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Are these just natural lightning rods or a reference to fallen angels since Jesus does refer to Satan as falling like lightning from heaven in Lk. 10:18:

And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.

These lightnings are also described as sent almost like messengers. Why this personification?

Job 38:35 says:

Canst thou send lightnings, that they may go and say unto thee, Here we are?

Also, in Revelation 10:3,4 we read:

And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices.

 And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.

It does seem odd that thunder and lightning are symbols used for angels who are messengers that are sent forth...

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Clines, D. J. (2011). Job 38-42: WBC Volume 18B, p.1115-6. compares this verse with Psalm 18:14: "He sent out... lightning flashes in abundance, and routed them". He explains that the personification of lightning as a "typical servant" is "a little touch of the ridiculous". So, maybe this passage is just poetically emphasising God's control over nature. Augustine's note on this verse also explains that the lightning is just described as "seek[ing] to know how to carry out... orders... or what reward they have to hope" from God.

Gregory's Morals in Job XXX.6-8 says that "lightnings come forth from the clouds, just as wonderful works are displayed by holy preachers" and that they also represent "the brightness of miracles". It is also explained as contemplation having results in the active life.

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First, personification is a literary device that does not indicate anything about how literal something is. I can discuss my car and the hard time it had on a rough road and how it badly wants me to service it and wash it. That does not alter the fact that my car is literal.

The entire section of Job in chapters 38-41 is where God finally speaks and uses a series of literal phenomena to illustrate how little Job understands about the immediate world around him. These include: the sea, sunlight, vastness of the earth, weather and snow, hail and rain, constellations in the sky, mental processes, lions, mountain goats, donkeys, oxen, ostrich, horse, the hawk, God of heaven, Behemoth, Leviathan, etc.

Many of these are also personified, but all are literal.

Therefore, for consistency, I would posit that "lightning" in Job 38:35 is just as literal as all the other natural things God brings as a witness that God's wisdom is infinite and Job knows very little by comparison.

Indeed, the mention of lightning is part (the last actually) of a series of weather's components mentioned in Job 38:22-35 which includes: snow, hail, lightning, floods, thunderbolt, land, grass, dew, ice, freezing, Pleiades, Orion, laws of the heavens, clouds - all very literal, physical objects and phenomena. Many are personified.

I see nothing here to suggest that these, including the lightning, are anything but simple literal things used to teach Job how little he (and we) understand about these commonly observed things.


Now to Luke 10:18 - " ... I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven."

Apart from the single word, "lightning" (which is not enough) there is nothing to connect Luke 10:18 to Job 38:35 or even other texts that mention lightning as well such as Ex 19:16, Deut 32:41, 2 Sam 22:15, Ps 18:14, 77:18, 97:4, 135:7, Jer 10:13, 51:16, Eze 1;13, 21:10, 15, etc.

In Luke 10:18, Satan's fall from heaven is likened to lightning because his descent was extremely rapid (Rev 12:7-9).

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  • Thanks for your answer. You said: "The entire section of Job in chapters 38-41 is where God finally speaks and uses a series of literal phenomena to illustrate how little Job understands about the immediate world around him." Does that then mean the description of Behemoth and Leviathan are also that of literal creatures that no longer exist?
    – user49416
    Apr 9, 2022 at 10:37
  • @AndriesStander - whether they refer to now extinct animals or still existing animals such as the giant crocodile or something else does not matter - they are still literal creatures. (See the footnotes to the NIV and other versions for more suggestions.)
    – Dottard
    Apr 9, 2022 at 10:56
  • I agree that they are literal. Will do so thanks.
    – user49416
    Apr 9, 2022 at 10:58

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