posted on Dec, 8 2017 @ 05:03 PM
On the face of it, the book of Job is about the troubles of one man.
Of course we understand him as a representative. We regard the story as a debate about the origins of human troubles.
Strictly speaking, why bad things happen to good people instead of being limited to bad people.
Job feels a sense of grievance, arising out of his troubles, which developed into what amounts to a lawsuit against God.
Job has presented his case, and God is now ready to answer him in person.
He speaks out of his home “in the whirlwind”, condemning Job as one who “darkens counsel by words without knowledge” (ch38 v1).
God’s answer to the charges will be simple and straightforward.
His response is “I made the world”, expressed in a series of rhetorical questions; “Where were you when I did these things?”
Thus he laid the foundations of the world. He set the boundaries of the sea. He controls the movement of the day. He knows the depth of the sea and
even the place of the dead. He knows the source of light, and manages the resources of the weather. He guides the passage of the stars. He controls,
in fact, all the most formidable powers of the world (ch38)
He also feeds the living things of the earth. And he feeds them, it must be pointed out, by allowing them to prey upon each other. He gives life to
and manages a whole range of wild animals, strong enough to be nearly independent of man- the mountain goats, the wild ass, the wild ox, the ostrich,
the horse, and the hawk (ch39).
Those examples are enough to convince Job that he has been speaking out of turn and should have kept quiet. But God has not finished yet. There is
God has the majesty and power to bring down all the proud and all the wicked. Can Job do that?
On the subject of pride, he returns to the list of living things of the earth, and draws Job’s attention to Behemoth, “first of the works of
God” (ch40 v19).
The current explanation seems to be that this beast is the hippopotamus. I can’t see it, myself.
Yes, the hippo walks through rivers, but when do “the mountains yield food for him”, which is also part of the description?
Does the hippopotamus really belong at this climax point in the list, or is this passage drawing upon travellers’ stories about the elephant?
Then we come to Leviathan (ch41).
The standard explanation here is “the crocodile”, perhaps prompted by the ”double coat of mail” in v13.
But this creature is clearly greater than Behemoth, much more formidable. Unlike the crocodile, he cannot be captured.
“Upon earth there is not his like, a creature without fear.
He beholds everything that is high, he is king over all the sons of pride” (vv33-34).
A mere crocodile would be an anti-climax.
Leviathan stirs the deep and leaves a shining wake in the sea. To the extent that Leviathan represents any living creature, it has to be the whale.
However, there is more to it than that. The name of Leviathan has origins in mythology, associating him with hostility to God. Isaiah sees him as a
serpent who will be punished and slain “on that day” (Isaiah ch27 v1).
Indeed the sea itself is an “outside” element in God’s creation.
In the creation narrative of Genesis, the waters of the great abyss are divided into two parts by the creation of the firmament. The waters under the
firmament are then withdrawn into the sea, leaving the land dry and ready for habitation.
Thus the seas are the surviving remnants of the abyss, the part of creation which God did not organise.
In Biblical symbolism, they frequently represent the source of evil.
That is why ominous things come out of the sea, like the four kingdoms of Daniel ch7 and the Beast of Revelation ch13, while the Harlot of Revelation
sits in the middle of the seas.
That is why we find the promise that there will be “no more sea” (Revelation ch21 v1).
We were told that Behemoth is “first of the works of God”.
The implication is that Leviathan, a creature undeniably greater than Behemoth, does not qualify as one of the “works of God”, the good things of
creation. Indeed the purpose of the previous description of Behemoth may have been to prepare the ground for making this distinction.
Leviathan belongs to the abyss.
We saw from the previous chapters that the works of God are living under his loving knowledge and supervision.
But Leviathan, as inhabitant and lord of the hostile sea, is not loved, merely tolerated.
Here, then, we touch on a theological point of great importance, which is precisely what Job has been complaining about.
Namely, the fact that God allows the continued existence of bad things, things which cannot be called “God’s work”.
At least, he allows it for the time being.
The speech of God ends on this note, without any attempt to explain the point further.