Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. This thunder, the effects of which are so terrible, that it is often styled the voice of God. (Calmet) (Psalm xxviii.) (Menochius) — The consideration of rewards (chap. xxxvi. 33.) stimulates the good, while thunder strikes the heart with terror. (Worthington)
Ver. 3. Earth. Lightning appears from the east to the west, Matthew xxiv. 27.
Ver. 4. After. Light travels faster than sound, (Haydock) though thunder and lightning are produced at the same instant. (Calmet) — Found out. Philosophers can only propose their conjectures on the cause of thunder. This sense is confirmed by the Greek, Chaldean, &c. Hebrew may be, “he delays not;” (Calmet) — Protestants, “he will not stay them;” (Haydock) rain commonly falling soon after thunder. As the latter is occasioned by the collision of clouds, when they come to a certain distance from the earth, the heat causes them to dissolve into showers, which augment at each crack. (Calmet) — Septuagint, “For he has done great things, which we have not understood.” This is connected with chap. xxxvi. 24. Then we read, (ver. 7.) “that man may know his own weakness.” All the intermediate verses have been supplied by Origen from Theodotion, or others. (Haydock)
Ver. 7. He sealed up, &c. When he sends those showers of his strength; that is, those storms of rain, he seals up; that is, he shuts up the hands of men from their usual work abroad, and confines them within doors, to consider his works; or to forecast their works; that is, what they themselves are to do. (Challoner) — We are all the servants of God. He marks us in the hand, as such, Isaias xliv. 5., and Ezechiel ix. 6., and Apocalypse xiii. 6. The Romans marked soldiers with a hot iron in the hands. (Veget. i. 8.) — The abettors of chiromancy have hence vainly pretended that they can discover each person’s future in the lineaments of his hands. (Calmet)
Ver. 8. Den. Foreseeing the tempest and retreating for shelter.
Ver. 9. Parts. The south, (chap. ix. 9.) whence storms commonly came in that country, (Calmet) from the sea or desert of Idumea. (Haydock) (Psalm lxxvii. 26., and Zacharias ix. 14., and Isaias xxi. 1.) — North wind or pole. (Worthington) — Yet the south seems to be designated; (ver. 17., and chap. xxxviii. 32.) though cold comes from the north, in Idumea as well as here. (Calmet) — Mezarim, is rendered by Protestants “north.” Marginal note, “scattering winds.” Septuagint akroterion, “summits” of mountains.
Ver. 10. Abundantly. He causes it to freeze or rain at pleasure. (Haydock) (Psalm cxlvii. 17.) (Menochius)
Ver. 11. Corn requires rain. (Haydock) — Light. As they are transparent, they do not hinder the sun from appearing. Hebrew, “the brightness of the sky disperses the clouds, and the clouds shed their light” in the rainbow, (ver. 15.; Grotius) or lightning. (Junius; Calmet; Menochius) — Protestants, “Also by watering, he wearieth the thick cloud, he scattereth his bright cloud, (12) and it is turned round about by his counsels, that they may do whatsoever,” &c. God prohibits or gives rain. (Haydock) — Nothing is left to chance. (Calmet) — He directeth the clouds as a master does his ship. (Worthington)
Ver. 13. Tribe. Hebrew also, “for correction.” (Haydock) (Amos iv. 7.) — Land of promise, Psalm lxvii. 10.
Ver. 15. Light: the rain-bow, according to the best interpreters; or the lightning. (Calmet)
Ver. 16. Paths. Hebrew, “the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of Him whose knowledge is perfect?” chap. xxxvi. 4. Dost thou know what suspends the heavy clouds in the air? (Calmet)
Ver. 17. Are. Hebrew, “How thy,” &c. It is also beyond thy comprehension, why thou shouldst be too hot when the south winds blows (Haydock) moderately, though tempests generally proceed from the same quarter, ver. 9. If thou art in the dark respecting these things, which thou feelest, how canst thou pretend to fathom and condemn the counsels of God? (Calmet) — Job was far from doing either. His friends rather undertook to explain God’s reasons for punishing thus his servants, which Job acknowledged was to him a mystery, (Haydock) till God had enlightened him, chap. xxii. 3. (Houbigant)
Ver. 18. Brass. Hebrew, “Hast thou with him stretched out (or beaten, as brass, tarkiang; which word Moses uses for the firmament) the heavens, which are as solid (Chaldean, and like) a molten looking-glass?” which was formerly made of metal, Exodus xxxviii. 8. The Hebrews looked upon the sky as a sheet of brass; and the poets speak of the brazen heaven. (Pindar. Nem. vi.; Homer, Iliad A.)
Ver. 19. Darkness. Thou who art so learned, give us some information, what we may blame in the works of God. Cutting irony! (Calmet)
Ver. 20. He shall be swallowed up. All that man can say, when he speaks of God, is so little and inconsiderable in comparison with the subject, that man is lost, and as it were swallowed up in so immense an ocean. (Challoner) — The man who should dare to mention what I could reprehend in God’s works, would soon be overwhelmed with majesty. (Calmet) — Alphonsus IX, king of Leon, (the year of our Lord 1252) surnamed “the wise and the astronomer,” said “he could have given some good advice respecting the motions of the stars, if he had been consulted by God;” meaning to ridicule some vain systems of philosophers, then in vogue. (Dict. 1774.) (Haydock)
Ver. 21. Light; being hindered by the clouds, and dazzled when they are removed. Yet we presume to judge of the secrets of Providence! (Calmet) — Away. As there is a constant vicissitude of these things, so there is of happiness and misery. (Menochius) — Septuagint, “For the light is not seen by all. It is refulgent in beauties, as that which comes thence upon the clouds.” If, therefore, this light does not pervade all places, why should we wonder that all do not understand the ways of God? (Haydock)
Ver. 22. Gold. Septuagint, “from the north, gold-coloured clouds. Above these, great is the praise and honour of the Almighty.” (Haydock) — When the wind blows, the clouds are dispersed, and the sky appears serene. Each country has its peculiar advantages. In the north, Ophir, &c., may boast of gold: but what ought to be most conspicuous in the praises given to God, is an humble fear. Pindar begins his Olympic Odes somewhat in the same style. (Calmet) — “Water is excellent, and gold….But if, dear heart, thou wilt sing of games, regard no other star….as brighter than the sun….nor shall we celebrate any game more excellent than that of Olympia.” (Haydock) — God disposes of all things as he pleases. He makes the golden day succeed a tempest. But it is our duty to praise him with awe, whatever he may ordain. This is the epilogue. (Pineda) — Man must praise God with fear, as he cannot do it sufficiently. (Worthington)
Ver. 23. Worthily. Hebrew, “the Almighty, we cannot find him out,” (Haydock) or comprehend his nature or mysteries. (Calmet)
Ver. 24. Fear him, and receive with respect whatever he shall appoint. (Haydock) — And all. Hebrew, “he fears not any that are wise of heart.” He knows that the most intelligent (Calmet) must confess their ignorance, when they attempt to examine his divine nature. Simonides being desired by Hiero to express his sentiments on this subject, always requested more time to consider of it. Quia, inquit, res videtur mihi tanto obscurior, quanto diutius eam considero. (Cicero, Nat. i. 60. Selectæ e Prof. i. 3.) — “With thee (says St. Augustine, Conf. i. 6.) stand the causes of all instable things,” &c. (Haydock) — Those who are really wise, will therefore adore God’s judgments in silence, while the presumptuous will be forced to yield. This is the excellent conclusion of all that had been said. (Pineda) — The sentence is beautiful, but ill-applied (Haydock) to Job. (Philip) See Proverbs iii. 7. (Haydock) — He convinced the other three with sound arguments, “and this last and most arrogant disputant with silence.” (Worthington)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Eliu goes on in his discourse, shewing God’s wisdom and power, by his wonderful works.
1 At this my heart trembleth, and is moved out of its place.
2 Hear ye attentively the terror of his voice, and the sound that cometh out of his mouth.
3 He beholdeth under all the heavens, and his light is upon the ends of the earth.
4 After it a noise shall roar, he shall thunder with the voice of his majesty, and shall not be found out, when his voice shall be heard.
5 God shall thunder wonderfully with his voice, he that doth great and unsearchable things.
6 He commandeth the snow to go down upon the earth, and the winter rain, and the shower of his strength.
7 He sealeth up the hand of all men, that every one may know his works.
8 Then the beast shall go into his covert, and shall abide in his den.
9 Out of the inner parts shall a tempest come, and cold out of the north.
10 When God bloweth there cometh frost, and again the waters are poured out abundantly.
11 Corn desireth clouds, and the clouds spread their light:
12 Which go round about, whithersoever the will of him that governeth them shall lead them, to whatsoever he shall command them upon the face of the whole earth:
13 Whither in one tribe, or in his own land, or in what place soever of his mercy he shall command them to be found.
14 Hearken to these things, Job: Stand, and consider the wondrous works of God.
15 Dost thou know when God commanded the rains, to shew the light of his clouds?
16 Knowest thou the great paths of the clouds, and the perfect knowledges?
17 Are not thy garments hot, when the south wind blows upon the earth?
18 Thou perhaps hast made the heavens with him, which are most strong, as if they were of molten brass.
19 Shew us what we may say to him: for we are wrapped up in darkness.
20 Who shall tell him the things I speak? even if a man shall speak, he shall be swallowed up.
21 But now they see not the light: the air on a sudden shall be thickened into clouds, and the winds shall pass and drive them away.
22 Cold cometh out of the north, and to God praise with fear.
23 We cannot find him worthily: he is great in strength, and in judgment, and in justice, and he is ineffable.
24 Therefore men shall fear him, and all that seem to themselves to be wise, shall not dare to behold him.