Job 38

The Word Made Fresh

1Then, out of a whirlwind God answered Job:

2“Who is this trying to obscure my wisdom with ignorant verbiage? 3Stand up like a man and get ready. I will ask the questions, and you try to answer:

4“Where were you when I began to create the earth? Tell me, if you think you know. 5Who decided its dimensions – surely you must know! Who measured it? 6What was its foundation? Who laid the cornerstone 7while the morning stars sang a chorus and all the angels cheered?

8“Who placed the boundaries of the sea when it was born? 9I gave it clouds for clothes and swaddled it in bands of deep darkness, 10and closed it within its boundaries with bars and doors 11and told it that was as far as it could roam and no farther. I told it, ‘This is as far as your majestic waves are allowed to come.’

12“Have you been in charge of all your mornings since you were born? Do you tell the sun when to rise 13so that it can grab the earth’s edges and shake the wickedness out? 14The earth is shaped like clay stamped by a seal and given colors like an item of clothing. 15But the wicked are not given the light and their arms are broken when they raise their hands to grasp it.

16“Have you visited the deep springs of the sea, or walked in the valleys of its depths? 17Have you been shone the gates of death and seen their shadows? 18Are you familiar with the vastness of the earth? Tell me, if you think you know all this.

19“Where does light originate, and where does darkness abide? 20Can you lead it to its place? Can you show it where it belongs? 21Surely you must know – weren’t you born then? You have lived a great many years, haven’t you?

22“Have you visited the storehouses where the snow and hail are kept? 23I keep them in reserve for troubled times when battles of war are raging. 24What are the directions to the source of light? How about the east wind? How is it scattered over the earth?

25“Who forms the channels for torrents of rain and for thunderbolts? 26Who brings rain on the uninhabited places – the desert where no human beings live – 27to water the parched and desolate land and make grass spring forth from it?

28“Does the rain have a father? Who gives birth to drops of dew? 29From whose womb did the ice come, and who gave birth to frost in the skies? 30But this water can become hard as stone, and even the surface of the sea is frozen.

31“Can you bind the Pleiades in chains? Can you loosen Orion’s belt? 32Can you bring out the morning star in its season, or lead the Bear with its cubs? 33Do you know the laws that govern the skies? Can you grant them rule over the earth?

34“Can you summon the clouds to douse you with a flood of water? 35Can you tell the lightning where to go and have it report back to you? 36Who puts wisdom in the mind or gives understanding? 37Who is able to count the clouds or pour from the waterskins in the sky 38to make the dust coagulate and clods cling to one another?

39“Can you hunt prey for the lion or feed its cubs 40while they crouch waiting in their dens? 41Who provides prey for the raven while its young cry out to God, wandering about waiting for food?”


1-3: Finally, God enters the debate. We may not expect this because Job’s friends have made it clear that God is so much higher than we mortals and we have no right to expect God to pay any attention to us. On the other hand, Job has begged to make his case face to face with God, and God is after all responsible for Job’s predicament.

4-7: This entire chapter seems to be designed to demonstrate how ignorant human beings really are. God begins with a series of questions about creation: where were you when it took place and who drafted the plans and did the work?

8-11: When God set the limits of the sea, who shut it in?

12-15: Did you make the morning, shape the sunrise or give color to it? By the very nature of things, the wicked are not wise and cannot rule forever; did you arrange the world in that way?

16-18: Have you explored the depths of the sea or the darkness of death or the far reaches of the earth?

19-21: Where are the sources of light and darkness to be found? You must know the answer because after all you are so old and wise (God can be sarcastic, too!).

22-24: Do you know where snow and hail are stored or how light is cast or where the east wind goes?

25-27: And who do you think is responsible for making it rain out in the wastelands so that grass begins to grow? Certainly not human beings: they don’t live in the desert.

28-30: Dew and ice, do they have parents? No? Then from where do they come?

31-33: Now the narrative turns to the mysteries of the night sky. The Pleiades is a cluster of stars (also called “the Seven Sisters”) which we identify as the “hoof” of the constellation Taurus, the “bull.” The word “Mazzaroth” is obscure; some scholars think it simply means “constellations,” which would make sense in the present context. The “Bear” is the constellation Ursa Major (which contains the star formation we call the Big Dipper) and “its children” is likely a reference to the constellation Ursa Minor (the Little Dipper).

34-38: God asks more questions designed to prove our limitations. We puny people can’t control rain, lightning, clouds, nor dust storms.

39-41: Neither can we feed the animals and birds of the wild.


Wow. This is quite a takedown of human arrogance and exposes human ignorance. One reason people believe in God is because we obviously can’t do the things God has done and is doing all around us all the time. From the invisible germs that inhabit us to the awesomeness of the night sky, the evidence for God’s lordship over it all cannot be denied.