Job 37:16
Do you know the balancing of the clouds, the wondrous works of him which is perfect in knowledge?
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(16) The balancings of the clouds.—How they are poised and suspended in the sky. “Ye clouds, that far above me float and pause.”—Coleridge.

Job 37:16-17. Dost thou know the balancings of the clouds? — How God doth, as it were, weigh the clouds in balances; so that, although they are full of water, and heavy, yet they are by his power suspended in the thin air, and kept from falling down upon us in spouts and floods, as sometimes they have done, and generally would do, if not governed by a higher Providence. The works of him who is perfect in knowledge — These are effects and evidences of his infinite power and knowledge. How thy garments are warm — How and why thy garments keep thee warm; or whence it comes, that the air grows mild when the south wind blows.37:14-20 Due thoughts of the works of God will help to reconcile us to all his providences. As God has a powerful, freezing north wind, so he has a thawing, composing south wind: the Spirit is compared to both, because he both convinces and comforts, So 4:16. The best of men are much in the dark concerning the glorious perfections of the Divine nature and the Divine government. Those who, through grace, know much of God, know nothing, in comparison with what is to be known, and of what will be known, when that which is perfect is come.Dost thou know the balancings of the clouds? - That is, Dost thou know how the clouds are poised and suspended in the air? The difficulty to be explained was, that the clouds, so full of water, did not fail to the earth, but remained suspended in the atmosphere. They were poised and moved about by some unseen hand. Elihu asks what kept them there; what prevented their falling to the earth; what preserved the equilibrium so that they did not all roll together. The phenomena of the clouds would be among the first that would attract the attention of man, and in the early times of Job it is not to be supposed that the subject could be explained. Elihu assumes that they were held in the sky by the power of God, but what was the nature of his agency, he says, man could not understand, and hence, he infers that God should be regarded with profound veneration. We know more of the facts and laws respecting the clouds than was understood then, but our knowledge in this, as in all other things, is fitted only to exalt our conceptions of the Deity, and to change blind wonder into intelligent adoration.

The causes of the suspension of the clouds are thus stated in the Edinburgh Encyclopedia, Art. Meteorology: "When different portions of the atmosphere are intermixed so as to produce a deposition of moisture;" (compare the notes at Job 38:28), "the consequence will be the formation of a cloud. This cloud, from its increased specific gravity, will have a tendency to sink downward; and were the lower strata of the air of the same temperature with the cloud, and saturated with moisture, it would continue to descend until it reached the surface of the earth - in the form of rain, or what is commonly called mist. In general, however, the cloud in its descent passes through a warmer region, when the condensed moisture again passes into a vapor, and consequently ascends until it reaches a temperature sufficiently low to recondense it, when it will begin again to sink. This oscillation will continue until the cloud settles at the point where the temperature and humidity are such as that the condensed moisture begins to be dissipated, and which is found on an average to be between two and three miles above the surface of the earth." By such laws the "balancing" of the clouds is secured, and thus is shown the wisdom of Him that is "perfect in knowledge."

The wondrous works of him that is perfect in knowledge - Particularly in the matter under consideration. He who can command the lightning, and hold the clouds suspended in the air, Elihu infers must be perfect in knowledge. To a Being who can do this, everything must be known. The reasoning of Elihu here is well-founded, and is not less forcible now than it was in the time of Job.

16. Hebrew, "Hast thou understanding of the balancings," &c., how the clouds are poised in the air, so that their watery gravity does not bring them to the earth? The condensed moisture, descending by gravity, meets a warmer temperature, which dissipates it into vapor (the tendency of which is to ascend) and so counteracts the descending force.

perfect in knowledge—God; not here in the sense that Elihu uses it of himself (Job 36:4).

dost thou know—how, &c.

The balancings; how God doth as it were weigh and suspend the clouds in balances; so that although they are ponderous and flail of water, yet they are by his power kept up in the thin air from falling down upon us in spouts and floods, as sometimes they have done, and generally would do, if not overruled by a higher Providence.

Which is perfect in knowledge; who exactly knows the weight. These are effects and evidences of his infinite power and knowledge. Dost thou know the balancings of the clouds?.... How those ponderous bodies, as some of them are very weighty, full of water, are poised, and hang in the air, without turning this way or the other, or falling on the earth;

the wondrous works of him which is perfect in knowledge; of God, who is a God of knowledge, of knowledges, 1 Samuel 2:3; who knows himself and all his works, all creatures and things whatever, see Job 36:4; and this is another of his wondrous works, which none but he, whose knowledge is perfect, and is the author and giver of knowledge, can know, even the poising and balancing of the clouds in the air; we see they are balanced, but we know not how it is done.

Dost thou know the {m} balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of him which is perfect in knowledge?

(m) Which is sometimes changed into rain, or snow, hail or such like.

16. the balancings] That is, how the clouds are poised in the heavens (comp. ch. Job 26:8), which Elihu regards as an unspeakable marvel.Verse 16. - Dost thou know the balancings of the clouds? i.e. "how they are poised and suspended in the sky" (Stanley Loathes). The wondrous works of him which is perfect in knowledge (comp. Job 36:5). 6 For He saith to the snow: Fall towards the earth,

And to the rain-shower

And the showers of His mighty rain.

7 He putteth a seal on the hand of every man,

That all men may come to a knowledge of His creative work.

8 The wild beast creepeth into a hiding-place,

And in its resting-place it remaineth.

9 Out of the remote part cometh the whirlwind,

And cold from the cloud-sweepers.

10 From the breath of God cometh ice,

And the breadth of the waters is straitened.

Like אבי, Job 34:36, and פּשׁ, Job 35:15, הוא, Job 37:6 (is falsely translated "be earthwards" by lxx, Targ., and Syr.), also belongs to the most striking Arabisms of the Elihu section: it signifies delabere (Jer. ut descendat), a signification which the Arab. hawâ does not gain from the radical signification placed first in Gesenius-Dietrich's Handwrterbuch, to breathe, blow, but from the radical signification, to gape, yawn, by means of the development of the meaning which also decides in favour of the primary notion of the Hebr. הוּה, according to which, what was said on Job 6:2; Job 30:13 is to be corrected.

(Note: Arab. hawâ is originally χαίνειν, to gape, yawn, hiare, e.g., hawat et-ta‛natu, the stab gapes (imperf. tahwı̂, inf. huwı̂jun), "when it opens its mouth" - the Turkish Kamus adds, to complete the picture: like a tulip. Thence next hâwijatun, χαίνουσα χαῖνον, i.e., χᾶσμα equals hûwatun, uhwı̂jatun, huwâatun, mahwâtun, a cleft, yawning deep, chasm, abyss, βάραθρον, vorago; hawı̂jatun and hauhâtun (a reduplicated form), especially a very deep pit or well. But these same words, hâwijatun, hûwatun, uhwı̂jatun, mahwâtun, also signify, like the usual Arab. hawa'â'un, the χάσμα between heaven and earth, i.e., the wide, empty space, the same as 'gauwun. The wider significations, or rather applications and references of hawâ: air set in motion, a current of air, wind, weather, are all secondary, and related to that primary signification as samâ, rain-clouds, rain, grass produced by the rain, to the prim. signification height, heaven, vid., Mehren, Rhetorik d. Araber, S. 107, Z. 14ff. This hawâ, however, also signifies in general: a broad, empty space, and by transferring the notion of "empty" to mind and heart, as the reduplicated forms hûhatun and hauhâtun: devoid of understanding and devoid of courage, e.g., Koran xiv. 44: wa-af'i-datuhum hawâun, where Bedhw first explains hawâ directly by chalâ, emptiness, empty space, i.e., as he adds, châlijetun ‛an el-fahm, as one says of one without mind and courage qalbuhu hawâun. Thence also hauwun, emptiness, a hole, i.e., in a wall or roof, a dormar-window (kauwe, kûwe), but also with the genit. of a person or thing: their hole, i.e., the space left empty by them, the side not taken up by them, e.g., qa‛ada fi hauwihi, he set himself beside him. From the signification to be empty then comes (1) hawat el-mar'atu, i.e., vacua fuit mulier equals orba oiberis, as χήρα, vidua, properly empty, French vide; (2) hawâ er-ragulu, i.e., vacuus, inanis factus est vir equals exanimatus (comp. Arab. frg, he became empty, euphemistic for he died).

From this variously applied primary signification is developed the generally known and usual Arab. hawâ, loose and free, without being held or holding to anything one's self, to pass away, fly, swing, etc., libere ferri, labi, in general in every direction, as the wind, or what is driven hither and thither by the wind, especially however from above downwards, labi, delabi, cadere, deorsum ruere. From this point, like many similar, the word first passes into the signification of sound (as certainly also שׁאה, שא): as anything falling has a full noise, and so on, δουπεῖν, rumorem, fragorem edere (fragor from frangi), hence hawat udhnuhu jawı̂jan of a singing in the ears.


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