Wesley's Notes on the Bible
Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down?
41:1 Leviathan - Several particulars in the following description, agree far better with the crocodile, than the whale. It is highly probable, that this is the creature here spoken of. Cord - Canst thou take him with a hook and a line, as anglers take ordinary fishes.
Canst thou put an hook into his nose? or bore his jaw through with a thorn?
41:2 Thorn - Or, with an iron hook, or instrument as sharp as a thorn; wherewith thou usest to carry little fishes.
Will he make many supplications unto thee? will he speak soft words unto thee?
41:3 Supplications - Doth he dread thine anger or power? Or will he earnestly beg thy favour? It is a metaphor from men in distress, who use these means to them to whose power they are subject.
Will he make a covenant with thee? wilt thou take him for a servant for ever?
Wilt thou play with him as with a bird? or wilt thou bind him for thy maidens?
Shall the companions make a banquet of him? shall they part him among the merchants?
Canst thou fill his skin with barbed irons? or his head with fish spears?
41:7 Fill - A whale's you may: but the skin of a crocodile is so hard that an iron or spear will not pierce it.
Lay thine hand upon him, remember the battle, do no more.
41:8 Lay - Seize upon him, if thou darest. Battle - But ere thou attempt it consider what thou art doing, and with whom, thou art going to fight. Do no more - Proceed no farther, draw back thy hand.
Behold, the hope of him is in vain: shall not one be cast down even at the sight of him?
41:9 Hope - The hope of taking or conquering him.
None is so fierce that dare stir him up: who then is able to stand before me?
41:10 Stand - To the battle. Me - To contend with me who created him?
Who hath prevented me, that I should repay him? whatsoever is under the whole heaven is mine.
41:11 Prevented - Hath laid the first obligation upon me, for which I am indebted to him. Who can be before - hand with me in kindnesses, since all things under heaven are mine.
I will not conceal his parts, nor his power, nor his comely proportion.
Who can discover the face of his garment? or who can come to him with his double bridle?
41:13 Discover - Or, uncover, or take off from him. Face - The upper or outward part of his garment, or, the garment itself: the word face being often redundant. And by the garment is meant the skin which covers the whole body; who dare attempt to touch his very skin? Much less to give him a wound. His double bridle - His fast jaws, which have some resemblance to a double bridle: whence the Greeks call those parts of the face which reach to the jaws on both sides, the bridles.
Who can open the doors of his face? his teeth are terrible round about.
41:14 Doors - His mouth. If it be open, none dare enter within, and if it be shut, none dare open it.
His scales are his pride, shut up together as with a close seal.
41:15 Shut - Closely compacted together, as things that are fastened together by a seal. This likewise is true of the crocodile, but the skin of the whale is smooth and entire without any scales at all.
One is so near to another, that no air can come between them.
They are joined one to another, they stick together, that they cannot be sundered.
By his neesings a light doth shine, and his eyes are like the eyelids of the morning.
41:18 Sneesings - This the crocodile is said frequently to do. Eyes - To which they seem very fitly compared, because the eyes of the crocodile are dull and dark under the water, but as soon as they appear above water, cast a bright and clear light; like the morning light, suddenly breaking forth after the dark night.
Out of his mouth go burning lamps, and sparks of fire leap out.
41:19 Lamps - This also better agrees with the crocodile, which breathes like the river - horse, of which ancient authors affirm, that his nostrils are very large, and he breathes forth a fiery smoke like that of a furnace.
Out of his nostrils goeth smoke, as out of a seething pot or caldron.
His breath kindleth coals, and a flame goeth out of his mouth.
41:21 Kindleth coals - An hyperbolical expression, denoting extraordinary heat.
In his neck remaineth strength, and sorrow is turned into joy before him.
41:22 And sorrow - Sorrow is his companion and harbinger, which attends upon him wheresoever he goes. So anger and fear are said by the poets to accompany the God of war.
The flakes of his flesh are joined together: they are firm in themselves; they cannot be moved.
His heart is as firm as a stone; yea, as hard as a piece of the nether millstone.
41:24 Nether mill - stone - Which being to bear the weight of the upper, ought to be the harder and stronger of the two.
When he raiseth up himself, the mighty are afraid: by reason of breakings they purify themselves.
41:25 Raiseth - Upon the top of the waters. Mighty - Even the stout - hearted. Breakings - By reason of their great danger and distress; which is expressed by this very word, Psal 60:2 Jonah 2:4. Purify - Those who ordinarily live in the neglect of God, they cry unto God in their trouble, and endeavour to purge their consciences from the guilt of their sins.
The sword of him that layeth at him cannot hold: the spear, the dart, nor the habergeon.
41:26 Hold - Heb. cannot stand, cannot endure the stroke, but will be broken by it. The crocodile's skin, no sword, nor dart, nor musquet bullet can pierce.
He esteemeth iron as straw, and brass as rotten wood.
The arrow cannot make him flee: slingstones are turned with him into stubble.
41:28 Turned - Hurt him no more than a blow with a little stubble.
Darts are counted as stubble: he laugheth at the shaking of a spear.
Sharp stones are under him: he spreadeth sharp pointed things upon the mire.
41:30 Stones - His skin is so impenetrable, that the sharpest stones or shells are as easy unto him as the mire.
He maketh the deep to boil like a pot: he maketh the sea like a pot of ointment.
41:31 Boil - To swell, and foam, and froth by his strong and vehement motion, as any liquor does when it is boiled in a pot, especially boiling ointment. The sea - The great river Nile, is called a sea, both in scripture, as Isa 11:15, and in other authors, as Euphrates is called the sea of Babylon, Isa 21:1 Jer 51:36. Lakes also are most frequently called seas both in the Old and New Testament: and in such lakes the crocodiles are as well as in the Nile.
He maketh a path to shine after him; one would think the deep to be hoary.
41:32 Shine - By the white froth or foam upon the waters. The same may be observed in the wake of a ship by night.
Upon earth there is not his like, who is made without fear.
He beholdeth all high things: he is a king over all the children of pride.
41:34 King, and c. - He can tame both the behemoth and leviathan, as strong and stout - hearted as they are. This discourse concerning them was brought in, to prove that it is God only, who can look upon proud men and abase them, bring them low, and hide them in the dust, he it is that beholdeth all high things, and wherein men dealt proudly, he is above them. He is king over all the children of pride, brutal or rational, and makes them either bend or break before him.