Book of Job Ch. 38-42



Gordis, Robert.  The Book of God and Man: A Study of Job.  (University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1965).

——————-    The Book of Job: Commentary, New Translation, and Special Studies.  (Jewish Theological Seminary, New York, 1978).

Janzen, J. Gerald.  Job.  Part of the Interpretation bible commentary series edited by James L. Mays.  (John Knox Press, Atlanta, 1985).

Wilson, Gerald H.   Job.  Part of the Understanding the Bible Commentary Series, General Editors W. Ward Gasque, Robert Hubbard Jr., and Robert Johnston.   (Baker Books, Grand Rapids MI, 2007).



Notes for Chapters 38 to 40:2  the LORD’s first speech

Gordis p. 435: “This basic theme – that the un8iverse is a mystery to man – is explicitly set forth in the G9od speeches.  There are, in addition, two other significant ideas implicit in the LORD’s words.  In accordance with Semitic rhetorical usage they are not spelled out, but are left to be inferred by the reader.  The first is that the universe was not created exclusively for man’s use, and therefore neither it nor its Creator can be judged solely by man’s standards and goals.  The second is even more significant.  The natural world, though it is bey9ond man’s ken, reveals to him its beauty and order.  It is therefore reasonable for man to believe that the universe also exhibits a moral order with pattern and meaning, though it be beyond man’s power fully to comprehend.  Who, then, is Job, to reprove God and dispute with Him?”

(Chapter 38)

“out of the storm” – in the OT the LORD’s voice is often associated with nature at its most extreme.  Sinai as volcanic eruption, as the mighty wind in the chaos of creation, and more.  Which made the prophetic experience of God “whispering” like a gentle breeze all the more remarkable.

The LORD as creator / setting the bounds of creation which itself, as a totality, is beyond our human understanding in its enormity and complexity

The chapter moves from the earliest acts of Creation story with light and stars etc. to the wild animals.  Building from the foundation up.

In 38:36 Gordis notes: ‘The poet has been describing meteorological phenomena with which the ibis and the cock are familiar, but not man.  The implication for man’s pretensions to wisdom is not lost on the Hebrew reader.”  But this also is part of the transition to considering the animal kingdom.

(Chapter 39)

Various animals and birds are cited to prove the point, not intended to list all.  Begins to make the point with the “miracle of birth”

Verses 13 – 18 have lots of problems.  Gordis p. 459 sees and translates such that these verses contrast an ostrich implicitly with the stork, and falcon.  In folk wisdom the stork was perceived to be the “loving one” that cares for the young (our myths???!!!), the ostrich as callous and abandoning of its young, the falcon as sort of “in-between” the two extremes.  Even so – all three created by God to be the way they are.   Arab proverbs, and again our own, speak of stupid ostriches.  We – they stick head in the sand in face of danger …


(Chapter 40: 1, 2)

“Will one who argues with the Almighty be corrected?  Let him who would instruct God give answer!”

Gordis p. 465: “In view of the wonders of the natural world, which the LORD causes to pass in review, He asks whether a man like Job, for whom they are beyond understanding, can properly instruct God or answer the implications flowing from His words.  It is noteworthy that the First Speech of the LORD out of the whirlwind reaches its climax in the form of a question that is unanswerable.  Similarly, God’s triumphant question climaxes His rejoinder to Jonah (4:11).  In both instances, complaints against God are refuted by irrefutable questions.  These are two striking instances of the traditional Jewish propensity to answer a question with a question.”


Notes for Chapter 40: 3 to 5 –  Job responds to the LORD

Gordis reads these verses as saying “I have spoken several times, I have nothing more to say.”

Some scholars want to move these verses to a later point (42:2)  Gordis and the NAB do not do so.



Notes for Chapter 40:6 through 41  The LORD’s second speech

Gordis p. 467: “If Job could successfully destroy all evil in the world, God would willingly pay tribute to him.  The implication seems to be that there are some corners of the world where God’s sway is less than total, so that a few forms of wickedness escape His punishment.  But this is no reason for impugning God’s justice in general. ….  Thus the conventional theology of the Friends is ignored completely by God, who later denounces it as false.  Instead, emphasis is placed upon harmony and beauty of the natural world on a scale beyond man’s comprehension.  This suggests that there is a similar order and meaning in the moral universe, even though man cannot always grasp it.  God does not deny that there is a residuum of evil in the world which remains a mystery. “

(Chapter 40: 6 to end of Chapter 41)

“Gird up your loins” again – prepare for battle!

The power of the LORD as demonstrated vis-à-vis Behemoth and Leviathan (hippopotamus and crocodile).  Not beautiful.  Not useful to man generally.  Not something man can control.  Nevertheless, beyond man’s control.  Makes sense in God the creator’s eyes.

Gordis p. 477  Aquinas thought the two animals were the elephant and the whale.

v. 40:17 – “tail” may be the male member for sex

v. 20:25 begins the use of crocodile as an example.  Gordis suggests the chapter should begin here and not 8 or so verses later


Notes for Chapter 42: 1-6  Job’s second response to the LORD

Job is sorry for daring to question God’s integrity.  Gordis p. 491: “This is more than submission to God – it is reconciliation and vindication for Job as well, for his contention that his suffering is no sign of guild has not been refuted.  Quite the contrary, God’s admission that justices is not all-pervasive in the universe is a clear, if oblique, recognition of the truth of Job’s position.   Job’s righteousness is explicitly set forth in the opening section of the Epilogue (42:7-10), where the LORD is angry with Eliphaz and his Friends and it is Job who must intercede for them if they are to be forgiven.”

Job is vindicated, and wiser for the experience.


Notes for Chapter 42: 7 to end: Epilogue



The friends are scolded and must offer sacrifices, Job must forgive them.

Job is restored to twice his wealth from beforehand.

Gordis p. 494: “Eliphaz is singled out for special censure, not only because he is the oldest and intellectually the most distinguished of the Friends, but because it is he who has presumed to “promise” Job the power of intercession for sinners if he repents  (22:26-30).  The tables are now neatly turned on Eliphaz, who is dependent on Job for God’s forgiveness.”

Job receives a double payment – as thieves were required to do in the Law! (Ex. 22:3, 6, 8)

Gordis p. 499: “As against the normal experience of seeing two generations of children (Psalm 128:6), Job is privileged to behold four generations of his descendants.”  (double)

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