12 "Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place, 13 so that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth, and the wicked be shaken out of it? 14 It is changed like clay under the seal, and it is dyed like a garment. 15 Light is withheld from the wicked, and their uplifted arm is broken. 16 "Have you entered into the springs of the sea, or walked in the recesses of the deep? 17 Have the gates of death been revealed to you, or have you seen the gates of deep darkness? 18 Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth? Declare, if you know all this. 19 "Where is the way to the dwelling of light, and where is the place of darkness, 20 that you may take it to its territory and that you may discern the paths to its home? 21 Surely you know, for you were born then, and the number of your days is great!
A. This section might be entitled "cosmological phenomena." It consists of God's questions to Job about his knowledge (really his ignorance) of matters heavenly. Interesting to note in these five questions is the rich imaginative layering of the pictures. You get a sense of what is being asked, but the clarity of the images escapes you, like a scene seen through a misty glass. What are elements of God's "catechism" of Job in these verses?
B. What does it mean to "command the morning?" Recall that when God laid the foundations of the earth, the "morning stars sang together" (v.7). What is the effect of the appeal to morning to a man (Job) who has seen nothing but darkness?
C. What are the springs of the sea (v.16)? When God asks Job about "deep darkness," did the language of ch.3 return to your mind? If not, re-read Job 3:1-10. That is, God seems to be saying to Job that if he has not travelled to the realm of deep darkness, how can he speak authoritatively about wanting everything to become darkness. Is that how you read it?
D. Then God asks about the dwelling place of light (v.19). How does that differ from commanding the morning (v.12)?
E. How do you read v.21? Is it God's gentle rebuke? A more sarcastic "cut" at Job?
22 "Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, or have you seen the storehouses of the hail, 23 which I have reserved for the time of trouble, for the day of battle and war? 24 What is the way to the place where the light is distributed, or where the east wind is scattered upon the earth? 25 "Who has cut a channel for the torrents of rain, and a way for the thunderbolt, 26 to bring rain on a land where no one lives, on the desert, which is empty of human life, 27 to satisfy the waste and desolate land, and to make the ground put forth grass? 28 "Has the rain a father, or who has begotten the drops of dew? 29 From whose womb did the ice come forth, and who has given birth to the hoarfrost of heaven? 30 The waters become hard like stone, and the face of the deep is frozen. 31 "Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades, or loose the cords of Orion? 32 Can you lead forth the Mazzaroth in their season, or can you guide the Bear with its children? 33 Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you establish their rule on the earth? 34 "Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, so that a flood of waters may cover you? 35 Can you send forth lightnings, so that they may go and say to you, 'Here we are'? 36 Who has put wisdom in the inward parts, or given understanding to the mind? 37 Who has the wisdom to number the clouds? Or who can tilt the waterskins of the heavens, 38 when the dust runs into a mass and the clods cling together?
A. This passage may be titled "meterological" or "astronomical" phenomena. The tour focuses on these aspects of creation, but God's questioning is no less intense. God asks Job first about the storehouses of the snow. Why is that interesting or illuminating?
B. God asks Job again about the journey to the place of light (v.24). Is God just repeating himself? If so, why?
C. Then, God's attention turns to the rain (v.25). Just as the first several verses of this chapter might be an echo of ch.3, but with God trying to reverse the imagery of that chapter, so might we see in vv.25-27 an attempt to reverse some of the imagery of 6:14-22, where Job has compared his friends to a dry wadi?
D. God now brings in "womb" language (v.29), again an echo of ch.3. Things come forth from the womb that God has knowledge of, even though Job wanted his mother's womb to be sealed.
E. Then, God asks Job about astronomy--the constellations (vv.31-33). What does God ask Job here?
F. I think an arresting verse is 38:33--asking Job whether he knows heaven's statutes. What is the significance of this question in the light of Job's interest throughout the book in formulating a legal case against God?
G. Clouds are seemingly an adjunct of "deep darkness" to Job in his earlier speeches. But God speaks of clouds differently here. What do God's clouds do?
H. What is your judgment about God's method in speaking to Job and the effectiveness of the first half of the first speech?