so that its pillars tremble; 2
and seals up 5 the stars;
9:8 he alone spreads out the heavens,
and the constellations of the southern sky; 11
1 sn Shakes the earth out of its place probably refers to earthquakes, although some commentators protest against this in view of the idea of the pillars. In the ancient world the poetical view of the earth is that it was a structure on pillars, with water around it and under it. In an earthquake the pillars were shaken, and the earth moved.
2 tn The verb הִתְפַלָּצ (hitfallats) is found only here, but the root seems clearly to mean “to be tossed; to be thrown about,” and so in the Hitpael “quiver; shake; tremble.” One of the three nouns from this root is פַּלָּצוּת (pallatsut), the “shudder” that comes with terror (see Job 21:6; Isa 21:4; Ezek 7:18; and Ps 55:6).
3 tn The form could also be subordinated, “that it shine not” (see further GKC 323 §109.g).
4 tn The verb זָרַח (zarakh) means “rise.” This is the ordinary word for the sunrise. But here it probably has the idea of “shine; glisten,” which is also attested in Hebrew and Aramaic.
sn There are various views on the meaning of this line in this verse. Some think it refers to some mysterious darkness like the judgment in Egypt (Exod 10:21-23), or to clouds building (3:5), often in accompaniment of earthquakes (see Joel 2:10, 3:15-16; Isa 13:10-13). It could also refer to an eclipse. All this assumes that the phenomenon here is limited to the morning or the day; but it could simply be saying that God controls light and darkness.
5 tn The verb חָתַם (khatam) with בְּעַד (bÿ’ad) before its complement, means “to seal; to wall up; to enclose.” This is a poetic way of saying that God prevents the stars from showing their light.
6 tn Or “marches forth.”
7 tn The reference is probably to the waves of the sea. This is the reading preserved in NIV and NAB, as well as by J. Crenshaw, “Wÿdorek `al-bamote ‘ares,” CBQ 34 (1972): 39-53. But many see here a reference to Canaanite mythology. The marginal note in the RSV has “the back of the sea dragon.” The view would also see in “sea” the Ugaritic god Yammu.
8 sn The Hebrew has עָשׁ (’ash), although in 38:32 it is עַיִשׁ (’ayish). This has been suggested to be Aldebaran, a star in the constellation Taurus, but there have been many other suggestions put forward by the commentaries.
9 sn There is more certainty for the understanding of this word as Orion, even though there is some overlap of the usage of the words in the Bible. In classical literature we have the same stereotypical reference to these three (see E. Dhorme, Job, 131).
10 sn The identification of this as the Pleiades is accepted by most (the Vulgate has “Hyades”). In classical Greek mythology, the seven Pleiades were seven sisters of the Hyades who were pursued by Orion until they were changed into stars by Zeus. The Greek myth is probably derived from an older Semitic myth.
11 tn Heb “and the chambers of the south.”