THE BOOK OF JOB Commentary by A. R. Faussett
Job a Real Person.–It has been supposed by some that the book of Job is an allegory, not a real narrative, on account of the artificial character of many of its statements. Thus the sacred numbers, three and seven, often occur. He had seven thousand sheep, seven sons, both before and after his trials; his three friends sit down with him seven days and seven nights; both before and after his trials he had three daughters. So also the number and form of the speeches of the several speakers seem to be artificial. The name of Job, too, is derived from an Arabic word signifying repentance.
But Eze 14:14 (compare Eze 14:16, 20) speaks of “Job” in conjunction with “Noah and Daniel,” real persons. St. James (Jas 5:11) also refers to Job as an example of “patience,” which he would not have been likely to do had Job been only a fictitious person. Also the names of persons and places are specified with a particularity not to be looked for in an allegory. As to the exact doubling of his possessions after his restoration, no doubt the round number is given for the exact number, as the latter approached near the former; this is often done in undoubtedly historical books. As to the studied number and form of the speeches, it seems likely that the arguments were substantially those which appear in the book, but that the studied and poetic form was given by Job himself, guided by the Holy Spirit. He lived one hundred and forty years after his trials, and nothing would be more natural than that he should, at his leisure, mould into a perfect form the arguments used in the momentous debate, for the instruction of the Church in all ages. Probably, too, the debate itself occupied several sittings; and the number of speeches assigned to each was arranged by preconcerted agreement, and each was allowed the interval of a day or more to prepare carefully his speech and replies; this will account for the speakers bringing forward their arguments in regular series, no one speaking out of his turn. As to the name Job–repentance (supposing the derivation correct)–it was common in old times to give a name from circumstances which occurred at an advanced period of life, and this is no argument against the reality of the person.
Where Job Lived.–“Uz,” according to Gesenius, means a light, sandy soil, and was in the north of Arabia-Deserta, between Palestine and the Euphrates, called by Ptolemy (Geography, 19) Ausitai or Aisitai. In Ge 10:23; 22:21; 36:28; and 1Ch 1:17, 42, it is the name of a man. In Jer 25:20; La 4:21; and Job 1:1, it is a country. Uz, in Ge 22:21, is said to be the son of Nahor, brother of Abraham–a different person from the one mentioned (Ge 10:23), a grandson of Shem. The probability is that the country took its name from the latter of the two; for this one was the son of Aram, from whom the Arameans take their name, and these dwelt in Mesopotamia, between the rivers Euphrates and Tigris. Compare as to the dwelling of the sons of Shem in Ge 10:30, “a mount of the East,” answering to “men of the East” (Job 1:3). Rawlinson, in his deciphering of the Assyrian inscriptions, states that “Uz is the prevailing name of the country at the mouth of the Euphrates.” It is probable that Eliphaz the Temanite and the Sabeans dwelt in that quarter; and we know that the Chaldeans resided there, and not near Idumea, which some identify with Uz. The tornado from “the wilderness” (Job 1:19) agrees with the view of it being Arabia-Deserta. Job (Job 1:3) is called “the greatest of the men of the East”; but Idumea was not east, but south of Palestine: therefore in Scripture language, the phrase cannot apply to that country, but probably refers to the north of Arabia-Deserta, between Palestine, Idumea, and the Euphrates. So the Arabs still show in the Houran a place called Uz as the residence of Job.
The Age When Job Lived.–Eusebius fixes it two ages before Moses, that is, about the time of Isaac: eighteen hundred years before Christ, and six hundred after the Deluge. Agreeing with this are the following considerations: 1. Job’s length of life is patriarchal, two hundred years. 2. He alludes only to the earliest form of idolatry, namely, the worship of the sun, moon, and heavenly hosts (called Saba, whence arises the title “Lord of Sabaoth,” as opposed to Sabeanism) (Job 31:26-28). 3. The number of oxen and rams sacrificed, seven, as in the case of Balaam. God would not have sanctioned this after the giving of the Mosaic law, though He might graciously accommodate Himself to existing customs before the law. 4. The language of Job is Hebrew, interspersed occasionally with Syriac and Arabic expressions, implying a time when all the Shemitic tribes spoke one common tongue and had not branched into different dialects, Hebrew, Syriac, and Arabic. 5. He speaks of the most ancient kind of writing, namely, sculpture. Riches also are reckoned by cattle. The Hebrew word, translated “a piece of money,” ought rather be rendered “a lamb.” 6. There is no allusion to the exodus from Egypt and to the miracles that accompanied it; nor to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Patrick, however, thinks there is); though there is to the Flood (Job 22:17); and these events, happening in Job’s vicinity, would have been striking illustrations of the argument for God’s interposition in destroying the wicked and vindicating the righteous, had Job and his friends known of them. Nor is there any undoubted reference to the Jewish law, ritual, and priesthood. 7. The religion of Job is that which prevailed among the patriarchs previous to the law; sacrifices performed by the head of the family; no officiating priesthood, temple, or consecrated altar.
The Writer.–All the foregoing facts accord with Job himself having been the author. The style of thought, imagery, and manners, are such as we should look for in the work of an Arabian emir. There is precisely that degree of knowledge of primitive tradition (see Job 31:33, as to Adam) which was universally spread abroad in the days of Noah and Abraham, and which was subsequently embodied in the early chapters of Genesis. Job, in his speeches, shows that he was much more competent to compose the work than Elihu, to whom Lightfoot attributes it. The style forbids its being attributed to Moses, to whom its composition is by some attributed, “whilst he was among the Midianites, about 1520 B.C.” But the fact, that it, though not a Jewish book, appears among the Hebrew sacred writings, makes it likely that it came to the knowledge of Moses during the forty years which he passed in parts of Arabia, chiefly near Horeb; and that he, by divine guidance, introduced it as a sacred writing to the Israelites, to whom, in their affliction, the patience and restoration of Job were calculated to be a lesson of especial utility. That it is inspired appears from the fact that Paul (1Co 3:19) quotes it (Job 5:13) with the formula, “It is written.” Our Savior, too Mt 24:28), plainly refers to Job 29:30. Compare also Jas 4:10 and 1Pe 5:6 with Job 22:29; Ro 11:34, 35 with Job 15:8. It is probably the oldest book in the world. It stands among the Hagiographa in the threefold division of Scripture into the Law, the Prophets, and the Hagiographa (“Psalms,” Lu 24:44).
Design of the Book.–It is a public debate in poetic form on an important question concerning the divine government; moreover the prologue and epilogue, which are in prose, shed the interest of a living history over the debate, which would otherwise be but a contest of abstract reasonings. To each speaker of the three friends three speeches are assigned. Job having no one to stand by him is allowed to reply to each speech of each of the three. Eliphaz, as the oldest, leads the way. Zophar, at his third turn, failed to speak, thus virtually owning himself overcome (Job 27:1-23). Therefore Job continued his reply, which forms three speeches (Job 26:1-14; 27:1-23; 28:1-28; 29:1-31:40). Elihu (Job 32:1-37:24) is allowed four speeches. Jehovah makes three addresses (Job 38:1-41:34). Thus, throughout there is a tripartite division. The whole is divided into three parts–the prologue, poem proper, and epilogue. The poem, into three–(1) The dispute of Job and his three friends; (2) The address of Elihu; (3) The address of God. There are three series in the controversy, and in the same order. The epilogue (Job 42:1-17) also is threefold; Job’s justification, reconciliation with his friends, restoration. The speakers also in their successive speeches regularly advance from less to greater vehemence. With all this artificial composition, everything seems easy and natural.
The question to be solved, as exemplified in the case of Job, is, Why are the righteous afflicted consistently with God’s justice? The doctrine of retribution after death, no doubt, is the great solution of the difficulty. And to it Job plainly refers in Job 14:14, and Job 19:25. The objection to this, that the explicitness of the language on the resurrection in Job is inconsistent with the obscurity on the subject in the early books of the Old Testament, is answered by the fact that Job enjoyed the divine vision (Job 38:1; 42:5), and therefore, by inspiration, foretold these truths. Next, the revelations made outside of Israel being few needed to be the more explicit; thus Balaam’s prophecy (Nu 24:17) was clear enough to lead the wise men of the East by the star (Mt 2:2); and in the age before the written law, it was the more needful for God not to leave Himself without witness of the truth. Still Job evidently did not fully realize the significance designed by the Spirit in his own words (compare 1Pe 1:11, 12). The doctrine, though existing, was not plainly revealed or at least understood. Hence he does not mainly refer to this solution. Yes, and even now, we need something in addition to this solution. David, who firmly believed in a future retribution (Ps 16:10; 17:15), still felt the difficulty not entirely solved thereby (Ps 83:1-18). The solution is not in Job’s or in his three friends’ speeches. It must, therefore, be in Elihu’s. God will hold a final judgment, no doubt, to clear up all that seems dark in His present dealings; but He also now providentially and morally governs the world and all the events of human life. Even the comparatively righteous are not without sin which needs to be corrected. The justice and love of God administer the altogether deserved and merciful correction. Affliction to the godly is thus mercy and justice in disguise. The afflicted believer on repentance sees this. “Via crucis, via salutis” [“The way of the cross, the way of deliverance”]. Though afflicted, the godly are happier even now than the ungodly, and when affliction has attained its end, it is removed by the Lord. In the Old Testament the consolations are more temporal and outward; in the New Testament, more spiritual; but in neither to the entire exclusion of the other. “Prosperity,” says Bacon, “is the blessing of the Old Testament; adversity that of the New Testament, which is the mark of God’s more especial favor. Yet even in the Old Testament, if you listen to David’s harp, you shall hear as many hearse-like airs as carols; and the pencil of the Holy Ghost has labored more in describing the afflictions of Job than the felicities of Solomon. Prosperity is not without many fears and distastes; and adversity is not without comforts and hopes.” This solution of Elihu is seconded by the addresses of God, in which it is shown God must be just (because He is God), as Elihu had shown how God can be just, and yet the righteous be afflicted. It is also acquiesced in by Job, who makes no reply. God reprimands the “three” friends, but not Elihu. Job’s general course is approved; he is directed to intercede for his friends, and is restored to double his former prosperity.
Poetry.–In all countries poetry is the earliest form of composition as being best retained in the memory. In the East especially it was customary for sentiments to be preserved in a terse, proverbial, and poetic form (called maschal). Hebrew poetry is not constituted by the rhythm or meter, but in a form peculiar to itself: 1. In an alphabetical arrangement somewhat like our acrostic. For instance, La 1:1-22. 2. The same verse repeated at intervals; as in Ps 42:1-11; 107:1-43. 3. Rhythm of gradation. Psalms of degrees, Ps 120:1-134:3, in which the expression of the previous verse is resumed and carried forward in the next (Ps 121:1-8). 4. The chief characteristic of Hebrew poetry is parallelism, or the correspondence of the same ideas in the parallel clauses. The earliest instance is Enoch’s prophecy (Jude 14), and Lamech’s parody of it (Ge 4:23). Three kinds occur: (1) The synonymous parallelism, in which the second is a repetition of the first, with or without increase of force (Ps 22:27; Isa 15:1); sometimes with double parallelism (Isa 1:15). (2) The antithetic, in which the idea of the second clause is the converse of that in the first (Pr 10:1). (3) The synthetic, where there is a correspondence between different propositions, noun answering to noun, verb to verb, member to member, the sentiment, moreover, being not merely echoed, or put in contrast, but enforced by accessory ideas (Job 3:3-9). Also alternate (Isa 51:19). “Desolation and destruction, famine and sword,” that is, desolation by famine, and destruction by the sword. Introverted; where the fourth answers to the first, and the third to the second (Mt 7:6). Parallelism thus often affords a key to the interpretation. For fuller information, see Lowth (Introduction to Isaiah, and Lecture on Hebrew Poetry) and Herder (Spirit of Hebrew Poetry, translated by Marsh). The simpler and less artificial forms of parallelism prevail in Job–a mark of its early age.
PART I–PROLOGUE OR HISTORICAL INTRODUCTION IN PROSE–(Job 1:1-2:13)
Job 1:1-5. The Holiness of Job, His Wealth, &c.
1. Uz–north of Arabia-Deserta, lying towards the Euphrates. It was in this neighborhood, and not in that of Idumea, that the Chaldeans and Sabeans who plundered him dwell. The Arabs divide their country into the north, called Sham, or “the left”; and the south, called Yemen, or “the right”; for they faced east; and so the west was on their left, and the south on their right. Arabia-Deserta was on the east, Arabia-Petræa on the west, and Arabia-Felix on the south.
Job–The name comes from an Arabic word meaning “to return,” namely, to God, “to repent,” referring to his end [Eichorn]; or rather from a Hebrew word signifying one to whom enmity was shown, “greatly tried” [Gesenius]. Significant names were often given among the Hebrews, from some event of later life (compare Ge 4:2, Abel–a “feeder” of sheep). So the emir of Uz was by general consent called Job, on account of his “trials.” The only other person so called was a son of Issachar (Ge 46:13).
perfect–not absolute or faultless perfection (compare Job 9:20; Ec 7:20), but integrity, sincerity, and consistency on the whole, in all relations of life (Ge 6:9; 17:1; Pr 10:9; Mt 5:48). It was the fear of God that kept Job from evil (Pr 8:13).
3. she-asses–prized on account of their milk, and for riding (Jud 5:10). Houses and lands are not mentioned among the emir’s wealth, as nomadic tribes dwell in movable tents and live chiefly by pasture, the right to the soil not being appropriated by individuals. The “five hundred yoke of oxen” imply, however, that Job tilled the soil. He seems also to have had a dwelling in a town, in which respect he differed from the patriarchs. Camels are well called “ships of the desert,” especially valuable for caravans, as being able to lay in a store of water that suffices them for days, and to sustain life on a very few thistles or thorns.
household–(Ge 26:14). The other rendering which the Hebrew admits, “husbandry,” is not so probable.
men of the east–denoting in Scripture those living east of Palestine; as the people of North Arabia-Deserta (Jud 6:3; Eze 25:4).
4. every one his day–namely, the birthday (Job 3:1). Implying the love and harmony of the members of the family, as contrasted with the ruin which soon broke up such a scene of happiness. The sisters are specified, as these feasts were not for revelry, which would be inconsistent with the presence of sisters. These latter were invited by the brothers, though they gave no invitations in return.
5. when the days of their feasting were gone about–that is, at the end of all the birthdays collectively, when the banquets had gone round through all the families.
Job … sanctified–by offering up as many expiatory burnt offerings as he had sons (Le 1:4). This was done “in the morning” (Ge 22:3; Le 6:12). Jesus also began devotions early (Mr 1:35). The holocaust, or burnt offering, in patriarchal times, was offered (literally, “caused to ascend,” referring to the smoke ascending to heaven) by each father of a family officiating as priest in behalf of his household.
cursed God–The same Hebrew word means to “curse,” and to “bless”; Gesenius says, the original sense is to “kneel,” and thus it came to mean bending the knee in order to invoke either a blessing or a curse. Cursing is a perversion of blessing, as all sin is of goodness. Sin is a degeneracy, not a generation. It is not, however, likely that Job should fear the possibility of his sons cursing God. The sense “bid farewell to,” derived from the blessing customary at parting, seems sufficient (Ge 47:10). Thus Umbreit translates “may have dismissed God from their hearts”; namely, amid the intoxication of pleasure (Pr 20:1). This act illustrates Job’s “fear of God” (Job 1:1).
Job 1:6-12. Satan, Appearing before God, Falsely Accuses Job.
6. sons of God–angels (Job 38:7; 1Ki 22:19). They present themselves to render account of their “ministry” in other parts of the universe (Heb 1:14).
the Lord–Hebrew, Jehovah, the self-existing God, faithful to His promises. God says (Ex 6:3) that He was not known to the patriarchs by this name. But, as the name occurs previously in Ge 2:7-9, &c., what must be meant is, not until the time of delivering Israel by Moses was He known peculiarly and publicly in the character which the name means; namely, “making things to be,” fulfilling the promises made to their forefathers. This name, therefore, here, is no objection against the antiquity of the Book of Job.
Satan–The tradition was widely spread that he had been the agent in Adam’s temptation. Hence his name is given without comment. The feeling with which he looks on Job is similar to that with which he looked on Adam in Paradise: emboldened by his success in the case of one not yet fallen, he is confident that the piety of Job, one of a fallen race, will not stand the test. He had fallen himself (Job 4:19; 15:15; Jude 6). In the Book of Job, Satan is first designated by name: “Satan,” Hebrew, “one who lies in wait”; an “adversary” in a court of justice (1Ch 21:1; Ps 109:6; Zec 3:1); “accuser” (Re 12:10). He has the law of God on his side by man’s sin, and against man. But Jesus Christ has fulfilled the law for us; justice is once more on man’s side against Satan (Isa 42:21); and so Jesus Christ can plead as our Advocate against the adversary. “Devil” is the Greek name–the “slanderer,” or “accuser.” He is subject to God, who uses his ministry for chastising man. In Arabic, Satan is often applied to a serpent (Ge 3:1). He is called prince of this world (Joh 12:31); the god of this world (2Co 4:4); prince of the power of the air (Eph 2:2). God here questions him, in order to vindicate His own ways before angels.
7. going to and fro–rather, “hurrying rapidly to and fro.” The original idea in Arabic is the heat of haste (Mt 12:43; 1Pe 5:8). Satan seems to have had some peculiar connection with this earth. Perhaps he was formerly its ruler under God. Man succeeded to the vice royalty (Ge 1:26; Ps 8:6). Man then lost it and Satan became prince of this world. The Son of man (Ps 8:4)–the representative man, regains the forfeited inheritance (Re 11:15). Satan’s replies are characteristically curt and short. When the angels appear before God, Satan is among them, even as there was a Judas among the apostles.
8. considered–Margin, “set thine heart on”; that is, considered attentively. No true servant of God escapes the eye of the adversary of God.
9. fear God for naught–It is a mark of the children of Satan to sneer and not give credit to any for disinterested piety. Not so much God’s gifts, as God Himself is “the reward” of His people (Ge 15:1).
10. his substance is increased–literally, “spread out like a flood”; Job’s herds covered the face of the country.
11. curse thee to thy face–in antithesis to God’s praise of him (Job 1:8), “one that feareth God.” Satan’s words are too true of many. Take away their prosperity and you take away their religion (Mal 3:14).
12. in thy power–Satan has no power against man till God gives it. God would not touch Job with His own hand, though Satan asks this (Job 1:11, “thine”), but He allows the enemy to do so.
Job 1:13-22. Job, in Affliction, Blesses God, &c.
13. wine–not specified in Job 1:4. The mirth inspired by the “wine” here contrasts the more sadly with the alarm which interrupted it.
14. the asses feeding beside them–Hebrew, “she asses.” A graphic picture of rural repose and peace; the more dreadful, therefore, by contrast is the sudden attack of the plundering Arabs.
15. Sabeans–not those of Arabia-Felix, but those of Arabia-Deserta, descending from Sheba, grandson of Abraham and Keturah (Ge 25:3). The Bedouin Arabs of the present day resemble, in marauding habits, these Sabeans (compare Ge 16:12).
I alone am escaped–cunningly contrived by Satan. One in each case escapes (Job 1:16, 17, 19), and brings the same kind of message. This was to overwhelm Job, and leave him no time to recover from the rapid succession of calamities–“misfortunes seldom come single.”
16. fire of God–Hebraism for “a mighty fire”; as “cedars of God”–“lofty cedars” [Ps 80:10]. Not lightning, which would not consume all the sheep and servants. Umbreit understands it of the burning wind of Arabia, called by the Turks “wind of poison.” “The prince of the power of the air” [Eph 2:2] is permitted to have control over such destructive agents.
17. Chaldeans–not merely robbers as the Sabeans; but experienced in war, as is implied by “they set in array three bands” (Hab 1:6-8). Rawlinson distinguishes three periods: 1. When their seat of empire was in the south, towards the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates. The Chaldean period, from 2300 B.C. to 1500 B.C. In this period was Chedorlaomer (Ge 14:1), the Kudur of Hur or Ur of the Chaldees, in the Assyrian inscriptions, and the conqueror of Syria. 2. From 1500 to 625 B.C., the Assyrian period. 3. From 625 to 538 B.C. (when Cyrus the Persian took Babylon), the Babylonian period. “Chaldees” in Hebrew–Chasaim. They were akin, perhaps, to the Hebrews, as Abraham’s sojourn in Ur, and the name “Chesed,” a nephew of Abraham, imply. The three bands were probably in order to attack the three separate thousands of Job’s camels (Job 1:3).
19. a great wind from the wilderness–south of Job’s house. The tornado came the more violently over the desert, being uninterrupted (Isa 21:1; Ho 13:15).
the young men–rather, “the young people”; including the daughters (so in Ru 2:21).
20. Job arose–not necessarily from sitting. Inward excitement is implied, and the beginning to do anything. He had heard the other messages calmly, but on hearing of the death of his children, then he arose; or, as Eichorn translates, he started up (2Sa 13:31). The rending of the mantle was the conventional mark of deep grief (Ge 37:34). Orientals wear a tunic or shirt, and loose pantaloons; and over these a flowing mantle (especially great persons and women). Shaving the head was also usual in grief (Jer 41:5; Mic 1:16).
21. Naked–(1Ti 6:7). “Mother’s womb” is poetically the earth, the universal mother (Ec 5:15; 12:7; Ps 139:15). Job herein realizes God’s assertion (Job 1:8) against Satan’s (Job 1:11). Instead of cursing, he blesses the name of Jehovah (Hebrew). The name of Jehovah, is Jehovah Himself, as manifested to us in His attributes (Isa 9:6).
22. nor charged God foolishly–rather, “allowed himself to commit no folly against God” [Umbreit]. Job 2:10 proves that this is the meaning. Not as Margin “attributed no folly to God.” Hasty words against God, though natural in the bitterness of grief, are folly; literally, an “insipid, unsavory” thing (Job 6:6; Jer 23:13, Margin). Folly in Scripture is continually equivalent to wickedness. For when man sins, it is himself, not God, whom he injures (Pr 8:36). We are to submit to trials, not because we see the reasons for them, nor yet as though they were matters of chance, but because God wills them, and has a right to send them, and has His own good reasons in sending them.
Job 2:1-8. Satan Further Tempts Job.
1. a day–appointed for the angels giving an account of their ministry to God. The words “to present himself before the Lord” occur here, though not in Job 1:6, as Satan has now a special report to make as to Job.
3. integrity–literally, “completeness”; so “perfect,” another form of the same Hebrew word, Job 11:7.
movedst … against–So 1Sa 26:19; compare 1Ch 21:1 with 2Sa 24:1.
4. Skin for skin–a proverb. Supply, “He will give.” The “skin” is figurative for any outward good. Nothing outward is so dear that a man will not exchange it for some other outward good; “but” (not “yea”) “life,” the inward good, cannot be replaced; a man will sacrifice everything else for its sake. Satan sneers bitterly at man’s egotism and says that Job bears the loss of property and children because these are mere outward and exchangeable goods, but he will give up all things, even his religion, in order to save his life, if you touch his bones and flesh. “Skin” and “life” are in antithesis [Umbreit]. The martyrs prove Satan’s sneer false. Rosenmuller explains it not so well. A man willingly gives up another’s skin (life) for his own skin (life). So Job might bear the loss of his children, &c., with equanimity, so long as he remained unhurt himself; but when touched in his own person, he would renounce God. Thus the first “skin” means the other’s skin, that is, body; the second “skin,” one’s own, as in Ex 21:28.
6. but save–rather, “only spare his life.” Satan shows his ingenuity in inflicting pain, and also his knowledge of what man’s body can bear without vital injury.
7. sore boils–malignant boils; rather, as it is singular in the Hebrew, a “burning sore.” Job was covered with one universal inflammation. The use of the potsherd [Job 2:8] agrees with this view. It was that form of leprosy called black (to distinguish it from the white), or elephantiasis, because the feet swell like those of the elephant. The Arabic judham (De 28:35), where “sore botch” is rather the black burning boil (Isa 1:6).
8. a potsherd–not a piece of a broken earthen vessel, but an instrument made for scratching (the root of the Hebrew word is “scratch”); the sore was too disgusting to touch. “To sit in the ashes” marks the deepest mourning (Jon 3:6); also humility, as if the mourner were nothing but dust and ashes; so Abraham (Ge 18:27).
Job 2:9-13. Job Reproves His Wife.
9. curse God–rather, “renounce” God. (See on Job 1:5) [Umbreit]. However, it was usual among the heathens, when disappointed in their prayers accompanied with offerings to their gods, to reproach and curse them.
and die–that is, take thy farewell of God and so die. For no good is to be got out of religion, either here or hereafter; or, at least, not in this life [Gill]; Nothing makes the ungodly so angry as to see the godly under trial not angry.
10. the foolish women–Sin and folly are allied in Scripture (1Sa 25:25; 2Sa 13:13; Ps 14:1).
receive evil–bear willingly (La 3:39).
11. Eliphaz–The view of Rawlinson that “the names of Job’s three friends represent the Chaldean times, about 700 B.C.,” cannot be accepted. Eliphaz is an Idumean name, Esau’s oldest son (Ge 36:4); and Teman, son of Eliphaz (Ge 36:15), called “duke.” Eusebius places Teman in Arabia-Petræa (but see on Job 6:19). Teman means “at the right hand”; and then the south, namely, part of Idumea; capital of Edom (Am 1:12). Hebrew geographers faced the east, not the north as we do; hence with them “the right hand” was the south. Temanites were famed for wisdom (Jer 49:7). Baruch mentions them as “authors of fables” (namely, proverbs embodying the results of observation), and “searchers out of understanding.”
Bildad the Shuhite–Shuah (“a pit”), son of Abraham and Keturah (Ge 25:2). Ptolemy mentions the region Syccea, in Arabia-Deserta, east of Batanea.
Zophar the Naamathite–not of the Naamans in Judah (Jos 15:41), which was too distant; but some region in Arabia-Deserta. Fretelius says there was a Naamath in Uz.
12. toward heaven–They threw ashes violently upwards, that they might fall on their heads and cover them–the deepest mourning (Jos 7:6; Ac 22:23).
13. seven days … nights–They did not remain in the same posture and without food, &c., all this time, but for most of this period daily and nightly. Sitting on the earth marked mourning (La 2:10). Seven days was the usual length of it (Ge 50:10; 1Sa 31:13). This silence may have been due to a rising suspicion of evil in Job; but chiefly because it is only ordinary griefs that find vent in language; extraordinary griefs are too great for utterance.
THE POEM OR DEBATE ITSELF (Job 3:2-42:6). FIRST SERIES IN IT (Job 3:1-14:22). JOB FIRST (Job 3:1-26).
Job 3:1-19. Job Curses the Day of His Birth and Wishes for Death.
1. opened his mouth–The Orientals speak seldom, and then sententiously; hence this formula expressing deliberation and gravity (Ps 78:2). He formally began.
cursed his day–the strict Hebrew word for “cursing:” not the same as in Job 1:5. Job cursed his birthday, but not his God.
2. spake–Hebrew, “answered,” that is, not to any actual question that preceded, but to the question virtually involved in the case. His outburst is singularly wild and bold (Jer 20:14). To desire to die so as to be free from sin is a mark of grace; to desire to die so as to escape troubles is a mark of corruption. He was ill-fitted to die who was so unwilling to live. But his trials were greater, and his light less, than ours.
3. the night in which–rather “the night which said.” The words in italics are not in the Hebrew. Night is personified and poetically made to speak. So in Job 3:7, and in Ps 19:2. The birth of a male in the East is a matter of joy; often not so of a female.
4. let not God regard it–rather, more poetically, “seek it out.” “Let not God stoop from His bright throne to raise it up from its dark hiding-place.” The curse on the day in Job 3:3, is amplified in Job 3:4, 5; that on the night, in Job 3:6-10.
5. Let … the shadow of death–(“deepest darkness,” Isa 9:2).
stain it–This is a later sense of the verb [Gesenius]; better the old and more poetic idea, “Let darkness (the ancient night of chaotic gloom) resume its rights over light (Ge 1:2), and claim that day as its own.”
a cloud–collectively, a gathered mass of dark clouds.
the blackness of the day terrify it–literally, “the obscurations”; whatever darkens the day [Gesenius]. The verb in Hebrew expresses sudden terrifying. May it be suddenly affrighted at its own darkness. Umbreit explains it as “magical incantations that darken the day,” forming the climax to the previous clauses; Job 3:8 speaks of “cursers of the day” similarly. But the former view is simpler. Others refer it to the poisonous simoom wind.
6. seize upon it–as its prey, that is, utterly dissolve it.
joined unto the days of the year–rather, by poetic personification, “Let it not rejoice in the circle of days and nights and months, which form the circle of years.”
7. solitary–rather, “unfruitful.” “Would that it had not given birth to me.”
8. them … curse the day–If “mourning” be the right rendering in the latter clause of this verse, these words refer to the hired mourners of the dead (Jer 9:17). But the Hebrew for “mourning” elsewhere always denotes an animal, whether it be the crocodile or some huge serpent (Isa 27:1), such as is meant by “leviathan.” Therefore, the expression, “cursers of day,” refers to magicians, who were believed to be able by charms to make a day one of evil omen. (So Balaam, Nu 22:5). This accords with Umbreit’s view (Job 3:7); or to the Ethiopians and Atlantes, who “used to curse the sun at his rising for burning up them and their country” [Herodotus]. Necromancers claimed power to control or rouse wild beasts at will, as do the Indian serpent-charmers of our day (Ps 58:5). Job does not say they had the power they claimed; but, supposing they had, may they curse the day. Schuttens renders it by supplying words as follows:–Let those that are ready for anything, call it (the day) the raiser up of leviathan, that is, of a host of evils.
9. dawning of the day–literally, “eyelashes of morning.” The Arab poets call the sun the eye of day. His early rays, therefore, breaking forth before sunrise, are the opening eyelids or eyelashes of morning.
12. Why did the knees prevent me?–Old English for “anticipate my wants.” The reference is to the solemn recognition of a new-born child by the father, who used to place it on his knees as his own, whom he was bound to rear (Ge 30:3; 50:23; Isa 66:12).
13. lain … quiet … slept–a gradation. I should not only have lain, but been quiet, and not only been quiet, but slept. Death in Scripture is called “sleep” (Ps 13:3); especially in the New Testament, where the resurrection-awakening is more clearly set forth (1Co 15:51; 1Th 4:14; 5:10).
14. With kings … which built desolate places for themselves–who built up for themselves what proved to be (not palaces, but) ruins! The wounded spirit of Job, once a great emir himself, sick of the vain struggles of mortal great men, after grandeur, contemplates the palaces of kings, now desolate heaps of ruins. His regarding the repose of death the most desirable end of the great ones of earth, wearied with heaping up perishable treasures, marks the irony that breaks out from the black clouds of melancholy [Umbreit]. The “for themselves” marks their selfishness. Michaelis explains it weakly of mausoleums, such as are found still, of stupendous proportions, in the ruins of Petra of Idumea.
15. filled their houses with silver–Some take this to refer to the treasures which the ancients used to bury with their dead. But see Job 3:26.
16. untimely birth–(Ps 58:8); preferable to the life of the restless miser (Ec 6:3-5).
17. the wicked–the original meaning, “those ever restless,” “full of desires” (Isa 57:20, 21).
the weary–literally, “those whose strength is wearied out” (Re 14:13).
18. There the prisoners rest–from their chains.
19. servant–The slave is there manumitted from slavery.
Job 3:20-26. He Complains of Life because of His Anguish.
20. Wherefore giveth he light–namely, God; often omitted reverentially (Job 24:23; Ec 9:9). Light, that is, life. The joyful light ill suits the mourners. The grave is most in unison with their feelings.
23. whose way is hid–The picture of Job is drawn from a wanderer who has lost his way, and who is hedged in, so as to have no exit of escape (Ho 2:6; La 3:7, 9).
24. my sighing cometh before I eat–that is, prevents my eating [Umbreit]; or, conscious that the effort to eat brought on the disease, Job must sigh before eating [Rosenmuller]; or, sighing takes the place of good (Ps 42:3) [Good]. But the first explanation accords best with the text.
my roarings are poured out like the waters–an image from the rushing sound of water streaming.
25. the thing which I … feared is come upon me–In the beginning of his trials, when he heard of the loss of one blessing, he feared the loss of another; and when he heard of the loss of that, he feared the loss of a third.
that which I was afraid of is come unto me–namely, the ill opinion of his friends, as though he were a hypocrite on account of his trials.
26. I was not in safety … yet trouble came–referring, not to his former state, but to the beginning of his troubles. From that time I had no rest, there was no intermission of sorrows. “And” (not, “yet”) a fresh trouble is coming, namely, my friends’ suspicion of my being a hypocrite. This gives the starting-point to the whole ensuing controversy.
Job 4:1-21. First Speech of Eliphaz.
1. Eliphaz–the mildest of Job’s three accusers. The greatness of Job’s calamities, his complaints against God, and the opinion that calamities are proofs of guilt, led the three to doubt Job’s integrity.
2. If we assay to commune–Rather, two questions, “May we attempt a word with thee? Wilt thou be grieved at it?” Even pious friends often count that only a touch which we feel as a wound.
3. weak hands–Isa 35:3; 2Sa 4:1.
5. thou art troubled–rather, “unhinged,” hast lost thy self-command (1Th 3:3).
6. Is not this thy fear, thy confidence, &c.–Does thy fear, thy confidence, come to nothing? Does it come only to this, that thou faintest now? Rather, by transposition, “Is not thy fear (of God) thy hope? and the uprightness of thy ways thy confidence? If so, bethink thee, who ever perished being innocent?” [Umbreit]. But Lu 13:2, 3 shows that, though there is a retributive divine government even in this life, yet we cannot judge by the mere outward appearance. “One event is outwardly to the righteous and to the wicked” (Ec 9:2); but yet we must take it on trust, that God deals righteously even now (Ps 37:25; Isa 33:16). Judge not by a part, but by the whole of a godly man’s life, and by his end, even here (Jas 5:11). The one and the same outward event is altogether a different thing in its inward bearings on the godly and on the ungodly even here. Even prosperity, much more calamity, is a punishment to the wicked (Pr 1:32). Trials are chastisements for their good (to the righteous) (Ps 119:67, 71, 75). See Preface on the Design of this book (see Introduction).
8. they that plough iniquity … reap the same–(Pr 22:8; Ho 8:7; 10:13; Ga 6:7, 8).
9. breath of his nostrils–God’s anger; a figure from the fiery winds of the East (Job 1:16; Isa 5:25; Ps 18:8, 15).
10, 11. lion–that is, wicked men, upon whom Eliphaz wished to show that calamities come in spite of their various resources, just as destruction comes on the lion in spite of his strength (Ps 58:6; 2Ti 4:17). Five different Hebrew terms here occur for “lion.” The raging of the lion (the tearer), and the roaring of the bellowing lion and the teeth of the young lions, not whelps, but grown up enough to hunt for prey. The strong lion, the whelps of the lioness (not the stout lion, as in English Version) [Barnes and Umbreit]. The various phases of wickedness are expressed by this variety of terms: obliquely, Job, his wife, and children, may be hinted at by the lion, lioness, and whelps. The one verb, “are broken,” does not suit both subjects; therefore, supply “the roaring of the bellowing lion is silenced.” The strong lion dies of want at last, and the whelps, torn from the mother, are scattered, and the race becomes extinct.
12. a thing–Hebrew, a “word.” Eliphaz confirms his view by a divine declaration which was secretly and unexpectedly imparted to him.
a little–literally, “a whisper”; implying the still silence around, and that more was conveyed than articulate words could utter (Job 26:14; 2Co 12:4).
13. In thoughts from the visions of the night–[So Winer]. While revolving night visions previously made to him (Da 2:29). Rather, “In my manifold (Hebrew, divided) thoughts, before the visions of the night commenced”; therefore not a delusive dream (Ps 4:4) [Umbreit].
deep sleep–(Ge 2:21; 15:12).
16. It stood still–At first the apparition glides before Eliphaz, then stands still, but with that shadowy indistinctness of form which creates such an impression of awe; a gentle murmur: not (English Version): there was silence; for in 1Ki 19:12, the voice, as opposed to the previous storm, denotes a gentle, still murmur.
17. mortal man … a man–Two Hebrew words for “man” are used; the first implying his feebleness; the second his strength. Whether feeble or strong, man is not righteous before God.
more just than God … more pure than his maker–But this would be self-evident without an oracle.
18. folly–Imperfection is to be attributed to the angels, in comparison with Him. The holiness of some of them had given way (2Pe 2:4), and at best is but the holiness of a creature. Folly is the want of moral consideration [Umbreit].
19. houses of clay–(2Co 5:1). Houses made of sun-dried clay bricks are common in the East; they are easily washed away (Mt 7:27). Man’s foundation is this dust (Ge 3:19).
before the moth–rather, “as before the moth,” which devours a garment (Job 13:28; Ps 39:11; Isa 50:9). Man, who cannot, in a physical point of view, stand before the very moth, surely cannot, in a moral, stand before God.
20. from morning to evening–unceasingly; or, better, between the morning and evening of one short day (so Ex 18:14; Isa 38:12).
They are destroyed–better, “they would be destroyed,” if God withdrew His loving protection. Therefore man must not think to be holy before God, but to draw holiness and all things else from God (Job 4:17).
21. their excellency–(Ps 39:11; 146:4; 1Co 13:8). But Umbreit, by an Oriental image from a bow, useless because unstrung: “Their nerve, or string would be torn away.” Michaelis, better in accordance with Job 4:19, makes the allusion be to the cords of a tabernacle taken down (Isa 33:20).
they die, even without wisdom–rather, “They would perish, yet not according to wisdom,” but according to arbitrary choice, if God were not infinitely wise and holy. The design of the spirit is to show that the continued existence of weak man proves the inconceivable wisdom and holiness of God, which alone save man from ruin [Umbreit]. Bengel shows from Scripture that God’s holiness (Hebrew, kadosh) comprehends all His excellencies and attributes. De Wette loses the scope, in explaining it, of the shortness of man’s life, contrasted with the angels “before they have attained to wisdom.”
Job 5:1-27. Eliphaz’ Conclusion from the Vision.
1. if there be any, &c.–Rather, “will He (God) reply to thee?” Job, after the revelation just given, cannot be so presumptuous as to think God or any of the holy ones (Da 4:17, “angels”) round His throne, will vouchsafe a reply (a judicial expression) to his rebellious complaint.
2. wrath … envy–fretful and passionate complaints, such as Eliphaz charged Job with (Job 4:5; so Pr 14:30). Not, the wrath of God killeth the foolish, and His envy, &c.
3. the foolish–the wicked. I have seen the sinner spread his “root” wide in prosperity, yet circumstances “suddenly” occurred which gave occasion for his once prosperous dwelling being “cursed” as desolate (Ps 37:35, 36; Jer 17:8).
4. His children … crushed in the gate–A judicial formula. The gate was the place of judgment and of other public proceedings (Ps 127:5; Pr 22:22; Ge 23:10; De 21:19). Such propylæa have been found in the Assyrian remains. Eliphaz obliquely alludes to the calamity which cut off Job’s children.
5. even out of the thorns–Even when part of the grain remains hanging on the thorn bushes (or, “is growing among thorns,” Mt 13:7), the hungry gleaner does not grudge the trouble of even taking it away, so clean swept away is the harvest of the wicked.
the robber–as the Sabeans, who robbed Job. Rather, translate “the thirsty,” as the antithesis in the parallelism, “the hungry,” proves.
6. Although–rather, “for truly” [Umbreit].
affliction cometh not forth of the dust–like a weed, of its own accord. Eliphaz hints that the cause of it lay with Job himself.
7. Yet–rather, “Truly,” or, But affliction does not come from chance, but is the appointment of God for sin; that is, the original birth-sin of man. Eliphaz passes from the particular sin and consequent suffering of Job to the universal sin and suffering of mankind. Troubles spring from man’s common sin by as necessary a law of natural consequences as sparks (Hebrew, “sons of coal”) fly upward. Troubles are many and fiery, as sparks (1Pe 4:12; Isa 43:2). Umbreit for “sparks” has “birds of prey;” literally, “sons of lightning,” not so well.
8. Therefore (as affliction is ordered by God, on account of sin), “I would” have you to “seek unto God” (Isa 8:19; Am 5:8; Jer 5:24).
11. Connected with Job 5:9. His “unsearchable” dealings are with a view to raise the humble and abase the proud (Lu 1:52). Therefore Job ought to turn humbly to Him.
12. enterprise–literally, “realization.” The Hebrew combines in the one word the two ideas, wisdom and happiness, “enduring existence” being the etymological and philosophical root of the combined notion [Umbreit].
13. Paul (1Co 3:19) quoted this clause with the formula establishing its inspiration, “it is written.” He cites the exact Hebrew words, not as he usually does the Septuagint, Greek version (Ps 9:15). Haman was hanged on the gallows he prepared for Mordecai (Es 5:14; 7:10).
the wise–that is, “the cunning.”
is carried headlong–Their scheme is precipitated before it is ripe.
14. Judicial blindness often is sent upon keen men of the world (De 28:29; Isa 59:10; Joh 9:39).
15. “From the sword” which proceedeth “from their mouth” (Ps 59:7; 57:4).
16. the poor hath hope–of the interposition of God.
iniquity stoppeth her mouth–(Ps 107:42; Mic 7:9, 10; Isa 52:15). Especially at the last day, through shame (Jude 15; Mt 22:12). The “mouth” was the offender (Job 5:15), and the mouth shall then be stopped (Isa 25:8) at the end.
17. happy–not that the actual suffering is joyous; but the consideration of the righteousness of Him who sends it, and the end for which it is sent, make it a cause for thankfulness, not for complaints, such as Job had uttered (Heb 12:11). Eliphaz implies that the end in this case is to call back Job from the particular sin of which he takes for granted that Job is guilty. Paul seems to allude to this passage in Heb 12:5; so Jas 1:12; Pr 3:12. Eliphaz does not give due prominence to this truth, but rather to Job’s sin. It is Elihu alone (Job 32:1-37:24) who fully dwells upon the truth, that affliction is mercy and justice in disguise, for the good of the sufferer.
18. he maketh sore, and bindeth up–(De 32:39; Ho 6:1; 1Sa 2:6). An image from binding up a wound. The healing art consisted much at that time in external applications.
19. in six … yea, in seven–(Pr 6:16; Am 1:3). The Hebrew idiom fixes on a certain number (here “six”), in order to call attention as to a thing of importance; then increases the force by adding, with a “yea, nay seven,” the next higher number; here “seven,” the sacred and perfect number. In all possible troubles; not merely in the precise number “seven.”
20. power–(Jer 5:12). Hebrew, “hands.”
of the sword–(Eze 35:5, Margin). Hands are given to the sword personified as a living agent.
21. (Ps 31:20; Jer 18:18). Smite (Psalm 73. 9).
22. famine thou shalt laugh–Not, in spite of destruction and famine, which is true (Hab 3:17, 18), though not the truth meant by Eliphaz, but because those calamities shall not come upon thee. A different Hebrew word from that in Job 5:20; there, famine in general; here, the languid state of those wanting proper nutriment [Barnes].
23. in league with the stones of the field–They shall not hurt the fertility of thy soil; nor the wild beasts thy fruits; spoken in Arabia-Deserta, where stones abounded. Arabia, derived from Arabah–a desert plain. The first clause of this verse answers to the first clause of Job 5:22; and the last of this verse to the last of that verse. The full realization of this is yet future (Isa 65:23, 25; Ho 2:18).
24. know–“Thou shalt rest in the assurance, that thine habitation is the abode of peace; and (if) thou numberest thine herd, thine expectations prove not fallacious” [Umbreit]. “Sin” does not agree with the context. The Hebrew word–“to miss” a mark, said of archers (Jud 20:16). The Hebrew for “habitation” primarily means “the fold for cattle”; and for “visit,” often to “take an account of, to number.” “Peace” is the common Eastern salutation; including inward and outward prosperity.
25. as the grass–(Ps 72:16). Properly, “herb-bearing seed” (Ge 1:11, 12).
26. in a full age–So “full of days” (Job 42:17; Ge 35:29). Not mere length of years, but ripeness for death, one’s inward and outward full development not being prematurely cut short, is denoted (Isa 65:22).
Thou shalt come–not literally, but expressing willingness to die. Eliphaz speaks from the Old Testament point of view, which made full years a reward of the righteous (Ps 91:16; Ex 20:12), and premature death the lot of the wicked (Ps 55:23). The righteous are immortal till their work is done. To keep them longer would be to render them less fit to die. God takes them at their best (Isa 57:1). The good are compared to wheat (Mt 13:30).
cometh in–literally, “ascends.” The corn is lifted up off the earth and carried home; so the good man “is raised into the heap of sheaves” [Umbreit].
27. searched it … for thy good–literally, “for thyself” (Ps 111:2; Pr 2:4; 9:12).
FIRST SERIES CONTINUED.
Job 6:1-30. Reply of Job to Eliphaz.
2. throughly weighed–Oh, that instead of censuring my complaints when thou oughtest rather to have sympathized with me, thou wouldst accurately compare my sorrow, and my misfortunes; these latter “outweigh in the balance” the former.
3. the sand–(Pr 27:3).
are swallowed up–See Margin [that is, “I want words to express my grief”]. But Job plainly is apologizing, not for not having had words enough, but for having spoken too much and too boldly; and the Hebrew is, “to speak rashly” [Umbreit, Gesenius, Rosenmuller]. “Therefore were my words so rash.”
4. arrows … within me–have pierced me. A poetic image representing the avenging Almighty armed with bow and arrows (Ps 38:2, 3). Here the arrows are poisoned. Peculiarly appropriate, in reference to the burning pains which penetrated, like poison, into the inmost parts–(“spirit”; as contrasted with mere surface flesh wounds) of Job’s body.
set themselves in array–a military image (Jud 20:33). All the terrors which the divine wrath can muster are set in array against me (Isa 42:13).
5. Neither wild animals, as the wild ass, nor tame, as the ox, are dissatisfied when well-supplied with food. The braying of the one and the lowing of the other prove distress and want of palatable food. So, Job argues, if he complains, it is not without cause; namely, his pains, which are, as it were, disgusting food, which God feeds him with (end of Job 6:7). But he should have remembered a rational being should evince a better spirit than the brute.
6. unsavoury–tasteless, insipid. Salt is a chief necessary of life to an Easterner, whose food is mostly vegetable.
the white–literally, “spittle” (1Sa 21:13), which the white of an egg resembles.
7. To “touch” is contrasted with “meat.” “My taste refused even to touch it, and yet am I fed with such meat of sickness.” The second clause literally, is, “Such is like the sickness of my food.” The natural taste abhors even to touch insipid food, and such forms my nourishment. For my sickness is like such nauseous food [Umbreit]. (Ps 42:3; 80:5; 102:9). No wonder, then, I complain.
8. To desire death is no necessary proof of fitness for death. The ungodly sometimes desire it, so as to escape troubles, without thought of the hereafter. The godly desire it, in order to be with the Lord; but they patiently wait God’s will.
9. destroy–literally, “grind” or “crush” (Isa 3:15).
let loose his hand–God had put forth His hand only so far as to wound the surface of Job’s flesh (Job 1:12; 2:6); he wishes that hand to be let loose, so as to wound deeply and vitally.
cut me off–metaphor from a weaver cutting off the web, when finished, from the thrum fastening it to the loom (Isa 38:12).
10. I would harden myself in sorrow–rather, “I would exult in the pain,” if I knew that that pain would hasten my death [Gesenius]. Umbreit translates the Hebrew of “Let Him not spare,” as “unsparing”; and joins it with “pain.”
concealed–I have not disowned, in word or deed, the commands of the Holy One (Ps 119:46; Ac 20:20). He says this in answer to Eliphaz’ insinuation that he is a hypocrite. God is here called “the Holy One,” to imply man’s reciprocal obligation to be holy, as He is holy (Le 19:2).
11. What strength have I, so as to warrant the hope of restoration to health? a hope which Eliphaz had suggested. “And what” but a miserable “end” of life is before me, “that I should” desire to “prolong life”? [Umbreit]. Umbreit and Rosenmuller not so well translate the last words “to be patient.”
12. Disease had so attacked him that his strength would need to be hard as a stone, and his flesh like brass, not to sink under it. But he has only flesh, like other men. It must, therefore, give way; so that the hope of restoration suggested by Eliphaz is vain (see on Job 5:11).
13. Is not my help in me?–The interrogation is better omitted. “There is no help in me!” For “wisdom,” “deliverance” is a better rendering. “And deliverance is driven quite from me.”
14. pity–a proverb. Charity is the love which judges indulgently of our fellow men: it is put on a par with truth in Pr 3:3, for they together form the essence of moral perfection [Umbreit]. It is the spirit of Christianity (1Pe 4:8; 1Co 13:7; Pr 10:12; 17:17). If it ought to be used towards all men, much more towards friends. But he who does not use it forsaketh (renounceth) the fear of the Almighty (Jas 2:13).
15. Those whom I regarded as “my brethren,” from whom I looked for faithfulness in my adversity, have disappointed me, as the streams failing from drought–wadies of Arabia, filled in the winter, but dry in the summer, which disappoint the caravans expecting to find water there. The fulness and noise of these temporary streams answer to the past large and loud professions of my friends; their dryness in summer, to the failure of the friendship when needed. The Arab proverb says of a treacherous friend, “I trust not in thy torrent” (Isa 58:11, Margin).
stream of brooks–rather, “the brook in the ravines which passes away.” It has no perpetual spring of water to renew it (unlike “the fountain of living waters,” Jer 2:13; Isa 33:16, at the end); and thus it passes away as rapidly as it arose.
16. blackish–literally, “Go as a mourner in black clothing” (Ps 34:14). A vivid and poetic image to picture the stream turbid and black with melted ice and snow, descending from the mountains into the valley. In the [second] clause, the snow dissolved is, in the poet’s view, “hid” in the flood [Umbreit].
17. wax warm–rather, “At the time when.” (“But they soon wax”) [Umbreit]. “they become narrower (flow in a narrower bed), they are silent (cease to flow noisily); in the heat (of the sun) they are consumed or vanish out of their place. First the stream flows more narrowly–then it becomes silent and still; at length every trace of water disappears by evaporation under the hot sun” [Umbreit].
18. turned aside–rather, “caravans” (Hebrew, “travellers”) turn aside from their way, by circuitous routes, to obtain water. They had seen the brook in spring full of water: and now in the summer heat, on their weary journey, they turn off their road by a devious route to reach the living waters, which they remembered with such pleasure. But, when “they go,” it is “into a desert” [Noyes and Umbreit]. Not as English Version, “They go to nothing,” which would be a tame repetition of the drying up of the waters in Job 6:17; instead of waters, they find an “empty wilderness”; and, not having strength to regain their road, bitterly disappointed, they “perish.” The terse brevity is most expressive.
19. the troops–that is, “caravans.”
Tema–north of Arabia-Deserta, near the Syrian desert; called from Tema son of Ishmael (Ge 25:15; Isa 21:14; Jer 25:23), still so called by the Arabs. Job 6:19, 20 give another picture of the mortification of disappointed hopes, namely, those of the caravans on the direct road, anxiously awaiting the return of their companions from the distant valley. The mention of the locality whence the caravans came gives living reality to the picture.
Sheba–refers here not to the marauders in North Arabia-Deserta (Job 1:15), but to the merchants (Eze 27:22) in the south, in Arabia-Felix or Yemen, “afar off” (Jer 6:20; Mt 12:42; Ge 10:28). Caravans are first mentioned in Ge 37:25; men needed to travel thus in companies across the desert, for defense against the roving robbers and for mutual accommodation.
The companies … waited for them–cannot refer to the caravans who had gone in quest of the waters; for Job 6:18 describes their utter destruction.
20. literally, “each had hoped”; namely, that their companions would find water. The greater had been their hopes the more bitter now their disappointment;
they came thither–to the place.
and were ashamed–literally, “their countenances burn,” an Oriental phrase for the shame and consternation of deceived expectation; so “ashamed” as to disappointment (Ro 5:5).
21. As the dried-up brook is to the caravan, so are ye to me, namely, a nothing; ye might as well not be in existence [Umbreit]. The Margin “like to them,” or “to it” (namely, the waters of the brook), is not so good a reading.
ye see, and are afraid–Ye are struck aghast at the sight of my misery, and ye lose presence of mind. Job puts this mild construction on their failing to relieve him with affectionate consolation.
22. And yet I did not ask you to “bring me” a gift; or to “pay for me out of your substance a reward” (to the Judge, to redeem me from my punishment); all I asked from you was affectionate treatment.
23. the mighty–the oppressor, or creditor, in whose power the debtor was [Umbreit].
24, 25. Irony. If you can “teach me” the right view, I am willing to be set right, and “hold my tongue”; and to be made to see my error. But then if your words be really the right words, how is it that they are so feeble? “Yet how feeble are the words of what you call the right view.” So the Hebrew is used (in Mic 2:10; 1:9). The English Version, “How powerful,” &c., does not agree so well with the last clause of the verse.
25. And what will your arguings reprove?–literally, “the reproofs which proceed from you”; the emphasis is on you; you may find fault, who are not in my situation [Umbreit].
26. Do you imagine–or, “mean.”
to reprove words and (to reprove) the speeches of one desperate, (which are) as wind?–mere nothings, not to be so narrowly taken to task? Umbreit not so well takes the Hebrew for “as wind,” as “sentiments”; making formal “sentiments” antithetical to mere “speeches,” and supplying, not the word “reprove,” but “would you regard,” from the first clause.
27. literally, “ye cause” (supply, “your anger”) [Umbreit], a net, namely, of sophistry [Noyes and Schuttens], to fall upon the desolate (one bereft of help, like the fatherless orphan);
and ye dig (a pit) for your friend–that is, try to ensnare him, to catch him in the use of unguarded language [Noyes]. (Ps 57:6); metaphor from hunters catching wild beasts in a pit covered with brushwood to conceal it. Umbreit from the Syriac, and answering to his interpretation of the first clause, has, “Would you be indignant against your friend?” The Hebrew in Job 41:6, means to “feast upon.” As the first clause asks, “Would you catch him in a net?” so this follows up the image, “And would you next feast upon him, and his miseries?” So the Septuagint.
28. be content–rather, “be pleased to”–look. Since you have so falsely judged my words, look upon me, that is, upon my countenance: for (it is evident before your faces) if I lie; my countenance will betray me, if I be the hypocrite that you suppose.
29. Return–rather, “retract” your charges:
let it not be iniquity–that is, (retract) that injustice may not be done me. Yea retract, “my righteousness is in it”; that is, my right is involved in this matter.
30. Will you say that my guilt lies in the organ of speech, and will you call it to account? or, Is it that my taste (palate) or discernment is not capable to form a judgment of perverse things? Is it thus you will explain the fact of my having no consciousness of guilt? [Umbreit].
Job 7:1-21. Job Excuses His Desire for Death.
1. appointed time–better, “a warfare,” hard conflict with evil (so in Isa 40:2; Da 10:1). Translate it “appointed time” (Job 14:14). Job reverts to the sad picture of man, however great, which he had drawn (Job 3:14), and details in this chapter the miseries which his friends will see, if, according to his request (Job 6:28), they will look on him. Even the Christian soldier, “warring a good warfare,” rejoices when it is completed (1Ti 1:18; 2Ti 2:3; 4:7, 8).
2. earnestly desireth–Hebrew, “pants for the [evening] shadow.” Easterners measure time by the length of their shadow. If the servant longs for the evening when his wages are paid, why may not Job long for the close of his hard service, when he shall enter on his “reward?” This proves that Job did not, as many maintain, regard the grave as a mere sleep.
3.–Months of comfortless misfortune.
I am made to possess–literally, “to be heir to.” Irony. “To be heir to,” is usually a matter of joy; but here it is the entail of an involuntary and dismal inheritance.
Months–for days, to express its long duration.
Appointed–literally, “they have numbered to me”; marking well the unavoidable doom assigned to him.
4. Literally, “When shall be the flight of the night?” [Gesenius]. Umbreit, not so well, “The night is long extended”; literally, “measured out” (so Margin).
5. In elephantiasis maggots are bred in the sores (Ac 12:23; Isa 14:11).
clods of dust–rather, a crust of dried filth and accumulated corruption (Job 2:7, 8).
my skin is broken and … loathsome–rather, comes together so as to heal up, and again breaks out with running matter [Gesenius]. More simply the Hebrew is, “My skin rests (for a time) and (again) melts away” (Ps 58:7).
6. (Isa 38:12). Every day like the weaver’s shuttle leaves a thread behind; and each shall wear, as he weaves. But Job’s thought is that his days must swiftly be cut off as a web;
without hope–namely, of a recovery and renewal of life (Job 14:19; 1Ch 29:15).
7. Address to God.
Wind–a picture of evanescence (Ps 78:39).
shall no more see–rather, “shall no more return to see good.” This change from the different wish in Job 3:17, &c., is most true to nature. He is now in a softer mood; a beam from former days of prosperity falling upon memory and the thought of the unseen world, where one is seen no more (Job 7:8), drew from him an expression of regret at leaving this world of light (Ec 11:7); so Hezekiah (Isa 38:11). Grace rises above nature (2Co 5:8).
8. The eye of him who beholds me (present, not past), that is, in the very act of beholding me, seeth me no more.
Thine eyes are upon me, and I am not–He disappears, even while God is looking upon him. Job cannot survive the gaze of Jehovah (Ps 104:32; Re 20:11). Not, “Thine eyes seek me and I am not to be found”; for God’s eye penetrates even to the unseen world (Ps 139:8). Umbreit unnaturally takes “thine” to refer to one of the three friends.
9. (2Sa 12:23).
the grave–the Sheol, or place of departed spirits, not disproving Job’s belief in the resurrection. It merely means, “He shall come up no more” in the present order of things.
10. (Ps 103:16). The Oriental keenly loves his dwelling. In Arabian elegies the desertion of abodes by their occupants is often a theme of sorrow. Grace overcomes this also (Lu 18:29; Ac 4:34).
11. Therefore, as such is my hard lot, I will at least have the melancholy satisfaction of venting my sorrow in words. The Hebrew opening words, “Therefore I, at all events,” express self-elevation [Umbreit].
12. Why dost thou deny me the comfort of care-assuaging sleep? Why scarest thou me with frightful dreams?
Am I a sea–regarded in Old Testament poetry as a violent rebel against God, the Lord of nature, who therefore curbs his violence (Jer 5:22).
or a whale–or some other sea monster (Isa 27:1), that Thou needest thus to watch and curb me? The Egyptians watched the crocodile most carefully to prevent its doing mischief.
14. The frightful dreams resulting from elephantiasis he attributes to God; the common belief assigned all night visions to God.
15. Umbreit translates, “So that I could wish to strangle myself–dead by my own hands.” He softens this idea of Job’s harboring the thought of suicide, by representing it as entertained only in agonizing dreams, and immediately repudiated with horror in Job 7:16, “Yet that (self-strangling) I loathe.” This is forcible and graphic. Perhaps the meaning is simply, “My soul chooses (even) strangling (or any violent death) rather than my life,” literally, “my bones” (Ps 35:10); that is, rather than the wasted and diseased skeleton, left to him. In this view, “I loathe it” (Job 7:16) refers to his life.
16. Let me alone–that is, cease to afflict me for the few and vain days still left to me.
17. (Ps 8:4; 144:3). Job means, “What is man that thou shouldst make him [of so much importance], and that thou shouldst expend such attention [or, heart-thought] upon him” as to make him the subject of so severe trials? Job ought rather to have reasoned from God’s condescending so far to notice man as to try him, that there must be a wise and loving purpose in trial. David uses the same words, in their right application, to express wonder that God should do so much as He does for insignificant man. Christians who know God manifest in the man Christ Jesus may use them still more.
18. With each new day (Ps 73:14). It is rather God’s mercies, not our trials, that are new every morning (La 3:23). The idea is that of a shepherd taking count of his flock every morning, to see if all are there [Cocceius].
19. How long (like a jealous keeper) wilt thou never take thine eyes off (so the Hebrew for “depart from”) me? Nor let me alone for a brief respite (literally, “so long as I take to swallow my spittle”), an Arabic proverb, like our, “till I draw my breath.”
20. I have sinned–Yet what sin can I do against (“to,” Job 35:6) thee (of such a nature that thou shouldst jealously watch and deprive me of all strength, as if thou didst fear me)? Yet thou art one who hast men ever in view, ever watchest them–O thou Watcher (Job 7:12; Da 9:14) of men. Job had borne with patience his trials, as sent by God (Job 1:21; 2:10); only his reason cannot reconcile the ceaseless continuance of his mental and bodily pains with his ideas of the divine nature.
set me as a mark–Wherefore dost thou make me thy point of attack? that is, ever assail me with new pains? [Umbreit] (La 3:12).
21. for now–very soon.
in the morning–not the resurrection; for then Job will be found. It is a figure, from one seeking a sick man in the morning, and finding he has died in the night. So Job implies that, if God does not help him at once, it will be too late, for he will be gone. The reason why God does not give an immediate sense of pardon to awakened sinners is that they think they have a claim on God for it.
FIRST SERIES–FIRST SPEECH OF BILDAD, MORE SEVERE AND COARSE THAN THAT OF ELIPHAZ.
Job 8:1-22. The Address of Bildad.
2. like a … wind?–disregarding restraints, and daring against God.
3. The repetition of “pervert” gives an emphasis galling to Job (Job 34:12). “Wouldst thou have God,” as thy words imply, “pervert judgment,” by letting thy sins go unpunished? He assumes Job’s guilt from his sufferings.
4. If–Rather, “Since thy children have sinned against Him, and (since) He has cast them away (Hebrew, by the hand of) for their transgressions, (yet) if thou wouldst seek unto God, &c., if thou wert pure, &c., surely [even] now He would awake for thee.” Umbreit makes the apodosis to, “since thy children,” &c., begin at “He has cast them away.” Also, instead of “for,” “He gave them up to (literally, into the hand of) their own guilt.” Bildad expresses the justice of God, which Job had arraigned. Thy children have sinned; God leaves them to the consequence of their sin; most cutting to the heart of the bereaved father.
5. seek unto God betimes–early. Make it the first and chief anxiety (Ps 78:34; Ho 5:15; Isa 26:9; Pr 8:17; 13:24).
6. He would awake for thee–that is, arise to thy help. God seemed to be asleep toward the sufferer (Ps 35:23; 7:6; Isa 51:9).
make … prosperous–restore to prosperity thy (their) righteous habitation. Bildad assumes it to have been heretofore the habitation of guilt.
7. thy beginning–the beginning of thy new happiness after restoration.
latter end–(Job 42:12; Pr 23:18).
8, 9. The sages of the olden time reached an age beyond those of Job’s time (see on Job 42:16), and therefore could give the testimony of a fuller experience.
9. of yesterday–that is, a recent race. We know nothing as compared with them because of the brevity of our lives; so even Jacob (Ge 47:9). Knowledge consisted then in the results of observation, embodied in poetical proverbs, and handed down by tradition. Longevity gave the opportunity of wider observation.
a shadow–(Ps 144:4; 1Ch 29:15).
10. teach thee–Job 6:24 had said, “Teach me.” Bildad, therefore, says, “Since you want teaching, inquire of the fathers. They will teach thee.”
utter words–more than mere speaking; “put forth well-considered words.”
out of their heart–from observation and reflection; not merely, from their mouth: such, as Bildad insinuates, were Job’s words. Job 8:11-13 embody in poetic and sententious form (probably the fragment of an old poem) the observation of the elders. The double point of comparison between the ungodly and the paper-reed is: 1. the luxuriant prosperity at first; and, 2. the sudden destruction.
11. rush–rather, “paper-reed”: The papyrus of Egypt, which was used to make garments, shoes, baskets, boats, and paper (a word derived from it). It and the flag, or bulrush, grow only in marshy places (such as are along the Nile). So the godless thrives only in external prosperity; there is in the hypocrite no inward stability; his prosperity is like the rapid growth of water plants.
12. not cut down–Before it has ripened for the scythe, it withers more suddenly than any herb, having no self-sustaining power, once that the moisture is gone, which other herbs do not need in the same degree. So ruin seizes on the godless in the zenith of prosperity, more suddenly than on others who appear less firmly seated in their possessions [Umbreit] (Ps 112:10).
13. paths–so “ways” (Pr 1:19).
all that forget God–the distinguishing trait of the godless (Ps 9:17; 50:22).
14. cut off–so Gesenius; or, to accord with the metaphor of the spider’s “house,” “The confidence (on which he builds) shall be laid in ruins” (Isa 59:5, 6).
15. he shall hold it fast–implying his eager grasp, when the storm of trial comes: as the spider “holds fast” by its web; but with this difference: the light spider is sustained by that on which it rests; the godless is not by the thin web on which he rests. The expression, “Hold fast,” properly applies to the spider holding his web, but is transferred to the man. Hypocrisy, like the spider’s web, is fine-spun, flimsy, and woven out of its own inventions, as the spider’s web out of its own bowels. An Arab proverb says, “Time destroys the well-built house, as well as the spider’s web.”
16. before the sun–that is, he (the godless) is green only before the sun rises; but he cannot bear its heat, and withers. So succulent plants like the gourd (Jon 4:7, 8). But the widespreading in the garden does not quite accord with this. Better, “in sunshine”; the sun representing the smiling fortune of the hypocrite, during which he wondrously progresses [Umbreit]. The image is that of weeds growing in rank luxuriance and spreading over even heaps of stones and walls, and then being speedily torn away.
17. seeth the place of stones–Hebrew, “the house of stones”; that is, the wall surrounding the garden. The parasite plant, in creeping towards and over the wall–the utmost bound of the garden–is said figuratively to “see” or regard it.
18. If He (God) tear him away (properly, “to tear away rapidly and violently”) from his place, “then it [the place personified] shall deny him” (Ps 103:16). The very soil is ashamed of the weeds lying withered on its surface, as though it never had been connected with them. So, when the godless falls from prosperity, his nearest friends disown him.
19. Bitter irony. The hypocrite boasts of joy. This then is his “joy” at the last.
and out of the earth–others immediately, who take the place of the man thus punished; not godly men (Mt 3:9). For the place of the weeds is among stones, where the gardener wishes no plants. But, ungodly; a fresh crop of weeds always springs up in the place of those torn up: there is no end of hypocrites on earth [Umbreit].
20. Bildad regards Job as a righteous man, who has fallen into sin.
God will not cast away a perfect man–(or godly man, such as Job was), if he will only repent. Those alone who persevere in sin God will not help (Hebrew, “take by the hand,” Ps 73:23; Isa 41:13; 42:6) when fallen.
21. Till–literally, “to the point that”; God’s blessing on thee, when repentant, will go on increasing to the point that, or until, &c.
22. The haters of Job are the wicked. They shall be clothed with shame (Jer 3:25; Ps 35:26; 109:29), at the failure of their hope that Job would utterly perish, and because they, instead of him, come to naught.
Job 9:1-35. Reply of Job to Bildad.
2. I know it is so of a truth–that God does not “pervert justice” (Job 8:3). But (even though I be sure of being in the right) how can a mere man assert his right–(be just) with God. The Gospel answers (Ro 3:26).
3. If he–God
will contend with him–literally, “deign to enter into judgment.”
he cannot answer, &c.–He (man) would not dare, even if he had a thousand answers in readiness to one question of God’s, to utter one of them, from awe of His Majesty.
4. wise in heart–in understanding!–and mighty in power! God confounds the ablest arguer by His wisdom, and the mightiest by His power.
hardened himself–or his neck (Pr 29:1); that is, defied God. To prosper, one must fall in with God’s arrangements of providence and grace.
5. and they know not–Hebrew for “suddenly, unexpectedly, before they are aware of it” (Ps 35:8); “at unawares”; Hebrew, which “he knoweth not of” (Joe 2:14; Pr 5:6).
6. The earth is regarded, poetically, as resting on pillars, which tremble in an earthquake (Ps 75:3; Isa 24:20). The literal truth as to the earth is given (Job 26:7).
7. The sun, at His command, does not rise; namely, in an eclipse, or the darkness that accompanies earthquakes (Job 9:6).
sealeth up the stars–that is, totally covers as one would seal up a room, that its contents may not be seen.
8. spreadeth out–(Isa 40:22; Ps 104:2). But throughout it is not so much God’s creating, as His governing, power over nature that is set forth. A storm seems a struggle between Nature and her Lord! Better, therefore, “Who boweth the heavens alone,” without help of any other. God descends from the bowed-down heaven to the earth (Ps 18:9). The storm, wherein the clouds descend, suggests this image. In the descent of the vault of heaven, God has come down from His high throne and walks majestically over the mountain waves (Hebrew, “heights”), as a conqueror taming their violence. So “tread upon” (De 33:29; Am 4:13; Mt 14:26). The Egyptian hieroglyphic for impossibility is a man walking on waves.
9. maketh–rather, from the Arabic, “covereth up.” This accords better with the context, which describes His boundless power as controller rather than as creator [Umbreit].
Arcturus–the great bear, which always revolves about the pole, and never sets. The Chaldeans and Arabs, early named the stars and grouped them in constellations; often travelling and tending flocks by night, they would naturally do so, especially as the rise and setting of some stars mark the distinction of seasons. Brinkley, presuming the stars here mentioned to be those of Taurus and Scorpio, and that these were the cardinal constellations of spring and autumn in Job’s time, calculates, by the precession of equinoxes, the time of Job to be eight hundred eighteen years after the deluge, and one hundred eighty-four before Abraham.
Orion–Hebrew, “the fool”; in Job 38:31 he appears fettered with “bands.” The old legend represented this star as a hero, who presumptuously rebelled against God, and was therefore a fool, and was chained in the sky as a punishment; for its rising is at the stormy period of the year. He is Nimrod (the exceedingly impious rebel) among the Assyrians; Orion among the Greeks. Sabaism (worship of the heavenly hosts) and hero-worship were blended in his person. He first subverted the patriarchal order of society by substituting a chieftainship based on conquest (Ge 10:9, 10).
Pleiades–literally, “the heap of stars”; Arabic, “knot of stars.” The various names of this constellation in the East express the close union of the stars in it (Am 5:8).
chambers of the south–the unseen regions of the southern hemisphere, with its own set of stars, as distinguished from those just mentioned of the northern. The true structure of the earth is here implied.
10. Repeated from Eliphaz (Job 5:9).
11. I see him not: he passeth on–The image is that of a howling wind (Isa 21:1). Like it when it bursts invisibly upon man, so God is felt in the awful effects of His wrath, but is not seen (Joh 3:8). Therefore, reasons Job, it is impossible to contend with Him.
12. If “He taketh away,” as in my case all that was dear to me, still a mortal cannot call Him to account. He only takes His own. He is an absolute King (Ec 8:4; Da 4:35).
13. If God–rather, “God will not withdraw His anger,” that is, so long as a mortal obstinately resists [Umbreit].
the proud helpers–The arrogant, who would help one contending with the Almighty, are of no avail against Him.
14. How much less shall I? &c.–who am weak, seeing that the mighty have to stoop before Him. Choose words (use a well-chosen speech, in order to reason) with Him.
15. (Job 10:15). Though I were conscious of no sin, yet I would not dare to say so, but leave it to His judgment and mercy to justify me (1Co 4:4).
16, 17. would I not believe that he had hearkened unto my voice–who breaketh me (as a tree stripped of its leaves) with a tempest.
19. Umbreit takes these as the words of God, translating, “What availeth the might of the strong?” “Here (saith he) behold! what availeth justice? Who will appoint me a time to plead?” (So Jer 49:19). The last words certainly apply better to God than to Job. The sense is substantially the same if we make “me” apply to Job. The “lo!” expresses God’s swift readiness for battle when challenged.
20. it–(Job 15:6; Lu 19:22); or “He,” God.
21. Literally, here (and in Job 9:20), “I perfect! I should not know my soul! I would despise,” [that is], “disown my life”; that is, Though conscious of innocence, I should be compelled, in contending with the infinite God, to ignore my own soul and despise my past life as if it were guilty [Rosenmuller].
22. one thing–“It is all one; whether perfect or wicked–He destroyeth.” This was the point Job maintained against his friends, that the righteous and wicked alike are afflicted, and that great sufferings here do not prove great guilt (Lu 13:1-5; Ec 9:2).
23. If–Rather, “While (His) scourge slays suddenly (the wicked, Job 9:22), He laughs at (disregards; not derides) the pining away of the innocent.” The only difference, says Job, between the innocent and guilty is, the latter are slain by a sudden stroke, the former pine away gradually. The translation, “trial,” does not express the antithesis to “slay suddenly,” as “pining away” does [Umbreit].
24. Referring to righteous “judges,” in antithesis to “the wicked” in the parallel first clause, whereas the wicked oppressor often has the earth given into his hand, the righteous judges are led to execution–culprits had their faces covered preparatory to execution (Es 7:8). Thus the contrast of the wicked and righteous here answers to that in Job 9:23.
if not, where and who?–If God be not the cause of these anomalies, where is the cause to be found, and who is he?
25. a post–a courier. In the wide Persian empire such couriers, on dromedaries or on foot, were employed to carry the royal commands to the distant provinces (Es 3:13, 15; 8:14). “My days” are not like the slow caravan, but the fleet post. The “days” are themselves poetically said to “see no good,” instead of Job in them (1Pe 3:10).
26. swift ships–rather, canoes of reeds or papyrus skiffs, used on the Nile, swift from their lightness (Isa 18:2).
28. The apodosis to Job 9:27–“If I say, &c.” “I still am afraid of all my sorrows (returning), for I know that thou wilt (dost) (by removing my sufferings) not hold or declare me innocent. How then can I leave off my heaviness?”
29. The “if” is better omitted; I (am treated by God as) wicked; why then labor I in vain (to disprove His charge)? Job submits, not so much because he is convinced that God is right, as because God is powerful and he weak [Barnes].
30. snow water–thought to be more cleansing than common water, owing to the whiteness of snow (Ps 51:7; Isa 1:18).
never so clean–Better, to answer to the parallelism of the first clause which expresses the cleansing material, “lye:” the Arabs used alkali mixed with oil, as soap (Ps 73:13; Jer 2:22).
32. (Ec 6:10; Isa 45:9).
33. daysman–“mediator,” or “umpire”; the imposition of whose hand expresses power to adjudicate between the persons. There might be one on a level with Job, the one party; but Job knew of none on a level with the Almighty, the other party (1Sa 2:25). We Christians know of such a Mediator (not, however, in the sense of umpire) on a level with both–the God-man, Christ Jesus (1Ti 2:5).
34. rod–not here the symbol of punishment, but of power. Job cannot meet God on fair terms so long as God deals with him on the footing of His almighty power.
35. it is not so with me–As it now is, God not taking His rod away, I am not on such a footing of equality as to be able to vindicate myself.
Job 10:1-22. Job’s Reply to Bildad Continued.
1. leave my complaint upon myself–rather, “I will give loose to my complaint” (Job 7:11).
2. show me, &c.–Do not, by virtue of Thy mere sovereignty, treat me as guilty without showing me the reasons.
3. Job is unwilling to think God can have pleasure in using His power to “oppress” the weak, and to treat man, the work of His own hands, as of no value (Job 10:8; Ps 138:8).
shine upon–favor with prosperity (Ps 50:2).
4-6. Dost Thou see as feebly as man? that is, with the same uncharitable eye, as, for instance, Job’s friends? Is Thy time as short? Impossible! Yet one might think, from the rapid succession of Thy strokes, that Thou hadst no time to spare in overwhelming me.
7. “Although Thou (the Omniscient) knowest,” &c. (connected with Job 10:6), “Thou searchest after my sin.”
and … that none that can deliver out of thine hand–Therefore Thou hast no need to deal with me with the rapid violence which man would use (see Job 10:6).
8. Made–with pains; implying a work of difficulty and art; applying to God language applicable only to man.
together round about–implying that the human body is a complete unity, the parts of which on all sides will bear the closest scrutiny.
9. clay–Job 10:10 proves that the reference here is, not so much to the perishable nature of the materials, as to their wonderful fashioning by the divine potter.
10. In the organization of the body from its rude commencements, the original liquid gradually assumes a more solid consistency, like milk curdling into cheese (Ps 139:15, 16). Science reveals that the chyle circulated by the lacteal vessels is the supply to every organ.
11. fenced–or “inlaid” (Ps 139:15); “curiously wrought” [Umbreit]. In the foetus the skin appears first, then the flesh, then the harder parts.
12. visitation–Thy watchful Providence.
13. is with thee–was Thy purpose. All God’s dealings with Job in his creation, preservation, and present afflictions were part of His secret counsel (Ps 139:16; Ac 15:18; Ec 3:11).
14, 15. Job is perplexed because God “marks” every sin of his with such ceaseless rigor. Whether “wicked” (godless and a hypocrite) or “righteous” (comparatively sincere), God condemns and punishes alike.
15. lift up my head–in conscious innocence (Ps 3:3).
see thou–rather, “and seeing I see (I too well see) mine affliction,” (which seems to prove me guilty) [Umbreit].
16. increaseth–rather, “(if) I lift up (my head) Thou wouldest hunt me,” &c. [Umbreit].
and again–as if a lion should not kill his prey at once, but come back and torture it again.
17. witnesses–His accumulated trials were like a succession of witnesses brought up in proof of his guilt, to wear out the accused.
changes and war–rather, “(thou settest in array) against me host after host” (literally, “changes and a host,” that is, a succession of hosts); namely, his afflictions, and then reproach upon reproach from his friends.
20. But, since I was destined from my birth to these ills, at least give me a little breathing time during the few days left me (Job 9:34; 13:21; Ps 39:13).
22. The ideas of order and light, disorder and darkness, harmonize (Ge 1:2). Three Hebrew words are used for darkness; in Job 10:21 (1) the common word “darkness”; here (2) “a land of gloom” (from a Hebrew root, “to cover up”); (3) as “thick darkness” or blackness (from a root, expressing sunset). “Where the light thereof is like blackness.” Its only sunshine is thick darkness. A bold figure of poetry. Job in a better frame has brighter thoughts of the unseen world. But his views at best wanted the definite clearness of the Christian’s. Compare with his words here Re 21:23; 22:5; 2Ti 1:10.
Job 11:1-20. First Speech of Zophar.
2. Zophar assails Job for his empty words, and indirectly, the two friends, for their weak reply. Taciturnity is highly prized among Orientals (Pr 10:8, 19).
3. lies–rather, “vain boasting” (Isa 16:6; Jer 48:30). The “men” is emphatic; men of sense; in antithesis to “vain boasting.”
mockest–upbraidest God by complaints, “shall no man make thee ashamed?”
4. doctrine–purposely used of Job’s speeches, which sounded like lessons of doctrine (De 32:2; Pr 4:2).
thine–addressed to God. Job had maintained his sincerity against his friends suspicions, not faultlessness.
6. to that which is!–Rather, “they are double to [man’s] wisdom” [Michaelis]. So the Hebrew is rendered (Pr 2:7). God’s ways, which you arraign, if you were shown their secret wisdom, would be seen vastly to exceed that of men, including yours (1Co 1:25).
exacteth–Rather, “God consigns to oblivion in thy favor much of thy guilt.”
7. Rather, “Penetrate to the perfections of the Almighty” (Job 9:10; Ps 139:6).
8. It–the “wisdom” of God (Job 11:6). The abruptness of the Hebrew is forcible: “The heights of heaven! What canst thou do” (as to attaining to them with thy gaze, Ps 139:8)?
know–namely, of His perfections.
10. cut off–Rather, as in Job 9:11, “pass over,” as a storm; namely, rush upon in anger.
shut up–in prison, with a view to trial.
gather together–the parties for judgment: hold a judicial assembly; to pass sentence on the prisoners.
11. (Ps 94:11).
consider–so as to punish it. Rather, from the connection, Job 11:6, “He seeth wickedness also, which man does not perceive”; literally, “But no (other, save He) perceiveth it” [Umbreit]. God’s “wisdom” (Job 11:6), detects sin where Job’s human eye cannot reach (Job 11:8), so as to see any.
would be–“wants to consider himself wise”; opposed to God’s “wisdom” (see on Job 11:11); refuses to see sin, where God sees it (Ro 1:22).
wild ass’s colt–a proverb for untamed wildness (Job 39:5, 8; Jer 2:24; Ge 16:12; Hebrew, “a wild-ass man”). Man wishes to appear wisely obedient to his Lord, whereas he is, from his birth, unsubdued in spirit.
13. The apodosis to the “If” is at Job 11:15. The preparation of the heart is to be obtained (Pr 16:1) by stretching out the hands in prayer for it (Ps 10:17; 1Ch 29:18).
14. Rather, “if thou wilt put far away the iniquity in thine hand” (as Zaccheus did, Lu 19:8). The apodosis or conclusion is at Job 11:15, “then shalt thou,” &c.
15. Zophar refers to Job’s own words (Job 10:15), “yet will I not lift up my head,” even though righteous. Zophar declares, if Job will follow his advice, he may “lift up his face.”
steadfast–literally, “run fast together,” like metals which become firm and hard by fusion. The sinner on the contrary is wavering.
16. Just as when the stream runs dry (Job 6:17), the danger threatened by its wild waves is forgotten (Isa 65:16) [Umbreit].
17. age–days of life.
the noon-day–namely, of thy former prosperity; which, in the poet’s image, had gone on increasing, until it reached its height, as the sun rises higher and higher until it reaches the meridian (Pr 4:18).
shine forth–rather, “though now in darkness, thou shall be as the morning”; or, “thy darkness (if any dark shade should arise on thee, it) shall be as the morning” (only the dullness of morning twilight, not nocturnal darkness) [Umbreit].
18. The experience of thy life will teach thee there is hope for man in every trial.
dig–namely, wells; the chief necessity in the East. Better, “though now ashamed (Ro 5:5, opposed to the previous ‘hope’), thou shalt then rest safely” [Gesenius];
19. (Ps 4:8; Pr 3:24; Isa 14:30); oriental images of prosperity.
make suit–literally, “stroke thy face,” “caress thee” (Pr 19:6).
20. A warning to Job, if he would not turn to God.
The wicked–that is, obdurate sinners.
eyes … fail–that is, in vain look for relief (De 28:65). Zophar implies Job’s only hope of relief is in a change of heart.
they shall not escape–literally, “every refuge shall vanish from them.”
giving up of the ghost–Their hope shall leave them as the breath does the body (Pr 11:7).
Job 12:1-14:22. Job’s Reply to Zophar
2. wisdom shall die with you–Ironical, as if all the wisdom in the world was concentrated in them and would expire when they expired. Wisdom makes “a people:” a foolish nation is “not a people” (Ro 10:19).
3. not inferior–not vanquished in argument and “wisdom” (Job 13:2).
such things as these–such commonplace maxims as you so pompously adduce.
4. The unfounded accusations of Job’s friends were a “mockery” of him. He alludes to Zophar’s word, “mockest” (Job 11:3).
neighbour, who calleth, &c.–rather, “I who call upon God that he may answer me favorably” [Umbreit].
5. Rather, “a torch” (lamp) is an object of contempt in the thoughts of him who rests securely (is at ease), though it was prepared for the falterings of the feet [Umbreit] (Pr 25:19). “Thoughts” and “feet” are in contrast; also rests “securely,” and “falterings.” The wanderer, arrived at his night-quarters, contemptuously throws aside the torch which had guided his uncertain steps through the darkness. As the torch is to the wanderer, so Job to his friends. Once they gladly used his aid in their need; now they in prosperity mock him in his need.
6. Job shows that the matter of fact opposes Zophar’s theory (Job 11:14, 19, 20) that wickedness causes insecurity in men’s “tabernacles.” On the contrary, they who rob the “tabernacles” (“dwellings”) of others “prosper securely” in their own.
into whose hand, &c.–rather, “who make a god of their own hand,” that is, who regard their might as their only ruling principle [Umbreit].
7, 8. Beasts, birds, fishes, and plants, reasons Job, teach that the violent live the most securely (Job 12:6). The vulture lives more securely than the dove, the lion than the ox, the shark than the dolphin, the rose than the thorn which tears it.
8. speak to the earth–rather, “the shrubs of the earth” [Umbreit].
9. In all these cases, says Job, the agency must be referred to Jehovah, though they may seem to man to imply imperfection (Job 12:6; 9:24). This is the only undisputed passage of the poetical part in which the name “Jehovah” occurs; in the historical parts it occurs frequently.
10. the soul–that is, the animal life. Man, reasons Job, is subjected to the same laws as the lower animals.
11. As the mouth by tasting meats selects what pleases it, so the ear tries the words of others and retains what is convincing. Each chooses according to his taste. The connection with Job 12:12 is in reference to Bildad’s appeal to the “ancients” (Job 8:8). You are right in appealing to them, since “with them was wisdom,” &c. But you select such proverbs of theirs as suit your views; so I may borrow from the same such as suit mine.
12. ancient–aged (Job 15:10).
13. In contrast to, “with the ancient is wisdom” (Job 12:12), Job quotes a saying of the ancients which suits his argument, “with Him (God) is (the true) wisdom” (Pr 8:14); and by that “wisdom and strength” “He breaketh down,” &c., as an absolute Sovereign, not allowing man to penetrate His mysteries; man’s part is to bow to His unchangeable decrees (Job 1:21). The Mohammedan saying is, “if God will, and how God will.”
14. shutteth up–(Isa 22:22). Job refers to Zophar’s “shut up” (Job 11:10).
15. Probably alluding to the flood.
16. (Eze 14:9).
18. He looseth the bond of kings–He looseth the authority of kings–the “bond” with which they bind their subjects (Isa 45:1; Ge 14:4; Da 2:21).
a girdle–the cord, with which they are bound as captives, instead of the royal “girdle” they once wore (Isa 22:21), and the bond they once bound others with. So “gird”–put on one the bonds of a prisoner instead of the ordinary girdle (Joh 21:18).
19. princes–rather, “priests,” as the Hebrew is rendered (Ps 99:6). Even the sacred ministers of religion are not exempt from reverses and captivity.
the mighty–rather, “the firm-rooted in power”; the Arabic root expresses ever-flowing water [Umbreit].
20. the trusty–rather, “those secure in their eloquence”; for example, the speakers in the gate (Isa 3:3) [Beza].
understanding–literally, “taste,” that is, insight or spiritual discernment, which experience gives the aged. The same Hebrew word is applied to Daniel’s wisdom in interpretation (Da 2:14).
21. Ps 107:40 quotes, in its first clause, this verse and, in its second, Job 12:24.
weakeneth the strength–literally, “looseth the girdle”; Orientals wear flowing garments; when active strength is to be put forth, they gird up their garments with a girdle. Hence here–“He destroyeth their power” in the eyes of the people.
22. (Da 2:22).
23. Isa 9:3; Ps 107:38, 39, which Psalm quotes this chapter elsewhere. (See on Job 12:21).
straiteneth–literally, “leadeth in,” that is, “reduces.”
wander in a wilderness–figurative; not referring to any actual fact. This cannot be quoted to prove Job lived after Israel’s wanderings in the desert. Ps 107:4, 40 quotes this passage.
25. De 28:29; Ps 107:27 again quote Job, but in a different connection.
Job 13:1-28. Job’s Reply to Zophar Continued.
1. all this–as to the dealings of Providence (Job 12:3).
3. Job wishes to plead his cause before God (Job 9:34, 35), as he is more and more convinced of the valueless character of his would-be “physicians” (Job 16:2).
4. forgers of lies–literally, “artful twisters of vain speeches” [Umbreit].
5. (Pr 17:28). The Arabs say, “The wise are dumb; silence is wisdom.”
7. deceitfully–use fallacies to vindicate God in His dealings; as if the end justified the means. Their “deceitfulness” for God, against Job, was that they asserted he was a sinner, because he was a sufferer.
8. accept his person–God’s; that is, be partial for Him, as when a judge favors one party in a trial, because of personal considerations.
contend for God–namely, with fallacies and prepossessions against Job before judgment (Jud 6:31). Partiality can never please the impartial God, nor the goodness of the cause excuse the unfairness of the arguments.
9. Will the issue to you be good, when He searches out you and your arguments? Will you be regarded by Him as pure and disinterested?
mock–(Ga 6:7). Rather, “Can you deceive Him as one man?” &c.
10. If ye do, though secretly, act partially. (See on Job 13:8; Ps 82:1, 2). God can successfully vindicate His acts, and needs no fallacious argument of man.
11. make you afraid?–namely, of employing sophisms in His name (Jer 10:7, 10).
12. remembrances–“proverbial maxims,” so called because well remembered.
like unto ashes–or, “parables of ashes”; the image of lightness and nothingness (Isa 44:20).
bodies–rather, “entrenchments”; those of clay, as opposed to those of stone, are easy to be destroyed; so the proverbs, behind which they entrench themselves, will not shelter them when God shall appear to reprove them for their injustice to Job.
13. Job would wish to be spared their speeches, so as to speak out all his mind as to his wretchedness (Job 13:14), happen what will.
14. A proverb for, “Why should I anxiously desire to save my life?” [Eichorn]. The image in the first clause is that of a wild beast, which in order to preserve his prey, carries it in his teeth. That in the second refers to men who hold in the hand what they want to keep secure.
15. in him–So the margin or keri, reads. But the textual reading or chetib is “not,” which agrees best with the context, and other passages wherein he says he has no hope (Job 6:11; 7:21; 10:20; 19:10). “Though He slay me, and I dare no more hope, yet I will maintain,” &c., that is, “I desire to vindicate myself before Him,” as not a hypocrite [Umbreit and Noyes].
16. He–rather, “This also already speaks in my behalf (literally, ‘for my saving acquittal’) for an hypocrite would not wish to come before Him” (as I do) [Umbreit]. (See last clause of Job 13:15).
17. my declaration–namely, that I wish to be permitted to justify myself immediately before God.
with your ears–that is, attentively.
18. ordered–implying a constant preparation for defense in his confidence of innocence.
19. if, &c.–Rather, “Then would I hold my tongue and give up the ghost”; that is, if any one can contend with me and prove me false, I have no more to say. “I will be silent and die.” Like our “I would stake my life on it” [Umbreit].
20. Address to God.
not hide–stand forth boldly to maintain my cause.
21. (See on Job 9:34 and see Ps 39:10).
22. call–a challenge to the defendant to answer to the charges.
answer–the defense begun.
answer–to the plea of the plaintiff. Expressions from a trial.
23. The catalogue of my sins ought to be great, to judge from the severity with which God ever anew crushes one already bowed down. Would that He would reckon them up! He then would see how much my calamities outnumber them.
sin?–singular, “I am unconscious of a single particular sin, much less many” [Umbreit].
24. hidest … face–a figure from the gloomy impression caused by the sudden clouding over of the sun.
enemy–God treated Job as an enemy who must be robbed of power by ceaseless sufferings (Job 7:17, 21).
25. (Le 26:36; Ps 1:4). Job compares himself to a leaf already fallen, which the storm still chases hither and thither.
break–literally, “shake with (Thy) terrors.” Jesus Christ does not “break the bruised reed” (Isa 42:3, 27:8).
26. writest–a judicial phrase, to note down the determined punishment. The sentence of the condemned used to be written down (Isa 10:1; Jer 22:30; Ps 149:9) [Umbreit].
bitter things–bitter punishments.
makest me to possess–or “inherit.” In old age he receives possession of the inheritance of sin thoughtlessly acquired in youth. “To inherit sins” is to inherit the punishments inseparably connected with them in Hebrew ideas (Ps 25:7).
27. stocks–in which the prisoner’s feet were made fast until the time of execution (Jer 20:2).
lookest narrowly–as an overseer would watch a prisoner.
print–Either the stocks, or his disease, marked his soles (Hebrew, “roots”) as the bastinado would. Better, thou drawest (or diggest) [Gesenius] a line (or trench) [Gesenius] round my soles, beyond which I must not move [Umbreit].
28. Job speaks of himself in the third person, thus forming the transition to the general lot of man (Job 14:1; Ps 39:11; Ho 5:12).
Job 14:1-22. Job Passes from His Own to the Common Misery of Mankind.
1. woman–feeble, and in the East looked down upon (Ge 2:21). Man being born of one so frail must be frail himself (Mt 11:11).
few days–(Ge 47:9; Ps 90:10). Literally, “short of days.” Man is the reverse of full of days and short of trouble.
2. (Ps 90:6; see on Job 8:9).
3. open … eyes upon–Not in graciousness; but, “Dost Thou sharply fix Thine eyes upon?” (See on Job 7:20; also see on Job 1:7). Is one so frail as man worthy of such constant watching on the part of God? (Zec 12:4).
4. A plea in mitigation. The doctrine of original sin was held from the first. “Man is unclean from his birth, how then can God expect perfect cleanness from such a one and deal so severely with me?”
5. determined–(Job 7:1; Isa 10:23; Da 9:27; 11:36).
6. Turn–namely, Thine eyes from watching him so jealously (Job 14:3).
accomplish–rather, “enjoy.” That he may at least enjoy the measure of rest of the hireling who though hard worked reconciles himself to his lot by the hope of his rest and reward [Umbreit].
7. Man may the more claim a peaceful life, since, when separated from it by death, he never returns to it. This does not deny a future life, but a return to the present condition of life. Job plainly hopes for a future state (Job 14:13; Job 7:2). Still, it is but vague and trembling hope, not assurance; excepting the one bright glimpse in Job 19:25. The Gospel revelation was needed to change fears, hopes, and glimpses into clear and definite certainties.
9. scent–exhalation, which, rather than the humidity of water, causes the tree to germinate. In the antithesis to man the tree is personified, and volition is poetically ascribed to it.
like a plant–“as if newly planted” [Umbreit]; not as if trees and plants were a different species.
10. man … man–Two distinct Hebrew words are here used; Geber, a mighty man: though mighty, he dies. Adam, a man of earth: because earthly, he gives up the ghost.
wasteth–is reduced to nothing: he cannot revive in the present state, as the tree does. The cypress and pine, which when cut down do not revive, were the symbols of death among the Romans.
11. sea–that is, a lake, or pool formed from the outspreading of a river. Job lived near the Euphrates: and “sea” is applied to it (Jer 51:36; Isa 27:1). So of the Nile (Isa 19:5).
fail–utterly disappeared by drying up. The rugged channel of the once flowing water answers to the outstretched corpse (“lieth down,” Job 14:12) of the once living man.
12. heavens be no more–This only implies that Job had no hope of living again in the present order of the world, not that he had no hope of life again in a new order of things. Ps 102:26 proves that early under the Old Testament the dissolution of the present earth and heavens was expected (compare Ge 8:22). Enoch before Job had implied that the “saints shall live again” (Jude 14; Heb 11:13-16). Even if, by this phrase, Job meant “never” (Ps 89:29) in his gloomier state of feelings, yet the Holy Ghost has made him unconsciously (1Pe 1:11, 12) use language expressing the truth, that the resurrection is to be preceded by the dissolution of the heavens. In Job 14:13-15 he plainly passes to brighter hopes of a world to come.
13. Job wishes to be kept hidden in the grave until God’s wrath against him shall have passed away. So while God’s wrath is visiting the earth for the abounding apostasy which is to precede the second coming, God’s people shall be hidden against the resurrection glory (Isa 26:19-21).
set time–a decreed time (Ac 1:7).
14. shall he live?–The answer implied is, There is a hope that he shall, though not in the present order of life, as is shown by the words following. Job had denied (Job 14:10-12) that man shall live again in this present world. But hoping for a “set time,” when God shall remember and raise him out of the hiding-place of the grave (Job 14:13), he declares himself willing to “wait all the days of his appointed time” of continuance in the grave, however long and hard that may be.
appointed time–literally, “warfare, hard service”; imlying the hardship of being shut out from the realms of life, light, and God for the time he shall be in the grave (Job 7:1).
change–my release, as a soldier at his post released from duty by the relieving guard (see on Job 10:17) [Umbreit and Gesenius], but elsewhere Gesenius explains it, “renovation,” as of plants in spring (Job 14:7), but this does not accord so well with the metaphor in “appointed time” or “warfare.”
15. namely, at the resurrection (Joh 5:28; Ps 17:15).
have a desire to–literally, “become pale with anxious desire:” the same word is translated “sore longedst after” (Ge 31:30; Ps 84:2), implying the utter unlikelihood that God would leave in oblivion the “creature of His own hands so fearfully and wonderfully made.” It is objected that if Job knew of a future retribution, he would make it the leading topic in solving the problem of the permitted afflictions of the righteous. But, (1) He did not intend to exceed the limits of what was clearly revealed; the doctrine was then in a vague form only; (2) The doctrine of God’s moral government in this life, even independently of the future, needed vindication.
16. Rather, “Yea, thou wilt number my steps, and wilt not (as now) jealously watch over my sin.” Thenceforward, instead of severe watching for every sin of Job, God will guard him against every sin.
number … steps–that is, minutely attend to them, that they may not wander [Umbreit] (1Sa 2:9; Ps 37:23).
17. sealed up–(Job 9:7). Is shut up in eternal oblivion, that is, God thenceforth will think no more of my former sins. To cover sins is to completely forgive them (Ps 32:1; 85:2). Purses of money in the East are usually sealed.
sewest up–rather, “coverest”; akin to an Arabic word, “to color over,” to forget wholly.
18. cometh to naught–literally, “fadeth”; a poetical image from a leaf (Isa 34:4). Here Job falls back into his gloomy bodings as to the grave. Instead of “and surely,” translate “yet”; marking the transition from his brighter hopes. Even the solid mountain falls and crumbles away; man therefore cannot “hope” to escape decay or to live again in the present world (Job 14:19).
out of his place–so man (Ps 103:16).
19. The Hebrew order is more forcible: “Stones themselves are worn away by water.”
things which grow out of–rather, “floods wash away the dust of the earth.” There is a gradation from “mountains” to “rocks” (Job 14:18), then “stones,” then last “dust of the earth”; thus the solid mountain at last disappears utterly.
20. prevailest–dost overpower by superior strength.
changest countenance–the change in the visage at death. Differently (Da 5:9).
21. One striking trait is selected from the sad picture of the severance of the dead from all that passes in the world (Ec 9:5), namely, the utter separation of parents and children.
22. “Flesh” and “soul” describe the whole man. Scripture rests the hope of a future life, not on the inherent immortality of the soul, but on the restoration of the body with the soul. In the unseen world, Job in a gloomy frame anticipates, man shall be limited to the thought of his own misery. “Pain is by personification, from our feelings while alive, attributed to the flesh and soul, as if the man could feel in his body when dead. It is the dead in general, not the wicked, who are meant here.”
Job 15:1-35. Second Speech of Eliphaz.
2. a wise man–which Job claims to be.
vain knowledge–Hebrew, “windy knowledge”; literally, “of wind” (Job 8:2). In Ec 1:14, Hebrew, “to catch wind,” expresses to strive for what is vain.
east wind–stronger than the previous “wind,” for in that region the east wind is the most destructive of winds (Isa 27:8). Thus here,–empty violence.
belly–the inward parts, the breast (Pr 18:8).
4. fear–reverence for God (Job 4:6; Ps 2:11).
prayer–meditation, in Ps 104:34; so devotion. If thy views were right, reasons Eliphaz, that God disregards the afflictions of the righteous and makes the wicked to prosper, all devotion would be at an end.
5. The sophistry of thine own speeches proves thy guilt.
6. No pious man would utter such sentiments.
7. That is, Art thou wisdom personified? Wisdom existed before the hills; that is, the eternal Son of God (Pr 8:25; Ps 90:2). Wast thou in existence before Adam? The farther back one existed, the nearer he was to the Eternal Wisdom.
8. secret–rather, “Wast thou a listener in the secret council of God?” The Hebrew means properly the cushions of a divan on which counsellors in the East usually sit. God’s servants are admitted to God’s secrets (Ps 25:14; Ge 18:17; Joh 15:15).
restrain–Rather, didst thou take away, or borrow, thence (namely, from the divine secret council) thy wisdom? Eliphaz in this (Job 15:8, 9) retorts Job’s words upon himself (Job 12:2, 3; 13:2).
9. in us–or, “with us,” Hebraism for “we are aware of.”
10. On our side, thinking with us are the aged. Job had admitted that wisdom is with them (Job 12:12). Eliphaz seems to have been himself older than Job; perhaps the other two were also (Job 32:6). Job, in Job 30:1, does not refer to his three friends; it therefore forms no objection. The Arabs are proud of fulness of years.
11. consolations–namely, the revelation which Eliphaz had stated as a consolatory reproof to Job, and which he repeats in Job 15:14.
secret–Hast thou some secret wisdom and source of consolation, which makes thee disregard those suggested by me? (Job 15:8). Rather, from a different Hebrew root, Is the word of kindness or gentleness addressed by me treated by thee as valueless? [Umbreit].
12. wink–that is, why do thy eyes evince pride? (Pr 6:13; Ps 35:19).
13. That is, frettest against God and lettest fall rash words.
14. Eliphaz repeats the revelation (Job 4:17) in substance, but using Job’s own words (see on Job 14:1, on “born of a woman”) to strike him with his own weapons.
15. Repeated from Job 4:18; “servants” there are “saints” here; namely, holy angels.
heavens–literally, or else answering to “angels” (see on Job 4:18, and Job 25:5).
16. filthy–in Arabic “sour” (Ps 14:3; 53:3), corrupted from his original purity.
17. In direct contradiction of Job’s position (Job 12:6, &c.), that the lot of the wicked was the most prosperous here, Eliphaz appeals (1) to his own experience, (2) to the wisdom of the ancients.
18. Rather, “and which as handed down from their fathers, they have not concealed.”
19. Eliphaz speaks like a genuine Arab when he boasts that his ancestors had ever possessed the land unmixed with foreigners [Umbreit]. His words are intended to oppose Job’s (Job 9:24); “the earth” in their case was not “given into the hand of the wicked.” He refers to the division of the earth by divine appointment (Ge 10:5; 25:32). Also he may insinuate that Job’s sentiments had been corrupted from original purity by his vicinity to the Sabeans and Chaldeans [Rosenmuller].
20. travaileth–rather, “trembleth of himself,” though there is no real danger [Umbreit].
and the number of his years, &c.–This gives the reason why the wicked man trembles continually; namely, because he knows not the moment when his life must end.
21. An evil conscience conceives alarm at every sudden sound, though it be in a time of peace (“prosperity”), when there is no real danger (Le 26:36; Pr 28:1; 2Ki 7:6).
22. darkness–namely, danger or calamity. Glancing at Job, who despaired of restoration: in contrast to good men when in darkness (Mic 7:8, 9).
waited for of–that is, He is destined for the sword [Gesenius]. Rather (in the night of danger), “he looks anxiously towards the sword,” as if every sword was drawn against him [Umbreit].
23. Wandereth in anxious search for bread. Famine in Old Testament depicts sore need (Isa 5:13). Contrast the pious man’s lot (Job 5:20-22).
knoweth–has the firm conviction. Contrast the same word applied to the pious (Job 5:24, 25).
ready at his hand–an Arabic phrase to denote a thing’s complete readiness and full presence, as if in the hand.
24. prevail–break upon him suddenly and terribly, as a king, &c. (Pr 6:11).
25. stretcheth … hand–wielding the spear, as a bold rebel against God (Job 9:4; Isa 27:4).
26. on his neck–rather, “with outstretched neck,” namely, that of the rebel [Umbreit] (Ps 75:5).
upon … bucklers–rather, “with–his (the rebel’s, not God’s) bucklers.” The rebel and his fellows are depicted as joining shields together, to form a compact covering over their heads against the weapons hurled on them from a fortress [Umbreit and Gesenius].
27. The well-nourished body of the rebel is the sign of his prosperity.
collops–masses of fat. He pampers and fattens himself with sensual indulgences; hence his rebellion against God (De 32:15; 1Sa 2:29).
28. The class of wicked here described is that of robbers who plunder “cities,” and seize on the houses of the banished citizens (Isa 13:20). Eliphaz chooses this class because Job had chosen the same (Job 12:6).
29. Rather, he shall not increase his riches; he has reached his highest point; his prosperity shall not continue.
perfection–rather, “His acquired wealth–what he possesses–shall not be extended,” &c.
30. depart–that is, escape (Job 15:22, 23).
branches–namely, his offspring (Job 1:18, 19; Ps 37:35).
dry up–The “flame” is the sultry wind in the East by which plants most full of sap are suddenly shrivelled.
his mouth–that is, God’s wrath (Isa 11:4).
31. Rather, “let him not trust in vanity or he will be deceived,” &c.
vanity–that which is unsubstantial. Sin is its own punishment (Pr 1:31; Jer 2:19).
32. Literally, “it (the tree to which he is compared, Job 15:30, or else his life) shall not be filled up in its time”; that is, “he shall be ended before his time.”
shall not be green–image from a withered tree; the childless extinction of the wicked.
33. Images of incompleteness. The loss of the unripe grapes is poetically made the vine tree’s own act, in order to express more pointedly that the sinner’s ruin is the fruit of his own conduct (Isa 3:11; Jer 6:19).
34. Rather, The binding together of the hypocrites (wicked) shall be fruitless [Umbreit].
tabernacles of bribery–namely, dwellings of unjust judges, often reprobated in the Old Testament (Isa 1:23). The “fire of God” that consumed Job’s possessions (Job 1:16) Eliphaz insinuates may have been on account of Job’s bribery as an Arab sheik or emir.
35. Bitter irony, illustrating the “unfruitfulness” (Job 15:34) of the wicked. Their conceptions and birthgivings consist solely in mischief, &c. (Isa 33:11).
Job 16:1-22. Job’s Reply.
2. (Job 13:4).
3. “Words of wind,” Hebrew. He retorts upon Eliphaz his reproach (Job 15:2).
emboldeneth–literally, “What wearies you so that ye contradict?” that is, What have I said to provoke you? &c. [Schuttens]. Or, as better accords with the first clause, “Wherefore do ye weary yourselves contradicting?” [Umbreit].
4. heap up–rather, “marshal together (an army of) words against you.”
shake … head–in mockery; it means nodding, rather than shaking; nodding is not with us, as in the East, a gesture of scorn (Isa 37:22; Jer 18:16; Mt 27:39).
5. strengthen … with … mouth–bitter irony. In allusion to Eliphaz’ boasted “consolations” (Job 15:11). Opposed to strengthening with the heart, that is, with real consolation. Translate, “I also (like you) could strengthen with the mouth,” that is, with heartless talk: “And the moving of my lips (mere lip comfort) could console (in the same fashion as you do)” [Umbreit]. “Hearty counsel” (Pr 27:9) is the opposite.
6. eased–literally, “What (portion of my sufferings) goes from me?”
7. But now–rather, “ah!”
company–rather, “band of witnesses,” namely, those who could attest his innocence (his children, servants, &c.). So the same Hebrew is translated in Job 16:8. Umbreit makes his “band of witnesses,” himself, for, alas! he had no other witness for him. But this is too recondite.
8. filled … with wrinkles–Rather (as also the same Hebrew word in Job 22:16; English Version, “cut down”), “thou hast fettered me, thy witness” (besides cutting off my “band of witnesses,” Job 16:7), that is, hast disabled me by pains from properly attesting my innocence. But another “witness” arises against him, namely, his “leanness” or wretched state of body, construed by his friends into a proof of his guilt. The radical meaning of the Hebrew is “to draw together,” whence flow the double meaning “to bind” or “fetter,” and in Syriac, “to wrinkle.”
leanness–meaning also “lie”; implying it was a “false witness.”
9. Image from a wild beast. So God is represented (Job 10:16).
who hateth me–rather, “and pursues me hard.” Job would not ascribe “hatred” to God (Ps 50:22).
mine enemy–rather, “he sharpens, &c., as an enemy” (Ps 7:12). Darts wrathful glances at me, like a foe (Job 13:24).
10. gaped–not in order to devour, but to mock him. To fill his cup of misery, the mockery of his friends (Job 16:10) is added to the hostile treatment from God (Job 16:9).
smitten … cheek–figurative for contemptuous abuse (La 3:30; Mt 5:39).
gathered themselves–“conspired unanimously” [Schuttens].
11. the ungodly–namely, his professed friends, who persecuted him with unkind speeches.
turned me over–literally, “cast me headlong into the hands of the wicked.”
12. I was at ease–in past times (Job 1:1-3).
by my neck–as an animal does its prey (so Job 10:16).
shaken–violently; in contrast to his former “ease” (Ps 102:10). Set me up (again).
mark–(Job 7:20; La 3:12). God lets me always recover strength, so as to torment me ceaselessly.
13. his archers–The image of Job 16:12 is continued. God, in making me His “mark,” is accompanied by the three friends, whose words wound like sharp arrows.
gall–put for a vital part; so the liver (La 2:11).
14. The image is from storming a fortress by making breaches in the walls (2Ki 14:13).
a giant–a mighty warrior.
15. sewed–denoting the tight fit of the mourning garment; it was a sack with armholes closely sewed to the body.
horn–image from horned cattle, which when excited tear the earth with their horns. The horn was the emblem of power (1Ki 22:11). Here, it is
in the dust–which as applied to Job denotes his humiliation from former greatness. To throw one’s self in the dust was a sign of mourning; this idea is here joined with that of excited despair, depicted by the fury of a horned beast. The Druses of Lebanon still wear horns as an ornament.
16. foul–rather, “is red,” that is, flushed and heated [Umbreit and Noyes].
shadow of death–that is, darkening through many tears (La 5:17). Job here refers to Zophar’s implied charge (Job 11:14). Nearly the same words occur as to Jesus Christ (Isa 53:9). So Job 16:10 above answers to the description of Jesus Christ (Ps 22:13; Isa 50:6, and Job 16:4 to Ps 22:7). He alone realized what Job aspired after, namely, outward righteousness of acts and inward purity of devotion. Jesus Christ as the representative man is typified in some degree in every servant of God in the Old Testament.
18. my blood–that is, my undeserved suffering. He compares himself to one murdered, whose blood the earth refuses to drink up until he is avenged (Ge 4:10, 11; Eze 24:1, 8; Isa 26:21). The Arabs say that the dew of heaven will not descend on a spot watered with innocent blood (compare 2Sa 1:21).
no place–no resting-place. “May my cry never stop!” May it go abroad! “Earth” in this verse in antithesis to “heaven” (Job 16:19). May my innocence be as well-known to man as it is even now to God!
19. Also now–Even now, when I am so greatly misunderstood on earth, God in heaven is sensible of my innocence.
record–Hebrew, “in the high places”; Hebrew, “my witness.” Amidst all his impatience, Job still trusts in God.
20. Hebrew, “are my scorners”; more forcibly, “my mockers–my friends!” A heart-cutting paradox [Umbreit]. God alone remains to whom he can look for attestation of his innocence; plaintively with tearful eye, he supplicates for this.
21. one–rather, “He” (God). “Oh, that He would plead for a man (namely, me) against God.” Job quaintly says, “God must support me against God; for He makes me to suffer, and He alone knows me to be innocent” [Umbreit]. So God helped Jacob in wrestling against Himself (compare Job 23:6; Ge 32:25). God in Jesus Christ does plead with God for man (Ro 8:26, 27).
as a man–literally, “the Son of man.” A prefiguring of the advocacy of Jesus Christ–a boon longed for by Job (Job 9:33), though the spiritual pregnancy of his own words, designed for all ages, was but little understood by him (Ps 80:17).
for his neighbour–Hebrew, “friend.” Job himself (Job 42:8) pleaded as intercessor for his “friends,” though “his scorners” (Job 16:20); so Jesus Christ the Son of man (Lu 23:34); “for friends” (Joh 15:13-15).
22. few–literally, “years of number,” that is, few, opposed to numberless (Ge 34:30).
Job 17:1-16. Job’s Answer Continued.
1. breath … corrupt–result of elephantiasis. But Umbreit, “my strength (spirit) is spent.”
extinct–Life is compared to an expiring light. “The light of my day is extinguished.”
graves–plural, to heighten the force.
2. Umbreit, more emphatically, “had I only not to endure mockery, in the midst of their contentions I (mine eye) would remain quiet.”
eye continue–Hebrew, “tarry all night”; a figure taken from sleep at night, to express undisturbed rest; opposed to (Job 16:20), when the eye of Job is represented as pouring out tears to God without rest.
3. Lay down now–namely, a pledge or security; that is, be my surety; do Thou attest my innocence, since my friends only mock me (Job 17:2). Both litigating parties had to lay down a sum as security before the trial.
put me in a surety–Provide a surety for me (in the trial) with Thee. A presage of the “surety” (Heb 7:22), or “one Mediator between God and man” (see on Job 16:21).
strike hands–“who else (save God Himself) could strike hands with me?” that is, be my security (Ps 119:122). The Hebrew strikes the hand of him for whom he goes security (Pr 6:1).
4. their heart–The intellect of his friends.
shalt … exalt–Rather imperative, “exalt them not”; allow them not to conquer [Umbreit], (Isa 6:9, 10).
5. The Hebrew for “flattery” is “smoothness”; then it came to mean a prey divided by lot, because a smooth stone was used in casting the lots (De 18:8), “a portion” (Ge 14:24). Therefore translate, “He that delivers up his friend as a prey (which the conduct of my friends implies that they would do), even the eyes,” &c. [Noyes] (Job 11:20). Job says this as to the sinner’s children, retorting upon their reproach as to the cutting off of his (Job 5:4; 15:30). This accords with the Old Testament dispensation of legal retribution (Ex 20:5).
6. He–God. The poet reverentially suppresses the name of God when speaking of calamities inflicted.
by-word–(De 28:37; Ps 69:11). My awful punishment makes my name execrated everywhere, as if I must have been superlatively bad to have earned it.
aforetime … tabret–as David was honored (1Sa 18:6). Rather from a different Hebrew root, “I am treated to my face as an object of disgust,” literally, “an object to be spit upon in the face” (Nu 12:14). So Raca means (Mt 5:22) [Umbreit].
7. (Ps 6:7; 31:9; De 34:7).
members–literally, “figures”; all the individual members being peculiar forms of the body; opposed to “shadow,” which looks like a figure without solidity.
8. astonied–at my unmerited sufferings.
against the hypocrite–The upright shall feel their sense of justice wounded (“will be indignant”) because of the prosperity of the wicked. By “hypocrite” or “ungodly,” he perhaps glances at his false friends.
9. The strength of religious principle is heightened by misfortune. The pious shall take fresh courage to persevere from the example of suffering Job. The image is from a warrior acquiring new courage in action (Isa 40:30, 31; Php 1:14).
10. return–If you have anything to advance really wise, though I doubt it, recommence your speech. For as yet I cannot find one wise man among you all.
11. Only do not vainly speak of the restoration of health to me; for “my days are past.”
broken off–as the threads of the web cut off from the loom (Isa 38:12).
thoughts–literally, “possessions,” that is, all the feelings and fair hopes which my heart once nourished. These belong to the heart, as “purposes” to the understanding; the two together here describe the entire inner man.
12. They–namely, “my friends.”
change the night into day–that is, would try to persuade me of the change of my misery into joy, which is impossible [Umbreit] (Job 11:17); (but) the light of prosperity (could it be enjoyed) would be short because of the darkness of adversity. Or better for “short,” the Hebrew “near”; “and the light of new prosperity should be near in the face of (before) the darkness of death”; that is, they would persuade me that light is near, even though darkness approaches.
13. Rather, “if I wait for this grave (Sheol, or the unseen world) as my house, and make my bed in the darkness (Job 17:14), and say to corruption,” rather, “to the pit” or “grave,” &c. (Job 17:15). Where then is my hope? [Umbreit]. The apodosis is at Job 17:15.
14. Thou art my father, &c.–expressing most intimate connection (Pr 7:4). His diseased state made him closely akin to the grave and worm.
15. Who shall see it fulfilled? namely, the “hope” (Job 11:18) which they held out to him of restoration.
16. They–namely, my hopes shall be buried with me.
bars–(Isa 38:10). Rather, the wastes or solitudes of the pit (sheol, the unseen world).
rest together–the rest of me and my hope is in, &c. Both expire together. The word “rest” implies that man’s ceaseless hopes only rob him of rest.
Job 18:1-21. Reply of Bildad.
2. ye–the other two friends of Job, whom Bildad charges with having spoken mere “words,” that is, empty speeches; opposed to “mark,” that is, come to reason, consider the question intelligently; and then let us speak.
3. beasts–alluding to what Job said (Job 12:7; so Isa 1:3).
vile–rather from a Hebrew root, “to stop up.” “Stubborn,” answering to the stupidity implied in the parallel first clause [Umbreit]. Why should we give occasion by your empty speeches for our being mutually reputed, in the sight of Job and one another, as unintelligent? (Job 17:4, 10).
4. Rather, turning to Job, “thou that tearest thyself in anger” (Job 5:2).
be forsaken?–become desolate. He alludes here to Job’s words as to the “rock,” crumbling away (Job 14:18, 19); but in a different application. He says bitterly “for thee.” Wert thou not punished as thou art, and as thou art unwilling to bear, the eternal order of the universe would be disturbed and the earth become desolate through unavenged wickedness [Umbreit]. Bildad takes it for granted Job is a great sinner (Job 8:3-6; Isa 24:5, 6). “Shall that which stands fast as a rock be removed for your special accommodation?”
5. That (Job 18:4) cannot be. The decree of God is unalterable, the light (prosperity) of the wicked shall at length be put out.
his fire–alluding to Arabian hospitality, which prided itself on welcoming the stranger to the fire in the tent, and even lit fires to direct him to it. The ungodly shall be deprived of the means to show hospitality. His dwelling shall be dark and desolate!
6. candle–the lamp which in the East is usually fastened to the ceiling. Oil abounds in those regions, and the lamp was kept burning all night, as now in Egypt, where the poorest would rather dispense with food than the night lamp (Ps 18:28). To put out the lamp was an image of utter desolation.
7. steps of his strength–Hebrew, for “His strong steps.” A firm step marks health. To be straitened in steps is to be no longer able to move about at will (Pr 4:12).
his own counsel–Plans shall be the means of his fall (Job 5:13).
8. he walketh upon–rather, “he lets himself go into the net” [Umbreit]. If the English Version be retained, then understand “snare” to be the pitfall, covered over with branches and earth, which when walked upon give way (Ps 9:15; 35:8).
9. robber–rather answering to “gin” in the parallel clause, “the noose shall hold him fast” [Umbreit].
11. Terrors–often mentioned in this book (Job 18:14; 24:17; &c.). The terrors excited through an evil conscience are here personified. “Magor-missabib” (Jer 20:3).
drive … to his feet–rather, “shall pursue” (literally, “scatter,” Hab 3:14) him close “at his heels” (literally, “immediately after his feet,” Hab 3:5; 1Sa 25:42; Hebrew). The image is that of a pursuing conqueror who scatters the enemy [Umbreit].
12. The Hebrew is brief and bold, “his strength is hungry.”
destruction–that is, a great calamity (Pr 1:27).
ready at his side–close at hand to destroy him (Pr 19:29).
13. Umbreit has “he” for “it,” that is, “in the rage of hunger he shall devour his own body”; or, “his own children” (La 4:10). Rather, “destruction” from Job 18:12 is nominative to “devour.”
strength–rather, “members” (literally, the “branches” of a tree).
the first-born of death–a personification full of poetical horror. The first-born son held the chief place (Ge 49:3); so here the chiefest (most deadly) disease that death has ever engendered (Isa 14:30; “first-born of the poor”–the poorest). The Arabs call fever, “daughter of death.”
14. confidence–all that the father trusted in for domestic happiness, children, fortune, &c., referring to Job’s losses.
rooted out–suddenly torn away, it shall bring–that is, he shall be brought; or, as Umbreit better has, “Thou (God) shalt bring him slowly.” The Hebrew expresses, “to stride slowly and solemnly.” The godless has a fearful death for long before his eyes, and is at last taken by it. Alluding to Job’s case. The King of terrors, not like the heathen Pluto, the tabled ruler of the dead, but Death, with all its terrors to the ungodly, personified.
15. It–“Terror” shall haunt, &c., and not as Umbreit, “another,” which the last clause of the verse disproves.
none of his–It is his no longer.
brimstone–probably comparing the calamity of Job by the “fire of God” (Job 1:16) to the destruction of guilty Sodom by fire and brimstone (Ge 19:24).
branch–his children (Job 8:12; 15:30; Mal 4:1).
17. street–Men shall not speak of him in meeting in the highways; rather, “in the field” or “meadow”; the shepherds shall no more mention his name–a picture from nomadic life [Umbreit].
18. light … darkness–existence–nonexistence.
19. nephew–(so Isa 14:22). But it is translated “grandson” (Ge 21:23); translate “kinsman.”
20. after … before–rather, “those in the West–those in the East”; that is, all people; literally, “those behind–those before”; for Orientals in geography turn with their faces to the east (not to the north as we), and back to the west; so that before–east; behind–north (so Zec 14:8).
day–of ruin (Ob 12).
affrighted–seized with terror (Job 21:6; Isa 13:8).
21. (Job 8:22, Margin).
Job 19:1-29. Job’s Reply to Bildad.
2. How long, &c.–retorting Bildad’s words (Job 18:2). Admitting the punishment to be deserved, is it kind thus ever to be harping on this to the sufferer? And yet even this they have not yet proved.
3. These–prefixed emphatically to numbers (Ge 27:36).
ten–that is, often (Ge 31:7).
make yourselves strange–rather, “stun me” [Gesenius]. (See Margin for a different meaning [that is, “harden yourselves against me”]).
4.erred–The Hebrew expresses unconscious error. Job was unconscious of wilful sin.
remaineth–literally, “passeth the night.” An image from harboring an unpleasant guest for the night. I bear the consequences.
5. magnify, &c.–Speak proudly (Ob 12; Eze 35:13).
against me–emphatically repeated (Ps 38:16).
plead … reproach–English Version makes this part of the protasis, “if” being understood, and the apodosis beginning at Job 19:6. Better with Umbreit, If ye would become great heroes against me in truth, ye must prove (evince) against me my guilt, or shame, which you assert. In the English Version “reproach” will mean Job’s calamities, which they “pleaded” against him as a “reproach,” or proof of guilt.
6. compassed … net–alluding to Bildad’s words (Job 18:8). Know, that it is not that I as a wicked man have been caught in my “own net”; it is God who has compassed me in His–why, I know not.
7. wrong–violence: brought on him by God.
no judgment–God will not remove my calamities, and so vindicate my just cause; and my friends will not do justice to my past character.
8. Image from a benighted traveller.
9. stripped … crown–image from a deposed king, deprived of his robes and crown; appropriate to Job, once an emir with all but royal dignity (La 5:16; Ps 89:39).
10. destroyed … on every side–“Shaken all round, so that I fall in the dust”; image from a tree uprooted by violent shaking from every side [Umbreit]. The last clause accords with this (Jer 1:10)
mine hope–as to this life (in opposition to Zophar, Job 11:18); not as to the world to come (Job 19:25; Job 14:15).
11. enemies–(Job 13:24; La 2:5).
12. troops–Calamities advance together like hostile troops (Job 10:17).
raise up … way–An army must cast up a way of access before it, in marching against a city (Isa 40:3).
13. brethren–nearest kinsmen, as distinguished from “acquaintance.” So “kinsfolk” and “familiar friends” (Job 19:14) correspond in parallelism. The Arabic proverb is, “The brother, that is, the true friend, is only known in time of need.”
estranged–literally, “turn away with disgust.” Job again unconsciously uses language prefiguring the desertion of Jesus Christ (Job 16:10; Lu 23:49; Ps 38:11).
15. They that dwell, &c.–rather, “sojourn”: male servants, sojourning in his house. Mark the contrast. The stranger admitted to sojourn as a dependent treats the master as a stranger in his own house.
16. servant–born in my house (as distinguished from those sojourning in it), and so altogether belonging to the family. Yet even he disobeys my call.
mouth–that is, “calling aloud”; formerly a nod was enough. Now I no longer look for obedience, I try entreaty.
17. strange–His breath by elephantiasis had become so strongly altered and offensive, that his wife turned away as estranged from him (Job 19:13; 17:1).
children’s … of mine own body–literally, “belly.” But “loins” is what we should expect, not “belly” (womb), which applies to the woman. The “mine” forbids it being taken of his wife. Besides their children were dead. In Job 3:10 the same words “my womb” mean, my mother’s womb: therefore translate, “and I must entreat (as a suppliant) the children of my mother’s womb”; that is, my own brothers–a heightening of force, as compared with last clause of Job 19:16 [Umbreit]. Not only must I entreat suppliantly my servant, but my own brothers (Ps 69:8). Here too, he unconsciously foreshadows Jesus Christ (Joh 7:5).
18. young children–So the Hebrew means (Job 21:11). Reverence for age is a chief duty in the East. The word means “wicked” (Job 16:11). So Umbreit has it here, not so well.
I arose–Rather, supply “if,” as Job was no more in a state to stand up. “If I stood up (arose), they would speak against (abuse) me” [Umbreit].
19. inward–confidential; literally, “men of my secret”–to whom I entrusted my most intimate confidence.
20. Extreme meagerness. The bone seemed to stick in the skin, being seen through it, owing to the flesh drying up and falling away from the bone. The Margin, “as to my flesh,” makes this sense clearer. The English Version, however, expresses the same: “And to my flesh,” namely, which has fallen away from the bone, instead of firmly covering it.
skin of my teeth–proverbial. I have escaped with bare life; I am whole only with the skin of my teeth; that is, my gums alone are whole, the rest of the skin of my body is broken with sores (Job 7:5; Ps 102:5). Satan left Job his speech, in hope that he might therewith curse God.
21. When God had made him such a piteous spectacle, his friends should spare him the additional persecution of their cruel speeches.
22. as God–has persecuted me. Prefiguring Jesus Christ (Ps 69:26). That God afflicts is no reason that man is to add to a sufferer’s affliction (Zec 1:15).
satisfied with my flesh–It is not enough that God afflicts my flesh literally (Job 19:20), but you must “eat my flesh” metaphorically (Ps 27:2); that is, utter the worst calumnies, as the phrase often means in Arabic.
23. Despairing of justice from his friends in his lifetime, he wishes his words could be preserved imperishably to posterity, attesting his hope of vindication at the resurrection.
printed–not our modern printing, but engraven.
lead–poured into the engraven characters, to make them better seen [Umbreit]. Not on leaden plates; for it was “in the rock” that they were engraved. Perhaps it was the hammer that was of “lead,” as sculptors find more delicate incisions are made by it, than by a harder hammer. FOSTER (One Primeval Language) has shown that the inscriptions on the rocks in Wady-Mokatta, along Israel’s route through the desert, record the journeys of that people, as Cosmas Indicopleustes asserted, A.D. 535.
for ever–as long as the rock lasts.
25. redeemer–Umbreit and others understand this and Job 19:26, of God appearing as Job’s avenger before his death, when his body would be wasted to a skeleton. But Job uniformly despairs of restoration and vindication of his cause in this life (Job 17:15, 16). One hope alone was left, which the Spirit revealed–a vindication in a future life: it would be no full vindication if his soul alone were to be happy without the body, as some explain (Job 19:26) “out of the flesh.” It was his body that had chiefly suffered: the resurrection of his body, therefore, alone could vindicate his cause: to see God with his own eyes, and in a renovated body (Job 19:27), would disprove the imputation of guilt cast on him because of the sufferings of his present body. That this truth is not further dwelt on by Job, or noticed by his friends, only shows that it was with him a bright passing glimpse of Old Testament hope, rather than the steady light of Gospel assurance; with us this passage has a definite clearness, which it had not in his mind (see on Job 21:30). The idea in “redeemer” with Job is Vindicator (Job 16:19; Nu 35:27), redressing his wrongs; also including at least with us, and probably with him, the idea of the predicted Bruiser of the serpent’s head. Tradition would inform him of the prediction. Foster shows that the fall by the serpent is represented perfectly on the temple of Osiris at Philæ; and the resurrection on the tomb of the Egyptian Mycerinus, dating four thousand years back. Job’s sacrifices imply sense of sin and need of atonement. Satan was the injurer of Job’s body; Jesus Christ his Vindicator, the Living One who giveth life (Joh 5:21, 26).
at the latter day–Rather, “the Last,” the peculiar title of Jesus Christ, though Job may not have known the pregnancy of his own inspired words, and may have understood merely one that comes after (1Co 15:45; Re 1:17). Jesus Christ is the last. The day of Jesus Christ the last day (Joh 6:39).
stand–rather, “arise”: as God is said to “raise up” the Messiah (Jer 23:5; De 18:15).
earth–rather, “dust”: often associated with the body crumbling away in it (Job 7:21; 17:16); therefore appropriately here. Above that very dust wherewith was mingled man’s decaying body shall man’s Vindicator arise. “Arise above the dust,” strikingly expresses that fact that Jesus Christ arose first Himself above the dust, and then is to raise His people above it (1Co 15:20, 23). The Spirit intended in Job’s words more than Job fully understood (1Pe 1:12). Though He seems, in forsaking me, to be as one dead, He now truly “liveth” in heaven; hereafter He shall appear also above the dust of earth. The Goel or vindicator of blood was the nearest kinsman of the slain. So Jesus Christ took our flesh, to be our kinsman. Man lost life by Satan the “murderer” (Joh 8:44), here Job’s persecutor (Heb 2:14). Compare also as to redemption of the inheritance by the kinsman of the dead (Ru 4:3-5; Eph 1:14).
26. Rather, though after my skin (is no more) this (body) is destroyed (“body” being omitted, because it was so wasted as not to deserve the name), yet from my flesh (from my renewed body, as the starting-point of vision, So 2:9, “looking out from the windows”) “shall I see God.” Next clause [Job 19:27] proves bodily vision is meant, for it specifies “mine eyes” [Rosenmuller, 2d ed.]. The Hebrew opposes “in my flesh.” The “skin” was the first destroyed by elephantiasis, then the “body.”
27. for myself–for my advantage, as my friend.
not another–Mine eyes shall behold Him, but no longer as one estranged from me, as now [Bengel].
my reins–inward recesses of the heart.
be consumed within me–that is, pine with longing desire for that day (Ps 84:2; 119:81). The Gentiles had but few revealed promises: how gracious that the few should have been so explicit (compare Nu 24:17; Mt 2:2).
28. Rather, “ye will then (when the Vindicator cometh) say, Why,” &c.
root … in me–The root of pious integrity, which was the matter at issue, whether it could be in one so afflicted, is found in me. Umbreit, with many manuscripts and versions, reads “in him.” “Or how found we in him ground of contention.”
29. wrath–the passionate violence with which the friends persecuted Job.
bringeth, &c.–literally, “is sin of the of the sword”
that ye may know–Supply, “I say this.”
judgment–inseparably connected with the coming of the Vindicator. The “wrath” of God at His appearing for the temporal vindication of Job against the friends (Job 42:7) is a pledge of the eternal wrath at the final coming to glorify the saints and judge their enemies (2Th 1:6-10; Isa 25:8).
Job 20:1-29. Reply of Zophar.
2. Therefore–Rather, the more excited I feel by Job’s speech, the more for that very reason shall my reply be supplied by my calm consideration. Literally, “Notwithstanding; my calm thoughts (as in Job 4:13) shall furnish my answer, because of the excitement (haste) within me” [Umbreit].
3. check of my reproach–that is, the castigation intended as a reproach (literally, “shame”) to me.
spirit of … understanding–my rational spirit; answering to “calm thoughts” (Job 20:2). In spite of thy reproach urging me to “hastiness.” I will answer in calm reason.
5. the hypocrite–literally, “the ungodly” (Ps 37:35, 36).
6. (Isa 14:13; Ob 3, 4).
7. dung–in contrast to the haughtiness of the sinner (Job 20:6); this strong term expresses disgust and the lowest degradation (Ps 83:10; 1Ki 14:10).
8. (Ps 73:20).
9. Rather “the eye followeth him, but can discern him no more.” A sharp-looking is meant (Job 28:7; Job 7:10).
10. seek to please–“Atone to the poor” (by restoring the property of which they had been robbed by the father) [De Wette]. Better than English Version, “The children” are reduced to the humiliating condition of “seeking the favor of those very poor,” whom the father had oppressed. But Umbreit translates as Margin.
his hands–rather, “their (the children’s) hands.”
their goods–the goods of the poor. Righteous retribution! (Ex 20:5).
11. (Ps 25:7), so Vulgate. Gesenius has “full of youth”; namely, in the fulness of his youthful strength he shall be laid in the dust. But “bones” plainly alludes to Job’s disease, probably to Job’s own words (Job 19:20). Umbreit translates, “full of his secret sins,” as in Ps 90:8; his secret guilt in his time of seeming righteousness, like secret poison, at last lays him in the dust. The English Version is best. Zophar alludes to Job’s own words (Job 17:16).
with him–His sin had so pervaded his nature that it accompanies him to the grave: for eternity the sinner cannot get rid of it (Re 22:11).
12. be–“taste sweet.” Sin’s fascination is like poison sweet to the taste, but at last deadly to the vital organs (Pr 20:17; Job 9:17, 18).
hide … tongue–seek to prolong the enjoyment by keeping the sweet morsel long in the mouth (so Job 20:13).
14. turned–Hebrew denotes a total change into a disagreeable contrary (Jer 2:21; compare Re 10:9, 10).
gall–in which the poison of the asp was thought to lie. It rather is contained in a sack in the mouth. Scripture uses popular language, where no moral truth is thereby endangered.
15. He is forced to disgorge his ill-gotten wealth.
16. shall suck–It shall turn out that he has sucked the poison, &c.
17. floods–literally, “stream of floods,” plentiful streams flowing with milk, &c. (Job 29:6; Ex 3:17). Honey and butter are more fluid in the East than with us and are poured out from jars. These “rivers” or water brooks are in the sultry East emblems of prosperity.
18. Image from food which is taken away from one before he can swallow it.
restitution–(So Pr 6:31). The parallelism favors the English Version rather than the translation of Gesenius, “As a possession to be restored in which he rejoices not.”
he shall not rejoice–His enjoyment of his ill-gotten gains shall then be at an end (Job 20:5).
19. oppressed–whereas he ought to have espoused their cause (2Ch 16:10).
house–thus leaving the poor without shelter (Isa 5:8; Mic 2:2).
20. Umbreit translates, “His inward parts know no rest” from desires.
his belly–that is, peace inwardly.
not save–literally, “not escape with that which,” &c., alluding to Job’s having been stripped of his all.
21. look for–rather, “because his goods,” that is, prosperity shall have no endurance.
22. shall be–rather, “he is (feeleth) straitened.” The next clause explains in what respect.
wicked–Rather, “the whole hand of the miserable (whom he had oppressed) cometh upon him”; namely, the sense of his having oppressed the poor, now in turn comes with all its power (hand) on him. This caused his “straitened” feeling even in prosperity.
23. Rather, “God shall cast (may God send) [Umbreit] upon him the fury of His wrath to fill his belly!”
while … eating–rather, “shall rain it upon him for his food!” Fiery rain, that is, lightning (Ps 11:6; alluding to Job’s misfortune, Job 1:16). The force of the image is felt by picturing to one’s self the opposite nature of a refreshing rain in the desert (Ex 16:4; Ps 68:9).
24. steel–rather, “brass.” While the wicked flees from one danger, he falls into a greater one from an opposite quarter [Umbreit].
25. It is drawn–Rather, “He (God) draweth (the sword, Jos 5:13) and (no sooner has He done so, than) it cometh out of (that is, passes right through) the (sinner’s) body” (De 32:41, 42; Eze 21:9, 10). The glittering sword is a happy image for lightning.
gall–that is, his life (Job 16:13). “Inflicts a deadly wound.”
terrors–Zophar repeats Bildad’s words (Job 17:11; Ps 88:16; 55:4).
26. All darkness–that is, every calamity that befalls the wicked shall be hid (in store for him) in His (God’s) secret places, or treasures (Jude 13; De 32:34).
not blown–not kindled by man’s hands, but by God’s (Isa 30:33; the Septuagint in the Alexandrian Manuscript reads “unquenchable fire,” Mt 3:12). Tact is shown by the friends in not expressly mentioning, but alluding under color of general cases, to Job’s calamities; here (Job 1:16) Umbreit explains it, wickedness, is a “self-igniting fire”; in it lie the principles of destruction.
ill … tabernacle–Every trace of the sinner must be obliterated (Job 18:15).
27. All creation is at enmity with him, and proclaims his guilt, which he would fain conceal.
28. increase–prosperity. Ill got–ill gone.
flow away–like waters that run dry in summer; using Job’s own metaphor against himself (Job 6:15-17; 2Sa 14:14; Mic 1:4).
29. appointed–not as a matter of chance, but by the divine “decree” (Margin) and settled principle.
Job 21:1-34. Job’s Answer.
2. consolations–If you will listen calmly to me, this will be regarded as “consolations”; alluding to Eliphaz’ boasted “consolations” (Job 15:11), which Job felt more as aggravations (“mockings,” Job 21:3) than consolations (Job 16:2).
3. literally, “Begin your mockings” (Job 17:2).
4. Job’s difficulty was not as to man, but as to God, why He so afflicted him, as if he were the guilty hypocrite which the friends alleged him to be. Vulgate translates it, “my disputation.”
if it were–rather, “since this is the case.”
5. lay … hand upon … mouth–(Pr 30:32; Jud 18:19). So the heathen god of silence was pictured with his hand on his mouth. There was enough in Job’s case to awe them into silence (Job 17:8).
6. remember–Think on it. Can you wonder that I broke out into complaints, when the struggle was not with men, but with the Almighty? Reconcile, if you can, the ceaseless woes of the innocent with the divine justice! Is it not enough to make one tremble? [Umbreit].
7. The answer is Ro 2:4; 1Ti 1:16; Ps 73:18; Ec 8:11-13; Lu 2:35-end; Pr 16:4; Ro 9:22.
old–in opposition to the friends who asserted that sinners are “cut off” early (Job 8:12, 14).
8. In opposition to Job 18:19; 5:4.
9. Literally, “peace from fear”; with poetic force. Their house is peace itself, far removed from fear. Opposed to the friends’ assertion, as to the bad (Job 15:21-24; 20:26-28), and conversely, the good (Job 5:23, 24).
10. Rather, “their cattle conceive.” The first clause of the verse describes an easy conception, the second, a happy birth [Umbreit].
11. send forth–namely, out of doors, to their happy sports under the skies, like a joyful flock sent to the pastures.
little ones–like lambkins.
children–somewhat older than the former.
dance–not formal dances; but skip, like lambs, in joyous and healthful play.
12. take–rather, “lift up the voice” (sing) to the note of [Umbreit].
organ–not the modern “organ,” but the “pipe” (Ge 4:21). The first clause refers to stringed, the latter, to wind instruments; thus, with “the voice” all kinds of music are enumerated.
13. wealth–Old English Version for “prosperity.”
in a moment–not by a lingering disease. Great blessings! Lengthened life with prosperity, and a sudden painless death (Ps 73:4).
14. Therefore–rather, “And yet they are such as say,” &c., that is, say, not in so many words, but virtually, by their conduct (so the Gergesenes, Mt 8:34). How differently the godly (Isa 2:3).
ways–The course of action, which God points out; as in Ps 50:23, Margin.
15. (Compare Jer 2:20; Pr 30:9, Margin, Ex 5:2).
what profit–(Job 35:3; Mal 3:14; Ps 73:13). Sinners ask, not what is right, but what is for the profit of self. They forget, “If religion cost self something, the want of it will cost self infinitely more.”
16. not in their hand–but in the hand of God. This is Job’s difficulty, that God who has sinners prosperity (good) in His hand should allow them to have it.
is–rather, “may the counsel of the wicked be far from me!” [Umbreit]. This naturally follows the sentiment of the first clause: Let me not hereby be thought to regard with aught but horror the ways of the wicked, however prosperous.
17. Job in this whole passage down to Job 21:21 quotes the assertion of the friends, as to the short continuance of the sinner’s prosperity, not his own sentiments. In Job 21:22 he proceeds to refute them. “How oft is the candle” (lamp), &c., quoting Bildad’s sentiment (Job 18:5, 6), in order to question its truth (compare Mt 25:8).
how oft–“God distributeth,” &c. (alluding to Job 20:23, 29).
sorrows–Umbreit translates “snares,” literally, “cords,” which lightning in its twining motion resembles (Ps 11:6).
18. Job alludes to a like sentiment of Bildad (Job 18:18), using his own previous words (Job 13:25).
19. Equally questionable is the friends’ assertion that if the godless himself is not punished, the children are (Job 18:19; 20:10); and that God rewardeth him here for his iniquity, and that he shall know it to his cost. So “know” (Ho 9:7).
20. Another questionable assertion of the friends, that the sinner sees his own and his children’s destruction in his lifetime.
drink–(Ps 11:6; Isa 51:17; La 4:21).
21. The argument of the friends, in proof of Job 21:20, What pleasure can he have from his house (children) when he is dead–(“after him,” Ec 3:22).
when the number, &c.–Or, rather, “What hath he to do with his children?” &c. (so the Hebrew in Ec 3:1; 8:6). It is therefore necessary that “his eyes should see his and their destruction” (see Job 14:21).
cut off–rather, when the number of his allotted months is fulfilled (Job 14:5). From an Arabic word, “arrow,” which was used to draw lots with. Hence “arrow”–inevitable destiny [Umbreit].
22. Reply of Job, “In all these assertions you try to teach God how He ought to deal with men, rather than prove that He does in fact so deal with them. Experience is against you. God gives prosperity and adversity as it pleases Him, not as man’s wisdom would have it, on principles inscrutable to us” (Isa 40:13; Ro 11:34).
those … high–the high ones, not only angels, but men (Isa 2:12-17).
23. Literally, “in the bone of his perfection,” that is, the full strength of unimpaired prosperity [Umbreit].
24. breasts–rather, “skins,” or “vessels” for fluids [Lee]. But [Umbreit] “stations or resting-places of his herds near water”; in opposition to Zophar (Job 20:17); the first clause refers to his abundant substance, the second to his vigorous health.
moistened–comparing man’s body to a well-watered field (Pr 3:8; Isa 58:11).
26. (Ec 9:2).
27. Their wrongful thoughts against Job are stated by him in Job 21:28. They do not honestly name Job, but insinuate his guilt.
28. ye say–referring to Zophar (Job 20:7).
the house–referring to the fall of the house of Job’s oldest son (Job 1:19) and the destruction of his family.
prince–The parallel “wicked” in the second clause requires this to be taken in a bad sense, tyrant, oppressor (Isa 13:2), the same Hebrew, “nobles”–oppressors.
dwelling-places–rather, “pavilions,” a tent containing many dwellings, such as a great emir, like Job, with many dependents, would have.
29. Job, seeing that the friends will not admit him as an impartial judge, as they consider his calamities prove his guilt, begs them to ask the opinion of travellers (La 1:12), who have the experience drawn from observation, and who are no way connected with him. Job opposes this to Bildad (Job 8:8) and Zophar (Job 20:4).
tokens–rather, “intimations” (for example, inscriptions, proverbs, signifying the results of their observation), testimony. Literally, “signs” or proofs in confirmation of the word spoken (Isa 7:11).
30. Their testimony (referring perhaps to those who had visited the region where Abraham who enjoyed a revelation then lived) is that “the wicked is (now) spared (reserved) against the day of destruction (hereafter).” The Hebrew does not so well agree with [Umbreit] “in the day of destruction.” Job does not deny sinners’ future punishment, but their punishment in this life. They have their “good things” now. Hereafter, their lot, and that of the godly, shall be reversed (Lu 16:25). Job, by the Spirit, often utters truths which solve the difficulty under which he labored. His afflictions mostly clouded his faith, else he would have seen the solution furnished by his own words. This answers the objection, that if he knew of the resurrection in Job 19:25, and future retribution (Job 21:30), why did he not draw his reasonings elsewhere from them, which he did not? God’s righteous government, however, needs to be vindicated as to this life also, and therefore the Holy Ghost has caused the argument mainly to turn on it at the same time giving glimpses of a future fuller vindication of God’s ways.
brought forth–not “carried away safe” or “escape” (referring to this life), as Umbreit has it.
wrath–literally, “wraths,” that is, multiplied and fierce wrath.
31. That is, who dares to charge him openly with his bad ways? namely, in this present life. He shall, I grant (Job 21:30), be “repaid” hereafter.
32. Yet–rather, “and.”
brought–with solemn pomp (Ps 45:15).
grave–literally, “graves”; that is, the place where the graves are.
remain in–rather, watch on the tomb, or sepulchral mound. Even after death he seems still to live and watch (that is, have his “remembrance” preserved) by means of the monument over the grave. In opposition to Bildad (Job 18:17).
33. As the classic saying has it, “The earth is light upon him.” His repose shall be “sweet.”
draw–follow. He shall share the common lot of mortals; no worse off than they (Heb 9:27). Umbreit not so well (for it is not true of “every man”). “Most men follow in his bad steps, as countless such preceded him.”
34. falsehood–literally, “transgression.” Your boasted “consolations” (Job 15:11) are contradicted by facts (“vain”); they therefore only betray your evil intent (“wickedness”) against me.
Job 22:1-30. As Before, Eliphaz Begins.
1. Eliphaz shows that man’s goodness does not add to, or man’s badness take from, the happiness of God; therefore it cannot be that God sends prosperity to some and calamities on others for His own advantage; the cause of the goods and ills sent must lie in the men themselves (Ps 16:2; Lu 17:10; Ac 17:25; 1Ch 29:14). So Job’s calamities must arise from guilt. Eliphaz, instead of meeting the facts, tries to show that it could not be so.
2. as he that is wise–rather, yea the pious man profiteth himself. So “understanding” or “wise”–pious (Da 12:3, 10; Ps 14:2) [Michaelis].
3. pleasure–accession of happiness; God has pleasure in man’s righteousness (Ps 45:7), but He is not dependent on man’s character for His happiness.
4. Is the punishment inflicted on thee from fear of thee, in order to disarm thee? as Job had implied (see on Job 7:12; Job 7:20; and Job 10:17).
will he enter … into judgment?–Job had desired this (Job 13:3, 21). He ought rather to have spoken as in Ps 143:2.
5. Heretofore Eliphaz had only insinuated, now he plainly asserts Job’s guilt, merely on the ground of his sufferings.
6. The crimes alleged, on a harsh inference, by Eliphaz against Job are such as he would think likely to be committed by a rich man. The Mosaic law (Ex 22:26; De 24:10) subsequently embodied the feeling that existed among the godly in Job’s time against oppression of debtors as to their pledges. Here the case is not quite the same; Job is charged with taking a pledge where he had no just claim to it; and in the second clause, that pledge (the outer garment which served the poor as a covering by day and a bed by night) is represented as taken from one who had not “changes of raiment” (a common constituent of wealth in the East), but was poorly clad–“naked” (Mt 25:36; Jas 2:15); a sin the more heinous in a rich man like Job.
7. Hospitality to the weary traveller is regarded in the East as a primary duty (Isa 21:14).
8. mighty–Hebrew, “man of arm” (Ps 10:15; namely, Job).
honourable–Hebrew, “eminent, or, accepted for countenance” (Isa 3:3; 2Ki 5:1); that is, possessing authority. Eliphaz repeats his charge (Job 15:28; so Zophar, Job 20:19), that it was by violence Job wrung houses and lands from the poor, to whom now he refused relief (Job 22:7, 9) [Michaelis].
9. empty–without their wants being relieved (Ge 31:42). The Mosaic law especially protected the widow and fatherless (Ex 22:22); the violation of it in their case by the great is a complaint of the prophets (Isa 1:17).
arms–supports, helps, on which one leans (Ho 7:15). Thou hast robbed them of their only stay. Job replies in Job 29:11-16.
10. snares–alluding to Job’s admission (Job 19:6; compare Job 18:10; Pr 22:5).
11. that–so that thou.
abundance–floods. Danger by floods is a less frequent image in this book than in the rest of the Old Testament (Job 11:16; 27:20).
12. Eliphaz says this to prove that God can from His height behold all things; gratuitously inferring that Job denied it, because he denied that the wicked are punished here.
height–Hebrew, “head of the stars”; that is, “elevation” (Job 11:8).
13. Rather, And yet thou sayest, God does not concern Himself with (“know”) human affairs (Ps 73:11).
14. in the circuit of heaven–only, not taking any part in earthly affairs. Job is alleged as holding this Epicurean sentiment (La 3:44; Isa 29:15; 40:27; Jer 23:24; Eze 8:12; Ps 139:12).
15. marked–Rather, Dost thou keep to? that is, wish to follow (so Hebrew, 2Sa 22:22). If so, beware of sharing their end.
the old way–the degenerate ways of the world before the flood (Ge 6:5).
16. cut down–rather, “fettered,” as in Job 16:8; that is, arrested by death.
out of time–prematurely, suddenly (Job 15:32; Ec 7:17); literally, “whose foundation was poured out (so as to become) a stream or flood.” The solid earth passed from beneath their feet into a flood (Ge 7:11).
17. Eliphaz designedly uses Job’s own words (Job 21:14, 15).
do for them–They think they can do everything for themselves.
18. “Yet” you say (see on Job 21:16) that it is “He who filled their houses with good”–“their good is not in their hand,” but comes from God.
but the counsel … is–rather, “may the counsel be,” &c. Eliphaz sarcastically quotes in continuation Job’s words (Job 21:16). Yet, after uttering this godless sentiment, thou dost hypocritically add, “May the counsel,” &c.
19. Triumph of the pious at the fall of the recent followers of the antediluvian sinners. While in the act of denying that God can do them any good or harm, they are cut off by Him. Eliphaz hereby justifies himself and the friends for their conduct to Job: not derision of the wretched, but joy at the vindication of God’s ways (Ps 107:42; Re 15:3; 16:7; 19:1, 2).
20. The triumphant speech of the pious. If “substance” be retained, translate, rather as the Septuagint, “Has not their substance been taken away, and … ?” But the Hebrew is rather, “Truly our adversary is cut down” [Gesenius]. The same opposition exists between the godly and ungodly seed as between the unfallen and restored Adam and Satan (adversary); this forms the groundwork of the book (Job 1:1-2:13; Ge 3:15).
remnant–all that “is left” of the sinner; repeated from Job 20:26, which makes Umbreit’s rendering “glory” (Margin), “excellency,” less probable.
fire–alluding to Job (Job 1:16; 15:34; 18:15). First is mentioned destruction by water (Job 22:16); here, by fire (2Pe 3:5-7).
21. Eliphaz takes it for granted, Job is not yet “acquainted” with God; literally, “become a companion of God.” Turn with familiar confidence to God.
and be–So thou shalt be: the second imperatively expresses the consequence of obeying the first (Ps 37:27).
peace–prosperity and restoration to Job; true spiritually also to us (Ro 5:1; Col 1:20).
22. lay up–(Ps 119:11).
23. Built up–anew, as a restored house.
thou shalt put away–rather, “If thou put away” [Michaelis].
24. Rather, containing the protasis from the last clause of Job 22:23, “If thou regard the glittering metal as dust”; literally, “lay it on on the dust”; to regard it of as little value as the dust on which it lies. The apodosis is at Job 22:25, Then shall the Almighty be, &c. God will take the place of the wealth, in which thou didst formerly trust.
gold–rather, “precious” or “glittering metal,” parallel to “(gold) of Ophir,” in the second clause [Umbreit and Maurer].
Ophir–derived from a Hebrew word “dust,” namely, gold dust. Heeren thinks it a general name for the rich countries of the South, on the African, Indian, and especially the Arabian coast (where was the port Aphar. El Ophir, too, a city of Oman, was formerly the center of Arabian commerce). It is curious that the natives of Malacca still call their mines Ophirs.
stones of the brooks–If thou dost let the gold of Ophir remain in its native valley among the stones of the brooks; that is, regard it as of little worth as the stones, &c. The gold was washed down by mountain torrents and lodged among the stones and sand of the valley.
Yea–rather, Then shall the Almighty be, &c.
defence–rather, as the same Hebrew means in Job 22:24 (see on Job 22:24)–Thy precious metals; God will be to thee in the place of riches.
plenty of silver–rather, “And shall be to thee in the place of laboriously-obtained treasures of silver” [Gesenius]. Elegantly implying, it is less labor to find God than the hidden metals; at least to the humble seeker (Job 28:12-28). But [Maurer] “the shining silver.”
26. lift up … face, &c.–repeated from Zophar (Job 11:15).
27. (Isa 58:9, 14).
pay thy vows–which thou hast promised to God in the event of thy prayers being heard: God will give thee occasion to pay the former, by hearing the latter.
29. Rather, When (thy ways; from Job 22:28) are cast down (for a time), thou shalt (soon again have joyful cause to) say, There is lifting up (prosperity returns back to me) [Maurer].
humble–Hebrew, “him that is of low eyes.” Eliphaz implies that Job is not so now in his affliction; therefore it continues: with this he contrasts the blessed effect of being humble under it (Jas 4:6; 1Pe 5:5 probably quote this passage). Therefore it is better, I think, to take the first clause as referred to by “God resisteth the proud.” When (men) are cast down, thou shalt say (behold the effects of) pride. Eliphaz hereby justifies himself for attributing Job’s calamities to his pride. “Giveth grace to the humble,” answers to the second clause.
30. island–that is, “dwelling.” But the Hebrew expresses the negative (1Sa 4:21); translate “Thus He (God) shall deliver him who was not guiltless,” namely, one, who like Job himself on conversion shall be saved, but not because he was, as Job so constantly affirms of himself, guiltless, but because he humbles himself (Job 22:29); an oblique attack on Job, even to the last.
and it–Rather, “he (the one not heretofore guiltless) shall be delivered through the purity (acquired since conversion) of thy hands”; by thy intercession (as Ge 18:26, &c.). [Maurer]. The irony is strikingly exhibited in Eliphaz unconsciously uttering words which exactly answer to what happened at last: he and the other two were “delivered” by God accepting the intercession of Job for them (Job 42:7, 8).
Job 23:1-17. Job’s Answer.
2. to-day–implying, perhaps, that the debate was carried on through more days than one (see Introduction).
bitter–(Job 7:11; 10:1).
my stroke–the hand of God on me (Margin, Job 19:21; Ps 32:4).
heavier than–is so heavy that I cannot relieve myself adequately by groaning.
3. The same wish as in Job 13:3 (compare Heb 10:19-22).
Seat–The idea in the Hebrew is a well-prepared throne (Ps 9:7).
4. order–state methodically (Job 13:18; Isa 43:26).
fill, &c.–I would have abundance of arguments to adduce.
5. he–emphatic: it little matters what man may say of me, if only I know what God judges of me.
6. An objection suggests itself, while he utters the wish (Job 23:5). Do I hereby wish that He should plead against me with His omnipotence? Far from it! (Job 9:19, 34; 13:21; 30:18).
strength–so as to prevail with Him: as in Jacob’s case (Ho 12:3, 4). Umbreit and Maurer better translate as in Job 4:20 (I only wish that He) “would attend to me,” that is, give me a patient hearing as an ordinary judge, not using His omnipotence, but only His divine knowledge of my innocence.
7. There–rather, “Then”: if God would “attend” to me (Job 23:6).
righteous–that is, the result of my dispute would be, He would acknowledge me as righteous.
delivered–from suspicion of guilt on the part of my Judge.
8. But I wish in vain. For “behold,” &c.
forward … backward–rather, “to the east–to the west.” The Hebrew geographers faced the east, that is, sunrise: not the north, as we do. So “before” means east: “behind,” west (so the Hindus). Para, “before”–east: Apara, “behind”–west: Daschina, “the right hand”–south: Bama, “left”–north. A similar reference to sunrise appears in the name Asia, “sunrise,” Europe, “sunset”; pure Babylonian names, as Rawlinson shows.
9. Rather, “To the north.”
work–God’s glorious works are especially seen towards the north region of the sky by one in the northern hemisphere. The antithesis is between God working and yet not being beheld: as in Job 9:11, between “He goeth by,” and “I see Him not.” If the Hebrew bears it, the parallelism to the second clause is better suited by translating, as Umbreit, “doth hide himself”; but then the antithesis to “behold” would be lost.
right hand–“in the south.”
hideth–appropriately, of the unexplored south, then regarded as uninhabitable because of its heat (see Job 34:29).
10. But–correcting himself for the wish that his cause should be known before God. The omniscient One already knoweth the way in me (my inward principles: His outward way or course of acts is mentioned in Job 23:11. So in me, Job 4:21); though for some inscrutable cause He as yet hides Himself (Job 23:8, 9).
when–let Him only but try my cause, I shall, &c.
11. held–fast by His steps. The law is in Old Testament poetry regarded as a way, God going before us as our guide, in whose footsteps we must tread (Ps 17:5).
12. esteemed–rather, “laid up,” namely, as a treasure found (Mt 13:44; Ps 119:11); alluding to the words of Eliphaz (Job 22:22). There was no need to tell me so; I have done so already (Jer 15:16).
necessary–“Appointed portion” (of food; as in Pr 30:8). Umbreit and Maurer translate, “More than my law,” my own will, in antithesis to “the words of His mouth” (Joh 6:38). Probably under the general term, “what is appointed to me” (the same Hebrew is in Job 23:14), all that ministers to the appetites of the body and carnal will is included.
13. in one mind–notwithstanding my innocence, He is unaltered in His purpose of proving me guilty (Job 9:12).
soul–His will (Ps 115:3). God’s sovereignty. He has one great purpose; nothing is haphazard; everything has its proper place with a view to His purpose.
14. many such–He has yet many more such ills in store for me, though hidden in His breast (Job 10:13).
15. God’s decrees, impossible to be resisted, and leaving us in the dark as to what may come next, are calculated to fill the mind with holy awe [Barnes].
16. soft–faint; hath melted my courage. Here again Job’s language is that of Jesus Christ (Ps 22:14).
17. Because I was not taken away by death from the evil to come (literally, “from before the face of the darkness,” Isa 57:1). Alluding to the words of Eliphaz (Job 22:11), “darkness,” that is, calamity.
cut off–rather, in the Arabic sense, brought to the land of silence; my sad complaint hushed in death [Umbreit]. “Darkness” in the second clause, not the same Hebrew word as in the first, “cloud,” “obscurity.” Instead of “covering the cloud (of evil) from my face,” He “covers” me with it (Job 22:11).
1. Why is it that, seeing that the times of punishment (Eze 30:3; “time” in the same sense) are not hidden from the Almighty, they who know Him (His true worshippers, Job 18:21) do not see His days (of vengeance; Joe 1:15; 2Pe 3:10)? Or, with Umbreit less simply, making the parallel clauses more nicely balanced, Why are not times of punishment hoarded up (“laid up”; Job 21:19; appointed) by the Almighty? that is, Why are they not so appointed as that man may now see them? as the second clause shows. Job does not doubt that they are appointed: nay, he asserts it (Job 21:30); what he wishes is that God would let all now see that it is so.
2-24. Instances of the wicked doing the worst deeds with seeming impunity (Job 24:2-24).
landmarks–boundaries between different pastures (De 19:14; Pr 22:28).
3. pledge–alluding to Job 22:6. Others really do, and with impunity, that which Eliphaz falsely charges the afflicted Job with.
4. Literally, they push the poor out of their road in meeting them. Figuratively, they take advantage of them by force and injustice (alluding to the charge of Eliphaz, Job 22:8; 1Sa 8:3).
poor–in spirit and in circumstances (Mt 5:3).
hide–from the injustice of their oppressors, who have robbed them of their all and driven them into unfrequented places (Job 20:19; 30:3-6; Pr 28:28).
5. wild asses–(Job 11:12). So Ishmael is called a “wild ass-man”; Hebrew (Ge 16:12). These Bedouin robbers, with the unbridled wildness of the ass of the desert, go forth thither. Robbery is their lawless “work.” The desert, which yields no food to other men, yields food for the robber and his children by the plunder of caravans.
rising betimes–In the East travelling is begun very early, before the heat comes on.
6. Like the wild asses (Job 24:5) they (these Bedouin robbers) reap (metaphorically) their various grain (so the Hebrew for “corn” means). The wild ass does not let man pile his mixed provender up in a stable (Isa 30:24); so these robbers find their food in the open air, at one time in the desert (Job 24:5), at another in the fields.
the vintage of the wicked–Hebrew, “the wicked gather the vintage”; the vintage of robbery, not of honest industry. If we translate “belonging to the wicked,” then it will imply that the wicked alone have vineyards, the “pious poor” (Job 24:4) have none. “Gather” in Hebrew, is “gather late.” As the first clause refers to the early harvest of corn, so the second to the vintage late in autumn.
7. Umbreit understands it of the Bedouin robbers, who are quite regardless of the comforts of life, “They pass the night naked, and uncovered,” &c. But the allusion to Job 22:6, makes the English Version preferable (see on Job 24:10). Frost is not uncommon at night in those regions (Ge 31:40).
8. They–the plundered travellers.
embrace the rock–take refuge under it (La 4:5).
9. from the breast–of the widowed mother. Kidnapping children for slaves. Here Job passes from wrongs in the desert to those done among the habitations of men.
pledge–namely, the garment of the poor debtor, as Job 24:10 shows.
10. (See on Job 22:6). In Job 24:7 a like sin is alluded to: but there he implies open robbery of garments in the desert; here, the more refined robbery in civilized life, under the name of a “pledge.” Having stripped the poor, they make them besides labor in their harvest-fields and do not allow them to satisfy their hunger with any of the very corn which they carry to the heap. Worse treatment than that of the ox, according to De 25:4. Translate: “they (the poor laborers) hungering carry the sheaves” [Umbreit].
11. Which–“They,” the poor, “press the oil within their wall”; namely, not only in the open fields (Job 24:10), but also in the wall-enclosed vineyards and olive gardens of the oppressor (Isa 5:5). Yet they are not allowed to quench their “thirst” with the grapes and olives. Here, thirsty; Job 24:10, hungry.
12. Men–rather, “mortals” (not the common Hebrew for “men”); so the Masoretic vowel points read as English Version. But the vowel points are modern. The true reading is, “The dying,” answering to “the wounded” in the next clause, so Syriac. Not merely in the country (Job 24:11), but also in the city there are oppressed sufferers, who cry for help in vain. “From out of the city”; that is, they long to get forth and be free outside of it (Ex 1:11; 2:23).
wounded–by the oppressor (Eze 30:24).
layeth not folly–takes no account of (by punishing) their sin (“folly” in Scripture; Job 1:22). This is the gist of the whole previous list of sins (Ac 17:30). Umbreit with Syriac reads by changing a vowel point, “Regards not their supplication.”
13. So far as to openly committed sins; now, those done in the dark. Translate: “There are those among them (the wicked) who rebel,” &c.
light–both literal and figurative (Joh 3:19, 20; Pr 2:13).
paths thereof–places where the light shines.
14. with the light–at early dawn, while still dark, when the traveller in the East usually sets out, and the poor laborer to his work; the murderous robber lies in wait then (Ps 10:8).
is as a thief–Thieves in the East steal while men sleep at night; robbers murder at early dawn. The same man who steals at night, when light dawns not only robs, but murders to escape detection.
15. (Pr 7:9; Ps 10:11).
disguiseth–puts a veil on.
16. dig through–Houses in the East are generally built of sun-dried mud bricks (so Mt 6:19). “Thieves break through,” literally, “dig through” (Eze 12:7).
had marked–Rather, as in Job 9:7, “They shut themselves up” (in their houses); literally, “they seal up.”
for themselves–for their own ends, namely, to escape detection.
17. They shrink from the “morning” light, as much as other men do from the blackest darkness (“the shadow of death”).
if one know–that is, recognize them. Rather, “They know well (are familiar with) the terrors of,” &c. [Umbreit]. Or, as Maurer, “They know the terrors of (this) darkness,” namely, of morning, the light, which is as terrible to them as darkness (“the shadow of death”) is to other men.
18-21. In these verses Job quotes the opinions of his adversaries ironically; he quoted them so before (Job 21:7-21). In Job 24:22-24, he states his own observation as the opposite. You say, “The sinner is swift, that is, swiftly passes away (as a thing floating) on the surface of the waters” (Ec 11:1; Ho 10:7).
is cursed–by those who witness their “swift” destruction.
beholdeth not–“turneth not to”; figuratively, for He cannot enjoy his pleasant possessions (Job 20:17; 15:33).
the way of the vineyards–including his fields, fertile as vineyards; opposite to “the way of the desert.”
19. Arabian image; melted snow, as contrasted with the living fountain, quickly dries up in the sunburnt sand, not leaving a trace behind (Job 6:16-18). The Hebrew is terse and elliptical to express the swift and utter destruction of the godless; (so) “the grave–they have sinned!”
20. The womb–The very mother that bare him, and who is the last to “forget” the child that sucked her (Isa 49:15), shall dismiss him from her memory (Job 18:17; Pr 10:7). The worm shall suck, that is, “feed sweetly” on him as a delicate morsel (Job 21:33).
wickedness–that is, the wicked; abstract for concrete (as Job 5:16).
as a tree–utterly (Job 19:10); Umbreit better, “as a staff.” A broken staff is the emblem of irreparable ruin (Isa 14:5; Ho 4:12).
21. The reason given by the friends why the sinner deserves such a fate.
barren–without sons, who might have protected her.
widow–without a husband to support her.
22-25. Reply of Job to the opinion of the friends. Experience proves the contrary. Translate: “But He (God) prolongeth the life of (literally, draweth out at length; Ps 36:10, Margin) the mighty with His (God’s) power. He (the wicked) riseth up (from his sick bed) although he had given up hope of (literally, when he no longer believed in) life” (De 28:66).
23. Literally, “He (God omitted, as often; Job 3:20; Ec 9:9; reverentially) giveth to him (the wicked, to be) in safety, or security.”
yet–Job means, How strange that God should so favor them, and yet have His eyes all the time open to their wicked ways (Pr 15:3; Ps 73:4)!
24. Job repeats what he said (Job 21:13), that sinners die in exalted positions, not the painful and lingering death we might expect, but a quick and easy death. Join “for a while” with “are gone,” not as English Version. Translate: “A moment–and they are no more! They are brought low, as all (others) gather up their feet to die” (so the Hebrew of “are taken out of the way”). A natural death (Ge 49:33).
ears of corn–in a ripe and full age, not prematurely (Job 5:26).
25. (So Job 9:24).
Job 25:1-6. Bildad’s Reply.
He tries to show Job’s rashness (Job 23:3), by arguments borrowed from Eliphaz (Job 15:15, with which compare Job 11:17.
2. Power and terror, that is, terror-inspiring power.
peace in his high places–implying that His power is such on high as to quell all opposition, not merely there, but on earth also. The Holy Ghost here shadowed forth Gospel truths (Col 1:20; Eph 1:10).
3. armies–angels and stars (Isa 40:26; Jer 33:22; Ge 15:5; “countless,” Da 7:10).
his light–(Jas 1:17).
4. (Job 4:17, 18; 14:4; 15:14).
5. “Look up even unto the moon” (Job 15:15). “Stars” here answer to “saints” (angels) there; “the moon” here to “the heavens” there. Even the “stars,” the most dazzling object to man’s eye, and the angels, of which the stars are emblems (Job 4:18; Re 9:1), are imperfect in His sight. Theirs is the light and purity but of creatures; His of the Creator.
6. (Job 4:19-21; 15:16).
worm … worm–Two distinct Hebrew words. The first, a worm bred in putridity; alluding to man’s corruption. The second a crawling worm; implying that man is weak and grovelling.
Job 26:1-14. Job’s Reply.
2, 3. without power … no strength … no wisdom–The negatives are used instead of the positives, powerlessness, &c., designedly (so Isa 31:8; De 32:21). Granting I am, as you say (Job 18:17; 15:2), powerlessness itself, &c. “How hast thou helped such a one?”
3. plentifully … the thing as it is–rather, “abundantly–wisdom.” Bildad had made great pretensions to abundant wisdom. How has he shown it?
4. For whose instruction were thy words meant? If for me I know the subject (God’s omnipotence) better than my instructor; Job 26:5-14 is a sample of Job’s knowledge of it.
whose spirit–not that of God (Job 32:8); nay, rather, the borrowed sentiment of Eliphaz (Job 4:17-19; 15:14-16).
5-14. As before in the ninth and twelfth chapters, Job had shown himself not inferior to the friends’ inability to describe God’s greatness, so now he describes it as manifested in hell (the world of the dead), Job 26:5, 6; on earth, Job 26:7; in the sky, Job 26:8-11; the sea, Job 26:12; the heavens, Job 26:13.
Dead things are formed–Rather, “The souls of the dead (Rephaim) tremble.” Not only does God’s power exist, as Bildad says (Job 25:2), “in high places” (heaven), but reaches to the region of the dead. Rephaim here, and in Pr 21:16 and Isa 14:9, is from a Hebrew root, meaning “to be weak,” hence “deceased”; in Ge 14:5 it is applied to the Canaanite giants; perhaps in derision, to express their weakness, in spite of their gigantic size, as compared with Jehovah [Umbreit]; or, as the imagination of the living magnifies apparitions, the term originally was applied to ghosts, and then to giants in general [Magee].
from under–Umbreit joins this with the previous word “tremble from beneath” (so Isa 14:9). But the Masoretic text joins it to “under the waters.” Thus the place of the dead will be represented as “under the waters” (Ps 18:4, 5); and the waters as under the earth (Ps 24:2). Magee well translates thus: “The souls of the dead tremble; (the places) under the waters, and their inhabitants.” Thus the Masoretic connection is retained; and at the same time the parallel clauses are evenly balanced. “The inhabitants of the places under the waters” are those in Gehenna, the lower of the two parts into which Sheol, according to the Jews, is divided; they answer to “destruction,” that is, the place of the wicked in Job 26:6, as “Rephaim” (Job 26:5) to “Hell” (Sheol) (Job 26:6). “Sheol” comes from a Hebrew root–“ask,” because it is insatiable (Pr 27:20); or “ask as a loan to be returned,” implying Sheol is but a temporary abode, previous to the resurrection; so for English Version “formed,” the Septuagint and Chaldee translate; shall be born, or born again, implying the dead are to be given back from Sheol and born again into a new state [Magee].
6. (Job 38:17; Ps 139:8; Pr 5:11).
destruction–the abode of destruction, that is, of lost souls. Hebrew, Abaddon (Re 9:11).
no covering–from God’s eyes.
7. Hint of the true theory of the earth. Its suspension in empty space is stated in the second clause. The north in particular is specified in the first, being believed to be the highest part of the earth (Isa 14:13). The northern hemisphere or vault of heaven is included; often compared to a stretched-out canopy (Ps 104:2). The chambers of the south are mentioned (Job 9:9), that is, the southern hemisphere, consistently with the earth’s globular form.
8. in … clouds–as if in airy vessels, which, though light, do not burst with the weight of water in them (Pr 30:4).
9. Rather, He encompasseth or closeth. God makes the clouds a veil to screen the glory not only of His person, but even of the exterior of His throne from profane eyes. His agency is everywhere, yet He Himself is invisible (Ps 18:11; 104:3).
10. Rather, “He hath drawn a circular bound round the waters” (Pr 8:27; Ps 104:9). The horizon seems a circle. Indication is given of the globular form of the earth.
until the day, &c.–to the confines of light and darkness. When the light falls on our horizon, the other hemisphere is dark. Umbreit and Maurer translate “He has most perfectly (literally, to perfection) drawn the bound (taken from the first clause) between light and darkness” (compare Ge 1:4, 6, 9): where the bounding of the light from darkness is similarly brought into proximity with the bounding of the waters.
11. pillars–poetically for the mountains which seem to bear up the sky (Ps 104:32).
astonished–namely, from terror. Personification.
his reproof–(Ps 104:7). The thunder, reverberating from cliff to cliff (Hab 3:10; Na 1:5).
12. divideth–(Ps 74:13). Perhaps at creation (Ge 1:9, 10). The parallel clause favors Umbreit, “He stilleth.” But the Hebrew means “He moves.” Probably such a “moving” is meant as that at the assuaging of the flood by the wind which “God made to pass over” it (Ge 8:1; Ps 104:7).
the proud–rather, “its pride,” namely, of the sea (Job 9:13).
13. Umbreit less simply, “By His breath He maketh the heavens to revive”: namely, His wind dissipates the clouds, which obscured the shining stars. And so the next clause in contrast, “His hand doth strangle,” that is, obscures the north constellation, the dragon. Pagan astronomy typified the flood trying to destroy the ark by the dragon constellation, about to devour the moon in its eclipsed crescent-shape like a boat (Job 3:8, Margin). But better as English Version (Ps 33:6).
crooked–implying the oblique course, of the stars, or the ecliptic. “Fleeing” or “swift” [Umbreit] (Isa 27:1). This particular constellation is made to represent the splendor of all the stars.
14. parts–Rather, “only the extreme boundaries of,” &c., and how faint is the whisper that we hear of Him!
thunder–the entire fulness. In antithesis to “whisper” (1Co 13:9, 10, 12).
It was now Zophar’s turn to speak. But as he and the other two were silent, virtually admitting defeat, after a pause Job proceeds.
1. parable–applied in the East to a figurative sententious embodiment of wisdom in poetic form, a gnome (Ps 49:4).
continued–proceeded to put forth; implying elevation of discourse.
2. (1Sa 20:3).
taken away … judgment–words unconsciously foreshadowing Jesus Christ (Isa 53:8; Ac 8:33). God will not give Job his right, by declaring his innocence.
vexed–Hebrew, “made bitter” (Ru 1:20).
3. Implying Job’s knowledge of the fact that the living soul was breathed into man by God (Ge 2:7). “All the while.” But Maurer, “As yet all my breath is in me” (notwithstanding my trials): the reason why I can speak so boldly.
4. (Job 6:28, 30). The “deceit” would be if he were to admit guilt against the witness of his conscience.
5. justify you–approve of your views.
mine integrity–which you deny, on account of my misfortunes.
6. Rather, my “heart” (conscience) reproaches “not one of my days,” that is, I do not repent of any of my days since I came into existence [Maurer].
7. Let … be–Let mine enemy be accounted as wicked, that is, He who opposes my asseveration of innocence must be regarded as actuated by criminal hostility. Not a curse on his enemies.
8. “What hope hath the hypocrite, notwithstanding all his gains, when?” &c. “Gained” is antithetic to “taketh away.” Umbreit’s translation is an unmeaning tautology. “When God cuts off, when He taketh away his life.”
taketh away–literally, “draws out” the soul from the body, which is, as it were, its scabbard (Job 4:21; Ps 104:29; Da 7:15). Job says that he admits what Bildad said (Job 8:13) and Zophar (Job 20:5). But he says the very fact of his still calling upon God (Job 27:10) amid all his trials, which a hypocrite would not dare to do, shows he is no “hypocrite.”
9. (Ps 66:18).
10. Alluding to Job 22:26.
always call–He may do so in times of prosperity in order to be thought religious. But he will not, as I do, call on God in calamities verging on death. Therefore I cannot be a “hypocrite” (Job 19:25; 20:5; Ps 62:8).
11-23. These words are contrary to Job’s previous sentiments (see on Job 21:22-33; Job 24:22-25). Job 21:22-33; 24:22-25). They therefore seem to be Job’s statement, not so much of his own sentiments, as of what Zophar would have said had he spoken when his turn came (end of the twenty-sixth chapter). So Job stated the friends’ opinion (Job 21:17-21; 24:18-21). The objection is, why, if so, does not Job answer Zophar’s opinion, as stated by himself? The fact is, it is probable that Job tacitly, by giving, in the twenty-eighth chapter, only a general answer, implies, that in spite of the wicked often dying, as he said, in prosperity, he does not mean to deny that the wicked are in the main dealt with according to right, and that God herein vindicates His moral government even here. Job therefore states Zophar’s argument more strongly than Zophar would have done. But by comparing Job 27:13 with Job 20:29 (“portion,” “heritage”), it will be seen, it is Zophar’s argument, rather than his own, that Job states. Granting it to be true, implies Job, you ought not to use it as an argument to criminate me. For (Job 28:1-28) the ways of divine wisdom in afflicting the godly are inscrutable: all that is sure to man is, the fear of the Lord is wisdom (Job 28:28).
by the hand–rather, concerning the hand of God, namely, what God does in governing men.
with the Almighty–the counsel or principle which regulates God’s dealings.
12. “Ye yourselves see” that the wicked often are afflicted (though often the reverse, Job 21:33). But do you “vainly” make this an argument to prove from my afflictions that I am wicked?
13. (See on Job 27:11).
14. His family only increases to perish by sword or famine (Jer 18:21; Job 5:20, the converse).
15. Those that escape war and famine (Job 27:14) shall be buried by the deadly plague–“death” (Job 18:13; Jer 15:2; Re 6:8). The plague of the Middle Ages was called “the black death.” Buried by it implies that they would have none else but the death plague itself (poetically personified) to perform their funeral rites, that is, would have no one.
his–rather, “their widows.” Transitions from singular to plural are frequent. Polygamy is not implied.
16. dust … clay–images of multitudes (Zec 9:3). Many changes of raiment are a chief constituent of wealth in the East.
17. Introverted parallelism. (See Introduction). Of the four clauses in the two verses, one answers to four, two to three (so Mt 7:6).
18. (Job 8:14; 4:19). The transition is natural from “raiment” (Job 27:16) to the “house” of the “moth” in it, and of it, when in its larva state. The moth worm’s house is broken whenever the “raiment” is shaken out, so frail is it.
booth–a bough-formed hut which the guard of a vineyard raises for temporary shelter (Isa 1:8).
19. gathered–buried honorably (Ge 25:8; 2Ki 22:20). But Umbreit, agreeably to Job 27:18, which describes the short continuance of the sinner’s prosperity, “He layeth himself rich in his bed, and nothing is robbed from him, he openeth his eyes, and nothing more is there.” If English Version be retained, the first clause probably means, rich though he be in dying, he shall not be honored with a funeral; the second, When he opens his eyes in the unseen world, it is only to see his destruction: the Septuagint reads for “not gathered,” He does not proceed, that is, goes to his bed no more. So Maurer.
20. (Job 18:11; 22:11, 21). Like a sudden violent flood (Isa 8:7, 8; Jer 47:2): conversely (Ps 32:6).
21. (Job 21:18; 15:2; Ps 58:9).
22. cast–namely, thunderbolts (Job 6:4; 7:20; 16:13; Ps 7:12, 13).
23. clap … hands–for joy at his downfall (La 2:15; Na 3:19).
hiss–deride (Jer 25:9). Job alludes to Bildad’s words (Job 18:18).
Job 28:1-28. Job’s Speech Continued.
In the twenty-seventh chapter Job had tacitly admitted that the statement of the friends was often true, that God vindicated His justice by punishing the wicked here; but still the affliction of the godly remained unexplained. Man has, by skill, brought the precious metals from their concealment. But the Divine Wisdom, which governs human affairs, he cannot similarly discover (Job 28:12, &c.). However, the image from the same metals (Job 23:10) implies Job has made some way towards solving the riddle of his life; namely, that affliction is to him as the refining fire is to gold.
1. vein–a mine, from which it goes forth, Hebrew, “is dug.”
place for gold–a place where gold may be found, which men refine. Not as English Version, “A place–where,” (Mal 3:3). Contrasted with gold found in the bed and sand of rivers, which does not need refining; as the gold dug from a mine does. Golden ornaments have been found in Egypt, of the times of Joseph.
2. brass–that is, copper; for brass is a mixed metal of copper and zinc, of modern invention. Iron is less easily discovered, and wrought, than copper; therefore copper was in common use long before iron. Copper-stone is called “cadmium” by Pliny [Natural History, 34:1; 36:21]. Iron is fitly said to be taken out of the “earth” (dust), for ore looks like mere earth.
3. “Man makes an end of darkness,” by exploring the darkest depths (with torches).
all perfection–rather, carries out his search to the utmost perfection; most thoroughly searches the stones of darkness and of the shadow of death (thickest gloom); that is, the stones, whatever they be, embedded in the darkest bowels of the earth [Umbreit] (Job 26:10).
4. Three hardships in mining: 1. “A stream (flood) breaks out at the side of the stranger”; namely, the miner, a strange newcomer into places heretofore unexplored; his surprise at the sudden stream breaking out beside him is expressed (English Version, “from the inhabitant”). 2. “Forgotten (unsupported) by the foot they hang,” namely, by ropes, in descending. In the Hebrew, “Lo there” precedes this clause, graphically placing it as if before the eyes. “The waters” is inserted by English Version. “Are dried up,” ought to be, “hang,” “are suspended.” English Version perhaps understood, waters of whose existence man was previously unconscious, and near which he never trod; and yet man’s energy is such, that by pumps, &c., he soon causes them to “dry up and go away” [So Herder]. 3. “Far away from men, they move with uncertain step”; they stagger; not “they are gone” [Umbreit].
5. Its fertile surface yields food; and yet “beneath it is turned up as it were with fire.” So Pliny [Natural History, 33] observes on the ingratitude of man who repays the debt he owes the earth for food, by digging out its bowels. “Fire” was used in mining [Umbreit]. English Version is simpler, which means precious stones which glow like fire; and so Job 28:6 follows naturally (Eze 28:14).
6. Sapphires are found in alluvial soil near rocks and embedded in gneiss. The ancients distinguished two kinds: 1. The real, of transparent blue: 2. That improperly so called, opaque, with gold spots; that is, lapis lazuli. To the latter, looking like gold dust, Umbreit refers “dust of gold.” English Version better, “The stones of the earth are, &c., and the clods of it (Vulgate) are gold”; the parallel clauses are thus neater.
7. fowl–rather, “ravenous bird,” or “eagle,” which is the most sharp-sighted of birds (Isa 46:11). A vulture will spy a carcass at an amazing distance. The miner penetrates the earth by a way unseen by birds of keenest sight.
8. lion’s whelps–literally, “the sons of pride,” that is, the fiercest beasts.
passed–The Hebrew implies the proud gait of the lion. The miner ventures where not even the fierce lion dares to go in pursuit of his prey.
9. rock–flint. He puts forth his hand to cleave the hardest rock.
by the roots–from their foundations, by undermining them.
10. He cuts channels to drain off the waters, which hinder his mining; and when the waters are gone, he he is able to see the precious things in the earth.
11. floods–“He restrains the streams from weeping”; a poetical expression for the trickling subterranean rills, which impede him; answering to the first clause of Job 28:10; so also the two latter clauses in each verse correspond.
12. Can man discover the Divine Wisdom by which the world is governed, as he can the treasures hidden in the earth? Certainly not. Divine Wisdom is conceived as a person (Job 28:12-27) distinct from God (Job 28:23; also in Pr 8:23, 27). The Almighty Word, Jesus Christ, we know now, is that Wisdom. The order of the world was originated and is maintained by the breathing forth (Spirit) of Wisdom, unfathomable and unpurchasable by man. In Job 28:28, the only aspect of it, which relates to, and may be understood by, man, is stated.
understanding–insight into the plan of the divine government.
13. Man can fix no price upon it, as it is nowhere to be found in man’s abode (Isa 38:11). Job implies both its valuable worth, and the impossibility of buying it at any price.
15. Not the usual word for “gold”; from a Hebrew root, “to shut up” with care; that is, purest gold (1Ki 6:20, Margin).
weighed–The precious metals were weighed out before coining was known (Ge 23:16).
16. gold of Ophir–the most precious (See on Job 22:24 and Ps 45:9).
onyx–(Ge 2:12). More valued formerly than now. The term is Greek, meaning “thumb nail,” from some resemblance in color. The Arabic denotes, of two colors, white preponderating.
17. crystal–Or else glass, if then known, very costly. From a root, “to be transparent.”
18. Red coral (Eze 27:16).
pearls–literally, “what is frozen.” Probably crystal; and Job 28:17 will then be glass.
rubies–Umbreit translates “pearls” (see La 4:1; Pr 3:15). The Urim and Thummim, the means of consulting God by the twelve stones on the high priest’s breastplate, “the stones of the sanctuary” (La 4:1), have their counterpart in this chapter; the precious stones symbolizing the “light” and “perfection” of the divine wisdom.
19. Ethiopia–Cush in the Hebrew. Either Ethiopia, or the south of Arabia, near the Tigris.
20. Job 28:12 repeated with great force.
21. None can tell whence or where, seeing it, &c.
fowls–The gift of divination was assigned by the heathen especially to birds. Their rapid flight heavenwards and keen sight originated the superstition. Job may allude to it. Not even the boasted divination of birds has an insight into it (Ec 10:20). But it may merely mean, as in Job 28:7, It escapes the eye of the most keen-sighted bird.
22. That is, the abodes of destruction and of the dead. “Death” put for Sheol (Job 30:23; 26:6; Ps 9:13).
We have [only] heard–the report of her. We have not seen her. In the land of the living (Job 28:13) the workings of Wisdom are seen, though not herself. In the regions of the dead she is only heard of, her actings on nature not being seen (Ec 9:10).
23. God hath, and is Himself, wisdom.
24. “Seeth (all that is) under,” &c.
25. God has adjusted the weight of the winds, so seemingly imponderable, lest, if too weighty, or too light, injury should be caused. He measureth out the waters, fixing their bounds, with wisdom as His counsellor (Pr 8:27-31; Isa 40:12).
26. The decree regulating at what time and place, and in what quantity, the rain should fall.
a way–through the parted clouds (Job 38:25; Zec 10:1).
27. declare–manifest her, namely, in His works (Ps 19:1, 2). So the approval bestowed by the Creator on His works (Ge 1:10, 31); compare the “rejoicing” of wisdom at the same (Pr 8:30; which Umbreit translates; “I was the skilful artificer by His side”).
prepared–not created, for wisdom is from everlasting (Pr 8:22-31); but “established” her as Governor of the world.
searched … out–examined her works to see whether she was adequate to the task of governing the world [Maurer].
28. Rather, “But unto man,” &c. My wisdom is that whereby all things are governed; Thy wisdom is in fearing God and shunning evil, and in feeling assured that My wisdom always acts aright, though thou dost not understand the principle which regulates it; for example, in afflicting the godly (Joh 7:17). The friends, therefore, as not comprehending the Divine Wisdom, should not infer Job’s guilt from his sufferings. Here alone in Job the name of God, Adonai, occurs; “Lord” or “master,” often applied to Messiah in Old Testament. Appropriately here, in speaking of the Word or Wisdom, by whom the world was made (Pr 8:22-31; Joh 1:3; Ecclesiasticus 24:1-34).
1. Job pauses for a reply. None being made, he proceeds to illustrate the mysteriousness of God’s dealings, as set forth (Job 28:1-28) by his own case.
2. preserved me–from calamity.
3. candle–when His favor shone on me (see on Job 18:6 and Ps 18:28).
darkness–By His safeguard I passed secure through dangers. Perhaps alluding to the lights carried before caravans in nightly travels through deserts [Noyes].
4. youth–literally, “autumn”; the time of the ripe fruits of my prosperity. Applied to youth, as the Orientalists began their year with autumn, the most temperate season in the East.
secret–when the intimate friendship of God rested on my tent (Pr 3:32; Ps 31:20; Ge 18:17; Joh 15:15). The Hebrew often means a divan for deliberation.
6. butter–rather, “cream,” literally, “thick milk.” Wherever I turned my steps, the richest milk and oil flowed in to me abundantly. Image from pastoral life.
When I washed my steps–Literal washing of the feet in milk is not meant, as the second clause shows; Margin, “with me,” that is, “near” my path, wherever I walked (De 32:13). Olives amidst rocks yield the best oil. Oil in the East is used for food, light, anointing, and medicine.
7-10. The great influence Job had over young and old, and noblemen.
through … street!–rather, When I went out of my house, in the country (see Job 1:1, prologue) to the gate (ascending), up to the city (which was on elevated ground), and when I prepared my (judicial) seat in the market place. The market place was the place of judgment, at the gate or propylæa of the city, such as is found in the remains of Nineveh and Persepolis (Isa 59:14; Ps 55:11; 127:5).
8. hid–not literally; rather, “stepped backwards,” reverentially. The aged, who were already seated, arose and remained standing (Hebrew) until Job seated himself. Oriental manners.
9. (Job 4:2; see on Job 21:5).
Refrained talking–stopped in the middle of their speech.
10. Margin, “voice–hid,” that is, “hushed” (Eze 3:26).
Tongue cleaved, &c.–that is, awed by my presence, the emirs or sheiks were silent.
11. blessed–extolled my virtues (Pr 31:28). Omit “me” after “heard”; whoever heard of me (in general, not in the market place, Job 29:7-10) praised me.
gave witness–to my honorable character. Image from a court of justice (Lu 4:22).
the eye–that is, “face to face”; antithesis to
ear–that is, report of me.
12-17. The grounds on which Job was praised (Job 29:11), his helping the afflicted (Ps 72:12) who cried to him for help, as a judge, or as one possessed of means of charity. Translate: “The fatherless who had none to help him.”
13. So far was I from sending “widows” away empty (Job 22:9).
ready to perish–(Pr 31:6).
14. (Isa 61:10; 1Ch 12:18).
diadem–tiara. Rather, “turban,” “head-dress.” It and the full flowing outer mantle or “robe,” are the prominent characteristics of an Oriental grandee’s or high priest’s dress (Zec 3:5). So Job’s righteousness especially characterized him.
15. Literally, “the blind” (De 27:18); “lame” (2Sa 9:13); figuratively, also the spiritual support which the more enlightened gives to those less so (Job 4:3; Heb 12:13; Nu 10:31).
16. So far was I from “breaking the arms of the fatherless,” as Eliphaz asserts (Job 22:9), I was a “father” to such.
the cause which I knew not–rather, “of him whom I knew not,” the stranger (Pr 29:7 [Umbreit]; contrast Lu 18:1, &c.). Applicable to almsgiving (Ps 41:1); but here primarily, judicial conscientiousness (Job 31:13).
17. Image from combating with wild beasts (Job 4:11; Ps 3:7). So compassionate was Job to the oppressed, so terrible to the oppressor!
jaws–Job broke his power, so that he could do no more hurt, and tore from him the spoil, which he had torn from others.
18. I said–in my heart (Ps 30:6).
in–rather, “with my nest”; as the second clause refers to long life. Instead of my family dying before me, as now, I shall live so long as to die with them: proverbial for long life. Job did realize his hope (Job 42:16). However, in the bosom of my family, gives a good sense (Nu 24:21; Ob 4). Use “nest” for a secure dwelling.
sand–(Ge 22:17; Hab 1:9). But the Septuagint and Vulgate, and Jewish interpreters, favor the translation, “the phoenix bird.” “Nest” in the parallel clause supports the reference to a bird. “Sand” for multitude, applies to men, rather than to years. The myth was, that the phoenix sprang from a nest of myrrh, made by his father before death, and that he then came from Arabia (Job’s country) to Heliopolis (the city of the Sun) in Egypt, once in every five hundred years, and there burnt his father [Herodotus, 2:73]. Modern research has shown that this was the Egyptian mode of representing hieroglyphically a particular chronological era or cycle. The death and revival every five hundred years, and the reference to the sun, implies such a grand cycle commencing afresh from the same point in relation to the sun from which the previous one started. Job probably refers to this.
19. Literally, “opened to the waters.” Opposed to Job 18:16. Vigorous health.
20. My renown, like my bodily health, was continually fresh.
bow–Metaphor from war, for, my strength, which gains me “renown,” was ever renewed (Jer 49:35).
21. Job reverts with peculiar pleasure to his former dignity in assemblies (Job 29:7-10).
22. not again–did not contradict me.
dropped–affected their minds, as the genial rain does the soil on which it gently drops (Am 7:16; De 32:2; So 4:11).
23. Image of Job 29:22 continued. They waited for my salutary counsel, as the dry soil does for the refreshing rain.
opened … mouth–panted for; Oriental image (Ps 119:131). The “early rain” is in autumn and onwards, while the seed is being sown. The “latter rain” is in March, and brings forward the harvest, which ripens in May or June. Between the early and latter rains, some rain falls, but not in such quantities as those rains. Between March and October no rain falls (De 11:14; Jas 5:7).
24. When I relaxed from my wonted gravity (a virtue much esteemed in the East) and smiled, they could hardly credit it; and yet, notwithstanding my condescension, they did not cast aside reverence for my gravity. But the parallelism is better in Umbreit’s translation, “I smiled kindly on those who trusted not,” that is, in times of danger I cheered those in despondency. And they could not cast down (by their despondency) my serenity of countenance (flowing from trust in God) (Pr 16:15; Ps 104:15). The opposite phrase (Ge 4:5, 6). “Gravity” cannot well be meant by “light of countenance.”
25. I chose out their way–that is, I willingly went up to their assembly (from my country residence, Job 29:7).
in the army–as a king supreme in the midst of his army.
comforteth the mourners–Here again Job unconsciously foreshadows Jesus Christ (Isa 61:2, 3). Job’s afflictions, as those of Jesus Christ, were fitting him for the office hereafter (Isa 50:4; Heb 2:18).
1. younger–not the three friends (Job 15:10; 32:4, 6, 7). A general description: Job 30:1-8, the lowness of the persons who derided him; Job 30:9-15, the derision itself. Formerly old men rose to me (Job 29:8). Now not only my juniors, who are bound to reverence me (Le 19:32), but even the mean and base-born actually deride me; opposed to, “smiled upon” (Job 29:24). This goes farther than even the “mockery” of Job by relations and friends (Job 12:4; 16:10, 20; 17:2, 6; 19:22). Orientals feel keenly any indignity shown by the young. Job speaks as a rich Arabian emir, proud of his descent.
dogs–regarded with disgust in the East as unclean (1Sa 17:43; Pr 26:11). They are not allowed to enter a house, but run about wild in the open air, living on offal and chance morsels (Ps 59:14, 15). Here again we are reminded of Jesus Christ (Ps 22:16). “Their fathers, my coevals, were so mean and famished that I would not have associated them with (not to say, set them over) my dogs in guarding my flock.”
2. If their fathers could be of no profit to me, much less the sons, who are feebler than their sires; and in whose case the hope of attaining old age is utterly gone, so puny are they (Job 5:26) [Maurer]. Even if they had “strength of hands,” that could be now of no use to me, as all I want in my present affliction is sympathy.
3. solitary–literally, “hard as a rock”; so translate, rather, “dried up,” emaciated with hunger. Job describes the rudest race of Bedouins of the desert [Umbreit].
fleeing–So the Septuagint. Better, as Syriac, Arabic, and Vulgate, “gnawers of the wilderness.” What they gnaw follows in Job 30:4.
in former time–literally, the “yesternight of desolation and waste” (the most utter desolation; Eze 6:14); that is, those deserts frightful as night to man, and even there from time immemorial. I think both ideas are in the words darkness [Gesenius] and antiquity [Umbreit]. (Isa 30:33, Margin).
4. mallows–rather, “salt-wort,” which grows in deserts and is eaten as a salad by the poor [Maurer].
by the bushes–among the bushes.
juniper–rather, a kind of broom, Spartium junceum [Linnæus], still called in Arabia, as in the Hebrew of Job, retem, of which the bitter roots are eaten by the poor.
5. they cried–that is, “a cry is raised.” Expressing the contempt felt for this race by civilized and well-born Arabs. When these wild vagabonds make an incursion on villages, they are driven away, as thieves would be.
6. They are forced “to dwell.”
cliffs of the valleys–rather, “in the gloomy valleys”; literally, “in the gloom of the valleys,” or wadies. To dwell in valleys is, in the East, a mark of wretchedness. The troglodytes, in parts of Arabia, lived in such dwellings as caves.
7. brayed–like the wild ass (Job 6:5 for food). The inarticulate tones of this uncivilized rabble are but little above those of the beast of the field.
gathered together–rather, sprinkled here and there. Literally, “poured out,” graphically picturing their disorderly mode of encampment, lying up and down behind the thorn bushes.
nettles–or brambles [Umbreit].
8. fools–that is, the impious and abandoned (1Sa 25:25).
base–nameless, low-born rabble.
viler than, &c.–rather, they were driven or beaten out of the land. The Horites in Mount Seir (Ge 14:6 with which compare Ge 36:20, 21; De 2:12, 22) were probably the aborigines, driven out by the tribe to which Job’s ancestors belonged; their name means troglodytæ, or “dwellers in caves.” To these Job alludes here (Job 30:1-8, and Ge 24:4-8, which compare together).
9. (Job 17:6). Strikingly similar to the derision Jesus Christ underwent (La 3:14; Ps 69:12). Here Job returns to the sentiment in Job 30:1. It is to such I am become a song of “derision.”
10. in my face–rather, refrain not to spit in deliberate contempt before my face. To spit at all in presence of another is thought in the East insulting, much more so when done to mark “abhorrence.” Compare the further insult to Jesus Christ (Isa 50:6; Mt 26:67).
11. He–that is, “God”; antithetical to “they”; English Version here follows the marginal reading (Keri).
my cord–image from a bow unstrung; opposed to Job 29:20. The text (Chetib), “His cord” or “reins” is better; “yea, each lets loose his reins” [Umbreit].
12. youth–rather, a (low) brood. To rise on the right hand is to accuse, as that was the position of the accuser in court (Zec 3:1; Ps 109:6).
push … feet–jostle me out of the way (Job 24:4).
ways of–that is, their ways of (that is, with a view to my) destruction. Image, as in Job 19:12, from a besieging army throwing up a way of approach for itself to a city.
13. Image of an assailed fortress continued. They tear up the path by which succor might reach me.
set forward–(Zec 1:15).
they have no helper–Arabic proverb for contemptible persons. Yet even such afflict Job.
14. waters–(So 2Sa 5:20). But it is better to retain the image of Job 30:12, 13. “They came [upon me] as through a wide breach,” namely, made by the besiegers in the wall of a fortress (Isa 30:13) [Maurer].
in the desolation–“Amidst the crash” of falling masonry, or “with a shout like the crash” of, &c.
soul–rather, “my dignity” [Umbreit].
cloud–(Job 7:9; Isa 44:22).
16-23. Job’s outward calamities affect his mind.
poured out–in irrepressible complaints (Ps 42:4; Jos 7:5).
17. In the Hebrew, night is poetically personified, as in Job 3:3: “night pierceth my bones (so that they fall) from me” (not as English Version, “in me”; see Job 30:30).
sinews–so the Arabic, “veins,” akin to the Hebrew; rather, “gnawers” (see on Job 30:3), namely, my gnawing pains never cease. Effects of elephantiasis.
18. of my disease–rather, “of God” (Job 23:6).
garment changed–from a robe of honor to one of mourning, literally (Job 2:8; Joh 3:6) and metaphorically [Umbreit]. Or rather, as Schuttens, following up Job 30:17, My outer garment is changed into affliction; that is, affliction has become my outer garment; it also bindeth me fast round (my throat) as the collar of the inner coat; that is, it is both my inner and outer garment. Observe the distinction between the inner and outer garments. The latter refers to his afflictions from without (Job 30:1-13); the former his personal afflictions (Job 30:14-23). Umbreit makes “God” subject to “bindeth,” as in Job 30:19.
19. God is poetically said to do that which the mourner had done to himself (Job 2:8). With lying in the ashes he had become, like them, in dirty color.
20. stand up–the reverential attitude of a suppliant before a king (1Ki 8:14; Lu 18:11-13).
not–supplied from the first clause. But the intervening affirmative “stand” makes this ellipsis unlikely. Rather, as in Job 16:9 (not only dost thou refuse aid to me “standing” as a suppliant, but), thou dost regard me with a frown: eye me sternly.
22. liftest … to wind–as a “leaf” or “stubble” (Job 13:25). The moving pillars of sand, raised by the wind to the clouds, as described by travellers, would happily depict Job’s agitated spirit, if it be to them that he alludes.
dissolvest … substance–The marginal Hebrew reading (Keri), “my wealth,” or else “wisdom,” that is, sense and spirit, or “my hope of deliverance.” But the text (Chetib) is better: Thou dissolvest me (with fear, Ex 15:15) in the crash (of the whirlwind; see on Job 30:14) [Maurer]. Umbreit translates as a verb, “Thou terrifiest me.”
23. This shows Job 19:25 cannot be restricted to Job’s hope of a temporal deliverance.
death–as in Job 28:22, the realm of the dead (Heb 9:27; Ge 3:19).
24. Expressing Job’s faith as to the state after death. Though one must go to the grave, yet He will no more afflict in the ruin of the body (so Hebrew for “grave”) there, if one has cried to Him when being destroyed. The “stretching of His hand” to punish after death answers antithetically to the raising “the cry” of prayer in the second clause. Maurer gives another translation which accords with the scope of Job 30:24-31; if it be natural for one in affliction to ask aid, why should it be considered (by the friends) wrong in my case? “Nevertheless does not a man in ruin stretch out his hand” (imploring help, Job 30:20; La 1:17)? If one be in his calamity (destruction) is there not therefore a “cry” (for aid)? Thus in the parallelism “cry” answers to “stretch–hand”; “in his calamity,” to “in ruin.” The negative of the first clause is to be supplied in the second, as in Job 30:25 (Job 28:17).
25. May I not be allowed to complain of my calamity, and beg relief, seeing that I myself sympathized with those “in trouble” (literally, “hard of day”; those who had a hard time of it).
26. I may be allowed to crave help, seeing that, “when I looked for good (on account of my piety and charity), yet evil,” &c.
27. bowels–regarded as the seat of deep feeling (Isa 16:11).
boiled–violently heated and agitated.
prevented–Old English for “unexpectedly came upon” me, “surprised” me.
28. mourning–rather, I move about blackened, though not by the sun; that is, whereas many are blackened by the sun, I am, by the heat of God’s wrath (so “boiled,” Job 30:27); the elephantiasis covering me with blackness of skin (Job 30:30), as with the garb of mourning (Jer 14:2). This striking enigmatic form of Hebrew expression occurs, Isa 29:9.
stood up–as an innocent man crying for justice in an assembled court (Job 30:20).
29. dragons … owls–rather, “jackals,” “ostriches,” both of which utter dismal screams (Mic 1:8); in which respect, as also in their living amidst solitudes (the emblem of desolation), Job is their brother and companion; that is, resembles them. “Dragon,” Hebrew, tannim, usually means the crocodile; so perhaps here, its open jaws lifted towards heaven, and its noise making it seem as if it mourned over its fate [Bochart].
30. upon me–rather, as in Job 30:17 (see on Job 30:17), “my skin is black (and falls away) from me.”
my bones–(Job 19:20; Ps 102:5).
31. organ–rather, “pipe” (Job 21:12). “My joy is turned into the voice of weeping” (La 5:15). These instruments are properly appropriated to joy (Isa 30:29, 32), which makes their use now in sorrow the sadder by contrast.
1. Job proceeds to prove that he deserved a better lot. As in the twenty-ninth chapter, he showed his uprightness as an emir, or magistrate in public life, so in this chapter he vindicates his character in private life.
1-4. He asserts his guarding against being allured to sin by his senses.
think–rather, “cast a (lustful) look.” He not merely did not so, but put it out of the question by covenanting with his eyes against leading him into temptation (Pr 6:25; Mt 5:28).
2. Had I let my senses tempt me to sin, “what portion (would there have been to me, that is, must I have expected) from (literally, of) God above, and what inheritance from (literally, of) the Almighty,” &c. [Maurer] (Job 20:29; 27:13).
3. Answer to the question in Job 31:2.
4. Doth not he see? &c.–Knowing this, I could only have expected “destruction” (Job 31:3), had I committed this sin (Pr 5:21).
5. Job’s abstinence from evil deeds.
vanity–that is, falsehood (Ps 12:2).
6. Parenthetical. Translate: “Oh, that God would weigh me … then would He know,” &c.
7. Connected with Job 31:6.
the way–of God (Job 23:11; Jer 5:5). A godly life.
heart … after … eyes–if my heart coveted, what my eyes beheld (Ec 11:9; Jos 7:21).
8. Apodosis to Job 31:5, 7; the curses which he imprecates on himself, if he had done these things (Le 26:16; Am 9:14; Ps 128:2).
offspring–rather, “what I plant,” my harvests.
9-12. Job asserts his innocence of adultery.
deceived–hath let itself be seduced (Pr 7:8; Ge 39:7-12).
laid wait–until the husband went out.
10. grind–turn the handmill. Be the most abject slave and concubine (Isa 47:2; 2Sa 12:11).
11. In the earliest times punished with death (Ge 38:24). So in later times (De 22:22). Heretofore he had spoken only of sins against conscience; now, one against the community, needing the cognizance of the judge.
12. (Pr 6:27-35; 8:6-23, 26, 27). No crime more provokes God to send destruction as a consuming fire; none so desolates the soul.
13-23. Job affirms his freedom from unfairness towards his servants, from harshness and oppression towards the needy.
despise the cause–refused to do them justice.
14, 15. Parenthetical; the reason why Job did not despise the cause of his servants. Translate: What then (had I done so) could I have done, when God arose (to call me to account); and when He visited (came to enquire), what could I have answered Him?
15. Slaveholders try to defend themselves by maintaining the original inferiority of the slave. But Mal 2:10; Ac 17:26; Eph 6:9 make the common origin of masters and servants the argument for brotherly love being shown by the former to the latter.
16. fail–in the vain expectation of relief (Job 11:20).
17. Arabian rules of hospitality require the stranger to be helped first, and to the best.
18. Parenthetical: asserting that he did the contrary to the things in Job 31:16, 17.
guided her–namely, the widow, by advice and protection. On this and “a father,” see Job 29:16.
19. perish–that is, ready to perish (Job 29:13).
20. loins–The parts of the body benefited by Job are poetically described as thanking him; the loins before naked, when clad by me, wished me every blessing.
21. when–that is, “because.”
I saw–that I might calculate on the “help” of a powerful party in the court of justice–(“gate”), if I should be summoned by the injured fatherless.
22. Apodosis to Job 31:13, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21. If I had done those crimes, I should have made a bad use of my influence (“my arm,” figuratively, Job 31:21): therefore, if I have done them let my arm (literally) suffer. Job alludes to Eliphaz’ charge (Job 22:9). The first “arm” is rather the shoulder. The second “arm” is the forearm.
from the bone–literally, “a reed”; hence the upper arm, above the elbow.
23. For–that is, the reason why Job guarded against such sins. Fear of God, though he could escape man’s judgment (Ge 39:9). Umbreit more spiritedly translates, Yea, destruction and terror from God might have befallen me (had I done so): mere fear not being the motive.
endure–I could have availed nothing against it.
24, 25. Job asserts his freedom from trust in money (1Ti 6:17). Here he turns to his duty towards God, as before he had spoken of his duty towards himself and his neighbor. Covetousness is covert idolatry, as it transfers the heart from the Creator to the creature (Col 3:5). In Job 31:26, 27 he passes to overt idolatry.
26. If I looked unto the sun (as an object of worship) because he shined; or to the moon because she walked, &c. Sabaism (from tsaba, “the heavenly hosts”) was the earliest form of false worship. God is hence called in contradistinction, “Lord of Sabaoth.” The sun, moon, and stars, the brightest objects in nature, and seen everywhere, were supposed to be visible representatives of the invisible God. They had no temples, but were worshipped on high places and roofs of houses (Eze 8:16; De 4:19; 2Ki 23:5, 11). The Hebrew here for “sun” is light. Probably light was worshipped as the emanation from God, before its embodiments, the sun, &c. This worship prevailed in Chaldea; wherefore Job’s exemption from the idolatry of his neighbors was the more exemplary. Our “Sun-day,” “Mon-day,” or Moon-day, bear traces of Sabaism.
27. enticed–away from God to idolatry.
kissed … hand–“adoration,” literally means this. In worshipping they used to kiss the hand, and then throw the kiss, as it were, towards the object of worship (1Ki 19:18; Ho 13:2).
28. The Mosaic law embodied subsequently the feeling of the godly from the earliest times against idolatry, as deserving judicial penalties: being treason against the Supreme King (De 13:9; 17:2-7; Eze 8:14-18). This passage therefore does not prove Job to have been subsequent to Moses.
29. lifted up myself–in malicious triumph (Pr 17:5; 24:17; Ps 7:4).
30. mouth–literally, “palate.” (See on Job 6:30).
wishing–literally, “so as to demand his (my enemy’s) soul,” that is, “life by a curse.” This verse parenthetically confirms Job 31:30. Job in the patriarchal age of the promise, anterior to the law, realizes the Gospel spirit, which was the end of the law (compare Le 19:18; De 23:6, with Mt 5:43, 44).
31. That is, Job’s household said, Oh, that we had Job’s enemy to devour, we cannot rest satisfied till we have! But Job refrained from even wishing revenge (1Sa 26:8; 2Sa 16:9, 10). So Jesus Christ (Lu 9:54, 55). But, better (see Job 31:32), translated, “Who can show (literally, give) the man who was not satisfied with the flesh (meat) provided by Job?” He never let a poor man leave his gate without giving him enough to eat.
32. traveller–literally, “way,” that is, wayfarers; so expressed to include all of every kind (2Sa 12:4).
33. Adam–translated by Umbreit, “as men do” (Ho 6:7, where see Margin). But English Version is more natural. The very same word for “hiding” is used in Ge 3:8, 10, of Adam hiding himself from God. Job elsewhere alludes to the flood. So he might easily know of the fall, through the two links which connect Adam and Abraham (about Job’s time), namely, Methuselah and Shem. Adam is representative of fallen man’s propensity to concealment (Pr 28:13). It was from God that Job did not “hide his iniquity in his bosom,” as on the contrary it was from God that “Adam” hid in his lurking-place. This disproves the translation, “as men”; for it is from their fellow men that “men” are chiefly anxious to hide their real character as guilty. Magee, to make the comparison with Adam more exact, for my “bosom” translates, “lurking-place.”
34. Rather, the apodosis to Job 31:33, “Then let me be fear-stricken before a great multitude, let the contempt, &c., let me keep silence (the greatest disgrace to a patriot, heretofore so prominent in assemblies), and not go out,” &c. A just retribution that he who hides his sin from God, should have it exposed before man (2Sa 12:12). But Job had not been so exposed, but on the contrary was esteemed in the assemblies of the “tribes”–(“families”); a proof, he implies, that God does not hold him guilty of hiding sin (Job 24:16, contrast with Job 29:21-25).
35. Job returns to his wish (Job 13:22; 19:23). Omit “is”; “Behold my sign,” that is, my mark of subscription to the statements just given in my defense: the mark of signature was originally a cross; and hence the letter Tau or T. Translate, also “Oh, that the Almighty,” &c. He marks “God” as the “One” meant in the first clause.
adversary–that is, he who contends with me, refers also to God. The vagueness is designed to express “whoever it be that judicially opposes me”–the Almighty if it be He.
had written a book–rather, “would write down his charge.”
36. So far from hiding the adversary’s “answer” or “charge” through fear,
I would take it on my shoulders–as a public honor (Isa 9:6).
a crown–not a mark of shame, but of distinction (Isa 62:3).
37. A good conscience imparts a princely dignity before man and free assurance in approaching God. This can be realized, not in Job’s way (Job 42:5, 6); but only through Jesus Christ (Heb 10:22).
38. Personification. The complaints of the unjustly ousted proprietors are transferred to the lands themselves (Job 31:20; Ge 4:10; Hab 2:11). If I have unjustly acquired lands (Job 24:2; Isa 5:8).
furrows–The specification of these makes it likely, he implies in this, “If I paid not the laborer for tillage”; as Job 31:39, “If I paid him not for gathering in the fruits.” Thus of the four clauses in Job 31:38, 39, the first refers to the same subject as the fourth, the second is connected with the third by introverted parallelism. Compare Jas 5:4, which plainly alludes to this passage: compare “Lord of Sabaoth” with Job 31:26 here.
39. lose … life–not literally, but “harassed to death”; until he gave me up his land gratis [Maurer]; as in Jud 16:16; “suffered him to languish” by taking away his means of living [Umbreit] (1Ki 21:19).
40. thistles–or brambles, thorns.
cockle–literally, “noxious weeds.”
The words … ended–that is, in the controversy with the friends. He spoke in the book afterwards, but not to them. At Job 31:37 would be the regular conclusion in strict art. But Job 31:38-40 are naturally added by one whose mind in agitation recurs to its sense of innocence, even after it has come to the usual stopping point; this takes away the appearance of rhetorical artifice. Hence the transposition by Eichorn of Job 31:38-40 to follow Job 31:25 is quite unwarranted.
Job 32:1-37:24. Speech of Elihu.
1-6. Prose (poetry begins with “I am young”).
because, &c.–and because they could not prove to him that he was unrighteous.
2. Elihu–meaning “God is Jehovah.” In his name and character as messenger between God and Job, he foreshadows Jesus Christ (Job 33:23-26).
Barachel–meaning “God blesses.” Both names indicate the piety of the family and their separation from idolaters.
Buzite–Buz was son of Nahor, brother of Abraham. Hence was named a region in Arabia-Deserta (Jer 25:23).
Ram–Aram, nephew of Buz. Job was probably of an older generation than Elihu. However, the identity of names does not necessarily prove the identity of persons. The particularity with which Elihu’s descent is given, as contrasted with the others, led Lightfoot to infer Elihu was the author of the book. But the reason for particularity was, probably, that Elihu was less known than the three called “friends” of Job; and that it was right for the poet to mark especially him who was mainly to solve the problem of the book.
rather than God–that is, was more eager to vindicate himself than God. In Job 4:17, Job denies that man can be more just than God. Umbreit translates, “Before (in the presence of) God.”
3. Though silenced in argument, they held their opinion still.
4. had spoken–Hebrew, “in words,” referring rather to his own “words” of reply, which he had long ago ready, but kept back in deference to the seniority of the friends who spoke.
6. was afraid–The root meaning in Hebrew is “to crawl” (De 32:24).
7. Days–that is, the aged (Job 15:10).
8. Elihu claims inspiration, as a divinely commissioned messenger to Job (Job 33:6, 23); and that claim is not contradicted in Job 42:4, 5. Translate: “But the spirit (which God puts) in man, and the inspiration … is that which giveth,” &c.; it is not mere “years” which give understanding (Pr 2:6; Joh 20:22).
9. Great–rather, “old” (Job 32:6). So Hebrew, in Ge 25:23. “Greater, less” for the older, the younger.
judgment–what is right.
10. Rather, “I say.”
11. Therefore Elihu was present from the first.
reasons–literally, “understandings,” that is, the meaning intended by words.
whilst–I waited until you should discover a suitable reply to Job.
13. This has been so ordered, “lest you should” pride yourselves on having overcome him by your “wisdom” (Jer 9:23, the great aim of the Book of Job); and that you may see, “God alone can thrust him down,” that is, confute him, “not man.” So Elihu grounds his confutation, not on the maxims of sages, as the friends did, but on his special commission from God (Job 32:8; 33:4, 6).
14. I am altogether unprejudiced. For it is not I, whom he addressed. “Your speeches” have been influenced by irritation.
15. Here Elihu turns from the friends to Job: and so passes from the second person to the third; a transition frequent in a rebuke (Job 18:3, 4).
they left off–Words were taken from them.
17. my part–for my part.
18. “I am full of words,” whereas the friends have not a word more to say.
the spirit–(Job 32:8; 33:4; Jer 20:9; Ac 18:5).
19. belly–bosom: from which the words of Orientalists in speaking seem to come more than with us; they speak gutturally. “Like (new) wine (in fermentation) without a vent,” to work itself off. New wine is kept in new goatskin bottles. This fittingly applies to the young Elihu, as contrasted with the old friends (Mt 9:7).
20. refreshed–literally, “that there may be air to me” (1Sa 16:23).
21. “May I never accept,” &c. Elihu alludes to Job’s words (Job 13:8, 10), wherein he complains that the friends plead for God partially, “accepting His person.” Elihu says he will not do so, but will act impartially between God and Job. “And I will not give flattery,” &c. (Pr 24:23).
22. take me away–as a punishment (Ps 102:24).
Job 33:1-33. Address to Job, as (Job 32:1-22) TO THE Friends.
2. mouth–rather, “palate,” whereby the taste discerns. Every man speaks with his mouth, but few, as Elihu, try their words with discrimination first, and only say what is really good (Job 6:30; 12:11).
hath spoken–rather, “proceeds to speak.”
3. I will speak according to my inward conviction.
clearly–rather, “purely”; sincerely, not distorting the truth through passion, as the friends did.
4. The Spirit of God hath made me–as He did thee: latter clause of Job 33:6 (Ge 2:7). Therefore thou needest not fear me, as thou wouldest God (Job 33:7; Job 9:34). On the other hand, “the breath of the Almighty hath inspired me” (as Job 32:8); not as English Version, “given me life”; therefore “I am according to thy wish (Job 9:32, 33) in God’s stead” to thee; a “daysman,” umpire, or mediator, between God and thee. So Elihu was designed by the Holy Ghost to be a type of Jesus Christ (Job 33:23-26).
5. Images from a court of justice.
stand up–alluding to Job’s words (Job 30:20).
6. (See on Job 33:4; Job 31:35; 13:3, 20, 21).
formed–Though acting as God’s representative, I am but a creature, like thyself. Arabic, “pressed together,” as a mass of clay by the potter, in forming a vessel [Umbreit]. Hebrew, “cut off,” as the portion taken from the clay to form it [Maurer].
7. hand–alluding to Job’s words (Job 13:21).
8. thy words–(Job 10:7; 16:17; 23:11, 12; 27:5, 6; 29:14). In Job 9:30; 13:23, Job had acknowledged sin; but the general spirit of his words was to maintain himself to be “clean,” and to charge God with injustice. He went too far on the opposite side in opposing the friends’ false charge of hypocrisy. Even the godly, though willing to confess themselves sinners in general, often dislike sin in particular to be brought as a charge against them. Affliction is therefore needed to bring them to feel that sin in them deserves even worse than they suffer and that God does them no injustice. Then at last humbled under God they find, affliction is for their real good, and so at last it is taken away either here, or at least at death. To teach this is Elihu’s mission.
10. occasions–for hostility; literally, “enmities” (Job 13:24; 16:9; 19:11; 30:21).
11. (Job 13:27).
marketh–narrowly watches (Job 14:16; 7:12; 31:4).
12. in this–view of God and His government. It cannot be that God should jealously “watch” man, though “spotless,” as an “enemy,” or as one afraid of him as an equal. For “God is greater than man!” There must be sin in man, even though he be no hypocrite, which needs correction by suffering for the sufferer’s good.
13. (Isa 45:9).
his matters–ways. Our part is, not to “strive” with God, but to submit. To believe it is right because He does it, not because we see all the reasons for His doing it.
14. Translate, “Yet, man regardeth it not”; or rather, as Umbreit, “Yea, twice (He repeats the warning)–if man gives no heed” to the first warning. Elihu implies that God’s reason for sending affliction is because, when God has communicated His will in various ways, man in prosperity has not heeded it; God therefore must try what affliction will effect (Joh 15:2; Ps 62:11; Isa 28:10, 13).
15. slumberings–light is opposed to “deep sleep.” Elihu has in view Eliphaz (Job 4:13), and also Job himself (Job 7:14). “Dreams” in sleep, and “visions” of actual apparitions, were among the ways whereby God then spake to man (Ge 20:3).
16. Literally, “sealeth (their ears) to Himself by warnings,” that is, with the sureness and secrecy of a seal He reveals His warnings [Umbreit]. To seal up securely (Job 37:7).
17. purpose–Margin, “work.” So Job 36:9. So “business” in a bad sense (1Sa 20:19). Elihu alludes to Job’s words (Job 17:11). “Pride,” an open “pit” (Job 33:18) which God hides or covers up, lest man should fall into it. Even the godly need to learn the lesson which trials teach, to “humble themselves under the mighty hand of God.”
18. his soul–his life.
the pit–the grave; a symbol of hell.
perishing by the sword–that is, a violent death; in the Old Testament a symbol of the future punishment of the ungodly.
19. When man does not heed warnings of the night, he is chastened, &c. The new thought suggested by Elihu is that affliction is disciplinary (Job 36:10); for the good of the godly.
multitude–so the Margin, Hebrew (Keri). Better with the text (Chetib), “And with the perpetual (strong) contest of his bones”; the never-resting fever in his bones (Ps 38:3) [Umbreit].
20. life–that is, the appetite, which ordinarily sustains “life” (Job 38:39; Ps 107:18; Ec 12:5). The taking away of desire for food by sickness symbolizes the removal by affliction of lust, for things which foster the spiritual fever of pride.
21. His flesh once prominent “can no more be seen.” His bones once not seen now appear prominent.
stick out–literally, “are bare.” The Margin, Hebrew (Keri) reading. The text (Chetib) reads it a noun “(are become) bareness.” The Keri was no doubt an explanatory reading of transcribers.
22. destroyers–angels of death commissioned by God to end man’s life (2Sa 24:16; Ps 78:49). The death pains personified may, however, be meant; so “gnawers” (see on Job 30:17).
23. Elihu refers to himself as the divinely-sent (Job 32:8; 33:6) “messenger,” the “interpreter” to explain to Job and vindicate God’s righteousness; such a one Eliphaz had denied that Job could look for (Job 5:1), and Job (Job 9:33) had wished for such a “daysman” or umpire between him and God. The “messenger” of good is antithetical to the “destroyers” (Job 33:23).
with him–if there be vouchsafed to the sufferer. The office of the interpreter is stated “to show unto man God’s uprightness” in His dealings; or, as Umbreit, “man’s upright course towards God” (Pr 14:2). The former is better; Job maintained his own “uprightness” (Job 16:17; 27:5, 6); Elihu on the contrary maintains God’s, and that man’s true uprightness lies in submission to God. “One among a thousand” is a man rarely to be found. So Jesus Christ (So 5:10). Elihu, the God-sent mediator of a temporal deliverance, is a type of the God-man Jesus Christ the Mediator of eternal deliverance: “the messenger of the covenant” (Mal 3:1). This is the wonderful work of the Holy Ghost, that persons and events move in their own sphere in such a way as unconsciously to shadow forth Him, whose “testimony is the Spirit of prophecy”; as the same point may be center of a small and of a vastly larger concentric circle.
24. Apodosis to Job 33:23.
Deliver–literally, “redeem”; in it and “ransom” there is reference to the consideration, on account of which God pardons and relieves the sufferers; here it is primarily the intercession of Elihu. But the language is too strong for its full meaning to be exhausted by this. The Holy Ghost has suggested language which receives its full realization only in the “eternal redemption found” by God in the price paid by Jesus Christ for it; that is, His blood and meritorious intercession (Heb 9:12). “Obtained,” literally, “found”; implying the earnest zeal, wisdom, and faithfulness of the finder, and the newness and joyousness of the finding. Jesus Christ could not but have found it, but still His seeking it was needed [Bengel], (Lu 15:8). God the Father, is the Finder (Ps 89:19). Jesus Christ the Redeemer, to whom He saith, Redeem (so Hebrew) him from going, &c. (2Co 5:19).
ransom–used in a general sense by Elihu, but meant by the Holy Ghost in its strict sense as applied to Jesus Christ, of a price paid for deliverance (Ex 21:30), an atonement (that is, means of selling at once, that is, reconciling “two” who are estranged), a covering, as of the ark with pitch, typical of what covers us sinners from wrath (Ge 6:14; Ps 32:1). The pit is primarily here the grave (Isa 38:17), but the spiritual pit is mainly shadowed forth (Zec 9:11).
25-28. Effects of restoration to God’s favor; literally, to Job a temporal revival; spiritually, an eternal regeneration. The striking words cannot be restricted to their temporal meaning, as used by Elihu (1Pe 1:11, 12).
his flesh shall be fresher than a child’s–so Naaman, 2Ki 5:14, spiritually, Joh 3:3-7.
26. Job shall no longer pray to God, as he complains, in vain (Job 23:3, 8, 9). True especially to the redeemed in Jesus Christ (Joh 16:23-27).
shall see his face–or, God shall make Job to see His face [Maurer]. God shall no longer “hide His face” (Job 13:24). True to the believer now (Joh 14:21, 22); eternally (Ps 17:15; Joh 17:24).
righteousness–God will again make the restored Job no longer (“I perverted … right,” Job 33:27) doubt God’s justice, but to justify Him in His dealings. The penitent justifies God (Ps 51:4). So the believer is made to see God’s righteousness in Jesus Christ (Isa 45:24; 46:13).
27. he looketh–God. Rather, with Umbreit, “Now he (the restored penitent) singeth joyfully (answering to “joy,” Job 33:26; Ps 51:12) before men, and saith,” &c. (Pr 25:20; Ps 66:16; 116:14).
perverted–made the straight crooked: as Job had misrepresented God’s character.
profited–literally, “was made even” to me; rather, “My punishment was not commensurate with my sin” (so Zophar, Job 11:6); the reverse of what Job heretofore said (Job 16:17; Ps 103:10; Ezr 9:13).
28. (See on Job 33:24); rather, as Hebrew text (English Version reads as the Margin, Hebrew, Keri, “his soul, his life”), “He hath delivered my soul … my life.” Continuation of the penitent’s testimony to the people.
light–(Job 33:30; Job 3:16, 20; Ps 56:13; Ec 11:7).
29. Margin, “twice and thrice,” alluding to Job 33:14; once, by visions, Job 33:15-17; secondly, by afflictions, Job 33:19-22; now, by the “messenger,” thirdly, Job 33:23.
30. Referring to Job 33:28 (Ps 50:13).
32. justify–to do thee justice; and, if I can, consistently with it, to declare thee innocent. At Job 33:33 Elihu pauses for a reply; then proceeds in Job 34:1.
2. This chapter is addressed also to the “friends” as the thirty-third chapter to Job alone.
3. palate–(See on Job 12:11; Job 33:2).
4. judgment–Let us select among the conflicting sentiments advanced, what will stand the test of examination.
5. judgment–my right. Job’s own words (Job 13:18; 27:2).
6. Were I to renounce my right (that is, confess myself guilty), I should die. Job virtually had said so (Job 27:4, 5; 6:28). Maurer, not so well, “Notwithstanding my right (innocence) I am treated as a liar,” by God, by His afflicting me.
my wound–literally, “mine arrow,” namely, by which I am pierced. So “my stroke” (“hand,” Job 23:2, Margin). My sickness (Job 6:4; 16:13).
without transgression–without fault of mine to deserve it (Job 16:17).
7. (Job 15:16). Image from the camel.
scorning–against God (Job 15:4).
8. Job virtually goes in company (makes common cause) with the wicked, by taking up their sentiments (Job 9:22, 23, 30; 21:7-15), or at least by saying, that those who act on such sentiments are unpunished (Mal 3:14). To deny God’s righteous government because we do not see the reasons of His acts, is virtually to take part with the ungodly.
9. with God–in intimacy (Ps 50:18, Margin).
10. The true answer to Job, which God follows up (Job 38:1-41). Man is to believe God’s ways are right, because they are His, not because we fully see they are so (Ro 9:14; De 32:4; Ge 18:25).
11. Partly here; fully, hereafter (Jer 32:19; Ro 2:6; 1Pe 1:17; Re 22:12).
12. (Job 8:3). In opposition to Job, Job 34:5, will not–cannot.
13. If the world were not God’s property, as having been made by Him, but committed to His charge by some superior, it might be possible for Him to act unjustly, as He would not thereby be injuring Himself; but as it is, for God to act unjustly would undermine the whole order of the world, and so would injure God’s own property (Job 36:23).
disposed–hath founded (Isa 44:7), established the circle of the globe.
14, 15. “If He were to set His heart on man,” either to injure him, or to take strict account of his sins. The connection supports rather [Umbreit], “If He had regard to himself (only), and were to gather unto Himself (Ps 104:29) man’s spirit, &c. (which he sends forth, Ps 104:30; Ec 12:7), all flesh must perish together,” &c. (Ge 3:19). God’s loving preservation of His creatures proves He cannot be selfish, and therefore cannot be unjust.
16. In Job 34:2, Elihu had spoken to all in general, now he calls Job’s special attention.
17. “Can even He who (in thy view) hateth right (justice) govern?” The government of the world would be impossible if injustice were sanctioned. God must be just, because He governs (2Sa 23:3).
govern–literally, “bind,” namely, by authority (so “reign,” 1Sa 9:17, Margin). Umbreit translates for “govern, repress wrath, namely, against Job for his accusations.
most just–rather, “Him who is at once mighty and just” (in His government of the world).
18. Literally, (Is it fit) to be said to a king? It would be a gross outrage to reproach thus an earthly monarch, much more the King of kings (Ex 22:28). But Maurer with the Septuagint and Vulgate reads, (It is not fit to accuse of injustice Him) who says to a king, Thou art wicked; to princes, Ye are ungodly; that is, who punishes impartially the great, as the small. This accords with Job 34:19.
19. (Ac 10:34; 2Ch 19:7; Pr 22:2; Job 31:15).
20. they–“the rich” and “princes” who offend God.
the people–namely, of the guilty princes: guilty also themselves.
at midnight–image from a night attack of an enemy on a camp, which becomes an easy prey (Ex 12:29, 30).
without hand–without visible agency, by the mere word of God (so Job 20:26; Zec 4:6; Da 2:34).
21. God’s omniscience and omnipotence enable Him to execute immediate justice. He needs not to be long on the “watch,” as Job thought (Job 7:12; 2Ch 16:9; Jer 32:19).
22. shadow of death–thick darkness (Am 9:2, 3; Ps 139:12).
23. (1Co 10:13; La 3:32; Isa 27:8). Better, as Umbreit, “He does not (needs not to) regard (as in Job 34:14; Isa 41:20) man long (so Hebrew, Ge 46:29) in order that he may go (be brought by God) into judgment.” Literally, “lest his (attention) upon men” (Job 11:10, 11). So Job 34:24, “without number” ought to be translated, “without [needing any] searching out,” such as has to be made in human judgments.
24. break in pieces–(Ps 2:9; Job 12:18; Da 2:21).
25. Therefore–because He knows all things (Job 34:21). He knows their works, without a formal investigation (Job 34:24).
in the night–suddenly, unexpectedly (Job 34:20). Fitly in the night, as it was in it that the godless hid themselves (Job 34:22). Umbreit, less simply, for “overturneth,” translates, “walketh”; that is, God is ever on the alert, discovering all wickedness.
26. He striketh them–chasteneth.
as–that is, because they are wicked.
sight of others–Sinners hid themselves in darkness; therefore they are punished before all, in open day. Image from the place of public execution (Job 40:12; Ex 14:30; 2Sa 12:12).
27, 28. The grounds of their punishment in Job 34:26. Job 34:28 states in what respect they “considered not God’s ways,” namely, by oppression, whereby “they caused the cry,” &c.
29. (Pr 16:7; Isa 26:3).
make trouble–rather, “condemn” (Ro 8:33, 34). Maurer, from the reference being only to the godless, in the next clause, and Job 34:20 translates, “When God keeps quiet” (leaves men to perish) Ps 83:1; [Umbreit] from the Arabic (strikes to the earth), “who shall condemn Him as unjust?” Job 34:17.
hideth … face–(Job 23:8, 9; Ps 13:1).
it be done–Whether it be against a guilty nation (2Ki 18:9-12) or an individual, that God acts so.
30. Ensnared–into sin (1Ki 12:28, 30). Or rather, “enthralled by further oppression,” Job 34:26-28.
31. Job accordingly says so (Job 40:3-5; Mic 7:9; Le 26:41). It was to lead him to this that Elihu was sent. Though no hypocrite, Job, like all, had sin; therefore through affliction he was to be brought to humble himself under God. All sorrow is a proof of the common heritage of sin, in which the godly shares; and therefore he ought to regard it as a merciful correction. Umbreit and Maurer lose this by translating, as the Hebrew will bear, “Has any a right to say to God, I have borne chastisement and yet have not sinned?” (so Job 34:6).
borne–namely, the penalty of sin, as in Le 5:1, 17.
offend–literally, “to deal destructively or corruptly” (Ne 1:7).
32. (Job 10:2; Ps 32:8; 19:12; 139:23, 24).
no more–(Pr 28:13; Eph 4:22).
33. Rather, “should God recompense (sinners) according to thy mind? Then it is for thee to reject and to choose, and not me” [Umbreit]; or as Maurer, “For thou hast rejected God’s way of recompensing; state therefore thy way, for thou must choose, not I,” that is, it is thy part, not mine, to show a better way than God’s.
34, 35. Rather, “men … will say to me, and the wise man (Job 34:2, 10) who hearkens to me (will say), ‘Job hath spoken,'” &c.
36. Margin, not so well, “My father,” Elihu addressing God. This title does not elsewhere occur in Job.
answers for wicked men–(See on Job 34:8). Trials of the godly are not removed until they produce the effect designed.
37. clappeth … hands–in scorn (Job 27:23; Eze 21:17).
multiplieth … words–(Job 11:2; 35:16). To his original “sin” to correct which trials have been sent, “he adds rebellion,” that is, words arraigning God’s justice.
2. more than–rather as in Job 9:2; 25:4: “I am righteous (literally, my righteousness is) before God.” The English Version, however, agrees with Job 9:17; 16:12-17; 27:2-6. Job 4:17 is susceptible of either rendering. Elihu means Job said so, not in so many words, but virtually.
3. Rather, explanatory of “this” in Job 35:2, “That thou sayest (to thyself, as if a distinct person) What advantage is it (thy integrity) to thee? What profit have I (by integrity) more than (I should have) by my sin?” that is, more than if I had sinned (Job 34:9). Job had said that the wicked, who use these very words, do not suffer for it (Job 21:13-15); whereby he virtually sanctioned their sentiments. The same change of persons from oblique to direct address occurs (Job 19:28; 22:17).
4. companions–those entertaining like sentiments with thee (Job 34:8, 36).
5-8. Elihu like Eliphaz (Job 22:2, 3, 12) shows that God is too exalted in nature to be susceptible of benefit or hurt from the righteousness or sin of men respectively; it is themselves that they benefit by righteousness, or hurt by sin.
behold the clouds, which are higher than thou–spoken with irony. Not only are they higher than thou, but thou canst not even reach them clearly with the eye. Yet these are not as high as God’s seat. God is therefore too exalted to be dependent on man. Therefore He has no inducement to injustice in His dealings with man. When He afflicts, it must be from a different motive; namely, the good of the sufferer.
6. what doest–how canst thou affect Him?
unto him–that can hurt Him? (Jer 7:19; Pr 8:36).
7. (Ps 16:2; Pr 9:12; Lu 17:10).
9. (Ec 4:1.) Elihu states in Job’s words (Job 24. 12; 30. 20) the difficulty; the “cries” of “the oppressed” not being heard might lead man to think that wrongs are not punished by Him.
10-13. But the reason is that the innocent sufferers often do not humbly seek God for succor; so to their “pride” is to be laid the blame of their ruin; also because (Job 35:13-16) they, as Job, instead of waiting God’s time in pious trust, are prone to despair of His justice, when it is not immediately visible (Job 33:19-26). If the sufferer would apply to God with a humbled, penitent spirit, He would hear.
Where, &c.–(Jer 2:6, 8; Isa 51:13).
songs–of joy at deliverance (Ps 42:8; 149:5; Ac 16:25).
in the night–unexpectedly (Job 34:20, 25). Rather, “in calamity.”
11. Man’s spirit, which distinguishes him from the brute, is the strongest proof of God’s beneficence; by the use of it we may understand that God is the Almighty helper of all sufferers who humbly seek Him; and that they err who do not so seek Him.
fowls–(see on Job 28:21).
12. There–rather, “Then” (when none humbly casts himself on God, Job 35:10). They cry proudly against God, rather than humbly to God. So, as the design of affliction is to humble the sufferer, there can be no answer until “pride” gives place to humble, penitent prayer (Ps 10:4; Jer 13:17).
13. vanity–that is, cries uttered in an unhumbled spirit, Job 35:12, which applies in some degree to Job’s cries; still more to those of the wicked (Job 27:9; Pr 15:29).
14. Although thou sayest thou shalt not see him–(as a temporal deliverer; for he did look for a Redeemer after death, Job 19:25-27; which passage cannot consistently with Elihu’s assertion here be interpreted of “seeing” a temporal “redeemer”), Job 7:7; 9:11; 23:3, 8, 9; yet, judgment … ; therefore trust … But the Hebrew favors Maurer, “How much less (will God … regard, Job 35:13), since thou sayest, that He does not regard thee.” So in Job 4:19. Thus Elihu alludes to Job’s words (Job 19:7; 30:20).
judgment–that is, thy cause, thy right; as in Ps 9:16; Pr 31:5, 8.
trust–rather, “wait thou” on Him, patiently, until He take up thy cause (Ps 37:7).
15. As it is, because Job waited not trustingly and patiently (Job 35:14; Nu 20:12; Zep 3:2; Mic 7:9), God hath visited … ; yet still he has not taken (severe) cognizance of the great multitude (English Version wrongly, “extremity”) of sins; therefore Job should not complain of being punished with undue severity (Job 7:20; 11:6). Maurer translates: “Because His anger hath not visited (hath not immediately punished Job for his impious complaints), nor has He taken strict (great) cognizance of his folly (sinful speeches); therefore,” &c. For “folly,” Umbreit translates with the Rabbins, “multitude.” Gesenius reads with the Septuagint and Vulgate needlessly, “transgression.”
16. Apodosis to Job 35:15.
1, 2. Elihu maintains that afflictions are to the godly disciplinary, in order to lead them to attain a higher moral worth, and that the reason for their continuance is not, as the friends asserted, on account of the sufferer’s extraordinary guilt, but because the discipline has not yet attained its object, namely, to lend him to humble himself penitently before God (Isa 9:13; Jer 5:3). This is Elihu’s fourth speech. He thus exceeds the ternary number of the others. Hence his formula of politeness (Job 36:2). Literally, “Wait yet but a little for me.” Bear with me a little farther. I have yet (much, Job 32:18-20). There are Chaldeisms in this verse, agreeably to the view that the scene of the book is near the Euphrates and the Chaldees.
3. from afar–not trite commonplaces, but drawn from God’s mighty works.
ascribe righteousness–whereas Job ascribed unrighteousness (Job 34:10, 12). A man, in enquiring into God’s ways, should at the outset presume they are all just, be willing to find them so, and expect that the result of investigation will prove them to be so; such a one will never be disappointed [Barnes].
4. I will not “speak wickedly for God,” as the friends (Job 13:4, 7, 8)–that is, vindicate God by unsound arguments.
he that is perfect, &c.–Rather, as the parallelism requires, “a man of integrity in sentiments is with thee” (is he with whom thou hast to do). Elihu means himself, as opposed to the dishonest reasonings of the friends (Job 21:34).
5. Rather, “strength of understanding” (heart) the force of the repetition of “mighty”; as “mighty” as God is, none is too low to be “despised” by Him; for His “might” lies especially in “His strength of understanding,” whereby He searches out the most minute things, so as to give to each his right. Elihu confirms his exhortation (Job 35:14).
6. right … poor–He espouses the cause of the afflicted.
7. (1Pe 3:12). God does not forsake the godly, as Job implied, but “establishes,” or makes them sit on the throne as kings (1Sa 2:8; Ps 113:7, 8). True of believers in the highest sense, already in part (1Pe 2:9; Re 1:6); hereafter fully (Re 5:10; Job 22:5).
and they are–that they may be.
8-10. If they be afflicted, it is no proof that they are hypocrites, as the friends maintain, or that God disregards them, and is indifferent whether men are good or bad, as Job asserts: God is thereby “disciplining them,” and “showing them their sins,” and if they bow in a right spirit under God’s visiting hand, the greatest blessings ensue.
that … exceeded–“In that they behaved themselves mightily” (literally, “great”); that is, presumptuously, or, at least, self-confidently.
10. (Job 33:16-18, 23).
11. serve–that is, worship; as in Isa 19:23. God is to be supplied (compare Isa 1:19, 20).
12. (Job 33:18).
without knowledge–that is, on account of their foolishness (Job 4:20, 21).
13-15. Same sentiment as Job 36:11, 12, expanded.
hypocrites–or, the ungodly [Maurer]; but “hypocrites” is perhaps a distinct class from the openly wicked (Job 36:12).
heap up wrath–of God against themselves (Ro 2:5). Umbreit translates, “nourish their wrath against God,” instead of “crying” unto Him. This suits well the parallelism and the Hebrew. But the English Version gives a good parallelism, “hypocrites” answering to “cry not” (Job 27:8, 10); “heap up wrath” against themselves, to “He bindeth them” with fetters of affliction (Job 36:8).
14. Rather (De 23:17), Their life is (ended) as that of (literally, “among”) the unclean, prematurely and dishonorably. So the second clause answers to the first. A warning that Job make not common cause with the wicked (Job 34:36).
15. poor–the afflicted pious.
openeth … ears–(Job 36:10); so as to be admonished in their straits (“oppression”) to seek God penitently, and so be “delivered” (Job 33:16, 17, 23-27).
16. Rather, “He will lead forth thee also out of the jaws of a strait” (Ps 18:19; 118:5).
broad place–expresses the liberty, and the well-supplied “table” the abundance of the prosperous (Ps 23:5; Isa 25:6).
17. Rather, “But if thou art fulfilled (that is, entirely filled) with the judgment of the wicked (that is, the guilt incurring judgment” [Maurer]; or rather, as Umbreit, referring to Job 34:5-7, 36, the judgment pronounced on God by the guilty in misfortunes), judgment (God’s judgment on the wicked, Jer 51:9, playing on the double meaning of “judgment”) and justice shall closely follow each other [Umbreit].
18. (Nu 16:45; Ps 49:6, 7; Mt 16:26). Even the “ransom” by Jesus Christ (Job 33:24) will be of no avail to wilful despisers (Heb 10:26-29).
with his stroke–(Job 34:26). Umbreit translates, “Beware lest the wrath of God (thy severe calamity) lead thee to scorn” (Job 34:7; 27:23). This accords better with the verb in the parallel clause, which ought to be translated, “Let not the great ransom (of money, which thou canst give) seduce thee (Margin, turn thee aside, as if thou couldst deliver thyself from “wrath” by it). As the “scorn” in the first clause answers to the “judgment of the wicked” (Job 36:17), so “ransom” (“seduce”) to “will he esteem riches” (Job 36:19). Thus, Job 36:18 is the transition between Job 36:17 and Job 36:19.
19. forces of strength–that is, resources of wealth (Ps 49:7; Pr 11:4).
20. Desire–pant for. Job had wished for death (Job 3:3-9, &c.).
cut off–literally, “ascend,” as the corn cut and lifted upon the wagon or stack (Job 36:26); so “cut off,” “disappear.”
in their place–literally, “under themselves”; so, without moving from their place, on the spot, suddenly (Job 40:12) [Maurer]. Umbreit’s translation: “To ascend (which is really, as thou wilt find to thy cost, to descend) to the people below” (literally, “under themselves”), answers better to the parallelism and the Hebrew. Thou pantest for death as desirable, but it is a “night” or region of darkness; thy fancied ascent (amelioration) will prove a descent (deterioration) (Job 10:22); therefore desire it not.
21. regard–literally, “turn thyself to.”
iniquity–namely, presumptuous speaking against God (Job 34:5, and above, see on Job 36:17, 18).
rather than–to bear “affliction” with pious patience. Men think it an alleviation to complain against God, but this is adding sin to sorrow; it is sin, not sorrow, which can really hurt us (contrast Heb 11:25).
22-25. God is not to be impiously arraigned, but to be praised for His might, shown in His works.
exalteth–rather, doeth lofty things, shows His exalted power [Umbreit] (Ps 21:13).
teacheth–(Ps 94:12, &c.). The connection is, returning to Job 36:5, God’s “might” is shown in His “wisdom”; He alone can teach; yet, because He, as a sovereign, explains not all His dealings, forsooth Job must presume to teach Him (Isa 40:13, 14; Ro 11:34; 1Co 2:16). So the transition to Job 36:23 is natural. Umbreit with the Septuagint translates, “Who is Lord,” wrongly, as this meaning belongs to later Hebrew.
23. Job dared to prescribe to God what He should do (Job 34:10, 13).
24. Instead of arraigning, let it be thy fixed principle to magnify God in His works (Ps 111:2-8; Re 15:3); these, which all may “see,” may convince us that what we do not see is altogether wise and good (Ro 1:20).
behold–As “see” (Job 36:25), shows; not, as Maurer, “sing,” laud (see on Job 33:27).
25. See–namely, with wondering admiration [Maurer].
man may behold–rather, “(yet) mortals (a different Hebrew word from ‘man’) behold it (only) from afar off,” see but a small “part” (Job 26:14).
26. (Job 37:13). God’s greatness in heaven and earth: a reason why Job should bow under His afflicting hand.
know him not–only in part (Job 36:25; 1Co 13:12).
his years–(Ps 90:2; 102:24, 27); applied to Jesus Christ (Heb 1:12).
27, 28. The marvellous formation of rain (so Job 5:9, 10).
maketh small–Rather, “He draweth (up) to Him, He attracts (from the earth below) the drops of water; they (the drops of water) pour down rain, (which is) His vapor.” “Vapor” is in apposition with “rain,” marking the way in which rain is formed; namely, from the vapor drawn up by God into the air and then condensed into drops, which fall (Ps 147:8). The suspension of such a mass of water, and its descent not in a deluge, but in drops of vapory rain, are the marvel. The selection of this particular illustration of God’s greatness forms a fit prelude to the storm in which God appears (Job 40:1).
28. abundantly–literally, “upon many men.”
29. (Job 37:5). God’s marvels in thunder and lightnings.
spreadings, &c.–the canopy of thick clouds, which covers the heavens in a storm (Ps 105:39).
the noise–“crashing”; namely, thunder.
of his tabernacle–God being poetically said to have His pavilion amid dark clouds (Ps 18:11; Isa 40:22).
it–His tabernacle (Job 36:29). The light, in an instant spread over the vast mass of dark clouds, forms a striking picture.
spread–is repeated from Job 36:29 to form an antithesis. “He spreads not only clouds, but light.”
covereth the bottom–roots.
of the sea–namely, with the light. In the storm the depths of ocean are laid bare; and the light “covers” them, at the same moment that it “spreads” across the dark sky. So in Ps 18:14, 15, the discovering of “the channels of waters” follows the “lightnings.” Umbreit translates: “He spreadeth His light upon Himself, and covereth Himself with the roots of the sea” (Ps 104:2). God’s garment is woven of celestial light and of the watery depths, raised to the sky to form His cloudy canopy. The phrase, “cover Himself with the roots of the sea,” is harsh; but the image is grand.
31. These (rain and lightnings) are marvellous and not to be understood (Job 36:29), yet necessary. “For by them He judgeth (chastiseth on the one hand), &c. (and on the other, by them) He giveth meat” (food), &c. (Job 37:13; 38:23, 27; Ac 14:17).
32. Rather, “He covereth (both) His hands with light (lightning, Job 37:3, Margin), and giveth it a command against his adversary” (literally, the one “assailing” Him, Ps 8:2; 139:20; Job 21:19). Thus, as in Job 36:31, the twofold effects of His waters are set forth, so here, of His light; in the one hand, destructive lightning against the wicked; in the other, the genial light for good to His friends, &c. (Job 36:33) [Umbreit].
33. noise–rather, He revealeth it (literally, “announceth concerning it”) to His friend (antithesis to adversary, Job 36:32, so the Hebrew is translated, Job 2:11); also to cattle and plants (literally, “that which shooteth up”; Ge 40:10; 41:22). As the genial effect of “water” in the growth of food, is mentioned, Job 36:31, so here that of “light” in cherishing cattle and plants [Umbreit]. If English Version, “noise” be retained, translate, “His noise (thunder) announces concerning Him (His coming in the tempest), the cattle (to announce) concerning Him when He is in the act of rising up” (in the storm). Some animals give various intimations that they are sensible of the approach of a storm [Virgil, Georgics, I.373, &c.].
1. At this–when I hear the thundering of the Divine Majesty. Perhaps the storm already had begun, out of which God was to address Job (Job 38:1).
2. Hear attentively–the thunder (noise), &c., and then you will feel that there is good reason to tremble.
sound–muttering of the thunder.
3. directeth it–however zigzag the lightning’s course; or, rather, it applies to the pealing roll of the thunder. God’s all-embracing power.
ends–literally, “wings,” “skirts,” the habitable earth being often compared to an extended garment (Job 38:13; Isa 11:12).
4. The thunderclap follows at an interval after the flash.
stay them–He will not hold back the lightnings (Job 37:3), when the thunder is heard [Maurer]. Rather, take “them” as the usual concomitants of thunder, namely, rain and hail [Umbreit] (Job 40:9).
5. (Job 36:26; Ps 65:6; 139:14). The sublimity of the description lies in this, that God is everywhere in the storm, directing it whither He will [Barnes]. See Ps 29:1-11, where, as here, the “voice” of God is repeated with grand effect. The thunder in Arabia is sublimely terrible.
6. Be–more forcible than “fall,” as Umbreit translates Ge 1:3.
to the small rain, &c.–He saith, Be on the earth. The shower increasing from “small” to “great,” is expressed by the plural “showers” (Margin), following the singular “shower.” Winter rain (So 2:11).
7. In winter God stops man’s out-of-doors activity.
sealeth–closeth up (Job 9:7). Man’s “hands” are then tied up.
his work–in antithesis to man’s own work (“hand”) which at other times engages men so as to make them liable to forget their dependence on God. Umbreit more literally translates, That all men whom He has made (literally, “of His making”) may be brought to acknowledgment.”
8. remain–rest in their lairs. It is beautifully ordered that during the cold, when they could not obtain food, many lie torpid, a state wherein they need no food. The desolation of the fields, at God’s bidding, is poetically graphic.
9. south–literally, “chambers”; connected with the south (Job 9:9). The whirlwinds are poetically regarded as pent up by God in His southern chambers, whence He sends them forth (so Job 38:22; Ps 135:7). As to the southern whirlwinds (see Isa 21:1; Zec 9:14), they drive before them burning sands; chiefly from February to May.
the north–literally, “scattering”; the north wind scatters the clouds.
10. the breath of God–poetically, for the ice-producing north wind.
straitened–physically accurate; frost compresses or contracts the expanded liquid into a congealed mass (Job 38:29, 30; Ps 147:17, 18).
11-13. How the thunderclouds are dispersed, or else employed by God, either for correction or mercy.
by watering–by loading it with water.
wearieth–burdeneth it, so that it falls in rain; thus “wearieth” answers to the parallel “scattereth” (compare, see on Job 37:9); a clear sky resulting alike from both.
bright cloud–literally, “cloud of his light,” that is, of His lightning. Umbreit for “watering,” &c., translates; “Brightness drives away the clouds, His light scattereth the thick clouds”; the parallelism is thus good, but the Hebrew hardly sanctions it.
12. it–the cloud of lightning.
counsels–guidance (Ps 148:8); literally, “steering”; the clouds obey God’s guidance, as the ship does the helmsman. So the lightning (see on Job 36:31, 32); neither is haphazard in its movements.
they–the clouds, implied in the collective singular “it.”
face of the world, &c.–in the face of the earth’s circle.
13. Literally, “He maketh it (the rain-cloud) find place,” whether for correction, if (it be destined) for His land (that is, for the part inhabited by man, with whom God deals, as opposed to the parts uninhabited, on which rain is at other times appointed to fall, Job 38:26, 27) or for mercy. “If it be destined for His land” is a parenthetical supposition [Maurer]. In English Version, this clause spoils the even balance of the antithesis between the “rod” (Margin) and “mercy” (Ps 68:9; Ge 7:1-24).
14. (Ps 111:2).
15. when–rather, “how.”
disposed them–lays His charge on these “wonders” (Job 37:14) to arise.
shine–flash. How is it that light arises from the dark thundercloud?
16. Hebrew, “Hast thou understanding of the balancings,” &c., how the clouds are poised in the air, so that their watery gravity does not bring them to the earth? The condensed moisture, descending by gravity, meets a warmer temperature, which dissipates it into vapor (the tendency of which is to ascend) and so counteracts the descending force.
perfect in knowledge–God; not here in the sense that Elihu uses it of himself (Job 36:4).
dost thou know–how, &c.
17. thy garments, &c.–that is, dost thou know how thy body grows warm, so as to affect thy garments with heat?
south wind–literally, “region of the south.” “When He maketh still (and sultry) the earth (that is, the atmosphere) by (during) the south wind” (So 4:16).
18. with him–like as He does (Job 40:15).
spread out–given expanse to.
strong pieces–firm; whence the term “firmament” (“expansion,” Ge 1:6, Margin; Isa 44:24).
molten looking glass–image of the bright smiling sky. Mirrors were then formed of molten polished metal, not glass.
19. Men cannot explain God’s wonders; we ought, therefore, to be dumb and not contend with God. If Job thinks we ought, “let him teach us, what we shall say.”
darkness–of mind; ignorance. “The eyes are bewilderingly blinded, when turned in bold controversy with God towards the sunny heavens” (Job 37:18) [Umbreit].
20. What I a mortal say against God’s dealings is not worthy of being told Him. In opposition to Job’s wish to “speak” before God (Job 13:3, 18-22).
if … surely he shall be swallowed up–The parallelism more favors Umbreit, “Durst a man speak (before Him, complaining) that he is (without cause) being destroyed?”
21. cleanseth–that is, cleareth the air of clouds. When the “bright light” of the sun, previously not seen through “clouds,” suddenly shines out from behind them, owing to the wind clearing them away, the effect is dazzling to the eye; so if God’s majesty, now hidden, were suddenly revealed in all its brightness, it would spread darkness over Job’s eyes, anxious as he is for it (compare, see on Job 37:19) [Umbreit]. It is because now man sees not the bright sunlight (God’s dazzling majesty), owing to the intervening “clouds” (Job 26:9), that they dare to wish to “speak” before God (Job 37:20). Prelude to God’s appearance (Job 38:1). The words also hold true in a sense not intended by Elihu, but perhaps included by the Holy Ghost. Job and other sufferers cannot see the light of God’s countenance through the clouds of trial: but the wind will soon clear them off, and God shall appear again: let them but wait patiently, for He still shines, though for a time they see Him not (see on Job 37:23).
22. Rather, “golden splendor.” Maurer translates “gold.” It is found in northern regions. But God cannot be “found out,” because of His “Majesty” (Job 37:23). Thus the twenty-eighth chapter corresponds; English Version is simpler.
the north–Brightness is chiefly associated with it (see on Job 23:9). Here, perhaps, because the north wind clears the air (Pr 25:23). Thus this clause answers to the last of Job 37:21; as the second of this verse to the first of Job 37:21. Inverted parallelism. (See Isa 14:13; Ps 48:2).
with God–rather, “upon God,” as a garment (Ps 104:1, 2).
23. afflict–oppressively, so as to “pervert judgment” as Job implied (see on Job 8:3); but see on Job 37:21, end of note. The reading, “He answereth not,” that is, gives no account of His dealings, is like a transcriber’s correction, from Job 33:13, Margin.
24. do–rather, “ought.”
wise–in their own conceits.
1. Jehovah appears unexpectedly in a whirlwind (already gathering Job 37:1, 2), the symbol of “judgment” (Ps 50:3, 4, &c.), to which Job had challenged Him. He asks him now to get himself ready for the contest. Can he explain the phenomena of God’s natural government? How can he, then, hope to understand the principles of His moral government? God thus confirms Elihu’s sentiment, that submission to, not reasonings on, God’s ways is man’s part. This and the disciplinary design of trial to the godly is the great lesson of this book. He does not solve the difficulty by reference to future retribution: for this was not the immediate question; glimpses of that truth were already given in the fourteenth and nineteenth chapters, the full revelation of it being reserved for Gospel times. Yet even now we need to learn the lesson taught by Elihu and God in Job.
counsel–impugning My divine wisdom in the providential arrangements of the universe. Such “words” (including those of the friends) rather obscure, than throw light on My ways. God is about to be Job’s Vindicator, but must first bring him to a right state of mind for receiving relief.
3. a man–hero, ready for battle (1Co 16:13), as he had wished (Job 9:35; 13:22; 31:37). The robe, usually worn flowing, was girt up by a girdle when men ran, labored, or fought (1Pe 1:13).
4. To understand the cause of things, man should have been present at their origin. The finite creature cannot fathom the infinite wisdom of the Creator (Job 28:12; 15:7, 8).
5. measures–of its proportions. Image from an architect’s plans of a building.
line–of measurement (Isa 28:17). The earth is formed on an all-wise plan.
6. foundations–not “sockets,” as Margin.
fastened–literally, “made to sink,” as a foundation-stone let down till it settles firmly in the clay (Job 26:7). Gravitation makes and keeps the earth a sphere.
7. So at the founding of Zerubbabel’s temple (Ezr 3:10-13). So hereafter at the completion of the Church, the temple of the Holy Ghost (Zec 4:7); as at its foundation (Lu 2:13, 14).
morning stars–especially beautiful. The creation morn is appropriately associated with these, it being the commencement of this world’s day. The stars are figuratively said to sing God’s praises, as in Ps 19:1; 148:3. They are symbols of the angels, bearing the same relation to our earth, as angels do to us. Therefore they answer to “sons of God,” or angels, in the parallel. See on Job 25:5.
8. doors–floodgates; these when opened caused the flood (Ge 8:2); or else, the shores.
womb–of chaos. The bowels of the earth. Image from childbirth (Job 38:8, 9; Eze 32:2; Mic 4:10). Ocean at its birth was wrapped in clouds as its swaddling bands.
10. brake up for–that is, appointed it. Shores are generally broken and abrupt cliffs. The Greek for “shore” means “a broken place.” I broke off or measured off for it my limit, that is, the limit which I thought fit (Job 26:10).
11. stayed–Hebrew, “a limit shall be set to.”
12-15. Passing from creation to phenomena in the existing inanimate world.
Hast thou–as God daily does.
commanded the morning–to rise.
since thy days–since thou hast come into being.
his place–It varies in its place of rising from day to day, and yet it has its place each day according to fixed laws.
13. take hold of the ends, &c.–spread itself over the earth to its utmost bounds in a moment.
wicked–who hate the light, and do their evil works in the dark (Job 24:13).
shaken out of it–The corners (Hebrew, “wings” or “skirts”) of it, as of a garment, are taken hold of by the dayspring, so as to shake off the wicked.
14. Explaining the first clause of Job 38:13, as Job 38:15 does the second clause. As the plastic clay presents the various figures impressed on it by a seal, so the earth, which in the dark was void of all form, when illuminated by the dayspring, presents a variety of forms, hills, valleys, &c.
turned–(Hebrew, “turns itself”) alludes to the rolling cylinder seal, such as is found in Babylon, which leaves its impressions on the clay, as it is turned about; so the morning light rolling on over the earth.
they stand–The forms of beauty, unfolded by the dawn, stand forth as a garment, in which the earth is clad.
15. their light–by which they work; namely, darkness, which is their day (Job 24:17), is extinguished by daylight.
high–Rather, “The arm uplifted” for murder or other crime is broken; it falls down suddenly, powerless, through their fear of light.
16. springs–fountains beneath the sea (Ps 95:4, 5).
search–Rather, “the inmost recesses”; literally, “that which is only found by searching,” the deep caverns of ocean.
17. seen–The second clause heightens the thought in the first. Man during life does not even “see” the gates of the realm of the dead (“death,” Job 10:21); much less are they “opened” to him. But those are “naked before God” (Job 26:6).
18. Hast thou–as God doth (Job 28:24).
19-38. The marvels in heaven. “What is the way (to the place wherein) light dwelleth?” The origin of light and darkness. In Ge 1:3-5, 14-18, “light” is created distinct from, and previous to, light-emitting bodies, the luminaries of heaven.
20. Dost thou know its place so well as to be able to guide, (“take” as in Isa 36:17) it to (but Umbreit, “reach it in”) its own boundary, that is, the limit between light and darkness (Job 26:10)?
21. Or without the interrogation, in an ironical sense [Umbreit].
then–when I created light and darkness (Job 15:7).
22. treasures–storehouses, from which God draws forth snow and hail. Snow is vapor congealed in the air before it is collected in drops large enough to form hail. Its shape is that of a crystal in endless variety of beautiful figures. Hail is formed by rain falling through dry cold air.
23. against the time of trouble–the time when I design to chastise men (Ex 9:18; Jos 10:11; Re 16:21; Isa 28:17; Ps 18:12, 13; Hag 2:17).
24. is … parted–parts, so as to diffuse itself over the whole earth, though seeming to come from one point. Light travels from the sun to the earth, ninety millions of miles, in eight minutes.
which scattereth–rather, “And by what way the east wind (personified) spreads (scattereth) itself.” The light and east wind are associated together, as both come from one quarter, and often arise together (Jon 4:8).
25. waters–Rain falls, not in a mass on one spot, but in countless separate canals in the air marked out for them.
way for the lightning–(Job 28:26).
26. Since rain fails also on places uninhabited by man, it cannot be that man guides its course. Such rain, though man cannot explain the reason for it, is not lost. God has some wise design in it.
27. As though the desolate ground thirsted for God’s showers. Personification. The beauty imparted to the uninhabited desert pleases God, for whom primarily all things exist, and He has ulterior designs in it.
28. Can any visible origin of rain and dew be assigned by man? Dew is moisture, which was suspended in the air, but becomes condensed on reaching the–in the night–lower temperature of objects on the earth.
29. Job 37:10.
30. The unfrozen waters are hid under the frozen, as with a covering of stone.
frozen–literally, “is taken”; the particles take hold of one another so as to cohere.
31. sweet influences–the joy diffused by spring, the time when the Pleiades appear. The Eastern poets, Hafiz, Sadi, &c., describe them as “brilliant rosettes.” Gesenius translates: “bands” or “knot,” which answers better the parallelism. But English Version agrees better with the Hebrew. The seven stars are closely “bound” together (see on Job 9:9). “Canst thou bind or loose the tie?” “Canst thou loose the bonds by which the constellation Orion (represented in the East as an impious giant chained to the sky) is held fast?” (See on Job 9:9).
32. Canst thou bring forth from their places or houses (Mazzaloth, 2Ki 23:5, Margin; to which Mazzaroth here is equivalent) into the sky the signs of the Zodiac at their respective seasons–the twelve lodgings in which the sun successively stays, or appears, in the sky?
his sons?–the three stars in his tail. Canst thou make them appear in the sky? (Job 9:9). The great and less Bear are called by the Arabs “Daughters of the Bier,” the quadrangle being the bier, the three others the mourners.
33. ordinances–which regulate the alternations of seasons, &c. (Ge 8:22).
dominion–controlling influence of the heavenly bodies, the sun, moon, &c., on the earth (on the tides, weather) (Ge 1:16; Ps 136:7-9).
34. Jer 14:22; above Job 22:11, metaphorically.
35. Here we are–at thy disposal (Isa 6:8).
36. inward parts … heart–But “dark clouds” (“shining phenomena”) [Umbreit]; “meteor” [Maurer], referring to the consultation of these as signs of weather by the husbandman (Ec 11:4). But Hebrew supports English Version. The connection is, “Who hath given thee the intelligence to comprehend in any degree the phenomena just specified?”
heart–not the usual Hebrew word, but one from a root “to view”; perception.
37. Who appoints by his wisdom the due measure of the clouds?
stay–rather, “empty”; literally, “lay down” or “incline” so as to pour out.
bottles of heaven–rain-filled clouds.
38. groweth, &c.–rather, pour itself into a mass by the rain, like molten metal; then translate Job 38:38, “Who is it that empties,” &c., “when,” &c.? The English Version, however, is tenable: “Is caked into a mass” by heat, like molten metal, before the rain falls; “Who is it that can empty the rain vessels, and bring down rain at such a time?” (Job 38:38).
39. At Job 38:39-39:30, the instincts of animals. Is it thou that givest it the instinct to hunt its prey? (Ps 104:21).
appetite–literally, “life,” which depends on the appetite” (Job 33:20).
40. lie in wait?–for their prey (Ps 10:9).
41. Lu 12:24. Transition from the noble lioness to the croaking raven. Though man dislikes it, as of ill omen, God cares for it, as for all His creatures.
1. Even wild beasts, cut off from all care of man, are cared for by God at their seasons of greatest need. Their instinct comes direct from God and guides them to help themselves in parturition; the very time when the herdsman is most anxious for his herds.
wild goats–ibex (Ps 104:18; 1Sa 24:2).
hinds–fawns; most timid and defenseless animals, yet cared for by God.
2. They bring forth with ease and do not need to reckon the months of pregnancy, as the shepherd does in the case of his flocks.
3. bow themselves–in parturition; bend on their knees (1Sa 4:19).
bring forth–literally, “cause their young to cleave the womb and break forth.”
sorrows–their young ones, the cause of their momentary pains.
4. are in good liking–in good condition, grow up strong.
with corn–rather, “in the field,” without man’s care.
return not–being able to provide for themselves.
5. wild ass–Two different Hebrew words are here used for the same animal, “the ass of the woods” and “the wild ass.” (See on Job 6:5; Job 11:12; Job 24:5; and Jer 2:24).
loosed the bands–given its liberty to. Man can rob animals of freedom, but not, as God, give freedom, combined with subordination to fixed laws.
6. barren–literally, “salt,” that is, unfruitful. (So Ps 107:34, Margin.)
7. multitude–rather, “din”; he sets it at defiance, being far away from it in the freedom of the wilderness.
driver–who urges on the tame ass to work. The wild ass is the symbol of uncontrolled freedom in the East; even kings have, therefore, added its name to them.
8. The range–literally, “searching,” “that which it finds by searching is his pasture.”
9. unicorn–Pliny [Natural History, 8.21], mentions such an animal; its figure is found depicted in the ruins of Persepolis. The Hebrew reem conveys the idea of loftiness and power (compare Ramah; Indian, Ram; Latin, Roma). The rhinoceros was perhaps the original type of the unicorn. The Arab rim is a two-horned animal. Sometimes “unicorn” or reem is a mere poetical symbol or abstraction; but the buffalo is the animal referred to here, from the contrast to the tame ox, used in ploughing (Job 39:10, 12).
abide–literally, “pass the night.”
10. his band–fastened to the horns, as its chief strength lies in the head and shoulders.
after thee–obedient to thee; willing to follow, instead of being goaded on before thee.
11. thy labour–rustic work.
seed–produce (1Sa 8:15).
into thy barn–rather, “gather (the contents of) thy threshing-floor” [Maurer]; the corn threshed on it.
13. Rather, “the wing of the ostrich hen”–literally, “the crying bird”; as the Arab name for it means “song”; referring to its night cries (Job 30:29; Mic 1:8) vibrating joyously. “Is it not like the quill and feathers of the pious bird” (the stork)? [Umbreit]. The vibrating, quivering wing, serving for sail and oar at once, is characteristic of the ostrich in full course. Its white and black feathers in the wing and tail are like the stork’s. But, unlike that bird, the symbol of parental love in the East, it with seeming want of natural (pious) affection deserts its young. Both birds are poetically called by descriptive, instead of their usual appellative, names.
14, 15. Yet (unlike the stork) she “leaveth,” &c. Hence called by the Arabs “the impious bird.” However, the fact is, she lays her eggs with great care and hatches them, as other birds do; but in hot countries the eggs do not need so constant incubation; she therefore often leaves them and sometimes forgets the place on her return. Moreover, the outer eggs, intended for food, she feeds to her young; these eggs, lying separate in the sand, exposed to the sun, gave rise to the idea of her altogether leaving them. God describes her as she seems to man; implying, though she may seem foolishly to neglect her young, yet really she is guided by a sure instinct from God, as much as animals of instincts widely different.
16. On a slight noise she often forsakes her eggs, and returns not, as if she were “hardened towards her young.”
her labour–in producing eggs, is in vain, (yet) she has not disquietude (about her young), unlike other birds, who, if one egg and another are taken away, will go on laying till their full number is made up.
17. wisdom–such as God gives to other animals, and to man (Job 35:11). The Arab proverb is, “foolish as an ostrich.” Yet her very seeming want of wisdom is not without wise design of God, though man cannot see it; just as in the trials of the godly, which seem so unreasonable to Job, there lies hid a wise design.
18. Notwithstanding her deficiencies, she has distinguishing excellences.
lifteth … herself–for running; she cannot mount in the air. Gesenius translates: “lashes herself” up to her course by flapping her wings. The old versions favor English Version, and the parallel “scorneth” answers to her proudly “lifting up herself.”
19. The allusion to “the horse” (Job 39:18), suggests the description of him. Arab poets delight in praising the horse; yet it is not mentioned in the possessions of Job (Job 1:3; 42:12). It seems to have been at the time chiefly used for war, rather than “domestic purposes.”
thunder–poetically for, “he with arched neck inspires fear as thunder does.” Translate, “majesty” [Umbreit]. Rather “the trembling, quivering mane,” answering to the “vibrating wing” of the ostrich (see on Job 39:13) [Maurer]. “Mane” in Greek also is from a root meaning “fear.” English Version is more sublime.
20. make … afraid–rather, “canst thou (as I do) make him spring as the locust?” So in Joe 2:4, the comparison is between locusts and war-horses. The heads of the two are so similar that the Italians call the locusts cavaletta, “little horse.”
21. valley–where the battle is joined.
goeth on–goeth forth (Nu 1:3; 21:23).
23. quiver–for the arrows, which they contain, and which are directed “against him.”
glittering spear–literally, “glittering of the spear,” like “lightning of the spear” (Hab 3:11).
24. swalloweth–Fretting with impatience, he draws the ground towards him with his hoof, as if he would swallow it. The parallelism shows this to be the sense; not as Maurer, “scours over it.”
neither believeth–for joy. Rather, “he will not stand still, when the note of the trumpet (soundeth).”
25. saith–poetically applied to his mettlesome neighing, whereby he shows his love of the battle.
smelleth–snuffeth; discerneth (Isa 11:3, Margin).
26. The instinct by which some birds migrate to warmer climes before winter. Rapid flying peculiarly characterizes the whole hawk genus.
27. eagle–It flies highest of all birds: thence called “the bird of heaven.”
28. abideth–securely (Ps 91:1); it occupies the same abode mostly for life.
crag–literally, “tooth” (1Sa 14:5, Margin).
strong place–citadel, fastness.
29. seeketh–is on the lookout for.
behold–The eagle descries its prey at an astonishing distance, by sight, rather than smell.
30. Quoted partly by Jesus Christ (Mt 24:28). The food of young eagles is the blood of victims brought by the parent, when they are still too feeble to devour flesh.
slain–As the vulture chiefly feeds on carcasses, it is included probably in the eagle genus.
Job 40:1-24. God’s Second Address.
He had paused for a reply, but Job was silent.
1. the Lord–Hebrew, “Jehovah.”
2. he that contendeth–as Job had so often expressed a wish to do. Or, rebuketh. Does Job now still (after seeing and hearing of God’s majesty and wisdom) wish to set God right?
answer it–namely, the questions I have asked.
4. I am (too) vile (to reply). It is a very different thing to vindicate ourselves before God, from what it is before men. Job could do the latter, not the former.
lay … hand … upon … mouth–I have no plea to offer (Job 21:5; Jud 18:19).
5. Once … twice–oftentimes, more than once (Job 33:14, compare with Job 33:29; Ps 62:11):
I have spoken–namely, against God.
not answer–not plead against Thee.
6. the Lord–Jehovah.
7. (See on Job 38:3). Since Job has not only spoken against God, but accused Him of injustice, God challenges him to try, could he govern the world, as God by His power doth, and punish the proud and wicked (Job 40:7-14).
8. Wilt thou not only contend with, but set aside My judgment or justice in the government of the world?
condemn–declare Me unrighteous, in order that thou mayest be accounted righteous (innocent; undeservingly afflicted).
9. arm–God’s omnipotence (Isa 53:1).
thunder–God’s voice (Job 37:4).
10. See, hast thou power and majesty like God’s, to enable thee to judge and govern the world?
11. rage–rather, pour out the redundant floods of, &c.
behold–Try, canst thou, as God, by a mere glance abase the proud (Isa 2:12, &c.)?
12. proud–high (Da 4:37).
in their place–on the spot; suddenly, before they can move from their place. (See on Job 34:26; Job 36:20).
13. (Isa 2:10). Abase and remove them out of the sight of men.
bind … faces–that is, shut up their persons [Maurer]. But it refers rather to the custom of binding a cloth over the faces of persons about to be executed (Job 9:24; Es 7:8).
in secret–consign them to darkness.
14. confess–rather, “extol”; “I also,” who now censure thee. But since thou canst not do these works, thou must, instead of censuring, extol My government.
thine own … hand … save–(Ps 44:3). So as to eternal salvation by Jesus Christ (Isa 59:16; 63:5).
15-24. God shows that if Job cannot bring under control the lower animals (of which he selects the two most striking, behemoth on land, leviathan in the water), much less is he capable of governing the world.
behemoth–The description in part agrees with the hippopotamus, in part with the elephant, but exactly in all details with neither. It is rather a poetical personification of the great Pachydermata, or Herbivora (so “he eateth grass”), the idea of the hippopotamus being predominant. In Job 40:17, “the tail like a cedar,” hardly applies to the latter (so also Job 40:20, 23, “Jordan,” a river which elephants alone could reach, but see on Job 40:23). On the other hand, Job 40:21, 22 are characteristic of the amphibious river horse. So leviathan (the twisting animal), Job 41:1, is a generalized term for cetacea, pythons, saurians of the neighboring seas and rivers, including the crocodile, which is the most prominent, and is often associated with the river horse by old writers. “Behemoth” seems to be the Egyptian Pehemout, “water-ox,” Hebraized, so-called as being like an ox, whence the Italian bombarino.
with thee–as I made thyself. Yet how great the difference! The manifold wisdom and power of God!
he eateth grass–marvellous in an animal living so much in the water; also strange, that such a monster should not be carnivorous.
16. navel–rather, “muscles” of his belly; the weakest point of the elephant, therefore it is not meant.
17. like a cedar–As the tempest bends the cedar, so it can move its smooth thick tail [Umbreit]. But the cedar implies straightness and length, such as do not apply to the river horse’s short tail, but perhaps to an extinct species of animal (see on Job 40:15).
wrapped–firmly twisted together, like a thick rope.
18. strong–rather, “tubes” of copper [Umbreit].
19. Chief of the works of God; so “ways” (Job 26:14; Pr 8:22).
can make his sword to approach–rather, “has furnished him with his sword” (harpe), namely, the sickle-like teeth with which he cuts down grain. English Version, however, is literally right.
20. The mountain is not his usual haunt. Bochart says it is sometimes found there (?).
beasts … play–a graphic trait: though armed with such teeth, he lets the beasts play near him unhurt, for his food is grass.
21. lieth–He leads an inactive life.
shady trees–rather, “lotus bushes”; as Job 40:22 requires.
22. shady trees–Translate: “lotus bushes.”
23. Rather, “(Though) a river be violent (overflow), he trembleth not”; (for though living on land, he can live in the water, too); he is secure, though a Jordan swell up to his mouth. “Jordan” is used for any great river (consonant with the “behemoth”), being a poetical generalization (see on Job 40:15). The author cannot have been a Hebrew as Umbreit asserts, or he would not adduce the Jordan, where there were no river horses. He alludes to it as a name for any river, but not as one known to him, except by hearsay.
24. Rather, “Will any take him by open force” (literally, “before his eyes”), “or pierce his nose with cords?” No; he can only be taken by guile, and in a pitfall (Job 41:1, 2).
1. leviathan–literally, “the twisted animal,” gathering itself in folds: a synonym to the Thannin (Job 3:8, Margin; see Ps 74:14; type of the Egyptian tyrant; Ps 104:26; Isa 27:1; the Babylon tyrant). A poetical generalization for all cetacean, serpentine, and saurian monsters (see on Job 40:15, hence all the description applies to no one animal); especially the crocodile; which is naturally described after the river horse, as both are found in the Nile.
tongue … lettest down?–The crocodile has no tongue, or a very small one cleaving to the lower jaw. But as in fishing the tongue of the fish draws the baited hook to it, God asks, Canst thou in like manner take leviathan?
2. hook–rather, “a rope of rushes.”
thorn–rather, a “ring” or “hook.” So wild beasts were led about when caught (Isa 37:29; Eze 29:4); fishes also were secured thus and thrown into the water to keep them alive.
3. soft words–that thou mayest spare his life. No: he is untamable.
4. Can he be tamed for domestic use (so Job 39:10-12)?
5. a bird?–that is, tamed.
6. Rather, “partners” (namely, in fishing).
make a banquet–The parallelism rather supports Umbreit, “Do partners (in trade) desire to purchase him?” So the Hebrew (De 2:6).
merchants–literally, “Canaanites,” who were great merchants (Ho 12:7, Margin).
7. His hide is not penetrable, as that of fishes.
8. If thou lay … thou wilt have reason ever to remember … and thou wilt never try it again.
9. the hope–of taking him.
cast down–with fear “at the (mere) sight of him.”
10. fierce–courageous. If a man dare attack one of My creatures (Ge 49:9; Nu 24:9), who will dare (as Job has wished) oppose himself (Ps 2:2) to Me, the Creator? This is the main drift of the description of leviathan.
11. prevented–done Me a favor first: anticipated Me with service (Ps 21:3). None can call Me to account (“stand before Me,” Job 41:10) as unjust, because I have withdrawn favors from him (as in Job’s case): for none has laid Me under a prior obligation by conferring on Me something which was not already My own. What can man give to Him who possesses all, including man himself? Man cannot constrain the creature to be his “servant” (Job 41:4), much less the Creator.
12. I will not conceal–a resumption of the description broken off by the digression, which formed an agreeable change.
his power–literally, “the way,” that is, true proportion or expression of his strength (so Hebrew, De 19:4).
comely proportion–literally, “the comeliness of his structure” (his apparatus: so “suit of apparel” Jud 17:10) [Maurer]. Umbreit translates, “his armor.” But that follows after.
13. discover–rather, “uncover the surface” of his garment (skin, Job 10:11): strip off the hard outer coat with which the inner skin is covered.
with–rather, “within his double jaws”; literally, “bridle”; hence that into which the bridle is put, the double row of teeth; but “bridle” is used to imply that none dare put his hand in to insert a bridle where in other animals it is placed (Job 41:4; 39:10).
14. doors of … face–his mouth. His teeth are sixty in number, larger in proportion than his body, some standing out, some serrated, fitting into each other like a comb [Bochart].
15. Rather, his “furrows of shields” (as “tubes,” “channels,” see on Job 40:18), are, &c., that is, the rows of scales, like shields covering him: he has seventeen such rows.
shut up–firmly closed together. A musket ball cannot penetrate him, save in the eye, throat, and belly.
18. Translate: “his sneezing, causeth a light to shine.” Amphibious animals, emerging after having long held their breath under water, respire by violently expelling the breath like one sneezing: in the effort the eyes which are usually directed towards the sun, seem to flash fire; or it is the expelled breath that, in the sun, seems to emit light.
eyelids of morning–The Egyptian hieroglyphics paint the eyes of the crocodile as the symbol for morning, because the eyes appear the first thing, before the whole body emerges from the deep [Horæ Hierogliphicæ 1.65. Bochart].
19. burning lamps–“torches”; namely, in respiring (Job 41:18), seem to go out.
20. seething–boiling: literally, “blown under,” under which a fire is blown.
21. kindleth coals–poetical imagery (Ps 18:8).
22. remaineth–abideth permanently. His chief strength is in the neck.
sorrow–anxiety or dismay personified.
is turned into joy–rather, “danceth,” “exulteth”; wherever he goes, he spreads terror “before him.”
23. flakes–rather, “dewlaps”; that which falls down (Margin). They are “joined” fast and firm, together, not hanging loose, as in the ox.
are firm–Umbreit and Maurer, “are spread.”
in themselves–rather, “upon him.”
24. heart–“In large beasts which are less acute in feeling, there is great firmness of the heart, and slower motion” [Bochart]. The nether millstone, on which the upper turns, is especially hard.
25. he–the crocodile; a type of the awe which the Creator inspires when He rises in wrath.
breakings–namely, of the mind, that is, terror.
purify themselves–rather, “they wander from the way,” that is, flee away bewildered [Maurer and Umbreit].
26. cannot hold–on his hard skin.
habergeon–coat of mail; avail must be taken by zeugma out of “hold,” as the verb in the second clause: “hold” cannot apply to the “coat of mail.”
27. iron … brass–namely, weapons.
28. arrow–literally, “son of the bow”; Oriental imagery (La 3:13; Margin).
stubble–Arrows produce no more effect than it would to throw stubble at him.
29. Darts–rather, “clubs”; darts have been already mentioned (Job 41:26).
30. stones–rather, “potsherds,” that is, the sharp and pointed scales on the belly, like broken pieces of pottery.
sharp-pointed things–rather, “a threshing instrument,” but not on the fruits of the earth, but “on the mire”; irony. When he lies on the mire, he leaves the marks of his scales so imprinted on it, that one might fancy a threshing instrument with its sharp teeth had been drawn over it (Isa 28:27).
31. Whenever he moves.
sea–the Nile (Isa 19:5; Na 3:8).
pot of ointment–the vessel in which it is mixed. Appropriate to the crocodile, which emits a musky smell.
32. path–the foam on his track.
hoary–as hair of the aged.
33. who–being one who, &c.
34. beholdeth–as their superior.
children of pride–the proud and fierce beasts. So Job 28:8; Hebrew, “sons of pride.” To humble the pride of man and to teach implicit submission, is the aim of Jehovah’s speech and of the book; therefore with this as to leviathan, the type of God in His lordship over creation, He closes.
Job 42:1-6. Job’s Penitent Reply.
2. In the first clause he owns God to be omnipotent over nature, as contrasted with his own feebleness, which God had proved (Job 40:15; 41:34); in the second, that God is supremely just (which, in order to be governor of the world, He must needs be) in all His dealings, as contrasted with his own vileness (Job 42:6), and incompetence to deal with the wicked as a just judge (Job 40:8-14).
thought–“purpose,” as in Job 17:11; but it is usually applied to evil devices (Job 21:27; Ps 10:2): the ambiguous word is designedly chosen to express that, while to Job’s finite view, God’s plans seem bad, to the All-wise One they continue unhindered in their development, and will at last be seen to be as good as they are infinitely wise. No evil can emanate from the Parent of good (Jas 1:13, 17); but it is His prerogative to overrule evil to good.
3. I am the man! Job in God’s own words (Job 38:2) expresses his deep and humble penitence. God’s word concerning our guilt should be engraven on our hearts and form the groundwork of our confession. Most men in confessing sin palliate rather than confess. Job in omitting “by words” (Job 38:2), goes even further than God’s accusation. Not merely my words, but my whole thoughts and ways were “without knowledge.”
too wonderful–I rashly denied that Thou hast any fixed plan in governing human affairs, merely because Thy plan was “too wonderful” for my comprehension.
4. When I said, “Hear,” &c., Job’s demand (Job 13:22) convicted him of being “without knowledge.” God alone could speak thus to Job, not Job to God: therefore he quotes again God’s words as the groundwork of retracting his own foolish words.
5. hearing of the ear–(Ps 18:44, Margin). Hearing and seeing are often in antithesis (Job 29:11; Ps 18:8).
seeth–not God’s face (Ex 33:20), but His presence in the veil of a dark cloud (Job 38:1). Job implies also that, besides this literal seeing, he now saw spiritually what he had indistinctly taken on hearsay before God’s infinite wisdom. He “now” proves this; he had seen in a literal sense before, at the beginning of God’s speech, but he had not seen spiritually till “now” at its close.
6. myself–rather “I abhor,” and retract the rash speeches I made against thee (Job 42:3, 4) [Umbreit].
Job 42:7-17. Epilogue, in prose.
7. to Eliphaz–because he was the foremost of the three friends; their speeches were but the echo of his.
right–literally, “well-grounded,” sure and true. Their spirit towards Job was unkindly, and to justify themselves in their unkindliness they used false arguments (Job 13:7); (namely, that calamities always prove peculiar guilt); therefore, though it was “for God” they spake thus falsely, God “reproves” them, as Job said He would (Job 13:10).
as … Job hath–Job had spoken rightly in relation to them and their argument, denying their theory, and the fact which they alleged, that he was peculiarly guilty and a hypocrite; but wrongly in relation to God, when he fell into the opposite extreme of almost denying all guilt. This extreme he has now repented of, and therefore God speaks of him as now altogether “right.”
8. seven–(See Introduction). The number offered by the Gentile prophet (Nu 23:1). Job plainly lived before the legal priesthood, &c. The patriarchs acted as priests for their families; and sometimes as praying mediators (Ge 20:17), thus foreshadowing the true Mediator (1Ti 2:5), but sacrifice accompanies and is the groundwork on which the mediation rests.
him–rather, “His person [face] only” (see on Job 22:30). The “person,” must be first accepted, before God can accept his offering and work (Ge 4:4); that can be only through Jesus Christ.
folly–impiety (Job 1:22; 2:10).
9. The forgiving spirit of Job foreshadows the love of Jesus Christ and of Christians to enemies (Mt 5:44; Lu 23:34; Ac 7:60; 16:24, 28, 30, 31).
10. turned … captivity–proverbial for restored, or amply indemnified him for all he had lost (Eze 16:53; Ps 14:7; Ho 6:11). Thus the future vindication of man, body and soul, against Satan (Job 1:9-12), at the resurrection (Job 19:25-27), has its earnest and adumbration in the temporal vindication of Job at last by Jehovah in person.
twice–so to the afflicted literal and spiritual Jerusalem (Isa 40:2; 60:7; 61:7; Zec 9:12). As in Job’s case, so in that of Jesus Christ, the glorious recompense follows the “intercession” for enemies (Isa 53:12).
11. It was Job’s complaint in his misery that his “brethren,” were “estranged” from him (Job 19:13); these now return with the return of his prosperity (Pr 14:20; 19:6, 7); the true friend loveth at all times (Pr 17:17; 18:24). “Swallow friends leave in the winter and return with the spring” [Henry].
eat bread–in token of friendship (Ps 41:9).
piece of money–Presents are usual in visiting a man of rank in the East, especially after a calamity (2Ch 32:23). Hebrew, kesita. Magee translates “a lamb” (the medium of exchange then before money was used), as it is in Margin of Ge 33:19; Jos 24:32. But it is from the Arabic kasat, “weighed out” [Umbreit], not coined; so Ge 42:35; 33:19; compare with Ge 23:15, makes it likely it was equal to four shekels; Hebrew kashat, “pure,” namely, metal. The term, instead of the usual “shekel,” &c., is a mark of antiquity.
earring–whether for the nose or ear (Ge 35:4; Isa 3:21). Much of the gold in the East, in the absence of banks, is in the shape of ornaments.
12. Probably by degrees, not all at once.
13. The same number as before, Job 1:2; perhaps by a second wife; in Job 19:17 his wife is last mentioned.
14. Names significant of his restored prosperity (Ge 4:25; 5:29).
Jemima–“daylight,” after his “night” of calamity; but Maurer, “a dove.”
Kezia–“cassia,” an aromatic herb (Ps 45:8), instead of his offensive breath and ulcers.
Keren-happuch–“horn of stibium,” a paint with which females dyed their eyelids; in contrast to his “horn defiled in the dust” (Job 16:15). The names also imply the beauty of his daughters.
15. inheritance among … brethren–An unusual favor in the East to daughters, who, in the Jewish law, only inherited, if there were no sons (Nu 27:8), a proof of wealth and unanimity.
16. The Septuagint makes Job live a hundred seventy years after his calamity, and two hundred forty in all. This would make him seventy at the time of his calamity, which added to a hundred forty in Hebrew text makes up two hundred ten; a little more than the age (two hundred five) of Terah, father of Abraham, perhaps his contemporary. Man’s length of life gradually shortened, till it reached threescore and ten in Moses’ time (Ps 90:10).
sons’ sons–a proof of divine favor (Ge 50:23; Ps 128:6; Pr 17:6).
17. full of days–fully sated and contented with all the happiness that life could give him; realizing what Eliphaz had painted as the lot of the godly (Job 5:26; Ps 91:16; Ge 25:8; 35:29). The Septuagint adds, “It is written, that he will rise again with those whom the Lord will raise up.” Compare Mt 27:52, 53, from which it perhaps was derived spuriously.