Job 26:5-14

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BibleOld TestamentJob

The Earth hangs on nothing


Hell is naked before him, and destruction hath no covering.
He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing.

11 The pillars of heaven tremble and are astonished at his reproof.
12 He divideth the sea with his power, and by his understanding he smiteth through the proud.
13 By his spirit he hath garnished the heavens; his hand hath formed the crooked serpent.


He stretches out the north over the void,
    and hangs the earth upon nothing. (RSV)


He stretches out Zaphon[a] over the void,
    and hangs the earth upon nothing.
He binds up the waters in his thick clouds,
    and the cloud is not torn open by them.
He covers the face of the full moon,
    and spreads over it his cloud.
10 He has described a circle on the face of the waters,
    at the boundary between light and darkness.
11 The pillars of heaven tremble,
    and are astounded at his rebuke.
12 By his power he stilled the Sea;
    by his understanding he struck down Rahab.
13 By his wind the heavens were made fair;
    his hand pierced the fleeing serpent.

[a] Or the North
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

JPS Tanakh

5 The shades tremble
     Beneath the waters and their denizens.
6 Sheol is naked before Him;
     Abaddon has no cover.
7 He it is who stretched out Zaphon[a] over chaos,
     Who suspended earth over emptiness.
8 He wrapped up the waters in His clouds;
     Yet no cloud burst under their weight.
9 He shuts off the view of His throne,
     Spreading His cloud over it.
10 He drew a boundary on the surface of the waters,
     At the extreme where light and darkness meet.
11 The pillars of heaven tremble,
     Astounded at His blast.
12 By His power He stilled the sea;
     By His skill He struck down Rahab.
13 By His wind the heavens were calmed;
     His hand pierced the Elusive Serpent[b].
14 These are but glimpses of His rule,
     The mere whisper that we perceive of Him;

Who can absorb the thunder of His mighty deeds?

[a] Used for heaven; cf. Isaiah 14:13; Psalm 48:3 [Hebrew numbering]
[b] Cf. Isaiah 27:1

A prediction of modern science?

Verse 7 is sometimes read as meaning that the Earth orbits in space — see the translations above. This would suggest that the Bible was miraculously prescient, and thus divinely inspired, since this scientific fact was unknown when the Bible was written. Similarly, Isaiah 40:22 is sometimes read as referring to the spherical shape of the Earth.

The context, however, especially as seen in the NRSV, includes references to ancient cosmology and mythological beliefs about primeval theomachy that we emphatically reject nowadays — seriously weakening the claim that the passage is miraculously prescient.

Bruce (talk)

See Did the Bible anticipate modern science?

A Creation Record

See Rahab, Zaphon, The Crooked Serpent; also Literal and Figurative Creation in the Bible and Created, formed and made.

← back to Rahab A tour of the Bible's Creation Texts next →