New American Standard Bible
"It is changed like clay under the seal; And they stand forth like a garment.
King James Bible
It is turned as clay to the seal; and they stand as a garment.
Darby Bible Translation
It is changed like the signet-clay; and all things stand forth as in a garment:
World English Bible
It is changed as clay under the seal, and stands forth as a garment.
Young's Literal Translation
It turneth itself as clay of a seal And they station themselves as clothed.
Job 38:14 Parallel
CommentaryBarnes' Notes on the Bible
It is turned as clay to the seal - A great variety of interpretations has been given to this passage. Schultens enumerates no less than twenty, and of course it is not easy to determine the meaning. The Septuagint renders it, "Didst thou take clay of the earth, and form an animal, and place on the earth a creature endowed with speech?" Though this would agree well with the connection, yet it is a wide departure from the Hebrew. The reference is, undoubtedly, to some effect or impression produced upon the earth by the light of the morning, which bears a resemblance, in some respects, to the impression produced on clay by a seal. Probably the idea is, that the spreading light serves to render visible and prominent the forms of things, as the seal when impressed on clay produces certain figures.
One form of a Babylonian seal was an engraved cylinder, fixed on an axle, with a handle in the manner of a garden roller, which produced the impression "by being rolled on the softened wax. Mr. Rich (Second Memoir on the Ruins of Babylon, p. 59) remarks, "The Babylonian cylinders are among the most interesting and remarkable of the antiques. They are from one to three inches in length; some are of stone, and others apparently of paste or composition of various kinds. Sculptures from several of these cylinders have been published in different works. Some of them have cuneiform writing," (for the "arrow-headed" character, p. 48), "but it has the remarkable peculiarity that it is reversed, or written from right to left, every other kind of cuneiform writing being incontestably to be read from left to right. This can only be accounted for by supposing that they were intended to roll off impressions. The cylinders are said to be chiefly found in the ruins of Jabouiga. The people of America are fond of using them as amulets, and the Persian pilgrims who came to the shrines of Ali and Hossein frequently carry back with them some of these curiosities."
It may be observed, also, in the explanation of the passage, that clay was often used for the purpose of a seal in Oriental countries. The manner in which it was used was to daub a mass of it over the door or lock of a house, a caravansera, a room, or any place where anything valuable was deposited, and to impress upon it a rude seal. This indeed would not make the goods safe from a robber, but it would be an indication that the place is not to be entered, and show that if it had been entered it was by violence; compare Matthew 27:66. This impression on clay would be produced by the "revolving" or Babyionian seal, by turning it about, or rolling it on clay, and thus bringing the figures out prominently, and this will explain the passage here. The passing of the light over the earth in the morning, seems to be like rolling a cylinder-seal on soft clay. It leaves distinct impressions; raises up prominent figures; gives form and beauty to what seemed before a dark undistinguished mass. The word rendered "it is turned" (תתהפך tithâphak), means properly "it turns itself" - and the idea is that, like the revolving seal, it seems to roll over the face of the earth, and to leave a distinct and beautiful impression. Before, the face of the earth was obscure. Nothing, in the darkness of the night, could be distinguished. Now, when the dawn arises and the light spreads abroad, the figures of hills, and trees, and tents, and cities, rise before it as if a seal had been rolled on yielding clay. The image is one, therefore, of high poetic character, and of great beauty. If this be the correct interpretation, the passage does not refer to the revolution of the earth on its axis, or to any change in appearance or form which it assumes when the wicked are shaken out of it, as Schultens supposes, but to the beautiful change in appearance which the face of the earth seems to undergo when the aurora passes over it.
And they stand as a garment - This passage is perhaps even more difficult than the former part of the verse. Prof. Lee renders it, "And that men be set up as if accoutred for battle," and according to him the idea is, that people, when the light shines, set themselves up for the prosecution of their designs. Coverdale renders it, "Their tokens and weapons hast thou turned like clay, and set them up again as the changing of a garment." Grotius supposes it means that things by the aurora change their appearance and color like a variegated garment. The true idea of the passage is probably that adopted by Schultens, Herder, Umbreit, Rosenmuller, and Noyes, that it refers to the beautiful appearance which the face of nature seems to put on when the morning light shines upon the world. Before, all was dark and undistinguished. Nature seemed to be one vast blank, with no prominent objects, and with no variety of color. When the light dawns on the earth, the various objects - the hills, trees, houses, fields, flowers, seem to stand forth, or to raise themselves up (יתיצבו yityâtsabû), and to put on the appearance of gorgeous and variegated vestments. It is as if the earth were clothed with beauty, and what was before a vast blank were now arrayed in splendid vestments. Thus understood, there is no need of supposing that garments were ever made, as has been sometimes supposed, with so much in-wrought silver and gold that they would "stand upright themselves." It is a beautiful conception of poetry - that the spreading light seems to clothe the dark world with a gorgeous robe, by calling forth the objects of creation from the dull and dark uniformity of night to the distinctness of day.
LibraryThe Tragic Break in the Plan.
The Jerusalem Climate: the contrasting receptions, Luke 2. the music of heaven, Job 38:6, 7. Luke 2:13, 14. pick out the choruses of Revelation, the crowning book.--the after-captivity leaders, see Ezra and Nehemiah--ideals and ideas--present leaders--Herod--the high priest--the faithful few, Luke 2:25, 38. 23:51. The Bethlehem Fog: Matthew 1 and 2. Luke 2. a foggy shadow--suspicion of Mary--a stable cradle--murder of babes--star-students--senate meeting--a troubled city-flight--Galilee. The …
S. D. Gordon—Quiet Talks about Jesus
In Joseph's Tomb
Agency of Evil Spirits
The Careless Sinner Awakened.
That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, And the wicked be shaken out of it?
"From the wicked their light is withheld, And the uplifted arm is broken.
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