the cattle also concerning the vapour; that is, the cattle likewise show signs of rain, being sensible of the vapours which rise up out of the earth, and are drawn up into the air and form clouds there; these, through their sharp sight, discern the vapours rising out of the earth insensible by men; or by their quick smell (p) or taste discern them, these leaving some tincture upon the grass they are feeding on; and which occasion some motions and gestures in them by which husbandmen, and those that are accustomed to them, know that the rain is at hand: and there are various things observable in brutes, fowls, and cattle, and other creatures, which are signs of approaching rain; as the cawing of crows, the croaking of frogs, the flying about of cranes and swallows, the motion of ants, the retire of cattle to places of shelter, and the like; Aben Ezra observes that sheep lying on their right side portends rain; the above things with others are most beautifully expressed by Virgil (q) and which with many others are collected together by Pliny (r); and though there are various interpretations given of this passage, this seems to be the most agreeable, and which suits with our version; unless the following, which I only propose, should be more eligible, "he", that is, God, "by it", the rain, "declares his good will" to men, likewise to "the cattle, and also towards what rises up" out of the earth, the herbs and plants; all which receive much benefit by the clouds and rain.
(p) Vid. Democrit. Fragment. & Rendtorf. Not. in ib. apud Fabritii Bibliothec. Gr. l. 4. c. 29. p. 338, 362. (q) "Aut illum surgentem vallibus imis", c. Georgic, l. 1. v. 374, &c. Bacon's Nat. Hist. cent. 9. p. 208. (r) Nat. Hist. l. 18. c. 35. Vid. Democrit. Fragm. ut supra, p. 335, 358, 362, 366.
INTRODUCTION TO Job 37
Elihu in this chapter proceeds to show the greatness of God as it appears in other of his works of nature, which greatly affected him, and to an attention to which he exhorts others, Job 37:1; particularly thunder and lightning, the direction, extent, and order of which he observes, Job 37:3; and then suggests that besides these there are other great things done by him, incomprehensible and unknown in various respects; as the snow, and rain, lesser and greater, which come on the earth at his command, and have such effect on men as to seal up their hands, and on the beasts of the field as to cause them to retire to their dens, and there remain, Job 37:5; and then he goes on to take notice of wind, and frost, and the clouds, and dispersion of them; their use and ends, whether in judgment or mercy, Job 37:9; and then calls on Job to consider these wondrous works of God, and remark how ignorant men are of the disposition of clouds for the rainbow; of the balancing of them; of the heat and quietness that come by the south wind, and of the firmness of the sky, Job 37:14; and from all this he concludes the terrible majesty, unsearchable nature of God, the excellency of his power and justice; and that men therefore should and do fear him, who is no respecter of persons, Job 37:21.
and is moved out of his place; was ready to leap out of his body. Such an effect had this phenomenon of nature on him; as is sometimes the case with men at a sudden fright or unusual sound, and particularly thunder (w).
(s) , &c. Homer. Il. 10. v. 94, 95. (t) As it was to Augustus Caesar, who always carried about with him the skin of a sea calf, as a preservative; and, on suspicion of a storm rising, would betake himself to some secret and covered place: and to Tiberius, who wore his laurel to secure him from it: and to Caligula, who, on hearing it, would get out of bed and hide himself under it. Sueton. Vit. August. c. 90. Tiber. c. 69. & Caligul. c. 51. Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 15. c. 30. Vid. Virgil. Georgic. l. 1. v. 330, 331. (u) "Tonitruorum unum genus grave murmur----aliud genus est acre quod crepitum magis dixerint". Senecae Quaest. Nat. c. 2. c. 27. (w) "Attonitos, quorum mentes sonus ille coelestis loco pepulit". Ibid.
and the sound that goeth out of his mouth: as the former clause may have respect to loud thunder, a more violent crack or clap of it; so this may intend some lesser whispers and murmurs of it at a distance; or a rumbling noise in the clouds before they burst; since the word is sometimes used for private meditation. Now the voice of God, whether in his works of nature, or in the dispensations of his providence, or in his word; whether in the thunder of the law, or in the still sound of the Gospel, is to be attentively hearkened to; because it is the voice of God, the voice of the God of glory, majestic and powerful, and is attended with various effects; of which see Psalm 29:3.
and his lightning unto the ends of the earth: it cometh out of the east, and shineth to the west, Matthew 24:27; and swiftly move to the further parts of the earth: and such a direction, motion, and extent, has the Gospel had; the glorious light of it, comparable to lightning, it first broke forth in the east, where Christ, his forerunner and his disciples, first preached it, and Christian churches were formed; and from thence it spread into the western parts of the world, and before the destruction of Jerusalem it was preached unto all nations; it had a free course, ran, and was glorified; the sound of the voice of it went into all the earth, and the words and doctrines of the apostles unto the ends of the world.
(x) Nat. Hist. l. 2. c. 43.
he thundereth with the voice of his excellency: that is, God thunders with such a voice, an excellent and majestic one; for his voice of thunder is full of majesty, Psalm 29:4. So is the voice of Christ in the Gospel; he spake when on earth as one having authority, and he comes forth and appears in it now with majesty and glory; and speaks in it of the excellent things which he has done, of the excellent righteousness he has wrought out, of the excellent sacrifice he has offered up, and of the excellent salvation he is the author of;
and he will not stay them when his voice is heard; either the thunder and the lightning, as some; which he does not long defer after he has given out the decree concerning them, the order and disposition for them: or rather the rain and hail; these are not stayed, but quickly follow the flash of lightning and clap of thunder: "for when he utters his voice of thunder, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens"; and these quickly come down and are not stopped, Jeremiah 10:13. The word for "stay" signifies "to supplant", or "act deceitfully"; the name of Jacob is derived from this root, because he supplanted his brother, Genesis 25:26; and so it may be rendered here, "he will not supplant", or "deceive them (a), when his voice is heard": that is, either he does not subvert them, the heavens and earth, but preserves them; though he makes them to tremble with his voice of thunder (b): or he does not act the part of a secret, subtle, and deceitful enemy, when he thunders; but shows himself openly as a King, executing his decrees with authority (c): or rather he deceives none with his voice; none can mistake it; all know it to be the voice of thunder when it is heard: so Christ's sheep know his voice in the Gospel, and cannot be deceived; the voice of a stranger they will not follow, John 10:4.
(y) Senec. Nat. Quaest. l. 2. c. 12. so Aristot. Meteorolog. l. 2. c. 9. (z) The noise is commonly about seven or eight seconds after the flash, that is, about half a quarter of a minute; but sometimes much sooner, in a second or two, or less than so, and almost immediately upon the flash: this is when the explosion is very near us. Philosoph. Transact. abridged, vol. 2. p. 183. see vol. 4. p. 398. (a) "non supplantabit ea", Munster; so Schmidt, Michaelis, Gussetius, p. 633. (b) So Schmidt. (c) So Gussetius.
great things doth he, which we cannot comprehend; or "know" (e): great things in creation, the nature and causes of which lie greatly out of the reach of man; and which he rather guesses at than knows, and still less comprehends. Great things in providence; in sustaining all creatures and providing for them; and in the government of the world, and in his dispensations in it; his judgments being unsearchable, and his ways past finding out: and great things in grace; as the salvation of sinners by Christ, and the conversion of their souls by his Spirit; and even what is known of them is known but in part and very imperfectly. This is a transition to other great things done by the Lord, besides those before mentioned, and particular instances follow.
(c) "mirabilia", Pagninus, Montanus. (d) Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 2. c. 51. Senec. Nat. Quaest. l. 2. c. 31. (e) "et nesciemus", Pagninus, Montanus; so Schultens.
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.
that all men may know his work; either their own work; what they have to do at home when they cannot work abroad; or that they may have leisure to reflect upon their moral ways and works, and consider how deficient they are: or rather the work of God; that they may know and own the snow and rain are his work, and depend upon his will; or that they may have time and opportunity of considering and meditating on the works of God, in nature, providence, and grace. Some choose to read the words, "that all men of his work may know" (l); may know him the author of their beings, and the God of their mercies. For all men are the work of his hands; he has made them, and not they themselves; and the end of all God's dealings with them is, that they may know him, fear, serve, and glorify him.
(l) "omnes homines operis ipsius", Schmidt, Michaelis; so Schultens.
and remain in their places; until the snow and rains are finished. As for other beasts, Olaus Magnus (m) observes, that when such large snows fall, that trees are covered with them, and the tender branches bend under the weight of them, they will come and abide under them, as in shady places, in great security, sheltered from the cold wind. The former may put us in mind of great personages, comparable to beasts of prey for their savageness and cruelty, who, when the day of God's wrath and vengeance is come, will flee to rocks and mountains, dens and caverns, there to hide themselves from it; Revelation 6:15.
(m) Ut supra. (De Ritu Gent. Septentr. l. 19. c. 15.)
and cold out of the north; cold freezing winds from thence; or "from the scatterers" (o): Aben Ezra interprets them of stars, the same with the "Mazzaroth", Job 38:32; stars scattered about the Arctic or northern pole, as some: or rather the northern winds are designed which scatter the clouds, drive away rain, Proverbs 25:23; and bring fair weather, Job 37:22. Wherefore Mr. Broughton renders the word,
"fair weather winds;''
and, in a marginal note,
"the scatterers of clouds (p).''
(n) "de penetali", Montanus; so Junius and Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius, Schultens. (o) "a dispergentibus", Montanus, Vatablus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "a sparsoribus", Schultens. (p) So David de Pomis, Lexic. fol. 7. 3.
and the breadth of the waters is straitened; by the frost they are reduced and brought into a narrower compass; or made hard, as Mr. Broughton renders it; so hard as to walk upon, to draw carriages on, and lay weights and burdens very great upon; or become compact or bound together, like metal melted, poured out, and consolidated; though some think it refers to the thawing of ice by the south winds (r), when the waters return to their former breadth; which is done by the breath or commandment of God, as appears from the place before quoted from the psalmist, Psalm 18:15; for it may be rendered, "and the breadth of the waters is pouring out", so the Targum, when thawed; or through the pouring down of rain, so the Syriac and Arabic versions, "he sends forth plenty of water".
(q) "Induroque nives", &c. Ovid. (r) "----cum vere reverso Bistoniae tepuere nives", &c. Statii Theb. l. 2.
"by clearness he wearieth the thick vapours;''
by causing a clear sky he dispels them;
he scattereth his bright cloud; thin light clouds that have nothing in them, and are soon dispersed and come to nothing, and are seen no more; all emblem of such as are clouds without water, Jde 1:12; see Zechariah 11:17; or "he scatters the cloud by his light" (s); by the sun, which dispels clouds and makes a clear sky; an emblem of the blotting out and forgiveness of sins, and of restoring the manifestations of divine love, and the joys of salvation; see Isaiah 44:22.
(s) "dispellit nubem luce sua", Munster.
that they may do whatsoever he commandeth them upon the face of the world in the earth; as all his creatures do; the several meteors in the air, clouds, stormy wind, fire, hail, snow, and vapour, all fulfilling his word; and which they do everywhere in the several parts of the world whither they are sent, Psalm 107:25. So ministers of the word drop down or withhold the rain of Gospel doctrine, and carry it into the several places of the world, as the Lord directs them; see Isaiah 5:6.
whether for correction; for the reproof and chastisement of men for their sins, by suffering such quantities to fall as wash away, or corrupt and destroy, the fruits of the earth: or "for a tribe" (t), as the word sometimes signifies; the rain is sent, and comes only to a particular part or spot of ground, to one city and not to another, Amos 4:7;
or for his land; some particular land he has a favour for, as the land of Canaan he cared for from one end of the year to another, and therefore sent on it rain in due season, though as yet it did not appear to be the object of his peculiar regard; or for the whole earth, which is his; and wherever rain comes seasonably and in proper quantity, it is for the benefit of it; though some think the land which no man has a property in but the Lord is meant, even the wilderness where no man is, Job 38:26;
or for mercy; to some particular spot, and to some particular persons; and indeed it is a kindness and benefit both to good and bad men; hereby the earth is watered and made fertile and fruitful, to bring forth seed to the sower and bread to the eater, see Matthew 5:45; the word of God is for the correction of some, and for the comfort of others, 2 Timothy 3:16; yea, the savour of death unto death to some, and the savour of life unto life to others, 2 Corinthians 2:16. The Targum paraphrases the words,
"either a rain of vengeance on the seas and deserts, or an impetuous rain on the trees of the mountains and hills, or a still rain of mercy on the fruitful fields and vineyards.''
(t) "in una tribu", V. L. "uni tribui", Tigurine version.
stand still; stand up, in order to hear better, and in reverence of what might be said; and with silence, that it might be the better received and understood:
and consider the wondrous works of God; not prodigies and extraordinary things, which are out of the common course of nature, such as the wonders in Egypt, at the Red sea, in the wilderness, and in the land of Canaan, but common things; such as come more or less under daily observation, for of such only he had been speaking, and continued to speak; such as winds, clouds, thunder, lightning, hail, rain, and snow; these he would have him consider and reflect upon, that though they were so common and obvious to view, yet there were some things in them marvellous and beyond the full comprehension of men; and therefore much more must be the works of Providence, and the hidden causes and reasons of them.
and caused the light of his cloud to shine; either the lightning to break through the cloud, or rather the light of the sun to shine upon his cloud, prepared to receive the light reflected on it, and form the rainbow; which, as it is called his bow, the cloud in which it is may be called his cloud; which is one of the wondrous works of God, and is called by the Heathens the daughter of wonder (u); formed in a semicircle, with various colours, and as a token that God will drown the earth no more; an emblem of the covenant of peace, and of Jesus Christ, said to be clothed with a cloud, and with a rainbow about his head, Revelation 10:1.
(u) Apollodorus, l. 1. p. 5.
the wondrous works of him which is perfect in knowledge; of God, who is a God of knowledge, of knowledges, 1 Samuel 2:3; who knows himself and all his works, all creatures and things whatever, see Job 36:4; and this is another of his wondrous works, which none but he, whose knowledge is perfect, and is the author and giver of knowledge, can know, even the poising and balancing of the clouds in the air; we see they are balanced, but we know not how it is done.
"how thy garments are warm when the land is still from the south,''
as Mr. Broughton renders the words; that is, how it is when the earth is still from the whirlwinds of the south; or when that wind does not blow which brings heat, but northerly winds in the winter time; that then a man's garments should be warm, and keep him warm.
which is strong: for though it seems a fluid and thin, is very firm and strong, as appears by what it bears, and are contained in it; and therefore is called "the firmament of his power", Psalm 150:1;
and as a molten looking glass; clear and transparent, like the looking glasses of the women, made of molten brass, Exodus 38:8; and firm and permanent (u); and a glass this is in which the glory of God, and his divine perfections, is to be seen; and is one of the wondrous works of God, made for the display of his own glory, and the benefit of men, Psalm 19:1. Or this may respect the spreading out a clear serene sky, and smoothing it after it has been covered and ruffled with storms and tempests; which is such a wonderful work of God, that man has no hand in.
(u) . Pindar. Nem. Ode 6.
for we cannot order our speech by reason of darkness; by reason of darkness in themselves, which is in all men naturally, and even in the saints in this state of imperfection; and by reason of the clouds and darkness which are about the Lord himself, who is incomprehensible in his nature and perfections; and by reason of the darkness cast about his providential dealings with men, so that they are unsearchable and past finding out; and the best of men are at a loss how to order their speech, or discourse with God concerning these things.
if a man speak, surely he shall be swallowed up; if he speaks of the being and perfections of God, he is soon lost; his essence, and many of his attributes, are beyond his comprehension; if he speaks of his works of nature and providence, he is presently out of his depth; there is a bathos, a depth in them he cannot fathom: if he speaks of his love, and grace, and mercy, in the salvation of man, he is swallowed up with admiration; he is obliged to say, what manner of love is this? it has heights he cannot reach, depths he cannot get to the bottom of, lengths and breadths immeasurable: or should he undertake to dispute with God, to litigate a point with him concerning his works, he could not answer him in one thing of a thousand; and particularly Elihu suggests, was he to undertake Job's cause, it would soon be lost and all over with him; so Mr. Broughton renders the words, "would any plead, when he should be undone?" who would engage in a cause he is sure would be lost, and prove his utter undoing?
but the wind passeth and cleanseth them; the clouds, and clears the air of them, which obstruct the light of the sun: or "when a wind passeth and cleareth it"; the air, as Mr. Broughton, then the sun shines so brightly that it dazzles the eye to look at it.
"through the north the golden cometh,''
seems best to agree with the subject Elihu is upon; and such weather comes from the north, through the north winds, which drive away rain, Proverbs 25:23;
with God is terrible majesty; majesty belongs to him as he is King of kings, whose the kingdom of nature and providence is; and he is the Governor among and over the nations of the world. His throne is prepared in the heavens; that is his throne, and his kingdom ruleth over all: and this majesty of his is "terrible", commanding awe and reverence among all men, who are his subjects; and especially among his saints and peculiar people; and strikes a terror to others, even to great personages, the kings and princes of the earth; to whom the Lord is sometimes terrible now, and will be hereafter; see Psalm 76:12, Revelation 6:15; and to all Christless sinners, especially when he comes to judgment; see Isaiah 2:19. Or "terrible praise" (a); for God is "fearful in praises", Exodus 15:11; which may respect the subject of praise, terrible things, and the manner of praising him with fear and reverence, Psalm 106:22.
(x) "aurum", Pagninus, Montanus, &c. (y) Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 11. & l. 33. c. 3, 4. (z) Reland. de Paradiso, s. 9, 10. p. 22, 23, 24. And, in the countries farthest north were mines of gold formerly, as Olaus Magnus relates, though now destroyed. De Ritu Gent. Septent. l. 6, 11. Vid. l. 3, 5. (a) , Symmachus, "formidolosa laudatio", V. L. "terribilem laude", Vatablus.
we cannot find him out; found he may be in his works, and especially in his Son, the express image of his person; in whom he makes himself known as the God of grace: but he is not to be found out to perfection; neither by the light of nature, which is very dim, and by which men grope after him, if haply they may find him; nor even by the light of grace in the present state: and there are many things in God quite out of the reach of man, and ever will be, fully to comprehend; as the modes of the subsistence of the three Persons in the Godhead; the eternity and immensity of God; with all secret things, which belong not to us to inquire curiously into;
he is excellent in power; or great and much in it; which is displayed in the works of creation and sustentation of the world; in the redemption and conversion of his people; in the support, protection, and preservation of them; and in the destruction of his and their enemies;
and in judgment; in the government of the world in so righteous a manner; in the judgments he executes on wicked men; and as he will appear to be in the general judgment of the world, at the great day, which will be a righteous one;
and in plenty of justice; being most just, righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works; distributing justice to all, acting according to the rules of it, in all things and towards all persons; so that though he is great in power, he does not abuse that power, to do things that are not just;
he will not afflict; without a just cause and reason for it; nor willingly, but with reluctance; nor never beyond deserts, nor more than he gives strength to bear; and only for the good of his people, and in love to them. Some render it, "he will not answer" (b); or give an account of his matters, or the reason of his dealings with men.
(b) "non respondebit", Tigurine version; so some in Mercerus and Drusius.