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Eliphaz charges Job with impiety, in justifying himself: he proves by tradition the unhappiness of the wicked.
Before Christ 1645.
Job 15:1. Then answered Eliphaz— Eliphaz, not a little incensed that Job should pay no regard to his advice, and should dare to challenge the Almighty to argue the point with him, charges him home with self-conceit, in entertaining too high an opinion of his own knowledge; with arrogance, in undervaluing the arguments drawn from their experience, whose age was a sufficient voucher for their wisdom; and with impiety, in thus rudely challenging the Almighty to answer for his conduct in afflicting him, Job 15:2-13. He presses home the same argument upon him a second time; to which he adds that of universal tradition; insinuating, that he had yet worse to expect, unless he prevented it by a contrary conduct: and then presents him with an image, setting forth the final state of a wicked man; in which he so works up the circumstances, as to make it resemble Job and his condition as much as possible; intimating thereby, that he imagined him to be that very wicked man whom he had been describing, and that he had by that means drawn down God's judgments on himself, Job 15:14-30. That therefore his conceptions of innocence were an illusion, but one, however, of the worst kind: he had deceived himself: Job 15:31-35. Heath.
Job 15:4. Yea, thou castest off fear, &c.— Truly thou loosest the bonds of religion; thou preventest the groans or prayers which are sent up to God. Houbigant.
Job 15:7. Art thou the first man that was born?— Wast thou born before Adam? Schultens, Heath, &c.
Job 15:8. Hast thou heard the secret of God?— Decrees from God and his council? Heath. See on ch. Job 29:4.
Job 15:11. Are the consolations of God small with thee?— Dost thou make light of the indignation of God? or hast thou some secret charm? Heath. Houbigant renders the latter clause, Or hath any thing been secretly revealed to thee? לאט laat, rendered secret thing in our version, besides its general signification of something concealed, has a peculiar reference to spells and charms. See Exodus 7:11. Those charms were frequently used to prevent the effect of ill designs against any one.
Job 15:12. And what do thine eyes wink at?— Or, And what are thine eyes taking aim at? The verb signifies properly to wink with one eye, as those who aim at a mark. See Heath and Houbigant.
Job 15:17. I will shew thee, hear me, &c.— I will shew thee, hear me, for this I have seen; I will declare also (Job 15:18.) what the wise men recounted; for they concealed not the tradition of their fathers. Heath and Houbigant. Eliphaz, says Bp. Warburton, speaking of the wonderful works of God, declares how he came to the knowledge of them, I will shew thee, Job 15:17-18. The very way which Moses directs to preserve the memory of the miraculous works of God. "It is so," replies Mr. Peters; "and the very way that all the ancient history, and all the ancient wisdom, from the beginning of the world, was transmitted to posterity." The Bishop adds, "And who are these wise men? They are so particularly marked out, as not to be mistaken; unto whom the earth was given, and no stranger passed among them, Job 15:19 a circumstance applying to no people whatsoever, but the Israelites settled in Canaan." But, is Eliphaz here speaking of a nation or people? says Mr. Peters in return: no; he only speaks of wise men: and this could never be meant of the Israelites in general, whom the learned writer himself now and then represents as a gross sort of people. I shall not perplex the reader or myself with the various conjectures of expositors, in order to shew who are meant by these wise men; they are so particularly marked out, as the learned writer above mentioned observes, that one would think they could not easily be mistaken; and yet none of the commentators, who have come within my reach, seem to have been aware, that the characters here laid down so distinctly, can belong to none so properly as to Noah and his sons, from whom, in reality, the ancient traditions were delivered down: and it is evident, from the scripture history, that the earth was divided among these; that they were all of one family, and no stranger passed among them. See Peters, p. 32.
Job 15:20, &c. The wicked man travaileth— This is a most beautiful image of the perpetual anxiety in which a tyrant lives: when he goes to sleep, he is afraid that he shall be murdered before morning. The whole description, taken together, is undoubtedly meant for Job himself; for which he had given some grounds, chap. Job 3:25-26. See Heath.
Job 15:22. He is waited for— He is marked out for, destined to. Heath.
Job 15:23. He wandereth abroad, &c.— His carcase to be cast forth as food for the vulture. Heath. He wandereth about, flying the oppressor. Houbigant.
Job 15:24. As a king ready to the battle— As the master-goat ruleth over the flock. Heath. Schultens reads the verse thus, Distress and perplexity shall terrify him; they shall overpower him, like a king: he is destined to the most troublous fortunes.
Job 15:26. He runneth upon him— Who will run upon him, &c. Job 15:27 after he had covered his face. Houbigant: who says that Eliphaz here points out the wicked man, flying before his destroyer, and before God himself pursuing him; who, although in his flight he throws his shield over his shoulders, yet will soon be cast down by the stroke of the Divine hand from behind. Schultens renders the verse, For he hath run against him with his neck, with the thickness of the bosses of his bucklers; supposing that Eliphaz here points out the fierce and insolent pride of the wicked man, opposing himself against God; the cause and foundation whereof, he imagines, to be assigned in the 27th verse; namely, the wantonness of his pride, through success and indulgence. Heath, however, closing the period at the 26th verse, reads the 27th thus: Though he covereth his face; Job 15:28, though he dwelleth in desolate cities, &c. Job 15:29. Yet he shall not be rich, &c. The founding and restoring of deserted cities was reckoned one of the chief glories of a prince's reign. Houbigant renders the last clause of the 29th verse, Neither shall his offspring be propagated upon the earth.
Job 15:31. Let not him that is deceived trust in vanity— Let him not trust in prosperity; it is a mere illusion; for it will turn out nothing but vanity: Heath: who renders the next verse, For his branch shall not flourish; it shall be cut off before its time.
Job 15:35. They conceive mischief, &c.— Conceiving in misery, and bringing forth in sorrow, their belly hath at last proved a deception. This whole description is evidently pointed at the situation of Job. His prosperity, was become vanity; his children were all cut off before their time; his family become solitary; and his hopes, to all appearance, an illusion. All the fine prospect with which the wicked man entertained himself, and for which he endured all the anguish here described, produceth only a deceit. He hath imposed on himself. Heath.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, Job's friends had all spoken in turn; and Eliphaz, who had opened the dispute, undertakes again to reply, much offended that Job presumed to controvert their arguments, and endeavouring, from his own words, to produce sundry accusations in confirmation of the point which he so strenuously denied.
1. He reproaches him with folly and emptiness in his arguments, whereby he had for ever forfeited the character of a wise man. His reasonings were vain, and his words blustering as the east wind, yet without solidity; unprofitable and useless. Note; (1.) It is much easier to treat an adversary with contempt, than to answer him. (2.) Unprofitable talk deserves censure: they who must give an account of every idle word had need keep well the door of their lips.
2. He charges him with great impiety, as casting off the fear of God, and restraining prayer before him; since the principles that he advanced, according to Eliphaz's opinion, made all religion void. If the tabernacles of robbers prospered, if just men were laughed to scorn, and God destroys the perfect and the wicked, then, says he, of what use is it to fear him, or to pray to him, who laugheth at the trial of the innocent? Such speeches Eliphaz regards as deep iniquity, and the crafty glosses of piety, with which Job covered his words, but could not conceal the hypocrisy within. His own lips spoke his condemnation, and there was no need for further proof. Note; (1.) It is too common for angry disputants to distort the arguments of their adversaries and to charge them with inferences from them, not only never dreamt of, but utterly abhorred. (2.) They that cast off the fear of God will not think of prayer; and they who restrain prayer, can have no fear of God before them; and such a prayerless and careless state is the sum proof of a man's impiety, and the forerunner of eternal ruin.
3. He arraigns him of arrogance and self-conceit, as if his claim to an equality of understanding, chap. Job 13:2 was to be interpreted a monopoly of wisdom. Art thou the first man that was born? or before Adam? that all knowledge and experience must center in thee? Yea, art thou wise as God, pretending to be from everlasting? Wast thou made before the hills? or, did God consult with thee in his glorious works, and communicate to thee his great designs? Hast thou heard the secret of God? and dost thou arrogate and restrain wisdom to thyself? What knowest thou that we know not? respecting numbers, and the current of antiquity, all are on our side: with us are both the gray-headed, and very aged men, much elder than thy father. Note; (1.) Nothing is easier than to triumph over our adversary, by making him speak what he never meant, and then confuting our own suppositions. (2.) There are secret things which belong unto God; to pretend to fathom which, proves not our wisdom, but our pride and folly. (3.) Many appeal to antiquity, who would often find it hard to support their pretensions; not that error supported by antiquity is at all the better for being the older: God's word is the only sure guide. (4.) Gray-heads are not always oracles; whatever veneration is due to them, truth is too great a sacrifice to make to any man.
4. He accuses him of contemning the counsels of his friends, and the consolations of God, when those were the very things that he wanted, and for want of which his complaint was bitter; but, because he declared them miserable comforters, they would infer, as they spoke for God, that it was a slight put upon him. Are the consolations of God small with thee? despised and slighted? Is there any secret thing with thee? any charm which others know not of, to support thee; or any secret sin, which being indulged prevents the entrance of divine comforts? Note; (1.) Many speak in God's name, whom he never sent; and would interest him in their quarrel, though he disowns any relation to them. (2.) The consolations of God are what an afflicted soul wants above all things; with these every trial is lightened; without them, every burden is grievous. (3.) Allowed sin necessarily cuts off the sources of true comfort.
5. He charges him with insolence against God. Why doth thine heart carry thee away? like an unruly horse, which refuses bit or bridle; and what do thine eyes wink at? Why so contemptuous of us? or what is thy aim and intention in those hard speeches of thine, that thou turnest thy spirit against God, as if daring to contend with him, and lettest such words go out of thy mouth? arraigning his wisdom, justice, and providence. It must be owned, that Job had given some handle for this charge, chap. Job 9:12 Job 10:3 Job 13:22-27 but Eliphaz draws a sudden temptation into a settled enmity and opposition against God, exaggerates the evil, and makes no allowance for Job's heavy afflictions, nor any account of the expressions of unfeigned piety which he constantly mingles with his most impatient complaints.
6. From the glaring proofs of man's original corruption, Eliphaz would infer Job's falsehood in his self-vindication. What is man that he should be clean? and he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous? If the saints in glory are not trusted by him, and the bright heavens are not clean in his sight, how much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinketh iniquity like water? as naturally disposed to it, as the appetite craves for food, and swallows it as greedily and copiously as those who are parched with thirst do the cooling draught. Note; (1.) Man is naturally disposed to evil, and only evil, and that continually. (2.) Indulgence in sin makes our bestial appetites only the more craving. (3.) Sin is the abominable thing which God hates, and will assuredly punish, unless the soul be washed in that blood of Jesus which alone can make us clean.
2nd, Eliphaz proceeds with his arguments, which are as weak as his reproaches are unjust. He insists that the wicked are always miserable; and Job's sufferings, therefore, are to him a sufficient proof of his guilt.
1. He bespeaks Job's attention; I will shew thee, hear me, something worth notice, and not such unprofitable talk as he had declared his to be, Job 15:3. He had claimed antiquity for his voucher, and professed to speak not more his own sentiments, than the traditions of the wisest and best of men, who were as great as they were good; and no stranger passed among them, either to share their blessings, or, as robbers, to plunder them; but their prosperity, the reward of their piety, was uninterrupted: in which he seems to glance at Job, unlike them in prosperity, and therefore unlike them in piety.
2. He describes the wicked man, and his constant misery, wherein, though he speaks in a third person throughout, it is easy to see that the application is designed for Job himself. He draws the character of the wicked man, as daring in iniquity, fearless of God's threatenings, mocking at his wrath as a bugbear, and, as a combatant in arms, rushing on the thick bosses of his buckler, as if defying his power. In ease and luxury he riots, fed to the full, fattened as an ox in a rich pasture, gratifying every lust, and ministering to the cravings of a pampered appetite. By oppression he enlarges his habitation, and, having seized the houses of others, makes desolations around him, as if he would dwell alone in the earth, to enjoy the fruits of his ill-gotten abundance. Note; (1.) God is patient toward daring sinners; but their time of ruin is at hand. (2.) Sensual appetite is the soul's ruin, and fleshly indulgence stupifies the conscience against all fear of God, or sense of danger.
3. The misery of the wicked man is largely described. His mischievous devices cost him much painful thought, his conscience feels at times the pangs of guilt; and short is the reign of iniquity. Terror haunts him, a dreadful found is in his ears, a fearful looking-for of judgment. In the midst of his prosperity, some calamity sweeps away his wealth, or disease embitters all his portion, and Death seizes him as his prey. In his afflictions he sinks under despair, and in hell it will be the consummation of his misery. The sword of vengeance hangs terrible over him, threatening each moment to fall. Reduced to beggary, he wanders, famished with hunger, and none give unto him. The day of death approaching scares him, and still more the dreadful darkness which obscures his prospect beyond the grave. Increasing troubles expected distress him; eternal anguish in his view dismays him; and, unable to resist, as a man before an armed host, he falls a prey to his own fears. Poor in the midst of his abundance, his covetousness and carking care withhold from him enjoyment; or, squandered on his lusts, he wastes quickly his ill-gotten wealth: at least, his possessions are transitory and vanishing as a dream. His afflictive dispensations are without any prospect of an end; his children, like withered branches struck with lightning, die around him; and, at last, himself is cut off by the blasts of God's displeasure. Deluded by Satan to trust in present vanities, he finds a lie in his right-hand: let others see and dread such fatal delusion! An immature death shall seize him, before the time that his vain hope suggested; and, like a dry stick, all his wealth, family, and friends, shall perish before him, or forsake him. Stripped by the tempest of wrath, like the unripe grape, or the flower of the olive, he shall see the desolation of all that was dear to him. Though hand join in hand, the congregation of the hypocrites shall be desolate: vain will be their pretexts of religion, when God comes to detect and punish them; his fire will consume the tabernacles of the wicked magistrates, where bribery and corruption dwelt. Thus shall the mischief, craft, and falsehood of the wicked return upon his own head, and vanity, vexation, and ruin, be his only portion. Throughout all this description he seems to keep Job in his eyes; whose losses, calamities, afflictions in his children, family, substance, and person, he would intimate, proved him to be this wicked man, this oppressor and hypocrite. Note; (1.) It is true, the curse of God is upon the houses of the wicked, and sometimes, though not always, visible in this world. (2.) The happiest sinner has inward terrors, which all his enjoyments cannot sooth or chase away. (3.) A dying hour and judgment-day, at farthest, will verify all that is here asserted of the wicked, and much more.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Job 15". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 22 / Ordinary 27