"8 Lay hands on it; think of the battle; you will not do it again! 9 Any hope of capturing it will be disappointed; were not even the gods overwhelmed at the sight of it? 10 No one is so fierce as to dare to stir it up. Who can stand before it? 11 Who can confront it and be safe? --under the whole heaven, who?
A. If we are to look at the series of God's rhetorical questions to Job in 41:1-7 as indicative of the course of the battle between Leviathan and God, then these verses might help us understand the battle preparations. "Think of the battle." What battles have you faced in life? What has been the outcome? Which ones continue?
B. Which "gods" is God speaking about? The mythological past of the Leviathan story seems to peer at us between the cracks of the words.
C. Why did God "stir it up?" Or, was it the other way around? If God is depicted as warring with and defeating this fierce creature, how did the battle get started?
12 "I will not keep silence concerning its limbs, or its mighty strength, or its splendid frame. 13 Who can strip off its outer garment? Who can penetrate its double coat of mail? 14 Who can open the doors of its face? There is terror all around its teeth. 15 Its back is made of shields in rows, shut up closely as with a seal. 16 One is so near to another that no air can come between them. 17 They are joined one to another; they clasp each other and cannot be separated. 18 Its sneezes flash forth light, and its eyes are like the eyelids of the dawn. 19 From its mouth go flaming torches; sparks of fire leap out. 20 Out of its nostrils comes smoke, as from a boiling pot and burning rushes. 21 Its breath kindles coals, and a flame comes out of its mouth. 22 In its neck abides strength, and terror dances before it. 23 The folds of its flesh cling together; it is firmly cast and immovable. 24 Its heart is as hard as stone, as hard as the lower millstone."
A. Now we have the description of Leviathan. I think such an intimate description is given because God is recalling the fight, but that rather than recalling who stabbed whom in which parts, God remembers the monster "up close." God, as it were, counted every jutting protruberance on the monster's back. Maybe God was hanging on for dear life, so to speak, in the encounter, and therefore remembers everything. Thus, my approach to Leviathan's description here is derived from the context of the entire chapter: the battle. The questions, therefore, will relate to God's description of the various parts of Leviathan's body. God starts with the "outer garment." What is interesting to you about that description?
B. We have words about the face (v.14) and the back (vv.15-17). The word translated "back," however, is really "pride." Nevertheless, I think that it is clear that the bodily "shell" is here described. Why three verses to go into such intimate description of this?
B. We return to the face, with emphasis on the nose, eyes and mouth in vv.18-21. What words of the description are interesting to you here?
C. I like the words of v.22. What picture emerges in your mind when you read "terror dances before it"?
D. We only have one verse (v.24) that speaks about the true interior of Leviathan--his heart. How is his heart described? What is the picture you have of this creature so far?
25 "When it raises itself up the gods are afraid; at the crashing they are beside themselves. 26 Though the sword reaches it, it does not avail, nor does the spear, the dart, or the javelin. 27 It counts iron as straw, and bronze as rotten wood. 28 The arrow cannot make it flee; slingstones, for it, are turned to chaff. 29 Clubs are counted as chaff; it laughs at the rattle of javelins. 30 Its underparts are like sharp potsherds; it spreads itself like a threshing sledge on the mire. 31 It makes the deep boil like a pot; it makes the sea like a pot of ointment. 32 It leaves a shining wake behind it; one would think the deep to be white-haired. 33 On earth it has no equal, a creature without fear. 34 It surveys everything that is lofty; it is king over all that are proud."
A. Now we are treated to a picture of Leviathan's strength in action. First, though, how do you understand v.25? Is Yahweh, God of Israel, one of the "gods" who is afraid when Leviathan raises itself up?
B. What is the effect of all kinds of weapons directed against Leviathan?
C. The text returns to a brief description of Leviathan's body in v.30. Why so? Is this similar to Job's return to one further oath in 31:38-40 after he has said he was going to "sign" the complaint against God?
D. The final image we have of Leviathan is his moving through the waves. Isn't the description brilliant? What does it say to you?
E. What do the last words (vv.33-34) indicate to you? Something about prides is at issue, don't you think?
This remarkable description of Leviathan closes God's words. One scholar has described God's address to Job as filled with "lordly rhetorical sarcasm that brutally puts Job down" (Good, In Turns of Tempest, p.368). Do you agree?