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Bible Commentaries

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

Job 42

Verse 3

XLII.

(3) Who is he that hideth counsel?—It is quite obvious that the right way of understanding these verses is, as in Isaiah 63:1-6, after the manner of a dialogue, in which Job and the Lord alternately reply. “Who is this that hideth counsel without knowledge?” were the words with which God Himself joined the debate in Job 38:2; and therefore, unless we assign them to Him here also, we must regard them as quoted by Job, and applied reflectively to himself; but it is far better to consider them as part of a dialogue.

Verse 4

(4) Hear, I beseech thee.—This cannot in like manner be appropriately assigned to Job, but, as in Job 38:3; Job 40:7, must be referred to God; then the confession of Job 42:5-6 comes in very grandly. How much of our knowledge of God is merely hearsay? and it is not till the experimental teaching of the Holy Ghost has revealed God to our consciences that we really see Him with the inward eye. The confession of Job, therefore, is the confession of every converted man. Compare in a much later and very different, and yet analogous sphere, the confession of St. Paul (Galatians 1:16).

Verse 7

(7) And it was so.—The verdict that is spoken against the friends of Job is based rather on the tone and spirit of what they have said than on any of their actual words, for many of these are conspicuous for their wisdom, truth, and beauty. But throughout they had been on the wrong side, and seemed to think that the cause of God had need to be upheld at all risks, and that it might even be required to tell lies for God (Job 13:7); and it was this that provoked the Divine indignation.

Verse 8

(8) Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams.—It is remarkable that the sacrifices prescribed for Job’s friends were similar to those which Balaam prescribed for Balak (Numbers 23:2-29). This is probably one indication out of many that the age of Job was that of Moses, or before it. “My servant Job shall pray for you.” This, strange to say, was the very promise with which Eliphaz himself had closed his third and last speech. His words therefore received a striking fulfilment in the case of himself and his friends. The intercession of Job seems to show us that his character is a typical one, representing to us the character of Christ as the sufferer and the mediator on behalf of man; and as in Job there is no trace of acquaintance with the Divine covenant, the book shows us a sort of anticipation of the Gospel to the Gentile world, that the mercies of God are not limited, as some have thought, to the chosen race, but that the principles of God’s action are the same universally. He deals with men upon a principle of mediation: whether the mediator be Moses, as the mediator of the first covenant; or Job, who was the accepted mediator for his friends beyond the pale of the covenant; or whether the mediator be Jesus Christ, as the one Mediator between God and man.

Verse 10

(10) When he prayed for his friends.—Job’s personal discipline was not complete till he passed from the sphere of his own sorrows to the work of intercession for his friends, and it was through the very act of this self-oblivion and self-sacrifice that his own deliverance was brought about. When he prayed for his friends, we are told, the Lord turned his own captivity: that is, restored and re-instated him in prosperity even greater than before.

This is the true moral of all human history, which is to be accomplished in the world of the regeneration, if not here. All sorrow is fraught with the promise and the hope of future blessedness, and to know that is to rob sorrow of its pain. It is impossible to reap the full gain of it when the burden presses, but, as far as it can be done, sorrow is mitigated. Had Job been able to look forward with confidence to his actual deliverance, he would have been able to bear his affliction; it was because he could not that all was dark. And after all there are sorrows and afflictions for which there is no deliverance like Job’s; there is a captivity which can never be turned in this life, and for this the only hope is the sure hope of the Gospel, and the promise which in its degree is afforded by the history of Job: for if Job’s is a representative history, as we are bound to believe it must be, then the lesson of it must be that what is not explained or mended here will be explained and mended hereafter. It is God alone who can enlighten the darkness which surrounds His counsels; but at the same time we must remember that with Him is the well of life, and in His light we shall see light.

Verse 11

(11) Every man also gave him a piece of money.—The Hebrew word is kesîtâh, which is found also in the narrative of Jacob’s purchase of the field of the children of Hamor (Genesis 33:19). Some have supposed, from a comparison of this passage with Genesis 23:16, which relates the corresponding transaction between Abraham and the sons of Heth, that the value of the kesîtâh was four shekels, but this is, of course, not certain from these narratives. Tradition says that the kesîtâh was a coin with the figure of & lamb stamped upon it.

Verse 12

(12) Fourteen thousand sheep.—The number of Job’s cattle here is exactly the double of those in Job 1:3. That Job’s latter end should be blessed had been the promise of all his friends (Job 5:24, &c., Job 8:7-20, &c., Job 11:16, &c., 22:27, &c.), but then it was hampered with a condition which involved the falsehood of all Job’s previous life, and it was the unjust imputation of this falsehood to Job which was an offence against the truth of God, and Was so regarded by Him. Truth had to be violated in order that God’s justice might stand, which was the greatest possible offence and indignity to the Divine justice.

Verse 14

(14) Jemima.—This name perhaps means as fair as the day.

Keziai.e., cassia, an aromatic bark, much prized by the ancients. (See Psalms 45:9.)

Kerenhappuchi.e., the horn for containing kohl for the eyes. The Eastern women are in the habit of painting the upper part of the eyelids with stibium, so that a black edge is formed about them and they seem larger. (See 2 Kings 9:30; Jeremiah 4:30.) The meaning of this name is the paint-box for this purpose.

Verse 16

(16) An hundred and forty years.—The particularity of this detail forbids us to suppose that the character of Job was other than real; his great age also shows that he must be referred to the very early patriarchal times, probably anterior to Moses.

Verse 17

(17) So Job died, being old and full of days.—Such is the close of this mysterious book, which deals with the greatest problems that can engage the human mind, and shows us the way in which the ancients solved them, and the help which God vouchsafed them, apart from His covenant revelation and before the dawning of the Gospel light. And the great lesson of the history is the way in which the malice of Satan is foiled. He had insinuated that all service of God was interested and done for advantage. Job had clearly shown that he was capable of loving God even under the most severe afflictions; and the issue which was eventually brought about was no contradiction of this fact, inasmuch as it was entirely hidden from Job till long after his probation was ended, and therefore could have no influence upon his patience and faith. It is remarkable that Job is only twice mentioned in Scripture, once in the Old Testament and once in the New. Ezekiel was acquainted with Job’s history (Job 14:14; Job 14:20), and St. James (Job 5:11) refers to him as a familiar standard of patience. It is evident, however, that the Book of Job was well known, from the many instances in the Psalms and elsewhere in which we find traces of the influence produced by familiarity with the language of the book.

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Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Job 42". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ebc/job-42.html. 1905.