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Tuesday, October 3rd, 2023
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26
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Bible Commentaries
Job 11

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-20

Job 11:3 . Thy lies; that is, thy device, as in the margin; jactantias tuas, thy boastings, the delicacy of thy turns of speech, to extenuate thy sins: He does not mean gross lies and untruths, because he speaks with deference in Job 11:14, “If iniquity be in thy hand.” This princely patriarch possessed a mind highly enlightened with regard to providence, and was incomparably eloquent, yet totally dark with regard to the case of Job. Those three men ceased to answer Job, it is said, because he was righteous in his own eyes: Job 32:1.

Job 11:6 . The secrets of wisdom, that they are double to that which is. The LXX, οτι διπλους εσται των κατα σε , “that it is double what is with thee;” it infinitely transcends the wisdom thou hast displayed, or art acquainted with.

Job 11:12 . Vain man would be wise. Ergo vir fungosus corde induatur. Schultens. Then man is elated with vanity of heart, though born like the ass’s colt, in all his efforts to justify himself before the Almighty. The Vulgate reads, Vir vanus in superbiam erigitur, et tanquam pullum onagri se liberum natum putat. “Vain man is elated with pride, and thinks himself born free as the wild ass’s colt;” that is, proud and self-sufficient, he asserts a haughty independence, and forgets his responsibility to God.

Job 11:17 . Thine age shall be clearer than the noon-day. Nothing can exceed the pleasures felt in the contemplation of a countenance full of days, full of wisdom, and full of grace. Such, no doubt, were the aspects of Job, after his restoration.

Job 11:18 . Thou shalt be secure from the wild beasts, and invading foes. Two grand promises to patriarchs in ancient times. Thou shalt dig; that is, prepare thy sepulchre in the assurance of hope. So all the fathers, and our Bede interpret this text. It cannot mean the low idea of digging wells for cattle; of wells he had an ample supply.


In the sixteenth century, in the university of Oxford, when one day the disputations were open to the public, a poor countryman was often noticed to attend. He was asked why he so frequently attended the hall, seeing he did not understand the terms; for at that time literature and theology were spiced with Latin phrases from the school-men. The poor man answered, that although he did not understand the terms, yet he knew very well who was best at argument, for he who was worsted always grew angry. This remark applies to Zophar. Confident that God was righteous in his judgments, and that Job must be wicked in his practice, he had no patience to hear a man testify his innocence, seeing God had fought against him with robbers, with lightnings, and with a great wind. But both his friends having pleaded for God in vain, and having no resource of arguments, except putting the old ones in a new dress, he endeavours to supply the defect by the vehemence of passion. Should thy lies impose silence on the public; and when thou mockest at the fairest vindications of providence, shall no man make thee ashamed? Thou hast justified thyself; thou hast impeached the Lord; thou hast said, my doctrine is pure, I am clean in my own eyes.

Zophar, conscious of the weakness of his argument to demonstrate the peculiar guilt of Job, implores heaven to advocate his cause. Oh that God would speak, and open his lips against thee; that he would show thee the secrets of wisdom, which are double to what mortals know.

Zophar, confident that God exacted of Job less than his iniquity deserved, presumes that his pleas of innocence arose from his ignorance of providence. Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty to perfection? The motive which induces him to afflict a mortal is high as heaven, what canst thou do? It is deep as hell, what canst thou know? All these are sublime reasonings on the grandeur and perfections of God. So St. Paul exclaimed, when he viewed the judgments of God on the jews, and the conversion of the gentiles; oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God: how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!

Zophar traces back the ignorance of humankind to its real cause, original sin. Vain man would be wise, and he affects to know, though born like the wild ass’s colt; a beast so unmanageable that he mocks at the driver: Job 39:5; Job 39:7. Here is a plain declaration, that however apt children may be to learn vanity and play, yet in the acquisition of sacred knowledge, and in the efforts of devotion, man is obstructed in the progress by a depravity of heart entailed from his birth. The emphasis is not here laid on ignorance, which is common to every creature, but on the peculiar untractableness of the wild ass.

Zophar, having relieved himself by a warm effusion of soul, next exhorts Job, if he would in this manner stretch out his hands to God, and call upon him in prayer, to put away his sin whatever it might be. This also is sound advice. No man should approach the just and holy One, but with a pure purpose, with unfeigned repentance, and all its proper fruits. The plowing of the wicked is sin: and if I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear my prayer.

If Job thus approached God, he is promised that not the curse, but the blessing, should be his portion. His confidence should be restored; he should lift up his face without spot. He should have no fear, he should be delivered from his trouble, he should forget his misery, and shine in prosperity like the meridian sun. On the other hand it is intimated, though in the third person, that the eyes of the wicked should fail, and that in their last moments they give up the ghost with the utmost horror and reluctance, being destitute of hope.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Job 11". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/job-11.html. 1835.
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