when it burst forth, 2 coming out of the womb,
and thick darkness its swaddling band, 4
and set 6 in place its bolts and doors,
and no farther, 8
here your proud waves will be confined’? 9
or made the dawn know 11 its place,
and shake the wicked out of it?
38:41 Who prepares prey for the raven,
when its young cry out to God
and wander about 13 for lack of food?
1 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.
2 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.
3 tn The temporal clause here uses the infinitive from שִׂים (sim, “to place; to put; to make”). It underscores the sovereign placing of things.
5 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).
6 tn Dhorme suggested reversing the two verbs, making this the first, and then “shatter” for the second colon.
7 tn The imperfect verb receives the permission nuance here.
8 tn The text has תֹסִיף (tosif, “and you may not add”), which is often used idiomatically (as in verbal hendiadys constructions).
9 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.
11 tn The verb is the Piel of יָדַע (yada’, “to know”) with a double accusative.
12 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.
13 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.”