But Job answered and said,
Verses 1, 2. - But Job answered and said, How hast thou helped him that is without power? Assuming Bildad's benevolent intentions towards himself, Job asks, how he can suppose that what he has said will in any way be helpful to a person in so helpless a condition? He had told Job nothing that Job had not repeatedly allowed. How savest thou the arm that hath no strengtht? It could not invigorate Job's arm, any more than it could cheer his heart, to be told that man was a worm, or that he was wholly unclean in God's sight (Job 25:4, 6).
How hast thou helped him that is without power? how savest thou the arm that hath no strength?
How hast thou counselled him that hath no wisdom? and how hast thou plentifully declared the thing as it is?
Verse 3. - How hast thou counselled him that hath no wisdom? What counsel or advice is there in anything that thou hast said, by following which I might be benefited? Admitting my own want of wisdom, how hast thou bettered my case? And how hast thou plenteously declared the thing as it is? rather, How hast thou plenteously declared sound knowledge? What can there be said to have been in the way of sound knowledge, or good practical common sense (חוּשִׁיָה), in the discourse which thou hast addressed to me? - a discourse made up of truisms.
To whom hast thou uttered words? and whose spirit came from thee?
Verse 4. - To whom hast thou uttered words? Whom didst thou intend to address? Surely not me, since thy words touch none of my arguments. And whose spirit came from thee? Who prompted thy speech? Was it Eliphaz (comp. Job 4:17-19)?
Dead things are formed from under the waters, and the inhabitants thereof.
Verses 5-14. - Job now turns from controversy to the realities of the case, and begins with a full acknowledgment of God's greatness, might, and inscrutableness. As Bildad seemed to have supposed that he needed enlightenment on these points (Job 26:2-4), Job may have thought it right to make once more a plain profession of his belief (comp. Job 9:4-18; Job 12:9-25, etc.). Verse 5. - Dead things are formed from under the waters; rather, the dead from under the waters tremble. Hehraists generally are agreed that one of the meanings of Rephaim (רְפָאִים) is "the dead" or the departed, considered especially as inhabitants of Hades (comp. Psalm 88:11; Proverbs 2:18; Isaiah 14:9; Isaiah 26:14). And if so, this meaning is certainly appropriate here. Blidad had illustrated God's dominion from his power in heaven. Job shows that it exists alike in heaven and earth (vers. 7-13), and in the region under the earth (vers. 5, 6). There, in Sheol, under the waters of the ocean, the dead tremble at the thought of the Most High; they tremble together with other inhabitants thereof, as evil spirits, rebel intelligences, east down to Hades, and there held in durance (Jude 1:6).
Hell is naked before him, and destruction hath no covering.
Verse 6. - Hell is naked before him; i.e. "can hide nothing from his eyes" - shows all its inmost recesses. And destruction hath no covering; rather, Abaddon hath no covering (see the Revised Version). Abaddon is sometimes "destruction," sometimes "the angel of the bottomless pit" (Revelation 9:11), sometimes "the bottomless pit itself" (Proverbs 15:11). Here the last of these three senses seems to suit best - the deepest depth of the bottomless pit is no secret to God," but "naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do" (Hebrews 4:13)
He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing.
Verse 7. - He streteheth out the north over the empty place. Over what was "empty space" or "chaos" (תּהוּ) God stretches out "the north" - a portion of his orderly creation - perhaps the northern portion of the heavens, where are the grandest constellations visible to the inhabitants of the world's northern half. And hangeth the earth upon nothing. "Takes," i.e., "the huge ball of the earth, and suspends it in vacancy, with nothing to support it but his own fixed will, his own firm laws." This is an idea scarcely reached by astronomers in general, at any rate till the time of Hippar-chus; and it has, not without reason, been regarded as "a very remarkable instance of anticipation of the discoveries of science' (Stanley Loathes).
He bindeth up the waters in his thick clouds; and the cloud is not rent under them.
Verse 8. - He bindeth up the waters in his thick clouds; i.e. he makes the clouds, that we see floating in the atmosphere, contain and hold the waters on which the productiveness of the earth depends, and which he restrains, or allows to fall in fertilizing rain, at his pleasure (comp. 1 Kings 17:1). And the cloud is not rent under them. The metaphor is, no doubt, drawn from those water-skins, so well known in the East, and especially in Arabia, in which men stored the water for their journeys and other needs, which were liable to be "rent" by the weight of the liquid within them.
He holdeth back the face of his throne, and spreadeth his cloud upon it.
Verse 9. - He holdeth back the face of his throne; rather, he covereth up. He makes the clouds to gather in the vault of heaven, above which is his throne, and in this way conceals it and covers it up. And spreadeth his cloud upon it; or, over it, so blotting it out from sight. Behind the more obvious meaning lies one which is deeper and more spiritual. God withdraws himself from sight, gathers clouds and darkness around him to be the habitation of his seat, hides from men the principles of his government and administration, makes himself unapproachable and inscrutable, is a mystery and an enigma which man cannot hope to understand or solve (comp. 1 Kings 8:12; Psalm 18:11; Psalm 97:2).
He hath compassed the waters with bounds, until the day and night come to an end.
Verse 10. - He hath compassed the waters with bounds. God restrains within limits alike the "waters that are above the firmament" and those that are beneath it (Job 38:11). The boundary is placed, somewhat vaguely, "at the confines of light and darkness." Until the day and night come to an end is a mistranslation.
The pillars of heaven tremble and are astonished at his reproof.
Verse 11. - The pillars of heaven tremble. The "pillars of heaven" are the mountains, on which the sky seems to rest. These "tremble," or seem to tremble, at the presence of God (Psalm 18:7; Psalm 114:4; Isaiah 5:25) when he visits the earth in storm and tempest, either because the whole atmosphere is full of disturbance, and the outline of the mountains shifts and changes as rain and storm sweep over them, or because the reverberations of the thunder, which shake the air, seem to shake the earth also. And are astonished at his reproof. To the mind of the poet this "trembling" is expressive of astonishment and consternation. He regards the mountains as hearing the voice of God in the storm, recognizing it as raised in anger, and so trembling and cowering before him.
He divideth the sea with his power, and by his understanding he smiteth through the proud.
Verse 12. - He divideth the sea with his power. "Divideth" is certainly a wrong translation. The verb used (־ָגַע) means either "stirreth up" or "stilleth." In favour of the former rendering are Rosen-muller, Schultens, Delitzsch, Merx, and Canon Cook; in favour of the latter, the LXX., Dillmann, and Dr. Stanley Leathes. In either case the general sentiment is that God has full mastery over the sea, and can regulate its movements at his pleasure. And by his understanding he smiteth through the proud; literally, he smiteth through Rahab. (On Rahab, as the great power of evil, see the comment on Job 9:13.) God is said to have "smitten him through by his understanding" since in the contest between good and evil it is rather intelligence than mere force that carries the day. Power alone is sufficient to control the sea.
By his spirit he hath garnished the heavens; his hand hath formed the crooked serpent.
Verse 13. - By his spirit he hath garnished the heavens; or, by his spirit the heavens are brightness; i.e. at a breath from his mouth the heavens, lately all cloud and storm (vers. 8-11), recover their serenity, are calm and clear and bright. Our experience says, "After a storm comes a calm." Job notes that both alike are from God. His hand hath formed the crooked serpent; rather, his hand hath pierced the swift serpent (see the Revised Version). The reference is probably to "the war in heaven," already suggested by the mention of" Rahab" (ver. 12). In that war, according to the tradition that had reached Job, a great serpent, like the Egyptian Apepi (Apophis), had borne a part.
Lo, these are parts of his ways: but how little a portion is heard of him? but the thunder of his power who can understand?
Verse 14. - Lo, these are parts of his ways; literally, ends of his ways; i.e. the mere outskirts and fringe of his doings. But how small a portion is heard of him? rather, how small a whisper? But the thunder of his power who can understand?, or, the thunder of his mighty deeds. Job implies that he has not enumerated one-half of God's great works - he has just hinted at them, just whispered of them. If they were all thundered out in the ears of mortal man. who could receive them or comprehend them