sky." Gesenius. Hence the expression, Job 38:31; "Canst thou loose the bands of Orion?" According to the Eastern tradition, this giant was Nimrod, the founder of Babylon, afterward translated to the skies; see the notes at Isaiah 13:10, where it is rendered constellation. Virgil speaks of it as the Stormy Orion:


9. maketh—rather, from the Arabic, "covereth up." This accords better with the context, which describes His boundless power as controller rather than as creator [Umbreit].

Arcturus—the great bear, which always revolves about the pole, and never sets. The Chaldeans and Arabs, early named the stars and grouped them in constellations; often travelling and tending flocks by night, they would naturally do so, especially as the rise and setting of some stars mark the distinction of seasons. Brinkley, presuming the stars here mentioned to be those of Taurus and Scorpio, and that these were the cardinal constellations of spring and autumn in Job's time, calculates, by the precession of equinoxes, the time of Job to be eight hundred eighteen years after the deluge, and one hundred eighty-four before Abraham.

Orion—Hebrew, "the fool"; in Job 38:31 he appears fettered with "bands." The old legend represented this star as a hero, who presumptuously rebelled against God, and was therefore a fool, and was chained in the sky as a punishment; for its rising is at the stormy period of the year. He is Nimrod (the exceedingly impious rebel) among the Assyrians; Orion among the Greeks. Sabaism (worship of the heavenly hosts) and hero-worship were blended in his person. He first subverted the patriarchal order of society by substituting a chieftainship based on conquest (Ge 10:9, 10).

Pleiades—literally, "the heap of stars"; Arabic, "knot of stars." The various names of this constellation in the East express the close union of the stars in it (Am 5:8).

chambers of the south—the unseen regions of the southern hemisphere, with its own set of stars, as distinguished from those just mentioned of the northern. The true structure of the earth is here implied.

Maketh; either,

1. Created them; or rather,

2. Ordereth and disposeth them, as the word making is sometimes used in Scripture; governeth their rising and setting, and all their influences.

Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south: these he names as stars or constellations of greatest note and eminency; for so they are both in Scripture and other authors, and such as have, or are thought to have, a special influence in raising storms and tempests; but under them lie seems to comprehend all the stars, which as they were created by God, so are under his government. Arcturus is a northern constellation, near that called the Bear, which riseth to us about the beginning of September, and by its rising produceth (as Pliny affirms) horrible storms and tempests. Orion is a more southerly constellation, that ariseth to us in December, and is noted by astronomers for raising fearful winds and tempests, both by sea and land. The Pleiades is a constellation not far from Orion, and near that called the Bull, which we call the Seven Stars: to us it riseth at the beginning of the spring, and by its rising causeth rains and tempests, and therefore is unwelcome to mariners at sea. By the chambers (or inmost and secret chambers, as the word signifies) of the south, he seems to understand those stars and constellations which are towards the southern pole, which are fitly called inward chambers, because they are for the most part hid and shut up (as chambers commonly are) from these parts of the world, and do not rise or appear to us till the beginning of summer, when they also raise southerly winds and tempests, as astronomers observe.

Which maketh Arcturus,.... By which is meant not a single star, but a collection of stars, as Bar Tzemach and Ben Melech, a constellation; hence we read of Arcturus and his sons, Job 38:32. Aben Ezra understands it of the seven stars, but these are thought to be meant by the Pleiades, later mentioned; this constellation is about the Arctic or northern pole, in the tail of the Bear, appears in the beginning of September, and brings stormy weather, when winter is at hand (h):

Orion and Pleiades; the former of these also is not a single star, but a constellation; by the help of a telescope no less than two thousand are numbered, and in Hebrew it is called "Cesil"; hence the month "Cisleu" has its name, which answers to part of November and part of December, at which time this constellation is seen, and is attended with stormy weather; hence Virgil calls it Nimbosus Orion (i): and the latter are what we call the Seven Stars, sometimes by writers called Vergiliae, because they appear in the spring; and have their name of Pleiades from sailing, because at this time of year mariners go out with their ships; though some say this constellation is not favourable to them, causing rains and tempests (k); these three divide the whole year:

and the chambers of the south: the stars in the southern hemisphere, about the Antarctic, or southern pole; and called "chambers", as Aben Ezra observes, because hidden, and are not seen by those in the other hemisphere, as if they were in a chamber: now the making of these is rightly ascribed to God, who made all the stars, Genesis 1:16; though this may rather regard the continuance of them in their being, who calls them by name, brings out their host by number, directs their course, keeps them in their orbs, and preserves their influence.

(h) Sophoclis Oedipus, Tyran. ver. 1147. (i) Aeneid. l. 1. Vid. Horat. Carmin. l. 3. Ode 27. Epod. 15. (k) "----pleiadum choro Scindente nubes". Horat. Carmin. l. 4. Ode 14.

Which maketh {d} Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south.

(d) These are the names of certain stars by which he means that all stars both known and unknown are at his appointment.

9. The Hebrew names are ‘âsh (‘ayish ch. Job 38:32), keseel, and keemah. These names may possibly denote the Bear, Orion and the Pleiades or seven stars; there is, however, considerable uncertainty. The word keseel means “fool,” which is to be interpreted as the Syr. and Chal. in this place, giant, cf. Genesis 6:4, that is, some heaven-daring rebel, who was chained to the sky for his impiety. Such mythological ideas belong to a time anterior to authentic history, though as still lingering in the popular mind they are alluded to in such poems as Job. In Isaiah 13:10 the word is used in the general sense of constellations. Keemah perhaps means heap, and is a natural name for the Pleiades. Others have interpreted the expressions differently (see Delitzsch Comment. p. 127).

the chambers of the south] are probably the great spaces and deep recesses of the southern hemisphere of the heavens, with the constellations which they contain. These being known to exist, but only suggested to the eye, are alluded to generally.

Verse 9. - Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades; literally, which maketh 'Ash Kesil and Kimah. The rendering of the LXX. (ὁ ποιῶν Πλειάδα καὶ Ἕσπερον καὶ Ἀρκτοῦρον), supported, as it is, by most of the other ancient versions and by the Targums, has caused the stellar character of these names to be generally recognized; but the exact meaning of each term is, to some extent, still a matter of dispute. On the whole, it seems most probable that 'Ash or 'Aish (Job 38:32), designates "the Great Bear," called by the Arabs Nahsh while Kesil is the name of the constellation of Orion, and Kimah of that of the Pleiades. The word 'Ash means "a litter," and may be compared with the Greek ἅμαξα and our own" Charles's Wain," both of them names given to the Great Bear, from a fancied resemblance of its form to that of a vehicle. Kesil means "an insolent, rich man" (Lee); and is often translated by "fool" in the Book of Proverbs 14:16; Proverbs 15:20; Proverbs 19:1; Proverbs 21:20, etc. It seems to have been an epitheton usitatum of Nimrod, who, according to Oriental tradition, made war upon the gods, and was bound in the sky for his impiety - the constellation being thenceforth called "the Giant" (Gibbor)' or "the insolent one' (Kesil), and later by the Greeks "Orion" (comp. Amos 5:8; and infra' Job 38:31). Kimah undoubtedly designates "the Pleiades." It occurs again, in connection with Kesil in Job 38:31, and in Amos 5:8 The meaning is probably "a heap," "a cluster" (Lee); which was also the Greek idea: Πλειάδες, ὅτι πλείους ὁμοοῦ κατὰ μίαν συναγωγήν (Eustath., 'Comment. in Hom. II.,' 18:488); and which has been also inimitably expressed by Tennyson in the line, "Like a swarm of dazzling fireflies tangled in a silver braid." And the chambers of the south. The Chaldeans called the zodiacal constellations "mansions of the sun" and "of the moon" ('Ancient Monarchies,' vol. it. p. 575); but these do not seem to be here intended. Rather Job has in his mind those immense spaces of the sky which lie behind his southern horizon; how far extending, he knows not. Though the circumnavigation of Africa was not effected until about r c. 600, yet it is not improbable that he may have derived from travellers or merchants some knowledge of the Southern hemisphere. Job 9:9 8 Who alone spreadeth out the heavens,

And walketh upon the heights of the sea;

9 Who made the Bear, Orion, and the Pleiades,

And the chambers of the south;

10 Who doeth great things past finding out,

And wondrous things without number.

Ewald, Hirzel, and others, understand נטה (Job 9:8) according to Psalm 18:10 : He letteth down the clouds of heaven, and walketh on the heights of the sea of clouds, i.e., high above the towering thunder-clouds. But parallel passages, such as Isaiah 40:22; Psalm 104:2, and especially Isaiah 44:24, show that Job 9:8 is to be understood as referring to the creation of the firmament of heaven; and consequently נטה is to be taken in the sense of expandere, and is a form of expression naturally occurring in connection with the mention of the waters which are separated by means of the רקיע. The question arises, whether ים here means the sea of waters above the firmament or upon the earth. According to the idea of the ancients, the waters which descend as rain have their habitation far away in the infinite expanse of the sky; the ocean of the sky (Egyptian Nun-pa), through which the sun-god Ra sails every day, is there. It is possible that "the heights of the sea" here, and perhaps also "the roots of the sea" (Job 36:30), may mean this ocean of the sky, as Hahn and Schlottmann suppose. But it is not necessary to adopt such an explanation, and it is moreover hazardous, since this conception of the celestial θάλασσα is not found elsewhere (apart from Revelation 4:6; Revelation 15:2; Revelation 22:1). Why may not בּמתי, which is used of the heights of the clouds (Isaiah 14:14), be used also of the waves of the sea which mount up towards heaven (Psalm 107:26)? God walks over them as man walks on level ground (lxx περιπατῶν ἐπὶ θαλάσσης ὡς ἐπ ̓ ἐδάφους); they rise or lie calmly beneath His feel according to His almighty will (comp. Habakkuk 3:15).

Job next describes God as the Creator of the stars, by introducing a constellation of the northern (the Bear), one of the southern (Orion), and one of the eastern sky (the Pleiades). עשׁ, contracted from נעשׁ, Arabic na‛š, a bier, is the constellation of seven stars (septentrio or septentriones) in the northern sky. The Greater and the Lesser Bear form a square, which the Arabs regarded as a bier; the three other stars, benâth n‛asch, i.e., daughters of the bier (comp. Job 38:32), seem to be the mourners. כּסיל is Orion chained to the sky, which the ancients regarded as a powerful giant, and also as an insolent, foolish fellow

(Note: The Arabic jâhil is similar, which combines the significations, an ignorant, foolhardy, and passionate man (vid., Fleischer, Ali's hundert Sprche, S. 115f.).)

(K. O. Mller, Kleine deutsche Schriften, ii. 125). כּימה is the Pleiades, a constellation consisting of seven large and other smaller stars, Arabic turayyâ, which, like the Hebrew (comp. Arab. kûmat, cumulus), signifies the heap, cluster (vid., Job 38:31), and is compared by the Persian poets to a bouquet formed of jewels. It is the constellation of seven stars, whose rising and setting determined the commencement and end of their voyages (πλειάς, probably equals constellation of navigation), and is to be distinguished from the northern septentriones. תּימן חדרי are, according to the Targ., the chambers of the constellations on the south side of the heavens, as also most expositors explain them (Mercier: sidera quae sunt in altero hemisphaerio versus alterum polum antarcticum), according to which תּימן, or written defectively תּמן, would therefore be equivalent to תמן כוכבי; or perhaps, in a more general meaning, the regions of the southern sky (penetralia), which are veiled, or altogether lost to view (Hirzel). In v. 10, Job says, almost verbatim, what Eliphaz had said (Job 5:10). Job agrees with the friends in the recognition of the power of God, and intentionally describes those phases of it which display its terrible majesty. But while the friends deduce from this doctrine the duty of a humble deportment on the part of the sufferer, Job uses it to support the cheerless truth that human right can never be maintained in opposition to the absolute God.

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