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Jamieson, Fausset & Brown :: Commentary on Job 38

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The Book of Job

Commentary by A. R. FAUSSET


Job 38:1-41.

      1. Jehovah appears unexpectedly in a whirlwind (already gathering Job 37:1, 2 ), the symbol of "judgment" ( Psa 50:3, 4, &c.), to which Job had challenged Him. He asks him now to get himself ready for the contest. Can he explain the phenomena of God's natural government? How can he, then, hope to understand the principles of His moral government? God thus confirms Elihu's sentiment, that submission to, not reasonings on, God's ways is man's part. This and the disciplinary design of trial to the godly is the great lesson of this book. He does not solve the difficulty by reference to future retribution: for this was not the immediate question; glimpses of that truth were already given in the fourteenth and nineteenth chapters, the full revelation of it being reserved for Gospel times. Yet even now we need to learn the lesson taught by Elihu and God in Job.

      2. this--Job.
      counsel--impugning My divine wisdom in the providential arrangements of the universe. Such "words" (including those of the friends) rather obscure, than throw light on My ways. God is about to be Job's Vindicator, but must first bring him to a right state of mind for receiving relief.

      3. a man--hero, ready for battle ( 1Cr 16:13 ), as he had wished ( Job 9:35 13:22 31:37 ). The robe, usually worn flowing, was girt up by a girdle when men ran, labored, or fought ( 1Pe 1:13 ).

      4. To understand the cause of things, man should have been present at their origin. The finite creature cannot fathom the infinite wisdom of the Creator ( Job 28:12 15:7, 8 ).
      understanding-- ( Pro 4:1 ).

      5. measures--of its proportions. Image from an architect's plans of a building.
      line--of measurement ( Isa 28:17 ). The earth is formed on an all-wise plan.

      6. foundations--not "sockets," as Margin.
      fastened--literally, "made to sink," as a foundation-stone let down till it settles firmly in the clay ( Job 26:7 ). Gravitation makes and keeps the earth a sphere.

      7. So at the founding of Zerubbabel's temple ( Ezr 3:10-13 ). So hereafter at the completion of the Church, the temple of the Holy Ghost ( Zec 4:7 ); as at its foundation ( Luk 2:13, 14 ).
      morning stars--especially beautiful. The creation morn is appropriately associated with these, it being the commencement of this world's day. The stars are figuratively said to sing God's praises, as in Psa 19:1 148:3. They are symbols of the angels, bearing the same relation to our earth, as angels do to us. Therefore they answer to "sons of God," or angels, in the parallel. See on JF & B for Job 25:5.

      8. doors--floodgates; these when opened caused the flood ( Gen 8:2 ); or else, the shores.
      womb--of chaos. The bowels of the earth. Image from childbirth ( Job 38:8, 9 Eze 32:2 Mic 4:10 ). Ocean at its birth was wrapped in clouds as its swaddling bands.

      10. brake up for--that is, appointed it. Shores are generally broken and abrupt cliffs. The Greek for "shore" means "a broken place." I broke off or measured off for it my limit, that is, the limit which I thought fit ( Job 26:10 ).

      11. stayed--Hebrew, "a limit shall be set to."

      12-15. Passing from creation to phenomena in the existing inanimate world.
      Hast thou--as God daily does.
      commanded the morning--to rise.
      since thy days--since thou hast come into being.
      his place--It varies in its place of rising from day to day, and yet it has its place each day according to fixed laws.

      13. take hold of the ends, &c.--spread itself over the earth to its utmost bounds in a moment.
      wicked--who hate the light, and do their evil works in the dark ( Job 24:13 ).
      shaken out of it--The corners (Hebrew, "wings" or "skirts") of it, as of a garment, are taken hold of by the dayspring, so as to shake off the wicked.

      14. Explaining the first clause of Job 38:13, as Job 38:15 does the second clause. As the plastic clay presents the various figures impressed on it by a seal, so the earth, which in the dark was void of all form, when illuminated by the dayspring, presents a variety of forms, hills, valleys, &c.
      turned--(Hebrew, "turns itself") alludes to the rolling cylinder seal, such as is found in Babylon, which leaves its impressions on the clay, as it is turned about; so the morning light rolling on over the earth.
      they stand--The forms of beauty, unfolded by the dawn, stand forth as a garment, in which the earth is clad.

      15. their light--by which they work; namely, darkness, which is their day ( Job 24:17 ), is extinguished by daylight.
      high--Rather, "The arm uplifted" for murder or other crime is broken; it falls down suddenly, powerless, through their fear of light.

      16. springs--fountains beneath the sea ( Psa 95:4, 5 ).
      search--Rather, "the inmost recesses"; literally, "that which is only found by searching," the deep caverns of ocean.

      17. seen--The second clause heightens the thought in the first. Man during life does not even "see" the gates of the realm of the dead ("death," Job 10:21 ); much less are they "opened" to him. But those are "naked before God" ( Job 26:6 ).

      18. Hast thou--as God doth ( Job 28:24 ).

      19-38. The marvels in heaven. "What is the way (to the place wherein) light dwelleth?" The origin of light and darkness. In Gen 1:3-5, 14-18, "light" is created distinct from, and previous to, light-emitting bodies, the luminaries of heaven.

      20. Dost thou know its place so well as to be able to guide, ("take" as in Isa 36:17 ) it to (but UMBREIT, "reach it in") its own boundary, that is, the limit between light and darkness ( Job 26:10 )?

      21. Or without the interrogation, in an ironical sense [UMBREIT].
      then--when I created light and darkness ( Job 15:7 ).

      22. treasures--storehouses, from which God draws forth snow and hail. Snow is vapor congealed in the air before it is collected in drops large enough to form hail. Its shape is that of a crystal in endless variety of beautiful figures. Hail is formed by rain falling through dry cold air.

      23. against the time of trouble--the time when I design to chastise men ( Exd 9:18 Jos 10:11 Rev 16:21 Isa 28:17 Psa 18:12, 13 Hag 2:17 ).

      24. is. . . parted--parts, so as to diffuse itself over the whole earth, though seeming to come from one point. Light travels from the sun to the earth, ninety millions of miles, in eight minutes.
      which scattereth--rather, "And by what way the east wind (personified) spreads (scattereth) itself." The light and east wind are associated together, as both come from one quarter, and often arise together ( Jon 4:8 ).

      25. waters--Rain falls, not in a mass on one spot, but in countless separate canals in the air marked out for them.
      way for the lightning-- ( Job 28:26 ).

      26. Since rain fails also on places uninhabited by man, it cannot be that man guides its course. Such rain, though man cannot explain the reason for it, is not lost. God has some wise design in it.

      27. As though the desolate ground thirsted for God's showers. Personification. The beauty imparted to the uninhabited desert pleases God, for whom primarily all things exist, and He has ulterior designs in it.

      28. Can any visible origin of rain and dew be assigned by man? Dew is moisture, which was suspended in the air, but becomes condensed on reaching the in the night--lower temperature of objects on the earth.

      29. Job 37:10.

      30. The unfrozen waters are hid under the frozen, as with a covering of stone.
      frozen--literally, "is taken"; the particles take hold of one another so as to cohere.

      31. sweet influences--the joy diffused by spring, the time when the Pleiades appear. The Eastern poets, Hafiz, Sadi, &c., describe them as "brilliant rosettes." GESENIUS translates: "bands" or "knot," which answers better the parallelism. But English Version agrees better with the Hebrew. The seven stars are closely "bound" together (see on JF & B for Job 9:9). "Canst thou bind or loose the tie?" "Canst thou loose the bonds by which the constellation Orion is held fast?" (See on JF & B for Job 9:9).

      32. Canst thou bring forth from their places or houses (Mazzaloth, 2Ki 23:5, Margin; to which Mazzaroth here is equivalent) into the sky the signs of the Zodiac at their respective seasons--the twelve lodgings in which the sun successively stays, or appears, in the sky?
      Arcturus--Ursa Major.
      his sons?--the three stars in his tail. Canst thou make them appear in the sky? ( Job 9:9 ). The great and less Bear are called by the Arabs "Daughters of the Bier," the quadrangle being the bier, the three others the mourners.

      33. ordinances--which regulate the alternations of seasons, &c. ( Gen 8:22 ).
      dominion--controlling influence of the heavenly bodies, the sun, moon, &c., on the earth (on the tides, weather) ( Gen 1:16 Psa 136:7-9 ).

      34. Jer 14:22; above Job 22:11, metaphorically.

      35. Here we are--at thy disposal ( Isa 6:8 ).

      36. inward parts. . . heart--But "dark clouds" ("shining phenomena") [UMBREIT]; "meteor" [MAURER], referring to the consultation of these as signs of weather by the husbandman ( Ecc 11:4 ). But Hebrew supports English Version. The connection is, "Who hath given thee the intelligence to comprehend in any degree the phenomena just specified?"
      heart--not the usual Hebrew word, but one from a root "to view"; perception.

      37. Who appoints by his wisdom the due measure of the clouds?
      stay--rather, "empty"; literally, "lay down" or "incline" so as to pour out.
      bottles of heaven--rain-filled clouds.

      38. groweth, &c.--rather, pour itself into a mass by the rain, like molten metal; then translate Job 38:38, "Who is it that empties," &c., "when," ? The English Version, however, is tenable: "Is caked into a mass" by heat, like molten metal, before the rain falls; "Who is it that can empty the rain vessels, and bring down rain at such a time?" ( Job 38:38 ).

      39. At Job 38:39 - 39:30, the instincts of animals. Is it thou that givest it the instinct to hunt its prey? ( Psa 104:21 ).
      appetite--literally, "life," which depends on the appetite" ( Job 33:20 ).

      40. lie in wait?--for their prey ( Psa 10:9 ).

      41. Luk 12:24. Transition from the noble lioness to the croaking raven. Though man dislikes it, as of ill omen, God cares for it, as for all His creatures.

Commentary on Esther 1 ← Prior Book
Introduction to the Psalms Next Book →
Commentary on Job 37 ← Prior Chapter
Commentary on Job 39 Next Chapter →

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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