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
or made the dawn know 20 its place,
and shake the wicked out of it?
38:15 Then from the wicked the light is withheld,
or walked about in the recesses of the deep?
Have you seen the gates of deepest darkness? 29
38:18 Have you considered the vast expanses of the earth?
Tell me, if you know it all!
and darkness, where is its place,
38:20 that you may take them to their borders
and perceive the pathways to their homes? 31
and the number of your days is great!
or seen the armory 34 of the hail,
38:23 which I reserve for the time of trouble,
for the day of war and battle? 35
or the east winds scattered over the earth?
38:25 Who carves out a channel for the heavy rains,
and a path for the rumble of thunder,
a desert where there are no human beings, 38
38:27 to satisfy a devastated and desolate land,
and to cause it to sprout with vegetation? 39
38:28 Does the rain have a father,
or who has fathered the drops of the dew?
38:29 From whose womb does the ice emerge,
and the frost from the sky, 40 who gives birth to it,
when the surface of the deep is frozen solid?
or release the cords of Orion?
38:32 Can you lead out
the constellations 43 in their seasons,
or guide the Bear with its cubs? 44
38:33 Do you know the laws of the heavens,
or can you set up their rule over the earth?
38:34 Can you raise your voice to the clouds
so that a flood of water covers you? 45
38:35 Can you send out lightning bolts, and they go?
Will they say to you, ‘Here we are’?
or has imparted understanding to the mind?
38:37 Who by wisdom can count the clouds,
and who can tip over 47 the water jars of heaven,
and the clumps of earth stick together?
38:39 “Do you hunt prey for the lioness,
and satisfy the appetite 49 of the lions,
38:40 when they crouch in their dens,
when they wait in ambush in the thicket?
38:41 Who prepares prey for the raven,
when its young cry out to God
and wander about 50 for lack of food?
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.
20 tn The verb is the Piel of יָדַע (yada’, “to know”) with a double accusative.
21 sn The poetic image is that darkness or night is like a blanket that covers the earth, and at dawn it is taken by the edges and shaken out. Since the wicked function under the cover of night, they are included in the shaking when the dawn comes up.
22 sn The verse needs to be understood in the context: as the light shines in the dawn, the features of the earth take on a recognizable shape or form. The language is phenomenological.
23 tn Heb “they”; the referent (the objects or features on the earth) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
24 tc The MT reads “they stand up like a garment” (NASB, NIV) or “its features stand out like a garment” (ESV). The reference could be either to embroidered decoration on a garment or to the folds of a garment (REB: “until all things stand out like the folds of a cloak”; cf. J. E. Hartley, Job [NICOT], 497, “the early light of day makes the earth appear as a beautiful garment, exquisite in design and glorious in color”). Since this is thought to be an odd statement, some suggest with Ehrlich that the text be changed to תִּצָּבַּע (titsabba’, “is dyed [like a garment]”). This reference would be to the colors appearing on the earth’s surface under daylight. The present translation follows the emendation.
25 tn Heb “the raised arm.” The words “in violence” are not in the Hebrew text, but are supplied in the translation to clarify the metaphor.
26 sn What is active at night, the violence symbolized by the raised arm, is broken with the dawn. G. R. Driver thought the whole verse referred to stars, and that the arm is the navigator’s term for the line of stars (“Two astronomical passages in the Old Testament,” JTS 4 : 208-12).
27 tn Heb “the springs of the sea.” The words “that fill” are supplied in the translation to clarify the meaning of the phrase.
28 tn Heb “uncovered to you.”
30 tn The interrogative with דֶרֶךְ (derekh) means “in what road” or “in what direction.”
31 tn The suffixes are singular (“that you may take it to its border…to its home”), referring to either the light or the darkness. Because either is referred to, the translation has employed plurals, since singulars would imply that only the second item, “darkness,” was the referent. Plurals are also employed by NAB and NIV.
32 tn The imperfect verb after the adverb אָז (’az, “then”) functions as a preterite: “you were born.” The line is sarcastic.
34 tn The same Hebrew term (אוֹצָר, ’otsar), has been translated “storehouse” in the first line and “armory” in the second. This has been done for stylistic variation, but also because “hail,” as one of God’s “weapons” (cf. the following verse) suggests military imagery; in this context the word refers to God’s “ammunition dump” where he stockpiles hail.
35 sn The terms translated war and battle are different Hebrew words, but both may be translated “war” or “battle” depending on the context.
36 tn Because the parallel with “light” and “east wind” is not tight, Hoffmann proposed ‘ed instead, “mist.” This has been adopted by many. G. R. Driver suggests “parching heat” (“Problems in the Hebrew text of Job,” VTSup 3 : 91-92).
37 tn Heb “on a land, no man.”
38 tn Heb “a desert, no man in it.”
39 tn Heb “to cause to sprout a source of vegetation.” The word מֹצָא (motsa’) is rendered “mine” in Job 28:1. The suggestion with the least changes is Wright’s: צָמֵא (tsame’, “thirsty”). But others choose מִצִּיָּה (mitsiyyah, “from the steppe”).
40 tn Or “heavens.” The Hebrew term שָׁמַיִם (shamayim) may be translated “heaven(s)” or “sky” depending on the context.
41 tn Several suggest that the verb is not from חָבָא (khava’, “to hide”) but from a homonym, “to congeal.” This may be too difficult to support, however.
42 tn This word is found here and in 1 Sam 15:32. Dhorme suggests, with others, that there has been a metathesis (a reversal of consonants), and it is the same word found in Job 31:36 (“bind”). G. R. Driver takes it as “cluster” without changing the text (“Two astronomical passages in the Old Testament,” JTS 7  :3).
45 tc The LXX has “answer you,” and some editors have adopted this. However, the reading of the MT makes better sense in the verse.
46 tn This verse is difficult because of the two words, טֻחוֹת (tukhot, rendered here “heart”) and שֶׂכְוִי (sekhvi, here “mind”). They have been translated a number of ways: “meteor” and “celestial appearance”; the stars “Procyon” and “Sirius”; “inward part” and “mind”; even as birds, “ibis” and “cock.” One expects them to have something to do with nature – clouds and the like. The RSV accordingly took them to mean “meteor” (from a verb “to wander”) and “a celestial appearance.” But these meanings are not well-attested.
47 tn The word actually means “to cause to lie down.”
48 tn The word means “to flow” or “to cast” (as in casting metals). So the noun developed the sense of “hard,” as in cast metal.
49 tn Heb “fill up the life of.”
50 tn The verse is difficult, making some suspect that a line has dropped out. The little birds in the nest hardly go wandering about looking for food. Dhorme suggest “and stagger for lack of food.”