on Job 40 :24
He taketh it with his eyes - He looks at the sweeping tide, and defies it.
His nose pierceth through snares - If fences of strong stakes be made in order to restrain him, or prevent him from passing certain boundaries, he tears them in pieces with his teeth; or, by pressing his nose against them, breaks them off. If other parts of the description would answer, this might well apply to the elephant, the nose here meaning the proboscis, with which he can split trees, or even tear them up from the roots! Thus ends the description of the behemoth; what I suppose to be the mastodon or mammoth, or some creature of this kind, that God made as the chief of his works, exhibited in various countries for a time, cut them off from the earth, but by his providence preserved many of their skeletons, that succeeding ages might behold the mighty power which produced this chief of the ways of God, and admire the providence that rendered that race extinct which would otherwise, in all probability, have extinguished every other race of animals! I am not unapprized of the strong arguments produced by learned men to prove, on the one hand, that behemoth is the elephant; and, on the other, that he is the hippopotamus or river-horse, and I have carefully read all that Bochart, that chief of learned men, has said on the subject. But I am convinced that an animal now extinct, probably of the kind already mentioned, is the creature pointed out and described by the inspiration of God in this chapter.
On Job 40:1 of this chapter we have seen, from Mr. Heath's remarks, that the fourteen first verses were probably transposed. In the following observations Dr. Kennicott appears to prove the point. "It will be here objected, that the poem could not possibly end with this question from Job; and, among other reasons, for this in particular; because we read in the very next verse, That after the Lord had spoken these words unto Job, etc. If, therefore, the last speaker was not Job, but the Lord, Job could not originally have concluded this poem, as he does at present. "This objection I hold to be exceedingly important; and, indeed, to prove decisively that the poem must have ended at first with some speech from God. "And this remark leads directly to a very interesting inquiry: What was at first the conclusion of this poem? This may, I presume, be pointed out and determined, not by the alteration of any one word, but only by allowing a dislocation of the fourteen verses which now begin the fortieth chapter. Chapters 38, 39, 40, and 41, contain a magnificent display of the Divine power and wisdom in the works of the Creator; specifying the lion, raven, wild goat, wild ass, unicorn, peacock, ostrich, horse, hawk, eagle, behemoth, and leviathan. "Now, it must have surprised most readers to find that the description of these creatures is strangely interrupted at Job 40:1, and as strangely resumed afterwards at Job 40:15; and therefore, if these fourteen verses will connect with and regularly follow what now ends the poem, we cannot much doubt that these fourteen verses have again found their true station, and should be restored to it. "The greatness of the supposed transposition is no objection: because so many verses as would fill one piece of vellum in an ancient roll, might be easily sewed in before or after its proper place. In the case before us, the twenty-five lines in the first fourteen verses of chapter xl. seem to have been sewed in improperly after Job 39:30, instead of after Job 42:6. That such large parts have been transposed in rolls to make which the parts are sewed together is absolutely certain; and that this has been the case here, is still more probable for the following reason: - "The lines here supposed to be out of place are twenty-five, and contain ninety-two words; which might be written on one piece or page of vellum. But the MS. in which these twenty-five lines made one page, must be supposed to have the same, or nearly the same, number of lines in each of the pages adjoining. And it would greatly strengthen this presumption if these twenty-five lines would fall in regularly at the end of any other set of lines, nearly of the same number; if they would fall in after the next set of twenty-five, or the second set, or the third, or the fourth, etc. Now, this is actually the case here; for the lines after these twenty-five, being one hundred or one hundred and one, make just four times twenty-five. And, therefore, if we consider these one hundred and twenty-five lines as written on five equal pieces of vellum, it follows that the fifth piece might be carelessly sewed up before the other four. "Let us also observe that present disorder of the speeches, which is this. In chapters 38 and 39, God first speaks to Job. The end of chapter 39 is followed by, 'And the Lord answered Job and said,' whilst yet Job had not replied. At Job 40:3-5, Job answers; but he says, he had then spoken Twice, and he would add no more; whereas, this was his first reply, and he speaks afterwards. From Job 40:15-41:34 are now the descriptions of behemoth and leviathan, which would regularly follow the descriptions of the horse, hawk, and eagle. And from Job 42:1-6 is now Job's speech, after which we read in Job 42:7, 'After the Lord had spoken these words unto Job!' "Now, all these confusions are removed at once if we only allow that a piece of vellum containing the twenty-five lines, (Job 40:1-14), originally followed Job 42:6. For then, after God's first speech, ending with leviathan, Job replies: then God, to whom Job replies the second time, when he added no more; and then God addresses him the third, when Job is silent, and the poem concludes: upon which the narrative opens regularly, with saying, 'After the Lord had spoken these words unto Job,' etc. Job 42:7." - Kennicott's Remarks, p. 161. The reader will find much more satisfaction if he read the places as above directed. Having ended chapter 29, proceed immediately to Job 40:15; go on regularly to the end of Job 42:6, and immediately after that add Job 40:1-14. We shall find then that the poem has a consistent and proper ending, and that the concluding speech was spoken by Jehovah.
on Job 40 :24
He taketh it with his eyes - Margin, "Or, will any take him in his sight, or, bore his nose with a gin!" From this marginal reading it is evident that our translators were much perplexed with this passage. Expositors have been also much embarrassed in regard to its meaning, and have differed much in their exposition. Rosenmuller supposes that this is to be regarded as a question, and is to be rendered, "Will the hunter take him while he sees him?" - meaning that he could not be taken without some snare or guile. The same view also is adopted by Bochart, who says that the hippopotamus could be taken only by some secret snare or pitfall. The common mode of taking him, he says, was to excavate a place near where the river horse usually lay, and to cover it over with reeds and canes, so that he would fall into it unawares. The meaning then is, that the hunter could not approach him openly and secure him while he saw him, but that some secret plan must be adopted to take him. The meaning then is, "Can he be taken when he sees the hunter?"
His nose pierceth through snares - Or rather, "When taken in snares, can anyone pierce his nose?" That is, Can the hunter even then pierce his nose so as to put in a ring or cord, and lead him wherever he pleases? This was the common method by which a wild animal was secured when taken (see the notes at Isaiah 37:29), but it is here said that this could not be done to this huge animal. He could not be subdued in this manner. He was a wild, untamed and fierce animal, that defied all the usual methods by which wild beasts were made captive. In regard to the difficulty of taking this animal, see the account of the method by which it is now done, in the notes at Job 40:15. That account shows that there is a striking accuracy in the description.
on Job 40 :24
40:24 Sight - Can any man take him in his eyes? Openly and by force? Surely not. His strength is too great for man to overcome: and therefore men are forced to use wiles and engines to catch him.