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FIRST SERIES OF CONTROVERSIAL DISCOURSES
THE ENTANGLEMENT IN ITS BEGINNING
I. Eliphaz and Job: Chap. 4–7
A.—The Accusation of Eliphaz: Man must not speak against God like Job
1. Introductory reproof of Job on account of his unmanly complaint, by which he could only incur God’s wrath:
1 Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said:
2 If we assay to commune with thee, wilt thou be grieved?
but who can withhold himself from speaking?
3 Behold, thou hast instructed many,
and thou hast strengthened the weak hands.
4 Thy words have upholden him that was falling,
and thou hast strengthened the feeble knees.
5 But now it is come upon thee, and thou faintest;
it toucheth thee, and thou art troubled.
6 Is not this thy fear, thy confidence,
thy hope, and the uprightness of thy ways?
7 Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished, being innocent?
or where were the righteous cut off?
8 Even as I have seen, they that plough iniquity,
and sow wickedness, reap the same.
9 By the blast of God they perish,
and by the breath of His nostrils are they consumed.
10 The roaring of the lion, and the voice of the fierce lion,
and the teeth of the young lions are broken.
11 The old lion perisheth for lack of prey,
and the stout lion’s whelps are scattered abroad.
2. An account of a heavenly revelation, which declared to him the wrongfulness and foolishness of weak sinful man’s raving against God:
Job 4:12 to Job 5:7
12 Now a thing was secretly brought to me,
and mine ear received a little thereof,
13 in thoughts from the visions of the night,
when deep sleep falleth on men—
14 fear came upon me, and trembling,
which made all my bones to shake.
15 Then a spirit passed before my face;
the hair of my flesh stood up!
16 It stood, but I could not discern the form thereof:
an image was before mine eyes;
there was silence, and I heard a voice, saying,
17 “Shall mortal man be more just than God?
shall a man be more pure than his Maker?
18 Behold, He put no trust in His servants;
and His angels He charged with folly:
19 how much less in them that dwell in houses of clay,
whose foundation is in the dust,
which are crushed before the moth?
20 They are destroyed from morning to evening;
they perish forever without any regarding it.
21 Doth not their excellency which is in them go away?
they die, even without wisdom.”
Job 5:1 Call now, if there be any that will answer thee;
and to which of the saints will thou turn?
2 For wrath killeth the foolish man,
and envy slayeth the silly one.
3 I have seen the foolish taking root;
but suddenly I cursed his habitation.
4 His children are far from safety,
and they are crushed in the gate, neither is there any to deliver them:
5 whose harvest the hungry eateth up,
and taketh it even out of the thorns,
and the robber swalloweth up their substance.
6 Although affliction cometh not forth of the dust,
neither doth trouble spring out of the ground;
7 yet man is born unto trouble,
as the sparks fly upward.
3. Admonition to repentance, as the only means by which Job can recover God’s favor and his former happy estate:
8 I would seek unto God,
and unto God would I commit my cause;
9 which doeth great things and unsearchable,
marvellous things without number;
10 who giveth rain upon the earth,
and sendeth waters upon the fields;—
11 to set up on high those that be low,
that those which mourn may be exalted to safety.
12 He disappointeth the devices of the crafty,
so that their hands cannot perform their enterprise.
13 He taketh the wise in their own craftiness,
and the counsel of the froward is carried headlong.
14 They meet with darkness in the day-time,
and grope in the noonday as in the night.
15 But He saveth the poor from the sword, from their mouth,
and from the hand of the mighty.
16 So the poor hath hope,
and iniquity stoppeth her mouth.
17 Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth;
therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty.
18 For He maketh sore, and bindeth up;
He woundeth, and His hands make whole.
19 He shall deliver thee in six troubles;
yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee.
20 In famine He shall redeem thee from death,
and in war from the power of the sword.
21 Thou shalt be hid from the scourge of the tongue,
neither shalt thou be afraid of destruction when it cometh.
22 At destruction and famine thou shalt laugh;
neither shalt thou be afraid of the beasts of the earth.
23 For thou shalt be in league with the stones of the field,
and the beasts of the field shall be at peace with thee.
24 And thou shalt know that thy tabernacle shall be in peace;
and thou shalt visit thy habitation, and shalt not sin.
25 Thou shalt know also that thy seed shall be great,
and thine offspring as the grass of the earth.
26 Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age,
like as a shock of corn cometh in his season.
27 Lo this, we have searched it, so it is:
hear it, and know thou it for thy good.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
1.Job 4:1. Then answered Eliphaz,… and said.—It is beyond question the poet’s aim in this first discourse of Eliphaz to put forward as the first arraigner of Job a man venerable through age and experience, calm and dispassionate, godly after his manner, but at the same time entangled in a one-sided eudemonism and theory of work-righteousness. It is a genuine sage who discourses here: not indeed another Job, but still a character of marked superiority over his two associates, Bildad and Zophar, in experimental insight and sterling personal worth, who here “with the self-confident pathos of age and the mien of a prophet” communicates his experiences, annexing thereto warnings, exhortations and admonitions. [“He, the oldest and most illustrious, the leader and spokesman, appears here at once in his greatest brilliancy. What a fullness in the argument, which at first sight seems unanswerable! How well he knows how to produce illustrations and proofs from revelation and from experience, from among the inhabitants of heaven and of earth! And what poetic beauty irradiates it all! How he strikes with equal skill each various chord of mild reproach, of self-assured conviction, of the awful, of the elevated, of calm instruction, of friendly appeal! How clearly and sharply marked are its divisions, alike as to thought and poetic form! Every strophe is a rounded completed whole in itself: and with what freedom, and, at the same time, with what internal necessity does one strophe link itself to another! One might say that as an artistic discourse this part is the completest in the whole book of Job, that it seems as though the poet wished to show at the very beginning the perfection of his art.” Schlottmann. “The speech is wonderfully artistic and exhaustive, unmistakably manifesting the speaker’s high standing and self-conscious superiority, and his conviction of Job’s guilt, yet showing a desire to spare him, even while being faithful with him, and to lead him back to rectitude and humility rather by an exhibition of the goodness of God than of his own sin. The speech is exquisitely climactic, rising, as Ewald says, from the faint whisper and tune of the summer wind to the loud and irresistible thunder of the wintry storm.” Dav.]
The discourse opens with a sharp attack on Job’s comfortless and hopeless lamentation, as something which was adapted to bring down on him God’s wrath, which, as experience shows, is visited on every ungodly man (Job 4:2-11). He strengthens this admonition by describing a heavenly vision which had appeared to him during the night, and which had spoken to him, teaching him how foolish and how wrong it is for man to rebel against God (Job 4:12 to Job 5:7). The close of his discourse consists of a kindly admonition to Job to return accordingly to God in a spirit of prayer and penitent humility, in which case God would certainly deliver him out of his misery, and exalt him out of his present low estate (Job 5:8-27).1 The first and shortest of these three divisions forms at the same time the first of the five double strophes, into which the entire discourse falls. The two following divisions are subdivided each into two double strophes of almost equal length, as follows: Div. Job 2 : a. Job 4:12-21; b. Job 5:1-7.—Div. Job 3 : a. Job 5:8-16; b. Job 5:17-27.
2. First Division and Double Strophe: Introductory reproof of Job’s faint-hearted lamentation, whereby he could only call down on himself God’s anger: Job 4:2-11.
First Strophe: Job 4:2-6. Retrospective reference to Job’s former godly and righteous life.
Job 4:2. Should one venture a word to thee, wilt thou be grieved?—[The friendly courtesy of these opening words of Eliphaz is worthy of note. They are at once dignified, sympathetic and considerate. At the same time, as Dillmann observes, there is a certain “coldness and measured deliberation” about them, which not improbably grated somewhat on Job’s sensibilities, yearning, as his heart now did, for more tangible and soulfull sympathy. Eliphaz speaks less as a sympathizing friend, than as a fatherly adviser, and a benevolent but critical sage.—E.] The interrogative particle הֲ, referring to the principal verb תִּלְאֶה, is prefixed to the first word of the sentence. [See Green, Gr. § 283, a.] It is immediately followed by an elliptical conditional clause, נִסָּה דָבָר אֵלֶיךָ (comp. the same construction in Job 4:21; also in Numbers 16:22; Jeremiah 8:4), forming an antecedent clause to the principal verb. To be rendered accordingly: “Wilt thou find it irksome, take it hard, will it offend thee, if one attempts a word to thee?” נִסָּה is most simply regarded as third pers. sing. Piel of נסה, tentare, after Ecclesiastes 7:23. It is less natural, with Umbreit, etc., to take it as Pret. Niph. in the same sense, or following the old versions, to see in it a variant form of נִשָּׂא (comp. Psalms 4:7), as though it were נשא דבר, “to speak a word:” Job 27:1; Psalms 15:3; Psalms 81:3. In the latter case the word must be taken either as 3d sing. Niph. in the passive sense (“should a word be spoken”) or, more probably, as 1st plur. Imperf. Kal (“should we speak”), in which latter case again two interpretations are possible, namely either: “wilt thou, should we speak a word against thee, take offence” (Rosenm., etc., comp. the Ancient Versions)? or: “shall we speak a word against thee, with which thou wilt be offended” (Ewald, Bib. Jahrb. ix. 37; Böttcher)? Against the first rendering may be urged the unusual construction of an Imperf. in an elliptical conditional sentence; against the latter the unheard of transitive rendering which it assumes for לאה. [In favor of taking נסה here in the sense of: “to attempt, to venture,” it may be said: (1) This meaning is entirely legitimate. (2) It is more expressive. (3) It is more in harmony with the courtesy which marks these opening words of Eliphaz. Hengstenberg’s rendering is somewhat different from any of those given above: “Shall one venture a word to thee, who art wearied?” But the elliptical construction thus assumed seems less simple and natural than the one adopted above.—E.] And yet to hold back from words [or speaking] who is able? For the use of עצר with בְּ, “to hold back from [or, in respect to] anything,” comp. Job 12:15; Job 29:9. For the sharpened form וַעְצֹר instead of וַעֲצֹר, see Ew. § 245, b.—מִלִּין, Aram. plur. ending (comp. Job 12:11; Job 15:13) of מִלָּה, which occurs in our book thirty times, whereas מִלִּים occurs but ten times in all.
Job 4:3. Behold, thou hast admonished many.—יִסַּרְתָּ, lit. thou hast chastised, disciplined, namely, with words of reproof and loving admonition. The Perf. here points back to Job’s normal conduct in former days when revered by all, and thus furnishes the standard by which the time of the following Imperf. verb is to be determined. The general sense of Job 4:3-4 is: “Thou wast wont formerly to conduct thyself in regard to the sufferings of others so correctly and blamelessly, to show such a proper understanding of the cause and aim of heavy judgments inflicted by God, to deal with sufferings in a way so wise and godlike! But now when suffering has overtaken thyself, etc. … And slack hands hast thou strengthened.—“Slack hands:” a sensuous figure representing faint-heartedness and despondency, as also in 2 Samuel 4:1; Isaiah 35:3. In the last member of Job 4:4 the expression “stumbling [lit. bowing, i.e. sinking] knees” is used in essentially the same sense (and so in Hebrews 12:12).
Job 4:5. Because it is now come to thee, to wit, suffering, misfortune. This construction of the impersonal or neutral תָּבוֹא is suggested by the context, [and this indefinite statement of the subject is at once more considerate and impressive than if it had been expressed.—E.] כּי is construed by Hirzel, Hahn, Schlottmann, Delitzsch, etc., as a particle of time: “Now when it is come to thee.” But the position, כִּי עַתָּה favors rather the causal rendering of the first particle, “because now,” etc. Comp. Dillmann. [Others explain by supplying an omitted clause: e.g. “I say these things because,” etc. Ewald: “How strange that thou now faintest.” The adversative use of כִּי, (“but now”), except after a negative clause, is too doubtful to be relied on here.—E.] It toucheth thee (תִּגַּע עָדֶיךָ, comp. Isaiah 16:8; Jeremiah 4:10; Micah 1:9), and thou art confounded. וַתִּבָּהֵל, lit. “art seized with terror, and thereby put out of countenance;” comp. Job 21:6; Job 23:15. [“It is unfair to Eliphaz to suppose that he utters his wonder with any sinister tone—as if he would hint that Job found it somewhat easier to counsel others than console himself; his astonishment is honest and honestly expressed that a man who could say such deep things on affliction, and things that reached so far into the heart of the afflicted, that could lay bare such views of providence and the uses of adversity, and thus invigorate the weak, should himself be so feeble and desponding when suffering came to his own door.” Dav. Doubtless the words express surprise on the part of Eliphaz, and were spoken with a kind intent; but also with a certain severity, a purpose to probe Job’s conscience, to lead him to self-examination, and to the discovery of the hidden evil within, of the existence of which Eliphaz, with his theodicy, could have no doubt.—E.]
Job 4:6. Is not thy godly fear thy confidence? thy hope—the uprightness of thy ways? The order of the words is chiastic [decussated, inverted]: in the first member the subject, יִרְאָֽתְךָ, stands at the beginning; in the second member it is found at the end, תֹּם דְּרָכֶיךָ, evidently synonymous with יִרְאָה. A similar case is found in Job 36:26. Altogether too artificial and forced, and too much at variance with the principles which govern the structure of Hebrew verse, is the explanation attempted by Delitzsch: “Is not thy piety thy confidence, thy hope? And the uprightness of thy ways?” (viz. and is not the uprightness of thy ways thy confidence and thy hope?) Eliphaz twice again makes use of the ellipsis יִרְאָה for יִרְאַת אֱלֹהים in his discourses (Job 15:4; Job 22:4 : and comp. הַדַּעַת, Hosea 4:6 for דעת אלהם). [“The word fear is the most comprehensive term for that mixed feeling called piety, the contradictory reverence and confidence, awe and familiarity, which, like the centripetal and centrifugal forces, keep man in his orbit around God.” Dav.] כִּסְלָה, confidence, assurance (the same which elsewhere=כֶסֶל, Job 8:14; Job 31:24), not “folly” (LXX.). [The Vav in the second member is the Vav of the apodosis, or of relation. See Green, Gr. § 287, 3.—The rendering of E. V.: “Is not this thy fear, thy confidence, thy hope, and the uprightness of thy ways?” overlooks the parallelism, and is unintelligible. Some (Hupfeld, Merx) cut the knot by transposing הִּקְוָתְֽךָ to the end of the verse. The construction as it stands is certainly peculiar, yet not enough so to justify any change. Moreover it seems to have escaped all the commentators that the very harshness and singularity of the construction is intentional, having for its object to arrest more forcibly the attention of Job, to stir up his consciousness on the subject of his piety and rectitude, and thus to further the process of probing his soul on which Eliphaz is in this part of his discourse engaged.—E.]
Job 4:7-11 Second Strophe: More explicit expansion of Job 4:6, wherein it is shown as the conclusion of experience that the pious never fall into dire affliction, whereas on the contrary the ungodly and the wicked do so often and inevitably.
Job 4:7. Remember now! who that was innocent has perished? [“It would be unfair to Eliphaz (as well as quite beside his argument, the purpose of which is to reprove Job’s impatience, and lead him back by repentance to God), to suppose that he argued in this way: Who ever perished being innocent? Thou hast perished; therefore thy piety and the integrity of thy ways have been a delusion. On the contrary his argument is: Where were the pious ever cut off? Thou art pious: why is not thy piety thy hope? Why fall, being a pious man, and as such of necessity to be finally prospered by God, into such irreligious and wild despair? Eliphaz acknowledges Job’s piety, and makes it the very basis of his exhortation; of course, though pious, he had been guilty (as David was) of particular heinous sins, which explained and caused his calamities. The fundamental axiom of the friends produced here both positively and negatively as was meet for the first announcement of it by Eliphaz is, that whatever appearance to the contrary and for a time, yet ultimately and always the pious were saved and the wicked destroyed.” Dav.] The הוּא annexed to the מִי gives greater vivacity to the question; comp. Job 13:19; Job 17:3; also the similar phrase מִי זֶה (Gesen. § 122, 2).
Job 4:8. So far as I have seen, they who plough mischief and sow ruin reap the same.—כַּאֲשֶׁר רָאִיתִי, not “when (or if) I saw” (Vaih., Del.), for this construction of כאשר does not allow the omission of the Vav Consec. before the apodosis. But either the whole sentence is to be taken as a statement of the comparison with that which precedes, to which it is annexed, thus: “As I have seen: they who plough … reap the same” (Hirz., Schlott. [Con.]). Or we are to explain with most of the later commentators;” “So far as I have seen,” i.e. so far as my experience goes (Rosenm., Arnh., Stick., Welte, Heiligst., Ew., Dillm. [Dav., Merx], etc.). אָוֶן, lit. “nothingness,” then “sin, wickedness, mischief.”—עָמָל as in Job 3:10. The agricultural figure of sowing (or ploughing) and reaping, emphatically representing the organically necessary connection of cause and effect in the domain of the moral life; to be found also in Hosea 8:7; Hosea 10:13; Proverbs 22:8; Galatians 6:7 seq.; 2 Corinthians 9:6, and often.
Job 4:9. By the breath of Eloah they perish: like plants, which a burning hot wind scorches (Genesis 41:6). The discourse thus carries forward the preceding figure. On the use of the divine name אֱלוֹהַּ in our poem, see Introd. § 5. The נִשְׁמַת אֱלוֹהַּ is in b. still more specifically defined as רוּחַ אַפו, lit. “breath of his nostril,” i.e. blast of his anger. Both synonyms are still more closely bound together in Psalms 18:16. [“As the previous verse describes retribution as a natural necessity founded in the order of the world, so does this verse trace back this game order of the world to the divine causality.” Schlott. Lee, criticising the A. V.’s rendering of נְשָׁמָה in the first member by “blast,” says: “I know of no instance in which the word will bear this sense. It rather means a slight or gentle breathing.… The sentiment seems to be: they perish from the gentlest breathing of the Almighty .. It is added: and from the blast of his nostril, or wrath, they come to an end. From the construction here, blast or storm is probably meant. See Psalms 11:6; Hosea 13:15, etc., and if so, we shall have a sort of climax here.”]
Job 4:10-11. From the vegetable kingdom the figurative representation of the discourse passes over to that of animal life, in order to show, by the destruction of a family of lions, how the insolent pride of the wicked is crushed by the judgment of God.—The cry of the lion, and the voice of the roaring lion, and the teeth of the young lions are broken; the strong [lion] perishes for lack of prey, and the whelps of the lioness are scattered.—[Merx rejects these two verses as spurious; but their appropriateness in the connection will appear from what is said below.—E.] Not less than five different names of the lion are used in this description, showing the extent to which the lion abounded in the lands of the Bible, and especially in the Syro-Arabian country, which was the scene of our poem. The usual name אַרְיֵה stands first; next follows the purely poetic designation, שַׁחַל, “the roarer” (Vaih.), comp. Job 10:16; Job 28:8; Psalms 91:13; Proverbs 26:13; Hosea 5:14; Hosea 13:7; then in Job 4:10 b comes the standard expression for young lions, כְּפִירִים, comp. Judges 14:5; Psalms 17:12; Psalms 104:21; then follows in Job 4:11 aלַיִשׁ, “the strong one,” from לִישׁ, “to be strong,” found again in Proverbs 30:30, and being thus limited to the diction of poetry, and finally in Job 4:11 b the no less poetic לָבִיא, which here, as well as in Job 38:29; Genesis 49:9; Numbers 24:9, denotes the lioness, for which, however, we have also the distinctive feminine form לְבִיָא in Ezekiel 19:2. [“The young lions are mentioned along with the old in order to exemplify the destruction of the haughty sinner with all his household.” Schlott.] נִתָּעוּ (from נתע, frangere, conterere, an Aramaizing alternate form of נתצ, comp. Psalms 58:7) signifies: “are shattered, are dashed out;’ an expression which, strictly taken, suits only the last subject שִׁנֵּי כּ, but may by zeugma be referred to both the preceding subjects, to which such a verb as “are silenced” would properly correspond. Observe the use of the perf. נִתָּעוּ in making vividly present the sudden destruction of the rapacious lions, which is then followed in Job 4:11, first by a present partic. (אֹבֵר), then by a present Imperf. (יִתְפָרָדוּ), describing them in their present condition, shattered, broken in strength, and restrained in their rage. [Delitzsch remarks that “the partic. אֹבֵד is a stereotype expression for wandering about prospectless and helpless,” a definition which here, as well as in the passages to which he refers, would considerably weaken the sense. See Hengsten. in loco.—E.] מִבְּלִי, “for the lack of;” the same as “without;” comp. Job 4:20; Job 6:6; Job 24:7-8; Job 31:19. [“From wicked man his imagination suddenly shifts to his analogue among beasts, the lion, and there appears before him one old and helpless, his teeth dashed out, his roar silenced, dying for lack of prey, and being abandoned by all his kind; a marvellous picture of a sinner once powerful and bloody, but now destitute of power, and with only his bloody instincts remaining to torture and mock his impotency.” Dav.]
3. Second Division: describing a heavenly revelation which declared to him the wrongfulness and the folly of frail, sinful man’s anger against God.—a. Second Double Strophe: the heavenly revelation itself, introduced by a description of the awful nocturnal vision through which it was communicated: Job 4:12-21.
First Strophe: Job 4:12-16. The night-vision.
Job 4:12. And to me there stole a word.—Lit. “and to me there was stolen, there was brought in a stealthy, mysterious manner.” The imperf. יְגֻנָּב is ruled by the following imperf. consec. [“The speaker is thrown back again by the imagination into the imposing circumstances of the eventful night.… The Pual implies that the oracle was sent.” Dav.] The separation of the ו which properly belongs to the verb יְגֻנָּב, but which is placed here, at the beginning of the verse, before אֵלַי [“because he desires, with pathos, to put himself prominent,” Del.] rests on the fact that that which is now about to be related, and especially the דָּבָר which came to Eliphaz, is hereby designated as something new, as something additional to that which has already been observed. [This separation is quite often met with in poetry. Comp. Psalms 69:22; Psalms 78:15; Psalms 78:26; Psalms 78:29, etc. See Ew. Gr. § 346 b.] And mine ear caught a whisper therefrom:i.e., proceeding therefrom, occasioned by that communication of a mysterious דבר. The מו in מֶנְהוּ (poetic form, for מִמֶּנּוּ, Ew. § 263 b) is therefore causative, not partitive, as Hahn and Delitzsch regard it. שֶׁמֶץ signifies here, as in Job 26:14, a faint whisper, or lisp [or murmur], ψιθυρισμός, susurrus, not “a little, a minimum,” as the Targ., Pesh., the Rabbis [and the Eng. Ver.] render it. The word is to be derived either from שָׁמַע, thus denoting a faint, indistinct impression on the ear (Arnheim, Delitzsch), or from the primitive root, דם ,שם, to which, according to Dillmann, who produces its Æthiopic cognate, the idea attaches of “lip-closing, dumbness, and low-speaking.” [Here the word “is designed to show the value of such a solemn communication, and to arouse curiosity.” Del. “The whole description of the way in which the communication was made indicates, perhaps, the naturalness and calmness and peace of the intercourse of man’s spirit and God’s—how there is nothing forced or strained in God’s communication to man—it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath—and at the same time man’s impaired capacity and receptiveness and dullness of spiritual hearing.” Dav. “The word was too sacred and holy to come loudly and directly to his ear.” Del.
Job 4:13-16 present a more specific description of that which is stated generally in Job 4:12.
Job 4:13. In the confused thoughts from visions of the night, when deep sleep falls on men.—Whether with most expositors we connect these words with the verse preceding, as a supplementary determination of the time, or as a preliminary statement of time connected with what follows (Umbreit, Dillmann, Conant, etc.), matters not as to the sense.—שְׂעִפִּים are here, as also in Job 20:2, “thoughts proceeding like branches from the heart as their root, and intertwining themselves” (Delitzsch). [The root, according to Del. and Fürst, is שעף, to bind; according to Ges., Dav., etc., it is for סעף, to split; hence here and Job 20:2 “fissures, divisions, divided counsels (1 Kings 18:21), thoughts running away into opposite ramifications, distracting doubts.” Dav.] The following מִן indicates that these thoughts proceed from visions of the night, i.e., dream-visions; from which, however, it does not follow that Eliphaz intends to refer what he is about to narrate purely to the sphere of the life of dreams. For the determination of the time in our verse is altogether general, as the second member in particular shows. Hengstenberg’s position that Eliphaz includes himself among the “men” designated here as those on whom deep sleep falls, and that he accordingly represents his vision as literally a dream-vision, has no foundation in the context. (Comp. still further Passavant’s remark on Job 4:13 under the head “Homiletical and Practical”). [“There are three things contained in the genetic process or progress towards this oracle. First, visions of the night, raising deep questions of man’s relation to God, but leaving them unsolved, short flights of the spirit into superhuman realms, catching glimpses of mysteries, too short to be self-revealing—these are the visions. Second, the perturbed, perplexed, and meditative condition of the spirit following these, when it presses into the darkness of the visions for a solution, and is rocked and tossed with fear or longing—the thoughts from the visions. And third, there is the new revelation clearing away the doubts and calming the perturbation of the soul, a revelation attained either by the spirit rising convulsively out of its trouble, and piercing by a new divinely-given energy the heart of things before hidden; or by the truth being communicated to it by some Divine messenger or word.” Dav. The oracle was conveyed by a dream, “because in the patriarchal age such oracles were of most frequent occurrence, as may be seen, e.g. in the book of Genesis.” Ewald]. For תַּרְדֵּמָה, “deep sleep,” such as is wont to be experienced about the hour of midnight, in contrast to ordinary sleep, שֵֹׁנָה, and to the light, wakeful slumber of morning, תְּנוּמָה, comp. Genesis 2:21; Genesis 15:12; 1 Samuel 26:12; also below, Job 33:15, where Elihu has a description imitative of the passage before us. [“תַּרְדֵּמָה is the deep sleep related to death and ecstasy, in which man sinks back from outward life into the remotest ground of his inner life.” Del. Per contra Davidson says: “תרדמה is used generally of ecstatic, divinely-induced sleep, yet not exclusively (Proverbs 19:15, and verb, Jonah 1:5), and not here. The meaning is that the vision came, not at the hour when prophetic slumber is wont to fall on men (and that El. was under such), but simply at the hour when men were naturally under deep sleep. El. was thus alone with the vision, and the solitary encounter accounts for the indelible impression its words and itself left on him.”]
Job 4:14. Shuddering [fear] came upon me (קְרָאַנִי, from קרה=קרא, to meet, befall, come upon, comp. Genesis 42:38), and trembling, and sent a shudder through the multitude of my bones: the subject of הִפְחִיד being the “shuddering” and the “trembling,” not “the ghostlike something” (as Delitzsch says), of which Eliphaz first proceeds to speak in the following verse. [The perf. vbs. in this verse are pluperf. “A terror had fallen upon me, like a certain vague lull which precedes the storm, as if nature were uneasily listening and holding in her breath for the coming calamity.” So Davidson.—רֹב in poetry is often used for כֹּל, all. The terror striking through his bones indicates how deeply and thoroughly he was agitated. Bones, as elsewhere in similar passages, for the substratum of the bodily frame.—E.]
Job 4:15. And a spirit passed before me; lit.: passes before me (יַחֲלֹף, “glides, flits”); for the description as it grows more vivid introduces in this and the following verse the imperf. in place of the introductory perf. For רוּחַ in the sense of “a spirit,” the apparition of a spirit or an angel, comp. 1 Kings 22:21. So correctly the ancient Versions, Umbreit, Ewald, Heiligstedt, Hahn [Good, Lee, Wem., Ber., Noy., Bar., Carey], etc. On the other hand [Schult.], Rosenm., Hirzel, Böttcher, Stickel, Delitzsch, Dillmann [Schlott., Ren., Rod,, Merx] render: “and a breath [of wind] passed over me,” a current of air, such as is wont to accompany spirit-communications from the other world (comp. Job 38:1; 1 Kings 19:11; Acts 2:2, etc.). The description in the following verse, however, does not agree with this rendering, especially the יַעֲמֹד, which is unmistakably predicated of the רוּחַ in the sense of “an angel, a personal spirit.” [It needs no argument to prove that the “spirit” here introduced is a good spirit, although it may be mentioned in passing that Codurcus, the Jesuit commentator, followed by some others, regards him as an evil spirit. This notion is advanced in the interest of the theory that Job’s friends are throughout to be condemned.—E.]—The hairs of my body bristled up.—תְּסַמֵּר, Piel intensive, “to rise up mightily, to bristle up.” שַׂעֲרָה, elsewhere the individual hair (capillus), here a collective word (coma, crines), of the same structure as עֲנָנָה, Job 3:5. [The expression שַׂעֲרַת בְּשָׁרִי, lit.: “the hair of my flesh,’ shows that the terror, which in Job 4:14 thrilled through all his bones, here creeps over his whole body.—E.]
Job 4:16. It stood there, I discerned not its appearance—The subj. of יַעֲמֹד is not the “unknown something” of the preceding verse (Rosenm., etc.), but the spirit, as it is already known to be, which has hitherto flitted before Eliphaz, but which now stands still to speak (comp. 1 Samuel 3:10).—An image before mine eyes;תְּמוּנָה, the word which in respect to spiritual phenomena is most nearly expressive of “form.” In Numbers 12:8; Psalms 17:15 it is used of the μορφή or δόξα of God. Here it is very suitably used to describe the spiritual or angelic apparition, fading into indefiniteness; for it refers back to רוּחַ, the true subject of יַעֲמֹד, being placed after it in apposition to it.—A murmur and a voice I heard.—דְּמָמָהוָקֹל, a “lisping murmur and a voice,” a hendiadys, signifying a murmur uttering itself in articulate tones, a “murmuring or whispering voice” (Hahn). [So Ges., Fürst, Words., Dillm., Del., Dav.]. Umbreit (1st Ed.), Schlottmann [Eng. Ver., Good, Lee, Con., Carey, Ren.] take דְּמָמָה, but unsuitably, in the sense of “silence.” For the true sense comp. 1 Kings 19:12. [Of those who take דממה in the sense of silence there are two classes, the one, represented by the English Version and commentators, separates between the “silence” and the “voice:” first the silence, then the voice, as Renan: “in the midst of the silence I heard a voice;” the other, represented by Schlottmann and Hengstenberg, combine the two terms as a hendiadys, “a commingling of both, a faint, muffled voice” (Hengst.) Schlottmann quotes from Gersonides as follows: “And I heard his wonderful words as though they were compounded of the voice and of silence.” Burke in his Treatise on the Sublime and Beautiful has the following remarks on this vision: “There is a passage in the book of Job amazingly sublime, and this sublimity is principally due to the terrible uncertainty of the thing described.… We are first prepared with the utmost solemnity for the vision; we are first terrified before we are let even into the obscure cause of our emotion; but when this grand cause of terror makes its appearance, what is it? is it not wrapt up in the shades of its own incomprehensible darkness, more awful, more striking, more terrible than the liveliest description, than the clearest painting, could possibly represent it?”—E.]
Second strophe, Job 4:17-21. The contents of the revelation communicated through the vision.
Job 4:17. Is a mortal just before Eloah, or before his Maker is a man pure?—Already in this question is contained the substance of the revelation; Job 4:18-21 only furnish the proof of this proposition” from the universal sinfulness of men. מִן here is not comparative, “more just than” (Vulg., Luth. [E. V.], etc.), but “from the side of any one” [Gesenius: “marking the author of a judgment or estimate: here in the judgment or sight of God.”] Hence “is a man just from the side of God?” i.e., from God’s stand-point; or, more briefly: “before God” (LXX.: ἐναντίον τοῦ θεοῦ). In the same sense with this מִן = coram (for which comp. Numbers 16:9; Numbers 32:22), we find עִם in Job 9:2; Job 25:4; and בְּעֵינֵי in Job 15:15; Job 25:5. [According to the other (the comparative) rendering, the sentiment is: “Whoever censures the course of Providence, by complaining of his own lot (as Job had done), claims to be more just than God, the equity of whose government he thus arraigns.” See Conant, Davidson, etc.]
Job 4:18. Lo, in His servants He trusteth not; and to His angels He imputes error.—“Servants” (עבדים) and “angels” (מלאכים) are only different designations of the same superhuman beings, who in Job 1:6 are called “sons of God.” Eliphaz refers to them here in order to introduce a conclusion a majori ad minus. שִׂים בְּ, lit.: “to place anything in one,” i.e., to ascribe anything to one, imputare. Comp. 1 Samuel 22:15.—תָּהֳלָה is most correctly explained by Dillmann, after the Ethiopic, as signifying “error, imperfection” (so also Ewald [Fürst, Delitzsch], and still earlier Schnurrer, after the Arabic). The derivation from הלל, according to which it would mean “folly, presumption” (Kimchi, Gesenius [Schlottmann, Renan], etc.), is etymologically scarcely to be admitted [on account of the half vowel, and still more the absence of the Daghesh. Del.] The ancient versions seem only to have guessed at the sense (Vulg., pravum quid; LXX., σκολιόν τι; Chald., iniquitas; Pesch, stupor). Hupfeld needlessly attempts to amend after Job 24:12, where the parallel word תִּפְלָה is given as the object of שִׂים בְּ. [“It is not meant that the good spirits positively sin, as if sin were a natural necesary consequence of their creature-ship and finite existence, but that even the holiness of the good spirits is never equal to the absolute holiness of God, and that this deficiency is still greater in man, who is both spiritual and corporeal, who has earthiness as the basis of his original nature.” Del.]
Job 4:18. How much more they who dwell in houses of clay.—אַף here introducing the conclusion of the syllogism a majori ad minus, begun in Job 4:18, and so = אַף כִּי (Job 9:14; Job 15:16; Job 25:6); here, as in 2 Samuel 16:11, to be translated by quanto magis, because a positive premise (Job 4:18 b.) precedes; comp. Ewald, § 354, c. Those “who dwell in houses of clay” are men generally. There is no particular reference to those who are poor and miserable. For the expression בָּתֵּי־חֹמֶר does not point to men’s habitations, but to the material, earthly, frail bodies with which they are clothed, their φθαρτὰ σώματα (comp. Job 33:6; Wis 9:15; 2 Corinthians 5:1, as well as the Mosaic account of creation which lies at the foundation of all these representations; see Genesis 2:7; Genesis 3:19). It may be said further that the figurative and indefinite character of the language here justifies no particular deductions either in respect to the nature and constitution of angels (to wit, whether in Eliphaz’s conception they are altogether incorporeal, or whether they are endowed with supra-terrestrial corporeality), nor in respect to the doctrine which he may have entertained concerning the causal nexus between man’s sensuous nature (corporeity) and sin.—The foundation of which is in the dust;viz.: of the houses of clay, for it is to these that the suffix points in אֲשֶׁר יְסוֹדָם; comp. Genesis 3:19.—Which are crushed as though they were moths.—The suffix in יְדַכְּאוּם again refers back to the “houses of clay,” only that here those who dwell in them, men, are included with them in one notion. The subj. of ידכאום is indefinite; it embraces “everything that operates destructively on the life of man.” לִפְנֵי־עָשׁ, not “sooner than the moth is destroyed” (Hahn), nor: “sooner than that which is devoured by the moth” (Kamphsn.), nor: “more rapidly than a moth destroys” (Oehler, Fries), nor: “set before the moth [or ‘worm,’ after Jarchi] to be crushed” (Schlottmann), but: “like moths, as though they were moths” (LXX: σητὸς τρόπον). לִפְנֵי accordingly means the same here as in Job 3:24, and the tertium comparationis is the moth’s frailty and powerlessness to resist, and not its agency in slowly but surely destroying and corroding, to which allusion is made in Hosea 5:12; Isaiah 1:9; Isaiah 51:8; also below in Job 13:28 of our book. [To the latter idea the verb דִּכֵּא used here is altogether unsuited, the meaning being to crush, not to consume in the manner of the moth.]
Job 4:20. From morning to evening are they destroyed;i.e., in so short a space of time as the interval between morning and evening they can be destroyed, one can destroy them (יֻכָּֽתּוּ, potential and impersonal, like ידכאום in Job 4:19). For the use of this phrase, “from morning till evening,” as equivalent to “in the shortest time,” comp. Isaiah 38:12; also our proverbial saying: “well at morning, dead at night,” as well as the name “day-fly” [comp. “day-lily,” “ephemeron.”]—Before any one marks it they perish forever.—מִבְּלִי מֵשִׂים, scil. לֵב (comp. Job 1:8; Job 23:6; Job 24:12), “without there being any one who gives heed to it, who regards it,” and hence the same as “unobserved, unawares;” not “in folly,” “without understanding” (Ewald).
Job 4:21. Is it not so:—if their cord in them is torn away, they die, and not in wisdom?—The construction is the same as in Job 4:2; the words נסע יתרם בם are an elliptical conditional clause, intercalated in the principal interrogative sentence. יִתְרָם (which Olshausen needlessly proposes to amend to יְתֵדָם, “their tent-pin”), is neither “their residue” (Vulgate, Rabb., Luther, etc.); nor “their best, their chief excellence” (De Wette, Amheim, Schlottmann [Davidson, Barnes, Noyes, E. V.], etc.); nor their bow-string (“the string which is drawn out in them as in a bow,” and which is unloosed to make the bow useless; Umbreit); [nor “their abundance, excess, whether of wealth or tyranny,” and which passes away with them (Lee), which does not suit the universality of the description; nor “their fluttering round is over with them” (Good, Wemyss; taking הלא as a verb, “to pass away,” and נסע as a noun, “fluttering;” two forced interpretations)—E.]; but—the only interpretation with which the verb נִסַּע, “to be torn away,” agrees (comp. Judges 16:3; Judges 16:14; Isaiah 33:20)—“their tent-cord,” the thread of their life, here conceived as a cord stretched out and holding up the tent of the body; comp. Job 30:11; Isaiah 38:12; also Job 6:9; Job 27:8; and especially Ecclesiastes 12:6, where this inward hidden thread of life is represented as the silver cord, which holds up the lamp suspended from the tent-canvass (see comment on the passage). This, the only correct construction of the passage (according to which מֵיתָר=יֶתֶר, tent-cord), is adopted by J. D. Michaelis, Hirzel, Hahn, Delitzsch, Kamphsn., Dillmann [Wordsworth, Renan, Rodwell, Gesenius, Fürst]. [“בָּם is neither superfluous nor awkward (against Olsh.), since it is intended to say that their duration of life falls in all at once like a tent when that which in them corresponds to the cord of a tent (i.e., the נֶפֶשׁ) is drawn away from it.” Del.]—And not in wisdom; with, out having found true wisdom during their life, living in short-sightedness and folly to the end of their days; comp. Job 36:12; Proverbs 10:21 (Dillmann).
b. Third Double Strophe. Application of the contents of the heavenly revelation to Job’s case, Job 5:1-7.
First Strophe. Job 5:1-5. [The folly of murmuring against God asserted and illustrated].
Job 5:1. Call now! is there any one who will answer thee? and to whom of the holy ones wilt thou turn?—That is to say: forasmuch as, according to the interpretation of that Voice from God in the night, neither men nor angels are just and pure before God, all thy complaining against God will be of no avail to thee; not one of the heavenly servants of God in heaven, to whom thou mightest turn thyself, will regard thy cry for help, not one of them will intercede with God for thee, and spare thee the necessity of humbling thyself unconditionally and penitently beneath the chastening hand of God. [The question is somewhat ironical in its tone. If thou art disposed to challenge God’s dealings with thee, make the attempt; enter thy protest; but before whom? the angels, the holy ones of heaven? Behold they are not pure before God, and being holy, they are conscious of their inferiority; will they entertain thy appeal? Where then is thy plea to find a hearing? “Here as elsewhere in this book, call and answer seem to be law terms, the former denoting the action of the complainant, the latter that of the defendant.” Noyes; and so Umbreit.—E.] קְדשִׁים, “holy ones” [“saints,” E. V., is misleading, on account of its association with “the holy” among men], here for angels (as in Job 15:15; Psalms 89:6 (5), 8 (7); Daniel 4:14 (17); Zechariah 14:5); thus called with a purpose, because their very holiness, which causes them to subordinate themselves unconditionally to God (comp. Job 4:18), prevents them from entertaining such complaints as those of Job. “How little the Roman Catholic commentators are justified in finding in this verse a locus classicus in favor of the invocation of angels and saints under the Old Dispensation needs no proof.” Schlott.]
Job 5:2. For grief slayeth a fool.—כי furnishes a reason for the negative thought contained in the preceding verse [complaints against God’s administration will meet with no favorable response from the holy ones of his court, for they are of a character to destroy the fool who utters them—E.]; hence it may be properly rendered “rather” [so far from calling forth sympathy, they will much rather destroy the complainer—E.]; comp. Job 22:2; Job 31:18. The ל before אֱוִיל is after the Aramaic usage, introducing the object which is emphatically placed first: quod attinet ad stultum [“as for the fool”], etc.; so also in Job 21:22; Isaiah 11:9 (comp. Ewald, § 292, e; 310, a). [Denied by Hengstenberg, who explains it as a poetic modification of the sense of the verb: stulto mortem affert, but favored by the position and the accounts.—E.] The אֱוִיל here is naturally one who impatiently murmurs against God because of his destiny, and presumptuously censures Him; such a one as Job must have seemed to Eliphaz to be in view of his lamentations and curses in Job 3:0. As synonymous with אֱוִיל we have in the second member פֹּתֶה, “the simple one, without understanding” [“open to evil influences, a moral weakling.” Dav.], while to כַּעַשׂ, “grief” [=unmanly repining] in the first member, we find to correspond in the second קִנְאָה, properly “zeal,” here in the bad sense, insolent murmuring, a rancorous feeling toward God. For the form כעשׂ [peculiar to Job], instead of the usual form, כעס, comp. Job 6:2; Job 10:17. [Some (e.g. Barnes) refer כעשׂ and קנאה here to the “wrath” and “jealousy” of God against the sinner. But “it is certainly better to apply the words here to the emotions of the fool; his own passion and jealousy ruin him. (1) We have then the proper autonemesis of sin; its violence brings no help but only destruction to itself, which is the nerve of all Eliphaz is saying (Job 5:6-7). (2) Job refers to these bitter words of Eliphaz with evident pain in the very opening of his reply (Job 6:2): would God that my כַּעַשׂ were but weighed! (3) The words fit well Job’s state of mind.” Dav.]
Job 5:3-5. An example in proof of the statement just made about the destruction of him who murmurs against God.
Job 5:3. I myself have seen a fool taking root, to wit, like a thriving plant, growing in fruitful soil, and hence in a state of prosperity which promised to endure and to increase; compare Psalms 1:3; Isaiah 27:6, etc.—Then I cursed his habitation suddenly, i.e., when I perceived how altogether unstable and superficial was his prosperity, and what a fearful judgment all at once burst over his head by the decree of God. It is to the moment of the descent of this judgment that פִּתְאֹם refers, and נַקַב. “to curse,” is not to be understood as a prophetic prediction of the ruin which is hereafter to overtake one in prosperity (Ewald, Schlottmann, etc.), but as a recognition accompanying the event, a subjective human echo, so to speak, of God’s curse, which has already actually overtaken its object. [“The word ‘suddenly’ points as with the finger to the catastrophe by which at one stroke Job’s prosperity was laid in the dust, to the Chaldeans and Sabeans, to the lightning and the storm.” Hengst. “I cursed his habitation suddenly,” means accordingly; when sudden destruction smote his habitation, I felt and declared that it was cursed of God.—E.] נָוֶה, habitation, abode [“homestead,” Carey], including the pasture-land belonging to it, not simply the pasturage, or grazing-place of the herds. Comp. Job 5:24; Job 18:15; also נָוָה, Job 8:6.
Job 5:4. His sons were far from help, and were crushed in the gate without deliverance.—The Presents (Imperfects) in this and the following verse, describe the consequences of the judgment on the fool as they extend into the present. יֶשַׁע, “help, deliverance,” as in Job 5:11. יִדַּכְּאוּ, Imperf. Hithp., lit.: “they must allow themselves to be crushed,” viz.: by their unjust accusers and persecutors in the court of justice, before the tribunal; for it is to this that reference is made in בַּשַׁעַר; comp. Job 29:7; Job 31:21; also the same exact form of expression, excepting the Piel instead of the Hithp. in Proverbs 22:22 : “oppress not the poor in the gate.” See Com. in loco. [Davidson and Rodwell take the verb in the reflex sense: “And crushed each other in the gate.” On the uses of the “gate” of an oriental city, see Smith’s Bib. Dict., art. “Gate.”]
Job 5:5. He whose harvest the hungry devour.—אֲשֶׁר, not a conjunction, “because,” or “while” (Delitzsch), but a relative pronoun, “whose;” comp. Job 20:22; Job 31:8. The description of the judgment, begun in the preceding verse, is here accordingly continued, with special reference to the property of him who is cast down from the height of his prosperity.—And take it away even out of a thorn-hedge, i.e., they are not kept off even by hedges of thorn, hence they carry on their plundering in the most daring and systematic manner. אֶל before מִּצִּנִּים is here the same as עַד: adeo e spinis (comp. Job 3:22) [and see Ewald, § 219, c]—And the thirsty swallow up his wealth [lit.: “their wealth;” the plural suffix indicating that the children are here included]. Instead of צַמִּים, it is better, following out the hint which lies in רָעֵב in the first member, as well as following the lead of almost all the ancient versions, to read צְמֵיִם, or צְמֵאִים, perhaps even the singular צָמֶא. So Rosenm., Umbreit, Ewald [who in his Gram., § 73, c. suggests that the omission of the א may be due to its location between two vowel sounds], Hirzel, Vaihinger, Stickel, Welte, Ezra [Dillmann, Renan, Wordsworth, Barnes, Elzas, Merx]. etc. To this subject, moreover, the verb שאף is best suited, which signifies to snap, greedily to drain, to lap, or sip up anything [Ges. and Fürst: to pant; Renan: to look on with longing, couve des yeux ses richesses]. According to the Masoretic text, צַמִּים, the translation should be: “and a snare catches their wealth” [Dav. and Con.: “a snare gapeth for their substance”]. צַמִּים, from צמם, nectere = snare, gin, might indeed be used here tropically for fraud, robbery (not, however, for “robbers,” as the Targ. and some of the Rabbis [also E. V., sing, “robber”] take it, nor for “intriguer,” as Delitzsch [Carey, Wemyss] have it). [The meaning “snare” is adopted by Ges., Fürst, Noyes, Con., Dav., Schlottm., Hengsten.] This rendering, however, would be rather harsh, especially in connection with the verb שָׁאַף, which favors rather the interpretation we have given above.
Second Strophe. Job 5:6-7. [Human suffering founded on a Divine ordinance].
Job 5:6. For evil goes not forth from the dust, and trouble does not sprout up out of the ground;i.e., the misfortune of men does not grow like weeds out of the earth; it is no mere product of nature, no accidental physical and external ingredient of this earthly life; but it has its sufficient cause, it originates in human sin; God decrees and ordains it for the punishment of sin; whence it follows that the proper remedy against it is the renunciation of sin, and not a gloomy frowardness and mournfulness. אָוֶן and עָמָל precisely as in Job 4:8.
Job 5:7. But [כִּי adversative, and so Schlott., Dillm., Dav., Del., Ren., Hengst., etc.] man is born to trouble;i.e., it lies in human nature, through sin to bring forth misery (Hirzel, Dillmann, etc.); as man he is now not pure, but impure, not righteous, but unrighteous (comp. Job 4:17), and for that very reason he cannot avoid manifold suffering and hardship, the divinely ordained consequence of sin. Observe how gently Eliphaz seeks to bring home to Job the truth that his suffering is also the consequence of his sin. [יוּלַּד is by some regarded as Pual Perf., the short shureq written with Vav (Green, Gr., § 43, b); by others as Hoph. Imperf. (Ewald, § 131, c.); while others would point it יִוָּלֵד, as Niph. Imperf. (Merx)].—As the sparks of the flame fly upward; lit.: “and the sparks,” etc.וcomparationis, as in Proverbs 25-29 often; comp. Job 22:11; Job 14:12; Job 14:19 [otherwise also called Vav adæquationis; see Green, Gr. § 287, 1]. בְּנֵי רֶשֶׁף, “sons of the fire, children of the flame” (comp. Song of Solomon 8:6), are naturally neither “birds of prey” (νεοσσοὶ γυπῶν, LXX.; comp. the aves of the Vulg. So also J. D. Michaelis, Gesenius [Fürst], Vaihinger, Heiligstedt [Umbreit, Good, Wemyss, Conant, Noyes, Renan, Rodwell], etc.; nor “angels” (Schlottmann, who refers to Judges 13:20; Psalms 104:4); nor “angry passions” (Böttcher, and similarly Stickel); but simply “fire-sparks” (Ewald, Hirzel, Hahn, Ebrard, Delitzsch, Dillmann [Wemyss, Conant, Davidson, Barnes, Carey, Merx]). Only of these can it be properly said that they fly upwards by a law of necessity, which constitutes here the tertium comparationis. יגביהו עוף, lit.: “they make high their flight,” they fly far up on high, fly unceasingly upwards (עוף for לעוף, Ewald, § 285, a.) [It has been objected to the rendering “sparks” that the expression “make high their flight” is too strong to be applied to them, being more suitable to the lofty soaring of “birds,” or “angels,” or “arrows.” But an appeal may confidently be taken on this point to the poetic sensibility of the reader who has ever watched the upward flight of sparks by night, when relative altitudes are but vaguely determined, and when these “sons of the flame” seem literally to soar and vanish among the stars.—E.]
[The central thought of the above strophe is that the connection between sin and suffering is a Divine ordinance. In Job 5:1-2 this is presented in the way of warning to Job as a truth against which he can take no appeal to any higher court, and as one of which he is in danger of realizing in his own case the extreme consequences; for the special sin of murmuring against God would infallibly bring about his ruin. In Job 5:3-5 the same truth is vividly enforced by an illustration drawn from actual life. In Job 5:6-7 it is presented in the form of a general law, which, in the statement here given of it is a binary law, consisting of two parts, or propositions, which are complementary of each other; the first (Job 5:6), negative, the second (Job 5:7), positive. The misery which follows sin in general, and in particular the special example of misery following sin mentioned in Job 5:3-5 is a Divine Ordinance: because (כְּי, Job 5:6) evil is not from without, not from the earth, not from the material constitution of things, for (כִּי, Job 5:7) Man (אדם emphatic by position) is the cause of his own trouble, being born to it, a sufferer by an internal, not an external necessity, by a law of his own existence; a law as necessary, too, as that which compels the sparks to fly upward. According to this view of the connection the כִּי in Job 5:7 is argumentative as well as that in Job 5:6. The source of misery is not without, forMan himself is the source of it. As regards the tense of יולד it follows that if Imperf. (Niph., or more probably Hoph.) the two propositions are co-ordinated in time; evil is not wont to spring from the earth, for man is wont to be born to trouble. If Perf. (Pual), which seems preferable, the internal necessity of suffering in man himself is conceived as logically antecedent to the relation of man to the external world. His afflictions came not from without, for he was born under a law which subjects him to it.
Elzas renders Job 5:7 a: “For then man would be born to trouble.” But this is to miss the point of Job 5:6, which is to deny not the natural and necessary character of suffering (for that is implied in Job 5:7), but the internality and materiality of its cause.—E.]
4. Third Division. Exhortation to repentance, as the only means whereby Job could be restored to the Divine favor, and to the enjoyment of his former prosperity, Job 5:8-27.
a. Fourth Double Strophe. Job should trustfully turn to God, the helper in every time of need, and the righteous Judge, Job 5:8-16.
First Strophe. [Job encouraged to turn trustfully to God by a description of the beneficent operations of God in nature and among men], Job 5:8-11.
Job 5:8. Nevertheless I—I would turn to God.—[“Now comes a new turn in this magnificent discourse of Eliphaz—the hortatory part..… El. for the first time fully conceives as a whole Job’s attitude. Job’s complaints and murmurs against God terrify and distress him, and with the recoil and emotion of horror he cries: But I would have recourse unto God!… The antithetic transition here is as strong as possible, being made by three elements, the particle of opposition (אוּלָם, Job 1:11; Job 2:5), the addition by the pronoun I, and these two intensified and made to stand out with solemn emphasis in utterance, by being loaded with distinctive accents.” Dav.] For the conditional sense of אֶדְרשׁ, comp. Ges. § 127 [Conant’s Ed., § 125], 5 [Green, Gr. § 263, 1]. דָּרַשׁ with אֶל, sedulo adire aliquem, to turn to any one with entreaty, supplicating help; comp. Deuteronomy 12:5; also Job 8:5 of our book.—To the Most High would I commit my cause.—As in the preceding part of the verse God is called אֵל (the strong, the mighty one), as here He is called אֱלֹהִים, for the first time by Eliphaz. In regard to the significance of this change, comp. Del.: “אֵל is God as the mighty one; אֱלֹהִים is God in the totality of His variously manifested nature.” דִּבְרָה, causa, plea, as elsewhere דָּבָר (comp. on Job 3:4).
Job 5:9-11. A description of the wondrous greatness of God, as a ground of encouragement for the exhortation contained in Job 5:8.
Job 5:9. Who doeth great things which are unsearchable.—[“El.’s object is now to present God under such aspects as to win Job, and his description of Him is Infinite power directed by Infinite goodness.” Dav.] וְאֵין חֵקֶר in which there is no searching, i.e., which are not to be searched out; comp. מַצִּיל, Job 5:4.
Job 5:10. Who giveth rain on the face of the land [and sendeth water on the face of the fields].—חוּץ, lit.; all that is without, the open air [colloquial English: “out of doors”], in contrast with that which is covered, enclosed. Hence it means either a street, court, market-place, when the stand-point of the speaker is within a house, or the open country, field, plain, when the stand-point is within a city or a camp. The latter is the case here, as also in ch, Job 18:17. [According to Ges. (Lex. 1, b) the contrast between ארץ and חוצות is that of “tilled land” and “the deserts.” To this Conant makes two valid objections: “(1) There is nothing to indicate such a limitation of ארץ (tilled land); (2) the distinctive meaning of חוּצוֹת is obscured.” Hence it is best to take ארץ generally, of the earth at large, חוצות in a more limited sense, “the fields.”] The agency of rain-showers and of spring-water (מַיִם, comp. Psalms 104:10) in making the earth fruitful is an image of frequent occurrence with Oriental writers in general, and with the writers of Scripture in particular, to illustrate the wonderful exercise of God’s power and grace in helping, delivering, and restoring life; comp. Psalms 65:10 seq.; Psalms 147:9 seq.; Jeremiah 14:22, as also the more comprehensive description in Jehovah’s discourse, Job 38:25. [“He who makes the barren places fruitful can also change suffering into joy.” Del.]
Job 5:11. To set the low in a high place, and the mourning raise up to prosperity.—This being the moral purpose of those mighty beneficent activities of God; comp. Psalms 74:15; Luke 1:52, etc.לָשׂוּם is not simply a variation for הַשָּׂם, as the LXX., Vulg, and several modern commentators, e.g., Heiligstedt, Del. [Con.], explain; at the same time it does not need to be resolved (as by Ewald and Hahn) into: “inasmuch as he sets;” it is simply declarative of purpose, like the examples of the telic infinitive several times occurring in the Hebraistic Greek of Zacharias’s song of praise, Luke 1:72-73; Luke 1:77; Luke 1:79 (τοῦ δοῦναι, τοῦ κατενθῦναι, etc.) [“The issue of all the Divine proceeding in nature, unsearchable, uncountable though its wonders were, was ever to elevate the humble and save the wretched.” Dav.] In the second member this infinitive construction with ל is continued by the Perf. precisely as in Job 28:25 (Dillmann [“Because the purpose is not merely one that is to be realized, but one that has often been realized already, the Inf. is continued in the Perf.” Dillm.], comp. Ewald, § 346 b.) “To set in a high place,” to exalt to a high position, as in 1 Samuel 2:8; Luke 1:52. קֹדְרִים, lit.: “dirty,” squalidi, sordidi, i.e., mourners; comp. Job 30:28; Psalms 35:14 ; Job 38:7 . שָֽׂגְבוּ יֶשָׁע, lit., to mount, or climb up to prosperity, a bold poetic construction of a verb in itself intransitive with an accusative of motion.
Second Strophe. Job 5:12-16. Continuation of the description of the exalted activity of God as a helper of the needy, and a righteous avenger.
Job 5:12. Who brings to nought the devices of the crafty.—מֵפֵר (Partic. without the art., as in Job 5:9), lit., who breaks to pieces, עֲרוּמִים, as in Job 15:5, “the crafty, cunning, twisted” (from ערם, “to twist, to wind”).—So that their hands cannot do the thing to be accomplished.—וְלֹא, “so that not” (comp. Ewald, § 345, a.). [תַּעֲשֶׂנָה, with vowel written defectively in the tone-syllable. Comp. Ewald, § 198, a; and Ges., § 74, Kal., Rem. 6]. תֻּשִׁיָּה, lit., essentiality, subsistence, firmness (from יֵשׁ), hence the opposite of אָוֶן, well-being and wisdom in one; a favorite notion of the authors of the Old Testament Chokmah-Literature; comp. my Com. on Proverbs, Introd., p. 5, also on Job 2:7 (p. 54). As may be seen from the translation of the Sept., which is essentially correct, οὐ μὴ ποιήσουσιν�, the passage may be translated: “so that their hands shall bring about nothing real, nothing solid.” (comp. Hahn, Delitzsch, Dillmann [Carey, Merx]).
Job 5:13. Who captures the wise in their craftiness.—חֲכָמִים denotes here those who are wise in a purely worldly sense, who are wise only in their own and in others’ estimation, who are therefore σοφοὶ τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου. 1 Corinthians 1:20; comp. Job 3:19, where the idea conveyed by the expression σοφία τοῦ κόσμου τοῦτου is explained by a special reference to the passage under consideration. The translation of the passage there presented is more correct than that of the LXX., especially in the rendering of בְּעָרְמָם by ἐν πανουργία αὐτῶν. For עָרְמָה (comp. Exodus 21:24; Proverbs 1:4; Proverbs 8:5), or even the masculine form עֹרֶם, which is found indeed only in the passage before us, unmistakably signifies “cunning, shrewdness,” in the bad sense, not simply “sagacity” (φρόνησις, LXX.) [“ ‘He captures them in their craftiness’ means according to most: ‘He brings it to pass, that the plans, which they have devised for the ruin of others, result in ruin to themselves.’ So Grotius: suis eos retibus capit, suis jugulat gladiis. According to this view ב is ב of the instrument. Better, however, is: in their craft, or in the exercise of their craftiness. He captures the wise not when their wisdom has forsaken them, and they make a false step, but at the very point where they make the highest use of it.” Hengst.]—And the counsel of the cunning is overset; lit., is precipitated, pushed over (נִמְחָרָה, 3 Perf. Niph.), and so made void, to wit, by God’s judicial intervention.
Job 5:14. By day they run against darkness, and as in the night they grope at noonday.—[יְפַגְּשׁוּ־חשֶׁךְ, they strike upon, stumble on, run into, i.e., they encounter darkness]. כַּלַּיְלָה, “as in the night, i.e., as though it were night. Similar descriptions of a blindness, judicially inflicted by God, of an obscuration of the soul in ungodly men may be seen in Job 12:24 seq.; Isaiah 19:13 seq.; Isaiah 59:10; Deuteronomy 28:29 (comp. the typical fundamental passage in Genesis 19:11; also 2 Kings 6:18; Wis 19:16).
Job 5:15. And so He saveth the needy from the sword out of their mouth, and from the hand of the strong.—וַיַּשַׁע, Imperf. consec., as in Job 3:21 [“Vav consec. introducing the ultimate residuum of all this commotion and confusion, the result of the whole combined Divine efficiency, when the Divine tendency … has reached its object; so He saves.” Dav.] מֵחֶרֶב מִפִּיהֶם (instead of which some MSS. read: מֵחֶרֶב פִּיהֶם, “from the sword of their mouth”) is equivalent to: “from the sword which goes forth out of their mouth;” comp. Psalms 57:5 (4); Psalms 59:8 (7); Psalms 64:4 (3); and other passages in which swords, or spears, or arrows of the mouth appear as a figurative expression for maliciously wicked slanders or injurious assaults on the good name of others [and comp. Job 5:21 below, showing that Eliphaz regards this as one of the evils most to be dreaded. The explanation here given is adopted by Umbreit, Delitzsch, Hengstenberg, Merx, Renan, Bernard, Barnes, Wordsworth, Noyes, Rodwell, although there is some variation in regard to the relation of the two expressions; some taking the second in apposition to the first, “from the sword, even from their mouth,” others, like Zöckler, regarding the second as qualifying the first: “the sword which goeth out of their mouth.” Others view the second as explanatory of the first, which is taken as the leading term: “from the sword, which is their mouth,… which is their organ of devouring, is to them what his mouth is to a wild beast,” Davidson, and so substantially Schlottmann and Lee. Others, e.g., Hirzel, take “sword,” “mouth,” “hand,” as three independent terms, designating the instruments and organs of the wicked.—E.] In addition to the violation of the ninth commandment referred to in the first member, the second member of the verse mentions acts of violent oppression, or assaults on the liberty and life of men, violations, therefore, of the sixth commandment, as that from which God would deliver. The מִן before חֶרֶב seems to be superfluous, and producing as it does a harsh construction, it has led to various attempts at emendation, e.g., מָחֳרָב, “desolated, ravaged by misfortune” (L. Capellus, Ewald [Good, Carey, Conant, Elzas and Dillmann favorably inclined. Delitzsch argues against it that it is “un-Hebraic according to our present knowledge of the usage of the language, for the passives of חרב are used of cities, countries, and peoples, but not of individual men”]). Others would read חֶרֶב instead of מֵחֶרֶב (so some MSS.; also the Targ. and Vulg.). These suggestions, however, are unnecessary; and the same may be said of Böttcher’s explanation: “without a sword,” i.e., without violence or bloodshed [will God save].
Job 5:16. Thus there is hope (again) to the poor [דַּלן from דלל, to hang down, and so to be lax, languid, feeble, according to Gesenius: to wave, to totter, and so to be tottering loose, wretched, according to Fürst], but iniquity shuts her mouth.—For the absolute construction of “hope,” to wit, to hope for deliverance and exaltation through God’s assisting power and grace, comp. Job 14:7; Job 19:10. In regard to the etymology of תִּקְוָה, the standard word for hope in the Old Testament, comp. my Dissert.: De vi ac notione voc.ἐλπίςin N. To. (1856), p. 5 seq.—עוֹלָתָה, the full-toned form, with double fem. ending, for עוֹלָה, which also stands for עַוְלָה (Psalms 92:10). Comp. Ewald, § 173 g. [also § 186, c., Ges., § 79, f., Green, § 61, 6, a.] For the phrase קָפַץ פֶּה, to be dumb, i.e., to be ashamed, to own oneself vanquished, comp. the repetition of the present passage in Psalms 107:42; also Isaiah 52:15, and Job 21:5.
[Schlottmann: “The beginning of this strophe: ‘But I would turn to God,’ is again in appearance courteous, friendly, mild. But even here we see lurking in the background that self-sufficient hardness of Eliphaz which has already been noticed. Baldly and sharply expressed the relation of this strophe to the one which precedes and the one which follows is this: Third Strophe—Thy way is wrong; Fourth Strophe—My way is right; Fifth Strophe—It will be well for thee if thou followest me.”]
b. Fifth Double Strophe. Job will have occasion to regard his present suffering as a blessing, if, being accepted as wholesome chastisement, it should result in his repentance, and thus in the restoration even of his external prosperity, Job 5:17-27.
First Strophe. Job 5:17-21. [The happy results of submission to the Divine chastisement, principally on the negative side, as restoration and immunity from evil].
Job 5:17. Lo, happy the man whom God correcteth.—The same thought expressed, and derived perhaps from this passage, in Proverbs 3:11 seq. (Hebrews 12:5 seq.), and Psalms 94:12. Comp. Elihu’s further expansion of the same thought of the wholesomeness of the Divine chastisements in Job 33:0. and seq. הוֹכִיחַ, to reprove, admonish, to wit, through the discipline of actual events, through suffering and providential dispensations: comp. Job 13:10—Therefore despise not the chastening of the Almighty, of which one may be guilty by perverse moroseness and rebelliousness, by refusing to accept the needed and salutary teaching of the Divine dispensation, and in general by a want of submission to God’s will. שַׁדַּי by poetic abbreviation for אֵל שַׁדַּי, Genesis 17:1. Comp. the remarks of the editor on the passage.
Job 5:18. For He woundeth and also bindeth up,etc.—Comp. the similar passages in Hosea 6:1; Deuteronomy 32:39; Lamentations 3:31 seq.—הוּא he, i.e., one and the same. The form תִּרְפֶּינָה is made as though it were derived from a verb, רפא=רפה; comp. Ges., § 75 [§ 74], Rem. 21 c. [Green, § 165, 3].
Job 5:19. In six troubles He will deliver thee, and in seven no evil shall befall thee;i.e., of course provided thou wilt really be made better by thy chastisement. The further promises of Divine help, Job 5:20 seq., are also subject to the same condition. To the number six seven is added in order to remove the definiteness of the former, and to make prominent only the general idea of multiplicity. Similar enumerative forms of expression are to be found in Amos 1:2.; also in Proverbs 6:16; Proverbs 30:15; Proverbs 30:18; Proverbs 30:21; comp. also Micah 5:5; Ecclesiastes 11:2.
Job 5:20. In famine He redeems thee from death.—פָֽדְךָ, lit., “he has redeemed thee.” Perf. of certainty (Gesen., § 126 , 4), which is immediately followed by verbs in the Imperf., as in Job 11:20; Job 18:6, etc. In the second member, “out of the hands of the sword” (מִידֵי חֶרֶב) is equivalent to “out of the power of the sword,” or “from its stroke” (Delitzsch). Compare Isaiah 47:14; Jeremiah 18:21; Psalms 63:11. [“The word ‘hands’ should not be left out. Poetry personifies everything, invests everything with form and life As here ‘hands’ are attributed to the sword, so elsewhere are a mouth, Exodus 17:3, a face, Leviticus 26:37. Hands are in the Old Testament assigned to the grave, to lions, bears, to the dog, the snare, the flame.” Hengstenberg].
Job 5:21. In the scourging of the tongue thou art hidden;i.e., when thou art slandered and reviled (comp. Job 5:15; Jeremiah 18:18; Psalms 31:21 (20). Instead of מִשּׁוֹט, which we might certainly expect here (with Hirzel), the poet, anticipating the מִשּׁוֹד of the second member, which would resemble it altogether too much in sound, has written בְּשׁוֹט, “in the scourge,” i.e., “in the stroke of the scourge.” [שׁוֹט might be taken as the Infinitive of the verb, as is done apparently by Ewald, who translates: “when the tongue scourges.”—“The tongue is here compared with a scourge, as elsewhere with a knife, a sword, arrows, or burning coals (Psalms 120:4), because evil speaking hurts, wounds, and works harm.” Hengst. “We believe that, in introducing this expression the poet has a definite purpose. There lies a certain irony in the fact that Eliphaz should mention as one of the chief evils from which his friend is one day to be preserved that, same calamity which he is now inflicting on him.” Schlott.]—And thou fearest not destruction when it cometh.—שׁוֹד, which in the following verse is written שׁדֹ, a form etymologically more correct, from שׁדד, signifies any catastrophe, or devastation, whether by flood, or hail, or storm, etc. The word forms an assonance with שׁוֹט, as in Isaiah 28:15, a passage which is perhaps an imitation of the one before us. Substantially the same thought is expressed in Psalms 32:6.
Second Strophe. [The happy results of submission to chastisement still further described, principally on the positive side, as involving security, prosperity, peace, etc.]. Job 5:22-26 (Job 5:27 being subjoined as a conclusion, standing properly outside of the strophe).
Job 5:22. At destruction and at famine thou shalt laugh.—[“The promises of El. now continue to rise higher, and sound more delightful and more glorious.” Del.] A continuation of the description of the new state of happiness to which the sufferer will be promoted on condition of a contrite submission to the Divine chastisement. שָׂחַק with לְ, to laugh, or mock at anything, as in Job 39:7; Job 39:18; Job 41:21.—כָּפָן, Aram. equivalent to רָעָב, famine, dearth; comp. Job 30:3.—And thou shalt not be afraid before the wild beasts of the land. [“Thou needest not be afraid,” אַל, different from לֹא (Job 5:21), the latter is objective, merely stating a fact, the former subjective, throwing always over the clause the state of mind of the speaker as an explanation of it—expressing both the statement and the mental state of feeling or thought out of which the statement issued. As Ew. (Lehrb. 320, 1, a.) accurately puts it, ‘אַל, like μὴ, denies only according to the feeling or thought of the speaker,’ thou shalt have no reason to, needest not (Con.) fear.” Dav.] Wild beasts were in ancient times the object of far graver terror in the east, and a scourge of far more frequent occurrence than to-day. Comp. Genesis 37:20; Genesis 37:33; Genesis 44:28; Leviticus 26:6; Proverbs 22:13; Proverbs 26:13, etc.; also Ezekiel’s well-known combination of the four judgments: the sword, famine, wild beasts, and the pestilence (Ezekiel 5:17; Ezekiel 14:21).
Job 5:23. For with the stones of the field thou hast a league, and the wild beasts of the field are become friends to thee.—The first half of the verse is a reason for the first member of Job 5:22; the second half in like manner a reason for the second member. “Thou hast a league with the stones of the field” (lit., “thy league is with the stones,” etc.; בְּרִיתֶךָ equivalent to בְּרִית לְךָ), i.e., storms cannot injure thy tillage of the soil, they shall be far removed from thy fields (comp. Isaiah 5:2; 2 Kings 3:19; 2 Kings 3:25). [“The stones are personified; they conclude a treaty with the reformed Job, and promise not to injure him, not to be found straying over his tilled land.” Hengst.] As regards the contents of the entire strophe, compare the similar ideal descriptions of the paradisaical harmony that is one day to exist between men and the animate and inanimate creation, Hosea 2:20 , 23  seq.; Isaiah 11:6 seq. [The view, entertained among others by Barnes, that the verse describes security in travelling (“it is to be remembered that this was spoken in Arabia where rocks and stones abounded, and where travelling from that cause was difficult and dangerous”), is at variance with the picture here given, which is that of security and happiness in a settled, stationary condition; the picture of a prosperous proprietor of fields, pastures, flocks, not of a travelling Bedouin chief—E.]
Job 5:24. And thou knowest (findest out by experience) that thy tent is peace.—וְיָדַעְתָּ, Perf. consec. with the tone on the last syllable, connected with Job 5:22. “Thy tent is peace,” i.e., the state of all thy possessions and household (comp. Job 8:22; Job 11:14; Job 12:6, and often) is one of peace.—שָׁלֹום is predicate, emphatic by position (comp. Micah 5:4, וְהָיָה זֶה שָׁלוֹם), and for that reason a substantive. It is weakening the beautiful, rounded, complete idea to take the word either as an adjective, or as an adverbial accusative in the sense of “well, safe, uninjured,” as, e.g., Ewald, Dillmann, and Hahn, etc., do. [The same remark applies to the use of the preposition, “in peace,” E. V., Con., etc. The simple rendering “is peace” is more forcible and expressive.—E.]—And when thou reviewest thy estate thou missest nothing.—נָוֶה as in Job 5:3 [Zöckler: Stätte, “place,” the habitation of himself and his flocks; by most, however, נָוֶה is taken here rather of the pasture of the flocks]. וְלֹא תֶחֶטָא, lit., “and thou wilt not miss thy way,” i.e., thou wilt miss nothing (Proverbs 8:36). At variance with the usage of the words, and against the connection, is Luther’s translation: “and thou wilt care for thy household, and not sin,” following the Vulg.: et visitans speciem tuam non peccabis [Eng. Ver.: “and thou shalt visit thy habitation, and shalt not sin.” Hengstenberg, adopting this rendering, explains: in looking over thy possessions thou shalt find thou art not treated by God as a sinner, but as a friend, being richly blessed by Him; an explanation which involves a needless constraint of the expression.—E.] The thought is rather the same with that expressed in Schiller’s fine lines:
Er zählt die Häupter seiner Lieben,
Und sieh, ihm fehlt kein theures Haupt.2
[In negative sentences, where the object of the verb is wanting, לֹא may be rendered “nothing.” See Ewald, § 303, c.]
Job 5:25.… And thine offspring as the green herb of the earth—צֶאֱצָאִים, used here of the issue of the body, as in Job 21:8; Job 27:14. Comp. the like promise in Psalms 72:16 b. [The word found only in Isaiah and Job].
Job 5:26. Thou shalt go into the grave in a ripe old age.—כֶּלַח, etymologically related to כלה, “to be full, to be completed” (to which it stands related as a variation, with a somewhat harsher pronunciation, just as קשׁח, in Job 39:16, stands related to קשׁה), signifies, according to the parallel expression בְּעִתּוֹ in the second member, the full ripeness of the life-period, the complete maturity of age. It is used somewhat differently in Job 30:2, where it denotes the full maturity of strength, complete unbroken vigor—a sense which Fleischer in Delitzsch (II. 138, n.) quite inappropriately assigns to it here also. [So Fürst. Merx gives the same sense to the passage, but reads בְּלֵחַ.—E.]—As sheaves are gathered in their season.—כַּעֲלֹות גָּדִישׁ, lit., “as the heap of sheaves mounts up, is gathered up,” to wit, into the threshing-floor, which was an elevated place; comp. 2 Samuel 24:16; Psalms 1:4, etc. The rendering of Umbreit and Hahn: “as the sheaves are heaped up,” is unsuitable, and at variance with the true meaning of the figure, as describing the ingathering of ripe sheaves. בְּעִתּוֹ, “in its season,” i.e., when the ears are fully ripened, a most striking simile to illustrate old age when satiated with life; comp. Job 42:17; Genesis 15:15; Genesis 25:8; Genesis 35:29.
Job 5:27. Lo, this we have searched out; so it is: hear it, and mark it well for thyself!—A closing verse of warning, which, because it refers back to all that has been said by Eliphaz, stands outside of the last strophe. Comp. the similar short epiphonemas, or epimythions in Job 18:21; Job 20:29; Job 26:14; also the short injunctions of the New Testament, enjoining men to mark and ponder that which is said, such as Matthew 11:15; Matthew 13:9; Revelation 2:7; Revelation 13:18; Revelation 22:2, etc. The Plur. חקרנוה, because Eliphaz speaks not in his own name alone, but also in that of his two friends, younger indeed than himself, but of whom he knows that their experience has been the same with his own.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
The writer is certainly far from being disposed to put forth Eliphaz in the preceding discourse as an advocate of views which are decidedly untrue, and opposed to God, or as a propounder of diabolical wisdom (σοφία ψυχικὴ δαιμονιώδης, James 3:15; comp. 1 Timothy 4:1). If it had been his purpose to represent him as one who made common cause with Satan, as an advocatus diaboli, or the Evil One’s armor-bearer, he would certainly have made some such sentiment as that of Job 2:9—“renounce God and die”—the fundamental theme of his remarks. But this tone of remark is limited to Job’s wife (and the fact is strongly indicative of the attitude of an unregenerate woman, who simply follows the impressions of her own nature), who had lost alike her patience and resignation to the will of God. The poet does not introduce any one of Job’s friends as sympathizing with it—least of all Eliphaz, whose superiority to the experimental stand-point of the other two friends, and to the entire circle of their ethical and intellectual insight, is so definitely and significantly apparent. Even in respect of its formal æsthetic structure he has impressed on the discourse the characteristics which mark it as the product of a genuine devout oriental sage, a Chakam of the same category with Solomon, Heman, Ethan, Chalcol, Darda, etc. This is shown by the numerous correspondences of expression between this discourse and the noblest products of the Old Testament Chokman-literature as elsewhere to be met with—correspondences which appear in part in the subject-matter, such as the emphasis laid on the fear of God and God’s remedial discipline (Job 4:6; Job 5:8; Job 5:17) as fundamental conditions of true prosperity, the use of the term “fools” (Job 5:2 seq.) in characterizing the wicked: in part in the language, as in the use of such expressions as חָכְמָה (Job 4:21), תֻּשִׁיָּה (Job 5:12), or of such poetic forms as the numeral expressions in Job 5:19, or of such figures and similes as sowing and reaping, taking root and growing, the soaring sparks, the “inward cord” (Job 5:21), the sword of the mouth, and the scourge of the tongue, etc. In general it may be said that all that profound, physiological, or rather physico-theological Wisdom which forms the background of the discourse, and which accounts for the brilliant tints and fragrant aroma which are spread over the whole of it, evince the writer’s purpose to represent the speaker as intellectually akin to Solomon, the student of nature among the sages (1 Kings 4:29 seq.; Job 5:12), and as possessing a knowledge of God which if not accurate, such as belonged to the theocracy, was nevertheless truly monotheistic, such as belonged to the pious of the patriarchal world.
2. As regards the theological contents of this first discourse of Eliphaz, there is really scarcely anything to be pointed out in it which contradicts the true Old Testament religion of Jehovah, and the purity of the moral principles which rest on it.3 A confessor of Eloah, of Shaddai, he speaks altogether like a member of the theocracy, like a pious man belonging to Jehovah’s commonwealth. “He is apparently right in everything; and it is certainly with full, conscious purpose that the poet introduces him into the discussion with precisely such a discourse as the present; for only thus could a real entanglement arise with Job, and only thus could the attention of readers be secured for Job’s opponents” (Dillm.) What Eliphaz holds up before Job, who, although indeed he does not blaspheme, does nevertheless utter imprecations, and, in a state of extreme dejection, curses himself, consists almost without exception of beautiful and profound religious and ethical truths, to which Job can successfully oppose only one thing—that they do not touch him, who is just as firmly convinced of their correctness as his opponents, that they cannot apply to his peculiar condition. So e.g. the position that God’s sentence of destruction falls not on the innocent but only on the wicked: a general fundamental truth of religion, which is not only most strikingly confirmed by the issue of Job’s own history, but is also often enough emphasized by him in his subsequent discourses, and is expressed in a manner altogether similar to what we find in so many of the holy songs of the Psalter, beginning with the first Psalm, the “Motto” of the entire collection. The same is no less true of the proposition concerning the universal sinfulness of all men, and indeed concerning the impurity even of the angels, when compared with the absolute holiness of God; a proposition which, presupposing, as it certainly does, the influences of a revolution from above (comp. Job 4:12 seq.), was the common property of all the pious and the wise of the Old Testament, and is one of the most conspicuous marks distinguishing the religious and moral knowledge, thought, and activity of those men from what is found in the heathen world. So again the affirmation of the necessity of disciplinary and purifying suffering for every man; the stern rebuke of the presumptuous discontent of him who will not submit to this rigid and yet loving, mild law of the Divine administration; the friendly counsel to the sorely tried Job to turn to God, and to take refuge only with Him (Job 5:8 seq.); finally the promise that his happiness would be gloriously renewed if he should rightly improve his calamities, and derive from them the benefits properly connected with them, which again seems to indicate the complete harmony of the speaker’s views with those of the poet, and to have a strictly prophetic relation to the final account of Job’s restoration and glorious vindication in the Epilogue.
3. Notwithstanding this it is hardly correct to say with Delitzsch (I. 105) that “there is no doctrinal error to be discovered in the speech of Eliphaz.” A certain work-righteousness may be found in it, notwithstanding the solemn emphasis with which it makes the universal sinfulness of all mankind the central point of the discussion. The way in which Job is exhorted, as in Job 4:6, to trust in his fear of God, and in the uprightness of his ways, and on account of the same to cherish hope in God, has doubtless something analogous in many expressions found in the Psalms (comp. Psalms 18:20 seq.; Psalms 119:168); but the connection of the passage, especially that which immediately follows, shows distinctly that the fundamental proposition—if pious, then prosperous; if unfortunate, then wicked—is here handled with a certain harsh one-sidedness and superficiality, which might easily develop into unjust judgments concerning the sorely tried sufferer, and in which accordingly was contained the germ of that difference which subsequently waxed more and more violent between the friends and Job. Still more doubtful than this tendency towards an external conception of the doctrine of retribution, a tendency which manifests itself but slightly and timidly, is the absolute silence of Eliphaz in respect to the possibility that Job’s extraordinarily severe sufferings might nevertheless have another cause than particular sins of corresponding magnitude. Herein he shows his ignorance in regard to those deeper spiritual perceptions and experiences, by virtue of which pious persons, even before the coming of Christ, were able to recognize, in addition to the suffering inflicted for chastisement, and to that inflicted for purification, a suffering inflicted simply to try men. Such suffering they recognized as possible, and as sometimes decreed by God in His wisdom, as is sufficiently evident from such passages as Deuteronomy 8:2; Deuteronomy 8:16; Proverbs 17:3; Psalms 66:10; Jeremiah 6:27 seq.; Ezekiel 22:22; Zechariah 13:9; also Sir 2:1 seq. (Of suffering borne as testimony, martyrdom, nothing needs to be said here, its necessity being first clearly recognized in the New Testament, after Christ had suffered on the cross). Finally, there lies a departure from the doctrine, which is clearly taught everywhere else in the Old Testament Revelation, in the statements of Job 5:6-7, where not only man’s punishment for sin, but sinning itself is represented as something which attaches necessarily to human nature as such. In other words, it is here implied that to be a man and to commit sin are two things which are by no means to be separated from each other, being thus regarded, as in the doctrinal system of Schleiermacher and the majority of the critical rationalistic theologians of to-day as something that attaches to man’s sensuous nature (see exeg. remarks on the passage).—From what has been said it follows that Eliphaz cannot indeed be regarded as a “Pelagian before Pelagius;” the poet has, however, unmistakably intended to set forth a certain theory of the holiness of works, and a legal narrowness in the circle of his ethical and religious perception, as lying at the foundation of his views. He has purposed to present him as a representative—one of the noblest, most thoughtful and profound indeed—but still a representative of the doctrine of external retribution, which was the popular opinion of antiquity before the coming of Christ, and has succeeded in expressing with a masterly skill which no one can question the fine shading by which that which is erroneous in his views, as compared with the profounder truth which afterwards comes gradually into prominence, is outlined forth. If we were to compare his Eliphaz with any ecclesiastical representative of one-sided theories, and more particularly of those in the department of anthropologic soteriology, which teach a legal righteousness of works, instead of turning our attention to Pelagius and Pelagianism, it would be decidedly more correct to think of such fathers as Jerome, the Gregories, Cassianus, etc. Especially does Jerome, the zealous champion of the proposition of universal sinfulness in opposition to Pelagius, who, however, had sunk almost as deeply as that heresiarch into an external self-righteousness and legality, give evident tokens of intellectual affinity with our sage. A point which, it would seem, would tend to lend special interest to any attempt to elaborate more fully the parallel between Eliphaz and Jerome, is the remarkable similarity which the description of the nocturnal spirit-vision (Job 4:12 seq.) with its emotional vividness and presentative power, bears to the celebrated “Anti-Ciceronian Vision” of Jerome in the Epistle to Eustachius (comp. my “Jerome,” p. 45 seq.), a similarity which is more than simply external, or accidental, as the closely related ethical tendencies of both visions show.
4. That which injures the religious and moral value of the speech of Eliphaz more than all these weak and one-sided doctrinal features, which emerge into but slight prominence, and which would be scarcely noticed by an untrained eye, is a series of defects which lead us to infer in the speaker a defective character rather than an erroneous theory. The discourse, with all the beauty and truth of the greater part of its thoughts, is nevertheless “heartless, haughty, stiff and cold.” It dwells self-complacently on general truths, known as well to Job and acknowledged by him, which are presented not without rhetorical pathos, but which are not brought into anything like a tenderly considerate, or profoundly apprehended relation to the special circumstances of him who is addressed. (1) It exhibits not a trace of genuine sympathy with the extraordinarily high measure of misery which has overwhelmed the unhappy sufferer; instead of consoling him, it goes off into moralizing reflections, which bring him no comfort, which serve rather to embitter him. (2) It unqualifiedly identifies his complaint with that of a “fool,” i.e., of a man of abandoned wickedness and ungodliness (Job 5:2 seq.; comp. Job 4:8 seq.), without the slightest effort to make a critical examination of the question, whether his essential character is not incomparably purer and more godly than that of a despairing blasphemer. (3) It assumes on his part hypocrisy, defective self-knowledge, entanglement in a self-righteous delusion, and seeks to cure these defects by bringing forward that night-oracle, but by this very course he betrays a serious deficiency in knowledge of men, and in the power of a finer psychological observation. (4) It takes no account whatever of the great fact of the former purity of his life, and of his uncomplaining patience, and thus coarsely (not to say maliciously) makes no distinction between Job and the great mass of men. (5) Worst of all, it is not free from disingenuousness and deception; back of what it openly says, it suggests the existence of something worse yet, of which it regards Job as capable, if not as being already guilty, and thus deprives even that in it which seems adapted really to minister comfort, refreshment, and a wholesome stimulus (e.g., the description in Job 5:17 seq. of the blissful blossoming anew of the prosperity of him who repents and is reconciled with God), of its beneficent influence on the feelings of the sorely tempted sufferer. These indirect suggestions of certain defects in the disposition and character of Eliphaz (which, like those one-sided, doctrinal peculiarities, present a striking parallel with Jerome; comp. the work cited above, p. 332 seq., 391 seq.) are what—chiefly at least—according to the poet’s purpose, furnish the occasion for further controversy, and incite Job to the comparatively passionate reply which he makes.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
The homiletic expositor, especially if he treats the discourse of Eliphaz not as a unit, as the theme of one sermon, but only in detached passages (and it is scarcely possible that he should treat it otherwise), need not have the enjoyment, which its many glorious passages minister, marred by the manifold features which tend to quench and disturb it, and which indicate the one-sidedness of the stand-point occupied by the speaker. As opportunity offers it may be shown that Eliphaz is not a representative of the complete truth of Scripture, but is the champion of a party-doctrine, which later is expressly condemned by God as one-sided and erroneous; especially might it be indispensable to call attention to this in the passages found in Job 4:6; Job 5:6 seq, according to what has been said above (Doctrinal and Ethical Remarks, No. 3). But why it should be necessary to make anxious mention of the heterodoxy of the speaker in connection with all that Eliphaz says in harmony with all the other wise men of God under the Old Testament, all which does not contradict the analogia fidei of the Old Testament, and which immediately commends itself by its truth, beauty, and inward power—why this should be necessary is certainly not apparent. All requirements of this sort will be sufficiently satisfied if it be shown in the Introduction to the Sermon, or Meditation, that the text under consideration belongs to a discourse by a man who, as is evident from the fact that he is finally rebuked and censured by God, does not present the truth of Scripture in its fulness and entireness, but who none the less belongs to the class of divinely-enlightened sages and saints of the Old Testament, and whose utterances, in so far as they accord with those of other representatives of this class, such as Solomon, Asaph, the author of Ecclesiastes, etc., must be recognized as equally important and valuable with those; nay, more, whose words, in so far as they express (if not directly, still indirectly) the poet’s objective opinion, have the same right to be regarded as inspired as those of his counterpart, Job, who in truth falls often enough into one-sided views and grievous errors.
In a detached treatment of the text the Second Division (Job 4:12 to Job 5:7) and the Third (Job 5:7-26) stand forth as pericopes of some length, which are suitably defined as to their limits. In view of the richness of their contents, however, the division of both into smaller sections may be recommended, in which case it will be most natural, or indeed unavoidable, to be governed by the preceding division into strophes.—As respects the formal statement of themes and the more specific arrangement, the following remarks on particular passages, taken from the older homiletic treatments of the book, will supply suggestive hints:
Job 4:2 seq. Starke: A friend can indeed reprove another, if he has seen or heard anything wrong on his part (Sir 20:2); but he must not put the worst construction on everything. We should hear the admonitions and reproofs of our neighbor patiently, and take them for our improvement (Psalms 141:5).
Job 4:7 seq. Brentius: It is not so much absurd, as impious, for human reason to infer from afflictions that God is angry. Rather, as a father chastises his son whom he loves, and spares not the rod, so God crucifies those whom He elects together with His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord … Eliphaz discourses truly, but he interprets the case according to his own carnal judgment of it; for the innocent, although they do not perish, are nevertheless afflicted; they are not destroyed, but they are oppressed.—Hengstenberg: The proposition which Eliphaz puts at the foundation of his argument: that true spiritual rectitude and complete destruction cannot accompany each other, is true. Instead, however, of taking for granted what he does in regard to Job, he ought to have done him the friendly service of controverting the assumption. He should have set out before him that often when the need is greatest, succor is nearest. He should have furnished him the right clue to his suffering by propounding the proposition: Whom God loveth He chasteneth. He was not, however, prepared to do this, as long as he, in common with Job, was wanting in the right perception of sin.
Job 4:12 seq. Zeyss: God taught the ancients His will by visions and dreams, and by such a revelation did for them that which He has since done by His word, written and preached (Genesis 28:12; Numbers 12:6). He has revealed Himself thus even to the heathen (Genesis 20:3). Hence they are without excuse (Romans 1:20).—Passavant (in his work on Vital Magnetism, 2d Ed., p. 131): In the dreams of a deep, sound sleep (comp. Job 5:13) the soul seems to put forth a higher form of activity, and it may be that all significant dreams belong to this very condition, which seems furthest removed from the working consciousness.
Job 4:17 seq. Cramer: God has concluded all under sin, in order that He might have mercy upon all, that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world be guilty before God, in order that by the works of the law no flesh should be justified in His sight (Romans 3:20).—Wohlfarth: Erroneous as was the opinion of Eliphaz, that sinners only are punished here on account of their sins, no less true is the commnication here made to him by a Divine revelation, that no man is pure before God, Genesis 8:21; Ezek. 4:18; Matthew 15:19; 1 Corinthians 2:14, etc.
Job 4:19 seq. Brentius: This thought should be treasured up in the depth of our minds, in order that by it we may cast down the arrogance of our flesh. For why should you be proud of your noble lineage, your wealth, power, royal majesty? Consider, I pray you, what you were, what you are, and, what you will be, and cease to stick up your crest; you were clay, you are a dung-hill, you will be corruption and the food of worms—why then should you boast (1 Corinthians 1:31)?—Cramer: Death sends no messenger, but when men least expect him, he enters all doors, even those of palaces (Jeremiah 9:21; Luke 12:20).
Job 5:3 seq. Brentius: This passage teaches parents the fear of God, for who does not desire for his children everything that is best, and the most ample inheritance? Take care, therefore, to live piously, and to bring up your children in piety and in the admonition of the Lord. You cannot leave them a more ample patrimony than this; whereas if you live wickedly, and your children fill up the measure of the iniquity which they have derived from you, not only will you be cursed, but your children also will inherit their father’s curse.
Job 5:6-7. Seb. Schmidt: This remarkable passage contradicts the notion of man’s free will in spiritual matters, and not only proves original sin, but also that by virtue of it there is no man who does not sin.—Hengstenberg: To sin is just as much a property of human nature as it is of sparks to fly upward. The doctrine of innate corruption, which rests on Genesis 3:4; Genesis 5:3 is already expressed here. (Is the statement here given of it, however, absolutely correct, and free from all one-sided admixture? Zöckler.—See above in the Critical and Doctrinal Remarks).
Job 5:8 seq. Seb. Schmidt: When we commend anything to God we do it by prayer, and hope or trust in God: so that although prayer is not expressly mentioned here, it is nevertheless implied in the words, and must not be neglected (1 Peter 5:7).
Job 5:10. Starke: Although the rain has its own purely natural causes, we must still look up in connection with it to God, as the One who has so established nature, that the rain can fall, the sun shine, etc. (Jeremiah 14:22).
Job 5:17 seq. Cramer: The dear cross [das liebe Kreuz, the affliction, adversity, whose uses are sweet] has great benefits connected with it (Romans 5:3 seq.; James 1:2 seq.); we come by means of it to the knowledge of our sins (Psalms 119:67); we stop sinning (1 Peter 4:1), we learn to give heed to the Word, and to pray diligently (Isaiah 28:19), we become satiated with the world (Philippians 1:23), and are made conformable to the example of Christ (Romans 8:29).—Compare Fr. de la Motte. Fouqué’s poem—“God’s Chastisements” (especially 3d and 4th stanzas).
Job 5:19. Brentius: The Lord delivers in six afflictions (i.e., in every time of trouble), not by taking away the cross from our shoulders, but by ministering strength and patience to bear it. But in the seventh affliction (i.e., when the season of trial is over) He gives deliverance both by taking away the cross, and by giving pure and unalloyed happiness (comp. 1 Corinthians 10:13).—Zeyss: There is no distress so great so strange, so manifold, but God can deliver His people out of it (Psalms 91:14 seq.; Isaiah 43:2; Daniel 3:17; Daniel 6:16; Daniel 6:22).
Job 5:20 seq. Brentius: He enumerates the blessings of the godly man, who takes hold by faith of the Lord’s hand. For the godly man, possessing the Lord by faith, remains perfectly serene in the face of all calamities, fearing neither famine, nor sword, nor rumors of war, nor desolation, nor the beasts of the earth. Yea, even though the heavens should fall, and the earth be wrecked, the ruins would smite him undismayed.—Cocceius: If any one should think that Eliphaz said these things in the spirit of prophecy about Job, as the type of Christ in obedience, afflictions, patience and exaltation, I should not, be disposed to blame him. He who should maintain this would say that the present and the future are blended and treated as present; seeing them in the Spirit he depicts them as present.—For the limitation and partial correction of this typical and Messianic interpretation, comp. further Seb. Schmidt’s remarks on the passage: “But who can believe that Eliphaz with all his recriminations against Job, would have prophesied good concerning him, nay, have made him even a type of Christ?” (The passage could thus be regarded only as an involuntary prophecy, like that of Balaam, or of Caiaphas).
In all essentials Cocceius had already recognized these three divisions in the discourse of Eliphaz, both as regards the lines of separation between them and the significance of their contents.
The heads he numbers of his darlings,
And, lo! no precious head is missed.
Comp. Cocceius: “The first discourse of Eliphaz, if you except the charge of impatience brought against Job (although that is stated mildly, and is not altogether without cause), and the offensive interpretation put on the words of Job, has in it nothing that is not holy, true, and excellent, and which is not most admirably adapted to strengthen patience,” etc.
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Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Job 5". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany