Job 41:5
Will you play with him as with a bird? or will you bind him for your maidens?
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41:1-34 Concerning Leviathan. - The description of the Leviathan, is yet further to convince Job of his own weakness, and of God's almighty power. Whether this Leviathan be a whale or a crocodile, is disputed. The Lord, having showed Job how unable he was to deal with the Leviathan, sets forth his own power in that mighty creature. If such language describes the terrible force of Leviathan, what words can express the power of God's wrath? Under a humbling sense of our own vileness, let us revere the Divine Majesty; take and fill our allotted place, cease from our own wisdom, and give all glory to our gracious God and Saviour. Remembering from whom every good gift cometh, and for what end it was given, let us walk humbly with the Lord.Wilt thou play with him as with a bird? - A bird that is tamed. The art of taming birds was doubtless early practiced, and they were kept for amusement. But the leviathan could not thus be tamed.

Or wilt thou bind him for thy maidens? - For their amusement. For such purposes doubtless, birds were caught and caged. There is great force in this question, on the supposition that the crocodile is intended. Nothing could be more incongruous than the idea of securing so rough and unsightly a monster for the amusement of tender and delicate females.

5. a bird?—that is, tamed. As with a bird; as children play with little birds kept in cages, or tied with strings, which they do at their pleasure, and without any fear?

For thy maidens; for thy little daughters; which he mentions rather than little sons, because such are most subject to fear. Wilt thou play with him as with a bird?.... In the hand or cage: leviathan plays in the sea, but there is no playing with him by land, Psalm 104:26;

or wilt thou bind him for thy maidens? or young girls, as Mr. Broughton renders it; tie him in a string, as birds are for children to play with? Now, though crocodiles are very pernicious to children, and often make a prey of them when they approach too near the banks of the Nile, or whenever they have an opportunity of seizing them (k); yet there is an instance of the child of an Egyptian woman that was brought up with one, and used to play with it (l), though, when grown up, was killed by it; but no such instance can be given of the whale of any sort.

(k) Aelian. l. 10. c. 21. (l) Maxim. Tyr. Sermon. 38.

Wilt thou play with him as with a bird? or wilt thou bind him for thy maidens?
5. Wilt thou make a pet thing of him? The commentators quote Catullus, passer, deliciœ meœ puellœ.Verse 5. - Wilt thou play with him as with a bird? The Egyptians were especially fond of pet animals, and Job's countrymen, it may be assumed, were the same. Besides dogs, we find the Egyptians keeping tame antelopes, leopards, and monkeys. A tame crocodile would certainly seem to be an extraordinary pet, but Herodotus says that the Egyptians tamed them (2:39), and Sir Gardner Wilkinson informed me that he had known some tame ones at Cairo. The Mesopotamian Arabs domesticate falcons to assist them in the chase of the bustard and the gazelle (Layard, 'Nineveh and Babylon,' pp. 481-483). And this usage, though not represented on the Assyrian monuments, is likely to have been ancient. Or wilt thou bind him for thy maidens? i.e. Wilt thou so secure him that he may be delivered over to thy handmaidens, to be made their pet and playfellow? 19 He is the firstling of the ways of God;

He, his Maker, reached to him his sword.

20 For the mountains bring forth food for him,

And all the beasts of the field play beside him.

21 Under the lote-trees he lieth down,

In covert of reeds and marsh.

22 Lote-trees cover him as shade,

The willows of the brook encompass him.

23 Behold, if the stream is strong, he doth not quake;

He remaineth cheerful, if a Jordan breaketh forth upon his mouth.

24 Just catch him while he is looking,

With snares let one pierce his nose!

God's ways is the name given to God's operations as the Creator of the world in Job 40:19 (comp. Job 26:14, where His acts as the Ruler of the world are included); and the firstling of these ways is called the Behmth, not as one of the first in point of time, but one of the hugest creatures, un chef-d'oeuvre de Dieu (Bochart); ראשׁית not as Proverbs 8:22; Numbers 24:20, of the priority of time, but as Amos 6:1, Amos 6:6, of rank. The art. in העשׁו is, without the pronominal suff. being meant as an accusative (Ew. 290, d), equal to a demonstrative pronoun (comp. Ges. 109, init): this its Creator (but so that "this" does not refer back so much as forwards). It is not meant that He reached His sword to behmoth, but (on which account לו is intentionally wanting) that He brought forth, i.e., created, its (behmoth's) peculiar sword, viz., the gigantic incisors ranged opposite one another, with which it grazes upon the meadow as with a sickle: ἀρούρῃσιν κακὴν ἐπιβάλλεται ἅρπην (Nicander, Theriac. 566), ἅρπη is exactly the sickle-shaped Egyptian sword (harpu equals חרב). Vegetable food (to which its teeth are adapted) is appointed to the behmoth: "for the mountains produce food for him;" it is the herbage of the hills (which is scanty in the lower and more abundant in the upper valley of the Nile) that is intended, after which this uncouth animal climbs (vid., Schlottm.). בּוּל is neither a contraction of יבוּל (Ges.), nor a corruption of it (Ew.), but Hebraeo-Arab. equals baul, produce, from bâla, to beget, comp. aballa, to bear fruit (prop. seed, bulal), root בל, to soak, wet, mix.

(Note: Whether בּליל, Job 6:5; Job 24:6, signifies mixed provender (farrago), or perhaps ripe fruit, i.e., grain, so that jabol, Judges 19:21, in the signification "he gave dry provender consisting of barley-grain," would be the opposite of the jahushsh (יחשׁ) of the present day, "he gives green provender consisting of green grass or green barley, hashı̂sh," as Wetzst. supposes, vid., on Isaiah 30:24.)


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