Job 38:4
Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.
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(4) Where wast thou?—The comparison of the creation of the world to the building of an edifice is such a concession to the feebleness of man as serves of itself to heighten the effect of the inevitable answer to the question preferred.

Job 38:4-5. Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? — When I settled it as firm upon its own centre as if it had been built upon the surest foundations? Then thou wast nowhere; thou hadst no being: thou art but of yesterday; and dost thou presume to judge of my eternal counsels? I made the world without thy help, and therefore can govern it without thy advice or direction. Declare who hath laid the measures thereof — Who hath prescribed how long, and broad, and deep it should be? Or who hath stretched the line upon it? — The measuring-line, to regulate all its dimensions, so that it might be as beautiful as useful; if thou knowest —

But if thou art ignorant of these manifest and visible works, do not pretend to the exact knowledge of my mysterious providences.

38:4-11 For the humbling of Job, God here shows him his ignorance, even concerning the earth and the sea. As we cannot find fault with God's work, so we need not fear concerning it. The works of his providence, as well as the work of creation, never can be broken; and the work of redemption is no less firm, of which Christ himself is both the Foundation and the Corner-stone. The church stands as firm as the earth.Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? - The first appeal is to the creation. The question here, "Where wast thou?" implies that Job was not present. He had not then an existence. He could not, therefore, have aided God, or counselled him, or understood what he was doing. How presumptuous, therefore, it was in one so short-lived to sit in judgment on the doings of him who had formed the world! How little could he expect to be able to know of him! The expression, "laid the foundations of the earth," is taken from building an edifice. The foundations are first laid, and the super-structure is then reared. It is a poetic image, and is not designed to give any intimation about the actual process by which the earth was made, or the manner in which it is sustained.

If thou hast understanding - Margin, as in Hebrew "if thou knowest." That is, "Declare how it was done. Explain the manner in which the earth was formed and fixed in its place, and by which the beautiful world grew up under the hand of God." If Job could not do this, what presumption was it to speak as he had done of the divine adminisitration!

4. To understand the cause of things, man should have been present at their origin. The finite creature cannot fathom the infinite wisdom of the Creator (Job 28:12; 15:7, 8).


understanding—(Pr 4:1).

Then thou wast no where, thou hadst no being; thou art but of yesterday; and dost thou presume to judge of my eternal counsels? I made the world without thy help, and therefore can govern it without thy counsel, and I do not need thee to be the controller or censurer of my works.

When I laid the foundations of the earth; when I made the earth, which is as the foundation or lower part of the whole world, and settled it as firm and fast upon its own centre as if it had been built upon the surest foundations. But if thou art ignorant of these manifest and visible works, do. not pretend to the exact knowledge of my secret counsels and mysterious providences.

Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?.... The earth has foundations, and such firm ones that it cannot be moved; but what are they, since it is hung in the air on nothing! No other than the power and will of God, who laid these foundations, and the Son of God, who has created and upholds all things by the word of his power, Hebrews 1:3. Where was Job then? In a state of nothingness, a mere nonentity: he was not present when this amazing work of nature was done, and saw not how the Lord went about it; and yet takes upon him to dive into the secret works and ways of Providence, for which he is rebuked by this question and the following;

declare, if thou hast understanding: Job had the understanding of a man in things natural and civil, and of a good man in things spiritual and divine; but he had no understanding of this, of what he is questioned about; could not declare in what place he was, and where he stood, when the earth was founded.

Where wast thou when I {d} laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.

(d) Seeing he could not judge those things which were done so long before he was born, he was not able to comprehend all God's works: much less the secret causes of his judgments.

4. Was Job present, possibly taking part in the operation, when Jehovah laid the foundations of the earth? Let him then “declare” how all was done. The word declare of course refers to the queries in Job 38:5-7.

4–11. Earth and sea.

4–38. A survey of the inanimate creation, the wonders of earth and sky—the earth, Job 38:4-18; the heavens, Job 38:18-38

Verse 4. - Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Wast thou present? Didst thou witness it? If not, what canst thou know concerning it? And if thou knowest nothing of creation, what canst thou know of deeper things? The metaphor, by which the creation of the earth is compared to the foundation of an edifice, is a common one (Psalm 102:25; Psalm 104:5; Proverbs 8:29: Isaiah 48:13; Isaiah 51:13, 16; Zechariah 12:1; Hebrews 1:10, etc.), and is to be viewed as a concession to human weakness, creation itself, as it actually took place, being inconceivable. Declare, if thou hast understanding. That is, if thou hast any knowledge on the subject (comp. ver. 18). Job 38:4 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, 1 Chronicles 12:32; 2 Chronicles 2:12, or (ידע taken not in the sense of novisse, but cognoscere) to appropriate to one's self, Proverbs 4:1; Isaiah 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, Proverbs 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, Ezra 3:10, and the setting of the head-stone, Zechariah 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 Isaiah 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, Isaiah 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, Genesis 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.

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