Isaiah 40:12
Parallel Verses
New American Standard Bible
Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, And marked off the heavens by the span, And calculated the dust of the earth by the measure, And weighed the mountains in a balance And the hills in a pair of scales?

King James Bible
Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?

Darby Bible Translation
Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out the heavens with his span, and grasped the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in a balance, and the hills in scales?

World English Bible
Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and marked off the sky with his span, and calculated the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?

Young's Literal Translation
Who hath measured in the hollow of his hand the waters? And the heavens by a span hath meted out, And comprehended in a measure the dust of the earth, And hath weighed in scales the mountains, And the hills in a balance?

Isaiah 40:12 Parallel
Commentary
Barnes' Notes on the Bible

Who hath measured - The object in this and the following verses to Isaiah 40:26, is to show the greatness, power, and majesty of God, by strong contrast with his creatures, and more especially with idols. Perhaps the prophet designed to meet and answer an implied objection: that the work of deliverance was so great that it could not be accomplished. The answer was, that God had made all things; that he was infinitely great; that he had entire control over all the nations; and that he could, therefore, remove all obstacles out of the way, and accomplish his great and gracious purposes. By man it could not be done; nor had idol-gods any power to do it; but the Creator and upholder of all could effect this purpose with infinite case. At the same time that the argument here is one that is entirely conclusive, the passage, regarded as a description of the power and majesty of God, is one of vast sublimity and grandeur; nor is there any portion of the Sacred Volume that is more suited to impress the mind with a sense of the majesty and glory of Yahweh. The question, 'who hath measured,' is designed to imply that the thing referred to here was that which had never been done, and could never be done by man; and the argument is, that although that which the prophet predicted was a work which surpassed human power, yet it could be done by that God who had measured the waters in the hollow of his hand. The word 'waters' here refers evidently to the vast collection of waters in the deep - the mighty ocean, together with all the waters in the running streams, and in the clouds. See Genesis 1:6, where the firmament is said to have been made to divide the waters from the waters. A reference to the waters above the heavens occurs in Psalm 148:4 :

Praise him, ye heavens of heavens,

And ye waters that be above the heavens.

And in Proverbs 30:4, a Similar description of the power and majesty of God occurs:

Who hath gathered the wind in his fists?

Who hath bound the waters in a garment?

Who hath established all the ends of the earth?

And in Job 26:8 :

He bindeth up the waters in his thick clouds;

And the cloud is not rent under them.

The word 'waters' here, therefore, may include all the water on the earth, and in the sky. The words, 'the hollow of his hand,' mean properly the hand as it is closed, forming a hollow or a cavity by which water can be taken up. The idea is, that God can take up the vast oceans, and all the waters in the lakes, streams, and clouds, in the palm of his hand, as we take up the smallest quantity in ours.

And meted out heaven - The word rendered 'meted,' that is, measured (כון kûn), means properly to stand erect, to set up, or make erect; to found, fit, adjust, dispose, form, create. It usually has the idea of fitting or disposing. The word 'span' (זרת zeret) denotes the space from the end of the thumb to the end of the middle finger, when extended - usually about nine inches. The idea is, that Yahweh was able to compass or grasp the heavens, though so vast, as one can compass or measure a small object with the span. What an illustration of the vastness and illimitable nature of God!

And comprehended - And measured (כל kôl from כוּל kûl, to hold or contain); 'Lo, the heavens, and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee' 1 Kings 8:27.

The dust of the earth - All the earth; all the dust that composes the globe.

continued...

Isaiah 40:12 Parallel Commentaries

Library
Unfailing Stabs and Fainting Men
'...For that He is strong in power; not one faileth.... He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increaseth strength.'-- ISAIAH xl. 26 and 29. These two verses set forth two widely different operations of the divine power as exercised in two sadly different fields, the starry heavens and this weary world. They are interlocked, as it were, by the recurrence in the latter of the emphatic words of the former. The one verse says, 'He is strong in power'; the other, 'He giveth
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Secret of Immortal Youth
'Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall. But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint.'--ISAIAH xl. 30, 31. I remember a sunset at sea, where the bosom of each wavelet that fronted the west was aglow with fiery gold, and the back of each turned eastward was cold green; so that, looking on the one hand all was glory, and on the other
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Prayer and Devotion
"Once as I rode out into the woods for my health, in 1737, having alighted from my horse in a retired place, as my manner commonly had been to walk for divine contemplation and prayer, I had a view that for me was extraordinary, of the glory of the Son of God. As near as I can judge, this continued about an hour; and kept me the greater part of the time in a flood of tears and weeping aloud.. I felt an ardency of soul to be what I know not otherwise how to express, emptied and annihilated; to love
Edward M. Bounds—The Essentials of Prayer

The God of all Comfort
"Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulations, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God." Among all the names that reveal God, this, the "God of all comfort," seems to me one of the loveliest and the most absolutely comforting. The words all comfort admit of no limitation and no deductions; and one would suppose that,
Hannah Whitall Smith—The God of All Comfort

Cross References
Hebrews 1:10
And, "YOU, LORD, IN THE BEGINNING LAID THE FOUNDATION OF THE EARTH, AND THE HEAVENS ARE THE WORKS OF YOUR HANDS;

Job 38:5
Who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it?

Job 38:8
"Or who enclosed the sea with doors When, bursting forth, it went out from the womb;

Psalm 102:25
"Of old You founded the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands.

Psalm 102:26
"Even they will perish, but You endure; And all of them will wear out like a garment; Like clothing You will change them and they will be changed.

Isaiah 48:13
"Surely My hand founded the earth, And My right hand spread out the heavens; When I call to them, they stand together.

Jeremiah 31:37
Thus says the LORD, "If the heavens above can be measured And the foundations of the earth searched out below, Then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel For all that they have done," declares the LORD.

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