1. leviathan--literally, "the twisted animal," gathering itself in
folds: a synonym to the Thannin
type of the Egyptian tyrant;
the Babylon tyrant). A poetical generalization for all cetacean,
serpentine, and saurian monsters (see on
hence all the description applies to no one animal);
especially the crocodile; which is naturally described after the
river horse, as both are found in the Nile.
tongue . . . lettest down?--The crocodile has no tongue, or a very
small one cleaving to the lower jaw. But as in fishing the tongue of
the fish draws the baited hook to it, God asks, Canst thou in like
manner take leviathan?
2. hook--rather, "a rope of rushes."
thorn--rather, a "ring" or "hook." So wild beasts were led about
fishes also were secured thus and thrown into the water to keep them
3. soft words--that thou mayest spare his life. No: he is untamable.
4. Can he be tamed for domestic use (so
5. a bird?--that is, tamed.
6. Rather, "partners" (namely, in fishing).
make a banquet--The parallelism rather supports
UMBREIT, "Do partners
(in trade) desire to purchase him?" So the Hebrew
merchants--literally, "Canaanites," who were great merchants
7. His hide is not penetrable, as that of fishes.
8. If thou lay . . . thou wilt have reason ever to
remember . . . and thou wilt never try it again.
9. the hope--of taking him.
cast down--with fear "at the (mere) sight of him."
10. fierce--courageous. If a man dare attack one of My creatures
who will dare (as Job has wished) oppose himself
to Me, the Creator? This is the main drift of the description of
11. prevented--done Me a favor first: anticipated Me with service
None can call Me to account ("stand before Me,"
as unjust, because I have withdrawn favors from him (as in Job's case):
for none has laid Me under a prior obligation by conferring on Me
something which was not already My own. What can man give to Him who
possesses all, including man himself? Man cannot constrain the creature
to be his "servant"
much less the Creator.
12. I will not conceal--a resumption of the description broken off
by the digression, which formed an agreeable change.
his power--literally, "the way," that is, true proportion or
expression of his strength (so Hebrew,
comely proportion--literally, "the comeliness of his structure"
(his apparatus: so "suit of apparel"
translates, "his armor." But that follows after.
13. discover--rather, "uncover the surface" of his garment (skin,
strip off the hard outer coat with which the inner skin is
with--rather, "within his double jaws"; literally, "bridle"; hence
that into which the bridle is put, the double row of teeth; but
"bridle" is used to imply that none dare put his hand in to insert a
bridle where in other animals it is placed
(Job 41:4; 39:10).
14. doors of . . . face--his mouth. His teeth are sixty in number,
larger in proportion than his body, some standing out, some serrated,
fitting into each other like a comb [BOCHART].
15. Rather, his "furrows of shields" (as "tubes," "channels,"
are, &c., that is, the rows of scales, like shields
covering him: he has seventeen such rows.
shut up--firmly closed together. A musket ball cannot penetrate
him, save in the eye, throat, and belly.
18. Translate: "his sneezing, causeth a light to shine." Amphibious
animals, emerging after having long held their breath under water,
respire by violently expelling the breath like one sneezing: in the
effort the eyes which are usually directed towards the sun, seem to
flash fire; or it is the expelled breath that, in the sun, seems to
eyelids of morning--The Egyptian hieroglyphics paint the
eyes of the crocodile as the symbol for morning, because the eyes
appear the first thing, before the whole body emerges from the deep
[Horæ Hierogliphicæ 1.65.
19. burning lamps--"torches"; namely, in respiring
seem to go out.
20. seething--boiling: literally, "blown under," under which a fire
21. kindleth coals--poetical imagery
22. remaineth--abideth permanently. His chief strength is in the neck.
sorrow--anxiety or dismay personified.
is turned into joy--rather, "danceth," "exulteth"; wherever he
goes, he spreads terror "before him."
23. flakes--rather, "dewlaps"; that which falls down (Margin).
They are "joined" fast and firm, together, not hanging loose, as
in the ox.
are firm--UMBREIT and
MAURER, "are spread."
in themselves--rather, "upon him."
24. heart--"In large beasts which are less acute in feeling, there
is great firmness of the heart, and slower motion"
nether millstone, on which the upper turns, is especially hard.
25. he--the crocodile; a type of the awe which the Creator inspires
when He rises in wrath.
breakings--namely, of the mind, that is, terror.
purify themselves--rather, "they wander from the way," that is, flee
away bewildered [MAURER and
26. cannot hold--on his hard skin.
habergeon--coat of mail; avail must be taken by zeugma out of
"hold," as the verb in the second clause: "hold" cannot apply to the
"coat of mail."
27. iron . . . brass--namely, weapons.
28. arrow--literally, "son of the bow"; Oriental imagery
stubble--Arrows produce no more effect than it would to throw stubble
29. Darts--rather, "clubs"; darts have been already mentioned
30. stones--rather, "potsherds," that is, the sharp and pointed
scales on the belly, like broken pieces of pottery.
sharp-pointed things--rather, "a threshing instrument," but not on
the fruits of the earth, but "on the mire"; irony. When he lies
on the mire, he leaves the marks of his scales so imprinted on it, that
one might fancy a threshing instrument with its sharp teeth had been
drawn over it
31. Whenever he moves.
pot of ointment--the vessel in which it is mixed. Appropriate to
the crocodile, which emits a musky smell.
32. path--the foam on his track.
hoary--as hair of the aged.
33. who--being one who, &c.
34. beholdeth--as their superior.
children of pride--the proud and fierce beasts. So
Hebrew, "sons of pride." To humble the pride of man and to
teach implicit submission, is the aim of Jehovah's speech and of the
book; therefore with this as to leviathan, the type of God in His
lordship over creation, He closes.