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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Job 38

 

 

Introduction

Job 38:1 to Job 42:6. The Divine Speeches.—Here after the Elihu interpolation Job 32-37, we return to the original poem and the solution of Job 31, in which Job summed up his second problem, that of Divine Providence, by challenging God to show the justice of His treatment of himself. The poet has no direct answer to give to the problem Job has raised. He cannot lift the veil of the future, and show another world where wrongs are righted and the balance of this world is redressed. He can only point to the creation and say, "God is there; how wonderful is His creative power." The world is certainly an enigma; well, let it be an enigma. God is greater than we. Moreover, the poet teaches that, enigma or no enigma, piety is still possible. Though Job never comes to understand the Divine Providence, yet he sees God face to face and bows in humility before Him. We may compare with the argument of the poet, "Providence is a mystery, but so is the creation," that of Butler's Analogy, "Revelation is a mystery, but so is nature."


Verses 1-13

Job 38:1-3. Yahweh, speaking to Job out of the storm, challenges him to the contest, which he has so often demanded.


Verses 4-38

Job 38:4-38. The Wonders of the Inanimate Creation.—Where was Job when the earth was made? The work of creation is described as the building of a house. In Job 38:7 the stars, which are older than the world (contrast Genesis 1:16), are thought of as animated beings: the "sons of God" are the angels. The morning stars and the angels then composed the choir at the laying of earth's foundation-stone; the stone-laying, therefore, took place in the morning.

Job 38:8-11 speaks of the taming of the sea: when it burst forth from the womb of chaos, God clothed the newborn child with the cloud and swaddled it with thick cloud. In Job 38:10 read as mg. "and brake for it a boundary." The verse as a whole describes how God set the rocky coast as the bound of the sea.

Job 38:12-15 speaks of the miracle of the dawn. In Job 38:13 "The personified Dawn is represented as seizing the coverlet of darkness under which the earth has been sleeping, and shaking the wicked out of it like flies" (Strahan).

Job 38:14 describes how with the coming of the dawn the shapelessness of the earth by night is suddenly changed into definiteness as when a seal is stamped upon clay: "as a garment" seems to describe the varied colours of the landscape: mg. "as in a garment" gives the sense, continuing Job 38:14 a, things are defined by the light as a garment by its clinging to the wearer. In Job 38:15 the light of the wicked is the darkness (Job 24:17).

In Job 38:16 Job is asked if he has penetrated the fountains of the great deep, whence the sea is fed. These are openings in the floor of the ocean just as the "windows of heaven" are openings in the sky.

Job 38:17 asks if Job has gone still deeper and penetrated Sheol. With Job 38:18 we pass on from depth to breadth. Light and darkness have their dwelling-places at the horizon, whence in due order they issue forth (Genesis 1:-5*).

Job 38:22 describes the snow and hail, the artillery of heaven (Job 38:23). In Job 38:24 a perhaps "mist" should be read for light; light has already been mentioned. In Job 38:25 the waterflood "is the torrential rain, supposed to pour from the upper ocean down a channel specially cleft for it by God through the vault of the sky. So the lightning has a track along which to shoot" (Peake). As Strahan observes, the meteorology is primitive.

Job 38:26-27 are of great beauty, and also of great importance. The poet points out that nature has not only man as its end; there are other and wider purposes served by the order of creation. Job's fault has been to narrow things down to his own human outlook. With Job 38:28-30, we have the further mysteries of dew, ice, and frost. In Job 38:30 a follow mg., in Job 38:30 b "frozen" is literally "hidden": the ice hides the surface of the water under it.

Job 38:31 f. God asks Job if he controls the constellations. Here and on to the end of ch. 39 "canst" should be "Dost." In Job 38:31 a either cluster or chain (mg.) is possible; but what the bands of Orion are is not certain. In Job 38:32 it is not certain what constellation is meant by "the Mazzaroth."

Job 38:33-38 asks if Job controls the heavens. In Job 38:33 a translate with different pointing, "Dost thou make the heavens to know the laws," i.e. lay down the laws for them. In Job 38:34 read with LXX, "that abundance of waters may answer thee." In Job 38:36 the meaning of the words translated "inward parts" and "mind" is uncertain. But physical not psychical phenomena must be meant, as the context shows: follow therefore mg. in both cases. The bottles of heaven in Job 38:37 are the clouds, conceived as skins full of water (Job 26:8).


Verses 39-41

Job 38:39 to Job 39:30. The Wonders of the Animate Creation.—In Job 38:39 f. God first names the lion. Man would rather hunt and destroy the lion than feed him. But God cares for the lion as well as for man. So also for the raven (Job 38:41); but perhaps as the raven seems out of place here among the beasts, we should read, "Who provideth at evening its food?" In this case Job 38:41 continues the description of God's care of the lion.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Job 38:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/job-38.html. 1919.

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