Job 26:1-14

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Job replied to the words of Bildad. His comments appear also to have been intended for Eliphaz and Zophar. (26:1)

The words of Bildad, as well as those of Eliphaz and Zophar, had neither helped Job nor strengthened him in his afflicted state. Therefore, he was moved to say sarcastically, “How you have helped one with no power! How you have saved,” delivered, or rescued the “arm with no strength!” (26:2; see the Notes section regarding the Septuagint rendering.)

The counsel or advice Job had received proved to be of no benefit to him. Therefore, he said, “How you have counseled one with no wisdom, and you have made known insight in abundance.” Job had been given useless counsel and nothing reflected insight or sound wisdom. Individually, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar had uttered an abundance of words that did not apply in Job’s case. (26:3; see the Notes section regarding the Septuagint rendering.)

Eliphaz, Bildad,and Zophar had been guilty of making unfounded accusations against Job and saying nothing that would have been comforting to him. He rightly asked a question that was appropriate for each of them. “To whom have you spoken words, and whose breath has proceeded from you?” They had forgotten to whom they were speaking, and the source of their expressions was questionable. In the vision Eliphaz claimed to have seen, God trusted no one, especially not a mere man, and Bildad had repeated this misrepresentation. (4:13-19; 25:4-6) Therefore, the “breath” or the source of inspiration was a lying source. (26:4)

Although Job suffered greatly and believed that God had wrongly afflicted him, he acknowledged his greatness and matchless power. So great is this power that Job spoke of the “Rephaim” as trembling. In this context, the designation “Rephaim” probably applies to the deceased, suggesting that even the realm of the dead, the realm where silence prevails and all activity has ceased, would be set in commotion through the manifestation of God’s might. Land areas rise above the sea, making it appear that the water lies underneath the land. This seems to be the basis for the representation of the Rephaim or the dead as being below the waters and those dwelling in them. (26:5; see the Notes section.)

Humans cannot peer inside the realm of the dead, for the deceased have vanished from the earthly scene. Before God, however, “Sheol” (Hades [Theodotion]) is “naked,” or the realm of the dead is fully exposed. There is “no covering for Abaddon” or destruction (the place of corruption or decay). (26:6)

God’s “stretching out the north” may poetically describe his action in having made the northern sky appear above the land as if it had been stretched out like a tent. “He hangs the earth” or land “upon nothing.” In relation to the celestial dome there is nothing to which the earth or land is attached. It is not suspended from the sky. (26:7)

Clouds are here portrayed as vessels in which God “binds up waters.” Yet the cloud mass that the ancients perceived as being “under” the waters is not ripped apart by their weight. (26:8)

The ancients regarded God as being above the clouds. For this reason, he is represented as using a cloud to cover the “face of [his] throne” or to spread “his cloud over it.” The Greek version of Theodotion says that God “holds fast the face of [his] throne.”(26:9)

The “boundary between light and darkness” is where the sun is seen to rise and to set. There, at the horizon, the sea reaches the perceived beginning of the celestial dome and its own “circle” beneath that dome. From this standpoint, God is represented as having drawn a “circle upon the face [or surface] of the waters” of the sea. (26:10)

The sky looks like a dome or vault above the land and the sea, and the mountains can appear as though they are touching it. These “mountains” poetically are called “pillars,” which do tremble during periods of seismic activity. This development is attributed to God and, therefore, the “pillars of the heavens” are spoken of as being “astounded at his rebuke.” (26:11; see the Notes section.)

God is portrayed as having control over the sea. His disturbing the “sea by his power” may refer to his whipping up high waves by means of storms. The smiting of “Rahab by his understanding” could relate to a triumph over the great primeval sea monster. According to the Septuagint, God “calmed the sea with power and wounded the sea monster by understanding,” knowledge, or skill. (26:12)

By God’s “wind” or “spirit,” the “heavens” are transformed to “fairness” or are cleared of clouds. “His hand,” or the manifestation of his power, brought about the piercing of the “fleeing serpent.” The expression “fleeing serpent” may be a designation for a monster like the mighty Leviathan. According to the Septuagint, the “bars” or “barriers of heaven fear” God, and he, by his “decree,” killed the “rebellious dragon.” (26:13)

The things that had been related about God are called the “extremities,” fringes, or “parts” (Theodotion) “of his ways.” They are much like a mere sketch. The impressive displays of divine power are but a “whisper of a word” that “has been heard of him.” They resemble the faint echo of a spoken word. With the “whisper” being impressive and giving rise to astonishment, who would be able to comprehend the full display of God’s might — the “thunder of his power” or the manifestation of his power in a manner that resembled loud thunder? (26:14; see the Notes section.)


In verse 2, the Septuagint represents Job as asking rhetorical questions that differ from the wording of the extant Hebrew text. “To whom are you attached, or whom are you about to help? Is it not one with much strength and whose arm is powerful?” The questions suggest that what was being said to Job could not possibly have been meant for him in his weak and afflicted condition.

Verse 3 in the Septuagint represents Job as indicating that Bildad (or all three men individually) had given counsel to the One who has “all wisdom” or to God himself. The verse may be rendered, “Whom have you counseled? [Is it] not the One who has all wisdom? Or whom will you follow? [Is it] not the One who has the greatest power?”

From verse 5 through to the end of verse 11, the phrases are marked as having been added from the Greek version of Theodotion and not being included in the Septuagint existing in the time of Origen. In verse 5, the question is, “Will giants be brought forth underneath the water and its neighbors [possibly meaning whatever lies adjacent to the water]?”

In verse 11, the Greek version of Theodotion refers to the “pillars of heaven” as being “spread out.” This could be understood to mean that mountains were spread out below a celestial vault as if providing support for it.

In the Septuagint, the initial part of verse 14 is from the version of Theodotion as Origen marked it in the third century CE. “Look! These [are] the parts of his way, and we will listen to him at the droplet of his word” or to the briefest message from him. The Septuagint then concludes with the words, “But [as for] the strength of his thunder, who knows when he will go into action?”