Moreover the LORD answered Job, and said,
Verses 1-5. - Between the first and the second part of the Divine discourse, at the end of which Job wholly humbles himself (Job 42:1-6), is interposed a short appeal on the part of the Almighty, and a short reply on Job's part, which, however, is insufficient. God calls upon Job to make good his charges (vers. 1, 2). Job declines, acknowledges himself to be of no account, and promises silence and submission for the future (vers. 3-5). But something more is needed; and therefore the discourse is further prolonged. Verses 1, 2. - Moreover the Lord. Jehovah' as in Job 38:1 and in the opening chapters (see the comment on Job 12:9). Answered Job, and said, Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? rather, Can he that reproveth contend with the Almighty? (see the Revised Version). Does Job, the reprover, think that he can really contend with the Almighty? If so, then he that reproveth God, let him answer it; or, let him answer this; let him answer, that is, what has been urged in ch. 38 and 39.
Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? he that reproveth God, let him answer it.
Then Job answered the LORD, and said,
Verses 3, 4. - Then Job answered, the Lord, and said, Behold, I am vile; literally, I am light; i.e. I am of small account (see the Revised Version). It would be absurd for one so weak and contemptible to attempt to argue with the Almighty. What shall I answer thee? or, What should I answer thee! What should I say, if I were to attempt a reply? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth (see the comment on Job 21:5).
Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.
Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further.
Verse 5. - Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but l will proceed no further. The meaning is, "I have already spoken, not once, but more than once. Now I will be silent; I will say no more.' There is a sort of recognition that the arguments used were futile, but not a full and complete confession, as in Job 42:3.
Then answered the LORD unto Job out of the whirlwind, and said,
Verses 6-24. - Job's confession not having been sufficiently ample, the Divine discourse is continued through the remainder of this chapter, and through the whole of the next, the object being to break down the last remnants of pride and self-trust in the soul of the patriarch, and to bring him to complete submission and dependence on the Divine will. The argument falls under three heads - Can Job cope with God in his general providence (vers? 6-14)? can he even cope with two of God's creatures - with behemoth or the hippopotamus (vers. 15-24); with leviathan, or the crocodile (Job 41:1-34)? Verse 6. - Then answered the Lord unto Job out of the whirlwind, and said (comp. Job 38:1). The storm still continued, or, after a lull, had returned.
Gird up thy loins now like a man: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me.
Verse 7. - Gird up thy loins now like a man (see the comment on Job 38:3): I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me. Job is given every opportunity of making good his pleas before God. If he has anything to say that he really wishes to urge, God is ready, nay, anxious, to hear him.
Wilt thou also disannul my judgment? wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous?
Verse 8. - Wilt thou also (rather, even) dis-annul my judgment? i.e. maintain that my judgment towards thee has not been just and equitable, and therefore, so far as it lies in thy power, disannul it? Wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous? Dost thou think it necessary to accuse me of injustice, and condemn me. in order to establish thine own innocence? But there is no such necessity. The two things - my justice and thy innocence - are quite compatible. Only lay aside the notion that afflictions must be punitive.
Hast thou an arm like God? or canst thou thunder with a voice like him?
Verse 9. - Hast thou an arm like God? The might of God's arm is often dwelt upon in Scripture. He brought Israel out of Egypt ,' with a mighty hand and stretched-out arm" (Deuteronomy 5:15; Deuteronomy 7:19, etc.). "Thou hast a mighty arm: strong is thy hand, and high is thy right hand," says one of the psalmists (Psalm 89:13). "Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord!" says Isaiah (Isaiah 51:9). No human strength, not the strength of all men put together, can compare with it. Or canst thou thunder with a voice like him? (comp. Job 38:34, 35; and for the idea of thunder being the actual "voice of God," see Job 37:4, 5; Psalm 68:33; Psalm 77:18, etc.).
Deck thyself now with majesty and excellency; and array thyself with glory and beauty.
Verse 10. - Deck thyself now with majesty and excellency; and array thyself with glory and beauty. God is at all times "clothed with majesty and strength" (Psalm 93:1), "with glory and beauty" (Psalm 104:1). He "decks himself with light as with a garment" (Psalm 104:2). Job is challenged to array himself similarly.
Cast abroad the rage of thy wrath: and behold every one that is proud, and abase him.
Verse 11. - Cast abroad the rage of thy wrath. "Give vent," i.e., "to thy anger against the wicked, and let it be seen what thou canst do in the way of restraining evil and punishing transgressors." Behold every one that is proud, and abase him. If my moral government does not satisfy thee., Improve upon it. Put down those wicked ones whom thou sayest that I allow to prosper (Job 24:2-23); "abase" them in the dust; do what thou accusest me of not doing. Then wilt thou have established something of a claim to enter into controversy with me.
Look on every one that is proud, and bring him low; and tread down the wicked in their place.
Verses 12, 13. - Look on every one that is proud, and bring him low; and tread down the wicked in their place. Hide them in the dust together; and bind their faces in secret. The idea of ver. 11 is still further insisted on. Lot Job manifest himself as a power among men, if he cannot rival God in nature. Let him set the world to rights. Then he may claim to be heard with respect to the moral government of God.
Hide them in the dust together; and bind their faces in secret.
Then will I also confess unto thee that thine own right hand can save thee.
Verse 14. - Then will I also confess unto thee that thine own right hand and save thee. When he has done what he has been challenged to do in vers. 9-13, then Job may venture to contend with God. He will have established his own independence, and God will acknowledge him as an antagonist entitled to argue with him.
Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox.
Verses 15-24. - This passage, together with the whole of ch. 41, has been regarded by some critics as an interpolation. Its omission would certainly not affect the argument; and it is thought, in some respects, to contain traces of a later age than that which most commentators assign to the remainder of the book, or, at any rate, to the greater portion of it. The recurrence to the animal creation, when the subject seemed to have been completed (Job 39:30), is also a difficulty. But, on the other hand, as there is no variation, either in the manuscripts or in the versions, and no marked difference either of style or tone of thought between the rest of the book and this controverted passage, it is best regarded as an integral portion of the work, proceeding from the same author, although perhaps at a later period. No one denies that the style is that of the best Hebrew poetry, or that the book would be weakened by the excision of the passage. "Le style," says M. Renan, "est celui des meilleurs endroits du poeme. Nulle part la coupe n'est pins vigoreuse, le parallelisme plus sonore.' Verse 15. - Behold now behemoth. "Behemoth" is ordinarily the plural of behemah "a beast;" but it is scarcely possible to understand the word in this sense in the present passage, where it seems to be a noun singular, being followed by singular verbs, and represented by singular pronouns. Hence modern critics almost unanimously regard the word here as designating "some particular animal." The mammoth, the rhinoceros, the hippopotamus, and the elephant have been suggested. Of these the mammoth is precluded by the want of any evidence that it existed in Job's day, and the rhinoceros by the absence of any allusion to its peculiar feature. Authorities are divided almost equally between the elephant and the hippopotamus; but the best recent Hebraists and naturalists incline rather to the latter. Which I made with thee; i.e. "which I created at the same time as I created thee" (Genesis 1:24-26). He eateth grass as an ox; i.e. he is graminivorous, not carnivorous. This is admitted to be true of the hippopotamus, which lives in the Nile during the day, and at night emerges from the river, and devastates the crops of sugar-cane, rice, and millet.
Lo now, his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly.
Verse 16. - Lo now, his strength is in his loins. The strength of the hippopotamus is its principal characteristic. Weighing often two thousand kilogrammes, and of a short thick make, when roused to anger it has a force which is irresistible. In the water it upsets large beats; on land it forces its way through dense thickets and fences of all kinds. The loins are especially strong, being deep, broad, and immensely muscular. And his force is in the navel of his belly; rather, in the muscles of his bell'i. The word used (שׁרידים) occurs only in this place. It is a plural form, and therefore cannot designate a single object, like the navel. The root seems to be the Syriac serir "firm," whence Schultens proposes to translate שׁרירים by firmitates.
He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together.
Verse 17. - He moveth his tail like a cedar. The tail of the hippopotamus is remarkably short and thick. It only bends slightly, being stiff and unyielding, like the stem of a cedar. The sinews of his stones (rather, of his thighs) are wrapped together; or, interwoven one with another (so Professor Lee and Mr. Houghton).
His bones are as strong pieces of brass; his bones are like bars of iron.
Verse 18. - His bones are as strong pieces of brass; rather, as tubes of bronze. The great thigh-bones - μηρία of the Greeks - are probably intended. These are hollow, being filled with marrow, and are so strong that they may be well compared to "tubes of bronze." (On the identity of nekhushah or nekhosheth with "bronze" rather than "brass," see the article on "Brass," in Dr. W. Smith's 'Dictionary of the Bible,' vol. 1. p. 225.) His bones (rather, his ribs) are like bars of iron. Either the ribs, or the solid bones of the lower leg, forearm, etc., are intended.
He is the chief of the ways of God: he that made him can make his sword to approach unto him.
Verse 19. - He is the chief of the ways of God. This is the main argument in favour of the elephant, rather than the hippopotamus, being intended (see Schultens, ad loc.). It has, indeed, been argued that some specimens of the hippopotamus exceed the elephant in height and bulk (Canon Cook, in the 'Speaker's Commentary,' vol. 4. p. 19); but no modern naturalist certainly would place the former animal above the latter in any catalogue raisonee of animals arranged according to their size and importance. The elephant, however, may not have been known to the author of Job, or, at any rate, the Asiatic species, which seems not to have been imported into Assyria before the middle of the ninth century B.C. In this case, the hippopotamus might well seem to him the grandest of the works of God. He that made him can make his sword to approach unto him. This is explained to mean, "Only God can attack behemoth with success and slay him; man is powerless to do so" (Canon Cook, Stanley Leathes, Revised Version). But the Egyptians, from very early times, used to attack the hippopotamus and slay him (Wilkinson, in the author's 'Herodotus,' vol. 2, p. 100). It is better, therefore, to translate the passage, with Schultens, "He that made him hath furnished him with his sword," and to understand by "his sword" those sharp teeth with which the hippopotamus is said to "cut the grass as neatly as if it were mown and to sever, as if with shears a tolerably stout and thick stem" (Wood, ' Natural History,' vol. 1. p. 762). Compare the 'Theriaca' of Nicander, 11. 566, 567 -
Η ἵππου τὸν Νεῖλος ὑπὲρ Σάι'ν αἰθαλόεσσαν
Βόσκει ἀρούρησιν δὲ κακὴν ἐπιβάλλεται ἅρπην
Surely the mountains bring him forth food, where all the beasts of the field play.
Verse 20. - Surely the mountains bring him forth food. Neither the hippopotamus nor the elephant is an inhabitant of "mountains," according to our use of the word. But the harim (הָרִים) of the original is used of very moderate eminences. In the highly poetical language of Job, and especially of this passage, the term may well be applied to the hills on either side of the Nile, which approach closely to the river, and to this day furnish the hippopotamus with a portion of its food (see Hasselquist, ' Travels,' p. 188). Where all the beasts of the field play. By "the beasts of the field" seem to be meant the cattle and other do-mastic animals which are not driven from their pasture-grounds by the "river-horse" (Tristram, 'Nat. Hist. of the Bible,' p. 52).
He lieth under the shady trees, in the covert of the reed, and fens.
Verse 21. - He listh under the shady trees; or, under the lotus trees (Revised Version). The Lotus sylvestris or Lotus Cyrenaiea "grows abundantly an the hot banks of the Upper Nile" (Cook). and is thought to be the tree here intended (Schultens. Cook, Houghton, and others). But the identification is very doubtful. The dense shade of trees is sought alike by the hippopotamus and the elephant. In the covert of the reed, and fens. This is exactly descriptive of the hippopotamus; far less so of the elephant. Gordon Cumming says, "At every turn there occurred deep still pools, and occasional sandy islands, densely clad with lofty reeds Above and beyond these reeds stood trees of immense age. beneath which grew a rank kind of grass, on which the sea-cow (hippopotamus) delights to pasture" ('Lion-Hunter of South Africa,' p. 297).
The shady trees cover him with their shadow; the willows of the brook compass him about.
Verse 22. - The shady trees (or, the lotus trees) cover him with their shadow (see the comment on ver. 21); the willows of the brook compass him round about. The "willow of the brook" (Leviticus 23:40) is probably the Saliz Aegyptiaca or safsaf which grows plentifully in the Nile valley, fringing the course both of the Nile itself and of the many streams derived from it. The Saliz Babylonica or "weeping willow," is less likely.
Behold, he drinketh up a river, and hasteth not: he trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth.
Verse 23. - Behold, he drinketh up a river, and hasteth not; rather, behold let a river overflow he trembleth not (ἐὰν πλημμύρα γεηται, οὐ μὴ αἰσθηθῇ LXX). As an amphibious animal, the overflowing of a river has no terrors for the hippopotamus. But it would have some terrors for an elephant. He trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth. It is better to translate, he is steadfast (or, confident)' though Jordan swell even to his mouth. "Jordan" probably stands for any large and strong-flowing river. The conjecture that ירדן is a corruption of יר, which often stands for "the Nile," is ingenious, but unnecessary.
He taketh it with his eyes: his nose pierceth through snares.
Verse 24. - He taketh it with his eyes; rather, Shall one take him when he is looking on? "Can he be captured." i.e. "when his eyes are open, and when he sees what is intended? No. If captured at all, it must be by subtlety, when he is not on the watch." His nose pierceth through snares; rather, Or can one bore his nostril with cords? i.e. can we lead him away captive, with a ring or hook passed through his nose, and a cord attached (compare the next chapter, ver. 2)?