Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859 edition.

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JOB - Chapter 38

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Job xxxviii.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. Then. Septuagint, "After Eliu had ceased to speak." (Haydock) --- Lord. That is, an angel speaking in the name of the Lord. (Challoner) --- The name Jehova (Haydock) here occurs, though it never does in the speeches; whence many have inferred that the Lord spoke in person; which argument, however, is not conclusive; and that this work was written after the apparition in the burning bush. (Calmet) --- The Hebrew edition would at least be given after that event. --- Whirlwind, designed to strike the senses, (Haydock) and to represent the distressed condition of Job. (Pineda) --- This awful appearance imposed silence upon all. (Haydock) --- Some think that a time was allowed for reflection and repentance, before God passed sentence; but the Septuagint, &c., seem to suppose that the cause was decided as soon as Eliu had ended his discourse. (Calmet) --- God discusses the controversy, and gives sentence in favour of Job. (Worthington)

Ver. 2. Words. Many explain this as a condemnation (Calmet) of the last speaker, (Du Hamel) who would otherwise pass without any reproach, (Haydock) though he had spoken with less reserve than the rest. (Calmet) --- Pineda allows that this opinion is very plausible; but he thinks that Job himself is reprehended, not for any grievous offence, but for indiscreet expressions, chap. xli. The context also seems to require this, as Job takes it to himself, chap. xxxix. 33. (Calmet) --- The change of persons might rather imply the contrary: Who is this? Eliu. 3. Gird up thy loins. Job. (Haydock) --- Can we admit that the devil got the victory; or, that God falsely declared that Job had spoken right? chap. xlii. (Houbigant) --- Did not the latter maintain the truth with greatest zeal, while his friends certainly mixed unskilful words or inferences with sentences of the greatest consequence? His face I will accept, that your folly be not imputed to you; for you have not spoken right things before me, as my servant Job hath, chap. xlii. 8. Hebrew, "Who is this that darkeneth counsel, by words without knowledge?" (Protestants) "Who is the who concealeth counsel from me, keeping words in his heart, and thinketh to hide from me?" (Septuagint) Eliu pretended to explain the counsels of God, and perhaps did not utter all that he had in his mind; but God condemns the very harbouring of thoughts, which are contrary to truth and justice. (Haydock) --- Job's friends laboured under great prejudices, and condemned him without cause, (Calmet) thinking that they were doing a service to God, like those who put the apostles to death, and persecuted Catholics on account of their religion. But this plea will not excuse them. Here one line suffices to refute the long harangue (Haydock) of Eliu; (St. Gregory; Ven. Bede; Tirinus, &c.) though we have observed, (Haydock) some understand the words to be addressed to Job, as a rebuke for his too warm expressions. (St. Chrysostom; St. Augustine, &c.) (Calmet) --- The remainder of the discourse is designed for Job's instruction. (Haydock) --- Hoc (Eliu) despecto ad erudiendum Job verba vertuntur. (St. Gregory)

Ver. 3. Loins, like one about to engage in an arduous task, (Haydock) or journey, (Calmet) to explore the ways of divine Providence. (Haydock) --- Answer my reasons, if thou art able. (Calmet) --- Hebrew, "make me know." (Haydock) --- Only the Creator hath perfect knowledge of all his works, as may appear by induction or example: 1. of inanimate; 2. of living things, ver. 39. (Worthington)

Ver. 4. Foundations. The Hebrews placed the earth in the centre of the universe, resting upon nothing, (chap. xxvi. 7., and xxxvi. 30.) or upon itself. See Hesiod, Theog. 325. (Calmet) --- These questions seem intended to shew, that if God has created all things for man, he will not surely neglect to watch over him. (Menochius)

Ver. 5. Upon it. He speaks of the world as of a vast house, (Calmet) or palace, (Menochius) in which the Architect has shewn his art. (Haydock)

Ver. 7. Sons. Septuagint, "all my angels." Hence it appears that the angels were among the first of God's works, formed probably at the same time with the heavens, (Calmet) or light, Genesis i. 3. (Haydock) --- The praise of the stars is figurative, (Calmet) as they tend to raise our hearts to God by their beauty, (Haydock) whereas that of the angels is real. (Calmet)

Ver. 8. Shut. Hebrew also, (Haydock) "facilitated the birth of the sea," as a midwife. (Grotius) (Calmet) --- Forth. Septuagint, "raged." (Haydock) --- God represents the waters ready to overwhelm all when first produced out of nothing, if he had not shut them up in the abyss, like a child in a cradle, or a wild beast in its den, ver. 10. (Calmet)

Ver. 9. Mist. So Moses says darkness was on the face of the abyss. Obscurity covered it, as swaddling bands do a child's body. (Calmet)

Ver. 10. Set. Protestants, "brake up for it my decreed place." Marginal note, "established my decree upon it;" (Haydock) or, "I gave order to break it," against the shore, Jeremias v. 22., and Amos v. 8.

Ver. 12. Place. Thou art but as yesterday: where is thy power? (Calmet)

Ver. 13. And didst. Some explain Hebrew, "that it (Aurora) might spread at once to the extremities of the earth. Then the wicked flee before it;" as they hate the light, chap. xxxiv. 26., and John iii. 20. (Calmet) --- Septuagint and Protestants may be understood in this sense. (Haydock) --- Allusion may also be made to the shaking of a sieve, to separate the wheat from the chaff; (Amos ix. 9., and Luke xxii. 31.; Calmet) or of a carpet, to clean it from the dust. (Du Hamel) --- Did God ask thee to help him to exterminate the wicked? The short digression in these three verses, shews the punishment exercised on offenders. It is not contrary to the true spirit of poetry. (Menochius)

Ver. 14. Seal. Men, formed to the image of God, shall die; and others shall be place in their stead, (Menochius) with as much ease as an impression is made upon clay. (Haydock) --- Garment. The body seems to be the clothing of the soul, and will be changed, Psalm ci. 27. (Menochius) --- Chaldean, "their form will be changed to clay, and they shall resemble a tattered garment." Hebrew, "their seal shall change like clay," &c. All their glory shall perish. (Calmet) --- Septuagint, "hast thou taken earth or clay, and formed a living creature, and endued it with speech on the earth?" Is man the workd of thy hands? (Haydock)

Ver. 17. Doors? Septuagint, "through fear; or have the porters of hell flown away at thy sight?" (Haydock)

Ver. 19. Darkness. The poetical style of this book represents these things as real beings, in the same manner (Calmet) as the house, (ver. 20) or palace of the sun, &c., are described by the ancients. (Haydock)

Ver. 23. War. Hail, &c., are like the arrows of God, Jeremias x. 13., and l. 25. (Calmet)

Ver. 24. Heat. Hebrew kadim, (Haydock) the "east." Septuagint, "south wind." Perhaps the east winds produced the same bad effects in Egypt, as the south wind did in Judea; (Calmet) or this noxious burning wind might proceed from the south-eastern point of both countries. (Haydock)

Ver. 25. Noisy. Hebrew, "for lightning, which accompanies thunder?" By these questions, respecting things which to man are impossible, and many inexplicable, God humbles (Calmet) the pride of the human heart. (Haydock)

Ver. 26. Dwelleth. This shews the magnificence of God, (Menochius) at least. (Haydock)

Ver. 31. Pleiades. The seven stars. --- Arcturus. A bright star in the north. (Challoner) --- The same terms occur, and are explained, chap. ix. 9. (Haydock)

Ver. 32. Day-star. Hebrew mazzaroth, (Haydock) corresponds with the "inner parts of the south;" (chap. ix. 9) though some translate, "the signs of the zodiac, or the influences," &c. The antarctic constellations could not be seen in Idumea, while those at the north pole (Calmet) must appear to those who live on that side of the line, (Haydock) as the perpetual sentinels of the sky. --- Evening-star. Hebrew, "Wilt thou make hayish and her daughters go to rest?" These indicate the arctic stars. Here two quite opposite stars are meant; (Calmet) though (Haydock) with us the evening and morning star be the same, being so styled according as it appears after or before the sun. (Menochius) --- Protestants, "Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth (Septuagint also retain the original term, Mazouroth) in his season, or canst thou guide Arcturus, with his sons?" The former term signifies things "scattered," the planets, (Haydock) or "the grains of gross air dispersed" to all the extremities, which returning to the centre, occasion cold, chap. xxxvii. 9. (Parkhurst)

Ver. 33. Reason. Hebrew, "dominion," (Haydock) or influence upon the earth. Mathematicians thought they had discovered these laws, and the number of the stars; but daily experience evinces their error. (Menochius)

Ver. 34. Voice, to mimic the thunder of God, (Calmet) or to order it to rain. (Haydock)

Ver. 36. Understanding. That is, to distinguish the hours of the night. (Challoner) --- Septuagint, "Who gave to women the knowledge of the loom, and the art of embroidering?" (Haydock) --- It was the part of women to weave, as appears from the conduct of queen Penelope. But the best interpreters translate, "Who has placed wisdom in the reins, or who hath given understanding to the heart," or soul? (Calmet) --- God gives wisdom to man, and an instinct to cocks, (Haydock) or the skill, of which the former is deprived, (Worthington) to know the approach of day. (Du Hamel)

Ver. 37. Sleep. The ancients have celebrated this harmony. (Cic.[Cicero?] Somn. Scip.) --- Septuagint, "Who numbereth the clouds in wisdom, or hath bent the sky down to the earth?" Protestants, "or who can stay the bottles of heaven?" (Haydock) --- Canst thou cause it to rain, or to be fair? (Calmet) or make the celestial bodies (Haydock) rest from motion? (Worthington)

Ver. 38. Together. When was the water separated from the earth? (Haydock) --- Where wast thou when I gave consistency to the rocks? (Calmet)

Ver. 39. And satisfy. Septuagint, "or fill the souls of the dragons?" (Haydock) --- Here Hebrew editions commence the following chapter, (Calmet) and are followed by Protestants (Haydock) and others, as the proof of God's superior knowledge begins to be established by the consideration of various animals. (Worthington)

Ver. 41. Wandering. Sixtus V reads vagientes, (Calmet) "crying like children." (Haydock) --- The ravens presently drive their young away to seek for fresh habitations. (Pliny, [Natural History?] x. 12.) (Psalm cxlvi. 9.) (Calmet) --- If God provide for such creatures, He will shew still greater attention to man. (Worthington)

Bible Text & Cross-references:

God interposes, and shews from the things he hath made, that man cannot comprehend his power and wisdom.

1 Then the Lord answered Job out of a whirlwind, and said:

2 Who is this that wrappeth up sentences in unskilful words?

3 Gird up thy loins like a man: I will ask thee, and answer thou me.

4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? tell me, if thou hast understanding.

5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?

6 Upon what are its bases grounded? or who laid the corner-stone thereof,

7 When the morning stars praised me together, and all the sons of God made a joyful melody?

8 Who shut up the sea with doors, when it broke forth as issuing out of the womb:

9 When I made a cloud the garment thereof, and wrapped it in a mist, as in swaddling bands?

10 I set my bounds around it, and made it bars and doors;

11 And I said: Hitherto thou shalt come, and shalt go no further, and here thou shalt break thy swelling waves.

12 Didst thou since thy birth command the morning, and shew the dawning of the day its place?

13 And didst thou hold the extremities of the earth, shaking them, and hast thou shaken the ungodly out of it?

14 The seal shall be restored as clay, and shall stand as a garment:

15 From the wicked their light shall be taken away, and the high arm shall be broken.

16 Hast thou entered into the depths of the sea, and walked in the lowest parts of the deep?

17 Have the gates of death been opened to thee, and hast thou seen the darksome doors?

18 Hast thou considered the breadth of the earth? tell me, if thou knowest all things?

19 Where is the way where light dwelleth? and where is the place of darkness?

20 That thou mayst bring every thing to its own bounds, and understand the paths of the house thereof.

21 Didst thou know then that thou shouldst be born? and didst thou know the number of thy days?

22 Hast thou entered into the storehouses of the snow, or has thou beheld the treasures of the hail:

23 Which I have prepared for the time of the enemy, against the day of battle and war?

24 By what way is the light spread, and heat divided upon the earth?

25 Who gave a course to violent showers, or a way for noisy thunder:

26 That it should rain on the earth without man in the wilderness, where no mortal dwelleth:

27 That it should fill the desert and desolate land, and should bring forth green grass?

28 Who is the father of rain? or who begot the drops of dew?

29 Out of whose womb came the ice? and the frost from heaven, who hath gendered it?

30 The waters are hardened like a stone, and the surface of the deep is congealed.

31 Shalt thou be able to join together the shining stars, the Pleiades, or canst thou stop the turning about of Arcturus?

32 Canst thou bring forth the day-star in its time, and make the evening-star to rise upon the children of the earth?

33 Dost thou know the order of heaven, and canst thou set down the reason thereof on the earth?

34 Canst thou lift up thy voice to the clouds, that an abundance of waters may cover thee?

35 Canst thou send lightnings, and will they go, and will they return and say to thee: Here we are?

36 Who hath put wisdom in the heart of man? or who gave the cock understanding?

37 Who can declare the order of the heavens? or who can make the harmony of heaven to sleep?

38 When was the dust poured on the earth, and the clods fastened together?

39 Wilt thou take the prey for the lioness, and satisfy the appetite of her whelps,

40 When they couch in the dens, and lie in wait in holes?

41 *Who provideth food for the raven, when her young ones cry to God, wandering about, because they have no meat?



41: Psalm cxlvi. 9.