Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
2. I know it is so of a truth--that God does not "pervert justice"
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
3. If he--God
will contend with him--literally, "deign to enter into
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
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"
"at unawares"; Hebrew, which "he knoweth not of"
6. The earth is regarded, poetically, as resting on pillars, which
tremble in an earthquake
The literal truth as to the earth is given
7. The sun, at His command, does not rise; namely, in an eclipse,
or the darkness that accompanies earthquakes
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--
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
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"
The Egyptian hieroglyphic for impossibility is a man walking on
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
Orion--Hebrew, "the fool"; in
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
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
11. I see him not: he passeth on--The image is that of a howling wind
Like it when it bursts invisibly upon man, so God is felt in the awful
effects of His wrath, but is not seen
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
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.
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
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
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.
or "He," God.
21. Literally, here (and in
"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
23. If--Rather, "While (His) scourge slays suddenly (the wicked,
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
Thus the contrast of the wicked and righteous here answers to that in
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
26. swift ships--rather, canoes of reeds or papyrus skiffs, used on
the Nile, swift from their lightness
28. The apodosis to
--"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
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
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
We Christians know of such a Mediator (not, however, in the sense of
umpire) on a level with both--the God-man, Christ Jesus
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