Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
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
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
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,"
(Job 20:29; 27:13).
3. Answer to the question in
4. Doth not he see? &c.--Knowing this, I could only have expected
had I committed this sin
5. Job's abstinence from evil deeds.
vanity--that is, falsehood
6. Parenthetical. Translate: "Oh, that God would weigh me . . .
then would He know," &c.
7. Connected with
the way--of God
A godly life.
heart . . . after . . . eyes--if my heart coveted, what my eyes
8. Apodosis to
Job 31:5, 7;
the curses which he imprecates on himself, if he had done these things
offspring--rather, "what I plant," my harvests.
9-12. Job asserts his innocence of adultery.
deceived--hath let itself be seduced
laid wait--until the husband went out.
10. grind--turn the handmill. Be the most abject slave and
11. In the earliest times punished with death
So in later times
Heretofore he had spoken only of sins against conscience; now, one
against the community, needing the cognizance of the judge.
(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
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
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
Job 31:16, 17.
guided her--namely, the widow, by advice and protection. On this
and "a father," see
19. perish--that is, ready to perish
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
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,
therefore, if I have done them let my arm (literally) suffer. Job
alludes to Eliphaz' charge
The first "arm" is rather the shoulder. The second "arm" is the
from the bone--literally, "a reed"; hence the upper arm, above the
23. For--that is, the reason why Job guarded against such sins.
Fear of God, though he could escape man's judgment
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
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
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
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
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;
This passage therefore does not prove Job to have been subsequent to
29. lifted up myself--in malicious triumph
(Pr 17:5; 24:17;
30. mouth--literally, "palate."
wishing--literally, "so as to demand his (my enemy's) soul," that
is, "life by a curse." This verse parenthetically confirms
Job in the patriarchal age of the promise, anterior to the law,
realizes the Gospel spirit, which was the end of the law (compare
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
2Sa 16:9, 10).
So Jesus Christ
(Lu 9:54, 55).
But, better (see
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
33. Adam--translated by UMBREIT,
"as men do"
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
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,
34. Rather, the apodosis to
"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
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
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
I would take it on my shoulders--as a public honor
a crown--not a mark of shame, but of distinction
37. A good conscience imparts a princely dignity before man and
free assurance in approaching God. This can be realized, not in Job's
(Job 42:5, 6);
but only through Jesus Christ
38. Personification. The complaints of the unjustly ousted
proprietors are transferred to the lands themselves
If I have unjustly acquired lands
furrows--The specification of these makes it likely, he implies in
this, "If I paid not the laborer for tillage"; as
"If I paid him not for gathering in the fruits." Thus of the four
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
which plainly alludes to this passage: compare "Lord of Sabaoth" with
39. lose . . . life--not literally, but "harassed to
death"; until he gave me up his land gratis [MAURER]; as in
"suffered him to languish" by taking away his means of living [UMBREIT]
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
would be the regular conclusion in strict art. But
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
is quite unwarranted.