When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)When he established the clouds above.—Literally, made firm; comp. Genesis 1:6.
When he strengthened the fountains of the deep.—More probably, when they flowed forth with strength.Job 22:14 (see the note), i. e., the great vault of heaven stretched over the deep seas. Established, Heb. strengthened, by his word and decree, which alone upholds the clouds in the air, which of themselves are thin and weak bodies, and would quickly be dissolved or dispersed. When he strengthened the fountains; when he shut up the several fountains in the cavities of the earth, and kept them there as it were by a song hand for the use of mankind.
Of the deep; which have their original from the deep, either from the sea, or from the abyss of waters in the bowels of the earth. Job 26:8;
when he strengthened the fountains of the deep; gave them strength, and still continues it, to cast out their waters, which run into the main sea, and feed and fill it, and return to their place again; which strength of flowing and reflowing can be attributed to nothing else but to the great power of God, Genesis 7:11.When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)28. established the clouds) Rather, made firm the skies, R.V.
he strengthened] Rather, when the fountains of the deep became strong, R.V. The same Heb. word is used of the sea, Nehemiah 9:11; Isaiah 43:16, “the mighty waters.”Verse 28. - When he established the clouds above. The reference is to the waters above the firmament (Genesis 1:7), which are suspended in the ether; and the idea is that God thus made this medium capable of sustaining them. Vulgate, Quando aethera firmabat sursum; Septuagint, "When he made strong the clouds above" (comp. Job 26:8). When he strengthened the fountains of the deep; rather, as in the Revised Version, when the fountains of the deep became strong; i.e. when the great deep (Genesis 7:11) burst forth with power (comp. Job 38:16). The Septuagint anticipates the following details by here rendering, "When he made secure the fountains of the earth beneath the heaven." Psalm 2:1-12 opposes to His adversaries the self-testimony: "I will speak concerning a decree! Jahve said unto me: Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten Thee;" so Wisdom here unfolds her divine patent of nobility: she originates with God before all creatures, and is the object of God's love and joy, as she also has the object of her love and joy on God's earth, and especially among the sons of men:
"Jahve brought me forth as the beginning of His way,
As the foremost of His works from of old."
The old translators render קנני (with Kametz by Dech; vid., under Psalm 118:5) partly by verbs of creating (lxx ἔκτισε, Syr., Targ. בּראני), partly by verbs of acquiring (Aquila, Symmachus, Theodotion, Venet. ἐκτήσατο; Jerome, possedit); Wisdom appears also as created, certainly not without reference to this passage, Sir. 1:4, προτέρα πάντων ἕκτισται σοφία; 1:9, αὐτὸς ἕκτισεν αὐτήν; 24:8, ὁ κτίσας με. In the christological controversy this word gained a dogmatic signification, for they proceeded generally on the identity of σοφία ὑποστατική (sapientia substantialis) with the hypostasis of the Son of God. The Arians used the ἔκτισέ με as a proof of their doctrine of the filius non genitus, sed factus, i.e., of His existence before the world began indeed, but yet not from eternity, but originating in time; while, on the contrary, the orthodox preferred the translation ἐκτήσατο, and understood it of the co-eternal existence of the Son with the Father, and agreed with the ἔκτισε of the lxx by referring it not to the actual existence, but to the position, place of the Son (Athanasius: Deus me creavit regem or caput operum suorum; Cyrill.: non condidit secundum substantiam, sed constituit me totius universi principium et fundamentum). But (1) Wisdom is not God, but is God's; she has personal existence in the Logos of the N.T., but is not herself the Logos; she is the world-idea, which, once projected, is objective to God, not as a dead form, but as a living spiritual image; she is the archetype of the world, which, originating from God, stands before God, the world of the idea which forms the medium between the Godhead and the world of actual existence, the communicated spiritual power in the origination and the completion of the world as God designed it to be. This wisdom the poet here personifies; he does not speak of the person as Logos, but the further progress of the revelation points to her actual personification in the Logos. And (2) since to her the poet attributes an existence preceding the creation of the world, he thereby declares her to be eternal, for to be before the world is to be before time. For if he places her at the head of the creatures, as the first of them, so therewith he does not seek to make her a creature of this world having its commencement in time; he connects her origination with the origination of the creature only on this account, because that priori refers and tends to the latter; the power which was before heaven and earth were, and which operated at the creation of the earth and of the heavens, cannot certainly fall under the category of the creatures around and above us. Therefore (3) the translation with ἔκτισεν has nothing against it, but it is different from the κτίσις of the heavens and the earth, and the poet has intentionally written not בּראני, but קנני. Certainly קנה, Arab. knâ, like all the words used of creating, refers to one root-idea: that of forging (vid., under Genesis 4:22), as ברא does to that of cutting (vid., under Genesis 1:1); but the mark of a commencement in time does not affix itself to קנה in the same way as it does to ברא, which always expresses the divine production of that which has not hitherto existed. קנה comprehends in it the meanings to create, and to create something for oneself, to prepare, parare (e.g., Psalm 139:13), and to prepare something for oneself, comparare, as κτίζειν and κτᾶσθαι, both from kshi, to build, the former expressed by struere, and the latter by sibi struere. In the קנני, then, there are the ideas, both that God produced wisdom, and that He made Himself to possess it; not certainly, however, as a man makes himself to possess wisdom from without, Proverbs 4:7. But the idea of the bringing forth is here the nearest demanded by the connection. For ראשׁית דּרכּו is not equivalent to בּראשׁית דרכו (Syr., Targ., Luther), as Jerome also reads: Ita enim scriptum est: adonai canani bresith dercho (Ephesians 140.ad Cyprian.); but it is, as Job 40:19 shows, the second accusative of the object (lxx, Aquila, Symmachus, Theodotion). But if God made wisdom as the beginning of His way, i.e., of His creative efficiency (cf. Revelation 3:14 and Colossians 1:15), the making is not to be thought of as acquiring, but as a bringing forth, revealing this creative efficiency of God, having it in view; and this is also confirmed by the חוללתי (genita sum; cf. Genesis 4:1, קניתי, genui) following. Accordingly, קדם מפעליו (foremost of His works) has to be regarded as a parallel second object. accusative. All the old translators interpret קדם as a preposition [before], but the usage of the language before us does not recognise it as such; this would be an Aramaism, for קדם, Daniel 7:7, frequently מן־קדם (Syr., Targ.), is so used. But as קדם signifies previous existence in space, and then in time (vid., Orelli, Zeit und Ewigkeit, p. 76), so it may be used of the object in which the previous existence appears, thus (after Sir. 1:4): προτέραν τῶν ἔργων αὐτοῦ (Hitzig).
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