English Standard Version
Who can number the clouds by wisdom? Or who can tilt the waterskins of the heavens,
King James Bible
Who can number the clouds in wisdom? or who can stay the bottles of heaven,
American Standard Version
Who can number the clouds by wisdom? Or who can pour out the bottles of heaven,
Who can declare the order of the heavens, or who can make the harmony of heaven to sleep?
English Revised Version
Who can number the clouds by wisdom? or who can pour out the bottles of heaven,
Webster's Bible Translation
Who can number the clouds in wisdom? or who can stay the bottles of heaven,
Job 38:37 Parallel
CommentaryKeil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament
31 Canst thou join the twistings of the Pleiades,
Or loose the bands of Orion?
32 Canst thou bring forth the signs of the Zodiac at the right time,
And canst thou guide the Bear with its children?
33 Knowest thou the laws of heaven,
Or dost thou define its influence on the earth?
That מעדגּות here signifies bindings or twistings (from עדן equals ענד, Job 31:36) is placed beyond question by the unanimous translations of the lxx (δεσμόν) and the Targ. (שׁירי equals σειράς), the testimony of the Masora, according to which the word here has a different signification from 1 Samuel 15:32, and the language of the Talmud, in which מעדנין, Klim, c. 20, signifies the knots at the end of a mat, by loosing which it comes to pieces, and Succa, 13b, the bands (formed of rushes) with which willow-branches are fastened together above in order to form a booth (succa); but מדאני, Sabbat, 33a, signifies a bunch of myrtle (to smell on the Sabbath). מעדנות כּימה is therefore explained according to the Persian comparison of the Pleiades with a bouquet of jewels, mentioned on Job 9:9, and according to the comparison with a necklace (‛ipd-eth-thurajja), e.g., in Sadi in his Gulistan, p. 8 of Graf's translation: "as though the tops of the trees were encircled by the necklace of the Pleiades." The Arabic name thurajja (diminutive feminine of tharwân) probably signifies the richly-adorned, clustered constellation. But כּימה signifies without doubt the clustered group,
(Note: The verb כום is still in general use in the Piel (to heap up, form a heap, part. mukauwam, heaped up) and Hithpa. (to accumulate) in Syria, and kôm is any village desolated in days of yore whose stones form a desolate heap comp. Fleischer, De Glossis Habichtianis, p. 41f.]. If, according to Kamus, in old Jemanic kı̂m in the sense of mukâwim signifies a confederate (synon. chilt, gils), the כּימה would be a confederation, or a heap, assemblage (coetus) of confederates. Perhaps the כימה was regarded as a troop of camels; the Beduins at least call the star directly before the seven-starred constellation of the Pleiades the hâdi, i.e., the singer riding before the procession, who cheers the camels by the sound of the hadwa (חדוה), and thereby urges them on. - Wetzst.
On πλειάδες, which perhaps also bear this name as a compressed group (figuratively γότρυς) of several stars (ὅτι πλείους ὁμοῦ κατὰ συναγωγήν εἰσι), vid., Kuhn's Zeitschr. vi. 282-285.)
and Beigel (in Ideler, Sternnamen, S. 147) does not translate badly: "Canst thou not arrange together the rosette of diamonds (chain would be better) of the Pleiades?"
As to כּסיל, we firmly hold that it denotes Orion (according to which the Greek versions translate Ὠρίων, the Syriac gaboro, the Targ. נפלא or נפילא, the Giant). Orion and the Pleiades are visible in the Syrian sky longer in the year than with us, and there they come about 17 higher above the horizon than with us. Nevertheless the figure of a giant chained to the heavens cannot be rightly shown to be Semitic, and it is questionable whether כסיל is not rather, with Saad., Gecat., Abulwalid, and others, to be regarded as the Suhl, i.e., Canopus, especially as this is placed as a sluggish helper (כסיל, Hebr. a fool, Arab. the slothful one, ignavus) in mythical relation to the constellation of the Bear, which here is called עישׁ, as Job 9:9 עשׁ, and is regarded as a bier, נעשׁ (even in the present day this is the name in the towns and villages of Syria), which the sons and daughters forming the attendants upon the corpse of their father, slain by Ged, the Pole-star. Understood of Orion, משׁכות (with which Arab. msk, tenere, detinere, is certainly to be compared) are the chains (Arab. masakat, compes), with which he is chained to the sky; understood of Suhl, the restraints which prevent his breaking away too soon and reaching the goal.
(Note: In June 1860 I witnessed a quarrel in an encampment of Mo'gil-Beduins, in which one accused the others of having rendered it possible for the enemy to carry off his camels through their negligence; and when the accused assured him they had gone forth in pursuit of the marauders soon after the raid, and only turned back at sunset, the man exclaimed: Ye came indeed to my assistance as Suhl to Ged (פזעתם לי פזע סהיל ללגדי). I asked my neighbour what the words meant, and was informed they are a proverb which is very often used, and has its origin as follows: The Ged (i.e., the Pole-star, called mismâr, משׂמר, in Damascus) slew the Na‛sh (נעשׁ), and is accordingly encompassed every night by the children of the slain Na‛sh, who are determined to take vengeance on the murderer. The sons (on which account poets usually say benı̂ instead of benât Na‛sh) go first with the corpse of their father, and the daughters follow. One of the latter is called waldâne, a lying-in woman; she has only recently given birth to a child, and carries her child in her bosom, and she is still pale from her lying-in. (The clear atmosphere of the Syrian sky admits of the child in the bosom of the waldâne being distinctly seen.) In order to give help to the Ged in this danger, the Suhl appears in the south, and struggles towards the north with a twinkling brightness, but he has risen too late; the night passes away ere he reaches his goal. Later I frequently heard this story, which is generally known among the Hauranites. - Wetzst.
We add the following by way of explanation. The Pleiades encircle the Pole-star as do all stars, since it stands at the axis of the sky, but they are nearer to it than to Canopus by more than half the distance. This star of the first magnitude culminates about three hours later than the Pleiades, and rises, at the highest, only ten moon's diameters above the horizon of Damascusa significant figure, therefore, of ineffectual endeavour.)
מזּרות is not distinct from מזּלות, 2 Kings 23:5 (comp. מזּרך, "Thy star of fortune," on Cilician coins), and denotes not the twenty-eight menzil (from Arab. nzl, to descend, turn in, lodge) of the moon,
Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
stay. Heb. cause to lie down
He is wise in heart and mighty in strength--who has hardened himself against him, and succeeded?--
"Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, that a flood of waters may cover you?
when the dust runs into a mass and the clods stick fast together?
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