Job 38


The Lord answers Job out of a whirlwind, and challenges him to

answer, 1-3.

He convinces him of ignorance and weakness, by an enumeration

of some of his mighty works; particularly of the creation of

the earth, 4-7.

The sea and the deeps, 8-18.

The light, 19-21.

Snow, hail, thunder, lightning, rain, dew, ice, and hoar-frost,


Different constellations, and the ordinances of heaven

influencing the earth, 31-33.

Shows his own power and wisdom in the atmosphere, particularly

in the thunder, lightnings, and rain, 34-38.

His providence in reference to the brute creation, 39-41.


Verse 1. The Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind] It is not

suphah, as in the preceding chapter, Job 37:9; but

searah, which signifies something turbulent, tumultuous, or

violently agitated; and here may signify what we call a tempest,

and was intended to fill Job's mind with solemnity, and an awful

sense of the majesty of God. The Chaldee has, a whirlwind of

grief, making the whole rather allegorical than real; impressing

the scene on Job's imagination.

Verse 2. Who is this that darkeneth counsel] As if he had said,

Who art thou who pretendest to speak on the deep things of God,

and the administration of his justice and providence, which thou

canst not comprehend; and leavest my counsels and designs the

darker for thy explanation?

Verse 3. Gird up now thy loins] I will not confound thee with my

terrors; dismiss all fearful apprehensions from thy mind; now act

like a man, kegeber, like a hero: stand and vindicate

thyself. For I will demand of thee-I will ask thee a series of

questions more easy of solution than those which thou hast

affected to discuss already; and then thou shalt have the

opportunity of answering for thyself.

The most impressive and convincing manner of arguing is allowed

to be that by interrogation, which the Almighty here adopts. The

best orations delivered by the ancients were formed after this

manner. That celebrated oration of Cicero against Catiline, which

is allowed to be his masterpiece, begins with a multitude of short

questions, closely pressed upon each other. See the end of the

chapter. See Clarke on Job 38:41.

Verse 4. Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the

earth?] Thou hast a limited and derived being; thou art only of

yesterday; what canst thou know? Didst thou see me create the


Verse 5. Who hath laid the measures thereof] Who hath adjusted

its polar and equatorial distances from the centre?

Who hath stretched the line] Who hath formed its zones and its

great circles, and adjusted the whole of its magnitude and gravity

to the orbit in which it was to move, as well as its distance from

that great centre about which it was to revolve? These questions

show the difficulty of the subject; and that there was an

unfathomable depth of counsel and design in the formation of the


Verse 6. Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened?] How

does it continue to revolve in the immensity of space? What

supports it? Has it foundations like a building, and is it

fastened with a key-stone, to keep the mighty fabric in union?

Verse 7. When the morning stars sang together] This must refer

to some intelligent beings who existed before the creation of the

visible heavens and earth: and it is supposed that this and the

following clause refer to the same beings; that by the sons of

God, and the morning stars, the angelic host is meant; as they

are supposed to be first, though perhaps not chief, in the order

of creation.

For the latter clause the Chaldee has, "All the troops of

angels." Perhaps their creation may be included in the term

heavens, Ge 1:1: "In the beginning God created the heavens and

the earth." These witnessed the progress of the creation; and,

when God had finished his work, celebrated his wisdom and power in

the highest strains.

Verse 8. Who shut up the sea with doors] Who gathered the waters

together into one place, and fixed the sea its limits, so that it

cannot overpass them to inundate the earth?

When it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb?] This

is a very fine metaphor. The sea is represented as a newly born

infant issuing from the womb of the void and formless chaos; and

the delicate circumstance of the liquor amnii, which bursts out

previously to the birth of the foetus, alluded to. The allusion to

the birth of a child is carried on in the next verse.

Verse 9. When I make the cloud the garment] Alluding to the

cloth in which the new-born infant is first received. The cloud

was the same to the newly raised vapour, as the above recipient to

the new-born child.

And thick darkness a swaddlingband for it] Here is also an

allusion to the first dressings of the new-born child: it is

swathed in order to support the body, too tender to bear even

careful handling without some medium between the hand of the nurse

and the flesh of the child. "The image," says Mr. Good, "is

exquisitely maintained: the new-born ocean is represented as

issuing from the womb of chaos; and its dress is that of the

new-born infant."

There is here an allusion also to the creation, as described in

Ge 1:1, 2.

Darkness is there said to be on the face of the DEEP. Here it is

said, the thick darkness was a swaddlingband for the new-born SEA.

Verse 10. And brake up for it my decreed place] This refers to

the decree, Ge 1:9: "Let the waters under the heavens be gathered

together unto one place."

And set bars and doors] And let the dry land appear. This formed

the bars and doors of the sea; the land being everywhere a barrier

against the encroachments and inundations of the sea; and great

rivers, bays, creeks, &c., the doors by which it passes into the

interior of continents, &c.

Verse 11. Hitherto shalt thou come] Thus far shall thy flux and

reflux extend. The tides are marvellously limited and regulated,

not only by the lunar and solar attractions, but by the quantum of

time also which is required to remove any part of the earth's

surface from under the immediate attractive influence of the sun

and moon. And this regulation takes place by means of the rotation

of the earth round its own axis, which causes one thousand and

forty-two miles of its equator to pass from under any given point

in the heavens in one hour; and about five hundred and eighty

miles in the latitude of London: so that the attracted fluid parts

are every moment passing from under the direct attractive

influence, and thus the tides cannot generally be raised to any

extraordinary height. The attraction of the sun and moon, and the

gravitation of its own parts to its own centre, which prevent too

great a flux on the one hand, and too great a reflux on the other;

or, in other words, too high a tide, and too deep an ebb, are

also some of those bars and doors by which its proud waves are

stayed, and prevented from coming farther; all being regulated by

these laws of attraction by the sun and moon, the gravitation of

its own parts from the sun and moon, and the diurnal motion round

its own axis, by which the fluid parts, easily yielding to the

above attraction, are continually moving from under the direct

attractive influence. Here a world of wisdom and management was

necessary, in order to proportion all these things to each other,

so as to procure the great benefits which result from the flux and

reflux of the sea, and prevent the evils that must take place, at

least occasionally, were not those bars and doors provided. It is

well known that the spring-tides happen at the change and full of

the moon, at which time she is in conjunction with and opposition

to the sun. As these retire from their conjunction, the tides neap

till about three days after the first quadrature, when the tides

begin again to be more and more elevated, and arrive at their

maximum about the third day after the opposition. From this time

the tides neap as before till the third day after the last

quadrature; and afterwards their daily elevations are continually

increased till about the third day after the conjunction, when

they recommence their neaping; the principal phenomena of the

tides always taking place at or near the some points of every

lunar synodic revolution.

Verse 12. Hast thou commanded the morning] This refers to dawn

or morning twilight, occasioned by the refraction of the solar

rays by means of the atmosphere; so that we receive the light by

degrees, which would otherwise burst at once upon our eyes, and

injure, if not destroy, our sight; and by which even the body of

the sun himself becomes evident several minutes before he rises

above the horizon.

Caused the dayspring to know his place] This seems to refer to

the different points in which daybreak appears during the course

of the earth's revolution in its orbit; and which variety of

points of appearing depends on this annual revolution. For, as

the earth goes round the sun every year in the ecliptic, one half

of which is on the north side of the equinoctial, and the other

half on its south side, the sun appears to change his place every

day. These are matters which the wisdom of God alone could plan,

and which his power alone could execute.

It may be just necessary to observe that the dawn does not

appear, nor the sun rise exactly in the same point of the horizon,

two successive days in the whole year, as he declines forty-three

degrees north, and forty-three degrees south, of east; beginning

on the 21st of March, and ending on the 22d of December; which

variations not only produce the places of rising and setting,

but also the length of day and night. And by this declination

north and south, or approach to and recession from the tropics of

Cancer and Capricorn, the solar light takes hold of the ends of

the earth, Job 38:13, enlightens the arctic and antarctic circles

in such a way as it would not do were it always on the equinoctial

line; these tropics taking the sun twenty-three and a half degrees

north, and as many south, of this line.

Verse 13. That the wicked might be shaken out of it?] The

meaning appears to be this: as soon as the light begins to dawn

upon the earth, thieves, assassins, murderers, and adulterers, who

all hate and shun the light, fly like ferocious beasts to their

several dens and hiding places; for such do not dare to come to

the light, lest their works be manifest, which are not wrought in

God. To this verse the fifteenth appears to belong, as it connects

immediately with it, which connection the introduction of the

fourteenth verse disturbs. "And from the wicked," such as are

mentioned above "their light is withholden;" they love darkness

rather than light, because their deeds are evil; and as they prowl

after their prey in the night-season, they are obliged to sleep in

the day, and thus its "light is withholden" from them. "And the

high arm shall be broken;" or, as Mr. Good translates, "The roving

of wickedness is broken off." They can no longer pursue their

predatory and injurious excursions.

Verse 14. It is turned as clay to the seal] The earth, like soft

clay, is capable of modifying itself in endless ways, and assuming

infinite forms. As a proof of this, see the astonishing variety of

plants, flowers, and fruits, and the infinitely diversified hues,

odours, tastes, consistency, and properties, of its vegetable


There seems to be an allusion here to the sealing of clay, which

I believe has been, and is now, frequent in the East. Six of

those Eastern seals for sealing clay, made of brass, the figures

and characters all in relief, the interstices being entirely

perforated and cut out, so that the upper side of the seal is the

same as the lower, now lie before me. They seem to have been used

for stamping pottery, as some of the fine clay still appears in

the interstices.

And they stand as a garment.] The earth receiving these

impressions from the solar light and heat, plants and flowers

spring up, and decorate its surface as the most beautiful stamped

garment does the person of the most sumptuously dressed female.

Mr. Good translates the whole verse thus:-

"Canst thou cause them to bend round as clay to the mould, so

that they are made to sit like a garment?"

He supposes that reference is here made to the rays of light;

but take his own words: "The image, as it appears to me, is taken

directly from the art of pottery, an image of very frequent

recurrence in Scripture; and in the present instance admirably

forcible in painting the ductility with which the new light of the

morning bends round like clay to the mould, and accompanies the

earth in every part of its shape so as to fit it, as we are

expressly told in the ensuing metaphor, like a garment, as the

clay fits the mould itself." Mr. Good supposes that a mould in

which the pottery is formed, not a seal by which it is impressed,

is referred to here. In this sense I do not see the metaphor

consistent, nor the allusion happy. It is well known that the rays

of light never bend. They may be reflected at particular angles,

but they never go out of a straight course. A gun might as well be

expected to shoot round a corner, as a ray of light to go out of a

straight line, or to follow the sinuous or angular windings of a

tube, canal, or adit. But if we take in the sun as he advances in

his diurnal voyage, or rather the earth, as it turns round its

axis from west to east, the metaphor of Mr. Good will be correct

enough; but we must leave out bending and ductility, as every part

of the earth's surface will be at least successively invested with

the light.

Verse 16. Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea?] Of

these springs, inlets, or outlets of the sea, we know just as much

as Job. There was prevalent among philosophers an opinion, that

through a porous bottom fresh matter was constantly oozing by

which the sea was supplied with new materials. But through such

pores these materials might as well ooze out as ooze in.

Walked in the search of the depth?] Hast thou walked from the

shallow beach through the great ocean's bed, till thou hast

arrived at its profoundest depths? In other words, Dost thou know

the depths of the sea? Job, we may presume, did not. No man since

him has found them out. In multitudes of places they are

unfathomed by any means hitherto used by man.

Verse 17. Have the gates of death been opened unto thee?] Dost

thou know in what the article of death consists? This is as

inexplicable as the question, What is animal life?

The doors of the shallow of death?] tsalmaveth, the

intermediate state, the openings into the place of separate

spirits. Here two places are distinguished: maveth, death,

and tsalmaveth, the shadow of death. It will not do to say,

death is the privation of life, for what then would be the

shadow of that privation?

Verse 18. The breadth of the earth?] At that time the

circumference of the globe was not known, because the earth itself

was supposed to be a vast extended plain, bordered all round with

the ocean and the sky.

Verse 19. Where light dwelleth] What is the source of light?

Yea, what is light itself? It is not in the sun, for light was

before the sun; but what is light? It is no doubt a substance;

but of what kind? and of what are its particles? As to darkness,

what is IT? Is it philosophical to say, it is the mere privation

of light? I shall think philosophy has made some advances to

general accuracy and perfection when it proves to us what cold is,

and what darkness is, leaving mere privations out of the question.

Verse 20. Shouldest take it to the bound thereof?] Or, as Mr.

Good, translates, "That thou shouldest lay hold of it in its

boundary." That thou shouldest go to the very spot where light

commences, and where darkness ends; and see the house where each

dwells. Here darkness and light are personified, each as a real

intelligent being, having a separate existence and local dwelling.

But poetry animates everything. It is the region of fictitious


I believe this verse should be translated thus:-"For thou canst

take US to its boundary; for thou knowest the paths to its house."

This is a strong irony, and there are several others in this

Divine speech. Job had valued himself too much on his knowledge;

and a chief object of this august speech is to humble his "knowing

pride," and to cause him to seek true wisdom and humility where

they are to be found.

Verse 21. Knowest thou] This is another strong and biting irony,

and the literal translation proves it: "Thou knowest, because thou

was then born; and the number of thy days is great," or

multitudinous, rabbim, multitudes.

Verse 22. The treasures of the snow] The places where snow is

formed, and the cause of that formation. See on Job 37:6.

Treasures of the hail] It is more easy to account for the

formation of snow than of hail. Hail, however, is generally

supposed to be drops of rain frozen in their passage through cold

regions of the air; and the hail is always in proportion to the

size of the raindrop from which it was formed. But this meteor

does not appear to be formed from a single drop of water, as it is

found to be composed of many small spherules frozen together, the

centre sometimes soft like snow, and at other times formed of a

hard nucleus, which in some cases has been of a brown colour,

capable of ignition and explosion. In the description given of

snow, Job 37:6, it has been stated that both

snow and hail owe their formation to electricity; the hail being

formed in the higher regions of the air, where the cold is

intense, and the electric matter abundant. By this agency it is

supposed that a great number of aqueous particles are brought

together and frozen, and in their descent collect other particles,

so that the density of the substance of the hailstone grows less

and less from the centre, this being formed first in the higher

regions, and the surface being collected in the lower. This theory

is not in all cases supported by fact, as in some instances the

centre has been found soft and snow-like, when the surface

has been hard.

Hail is the only meteor of this kind, from which no apparent

good is derived. Rain and dew invigorate and give life to the

whole vegetable world; frost, by expanding the water contained in

the earth, pulverizes and renders the soil fertile; snow covers

and defends vegetables from being destroyed by too severe a frost;

but hail does none of these. It not only does no good, but often

much harm-always some. It has a chilling, blasting effect in

spring and summer, and cuts the tender plants so as to injure or

totally destroy them. In short, the treasures of hail are not well

known; and its use in the creation has not yet been ascertained.

But frost is God's universal plough, by which he cultivates the

whole earth.

Verse 23. Reserved against the time of trouble] leeth

tsar, "to the season of strictness," i.e., the season when the

earth is constringed or bound by the frost.

Against the day of battle and war?] Hailstones being often

employed as instruments of God's displeasure against his enemies,

and the enemies of his people. There is probably an allusion here

to the plague of hail sent on the Egyptians. See Ex 9:23, and the

notes there, for more particulars concerning hailstones,

remarkable showers of them, &c. There may be also a reference to

Jos 10:10, 11, where a destructive shower of what are called

hailstones fell upon the Canaanitish kings who fought against

Israel. See the note there also.

Verse 24. By what way is the light parted] Who can accurately

describe the cause and operation of a thunder cloud, the cause,

nature, and mode of operation of the lightning itself? Is it a

simple element or compound substance? What is its velocity? and

why not conductible by every kind of substance, as it is known

to exist in all, and, indeed, to be diffused through every portion

of nature? How is it parted? How does it take its zigzag form?

this is the curious, indescribable, and unknown parting. Are all

the causes of positive and negative electricity found out? What

are its particles, and how do they cohere, and in what order are

they propagated? Much has been said on all these points, and how

little of that much satisfactorily!

Scattereth the east wind upon the earth?] kadim, the

eastern storm, euroclydon, or levanter.

Verse 25. Divided a water-course] The original tealah,

from alah, to ascend, may signify rather a cloud, or clouds

in general, where the waters are stored up. I cannot see how the

overflowings or torrents of water can be said to ascend any

other way than by evaporation; and it is by this Divine

contrivance that the earth is not only irrigated, but even dried;

and by this means too much moisture is not permitted to lie upon

the ground, which would not only be injurious to vegetation, but

even destroy it. But query, may not a waterspout be intended?

A way for the lightning of thunder] "A path for the bolt of

thunder." God is represented as directing the course even of the

lightning; he launches the bolt, and makes the path in which it

is to run. To grasp, manage, and dart the thunderbolt or

lightning, was a work which heathenism gave to Jupiter, its

supreme god. None of the inferior deities were capable of this.

But who can thunder with a voice like the Almighty? He is THE


Verse 26. To cause it to rain on the earth] It is well known

that rain falls copiously in thunder-storms. The flash is first

seen, the clap is next heard, and last the rain descends. The

lightning travels all lengths in no perceivable succession of

time. Sound is propagated at the rate of 1142 feet in a second.

Rain travels still more slowly, and will be seen sooner or later

according to the weight of the drops, and the distance of the

cloud from the place of the spectator. Now the flash, the clap,

and the rain, take place all in the same moment, but are

discernible by us in the succession already mentioned, and for the

reasons given above; and more at large in Clarke's note on "Job 36:29",


But how are these things formed? The lightning is represented as

coming immediately from the hand of God. The clap is the effect of

the lightning, which causes a vacuum in that part of the

atmosphere through which it passes; the air rushing in to restore

the equilibrium may cause much of the noise that is heard in the

clap. An easy experiment on the airpump illustrates this: Take a

glass receiver open at both ends, over one end tie a piece of

sheep's bladder wet, and let it stand till thoroughly dry. Then

place the open end on the plate of the airpump, and exhaust the

air slowly from under it. The bladder soon becomes concave, owing

to the pressure of the atmospheric air on it, the supporting air

in the receiver being partly thrown out. Carry on the exhaustion,

and the air presses at the rate of fifteen pounds on every square

inch; see on Job 28:28. The fibres of the bladder, being no

longer capable of bearing the pressure of the atmospheric column

upon the receiver, are torn to pieces, with a noise equal to the

report of a musket, which is occasioned by the air rushing in to

restore the equilibrium. Imagine a rapid succession of such

experiments, and you have the peal of thunder, the rupture of the

first bladder being the clap. But the explosion of the gases

(oxygen and hydrogen) of which water is composed will also account

for the noise. See below.

But how does the thunder cause rain? By the most accurate and

incontestable experiments it is proved that water is a composition

of two elastic airs or gases as they are called, oxygen and

hydrogen. In 100 parts of water there are 88 1/4 of oxygen, and

11 3/4 of hydrogen. Pass a succession of electric sparks through

water by means of a proper apparatus, and the two gases are

produced in the proportions mentioned above.

To decompose water by galvanism:-Take a narrow glass tube three

or four inches long; fit each end with a cork penetrated by a

piece of slender iron wire, and fill the tube with water. Let the

ends of the two wires within the tube be distant from each other

about three quarters of an inch, and let one be made to

communicate with the top, the other with the bottom of a galvanic

pile in action. On making this communication, bubbles of air will

be formed, and ascend to the top of the tube, the water decreasing

as it is decomposed.

The oxygen and hydrogen formed by this experiment may be

recomposed into the same weight of water. Take any quantity of

the oxygen and hydrogen gases in the proportions already

mentioned; ignite them by the electric spark, and they produce a

quantity of water equal in weight to the gases employed. Thus,

then, we can convert water into air, and reconvert this air into

water; and the proportions hold as above. I have repeatedly seen

this done, and assisted in doing it, but cannot, in this place,

describe every thing in detail.

Now to the purpose of this note: the rain descending after the

flash and the peal. The electric spark or matter of lightning,

passing through the atmosphere, ignites and decomposes the oxygen

and hydrogen, which explode, and the water which was formed of

these two falls down in the form of rain. The explosion of the

gases, as well as the rushing in of the circumambient air to

restore the equilibrium, will account for the clap and peal: as

the decomposition and ignition of them will account for the water

or rain which is the attendant of a thunder storm. Thus by the

lightning of thunder God causes it to rain on the earth. How

marvellous and instructive are his ways!

Verse 27. To satisfy the desolate and waste] The thunder cloud

not only explodes over inhabited countries, that the air may be

purified and the rain sent down to fertilize the earth, but it is

conducted over deserts where there is no human inhabitant; and

this to cause the bud of the tender herb to spring forth: for

there are beasts, fowls, and insects, that inhabit the desert and

the wilderness, and must be nourished by the productions of the

ground. Every tribe of animals was made by the hand of God, and

even the lowest of them is supported by his kind providence.

Verse 28. Hath the rain a father?] Or, Who is the father of the

rain? We have seen above one part of the apparatus by which God

produces it; other causes have been mentioned on Job 36:27, &c.

The drops of dew?] egley, the sphericles, the small round

drops or globules. Dew is a dense moist vapour, found on the earth

in spring and summer mornings, in the form of a mizzling rain. Dr.

Hutton defines it, "a thin, light, insensible mist or rain,

descending with a slow motion, and falling while the sun is below

the horizon. It appears to differ from rain as less from more.

Its origin and matter are doubtless from the vapours and

exhalations that rise from the earth and water." Various

experiments have been instituted to ascertain whether dew arises

from the earth, or descends from the atmosphere; and those pro

and con have alternately preponderated. The question is not yet

decided; and we cannot yet tell any more than Job which hath

begotten the drops of dew, the atmosphere or the earth. Is it

water deposited from the atmosphere, when the surface of the

ground is colder than the air?

Verse 29. Out of whose womb came the ice?] ICE is a solid,

transparent, and brittle body, formed of water by means of cold.

Some philosophers suppose that ice is only the re-establishment of

water in its natural state; that the mere absence of fire is

sufficient to account for this re-establishment; and that the

fluidity of water is a real fusion, like that of metals exposed

to the action of fire; and differing only in this, that a greater

portion of fire is necessary to one than the other. Ice,

therefore, is supposed to be the natural state of water; so that

in its natural state water is solid, and becomes fluid only by the

action of fire, as solid metallic bodies are brought into a state

of fusion by the same means.

Ice is lighter than water, its specific gravity being to that of

water as eight to nine. This rarefaction of ice is supposed to

be owing to the air-bubbles produced in water by freezing, and

which, being considerably larger in proportion to the water

frozen, render the body so much specifically lighter; hence ice

always floats on water. The air-bubbles, during their production,

acquire a great expansive power, so as to burst the containing

vessels, be they ever so strong.

See examples in Clarke's note on "Job 37:10".

The hoary frost of heaven, who hath gendered it?] Hoar-frost is

the congelation of dew, in frosty mornings, on the grass. It

consists of an assemblage of little crystals of ice, which are of

various figures, according to the different disposition of the

vapours when met and condensed by the cold. Its production is

owing to some laws with which we are not yet acquainted. Of this

subject, after the lapse and experience of between two and three

thousand years, we know about as much as Job did. And the

question, What hath engendered the hoar-frost of heaven! is, to

this hour, nearly as inexplicable to us as it was to him! Is it

enough to say that hoar-frost is water deposited from the

atmosphere at a low temperature, so as to produce congelation?

Verse 30. The waters are hid as with a stone] Here is a

reference to freezing in the winter, as we may learn from some of

the constellations mentioned below, which arise above our horizon,

in the winter months.

The word yithchabbau is understood by the versions in

general as implying hardening or congelation; and we know in some

intense frosts the ice becomes as hard as a stone; and even the

face of the deep-the very seas themselves, not only in the polar

circles, but even in northern countries, Norway, Sweden, Denmark,

Holland, and parts of Germany, are really frozen, and locked up

from all the purposes of navigation for several months in winter.

Verse 31. Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades] The

Pleiades are a constellation in the sign Taurus. They consist of

six stars visible to the naked eye; to a good eye, in a clear

night, seven are discernible; but with a telescope ten times the

number may be readily counted. They make their appearance in the

spring. Orion may be seen in the morning, towards the end of

October, and is visible through November, December, and January;

and hence, says Mr. Good, it becomes a correct and elegant

synecdoche for the winter at large. The Pleiades are elegantly

opposed to Orion, as the vernal renovation of nature is opposed to

its wintry destruction; the mild and open benignity of spring, to

the severe and icy inactivity of winter.

I have already expressed my mind on these supposed

constellations, and must refer to my notes on Job 9:9, &c., and

to the learned notes of Doctor Hales and Mr. Mason Good on these

texts. They appear certain, where I am obliged to doubt; and, from

their view of the subject, make very useful and important

deductions. I find reluctance in departing from the ancient

versions. In this case, these learned men follow them; I cannot,

because I do not see the evidence of the groundwork; and I dare

not draw conclusions from premises which seem to me precarious, or

which I do not understand. I wish, therefore, the reader to

examine and judge for himself.

Coverdale renders the 31st and 32d verses Job 38:31, 32 thus:

Hast thou brought the VII starres together? Or, Art thou able to

breake the circle of heaven? Canst thou bringe forth the morynge

starre, or the evenynge starre, at convenient tyme, and conveye

them home agayne?

Verse 32. Mazzaroth in his season?] This is generally understood

to mean the signs of the zodiac. Mazzaroth, according to

Parkhurst, comes from mazar, to corrupt; and he supposes it

to mean that pestilential wind in Arabia, called simoom, the

season of which is the summer heats.

Verse 33. Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven?] Art thou a

thorough astronomer? Art thou acquainted with all the laws of the

planetary system? Canst thou account for the difference of their

motions, and the influence by which they are retained and revolve

in their orbits? And canst thou tell what influence or dominion

they exercise on the earth? Sir Isaac Newton has given us much

light on many of these things; but to his system, which is most

probably the true one, gravity is essential; and yet what this

gravity is he could neither explain nor comprehend; and his

followers are not one whit wiser than he. No man has ever yet

fully found out the ordinances of heaven, and the dominion thereof

on the earth.

Verse 34. Canst thou lift up thy voice to the clouds] Canst thou

produce lightning and thunder, that water may be formed, and

poured down upon the earth?

Thunder is called koloth, voices; for it is considered the

voice of God: here then Job's voice, kolecha, is opposed to

the voice of JEHOVAH!

Verse 35. Canst thou send lightnings] We have already seen that

the lightning is supposed to be immediately in the hand and under

the management of God. The great god of the heathen, Jupiter

Brontes, is represented with the forked lightnings and thunderbolt

in his hand. He seems so to grasp the bickering flame that, though

it struggles for liberty, it cannot escape from his hold.

Lightnings-How much like the sound of thunder is the original

word: Berakim! Here are both sense and sound.

Here we are?] Will the winged lightnings be thy messengers, as

they are mine?

Verse 36. Who hath put wisdom in the in ward parts?] Who has

given lasechvi, to the contemplative person,

understanding? Even the most sedulous attention to a subject,

and the deepest contemplation, are not sufficient to investigate

truth, without the inspiration of the Almighty, which alone can

give understanding. But who has given man the power to conceive

and understand? A power which he knows he has, but which he cannot

comprehend. Man knows nothing of his own mind, nor of the mode of

its operations. This mind we possess, these operations we

perform;-and of either do we know any thing? If we know not our

own spirit, how can we comprehend that SPIRIT which is infinite

and eternal?

Mr. Good thinks that this verse is a continuation of the subject

above, relative to the lightnings, and therefore translates thus:-

Who putteth understanding into the vollies?

And who giveth to the shafts discernment?

All the versions, except the Septuagint, which trifles here,

understand the place as we do. Either makes a good sense. The

Septuagint has, "Who hath given the knowledge of weaving to

women; or the science of embroidery?" Instead of understanding to

the heart, the Vulgate has, understanding to the cock; that it

might be able to distinguish and proclaim the watches of the


Verse 37. Who can number the clouds] Perhaps the word

saphar, which is commonly rendered to number, may here mean,

as in Arabic, to irradiate, as Mr. Good contends; and may refer to

those celestial and inimitable tinges which we sometimes behold in

the sky.

Bottles of heaven] The clouds: it is an allusion to the girbahs,

or bottles made of skin, in which they are accustomed to carry

their water from wells and tanks.

Verse 38. When the dust groweth into hardness] That is, Who

knows how the dust-the elementary particles of matter, were

concreted; and how the clods-the several parts of the earth,

continue to cohere? What is the principle of cohesion among the

different particles of matter, in all metals and minerals? Even

water, in a solid form, constitutes a part of several gems,

called thence water of crystallization. Who can solve this

question? How is it that 90 parts of alumine, 7 of silex, and 1.2

of oxide of iron, constitute the oriental ruby? and that 90

parts of silex and 19 of water, form the precious opal? And how

can 46 parts of silex, 14 of alumine, 28 of carbonate of lime,

6.5 of sulphate of lime, 3 of oxide of iron, and 2 of water,

enter into the constitution, and form the substance, of the lapis

lazuli? How do these solids and fluids of such differing natures

grow into hardness, and form this curious mineral?

Take another example from that beautiful precious stone, the

emerald. Its analysis shows it to be composed of glucine 13, silex

64.5, alumine 16, lime 1.6, and oxide of chrome 3.25. Now how

can these dusts, utterly worthless in themselves, grow into

hardness, combine, and form one of the most beautiful, and, next

to the diamond, the most precious, of all the gems? The almighty

and infinitely wise God has done this in a way only known to and

comprehensible by himself.

Verse 39. Wilt thou hunt the prey for the lion?] Rather the

lioness, or strong lion. Hast thou his instinct? Dost thou know

the habits and haunts of such animals as he seeks for his food?

Thou hast neither his strength, his instinct nor his cunning.

In the best Hebrew Bibles, the thirty-ninth chapter begins with

this verse, and begins properly, as a new subject now commences,

relating to the natural history of the earth, or the animal

kingdom; as the preceding chapter does to astronomy and


Verse 40. When they couch in their dens] Before they are capable

of trusting themselves abroad.

Abide in the covert] Before they are able to hunt down the prey

by running. It is a fact that the young lions, before they have

acquired sufficient strength and swiftness, lie under cover, in

order to surprise those animals which they have not fleetness

enough to overtake in the forest; and from this circumstance the

kephirim, "young lions, or lions' whelps," have their

name: the root is caphar, to cover or hide.

See Clarke on Job 4:11, where

six different names are given to the lion, all expressing some

distinct quality or state.

Verse 41. Who provideth for the raven] This bird is chosen,

perhaps, for his voracious appetite, and general hunger for prey,

beyond most other fowls. He makes a continual cry, and the cry is

that of hunger. He dares not frequent the habitations of men, as

he is considered a bird of ill omen, and hated by all.

This verse is finely paraphrased by Dr. YOUNG:-

"Fond man! the vision of a moment made!

Dream of a dream, and shadow of a shade!

What worlds hast thou produced, what creatures framed,

What insects cherish'd, that thy God is blamed?

When pain'd with hunger, the wild raven's brood

Calls upon God, importunate for food,

Who hears their cry ? Who grants their hoarse request,

And stills the glamours of the craving nest?"

On which he has this note:-"The reason given why the raven is

particularly mentioned as the care of Providence is, because by

her clamorous and importunate voice she particularly seems always

calling upon it; thence κορασσωακοραξ, is to ask

earnestly.-AElian. lib. ii., c. 48. And since there were

ravens on the banks of the Nile, more clamorous than the rest of

that species, those probably are meant in this place."

THE commencement of Cicero's oration against Catiline, to which

I have referred on Job 38:3, is the following:-

Quousque tandem abutere, Catilina, patientia nostra? Quamdiu

etiam furor iste tuus nos eludet? Quem ad finem sese effrenata

jactabit audacia? Nihilne te nocturnum praesidium palatii-nihil

urbis vigiliae,-nihil timor popuii,-nihii concursus bonorum

omnium,-nihil hic munitissimus habendi senatus locus-nihil horum

ora, vultusque moverunt? Patere tua consilia nan sentis?

Constrictam jam omnium horum conscientia teneri conjurationem tuam

non vides? Quid proxima, quid superiore nocte egeris,-ubi fueris,

quos convocaveris,-quid consilii ceperis, quem nostrum ignorare

arbitraris? O tempora! O mores! Senatus haec intelligit,-consul

videt; hic tamen vivit! Vivit? immo vero eitam in senatum venit;

fit publici consilii particeps; notat et designat oculis ad caedem

unumquemque nostrum! Nos autem, viri fortes, satisfacere

reipublicae videmur, si istius furorem ac tela vitemus!

"How long wilt thou, O Catiline, abuse our patience? How long

shall thy madness out-brave our justice? To what extremities art

thou resolved to push thy unbridled insolence of guilt? Canst thou

behold the nocturnal arms that watch the palatium,-the guards of

the city,-the consternation of the citizens,-all the wise and

worthy clustering into consultation,-the impregnable situation of

the seat of the senate,-and the reproachful looks of the fathers

of Rome? Canst thou behold all this, and yet remain undaunted and

unabashed? Art thou insensible that thy measures are detected? Art

thou insensible that this senate, now thoroughly informed,

comprehend the whole extent of thy guilt? Show me the senator

ignorant of thy practices during the last and preceding night, of

the place where you met, the company you summoned, and the crime

you concerted. The senate is conscious,-the consul is witness to

all this; yet, O how mean and degenerate! the traitor lives!

Lives? he mixes with the senate; he shares in our counsels; with a

steady eye he surveys us; he anticipates his guilt; he enjoys the

murderous thought, and coolly marks us to bleed! Yet we, boldly

passive in our country's cause, think we act like Romans, if we

can escape his frantic rage!"

The reader will perceive how finely Cicero rushes into this

invective, as if the danger had been too immediate to give him

leisure for the formality of address and introduction. See

Guthrie's Orations of Cicero.

Here is eloquence! Here is nature! And in thus speaking her

language, the true orator pierces with his lightnings the deepest

recesses of the heart. The success of this species of oratory is

infallible in the pulpit, when the preacher understands how to

manage it.

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