38:4 “Where were you
when I laid the foundation 1 of the earth?
Tell me, 2 if you possess understanding!
or who stretched a measuring line across it?
or who laid its cornerstone –
and all the sons of God 9 shouted for joy?
when it burst forth, 11 coming out of the womb,
and thick darkness its swaddling band, 13
and set 15 in place its bolts and doors,
and no farther, 17
here your proud waves will be confined’? 18
1 tn The construction is the infinitive construct in a temporal clause, using the preposition and the subjective genitive suffix.
2 tn The verb is the imperative; it has no object “me” in the text.
3 tn The particle כּ (ki) is taken here for a conditional clause, “if you know” (see GKC 498 §159.dd). Others take it as “surely” with a biting irony.
4 tn For the interrogative serving as a genitive, see GKC 442 §136.b.
5 sn The world was conceived of as having bases and pillars, but these poetic descriptions should not be pressed too far (e.g., see Ps 24:2, which may be worded as much for its polemics against Canaanite mythology as anything).
6 sn The expression “morning stars” (Heb “stars of the morning”) is here placed in parallelism to the angels, “the sons of God.” It may refer to the angels under the imagery of the stars, or, as some prefer, it may poetically include all creation. There is a parallel also with the foundation of the temple which was accompanied by song (see Ezra 3:10,11). But then the account of the building of the original tabernacle was designed to mirror creation (see M. Fishbane, Biblical Text and Texture).
7 tn The construction, an adverbial clause of time, uses רָנָן (ranan), which is often a ringing cry, an exultation. The parallelism with “shout for joy” shows this to be enthusiastic acclamation. The infinitive is then continued in the next colon with the vav (ו) consecutive preterite.
8 tn Heb “together.” This is Dhorme’s suggestion for expressing how they sang together.
10 tn The MT has “and he shut up.” The Vulgate has “Who?” and so many commentaries and editions adopt this reading, if not from the Vulgate, then from the sense of the sequence in the text itself.
11 tn The line uses two expressions, first the temporal clause with גִּיחַ (giakh, “when it burst forth”) and then the finite verb יֵצֵא (yetse’, “go out”) to mark the concomitance of the two actions.
12 tn The temporal clause here uses the infinitive from שִׂים (sim, “to place; to put; to make”). It underscores the sovereign placing of things.
14 tc The MT has “and I broke,” which cannot mean “set, prescribed” or the like. The LXX and the Vulgate have such a meaning, suggesting a verb עֲשִׁית (’ashiyt, “plan, prescribe”). A. Guillaume finds an Arabic word with a meaning “measured it by span by my decree.” Would God give himself a decree? R. Gordis simply argues that the basic meaning “break” develops the connotation of “decide, determine” (2 Sam 5:24; Job 14:3; Dan 11:36).
15 tn Dhorme suggested reversing the two verbs, making this the first, and then “shatter” for the second colon.
16 tn The imperfect verb receives the permission nuance here.
17 tn The text has תֹסִיף (tosif, “and you may not add”), which is often used idiomatically (as in verbal hendiadys constructions).
18 tn The MT literally says, “here he will put on the pride of your waves.” The verb has no expressed subject and so is made a passive voice. But there has to be some object for the verb “put,” such as “limit” or “boundary”; the translations “confined; halted; stopped” all serve to paraphrase such an idea. The LXX has “broken” at this point, suggesting the verse might have been confused – but “breaking the pride” of the waves would mean controlling them. Some commentators have followed this, exchanging the verb in v. 11 with this one.