on Job 7 :12
Am I a sea, or a whale - "Am I condemned as the Egyptians were who were drowned in the Red Sea? or am I as Pharaoh, who was drowned in it in his sins, that thou settest a keeper over me?" Targum. Am I as dangerous as the sea, that I should be encompassed about with barriers, lest I should hurt mankind? Am I like an ungovernable wild beast or dragon, that I must be put under locks and bars? I think our own version less exceptionable than any other hitherto given of this verse. The meaning is sufficiently plain. Job was hedged about and shut in with insuperable difficulties of various kinds; he was entangled as a wild beast in a net; the more he struggled, the more he lost his strength, and the less probability there was of his being extricated from his present situation. The sea is shut in with barriers, over which it cannot pass; for God has "placed the sand for the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it: and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it," Jeremiah 5:22. "For thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over; that they turn not again to cover the earth;" Psalm 104:9. "Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb? When I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swaddling band for it, and brake up for it my decreed place, and set bars and doors; and said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no farther: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed;" Job 38:8. Here then is Job's allusion: the bounds, doors, garment, swaddling bands, decreed place, and bars, are the watchers or keepers which God has set to prevent the sea from overflowing the earth; so Job's afflictions and distresses were the bounds and bars which God had apparently set to prevent him from injuring his fellow creatures. At least Job, in his complaint, so takes it. Am I like the sea, which thou hast imprisoned within bounds, ready to overwhelm and destroy the country? or am I like a dragon, which must be cooped up in the same way, that it may not have the power to kill and destroy? Surely in my prosperity I gave no evidence of such a disposition; therefore should not be treated as a man dangerous to society. In this Job shows that he will not refrain his mouth.
on Job 7 :12
Am I a sea? - That is, "am I like a raging and tumultuous sea, that it is necessary to restrain and confine me? The sense of the verse is, that God had treated him as if he were untamable and turbulent, as if he were like the restless ocean, or as if he were some monster, which could be restrained within proper limits only by the stern exercise of power. Dr. Good, following Reiske, renders this, "a savage beast," understanding by the Hebrew word ים yâm a sea-monster instead of the sea itself, and then any ferocious beast, as the wild buffalo. But it is clear, I think, that the word never has this meaning. It means properly the sea; then a lake or inland sea, and then it is applied to any great river that spreads out like the ocean. Thus, it is applied both to the Nile, and to the Euphrates; see Isaiah 11:15, note; Isaiah 19:15, note. Herder here renders it, "the river and its crocodile," and this it seems to me is probably the meaning. Job asks whether he is like the Nile, overflowing its banks, and rolling on impetuously to the sea, and, unless restrained, sweeping everything away. Some such flood of waters, and not a savage beast, is undoubtedly intended here.
Or a whale - תנין tannı̂yn. Jerome, cetus - a whale. The Septuagint renders it, δράκων drakōn, a dragon. The Chaldee paraphrases it, "Am I condemned as the Egyptians were, who were condemned and submerged in the Red sea; or as Pharaoh, who was drowned in the midst of it, in his sins, that thou placest over me a guard?" Herder renders it, "the crocodile." On the meaning of the word, see Isaiah 13:22, note; Isaiah 51:9, note. It refers here probably to a crocodile, or some similar monster, that was found either in the Nile or in the branches of the Red sea. There is no evidence that it means a whale. Harmer (Obs. iii. 536, Ed. Lond. 1808) supposes that the crocodile is meant, and observes that "Crocodiles are very terrible to the inhabitants of Egypt; when, therefore, they appear, they watch them with great attention, and take proper precautions to secure them, so as that they should not be able to avoid the deadly weapons the Egyptians afterward make use of to kill them." According to this, the expression in Job refers to the anxious care which is evinced by the inhabitants of countries where crocodiles abound to destroy them. Every opportunity would be anxiously watched for, and great solicitude would be manifested to take their lives. In countries, too, which were subject to inundation from waters, great anxiety would be evinced. The rising waters would be carefully watched, lest they should burst over all barriers, and sweep away fences, houses, and towns. Such a constant vigilance Job represents the Almighty as keeping over him - watching him as if he were a swelling, roaring, and ungovernable torrent, or as if he were a frightful monster of the deep, whom he was anxious to destroy. In both respects the language is forcible, and in both instances scarcely less irreverent than it is forcible. For a description of the crocodile, see the notes at Job 41.
on Job 7 :12
7:12 A sea - Am I as fierce and unruly as the sea, which, if thou didst not set bounds to it, would overwhelm the earth? Or, am I a vast and ungovernable sea - monster? Which thou must restrain by thy powerful providence. That, and c. - That thou shouldest guard and restrain me with such heavy and unexampled miseries? We are apt in affliction to complain of God, as if he laid more upon us than there is occasion for: whereas we are never in heaviness, but when there is need, nor more than there is need.