Job 37:6 MEANING

Job 37:6
(6) For he saith to the snow.--All the operations of nature obey the behest of God--the snow, the gentle showers, the drenching downpour. By means of these He sealeth up the hand of every man, obstructing and impeding their works and movements, so that all the men whom He has made may know it or know Him. This is the plain meaning, which the Authorised Version gives somewhat less clearly. Men may learn from these things that they and their works are under the control of God. They are not the entirely free agents they suppose.

Verse 6. - For he saith to the snow, Be thou on the earth. The phenomenon of snow is always full of marvel to an Oriental. It comes before him so seldom; it is in itself so strange; it involves things so inexplicable as the sudden solidification of a liquid, crystallization, a marked expansion of bulk, and the sudden assumption by what was colourless of a definite and dazzling colour. In Arabia and the countries bordering on Palestine snow very seldom falls; but in Palestine itself the mountain ranges of Lebanon and Hermon are never without it; and in the region occupied by Job and his friends then is reason to believe that ice and snow were not altogether infrequent (see Job 6:16, and the comment ad loc). Likewise to the small rain; or, to the light shower of rain - "the spring rain," as the Chaldee paraphrast explains it. And to the great rain of his strength; or, "the heavy winter rain," according to the same authority. "The former and the latter rain" - the rain of winter, and the rain of spring - are often mentioned by the sacred writers (see Deuteronomy 11:14; Jeremiah 5:24; Hosea 6:3; Joel 2:23; Zechariah 10:1; James 5:7). God gave both, ordinarily, in due course.

37:1-13 The changes of the weather are the subject of a great deal of our thoughts and common talk; but how seldom do we think and speak of these things, as Elihu, with a regard to God, the director of them! We must notice the glory of God, not only in the thunder and lightning, but in the more common and less awful changes of the weather; as the snow and rain. Nature directs all creatures to shelter themselves from a storm; and shall man only be unprovided with a refuge? Oh that men would listen to the voice of God, who in many ways warns them to flee from the wrath to come; and invites them to accept his salvation, and to be happy. The ill opinion which men entertain of the Divine direction, peculiarly appears in their murmurs about the weather, though the whole result of the year proves the folly of their complaints. Believers should avoid this; no days are bad as God makes them, though we make many bad by our sins.For he saith to the snow, be thou on the earth,.... In the original it is, be thou earth: hence one of the Rabbins formed a notion, that the earth was created from snow under the throne of glory, which is justly censured by Maimonides (f); for there is a defect of the letter as in 2 Chronicles 34:30; as Aben Ezra observes; and therefore rightly supplied by us, on the earth. This is one of the great and incomprehensible things of God. What is the cause of it, how it is generated, what gives it its exceeding whiteness and its form, we rather guess at than certainly know; and there are some things relative to it not easy to be accounted for: as that it should be generated in the lower region of the air, so near us, and yet be so cold; and be so cold in its own nature, yet be like a blanket warming to the earth; and that being so cold, it should fall in hot countries, as in many parts of Africa, as Leo Africanus asserts (g); and though so easily melted, yet lies continually upon the top of a burning mountain, Mount Etna, as observed by Pineda and others. God has his treasures of it, and he brings it forth from thence; it is at his command, it goes at a word speaking; it is one of the things that fulfil his word, Psalm 148:8. And if what Pliny (h) says is true, that snow never falls upon the high seas or main ocean, the expression here is, with great exactness and propriety, be thou on the earth. However, this is certain, that to the earth only it is useful, warming, refreshing, and fructifying; it has a wonderful virtue in it to fatten the earth. Olaus Magnus (i) reports, that in the northern countries, where it falls in great plenty, the fields are more fruitful than any others, and sooner put forth their fruits and increase than other fields prepared and cultivated with the greatest labour and diligence: and that they are often obliged to drive off the cattle from them, lest they should eat too much and burst, the fields and meadows becoming so luxurious by it; and frequently they mow off the tops of herbs and grass with their scythes, to prevent their growing too thick. The word of God, as for its purity, so for its warming, refreshing, and fructifying nature, is compared unto it, Isaiah 55:10;

likewise to the small rain, and to the great rain of his strength: that is, God says to these as to the snow, be upon the earth; and they presently are, whether lesser or larger showers: the lesser or more gentle, according to Seneca (k), fall in, the winter, and the larger in spring; the former when the north wind blows, the latter when the south; but whenever they come, they fall by the direction of God, and at his command. He and he only gives rain, the vanities of the Gentiles cannot; and these are sent to water and refresh the earth, and make it fruitful; for which reason also the word of God is compared thereunto, Deuteronomy 32:12. The Targum is,

"to the rain after rain in summer, to ripen the fruits; and to the rain after the rain, to cause the grass to bud in winter in his strength.''

So a shower of rain in the singular number signifies rain that falls in summer; and a shower of rain in the plural what falls in winter.

(f) Moreh Nevochim, par. 2. c. 26. (g) Descriptio Africae, l. 1. c. 27, 28. l. 2. c. 27, 46, 69. (h) Nat. Hist. l. 2. c. 103. (i) De Ritu Gent. Septentr. l. 19. c. 15. (k) Nat. Quaest. l. 4. c. 4.

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