Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
1 Then Jehovah answered Job out of the storm, and said:
2 Who then darkeneth counsel
With words without knowledge?
3 Gird up now thy loins as a man:
I will question thee, and inform thou me!
"May the Almighty answer me!" Job has said, Job 31:35; He now really answers, and indeed out of the storm (Chethib, according to a mode of writing occurring only here and Job 40:6, מנהסערה, arranged in two words by the Keri), which is generally the forerunner of His self-manifestation in the world, of that at least by which He reveals Himself in His absolute awe-inspiring greatness and judicial grandeur. The art. is to be understood generically, but, with respect to Elihu's speeches, refers to the storm which has risen up in the meanwhile. It is not to be translated: Who is he who ... , which ought to be המחשׁיך, but: Who then is darkening; זה makes the interrogative מי more vivid and demonstrative, Ges. 122, 2; the part. מחשׁיך (instead of which it might also be יחשׁיך) favours the assumption that Job has uttered such words immediately before, and is interrupted by Jehovah, without an intervening speaker having come forward. It is intentionally עצה for עצתי (comp. עם for עמי, Isa 26:11), to describe that which is spoken of according to its quality: it is nothing less than a decree or plan full of purpose and connection which Job darkness, i.e., distorts by judging it falsely, or, as we say: places in a false light, and in fact by meaningless words.
(Note: The correct accentuation is מחשׁיך with Mercha, עצה with Athnach, במלין with Rebia mugrasch, bly (without Makkeph) with Munach.)
When now Jehovah condescends to negotiate with Job by question and answer, He does not do exactly what Job wished (Job 13:22), but something different, of which Job never thought. He surprises him with questions which are intended to bring him indirectly to the consciousness of the wrong and absurdity of his challenge - questions among which "there are many which the natural philosophy of the present day can frame more scientifically, but cannot satisfactorily solve."
(Note: Alex. v. Humboldt, Kosmos, ii. 48 (1st edition), comp. Tholuck, Vermischte Schriften, i. 354.)
Instead of כגבר (the received reading of Ben-Ascher), Ben-Naphtali's text offered כּג (as Eze 17:10), in order not to allow two so similar, aspirated mutae to come together.
4 Where wast thou when I established the earth?
Say, if thou art capable of judging!
5 Who hath determined its measure, if thou knowest it,
Or who hath stretched the measuring line over it?
6 Upon what are the bases of its pillars sunk in,
Or who hath laid its corner-stone,
7 When the morning stars sang together
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?
The examination begins similarly to Job 15:7. In opposition to the censurer of God as such the friends were right, although only negatively, since their conduct was based on self-delusion, as though they were in possession of the key to the mystery of the divine government of the world. ידע בּינה signifies to understand how to judge, to possess a competent understanding, Ch1 12:32; Ch2 2:12, or (ידע taken not in the sense of novisse, but cognoscere) to appropriate to one's self, Pro 4:1; Isa 29:24. כּי, Job 38:5, interchanges with אם (comp. Job 38:18), for כּי תדע signifies: suppose that thou knowest it, and this si forte scias is almost equivalent to an forte scis, Pro 30:4. The founding of the earth is likened altogether to that of a building constructed by man. The question: upon what are the bases of its pillars or foundations sunk (טבע, Arab. ṭb‛, according to its radical signification, to press with something flat upon something, comp. Arab. ṭbq, to lay two flat things on one another, then both to form or stamp by pressure, and to press into soft pliant stuff, or let down into, immergere, or to sink into, immergi), points to the fact of the earth hanging free in space, Job 26:7. Then no human being was present, for man was not yet created; the angels, however, beheld with rejoicing the founding of the place of the future human family, and the mighty acts of God in accordance with the decree of His love (as at the building of the temple, the laying of the foundation, Ezr 3:10, and the setting of the head-stone, Zac 4:7, were celebrated), for the angels were created before the visible world (Psychol. S. 63; Genesis, S. 105), as is indeed not taught here, but still (vid., on the other hand, Hofmann, Schriftbew. i. 400) is assumed. For בּני אלהים are, as in Job 1-2, the angels, who proceeded from God by a mode of creation which is likened to begetting, and who with Him form one πατριά (Genesis, S. 121). The "morning stars," however, are mentioned in connection with them, because between the stars and the angels, which are both comprehended in צבא השׁמים (Genesis, S. 128), a mysterious connection exists, which is manifoldly attested in Holy Scripture (vid., on the other hand, Hofm. ib. S. 318). כּוכב בּקר is the morning star which in Isa 14:12 is called הילל (as extra-bibl. נגהּ) from its dazzling light, which exceeds all other stars in brightness, and בּן־שׁחר, son of the dawn, because it swims in the dawn as though it were born from it. It was just the dawn of the world coming into being, which is the subject spoken of, that gave rise to the mention of the morning star; the plur., however, does not mean the stars which came into being on that morning of the world collectively (Hofm., Schlottm.), but Lucifer with the stars his peers, as כּסילים, Isa 13:10, Orion and the stars his peers. Arab. suhayl (Canopus) is used similarly as a generic name for stars of remarkable brilliancy, and in general suhêl is to the nomads and the Hauranites the symbol of what is brilliant, glorious, and beautiful;
(Note: A man or woman of great beauty is called suhêli, suhelı̂je. Thus I heard a Hauranitish woman say to her companion: nahâr el-jôm nedâ, shuft ledsch (Arab. lk) wâhid Suhêli, To-day is dew, I saw a Suhêli, i.e., a very handsome man, for thee. - Wetzst.)
so that even the beings of light of the first rank among the celestial spirits might be understood by כוכבי בקר. But if this ought to be the meaning, Job 38:7 and Job 38:7 would be in an inverted order. They are actual stars, whether it is intended of the sphere belonging to the earth or to the higher sphere comprehended in השׁמים, Gen 1:1. Joy and light are reciprocal notions, and the scale of the tones of joy is likened to the scale of light and colours; therefore the fulness of light, in which the morning stars shone forth all together at the founding of the earth, may symbolize one grandly harmonious song of joy.
8 And who shut up the sea with doors,
When it broke through, issued from the womb,
9 When I put clouds round it as a garment,
And thick mist as its swaddling clothes,
10 And I broke for it my bound,
And set bars and doors,
11 And said: Hitherto come, and no further,
And here be thy proud waves stayed!?
The state of תהו ובהו was the first half, and the state of תהום the second half of the primeval condition of the forming earth. The question does not, however, refer to the תהום, in which the waters of the sky and the waters of the earth were as yet not separated, but, passing over this intermediate condition of the forming earth, to the sea, the waters of which God shut up as by means of a door and bolt, when, first enshrouded in thick mist (which has remained from that time one of its natural peculiarities), and again and again manifesting its individuality, it broke forth (גּיח of the foetus, as Psa 22:10) from the bowels of the, as yet, chaotic earth. That the sea, in spite of the flatness of its banks, does not flow over the land, is a work of omnipotence which broke over it, i.e., restraining it, a fixed bound (חק as Job 26:10; Pro 8:29; Jer 5:22, = גּבוּל, Psa 104:9), viz., the steep and rugged walls of the basin of the sea, and which thereby established a firm barrier behind which it should be kept. Instead of וּפה, Jos 18:8, Job 38:11 has the Chethib וּפא. חק is to be understood with ישׁית, and "one set" is equivalent to the passive (Ges. 137*): let a bound be set (comp. שׁת, Hos 6:11, which is used directly so) against the proud rising of thy waves.
12 Hast thou in thy life commanded a morning,
Caused the dawn to know its place,
13 That it may take hold of the ends of the earth,
So that the evil-doers are shaken under it?
14 That it changeth like the clay of a signet-ring,
And everything fashioneth itself as a garment.
15 Their light is removed from the evil-doers,
And the out-stretched arm is broken.
The dawn of the morning, spreading out from one point, takes hold of the carpet of the earth as it were by the edges, and shakes off from it the evil-doers, who had laid themselves to rest upon it the night before. נער, combining in itself the significations to thrust and to shake, has the latter here, as in the Arab. nâ‛ûra, a water-wheel, which fills its compartments below in the river, to empty them out above. Instead of ידּעתּה שׁחר with He otians, the Keri substitutes ידּעתּ השׁחר. The earth is the subj. to Job 38:14: the dawn is like the signet-ring, which stamps a definite impress on the earth as the clay, the forms which floated in the darkness of the night become visible and distinguishable. The subj. to Job 38:14 are not morning and dawn (Schult.), still less the ends of the earth (Ew. with the conjecture: יתיבצו, "they become dazzlingly white"), but the single objects on the earth: the light of morning gives to everything its peculiar garb of light, so that, hitherto overlaid by a uniform darkness, they now come forth independently, they gradually appear in their variegated diversity of form and hue. In כּמו לבוּשׁ, לבוש is conceived as accusative (Arab. kemâ libâsan, or thauban), while in כלבושׁ (Psa 104:6, instar vestis) it would be genitive. To the end of the strophe everything is under the logical government of the ל of purpose in Job 38:13. The light of the evil-doers is, according to Job 24:17, the darkness of the night, which is for them in connection with their works what the light of day is for other men. The sunrise deprives them, the enemies of light in the true sense (Job 24:13), of this light per antiphrasin, and the carrying out of their evil work, already prepared for, is frustrated. The ע of רשׁעים, Job 38:13 and Job 38:15, is תלויה עין [Ayin suspensum,] which is explained according to the Midrash thus: the רשׁעים, now עשׁירים (rich), become at a future time רשׁים (poor); or: God deprives them of the עין (light of the eye), by abandoning them to the darkness which they loved.
16 Hast thou reached the fountains of the sea,
And hast thou gone into the foundation of the deep?
17 Were the gates of death unveiled to thee,
And didst thou see the gates of the realm of shades?
18 Hast thou comprehended the breadth of the earth?
Speak, in so far as thou knowest all this!
19 Which is the way to where the light dwelleth,
And darkness, where is its place,
20 That thou mightest bring it to its bound,
And that thou mightest know the paths of its house?
21 Thou knowest it, for then wast thou born,
And the number of thy days is great! -
The root נב has the primary notion of obtruding itself upon the senses (vid., Genesis, S. 635), whence נבך in Arabic of a rising country that pleases the eye (nabaka, a hill, a hillside), and here (cognate in root and meaning נבע, Syr. Talmud. נבג, Arab. nbg, nbṭ, scatuirire) of gushing and bubbling water. Hitzig's conjecture, approved by Olsh., נבלי, sets aside a word that is perfectly clear so far as the language is concerned. On חקר vid., on Job 11:7. The question put to Job in Job 38:17, he must, according to his own confession, Job 26:6, answer in the negative. In order to avoid the collision of two aspirates, the interrogative ה is wanting before התבּננתּ, Ew. 324, b; התבנן עד signifies, according to Job 32:12, to observe anything carefully; the meaning of the question therefore is, whether Job has given special attention to the breadth of the earth, and whether he consequently has a comprehensive and thorough knowledge of it. כּלּהּ refers not to the earth (Hahn, Olsh., and others), but, as neuter, to the preceding points of interrogation. The questions, Job 38:19, refer to the principles of light and darkness, i.e., their final causes, whence they come forth as cosmical phenomena. ישׁכּן־אור is a relative clause, Ges. 123, 3, c; the noun that governs (the Regens) this virtual genitive, which ought in Arabic to be without the art. as being determined by the regens, is, according to the Hebrew syntax, which is freer in this respect, הדּרך (comp. Ges. 110, 2). That which is said of the bound of darkness, i.e., the furthest point at which darkness passes away, and the paths to its house, applies also to the light, which the poet perhaps has even prominently (comp. Job 24:13) before his mind: light and darkness have a first cause which is inaccessible to man, and beyond his power of searching out. The admission in Job 38:21 is ironical: Verily! thou art as old as the beginning of creation, when light and darkness, as powers of nature which are distinguished and bounded the one by the other (vid., Job 26:10), were introduced into the rising world; thou art as old as the world, so that thou hast an exact knowledge of its and thine own contemporaneous origin (vid., Job 15:7). On the fut. joined with אז htiw denioj . regularly in the signification of the aorist, vid., Ew. 134, b. The attraction in connection with מספּר is like Job 15:20; Job 21:21.
22 Hast thou reached the treasures of the snow,
And didst thou see the treasures of the hail,
23 Which I have reserved for a time of trouble,
For the day of battle and war?
24 Which is the way where the light is divided,
Where the east wind is scattered over the earth?
25 Who divideth a course for the rain-flood
And the way of the lightning of thunder,
26 That it raineth on the land where no one dwelleth,
On the tenantless steppe,
27 To satisfy the desolate and the waste,
And to cause the tender shoot of the grass to spring forth?
The idea in Job 38:22 is not that - as for instance the peasants of Menn, four hours' journey from Damascus, garner up the winter snow in a cleft of the rock, in order to convey it to Damascus and the towns of the coast in the hot months - God treasures up the snow and hail above to cause it to descend according to opportunity. אצרות (comp. Psa 135:7) are the final causes of these phenomena which God has created - the form of the question, the design of which (which must not be forgotten) is ethical, not scientific, is regulated according to the infancy of the perception of natural phenomena among the ancients; but at the same time in accordance with the poet's task, and even, as here, in the choice of the agents of destruction, not merely hail, but also snow, according to the scene of the incident. Wetzstein has in his possession a writing of Muhammed el-Chatb el-Bosrwi, in which he describes a fearful fall of snow in Hauran, by which, in February 1860, innumerable herds of sheep, goats, and camels, and also many human beings perished.
(Note: Since the Hauranites say of snow as of fire: jahrik, it burns (brlant in French is also used of extreme cold), Job 1:16 might also be understood of a fall of snow; but the tenor of the words there requires it to be understood of actual fire.)
עת־צר might, according to Job 24:1; Job 19:11, signify a time of judgment for the oppressor, i.e., adversary; but it is better to be understood according to Job 36:16; Job 21:30, a time of distress: heavy falls of snow and tempestuous hail-storms bring hard times for men and cattle, and sometimes decide a war as by a divine decree (Jos 10:11, comp. Isa 28:17; Isa 30:30; Eze 13:13).
In Job 38:24 it is not, as in Job 38:19, the place whence light issues, but the mode of the distribution of light over the earth, that is intended; as in Job 38:24, the laws according to which the east wind flows forth, i.e., spreads over the earth. אור is not lightning (Schlottm.), but light in general: light and wind (instead of which the east wind is particularized, vid., p. 533) stand together as being alike untraceable in their courses. הפיץ, se diffundere, as Exo 5:12; Sa1 13:8, Ges. 53, 2. In Job 38:25 the descent of torrents of rain inundating certain regions of the earth is intended - this earthward direction assigned to the water-spouts is likened to an aqueduct coming downwards from the sky - and it is only in Job 38:25, as in Job 28:26, that the words have reference to the lightning, which to man is untraceable, flashing now here, now there. This guiding of the rain to chosen parts of the earth extends also to the tenantless steppe. לא־אישׁ (for בּלא) is virtually an adj. (vid., on Job 12:24). The superlative combination שׁאה וּמשׁאה (from שׁוא = שׁאה, to be desolate, and to give forth a heavy dull sound, i.e., to sound desolate, vid., on Job 37:6), as Job 30:3 (which see). Not merely for the purposes of His rule among men does God direct the changes of the weather contrary to human foresight; His care extends also to regions where no human habitations are found.
28 Hath the rain a father,
Or who begetteth the drops of dew?
29 Out of whose womb cometh the ice forth,
And who bringeth forth the hoar-frost of heaven?
30 The waters become hard like stone,
And the face of the deep is rolled together.
Rain and dew have no created father, ice and hoar-frost no created mother. The parallelism in both instances shows that מי הוליד asks after the one who begets, and מי ילדו the one who bears (vid., Hupfeld on Psa 2:7). בּטן is uterus, and meton. (at least in Arabic) progenies uteri; ex utero cujus is מבטן מי, in distinction from מאי־זה בטן, ex quo utero. אגלי־טל is excellently translated by the lxx, Codd. Vat. and Sin., βώλους (with Omega) δρόσου; Ges. and Schlottm. correct to βόλους, but βῶλος signifies not merely a clod, but also a lump and a ball. It is the particles of the dew holding together (lxx, Cod. Alex.: συνοχὰς καὶ βω. δρ.) in a globular form, from אגל, which does not belong to גּלל, but to Arab. 'jil, retinere, II colligere (whence agı̂l, standing water, ma'‛gal, a pool, pond); אגלי is constr., like עגלי from עגל. The waters "hide themselves," by vanishing as fluid, therefore: freeze. The surface of the deep (lxx ἀσεβοῦς, for which Zwingli has in marg. ἀβύσσου) "takes hold of itself," or presses together (comp. Arab. lekda, crowding, synon. hugûm, a striking against) by forming itself into a firm solid mass (continuum, Job 41:9, comp. Job 37:10). Moreover, the questions all refer not merely to the analysis of the visible origin of the phenomena, but to their final causes.
31 Canst thou join the twistings of the Pleiades,
Or loose the bands of Orion?
32 Canst thou bring forth the signs of the Zodiac at the right time,
And canst thou guide the Bear with its children?
33 Knowest thou the laws of heaven,
Or dost thou define its influence on the earth?
That מעדגּות here signifies bindings or twistings (from עדן = ענד, Job 31:36) is placed beyond question by the unanimous translations of the lxx (δεσμόν) and the Targ. (שׁירי = σειράς), the testimony of the Masora, according to which the word here has a different signification from Sa1 15:32, and the language of the Talmud, in which מעדנין, Klim, c. 20, signifies the knots at the end of a mat, by loosing which it comes to pieces, and Succa, 13b, the bands (formed of rushes) with which willow-branches are fastened together above in order to form a booth (succa); but מדאני, Sabbat, 33a, signifies a bunch of myrtle (to smell on the Sabbath). מעדנות כּימה is therefore explained according to the Persian comparison of the Pleiades with a bouquet of jewels, mentioned on Job 9:9, and according to the comparison with a necklace (‛ipd-eth-thurajja), e.g., in Sadi in his Gulistan, p. 8 of Graf's translation: "as though the tops of the trees were encircled by the necklace of the Pleiades." The Arabic name thurajja (diminutive feminine of tharwân) probably signifies the richly-adorned, clustered constellation. But כּימה signifies without doubt the clustered group,
(Note: The verb כום is still in general use in the Piel (to heap up, form a heap, part. mukauwam, heaped up) and Hithpa. (to accumulate) in Syria, and kôm is any village desolated in days of yore whose stones form a desolate heap comp. Fleischer, De Glossis Habichtianis, p. 41f.]. If, according to Kamus, in old Jemanic kı̂m in the sense of mukâwim signifies a confederate (synon. chilt, gils), the כּימה would be a confederation, or a heap, assemblage (coetus) of confederates. Perhaps the כימה was regarded as a troop of camels; the Beduins at least call the star directly before the seven-starred constellation of the Pleiades the hâdi, i.e., the singer riding before the procession, who cheers the camels by the sound of the hadwa (חדוה), and thereby urges them on. - Wetzst.
On πλειάδες, which perhaps also bear this name as a compressed group (figuratively γότρυς) of several stars (ὅτι πλείους ὁμοῦ κατὰ συναγωγήν εἰσι), vid., Kuhn's Zeitschr. vi. 282-285.)
and Beigel (in Ideler, Sternnamen, S. 147) does not translate badly: "Canst thou not arrange together the rosette of diamonds (chain would be better) of the Pleiades?"
As to כּסיל, we firmly hold that it denotes Orion (according to which the Greek versions translate Ὠρίων, the Syriac gaboro, the Targ. נפלא or נפילא, the Giant). Orion and the Pleiades are visible in the Syrian sky longer in the year than with us, and there they come about 17 higher above the horizon than with us. Nevertheless the figure of a giant chained to the heavens cannot be rightly shown to be Semitic, and it is questionable whether כסיל is not rather, with Saad., Gecat., Abulwalid, and others, to be regarded as the Suhl, i.e., Canopus, especially as this is placed as a sluggish helper (כסיל, Hebr. a fool, Arab. the slothful one, ignavus) in mythical relation to the constellation of the Bear, which here is called עישׁ, as Job 9:9 עשׁ, and is regarded as a bier, נעשׁ (even in the present day this is the name in the towns and villages of Syria), which the sons and daughters forming the attendants upon the corpse of their father, slain by Ged, the Pole-star. Understood of Orion, משׁכות (with which Arab. msk, tenere, detinere, is certainly to be compared) are the chains (Arab. masakat, compes), with which he is chained to the sky; understood of Suhl, the restraints which prevent his breaking away too soon and reaching the goal.
(Note: In June 1860 I witnessed a quarrel in an encampment of Mo'gil-Beduins, in which one accused the others of having rendered it possible for the enemy to carry off his camels through their negligence; and when the accused assured him they had gone forth in pursuit of the marauders soon after the raid, and only turned back at sunset, the man exclaimed: Ye came indeed to my assistance as Suhl to Ged (פזעתם לי פזע סהיל ללגדי). I asked my neighbour what the words meant, and was informed they are a proverb which is very often used, and has its origin as follows: The Ged (i.e., the Pole-star, called mismâr, משׂמר, in Damascus) slew the Na‛sh (נעשׁ), and is accordingly encompassed every night by the children of the slain Na‛sh, who are determined to take vengeance on the murderer. The sons (on which account poets usually say benı̂ instead of benât Na‛sh) go first with the corpse of their father, and the daughters follow. One of the latter is called waldâne, a lying-in woman; she has only recently given birth to a child, and carries her child in her bosom, and she is still pale from her lying-in. (The clear atmosphere of the Syrian sky admits of the child in the bosom of the waldâne being distinctly seen.) In order to give help to the Ged in this danger, the Suhl appears in the south, and struggles towards the north with a twinkling brightness, but he has risen too late; the night passes away ere he reaches his goal. Later I frequently heard this story, which is generally known among the Hauranites. - Wetzst.
We add the following by way of explanation. The Pleiades encircle the Pole-star as do all stars, since it stands at the axis of the sky, but they are nearer to it than to Canopus by more than half the distance. This star of the first magnitude culminates about three hours later than the Pleiades, and rises, at the highest, only ten moon's diameters above the horizon of Damascusa significant figure, therefore, of ineffectual endeavour.)
מזּרות is not distinct from מזּלות, Kg2 23:5 (comp. מזּרך, "Thy star of fortune," on Cilician coins), and denotes not the twenty-eight menzil (from Arab. nzl, to descend, turn in, lodge) of the moon,
(Note: Thus A. Weber in his Abh. ber die vedischen Nachrichten von den naxatra (halting-places of the moon), 1860 (comp. Lit. Centralbl. 1859, col. 665), refuted by Steinschneider, Hebr. Bibliographie, 1861, Nr. 22, S. 93f.)
but the twelve signs of the Zodiac, which were likewise imagined as menâzil, i.e., lodging-houses or burûg, strongholds, in which one after another the sun lodges as it describes the circle of the year.
(Note: The names "the Ram, the Bull," etc., are, according to Epiphanius, Opp. i. p. 34f. (ed. Petav.), transferred from the Greek into the Jewish astrology, vid., Wissenschaft Kunst Judenthum, S. 220f.)
The usage of the language transferred lzm also to the planets, which, because they lie in the equatorial plane of the sun, as the sun (although more irregularly), run through the constellations of the Zodiac. The question in Job 38:32 therefore means: canst thou bring forth the appointed zodiacal sign for each month, so that (of course with the variation which is limited to about two moon's diameters by the daily progress of the sun through the Zodiac) it becomes visible after sunset and is visible before sunset? On Job 38:33 vid., on Gen 1:14-19. משׁטר is construed after the analogy of רדה בּ, עצר, משׁל; and שׁמים, as sing. (Ew. 318, b).
34 Dost thou raise thy voice to the clouds
That an overflow of waters may cover thee?
35 Dost thou send forth lightnings, and they go,
And say to thee: Here we are?
36 Who hath put wisdom in the reins,
Or who hath given understanding to the cock?
37 Who numbereth the strata of the clouds with wisdom
And the bottles of heaven, who emptieth them,
38 When the dust flows together into a mass,
And the clods cleave together?
As Job 38:25 was worded like Job 28:26, so Job 38:34 is worded like Job 22:11; the ך of תכסך is dageshed in both passages, as Job 36:2, Job 36:18, Hab 2:17. What Jehovah here denies to the natural power of man is possible to the power which man has by faith, as the history of Elijah shows: this, however, does not come under consideration here. In proof of divine omnipotence and human feebleness, Elihu constantly recurs to the rain and the thunder-storm with the lightning, which is at the bidding of God. Most moderns since Schultens therefore endeavour, with great violence, to make טחות and שׂכרי mean meteors and celestial phenomena. Eichh. (Hirz., Hahn) compares the Arabic name for the clouds, tachâ (tachwa), Ew. Arab. ḍiḥḥ, sunshine, with the former; the latter, whose root is שׂכה (סכה), spectare, is meant to be something that is remarkable in the heavens: an atmospheric phenomenon, a meteor (Hirz.), or a phenomenon caused by light (Ew., Hahn), so that e.g., Umbr. translates: "Who hath put wisdom in the dark clouds, and given understanding to the meteor?" But the meaning which is thus extorted from the words in favour of the connection borders closely upon absurdity. Why, then, shall טחות, from טוּח, Arab. ṭı̂ych, oblinere, adipe obducere, not signify here, as in Psa 51:8, the reins (embedded in a cushion of fat), and in fact as the seat of the predictive faculty, like כּליות, Job 19:27, as the seat of the innermost longing for the future; and particularly since here, after the constellations and the influences of the stars have just been spoken of, the mention of the gift of divination is not devoid of connection; and, moreover, as a glance at the next strophe shows, the connection which has been hitherto firmly kept to is already in process of being resolved?
If טחות signifies the reins, it is natural to interpret שׂכוי also psychologically, and to translate the intellect (Targ. I, Syr., Arab.), or similarly (Saad., Gecat.), as Ges., Carey, Renan, Schlottm. But there is another rendering handed down which is worthy of attention, although not once mentioned by Rosenm., Hirz., Schlottm., or Hahn, according to which שׂכוי signifies a cock, gallum. We read in b. Rosch ha-Schana, 26a: "When I came to Techm-Kn-Nishraja, R. Simeon b. Lakish relates, the bride was there called נינפי and the cock שׂכוי, according to which Job 38:36 is to be interpreted: שׂכוי = תרנגול." The Midrash interprets in the same way, Jalkut, 905, beginning: "R. Levi says: In Arabic the cock is called סכוא." We compare with this, Wajikra rabba, c. 1: "סוכו is Arabic; in Arabia a prophet is called סכוא;" whence it is to be inferred that שׂכוי, as is assumed, describes the cock as a seer, as a prophet.
As to the formation of the word, it would certainly be without parallel (Ew., Olsh.) if the word had the tone on the penult., but Codd. and the best old editions have the Munach by the final syllable; Norzi, who has overlooked this, at least notes שׂכוי with the accent on the ult. as a various reading. It is a secondary noun, Ges. 86, 5, a so-called relative noun (De Sacy, Gramm. Arabe, 768): שׂכרי, speculator, from שׂכו (שׂכוּ, שׂכה), speculatio, as פּלאי, Jdg 13:18 (comp. Psa 139:6), miraculosus, from פּלא, a cognate form to the Chald. סכוי (סכואה), of similar meaning. In connection with this primary signification, speculator, it is intelligible how סכוי in Samaritan (vid., Lagarde on Proverbs, S. 62) can signify the eye; here, however, in a Hebrew poet, the cock, of which e.g., Gregory says: Speculator semper in altitudine stat, ut quidquid venturum sit longe prospiciat. That this signification speculator = gallus
(Note: No Arab. word offers itself here for comparison: tuchaj, a cock, has different consonants, and if Arab. škâ in the sense of Arab. šâk, fortem esse, were to be supposed, שׂכוי would be a synon. of גּבר, which is likewise a name of the cock.)
was generally accepted at least in the Talmudic age, the Beracha prescribed to him who hears the cock crow: "Blessed be He who giveth the cock (שׂכוי) knowledge to distinguish between day and night!" shows. In accordance with this, Targ. II translates: who has given understanding לתרנגול בּרא, gallo sylvestri (whereas Targ. I ללבּא, cordi, scil. hominis), to praise his Lord? and Jer.: (quis posuit in visceribus hominis sapientiam) et quis dedit gallo intelligentiam. This traditional rendering, condemned as talmudicum commentum (Ges.), we follow rather than the "phenomenon" of the moderns who guess at a meaning. What is questioned in Cicero, de divin. ii. 26: Quid in mentem venit Callistheni dicere, Deos gallis signum dedisse cantandi, quum id vel natura vel casus efficere potuisset, Jehovah here claims for Himself. The weather-prophet κατ ̓ ἐξοχήν among animals appropriately appears in this astrologico-meteorological connection by the side of the reins as, according to the Semitic view, a medium of augury (Psychol. S. 268f.). The Koran also makes the cock the watchman who wakes up the heavenly hosts to their duty; and Masius, in his Studies of Nature, has shown how high the cock is placed as being prophetically (for divination) gifted, Moreover, the worship of cocks in the idolatry of the Semites was a service rendered to the stars: the Sabians offered cocks, probably (vid., Chwolsohn, ii. 87) as the white cock of Jezides, regarded by them as a symbol of the sun (Deutsch. Morgenlnd. Zeitschr. 1862, S. 365f.).
In Job 38:37 Jerome translates: et concentum coelorum quis dormire faciet; נבלי, however, does not here signify harps, but bottles; and השׁכּיב is not: to lay to rest, but to lay down = to empty, pour out, which the Kal also, like the Arab. sakaba, directly signifies. בּצקת might be taken actively: when it pours, but according to Kg1 22:35 the intransitive rendering is also possible: when the dust pours forth, i.e., flows together, למוּצק, to what is poured out, i.e., not: to the fluid, but in contrast: to a molten mass, i.e., as cast metal (to be explained not according to Job 22:16, but according to Job 37:18), for the dry, sandy, dusty earth is made firm by the downfall of the rain (Arab. ruṣidat, firmata est terra imbre, comp. Arab. lbbd, pluviam emisit donec arena cohaereret). רגבים, glebae, as Job 21:33, from רגב, Arab. rjb, in the primary signification, which as it seems must be supposed: to bring together, from which the significations branch off, to thicken, become firm (muraggab, supported), and to be seized with terror.
39 Dost thou hunt for the prey of the lioness
And still the desire of the young lions,
40 When they couch in the dens,
Sit in the thicket lying in wait for prey?
41 Who provideth for the raven its food,
When its young ones cry to God,
They wander about without food?
On the wealth of the Old Testament language in names for the lion, vid., on Job 4:10. לביא can be used of the lioness; the more exact name of the lioness is לביּה, for לביא is = לבי, whence לבאים, lions, and לבאות, lionesses. The lioness is mentioned first, because she has to provide for her young ones (גּוּרים); then the lions that are still young, but yet are left to themselves, כּפירים. The phrase מלּא חיּה (comp. חיּה of life that needs nourishment, Job 33:20) is equivalent to מלּא נפשׁ, Pro 6:30 (Psychol. S. 204 ad fin.). The book of Psalms here furnishes parallels to every word: comp. on Job 38:39, Psa 104:21; on ישׁחוּ, Psa 10:10;
(Note: The Semitic is rich in such words as describe the couching posture of beasts of prey lying in wait for their prey, which then in general signify to lie in wait, lurk, wait (רצד, רבץ, Arab. rbṣ, lbd, wkkd); Arab. q‛d lh, subsedit ei, i.e., insidiatus est ei, which corresponds to ישׁבו, Job 38:40, also belongs here, comp. Psalter, i. 500 note.)
on מעונות, lustra, Psa 104:22 (compared on Job 37:8 already); on סכּה, סך, which is used just in the same way, Psa 10:9; Jer 25:38. The picture of the crying ravens has its parallel in Psa 147:9. כּי, quum, is followed by the fut. in the signif. of the praes., as Psa 11:3. As here, in the Sermon on the Mount in Luk 12:24 the ravens, which by their hoarse croaking make themselves most observed everywhere among birds that seek their food, are mentioned instead of the fowls of heaven.