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Job’s Reply to God’s Challenge

40 Then the Lord answered[a] Job:

“Will the one who contends[b] with the Almighty correct him?[c]
Let the person who accuses God give him an answer!”
Then Job answered the Lord:

“Indeed, I am completely unworthy[d]—how could I reply to you?
I put[e] my hand over my mouth to silence myself.[f]
I have spoken once, but I cannot answer;
twice, but I will say no more.”[g]

The Lord’s Second Speech[h]

Then the Lord answered[i] Job from the whirlwind:

“Get ready for a difficult task[j] like a man.
I will question you and you will inform me.
Would you indeed annul[k] my justice?
Would you declare me guilty so that you might be right?
Do you have an arm as powerful as God’s,[l]
and can you thunder with a voice like his?
10 Adorn yourself, then, with majesty and excellency,
and clothe yourself with glory and honor.
11 Scatter abroad[m] the abundance[n] of your anger.
Look at every proud man[o] and bring him low;
12 Look at every proud man and abase him;
crush the wicked on the spot.[p]
13 Hide them in the dust[q] together,
imprison[r] them[s] in the grave.[t]
14 Then I myself will acknowledge[u] to you
that your own right hand can save you.[v]

The Description of Behemoth[w]

15 “Look now at Behemoth,[x] which I made as[y] I made you;
it eats grass like the ox.
16 Look[z] at its strength in its loins,
and its power in the muscles of its belly.
17 It makes its tail stiff[aa] like a cedar,
the sinews of its thighs are tightly wound.
18 Its bones are tubes of bronze,
its limbs like bars of iron.
19 It ranks first among the works of God,[ab]
the One who made it
has furnished it with a sword.[ac]
20 For the hills bring it food,[ad]
where all the wild animals play.
21 Under the lotus trees it lies,
in the secrecy of the reeds and the marsh.
22 The lotus trees conceal it in their[ae] shadow;
the poplars by the stream conceal it.
23 If the river rages,[af] it is not disturbed,
it is secure,[ag] though the Jordan
should surge up to its mouth.
24 Can anyone catch it by its eyes,[ah]
or pierce its nose with a snare?[ai]


  1. Job 40:1 sn See note at Job 38:1.
  2. Job 40:2 tn The form רֹב (rov) is the infinitive absolute from the verb רִיב (riv, “contend”). Dhorme wishes to repoint it to make it the active participle, the “one who argues with the Almighty.”
  3. Job 40:2 tn The verb יִסּוֹר (yissor) is found only here, but comes from a common root meaning “to correct; to reprove.” Several suggestions have been made to improve on the MT. Dhorme read it יָסוּר (yasur) in the sense of “to turn aside; to yield.” Ehrlich read this emendation as “to come to an end.” But the MT could be read as “to correct; to instruct.”
  4. Job 40:4 tn The word קַלֹּתִי (qalloti) means “to be light; to be of small account; to be unimportant.” From this comes the meaning “contemptible,” which in the causative stem would mean “to treat with contempt; to curse.” Dhorme tries to make the sentence a conditional clause and suggests this meaning: “If I have been thoughtless.” There is really no “if” in Job’s mind.
  5. Job 40:4 tn The perfect verb here should be classified as an instantaneous perfect; the action is simultaneous with the words.
  6. Job 40:4 tn The words “to silence myself” are supplied in the translation for clarity.
  7. Job 40:5 tn Heb “I will not add.”
  8. Job 40:6 sn The speech can be divided into three parts: the invitation to Job to assume the throne and rule the world (40:7-14), the description of Behemoth (40:15-24), and the description of Leviathan (41:1-34).
  9. Job 40:6 sn See note at Job 38:1.
  10. Job 40:7 tn See note on “task” in 38:3.
  11. Job 40:8 tn The verb פָּרַר (parar) means “to annul; to break; to frustrate.” It was one thing for Job to claim his own integrity, but it was another matter altogether to nullify God’s righteousness in the process.
  12. Job 40:9 tn Heb “do you have an arm like God?” The words “as powerful as” have been supplied in the translation to clarify the metaphor.
  13. Job 40:11 tn The verb was used for scattering lightning (Job 37:11). God is challenging Job to unleash his power and judge wickedness in the world.
  14. Job 40:11 tn Heb “the overflowings.”
  15. Job 40:11 tn The word was just used in the positive sense of excellence or majesty; now the exalted nature of the person refers to self-exaltation, or pride.
  16. Job 40:12 tn The expression translated “on the spot” is the prepositional phrase תַּחְתָּם (takhtam, “under them”). “Under them” means in their place. But it can also mean “where someone stands, on the spot” (see Exod 16:29; Jos 6:5; Judg 7:21, etc.).
  17. Job 40:13 tn The word “dust” can mean “ground” here, or more likely, “grave.”
  18. Job 40:13 tn The verb חָבַשׁ (khavash) means “to bind.” In Arabic the word means “to bind” in the sense of “to imprison,” and that fits here.
  19. Job 40:13 tn Heb “their faces.”
  20. Job 40:13 tn The word is “secret place,” the place where he is to hide them, i.e., the grave. The text uses the word “secret place” as a metonymy for the grave.
  21. Job 40:14 tn The verb is usually translated “praise,” but with the sense of a public declaration or acknowledgment. It is from יָדָה (yadah, in the Hiphil, as here, “give thanks, laud”).
  22. Job 40:14 tn The imperfect verb has the nuance of potential imperfect: “can save; is able to save.”
  23. Job 40:15 sn The next ten verses are devoted to a portrayal of Behemoth (the name means “beast” in Hebrew). It does not fit any of the present material very well, and so many think the section is a later addition. Its style is more like that of a textbook. Moreover, if the animal is a real animal (the usual suggestion is the hippopotamus), then the location of such an animal is Egypt and not Palestine. Some have identified these creatures Behemoth and Leviathan as mythological creatures (Gunkel, Pope). Others point out that these creatures could have been dinosaurs (P. J. Maarten, NIDOTTE, 2:780; H. M. Morris, The Remarkable Record of Job, 115-22). Most would say they are real animals, but probably mythologized by the pagans. So the pagan reader would receive an additional impact from this point about God’s sovereignty over all nature.
  24. Job 40:15 sn By form the word is the feminine plural of the Hebrew word for “beast.” Here it is an abstract word—a title.
  25. Job 40:15 tn Heb “with you.” The meaning could be temporal (“when I made you”)—perhaps a reference to the sixth day of creation (Gen 1:24).
  26. Job 40:16 tn In both of these verses הִנֶּה (hinneh, “behold”) has the deictic force (the word is from Greek δείκνυμι, deiknumi, “to show”). It calls attention to something by pointing it out. The expression goes with the sudden look, the raised eye, the pointing hand—“O look!”
  27. Job 40:17 tn The verb חָפַץ (khafats) occurs only here. It may have the meaning “to make stiff; to make taut” (Arabic). The LXX and the Syriac versions support this with “erects.” But there is another Arabic word that could be cognate, meaning “arch, bend.” This would give the idea of the tail swaying. The other reading seems to make better sense here. However, “stiff” presents a serious problem with the view that the animal is the hippopotamus.
  28. Job 40:19 tn Heb “the ways of God.”sn This may be a reference to Gen 1:24, where the first of the animal creation was the cattle—behemah (בְּהֵמָה).
  29. Job 40:19 tc The literal reading of the MT is “let the one who made him draw near [with] his sword.” The sword is apparently a reference to the teeth or tusks of the animal, which cut vegetation like a sword. But the idea of a weapon is easier to see, and so the people who favor the mythological background see here a reference to God’s slaying the Beast. There are again many suggestions on how to read the line. The RV probably has the safest: “He that made him has furnished him with his sword” (the sword being a reference to the sharp tusks with which he can attack).
  30. Job 40:20 tn The word בּוּל (bul) probably refers to food. Many take it as an abbreviated form of יְבוּל (yevul, “produce of the field”). The vegetation that is produced on the low hills is what is meant.
  31. Job 40:22 tn The suffix is singular, but must refer to the trees’ shade.
  32. Job 40:23 tn The word ordinarily means “to oppress.” So many commentators have proposed suitable changes: “overflows” (Beer), “gushes” (Duhm), “swells violently” (Dhorme, from a word that means “be strong”).
  33. Job 40:23 tn Or “he remains calm.”
  34. Job 40:24 tn The idea would be either (1) catch it while it is watching, or (2) in some way disabling its eyes before the attack. But others change the reading; Ball suggested “with hooks” and this has been adopted by some modern English versions (e.g., NRSV).
  35. Job 40:24 tn Ehrlich altered the MT slightly to get “with thorns,” a view accepted by Driver, Dhorme and Pope.