Home  |  Old Testament Studies  |  Job Table of Contents  |  Previous Section  |  Next Section  |

JOB 37

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Elihu says God Is Back of the Storm Elihu Proclaims God's Majesty
(36:24-37:24)
Discourses of Elihu
(32:1-37:24)
The Speeches of Elihu
(32:1-37:24)
Hymn to God's Omnipotence
(36:22-37:24)
    Fourth Discourse of Elihu
(36:1-37:24)
   
37:1-13
(1-13)
37:1-13
(1-13)
37:1-13
(1-13)
37:1-13
(1-13)
37:1-13
(1-13)
37:14-20
(14-20)
37:14-18
(14-18)
37:14-20
(14-20)
37:14-20
(14-20)
37:14-24
(14-24)
  37:19-24
(19-24)
     
37:21-24
(21-24)
  37:21-24
(21-24)
37:21-24
(21-24)
 

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3, p. xvi). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. Job 37 continues an emphasis on God's exalted power in the natural realm (cf. Job 36:22-23,24-37:24).

 

B. It is even possible to denote the seasons.

1. autumn (the rainy season, cf. Job 36:37-33; 37:1-5)

2. winter (snow and ice, cf. Job 37:6-13)

3. summer (hot, south wind, cf. Job 37:14-22)

 

C. Much of Elihu's nature imagery is a foreshadowing of God's response to Job in Job 38:1-42:6.

 

D. Neither Job nor God responded to Elihu's speeches! Is this a sign that

1. he won the argument

2. God accepted his words because He does not mention him in His rejection of Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar

3. he is simply ignored

4. he was a literary way of introducing God's words to Job

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 37:1-13
 1"At this also my heart trembles,
 And leaps from its place.
 2Listen closely to the thunder of His voice,
 And the rumbling that goes out from His mouth.
 3Under the whole heaven He lets it loose,
 And His lightning to the ends of the earth.
 4After it, a voice roars;
 He thunders with His majestic voice,
 And He does not restrain the lightnings when His voice is heard.
 5God thunders with His voice wondrously,
 Doing great things which we cannot comprehend.
 6For to the snow He says, ‘Fall on the earth,'
 And to the downpour and the rain, ‘Be strong.'
 7He seals the hand of every man,
 That all men may know His work.
 8Then the beast goes into its lair
 And remains in its den.
 9Out of the south comes the storm,
 And out of the north the cold.
 10From the breath of God ice is made,
 And the expanse of the waters is frozen.
 11Also with moisture He loads the thick cloud;
 He disperses the cloud of His lightning.
 12It changes direction, turning around by His guidance,
 That it may do whatever He commands it
 On the face of the inhabited earth.
 13Whether for correction, or for His world,
 Or for lovingkindness, He causes it to happen."

37:1 This verse may be connected to Job 37:33, "noise" of His presence.

1. "trembles" – BDB 353, KB 350, Qal imperfect, cf. Exod. 19:16; 1 Sam. 14:15; Dan. 10:7

2. "leaps" – BDB 684 I, KB 736, Qal imperfect, rare word found only here in Qal; note Hiphil in Hab. 3:6

This verse is obviously connected to Job 36:33. Job 36 and 37 comprise one literary unit.

▣ "heart" See SPECIAL TOPIC: THE HEART.

The MT has "my heart," referring to Elihu but the LXX has "your," referring to Job. The thunderstorm described in the last strophe of Job 36 was awesome and illustrated God's power. Often thunder is used to describe God's voice (i.e., Job 37:4-5; Ps. 29:3-9). Elihu mixes metaphors when he describes the thunder as "roaring" (i.e., lion), but it is powerful imagery.

37:2 "listen closely" This is the translation of a Qal imperative (plural) and the infinitive absolute of the same root (BDB 1033, KB 1570). The book of Job does not use this grammatical feature of intensification often.

Notice the synonymous parallelism of Job 37:2 (cf. Job 36:29,30,32,33; 38:4,5,15,21).

1. thunder. . .His voice

2. rumbling. . .His mouth

The plural points toward Job and his three comforters, cf. Job 32:3,5; 34:2,10; 35:4.

37:3 "the ends of the earth" This is an expression of God's sovereign power over all creation (cf. Job 28:24; 38:13). It is literally "the wings (BDB 489) of the earth," meaning "corners" or "extremities."

37:5b This is the same thought as Job 36:26b. Humans cannot comprehend God's power in the natural realm (cf. Job 5:9; 11:7; 26:14), and much less in the spiritual realm (i.e., justice, fairness, mercy).

37:6 "Fall on the earth" This is God's voice speaking (cf. Job 37:4-5) to a snow storm (i.e., personification, BDB 216, KB 241, Qal imperative). This is beautiful imagery of the God of creation intimately involved in His creation.

Both NASB ("be strong") and NJB ("now rain hard") see the last line as also an imperatival use (lit. a noun, "his strength," BDB 738). They get this translation by changing the vowels.

37:7a The verb "seals" (BDB 367, KB 364, Qal imperfect) is used in a unique sense of "knowing God's ways in weather." Job 37:7-8 expresses the natural revelation (i.e., Ps. 19:1-6) that both humans and animals understand natural cycles of weather and how to prepare (i.e., shut themselves inside).

The LXX translates this line as "so that every human being may know his own weakness," but the Peshitta is much like the NASB, "all humans recognize God's power in the natural order."

It is possible to see the root, "know," as being "rest." This would form a better parallelism. At the approach of a powerful storm front, both humans and animals take shelter until it passes by.

37:9

NASB, TEV"south"
NKJV"the chamber of the south"
NRSV,
JPSOA,
LXX"the Mansion of the South"
REB"its prison"
Peshitta"the inner chambers"

The MT has "from its chamber" (BDB 293, KB 293). This word can denote a type of storeroom (Pro. 24:4).

1. in Job 9:9 it stored the constellations (cf. Job 38:32a)

2. here it stores the cold wind (cf. Job 38:22; Ps. 135:7c)

 

NASB"the north the cold"
NKJV,
NRSV"cold from the scattering winds of the north"
TEV"the biting cold from the north"
NJB"the north winds usher in the cold"
JPSOA"the cold from the constellations"
REB"the rain winds bring bitter cold"
LXX"cold from the peaks"
Peshitta"cold out of the downpour"

The MT has "from scattering winds cold." The verb "scatter" (BDB 279, KB 280, Piel active participle) in Piel normally means "to scatter people." In Job 18:15 the Pual is used of destruction, but here in a nature context, "strong, cold, northern winds" seems best (KB 567, cf. I Enoch 76:10).

37:10 This is anthropomorphic language about God's creation of ice (cf. Job 38:29). See SPECIAL TOPIC: GOD DESCRIBED AS HUMAN (ANTHROPOMORPHISM) (anthropomorphic language).

37:11 "moisture" This term (BDB 924, KB 1223) occurs only here and is assumed to be related to "watered," but AB (p. 243) thinks it is parallel to "light" or "lightning" (BDB 21). This is possible by taking the preposition "b" as the first letter of another root (i.e., "hail" or "lightning").

NASB,
NRSV,
JPSOA"loads"
NKJV"saturates"
NJB"weighs"
REB"hurls lightning"
Peshitta"stretched"

This verb (BDB 382, KB 379, Hiphil imperfect) is found only here. BDB says it means "to toil" or "to be burdened" from an Aramaic root, "to toil," and/or an Arabic root, "to cast" or "to throw" (i.e., lightning, NIDOTTE, vol. 2, p. 384). The same root was used in later Hebrew for "burden" or "load" (i.e., Deut. 1:12; Isa. 1:14).

37:12-13 God controls nature for His purposes (i.e., "He causes it to happen," Job 37:13b).

1. judgment ("the rod," BDB 986, cf. Job 21:9)

2. promised blessing (hesed, BDB 338, see Special Topic: Lovingkindness)

 

37:12c "on the face of the inhabited earth" The MT has "on the face of the world of the earth." This unusual phrase occurs only here and Pro. 8:31.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 37:14-20
 14"Listen to this, O Job,
 Stand and consider the wonders of God.
 15Do you know how God establishes them,
 And makes the lightning of His cloud to shine? 
 16Do you know about the layers of the thick clouds,
 The wonders of one perfect in knowledge,
 17You whose garments are hot,
 When the land is still because of the south wind?
 18Can you, with Him, spread out the skies,
 Strong as a molten mirror?
 19Teach us what we shall say to Him;
 We cannot arrange our case because of darkness.
 20Shall it be told Him that I would speak?
 Or should a man say that he would be swallowed up?"

37:14 This verse, which starts a new strophe, Job 37:14-20, has three imperatives.

1. listen – BDB 24, KB 27, Hiphil

2. stand – BDB 763, KB 840, Qal

3. consider – BDB 106, KB 122, Hithpolel

Elihu has often used imperatives to begin his monologs (cf. Job 32:10; 33:1,31,33; 34:2,10,16; 36:2; 37:2; jussive in 32:20). In this strophe Elihu is addressing Job directly.

Notice, here the subject of Elihu's comments will be "the wonders of God" (BDB 810 construct BDB 42, for "wondrous" see Special Topic: Wonderful Things.

37:15 "Do you know" This phrase is repeated twice (Job 37:15,16). These rhetorical questions are similar to God's questioning of Job in Job 38:1-42:6. This is literary foreshadowing (see Jerome Biblical Commentary, p. 530). Job does not know, no human knows! God is above mankind (cf. Isa. 55:9-11). Without revelation mankind remains ignorant.

37:16a

NASB"layers"
NKJV,
NRSV,
NJB,
Peshitta"balance"
TEV"float"
JPSOA"expanse"
REB"hang poised"
LXX"the division"

The MT has "swaying," "poising" (BDB 814, KB 618), which is found only here in the OT but possibly a similar root in Job 36:29 is the key to understanding.

1. מפלש – BDB 814

2. מפרש – BDB 831, "to spread out"

 

▣ "of one perfect in knowledge" In Job 36:4 this descriptive phrase referred to Elihu but here obviously of God.

37:17 "You whose garments are hot" The "you" is singular and may refer to Job's agitation at God's lack of response to his court case against Him (cf. Job 37:19; 13:18; 23:4; 31:35; 32:14; 33:5).

In Job 37:18 the question to Job is sarcastic, as is the Hiphil imperative, "teach us" in Job 37:19.

Job has accused God of overpowering him, terrifying him so that he cannot, or will not, bring his case of innocense before Him.

37:18 "spread out the skies" It is possible to see this verse as referring to

1. God's creation of the atmosphere (see note below)

2. God sending the south wind (Job 37:17) to clear the sky of clouds (i.e., no shade)

 

▣ "a molten mirror" Mirrors in the ANE were made from polished bronze (i.e., Exod. 38:8). The parallel between lines a and b is related to the ancient view that the sky was also a dome of bronze (or animal skin, cf. Job 9:8; Isa. 40:22; 45:12; Zech. 12:1). Deuteronomy 28:23 uses this same imagery for God's judgment of Israel (i.e., no rain).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 37:21-24
 21"Now men do not see the light which is bright in the skies;
 But the wind has passed and cleared them.
 22Out of the north comes golden splendor;
 Around God is awesome majesty.
 23The Almighty—we cannot find Him;
 He is exalted in power
 And He will not do violence to justice and abundant righteousness.
 24Therefore men fear Him;
 He does not regard any who are wise of heart."

37:21-24 The nature imagery of a powerful storm continues. Humans are awed at God's power. Not only in the created order (Job 37:21-22) but also in justice (Job 37:23-24). Job should be ashamed of questioning God's power and justice. Job is not "wise of heart" (implied in Job 37:24).

37:22 AB (pp. 245-246) links this text to the Ugaritic Ba'al poems, which describe a golden palace on top of Mt. Zaphon (the mountain in the north, cf. Ps. 48:1-3; Isa. 14:13; NIDOTTE, vol. 3, p. 836; Roland deVaux, Ancient Israel, vol. 2, pp. 279-281).

37:23 "The Almighty" See SPECIAL TOPIC: The Almighty (Shaddai).

▣ "we cannot find Him" Elihu is reacting to Job's previous words about God being hidden from him (possibly Job 11:7-8; 13:24).

▣ "He will not do violence to justice and abundant righteousness" This is also a reaction to Job's words in Job 9:20-24; 10:3; 12:6.

37:24 "fear" See Special Topic: Fear (OT).

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. What is the purpose of Elihu's nature imagery?

2. Why is Job 37:7 so hard to interpret?

3. Job 37:13 lists two purposes of God's control of nature. What are they? How do they relate to Job?

4. Is Job 37:17a literal (i.e., hot weather) or figurative (i.e., Job's anger at God)?

5. Does Job 37:19 refer to Job's legal case? Why or why not?

6. What does "out of the north comes golden splendor" in Job 37:22a mean?

7. Explain "we cannot find Him" in Job 37:23a.

8. Is Job 37:24 a typical wisdom close or a direct reference to Job?

 

Home  |  Old Testament Studies  |  JobTable of Contents  |  Previous Section  |  Next Section  |