WE are told in the Bible (Job, i, 16)--
"While he [Job] was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them, and I only am escaped alone to tell thee."
And in verse 18 we are told--
"While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house:
"19. And behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee."
We have here the record of a great convulsion. Fire fell from heaven; the fire of God. It was not lightning, for it killed the seven thousand sheep, (see chap. i, 3,) belonging to Job, and all his shepherds; and not only killed but consumed them--burned them up. A fire falling from heaven great enough to kill seven thousand sheep must have been an extensive conflagration, extending over a large area of country. And it seems to have been accompanied by a great wind--a cyclone--which killed all Job's sons and daughters.
Has the book of Job anything to do with that great event which we have been discussing? Did it originate out of it? Let us see.
In the first place it is, I believe, conceded by the foremost
scholars that the book of Job is not a Hebrew work; it was not written by Moses; it far antedates even the time of Abraham.
That very high orthodox authority, George Smith, F. S. A., in his work shows that--
"Everything relating to this patriarch has been violently controverted. His country; the age in which he lived; the author of the book that bears his name; have all been fruitful themes of discord, and, as if to confound confusion, these disputants are interrupted by others, who would maintain that no such person ever existed; that the whole tale is a poetic fiction, an allegory!"
Job lived to be two hundred years old, or, according to the Septuagint, four hundred. This great age relegates him to the era of the antediluvians, or their immediate descendants, among whom such extreme ages were said to have been common.
C. S. Bryant says:
"Job is in the purest Hebrew. The author uses only the word Elohim for the name of God. The compiler or reviser of the work, Moses, or whoever he was, employed at the heads of chapters and in the introductory and concluding portions the name of Jehovah; but all the verses where Jehovah occurs, in Job, are later interpolations in a very old poem, written at a time when the Semitic race had no other name for God but Elohim; before Moses obtained the elements of the new name from Egypt."
"The cardinal constellations of spring and autumn, in Job's time, were Chima and Chesil, or Taurus and Scorpio, of which the principal stars are Aldebaran, the Bull's Eye, and Antare, the Scorpion's Heart. Knowing, therefore, the longitudes of these stars at present, the interval
[1. "The Patriarchal Age," vol. i, p. 351.
2. MS. letter to the author, from C. S. Bryant, St. Paul, Minnesota.]
of time from thence to the assumed date of Job's trial will give the difference of these longitudes, and ascertain their positions then with respect to the vernal and equinoctial points of intersection of the equinoctial and ecliptic; according to the usual rate of the precession of the equinoxes, one degree in seventy-one years and a half."
A careful calculation, based on these principles, has proved that this period was 2338 B. C. According to the Septuagint, in the opinion of George Smith, Job lived, or the book of Job was written, from 2650 B. C. to 2250 B. C. Or the events described may have occurred 25,740 years before that date.
It appears, therefore, that the book of Job was written, even according to the calculations of the orthodox, long before the time of Abraham, the founder of the Jewish nation, and hence could not have been the work of Moses or any other Hebrew. Mr. Smith thinks that it was produced soon after the Flood, by an Arabian. He finds in it many proofs of great antiquity. He sees in it (xxxi, 26, 28) proof that in Job's time idolatry was an offense under the laws, and punishable as such; and he is satisfied that all the parties to the great dialogue were free from the taint of idolatry. Mr. Smith says:
"The Babylonians, Chaldeans, Egyptians, Canaanites, Midianites, Ethiopians of Abyssinia, Syrians, and other contemporary nations, had sunk into gross idolatry long before the time of Moses."
The Arabians were an important branch of the great Atlantean stock; they derived their descent from the people of Add.
"And to this day the Arabians declare that the father of Job was the founder of the great Arabian people."
[1. Hale's "Chronology," vol. ii, p. 55.
2. Smith's "Sacred Annals," vol. i, p. 360.]
Again, the same author says:
"Job acted as high-priest in his own family; and, minute as are the descriptions of the different classes and usages of society in this book, we have not the slightest allusion to the existence of any priests or specially appointed ministers of religion, a fact which shows the extreme antiquity of the period, as priests were, in all probability, first appointed about the time of Abraham, and became general soon after."
He might have added that priests were known among the Egyptians and Babylonians and Phnicians from the very beginning of their history.
Dr. Magee says:
"If, in short, there be on the whole, that genuine air of the antique which those distinguished scholars, Schultens, Lowth, and Michaelis, affirm in every respect to pervade the work, we can scarcely hesitate to pronounce, with Lowth and Sherlock, that the book of Job is the oldest in the world now extant."
Moreover, it is evident that this ancient hero, although he probably lived before Babylon and Assyria, before Troy was known, before Greece had a name, nevertheless dwelt in the midst of a high civilization.
"The various arts, the most recondite sciences, the most remarkable productions of earth, in respect of animals, vegetables, and minerals, the classified arrangement of the stars of heaven, are all noticed."
Not only did Job's people possess an alphabet, but books were written, characters were engraved; and some have even gone so far as to claim that the art of printing was known, because Job says, "Would that my words were printed in a book!"
[1. Smith's "Sacred Annals," p. 364.
2. Magee "On the Atonement," vol. ii, p. 84.]
The literary excellence of the work is of the highest order. Lowth says:
"The antiquary, or the critic, who has been at the pains to trace the history of the Grecian drama from its first weak and imperfect efforts, and has carefully observed its tardy progress to perfection, will scarcely, I think, without astonishment, contemplate a poem produced so many ages before, so elegant in its design, so regular in its structure, so animated, so affecting, so near to the true dramatic model; while, on the contrary, the united wisdom of Greece, after ages of study, was not able to produce anything approaching to perfection in this walk of poetry before the time of Æschylus."
"The debate rises high above earthly things; the way and will and providential dealings of God are investigated. All this is done with the greatest propriety, with the most consummate skill; and, notwithstanding the expression of some erroneous opinions, all is under the influence of a devout and sanctified temper of mind."
Has this most ancient, wonderful, and lofty work, breathing the spirit of primeval times, its origin lost in the night of ages, testifying to a high civilization and a higher moral development, has it anything to do with that event which lay far beyond the Flood?
If it is a drama of Atlantean times, it must have passed through many hands, through many ages, through many tongues, before it reached the Israelites. We may expect its original meaning, therefore, to appear through it only like the light through clouds; we may expect that later generations would modify it with local names and allusions; we may expect that they would even strike out parts whose meaning they failed to understand, and
[1. "Hebrew Poetry," lecture xxxiii.
2. "Sacred Annals," vol. i, p. 365.]
interpolate others. It is believed that the opening and closing parts are additions made in a subsequent age. If they could not comprehend how the fire from heaven and the whirlwind could have so utterly destroyed Job's sheep, servants, property, and family, they would bring in those desert accessories, Sabæan and Chaldean robbers, to carry away the camels and the oxen.
What is the meaning of the whole poem?
God gives over the government of the world for a time to Satan, to work his devilish will upon Job. Did not God do this very thing when he permitted the comet to strike the earth? Satan in Arabic means a serpent. "Going to and fro" means in the Arabic in "the heat of haste "; Umbreit translates it, "from a flight over the earth."
Job may mean a man, a tribe, or a whole nation.
From a condition of great prosperity Job is stricken down, in an instant, to the utmost depths of poverty and distress; and the chief agency is "fire from heaven" and great wind-storms.
Does this typify the fate of the world when the great catastrophe occurred? Does the debate between Job and his three visitors represent the discussion which took place in the hearts of the miserable remnants of mankind, as they lay hid in caverns, touching God, his power, his goodness, his justice; and whether or not this world-appalling calamity was the result of the sins of the people or otherwise?
Let us see what glimpses of these things we can find in the text of the book.
When Job's afflictions fall upon him he curses his day--the day, as commonly understood, wherein he was born. But how can one curse a past period of time and ask the darkness to cover it?
The original text is probably a reference to the events that were then transpiring:
"Let that day be turned into darkness; let not God regard it from above; and let not the light shine upon it. Let darkness and the shadow of death cover it; let a mist overspread it, and let it be wrapped up in bitterness. Let a darksome whirlwind seize upon that night. . . . Let them curse it who curse the clay, who are ready to raise up a leviathan."
De Dieu says it should read, "And thou, leviathan, rouse up." "Let a mist overspread it"; literally, "let a gathered mass of dark clouds cover it."
"The Fathers generally understand the devil to be meant by the leviathan."
We shall see that it means the fiery dragon, the comet:
"Let the stars be darkened with the mist thereof; let it expect light and not see it, nor the rising of the dawning of the day."
In other words, Job is not imprecating future evils on a past time--an impossibility, an absurdity: he is describing the events then transpiring--the whirlwind, the darkness, the mist, the day that does not come, and the leviathan, the demon, the comet.
Job seems to regret that he has escaped with his life:
"For now," he says, "should I have lain still and been quiet," (if I had not fled) "I should have slept: then had I been at rest, with kings and counsellors of the earth, which built desolate places for themselves; or with princes that had gold, who filled their houses with silver."
Job looks out over the whole world, swept bare of its inhabitants, and regrets that he did not stay and bide the
[1. Douay version, chapter iii, verses 4-8.
2. Ibid., verse 9.
3. King James's version, chapter iii, verses 18-15.]
pelting of the pitiless storm, as, if he had done so, he would be now lying dead with kings and counselors, who built places for themselves, now made desolate, and with princes who, despite their gold and silver, have perished. Kings and counselors do not build "desolate places" for themselves; they build in the heart of great communities; in the midst of populations: the places may become desolate afterward.
Eliphaz the Temanite seems to think that the sufferings of men are due to their sins. He says:
Even as I have seen, they that plough wickedness and sow wickedness, reap the same. By the blast of God they perish, and by the breath of his nostrils are they consumed. The roaring of the lion, and the voice of the fierce lion, and the teeth of the young lions are broken. The old lion perisheth for lack of prey, and the stout lion's whelps are scattered abroad."
Certainly, this seems to be a picture of a great event. Here again the fire of God, that consumed Job's sheep and servants, is at work; even the fiercest of the wild beasts are suffering: the old lion dies for want of prey, and its young ones are scattered abroad.
"In thoughts, from the visions of the night, when deep sleep falleth on me, fear came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones to shake. Then a spirit passed before my face, the hair of my flesh stood up."
A voice spake:
"Shall mortal man be more just than God? Shall a man be more pure than his Maker? Behold he put no trust in his servants, and his angels he charged with folly: How much less them that dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, which are crushed before the moth. They are destroyed from morning to evening; they perish forever without any regarding it."
The moth can crush nothing, therefore Maurer thinks it should read, "crushed like the moth." "They are destroyed," etc.; literally, "they are broken to pieces in the space of a day."
All through the text of Job we have allusions to the catastrophe which had fallen on the earth (chap. v, 3):
"I have seen the foolish taking root: but suddenly I," (God,) "cursed his habitation."
"4. His children are far from safety," (far from any place of refuge?) "and they are crushed in the gate, neither is there any to deliver them.
"5. Whose harvest the hungry eateth up, and taketh it even out of the thorns, and the robber swalloweth up their substance."
That is to say, in the general confusion and terror the harvests are devoured, and there is no respect for the rights of property.
"6. Although affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground."
In the Douay version it reads:
"Nothing on earth is done without a cause, and sorrow doth not spring out of the ground" (v, 6).
I take this to mean that the affliction which has fallen upon men comes not out of the ground, but from above.
"7. Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward."
In the Hebrew we read for sparks, "sons of flame or burning coal." Maurer and Gesenius say, "As the sons of lightning fly high"; or, "troubles are many and fiery as sparks."
[1. Faussett's "Commentary," iii, 40.]
"8. I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit my cause;
"9. Which doeth great things and unsearchable; marvellous things without number:
10. Who giveth rain upon the earth, and sendeth waters upon the fields."
Rain here signifies the great floods which cover the earth.
"11. To set up on high those that be low; that those which mourn may be exalted to safety."
That is to say, the poor escape to the high places--to safety--while the great and crafty perish.
"12. He disappointeth the devices of the crafty, so that their hands can not perform their enterprise.
"13. He taketh the wise in their own craftiness," (that is, in the very midst of their planning,) "and the counsel of the froward is carried headlong," (that is, it is instantly overwhelmed).
"14. They MEET WITH DARKNESS IN THE DAY-TIME, and grope in the noonday as in the night." (Chap. v.)
Surely all this is extraordinary--the troubles of mankind come from above, not from the earth; the children of the wicked are crushed in the gate, far from places of refuge; the houses of the wicked are "crushed before the moth," those that plow wickedness perish," by the "blast of God's nostrils they are consumed"; the old lion perishes for want of prey, and its whelps are scattered abroad. Eliphaz sees a vision, (the comet,) which "makes his bones to shake, and the hair of his flesh to stand up"; the people "are destroyed from morning to evening"; the cunning find their craft of no avail, but are taken; the counsel of the froward is carried headlong; the poor find safety in high places; and darkness comes in midday, so that the people grope their way;
and Job's children, servants, and animals are destroyed by a fire from heaven, and by a great wind.
Eliphaz, like the priests in the Aztec legend, thinks he sees in all this the chastening hand of God:
"17. Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty:
"18. For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole." (Chap. v.)
We are reminded of the Aztec prayer, where allusion is made to the wounded and sick in the cave "whose mouths were full of earth and scurf." Doubtless, thousands were crushed, and cut, and wounded by the falling stones, or burned by the fire, and some of them were carried by relatives and friends, or found their own way, to the shelter of the caverns.
"20. In famine he shall redeem thee from death: and in war from the power of the sword.
"21. Thou shalt be hid from the scourge of the tongue: neither shalt thou be afraid of destruction when it cometh." (Chap. v.)
"The scourge of the tongue" has no meaning in this context. There has probably been a mistranslation at some stage of the history of the poem. The idea is, probably, "You are hid in safety from the scourge of the comet, from the tongues of flame; you need not be afraid of the destruction that is raging without."
"22. At destruction and famine thou shalt laugh neither shalt thou be afraid of the beasts of the earth.
"23. For thou shalt be in league with THE STONES OF THE FIELD: and the beasts of the field shall be at peace with thee." (Chap. v.)
That is to say, as in the Aztec legend, the stones of the field have killed some of the beasts if the earth, "the lions have perished," and their whelps have been scattered;
the stones have thus been your friends; and other beasts have fled with you into these caverns, as in the Navajo tradition, where you may be able, living upon them, to defy famine.
Now it may be said that all this is a strained construction; but what construction can be substituted that will make sense of these allusions? How can the stones of the field be in league with man? How does the ordinary summer rain falling on the earth set up the low and destroy the wealthy? And what has all this to do with a darkness that cometh in the day-time in which the wicked grope helplessly?
But the allusions continue
Job cries out, in the next chapter (chap. vi)
"2. Oh that my grief" (my sins whereby I deserved wrath) "were thoroughly weighed, and my calamity laid in the balances together!
3. As the sands of the sea this would appear heavier, therefore my words are full of sorrow. (Douay version.)
'14. For the arrows of the Almighty are within me, the poison whereof drinketh up my spirit; the terrors of God do set themselves in array against me" ("war against me"-Douay ver.).
That is to say, disaster comes down heavier than the sands--the gravel of the sea; I am wounded; the arrows of God, the darts of fire, have stricken me. We find in the American legends the descending débris constantly alluded to as "stones, arrows, and spears"; I am poisoned with the foul exhalations of the comet; the terrors of God are arrayed against me. All this is comprehensible as a description of a great disaster of nature, but it is extravagant language to apply to a mere case of boils.
"9. Even that it would please God to destroy me; that he would let loose his hand and cut me off."
The commentators say that "to destroy me" means literally "to grind or crush me." (Chap. vi.)
Job despairs of final escape:
"11. What is my strength that I can hold out? And what is I end that I should keep patience?" (Douay.)
"12 . Is my strength the strength of stones? Or is my flesh of brass? "
That is to say, how can I ever bold out? How can I ever survive this great tempest? How can my strength stand the crushing of these stones? Is my flesh brass, that it will not burn up? Can I live in a world where such things are to continue?
And here follow allusions which are remarkable as occurring in an Arabian composition, in a land of torrid beats:
"15. My brethren" (my fellow-men) "have dealt deceitfully" (have sinned) "as a brook, and as the stream of brooks they pass away.
16. Which are blackish by reason of the ice, and wherein the snow is hid.
"17. What time they wax warm, they vanish: when it is hot, they are consumed out of their place.
18. The paths of their way are turned aside; they go to nothing and perish."
The Douay version has it:
"16. They" (the people) "that fear the hoary frost, the snow shall fall upon them.
"17. At the time when they shall be scattered they shall perish; and after it groweth hot they shall be melted out of their place.
"18. The paths of their steps are entangled; they shall walk in vain and shall perish."
There is a great deal of perishing here--some by frost and snow, some by heat; the people are scattered, they lose their way, they perish.
Job's servants and sheep were also consumed in their place; they came to naught, they perished.
Job begins to think, like the Aztec priest, that possibly the human race has reached its limit and is doomed to annihilation (chap. vii):
"1. Is there not an appointed time to man upon earth? Are not his days also like the days of an hireling?"
Is it not time to discharge the race from its labors?
"4. When I lie down, I say, When shall I arise, and the night be gone? and I am full of tossings to and fro unto the dawning of the day."
He draws a picture of his hopeless condition, shut up in the cavern, never to see the light of day again. (Douay ver., chap. vii):
"12: Am I sea or a whale, that thou hast inclosed me in a prison?"
"7. My eyes shall not return to see good things.
"8. Nor shall the sight of man behold me; thy eyes are upon me, and I shall be no more"; (or, as one translates it, thy mercy shall come too late when I shall be no more.)
"9. As a cloud is consumed and passeth away, so he that shall go down to hell" (or the grave, the cavern) shall not come up.
"10. Nor shall he return any more into his house, neither shall his place know him any more."
How strikingly does this remind one of the Druid legend, given on page 135, ante:
"The profligacy of mankind had provoked the Great Supreme to send a pestilential wind upon the earth. A pure poison descended, every blast was death. At this time the patriarch, distinguished for his integrity, was shut up, together with his select company, in the inclosure with the strong door. Here the just ones were safe from injury. Presently a tempest of fire arose," etc.
Who can doubt that these widely separated legends refer to the same event and the same patriarch?
Job meditates suicide, just as we have seen in the American legends that hundreds slew themselves under the terror of the time:
"21. For now shall I sleep in the dust; and thou shalt seek me in the morning, but I shall not be."
The Chaldaic version gives us the sixteenth and seventeenth verses of chapter viii as follows:
"The sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof faileth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth, so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways."
And then Job refers to the power of God, seeming to paint the cataclysm (chap. ix):
"5. Which removeth the mountains, and they know not which overturneth them in his anger.
"6. Which shaketh the earth out of her place, and the pillars thereof tremble.
"7. Which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not; and sealeth up the stars.
"8. Which alone spreadeth out the heavens and treadeth upon the waves of the sea."
All this is most remarkable: here is the delineation of a great catastrophe--the mountains are removed and leveled; the earth shakes to its foundations; the sun fails to appear, and the stars are sealed up. How? In the dense masses of clouds?
Surely this does not describe the ordinary manifestations of God's power. When has the sun refused to rise? It can not refer to the story of Joshua, for in that case the sun was in the heavens and refrained from setting; and Joshua's time was long subsequent to that of Job. But when we take this in connection with the fire
falling from heaven, the great wind, the destruction of men and animals, the darkness that came at midday, the ice and snow and sands of the sea, and the stones of the field, and the fact that Job is shut up as in a prison, never to return to his home or to the light of day, we see that peering through the little-understood context of this most ancient poem are the disjointed reminiscences of the age of fire and gravel. It sounds like the cry not of a man but of a race, a great, religious, civilized race, who could not understand how God could so cruelly visit the world; and out of their misery and their terror sent up this pitiful yet sublime appeal for mercy.
"13. If God will not withdraw his anger, the proud helpers do stoop under him."
One commentator makes this read:
"Under him the whales below heaven bend," (the crooked leviathan?)
"17. For he shall crush me in a whirlwind, and multiplieth my wounds even without cause." (Douay ver.)
And Job can not recognize the doctrine of a special providence; he says:
"22. This is one thing" (therefore I said it). "He destroyeth the perfect and the wicked.
"23. If the scourge slay suddenly, he will laugh at the trial of the innocent.
"24. The earth is given into the hands of the wicked: he covereth the faces of the judges thereof; if it be not him, who is it then?" (Douay ver.)
That is to say, God has given up the earth to the power of Satan (as appears by chapter i); good and bad perish together; and the evil one laughs as the scourge (the comet) slays suddenly the innocent ones; the very judges who should have enforced justice are dead, and
their faces covered with dust and ashes. And if God has not done this terrible deed, who has done it?
And Job rebels against such a state of things
"34. Let him take his rod away from me, and let not his fear terrify me.
"35. Then I would speak to him and not fear him but it is not so with me."
What rod--what fear? Surely not the mere physical affliction which is popularly supposed to have constituted Job's chief grievance. Is the "rod" that terrifies Job so that he fears to speak, that great object which cleft the heavens; that curved wolf-jaw of the Goths, one end of which rested on the earth while the other touched the sun? Is it the great sword of Surt?
And here we have another (chap. x) allusion to the "darkness," although in our version it is applied to death:
"21. Before I go whence I shall not return, even to the land of darkness and the shadow of death.
"22. A land of darkness as darkness itself, and of the shadow of death, without any order, and where the light is as darkness."
Or, as the Douay version has it:
"21. Before I go, and return no more, to a land that is dark and covered with the mist of death.
"22. A land of misery and darkness, where the shadow of death, and no order but everlasting horror dwelleth."
This is not death; death is a place of peace, "where the wicked ceased from troubling "; this is a description of the chaotic condition of things on the earth outside the cave, "without any order," and where even the feeble light of day is little better than total darkness. Job thinks he might just as well go out into this dreadful world and end it all.
Zophar argues (chap. xi) that all these things have
come because of the wickedness of the people, and that it is all right:
"10. If he cut off and shut up and gather together, who can hinder him?
"11. For he knoweth vain men: he seeth wickedness also; will he not then consider it?
"If he cut off," the commentators say, means literally, "If he pass by as a storm."
That is to say, if he cuts off the people, (kills them by the million,) and shuts up a few in caves, as Job was shut up in prison, gathered together from the storm, how are you going to help it? Hath he not seen the vanity and wickedness of man?
And Zophar tells Job to hope, to pray to God, and that he will yet escape:
"16. Because thou shalt forget thy misery, and remember it as waters that pass away.
"17. And thine age shall be clearer than the noonday; thou shalt shine forth, thou shalt be as the morning."
"Thou shalt shine forth" Gesenius renders, "though now thou art in darkness thou shalt presently be as the morning"; that is, the storm will pass and the light return. Umbreit gives it, "Thy darkness shall be as the morning; only the darkness of morning twilight, not nocturnal darkness." That is, Job will return to that dim light which followed the Drift Age.
"18. And thou shalt be secure, because there is hope; yea, thou shalt dig about thee, and thou shalt take thy rest in safety."
That is to say, when the waters pass away, with them shall pass away thy miseries; the sun shall yet return brighter than ever; thou shalt be secure; thou shalt dig thy way out of these caverns; and then take thy rest in
safety, for the great tempest shall have passed for ever. We are told by the commentators that the words "about thee" are an interpolation.
If this is not the interpretation, for what would Job dig about him? What relation can digging have with the disease which afflicted Job?
But Job refuses to receive this consolation. He refuses to believe that the tower of Siloam fell only on the wickedest men in the city. He refers to his past experience of mankind. He thinks honest poverty is without honor at the hands of successful fraud. He says (chap. xii):
"5. He that is ready to slip with his feet is as a lamp despised in the thought of him that is at ease."
"6. The tabernacles of robbers prosper, and they that provoke God are secure; into whose hand God bringeth abundantly."
And he can not see how, if this calamity has come upon men for their sins, that the innocent birds and beasts, and even the fish in the heated and poisoned waters, are perishing:
"7. But ask now the beasts," ("for verily," he has just said, "ye are the men, and wisdom will die with you,") "and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee:
"8. Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare it unto thee.
"9. Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this?"
Wrought what? Job's disease? No. Some great catastrophe to bird and beast and earth.
You pretend, he says, in effect, ye wise men, that only the wicked have suffered; but it is not so, for aforetime I have seen the honest poor man despised and the villain
prosperous. And if the sins of men have brought this catastrophe on the earth, go ask the beasts and the birds and the fish and the very face of the suffering earth, what they have done to provoke this wrath. No, it is the work of God, and of God alone, and he gives and will give no reason for it.
"14. Behold, he breaketh down, and it cannot be built up again; he shutteth up a man, and there can be no opening.
"15. Behold, he withholdeth the waters, and they dry up: also, he sendeth them out, and they overturn the earth."
That is to say, the heat of the fire from heaven sucks up the waters until rivers and lakes are dried up: Cacus steals the cows of Hercules; and then again they fall, deluging and overturning the earth, piling it into Mountains in one place, says the Tupi legend, and digging out valleys in another. And God buries men in the caves in which they sought shelter.
"23. He increaseth the nations, and destroyeth them: he enlargeth the nations, and straiteneth them again.
"24. He taketh away the heart of the chief of the people of the earth, and causeth them to wander in a wilderness where there is no way.
"25. They grope in the dark without light, and he maketh them to stagger like a drunken man."
More darkness, more groping in the dark, more of that staggering like drunken men, described in the American legends:
"Lo, mine eye," says Job, (xiii, 1,) "hath seen all this, mine ear hath heard and understood it. What ye know, the same do I know also."
We have all seen it, says Job, and now you would come here with your platitudes about God sending all this to punish the wicked:
"4. But ye are forgers of lies, ye are all physicians of no value."
Honest Job is disgusted, and denounces his counselors with Carlylean vigor:
"11. Shall not his excellency make you afraid? and his dread fall upon you?
"12. Your remembrances are like unto ashes, your bodies to bodies of clay.
"13. Hold your peace, let me alone, that I may speak, and let come on me what will.
"14. Wherefore do I take my flesh in my teeth, and put my life in mine hand?
"15. Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him."
In other words, I don't think this thing is right, and, though I tear my flesh with my teeth, and contemplate suicide, and though I may be slain for speaking, yet I will speak out, and maintain that God ought not to have done this thing; he ought not to have sent this horrible affliction on the earth--this fire from heaven, which burned up my cattle; this whirlwind which slew my children; this sand of the sea; this rush of floods; this darkness in noonday in which mankind grope helplessly; these arrows, this poison, this rush of waters, this sweeping away of mountains.
"If I hold my tongue," says Job, "I shall give up the ghost!"
"The grief that will not speak,
Whispers the o'erfraught heart, and bids it break."
"As the waters fail from the sea," says Job, (xiv, 11,) and the flood decayeth and drieth up:
"12. So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.
13. O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me!"
What does this mean? When in history have the waters failed from the sea? Job believes in the immortality of the soul (xix, 26): "Though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God." Can these words then be of general application, and mean that those who lie down and rise not shall not awake for ever? No; he is simply telling that when the conflagration came and dried up the seas, it slaughtered the people by the million; they fell and perished, never to live again; and he calls on God to hide him in a grave, a tomb, a cavern--until the day of his wrath be past, and then to remember him, to come for him, to let him out.
"20. My bone cleaveth to my skin and to my flesh, and I am escaped with the skin of my teeth."
Escaped from what? From his physical disease? No; he carried that with him.
But Zophar insists that there is a special providence in all these things, and that only the wicked have perished (chap. xx):
"5. The triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment."
"7. Yet he shall perish for ever like his own dung: they which have seen him shall say, Where is be?"
16. He shall suck the poison of asps: the viper's tongue shall slay him."
"23. When he is about to fill his belly, God shall cast the fury of his wrath upon him, and shall RAIN IT UPON him, while he is eating.
"24. He shall flee from the iron weapon, and the bow of steel shall strike him through.
"25. It is drawn and cometh out of the body; yea, the glittering sword" (the comet?) "cometh out of his gall: terrors are upon him.
"26. All darkness shall be hid in his secret places: a fire not blown shall consume him. . . .
"27. The heavens shall reveal his iniquity; and the earth shall rise up against him.
"28. The increase of his house shall depart, and his goods shall flow away in the day of his wrath."
What does all this mean? While the rich man, (necessarily a wicked man,) is eating his dinner, God shall rain upon him a consuming fire, a fire not blown by man; he shall be pierced by the arrows of God, the earth shall quake under his feet, the heavens shall blaze forth his iniquity; the darkness shall be hid, shall disappear, in the glare of the conflagration; and his substance shall flow away in the floods of God's wrath.
Job answers him in powerful language, maintaining from past experience his position that the wicked ones do not suffer in this life any more than the virtuous (chap. xxi):
"Their houses are safe from fear, neither is the rod of God upon them. Their bull gendereth, and faileth not; their cow calveth, and casteth not her calf. They send forth their little ones like a flock, and their children dance. They spend their days in wealth, and in a moment go down to the grave. Therefore they say unto God, Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways."
And here we seem to have a description (chap. xvi, Douay ver.) of Job's contact with the comet:
"9. A false speaker riseth up against my face, contradicting me."
That is, Job had always proclaimed the goodness of God, and here comes something altogether evil.
"10. He hath gathered together his fury against me; and threatening me he hath gnashed with his teeth upon me: my enemy hath beheld me with terrible eyes."
"14. He has compassed me round about with his lances, he hath wounded my loins, he hath not spared, he hath poured out my bowels on the earth.
"15. He hath torn me with wound upon wound, he hath rushed in upon me like a giant."
"20. For behold my witness is in heaven, and he that knoweth my conscience is on high."
It is impossible to understand this as referring to a skin-disease, or even to the contradictions of Job's companions, Zophar, Bildad, etc.
Something rose up against Job that comes upon him with fury, gnashes his teeth on him, glares at him with terrible eyes, surrounds him with lances, wounds him in every part, and rushes upon him like a giant; and the witness of the truth of Job's statement is there in the heavens.
Eliphaz returns to the charge. He rebukes Job and charges him with many sins and oppressions (chap. xxii):
"10. Therefore snares are around about thee, and sudden fear troubleth thee;
"11. Or darkness, that thou canst not see; and abundance of waters cover thee."
"13. And thou sayest, How doth God know? Can he judge through the dark cloud?
"14. Thick clouds are a covering to him, that he seeth not and he walketh in the circuit of heaven.
15. Hast thou marked the old way which wicked men have trodden?
"16. Which were cut down out of time, whose foundation was overflown with a flood?"
"20. Whereas our substance is not cut down, but the remnant of them the fire consumeth."
"24. He shall give for earth flint, and for flint torrents of gold." (Douay ver.)
What is the meaning of all this? And why this association of the flint-stones, referred to in so many legends; and the gold believed to have fallen from heaven in torrents, is it not all wonderful and inexplicable upon any other theory than that which I suggest?
"30. He shall deliver the island of the innocent: and it is delivered by the pureness of thine "(Job's) "hands."
What does this mean? Where was "the island of the innocent"? What was the way which the wicked, who did not live on "the island of the innocent," had trodden, but which was swept away in the flood as the bridge Bifrost was destroyed, in the Gothic legends, by the forces of Muspelheim?
And Job replies again (chap. xxiii):
"16. For God maketh my heart soft, and the Almighty troubleth me:
"17. Because I was not cut off before the darkness, neither hath he covered the darkness from my face."
That is to say, why did I not die before this great calamity fell on the earth, and before I saw it?
Job continues (chap. xxvi):
"5. Dead things are formed from under the waters, and the inhabitants thereof.
"6. Hell is naked before him, and destruction hath no covering.
The commentators tell us that the words, "dead things are formed under the waters," mean literally, "the souls of the dead tremble from under the waters."
In all lands the home of the dead was, as I have shown elsewhere, beyond the waters: and just as we have seen in Ovid that Phaëton's conflagration burst open the earth
[1. "Atlantis," 359, 421, etc.]
and disturbed the inhabitants of Tartarus; and in Hesiod's narrative that the ghosts trembled around Pluto in his dread dominion; so here hell is laid bare by the great catastrophe, and the souls of the dead in the drowned Flood-land, beneath the waters, tremble.
Surely, all these legends are fragments of one and the same great story.
"7. He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing.
"8. He bindeth up the waters in his thick clouds; and the cloud is not rent under them."
The clouds do not break with this unparalleled load of moisture.
"9. He holdeth back the face of his throne, and spreadeth his cloud upon it.
"10. He hath compassed the waters with bounds, until the day and night come to an end.
"11. The pillars of heaven tremble, and are astonished at his reproof.
"12. He divideth the sea with his power, and by his understanding he smiteth through the proud." ("By his wisdom he has struck the proud one."--Douay ver.)
"13. By his spirit he hath garnished the heavens his hand hath formed the crooked serpent." ("His artful hand brought forth the winding serpent."--Douay ver.)
What is the meaning of all this? The dead under the waters tremble; hell is naked, in the blazing heat, and destruction is uncovered; the north, the cold, descends on the world; the waters are bound up in thick clouds; the face of God's throne, the sun, is bidden by the clouds spread upon it; darkness has come, day and night are all one; the earth trembles; he has lighted up the heavens with the fiery comet, shaped like a crooked serpent, but he has struck him as Indra struck Vritra.
How else can these words be interpreted? When
otherwise did the day and night come to an end? What is the crooked serpent?
Job continues, (chap. xxviii,) and speaks in an enigmatical way, v. 3, of "the stones of darkness, and the shadow of death."
114. The flood breaketh out from the inhabitants; even the waters forgotten of the foot: they are dried up, they are gone away from men.
"5. As for the earth, out of it cometh bread: and under it is turned up as it were fire."
Maurer and Gesenius translate verse 4 in a way wonderfully in accord with my theory: "The flood breaketh out from the inhabitants," they render, "a shaft, (or gulley-like pit,) is broken open far from the inhabitant, the dweller on the surface of the earth." This is doubtless the pit in which Job was bidden, the narrow-mouthed, bottomless cave, referred to hereafter. And the words, "forgotten of the foot," confirm this view, for the high authorities, just cited, tell us that these words mean literally, "unsupported by the foot THEY HANG BY ROPES IN DESCENDING; they are dried up; they are gone away from men."
Here we have, probably, a picture of Job and his companions descending by ropes into some great cavern, "dried up" by the heat, seeking refuge, far from the habitations of men, in some "deep shaft or gulley-like pit."
And the words, "they are gone away from men," Maurer and Gesenius translate, "far from men they move with uncertain steps--they stagger." They are stumbling through the darkness, hurrying to a place of refuge, precisely as narrated in the Central American legends.
[1. Fausset's "Commentaries," vol. iii, p. 66.
This is according to the King James version, but the Douay version gives it as follows:
"3. He hath set a time for darkness, and the end of all things he considereth; the stone also that is in the dark, and the shadow of death.
"4. The flood divideth from the people that are on their journey, those whom the foot of the needy man hath forgotten, and those who cannot be come at.
5. The land out of which bread grew in its place, hath been overturned with fire."
That is to say, God has considered whether he would not make an end of all things: he has set a time for darkness; in the dark are the stones; the flood separates the people; those who are escaping are divided by it from those who were forgotten, or who are on the other side of the flood, where they can not be come at. But the land where formerly bread grew, the land of the agricultural people, the civilized land, the plain of Ida where grew the apples, the plain of Vigrid where the great battle took place, that has been overturned by fire.
And this land the next verse tells us:
"6. The stones of it are the place of sapphires, and the clods of it" (King James, "dust") "are gold."
We are again reminded of those legends of America and Europe where gold and jewels fell from heaven among the stones. We are reminded of the dragon-guarded hoards of the ancient myths.
The Douay version says:
"9. He" (God) "has stretched out his hand to the flint, he hath overturned mountains from the roots."
What is the meaning Of FLINT here? And why this recurrence of the word flint, so common in the Central American legends and religions? And when did God in
the natural order of things overturn mountains by the roots?
And Job (chap. xxx, Douay version) describes the condition of the multitude who had at first mocked him, and the description recalls vividly the Central American pictures of the poor starving wanderers who followed the Drift Age:
"3. Barren with want and hunger, who gnawed in the wilderness, disfigured with calamity and misery.
4. And they ate grass, and barks of trees, and the root of junipers was their food.
"5. Who snatched up these things out of the valleys, and when they had found any of them, they ran to them with a cry.
"6. They dwelt in the desert places of torrents, and in caves of the earth, or UPON THE GRAVEL."
Is not all this wonderful?
In the King James version, verse 3 reads:
3. For want and famine they were solitary, fleeing into the wilderness, in former time, desolate and waste."
The commentators say that the words, "in former time, desolate and waste," mean literally, "the yesternight of desolation and waste."
Job is describing the condition of the people immediately following the catastrophe, not in some remote past.
And again Job says (Douay version, chap. xxx):
"12. . . . My calamities forthwith arose; they have overthrown my feet, and have overwhelmed me with their paths as with waves. . . .
"14. They have rushed in upon me as when a wall is broken, and a gate opened, and have rolled themselves down to my miseries. . . ."
Maurer translates, "as when a wall is broken," "with a shout like the crash of falling masonry."
29. I was the brother of dragons and companion of ostriches.
"30. My skin is become black upon me, and my bones are dried up with the heat."
We are reminded of Ovid's statement that the conflagration of Phaëton caused the skin of the Africans to turn black.
In chapter xxxiv, (King James's version,) we read:
"14. If he" (God) "set his heart upon man, if he gather unto himself his spirit and his breath;
"15. All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust."
And in chapter xxxvi, (verses 15, 16, Douay,) we see that Job was shut up in something like a cavern:
"15. He shall deliver the poor out of his distress, and shall open his ear in affliction.
"16. Therefore he shall set thee at large out of the narrow mouth, and which hath no foundation under it; and the rest of thy table shall be full of fatness."
That is to say, in the day when he delivers the poor out of their misery, he will bring thee forth from the place where thou hast been "hiding," (see chap. xiii, 20,) from that narrow-mouthed, bottomless cavern; and instead of starving, as you have been, your table, during the rest of your life, "shall be full of fatness."
"27. He" (God) "lifteth up the drops of rain and poureth out showers like floods.
"28. Which flow from the clouds which cover all from above."
The commentators tell us that this expression, "which cover all from above," means literally, "the bottom of the sea is laid bare"; and they confess their inability to understand it. But is it not the same story told by Ovid of the bottom of the Mediterranean having been rendered
a bed of dry sand by Phaëton's conflagration; and does it not remind us of the Central American legend of the starving people migrating in search of the sun, through rocky places where the sea had been separated to allow them to pass?
And the King James version continues
"32. With clouds he covereth the light; and commandeth it not to shine by the cloud that cometh betwixt.
"33. The noise thereof sheweth concerning it, the cattle also concerning the vapor."
This last line shows how greatly the original text has been garbled; what have the cattle to do with it? Unless, indeed, here, as in the other myths, the cows signify the clouds. The meaning of the rest is plain: God draws up the water, sends it down as rain, which covers all things; the clouds gather before the sun and hide its light; and the vapor restores the cows, the clouds; and all this is accompanied by great disturbances and noise.
And the next chapter (xxxvii) continues the description:
"2. Hear ye attentively the terror of his" (the comet's) "voice, and the sound that cometh out of his mouth.
"3. He beholdeth under all the heavens," (he is seen 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."
The King James version says, "And he will not stay them when his voice is heard."
"5. God shall thunder wonderfully with his voice, he that doth great and unsearchable things."
Here, probably, are more allusions to the awful noises made by the comet as it entered our atmosphere, referred to by Hesiod, the Russian legends, etc.
"6. He commandeth the snow to go down upon the earth, and the winter rain and the shower of his strength "--("the great rain of his strength," says the King James version).
"7. He sealeth up the hand of every man."
This means, says one commentator, that "he confines men within doors" by these great rains. Instead of houses we infer it to mean "the caves of the earth," already spoken of, (chap. xxx, v. 6,) and this is rendered more evident by the next verse:
"8. And the beast shall go into his covert and shall abide in his den.
"9. Out of the inner parts" (meaning the south, say the commentators and the King James version) "shall tempest come, and cold out of the north.
"10. When God bloweth, there cometh frost, and again the waters are poured forth abundantly."
The King James version continues:
"11. Also by watering he wearieth the thick cloud."
That is to say, the cloud is gradually dissipated by dropping its moisture in snow and rain.
"12. And it is turned round about by his counsels that they may do whatsoever be commandeth them upon the face of the world in the earth.
"13. He causeth it to come, whether for correction, or for his land, or for mercy."
There can be no mistaking all this. It refers to no ordinary events. The statement is continuous. God, we are told, will call Job out from his narrow-mouthed cave, and once more give him plenty of food. There has been a great tribulation. The sun has sucked up the seas, they have fallen in great floods; the thick clouds have covered the face of the sun; great noises prevail; there is a great light, and after it a roaring noise; the snow
falls on the earth, with winter rains, (cold rains,) and great rains; men climb down ropes into deep shafts or pits; they are sealed up, and beasts are driven to their dens and stay there: there are great cold and frost, and more floods; then the continual rains dissipate the clouds.
"19. Teach us what we shall say unto him; for we can not order our speech by reason of darkness.
"20. Shall it be told him that I speak? If a man speak, surely he shall be swallowed up?"
And then God talks to Job, (chap. xxxviii,) and tells him "to gird up his loins like a man and answer him." He says:
"8. Who shut up the sea with doors, when it broke forth as issuing out of the womb?
119. When I made a cloud the garment thereof, and wrapped it in mists as in swaddling-bands,
"10. I set my bounds around it, and made it bars and doors." . . .
"22. Hast thou entered into the storehouses of the snow, or hast thou beheld the treasures of the hail?" . . .
"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 frozen."
What has this Arabian poem to do with so many allusions to clouds, rain, ice, snow, hail, frost, and frozen oceans?
"36. Who hath put wisdom in the inward part? Or who hath given understanding to the heart? "
Umbreit says that this word "heart" means literally "a shining phenomenon--a meteor." Who hath given understanding to the comet to do this work?
"38. When was the dust poured on the earth, and the clods hardened together?"
One version makes this read:
"Poured itself into a mass by the rain, like molten metal."
And another translates it--
"Is caked into a mass by heat, like molten metal, BEFORE THE RAIN FALLS."
This is precisely in accordance with my theory that the "till" or "hard-pan," next the earth, was caked and baked by the heat into its present pottery-like and impenetrable condition, long before the work of cooling and condensation set loose the floods to rearrange and form secondary Drift out of the upper portion of the débris.
But again I ask, when in the natural order of events was dust poured on the earth and hardened into clods, like molten metal?
And in this book of Job I think we have a description of the veritable comets that struck the earth, in the Drift Age, transmitted even from the generations that beheld them blazing in the sky, in the words of those who looked upon the awful sight.
In the Norse legends we read of three destructive objects which appeared in the heavens one of these was shaped like a serpent; it was called "the Midgard-serpent"; then there was "the Fenris wolf"; and, lastly, "the dog Garm." In Hesiod we read, also, of three monsters: first, Echidna, "a serpent huge and terrible and vast"; second, Chimæra, a lion-like creature; and, thirdly, Typhus, worst of all, a fierce, fiery dragon. And in Job, in like manner, we have three mighty objects alluded to or described: first the "winding" or "twisting" serpent with which God has "adorned the heavens"; then "behemoth," monstrous enough to "drink up rivers," "the chief of the ways of God"; and lastly,
and most terrible of all, "leviathan"; the name meaning, the twisting animal, gathering itself into folds."
God, speaking to Job, and reminding him of the weakness and littleness of man, says (chap. xl, v. 20):
"Canst thou draw out the leviathan with a book, or canst thou tie his tongue with a cord? "
The commentators differ widely as to the meaning of this word "leviathan." Some, as I have shown, think it means the same thing as the crooked or "winding" serpent (vulg.) spoken of in chapter xxvi, v. 13, where, speaking of God, it is said:
"His spirit hath adorned the heavens, and his artful hand brought forth the winding serpent."
Or, as the King James version has it:
"By his spirit he hath garnished the heavens; his hand hath formed the crooked serpent."
By this serpent some of the commentators understand "a constellation, the devil, the leviathan." In the Septuagint he is called "the apostate dragon."
The Lord sarcastically asks Job:
"21. Canst thou put a ring in his nose, or bore through his jaw with a buckle?
"22. Will he make many supplications to thee, or speak soft words to thee?
"23. Will he make a covenant with thee, and wilt thou take him to be a servant for ever?
"24. Shalt thou play with him as with a bird, or tie him up for thy handmaids?
"25. Shall friends" (Septuagint, "the nations") cut him in pieces, shall merchants" (Septuagint, "the generation of the Phnicians") "divide him?" . . (chap. xli, v. 1. Douay version.)
"I will not stir him up, like one that is cruel; for who can resist my" (his?) "countenance," or, "who shall stand against me" (him?) "and live?" . . .
"4. Who can discover the face of his garment? or who can go into the midst of his mouth?
"5. Who can open the doors of his face? his teeth are terrible round about.
"6. His body is like molten shields, shut close up, the scales pressing upon one another.
"7. One is joined to another, and not so much as any air can come between them.
"8. They stick one to another, and they hold one another fast, and shall not be separated.
"9. His sneezing is like the shining of fire, and his eyes like the eyelids of the morning." (Syriac, "His look is brilliant." Arabic, "The apples of his eyes are fiery, and his eyes are like the brightness of the morning.")
10. Out of his mouth go forth lamps, like torches of lighted fire."
Compare these "sneezings" or "neesings" of the King James version, and these "lamps like torches of lighted lire," with the appearance of Donati's great comet in 1858:
"On the 16th of September two diverging streams of light shot out from the nucleus across the coma, and, having separated to about the extent of its diameter, they turned back abruptly and streamed out in the tail. Luminous substance could be distinctly seen rushing out from the nucleus, and then flowing back into the tail. M. Rosa described the streams of light as resembling long hair brushed upward from the forehead, and then allowed to fall back on each side of the head."
"11. Out of his nostrils goeth forth smoke, like that of a pot heated and boiling." (King James's version has it, "as out of a seething pot or caldron.")
"12. His breath kindleth coals, and a flame cometh forth out of his mouth.
"13. In his neck strength shall dwell, and want goeth before his face." (Septuagint, "Destruction runs before him.")
[1. "Edinburgh Review," October, 1874, p. 208.]
"14. The members of his flesh cleave one to another; he shall send lightnings against him, and they shall not be carried to another place." (Sym., "His flesh being cast for him as in a foundry," (molten,) "is immovable.")
"15. His heart shall be as hard as a stone, and as firm as a smith's anvil." (Septuagint, "He hath stood immovable as an anvil.")
"16. When he shall raise him up, the angels shall fear, and being affrighted shall purify themselves."
Could such language properly be applied, even by the wildest stretch of poetic fancy, to a whale or a crocodile, or any other monster of the deep? What earthly creature could terrify the angels in heaven? What earthly creature has ever breathed fire?
"17. When a sword shall lay at him, it shall not be able to hold, nor a spear, nor a breast-plate.
"18. For he shall esteem iron as straw, and brass as rotten wood.
"19. The archer shall not put him to flight, the stones of the sling are to him like stubble.
"20. As stubble will he esteem the hammer, and he will laugh him to scorn who shaketh the spear."
We are reminded of the great gods of Asgard, who stood forth and fought the monster with sword and spear and hammer, and who fell dead before him; and of the American legends, where the demi-gods in vain hurled their darts and arrows at him, and fell pierced by the rebounding weapons.
"21. The beams of the sun shall be under him," (in the King James version it is, "SHARP STONES are under him"--the gravel, the falling débris,) "and he shall strew gold under him like mire." (The King James version says, "he spreadeth sharp-pointed things upon the mire.")
To what whale or crocodile can these words be applied? When did they ever shed gold or stones? And
in this, again, we have more references to gold falling from heaven:
"22. He shall make the deep sea to boil like a pot, and shall make it as when ointments boil." (The Septuagint says, "He deems the sea as a vase of ointment, and the Tartarus of the abyss like a prisoner.")
"23. A path shall shine after him; he shall esteem the deep as growing old." (The King James version says, "One would think the deep to be hoary.")
1124. There is no power upon earth that can be compared with him, who was made to fear no one.
"25. He beholdeth every high thing; he is king over all the children of pride." (Chaldaic, "of all the sons of the mountains.")
Now, when we take this description, with all that has preceded it, it seems to me beyond question that this was one of the crooked serpents with which God had adorned the heavens: this was the monster with blazing bead, casting out jets of light, breathing volumes of smoke, molten, shining, brilliant, irresistible, against whom men hurled their weapons in vain; for destruction went before him: he cast down stones and pointed things upon the mire, the clay; the sea boils with his excessive heat; he threatens heaven itself; the angels tremble, and he beholds all high places. This is he whose rain of fire killed Job's sheep and shepherds; whose chaotic winds killed Job's children; whose wrath fell upon and consumed the rich men at their tables; who made the habitations of kings "desolate places"; who spared only in part "the island of the innocent," where the remnant of humanity, descending by ropes, hid themselves in deep, narrow-mouthed caves in the mountains. This is he who dried up the rivers and absorbed or evaporated a great part of the water of the ocean, to subsequently cast it down in great floods of snow and rain, to cover the north with ice;
while the darkened world rolled on for a long night of blackness underneath its dense canopy of clouds.
If this be not the true interpretation of Job, who, let me ask, can explain all these allusions to harmonize with the established order of nature? And if this interpretation be the true one, then have we indeed penetrated back through all the ages, through mighty lapses of time, until, on the plain of some most ancient civilized land, we listen, perchance, at some temple-door, to this grand justification of the ways of God to man; this religious drama, this poetical sermon, wrought out of the traditions of the people and priests, touching the greatest calamity which ever tried the hearts and tested the faith of man.
And if this interpretation be true, with how much reverential care should we consider these ancient records embraced in the Bible!
The scientist picks up a fragment of stone--the fool would fling it away with a laugh,--but the philosopher sees in it the genesis of a world; from it he can piece out the detailed history of ages; he finds in it, perchance, a fossil of the oldest organism, the first traces of that awful leap from matter to spirit, from dead earth to endless life; that marvel of marvels, that miracle of all miracles, by which dust and water and air live, breathe, think, reason, and cast their thoughts abroad through time and space and eternity.
And so, stumbling through these texts, falling over mistranslations and misconceptions, pushing aside the accumulated dust of centuried errors, we lay our hands upon a fossil that lived and breathed when time was new: we are carried back to ages not only before the flood, but to ages that were old when the flood came upon the earth.
Here Job lives once more: the fossil breathes and palpitates;-hidden from the fire of heaven, deep in his cavern;
covered with burns and bruises from the falling débris of the comet, surrounded by his trembling fellow-refugees, while chaos rules without and hope has fled the earth, we hear Job, bold, defiant, unshrinking, pouring forth the protest of the human heart against the cruelty of nature; appealing from God's awful deed to the sense of God's eternal justice.
We go out and look at the gravel-heap--worn, rounded, ancient, but silent,--the stones lie before us. They have no voice. We turn to this volume, and here is their voice, here is their story; here we have the very thoughts men thought-men like ourselves, but sorely tried--when that gravel was falling upon a desolated world.
And all this buried, unrecognized, in the sacred book of a race and a religion.