Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down?Job 41:1. Canst thou draw out leviathan with a hook? — It is a great question among learned men, what creature is meant by לויתן, leviathan. Our translators were evidently uncertain respecting it, and therefore have given us here and elsewhere, where the word occurs, the original term itself, untranslated. The LXX., however, (who are followed in two instances by the author of the Vulgate,) have not done so, but have everywhere rendered it δρακων, the dragon. But it is far from being certain that in so doing they have given us the true meaning of the word. It is much more probable that either the whale or the crocodile is intended. It is evident the leviathan, mentioned Psalm 104:26, is an inhabitant of the sea, and the description given of him is generally thought best to suit the whale. There (in the great and wide sea) go the ships: there is that leviathan which thou hast made to play therein. The same may be said concerning the leviathan, mentioned Psalm 74:14. It also appears to be an inhabitant of the sea. Now the dragon and crocodile, it is argued, have nothing to do with the sea, but only with rivers, and therefore cannot be intended by leviathan here. Divers other reasons are also advanced to prove that the whale is the creature meant. “That which inclines me,” says Henry, “rather to understand it of the whale, is not only because it is much larger and a nobler animal, but, because, in the history of the creation there is such an express notice taken of it as is not of any other species of animals whatsoever; God created great whales, Genesis 1:21. By which it appears, not only that whales were well known in those parts in Moses’s time, who lived a little after Job; but that the creation of whales was generally looked upon as a most illustrious proof of the eternal power and godhead of the Creator. And we may conjecture that this was the reason (for otherwise it seems unaccountable) why Moses there so particularly mentions the creation of the whales; because God had so lately, in this discourse with Job, more largely insisted upon the bulk and strength of that creature than of any other, as the proof of his power.”
At the same time, however, that Mr. Henry thus delivers his opinion on the subject, he acknowledges that many learned men were of a different mind; and, in particular, observes of Sir Richard Blackmore, that though he admitted the more received opinion concerning the behemoth being the elephant, yet he agreed with the learned Bochart’s notion of the leviathan, that it is the crocodile, so well known in the river of Egypt. Poole also seems to have been of the same judgment. “It is evident,” says he, “that the Hebrew תנין, thannin, which is parallel to this word, leviathan, is used of the crocodile, Ezekiel 29:3-4; Ezekiel 32:3. But I shall not positively determine this controversy,” adds he, “but only show how far the text may be understood of both of them, and then submit it to the reader’s judgment, this being a matter wherein Christians may vary without any hazard. Only this I will say, that whatever becomes of the behemoth of the former chapter, whether that be the elephant or the hippopotamus, that doth not at all determine the sense of this leviathan, but leaves it indifferent to the whale or the crocodile, as the context shall determine, which, I confess, seems to me to favour the latter more than the former. To which may be added, that it seems more probable that God should speak of such creatures as were very well known to Job and his friends, as the crocodile was, than of such as it was very uncertain whether they were known in those parts, and in Job’s time.” The reader will observe, that the word leviathan is supposed to be derived from לוי, levi, joined, or coupled, and תן, than, or תנין, thannin, a dragon, that is, a large serpent, or fish, the word thannin being used both for a land-serpent and a kind of fish. And, “after comparing what Bochart and others have written on the subject, it appears to me,” says Parkhurst, “that the compound word לויתן, leviathan, the coupled dragon, denotes some animal partaking of the nature both of land-serpents and fishes, and, in this place, signifies the crocodile, which lives as well under water as on the shore.”
Dr. Dodd also agrees with Parkhurst, and the other learned men just mentioned, that Bochart “has proved by arguments, strictly conclusive, that the crocodile must be meant in this chapter.” It may be observed further here, that, although it might have been expected, that the Creator should have singled out and have dwelt upon two of the greatest of his works in the animal creation, the elephant and the whale, the former the largest and most eminent of quadrupeds, and the latter of fishes, for the display of his power and glory; yet, that naturalists have found great, if not insuperable difficulties in their endeavours to apply the particulars of this description to the whale. And all that can be said to solve these difficulties is, that there are many different species of whales, several that are known, and probably many more that are not known; and that although this description, in all its parts, may not exactly suit any species of them which we know, there may be others in the immense ocean with which we are not acquainted that it may suit; creatures which, though comprehended under the general name of whales, may, in many respects, be very different from, and much larger than, any that have been taken. But still it is very improbable, either that Job should know any thing of such whales, or that Jehovah, when reasoning with him and producing proofs of his power and providence, should make his appeal to creatures with which Job had no acquaintance. It seems, therefore, most probable that the crocodile is intended, and, we think, would be certain, were it not that the leviathan is represented in some of the passages where it is mentioned in Scripture, as we have observed, as an inhabitant of the sea, whereas the crocodile is only found in rivers. But perhaps the term leviathan does not always signify the same creature, but is put for different animals in different places, especially for such as are of extraordinary bulk, or of singular qualities. This verse, which speaks either of the impossibility, or rather of the great and terrible difficulty of taking the leviathan with the hook, or line, or such like instruments, may agree either to the whale or to the crocodile. As to the whale, there can be no doubt, nor much doubt as to the crocodile; the taking of which was generally esteemed by the ancients to be very difficult and perilous. Thus Diodorus Siculus says, they cannot be secured but in iron nets. When Augustus conquered Egypt, he struck a medal, the impress of which was a crocodile chained to a palm-tree, with this inscription, “None ever bound him before.” “In order to take these animals,” says Thevenot, “they make a number of holes, or ditches, on the banks of the river, which they cover with sticks, and things of the like kind; afterward, when the crocodiles pass over these cavities, especially when the waters rise in the river, which is the season of catching them, on account of their going further off from the river at that time, they fall into the holes and cannot get out again; in this confinement they are suffered to continue without food for several days; after which they let down certain nooses with running knots, wherewith they fasten their jaws, and then draw them out.” These nooses are the חבלי, cheblee, the cords, here mentioned, and this shows that the word לשׁון, leshon, is not to be understood of the tongue only, but of the whole fauces, or jaws. Or his tongue with a cord — This clause should be rendered, Canst thou bind his jaws with a cord? Some have objected, that this last clause cannot agree to the crocodile, because Aristotle, Pliny, and some other ancient authors have affirmed that it has no tongue. But, 1st, The notion that they have no tongues is a mistake, which has arisen from their tongues being but small in proportion to their vast bodies, and withal fastened to their under jaws. But that the crocodile hath a tongue is positively affirmed by several ancient authors, and by the Hebrew writers, and the Arabians, to whom this creature was best known, as also by later authors. But, 2d, It is not only of the tongue this clause speaks, but of the whole jaws of the leviathan. Maillet also bears testimony that the manner of taking these animals is very difficult, and sometimes very remarkable; the most common method, he says, is to dig great trenches, or ditches, along the Nile, which are covered with straw, and into which the creatures fall unawares. They are sometimes taken with hooks, baited with a quarter of a pig, or bacon, which they are very fond of. — Heath and Dr. Young. Hasselquist, speaking of the difficulty of taking this animal, says, “He frequently breaks the nets of fishermen, if they come in his way, and they are often exposed to great danger. I found a fishing-hook in the palate of the crocodile, which I dissected.” Hasselquist’s Voyages, p. 216.
Canst thou put an hook into his nose? or bore his jaw through with a thorn?Job 41:2. Canst thou put a hook — Hebrew, אגמן, agmon, a bulrush, that is, a hook like a bulrush, with its head hanging down, as is expressed Isaiah 58:5; into his nose? — To hang him up by it for sale, or to carry him home for use, after thou hast drawn him out of the sea or river. Or bore his jaw through with a thorn? — Or with an iron hook, or instrument, as sharp as a thorn, wherewith thou usest to carry small fishes. Heath translates the former clause, Canst thou put a bandage about his nose? meaning, by the bandage, a rope of rushes, which was to tie his mouth fast; as the thorn, or iron instrument, was to prevent him from getting the bandage off. “It is usual,” Dr. Dodd says, “to this day, to fasten the jaws of the crocodile when taken.”
Will he make many supplications unto thee? will he speak soft words unto thee?Job 41:3-6. Will he make supplications unto thee? — Doth he dread thy anger or power? Or will he earnestly beg thy favour? It is a metaphor from men in distress, who use these means to them to whose power they are subject. Will he make a covenant with thee? — Namely, to do thee faithful service, as the next words explain it. Canst thou bring him into bondage and force him to serve thee? Wilt thou play with him as with a bird? — As children play with little birds kept in cages, which they do at their pleasure, and without any fear. Or wilt thou bind him for thy maidens? — For thy little daughters, which he mentions rather than little sons, because such are most subject to fear. Shall thy companions make a banquet of him? — Hebrew, יכרו, jichru, concident, Vul. Lat., cut, or carve, him up? Shall thy friends, who assisted thee in taking him, feed upon him, or make a banquet for him; that is, for joy, that thou hast taken him? Shall they part him among the merchants? — As is usual in such cases, that all who are partners in the labour and hazard may partake of the profit also, and divide the spoil.
Will he make a covenant with thee? wilt thou take him for a servant for ever?
Wilt thou play with him as with a bird? or wilt thou bind him for thy maidens?
Shall the companions make a banquet of him? shall they part him among the merchants?
Canst thou fill his skin with barbed irons? or his head with fish spears?Job 41:7-8. Canst thou fill his skin with barbed irons? — A whale’s skin you may; but the skin of a crocodile is so hard that an iron, or spear, will not pierce it. It may, however, be understood also of the whale, for though they are taken at this day by piercing their skin with barbed irons, this art and way of taking them is but a late invention, and was not known in Job’s time; and, besides, he doth not speak of the absolute impossibility, but of the great difficulty of taking them. Lay thy hand upon him — Seize upon him, and take him by a strong hand, if thou darest to do so. Remember the battle, &c. — But ere thou attempt that, consider what thou art doing, and how hazardous thy enterprise is, and with what sort of a creature and with what disadvantage thou art going to contend; and, as it follows, do no more — Proceed no further; draw back thy hand, and be thankful for so great a deliverance. Or, as אל תוסŠ, al tosaph, literally signifies, non addes, that is, as Mercer very justly explains it, if once thou lay thy hand upon him, or attempt to do it, thou wilt no more remember the engagement with him, or any one else; for he will quickly despatch thee. Heath, however, gives a different turn to the sense, thus: Be sure thou strike home; mind thy blow; rely not on a second stroke.
Lay thine hand upon him, remember the battle, do no more.
Behold, the hope of him is in vain: shall not one be cast down even at the sight of him?Job 41:9-10. Behold, the hope of him is in vain — That is, the hope of taking, or conquering him. Shall not one be cast down, even at the sight of him? — Not only the fight, but the sight of him is most frightful. Such is even the sight of the whale to mariners, who fear the overturning of their vessel. And such is the sight of the crocodile, by which alone some have been frightened out of their senses. None is so fierce — Hebrew, אכזר, achzer, so resolute, that dare stir him up — When he sleepeth or is quiet. This alludes to a custom of this creature, when sated with fish, to come on shore and sleep among the reeds. Who then is able to stand before me? — To contend with me his Creator, (as thou Job dost,) when one of my creatures is too hard for him?
None is so fierce that dare stir him up: who then is able to stand before me?
Who hath prevented me, that I should repay him? whatsoever is under the whole heaven is mine.Job 41:11. Who hath prevented me? — Namely, with offices or services done for me, and thereby hath laid the first obligation upon me, for which I am indebted to him? That I should repay him? — Should be engaged to requite his favours? Who came beforehand with me in kindnesses? inasmuch as all men, and all things under heaven, are mine, made by my hand, and enriched with all their endowments by my favour. The apostle quotes this sentiment for the silencing of all flesh in God’s presence, (Romans 11:35,) Who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed to him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things. As God doth not inflict upon us the evils we have deserved, so he doth bestow upon us the favours we have not deserved. Having said, and largely proved, that man could not contend with God in power, he now adds that he cannot contend with him in, or with respect to justice; because God oweth him nothing, nor is any way obliged to him: which having briefly hinted, to prevent an objection, he returns to his former argument, the description of leviathan.
I will not conceal his parts, nor his power, nor his comely proportion.Job 41:12. I will not conceal his parts — That is, I will particularly speak of them. Hebrew, בדיו, bad-dav, his bars, or the members of his body, which are strong like bars of iron. R. Levi interprets it of his strength; nor his power — ודבר גבורות, udebar geburoth, nec verbum fortitudinum, nor the word, or the matter, of his fortitude; nor his comely proportion — Which is more remarkable and admirable in a creature of such vast bulk: Hebrew, וחין ערכו, vechin gnercho, nor the gracefulness of his disposition, that is, the disposition or adjustment of his parts.
Who can discover the face of his garment? or who can come to him with his double bridle?Job 41:13. Who can discover — מי גלה, mi gillah, Quis retexit, vel nudavit, Who hath uncovered, or made naked, or hath taken off from him, the face of his garment? — That is, his skin, which covers the whole body, and may be taken off from it like a garment. Who dare attempt to touch even his outward skin? much less dare any venture to endeavour to strip it off, or to give him a deep or deadly wound. Who can come to him with his double bridle? — To put it into his mouth, and lead him by it to thy stable and service, as he might do a horse? Or rather, (because he plainly seems to persist in describing the several parts of the leviathan’s body,) Who can come within his double bridle? or, as Heath translates it, his double row of teeth? namely, his vast jaws, which have some resemblance to a double bridle; whence the Greeks call those parts of the face which reach to the jaws on both sides the bridle. The crocodile’s mouth is exceedingly wide: Pliny says, strongly, “When he gapes, fit totum os, he becomes all mouth.”
Who can open the doors of his face? his teeth are terrible round about.Job 41:14. Who can open the doors of his face? — Namely, his mouth. If it be open, no one dares to enter within it, as he now said; and here he adds, none dare open it. His teeth are terrible round about — This is true of some kinds of whales, though others are said to have either none, or no terrible teeth; but it is more eminently and unquestionably true of the crocodile, of which this very thing is observed by all authors who write of it.
His scales are his pride, shut up together as with a close seal.Job 41:15-17. His scales are his pride — He prides and pleases himself in his strong and mighty scales. Hebrew, אפיקי מגנים, aphikee maginnim, robusta scutorum, the strength, or strong things, of his shields are his pride. Or, his body, or his back, (as גאוה, gaavah, is rendered by many ancient and modern interpreters,) is the strength of shields, that is, fortified with scales strong as shields. Heath translates it, Strong scales cover his back. This is remarkably the case with the crocodile, whose strength is in his back, which is covered with impenetrable scales, whereas his belly is very soft, and easily pierced. If it be interpreted as meant of the whale, we must understand by these shields the several coats of his skin, which, though it be smooth and entire, and without scales, may nevertheless be said to be as strong as shields, (shields being formerly made of leather,) because it is exceeding hard and strong, and almost impenetrable, and that not only on his back, as in the crocodile, but also in the belly all over. “The outward, or scarf-skin of the whale,” indeed, “is no thicker than parchment; but this being removed, the real skin appears, of about an inch thick, and covering the fat, or blubber, that lies beneath, which is from eight to twelve inches in thickness. The muscles lie beneath this, and, like the flesh of quadrupeds, are very red and tough.” — Ency. Brit. But as the skin of the whale is all one entire piece, and does not consist of different parts joined together, the following clause, and the contents of the next two verses, do not seem to be properly applicable to it. Shut up together as with a close seal — That is, the shields, or scales, are closely compacted together, as things that are fastened by a seal. One is so near another, &c. — This plainly shows that the scales, or shields, are several, which certainly agrees better to the crocodile than to the whale, unless there be a sort of whales which have scales, as some have affirmed, but it is not yet known or proved. By these shields, or scales, the animal is not only kept warm, for no air can come between them, but kept safe, for no sword can pierce through those scales. They stick together that they cannot be sundered — It is exceeding difficult, and almost impossible, by any power or art, to sever them one from another.
One is so near to another, that no air can come between them.
They are joined one to another, they stick together, that they cannot be sundered.
By his neesings a light doth shine, and his eyes are like the eyelids of the morning.Job 41:18. By his neesings a light doth shine — Literally, His sneezing causes the light to sparkle. If he sneeze, or spout up water, it is like a light shining, either with the froth, or the light of the sun shining through it. The crocodile, in particular, is said frequently to sneeze. His eyes are like the eyelids of the morning — The eyes of the whale are said in the night-time to shine like a flame; and the eyes of the crocodile, although they are dull and dark under the water, yet, as soon as they appear above water, cast a bright and clear light, like that of the morning suddenly breaking forth after the dark night. “I think,” says Dr. Young, “this gives us as great an image of the thing it would express as can enter the thoughts of man. It is not improbable that the Egyptians stole their hieroglyphic for the morning, which is the crocodile’s eye, from this passage, though no commentator I have seen mentions it. It is easy to conceive how the Egyptians should be both readers and admirers of the writings of Moses, whom I suppose the author of this poem.” The doctor paraphrases this clause thus:
“Large is his front; and when his burnish’d eyes
Lift their broad lids, the morning seems to rise.”
Out of his mouth go burning lamps, and sparks of fire leap out.Job 41:19-21. Out of his mouth go burning lamps — “This,” says Dr. Young, “is nearer truth than at first view may be imagined. The crocodile, says the naturalists, lying long under water, and being there forced to hold its breath, when it emerges, the breath, long repressed, is hot, and bursts out so violently that it resembles fire and smoke. The horse suppresses not his breath, by any means, so long, neither is he so fierce and animated; yet the most correct of poets venture to use the same metaphor concerning him. By this I would caution against a false opinion of the eastern boldness, (the boldness of their metaphors,) from passages in them ill understood.” We add the doctor’s paraphrase on these verses:
“His bulk is charged with such a furious soul,
That clouds of smoke from his spread nostrils roll,
As from a furnace; and, when roused his ire,
Fate issues from his jaws in streams of fire.”
Smoke, as out of a caldron — Hebrew, אגמן, agmon, sometimes rendered bulrush, and, Job 41:2, put for a hook; but the word likewise signifies a pool, or stagnating water, and is here rendered a caldron, because a caldron sends forth a great smoke, as a pool doth vapours. By a like figure, the great brazen laver, in the temple, was called a sea, on account of the great quantity of water which it contained. His breath kindleth coals — A hyperbolical expression, signifying only extraordinary heat.
Out of his nostrils goeth smoke, as out of a seething pot or caldron.
His breath kindleth coals, and a flame goeth out of his mouth.
In his neck remaineth strength, and sorrow is turned into joy before him.Job 41:22-24. In his neck remaineth strength, &c. — Houbigant’s translation of this is excellent; Strength has its dwelling (so ילין עז, jalin gnoz, literally signifies) on his neck — His head and body are firmly joined together, and therefore what may be called his neck is exceeding strong. This is equally applicable to the whale and the crocodile, neither of which has any more neck than other fishes have. And sorrow is turned into joy before him — The approach of any enemy, which usually causeth fear and sorrow in others, fills him with joy, as being desirous of nothing more than fighting. Or, as the Hebrew may be rendered, sorrow rejoices, or dances, or triumphs, &c., that is, is prevalent and victorious; and quickly invades and conquers all those men, or other creatures, which are in his way. Sorrow is his companion, or harbinger, which attends upon him wheresoever he goes. So anger and fear are said by the poets to accompany the god of war into the battle. Houbigant translates the clause, Before him marches destruction; he makes terrible work wherever he comes. The flakes of his flesh are joined together — Or, the parts of his flesh which stick out, or hang loose, and are ready to fall from other fishes, or creatures. The word flesh is sometimes used of fishes also, as Leviticus 11:11; 1 Corinthians 15:39. They cannot be moved — Without difficulty, namely, out of their place, or from the other members of the body. His heart is as hard as a stone — His courage is invincible; he is void of fear for himself, and of compassion for others, which is often termed, hardness of heart. As hard as a piece of the nether millstone — Which being to bear the weight of the upper, ought to be the harder and stronger of the two. On these last three verses also, Dr. Young’s paraphrase is worthy of the reader’s attention:
“Strength on his ample shoulder sits in state;
His well-join’d limbs are dreadfully complete;
His flakes of solid flesh are slow to part;
As steel his nerves, as adamant his heart.”
The flakes of his flesh are joined together: they are firm in themselves; they cannot be moved.
His heart is as firm as a stone; yea, as hard as a piece of the nether millstone.
When he raiseth up himself, the mighty are afraid: by reason of breakings they purify themselves.Job 41:25. When he raiseth up himself — Showing himself upon the top of the waters; the mighty are afraid — Even the stout-hearted, who used to be above fear. By reason of breakings — By reason of their great danger and distress; which is expressed by this very word, Psalm 60:2; Jonah 1:4. They purify themselves — Those who ordinarily live in the neglect of God; they cry unto God in their trouble, and endeavour to purge their consciences from the guilt of their sins. Houbigant translates this verse, When he raiseth up himself, the mighty flee; the princes quit their purposed journey. But Heath interprets the last clause thus: for very terror they fall to the ground; and he observes, very properly, that the word
שׁבר, sheber, here used, strongly expresses the idea of terror; our English word shiver is thought to have been derived from it. Henry, who understands this, and all the other parts of this description, of the whale, thus paraphrases this verse: “When he raiseth up himself, like a moving mountain in the great waters, even the mighty are afraid, lest he overturn their ships, or do them some other mischief: by reason of the breakings he makes in the water, which threaten death, they purify themselves, confess their sins, betake themselves to their prayers, and get ready for death.” Dr. Young, who understands it of the crocodile, to which it is manifestly more applicable, interprets it thus:
“When late awaked, he rears him from the floods,
And stretching forth his stature to the clouds,
Writhes in the sun aloft his scaly height,
And strikes the distant hills with transient light;
Far round are fatal damps of terror spread,
The mighty fear, nor blush to own their dread.”
The sword of him that layeth at him cannot hold: the spear, the dart, nor the habergeon.Job 41:26. The sword of him that layeth at him — That approacheth to him, and dares to strike at him; cannot hold — Hebrew, בלי תקום, beli takum, cannot stand. Either, 1st, Cannot endure the stroke, but will be broken by it; or, 2d, Cannot take hold of him, or abide fixed in him; but is instantly beaten back by the excessive hardness of his skin, which cannot be pierced by it. This also seems much better to agree to the crocodile, whose skin no sword, nor dart, nor (as some add) musket-ball can pierce, than to the whale, whose skin is easily pierced, as experience shows, except the whales here spoken of were of another kind than those we are acquainted with. Nor the habergeon — Hebrew, שׁריה, shirjah, which the margin of our Bible renders, breast-plate, and Ab. Ezra, a coat of mail, as the word means 1 Samuel 17:38. But Heath and Houbigant translate it here, the pike; and it evidently means some missile weapon.
He esteemeth iron as straw, and brass as rotten wood.Job 41:27-28. He esteemeth iron as straw, and brass as rotten wood — He neither fears, nor feels, the blows of the one more than of the other. The arrow cannot make him flee — Hebrew, the son of the bow, as it is elsewhere called, the son of the quiver, Lamentations 3:13; the quiver being, as it were, the mother, or womb, that bears it, and the bow as the father that begets it, or sendeth it forth. Sling-stones — Great stones cast out of slings, which have a great force and efficacy, 2 Chronicles 26:14; are turned with him into stubble — Hurt him no more than a blow with a little stubble. Heath renders this clause, He throweth about sling-stones like stubble; and Houbigant, Sling-stones are no more to him than stubble. An extraordinary instance of the strength of a crocodile is related by Maillet. “I saw one,” says he, “twelve feet long, which had not eaten any thing for thirty-five days, having had its mouth tied close during that interval, which, from a single blow from its tail, overturned five or six men together, with a bale of coffee, as easily as I could overturn six men at a game of draughts.” What force then must one of twenty feet long have in its full strength, and not weakened by such a fast? Thevenot also speaks of one that he had stripped of his skin, and says, that “it was so strong, though but eight feet in length, that after they had turned him upon his back, and four persons stood upon him with both their feet, while they were cutting open his belly, he moved himself with so much force as to throw them off with violence.” See Maillet’s Description of Egypt, page 33, and Thevenot, part 2. page 72.
The arrow cannot make him flee: slingstones are turned with him into stubble.
Darts are counted as stubble: he laugheth at the shaking of a spear.
Sharp stones are under him: he spreadeth sharp pointed things upon the mire.Job 41:30. Sharp stones — חדודי חרשׂ, chadudee chares, acumina testæ, vel testacea, sharp points of potsherds, are under him — He can repose himself on rocks, or stones, whose edges, or points, are sharp, like those of shells, or broken potsherds; and yet he is not sensible of them, says R. Levi. and Ab. Ezra. His skin is so hard and impenetrable that they make no impression upon him, but are as easy to him as a bed of clay. He spreadeth sharp pointed things: &c. — Hebrew, חרוצ, charutz, acutum, any thing which cuts, or makes an incision. The word also means, and is rendered by Bochart, tribula, an instrument used in thrashing corn, a kind of sledge, furnished with sharp iron wheels, which was drawn over the straw by oxen, and at the same time thrashed out the corn, and cut the straw into small pieces, reducing it to chaff. Heath, therefore, translates the verse, His nether parts are like sharp potsherds: he dasheth himself on the mud like a thrashing-cart.
He maketh the deep to boil like a pot: he maketh the sea like a pot of ointment.Job 41:31-32. He maketh the deep — The deep waters; to boil like a pot — To swell, and foam, and froth, by his strong and vehement motion, as any liquor does when it is boiled in a pot, especially boiling ointment. The sea — Either the great sea, the proper place of the whale, Psalm 104:25, or the great river Nile, which is called a sea, both in Scripture, as Isaiah 11:15, and in other authors, as Euphrates is called the sea of Babylon, Isaiah 21:1; Jeremiah 51:36. Lakes also are most frequently called seas, both in the Old and New Testament; and in such lakes the crocodiles are, as well as in the Nile. He maketh a path to shine after him — Houbigant renders the text, He leaves behind him a shining path; that is, the way in which he moves appears shining and conspicuous, as when a ship sails, and leaves a visible path behind it, which in the night appears to shine. One would think the deep to be hoary — It is so covered with froth and foam that it looks as if it were grown old, and become hoary.
He maketh a path to shine after him; one would think the deep to be hoary.
Upon earth there is not his like, who is made without fear.Job 41:33. Upon the earth there is not his like — No creature in this world is comparable to him for strength and terror. Or the earth is here distinguished from the sea; for the Hebrew, אין על עפר משׁלו, een gnal gnapar mashelo, may be properly rendered, His dominion is not upon the earth; namely, but upon the waters. Houbigant renders it, His dwelling is not upon the dust; which, as he understands it of the crocodile, he supposes to express the amphibious nature of the animal, which, although it is observed every day at morning and evening to come out of the waters, and to continue awhile on the land, yet, properly speaking, is an inhabitant of the waters, and it is well for man that he is so; for if such a terrible creature were allowed to roam and ravage upon this earth, it would be an unsafe and uncomfortable habitation for the children of men, for whom it is intended. Who is made without fear — Fears no enemy, as being sensible of his own invincible strength. But לבלי חת, libli chath, may be rendered, so as he cannot be bruised, or broken; namely, because of his prodigious hardness, of which we have spoken before.
He beholdeth all high things: he is a king over all the children of pride.Job 41:34. He beholdeth all high things — He looks about him with contempt and disdain on every thing he sees. He does not turn his back upon, or hide his face from, the highest and mightiest creatures, but beholds them with a bold and undaunted countenance, as being without any fear of them. He is king over all the children of pride — He carries himself with princely majesty and courage toward the strongest, loftiest, and fiercest creatures, which, though far higher in stature than himself, he strikes down with one stroke of his tail, as he commonly does cows and horses, and sometimes elephants. Heath’s translation of this verse seems peculiarly proper, as referring to, and closing the description of, the crocodile: He will look upon any thing with contempt, be it ever so high: he is king over all the sons of rapine; that is, over the most ravenous beasts, according to the Syriac and Arabic. Dr. Young’s paraphrase on these last two verses will please the reader, and give him a juster idea of their contents, than any thing we have said upon them:
“His like earth bears not on her spacious face;
Alone in nature stands his dauntless race,
For utter ignorance of fear renown’d;
In wrath he rolls his baleful eyes around;
Makes every swoll’n, disdainful heart subside,
And holds dominion o’er the sons of pride.”
Here end the words of God to Job, whereby he sets forth his wisdom and power, in the works of the creation: from whence Job might be led to infer, that the wisdom and power of God being so immense, men ought to speak most reverently of him, and think most humbly and lowly of themselves; persuaded that, though we cannot always see the reason why the divine providence suffers certain things to come to pass, yet we ought to rest assured that they are wisely, and therefore justly, ordered, and therefore we should resignedly submit our selves to the divine will in all things.