He takes it with his eyes: his nose pierces through snares.
All Commentaries on Job 40:24 Go To Job 40
Gregory The Dialogist
14. It is much to be observed, that the Lord, tempering in His mercy the words of His Scripture, alarms us at one time with sharp excitements, comforts us at another with gentle consolations, and blends terror with comforts, and comforts with terror; in order that, while they are both tempered towards us with wonderful skill of management, we may be found neither to despair through fear, nor yet incautiously secure. For when He had pointed out in manifold expressions the cunning crafts, and the unrestrained strength of Behemoth, He immediately sets forth the coming of His Only-begotten Son our Redeemer, and teaches in what way this Behemoth is to be destroyed; in order that, having oppressed our heart by recounting his might, He might speedily alleviate our sorrow by pointing out his destruction. Therefore, after He had said, He will drink up a river, and will not wonder, and trusteth that Jordan can flow into his mouth, He immediately announces the coming of the Lord’s Incarnation, saying, In his eyes He will take him as with a hook. Who can be ignorant that in a ‘hook’ a bait is shewn, a point is concealed? For the bait tempts, that the point may wound. Our Lord therefore, when coming for the redemption of mankind, made, as it were, a kind of hook of Himself for the death of the devil; for He assumed a body, in order that this Behemoth might seek therein the death of the flesh, as if it were his bait. But while he is unjustly aiming at that death in His person, he lost us, whom he was, as it were, justly holding. He was caught, therefore, in the ‘hook’ of His Incarnation, because while he sought in Him the bait of His Body, he was pierced with the sharp point of His Divinity. For there was within Him His Humanity, to attract to Him the devourer, there was there His Divinity to wound; there was there His open infirmity to excite, His hidden virtue to pierce through the jaw of the spoiler. He was, therefore, taken by a hook, because he perished by means of that which he swallowed. And this Behemoth knew indeed the Incarnate Son of God, but knew not the plan of our redemption. For he knew that the Son of God had been incarnate for our redemption, but he was quite ignorant that this our Redeemer was piercing him by His own death. Whence it is well said, In his eyes He will take him as with a hook. For we are said to have in our eyes that which we see placed before us. But the ancient enemy of mankind saw placed before him the Redeemer, Whom he confessed in knowing, feared in confessing, saying, What have we to do with Thee, Thou Son of God? Hast Thou come to torment us before the time? [Matt. 8, 29] He was taken therefore with a hook in his eyes, because he both knew, and seized it; and he first knew Whom to fear, and yet afterwards feared Him not, when hungering in Him for the death of the Flesh, as if it were his proper bait. Because then we have heard what our Head has done by Himself, let us now hear what He is doing by His own members. It follows;
And bore through his nostrils with stakes.
15. What else do we understand by stakes [‘sudes’], that is, poles [‘palos’], (which are sharpened indeed in order to be fixed in the ground,) but the sharp counsels of the Saints? And these perforate the nostrils of this Behemoth, while they both watchfully behold on every side his most ingenious stratagems, and pierce, by overcoming them. But a scent is drawn through the nostrils, and by drawing our breath deep, an object is detected even when placed at some distance. By the nostrils of Behemoth are, therefore, designated his cunning stratagems, by which he most ingeniously endeavours both to learn the secret good qualities of our heart, and to scatter them by his most fatal persuasion. The Lord, therefore, perforates his nostrils with stakes, because, penetrating his crafty stratagems by the acute senses of the Saints, He takes from them their power. But he often hovers about the paths of the righteous with such insidious art, as to seek to approach them for their hurt, even by means of the good qualities which he knows to exist in them. For from observing the liberality of one person, he inflames another with the fire of discord; and when he sees one person compassionate, he persuades another to be angry, in order that, by suggesting that a good deed has not been done in common, he may cut off accordant minds from the benefit of a common favour. For since he is not able to break down the resolutions of the just by persuading them to sin, he is busy in sowing evils therein by means of their good deeds. But holy men overcome these his stratagems the more speedily, the more acutely they detect them. A point which we set forth the better, if we bring forward Paul, one of many maintainers of the truth in evidence. For when a certain Corinthian under his care had committed the sin of incest, the illustrious teacher delivered him up to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, for the satisfaction of penance, and reserved his spirit to be saved to the day of the Lord Jesus. [1 Cor. 5, 5] For by great skill in discipline he was forcibly delivered for punishment to the very person, to whom he had in his sin voluntarily submitted; in order that he who had been the author of the sin of wickedness, might himself become the scourge of discipline. But when this penance had been well gone through, on learning that the Corinthians had been already moved with compassion towards him, he says, To whom ye forgive any thing, I also; for I forgave any thing, for your sakes I forgave it in the person of Christ. [2 Cor. 2, 10] As thinking of the blessing of communion, he says, To whom ye forgive any thing, I also. As if he were saying, I agree with your good doings; may whatever you have done be counted as mine. And he immediately added, And if I forgave any thing, for your sakes I forgave it. As if he were saying, Whatever I have done compassionately, has added further good to your doings. My goodness is, therefore, your profit, your goodness is my profit. And he immediately added and subjoined that binding of hearts [‘compagem cordium’], in which he is thus held, In the person of Christ. For as if we were presuming to say to him, Why dost thou so carefully couple thyself with thy disciples? why dost thou so anxiously conform either thyself to them, or them to thyself in thy doings? he immediately subjoined, That we may not be circumvented by Satan. [ib. 11] And with what acuteness he penetrates his crafty stratagems, he teaches, adding, For we are not ignorant of his devices. As if he said in other words, We are sharp stakes of the Lord’s making, and we penetrate the nostrils of this Behemoth by subtle circumspection, lest he should pervert to an evil end that which the mind enters on aright.
16. By ‘stakes’ can be signified the acute words of Wisdom Himself manifested in the flesh, so that by the nostrils of Behemoth may be typified (since scent is drawn in by the nostrils) that prying search of the ancient enemy. For when he doubted whether God were incarnate, he wished to ascertain this by tempting and asking of Him miracles, saying, If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. [Matt. 4, 3] Because then he wished to learn the scent of His Divinity from the evidence of miracles, he drew in the breath, as it were, by his nostrils. But when it is immediately said to him in answer, Man liveth not by bread alone, and, Thou shall not tempt the Lord thy God, [ib. 4, 7] because the Truth repelled the searching enquiry of the ancient enemy by the sharpness of his sayings, he pierced his nostrils, as it were, with stakes. But because this Behemoth spreads forth with various arguments of deceit, he is marked still further by the addition of another name.