and the son of man, which is a worm; which is repeated with a little variation for the confirmation of it; or it may signify, that even the first man was no other than of the earth, earthy, and so are all his sons. The Targum is,
"how much more man, who in his life is a reptile, and the son of man, who in his death is a worm?''
to which may be added, that he is in his grave a companion for the worms; and indeed it appears by the observations made through microscopes, that man, in his first state of generation, is really a worm (p); so that, as Pliny says (q), one that is a judge of things may pity and be ashamed of the sorry original of the proudest of animals. By this short reply of Bildad, and which contains little more than what had been before said, it is plain that he was tired of the controversy, and glad to give out.
(p) Lewenhoeck apud Scheuchzer. Physic. Sacr. vol. 4. p. 721. Vid. Philosoph. Transact. abridged, vol. 2. p. 912, 913. (q) Nat. Hist. l. 7. c. 7.
INTRODUCTION TO Job 26
In this chapter Job, in a very sarcastic manner, rallies Bildad on the weakness and impertinence of his reply, and sets it in a very ridiculous light; showing it to be quite foolish and stupid, and not at all to the purpose, and besides was none of his own, but what he had borrowed from another, Job 26:1; and if it was of any avail in the controversy to speak of the greatness and majesty of God, of his perfections and attributes, of his ways and works, he could say greater and more glorious things of God than he had done, and as he does, Job 26:5; beginning at the lower parts of the creation, and gradually ascending to the superior and celestial ones; and concludes with observing, that, after all, it was but little that was known of God and his ways, by himself, by Bildad, or by any mortal creature, Job 26:14.
and said; as follows.
how savest thou the arm that hath no strength? the sense is the same as before, that he had done nothing to relieve Job in his bodily or soul distresses, and save him out of them; nor had contributed in the least towards his support under them; and be it that he was as weak in his intellectuals as he and his friends thought him to be, and had undertaken a cause which he had not strength of argument to defend; yet, what had he done to convince him of his mistake, and save him from the error of his way?
(r) "cui auxiliatis es", Pagninus, Montanus; so Tigurine version. (s) "essentiam", Montanus. (t) "Qua nam re adjuvisti?" Vatablus; "quid auxiliatus es?" Drusius.
and how hast thou plentifully declared the thing as it is? the thing in controversy, set it forth in a clear light, and in a copious manner, when he had not said one word about it, namely, concerning the afflictions of the godly, and the prosperity of the wicked; thus jeering at him, and laughing at the short reply he had made, and which was nothing to the purpose.
and whose spirit came from thee? Not the spirit of God; dost thou think thyself inspired by God? or that what thou hast said is by the inspiration of his Spirit? or that thou speakest like such who are moved by the Holy Ghost? nor indeed was it his own spirit, or the words and things uttered were not of himself, or flowed not from his own knowledge and understanding: of things, but what he had borrowed from Eliphaz; for he had delivered very little more than what Eliphaz had said, Job 4:17; or else the sense is, whose spirit has been restored, revived, refreshed, and comforted by what thou hast said? The word of God has such efficacy as to restore the soul, to revive it when drooping, and as it were swooning away and dying, see Psalm 19:7; and the words of some good men are spirit and life, the savour of life unto life, and are as life from the dead, very refreshing and comforting; but no such effect followed on what Bildad had said. Mr. Broughton renders the words, "whose soul admired thee?" thou mayest admire thyself, and thy friends may admire thee, at least thou mayest think they do, having said in thine own opinion admirable things; but who else does? for my own part I do not; and, if saying great and glorious things of God are to any purpose in the controversy between us, I am capable of speaking greater and better things than what have been delivered; and, for instance, let the following be attended to.
and or "with"
the inhabitants thereof; the innumerable company of fishes, both of the larger and lesser sort, which are all formed in and under the waters: but why may not giants themselves be designed, since the word is sometimes used of them, Deuteronomy 2:11; and so the Vulgate Latin and the Septuagint version here render the word, and may refer to the giants that were before the flood, and who were the causes of filling the world with rapine and violence, and so of bringing the flood of waters upon it; in which they perished "with the inhabitants thereof"; or their neighbours; of whom see Genesis 6:4; and the spirits of these being in prison, in hell, as the Apostle Peter says, 1 Peter 3:19; which is commonly supposed to be under the earth, and so under the waters, in which they perished; they may be represented as in pain and torment, and groaning and trembling under the same, as the word here used is by some thought to signify, and is so rendered (t); though as the word "Rephaim" is often used of dead men, Psalm 88:10; it may be understood of them here, and have respect to the formation of them anew, or their resurrection from the dead, when the earth shall cast them forth; and especially of those whose graves are in the sea, and who have been buried in the waters of it, when that shall deliver up the dead that are therein, Revelation 20:13; which will be a wonderful instance of the mighty power of God. The Targumist seems to have a notion of this, or at least refers unto it, paraphrasing the words thus,
"is it possible that the mighty men (or giants) should be created (that is, recreated or regenerated; that is, raised from the dead); seeing they are under the waters, and their armies?''
(t) "gemunt", V. L. "cruciabuntur", Bolducius; "cruciantur, dolore contremiscunt", Michaelis; "intremiscunt", Schultens. Vid. Windet. de Vita Funct. Stat. p. 90.
and destruction hath no covering; and may design the same as before, either hell, the place of the damned, where men are destroyed soul and body with an everlasting destruction; or the grave, which the Targum calls the house of destruction, as it sometimes is, the pit of destruction and corruption; because bodies cast into it corrupt and putrefy, and are destroyed in it; and there is nothing to cover either the one or the other from the all seeing eye of God; see Psalm 139:7; as hell is supposed to be under the earth, and the grave is in it, Job is as yet on things below, and from hence rises to those above, in the following words.
"was not only principal as to Job's respect, and the position of Arabia, but because this hemisphere is absolutely so indeed, it is principal to the whole; for as the heavens and the earth are divided by the middle line, the northern half hath a strange share of excellency; we have more earth, more men, more stars, more day (the same also Sephorno, a Jewish commentator on the place, observes); and, which is more than all this, the north pole is more magnetic than the south:''
though the whole celestial sphere may be intended, the principal being put for the whole; even that whole expansion, or firmament of heaven, which has its name from being stretched out like a curtain, or canopy, over the earth; which was done when the earth was "tohu", empty of inhabitants, both men and beasts, and was without form and void, and had no beauty in it, or anything growing on it; see Genesis 1:2;
and hangeth the earth upon nothing; as a ball in the air (x), poised with its own weight (y), or kept in this form and manner by the centre of gravity, and so some Jewish writers (z) interpret "nothing" of the centre of the earth, and which is nothing but "ens rationis", a figment and imagination of the mind; or rather the earth is held together, and in the position it is, by its own magnetic virtue, it being a loadstone itself; and as the above learned writer observes,
"the globe consisteth by a magnetic dependency, from which the parts cannot possibly start aside; but which, howsoever thus strongly seated on its centre and poles, is yet said to hang upon nothing; because the Creator in the beginning thus placed it within the "tohu", as it now also hangeth in the air; which itself also is nothing as to any regard of base or sustentation.''
In short, what the foundations are on which it is laid, or the pillars by which it is sustained, cannot be said, except the mighty power and providence of God. The word used seems to come from a root, which in the Syriac and Chaldee languages signifies to "bind and restrain"; and may design the expanse or atmosphere, so called from its binding and compressing nature, "in" or "within" which the earth is hung; see Psalm 32:9.
(u) Physic. Sacr. vol. 4. p. 724. (w) Gregory's Notes and Observations, &c. c. 12. p. 55. (x) "Terra pilae similis nullo fulcimine nixa", Ovid. Fast. 6. (y) "Circumfuso pendebat in aere tellus, ponderibus librata suis----", Ovid. Metamorph. l. 1. Fab. 1.((z) Ben Gersom & Bar Tzemach in loc.
and the cloud is not rent under them; under the waters, and through the weight of them; which, if it was, would fall in vast water spouts, and were such to fall upon the earth, as it may be supposed they did at the general deluge, they would destroy man and beast, and wash off and wash away the things of the earth: but God has so ordered it in his infinite wisdom, and by his almighty power, that clouds should not be thus rent, but fall in small drops and gentle showers, as if they passed through a sieve or colander, whereby the earth is refreshed, and made fruitful; see Job 36:26.
and spreadeth his cloud upon it; and both he and his throne are invisible; clouds and darkness are round about him, and his pavilion round about are dark waters, and thick clouds of the skies, Psalm 18:11; and even the light in which he dwells, and with which he clothes himself, is impervious to us, and is so dazzling, that itself covers and keeps back himself and throne from being seen by mortals. The Targum suggests, that what is here said to be done is done that the angels may not see it; but these always stand before the throne of God, and always behold the face of God himself.
"he hath decreed that the firmament should be placed upon the face of the waters unto the end of light, with darkness;''
but the waters of the sea, Job descending now to consider the waters of the great deep, and the wonderful restraint that is laid upon them; which is as astonishing as the binding up of the waters in the clouds without being rent by them; for this vast and unwieldy body of waters in the ocean Jehovah manages with as much ease as a mother or nurse does a newborn infant, makes the cloud its garment, and thick darkness a swaddling band for it, Job 38:8; he has as it were with a compass drawn a line upon the face of it; he has broke up for it its decreed place, and set bars, and doors, and bounds to its waves, that they, nay come no further than is his pleasure, as is observed in the same place; the bounds he hath compassed it with are the shores, rocks, and cliffs, so that the waters cannot return and cover earth, as they once did; yea, which is very surprising, he has placed the sand, as weak and fluid as it is, the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree; so that though its waves toss and roar, they cannot prevail, nor pass over it; which must be owing to the almighty power and sovereign will of God, who has given the sea a decree that its waters should not pass his commandment; and it must be ascribed to his promise and oath that the waters no more go over the earth to destroy it; see Psalm 104:9, Proverbs 8:27; until the dark and night come to an end; that is, as long as there will be the vicissitudes of day and night, till time shall be no more, as long as the world stands; for the those shall constitute so long are the ordinances of God, which shall never depart, and the covenant he has made, which shall never become void; wherefore, as long as they remain, the sea and its waters will be bounded as not to overflow the earth, Genesis 8:22; or "until the end of light with darkness" (a); until both these have an end in the same form and manner they now have; otherwise, after the end of all things, there will be light in heaven, and darkness in hell. Aben Ezra interprets it thus,
"unto the place which is the end of light, for all that is above it is light, and below it the reverse;''
he seems to have respect to the place that divides the hemispheres, where when one is light the other is dark; and so others seem to understand it of such places or parts of the world as are half day and half night, and where one half of the year is light, and the other dark; but the first sense is best.
(a) "usque ad finem lucis cum tenebris", Cocceius, Michaelis; so Targum & Sept.
and are astonished at his reproof; his voice of thunder, which is sometimes awful and terrible, astonishing and surprising; and, to set forth the greatness of it, inanimate creatures are represented as trembling, and astonished at it; see Psalm 104:7; some interpret this figuratively of angels, who they suppose are employed in the direction of the heavens, and the motion of the heavenly bodies; and who they think are the same which in the New Testament are called "the powers of heaven said to be shaken", Matthew 24:29; and to be the seraphim that covered their faces upon a glorious display of the majesty of God, and when the posts of the door of the temple moved at the voice of him that cried, Isaiah 6:1; but if a figurative sense may be admitted of, the principal persons in the church, sometimes signified by heaven in Scripture, may be thought of; as ministers of the word, who are pillars in the house of God; yea, every true member of the church of God is made a pillar in it; and these tremble, and are astonished oftentimes when the Lord rebukes them by afflictions, though it is in love and kindness to them, Proverbs 9:1.
and by his understanding he smiteth through the proud; the proud waves of the sea, and humbles them, and makes them still, as before; or the proud monstrous creatures in it, as whales and others, particularly the leviathan, the king over all the children of pride, Job 41:34; see Psalm 74:13. The word used is "Rahab", one of the names of Egypt, Psalm 87:4; and so Jarchi interprets it of the Egyptians, who were smitten of God with various plagues, and particularly in their firstborn; and at last at the Red sea, where multitudes perished, and Pharaoh their proud king, with his army; who was an emblem of the devil, whose sin, the cause of his fall and ruin, was pride; and the picture of proud and haughty sinners, whose destruction sooner or later is from the Lord; and which is an instance of his wisdom and understanding, who humbles the proud, and exalts the lowly.
(b) "pacavit mare", Bolducius; "quiescit mare ipsum", Vatablus; so Sept. and Ben Gersom.
his hand hath formed the crooked serpent; because Job in the preceding clause has respect to the heavens and the ornament of them, this has led many to think that some constellation in the heavens is meant by the crooked serpent, either the galaxy, or milky way, as Ben Gersom and others; or the dragon star, as some in Aben Ezra (c): but rather Job descends again to the sea, and concludes with taking notice of the wonderful work of God, the leviathan, with which God himself concludes his discourse with him in the close of this book, which is called as here the crooked or "bar serpent", Isaiah 27:1; and so the Targum understands it,
"his hand hath created leviathan, which is like unto a biting serpent.''
Some understand it of the crocodile, and the epithet agrees with it, whether it be rendered a "bar serpent", as some (d); that is, straight, stretched out, long, as a bar, the reverse of our version; or "fleeing" (e), as others; the crocodile being, as Pliny (f) says, terrible to those that flee from it, but flees from those that pursue it. Jarchi interprets it of Pharaoh, or leviathan, both an emblem of Satan, the old serpent, the devil, who is God's creature, made by him as a creature, though not made a serpent, or a devil, by him, which was of himself. Some have observed the trinity of persons in these words, and who doubtless were concerned in the creation of all things; here is "Jehovah", of whom the whole context is; and "his Spirit", who, as he moved upon the face of the waters at the first creation, is here said to beautify and adorn the heavens; "and his hand"; his Son, the power and wisdom of God, by whom he made all things.
(c) So Dickinson. Physic. Vet. & Vera, c. 9. sect. 23. p. 137. (d) "serpentem vectem", Pagninus, Cocceius; "oblongum instar vectis", Schmidt; "oblongum", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "longa trabe rectior". Vide Metamorph. l. 3. Fab. 1. ver. 78. (e) "Fugacem", Montanus, Vatablus; "fugiens", Codurcus. (f) Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 25.