Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind. It is remarked, with reason, that the special mention of Job as the person answered “implies that another speaker had intervened” (Wordsworth); while the attachment of the article to the word “whirlwind” implies some previous mention of that phenomenon, which is only to be found in the discourse of Elihu (Job_37:9). Both points have an important bearing on the genuineness of the disputed section, ch. 32-37. And said. The question whether there was an objective utterance of human words out of the whirlwind, or only a subjective impression of the thoughts recorded on the minds of those present, is unimportant. In any case, there was a revelation direct from God, which furnished an authoritative solution of the questions debated to all who had been engaged in the debate.
Then the Lord answered Job – This speech is addressed particularly to Job, not only because he is the principal personage referred to in the book, but particularly because he had indulged in language of murmuring and complaint. God designed to bring him to a proper state of mind before he appeared openly for his vindication. It is the purpose of God, in his dealings with his people, “to bring them to a proper state of mind” before he appears as their vindicator and friend, and hence, their trials are often prolonged, and when he appears, he seems at first to come only to rebuke them. Job had indulged in very improper feelings, and it was needful that those feelings should be subdued before God would manifest himself as his friend, and address him in words of consolation.
Out of the whirlwind – The tempest; the storm – probably that which Elihu had seen approaching, Job_37:21-24. God is often represented as speaking to people in this manner. He spake amidst lightnings and tempests on Mount Sinai Exo_19:16-19, and he is frequently represented as appearing amidst the thunders and lightnings of a tempest, as a symbol of his majesty; compare Psa_18:9-13; Hab_3:3-6. The word here rendered “whirlwind” means rather “a storm, a tempest.” The Septuagint renders this verse, “After Elihu had ceased speaking, the Lord spake to Job from a tempest and clouds.”
Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? It is very noticeable that God entirely ignores the reasonings of Elihu, and addresses himself, in the first instance, wholly to Job, with whom he begins by remonstrating. Job has not been without fault. He has spoken many “words without knowledge” or with insufficient knowledge, and has thus trenched on irreverence, and given the enemies of God occasion to blaspheme. Moreover, he has “darkened counsel.” Instead of making the ways of God clear to his friends and companions, he has east doubts upon God’s moral government (Job_21:7-26), upon his mercy and loving-kindness (Job_16:7-14), almost upon his justice (Job_19:7; Job_31:1-35). He is thus open to censure, and receives censure, and owns himself “vile” (Job_40:4), before peace and reconciliation can be established.
Who is this – Referring doubtless to Job, for he is specified in the previous verse. Some have understood it of Elihu (see Schultens), but the connection evidently demands that it should be understood as referring to Job. The object was, to reprove him for the presumptuous manner in which he had spoken of God and of his government. It was important before God manifested his approval of Job, that he should declare his sense of what he had said, and show him how improper it was to indulge in language such as he had used.
That darkeneth counsel – That makes the subject darker. Instead of explaining the reason of the divine dealings, and vindicating God from the objections alleged against him and his government, the only tendency of what he had said had been to make his government appear dark, and severe, and unjust in the view of his friends. It might have been expected of Job, being a friend of God, that all that he said would have tended to inspire confidence in him, and to explain and vindicate the divine dealings; but, God had seen much that was the very reverse. Even the true friends of God, in the dark times of trial, may say much that will tend to make people doubt the wisdom and goodness of his government, and to prejudice the minds of the wicked against him.
By words without knowledge – Words that did not contain a true explanation of the difficulty. They conveyed no light about his dealings; they did not tend to satisfy the mind, or to make the subject more clear than it was before. There is much of this kind of speaking in the world; much that is written, and much that fails from the lips in debate, in preaching, and in conversation, that explains nothing, and that even leaves the subject more perplexed than it was before. We see from this verse that God does not and cannot approve of such “words.” If his friends speak, they should vindicate his government; they should at least express their conviction that he is right; they should aim to explain his doings, and to show to the world that they are reasonable. If they cannot do this, they should adore in silence. The Savior never spoke of God in such a way as to leave any doubt that his ways could be vindicated, never so as to leave the impression that he was harsh or severe in his administration, or so as to lend the least countenance to a spirit of murmuring and complaining.
Gird up now thy loins like a man. Job had desired to contend with God, to plead with him, and argue out his case (Job_9:32-35; Job_13:3, Job_13:18-22; Job_23:4-7; Job_31:35). God now offers to grant his request, and bids him stand forth “as a man’” and “gird himself” for the contest, which he has challenged. For I will demand of thee, and answer thou me. He will begin with interrogatories which Job must answer; then Job will be entitled to put questions to him. Job, however, on the opportunity being given him, shrinks back, and says, “Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay my hand upon my mouth. Once have I spoken: but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further” (Job_40:4, Job_40:5). The confident boldness which he felt when God seemed far off disappears in his presence, and is replaced by diffidence and distrust.
Gird up now thy loins like a man – To gird up the loins, is a phrase which has allusion to the mode of dress in ancient times. The loose flowing robe which was commonly worn, was fastened with a girdle when men ran, or labored, or engaged in conflict; see the notes at Mat_5:38-41. The idea here is, “Make thyself as strong and vigorous as possible; be prepared to put forth the highest effort.” God was about to put him to a task which would require all his ability – that of explaining the facts which were constantly occurring in the universe. The whole passage is ironical. Job had undertaken to tell what he knew of the divine administration, and God now calls upon him to show his claims to the office of such an expositor. So wise a man as he was, who could pronounce on the hidden counsels of the Most High with so much confidence, could assuredly explain those things which pertained to the visible creation. The phrase “like a man” means boldly, courageously; compare the notes at 1Co_16:13.
I will demand of thee, and answer thou me – Margin, as in Hebrew, “make me known.” The meaning is, “I will submit some questions or subjects of inquiry to you for solution. Since you have spoken with so much confidence of my government, I will propose some inquiries as a test of your knowledge.”
Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Wast thou present? Didst thou witness it? If not, what canst thou know concerning it? And if thou knowest nothing of creation, what canst thou know of deeper things? The metaphor, by which the creation of the earth is compared to the foundation of an edifice, is a common one (Psa_102:25; Psa_104:5; Pro_8:29 : Isa_48:13; Isa_51:13, Isa_51:16; Zec_12:1; Heb_1:10, etc.), and is to be viewed as a concession to human weakness, creation itself, as it actually took place, being inconceivable. Declare, if thou hast understanding. That is, if thou hast any knowledge on the subject (comp. Job_38:18).
Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? – The first appeal is to the creation. The question here, “Where wast thou?” implies that Job was not present. He had not then an existence. He could not, therefore, have aided God, or counselled him, or understood what he was doing. How presumptuous, therefore, it was in one so short-lived to sit in judgment on the doings of him who had formed the world! How little could he expect to be able to know of him! The expression, “laid the foundations of the earth,” is taken from building an edifice. The foundations are first laid, and the super-structure is then reared. It is a poetic image, and is not designed to give any intimation about the actual process by which the earth was made, or the manner in which it is sustained.
If thou hast understanding – Margin, as in Hebrew “if thou knowest.” That is, “Declare how it was done. Explain the manner in which the earth was formed and fixed in its place, and by which the beautiful world grew up under the hand of God.” If Job could not do this, what presumption was it to speak as he had done of the divine adminisitration!
Then Job answered the Lord, and said, I know that thou caner do every thing; i.e. I know and acknowledge thy omnipotence, which thou hast set forth so magnificently before me in ch. 38-41. It is brought home to me by the grand review of thy works which thou hast made, and the details into which thou hast condescended to enter. I know also and acknowledge that no thought can be with-holden from thee; i.e. I confess also thy omniscience—that thou knowest even the thoughts of all created beings (comp. Psa_44:21; Psa_139:2; Heb_4:13, etc.).
Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown
In the first clause he owns God to be omnipotent over nature, as contrasted with his own feebleness, which God had proved (Job_40:15; Job_41:34); in the second, that God is supremely just (which, in order to be governor of the world, He must needs be) in all His dealings, as contrasted with his own vileness (Job_42:6), and incompetence to deal with the wicked as a just judge (Job_40:8-14).
thought — “purpose,” as in Job_17:11; but it is usually applied to evil devices (Job_21:27; Psa_10:2): the ambiguous word is designedly chosen to express that, while to Job’s finite view, God’s plans seem bad, to the All-wise One they continue unhindered in their development, and will at last be seen to be as good as they are infinitely wise. No evil can emanate from the Parent of good (Jam_1:13, Jam_1:17); but it is His prerogative to overrule evil to good.
I know that thou canst do everything – This is said by Job in view of what had been declared by the Almighty in the previous chapters. It is an acknowledgment that God was omnipotent, and that man ought to be submissive, under the putting forth of his infinite power. One great object of the address of the Almighty was to convince Job of his majesty, and that object was fully accomplished.
And that no thought – No purpose or plan of thine. God was able to execute all his designs.
Can be withholden from thee – Margin, “or, of thine can be hindered.” Literally, “cut off” – בצר bâtsar. The word, however, means also “to cut off access to,” and then to prevent, hinder, restrain. This is its meaning here; so Gen_11:6, “Nothing will be restrained (יבצר yibâtsar) from them, which they have imagined to do.”
Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? As these are nearly the words of God in Job_38:2, some suppose that they must be his words again here, and imagine a short dialogue in this place between Job and the Almighty, assigning to Job verse 2, the latter half of verse 8, and the whole of verses 5 and 6, while they assign to God verse 4 and the first clause of verse 8. But it is far more natural to regard Job as bringing up the words which God had spoken to him, to ponder on them and answer them, or at any rate to hang his reply upon them, than to imagine God twice interrupting Job in the humble confession that he was anxious to make. We must understand, then, after the word “knowledge,” an ellipse of “thou sayest.” Therefore have I uttered that I understood not. Therefore, because of that reproof of thine, I perceive that, in what I said to my friends, I “darkened counsel,”—I “uttered that I understood not,” words which did not clear the matter in controversy, but obscured it. I dealt, in fact, with things too wonderful for me—beyond my compre-hension—which I knew not, of which I had no real knowledge, but only a semblance of knowledge, and on which, therefore, I had better have been silent.
Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? – This is repeated from Job_38:2. As used there these are the words of the Almighty, uttered as a reproof of Job for the manner in which he had undertaken to explain the dealings of God; see the notes at that verse. As repeated here by Job, they are an acknowledgment of the truth of what is there implied, that “he” had been guilty of hiding counsel in this manner, and the repetition here is a part of his confession. He acknowledges that he “had” entertained and expressed such views of God as were in fact clothing the whole subject in darkness instead of explaining it. The meaning is, “Who indeed is it, as thou saidst, that undertakes to judge of great and profound purposes without knowledge? I am that presumptuous man? Ilgen.”
Therefore have I uttered that I understood not – I have pronounced an opinion on subjects altogether too profound for my comprehension. This is the language of true humility and penitence, and shows that Job had at heart a profound veneration for God, however much he had been led away by the severity of his sufferings to give vent to improper expressions. It is no uncommon thing for even good people to be brought to see that they have spoken presumptuously of God, and have engaged, in discussions and ventured to pronounce opinions on matters pertaining to the divine administration, that were wholly beyond their comprehension.
Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak – This is the language of humble, docile submission. On former occasions he had spoken confidently and boldly of God; he had called in question the equity of his dealings with him; he had demanded that he might be permitted to carry his cause before him, and argue it there himself; Notes, Job_13:3, and notes Job_13:20-22. Now he is wholly changed. His is the submissive language of a docile child, and he begs to be permitted to sit down before God, and humbly to inquire of him what was truth. “This is true religion.”
I will demand of thee – Or rather, “I will ask of thee.” The word “demand” implies more than there is of necessity in the original word (שׁאל shâ’al). That means simply “to ask,” and it may be done with the deepest humility and desire of instruction. That was now the temper of Job.
And declare thou unto me – Job was not now disposed to debate the matter, or to enter into a controversy with God. He was willing to sit down and receive instruction from God, and earnestly desired that he would “teach” him of his ways. It should be added, that very respectable critics suppose that in this verse Job designs to make confession of the impropriety of his language on former occasions, in the presumptuous and irreverent manner in which he had demanded a trial of argument with God. It would then require to be rendered as a quotation from his own words formerly.
5.Now mine eye seeth thee — This vision of God is by no means to be taken literally, for there is no indication that God disclosed himself otherwise than through the veil of the terribly majestic cloud which apparently accompanied the storm out of which God spoke. (See note on Job_37:22; Job_38:1.) In the immediate presence of the glory of God, which, as it draws near, startled Elihu in vain strives to describe, Job’s consciousness is quickened by the reproofs of God, so that it beholds him in a new light. His whole being, too, is filled with light reflected from the newly-disclosed attributes of Deity. Before the eye of the soul God, the powerful, appears a wise, just, and loving God; the Almighty One (El) is revealed as Jehovah, unfolding to his stricken servant the heart of Deity. What he had before known of God had been vague, a mere hearing of the ear. Now he apprehends God through the stronger sense of spiritual sight — a sense which more than all others expresses the cognizant recipient soul — and at the sight is overwhelmed with confusion and unspeakable humiliation. “In seeing God Job sees himself; for the light that discovers God’s glory and excellence discovers Job’s meanness and vileness.” — Dr. Clarke.
Wherefore I abhor myself; or, I loathe my words (see the Revised Version). And repent in dust and ashes. Job was still sitting on the ash-heap on which he had thrown himself when his disease first smote him (Job_2:8). He had thrown himself on it in grief and de, pair; he will remain seated on it in compunction and penitence. His self-humiliation is now complete. He does not retract what he has said concerning his essential integrity, but he admits that his words have been overbold, and his attitude towards God one unbefitting a creature. God accepts his submission, and proceeds to vindicate him to his “friends,” and to visit them with condemnation.
Wherefore I abhor myself – I see that I am a sinner to be loathed and abhorred. Job, though he did not claim to be perfect, had yet unquestionably been unduly exalted with the conception of his own righteousness, and in the zeal of his argument, and under the excitement of his feelings when reproached by his friends, had indulged in indefensible language respecting his own integrity. He now saw the error and folly of this, and desired to take the lowest place of humiliation. Compared with a pure and holy God, he saw that he was utterly vile and loathsome, and was not unwilling now to confess it. “And repent.” Of the spirit which I have evinced; of the language used in self-vindication; of the manner in which I have spoken of God. Of the general sentiments which he had maintained in regard to the divine administration as contrasted with those of his friends he had no occasion to repent, for they were correct Job_42:8, nor had he occasion to repent “as if” he had never been a true penitent or a pious man. But he now saw that in the spirit which he had evinced under his afflictions, and in his argument, there was much to regret; and he doubtless saw that there had been much in his former life which had furnished occasion for bringing these trials upon him, over which he ought now to mourn.
In dust and ashes – In the most lowly manner, and with the most expressive symbols of humiliation. It was customary in times of grief, whether in view of sin or from calamity, to sit down in ashes (see the notes at Job_2:8; compare Dan_9:3; Jon_3:6; Mat_11:21); or on such an occasion the sufferer and the penitent would strew ashes over himself; compare Isa_58:5. The philosophy of this was – like the custom of wearing “black” for mourning apparel – that the external appearance ought to correspond with the internal emotions, and that deep sorrow would be appropriately expressed by disfiguring the outward aspect as much as possible. The sense here is, that Job meant to give expression to the profoundest and sincerest feelings of penitence for his sins. From this effect produced on his mind by the address of the Almighty, we may learn the following lessons:
(1) That a correct view of the character and presence of God is adapted to produce humility and penitence; compare Job_40:4-5. This effect was produced on the mind of Peter when, astonished by a miracle performed by the Savior which none but a divine being could have done, he said, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord;” Luk_5:8. The same effect; was produced on the mind of Isaiah after he had seen Yahweh of Hosts in the temple: “Then said I, Wo is me, for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for mine eyes have seen the king, the Lord of Hosts;” Isa_6:5. No man can have any elevated views of his own importance or purity, who has right apprehensions of the holiness of his Creator.
(2) Such a view of the presence of God will produce what no argument can in causing penitence and humility. The friends of Job had reasoned with him in vain to secure just this state of mind; they had endeavored to convince him that he was a great sinner, and “ought” to exercise repentance. But he met argument with argument; and all their arguments, denunciations, and appeals, made no impression on his mind. When, however, God manifested himself to him, he was melted into contrition, and was ready to make the most penitent and humble confession. So it is now. The arguments of a preacher or a friend often make no impression on the mind of a sinner. He can guard himself against them. He can meet argument with argument, or can coolly turn the ear away. But he has no such power to resist God, and when “he” manifests himself to the soul, the heart is subdued, and the proud and self-confident unbeliever becomes humbled, and sues for mercy.
(3) A good man will be willing to confess that he is vile, when he has any clear views of God. He will be so affected with a sense of the majesty and holiness of his Maker, that he will be overwhelmed with a sense of his own unworthiness.
(4) The most holy men may have occasion to repent of their presumptuous manner of speaking of God. We all err in the same way in which Job did. We reason about God with irreverence; we speak of his government as if we could comprehend it; we discourse of him as if he were an equal; and when we come to have any just views of him, we see that there has been much improper boldness, much self-confidence, much irreverence of thought and manner, in our estimation of the divine wisdom and plans. The bitter experience of Job should lead us to the utmost carefulness in the manner in which we speak of our Maker.
Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown
to Eliphaz — because he was the foremost of the three friends; their speeches were but the echo of his.
right — literally, “well-grounded,” sure and true. Their spirit towards Job was unkindly, and to justify themselves in their unkindliness they used false arguments (Job_13:7); (namely, that calamities always prove peculiar guilt); therefore, though it was “for God” they spake thus falsely, God “reproves” them, as Job said He would (Job_13:10).
as … Job hath — Job had spoken rightly in relation to them and their argument, denying their theory, and the fact which they alleged, that he was peculiarly guilty and a hypocrite; but wrongly in relation to God, when he fell into the opposite extreme of almost denying all guilt. This extreme he has now repented of, and therefore God speaks of him as now altogether “right.”
And it was so, that after the Lord had spoken these words unto Job – Had the matter been left according to the record in Job_42:6, a wholly erroneous impression would have been made. Job was overwhelmed with the conviction of his guilt, and had nothing been said to his friends, the impression would have been that he was wholly in the wrong. It was important, therefore, and was indeed essential to the plan of the book, that the divine judgment should be pronounced on the conduct of his three friends.
The Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite – Eliphaz had been uniformly first in the argument with Job, and hence, he is particularly addressed here. He seems to have been the most aged and respectable of the three friends, and in fact the speeches of the others are often a mere echo of his.
My wrath is kindled – Wrath, or anger, is often represented as enkindled, or burning.
For ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath – This must be understood comparatively. God did not approve of all that Job had said, but the meaning is, that his general views of his government were just. The main position which he had defended in contradistinction from his friends was correct, for his arguments tended to vindicate the divine character, and to uphold the divine government. It is to be remembered, also, as Bouiller has remarked, that there was a great difference in the circumstances of Job and the three friends – circumstances modifying the degrees of blameworthiness chargeable to each. Job uttered indeed, some improper sentiments about God and his government; he expressed himself with irreverence and impatience; he used a language of boldness and complaint wholly improper, but this was done in the agony of mental and bodily suffering, and when provoked by the severe and improper charges of hypocrisy brought by his friends. What “they” said, on the contrary, was unprovoked. It was when they were free from suffering, and when they were urged to it by no severity of trial. It was, moreover, when every consideration required them to express the language of condolence, and to comfort a suffering friend.
Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams. (On the early and widespread prevalence of the rite of sacrifice,-see the comment upon Job_1:5.) (On the preference, for sacrificial purposes, of the number seven, see Le 23:18; Num_23:1, Num_23:14, Num_23:29; Num_28:11, Num_28:19, Num_28:27; Num_29:2, Num_29:8, Num_29:36; 1Ch_15:26 2Ch_29:21; Ezr_8:35; Eze_45:23, etc.) It is noticeable that “seven bullocks and seven rams” was exactly the offering of the Moabite king Balak, and his prophet Balaam, contemporary with Moses. And go to my servant Job. Humble yourselves before the man whom you have striven to abase and bring low. Go to him—make application to him, that he will be pleased to come to your aid, joining and assisting in the offering which I require at your hands. And offer up for yourselves a burnt offering. Do as Job had done for his sins (Job_1:5), “offer a burnt offering;” and then my servant Job shall pray for you. Present at your sacrifice, and sharing in it, he shall assume the highest priestly function, and intercede on your behalf. For him will I accept; literally, his face, or his person, will I accept. It is implied that, apart from Job, the three “comforters” would not have been listened to, much less have obtained pardon. Lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job (see the comment on the preceding verse).
8.A burnt offering — This differs from the burnt offering required by the Mosaic ritual. That it should be the same in kind and number with that offered by Balaam, a Gentile prophet, (Num_23:1-2,) and that there should be the twofold recognition of the sacred and complete number seven, points to an ante-Mosaical, if not patriarchal, period for the life of Job. The profound solemnity thus given to the sacrifice about to be offered, and the mortifying announcement that “the friends” should find forgiveness through the intercession and priesthood of the leprous Job, must have made them painfully alive to the folly of their conduct. According to Grotius, in loc., the Hebrews think that the holocaust was the only form of sacrifice prevailing to the time of Moses. See Job_1:5.
My servant Job shall pray for you — The intercessory prayer which Job is directed to offer also suggests a pre-Mosaical economy as that under which he lived. Gen_20:7; Gen_20:17. The Mosaic law prescribes grandly significant rites and ceremonies, but without specific directions for prayer. See, however, Lev_16:21; Deu_26:10-13.
For him will I accept — Literally, only his face will I lift up; that is, regard favourably. The expression takes its rise from the favour granted by an Oriental prince to a suppliant, who is graciously bidden to rise from his prostration, and thus lift up his face. Compare Job_13:8; Job_32:21; Gen_19:21. This profound principle of the divine economy — the power of the good to intercede for the sinful — had been already portrayed by Eliphaz with great beauty, (Job_22:29-30,) and in patriarchal times was announced by God himself to the Egyptian king, Abimelech. Gen_20:7. Compare Gen_18:32; Gen_26:24; Exo_32:7-14; Deu_9:7-29. In a world where the life of each is made to depend upon the kind offices and interposition of another, as is the case throughout the infantile period of human existence, the patriarchal usage of intercession by one being for another is one which fully comports with the demands of our reason. The whole scheme of society is subsequently so arranged as to make the services of others indispensable to each — a principle so universally true that no one attains to the higher bliss of life without the co-operation of others. His own richest temporal blessings God, for the most part, bestows through the medium of others; and by making human beings the channels for the outflow of divine beneficence, so arranges that they themselves shall be benefited and ennobled. All beneficence, human or divine, then, fails to fulfil its mission unless it brings with it manifold blessings — even as rays of light, whose end may be to give life and sustenance to the unpretending plant, scatter blessings along their entire path. The culminating hour of prayer, when Job gains the highest victory over himself by praying for the three friends, and more especially for the genteel and venerable leader Eliphaz, who most deeply maligned him, becomes the culmination of his distress and the turning point of his “captivity.” See Job_42:10.
Lest I deal with you after your folly — Literally, that I may not do with your folly, which Hitzig supposes to be spoken after the manner of men, and to refer to possible precipitate action on the part of God. The views of Delitzsch and Dillmann, which Hitzig calls “wooden,” are to be preferred. They take folly by synecdoche for “the punishment of folly,” in like manner as השׂאת or עין, sin, is used for the penalty of sin — the former of whom reads, in accordance with our Authorized Version, that I recompense not unto you your folly.
Therefore take unto you – Or, FOR yourselves.
Seven bullocks and seven rams – The number “seven” was a common number in offering animals for sacrifice; see Lev_23:18; Num_29:32. It was not a number, however, confined at all to Jewish sacrifices, for we find that Balaam gave the direction to Balak, king of Moab, to prepare just this number for sacrifice. “And Balaam said unto Balak, Build me here seven altars, and prepare me here seven oxen and seven rams;” Num_23:1, Num_23:29. The number “seven” was early regarded as a perfect number, and it was probably with reference to this that that number of victims was selected, with an intention of offering a sacrifice that would be complete or perfect.
And go to my servant Job – An acknowledgment of his superiority. It is probably to be understood, also, that Job would act as the officiating priest in offering up the sacrifice. It is observable that no allusion is made in this book to the priestly office, and the conclusion is obvious that the scene is laid before the institution of that office among the Jews; compare the notes at Job_1:5.
And offer up for yourselves – That is, by the aid of Job. They were to make the offering, though Job was evidently to be the officiating priest.
A burnt-offering – Notes, Job_1:5.
And my servant Job shall pray for you – In connection with the offering, or as the officiating priest. This is a beautiful instance of the nature and propriety of intercession for others. Job was a holy man; his prayers would be acceptable to God, and his friends were permitted to avail themselves of his powerful intercession in their behalf. It is also an instance showing the nature of the patriarchal worship. It did not consist merely in offering sacrifices. Prayer was to be connected with sacrifices, nor is there any evidence that bloody offerings were regarded as available in securing acceptance with God, except in connection with fervent prayer. It is also an instance showing the nature of the patriarchal “piety.” It was “presumed” that Job would be ready to do this, and would not hesitate thus to pray for his “friends.” Yet it could not be forgotten how much they had wounded his feelings; how severe had been their reproaches; nor how confidently they had maintained that he was an eminently bad man. But it was presumed now that Job would be ready to forgive all this; to welcome his friends to a participation in the same act of worship with him, and to pray for them that their sins might be forgiven. Such is religion, alike in the patriarchal age and under the gospel, prompting us to be ready to forgive those who have pained or injured us, and making us ready to pray that God would pardon and bless them.
For him will I accept – Margin, “his face,” or “person.” So the Hebrew. So in Gen_19:21 (“margin,”) compare Deu_28:50. The word “face” is thus used to denote the “person,” or man. The meaning is, that Job was so holy and upright that God would regard his prayers.
Lest I deal with you after your folly – As their folly had deserved. There is particular reference here to the sentiments which they had advanced respecting the divine character and government.
So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went, and did according as the Lord commanded them; i.e. “went” to Job, and asked his aid and interposition, and obtained it. The Lord also accepted Job; i.e. looked favourably on Job’s intercession, and for his sake pardoned those for whom he made his prayer. Job is thus a type of Christ, not merely in his sufferings, but also in his mediatorial character.
The Lord turned the captivity of Job – The Vulgate has: Dominus quoque conversus est ad poenitentiam Job; “And the Lord turned Job to repentance.” The Chaldee: “The Word of the Lord (מימרא דיי meymera dayai) turned the captivity of Job.” There is a remark which these words suggest, which has been rarely, if at all, noticed. It is said that the Lord turned the captivity of Job When He Prayed for His Friends. He had suffered much through the unkindness of these friends; they had criticised his conduct without feeling or mercy; and he had just cause to be irritated against them: and that he had such a feeling towards them, several parts of his discourses sufficiently prove. God was now about to show Job his mercy; but mercy can be shown only to the merciful; Job must forgive his unfeeling friends, if he would be forgiven by the Lord; he directs him, therefore, to pray for them, Job_42:8. He who can pray for another cannot entertain enmity against him: Job did so, and when he prayed for his friends, God turned the captivity of Job. “Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.” Some suppose that Job, being miraculously restored, armed his servants and remaining friends, and fell upon those who had spoiled him; and not only recovered his own property, but also spoiled the spoilers, and thus his substance became double what it was before. Of this I do not see any intimation in the sacred text.
And the Lord turned the captivity of Job. The literal use of this phrase is common, the metaphorical use of it uncommon, in Scripture. Still, it is so simple a metaphor, and captivity so common a thing among ancient peoples, that it may well have been in general use among the nations of Western Asia from very primitive times. It signifies, as Professor Lee remarks, “a restoration to former happy circumstances.” When he prayed for his friends. Perhaps his complete forgiveness by God was contingent on his own complete forgiveness of his “friends” (Mat_6:12, Mat_6:14, Mat_6:15; Mat_18:32-35); at any rate, his restoration immediately followed his intercession. Also the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before; literally, added to all that had been Job’s to the double (comp. verse 12).
10.The Lord turned the captivity — שׁבאתשׁבית. An instance of paronomasia — an elegance, as the reader has seen, common in this book. (Note on Job_3:25.) The word rendered “captivity” is kindred with the preceding word, and literally signifies a turning, (thus Ewald, Dillmann, and Zockler,) so that the expression before us indicates a complete reversal of things: God overturns the misery of Job into joy, and replaces night with day. Compare Psa_14:7; Psa_126:1; Psa_126:4. The long continuance of Job’s sufferings might well be called a captivity, if we accept the speculation of Chrysostom, Isidorus. Suidas, and others, that they lasted seven years, or adopt even the one year which Petavius assigns as their limit; but upon this subject the word of God is silent. Compare, however, Job_5:19, with Job_7:3 — on the latter of which see note.
When he prayed — In the very act of his praying for ethers (prep. ב, in, before the verb) his own salvation came. The spectacle partakes of the morally sublime. The man of God, on whom still rests a burden of sorrow and disease unmeasured by human words, bends himself before his God, not in prayer for himself, but for those who had done him ill. As suddenly as in after times to Naaman, descends the grace of the Almighty: the night of tribulation turns and passes away; the loathsome ulcers vanish, while (even as Elihu had wonderfully prophesied) “his flesh becomes fresher than a child’s,” (Job_33:25,) and the work of deliverance for soul and body is complete. Compare Job_11:15-17. The Talmud thence derives the proverb, “He who prays for his fellow men always finds acceptance for himself first of all.”
And the Load turned the captivity of Job – Restored him to his former prosperity. The language is taken from restoration to country and home after having been a captive in a foreign land. This language is often applied in the Scriptures to the return of the Jews from their captivity in Babylon, and some writers have made use of it as an argument to show that Job lived “after” that event. But this conclusion is unwarranted. The language is so general that it might be taken from the return from “any” captivity, and is such as would naturally be employed in the early periods of the world to denote restoration from calamity. It was common in the earliest ages to convey captives in war to the land of the conqueror, and thus make a land desolate by the removal of its inhabitants; and it would be natural to use the language expressive of their return to denote a restoration from “any” great calamity to former privileges and comforts. Such is undoubtedly its meaning as applied to the case of Job. He was restored from his series of protracted trials to a state of prosperity.
When he prayed for his friends – Or after he had prayed for his friends. It is not implied of necessity that his praying for them had any particular effect in restoring his prosperity.
Also the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before – Margin, “added all that” had been to “Job unto the double.” The margin is a literal translation, but the meaning is the same. It is not to be understood that this occurred at once – for many of these blessings were bestowed gradually. Nor are we to understand it in every respect literally – for he had the same number of sons and daughters as before; but it is a general declaration, and was true in all essential respects.
Then came there unto him all his brethren – “Job being restored to his former health and fortunes, the author,” says Mr. Heath, “presents us with a striking view of human friendship. His brethren, who, in the time of his affliction, kept at a distance from him; his kinsfolk, who ceased to know him; his familiar friends, who had forgotten him; and his acquaintance, who had made themselves perfect strangers to him; those to whom he had showed kindness, and who yet had ungratefully neglected him, on the return of his prosperity now come and condole with him, desirous of renewing former familiarity; and, according to the custom of the Eastern countries, where there is no approaching a great man without a present, each brings him a kesitah, each a jewel of gold.” See Job_42:12.
A piece of money – קשיטה kesitah signifies a lamb; and it is supposed that this piece of money had a lamb stamped on it, as that quantity of gold was generally the current value for a lamb. See my note on Gen_33:19 (note), where the subject is largely considered. The Vulgate, Chaldee, Septuagint, Arabic, and Syriac, have one lamb or sheep; so it appears that they did not understand the kesitah as implying a piece of money of any kind, but a sheep or a lamb.
Earring of gold – Literally, a nose-jewel. The Septuagint translate, τετραδραχμον χρυσου, a tetra-drachm of gold, or golden daric; but by adding και ασημου, unstamped, they intimate that it was four drachms of uncoined gold.
Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown
It was Job’s complaint in his misery that his “brethren,” were “estranged” from him (Job_19:13); these now return with the return of his prosperity (Pro_14:20; Pro_19:6, Pro_19:7); the true friend loveth at all times (Pro_17:17; Pro_18:24). “Swallow friends leave in the winter and return with the spring” [Henry].
eat bread — in token of friendship (Psa_41:9).
piece of money — Presents are usual in visiting a man of rank in the East, especially after a calamity (2Ch_32:23). Hebrew, kesita. Magee translates “a lamb” (the medium of exchange then before money was used), as it is in Margin of Gen_33:19; Jos_24:32. But it is from the Arabic kasat, “weighed out” [Umbreit], not coined; so Gen_42:35; Gen_33:19; compare with Gen_23:15, makes it likely it was equal to four shekels; Hebrew kashat, “pure,” namely, metal. The term, instead of the usual “shekel,” etc., is a mark of antiquity.
earring — whether for the nose or ear (Gen_35:4; Isa_3:21). Much of the gold in the East, in the absence of banks, is in the shape of ornaments.
Then came there unto him all his brethren … – It seems remarkable that none of these friends came near to him during his afflictions, and especially that his “sisters” should not have been with him to sympathize with him. But it was one of the bitter sources of his affliction, and one of the grounds of his complaint, that in his trials his kindred stood aloof from him; so in Job_19:13-14, he says, “He hath put my brethren far from me, and mine acquaintance are verily estranged from me. My kinsfolk have failed, and my familiar friends have forgotten me.” It is not easy to account for this. It may have been, however, that a part were kept from showing any sympathy, in accordance with the general fact that there are always professed friends, and sometimes kindred, who forsake a man in affliction; and that a part regarded him as abandoned by God, and forsook him on that account – from a mistaken view of what they regarded as duty, that they ought to forsake one whom God had forsaken. When his calamities had passed by, however, and he again enjoyed the tokens of the divine favor, all returned to him full of condolence and kindness; part, probably, because friends always cluster around one who comes out of calamity and rises again to honor, and the other portion because they supposed that as “God” regarded him now with approbation, it was proper for “them” to do it also. A man who has been unfortunate, and who is visited with returning prosperity, never lacks friends. The rising sun reveals many friends that darkness had driven away, or brings to light many – real or professed – who were concealed at midnight.
And did eat bread with him in his house – An ancient token of friendship and affection; compare Psa_41:9; Pro_9:5; Pro_23:6; Jer_41:1.
And every man also gave him a piece of money – This is probably one of the earliest instances in which money is mentioned in history. It is, of course, impossible now to determine the form or value of the “piece of money” here referred to. The Hebrew word (קשׂיטה qeśı̂yṭâh), occurs only in this place and in Gen_33:19, where it is rendered “pieces of money,” and in Jos_24:32, where it is rendered “pieces of silver.” It is evident, therefore, that it was one of the earliest names given to coin, and its use here is an argument that the book of Job is of very early origin. Had it been composed at a later age, the word “shekel,” or some word in common use to denote money, would have been used. The Vulgate here renders the word “ovem,” a sheep; the Septuagint in like manner, ἀμνάδα amnada, “a lamb;” and so also the Chaldee. In the margin, in both the other places where the word occurs Gen_33:19; Jos_24:32, it is also rendered “lambs.”
The reason why it is so rendered is unknown. it may have been supposed that in early times a sheep or lamb having something like a fixed value, might have been the standard by which to estimate the value of other things; but there is nothing in the etymology of the word to support this interpretation. The word in Arabic (kasat) means to divide out equally, to measure; and the Hebrew word probably had some such signification, denoting that which was measured or weighed out, and hence became the name of a certain “weight” or “amount” of money. It is altogether probable that the first money consisted of a certain amount of the precious metals “weighed out,” without being “coined” in any way. It is not an improbable supposition, however, that the figure of a sheep or lamb was the first figure stamped on coins, and this may be the reason why the word used here was rendered in this manner in the ancient versions. On the meaning of the word, Bochart may be consulted, “Hieroz.” P. i. Lib. c. xliii. pp. 433-437; Rosenmuller on Gen_33:19; Schultens “in loc;” and the following work in Ugolin’s “Thes. Antiq. Sacr.” Tom. xxviii., “Otthonis Sperlingii Diss. de nummis non cusis,” pp. 251-253, 298-306. The arguments of Bochart to prove that this word denotes a piece of money, and not a lamb, as it is rendered by the Vulgate, the Septuagint, the Syriac, the Arabic, and by Onkelos, are briefly:
(1) That in more than an hundred places where reference is made in the Scriptures to a lamb or a sheep, this word is not used. Other words are constantly employed.
(2) The testimony of the rabbis is uniform that it denotes a piece of money. Akiba says that when he traveled into Africa he found there a coin which they called kesita. So Rabbi Solomon, and Levi Ben Gerson, in their commentaries, and Kimchi, Pomarius, and Aquinas, in their Lexicons.
(3) The authority of the Masoretes in relation to the Hebrew word is the same. According to Bochart, the word is the same as קשׁט qāshaṭ or קשׁט qosheṭ, changing the Hebrew letter שׁ for the Hebrew letter שׂ. The word means true, sincere, Psa_60:6; Pro_22:21. According to this, the name was given to the coin because it was made of pure metal – unadulterated silver or gold. See this argument at length in Bochart.
(4) The feminine form of the noun used here shows that it does not mean a lamb – it being wholly improbable that the friends of Job would send him ewe lambs only.
(5) In the early times of the patriarchs – as early as the time of Jacob – money was in common use, and the affairs of merchandise were conducted by that as a medium; Gen_17:12-13; Gen_47:16.
(6) The statement in Act_7:16, leads to the supposition that “money” is referred to by the word as used in Gen_33:19. If, as is there supposed, the purchase of the same field is referred to in Gen_23:16; Gen_23:19, then it is clear that money is referred to by the word. In Gen_23:16 it is said that Abraham paid for the field of Ephron iu Macpelah “four hundred shekels of silver, current money with the merchant.” And if the same purchase is referred to in both these places, then by a comparison of the two, it appears that the kesita was heavier than the shekel, and contained about four shekels. It is not easy, however, to determine its value.
And every one an earring of gold – The word rendered “earring” (נזם nezem) may mean a ring for the nose Gen_24:47; Isa_3:21; Pro_11:22; Hos_2:13, as well as for the ear, Gen_35:4. The word “ring” would better express the sense here without specifying its particular use; compare Jdg_8:24-25; Pro_25:12. Ornaments of this kind were much worn by the ancients (compare Isa. 3; Gen_24:22), and a contribution of these from each one of the friends of Job would constitute a valuable property; compare Exo_32:2-3. It was not uncommon for friends thus to bring presents to one who was restored from great calamity. See the case of Hezekiah, 2Ch_32:23.
The Lord blessed the latter end of Job – Was it not in consequence of his friends bringing him a lamb, sheep, or other kind of cattle, and the quantity of gold mentioned, that his stock of sheep was increased so speedily to 14,000, his camels to 6000, his oxen to 2000, and his she-asses to 1000? Mr. Heath takes the story of the conduct of Job’s friends by the worst handle; see Job_42:11. Is it not likely that they themselves were the cause of his sudden accumulation of property? and that they did not visit him, nor seek his familiarity because he was now prosperous; but because they saw that God had turned his captivity, and miraculously healed him? This gave them full proof of his innocence, and they no longer considered him an anathema, or devoted person, whom they should avoid and detest, but one who had been suffering under a strange dispensation of Divine Providence, and who was now no longer a suspicious character, but a favourite of heaven, to whom they should show every possible kindness. They therefore joined hands with God to make the poor man live and their presents were the cause, under God of his restoration to affluence. This takes the subject by the other handle; and I think, as far as the text is concerned, by the right one.
He had fourteen thousand sheep – The reader, by referring to Job_1:3, will perceive that the whole of Job’s property was exactly doubled.
So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job – To wit, by giving him double what he had possessed before his calamities came upon him; see Job_42:10.
For he had fourteen thousand sheep … – The possessions which are here enumerated are in each instance just twice as much as he possessed in the early part of his life. In regard to their value, and the rank in society which they indicated, see the notes at Job_1:3. The only thing which is omitted here, and which it is not said was doubled, was his “household,” or “husbandry” (Job_1:3, “margin”), but it is evident that this must have been increased in a corresponding manner to have enabled him to keep and maintain such flocks and herds. We are not to suppose that these were granted to him at once, but as he lived an hundred and forty years after his afflictions, he had ample time to accumulate this property.