Notes on Job 40-41

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It is Jehovah-God, then, who alone orders, alone knows, with a beneficent wisdom which takes in every creature, and not least those which are obviously outside all the care or even ken of man. Is he, then, either to contend with God, or, if he be so presumptuous, can he pretend to instruct God? Job feels and owns his vileness; he proceeds no farther in such a path; and Jehovah gives a final word in what follows.
Chapter 40.
And Jehovah answered Job, and said,
Is the censurer to correct with the Almighty?
The reprover of God, let him answer it.
And Job answered Jehovah, and said,
Lo I am vile: what shall I answer Thee?
I have laid my hand on my mouth;
Once have I spoken, but I will not reply,
Yea, twice, but I will add no more.
And Jehovah answered Job out of the storm, and said,
Gird up now thy loins like a man:
I will ask thee, and cause thou Me to know.
Wilt thou also annul My judgment?
Wilt thou condemn Me that thou mayest be justified?
Or hast thou an arm like God (El),
And with a voice like Him dost thou thunder?
Put on, then, majesty and grandeur,
And honor and beauty put on;
Scatter abroad the outbursts of thine anger,
See every proud one, and humble him;
See every proud one—make him bow,
And tread down the wicked in their place;
Hide them in the dust together; bind their faces in secret:
Then even I will praise thee, that thy right hand saveth thee.
Behold, now, Behemoth, which I made with thee:
He eateth chives as an ox. Behold, now, his strength [is] in his loins,
And his might in the muscles of his belly.
As a cedar he bendeth his tail;
The sinews of his thighs are knit together,
His bones [are] tubes of copper, his spine as a bar of iron.
He [is] chief of the ways of God: his Maker presented his scythe,
For the mountains bring food for him,
And all the beasts of the field play there.
Under the lotuses he lieth down,
In the covert of the reed and the fen;
The lotuses cover him with their shade,
The osiers of the water-course cover him.
Lo, a flood overfloweth—he hasteth not away,
He is confident when a Jordan rusheth to his mouth.
Doth [one] take him before his eyes?
Doth [he] pierce through the nose with snares?
Chapter 41
Dost thou draw leviathan with an angle,
Or, with a cord thou lettest down, his tongue?
Dost thou put a rush in his nose,
Or bore his jaw with a thorn?
Will he multiply supplications to thee?
Will he speak to thee tender things?
Will he make a covenant with thee?
Wilt thou take him [for] ever as a slave?
Wilt thou sport with him as a bird, and bind him for thy girls?
Let partners bargain for him—divide him among traders!
Dost thou fill his skin with pikes, or his head with fish-spears?
Put thine hand on him—remember the battle—Thou wilt not do it again:
Behold, his hope proveth false.
Even at the sight of him is not [one] cast down?
None is so fierce as to provoke him.
And who [is] he that maketh a stand before Me?
Who first gave to Me, and I must repay?
Under the whole heaven it [is] Mine.
I will not be silent about his parts,
And the matter of his powers, and the beauty of his structure.
Who hath uncovered the face of his garment?
Into his double jaws who entereth in?
The doors of his face, who hath opened?
Round about his teeth [is] terror;
A pride [are] the concave shields, shut up [as] a close seal;
One to another they join, and air entereth not between them.
One to another they adhere, they hold together, and separate not.
His sneezing flasheth forth light,
And his eyes [are] as eyelids of the dawn.
Out of his mouth proceed torches, sparks of fire escape.
Out of his nostrils issue the smoke, as out of a seething pot and caldron.
His breath kindleth coals, and a flame cometh out from his mouth.
In his neck strength lodgeth, and before him danceth terror.
The flakes of his flesh are fitted close together;
They are fixed fast on him, immovable.
His heart [is] firm as a stone, as a nether [millstone].
At his rising up the mighty tremble; from terror they miss their mark.
The sword of his overtaker doth not hold, spear, mace, nor lance;
He reckoneth iron as straw, copper as rotten wood;
The (Child) bolt of the bow causeth him not to flee;
Sling-stones are changed into stubble for him;
Clubs are reckoned as stubble;
He laugheth at the shaking of a javelin.
His under parts [are] the sharpest of shards;
He spreadeth a threshing-roller on the mire.
He maketh the deep boil as a pot,
He maketh the sea like a pot of ointment;
After him he maketh the path to shine—
One would think the deep hoary.
There is not on the dust dominion over him [or, like his],
Who is made to be without dread;
He looketh on all that is high,
He [is] king over all the sons of pride.
It is one thing to review the opinions of men, as Job might those of his friends, quite another to sit in judgment on Jehovah's ways. Job had wished to come near His seat, and plead his own cause. Here He was now, if Job could answer, according to the boldness of his reproofs. The only answer he does make is to acknowledge himself vile. He had no answer to the divine challenge beyond the confession implied in laying his hand on his mouth. Once he had spoken, but he would not reply; twice, but he would add no more. The folly of insubmission is now before his soul. He had spoken too much: silence became him. It was for Jehovah to speak.
And Jehovah does answer out of the storm, and challenge Job to gird up his loins as a hero: let the creature, then, cause the Creator to know, seeing that He now asks questions at his mouth! What a proud thing is the flesh, and no better in the saint than in the sinner! Would Job also arraign and set aside the moral dealings of Jehovah?—nay, more, condemn Him, in order to have himself justified? Exactly the reverse is that which grace produces in every soul that is born of God—readiness to take His part against self, to sit in judgment on one's own ways, and bow to the word, let it blow ever so witheringly on every way or word, thought and feeling. Such is repentance, always found in a saint, but often needing to be more inwrought where its solemn lessons were too hastily learned at the first. Wisdom is beyond power, and in nothing more than in moral ways. Perhaps then, if Job fail here, he can compare in strength. Has he an arm like El? Does he thunder with a like voice? Let us see him deck himself with majesty, and grandeur, and honor, and beauty. What! that poor object of compassion! Let him scatter abroad the outbursts of his anger. What! that woe-begone sufferer! Yes, if he venture to sit in judgment on God's dealings, let him first see every proud one and humble him, see every proud one—make him low, and tread down the wicked in their place. Compared with such a title to speak of God, it were a light thing to hide them in the dust together, and bind their faces in secret; yet Jehovah declares that even then He would praise Job, and own that his right hand saves him. What painstaking goodness in casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, that he who glories may glory in the Lord!
Then his attention is drawn to two creatures of God, not now land-animals or birds, as in the former discourses, but amphibious, though there have not been wanting people of erudition who contend for the elephant as meant by Behemoth (chap. 41: 15), thinking that the name is a plural. majest. of äÈîÅäÀá. This, however, does not suit the description, particularly as to the tail; and the name is, as competent men believe, an Egyptian designation (p-ehe-mo, literally water ox) of the hippopotamus in Shemitic form. Again, the Leviathan here described (chap. 41.) seems to be beyond doubt, not the dolphin or the whale, as some learned men have argued, but the crocodile. So most have been convinced since Bochart (Hieroz. iii. pp. 705, &c., 737, &c.). It is impossible to conceive anything more graphic than the accounts of each, nor more forcible than the inference for Job Or any other. If such the might of mere brutes, the effect of God's creative will, what folly to resist, censure, or even judge His ways.
One cannot doubt that there was divine design in the detailed description of the river-horse (or ox), on the one hand, and, on the other, in the still more minute particulars of the crocodile. To an upright mind like Job's, they were directly and powerfully suited to overwhelm him under the sense that He who could do everything deigned to make man the object of His ways on earth, and ordered all things to form him in submission of heart to Himself. It is not here the vast height, and depth, and extent, and variety of His arrangements in inanimate nature, or in the animal world, which, inexplicable as they may be to man, constitute so admirable a whole; but now two mighty objects, familiar to those near the Nile, which vindicate God's title as the only One who can judge absolutely in wisdom and goodness, as supreme in power and providence. Job, therefore, should be deeply ashamed of his self-sufficiency.
Huge as Behemoth is, he eats herbage like the ox. Unlike the elephant, which is vulnerable underneath, sinews are there of surpassing strength, like a cedar he bends his tail, and the sinews of his thighs are firmly knit together, his bones as copper and iron: yet, masterpiece as he is of God's ways, he is furnished only with a scythe-like tooth to graze the mountains, where all the beasts of the field gambol. And high ground is not where he loves to lie down, but under the lotuses, where the reed and the fen yield a covert, as the lotuses act as a shade, and the osiers too. No swelling floods startle him: he awaits with composure a Jordan rushing to his mouth. The closing words are difficult, and very different the impressions on the translators' minds, some regarding them not as a question, nor ironically, but as descriptive of his capture.
But in this at least we may see a contrast with what follows of the crocodile, where ordinary means are ridiculed in the opening words of chapter xli. for securing that formidable saurian. But, if secured, is he soft and yielding, ready to do perpetual service? or can you sport with him as a bird or hind, as a plaything for girls? Ah! no commodity for traders is he, nor game for the hunter, nor safe adversary for battle; the very sight might prostrate, and foolhardy the man that would provoke! Yet what is that to making a stand before God? and who ever gave to Him that He should repay. Whose is all under heaven?
Details are then given, from verse 12 to the end. Who would divest that creature of his coat? Who would enter his double jaws, or open the doors of his face, with terror round his teeth? Then what majesty or pride the concave shields close as a seal, so that breath cannot enter, and that every part holds together inseparably! What light in his sneezing! Eyes and mouth emit brightness, or sparks of fire, and smoke out of his nostrils as of a caldron. Strength lodges in his neck, and terror characterizes all before him: what is left elsewhere in him is firm and immovable, his heart solid as stone, as the nether millstone. No wonder the mightiest tremble at his uprising—that they miss their mark through fear—that, if one does overtake him, the sword does not hold, nor spear, mace, nor lance, for he counts iron as straw, copper as rotten wood, and pays no heed to arrows, sling-stones, clubs, or javelins. Nor can any account be more condensed or expressive than of the lower parts, the underneath being compared to the sharpest of shards, as he rolls it like a sledge over the rivers. He is still more at ease in the water, making the deep boil as a pot, and the sea like an apothecary's mixture. A ship does not more distinctly make its path shine after it with its hoary wake. And that there is no such sway on earth as his is attested remarkably by the famous Lacepede, cited by the late Mr. Carteret Carey, who tells us that, not sharing his subsistence with the vulture (like the eagle), nor with the tiger (like the lion), he exercises a dominion more absolute than that of the lion and of the eagle; and he enjoys an empire so much the more durable, as, belonging to two elements, he can the more easily avoid snares; as, having less heat in the blood, he has less need to repair power not so soon exhausted; and as being able longer to resist hunger, he less frequently engages in dangerous conflicts. These, and other elements, still more obvious and already stated, of a physical kind, instinctively contribute to his fearlessness; so that, though a reptile, he can look the highest in the face, as formidable with his tail as with his teeth, not to speak of his impenetrable armor: a veritable king over all the sons of pride or ferocity.
But this may suffice. It was in no way intended to send Job, or any other, to study the external works of God as a means of learning His mind, but a most impressive proof taken from His least things, which nevertheless overawe him who regards them with the smallest attention, and fill him with the sense of his own feebleness. What, then, are His great things far beyond man's province? What the unseen and eternal, the existence of which, and his own relation to which, none can exclude, save by the most hardening unbelief, to his own degradation and destruction, as well as God's dishonor! This, however, was not Job's fault, nor yet of his friends. But the unparalleled trials which had put him to the proof had been used of God, not only to disprove the narrow and uncharitable hypothesis of those who see in God only a Judge, and in trials only a proof of the wickedness of those who suffer them, but also to detect the folly of a saint's indulging a good opinion of himself, to the forgetfulness of God's sovereign grace, and to convince him of the need of his dependence on Him and of the value of confidence in Him. Whatever appearances may say, whatever the trials, God is above all evil, working by all things for the good of those that love Him, And this, assuredly, is love, though it be not that deepest demonstration He gave later on, when He sent His Son as a propitiation for our sins. It is the love of the same God, who is love.