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Job 12:15

15 If he holds back the waters, there is drought; if he lets them loose, they devastate the land.

Read Job 12:15 Using Other Translations

Behold, he withholdeth the waters, and they dry up: also he sendeth them out, and they overturn the earth.
If he withholds the waters, they dry up; if he sends them out, they overwhelm the land.
If he holds back the rain, the earth becomes a desert. If he releases the waters, they flood the earth.

What does Job 12:15 mean?

John Gill's Exposition of the Bible
Job 12:15

Behold, he withholdeth the waters, and they dry up
Or "lays a restraint in" or "on the waters" F19; either in the ocean, as he did at the creation, when he gathered the waters that were upon the face of the earth into one place, and restrained them there, even in the decreed place he broke up for them, called the sea, and set bars and doors to keep them within bounds, whereby the places they left became dry and the dry land appeared called earth; and so at the time of the flood, when the waters which covered the earth and drowned the world were called off again, the face of it was dry, and so it remains, the waters of the great ocean being restrained from overflowing it; and also when God rebukes the see, and smites the waves of it, or withholds the ebbing and flowing of the tides brooks and rivers of water dry up; see ( Nahum 1:4 ) ( Zechariah 10:11 ) ; or else this may be understood of God's withholding and restraining the waters in the clouds, and not suffering them to let down rain on the earth; when not only brooks dry up, as the brook Cherith did, where Elijah abode for sometime, but the fruits of the earth, trees, plants, and herbs dry up, wither and die; see ( 1 Kings 17:7 ) ( Joel 1:19 Joel 1:20 ) ; and this is an emblem in a spiritual sense of God's withholding the word and ordinances, the waters of the sanctuary the means of grace, and of fruitfulness; which when he does, the consequence of it is barrenness and unfruitfulness in kingdoms, cities, towns, families, sad particular persons; and of his withholding the communications of his grace, often compared to water in Scripture, even from his people; the effect of which is, that they are in, withering circumstances, the things that revive seem ready to die, though they shall not; love waxes cold, faith is ready to fail, and hope and strength seem perishing from the Lord:

also he sendeth them out, and they overturn the earth;
as at the time of the flood, when the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened, and such vast quantities of water issued out as overflowed the whole world, by which it was overturned; and as the Apostle Peter says, "perished", ( 2 Peter 3:5 2 Peter 3:6 ) ; though this is also true of inundations that may have been since, which though not universal as that, yet so far as they have reached have overturned all in their way, and carried off the fruits of the earth, the habitations of men, and men themselves; whole countries, cities and towns, have been carried away by the waters of the sea, or sunk into it, particularly all that space. Where now is the Atlantic sea, as Pliny {t}, from Plato, relates. It is well when the grace of God flows, and overflows, and superabounds abounding sin, and overpowers and overcomes carnal, earthly, and sensual lusts, and reigns where sin did, and teaches to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to mortify the members on the earth.


FOOTNOTES:

F19 (Mymb ruey) "detinebit in aquis", Montanus, Bolducius; "si contineat, vel cohibeat, q. d. imperium exerceat in aquas", Michaelis.
F20 Nat. Hist. l. 2. c. 90, 92.
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