King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Job 38

God calls upon Job to answer. (1-3) God questions Job. (4-11) Concerning the light and darkness. (12-24) Concerning other mighty works. (25-41)

Job 38 Audio:

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God calls upon Job to answer

1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said,

2 Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?

3 Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.

God questions Job

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

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

6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof;

7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

8 Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb?

9 When I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swaddlingband for it,

10 And brake up for it my decreed place, and set bars and doors,

11 And said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed?

Concerning the light and darkness

12 Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days; and caused the dayspring to know his place;

13 That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, that the wicked might be shaken out of it?

14 It is turned as clay to the seal; and they stand as a garment.

15 And from the wicked their light is withholden, and the high arm shall be broken.

16 Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea? or hast thou walked in the search of the depth?

17 Have the gates of death been opened unto thee? or hast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death?

18 Hast thou perceived the breadth of the earth? declare if thou knowest it all.

19 Where is the way where light dwelleth? and as for darkness, where is the place thereof,

20 That thou shouldest take it to the bound thereof, and that thou shouldest know the paths to the house thereof?

21 Knowest thou it, because thou wast then born? or because the number of thy days is great?

22 Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail,

23 Which I have reserved against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war?

24 By what way is the light parted, which scattereth the east wind upon the earth?

Concerning other mighty works

25 Who hath divided a watercourse for the overflowing of waters, or a way for the lightning of thunder;

26 To cause it to rain on the earth, where no man is; on the wilderness, wherein there is no man;

27 To satisfy the desolate and waste ground; and to cause the bud of the tender herb to spring forth?

28 Hath the rain a father? or who hath begotten the drops of dew?

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

30 The waters are hid as with a stone, and the face of the deep is frozen.

31 Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?

32 Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons?

33 Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth?

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

35 Canst thou send lightnings, that they may go and say unto thee, Here we are?

36 Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts? or who hath given understanding to the heart?

37 Who can number the clouds in wisdom? or who can stay the bottles of heaven,

38 When the dust groweth into hardness, and the clods cleave fast together?

39 Wilt thou hunt the prey for the lion? or fill the appetite of the young lions,

40 When they couch in their dens, and abide in the covert to lie in wait?

41 Who provideth for the raven his food? when his young ones cry unto God, they wander for lack of meat.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Then. Sept. “After Eliu had ceased to speak.” H. — Lord. That is, an angel speaking in the name of the Lord. Ch. — The name Jehova (H.) 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. C. — The Heb. edition would at least be given after that event. — Whirlwind, designed to strike the senses, (H.) and to represent the distressed condition of Job. Pineda. — This awful appearance imposed silence upon all. H. — Some think that a time was allowed for reflection and repentance, before God passed sentence; but the Sept. &c. seem to suppose that the cause was decided as soon as Eliu had ended his discourse. C. — God discusses the controversy, and gives sentence in favour of Job. W.

Ver. 2. Words. Many explain this as a condemnation (C.) of the last speaker, (D.) who would otherwise pass without any reproach, (H.) though he had spoken with less reserve than the rest. C. — 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. C. xli. The context also seem to require this, as Job take it to himself. C. xxxix. 33. C. — The change of persons might rather imply the contrary: Who is this? Eliu. 3. Gird up thy loins. Job. H. — Can we admit that the devil got the victory; or, that God falsely declared that Job had spoken right? C. 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. C. xlii. 8. Heb. “Who is this that darkeneth counsel, by words without knowledge?” Prot. “Who is the who concealeth counsel from me, keeping words in his heart, and thinketh to hide from me?” Sept. 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. H. — Job’s friends laboured under great prejudices, and condemned him without cause, (C.) 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 (H.) of Eliu; (S. Greg. Ven. Bede. T. &c.) though we have observed, (H.) some understand the words to be addressed to Job, as a rebuke for his too warm expressions. S. Chrys. S. Aug. &c. C. — The remainder of the discourse is designed for Job’s instruction. H. — Hoc (Eliu) despecto ad erudiendum Job verba vertuntur. S. Greg.

Ver. 3. Loins, like one about to engage in an arduous task, (H.) or journey, (C.) to explore the ways of divine Providence. H. — Answer my reasons, if thou art able. C. — Heb. “make me know.” H. — Only the Creator hath perfect knowledge of all his works, as may appear by induction or example: 1. of inanimate; 2. of living things, v. 39. W.

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

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

Ver. 7. Sons. Sept. “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, (C.) or light. Gen. i. 3. H. — The praise of the stars is figurative, (C.) as they tend to raise our hearts to God by their beauty, (H.) whereas that of the angels is real. C.

Ver. 8. Shut. Heb. also, (H.) “facilitated the birth of the sea,” as a midwife. Grot. C. — Forth. Sept. “raged.” H. — 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, v. 10. C.

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. C.

Ver. 10. Set. Prot. “brake up for it my decreed place.” Marg. “established my decree upon it;” (H.) or, “I gave order to break it,” against the shore. Jer. v. 22. Amos v. 8.

Ver. 12. Place. Thou art but as yesterday: where is thy power? C.

Ver. 13. And didst. Some explain Heb. “that it (Aurora) might spread at once to the extremities of the earth. Then the wicked flee before it;” as they hate the light. C. xxxiv. 26. Jo. iii. 20. C. — Sept. and Prot. may be understood in this sense. H. — Allusion may also be made to the shaking of a sieve, to separate the wheat from the chaff; (Amos ix. 9. Luk. xxii. 31. C.) or of a carpet, to clean it from the dust. D. — 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. M.

Ver. 14. Seal. Men, formed to the image of God, shall die; and others shall be place in their stead, (M.) with as much ease as an impression is made upon clay. H. — Garment. The body seems to be the clothing of the soul, and will be changed. Ps. ci. 27. M. — Chal. “their form will be changed to clay, and they shall resemble a tattered garment.” Heb. “their seal shall be changed like clay,” &c. All their glory shall perish. C. — Sept. “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? H.

Ver. 17. Doors? Sept. “through fear; or have the porters of hell flown away at thy sight?” H.

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

Ver. 23. War. Hail, &c. are like the arrows of God. Jer. x. 13. and l. 25. C.

Ver. 24. Heat. Heb. kadim, (H.) the “east.” Sept. “south wind.” Perhaps the east winds produced the same bad effects in Egypt, as the south wind did in Judea; (C.) or this noxious burning wind might proceed from the south-eastern point of both countries. H.

Ver. 25. Noisy. Heb. “for lightning, which accompanies thunder?” By these questions, respecting things which to man are impossible, and many inexplicable, God humbles (C.) the pride of the human heart. H.

Ver. 26. Dwelleth. This shews the magnificence of God, (M.) at least. H.

Ver. 31. Pleiades. The seven stars. — Arcturus. A bright star in the north. Ch. — The same terms occur, and are explained, C. ix. 9. H.

Ver. 32. Day-star. Heb. mazzaroth, (H.) corresponds with the “inner parts of the south;” (C. 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 of the north pole (C.) must appear to those who live on that side of the line, (H.) as the perpetual sentinels of the sky. — Evening-star. Heb. “Wilt thou make hayish and her daughters go to rest?” These indicate the arctic stars. Here two quite opposite stars are meant; (C.) though (H.) with us the evening and morning star be the same, being so styled according as it appears after or before the sun. M. — Prot. “Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth (Sept. 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, (H.) or “the grains of gross air dispersed” to all the extremities, which returning to the centre, occasion cold. C. xxxvii. 9. Parkhurst.

Ver. 33. Reason. Heb. “dominion,” (H.) or influence upon the earth. Mathematicians thought they had discovered these laws, and the number of the stars; but daily experience evinces their error. M.

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

Ver. 36. Understanding. That is, to distinguish the hours of the night. Ch. — Sept. “Who gave to women the knowledge of the loom, and the art of embroidering?” H. — 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? C. — God gives wisdom to man, and an instinct to cocks, (H.) or the skill, of which the former is deprived, (W.) to know the approach of day. D.

Ver. 37. Sleep. The ancients have celebrated this harmony. Cic. Somn. Scip. — Sept. “Who numbereth the clouds in wisdom, or hath bent the sky down to the earth?” Prot. “or who can stay the bottles of heaven?” H. — Canst thou cause it to rain, or to be fair? (C.) or make the celestial bodies (H.) rest from motion? W.

Ver. 38. Together. When was the water separated from the earth? H. — Where wast thou when I gave consistency to the rocks? C.

Ver. 39. And satisfy. Sept. “or fill the souls of the dragons?” H. — Here Heb. edit. commence the following chap. (C.) and are followed by Prot. (H.) and others, as the proof of God’s superior knowledge begins to be established by the consideration of various animals. W.

Ver. 41. Wandering. Sixtus V. reads vagientes, (C.) “crying like children.” H. — The ravens presently drive their young away to seek for fresh habitations. Pliny x. 12. Ps. cxlvi. 9. C. — If God provide for such creatures, He will shew still greater attention to man. W.