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Bible Commentaries
Job 4

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

Verses 1-21

Job 4:1 . Eliphaz answered, being the eldest, or the more eloquent.

Job 4:3 . Thou hast instructed many. The holy patriarchs were all preachers of righteousness on the sabbath days, &c, He admits that Job, as a preacher, was a son of consolation.

Job 4:6 . Is not this thy fear, thy confidence, the uprightness of thy ways, and thy hope? The reading of the Vulgate very much relieves this passage: “Where is thy fear, thy fortitude, thy patience, and the perfection of thy ways?”

Job 4:7 . Who ever perished, being innocent? Does not God break the teeth of the lions, the wicked, who hunt and persecute them?

Job 4:9 . By the blast of God they perish. Even lions are terrified with the louder storms of thunder, and their young ones are so frighted that they hide themselves; so in like manner shall the scourges and visitations of heaven appal the wicked. The constant reference to wild beasts and cattle designates the remotest antiquity of the book of Job.

Job 4:15 . Then a spirit passed before my face. Hebrews רוח ruach. The Messiah, the divine person, an angel, the wind. These are the comments of critics. The terrors of Eliphaz, and the erection of his hair, agree with the horror of great darkness which fell on Abraham, Genesis 15:12. And with those of Job 42:6, who, on seeing God, abhorred himself in dust and ashes. They agree with those of Elijah, who on hearing the still small voice, wrapped himself in his mantle. Awful darkness, wind, and flame, are the wonted symbols of divine communications. Our conclusion is, to agree with those critics who are decided that the glorious Being who spake to Eliphaz was really the Messiah, who spake in times past by various symbols to the fathers.


Eliphaz having received the storm of anguish uttered by Job, reproaches him who had consoled others, for fainting when the bitter cup was handed to him. And though ignorant of Job’s real case, he uses great discrepancy of argument. Enlightened and holy people often form very different views of providence, because they view it from different points. Hence as they grow wiser, having discovered the errors of confident youth, they become more sober and often diffident in age. Both David and Asaph allow that their faith was shook for a moment, when they saw the wicked fat and prosperous; and they were saved from their mistake by viewing the end of the ungodly. So also we are taught in the case of the rich man and Lazarus. Here Eliphaz erred: he spake before he had seen “the end of the Lord.” Well, he was now come to a great school: for the angels themselves were looking on to learn.

The vision which Eliphaz introduces is highly instructive. It indicates that he had laboured under many doubts and scruples of a moral and religious nature: the vision therefore had in view the gracious objects of self knowledge, and the abasement of human pride. Shall a mortal be more righteous than his Maker? If God puts no trust in angels; if he takes them not into his council, nor reveals to them even that greatest of affairs, the time of the day of judgment; what is man that he should arrogate to himself a language which arraigns the justice of his Maker? He is lower than the angels, he dwells in a house of clay, he is subject to vanity and death. In this delicacy of language, sanctioned by a vision with which he had been indulged for his own humiliation, Eliphaz intimates to Job that, as a sinner, he should not make those loud and bitter complaints against the wise and holy strokes of providence.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Job 4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/job-4.html. 1835.
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