Psalm 104:26
There go the ships: there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein.
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(26) Ships.—The poet writes like one who had been accustomed to see the navies of Phœnicia, one of the indications which leads to the hypothesis that he belonged to the northern part of Palestine. And here for once we seem to catch a breath of enthusiasm for the sea—so rare a feeling in a Jew.

Leviathan.—See Psalm 74:14. In Job (Job 41) it is the crocodile, but here evidently an animal of the sea, and probably the whale. Several species of cetacea are still found in the Mediterranean, and that they were known to the Hebrews is clear from Lamentations 4:3. Various passages from classic authors support this view.

Whom Thou . . .—This clause is rendered by some “whom Thou hast made to play with him” (so LXX. and Vulg.), referring to Job 41:5. It is a rabbinical tradition that Leviathan is God’s play thing.

104:19-30 We are to praise and magnify God for the constant succession of day and night. And see how those are like to the wild beasts, who wait for the twilight, and have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. Does God listen to the language of mere nature, even in ravenous creatures, and shall he not much more interpret favourably the language of grace in his own people, though weak and broken groanings which cannot be uttered? There is the work of every day, which is to be done in its day, which man must apply to every morning, and which he must continue in till evening; it will be time enough to rest when the night comes, in which no man can work. The psalmist wonders at the works of God. The works of art, the more closely they are looked upon, the more rough they appear; the works of nature appear more fine and exact. They are all made in wisdom, for they all answer the end they were designed to serve. Every spring is an emblem of the resurrection, when a new world rises, as it were, out of the ruins of the old one. But man alone lives beyond death. When the Lord takes away his breath, his soul enters on another state, and his body will be raised, either to glory or to misery. May the Lord send forth his Spirit, and new-create our souls to holiness.There go the ships - There the vessels move along - objects that would, of course, attract the attention of one looking at the sea, and admiring its wonders. The psalmist is describing the active scenes on the surface of the globe, and, of course, on looking at the ocean, these would be among the objects that would particularly attract his attention.

There is that leviathan - The Septuagint and the Vulgate render this, dragon. On the meaning of the word "leviathan," see the notes at Job 41:1.

Whom thou hast made - Margin, as in Hebrew, "formed." The idea of creation is implied in the word.

To play therein - As his native element. To move about therein; to make quick and rapid motions, as if in sport.

26. leviathan—(Job 40:20) heightens the estimate of the sea's greatness, and of His power who gives such a place for sport to one of His creatures. That leviathan; either the whale or the crocodile; of which See Poole "Job 40:1", See Poole "Job 41:1"; who being of such vast strength and absolute dominion in the sea, tumbles in it with great security, and sports himself with other creatures, which he taketh and devoureth at his pleasure.

There go the ships,.... From place to place, from one end of the world to the other, for the sake of merchandise (r); this is one of the four things that were too wonderful for Solomon, "the way of a ship in the midst of the sea", Proverbs 30:19 though navigation was improved in his times indeed not so much as it is now. The original of ships was doubtless Noah's ark, so that they owe their first draught to God himself. They seem to be an emblem of the church and people of God passing through the sea of this world to the haven of eternal rest. The ship is but a small vessel, and takes up but a small room in comparison of the vast ocean on which it is; and so the church of Christ is but small, a little city, and few men in it, a little flock, a small remnant: a ship is unfixed and unsettled, sometimes here and sometimes there; so the church of Christ is sometimes in one place, and sometimes in another; nor is this world the rest of God's people, nor have they any continuing city here; for, as a ship is tossed with tempests, so are they with the waves of afflictions, the temptations of Satan, and the persecutions of men; and sometimes, like Paul, and the mariners with him, have no sight of sun and stars for many days, of the sun of righteousness, or of the stars, the ministers of the word; when sailing is dangerous it bodes perilous times, through the impure lives of professors, and impious doctrines of false teachers, whereby many suffer shipwreck; yet all the Lord's people get safe ashore, having a good pilot, Christ, to conduct them; and the good anchor of hope, sure and steadfast.

There is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein; the Targum adds,

"for the righteous at the feast of the house of his habitation.''

Of this creature there is an account in Job 41:1. Some take it to be the crocodile, which is both a sea and river fish; the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, Ethiopic, and Arabic versions, and so Apollinarius, call it the dragon; it is more generally thought to be the whale; Aben Ezra says it is the name of every great fish; it is a sportive creature, tumbles about in the great sea, and plays with the waters of it, which it tosses up in great quantities; and with the fishes of the sea, which it devours at pleasure; and laughs at the shaking of the spear; and to which mariners throw out their empty casks to play with, when near them, and they in danger by it; see Job 41:5. This creature is generally reckoned by the ancients a figure of Satan, it being king over all the children of pride, Job 41:34 as he is the prince of the power of the air, and god of this world; who has been playing his tricks in it from the beginning of it, not only deceiving our first parents, but all the nations of the world; nor are saints ignorant of his devices. It sometimes describes a tyrannical prince, as the kings of Babylon and of Egypt, Isaiah 27:1 and is a true picture of antichrist, the beast which rose out of the sea; nor is there any like him on earth; see Revelation 13:1.

(r) So Homer calls ships , Iliad. 3. v. 46.

There go the ships: there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein.
26. The stately ships, which excited the wonder and admiration of the landsman (Proverbs 30:19; Isaiah 2:16), seem part of the life of the sea, and the mention of them suggests its use as a means of transit.

there is that leviathan] There is leviathan, whom thou hast formed, either (1) to play therein, or (2) to play with him. Both renderings are grammatically possible. For (1) Job 40:20 offers a parallel, and for (2) Job 41:5 (Heb. 40:29). But (1) suits the context best. The thought required is not that the wildest and strongest of God’s creatures are but as it were His tame pets, but that the sea is the playground of the mighty monsters which display His power and goodness as they disport themselves there in the enjoyment of their life. In Job 41 leviathan means the crocodile, but here the name is evidently used of sea-monsters generally, particularly the great cetaceans, of which there are many, and formerly were probably many more, in the Mediterranean.

Verse 26. - There go the ships. These may seem out of place among the works of God. But are they not his, in a certain sense? Did he not contemplate them when he made the sea, and make it to some extent for them? And did he not give men wisdom to invent and perfect them? There is that leviathan. "Leviathan" is here probably the whale, which may in early times have frequented the Mediterranean. Which thou hast made to play therein; or, to play with him. So the LXX. (ἐμπαίζειν αὐτῷ); and, among moderns, Ewald, Hitzig, Olshausen, Kay, Cheyne, and our Revisers (in the margin). The anthropomorphism is not beyond that of other passages. Psalm 104:26Fixing his eye upon the sea with its small and great creatures, and the care of God for all self-living beings, the poet passes over to the fifth and sixth days of creation. The rich contents of this sixth group flow over and exceed the decastich. With מה־רבּוּ (not מה־גּדלוּ, Psalm 92:6) the poet expresses his wonder at the great number of God's works, each one at the same time having its adjustment in accordance with its design, and all, mutually serving one another, co-operating one with another. קנין, which signifies both bringing forth and acquiring, has the former meaning here according to the predicate: full of creatures, which bear in themselves the traces of the Name of their Creator (קנה). Beside קיניך, however, we also find the reading קנינך, which is adopted by Norzi, Heidenheim, and Baer, represented by the versions (lxx, Vulgate, and Jerome), by expositors (Rashi: קנין שׁלּך), by the majority of the MSS (according to Norzi) and old printed copies, which would signify τῆς κτίσεώς σου, or according to the Latin versions κτήσεώς σου (possessione tua, Luther "they possessions"), but is inferior to the plural ktisma'toon σου, as an accusative of the object to מלאה. The sea more particularly is a world of moving creatures innumerable (Psalm 69:35). זה היּם does not properly signify this sea, but that sea, yonder sea (cf. Psalm 68:9, Isaiah 23:13; Joshua 9:13). The attributes follow in an appositional relation, the looseness of which admits of the non-determination (cf. Psalm 68:28; Jeremiah 2:21; Genesis 43:14, and the reverse case above in Psalm 104:18). אניּה .) in relation to אני is a nomen unitatis (the single ship). It is an old word, which is also Egyptian in the form hani and ana.

(Note: Vide Chabas, Le papyrus magique Harris, p. 246, No. 826: HANI (אני), vaisseau, navire, and the Book of the Dead 1. 10, where hani occurs with the determinative picture of a ship. As to the form ana, vid., Chabas loc. cit. p. 33.)

Leviathan, in the Book of Job, the crocodile, is in this passage the name of the whale (vid., Lewysohn, Zoologie des Talmuds, 178-180, 505). Ewald and Hitzig, with the Jewish tradition, understand בּו in Psalm 104:26 according to Job 41:5 : in order to play with him, which, however, gives no idea that is worthy of God. It may be taken as an alternative word for שׁם (cf. בּו in Psalm 104:20, Job 40:20): to play therein, viz., in the sea (Saadia). In כּלּם, Psalm 104:27, the range of vision is widened from the creatures of the sea to all the living things of the earth; cf. the borrowed passages Psalm 145:15., Psalm 147:9. כּלּם, by an obliteration of the suffix, signifies directly "altogether," and בּעתּו (cf. Job 38:32): when it is time for it. With reference to the change of the subject in the principal and in the infinitival clause, vid., Ew. 338, a. The existence, passing away, and origin of all beings is conditioned by God. His hand provides everything; the turning of His countenance towards them upholds everything; and His breath, the creative breath, animates and renews all things. The spirit of life of every creature is the disposing of the divine Spirit, which hovered over the primordial waters and transformed the chaos into the cosmos. תּסף in Psalm 104:29 is equivalent to תּאסף, as in 1 Samuel 15:6, and frequently. The full future forms accented on the ultima, from Psalm 104:27 onwards, give emphasis to the statements. Job 34:14. may be compared with Psalm 104:29.

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