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SECOND CHIEF DIVISION OF THE POEM
DISENTANGLEMENT OF THE MYSTERY THROUGH THE DISCOURSES OF JOB, ELIHU AND JEHOVAH
Job 29:1 to Job 42:6
First Stage of the Disentanglement
Job’s Soliloquy, setting forth the truth that his suffering was not due to his moral conduct, that it must have therefore a deeper cause. [The negative side of the solution of the problem.]
1. Yearning retrospect at the fair prosperity of his former life
a. Describing the outward appearance of this former prosperity
1 Moreover, Job continued his parable, and said:
2 O that I were as in months past,
as in the days when God preserved me;
3 when His candle shined upon my head,
and when by His light I walked through darkness;
4 as I was in the days of my youth.
when the secret of God was upon my tabernacle;
5 when the Almighty was yet with me,
when my children were about me;
6 when I washed my steps with butter,
and the rock poured me out rivers of oil;
7 when I went out to the gate through the city,
when I prepared my seat in the street!
8 The young men saw me, and hid themselves;
and the aged arose, and stood up.
9 The princes refrained talking,
and laid their hand on their mouth.
10 The nobles held their peace,
and their tongue cleaved to the roof of their mouth.
b. Pointing out the inward cause of this prosperity—his benevolence and integrity
11 When the ear heard me, then it blessed me;
and when the eye saw me, it gave witness to me:
12 because I delivered the poor that cried;
and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him.
13 The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me:
and I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy.
14 I put on righteousness, and it clothed me:
my judgment was as a robe and a diadem.
15 I was eyes to the blind,
and feet was I to the lame.
16 I was a father to the poor;
and the cause which I knew not I searched out.
17 And I brake the jaws of the wicked,
and plucked the spoil out of his teeth.
c. Describing that feature of his former prosperity which he now most painfully misses, viz., the universal honor shown to him, and his far-reaching influence: Job 29:18-25
18 Then I said, I shall die in my nest,
and I shall multiply my days as the sand.
19 My root was spread out by the waters,
and the dew lay all night upon my branch.
20 My glory was fresh in me,
and my bow was renewed in my hand.
21 Unto me men gave ear, and waited,
and kept silence at my counsel.
22 After my words they spake not again;
and my speech dropped upon them.
23 And they waited for me as for the rain;
and they opened their mouth wide as for the latter rain.
24 If I laughed on them, they believed it not;
and the light of my countenance they cast not down.
25 I chose out their way, and sat chief,
and dwelt as a king in the army,
as one that comforteth the mourners.
2. Sorrowful description of his present sad estate
a. The ignominy and contempt he receives from men: Job 30:1-15
1 But now they that are younger than I have me in derision,
whose fathers I would have disdained
to have set with the dogs of my flock.
2 Yea, whereto might the strength of their hands profit me,
in whom old age was perished?
3 For want and famine they were solitary;
fleeing into the wilderness
in former time desolate and waste.
4 Who cut up mallows by the bushes,
and juniper roots for their meat.
5 They were driven forth from among men,
(they cried after them as after a thief);
6 To dwell in the cliffs of the valleys,
in caves of the earth, and in the rocks.
7 Among the bushes they brayed;
under the nettles they were gathered together.
8 They were children of fools, yea, children of base men;
they were viler than the earth.
9 And now am I their song,
yea, I am their byword.
10 They abhor me, they flee far from me,
and spare not to spit in my face.
11 Because He hath loosed my cord, and afflicted me,
they have also let loose the bridle before me.
12 Upon my right hand rise the youth;
they push away my feet,
and they raise up against me the ways of their destruction.
13 They mar my path,
they set forward my calamity,
they have no helper.
14 They came upon me as a wide breaking in of waters;
in the desolation they rolled themselves upon me.
15 Terrors are turned upon me:
they pursue my soul as the wind:
and my welfare passeth away as a cloud.
b. The unspeakable misery which everywhere oppresses him: Job 30:16-23
16 And now my soul is poured out upon me;
the days of affliction have taken hold upon me.
17 My bones are pierced in me in the night season;
and my sinews take no rest.
18 By the great force of my disease is my garment changed:
it bindeth me about as the collar of my coat.
19 He hath cast me into the mire,
and I am become like dust and ashes.
20 I cry unto Thee, and Thou dost not hear me:
I stand up, and Thou regardest me not.
21 Thou art become cruel to me;
with Thy strong hand Thou opposest Thyself against me.
22 Thou liftest me up to the wind;
Thou causest me to ride upon it,
and dissolvest my substance.
23 For I know that Thou wilt bring me to death,
and to the house appointed for all living.
c. The disappointment of all his hopes: Job 30:24-31
24 Howbeit he will not stretch out his hand to the grave,
though they cry in his destruction.
25 Did not I weep for him that was in trouble?
was not my soul grieved for the poor?
26 When I looked for good, then evil came unto me;
and when I waited for light, there came darkness.
27 My bowels boiled, and rested not:
the days of affliction prevented me.
28 I went mourning without the sun:
I stood up, and I cried in the congregation.
29 I am a brother to dragons,
and a companion to owls.
30 My skin is black upon me,
and my bones are burned with heat.
31 My harp also is turned to mourning,
and my organ into the voice of them that weep.
3. Solemn asseveration of his innocence in respect to all open and secret sins
a. He has abandoned himself to no wicked lust: Job 31:1-8
1 I made a covenant with mine eyes;
why then should I think upon a maid?
2 For what portion of God is there from above?
and what inheritance of the Almighty from on high?
3 Is not destruction to the wicked?
and a strange punishment to the workers of iniquity?
4 Doth not He see my ways,
and count all my steps?
5 If I have walked with vanity,
or if my foot hath hasted to deceit;
6 let me be weighed in an even balance,
that God may know mine integrity.
7 If my step hath turned out of the way,
and mine heart walked after mine eyes,
and if any blot hath cleaved to mine hands;
8 then let me sow, and let another eat;
yea, let my offspring be rooted out.
b. He has acted uprightly in all his domestic life: Job 31:9-13
9 If mine heart have been deceived by a woman,
or if I have laid wait at my neighbor’s door;
10 then let my wife grind unto another,
and let others bow down upon her.
11 For this is a heinous crime;
yea, it is an iniquity to be punished by the judges.
12 For it is a fire that consumeth to destruction,
and would root out all mine increase.
13 If I did despise the cause of my man-servant, or of my maid-servant,
when they contended with me;
14 what then shall I do when God riseth up?
and when He visiteth, what shall I answer Him?
15 Did not He that made me in the womb make him?
and did not One fashion us in the womb?
c. He has constantly practised neighborly kindness and Justice in civil life: Job 31:16-23
16 If I have withheld the poor from their desire,
or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail;
17 or have eaten my morsel myself alone,
and the fatherless hath not eaten thereof:
18 (for from my youth he was brought up with me, as with a father,
and I have guided her from my mother’s womb;)
19 if I have seen any perish for want of clothing,
or any poor without covering;
20 if his loins have not blessed me,
and if he were not warmed with the fleece of my sheep;
21 if I have lifted up my hand against the fatherless,
when I saw my help in the gate;
22 then let mine arm fall from my shoulder blade,
and mine arm be broken from the bone!
23 For destruction from God was a terror to me,
and by reason of His highness I could not endure.
d. He has not violated his more secret obligations to God and his neighbor: Job 31:24-32
24 If I have made gold my hope,
or have said to the fine gold, Thou art my confidence;
25 if I rejoiced because my wealth was great,
and because mine hand had gotten much;
26 if I beheld the sun when it shined,
or the moon walking in brightness;
27 and my heart hath been secretly enticed,
or my mouth hath kissed my hand:
28 this also were an iniquity to be punished by the judge;
for I should have denied the God that is above.
29 If I rejoiced at the destruction of him that hated me,
or lifted up myself when evil found him:
30 (—neither have I suffered my mouth to sin
by wishing a curse to his soul:)
31 if the men of my tabernacle said not,
O that we had of his flesh! we cannot be satisfied.
32 The stranger did not lodge in the street:
but I opened my doors to the traveller.
e. He has been guilty furthermore of no hypocrisy, or mere semblance of holiness, of no secret violence, or avaricious oppression of his neighbor: Job 31:33-40
33 If I covered my transgressions as Adam,
by hiding mine iniquity in my bosom:
34 did I fear a great multitude,
or did the contempt of families terrify me,
that I kept silence, and went not out of the door?
35 O that one would hear me!
behold, my desire is that the Almighty would answer me,
and that mine adversary had written a book.
36 Surely I would take it upon my shoulder,
and bind it as a crown to me.
37 I would declare unto Him the number of my steps;
as a prince would I go near unto Him.
38 If my land cry against me,
or that the furrows likewise thereof complain;
39 If I have eaten the fruits thereof without money,
or have caused the owners thereof to lose their life;
40 Let thistles grow instead of wheat,
and cockle instead of barley.
The words of Job are ended.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
1. Although introduced by the same formula as the discourse immediately preceding (comp. Job 29:1 with Job 27:1), this last long series of Job’s utterances exhibits decidedly a μετάβασις εἰς ἄλλο γένος, a form and method esssentially new in comparison with the former controversial and argumentative discourses of the colloquy. They are not once addressed to the friends, who since Job 25:0. have been entirely silenced, and have not been provoked to further reply even by the elaborate instructions, which he imparts to them in Job 27-28. Instead of this they frequently appeal to God, and present, especially in the last section, a long series of solemn asseverations or adjurations uttered before God. They thus appear, in contrast with the interlocutory character of the discourses hitherto, as a genuine soliloquy by Job, which both by its contents and by its conspicuous length, forms a suitable transition to the following discourses, or groups of discourses by Elihu and Jehovah, which are in like manner of considerable length. The three principal sections are a yearning retrospect to the happy past (Job 29:0), a description of the sorrowful present (Job 30:0), and solemn asseverations of innocence in presence of the divine judge, or God of the Future (Job 31:0). These divisions are very obvious, and justify the divisions into chapters founded on them as corresponding strictly to that intended by the poet himself. Neither can there be much doubt in regard to the more special sub-division of these chief divisions. The first and the second contain respectively three long sub-divisions or strophes, of 8–9 verses each (once only, Job 30:1 seq. of 15 verses, which long strophe indeed may also be divided into two shorter ones of 8 and 7 verses. In the third part there appear quite distinctly five groups of thought of 7–8 (once of 9) verses each.
2. First Division: The prosperity of the past: Job 29:0. [“It is very thoughtfully planned by the poet that Job, by this description of his former prosperity, unintentionally refutes the accusations of his friends, inasmuch as it furnishes a picture of his former life very different from that which they had ventured to assume. We have here the picture of a rich and highly distinguished chief of a tribe [or patriarch], who was happy only in spreading abroad happiness and blessing.” Schlottmann].
First Strophe: Job 29:2-10 : The outward appearance of this former prosperity.
Job 29:2. Oh that it were to me [Oh that I were] as in months of yore! lit. “who gives (makes) me like the months of the past,” who puts me back in the happy condition of that time (so Rosenm., Welte, Vaih, etc.). Or, with the dative rendering of the suffix in יִתְּנֵנִי (as in Isaiah 27:4; Jeremiah 9:1), “who gives to me like the months of the past,” i. e. who makes me to live over such! (so usually). On the construction in b (the constr. state כימי before the relative clause), comp. Gesenius, § 116, [§ 114], 3. [Green, §255, 2].
Job 29:3. When it (viz.) His lamp shone above my head.—בְּהִלּוֹ, Inf. Kal of הלל with the vowel a weakened to i (Ewald, § 255, a) [Green, § 139, 2], not Inf. Hiph. as Böttcher would render it, when after the Targ. he translates: “when He caused His lamp to shine.” This Hiphil rendering could only be justified if (with Ewald in his comm.) we should read בָּהִלּוֹ (בַּהֲהִלּוֹ). [“Probably alluding to the custom of suspending lamps in rooms or tents over the head. The language of this ver. is of course figurative, and implies prosperity and the divine favor.” Carey]. On the anticipation of the subject נֵרוֹ by the suffix, comp. Ew., § 309, c. Delitzsch quite too artificially refers the suffix in בהלי to God, and takes נֵרוֹ as a self-corrective, explanatory permutative: “when He, His lamp shone, etc.”
Job 29:4. As I was in the days of my harvest.—כַּאֲשֶׁר, “as, according as,” resumes the simple כְּ in כירחי and כימי, Job 29:2. “The days of the harvest” are, as Job 29:5 b shows, a figurative expression for ripe manhood [“the days of my prime” Carey], the ætas virilis suis fructibus fœta et exuberans (Schultens): comp. Ovid Metam. XV. 200. [The rendering of E. V. “in the days of my youth” (after Symmach. and the Vulg.) is less correct, as is shown by the reference above to Job 29:5 b, the time referred to being that when he had his children about him, as well as by the word חרף itself, which means the time when the ripe fruit is gathered]. When Eloah’s friendship was over my tent;i. e. dispensed protection and blessing above my habitation. סוֹד here meaning “familiarity, confidential intercourse,” (as in Job 19:19; Psalms 25:14; Psalms 55:15 ; Proverbs 3:22), not the celestial council of God, as in Job 15:8 (against Hirzel). [“בְּסוֹד either by ellipsis for בִּהְיוֹת סוֹד or סוֹד having the force of an active [verbal] noun, “His being familiar.” Dillm.—Carey’s explanation, though pushing the literal rendering a little too far, is striking: “lit. in the seat or cushion of God being at my tent; i. e., when God was on such terms of familiar intercourse with me that he had, as it were, his accustomed seat at my tent”].
Job 29:5. On children as a most highly valued blessing, placed here next to God Himself, comp. Psalms 127:3 seq.; Psalms 128:3. Concerning נערים): in this sense (not in that of “servants,”) see above Job 1:19; Job 24:5.
Job 29:6. When my steps were bathed in cream (comp. Job 20:17, where however we have the full form הֶמְאָה), and the rock beside me poured out streams of oil; that which elsewhere was barren poured out costly blessings, and that close by his side, so that he was not compelled to go far; comp. Deuteronomy 32:13.
Job 29:7-10. The honor and dignity which he then enjoyed. When I went forth to the gate up to the city. שׁער is equivalent to שַׁעֲרָה, towards the gate (comp. Job 28:11; Genesis 27:3), not: “out at the gate” (as below, Job 31:34פֶּתַח), for Job’s residence was in the country, not in the city with שׁערים. For this same reason he speaks here of his going up עֲלֵי קֶרֶת, “up to the city;” for the city adjoining to him, was on an eminence, as was usually the case with ancient cities. [Comp. Abraham’s relations to Hebron, as indicated in Genesis 23:0.]. In respect to the use of the space directly inside the gates of these cities as a place for assemblies of the people, comp. above, Job 5:4; also Job 31:4; Proverbs 1:21; Proverbs 8:3, and often. When I prepared my seat in the market. רְחוֹב the open space at the gate, as in Nehemiah 8:1; Nehemiah 8:3; Nehemiah 8:16, etc. On the construction (the change from the Infin. to the finite verb), comp. Job 29:3; Job 28:25.
Job 29:8. Then the young men saw me, and hid themselves;i. e. as soon as they came in sight of me, from reverential awe. And the gray-headed rose up, remained standing—until I myself had sat. [“A most elegant description, and exhibits most correctly the great reverence and respect which was paid, even by the old and decrepit, to the holy man in passing along the streets, or when he sat in public. They not only rose, which in men so old and infirm was a great mark of distinction, but they stood, they continued to do it, though the attempt was so difficult.” Lowth]. On the construction, comp. Ewald, §285, b.
Job 29:9. Princes restrained themselves from speaking (עָצַר בְּמִלִּים, as in Job 4:2; Job 12:15), and laid the hand on their mouth, imposed on themselves reverential silence; comp. Job 21:5. [“What is meant is not that those who were in the act of speaking stopped at Job’s entrance, but that when he wished to speak, even princes, i. e. rulers of great bodies of men, or those occupying the highest offices, refrained from speech.” Dillmann].
Job 29:10. The voice of nobles hid itself, lit. “hid themselves,” for the verb נֶחְבָּאוּ is put in agreement with the plur. dependent on קוֹל as the principal term, as in the similar cases in Job 15:20; Job 21:21; Job 22:12. [Comp. Green, § 277].—נְגִידִים lit. “those who are visible” (from נגד) i. e. conspicuous, noble [nobiles]. On b comp. passages like Psalms 137:6; Ezekiel 3:26.
Continuation. Second Strophe: Job 29:11-17. Job’s active benevolence and strict integrity as the inward cause of his former prosperity.
Job 29:11. For if an ear heard—it called me happy—lit. “for an ear heard, and then called me happy;” and similarly in the second member. The object of the hearing, as afterwards of the seeing, is neither Job’s speeches in the assembly of the people [“if this ver. were a continuation of the description of the proceedings in the assembly, it would not be introduced by כִּי” Dillm.], nor his prosperity (Hahn, Delitzsch), but as Job 29:12 seq. shows, his whole public and private activity. [For the reason mentioned by Dillmann כִּי is better translated “for” than “when” (E. V.)]. In regard to אִשֵּׁר “to pronounce happy,” comp. Proverbs 31:28; Song of Solomon 6:9. In regard to הֵעִיד, to bear favorable testimony to any one, comp. μαρτυρεῖν τινιLuk 4:22; Acts 15:8.
Job 29:12. For I delivered the poor, that cried, and the orphan, who had no helper (וְלֹא־עֹזִרִ לֹו a circumstantial clause, comp. Ew., § 331). [The clause “is either a third new object (so E. V.)], or a close definition of what precedes: the orphan and (in this state of orphanhood) helpless one. The latter is more probable both here and in the Salomonic primary passage Psalms 72:12; in the other case ואשׁר אין־עזר לו might be expected.” Delitz.]. The Imperfects describing that which is wont to be, as also in Job 29:13; Job 29:16. As to the sentiment, comp. Psalms 72:12.
Job 29:13. The blessing of the lost (lit. “of one lost, perishing;” אוֹבֵד as in Job 31:19; Proverbs 31:6) came upon me;i. e., as b shows, the grateful wish that he might be blessed from such miserable ones as had been rescued by him, hardly the actual blessing which God bestowed on him in answer to the prayer of such (comp. Hernias, Past. Simil. 2).
Job 29:14. I had clothed myself with righteousness, and it with me;i. e., in proportion as I exerted myself to exercise righteousness (צֶדֶק) toward my neighbor, the same [righteousness] took form, filled me inwardly in truth [“it put me on as a garment, i. e., it made me so its own, that my whole appearance was the representation of itself, as in Judges 6:34, and twice in the Chron., of the Spirit of Jehovah it is said that He puts on any one, induit, when He makes any one the organ of His own manifestation,” Delitzsch. “Righteousness was as a robe to me, and I was as a robe to it. I put it on, and it put me on; it identified itself with me.” Words.] Not: “and it clothed me,” as Rosenmüller, Arnh., Umbr. [E. V., Schlottm., Carey, Renan, Rod., Elz., etc.], arbitrarily render the second לבשׁ, thereby producing only a flat tautology. [Ewald also: “it adorned me.”—The other rendering is adopted, or approved by Gesen., Fürst, Delitzsch, Dillmann, Wordsworth, Noyes in his Notes]. The figure of being clothed with a moral quality or way of living to represent one as equipped, or adorned therewith, (comp. Isaiah 11:5; Isaiah 51:9; Isaiah 59:17; Psalms 132:9), is continued in the second member, where Job’s strict righteousness and spotless integrity (this is what מִשְׁפָּט means; comp. Micah 3:8) are represented as “a mantle and a tiara (turban);” comp. Isaiah 61:10.
Job 29:15. Comp. Numbers 10:31. To be anybody’s eye, ear, foot (here “feet”), etc., is of course to supply these organs by the loving ministration of help, and to make it possible as it were to dispense with them.
Job 29:16. On a comp. Isaiah 9:5; Isaiah 22:21.—אָב and אֶבְיוֹנִים seem to form a paronomasia here.—And the cause of the unknown [the strangers, the friendless] I searched out, i. e., in order to help them as their advocate, provided they were in the right.—לֹא יָדַעְתִּי, attributive clause, as in Job 18:21; Isaiah 41:3; Isaiah 55:5, and often. [E. V., “the cause which I knew not” is admissible, and gives essentially the same sense; but the other rendering is to be preferred, as furnishing a better parallel to the “blind, lame, poor,” preceding.—The man whom nobody knew, or cared for, Job would willingly take for his client.—E.].
Job 29:17. I broke the teeth of the wicked (the cohortative, וַֽאֲשַׁבְּרָה, as in Job 1:15; Job 19:20), and out of his teeth I plucked the prey.—For the description of hardhearted oppressors and tyrants (or unrighteous judges, of whom we are to think particularly here), under the figure of ravaging wild beasts, from which the prey is rescued, comp. Psalms 3:8 [Psalms 3:7]; Psalms 58:7 [Psalms 58:6], etc.
4. Conclusion: Third Strophe: Job 29:18-25. The honor and the influence which Job once enjoyed, and the loss of which he mourns with especial sorrow.
Job 29:18. And so then I thought [said]: With my neat [“together with my nest,” as implying a wish that he and his nest might perish together, would be “unnatural, and diametrically opposed to the character of an Arab, who in the presence of death cherishes the twofold wish that he may continue to live in his children, and that he may die in the midst of his family,” Delitzsch] (or also: “in my nest”) shall I die;i. e., without having left or lost my home, together with my family, and property (comp. Psalms 84:4 ), hence in an advanced, happy old age.—And like the phenix have many days: lit., “make many, multiply my days.” The language also would admit of our rendering חוֹל “sand,” understanding the expression to refer to the multiplication of days like grains of sand; comp. “as the sand of the sea” in 1 Kings 5:9 [1 Kings 4:29 applying to Solomon’s wisdom] and often; also Ovid, Metam. XIV. 136 seq.: quot haberet corpora pulvis, tot mihi natales contingere vana rogavi. But against this interpretation, which is adopted by the Targ., Pesh., Saad., Luther, Umbreit, Gesenius, Stickel, Vaih., Hahn, [E. V., Con., Noy., Ber., Carey, Words., Renan, Rodwell, Merx], and in favor of understanding חוֹל of the phenix, that long-lived bird of the well-known oriental legend (so most moderns since Rosenmüller) may be urged: (1) The oldest exegetical tradition in the Talmud, in the Midrashim, among the Masoretes and Rabbis (especially Kimchi); (2) the versions—manifestly proceeding out of a misconception of this phenix tradition—of the LXX.: ωσπερ στέλεχος φοίνικος; of the Itala: sicut arbor palmæ, and of the Vulg.: sicut palma; (3) and finally even the etymology of the word חוֹל (or חוּל, as the Rabbis of Nahardearead, according to Kimchi) which it would seem must be derived (with Bochart) from חולtorquere, volvere, and be explained “circulation, periodic return,” and even in its Egyptian form Koli (Copt.; alloe) is to be traced back to this Shemitic radical signification (among the ancient Egyptians indeed the chief name of the phenix was béni, hierogl. bano, benno, which at the same time signifies “palm”). The phrase—“to live as long as the phenix” is found also among other people of antiquity besides the Egyptians, e. g., among the Greeks (φοίνικος ἔτη βιοῦν, Lucian, Hermot., p. 53); and the whole legend concerning the phenix living for five hundred years, then burning itself together with its nest, and again living glorified, is in general as ancient as it is widely spread, especially in the East. Therefore it can neither seem strange, nor in any way objectionable, if a poetical book of the Holy Scripture should make reference to this myth (comp. the allusions to astronomical and other myths in Job 3:9; 26:28). Touching the proposition that the Egyptian nationality of the poet, or the Egyptian origin of his ideas does not follow from this passage, see above, Introd., § 7, b (where may also be found the most important literary sources of information respecting the legend of the phenix).
Job 29:19-20 continue the expression, begun in Job 29:18, of that which Job thought and hoped for. [According to E. V., Job 29:19 resumes the description of Job’s former condition: “My root was spread out, etc.” But these two verses are so different from the passage preceding, (Job 29:11-25), in which Job speaks of his deeds of beneficence, and from the passage following (Job 29:21-25) in which he describes his influence in the public assembly, and so much in harmony with Job 29:18, in which he speaks of his prospects, as they seemed to his hopes, that the connection adopted by Zöckler, and most recent expositors, is decidedly to be preferred.—E.].
Job 29:19. My root will be open towards the water:i. e., my life will flourish, like a tree plentifully watered (comp. Job 14:7 seq.; Job 18:16), and the dew will lie all night in my branches (comp. the same passages; also Genesis 27:39; Proverbs 19:12; Psalms 133:3, etc.)
Job 29:20. Mine honor will remain (ever) fresh with me (כָּבוֹד = δόξα, consideration, dignity, honor with God and men—not “soul” as Hahn explains [“to which חָדָשׁ is not appropriate as predicate,” Del.], and my bow is renewed in my hand—the bow as a symbol of robust manliness, and strength for action, comp. 1 Samuel 2:4; Psalms 46:10 [Psalms 46:9]; Psalms 76:4 [Psalms 76:3]; Jeremiah 49:35; Jeremiah 51:56, etc.—הֶחֱלִיף, to make progress, to sprout forth (Job 14:7); here to renew oneself, to grow young again. It is not necessary to supply, e.g., כֹּחַ, as Hirzel and Schlottmann do, on the basis of Isaiah 40:31.
Job 29:21. seq., exhibit in connection with the joyful hopes of Job, just described, which flowed forth directly out of the fulness of his prosperity, and in particular of the honor which he enjoyed, a full description of this honor, the narrative style of the discourse by וָאֹמַר, Job 29:18, being resumed. Job 29:21-23 have for their subject others than Job himself, the members of his tribe, not specially those who took part in the assemblies described in Job 29:7-10; for which reason it is unnecessary to assume a transposition, of the passage after Job 29:10.
Job 29:21. They hearkened to me, and waited (יִחֵלּוּ, pausal form, with Dagh. euphonic for יִחֲלוּ, comp. Gesen. § 20, 2 c), and listened silently to my counsel (lit. “and were silent for or at my counsel”).
Job 29:22. After my words they spoke not again—lit. “they did not repeat” (וִשְׁנוּ, non iterabant). On b comp. Deuteronomy 32:2; Song of Solomon 4:11; Proverbs 5:3.
Job 29:23. Further expansion of the figure last used of the refreshing [rain-like] dropping of his discourse. They opened their mouth wide as for the latter rain.—The מַלְקוֹשׁ, or latter rain in March or April, is, on account of the approaching harvest, which it helps to ripen, longed for with particular urgency in Palestine and the adjacent countries; comp. Deuteronomy 11:14; Jeremiah 3:3; Jeremiah 5:24; Joel 2:23; Hosea 6:3, etc. On שָׁאַף = פָּעַר פֶּה, to gape, pant, comp. Psalms 119:131.
Job 29:24. I laughed upon them when they despaired—lit. “when they did not have confidence” (הֶאֱמִון, absol. as in Isaiah 7:9; comp. Psalms 116:10; and יַאֲמִינוּ a circumstantial clause without וְ—this lacking וְ, however, being supplied in many MSS. and Eds.). The meaning can be only: “even when they were despondent, I knew how to cheer them up by my friendly smiles.” This is the only meaning with which the second member agrees which cannot harmonize with the usual explanation: “I smiled at them, they believed it not” (LXX., Vulg., Saad., Luther [E. V., Noy., Rod., Ren., Merx], and most moderns). [“The reverence in which I was held was so great, that if I laid aside my gravity, and was familiar with them, they could scarcely believe that they were so highly honored; my very smiles were received with awe” Noyes]. And the light of my countenance (i. e., my cheerful visage, comp. Proverbs 16:15) they could not darken; lit. “they could not cause to fall, cast down,” comp. Genesis 4:5-6 Jeremiah 3:12.—[“However despondent their position appeared, the cheerfulness of my countenance they could not cause to pass away.” Del.]
Job 29:25. I would gladly take the way to them (comp. Job 28:23); i. e., I took pleasure in sitting in the midst of them, and in taking part in affairs. This is the only meaning that is favored by what follows;—the rendering of Hahn and Delitzsch: “I chose out for them the way they should go” [“I made the way plain which they should take in order to get out of their hopeless and miserable state.” Del This is the meaning also suggested by E. V.] is opposed by the consideration that בחר, “to choose,” never means “to prescribe, determine, enjoin.” In the passage which follows, “sitting as chief” (רֹאשׁ) is immediately defined more in the concrete by the clause, כְּמֶלֶךְ בַּגְּדוּד, “like a king in the midst of the army;” but then the I altogether too military aspect of this figure (comp. Job 15:24; Job 19:12) is again softened by making the business of the king surrounded by his armies to be not leading them to battle, but “comforting the mourners.” Whether in this expression there is intended a thrust at the friends on account of their unskilful way of comforting (as Ewald and Dillmann think), may very much be doubted.
Second Division: The wretchedness of the present. Chap. 30. First Strophe (or Double Strophe). Job 30:1-15. The ignominy and contempt which he receives from men, put in glaring contrast with the high honor just described. The contrast is heightened all the more by the fact that the men now introduced as insulting and mocking him are of the very lowest and most contemptible sort; being the same class of men whose restless, vagabond life has already been described in Job 24:4-8, only more briefly than here.
Job 30:1. And now they laugh at me who are younger than I in days—the good-for-nothing rabble of children belonging to that abandoned class. What a humiliation for him before whom the aged stood up! [“The first line of the verse which is marked off by Mercha-Mahpach is intentionally so disproportionately long to form a deep and long-breathed beginning to the lamentation which is now begun.” Del.] They whose fathers I would have disdained to set with the dogs of my flock (שִׂית עִם, “to make like, to put on a level with,” not to set over, שִׂית עַל, præficere, as Schultens, Rosemn., Schlottm. explain). From this strong expression of contempt it does not follow that Job was now indulging in haughty or tyrannical inhuman thoughts [the considerate sympathy expressed by Job in Job 24:4-8 regarding this same class of men should be borne in mind in judging of Job’s spirit here also; yet it cannot be denied that the pride of the grand dignified old Emir does flash through the words.—E.], but only that that rabble was immeasureably destitute, and moreover morally abandoned, thievish, false, improvident, and generally useless.
Job 30:2. Even the strength of their hands—what should it be to me?—i. e. “and even (LXX. καί γε) as regards themselves, those youngsters, of what use could the strength of their hands be to me?” Why this was of no use to him is explained in b:for them full ripeness is lost, i. e., enervated, miserable creatures that they are, they do not once reach ripe manly vigor (בֶּרַה as in Job 5:26). [Hence not “old age,” as in E. V., which is both less correct and less expressive.] Why they do not, the verses immediately following show.
Job 30:3. Through want and hunger (they are) starved; lit. they are “a hard stiff rock” גַּלְמוּד, as in Job 15:34); they, who gnaw the dry steppe;i. e., gnaw away (עקר as in Job 30:17) what grows there; comp. Job 24:5; which have long been a wild and a wilderness.—According to the parallel passages Job 38:27; and Zephaniah 1:15שׁוֹאָה וּמְשׁוֹאָה unquestionably signifies “waste and devastation,” or “wild and wilderness” (comp. תהו ובהו, Genesis 1:2; בוקה ומבוקה, Nahum 2:11; and similar examples of assonance). The אֶמֶשׁ preceding however is difficult. Elsewhere it is an adverb of time: “the past night, last evening [and so, yesterday],” but here evidently a substantive, and in the constr. state. It is explained to mean either: “the yesterday of wasteness and desolation,” i. e., “that which has long been wasteness,” etc. (Hirzel, Ewald) [Schlott., Renan, to whom may be added Good, Lee, Carey, Elzas, who connect אֶמֶשׁ with the participle, translating—” who yesterday were gnawers,” etc.], or: “the night, the darkness of the wilderness” (Targ., Rabbis, Gesen., Del.) [Noyes, Words., Barnes, Bernard, Rodwell, the last two taking שׁ׳ ,אמשׁand מש׳ as three independent nouns,—“gloom, waste, desolation”]. Of these constructions the former is to be preferred, since darkness appears nowhere else (not even in Jeremiah 2:6; Jeremiah 2:31) as a characteristic predicate of the wilderness,” and since especially the “gnawing of the darkness of the wilderness” produces a thought singularly harsh. Dillmann’s explanation: “already yesterday a pure wilderness” (where therefore there is nothing to be found to-day), is linguistically harsh; and Olshausen’s emendation—אֶרֶץ שׁ׳ ומ׳—arbitrary. [E. V. following the LXX. Targ., and most of the old expositors, translates הָעֹרְקִים “fleeing,” a rendering which besides being far less vivid and forcible, is less suitable, the desert being evipently their proper habitation. ערק in the sense of “gnawing” reminds of טרף, Job 24:5. It will be seen also that E. V. follows the adverbial construction of אמשׁ but “the wilderness in former time desolate and waste” suggests no very definite or consistent meaning. If a verbial, the force of אמשׁ must be to enhance the misery and hopelessness of their condition. They lived in what was not only now, but what had long been a desert—a fact which made the prospect of getting their support from it all the more cheerless.—E.].
Job 30:4. They who pluck the salt-wort by the bushes—in the place therefore where such small plants could first live, despite the scorching heat of the desert sun; in the shadow, that is, of larger bushes, especially of that perennial, branchy bush which is found in the Syrian desert under the name sîh, of which Wetzstein treats in Delitzsch.—מַלּוּחַ is the orach, salt-wort (also sea-purslain, atriplex halimus L. comp. LXX.: ἅλιμα), a plant which in its younger and more tender leaves furnishes some nourishment, although of a miserable sort; comp. Athenæus, Deipnos. IV., 161, where it is said of poor Pythagoreans: ἅλιμα τρώγοντες καὶ κακὰ τοιαῦτα συλλέγοντες.—And broom-roots are their bread.—That the root of the broom (genista monosperma) is edible, is indeed asserted only here; still we need not doubt it, nor read e. g., לַחֲמַם, “in order to warm themselves” (Gesenius), as though here as in Psalms 120:4, or the use of the broom as fuel was spoken of, Comp. Michaelis. Neue orient. Bibl. V, 45, and Wetzstein in Del. [II., 143.—And see Smith’s Bib. Dic., “Juniper,” “Mallows”].
Job 30:5. Out of the midst (of men) they are hunted, e medio pelluntur. נֵּו, lit. that which is within, i. e., here the circle of human social life, human society.—They cry after them as (after) a thief. כַּגַּנָּב, as though they were a thief; comp. כַּמָּטָר, Job 29:23.
Job 30:6. In the most horrid gorges they must dwell—lit. “in the horror of the gorges (in horridissima vallium regione; comp. Job 41:22; Ewald, § 313, c) it is for them to dwell;” comp. Gesen., § 132 (§ 129], Rem. 1.—In holes of the earth and of the rocks. Hence they were genuine troglodytes; see below after Job 30:8. Concerning עָפָר, “earth, ground,” see on Job 28:2.
Job 30:7. Among the bushes they cry out. נהק above in Job 6:5 of the cry of the wild ass, here of the wild tones of the savage inhabitants of the steppes seeking food,—not their sermo barbarus; Pineda, Schlottmann [who refers to Herodotus’ comparison of the language of the Ethiopian troglodytes to the screech of the night-owl. According to Delitzsch the word refers to their cries of lamentation and discontent over their desperate condition. There can be but little doubt that the word is intended to remind us of the comparison of these people to wild asses in Job 24:5, and so far the rendering of E. V. “bray,” is not amiss]. Under nettles (brambles) they herd together; lit. “they must mix together, gather themselves.” Most of the modern expositors render the Pual as a strict Passive, with the meaning, “they are poured [or stretched] out,” which would be equivalent to—“they lie down” [or are prostrate]; comp. Amos 6:4; Amos 6:7. But both the use of ספח in such passages as 1 Samuel 26:19; Isaiah 14:1, and the testimony of the most ancient Versions (Vulg., Targ., and indeed the LXX. also: διῃτῶντο) favor rather the meaning of herding, or associating together. [“But neither the fut. nor the Pual (instead of which one would expect the Niph., or Hithpa.) is favorable to the latter interpretation: wherefore we decide in favor of the former, and find sufficient support for a Heb.-Arabic ספח in the signification effundere from a comparison of Job 14:19 and the present passage.” Del.].
Job 30:8. Sons of fools, yea, sons of base men,—both expressions in opposition to the subject of the preceding verse. נבל is used as a collective, and means the ungodly, as in Psalms 14:1.—בְּלִי־שֵׁם, equivalent to ignobiles, infames, a construction similar to that in Job 26:2 [lit. “sons of no-name”]; comp. § 286, g.—They are -whipped out of the land; lit. indeed an attributive clause—“who are whipped,” etc.; hence exiles, those who are driven forth out of their own home. [The rendering of E. V., “they were viler than the earth” was doubtless suggested by the use of the adjective נָכֵא in the sense of “afflicted, dejected”]. In view of the palpable identity of those pictured in these verses with those described in Job 24:4-8, it is natural to assume the existence of a particular class of men in the country inhabited by Job as having furnished the historical occasion and theme of both descriptions. Since now in both passages a troglodyte way of living (dwelling in clefts of the rock and in obscure places, comp. above Job 24:4; Job 24:8) and the condition of having been driven out of their former habitations (comp. Job 24:4) are mentioned as prominent characteristics of these wretched ones, it be comes particularly probable that the people intended are the Choreans, or Chorites (Luther: Horites) [E. V.: “Horims”] who dwelt in holes, the aborigines of the mountain region of Seir, who were in part subjugated by the Edomites, in part exterminated, in part expelled (comp. Genesis 36:5; Deuteronomy 2:12; Deuteronomy 2:22). Even if Job’s home is to be looked for at some distance from Edomitis, e. g. in Hauran (comp. on. Job 1:1) a considerable number of such Chorites (חוֹרִים, i. e. dweller in holes, or caves) might have been living in his neighborhood; for driven out by the Edomites they would have fled more particularly into the neighboring regions of Seir-Edom, and here indeed again they would have betaken themselves to the mountains with their caves, gorges, where they would have lived the same wretched life as their ancestors, who had been left behind in Edom. It is less likely that a cave-dwelling people in Hauran, different from these remnant of the Horites, are intended, e. g. the Itureans, who were notorious for their poverty, and waylaying mode of life (Del. and Wetzst.).
Job 30:9. In the second half of the Long Strophe, which also begins with וְעַתָּה Job turns his attention away from the wretches whom he has been elaborately describing back to himself. And now I am become their song of derision, I am become to them for a byword.—נְגִינָה, elsewhere a stringed instrument, means here a song of derision, σίλλος (comp. Lamentations 3:14; Psalms 69:13 , מִלָּה, malicious, defamatory speech, referring to the subject of the same (LXX.: θρύλλημα).
Job 30:10. Abhorring me, they remove far from me (to wit, from very abhorrence), yea, they have not spared my face with spitting;i. e. when at any time they come near me, it is never without testifying their deepest contempt by spitting in my face (Matthew 26:67; Matthew 27:30). An unsuitable softening of the meaning is attempted by those expositors, who find expressed here merely “a spitting in his presence” (Hirzel, Umbreit, Schlottmann); this meaning would require לְפָנַי rather than מִפָּנַי. Comp. also above Job 17:6, where Job calls himself a תֹּפֶת לְפָנִים for the people.
Job 30:11 seq. show why Job had been in such a way given over to be mocked at by the most wretched, because namely God and the divine powers which cause calamity had delivered him, over to the same. For these are the principal subject in Job 30:11-14, not those miserable outcasts of human society just spoken of (as Rosenm., Umbreit, Hirzel, Stickel, Schlottm., Del. [Noy Car., Rod. and appy. E. V.] explain). The correct view is given by LXX. and Vulg., and among the moderns by Ewald, Arnh., Hahn, Dillm., etc.For He hath loosed my cord. So according to the K’ri יִתְרִי, on the basis of which we may also explain: “For He hath loosed, slackened my string,” which would be an antithetic reference to Job 29:20 b, even as by the translation “cord” there would be a retrospective reference to Job 4:21; Job 27:8. If following the K’thibh we read יִתְרוֹ, the explanation would be: “He has loosed His cord, or rein, with which he held the powers of adversity chained,” with which however the following clause: “and bowed me” would not agree remarkably well [not a conclusive objection, for עִנָּה might very appropriately and forcibly describe the way in which his nameless persecutor, God doubtless, would overpower, trample him down, by letting loose His horde of calamities upon Job. Comp. Psalms 78:8 . Conant not very differently: “because he has let loose his rein and humbled me;” i. e. with unchecked violence has humbled me. Ewald, less naturally: “He hath opened (i. e. taken off the covering of) His string (his bow). Elizabeth Smith better: “He hath let go His bow-string, and afflicted me.” פִּתֵּחַ in the sense of letting loose a bow, or bow-string however, is not used elsewhere, and וַיְעַנֵּנִי would hardly be a suitable description of the effect of shooting with the bow.—E.]. And the rein have they let loose before me;i.e., have let go before me (persecuting me). The subject of this, as of the following verses, is indisputably God’s hosts let loose against Job, the same which in the similar former description in Job 19:12 were designated his גְּדוּדִים (comp. also Job 16:9; Job 16:12-14). The fearful, violent, and even irresistible character of their attacks on Job, especially as described in Job 30:13-14, is not suited to the miserable class described in Job 30:1-8. They are either angels of calamity, or at least diseases and other evils, or, generally speaking, the personified agencies of the Divine wrath, that Job has nere in mind.
Job 30:12. On the right there rises up a brood, or troop. פִּרְחָח, or according to another reading פִּרְחָה, lit. “a sprouting, a luxuriant flourishing plant.” [E. V., after the Targ. Rabbis, “the youth,” which is both etymologically and exegetically to be rejected.—E.] This calamitous brood (of diseases, etc.) rises on the right, in the sense that they appear against Job as his accusers (comp. Job 16:8); for the accusers before a tribunal took their place at the right of the accused; comp. Zechariah 3:1; Psalms 109:6.—They push away my feet, i. e., they drive me ever further and further into straits, they would leave me no place to stand on. (Ewald’s emendation רַגְלָם—“they let loose then-feet, set them quickly in motion”—is unnecessary)—And cast up against me their destructive ways, in that they heap up their siege-walls against me, the object of their blockade and hostile assaults. סלל, as in Job 19:12, a passage which agrees almost verbally with the one before us, and so confirms our interpretation of the latter as referring to the Divine persecutions as an army beleaguering him. [Not only is this view favored by such a use of the same language as has been used elsewhere (Job 19:0) of the Divine persecutions, but also by the language itself. It is scarcely conceivable that Job should dignify the spiteful gibes and jeers of that rabble of young outcasts by comparing them to the solemn accusations of a judicial prosecution, or the regular siege of an army.—E.]
Job 30:13. They tear down my path;i. e., by heaping up their ways of destruction they destroy my own heretofore undisturbed way of life.—They help to my destruction (comp. Zechariah 1:15)—they to whom there is no helper:i. e., who need no other help for their work of destruction, who can accomplish it alone. So correctly Stickel, Hahn, while most modern expositors find in c the idea of helplessness, or that of being despised or forsaken by all the world, to be expressed. Ewald however [so Con.] explains: “there is no helper against them” (appealing to Psalms 68:21); and Dillmann doubts whether there can be a satisfactory explanation of the text, which he holds to be corrupt.
Job 30:14. As through a wide breach (כְּפֶרֶץ an elliptical comparison, like כַּגַנָּב Job 30:5) they draw nigh [come on]; under the crash they roll onwards, i, e., of course to storm completely the fortress; comp. Job 16:14. The “crash,” שׁוֹאָָה, is that of the falling ruins of the walls [breached by the assault] not that, e. g., of a roaring torrent, as Hitzig explains (Zeitschr. der D.—M. G., IX. 741), who at the same time attempts to give to פֶּרֶץ the unheard of signification, “forest stream.” [Targ. also; “like the force of the far-extending waves of the sea,” after which probably E. V., “as a wide breaking-in of waters.” But the fig. is evidently that of an inrushing army.—E.]
Job 30:15. Terrors are turned against me;i. e., sudden death-terrors; comp. Job 18:11; Job 18:14; Job 27:20; they pursue like the storm, (like an all-devastating hurricane) my dignity (נְדִבָתִי) [not “soul,” E. V., probably after the analogy of כָּבֹוד frequently in Psalms] that, viz., which was described in Job 29:20 seq. The 3d sing. fem. תִּרְדּף referring to the plur. בַּלָּהוֹת as in Job 14:19; Job 27:20, and often.—And (in consequence of all that) like a cloud my prosperity is gone;i. e., it has vanished as quickly and completely—leaving no trace—as a cloud vanishes on the face of heaven. Comp. Job 7:9; Isaiah 44:22. [Paronomasia between עָב and עָֽבְרָה: “my prosperity like a vapor has vanished”].
6. Continuation. Second Strophe: The unspeakable misery of the sufferer: Job 30:10-23.—And now (the third וְעַתָּה, comp. Job 30:1; Job 30:8) my soul is poured out within me, dissolving in anguish and complaint, flowing forth in tears [“since the outward man is, as it were, dissolved in the gently flowing tears (Isaiah 15:3) his soul flows away as it were in itself, for the outward incident is but the manifestations and results of an inward action.” Del.] On עָלַי, “with me, in me,” comp. Job 10:1; Psalms 42:5 [E. V., too literally—“upon me”].—Days of suffering hold me fast, i. e., in their power, they will not depart from me with their evil effects [“עֳנִי with its verb, and the rest of its derivatives is the proper word for suffering, and especially the passion of the Servant of Jehovah.” Del.]
Job 30:17. The night pierces my bones.—[“The night has been personified already, Job 3:2; and in general, as Herder once said, Job is the brother of Ossian for personifications: Night, (the restless night, Job 7:3 seq., in which every malady, or at least the painful feeling of it increases) pierces his bones from him.” Del.] Or a translation which is equally possible, “by night my bones are pierced” [E. V., etc.], inasmuch as נִקַּר can be Niph. as well as Piel. מֵעָלַי, lit. “away from me,” i. e., “so that they are detached from me.”—And my gnawers sleep not;i. e., either “my gnawing pains,” or “my worms, the maggots in my ulcers;” comp. רמָּה. Job 7:5 [“and which in the extra biblical tradition of Job’s disease are such a standing feature, that the pilgrims to Job’s monastery even now-a-days take away with them thence these supposed petrified worms of Job.” Del.] In any case עֹקְרַי is to be explained after עקר Job 30:3. The signification “veins” (Blumenth), or “nerves, sinews” (LXX., νεῦρα, Parchon, Kimchi) [E. V.] is without support.
Job 30:18. By omnipotence my garment is distorted;i. e., by God’s fearful power I am so emaciated that my garment hangs about me loose and flapping, no longer looking like an article of clothing (comp. Job 19:20). This is the only interpretation (Ewald, Delitzsch, Dillm., Kamphausen, [E. V., Con., Words., Ren.] etc.), that agrees with the contents of the second member, not that of the LXX., who read יִתְפּשֹׁ instead of יתחפשׂ, and understood God to be the subject: πολλῃ ἰσχύι ἐπελάβετο μου τῆς στολῆς; nor that of Hirzel: “by omnipotence my garment is exchanged,” i. e., for a sack; nor that of Schult. and Schlott.: “it (i. e., the suffering, the pain) is changed into [become] my garment,” etc. [with the idea of disguise, disfigurement].—It girds me round like the collar of my [closely-fitting] coat;i. e., my garment, which nowhere fits me at all, clings to my body as closely and tightly as a shirt-collar fastens around the neck. [“יַאַֽזְרֵנִי, cingit me, is not merely the falling together of the outer garment, which was formerly filled out by the members of the body, but its appearance when the sick man wraps himself in it; then it girds him, fits close to him like his shirt-collar.” Del.] The LXX. already translate כְּפִי כֻתָּנְתִּי correctly: ὥσπερ τὸ περιστόμιον τοῠ χιτῶνός μου (Vulg. quasi capitium tunicæ) [E. V.].—To render כְּפִי “as,” or “in proportion to” yields no rational sense (comp. also Exodus 28:32).
Job 30:19. He (God) hath cast me into the mire (a sign of the deepest humiliation, comp. Job 16:15) so that I am become like dust and ashes (in consequence of the earth-like, dirty appearance of my skin, comp. Job 7:5, a theme to which he recurs again at the close of the chapter, Job 30:30)
Job 30:20-23. A plaintive appeal to God, entreating help, but entreating it without a hope of being heard by God.—I stand there (praying) and Thou lookest fixedly at me, viz., without hearing me. This is the only interpretation of the second member which agrees well with the first, not that of Ewald: “if I remain standing, then Thou turnest Thy attention to me,” in order to oppose. [Ewald preferring the reading ותתכנן]. It is absolutely impossible with the Vulg., Saad., Gesen., Umbreit, Welte, [E. V., Ber.] to carry over the לֹא of the first member to ותתבנן—“I stand up, and Thou regardest me not.” [“The effect of לֹא cannot be repeated in the second member, after a change of subject, and in a clause which is dependent on the action of that subject.” Con.”]
Job 30:21. Thou changest Thyself to a cruel being towards me.—אַכְזָבsævus, comp. Job 41:2 , also the softened אֹיֵב in the derivative passage, Isaiah 63:10.—On שׂטם in b, [with the strength of Thy hand Thou makest war upon me], comp. Job 16:9.
Job 30:22, Raising me upon a stormy wind (as on a chariot, comp. 2 Kings 2:11) [not exactly “to the wind” (E. V., Con., Words., etc.), as though Job were made the sport of the wind, ludibrium ventis, but flung upon it, and whirled by it down from the heights of his prosperity.—E.]. Thou causest me to be borne away (comp. Job 27:21), and makest me to dissolve in the crash of the storm.—The last word is to be read after the K’thibh, with Ewald, Olsh., Del., etc., תְּשֻׁוָּה, and to be regarded as an alternate form of תְּשׁוּאָה, or תְּשֻׁאָה (comp. Job 36:29), and hence as being essentially synonymous with שׁוֹאָה, Proverbs 1:27, “tempest,” and as to its construction an accus. of motion, like מָוֶת in the following verse. [Ges., Umbr., Noyes, Carey, read תְּשַׁוֶּה, “Thou terrifiest me,” a verb unknown in Heb., and even in Chaldee used only in Ithpeal. See Delitzsch.] The K’ri תֻּשִׁיָּה (of which the LXX. have made תְּשׁוּעָה) would give a meaning less in harmony with a: “Thou causest well-being to dissolve for me” [E. V.: “Thou dissolvest my substance.” But the other rendering is a far more suitable close to the whole description, which is fearfully magnificent, besides being entitled to the ordinary preference for the K’thibh].
Job 30:23. I know that Thou wilt bring me to death (or “bring me back”—השיב in the sense of שׁוּב, Job 1:21) [“death being represented as essentially one with the dust of death, or even with non-existence,” Delitzsch, who, however, denies that שׁוּב always and inexorably includes an “again”], into the house of assembly for all living.—The latter expression, which is to be understood in the sense of Job 3:17 seq., is in apposition to מָוֶת, and this is used here as a synonym of שְׁאוֹל, as in Job 28:22.
Conclusion: Third Strophe: Job 30:24-31 : The diappointment of all his hopes.
Job 30:24. But still doth not one stretch out the hand in falling?—אַךְ here an adversative particle, as in Job 16:7; לֹא, however, interrogative for הֲלֹא, comp. Job 2:10 b. The view that בְּעִי is compounded of בְּ and עִי, “ruin, fall, destruction” (comp. Micah 1:6, also the more frequent plur., עִיִּים, ruins), is favored by the parallel expression בְּפִידוֹ in the second member. שָׁלַח יָד finally, in the sense of stretching out the hands in supplication, prayer, is at least indirectly supported by Exodus 17:11 seq., and similar passages (such as Exo 9:29; 1 Kings 8:38; Isaiah 1:15; Isaiah 65:2, etc.).—Or in his overthrow (will one not lift up) a cry on that account?—The interrogative הֲלאֹ=לֹא extends its influence still over the second member. The suffix in בְּפִידוֹ refers back to the indefinite subject in יִשְׁלַח, and belongs therefore to the same one overtaken by the fall, and threatened with destruction (פִּיד as in Job 12:5). Respecting לָהֶן “on that account, therefore,” see Ewald, § 217, d; and on שַׁוְעָה = שׁוַּע, “a cry,” comp. Job 36:19 a.—It is possible that instead of the harsh expression לָהֶן שׁוַּע we should read something like לֹא יְשַׁוֵּעַ (according to Dillmann’s conjecture). On the whole the explanation here propounded of this verse, which was variously misunderstood by the ancient versions and expositors, gives the only meaning suited to the context, for which reason the leading modern commentators (Ewald, Hirzel, Delitzsch, Dillmann, and on the whole Hahn, etc.) adhere to it. [Delitzsch thus explains the connection: “He knows that he is being hurried forth to meet death; he knows it, and has also already made himself so familiar with this thought, that the sooner he sees an end put to this his sorrowful life, the better—nevertheless does one not stretch out one’s hand when one is falling? … or in his downfall raise a cry for help?” As Dillmann remarks, this meaning is striking in itself (besides being simple and natural), and is in admirable harmony with the context. The E. V., after some of the Rabbis, takes עִי in the sense of “grave,” although the meaning of its rendering is obscure. It would seem to be that God will not stretch out His hand, in the way of deliverance, to the grave, although when He begins to destroy, men cry out for mercy. Wordsworth translates: “But only will He (God) not stretch out His hand (to help, see Proverbs 31:20; Habakkuk 3:10) upon me, who am like a desolation or a ruin? And will not crying therefore (reach Him) in His destruction of me?”—Others (Ges., Con., Noyes, Carey, take בְּעִי (from בָּעָה) to mean “prayer:” “Yea, there is no prayer, when He stretches out the hand; nor when He destroys can they cry for help,” which is not so well suited to the connection, and is against the parallelism which makes it probable that בְּ before עִי is a preposition as before פּיד.—E.]
Job 30:25. Or did I not weep for him that was in trouble? lit. for “the hard of day,” for “him that is afflicted by a day” (a day of calamity). On b comp. Job 19:12; Job 19:15 seq. The ἄπ. λεγ. עָגַם, “to be troubled, grieved,” is not different in sense from אָגַם, Isaiah 19:10.
Job 30:26. For I hoped for good, and there came evil, etc.—For the thought comp. Isaiah 59:9; Jeremiah 14:19. Respecting וַאֲיַחֲלָה (Imperf. cons. Piel), comp. Ewald, § 232, h; the strengthening ־ָה in the final vowel as in Job 1:15.
Job 30:27. In regard to the “boiling” (רתח as in Job 41:23 ) of the bowels, comp. Lamentations 1:20; Lamentations 2:11; Isaiah 16:11; Jeremiah 31:20, etc. [“My bowels boiled,” E. V., does not quite express the Pual רֻתְּחוּ, “are made to boil,” the result of an external cause.] On קִדֵּם, “to encounter any one, to fall upon him” [E. V. “prevent” obsolete], comp. Psalms 18:6 .
Job 30:28. I go along blackened, without the heat of the sun, i. e. not by the heat of the sun, not as one that is burnt by the heat of the sun. Since חַמָּה (comp. Song of Solomon 6:10; Isaiah 30:26) denotes the sun as regards its heat, בְּלֹא ח׳ (instead of which the Pesh. and Vulg. read בְּלֹא חֵמָה) is not to be explained “without the sun-light=in inconsolable darkness” (so Hahn, Delitzsch, Kamp.) [and probably E. V.: “I went mourning without the sun”]; which is all the less probable in that קֹדֵר can scarcely denote anything else than the dirty appearance of a mourner, covered with dust and ashes (comp. Job 7:5), such a blackening of the skin accordingly as would present an obvious contrast with that produced by the heat of the sun. On הִלֵּךְ comp. Job 24:10.—I stand up in the assembly, complaining aloud, giving free expression to my pain on account of my sufferings. קָהָל here indeed not of the popular assembly in the gates—for the time was long since passed, when he, the leper, might take his place there (comp. Job 29:7 seq.)—but the assembly of mourners, who surrounded him in, or near his house, and who, we are to understand, were by no means limited to the three friends. The opinion of Hirzel and Dillmann, that בַּקָּהָל means publice, is without support; בְּקָהָל, Proverbs 26:26 argues against this signification, rather than for it, for there in fact the language does refer to an assembly of the people, not to any other gathering.
Job 30:29. I am become a brother to jackals [Vulg., E. V.: “dragons’], a companion of ostriches [E. V. here as elsewhere incorrectly “owls”], i. e. in respect to the loud, mournful howling of these animals of the desert (see Micah 1:8). The reference is not so well taken to their solitariness, although this also may be taken into the account; for the life of a leper, shut off from all intercourse with the public, and put out of the city, must at all times be comparatively deserted, notwithstanding all the groups of sympathizing visitors, who might occasionally gather about him. [See note in Delitzsch 2:171; also Smith’s Bib. Diet. “Dragon,” “Ostrich.”]
Job 30:30. My skin, being black, peels off from me: lit. “is become black from me.” מֵעָלַי as in Job 30:17; the blackness of the skin (produced by the heat of the disease) as in Job 30:19 [where, however, it is referred rather to the dirt adhering to it]; comp. Job 7:5.—Respecting חרה from חרר, “to glow, to be hot,” comp. Ezekiel 24:11; Isaiah 24:6.
Job 30:31 forms a comprehensive close to the whole preceding description: And so my harp (comp. Job 21:12) was turned to mourning, and my pipe (comp. the same passage) to tones of lamentation; lit. “to the voice of the weeping.” Job’s former cheerfulness and joyousness (comp. Job 29:24) appears here under the striking emblem of the tones of musical instruments sounding forth clearly and joyously, but now become mute. Similar descriptions in Psalms 30:12 ; Lamentations 5:15; Amos 8:10, etc. [“Thus the second part of the monologue closes. … It is Job’s last sorrowful lament before the catastrophe. What a delicate touch of the poet is it that he makes this lament, Job 30:31, die away so melodiously. One hears the prolonged vibration of its elegiac strains. The festive and joyous music is hushed; the only tones are tones of sadness and lament, mesto flebile.” Delitzsch].
Third Division: Job’s asseveration of his innocence in presence of the God of the future: Job 31:0.
First Strophe: Job 31:1-8. The avoidance of all sinful lust, which he had constantly practiced.—A covenant have I made with mine eyes, and how should I fix my gaze on a maiden?i. e., with adulterous intent (comp. πρὸς τὸ ἐπιθυμῆσαι αὐτήν, Matthew 5:28; comp. Sir 9:6). The whole verse affirms that Job had not once violated the marriage covenant in which he lived (and which, Job 2:9—comp. Job 19:17—shows to have been monogamous) by adulterous inclinations, to say nothing of unchaste actions. In respect to the significance of this utterance of a godly man in the patriarchal age, in connection with the history of morals and civilization, comp. below “Doctrinal and Ethical Remarks.” The words כָּרַת בְּרִית לִעֵינַיִם (לְ instead of אֶת־ or עִס־) are literally rendered: “to prescribe, to dictate a covenant to the eyes. Job appears accordingly as the superior, prescribing to his organ of vision its conduct, dictating to it all the conditions of the agreement. It is unnecessary, and even erroneous, to translate the verbs as pluperfects (“I had made a covenant—… how should I have looked upon,” etc.—so e.g., Umbreit, Hahn, Vaih.), for Job would by no means describe these principles of chastity, which he observed, as something belonging merely to the earlier past.
Job 31:2-4 continue the reflections, beginning with Job 31:1 b, which had restrained him from unchaste lusts, and this in the form of three questions, of which the first (Job 31:2) is answered by the second and third (Job 31:3-4).—And (—thus did I think—) what would be the dispensation of Eloah from above?—חֵלֶק is the portion assigned by God, the dispensation of His just retribution; comp. Job 20:29; Job 27:13, where also may be found the parallel נַחֲלָה, “inheritance.” On מִמַּעַל, “from above,” comp. Job 16:19; Job 25:2; and in particular such New Testament passages as Romans 1:18 (ἀπ’ ουρανοῦ), James 1:17 (ἄνωθων), etc.
Job 31:3 seq. The answer to that question itself given in the form of a question. On אֵיד comp. above on Job 30:12; on עַוָּל, Job 18:21; on נֶכֶד “calamity,” Obadiah 1:12.
Job 31:4. Doth not He (הוּא, referring back to אֱלוֹהַּ, Job 31:2) [and emphatic: He—doth He not see, etc.] see my ways, and doth He not count all my steps?—Comp. Psalms 139:2 seq. It was accordingly the thought of God as the omniscient heavenly Judge, which influenced Job to avoid most rigidly even such sinful desires and thoughts as were merely internal!
Job 31:5-8. The first in the series of the many adjurations, beginning with אִם, in which Job continues the assertion of his innocence to the close of the discourse.—If I have walked [had intercourse] with falsehood (שָׁוְא here as a synonym of the following מִרְמָה, not simply “vanity” [E. V.] but “falsehood, a false nature, lying”) and my foot hath hastened to deceit.—וַתַּֽחַשׁ from a verb חָשָׁה, not found elsewhere; and signifying not “to be silent,” but “to hasten” (like חוּשׁ) is an alternate form of the more common חוּשׁ (comp. וַיַּֽעַט, 1 Samuel 15:19, from a root עָטָה, synonymous with עִיט).
Job 31:6. Parenthetic demand upon God, that He should be willing to prove the truth of Job’s utterances (not the consequent of the hypothetic antecedent in the preceding verse, as Delitzsch [E. V.], would make it).—Let Him (God) weigh me in a just balance; or “in the balance of justice,” the same emblem of the decisive Divine judgment to which the inscription in the case of Belshazzar refers (Daniel 5:25), and which appears in the proverbial language of the Arabs as “the balance of works;” in like manner among the Greeks as an attribute, of Themis, or Dike, etc.
Job 31:7. Continuation of the asseveratory antecedent in Job 31:5, introduced by an Imperf. of the Past—expressing the continuousness of the actions described—interchanging with the Perf. (as again below in Job 31:13; Job 31:16-20, etc.)—If my steps turned aside from the way, i. e., from the right way, prescribed by God (comp. Job 23:11), which is forsaken when, as the thought is expressed in b, one “walks after his own eyes,” i. e., allows himself to be swayed by the lusts of the eye (comp. Jeremiah 18:12;. 1 John 2:16).—And a spot cleaved to my hands, to wit, a spot of immoral actions, especially such as are avaricious. Comp. Psalms 7:4  seq.; Deuteronomy 13:17, etc.—מאוּם instead of the usual form מוּם (comp. Job 11:15), found also Daniel 1:4.
Job 31:8. Consequent: then shall I sow and another eat;i. e., the fruits of my labor shall be enjoyed by another, instead of myself (because I have stained it by the fraudulent, appropriation of the property of others); the same thought as above in oh. Job 27:16 seq.; comp. Leviticus 26:16; Deuteronomy 28:33; Amos 5:11, etc.—And may my products be rooted out!צֶאֱצָאִים used here not of children, offspring [E. V.] (as in Job 5:25; Job 21:8; Job 27:14), but according to a of the growth of the soil as planted by the owner, which so far as it shall not fall into the hands of others shall be destroyed (comp. Isaiah 34:1; Isaiah 42:5).
9. Continuation. Second Strophe: Job 31:9-15. The righteousness which he had exercised in all the affairs of his domestic life.—If my heart has been befooled on account of [or enticed towards] a woman;i. e., a married woman,—for the sins of which Job here acquits his conscience are those of the more flagrant sort, like David’s transgression with Bathsheba, cot simple acts of unchastity, such as were described above in Job 31:1.—As to b, comp. Job 24:15, and particularly Proverbs 7:7 seq.
Job 31:10. Consequent: Then let my wife grind for another;i. e., not simply grind with the hand-mill for him as his slave (Exodus 11:5; Isaiah 47:2; Matthew 24:41), but according to the testimony of the Ancient Versions (LXX., Vulg., Targ.) and the Jewish expositors—it refers to sexual intercourse in concubinage—this obscene sense being still more distinctly expressed in b.—אֲחֵרִין, Aram. plur. as in Job 4:2; Job 24:22.
Job 31:11-12. Energetic expression of detestation for the sin of adultery just mentioned.—For such a thing (הוּא) [this] would be an infamous act, and that (הִיא) a sin [crime to be brought] before the judges.—So according to the K’thibh, which with הוּא points back to that which is mentioned in Job 31:9, but with הִיא points back to זִמָּה, “transgression, deed of infamy” [“the usual Thora-word for the shameless, subtle encroachments of sensual desires,” Del.], while the K’ri unnecessarily reads הוּא in both instances—עָוֹן פְּלִילִים would be, so written (with עָוֹן in the absol. state) = crimen, et crimen quidem judicum (comp. Gesen., § 116 [§ 114]. Rem.). Still the conjecture is natural that, we are to read either, as in Job 31:28עָוֹן פְּלִילִיcr. judiciale, or, עֲוֹן פְּלִילִים, cr. judicum. The meaning of the expression is furthermore similar to ἔνοχος τῇ κρίσει, Matthew 5:21 seq.
Job 31:12. For it would be a fire which would devour even to the abyss, i. e., which would not rest before it had brought me, consumed by a wicked adulterous passion, to merited punishment in the abyss of hell; comp. Proverbs 6:27 seq.; Psa 7:26 seq.; Sir 9:8; James 3:6, and in respect to אֲבַדּוֹן see above Job 26:6; Job 28:22,—and which would root out all my increase, i. e., burn out the roots beneath it. The בְּ before כָּל־תְּבוּאָתִי may be expressed by the translation: “and which should undertake the act of outrooting upon my whole produce,” (Delitzsch) [Beth objecti, corresponding to the Greek genitive expressing not an entire full coincidence, hut an action about and upon the object. See Ewald, § 217].
Job 31:13 seq. A new adjuration touching the humane friendliness of Job’s conduct toward his house-slaves. If I despised the right of my servant, of my maid—if those who were often treated as absolutely without any rights, certainly not on the basis of the Mosaic law (comp. Exodus 21:1 seq., 20 seq.). Job, the patriarchal saint, appears accordingly in this respect also as a fore-runner of the theocratic spirit; comp. Abraham’s relations to Eliezer, Genesis 15:2; Genesis 24:2 seq.
Job 31:14. What should I do when God arose?etc. Umbreit, Stickel, Vaih., Welte, Delitzsch [E. V. Con., Carey, Noy., Words., Merx], correctly construe this verse as the apodosis of the preceding, here exceptionally introduced by וְ, not as a parenthetic clause, which would then have no consequent after it (Ewald, Hirzel, Dillmann), [Schlottmann, Renan, Rod., Elz.]. In respect to the “rising up” of God, to wit, for judgment, comp. Job 19:25; on פקד to “inquire into,” comp. Psalms 17:3; on הֵשִּׁיב, “to reply,” Job 13:22.
Job 31:15. In the womb did not my Maker make him (also), and did not One (אֶחָד, one and the same God) fashion us in the belly?וַיְכוּנֶּנּוּ, syncopated Pilel-form, with suffix of the 1st pers. plur., for וַיְכוֹנְנֶנּוּ (Ewald, § 81, a; comp. § 250, a). For the thought comp. on the one side, Job 10:8-12; on the other side the use made of the identity of creation and community of origin on the part of masters and servants as a motive for the humane treatment of the latter by the former in Ephesians 6:9 (also Malachi 2:10). [The position of בבטן gives some emphasis to the thought that the womb is the common source of our earthly life, or as Delitzsch expresses it, that God has fashioned us in the womb “in an equally animal way,” a thought “which smites down all pride.”—E.].
Continuation. Third Strophe; Job 31:16-23 : His righteous and merciful conduct toward his neighbors, or in the sphere of civil life (comp. above Job 29:12-17). After the first hypothetic antecedent, in Job 31:16, follows immediately the parenthesis, in Job 31:18, then three new antecedent passages, beginning with אִם (or ֹאִס־לֹא), until finally, in Job 31:22, the common consequent of these four antecedents is stated. If I refused to the poor their desire [or, if I held back the poor from their desire] (מנע construed otherwise than in Job 22:7; comp. Ecclesiastes 2:10; Numbers 24:11); and caused the widow’s eyes to fail—from looking out with yearning for help; comp. Job 11:20; Job 17:5; and in particular on כִּלַּה comp. Lev 26:16; 1 Samuel 2:33.
Job 31:18. Parenthesis, repudiating the thought that he could have treated widows or orphans so cruelly as he had just described—introduced by כִּי in the signification—“nay, rather” comp. Psalms 130:4; Micah 6:4, and often). Nay indeed from my youth he grew up to me as to a father, viz., the orphan; the position of the subjects in respect to those of Job 31:16 and Job 31:17 is chiastic [inverted]. The suffix in גְּדֵלַנִיּ has the force of a dative (Ewald, § 315, b), and כְּאָבis an elliptical comparison for כְּמוֹ־לְאָב. The conjecture of Olshausen, who would read גִּדְּלַנִי “he honored [magnified] me,” is unnecessary. And from the womb I was her guide.—Occasioned by the parallel expression מִנְּעוּרַי in a, the meaning of which it is intended to intensify, the phrase מִבֶּטֶן אַמִּי, “from my mother’s womb,” i. e. from my birth, presents itself as a strong hyperbole, designed to show that Job’s humane and friendly treatment of widows and orphans began with his earliest youth; he had drank it in so to speak with his mother’s milk. [“So far back as he can remember, he was wont to behave like a father to the orphan, and like a child to the widow.” Del.].
Job 31:19. If I saw the forsaken one [or: one perishing] without clothing, etc.אוֹבֵד as in Job 29:13; מִבְּלִי, as in Job 24:7. The second member וְאֵין וגו׳ forms a second object to אֶרְאֶה, lit. “and (saw) the not-being of the poor with covering.”
Job 31:20. In respect to the blessing pronounced by the grateful poor (the blessing described as proceeding from his warmed hips and loins, which in a truly poetic manner are named instead of himself) comp. Job 29:13.
Job 31:21. If I shook my hand over the orphan (with intent of doing violence, comp. Isaiah 11:15; Isaiah 19:16) [“as a preparation for a crushing stroke”], because I saw my help in the gate (i. e. before the tribunal, comp. Job 29:7)—a reference to the bribery which he had practiced upon the judges, or to any other abuse of his great influence for the perversion of justice.
Job 31:22. Consequent, corresponding immediately to Job 31:21, but having a wider reference to all the antecedents from Job 31:16 on, even though the sins described in the former ones of the number were not specially committed by the hand, or arm. Then let my shoulder fall from its shoulder-blade.—כָּתֵף signifies shoulder, or upper arm, even as אֶזְרֹעַ in b designates the arm. שְׁכֶם is the nape, which supports the upper arm, or shoulder (together with the shoulder-blades); קָנֶה “a pipe,” but used to denote the shoulder-joint to which the arm is attached; less probably the hollow bone of the arm itself (against Delitzsch). Concerning the הraphatum in the suffixes שִׁבְמָה and קָנָה, comp. Ewald, § 21, f; 247, d.
Job 31:23. Assigning the reason for what precedes, sustaining the same relation to Job 31:22, as Job 31:11 seq. to Job 31:10. For the destruction of God (comp. Job 31:3) is a terror for me (אֵלַי meaning “in mine eyes,” comp. Ecclesiastes 9:13), and before His majesty (מִן compar.; שְׂאֵת as in Job 13:11) I am powerless—I can do nothing, I possess no power of resistance. Job emphasizes thus strongly his fear and entire impotence before God, in order to show that it would be morally impossible for him to be guilty of such practices, as those last described. The hypothetic rendering of the verse: “for terror might [or ought to] come upon me, the destruction of God” (Del., Kamph.) is impossible.
11. Continuation. Fourth Strophe: Job 31:24-32. Job’s conscientiousness in the discharge of his more secret obligations to God and his neighbor. Within this strophe, Job 31:24-28 constitute first of all one adjuration by itself, consisting of three antecedents with אִם, to which Job 31:28 is related as a common consequent. (According to the assumption of Ewald, Dillmann, Hahn, etc., that Job 31:28 is only a parenthesis, and that a consequent does not follow within the present strophe, the discourse would be too clumsy). Job here expresses his detestation of two new species of sins: avarice (Job 31:24-25), and the idolatry of the Sabian astrology, which are here closely united together as the worship of the glittering metal, and that of the glittering stars; comp. Colossians 3:6.
Job 31:24. If I set up gold for my confidence, etc. On “gold” and “fine gold” comp. Job 28:16; on כֶּסֶל and מִבְטָח, Job 8:14. Respecting the masc. כַּבִּיר used as a neuter in Job 31:25 b, of that which is great, considerable in number or amount, comp. Ew., § 172, b.
Job 31:26. If I saw the sunlight (אוֹר, “the light” simply, or “the light of this world,” John 11:9; used also of the sun in Job 37:21; Habakkuk 3:4; comp. the Greek φάος, Odyss. III. 355, and often), how it shines (כִּי as in Job 22:12), and the moon walking in splendor. יָקָר a prefixed accus. of nearer specification to הֹלֵךְ hence used as an adverb, splendide (Ewald, § 279, a). [“יָרֵחַ is the moon as a wanderer (from רח = ארח) i.e., night-wanderer, noctivaga. … The two words יָקָר הֹלֵךְ describe with exceeding beauty the solemn majestic wandering of the moon.” Del.]
Job 31:28. And my heart was secretly beguiled, so that I threw to them (to these stars, having reference to the heathen divinities represented by them; hence the צְבָא הַשָׁמַיִם, Deuteronomy 4:19) a kiss by the hand (lit. “so that I touched—with a kiss—my hand to my mouth;” respecting this sign of adoratio, or προσκύνησις, comp. 1 Kings 19:18; Hosea 13:2; also Plin. H. N. XXVIII., 2, Job 5:0 : Inter adorandum dexteram ad osculum referimus et totum corpus circumagimus; and Lucian περὶ ὅρχήσεως, who represents the worshippers of the rising sun in Western Asia and Greece as performing their devotion by kissing the hand (τὴν χεῖρα κύσαντες). In the case of Job it was the worship of the stars as practiced by the Aramæans and Arabians (the Himjarites in particular among the latter worshipping the sun and moon [Urotal and Alilat] as their chief divinities) which might from time to time present itself to him in the form of a temptation to apostatize from one invisible God; comp. L. Krehl, Die Religion der vorislamitischen Araber, 1863; L. Diestel, Der monotheismus des ältesten Heidenthums, Jahrbücher für deutsche Theologie, 1860, p. 709 seq. Against Ewald’s assumption that there is here an allusion to the Parsee worship of the sun, and that for that reason our book could not have been written before the 7th Cent. B. C, it may be said, that the kissing of the hand does not appear in the Zoroastrian ritual of prayer, and also that the sun and moon are represented in the Avesta as genii created by Ahuramazda, and consequently not as being themselves gods to be worshipped. Equally arbitrary with this derivation of the passage from the Zend religion by Ewald, is Dillmann’s assertion, that it was only from the time of King Ahaz, and still more under Manasseh, that the adoration of the “host of heaven” began properly to exercise a seductive influence on the people of Israel, and that it was only from that point on that it could be regarded as a sign of particular religious purity “that one had never, not even in secret, yielded to this temptation.” As though our poet did not know perfectly well what traits he ought to introduce into the picture of his hero, who is consistently represented as belonging to the patriarchal age! Comp. against this unnecessary assumption of an anachronism, of which the poet had been guilty, in the history of civilization or religion, the Introduction, § 6, II., f.
Job 31:28. Consequent, (see above): This also were a crime to be punished; lit. “a judicial crime, one belonging to the judge;” comp. on Job 31:11; and respecting the thought, Exodus 17:2 seq.—Because I should have denied the God above (Job 31:2); lit. “I should have denied [acted falsely] in respect to the God above; כִּחֵשׁ לְ means here the same with כִחֵשׁ בְּ elsewhere (Job 8:18; Isaiah 59:13).
Job 31:29-30. A new asseveration with an oath repudiating the suspicion that he had exhibited toward his enemies any hate or malice. For this hypothetic antecedent, as well as for all those which follow, beginning with אִם down to Job 31:38, the special consequent is wanting; not until Job 31:38 seq. does this series of antapodota [antecedents or protases] reach its end. The consequent in Job 31:40, however, is, in respect of its contents, suited only to the antecedent passage immediately preceding, in Job 31:38-39, and not also to the verses preceding those.
Job 31:30; Job 31:32; Job 31:35-37 are accordingly mere parentheses.—If I rejoiced over [or in] the destruction (פִּיד as in Job 30:24) of him that hated me.—That the love of our enemies was already required as a duty under the Old Dispensation is shown by Exodus 23:4; Leviticus 19:18 (the latter passage not without a characteristic limitation), but still more particularly by the Chokmah-literature, e. g.Proverbs 20:22; Proverbs 24:17 seq.; Proverbs 25:21 seq.
Job 31:31. Yet I did not (וְלֹא with an adversative meaning for the copula) allow my palate (which is introduced here as the instrument of speech, as in Job 6:30 [where, however, it is rather the instrument of tasting, and so is used for the faculty of moral discrimination]) to sin, by a curse to ask for his life;i. e. by cursing to wish for his death.
Job 31:31 seq. He has also continually shown himself generous and hospitable towards his neighbor.—If the people of my tent (i. e. my household associates, my domestics) were not obliged to say: where would there be one who has not been satisfied with his flesh? lit. “who gives one not satisfied with his flesh?” מִי יִתֵּן as in Job 14:4; נִשְׂבָּע, Partic. Niph. in the accus. depending on מי יתן (comp. also Job 31:35, and above Job 29:2).—בְּשָׂרוֹ here means the same with טִבְחָתוֹ, 1 Samuel 25:11, the flesh of his slaughtered cattle. The figurative expression: “to eat any body’s flesh” in the sense of backbiting, calumniating (Job 19:22) is not to be found here.
Job 31:32. The stranger did not pass the night without; I opened my doors to the traveller.—לָאֹרַח might of itself signify—“towards the street” (Stickel, Delitzsch). But since this qualification would be superfluous, אֹרַח is rather to be taken as = אִישׁ אֹרַח or אֹרֵחַ. As to the thought, comp. the accounts of the hospitality of Abraham at Mamre, of Lot at Sodom, of the old man at Gibeah (Genesis 18:19; comp. Hebrews 13:2; Judges 19:15 seq.); also the many popular anecdotes among the Arabs of divine punishments inflicted on the inhospitable (“to open a guest-chamber” is in Arabic the same as to establish one’s own household), and the eulogies of the hospitality of the departed in the Egyptian Book of the Dead. Comp. Wetzstein in Delitzsch [2:193], Brugsch, Die egypt. Gräberwelt, 1868, p. 32 seq.; L. Stern, Das egypt. Todtengericht, in “Ausland,” 1870, p. 1081 seq.
12. Conclusion: Fifth Strophe: Job 31:33-40—Job is not consciously guilty even of the hypocritical concealment of his sins, nor of secret misdeeds—a final series of asseverations, which is not only related to the preceding enumeration (as though the same were incomplete, and might be supposed to have been silent in regard to some of Job’s transgressions), but which simply links itself to all the preceding assertions of his innocence, and concludes the same.
Job 31:33. If I covered after the manner of men my wickedness;כְּאָדָם, after the way of the world, as people generally do; comp. Psalms 82:7 and Hosea 6:7; for even in the latter passage this explanation is more natural than that which implies a reference to Genesis 3:8 : “as Adam (Targum, Schult., Rosenm., Hitzig, Umbr., v. Hofm., Del.) [E. V., Good, Lee, Con., Schlott., Words., Carey, etc.; and comp. Pusey on Hosea 6:7. Conant observes of the rendering ut homo that “there is little force in this. On the contrary there is pertinency and point in the reference to a striking and well-known example of this offense, as a notable illustration of its guilt.” Such a reference to primeval history in a book that belongs to the literature of the Chokmah is, as Delitzsch remarks, not at all surprising. And certainly the extra-Israelitish cast of the book is no objection to the recognition of so widely prevalent a tradition as that of the Fall in the monotheistic East.]—Hiding (לִטְמוֹן, Ew. § 280, d) in my bosom my iniquity.—חֹב is a poetic equivalent of חֵיק, found only here (but much more common in Aram.).
Job 31:34, closely connected with the preceding verse, declares the motive which might hare influenced Job to hide his sins, viz. the fear of men.—Because I feared the great multitude.—הָמוֹן here as fem., comp. Ew. § 174, b; עָרַץ here (otherwise than in Job 13:25) intransitive “to be afraid,” with accus. of the thing feared. On b and c comp. Job 24:16. The “tribes” [מִשְׁפָּחוֹת] whose contempt he fears (בּוּז as in Job 12:5; Job 12:21) are the nobler families, his own peers in rank, to be excluded from social intercourse with whom because of infamous crimes would cause him apprehension. With his “holding his peace,” and “not going forth at his door” (in c)—signs betraying an evil conscience, Brentius strikingly compares the example of Demosthenes, who (according to Plutarch, Demosth, 25) on one occasion made a sore throat a pretext for not speaking, whereas in truth he had been bribed, and who was put to the blush by an exclamation from one of the people: “He is not suffering from a sore throat, but from a sore purse (οὐχ ὑπὸ συνάγχης α̇λλ’ ὑπ’ ἀργυρἀγχης εἰλῆφθαι). [E. V. renders the verse interrogatively: “did I fear?” etc.; i. e. “if I covered my transgression, etc., was it because I feared the multitude?” The objection to this rendering, however, is that it is less in harmony with the adjuratory tone of the context. Not a few commentators render this verse as the imprecation corresponding to Job 31:22 : “Then let me dread the great assembly,” etc. So Schultens, Con., Noyes, Wemyss, Carey, Good, Lee, Barnes, Elzas.—(Patrick makes 34c the apodosis: “Then let me hold my peace, and go not forth,” etc.). It seems more natural however to regard the “dread of the great assembly,” and the contempt of the great families of the land, as causes of the cowardly hypocrisy of Job 31:33, rather than as its consequences.—Moreover, what the discourse loses as regards completeness of structure, it gains in impressiveness and energy by the frequent parentheses and breaks, which characterize this final strophe according to the view taken in the comm., and adopted by Ewald, Dillmann, Delitzsch, Schlottm., Rodwell, Wordsworth, Renan.—E.]
Job 31:35-37. The longest of the parentheses which interrupt the asseverations of our chapter, a shorter parenthesis being again incorporated even with this (Job 31:35 b).—O that I had one who would hear me! to wit, in this assertion of my innocence. In this exclamation, as also in the following Job has God in view, for whose judicial interposition in his behalf he accordingly longs here again (as previously, Job 13:16. seq.)—Behold my signature (lit. “my sign”)—let the Almighty answer me.—The meaning of this exclamation which finds its way into this tumult of feeling can only be this: “There is the document of my defense, with my signature! Here I present my written vindication—let the Almighty examine it (comp. Job 31:6), and deliver His sentence!” תָּוִי means lit. “my mark, my signature” [not “my desire,” (E. V., after Targ. and Vulg.), as though it were connected with תאוה]; comp. the commentators on Ezekiel 9:4.—The cross-form of this sign (ת = †), which has there a typical significance, would have no significance in this passage. Rather is it the case that Tav here, in accordance with a conventional, proverbial way of speaking (as tiwa among the Arabs signifies any branded sign, whether or not it be precisely in the form of a cross), has acquired by synedoche the meaning—“a written document with signature attached, a writing subscribed, and for that reason legally valid;” and that Job means by this writing all that he has hitherto said in his own justification, the sum total of his foregoing asseverations of innocence, that it is therefore an apologetic document, a judicial vindication, to which he refers by this little word הו—this appears from the contrast with the accusation or indictment of his opponent, which is immediately mentioned in c. The supposition that Job was ignorant of writing, and for that reason was compelled to put a simple † for his signature can be inferred from the passage only by an inappropriate perversion of the proverbial and figurative meaning of the language. Moreover Job 19:23 seq. can be made to lend only an apparent support to this supposition.—And (that I had) the writing which mine adversary has written!—Grammatically this third member—וספד וגו׳—is connected with the first as a second accus. to מִי יִתֵּן; but according to its logical import, it is conditioned by the second member; or, which is the same thing, b is simply a grammatical parenthesis, but at the same time it serves to advance the thought. The “writing of the adversary” can only be the written charge, in which Job’s adversary, i. e., God (not the three friends, as Delitzsch explains, against the context) has laid down and fixed upon against him. This charge of God’s he wishes to see over against his written defense, for which he is at once ready, or rather which he has already actually prepared. Most earnestly does he yearn to know what God, whom he must otherwise hold for a persecutor of innocence, really has against him. It is only from this interpretation of the words (adopted by Ew., Hirz., Heiligst., Vaih., Dillm.) [Schlott., Noy., Car., Con., Rodw., Bar., Lee, all agreeing as to sense, but with slight variations as to construction] that any available sense is obtained,—not from taking the third member as dependent on הֶן in the second, in which case סֵפֶר must denote either the “witness of God to Job’s innocence written in his consciousness” (Hahn, and similarly Arnh., Stickel), or the charge preferred against Job by Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar (Del.) neither of which explanations is suitable, for the following verses show that Job is here speaking of something which he does not yet have, but only wishes for.—In respect to the use of writing, which is here again presupposed in judicial proceedings, comp. on Job 13:26.
Job 31:36-37 declare what Job would do with that charge of his divine adversary, for which he here longs; he would wear it as a trophy, or as a distinguishing badge of honor “on his shoulders” (comp. Isaiah 9:5; Isaiah 22:22), and bind it around as an ornament for his head, lit., “as crowns,” i. e., as a crown consisting of diadems rising each out of the other (עֲתָרוֹת—comp. Revelation 19:12);—comp. on the one side Job 29:14; Isaiah 61:10; on the other side Colossians 2:14 (the handwriting which was blotted out by Christ through His being lifted up on the cross).—And further: The number of my steps would I declare to Him;i. e., before Him, the Divine Adversary (who however is at the same time conceived of as Judge, as in Job 16:21) would I conceal none of my actions, but rather would I courageously confess all to Him (הִגִּיד as in Psalms 38:19; respecting the construction with a double accus., comp. above Job 26:4).—Like a prince would I draw near to Him;i. e., draw nigh to Him with a firm stately step (קֵּרֵב intens. of Kal, comp. Ezekiel 36:8), as becomes a prince, not an accused person conscious of guilt; hence with a princely free and proud consciousness, not with that of a poor sinner.
Job 31:38-40 follow up the general assertion, that his conscience was not burdened with secret sins, with a more particular example of his freedom from covert blood-guiltiness. He knows himself to be innocent in particular of the wickedness of removing boundaries by violence, and of the heaven-crying guilt of secret murder, such as he might possibly have committed (after Ahab’s example, 1 Kings 21:1 seq.; comp. above Job 24:2; Isaiah 5:8) in order to acquire a piece of land belonging to a weaker neighbor. That Job should close this series of asseverations of innocence with the mention of so heinous a crime will appear strange only so long as we do not realize just how his opponents thus far had judged in respect to the nature and occasion of his suffering in consequence of their narrow-minded, external theory of retribution. Their judgment indisputably was—and Eliphaz had once, at least, expressed it very openly and decidedly (see Job 22:6-9):—Because Job has to endure such extraordinary suffering, it must be that he is burdened with some grievous sin, some old secret bloody deed of murder, rapine, etc.! It is into this way of thinking of theirs that Job enters when he concludes his answer with the mention of just such a case, one which might seem sufficiently probable according to a human estimate of the circumstances, and so intentionally reserves to the end the solemn repudiation of that suspicion, which might very easily cleave to him, and which, if well-founded, must have affected him most destructively. The whole discourse—which indeed in its last division (Job 31:0) is essentially a self-vindication of the harshly and grievously accused sufferer—thus acquires an emphatic ending, which by the significant assonances that occur in the closing imprecation, Job 31:40, reaches a very high degree of impressiveness, and produces a thrilling effect on those who heard and read it. This rhetorical artistic design in the close of the discourse is ignored, whether (with Hirzel and Heiligst.) we assume that it was the poet’s purpose, that Job’s discourse, which with Job 31:38 seq., had taken a new start in further continuation of the series of asseverations touching his innocence, should seem to be interrupted by the sudden appearance of Jehovah (Job 38:0.), which takes place with striking effect (comp. Introd., § 10, No. 1, and ad. 1); or assume a transposition of Job 31:38-40 out of their original connection, as was done by the Capuchin Bolducius (1637), who would remove the three verses back so as to follow Job 31:8; by Kennicott and Eichhorn, who would place them after Job 31:25; by Stuhlmann, who assigned their position before Job 31:35, and latterly by Delitzsch, who leaves undetermined the place, where they originally belonged.
Job 31:38. If my field cries out concerning me (for vengeance, on account of the wicked treatment of its owner; comp. Job 16:18; Habakkuk 2:11), and all together its furrows weep (a striking poetic representation of the figure of crying out against one).
Job 31:39. If I have eaten its strength (i. e. its fruit, its products, comp. Genesis 4:12) without payment, and have blown out the soul of its owner, i. e. by any kind of violence, by direct or indirect murder, have “caused him to expire;” comp. Job 11:20; and the proverbial saying: “to snuff out the candle of one’s life.”
Job 31:40. Consequent, and emphatic close: Briars must (then) spring up (for me) instead of wheat, and stinking weeds instead of barley (the strong word בָּאְשָׁה only here, “odious weeds, darnel”). As to meaning, Job 31:8 is similar; but the present formula of imprecation is incomparably harsher and stronger than that former one, as is shown by the doubled assonance, first the alliteration חטה and חוח, and then the rhyme שׂערה and באשׁה.—The short clause: “the words of Job are ended,” which the Masoretes have inappropriately drawn into the network of the poetic accentuation, could scarcely have proceeded from the poet himself (as Carey and Hahn think, of whom the former is inclined even to regard them as Job’s own final dixi), but stand on the same plane of critical value, and even of antiquity with the inscription at the end of the second book of Psalms (Ps. 72:64), or with the closing words of Jeremiah 51:64. The LXX. have changed the words to καὶ· ἐπαύσατο Ἰὼβ ῥήμασιν, in order to bring them into connection with the historical introductory verses in prose which follow (Job 32:0.). But according to their Hebrew construction they do not seem to incline at all to such a connection. Jerome already recognized their character as an annotation of later origin; they found their way into his translation only by subsequent interpolation.—All Heb. MSS. indeed, as well as the ancient oriental versions (Targ., Pesh., etc.), exhibit the addition, which must be accordingly of very high antiquity.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. Measured by the Old Testament standard, the height of the moral consciousness which Job occupies in this splendid final monologue deserves our wonder, and is even incomparable. He says much, and says it boldly, in behalf of the purity of his heart and life. He affirms this with such ardor and fulness of expression, that at times he seems to forget himself, and to contradict his former confessions touching his participation in the universal depravity of the race, as found in ch.Job 13:26; Job 14:4 (see e. g. ch Job 29:14; Job 31:5-7; Job 31:35 seq.). He even relapses at one time into that tone of presumptuous accusation of God as the merciless persecutor of innocence, and seems to find the only divine motive for his grievous lot to be a supposed pleasure by God in the infliction of torture, a one-sided exercise of His activity as a God of power, without any co-operation from His righteousness and love (Job 30:0, especially Job 30:11 seq., Job 30:18; Job 30:20 seq.). But if in this there is to be recognized a remainder of the unsubdued presumption of the natural man in him, and a lack of proper depth, sharpness and clearness in his consciousness of sin, such as is possible only under the New Dispensation, he occupies a high place notwithstanding in the roll of Old Testament saints. He appears still, and that even in the protestation of innocence which he makes in his own behalf in this his last discourse, as a genuine prince in the midst of the heroes of faith and spiritual worthies of the time before Christ, as one who, when he suffered, had the right to be regarded as an innocent sufferer, and to meet with indignation every suspicion which implied that he was making expiation for secret sins, as the wicked must do.
2. This moral exaltation of Job is seen already in the way in which in Job 29:0. he describes his former prosperity. Among all the good things of the past which he longs to have back, he gives the pre-eminence to the fellowship and blessing of God, the fountain of all other good (Job 29:2 seq.). In describing the distinguished estimation in which he was then held among men, it is not the external honor as such which he makes most prominent, but the beneficent influence, which, by virtue of that distinction he was able to exert, the works of love, of righteousness and of mercy, in which he was then able to seek and to find his happiness, as the father and guide of many (Job 29:12-17). In the midst of his bitterest complaints on account of the greatness of his losses and the depth of his misery, there come groanings that he can no more do as he was wont to do—weep with the distressed, and mourn with the needy, in order to bring them comfort, counsel and help (Job 30:25). And what a noble horror of the sins of falsehood, of lying and deception, of adulterous unchastity, of cruelty towards servants and all those needing help in any way, sounds forth through the asseverations of his innocence in the 31st chapter! With what penetrative truth and beauty does he grasp the two forms of idolatry, the worship of gold on the part of the avaricious, and the worship of the stars by the superstitious heathen, as two ways—only in appearance far removed from each other, but in truth most closely united together—of denying the one true and living God (Job 30:24-28)! How decidedly he maintains the necessity of showing love even to one’s enemies, to say nothing of one’s fellow-men in general, known or unknown, neighbors or foreigners (Job 30:29 seq.)! With what indignation does he repel the suspicion of secret, hypocritically concealed sins and deeds of violence, again solemnly appealing in the same connection to God to be a witness to the purity of his conscience and to be a judge of the innocence of his heart (Job 30:33 seq.)! The man who could thus bear witness to his innocence could be a virtuous man of no ordinary sort. He was far from being one of the common class of righteous men known in ancient times. Such an one, far from being subject to the curse of wicked slander and calumny, could not be reckoned among ordinary sinners, or as a crafty hypocrite.
3. That, however, which exalts Job higher than all this is that which is said by him in the beginning of Job 31:0. (Job 31:1 seq.; comp. Job 31:7) in respect to his avoidance on principle even of all sins of thought, and impure lusts of the heart. “A covenant have I made for my eyes, and how should I fix my gaze on a maiden?” He who shows such earnestness as this in obeying the law of chastity, in avoiding all sinful lust, in extirpating even the slightest germs of sin in the play of thought, and in the look of the eyes—he strives after a holiness which is in fact better and more complete than the law of the Old Dispensation, with its prohibitions of coveting that which belongs to another (Exodus 20:17; Deuteronomy 5:21), could teach. He shows himself to be on the way which leads directly to that pure as well as complete righteousness and godlikeness, which has for its final aim purity of heart as the foundation and condition of one day beholding God, and which, in its activity towards men, takes the form of that perfect love which seeks nothing but good and blessing even for enemies, and devotes itself wholly and unreservedly to the kingdom of God—on the way, in short, to that holiness and purity of heart which Christ teaches and prescribes in the Sermon on the Mount. The fact that Job gives utterance to such high and clear conceptions of rectitude, virtue and holiness, is of especial interest for the reason that not one of the fundamental principles recognized by him is referred expressly to the Sinaitic law; but, on the contrary, the extra-Israelitish pre-Mosaic patriarchal character of his religious and ethical consciousness and activity is preserved throughout, and with conscious consistency by the poet in the description before us (comp. above on Job 31:24-27). In the strict accuracy with which this representation mirrors the characteristic features of the inner, as well as of the outer life of the patriarchal age, and in the fidelity with which the East cherishes and preserves the traditions of the primeval world in general, these utterances of a man who survived in the recollections of posterity as a moral pattern of the ætas patriar-charum, acquire indirectly even an apologetic importance which is not insignificant, in so far as it proves the impossibility of conceiving historically of the moral civilization of the patriarchs otherwise than as resting on the foundation of positive revelation. Comp. Delitzsch [II. 172 seq.]: “Job is not an Israelite, he is without the pale of the positive, Sinaitic revelation; his religion is the old patriarchal religion, which even in the present day is called din Ibrahim (the religion of Abraham, or din el-bedu (the religion of the steppe) as the religion of those Arabs who are not Moslem, or at least influenced by the penetrating Islamism, and is called by Mejânîshî el hanîfîje, as the patriarchally orthodox religion. As little as this religion, even in the present day, is acquainted with the specific Mohammedan commandments, so little knew Job of the specifically Israelitish. On the contrary, his confession, which he lays down in this third monologue, coincides remarkably with the ten “commandments of piety (el-felâh) peculiar to the dîn Ibrahîm, although it differs in this respect, that it does not give the prominence to submission to the dispensations of God, that teslîm which, as the whole of this didactic poem teaches by its issue, is the study of the perfectly pious; also bravery in defense of holy property and rights is wanting, which among the wandering tribes is accounted as an essential part of the hebbet er-rîh (inspiration of the Divine Being) i.e. active piety, and to which it is similarly related, as to the binding notion of ‘honor’ which was coined by the western chivalry of the middle ages. Job begins with the duty of chastity. Consistently with the prologue, which the drama itself nowhere belies, he is living in monogamy, as at the present day the orthodox Arabs, averse to Islamism, are not addicted to Moslem polygamy. With the confession of having maintained this marriage (although, to infer from the prologue, it was not an over-happy, deeply sympathetic one) sacred, and restrained himself not only from every adulterous act, but also from adulterous desires, his confessions begin. Here, in the middle of the Old Testament, without the pale of the Old Testament νόμος, we meet just that moral strictness and depth, with which the Preacher on the Mount (Matthew 5:27 seq.) opposes the spirit to the letter of the seventh commandment.” As Biblical parallels to the strict observance of the law of monogamic chastity in the patriarchal age, as the passage before us affirms it of Job, may be mentioned Isaac and Joseph, as also Moses and Aaron.
4. The fact that Job towards the end of his monologue (not quite at the end of it—see above on Job 31:38 seq.) repeats his previously uttered wish for a judicial interposition of God in his behalf is significant in so far as in this demand the triumph of his consciousness of innocence, by virtue of which he knows that he is secured against all dangers of defeat, expresses itself most strongly and clearly; and in this same connection the practical goal of his apologetic testimony hitherto is evident in his pressing on to the conclusion of the entire action. This conclusion of the action does not indeed follow immediately, inasmuch as a human teacher of wisdom next makes his appearance as the harbinger of Jehovah’s appearance,—preparing the way for it. This however takes place exactly in the way, and with the result which Job himself has wished and hoped for—the trial to which God finally condescends at Job’s repeated request, being such as yields for its result not a clean victory for Job, but rather a thorough humiliation of the pride and presumption, hitherto unknown to himself. But even this incongruity between Job’s desire and the way in which God grants it, corresponds perfectly to the poet’s plan, and is a most brilliant evidence of the purity and loftiness of his religious and moral way of thinking, in which a conscience so wonderfully delicate and enlightened as that which Job had disclosed in these his closing discourses nevertheless appears as in need of repentance, and unable to secure from God a verdict of unconditional justification. In like manner as Christ declared to that young man who boasted that he had kept all the commandments of the law from his youth up, that one thing was lacking, even to give up all his earthly possessions, and to secure an imperishable treasure in heaven (Mark 10:17, and the parallel passages), our poet first introduces Elihu, as a representative of the highest that human wisdom can teach and accomplish apart from a divine revelation, and then the revealing voice of God Himself, crying out to his hero a humiliating—“One thing thou lackest!” This one thing which Job yet lacked in order to be acknowledged by God as His well-beloved servant, and to be received again into His favor, is to humble himself beneath God’s mighty hand, willingly to accept all His dispensations as wise, gracious, and just, to be thoroughly delivered from that sinful self-exaltation, in which he had dared to find fault with God, and to be enraged against His alleged severity. This was the last thing belonging to him which he must give up, the last remnant of earthly impure dross, from which the gold of his heart must be set free, in order that he might become partaker of the divine grace of justification. In order really and completely to comprehend the divine wisdom, which in Job 28:0. he had so strikingly described as a precious treasure in heaven transcending all earthly jewels, in order actually to travel the hidden way to her, with that accurate knowledge of it which he had there portrayed, this one thing was still lacking to him:—the humble acknowledgment that even in his case God had acted altogether justly, altogether lovingly, altogether as a Father. To the possession of this one precious pearl he was led forward by Elihu and Jehovah through the two remaining stages in the solution of the problem.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
In unfolding the rich contents of the three preceding chapters according to their connection with the entire structure of the poem, and in assigning to these contents their true position in the inner progress of the action, it will be well to bestow special attention on the parallel just now indicated (Doctrinal and Ethical Remarks, No. 4) between Job and the rich young man. Job, earnestly and honestly striving after the kingdom of God, after an eternal fellowship of the life with God, with this in view receiving and enumerating all the moral treasures of his spirit and of his life, who notwithstanding his wealth in such treasures is discovered to be not yet just before God;—or, more briefly: Job, the Old Testament seeker after happiness, contemplating himself in the mirror of the law (Job, the prototype of that rich man, to whose perfection one thing was yet lacking);—such might be the statement of the theme of a comprehensive meditation on the material before us, according to its relations to that which precedes, and to that which follows. The length of the discourse indeed would necessitate a division into several parts, of which any one could not very well exceed the limits of one of the three chapters. The practical expositor will find the richest yield of fruitful hortatory motives in the two bright pictures which constitute the opening and the close of the long soliloquy (Job 29, 31), whereas the gloomy night-piece which they enclose (Job 30:0) seems in this respect relatively poor, and when compared with the similar descriptive lamentations in Job’s previous discourses, exhibits scarcely anything that is essentially new.
Job 29:2 seq. Cocceius: Job indeed in this place seems not so much to desire his former happiness, as to contrast the pleasure of a good conscience and of a friendship with God formed in youth, with his present fearful sufferings… He wishes for his former condition, adorned as it was with tokens of divine favor, not for the sake of those tokens, to wit, plenteousness and sweetness of life, but for the sake of that of which they were the seal… He distinguishes between his own chief good, and the things connected with it. …He brings forward his riches as a testimony of the past, not as a necessity of the present. For he knew that even a beggar can delight in God.—V. Gerlach: That which constitutes the kernel of the description here again is the constant nearness of God, the consciousness of His approbation, the certainty of His guidance; this is accompanied by the happy recollection that he had employed the honor which God had granted to him, the riches which He had bestowed on him, only to bless others: in short his position was that of a princely, royal representative of God on earth.
Job 29:18 seq. Cramer: On earth there is nothing that endures; if it goes well with any one, let him suspect that it may go ill with him (Sir. 2:26).—V. Gerlach: In Job’s allusion to the ancient legend of the phœnix, there lies a certain irony: I had hoped in respect to the permanence of my happiness that which was most incredible, most impossible, etc.
Job 30:1 seq. Brentius: From all these things (enumerated in the preceding chapter), Job’s authority is eulogized, that we may learn with what honor God sometimes distinguishes the pious. But in this chapter we are taught with what a cross He afflicts them that they may be tried; for it behooves the godly to be proved on the right hand and on the left, as Paul says 2 Corinthians 6:7 (comp. Philippians 4:12). But this is written for our instruction, that we may learn that nothing in the whole world, however excellent, endures, but that all things go to ruin; for both the heavens and the earth will perish, how much more carnal glory, authority and happiness (Isaiah 40:0).—Idem (on Job 30:12): Temptation is two-fold, on the right hand, and on the left. We are tempted on the right when fleshly joys, health, riches, majesty, glory abound—a temptation which, as it is most agreeable to the flesh, so also is it most dangerous. … We are tempted on the left by crosses, afflictions and evils of whatever sort, more safely, however, and with less danger, for we are more readily taught by the cross than destroyed by it.—Zeyss: To be the objects of extreme contempt and ridicule from the world is to pious believers a great tribulation, and inflicts deep wounds on their hearts, but even in this they must become like Christ their head (Hebrews 12:3)!—Idem (on Job 30:15): When God afflicts His children in the body, or by some other grievous outward calamity, this is seldom unaccompanied by inward trials, anguish, fear and terror; it. is with them, as with the Apostle—without fightings, within fears (2 Corinthians 7:5).
Job 31:1 seq. Oecolampadius: He sets before our eyes one who is absolutely righteous in every particular; for a man will not escape the wrath of God, if he is merciful to the wretched, while at the same time he pollutes himself with various lusts and crimes. He accordingly indulges in holy boasting that he had been blameless in the law, that he had kept his members from abominable sins, and devoted himself to the service of righteousness, keeping his eyes from lusting after a woman, his tongue from guile and falsehood, his hands and feet from cruelty, violence, revenge and rapacity. For he who puts such a watch upon his senses, he will easily be perfected in all things.—Starke: Forasmuch as it is through the eyes, for the most part, that whatsoever excites the lust finds its way into the heart, Job naturally begins with his watchfulness over this sense; from which it may be seen that he understood the divine law far better than the Pharisees in the time of Christ (Matthew 5:27 seq.).
Job 31:16 seq. Starke: He who does good to the poor will not remain unblessed (Psalms 41:2  seq.). Clothing the naked is a deed of mercy (Isaiah 58:7 seq.) which Christ will hereafter praise on the last day (Matthew 25:36).
Job 31:24 seq. Oecolampadius: See what a chain of virtues he links together, and what innocence he preserves through all things! It is not those only who acquire riches by plunder and lawlessness who incur God’s wrath, but those even who trust in riches honestly acquired, and who prefer them to God, so that they become their idol and their mammon. … The pious and grateful man would say: I have received from God; but they whose God is gold, have no God.—Starke: It was a proof of great constancy on the part of Job to serve the true God faithfully in the midst of idolaters, and to be most solicitous to show the more subtle idolatry of avarice as well as the more gross idolatry of sun and stars.
Job 31:35 seq. Osiander: Even godly people have flesh and blood, and often say things of which they must afterwards repent, and which they themselves cannot praise.—Wohlfarth: “I will, I can render an account before the Lord”—thus speaks Job in the consciousness that he has never committed a gross sin—nay, has even shunned most carefully the minor and more secret offenses. Was he, however, quite so sure of this? Was he in truth so absolutely blameless before God, to whom we must confess: “Lord, when I have done all things, I am still an unprofitable servant! Who can mark the number of his transgressions?” etc. There belongs in truth more to this than a man generally believes when he calls God as a witness.
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Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Job 31". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://studylight.org/
the Fifth Week after Epiphany