Job 41 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

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Verse 1

[1] Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down?

Leviathan — Several particulars in the following description, agree far better with the crocodile, than the whale. It is highly probable, that this is the creature here spoken of.

Cord — Canst thou take him with a hook and a line, as anglers take ordinary fishes.

Verse 2

[2] Canst thou put an hook into his nose? or bore his jaw through with a thorn?

Thorn — Or, with an iron hook, or instrument as sharp as a thorn; wherewith thou usest to carry little fishes.

Verse 3

[3] Will he make many supplications unto thee? will he speak soft words unto thee?

Supplications — Doth he dread thine anger or power? Or will he earnestly beg thy favour? It is a metaphor from men in distress, who use these means to them to whose power they are subject.

Verse 7

[7] Canst thou fill his skin with barbed irons? or his head with fish spears?

Fill — A whale's you may: but the skin of a crocodile is so hard that an iron or spear will not pierce it.

Verse 8

[8] Lay thine hand upon him, remember the battle, do no more.

Lay — Seize upon him, if thou darest.

Battle — But ere thou attempt it consider what thou art doing, and with whom, thou art going to fight.

Do no more — Proceed no farther, draw back thy hand.

Verse 9

[9] Behold, the hope of him is in vain: shall not one be cast down even at the sight of him?

Hope — The hope of taking or conquering him.

Verse 10

[10] None is so fierce that dare stir him up: who then is able to stand before me?

Stand — To the battle.

Me — To contend with me who created him?

Verse 11

[11] Who hath prevented me, that I should repay him? whatsoever is under the whole heaven is mine.

Prevented — Hath laid the first obligation upon me, for which I am indebted to him. Who can be before-hand with me in kindnesses, since all things under heaven are mine.

Verse 13

[13] Who can discover the face of his garment? or who can come to him with his double bridle?

Discover — Or, uncover, or take off from him.

Face — The upper or outward part of his garment, or, the garment itself: the word face being often redundant. And by the garment is meant the skin which covers the whole body; who dare attempt to touch his very skin? Much less to give him a wound.

His double bridle — His fast jaws, which have some resemblance to a double bridle: whence the Greeks call those parts of the face which reach to the jaws on both sides, the bridles.

Verse 14

[14] Who can open the doors of his face? his teeth are terrible round about.

Doors — His mouth. If it be open, none dare enter within, and if it be shut, none dare open it.

Verse 15

[15] His scales are his pride, shut up together as with a close seal.

Shut — Closely compacted together, as things that are fastened together by a seal. This likewise is true of the crocodile, but the skin of the whale is smooth and entire without any scales at all.

Verse 18

[18] By his neesings a light doth shine, and his eyes are like the eyelids of the morning.

Sneesings — This the crocodile is said frequently to do.

Eyes — To which they seem very fitly compared, because the eyes of the crocodile are dull and dark under the water, but as soon as they appear above water, cast a bright and clear light; like the morning light, suddenly breaking forth after the dark night.

Verse 19

[19] Out of his mouth go burning lamps, and sparks of fire leap out.

Lamps — This also better agrees with the crocodile, which breathes like the river-horse, of which ancient authors affirm, that his nostrils are very large, and he breathes forth a fiery smoke like that of a furnace.

Verse 21

[21] His breath kindleth coals, and a flame goeth out of his mouth.

Kindleth coals — An hyperbolical expression, denoting extraordinary heat.

Verse 22

[22] In his neck remaineth strength, and sorrow is turned into joy before him.

And sorrow — Sorrow is his companion and harbinger, which attends upon him wheresoever he goes. So anger and fear are said by the poets to accompany the God of war.

Verse 24

[24] His heart is as firm as a stone; yea, as hard as a piece of the nether millstone.

Nether mill-stone — Which being to bear the weight of the upper, ought to be the harder and stronger of the two.

Verse 25

[25] When he raiseth up himself, the mighty are afraid: by reason of breakings they purify themselves.

Raiseth — Upon the top of the waters.

Mighty — Even the stout-hearted.

Breakings — By reason of their great danger and distress; which is expressed by this very word, Psalms 60:2; Jonah 2:4.

Purify — Those who ordinarily live in the neglect of God, they cry unto God in their trouble, and endeavour to purge their consciences from the guilt of their sins.

Verse 26

[26] The sword of him that layeth at him cannot hold: the spear, the dart, nor the habergeon.

Hold — Heb. cannot stand, cannot endure the stroke, but will be broken by it. The crocodile's skin, no sword, nor dart, nor musquet bullet can pierce.

Verse 28

[28] The arrow cannot make him flee: slingstones are turned with him into stubble.

Turned — Hurt him no more than a blow with a little stubble.

Verse 30

[30] Sharp stones are under him: he spreadeth sharp pointed things upon the mire.

Stones — His skin is so impenetrable, that the sharpest stones or shells are as easy unto him as the mire.

Verse 31

[31] He maketh the deep to boil like a pot: he maketh the sea like a pot of ointment.

Boil — To swell, and foam, and froth by his strong and vehement motion, as any liquor does when it is boiled in a pot, especially boiling ointment.

The sea — The great river Nile, is called a sea, both in scripture, as Isaiah 11:15, and in other authors, as Euphrates is called the sea of Babylon, Isaiah 21:1; Jeremiah 51:36. Lakes also are most frequently called seas both in the Old and New Testament: and in such lakes the crocodiles are as well as in the Nile.

Verse 32

[32] He maketh a path to shine after him; one would think the deep to be hoary.

Shine — By the white froth or foam upon the waters. The same may be observed in the wake of a ship by night.

Verse 34

[34] He beholdeth all high things: he is a king over all the children of pride.

King, … — He can tame both the behemoth and leviathan, as strong and stout-hearted as they are. This discourse concerning them was brought in, to prove that it is God only, who can look upon proud men and abase them, bring them low, and hide them in the dust, he it is that beholdeth all high things, and wherein men dealt proudly, he is above them. He is king over all the children of pride, brutal or rational, and makes them either bend or break before him.

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