VI. The Divine Speeches (38:1-42:6)The Lord’s First Speech 1
with words without knowledge?
I will question you
and you will inform me!
38:4 “Where were you
when I laid the foundation 6 of the earth?
Tell me, 7 if you possess understanding!
or who stretched a measuring line across it?
or who laid its cornerstone –
and all the sons of God 14 shouted for joy?
when it burst forth, 16 coming out of the womb,
and thick darkness its swaddling band, 18
and set 20 in place its bolts and doors,
and no farther, 22
here your proud waves will be confined’? 23
or made the dawn know 25 its place,
and shake the wicked out of it?
38:15 Then from the wicked the light is withheld,
or walked about in the recesses of the deep?
Have you seen the gates of deepest darkness? 34
38:18 Have you considered the vast expanses of the earth?
Tell me, if you know it all!
and darkness, where is its place,
38:20 that you may take them to their borders
and perceive the pathways to their homes? 36
and the number of your days is great!
or seen the armory 39 of the hail,
38:23 which I reserve for the time of trouble,
for the day of war and battle? 40
or the east winds scattered over the earth?
38:25 Who carves out a channel for the heavy rains,
and a path for the rumble of thunder,
a desert where there are no human beings, 43
38:27 to satisfy a devastated and desolate land,
and to cause it to sprout with vegetation? 44
38:28 Does the rain have a father,
or who has fathered the drops of the dew?
38:29 From whose womb does the ice emerge,
and the frost from the sky, 45 who gives birth to it,
when the surface of the deep is frozen solid?
or release the cords of Orion?
38:32 Can you lead out
the constellations 48 in their seasons,
or guide the Bear with its cubs? 49
38:33 Do you know the laws of the heavens,
or can you set up their rule over the earth?
38:34 Can you raise your voice to the clouds
so that a flood of water covers you? 50
38:35 Can you send out lightning bolts, and they go?
Will they say to you, ‘Here we are’?
or has imparted understanding to the mind?
38:37 Who by wisdom can count the clouds,
and who can tip over 52 the water jars of heaven,
and the clumps of earth stick together?
38:39 “Do you hunt prey for the lioness,
and satisfy the appetite 54 of the lions,
38:40 when they crouch in their dens,
when they wait in ambush in the thicket?
38:41 Who prepares prey for the raven,
when its young cry out to God
and wander about 55 for lack of food?
the mountain goats 57 give birth?
Do you watch as the wild deer give birth to their young?
39:2 Do you count the months they must fulfill,
and do you know the time they give birth? 58
they bring forth the offspring they have carried. 60
they go off, and do not return to them.
39:5 Who let the wild donkey go free?
Who released the bonds of the donkey,
39:6 to whom I appointed the steppe for its home,
the salt wastes as its dwelling place?
39:7 It scorns the tumult in the town;
it does not hear the shouts of a driver. 62
39:8 It ranges the hills as its pasture,
and searches after every green plant.
39:9 Is the wild ox willing to be your servant?
Will it spend the night at your feeding trough?
will it till the valleys, following after you?
39:11 Will you rely on it because its strength is great?
Will you commit 64 your labor to it?
but are they the pinions and plumage of a stork? 73
and lets them be warmed on the soil.
39:15 She forgets that a foot might crush them,
or that a wild animal 75 might trample them.
as if they were not hers;
she is unconcerned
about the uselessness of her labor.
39:17 For God deprived her of wisdom,
and did not impart understanding to her.
she laughs at the horse and its rider.
39:19 “Do you give the horse its strength?
Do you clothe its neck with a mane? 78
Its proud neighing 80 is terrifying!
exulting mightily, 83
it goes out to meet the weapons.
39:22 It laughs at fear and is not dismayed;
it does not shy away from the sword.
39:23 On it the quiver rattles;
the lance and javelin 84 flash.
it cannot stand still 86 when the trumpet is blown.
39:25 At the sound of the trumpet, it says, ‘Aha!’
And from a distance it catches the scent of battle,
the thunderous shouting of commanders,
and the battle cries.
and spreads its wings toward the south?
and builds its nest on high?
39:28 It lives on a rock and spends the night there,
its eyes gaze intently from a distance.
39:30 And its young ones devour the blood,
and where the dead carcasses 93 are,
there it is.”
40:1 Then the Lord answered Job:
Let the person who accuses God give him an answer!”
40:3 Then Job answered the Lord:
40:5 I have spoken once, but I cannot answer;
twice, but I will say no more.” 99
40:6 Then the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind:
I will question you and you will inform me!
Would you declare me guilty so that you might be right?
and can you thunder with a voice like his?
40:10 Adorn yourself, then, with majesty and excellency,
and clothe yourself with glory and honor!
Look at every proud man 106 and bring him low;
40:12 Look at every proud man and abase him;
crush the wicked on the spot! 107
that your own right hand can save you. 113
it eats grass like the ox.
and its power in the muscles of its belly.
the sinews of its thighs are tightly wound.
40:18 Its bones are tubes of bronze,
its limbs like bars of iron.
the One who made it
has furnished it with a sword. 120
where all the wild animals play.
40:21 Under the lotus trees it lies,
in the secrecy of the reeds and the marsh.
the poplars by the stream conceal it.
it is secure, 124 though the Jordan
should surge up to its mouth.
or pierce its nose with a snare? 126
[38:1] 1 sn This is the culmination of it all, the revelation of the
[38:3] 5 tn Heb “Gird up your loins.” This idiom basically describes taking the hem of the long garment or robe and pulling it up between the legs and tucking it into the front of the belt, allowing easier and freer movement of the legs. “Girding the loins” meant the preparation for some difficult task (Jer 1:17), or for battle (Isa 5:27), or for running (1 Kgs 18:46). C. Gordon suggests that it includes belt-wrestling, a form of hand-to-hand mortal combat (“Belt-wrestling in the Bible World,” HUCA 23 [1950/51]: 136).
[38:6] 10 sn The world was conceived of as having bases and pillars, but these poetic descriptions should not be pressed too far (e.g., see Ps 24:2, which may be worded as much for its polemics against Canaanite mythology as anything).
[38:7] 11 sn The expression “morning stars” (Heb “stars of the morning”) is here placed in parallelism to the angels, “the sons of God.” It may refer to the angels under the imagery of the stars, or, as some prefer, it may poetically include all creation. There is a parallel also with the foundation of the temple which was accompanied by song (see Ezra 3:10,11). But then the account of the building of the original tabernacle was designed to mirror creation (see M. Fishbane, Biblical Text and Texture).
[38:7] 12 tn The construction, an adverbial clause of time, uses רָנָן (ranan), which is often a ringing cry, an exultation. The parallelism with “shout for joy” shows this to be enthusiastic acclamation. The infinitive is then continued in the next colon with the vav (ו) consecutive preterite.
[38:8] 15 tn The MT has “and he shut up.” The Vulgate has “Who?” and so many commentaries and editions adopt this reading, if not from the Vulgate, then from the sense of the sequence in the text itself.
[38:8] 16 tn The line uses two expressions, first the temporal clause with גִּיחַ (giakh, “when it burst forth”) and then the finite verb יֵצֵא (yetse’, “go out”) to mark the concomitance of the two actions.
[38:10] 19 tc The MT has “and I broke,” which cannot mean “set, prescribed” or the like. The LXX and the Vulgate have such a meaning, suggesting a verb עֲשִׁית (’ashiyt, “plan, prescribe”). A. Guillaume finds an Arabic word with a meaning “measured it by span by my decree.” Would God give himself a decree? R. Gordis simply argues that the basic meaning “break” develops the connotation of “decide, determine” (2 Sam 5:24; Job 14:3; Dan 11:36).
[38:11] 23 tn The MT literally says, “here he will put on the pride of your waves.” The verb has no expressed subject and so is made a passive voice. But there has to be some object for the verb “put,” such as “limit” or “boundary”; the translations “confined; halted; stopped” all serve to paraphrase such an idea. The LXX has “broken” at this point, suggesting the verse might have been confused – but “breaking the pride” of the waves would mean controlling them. Some commentators have followed this, exchanging the verb in v. 11 with this one.
[38:13] 26 sn The poetic image is that darkness or night is like a blanket that covers the earth, and at dawn it is taken by the edges and shaken out. Since the wicked function under the cover of night, they are included in the shaking when the dawn comes up.
[38:14] 29 tc The MT reads “they stand up like a garment” (NASB, NIV) or “its features stand out like a garment” (ESV). The reference could be either to embroidered decoration on a garment or to the folds of a garment (REB: “until all things stand out like the folds of a cloak”; cf. J. E. Hartley, Job [NICOT], 497, “the early light of day makes the earth appear as a beautiful garment, exquisite in design and glorious in color”). Since this is thought to be an odd statement, some suggest with Ehrlich that the text be changed to תִּצָּבַּע (titsabba’, “is dyed [like a garment]”). This reference would be to the colors appearing on the earth’s surface under daylight. The present translation follows the emendation.
[38:15] 31 sn What is active at night, the violence symbolized by the raised arm, is broken with the dawn. G. R. Driver thought the whole verse referred to stars, and that the arm is the navigator’s term for the line of stars (“Two astronomical passages in the Old Testament,” JTS 4 : 208-12).
[38:20] 36 tn The suffixes are singular (“that you may take it to its border…to its home”), referring to either the light or the darkness. Because either is referred to, the translation has employed plurals, since singulars would imply that only the second item, “darkness,” was the referent. Plurals are also employed by NAB and NIV.
[38:22] 39 tn The same Hebrew term (אוֹצָר, ’otsar), has been translated “storehouse” in the first line and “armory” in the second. This has been done for stylistic variation, but also because “hail,” as one of God’s “weapons” (cf. the following verse) suggests military imagery; in this context the word refers to God’s “ammunition dump” where he stockpiles hail.
[38:24] 41 tn Because the parallel with “light” and “east wind” is not tight, Hoffmann proposed ‘ed instead, “mist.” This has been adopted by many. G. R. Driver suggests “parching heat” (“Problems in the Hebrew text of Job,” VTSup 3 : 91-92).
[38:27] 44 tn Heb “to cause to sprout a source of vegetation.” The word מֹצָא (motsa’) is rendered “mine” in Job 28:1. The suggestion with the least changes is Wright’s: צָמֵא (tsame’, “thirsty”). But others choose מִצִּיָּה (mitsiyyah, “from the steppe”).
[38:31] 47 tn This word is found here and in 1 Sam 15:32. Dhorme suggests, with others, that there has been a metathesis (a reversal of consonants), and it is the same word found in Job 31:36 (“bind”). G. R. Driver takes it as “cluster” without changing the text (“Two astronomical passages in the Old Testament,” JTS 7  :3).
[38:36] 51 tn This verse is difficult because of the two words, טֻחוֹת (tukhot, rendered here “heart”) and שֶׂכְוִי (sekhvi, here “mind”). They have been translated a number of ways: “meteor” and “celestial appearance”; the stars “Procyon” and “Sirius”; “inward part” and “mind”; even as birds, “ibis” and “cock.” One expects them to have something to do with nature – clouds and the like. The RSV accordingly took them to mean “meteor” (from a verb “to wander”) and “a celestial appearance.” But these meanings are not well-attested.
[38:41] 55 tn The verse is difficult, making some suspect that a line has dropped out. The little birds in the nest hardly go wandering about looking for food. Dhorme suggest “and stagger for lack of food.”
[39:3] 59 tc The Hebrew verb used here means “to cleave,” and this would not have the object “their young.” Olshausen and others after him change the ח (khet) to ט (tet) and get a verb “to drop,” meaning “drop [= give birth to] young” as used in Job 21:10. G. R. Driver holds out for the MT, arguing it is an idiom, “to breach the womb” (“Problems in the Hebrew text of Job,” VTSup 3 : 92-93).
[39:3] 60 tn Heb “they cast forth their labor pains.” This word usually means “birth pangs” but here can mean what caused the pains (metonymy of effect). This fits better with the parallelism, and the verb (“cast forth”). The words “their offspring” are supplied in the translation for clarity; direct objects were often omitted when clear from the context, although English expects them to be included.
[39:10] 63 tn Some commentators think that the addition of the “wild ox” here is a copyist’s error, making the stich too long. They therefore delete it. Also, binding an animal to the furrow with ropes is unusual. So with a slight emendation Kissane came up with “Will you bind him with a halter of cord?” While the MT is unusual, the sense is understandable, and no changes, even slight ones, are absolutely necessary.
[39:12] 65 tn The word is normally translated “believe” in the Bible. The idea is that of considering something dependable and acting on it. The idea of reliability is found also in the Niphal stem usages.
[39:12] 66 tc There is a textual problem here: יָשׁוּב (yashuv) is the Kethib, meaning “[that] he will return”; יָשִׁיב (yashiv) is the Qere, meaning “that he will bring in.” This is the preferred reading, since the object follows it. For commentators who think the line too unbalanced for this, the object is moved to the second colon, and the reading “returns” is taken for the first. But the MT is perfectly clear as it stands.
[39:13] 70 tc This whole section on the ostrich is not included in the LXX. Many feel it is an interpolation and should therefore be deleted. The pattern of the chapter changes from the questions being asked to observations being made.
[39:13] 73 tn The point of this statement would be that the ostrich cannot compare to the stork. But there are many other proposals for this line – just about every commentator has a different explanation for it. Of the three words here, the first means “pinion,” the third “plumage,” and the second probably “stork,” although the LXX has “heron.” The point of this whole section is that the ostrich is totally lacking in parental care, whereas the stork is characterized by it. The Hebrew word for “stork” is the same word for “love”: חֲסִידָה (khasidah), an interpretation followed by the NASB. The most likely reading is “or are they the pinions and plumage of the stork?” The ostrich may flap about, but cannot fly and does not care for its young.
[39:18] 77 tn The colon poses a slight problem here. The literal meaning of the Hebrew verb translated “springs up” (i.e., “lifts herself on high”) might suggest flight. But some of the proposals involve a reading about readying herself to run.
[39:19] 78 tn The second half of the verse contains this hapax legomenon, which is usually connected with the word רַעְמָה (ra’mah, “thunder”). A. B. Davidson thought it referred to the quivering of the neck rather than the mane. Gray thought the sound and not the movement was the point. But without better evidence, a reading that has “quivering mane” may not be far off the mark. But it may be simplest to translate it “mane” and assume that the idea of “quivering” is part of the meaning.
[39:21] 82 tn The armies would prepare for battles that were usually fought in the valleys, and so the horse was ready to charge. But in Ugaritic the word `mk means “force” as well as “valley.” The idea of “force” would fit the parallelism here well (see M. Dahood, “Value of Ugaritic for textual criticism,” Bib 40 : 166).
[39:24] 86 tn The use of אָמַן (’aman) in the Hiphil in this place is unique. Such a form would normally mean “to believe.” But its basic etymological meaning comes through here. The verb means “to be firm; to be reliable; to be dependable.” The causative here would mean “to make firm” or “to stand firm.”
[40:2] 95 tn The verb יִסּוֹר (yissor) is found only here, but comes from a common root meaning “to correct; to reprove.” Several suggestions have been made to improve on the MT. Dhorme read it יָסוּר (yasur) in the sense of “to turn aside; to yield.” Ehrlich read this emendation as “to come to an end.” But the MT could be read as “to correct; to instruct.”
[40:4] 96 tn The word קַלֹּתִי (qalloti) means “to be light; to be of small account; to be unimportant.” From this comes the meaning “contemptible,” which in the causative stem would mean “to treat with contempt; to curse.” Dhorme tries to make the sentence a conditional clause and suggests this meaning: “If I have been thoughtless.” There is really no “if” in Job’s mind.
[40:6] 100 sn The speech can be divided into three parts: the invitation to Job to assume the throne and rule the world (40:7-14), the description of Behemoth (40:15-24), and the description of Leviathan (41:1-34).
[40:8] 102 tn The verb פָּרַר (parar) means “to annul; to break; to frustrate.” It was one thing for Job to claim his own integrity, but it was another matter altogether to nullify God’s righteousness in the process.
[40:12] 107 tn The expression translated “on the spot” is the prepositional phrase תַּחְתָּם (takhtam, “under them”). “Under them” means in their place. But it can also mean “where someone stands, on the spot” (see Exod 16:29; Jos 6:5; Judg 7:21, etc.).
[40:15] 114 sn The next ten verses are devoted to a portrayal of Behemoth (the name means “beast” in Hebrew). It does not fit any of the present material very well, and so many think the section is a later addition. Its style is more like that of a textbook. Moreover, if the animal is a real animal (the usual suggestion is the hippopotamus), then the location of such an animal is Egypt and not Palestine. Some have identified these creatures Behemoth and Leviathan as mythological creatures (Gunkel, Pope). Others point out that these creatures could have been dinosaurs (P. J. Maarten, NIDOTTE, 2:780; H. M. Morris, The Remarkable Record of Job, 115-22). Most would say they are real animals, but probably mythologized by the pagans. So the pagan reader would receive an additional impact from this point about God’s sovereignty over all nature.
[40:16] 117 tn In both of these verses הִנֶּה (hinneh, “behold”) has the deictic force (the word is from Greek δείκνυμι, deiknumi, “to show”). It calls attention to something by pointing it out. The expression goes with the sudden look, the raised eye, the pointing hand – “O look!”
[40:17] 118 tn The verb חָפַץ (khafats) occurs only here. It may have the meaning “to make stiff; to make taut” (Arabic). The LXX and the Syriac versions support this with “erects.” But there is another Arabic word that could be cognate, meaning “arch, bend.” This would give the idea of the tail swaying. The other reading seems to make better sense here. However, “stiff” presents a serious problem with the view that the animal is the hippopotamus.
[40:19] 120 tc The literal reading of the MT is “let the one who made him draw near [with] his sword.” The sword is apparently a reference to the teeth or tusks of the animal, which cut vegetation like a sword. But the idea of a weapon is easier to see, and so the people who favor the mythological background see here a reference to God’s slaying the Beast. There are again many suggestions on how to read the line. The RV probably has the safest: “He that made him has furnished him with his sword” (the sword being a reference to the sharp tusks with which he can attack).
[40:20] 121 tn The word בּוּל (bul) probably refers to food. Many take it as an abbreviated form of יְבוּל (yÿvul, “produce of the field”). The vegetation that is produced on the low hills is what is meant.
[40:23] 123 tn The word ordinarily means “to oppress.” So many commentators have proposed suitable changes: “overflows” (Beer), “gushes” (Duhm), “swells violently” (Dhorme, from a word that means “be strong”).
[40:24] 125 tn The idea would be either (1) catch it while it is watching, or (2) in some way disabling its eyes before the attack. But others change the reading; Ball suggested “with hooks” and this has been adopted by some modern English versions (e.g., NRSV).