Job’s Reply to Bildad, 1-4

26:1 Then Job replied:
26:2 “How you have helped the powerless!
How you have saved the person who has no strength!
26:3 How you have advised the one without wisdom,
and abundantly revealed your insight!
26:4 To whom did you utter these words?
And whose spirit has come forth from your mouth?

A Better Description of God’s Greatness, 5-14

Anderson says that this passage (5-14)

‘is one of the most fascinating cosmological passages in the entire Bible. More than a dozen elements are listed: earth, water, cloud, sky, etc., sometimes under the names they had in the old myths, such as Yam (sea), Rahab, and especially the fleeing serpent.’

It is ‘a pastiche of phrases from several traditions’ – from Genesis, the Canaanite myths, and possibly from Egypt too.

26:5 “The dead tremble—
those beneath the waters
and all that live in them.
26:6 The underworld is naked before God;
the place of destruction lies uncovered.
26:7 He spreads out the northern skies over empty space;
he suspends the earth on nothing.

He suspends the earth over nothing – According to the Apologetics Study Bible,

‘Some scholars suggest that Job wrote better than he knew, for his observation approached the knowledge that the earth is suspended in space supported only by gravitational forces.’

The JFB commentary finds here a

‘hint of the true theory of the earth. Its suspension in empty space is stated in the second clause.’

Geisler (Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics) cites this verse as one of a number that demonstrate (to Geisler’s own satisfaction) that

‘the Bible is not only compatible with true scientific findings, but it anticipated many of them.’  Regarding the present verse, he says: ‘In an era when it was common to believe the sky was a solid dome, the Bible accurately speaks of God spreading out the northern skies over empty space and suspending the earth over nothing (Job 26:7).’

Similarly, it has been claimed that

‘the Truth of the Word of God tells us that God “hangeth the earth upon nothing” (Job 26:7). How did Job know that the earth hung in space before the age of modern astronomy and space travel? The Holy Spirit told him.’

D.M. Lloyd-Jones:

‘Even in the time of the book of Job it was known that the earth is a globe. The Bible never says that the earth is flat. In Job 26:7 you read this: “He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing.”…It is clearly something that was revealed by God Himself. It is up to date. It is modern science, if you like. It is a description of the earth as a globe.’ (Great Doctrines of the Bible I)

Wiersbe, too, considers that the earth is here described with ‘remarkable scientific accuracy.’

In his book, ‘Defending Your Faith‘ (Kregel, 1997), Dan Story says that

‘at the time of Job, Greek mythology taught that the world rested on the shoulders of Atlas, one of the great Titans, or Elder gods. Yet Job 26:7 says that God “hangs the earth on nothing” (literally, the earth rests in space without any visible means of support).’

He takes this as one of ‘numerous’ examples of ‘scientific references that were far advanced for the science of its day.’  The absurdity of this approach can be demonstrated by glancing ahead to v11, which speaks of ‘the pillars of the heavens’.

The IVP Bible Background Commentary, on the other hands, says that

‘in Babylonian literature, Shamash is praised as the one who suspends from the heavens the circle of the lands. This was part of ancient perception of the cosmos rather than a covert allusion to modern scientific understanding.’

In the Dictionary of Christianity and Science, art. ‘Cosmology, Biblical’, John Soden writes:

‘Job 26:7 sounds suspiciously modern, though it may simply be visualizing Genesis 1:2 in a poetic way, describing the desolate waters before creation (using the term for “formless” from Gen. 1:2 in Job 26:7a), or perhaps reflecting another ancient Mesopotamian conception of Shamash, the sun god, suspending the lands from the heavens. The disparate descriptions show greater interest in function and significance than actual structure.’

It is reasonable to conclude that

‘as the immediate context of the passage makes clear, [this passage] is speaking of the cosmic geography as perceived by someone living in the Ancient Near East.’ (Source)
26:8 He locks the waters in his clouds,
and the clouds do not burst with the weight of them.
26:9 He conceals the face of the full moon,
shrouding it with his clouds.
26:10 He marks out the horizon on the surface of the waters
as a boundary between light and darkness.
26:11 The pillars of the heavens tremble
and are amazed at his rebuke.
26:12 By his power he stills the sea;
by his wisdom he cut Rahab the great sea monster to pieces.
26:13 By his breath the skies became fair;
his hand pierced the fleeing serpent.
26:14 Indeed, these are but the outer fringes of his ways!
How faint is the whisper we hear of him!
But who can understand the thunder of his power?”

Job 26:8 He wraps up the waters in his clouds, yet the clouds do not burst under their weight.

Job 26:9 He covers the face of the full moon, spreading his clouds over it.

Job 26:10 He marks out the horizon on the face of the waters for a boundary between light and darkness.

Job 26:11 The pillars of the heavens quake, aghast at his rebuke.

Job 26:12 By his power he churned up the sea; by his wisdom he cut Rahab to pieces.

Job 26:13 By his breath the skies became fair; his hand pierced the gliding serpent.

Job 26:14 And these are but the outer fringe of his works; how faint the whisper we hear of him! Who then can understand the thunder of his power?”