Isaiah 40:12

12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?

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Isaiah 40:12 in Other Translations

KJV
12 Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?
ESV
12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?
NLT
12 Who else has held the oceans in his hand? Who has measured off the heavens with his fingers? Who else knows the weight of the earth or has weighed the mountains and hills on a scale?
MSG
12 Who has scooped up the ocean in his two hands, or measured the sky between his thumb and little finger, Who has put all the earth's dirt in one of his baskets, weighed each mountain and hill?
CSB
12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand or marked off the heavens with the span [of his hand]? Who has gathered the dust of the earth in a measure or weighed the mountains in a balance and the hills in scales?

Isaiah 40:12 Meaning and Commentary

Isaiah 40:12

Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand?
&c.] The following account of the power, wisdom, and all sufficiency of God, and which is to be understood of Christ, is to show that he is equal to the work of redemption and salvation he has engaged in, and was about to come and perform, and that he is able to do it, as well as to execute his office as a shepherd; and also to observe, that though his rich grace and goodness he had condescended to take upon him the work of a saviour, and the office of a shepherd, yet this was not to be interpreted as if he had lost his dignity and glory as a divine Person, or as if that was in the least diminished; for he was no other than that infinite Being, "who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand"; the waters of the seas, for which he has provided a receptacle, where he has collected and put them together; the dimensions of which are exactly known to him, and the vast confluence of water is no more in his hands than so much water as a man can hold in the hollow of his hand, in his fist, or hand contracted: and meted out heaven with the span;
which he has stretched out as a curtain, ( Isaiah 40:22 ) , and the measure of which is but one hand's breadth with him; and is no more to him than stretching out a carpet or canopy; and as easily measured by him as a piece of cloth is by a man with the span of his hand, or any measuring rule or yard: and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure;
the word F18 used signifies the third part of some larger measure, as of a sextarius, as some; or of an ephah, or bath as others; or of some other measure not known; (See Gill on Psalms 80:5). The Vulgate Latin version renders it, "with three fingers"; and the sense may be, that the dust of the earth, or the earth itself, which is but dust, is no more with the Lord than so much earth or dust as a man can hold between his thumb and two fingers; and in like manner is the whole earth comprehended by the Lord: and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance;
as easily as a man can throw in his goods into a pair of scales, and take the true weight of them, with equal ease did the Lord raise the mountains and the hills in a proper proportion, and has so exactly poised them, as if he had weighed them in a pair of scales; this seems to hint at the use of mountains and hills to be a sort of ballast to the earth, and shows the original formation of them from the beginning. The answer to the above question is, that it was the same divine Person of whom it is said, "behold your God, [and who should] come with a strong hand, [and] feed his flock."


FOOTNOTES:

F18 (vlvb) "in mensura ternaria", Montanus; "trientali", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius, Vitringa.

Isaiah 40:12 In-Context

10 See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and he rules with a mighty arm. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.
11 He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.
12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?
13 Who can fathom the Spirit of the LORD, or instruct the LORD as his counselor?
14 Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge, or showed him the path of understanding?

Cross References 4

  • 1. S Job 12:15; S Job 38:10
  • 2. Proverbs 30:4
  • 3. S Job 38:5; Hebrews 1:10-12
  • 4. S Job 38:18; Proverbs 16:11
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