Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
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--
5. thou art troubled--rather, "unhinged," hast lost thy self-command
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?"
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
but yet we must take it on trust, that God deals righteously even now
Judge not by a part, but by the whole of a godly man's life, and by his
end, even here
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
Trials are chastisements for their good (to the righteous)
(Ps 119:67, 71, 75).
See Preface on the
DESIGN of this book (see
8. they that plough iniquity . . . reap the
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
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
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
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
13. In thoughts from the visions of the night--[So WINER]. While
revolving night visions previously made to him
Rather, "In my manifold (Hebrew, divided) thoughts,
before the visions of the night commenced"; therefore not a
(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
the voice, as opposed to the previous storm, denotes a gentle, still
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
and at best is but the holiness of a creature. Folly is the want of
moral consideration [UMBREIT].
19. houses of clay--
Houses made of sun-dried clay bricks are common in the East; they are
easily washed away
Man's foundation is this dust
before the moth--rather, "as before the moth," which devours a garment
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
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
21. their excellency--
(Ps 39:11; 146:4;
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
makes the allusion be to the cords of a tabernacle taken down
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
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."