Category: Logos software

Third Advent Reading

1 Ιακωβ ὁ παῖς μου, ἀντιλήμψομαι αὐτοῦ, Ισραηλ ὁ ἐκλεκτός μου, προσεδέξατο αὐτὸν ἡ ψυχή μου, ἔδωκα τὸ πνεῦμά μου ἐπʼ αὐτόν, κρίσιν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν ἐξοίσει. 2 οὐ κεκράξεται οὐδὲ ἀνήσει, οὐδὲ ἀκουσθήσεται ἔξω ἡ φωνὴ αὐτοῦ. 3 κάλαμον τεθλασμένον οὐ συντρίψει καὶ λίνον καπνιζόμενον οὐ σβέσει, ἀλλὰ εἰς ἀλήθειαν ἐξοίσει κρίσιν. 4 ἀναλάμψει καὶ οὐ θραυσθήσεται, ἕως ἂν θῇ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς κρίσιν, καὶ ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματι αὐτοῦ ἔθνη ἐλπιοῦσιν. 5 οὕτως λέγει κύριος ὁ θεὸς ὁ ποιήσας τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ πήξας αὐτόν, ὁ στερεώσας τὴν γῆν καὶ τὰ ἐν αὐτῇ καὶ διδοὺς πνοὴν τῷ λαῷ τῷ ἐπʼ αὐτῆς καὶ πνεῦμα τοῖς πατοῦσιν αὐτήν, 6 ἐγὼ κύριος ὁ θεὸς ἐκάλεσά σε ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ καὶ κρατήσω τῆς χειρός σου καὶ ἐνισχύσω σε καὶ ἔδωκά σε εἰς διαθήκην γένους, εἰς φῶς ἐθνῶν 7 ἀνοῖξαι ὀφθαλμοὺς τυφλῶν, ἐξαγαγεῖν ἐκ δεσμῶν δεδεμένους καὶ ἐξ οἴκου φυλακῆς καθημένους ἐν σκότει. —8 ἐγὼ κύριος ὁ θεός, τοῦτό μού ἐστιν τὸ ὄνομα, τὴν δόξαν μου ἑτέρῳ οὐ δώσω οὐδὲ τὰς ἀρετάς μου τοῖς γλυπτοῖς. 9 τὰ ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς ἰδοὺ ἥκασιν, καὶ καινὰ ἃ ἐγὼ ἀναγγελῶ, καὶ πρὸ τοῦ ἀνατεῖλαι ἐδηλώθη ὑμῖν.

Septuaginta: With morphology. (1979). (electronic ed., Is 42:1–9). Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft.

Jacob is my child, I will help him; Israel is my chosen one, my soul has accepted him. I have given my spirit upon him; he will bring forth judgment upon the nations. 2 He will not cry out or lift up his voice, nor will his voice be heard outside. 3 He will not crush a bruised reed, and he will not extinguish a smoking flax, but he will bring forth justice to truth. 4 He will blaze forth and will not be broken until he brings justice upon the earth, and the nations will hope in his name. 5 This is what the Lord God says, who made heaven and pitched it like a tent, who established the earth and the things in it and gave breath to the people who are upon it and spirit to those who walk upon it. 6 I, the Lord God, have called you in righteousness, and I will hold fast onto your hand and strengthen you and ⌊make you a covenant for the nation⌋ 7 to open the eyes of the blind, to lead those who are bound out from their chains, and those seated in darkness out of ⌊prison⌋. 8 I am the Lord God; this is my name. I will not give my glory to another, nor my praises to graven images. 9 Look! the things which were from the beginning have come, and I have made new things known to you, which I report even ⌊before they are announced⌋.

Brannan, R., Penner, K. M., Loken, I., Aubrey, M., & Hoogendyk, I. (Eds.). (2012). The Lexham English Septuagint (Is 42:1–9). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

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Another Advent Reading

6 καὶ εἶπέν μοι Μέγα σοί ἐστιν τοῦ κληθῆναί σε παῖδά μου τοῦ στῆσαι τὰς φυλὰς Ιακωβ καὶ τὴν διασπορὰν τοῦ Ισραηλ ἐπιστρέψαι, ἰδοὺ τέθεικά σε εἰς διαθήκην γένους εἰς φῶς ἐθνῶν τοῦ εἶναί σε εἰς σωτηρίαν ἕως ἐσχάτου τῆς γῆς.
7 Οὕτως λέγει κύριος ὁ ῥυσάμενός σε ὁ θεὸς Ισραηλ Ἁγιάσατε τὸν φαυλίζοντα τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ τὸν βδελυσσόμενον ὑπὸ τῶν ἐθνῶν τῶν δούλων τῶν ἀρχόντων, βασιλεῖς ὄψονται αὐτὸν καὶ ἀναστήσονται, ἄρχοντες καὶ προσκυνήσουσιν αὐτῷ ἕνεκεν κυρίου, ὅτι πιστός ἐστιν ὁ ἅγιος Ισραηλ, καὶ ἐξελεξάμην σε. 8 οὕτως λέγει κύριος Καιρῷ δεκτῷ ἐπήκουσά σου καὶ ἐν ἡμέρᾳ σωτηρίας ἐβοήθησά σοι καὶ ἔδωκά σε εἰς διαθήκην ἐθνῶν τοῦ καταστῆσαι τὴν γῆν καὶ κληρονομῆσαι κληρονομίαν ἐρήμου, 9 λέγοντα τοῖς ἐν δεσμοῖς Ἐξέλθατε, καὶ τοῖς ἐν τῷ σκότει ἀνακαλυφθῆναι. καὶ ἐν πάσαις ταῖς ὁδοῖς αὐτῶν βοσκηθήσονται, καὶ ἐν πάσαις ταῖς τρίβοις ἡ νομὴ αὐτῶν, 10 οὐ πεινάσουσιν οὐδὲ διψήσουσιν, οὐδὲ πατάξει αὐτοὺς καύσων οὐδὲ ὁ ἥλιος, ἀλλὰ ὁ ἐλεῶν αὐτοὺς παρακαλέσει καὶ διὰ πηγῶν ὑδάτων ἄξει αὐτούς, 11 καὶ θήσω πᾶν ὄρος εἰς ὁδὸν καὶ πᾶσαν τρίβον εἰς βόσκημα αὐτοῖς. 12 ἰδοὺ οὗτοι πόρρωθεν ἔρχονται, οὗτοι ἀπὸ βορρᾶ καὶ οὗτοι ἀπὸ θαλάσσης, ἄλλοι δὲ ἐκ γῆς Περσῶν. 13 εὐφραίνεσθε, οὐρανοί, καὶ ἀγαλλιάσθω ἡ γῆ, ῥηξάτωσαν τὰ ὄρη εὐφροσύνην καὶ οἱ βουνοὶ δικαιοσύνην, ὅτι ἠλέησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν λαὸν αὐτοῦ καὶ τοὺς ταπεινοὺς τοῦ λαοῦ αὐτοῦ παρεκάλεσεν. Septuaginta: With morphology. (1979). (electronic ed., Is 49:6–13). Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft.

6 And he said to me, “It is a great thing for you ⌊to be called⌋ my child, to establish the tribes of Jacob and to return the dispersion of Israel. Look! I have given you as a covenant for a nation, as a light for the nations so that you may bring salvation⌋ as far as the end of the earth.” 7 This is what the Lord who rescues you, the God of Israel, says: “Sanctify the one who despises his life, who is abhorred by the nations, the servants of rulers. Kings will see him and arise; rulers also will worship him for the sake of the Lord, because the Holy One of Israel is faithful, and I have chosen you.” 8 This is what the Lord says: “I have listened to you at the acceptable time, and I have helped you in the day of salvation. And I formed you and have given you as a covenant for the nations, to establish the land and to allot deserted lots, 9 saying to those in chains, ‘Come out!’ and to those in darkness, ‘’Be revealed!’ They will be fed in all the ways, and their pasture will be in all their paths. 10 They will not hunger or thirst, and the burning heat and the sun will not strike them, but the one who shows mercy will comfort them, and he will lead them through springs of waters. 11 And I will turn every mountain into a way and every path into a pasture for them. 12 Look! These people will come from afar, these will come from the north and the sea, and others from the land of the Persians. 13 Rejoice, heavens, and let the earth rejoice! Let the mountains burst forth with joy, because God has shown mercy to his people, and he has comforted the lowly among his people.

Brannan, R., Penner, K. M., Loken, I., Aubrey, M., & Hoogendyk, I. (Eds.). (2012). The Lexham English Septuagint (Is 49:6–13). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

Reading for the First Sunday of Advent

1 Καὶ ἐξελεύσεται ῥάβδος ἐκ τῆς ῥίζης Ιεσσαι, καὶ ἄνθος ἐκ τῆς ῥίζης ἀναβήσεται. 2 καὶ ἀναπαύσεται ἐπʼ αὐτὸν πνεῦμα τοῦ θεοῦ, πνεῦμα σοφίας καὶ συνέσεως, πνεῦμα βουλῆς καὶ ἰσχύος, πνεῦμα γνώσεως καὶ εὐσεβείας, 3 ἐμπλήσει αὐτὸν πνεῦμα φόβου θεοῦ. οὐ κατὰ τὴν δόξαν κρινεῖ οὐδὲ κατὰ τὴν λαλιὰν ἐλέγξει, 4 ἀλλὰ κρινεῖ ταπεινῷ κρίσιν καὶ ἐλέγξει τοὺς ταπεινοὺς τῆς γῆς, καὶ πατάξει γῆν τῷ λόγῳ τοῦ στόματος αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐν πνεύματι διὰ χειλέων ἀνελεῖ ἀσεβῆ, 5 καὶ ἔσται δικαιοσύνῃ ἐζωσμένος τὴν ὀσφὺν αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀληθείᾳ εἰλημένος τὰς πλευράς.

Septuaginta: With morphology. (1979). (electronic ed., Is 11:1–5). Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft.

 

11 And a rod will emerge from the root of Jesse, and a flower will come up from the root. 2 And God’s spirit will rest on him, a spirit of wisdom and intelligence, a spirit of counsel and strength, a spirit of knowledge and piety. 3 He will fill him with a spirit of the fear of God; he will not judge according to reputation or reprove according to speech. 4 Rather, he will render fair judgment to a humble one, and he will reprove the humble of the land; and he will strike the land with the word of his mouth, and with breath through his lips he will destroy ungodly things. 5 And he will be girded at the waist with righteousness and enclosed with truth at his sides.

Brannan, R., Penner, K. M., Loken, I., Aubrey, M., & Hoogendyk, I. (Eds.). (2012). The Lexham English Septuagint (Is 11:1–5). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

Ecclesiastes Chapter 1:1-4,12-14; 2:1-3,12-14, 24-26 Antique Commentary Quotes

Adam Clarke

Ecclesiastes 1:1

The words of the Preacher – Literally, “The words of Choheleth, son of David, king of Jerusalem.” But the Targum explains it thus: “The words of the prophecy, which Choheleth prophesied; the same is Solomon, son of David the king, who was in Jerusalem. For when Solomon, king of Israel, saw by the spirit of prophecy that the kingdom of Rehoboam his son was about to be divided with Jeroboam, the son of Nebat; and the house of the sanctuary was about to be destroyed, and the people of Israel sent into captivity; he said in his word – Vanity of vanities is all that I have labored, and David my father; they are altogether vanity.” The word קהלת Koheleth is a feminine noun, from the root קהל kahal, to collect, gather together, assemble; and means, she who assembles or collects a congregation; translated by the Septuagint, ekklhsiasthv, a public speaker, a speaker in an assembly; and hence translated by us a preacher. In my old MS. Bible it is explained thus: a talker to the peple; or togyder cleping.

Pulpit Commentary

Ecc_1:1

THE TITLE.

The words of the Preacher, the son of David, King in Jerusalem; Septuagint, “King of Israel in Jerusalem” (comp. Ecc_1:12). The word rendered “Preacher” is Koheleth, a feminine noun formed from a verb kalal, “to call” (see Introduction, § 1), and perhaps better rendered” Convener” or “Debater.” It is found nowhere else but in this book, where it occurs three times in this chapter (Ecc_1:1, Ecc_1:2, Ecc_1:12), three times in Ecc_12:8, Ecc_12:9, Ecc_12:10, and once in Ecc_7:27. In all but one instance (viz. Ecc_12:8) it is used without the article, as a proper name. Jerome, in his commentary, translates it, ‘Continuator,’ in his version ‘Ecclesiastes.’ It would seem to denote one who gathered around him a congregation in order to instruct them in Divine lore. The feminine form is explained in various ways. Either it is used abstractedly, as the designation of an office, which it seems not to be; or it is formed as some other words which are found with a feminine termination, though denoting the names of men, indicating, as Gesenius notes, a high degree of activity in the possessor of the particular quality signified by the stem; e.g. Alemeth, Azmaveth (1Ch_8:36; 1Ch_9:42), Pochereth (Ezr_2:57), Sophereth (Neh_7:57); or, as is most probable, the writer desired to identify Koheleth with Wisdom, though it must be observed that the personality of the author often appears, as in Ecc_1:16-18; Ecc_7:23, etc.; the role of Wisdom being for the nonce forgotten. The word “king” in the title is shown by the accentuation to be in apposition to “Koheleth” not to “David;” and there can be no doubt that the description is intended to denote Solomon, though his name is nowhere actually given, as it is in the two other works ascribed to him (Pro_1:1; So Pro_1:1). Other intimations of the assumption of Solomon’s personality are found in Ecc_1:12, “I Koheleth was king,” etc.; so in describing his consummate wisdom, and in his being the author of many proverbs—accomplishments which are not noted in the case of any other of David’s descendants. Also the picture of luxury and magnificence presented in Ecc_2:1-26. suits no Jewish monarch but Solomon. The origin of the name applied to him may probably be traced to the historical fact mentioned in 1Ki_8:55, etc; where Solomon gathers all Israel together to the dedication of the temple, and utters the remarkable prayer which contained blessing and teaching and exhortation. As we have shown in the Introduction (§ 2), the assumption of the name is a mere literary device to give weight and importance to the treatise to which it appertains. The term, “King in Jerusalem,” or, as in 1Ki_8:12, “King over Israel in Jerusalem,” is unique, and occurs nowhere else in Scripture. David is said to have reigned in Jerusalem, when this seat of government is spoken of in contrast with that at Hebron (2Sa_5:5), and the same expression is used of Solomon, Rehoboam, and others (1Ki_11:42; 1Ki_14:21; 1Ki_15:2, 1Ki_15:10); and the phrase probably denotes a time when the government had become divided, and Israel had a different capital from Judah.

Albert Barnes

Ecclesiastes 1:1

Preacher – literally, Convener. No one English word represents the Hebrew קהלת qôheleth adequately. Though capable, according to Hebrew usage, of being applied to men in office, it is strictly a feminine participle, and describes a person in the act of calling together an assembly of people as if with the intention of addressing them. The word thus understood refers us to the action of Wisdom personified Pro_1:20; Pro_8:8. In Proverbs and here, Solomon seems to support two characters, speaking sometimes in the third person as Wisdom instructing the assembled people, at other times in the first person. So our Lord speaks of Himself (compare Luk_11:49 with Mat_23:34) as Wisdom, and as desiring Luk_13:34 to gather the people together for instruction; It is unfortunate that the word “Preacher” does not bring this personification before English minds, but a different idea.

Pulpit Commentary

Ecc_1:2

Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity (comp. Ecc_12:8). “Vanity” is hebel, which means “breath,” and is used metaphorically of anything transitory, frail, unsatisfying. We have it in the proper name Abel, an appropriate designation of the youth whose life was cut short by a brother’s murderous hand. “Vanity of vanities,” like “heaven of heavens” (1Ki_8:27), “song of songs” (So Ecc_1:1), etc; is equivalent to a superlative, “most utterly vain.” It is here an exclamation, and is to be regarded as the key-note of the whole subsequent treatise, which is merely the development of this text. Septuagint, ματαιότης ματαιοτήτων; other Greek translators, ἀτμὶς ἀτμίδων, “vapor of vapors.” For “saith” the Vulgate gives dixit; the Septuagint, εἶπεν; but as there is no reference to any previous utterance of the Preacher, the present is more suitable here. In affirming that “all is vanity,” the writer is referring to human and mundane things, and directs not his view beyond such phenomena. Such reflection is common in sacred and profane writings alike; such experience is universal (comp. Gen_47:9; Psa_39:5-7; Psa_90:3-10; Jas_3:14). “Pulvis et umbra sumus,” says Horace (‘Carm.,’ 4.7. 16. “O curas hominum! O quantum est in rebus inane!” (Persius, ‘Sat.,’ 1.1). If Dean Plumptre is correct in contending that the Book of Wisdom was written to rectify the deductions which might be drawn from Koheleth, we may contrast the caution of the apocryphal writer, who predicates vanity, not of all things, but only of the hope of the ungodly, which he likens to dust, froth, and smoke (see Wis. 2:1, etc.; 5:14). St. Paul (Rom_8:20) seems to have had Ecclesiastes in mind when he spoke of the creation being subjected to vanity (τῇ ματαιότητι), as a consequence of the fall of man, not to be remedied till the final restitution of all things. “But a man will say, If all things are vain and vanity, wherefore were they made? If they are God’s works, how are they vain? But it is not the works of God which he calls vain. God forbid! The heaven is not vain; the earth is not vain: God forbid! Nor the sun, nor the moon, nor the stars, nor our own body. No; all these are very good. But what is vain? Man’s works, pomp, and vain-glory. These came not from the hand of God, but are of our own creating. And they are vain because they have no useful end That is called vain which is expected indeed to possess value, yet possesses it not; that which men call empty, as when they speak of ’empty hopes,’ and that which is fruitless. And generally that is called vain which is of no use. Let us see, then, whether all human things are not of this sort” (St. Chrysostom, ‘Hem. 12. in Ephes.’).

Albert Barnes

Ecclesiastes 1:2

Vanity – This word הבל hebel, or, when used as a proper name, in Gen_4:2, “Abel”, occurs no less than 37 times in Ecclesiastes, and has been called the key of the book. Primarily it means “breath,” “light wind;” and denotes what:

(1) passes away more or less quickly and completely;

(2) leaves either no result or no adequate result behind, and therefore

(3) fails to satisfy the mind of man, which naturally craves for something permanent and progressive: it is also applied to:

(4) idols, as contrasted with the Living, Eternal, and Almighty God, and, thus, in the Hebrew mind, it is connected with sin.

In this book it is applied to all works on earth, to pleasure, grandeur, wisdom, the life of man, childhood, youth, and length of days, the oblivion of the grave, wandering and unsatisfied desires, unenjoyed possessions, and anomalies in the moral government of the world.

Solomon speaks of the world-wide existence of “vanity,” not with bitterness or scorn, but as a fact, which forced itself on him as he advanced in knowledge of men and things, and which he regards with sorrow and perplexity. From such feelings he finds refuge by contrasting this with another fact, which he holds with equal firmness, namely, that the whole universe is made and is governed by a God of justice, goodness, and power. The place of vanity in the order of Divine Providence – unknown to Solomon, unless the answer be indicated in Ecc_7:29 – is explained to us by Paul, Rom. 8, where its origin is traced to the subjugation and corruption of creation by sin as a consequence of the fall of man; and its extinction is declared to be reserved until after the Resurrection in the glory and liberty of the children of God.

Vanity of vanities – A well-known Hebrew idiom signifying vanity in the highest degree. Compare the phrase, “holy of holies.”

All – Solomon includes both the courses of nature and the works of man Ecc_1:4-11. Compare Rom_8:22.

Cambridge Bible Plumptre

Ecc 1:2. Vanity of vanities] The form is the highest type (as in the “servant of servants” of Gen. 9:25, the “chief over the chief” of Num. 3:32) of the Hebrew superlative. The word translated “vanity,” identical with the name Abel or Hebel (Gen. 4:2) means primarily a “breath,” or “vapour,” and as such becomes the type of all that is fleeting and perishable (Ps. 62:9, 144:4). It is uniformily translated by “vanity” in the English Version of this book, which is moulded on the Vulgate as that was upon the LXX. The other Greek versions gave “vapour of vapours” (Hieron. in loc.) and this may perhaps be regarded as, in some respects, a preferable rendering. The watchword of the book, the key-note of its melancholy music, meeting us not less than thirty-nine times, is therefore, whether we take it as a proposition or an exclamation, like that of the Epicurean poet “Pulvis et umbra sumus” (Hor. Od. iv. 7. 9), like that also, we may add, of St James (Jas. 3:14) and the Psalmist (Ps. 90:3–10). In the Wisdom of Solomon apparently written (see Introduction, chap. v.) as a corrective complement to Ecclesiastes we have a like series of comparisons, the “dust,” the “thin froth,” the “smoke,” but there the idea of ‘vanity’ is limited to the “hope of the ungodly” and the writer, as if of set purpose, avoids the sweeping generalizations of the Debater, who extends the assertion to the “all” of human life, and human aims. It is not without significance that St Paul, in what is, perhaps, the solitary reference in his writings to this book, uses the word which the LXX. employs here, when he affirms that “the creature was made subject to vanity” and seeks to place that fact in its right relation to the future restitution of the Universe (Rom. 8:20).

Pulpit Commentary

Ecc_1:3

What profit hath a man of all his labor which he taketh under the sun? Here begins the elucidation of the fruitlessness of man’s ceaseless activity. The word rendered “profit” (yithron) is found only in this book, where it occurs frequently. It means “that which remains over, advantage,” περισσεία, as the LXX. translates it. As the verb and the substantive are cognate in the following words, they are better rendered, in all his labor wherein he laboreth. So Euripides has, Τί μόχον μοχθεῖς, and (‘And. Fragm.,’ 7.4), Τοῖς μοχθοῦσι μόχθους εὐτυχῶς συνεκπόνει. Man is Adam, the natural man, unenlightened by the grace of God. Under the sun is an expression peculiar to this book (comp. Ecc_1:9, Ecc_1:14; Ecc_2:11, Ecc_2:17, etc.), but is not intended to contrast this present with a future life; it merely refers to what we call sublunary matters. The phrase is often tact with in the Greek poets. Eurip; ‘Alcest.,’ 151—

Γυνή τ ἀρίστη τῶν ὑφ ἡλίῳ μακρῷ

“By far the best of all beneath the sun.”

Homer, ‘Iliad,’ 4:44—

Αἳ γὰρ ὑπ ἠελίῳ τε καὶ οὐρανῷ ἀστερόεντι

Ναιετάουσι πόληες ἐπιχθονίων ἀνθρώπων.

“Of all the cities occupied by man

Beneath the sun and starry cope of heaven.”

(Cowper.)

Theognis, ‘Parcem.,’ 167—

Ὄλβιος οὐδεὶς

Ἀνθρώπων ὁπόσους ἠέλιος καθορᾷ.

“No mortal man

On whom the sun looks down is wholly blest.”

In an analogous sense we find in other passages of Scripture the terms “under heaven” (Ecc_1:13; Ecc_2:3; Exo_17:14; Luk_17:24) and “upon the earth” (Ecc_8:14, Ecc_8:16; Gen_8:17). The interrogative form of the verse conveys a strong negative (comp. Ecc_6:8), like the Lord’s word in Mat_16:26, “What shall a man be profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” The epilogue (Ecc_12:13) furnishes a reply to the desponding inquiry.

Pulpit Commentary

Ecc_1:4

One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh. The translation rather weakens the force of the original, which is, a generation goeth, and a generation cometh. Man is only a pilgrim on earth; he soon passes away, and his place is occupied by others. Parallelisms of this sentiment will occur to every reader. Thus Ben-Sira, “All flesh waxeth old as a garment: for the covenant from the beginning is, Thou shalt die the death. As of the green leaves on a thick tree, some fall and some grow; so is the generation of flesh and blood, one cometh to an end, and another is born. Every work rotteth and consumeth away, and the worker thereof shall go withal” (Ecclesiasticus 14:17, etc.; comp. Job_10:21; Psa_39:13). The famous passage in Homer, ‘Iliad,’ 6.146, etc; is thus rendered by Lord Derby—

“The race of man is as the race of leaves:

Of leaves, one generation by the wind

Is scattered on the earth; another soon

In spring’s luxuriant verdure bursts to light.

So with our race: these flourish, those decay.”

(Comp. ibid; 21.464, etc.; Horace, ‘Ars Poet.,’ 60.) But (and) the earth abideth forever. While the constant succession of generations of men goes on, the earth remains unchanged and immovable. If men were as permanent as is their dwelling-place, their labors might profit; but as things are, the painful contrast between the two makes itself felt. The term, “for ever,” like the Greek εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα, does not necessarily imply eternity, but often denotes limited or conditioned duration, as when the slave is engaged to serve his master “for ever” (Exo_21:6), or the hills are called “everlasting” (Gen_49:26). This verse gives one instance of growth and decay in contrast with insensate continuance. The following verses give further examples.

Adam Clarke

Ecclesiastes 1:12

I the Preacher was king – This is a strange verse, and does not admit of an easy solution. It is literally, “I, Choheleth, have been king over Israel, in Jerusalem.” This book, as we have already seen, has been conjectured by some to have been written about the time that Ptolemy Philadelphus formed his great library at Alexandria, about two hundred and eighty-five years before our Lard; and from the multitude of Jews that dwelt there, and resorted to that city for the sake of commerce, it was said there was an Israel in Alexandria. See the introduction.

It has also been conjectured from this, that if the book were written by Solomon, it was intended to be a posthumous publication. “I that was king, still continue to preach and instruct you.” Those who suppose the book to have been written after Solomon’s fall, think that he speaks thus through humility. “I was once worthy of the name of king: but I fell into all evil; and, though recovered, I am no longer worthy of the name.” I am afraid this is not solid.

Daniel Whedon

Ecclesiastes 1:12

12.I the Preacher was king — All scholars agree that was implies am not now, and to fit this word to the historic Solomon many an ingenious fiction has been devised. The Chaldee exposition says, that he was dethroned by Ashmodai, king of the demons. Others think that he wrote in old age, and here referred to his previous lifetime. But in Hebrew, the “was” is emphatic, and no man would use it in speaking of what still continued, and in speaking also to his contemporaries. [But, says Bullock, (Speaker’s Commentary): “This tense does not imply that Solomon had ceased to be king when the word was written. ‘The preterite is frequently used in describing a past which reaches forward into the present.’” — Hengstenberg.] 13. I gave my heart — The heart is often used to express the sum of thought and feeling, and this phrase is equal to, “I devoted myself wholly.” Seek and search out are intensive of each other, and mean “seek diligently.”

By wisdom — Hebrew, into wisdom. which here means a philosophical view — just, acute, and comprehensive. A complete expression for the guidance of life.

Sore travail — Plainer, sad task; that of wide observation of human conduct and fortune. One sees much that is painful to see, and one’s inferences must be so often gloomy! Koheleth sets himself to the task as moved by a call from God. Not all “children of men” have taste or faculty for philosophic research. He alludes to himself as belonging to a class to whom this special work is assigned. He feels his calling to be real though peculiar.

Cambridge Bible Plumptre

Ecc 1:12. I the Preacher was king over Israel] Better, “I … have been king.” It would, perhaps, be too much to say that this mode of introducing himself, is so artificial as to exclude, as some have thought, the authorship of the historical Solomon. Louis XIV.’s way of speaking of himself “Quand ĵ etois roi” may well have had its parallel, as Mr Bullock suggests in the Speaker’s Commentary, in the old age of another king weary of the trappings and the garb of Majesty. As little, however, can they be held to prove that authorship. A writer aiming at a dramatic impersonation of his idea of Solomon would naturally adopt some such form as this and might, perhaps, adopt it in order to indicate that it was an impersonation. The manner in which the son of David appears in Wisd. 7:1–15 presents at once a parallel and a contrast.

Pulpit Commentary

Ecc_1:13

I gave my heart (Ecc_1:17; Ecc_7:25; Dan_10:12). The heart, in the Hebrew conception, was the seat, not of the affections only, but of the understanding and intellectual faculties generally. So the expression here is equivalent to “I applied my mind.” To seek and search out. The two words are not synonymous. The former verb (דָּרַשׁ, darash) implies penetrating into the depth of an object before one; the other word (תּוּר, tur) taking a comprehensive survey of matters further away; so that two methods and scopes of investigation are signified. By wisdom; ἐν τῇ σοφίᾳ. Wisdom was the means or instrument by which he carried on his researches, which were directed, not merely to the collecting of facts, but to investigating the causes and conditions of things. Concerning all things that are done under heaven; i.e. men’s actions and conduct, political, social, and private life. We have “under the sun” in Ecc_1:9, and again in Ecc_1:14. Here there is no question of physical matters, the phenomena of the material world, but only of human circumstances and interests. This sore travail (rather, this is a sore travail that) God hath given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith. The word rendered “travail” (עִנְיָן, inyan) occurs often in this book (e.g. Ecc_2:23, Ecc_2:26, etc.), and nowhere else in the Old Testament. The same root is found in the word translated “exercised;” hence Wright has, “It is a woeful exercise which God has given to the sons of men wherewith to exercise themselves.” If we keep to the word “travail,” we may render, “to travail therein.” It implies distracting business, engrossing occupation. Septuagint, περισπασμόν; Vulgate, occupationem. Man feels himself constrained to make this laborious investigation, yet the result is most unsatisfactory, as the next verse shows. “God” is here Elohim, and so throughout the book, the name Jehovah (the God of the covenant, the God of Israel) never once occurring. Those who regard Solomon as the author of the book account for this on the plea that the king, in his latest years, reflecting sadly on his backsliding and fall, shrank from uttering with his polluted lips the adorable Name once so often used with filial reverence and beloved. But the true reason is found in the design of Koheleth, which was to set forth, not so much Israel’s position under the covenant, as the condition of man in the face of the God of nature. The idiosyncrasies and peculiar features of the chosen people are not the subject of his essay; he deals with a wider sphere; his theme is man in his relation to Divine providence; and for this power he uses that name, common alike to the true and false religions, Elohim, applied to the Supreme Being by believers and idolaters.

Albert Barnes

Ecclesiastes 1:13

Wisdom – As including both the powers of observation and judgment, and the knowledge acquired thereby (1Ki_3:28; 1Ki_4:29; 1Ki_10:8, …). It increases by exercise. Here is noted its application to people and their actions.

Travail – In the sense of toil; the word is here applied to all human occupations.

God – God is named as אלהים ‘elohı̂ym thirty-nine times in this book; a name common to the true God and to false gods, and used by believers and by idolators: but the name Yahweh, by which He is known especially to the people who are in covenant with Him, is never once used.

Perhaps the chief reason for this is that the evil which is the object of inquiry in this book is not at all unique to the chosen people. All creation Rom. 8 groans under it. The Preacher does not write of (or, to) the Hebrew race exclusively. There is no express and obvious reference to their national expectations, the events of their national history, or even to the divine oracles which were deposited with them. Hence, it was natural for the wisest and largest-hearted man of his race to take a wider range of observation than any other Hebrew writer before or after him. It became the sovereign of many peoples whose religions diverged more or less remotely from the true religion, to address himself to a more extensive sphere than that which was occupied by the twelve tribes, and to adapt his language accordingly. See the Ecc_5:1 note.

Pulpit Commentary

Ecc_1:14

Here is the result of this examination of human actions. I have seen all the works that are done under the sun. In his varied experience nothing had escaped his notice. And behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit; reuth ruach; afflictio spiritus (Vulgate); προαίρεσις πνεύματος, “choice of spirit,” or, “wind”; νομὴ ἀνέμου (Aquila and Theodotion); βοσκήσις ἀνέμου, “feeding on wind” (Symmachus). This last translation, or “striving after wind,” seems to be most agreeable to the etymology of the word רְעוּת, which, except in this book (Ecc_2:11, Ecc_2:17, Ecc_2:26, etc.), occurs elsewhere only in the Chaldee portion of Ezra (Ezr_5:17; Ezr_7:18). Whichever sense is taken, the import is much the same. What is implied is the unsubstantial and unsatisfying nature of human labors and endeavors. Many compare Hos_12:2, “Ephraim feedeth on wind,” and Isa_44:20, “He feedeth on ashes.” In contrast, perhaps, to this constantly recurring complaint, the author of the Book of Wisdom teaches that murmuring is unprofitable and blasphemous (Wis. 1:11).

Cambridge Bible Plumptre

Ecc 1:14. all is vanity and vexation of spirit] The familiar words, though they fall in with the Debater’s tone and have the support of the Vulg. “afflictio spiritus,” hardly express the meaning of the Hebrew and we must read “vanity and feeding upon wind.” The phrase has its parallel in Hos. 12:2 (“Ephraim feedeth on wind”) and Isai. 44:20 (“feedeth on ashes”) and expresses, with a bold vividness, the sense of emptiness which accompanies unsatisfied desire. Most commentators, however, prefer the rendering “striving after the wind” or “windy effort,” but “feeding” expresses, it is believed, the meaning of the Hebrew more closely. The LXX. gives προαίρεσις πνεύματος (= resolve of wind, i.e. fleeting and unsubstantial). Symmachus gives βόσκησις and Aquila νομή (= feeding). The word in question occurs seven times in Ecclesiastes but is not found elsewhere. The rendering “vexation” rests apparently on a false etymology.

Pulpit Commentary

Ecc_2:1

Dissatisfied with the result of the pursuit of wisdom, Koheleth embarks on a course of sensual pleasure, if so be this may yield some effect more substantial and permanent. I said in mine heart, Go to now, I will prove thee with mirth. The heart is addressed as the seat of the emotions and affections. The Vulgate misses the direct address to the heart, which the words, rightly interpreted, imply, translating, Vadam et offluam delieiis. The Septuagint correctly gives, Δεῦρο δὴ πειράσω σε ἐν εὐφροσύνῃ. It is like the rich fool’s language in Christ’s parable, “I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, be merry” (Luk_12:10). Therefore enjoy pleasure; literally, see good (Ecc_6:6). “To see” is often used figuratively in the sense of “to experience, or enjoy.” Wright compares the expressions, “see death” (Luk_2:26), “see life” (Joh_3:36). We may find the like in Psa_34:13; Jer_29:32; Oba_1:13 (comp. Ecc_9:9). The king now tries to find the summum bonum in pleasure, in selfish enjoyment without thought of others. Commentators, as they saw Stoicism in the first chapter, so read Epieureanism into this. We shall have occasion to refer to this idea further on (see on Ecc_3:22). Of this new experiment the result was the same as before. Behold, this also is vanity. This experience is confirmed in the next verse.

Cambridge Bible Plumptre

Ecc 2:1. I will prove thee with mirth] The self-communing of the man talking to his soul, like the rich man in Luke 12:18, 19, in search of happiness, leads him to yet another experiment. He will lay aside philosophy and try what pleasure will do, and live as others live. The choice of Faust in Goethe’s great drama, presents a striking parallel in the world of creative Art. The fall of Abelard is hardly a less striking parallel in the history of an actual life. Consciously or unconsciously (probably the former) the Debater had passed from the Hebrew and the Stoic ideals of wisdom to that of the school of Epicurus. The choice of the Hebrew word for “pleasure” (literally “good”) implies that this now appeared the summum bonum of existence. But this experiment also failed. The doom of “vanity” was on this also. The “laughter” was like the crackling of burning thorns (chap. 7:6) and left nothing but the cold grey ashes of a cynical satiety. In the “Go to now” with which the self-communing begins we trace the tone of the irony of disappointment.

Adam Clarke

Ecclesiastes 2:2

I said of laughter, It is mad – Literally “To laughter I said, O mad one! and to mirth, What is this one doing?”

Solomon does not speak here of a sober enjoyment of the things of this world, but of intemperate pleasure, whose two attendants, laughter and mirth are introduced by a beautiful prosopopoeia as two persons; and the contemptuous manner wherewith he treats them has something remarkably striking. He tells the former to her face that she is mad; but as to the latter, he thinks her so much beneath his notice, that he only points at her, and instantly turns his back.

Pulpit Commentary

Ecc_2:3

I sought in mine heart; literally, I spied out (as Ecc_1:13) in my heart. Having proved the fruitlessness of some sort of sensual pleasure, he made another experiment in a philosophical spirit. To give myself unto wine; literally, to draw (mashak) my flesh with wine; i.e. to use the attraction of the pleasures of the table. Yet acquainting my heart with wisdom. This is a parenthetical clause, which Wright translates, “While my heart was acting [guiding] with wisdom.” That is, while, as it were, experimenting with pleasure, he still retained sufficient control over his passions as not to be wholly given over to vice; he was in the position of one who is being carried down an impetuous stream, yet has the power of stopping his headlong course before it becomes fatal to him. Such control was given by wisdom. Deliberately to enter upon a course of self-indulgence, even with a possibly good intention, must be a most perilous trial, and one which would leave indelible marks upon the soul; and not one person in a hundred would be able to stop short of ruin, The historical Solomon, by his experiment, suffered infinite loss, which nothing could compensate. The Septuagint renders not very successfully, “I examined whether my heart would draw (ἑλκυ ́σει) my flesh as wine; and my heart guided me in wisdom.” The Vulgate gives a sense entirely contrary to the writer’s intention; “I thought in my heart to withdraw my flesh from wine, that I might transfer my mind to wisdom.” And to lay hold on folly. These words are dependent upon “I sought in my heart,” and refer to the sensual pleasures in which he indulged for a certain object. “Dulce est desipere in loco,” says Horace (‘Canto.,’ 4.12. 28); Ἐν μὲν μαινομένοις μάλα μαίνομαι. Till I might see. His purpose was to discover if there was in these things any real good which might satisfy men’s cravings, and be a worthy object for them to pursue all the days of their life.

Cambridge Bible Plumptre

Ecc 2:3. to give myself unto wine] Literally, and more vividly, to cherish my flesh with wine. The Hebrew word for “give” is unusual and obscure. The primary meaning is “to draw out,” that of the word for “acquainting” is “to guide” or “drive,” as in Exod. 3:1; 2 Sam. 6:3. Possibly, as Lewis suggests in Lange’s Commentary, the idea is like that of the parable in the Phædrus of Plato (p. 54) and the seeker gives the rein to pleasure, yet seeks to guide or drive the steed with his wisdom. The words point to the next stage in the progress of the pleasure seeker. Pleasure as such, in its graceful, lighter forms, soon palls, and he seeks the lower, fiercer stimulation of the wine cup. But he did this, he is careful to state, not as most men do, drifting along the current of lower pleasures

“Till the seared taste, from foulest wells

Is fain to quench its fires,”

but deliberately, “yet guiding mine heart with wisdom.” This also was an experiment, and he retained, or tried to retain, his self-analysing introspection even in the midst of his revelry. All paths must be tried, seeming folly as well as seeming wisdom, to see if they gave any adequate standard by which the “sons of men” might guide their conduct, any pathway to the “chief good” which was the object of the seeker’s quest.

Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown

Ecclesiastes 2:12

He had tried (worldly) wisdom (Ecc_1:12-18) and folly (foolish pleasure) (Ecc_2:1-11); he now compares them (Ecc_2:12) and finds that while (worldly)

wisdom excelleth folly (Ecc_2:13, Ecc_2:14), yet the one event, death, befalls both (Ecc_2:14-16), and that thus the wealth acquired by the wise man’s “labor” may descend to a “fool” that hath not labored (Ecc_2:18, Ecc_2:19, Ecc_2:21); therefore all his labor is vanity (Ecc_2:22, Ecc_2:23).

what can the man do … already done — (Ecc_1:9). Parenthetical. A future investigator can strike nothing out “new,” so as to draw a different conclusion from what I draw by comparing “wisdom and madness.” Holden, with less ellipsis, translates, “What, O man, shall come after the king?” etc. Better, Grotius, “What man can come after (compete with) the king in the things which are done?” None ever can have the same means of testing what all earthly things can do towards satisfying the soul; namely, worldly wisdom, science, riches, power, longevity, all combined.

Pulpit Commentary

Ecc_2:12

And I turned myself to behold wisdom, and madness, and folly (Ecc_1:17). He studied the three in their mutual connection and relation, comparing them in their results and effects on man’s nature and life, and deducing thence their real value. On one side he set wisdom, on the other the action, and habits which he rightly terms “madness and folly,” and examined them calmly and critically. For what can the man do that cometh after the king? even that which hath been already done. Both the Authorized Version and Revised Version render the passage thus, though the latter, in the margin, gives two alternative renderings of the second clause, viz. even him whom they made king long ago, and, as in the Authorized Version margin, in those things which have been already done. The LXX; following a different reading, gives, “For what man is there who will follow after counsel in whatsoever things he employed it?” Vulgate, “What is man, said I, that he should be able to follow the King, his Maker?” Wright, Delitzsch, Nowack, etc; “For what is the man that is to come after the king whom they made so long ago?” i.e. who can have greater experience than Solomon made king in old time amid universal acclamation (1Ch_29:22)? or, who can hope to equal his fame?—which does not seem quite suitable, as it is the abnormal opportunities of investigation given by his unique position which would be the point of the query. The Authorized Version gives a fairly satisfactory (and grammatically unobjectionable) meaning—What can any one effect who tries the same experiment as the king did? He could not do so under more favorable conditions, and will only repeat the same process and reach the same result. But the passage is obscure, and every interpretation has its own difficulty. If the ki with which the second portion of the passage begins (“for what,” etc.) assigns the reason or motive of the first portion, shows what was the design of Koheleth in contrasting wisdom and folly, the rendering of the Authorized Version is not inappropriate. Many critics consider that Solomon is here speaking of his successor, asking what kind of man he will be who comes after him—the man whom some have already chosen? And certainly there is some ground for this interpretation in Ecc_2:18, Ecc_2:19, where the complaint is that all the king’s greatness and glory will be left to an unworthy successor. But this view requires the Solomonic authorship of the book, and makes him to refer to Rehoboam or some illegitimate usurper. The wording of the text is too general to admit of this explanation; nor does it exactly suit the immediate context, or duly connect the two clauses of the verse. It seems best to take the successor, not as one who comes to the kingdom, but as one who pursues similar investigations, repeats Koheleth’s experiments.

Cambridge Bible Plumptre

Ecc 2:12. I turned myself to behold wisdom, and madness, and folly] We enter on yet another phase of the life of the seeker after happiness. He falls back with a cynical despair, when mere pleasure left him a prey to satiety and ennui, upon his former study of human nature in its contrasted developments of wisdom, and madness, and folly (see note on chap. 1:17).

what can the man do that cometh after the king?] Literally, What is the man.… The words are apparently a kind of proverb. No other child of man could try the experiment under more promising conditions than a king like the Solomon of history, and therefore the answer to the question, What can such a man be or do? is simply (if we follow the construction of the A. V.) “Even that which men did before.” He shall tread the same weary round with the same unsatisfying results. The verse is, however, obscure, and has been very variously rendered. So (1) the LXX., following another text, gives “What man will follow after counsel in whatsoever things they wrought it;” (2) the Vulgate, “What is man, said I, that he can follow the King, his Maker;” and (3) many modern interpreters. “What can the man do that comes after the king, whom they made long ago?” i.e. Who can equal the time- honoured fame of Solomon?

Pulpit Commentary

Ecc_2:13

Then (and) I saw that wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness; or, there is profit, advantage to wisdom over folly, as the advantage of light over darkness. This result, at any rate, was obtained—he learned that wisdom had a certain value, that it was as much superior to folly, in its effects on men, as light is more beneficial than darkness. It is a natural metaphor to represent spiritual and intellectual development as light, and mental and moral depravity as darkness (comp. Eph_5:8; 1Th_5:5).

Cambridge Bible Plumptre

Ecc 2:13. I saw that wisdom excelleth folly] Better, as keeping up, in the English as in the Hebrew, the characteristic word of the book, There is profit in wisdom more than in folly, and so in the second clause. Something then had been gained by the experience. In language like that of the Stoics he sings the praises of wisdom. Even the wisdom that brings sorrow (ch. 1:13) is better than the mirth of fools. A man is conscious of being more truly man when he looks before and after, and knows how to observe. Light is, after all, better than darkness, even if it only shews us that we are treading the path that leads to nothingness. The human heart obeys its instincts when it cries out with Aias,

ἐν δὲ φάει καὶ ὄλεσσον.

“And if our fate be death, give light, and let us die.”

Hom. Il. xvii. 647.

Pulpit Commentary

Ecc_2:14

The wise man’s eyes are in his head; but the fool walketh ‘in darkness. This clause is closely connected with the preceding verse, showing how wisdom excelleth folly. The wise man has the eyes of his heart or understanding enlightened (Eph_1:18); he looks into the nature of things, fixes his regard on what is most important, sees where to go; while the fool’s eyes are in the ends of the earth (Pro_17:24); he walks on still in darkness, stumbling as he goes, knowing not whither his road shall take him. And I myself also (I even I) perceived that one event happeneth to them all. “Event” (mikreh); συνάντημα; interitus (Vulgate); not chance, But death, the final event. The word is translated “hap” in Rth_2:3, and “chance” in 1Sa_6:9; but the connection here points to a definite termination; nor would it be consistent with Koheleth’s religion to refer this termination to fate or accident. With all his experience, he could only conclude that in one important aspect the observed superiority of wisdom to folly was illusory and vain. He saw with his own eyes, and needed no instructor to teach, that both wise and fool must succumb to death, the universal leveler.

Pulpit Commentary

Ecc_2:24

There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink. The Vulgate makes the sentence interrogative, which the Hebrew does not sanction, Nonne melius est comedere et bibere? Septuagint Οὐκ ἔστιν ἀγαθο ̀ν ἀνθρω ́πῳ ὃ φάγεται καὶ ὃ πίεται, “There is naught good to a man to eat or drink;” St. Jerome and others insert misi, “except for a man to eat,” etc. This and the Authorized Version, which are more or less approved by most critics, make the writer enunciate a kind of modified Epicureanism, quotations in confirmation of which will be found set forth by Plumptre. It is not pretended that the present Hebrew text admits this exposition, and critics have agreed to modify the original in order to express the sense which they give to the passage. As it stands, the sentence runs, “It is not good in (בָּ) man that he should eat,” etc. This is supposed to clash with later statements; e.g. Ecc_3:12,Ecc_3:13; Ecc_8:15; and to condemn all bodily pleasure even in its simplest form. Hence commentators insert מ(“than”) before שֶׁיּאֹכַל, supposing that the initial mere has dropped out after the terminal of the preceding word, adam (comp. Ecc_3:22). This solution of a difficulty might be allowed were the Hebrew otherwise incapable of explanation without doing violence to the sentiments elsewhere expressed. But this is not the case. As Metals has seen, the great point lies in the preposition ,ב and what is stated is that it does not depend on man, it is not in his power, he is not at liberty to eat and drink and enjoy himself simply at his own will; his power and ability proceed wholly from God. A higher authority than his decides the matter. The phrase, “to eat and drink,” is merely a periphrasis for living in comfort, peace, and affluence. St. Gregory, who holds that here and in other places Koheleth seems to contradict himself, makes a remark which is of general application, “He who looks to the text, and does not acquaint himself with the sense of the Holy Word, is not so much furnishing himself with instruction as bewildering himself in uncertainty, in that the literal words sometimes contradict themselves; but whilst by their oppositeness they stand at variance with themselves, they direct the reader to a truth that is to be understood” (‘Moral.,’ 4.1). They who read Epicureanism into the text fall into the error here denounced. They take the expression, “eat and drink,” in the narrowest sense of bodily pleasure, whereas it was by no means so confined in the mind of a Hebrew. To eat bread in the kingdom of God, to take a place at the heavenly banquet, represents the highest bliss of glorified man (Luk_14:15; Rev_19:9, etc.). In a lower degree it signifies earthly prosperity, as in Jer_22:15, “Did not thy father eat and drink, and do judgment and justice? then it was well with him.” So in our passage we find only the humiliating truth that man in himself is powerless to make his life happy or his labors successful. There is no Epicurean-ism, even in a modified form, in the Hebrew text as it has come down to us. With other supposed traces of this philosophy we shall have to deal subsequently (see on Ecc_3:12; Ecc_6:2). And that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labor; i.e. taste the enjoyment of his labor, get pleasure as the reward of all his exertions, or find it in the actual pursuit. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God. This is the point—the power of enjoyment depends on the will of God. The next verse substantiates this assertion.

Cambridge Bible Plumptre

Ecc 2:24. There is nothing better for a man] The Hebrew, as it stands, gives a meaning which is partly represented by the LXX., “There is no good for a man which he shall eat and drink,” as though the simplest form of bodily pleasure were condemned. Almost all interpreters however are agreed in adopting a conjectural emendation, which again in its turn has given rise to two different renderings: (1) “Is it not better (or “Is it not good”) for a man to eat and drink …?” or (2) “there is nothing good for a man but to eat and drink.…” The two last are of course substantially the same in their teaching, and both express what we may call the higher type of Epicureanism which forms one element of the book. The pursuit of riches, state, luxury, is abandoned for the simple joys that lie within every man’s reach, the “fallentis semita vitae” of one who has learnt the lesson of regulating his desires. The words “to eat and drink” are closely connected with “enjoying good in his labour.” What is praised is not the life of slothful self-indulgence or æsthetic refinement, but that of a man who, though with higher culture, is content to live as simply as the ploughman, or the vinedresser, or artificer. Λάθε βιώσας, “live in the shade,” was the Epicurean rule of wisdom. Pleasure was not found in feasts and sensual excess but in sobriety of mind, and the conquest of prejudice and superstition (Diog. Laert. x. 1. 132). The real wants of such a life are few, and there is a joy in working for them. Here again the thought finds multiform echoes in the utterances of men who have found the cares and pleasures and pursuits of a more ambitious life unsatisfying. It is significant that the very words “eat and drink” had been used by Jeremiah in describing the pattern life of a righteous king (Jer. 22:15). The type of life described is altogether different from that of the lower Epicureans who said “Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die” (1 Cor. 15:32).

So we have one Epicurean poet singing

“Si non aurea sunt iuvenum simulacra per aedes

Lampadas igniferas manibus retinentia dextris,

Lumina nocturnis epulis ut suppeditentur,

Nec domus argento fulget auroque renidet

Nec citharae reboant laqueata aurataque templa,

Cum tamen inter se prostrati in gramine molli

Propter aquae rivum sub ramis arboris altae

Non magnis opibus iucunde corpora curant,

Praesertim cum tempestas adridet et anni

Tempora conspergunt viridantis floribus herbas.”

“What though no golden statues of fair boys

With lamp in hand illumine all the house

And cast their lustre on the nightly feast;

Nor does their home with silver or with gold

Dazzle the eye; nor through the ceilèd roof,

Bedecked with gold, the harps re-echo loud.

Yet, while reclining on the soft sweet grass

They lie in groups along the river’s bank,

Beneath the branches of some lofty tree,

And at small cost find sweet refreshment there,

What time the season smiles, and spring-tide weeks

Re-gem the herbage green with many a flower.”

Lucret. De Rer. Nat. ii. 24–33.

So Virgil sang:

“O fortunatos nimium, sua si bona norint,

Agricolas,”

and of these good things dwelt chiefly on

“At secura quies et nescia fallere vita.

Dives opum variarum, at latis otia fundis,

Speluncae, vivique lacus, et frigida Tempe,

Mugitusque boum, mollesque sub arbore somni

Non absunt; illic saltus ac lustra ferarum,

Et patiens operum exiguoque adsueta juventus,

Sacra deum, sanctique patres; extrema per illos

Justitia excedens terris vestigia fecit.”

“Ah! but too happy, did they know their bliss

The tillers of the soil!…

Their’s the calm peace, and life that knows no fraud,

Rich in its varied wealth; and leisure their’s

In the broad meadows; caves and living lakes

And Tempe cool, and lowing of the kine;

Nor want they slumber sweet beneath the trees;

There are the thickets and the wild beasts’ haunts,

And youth enduring toil and trained to thrift;

There Gods are worshipped, fathers held in awe,

And Justice, when she parted from the earth

Left there her latest foot-prints.”

Georg. ii. 467–474.

So Horace, in the same strain:

“Beatus ille qui procul negotiis,

Ut prisca gens mortalium,

Paterna rura bubus exercet suis,

Solutus omni foenore.”

“Thrice blest is he who free from care

Lives now, as lived our fathers old,

And free from weight of honoured gold,

With his own oxen drives the share

O’er fields he owns as rightful heir.”

Horace, Epod. ii. 1.

So Shakespeare once more makes a king echo the teaching of Ecclesiastes:

“And to conclude: the shepherd’s homely curds,

His cold thin drink out of his leather bottle,

His wonted sleep under a fresh tree’s shade,

All which secure and sweetly he enjoys,

Is far beyond a prince’s delicates,

His viands sparkling in a golden cup,

His body couched in a curious bed,

When care, mistrust, and treason wait on him.”

Henry VI., Part III. Act ii. 5.

This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God] In the thought which is thus expressed, we find, however, something more than an echo of Greek Epicureanism. The Debater recognises a Divine Will in this apportionment of happiness, just as he had before recognised that Will in the toil and travail with which the sons of man were exercised (ch. 1:13). The apparent inequalities are thus, in part at least, redressed, and it is shewn as the teaching of experience no less than of the Divine Master, that “a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15).

Pulpit Commentary

Ecc_2:25

For who can eat, or who else can hasten hereunto, more than I? This is the translation of the received text. “Eat” means enjoy one’s self, as in the preceding verse; “hasten hereunto” implies eager pursuit of pleasure; and Koheleth asks—Who had better opportunity than he for verifying the principle that all depends upon the gift of God? Vulgate, Quis ita devorabit, et deliciis affluet ut ego? The Septuagint had a different reading, which obtains also in the Syriac and Arabic versions, and has been adopted by many modern critics. Instead of מִמֶּנִּי, they read מִמֶּנְּוּ, “without him,” i.e. except from God. “For who shall eat or who shall drink without him (πάρεξ αὐτοῦ)?” This merely repeats the thought of the last verse, in agreement with the saying of St. James (Jas_1:17), “Every good gift and every perfect boon is from above, coming down from the Father’ of lights.” But the received reading, if it admits the rendering of the Authorized Version (which is somewhat doubtful), stands in close connection with the personal remark just preceding, “This also I saw,” etc; and is a more sensible confirmation thereof than a tautological observation can be. The next verse carries on the thought that substantial enjoyment is entirely the gift of God, and granted by him as the moral Governor of the world.

Cambridge Bible Plumptre

Ecc 2:25. For who can eat] The sequence of thought is obscure, and many commentators follow the LXX. and the Syriac version, as implying an original text which gives a better meaning, Who can eat and who can hasten (i.e. be eager in this pursuit of pleasure), or, as some take the words, have enjoyment, without Him, i.e. without God. This, it is obvious, follows on the thought of the preceding verse, that the calm enjoyment of which it speaks as “good,” is “from the hand of God.” Those who keep to the received text give it very different meanings, of which the two most prominent are: (1) that we have, as it were, the words of the labourer whose lot the Debater here admired, “Who has a right to eat and enjoy himself, if not I?” the thought being parallel to that of 2 Tim. 2:6 (“The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits”); and (2) that the Debater speaks in his own person, “Who could eat or enjoy more than I? Who therefore can better attest that it is all in vain without the gift of God.” On the assumption that the writer was one who had come into contact with Greek thought, we may trace in this utterance partly the old faith of Israel reasserting itself and giving a higher sanction to the life of regulated enjoyment which the Greek teachers counselled, partly, perhaps, the mingling of Stoic and Epicurean counsels natural in a mind that had listened to both and attached himself definitely to neither. So in the Meditations of Aurelius we have like thoughts: πάντα γὰρ ταῦτα θεῶν βοηθῶν καὶ τύχης δειται (“all these things require the help of the Gods and of Fortune”); and again τὰ τῶν Θεῶν προνίας μεστὰ (“the works of the Gods are full of Providence” (Meditt. ii. 3). Koheleth, of course, as an Israelite, used the language of the wiser Stoics, like Cleanthes, and spoke of one God only.

Pulpit Commentary

Ecc_2:26

For God giveth to a man that is good in his sight. The subject “God” is not, in the Hebrew, an omission which is supposed to justify its virtual insertion in Ecc_2:25. The Vulgate boldly supplies it here, Homini bone in conspectu sue dedit Deus. To the man that finds favor in God’s sight (1Sa_29:6; Neh_2:5), i.e. who pleases him, ha gives blessings, while he withholds them or takes them away from the man who displeases him. The blessings specified are wisdom, and knowledge, and joy. The only true wisdom which is not grief, the only true knowledge which is not sorrow (Ecc_1:18), and the only joy in life, are the gifts of God to those whom he regards as good. But to the sinner he giveth travail, to gather and to heap up. The sinner takes great pains, expends continuous labor, that he may amass wealth, but it passes into other. (more worthy) hands.

The moral government of God is here recognized, as below, Ecc_3:15, Ecc_3:17, etc; and a further thought is added on the subject of retribution: That he may give to him that is good before God. This idea is found in Pro_28:8, “He that augmenteth his substance by usury and increase, gathereth it for him that hath pity upon the poor;” and Ecclesiastes 13:22, “The wealth of the sinner is laid up for the righteous” (comp. Job_27:16, Job_27:17). So in the parable of the talents, the talent of the unprofitable servant is given unto him who had made best use of his money (Mat_25:28). This also is vanity. It is a question what is the reference here. Delitzsch considers it to be the striving after pleasure in and from labor (verse 24); Knobel, the arbitrary distribution of the good things of this life; but, put thus baldly, this could hardly be termed a “feeding on wind;” nor could that expression be applied to the “gifts of God” to which Bullock confines the reference. Wright, Hengstenberg, Gratz, and others deem that what is meant is the collecting and heaping up of riches by the sinner, which has already been decided to be vanity (verses 11, 17, 18); and this Would limit the general conclusion to a particular instance. Taking the view contained in verse 24 as the central idea of the passage, we see that Koheleth feels that the restriction upon man’s enjoyment of labor imposed by God’s moral government makes that toil vain because its issue is not in men’s hands, and it is a striving for or a feeding on wind because the result is unsatisfying and vanishes in the grasp.

Daniel Whedon

Ecclesiastes 2:26

26.God giveth — A final comparison to the advantage of obedience to God, is now drawn. No solid, satisfying good is obtained from worldly pursuits, as thus far tried. But Koheleth affirms from his experience that God gives to the obedient much gratification as they pass through life, and the sinner seems often as a servant working for the happiness of better men than himself. Yet even this — the experience of a brief and transient life — cannot satisfy the craving of a human soul.

Leaving now the experiments of wisdom and pleasure, which are so entwined with each other by comparison and contrast that we have to treat them as one, Koheleth proceeds to investigate concerning industry, or, as we would be more likely to say, business, to see what it can do to relieve a dejected mind.

Cambridge Bible Plumptre

Ecc 2:26. For God giveth] The word for God, as the italics shew, is not in the Hebrew, but it is obviously implied, and its non-appearance justifies the change in the text of the previous verse, which preserves the sequence of thought unbroken. What we get here is the recognition of what we have learnt to call the moral government of God in the distribution of happiness. It is found to depend not on outward but inward condition, and the chief inward condition is the character that God approves. The Debater practically confesses that the life of the pleasure-seeker, or the ambitious, or the philosopher seeking wisdom as an end, was not good before God, and therefore failed to bring contentment.

wisdom, and knowledge, and joy] The combination forms an emphatic contrast with ch. 1:18, and marks a step onward in the seeker’s progress. There is a wisdom which is not grief, an increase of knowledge which is not an increase of sorrow. We are reminded of the parallel thought which belongs to a higher region of the spiritual life, “The Kingdom of God … is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 14:17). Here the lesson is that the man who seeks great things fails to find them, that he who is content with a little with God’s blessing on it, finds in that little much. He becomes αὐτάρκης (= self-sufficing)—and has enough.

but to the sinner he giveth travail] The words point to a further perception of a moral order in the midst of the seeming disorders of the world. The fruitless labour of the sinner in heaping up his often ill-gotten gains is not altogether wasted. His treasure passes into hands that make a better use of it than he has done. So we find a like thought in Prov. 28:8, “He that by usury and unjust gains increaseth his substance, he shall gather it for him that will pity the poor,” and in Job 27:16, 17, “Though he heap up silver as the dust, and prepare raiment as the clay; he may prepare it, but the just shall put it on, and the innocent shall divide the silver” (comp. Prov. 13:22).

This also is vanity] The question which we have to answer is whether this sentence is passed only on the travail of the sinner, as in verse 11, or whether it includes also the measure of joy attainable by him who is “good” in the sight of God. From one point of view the former interpretation gives a preferable meaning, as more in harmony with what immediately precedes. On the other hand, it is characteristic of the cynical pessimism into which the Preacher has, by his own confession, fallen, that he should fall back into his despondency even after a momentary glimpse of a truth that might have raised him from it. The “Two Voices” utter themselves, as in Tennyson’s poem, (see Appendix II.) in a melancholy alternation and there comes a time when the simple joys which God gives to the contented labourer, no less than the satiety of the voluptuous and the rich, seem to him but as “vanity and feeding upon wind.”

Book of Job Chapter 4:6-7; 6:2-3, 24; 8:4-8; 11:6, 13-15; 13:4, 22-25 Antique Commentary Quotes

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown

Job 4:6

Is not this thy fear, thy confidence, etc. — Does thy fear, thy confidence, come to nothing? Does it come only to this, that thou faintest now? Rather, by transposition, “Is not thy fear (of God) thy hope? and the uprightness of thy ways thy confidence? If so, bethink thee, who ever perished being innocent?” [Umbreit]. But Luk_13:2, Luk_13:3 shows that, though there is a retributive divine government even in this life, yet we cannot judge by the mere outward appearance. “One event is outwardly to the righteous and to the wicked” (Ecc_9:2); but yet we must take it on trust, that God deals righteously even now (Psa_37:25; Isa_33:16). Judge not by a part, but by the whole of a godly man’s life, and by his end, even here (Jam_5:11). The one and the same outward event is altogether a different thing in its inward bearings on the godly and on the ungodly even here. Even prosperity, much more calamity, is a punishment to the wicked (Pro_1:32). Trials are chastisements for their good (to the righteous) (Psa_119:67, Psa_119:71, Psa_119:75). See on Introduction on the Design of this Book.

Pulpit Commentary

Job_4:6

Is not this thy fear, thy confidence, thy hope, and the uprightness of thy ways? Translate, with the Revised Version, Is not thy fear of God thy confidence’ and thy hope the integrity of thy ways? The verse is composed, as usual, of two clauses, balancing each other; and the meaning seems to be that, if Job is as convinced of his piety and uprightness as he professes to be, he ought still to maintain confidence in God, and a full expectation of deliverance from his troubles. If he does not, what is the natural inference? Surely, that he is not so confident of his innocence as he professes to be.

Albert Barnes

Job 4:6

Is not this thy fear, thy confidence? – There has been considerable variety in the interpretation of this verse. Dr. Good renders it,

Is thy piety then nothing? thy hope

Thy contidence? or the uprightness of thy ways?

Noyes renders it,

Is not thy fear of God thy hope,

And the uprightness of thy ways the confidence?

Rosenmuller translates it,

Is not in thy piety and integrity of life

Thy confidence and hope?

In the Vulgate it is translated, “Where is thy fear, thy fortitude, thy patience, and the integrity of thy ways?” In the Septuagint, “Is not thy fear founded on folly, and thy hope, and the evil of thy way?”

Castellio translates it,

Nimirum tanturn religionis, quantum expectationis;

Quantum spei, tanturn habebas integritatis morum;

And the idea according to his version is, that he had as much religion as was prompted by the hope of reward; that his piety and integrity were sustained only by his hope, and were not the result of principle; and that of course his religion was purely selfish. If this be the sense, it is designed to be a reproach, and accords with the charge in the question of Satan Job_1:9, “Doth Job fear God for naught?” Rosenmuller adopts the opinion of Ludovicus de Dieu, and explains it as meaning,” You seemed to be a man fearing God, and a man of integrity, and you were led hence to cherish high hopes and expectations; but now you perceive that you were deceived. Your piety was not sincere and genuine, for the truly pious do not thus suffer. Remember therefore that no one perishes being innocent.” Codurcus renders it, “All thy hope was placed in thy religion, and thy expectation in the rectitude of thy ways; consider now, who perishes being innocent?” The true sentiment of the passage has undoubtedly been expressed by Good, Noyes. and Codurcus. The Hebrew rendered thy fear יראתך yârê’tek means doubtless religious fear, veneration, or piety, and is a word synonymous with εὐλάβεια eulabeia, εὐσέβεια eusebeia, religion. The sentiment is, that his confidence or hope was placed in his religion – in his fear of God, his respect and veneration for him, and in reliance on the equity of his government. This had been his stay in times past; and this was the subject which was naturally brought before him then. Eliphaz asks whether he should not put his trust in that God still, and not reproach him as unequal and unjust in his administration.

The uprightness of thy ways – Hebrew, The perfection of thy ways. Note Job_1:1. The idea is, that his hope was founded on the integrity of his life, and on the belief that the upright would be rewarded. The passage may be rendered,

Is not thy confidence and thy expectation

Founded on thy religion,

And on the integrity of thy ways?

This is the general sentiment which Eliphaz proceeds to illustrate and apply. If this was a just principle, it was natural to ask whether the trials of Job did not prove that he had no well grounded reason for such confidence.

Pulpit Commentary

Job_4:7

Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished, being innocent? The heart of the matter is now approached. Job is called upon to “remember” the long-established moral axiom, that only evil-doing brings down upon men calamities, and that therefore, where calamities fall, them must be precedent wickedness. If he does not admit this, he-is challenged to bring forward examples, or even a single example, of suffering innocence. If he does admit it, he is left to apply the axiom to himself. Or where were the righteous cut off? Was the example of “righteous Abel” (Mat_23:35) unknown to Eliphaz? And had he really never seen that noblest of all sights, the good man struggling with adversity? One would imagine it impossible to attain old age, in the world wherein we live, without becoming convinced by our own observation that good and evil, prosperity and adversity, are not distributed in this life according to moral desert; but a preconceived notion of what ought to have been seems here, as elsewhere so often in the field of speculation, to have blinded men to the actual facts of the ease, and driven them to invent explanations of the facts, which militated against their theories, of the most absurdly artificial character. To account for the sufferings of the righteous, the explanation of “secret sins” was introduced, and it was argued that, where affliction seemed to fall on the good man, his goodness was not real goodness—it was a counterfeit, a sham—the fabric of moral excellence, so fair to view, was honeycombed by secret vices, to which the seemingly good man was a prey. Of course, if the afflictions wore abnormal, extraordinary, then the secret sins must be of a most heinous and horrible kind to deserve such a terrible retribution. This is what Eliphaz hints to be the solution in Job’s case. God has seen his secret sins—he has “set them in the light of his countenance” (Psa_90:8)—and is punishing them openly. Job’s duty is to humble himself before God, to confess, repent, and amend. Then, and then only, may he hope that God will remove his hand, and put an end to his sufferings

Albert Barnes

Job 4:7

Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished, being innocent? – The object of this question is manifestly to show to Job the inconsistency of the feelings which he had evinced. He claimed to be a righteous man. He had instructed and counselled many others. He had professed confidence in God, and in the integrity of his own ways. It was to have been expected that one with such pretensions would have evinced resignation in the time of trial, and would have been sustained by the recollection of his integrity. The fact, therefore, that Job had thus “fainted,” and had given way to impatient expressions, showed that he was conscious that he had not been altogether what he had professed to be. “There must have been,” is the meaning of Eliphaz, “something wrong, when such calamities come upon a man, and when his faith gives way in such a manner. It would be contrary to all the analogy of the divine dealings to suppose that such a man as Job had professed to be, could be the subject of overwhelming judgments; for who, I ask, ever perished, being innocent? It is a settled principle of the divine government, that no one ever perishes who is innocent, and that great calamities are a proof of great guilt.”

This declaration contains the essence of all the positions held by Eliphaz and his colleagues in this argument. This they considered as so established that no one could call it in question, and on the ground of this they inferred that one who experienced such afflictions, no matter what his professions or his apparent piety had been, could not be a good man. This was a point about which the minds of the friends of Job were settled; and though they seem to have been disposed to concede that some afflictions might happen to good men, yet when sudden and overwhelming calamities such as they now witnessed came upon them, they inferred that there must have been corresponding guilt. Their reasoning on this subject – which runs through the book – perplexed but did not satisfy Job, and was obviously based on a wrong principle – The word “perished” here means the same as cut off, and does not differ much from being overwhelmed with calamity. The whole sentence has a proverbial cast; and the sense is, that when persons were suddenly cut off it proved that they were not innocent. Job, therefore, it was inferred, could not be a righteous man in these unusual and very special trials.

Or where were the righteous cut off? – That is, by heavy judgment; by any special and direct visitation. Eliphaz could not mean that the righteous did not die – for he could not be insensible to that fact; but he must have referred to sudden calamities. This kind of reasoning is common – that when men are afflicted with great and sudden calamities they must be especially guilty. It prevailed in the time of the Savior, and it demanded all his authority to settle the opposite principle; see Luk_13:1-5. It is that into which people naturally and easily fall; and it required much observation, and long experience, and enlarged views of the divine administration, to draw the true lines on this subject. To a certain extent, and in certain instances, calamity certainly does prove that there is special guilt. Such was the case with the old world that was destroyed by the deluge; such was the case with the cities of the plain; such is the case in the calamities that come upon the drunkard, and such too in the special curse produced by indulgence in licentiousness. But this principle does not run through all the calamities which befall people. A tower may fall on the righteous as well as the wicked; an earthquake may destroy the innocent as well as the guilty; the pestilence sweeps away the holy and the unholy, the profane and the pure, the man who fears God and him who fears him not; and the inference is now seen to be too broad when we infer, as the friends of Job did, that no righteous man is cut off by special calamity, or that great trials demonstrate that such sufferers are less righteous than others are. Judgments are not equally administered in this world, and hence, the necessity for a future world of retribution; see the notes at Luk_13:2-3.

Pulpit Commentary

Job_6:1, Job_6:2

But Job answered and said, Oh that my grief were throughly weighed! rather, my anger, or my vexation—the same word as that used by Eliphaz when reproaching Job, in Job_5:2. Job wishes that, before men blame him, they would calmly weigh the force of his feelings and expressions against the weight of the calamity which oppresses him. His words may seem too strong and too violent; but are they more than a just counterpoise to the extreme character of his afflictions? The weighing of words and thoughts was an essential element in the Egyptian conception of the judgment, where Thoth held the balance, and in the one scale were placed the merits of the deceased, in the other the image of Ma, or Truth, and his fate was determined by the side to which the balance inclined. And my calamity laid in the balances together. My calamity placed in one scale, and my vexation in the other, and so weighed, each against each.

Albert Barnes

Job 6:2

O that my grief were thoroughly weighed – The word rendered “grief” here (כעשׂ ka‛aś) may mean either vexation, trouble, grief; Ecc_1:18; Ecc_2:23; or it may mean anger; Deu_32:19; Eze_20:28. It is rendered by the Septuagint here, ὀργή orgē – anger; by Jerome, peccata – sins. The sense of the whole passage may either be, that Job wished his anger or his complaints to be laid in the balance with his calamity, to see if one was more weighty than the other – meaning that he had not complained unreasonably or unjustly (Rosenmuller); or that he wished that his afflictions might be put into one scale and the sands of the sea into another, and the one weighed against the other (Noyes); or simply, that he desired that his sorrows should be accurately estimated. This latter is, I think, the true sense of the passage. He supposed his friends had not understood and appreciated his sufferings; that they were disposed to blame him without understanding the extent of his sorrows, and he desires that they would estimate them aright before they condemned him. In particular, he seems to have supposed that Eliphaz had not done justice to the depth of his sorrows in the remarks which he had just made. The figure of weighing actions or sorrows, is not uncommon or unnatural. It means to take an exact estimate of their amount. So we speak of heavy calamities, of afflictions that crush us by their weight. etc.

Laid in the balances – Margin, “lifted up.” That is, raised up and put in the scales, or put in the scales and then raised up – as is common in weighing.

Together – יחד yachad. At the same time; that all my sorrows, griefs, and woes, were piled on the scales, and then weighed. He supposed that only a partial estimate had been formed of the extent of his calamities.

Pulpit Commentary

Job_6:3

For now it would be heavier than the sand of the sea (comp. Pro_27:3, “A stone is heavy, and the sand weighty; but a fool’s wrath is heavier than them both;” see also Ecclesiasticus 22:15). Therefore my words are swallowed up; rather, as in the Revised Version, therefore have my words been rash. Job here excuses without justifying himself. The excessive character of his sufferings has, he declares, forced him to utter rash and violent words, as these wherein he cursed his day and wished that he had never been born (Job_3:1, Job_3:3-11). Some allowance ought to be made for rash speech uttered under such circumstances.

Pulpit Commentary

Job_6:24

Teach me, and I will hold my tongue. Job is willing to be taught, if his friends have any instruction to give. He is willing to be reproved. But not in such sort as he has been reproved by Eliphas. His words were not “words of uprightness.” Cause me to understand wherein I have erred. Point out, that is, in what my assumed guilt consists. You maintain that my afflictions are deserved. Point out what in my conduct has deserved them. I am quite ready to be convinced.

Albert Barnes

Job 6:24

Teach me, and I will hold my tongue – That is, give me any real instruction, or show me what is my duty, and I will be silent. By this he means that Eliphaz had really imparted no instruction, but had dealt only in the language of reproof. The sense is, “I would willingly sit and listen where truth is imparted, and where I could be enabled to see the reason of the divine dealings. If I could be made to understand where I have erred, I would acquiesce.”

Albert Barnes

Job 8:4

If thy children have sinned against him – Bildad here assumes that the children of Job had been wicked, and had been cut off in their sins. This must have cut him to the quick, for there was nothing which a bereaved father would feel more acutely than this. The meaning here is somewhat weakened by the word “if.” The Hebrew אם ‘ı̂m is rather to be taken in the sense of “since” – assuming it as an indisputable point, or taking it for granted. It was not a supposition that if they should now do it, certain other consequences would follow; but the idea is, that since they had been cut off in their sins, if Job would even now seek God with a proper spirit, he might be restored to prosperity, though his beginning should be small; Job_8:7.

And he have cast them away – Bildad supposes that they had been disowned by God, and had been put to death.

For their transgression – Margin, in the hand of their. The Hebrew is, by the hand of their transgression; i. e, their sin has been the cause of it, or it has been by the instrumentality of their sin. What foundation Bildad had for this opinion, derived from the life and character of the sons of Job, we have no means of ascertaining. The probability is, however, that he had learned in general that they had been cut off; and that, on the general principle which he maintained, that God deals with men in this life according to their character, he inferred that they must have been distinguished for wickedness. Men not unfrequently argue in this way when sudden calamity comes upon others.

Cambridge Bible

Job 8:4. The construction of the English version is possible, which makes the whole of v. 4 the supposition or protasis and begins the second member of the sentence with v. 5. But more probably v. 4 is complete in itself: if thy children have sinned so (or, then) he hath, &c.

cast them away for] Rather lit., he hath sent them away, or, let them go, into the hand of their transgression. The idea is that evil carries its own retribution with it, and that a sinner is destroyed by the very sin which he commits, a common idea in the Book, cf. ch. 4:8, 15:31, 35, 18:7, 8, 20:12 seq. Though Bildad puts his reference to the children of Job hypothetically there is great harshness in the allusion, and we may understand how the father would smart under it from his own reference later in the Book to the time when his children were yet alive: “When my boys were about me,” ch. 29:5. A wiser and more human-hearted Teacher than Bildad has instructed us from the instances of the affliction of blindness (John 9:2–3) and the accident in the tower of Siloam (Luke 13:4) that calamity is no proof of guilt in those on whom it falls, and that evil may serve in the hand of God wider uses than the chastisement of individuals. This is the very lesson of the Book of Job, though it seems that men in the days of our Lord had not yet learned it. The verse refers back to ch. 1:19, and is evidence that the Prologue forms an integral part of the Book.

Albert Barnes

Job 8:5

If thou wouldest seek unto God betimes – If thou wouldest do it now. If even on the supposition that your sons have thus perished, and that God has come out in judgment against your family, you would look to God, you might be restored to favor. The word rendered “seek betimes” (שׁחר shâchar) means literally to seek in the morning, to seek early; and then, to make it the first business. It is derived from the word meaning aurora (שׁחר shachar) and has reference to the early light of the morning, and hence, to an early seeking. It may be applied to seeking him in early life, or as the first thing – looking to him immediately when help is needed, or before we apply to anyone else; compare Pro_7:15; Pro_8:17; Pro_13:24; Job_24:5; Psa_63:1; Psa_78:34; Isa_26:9; Hos_5:15; compare the advice of Eliphaz, Job_5:8.

Cambridge Bible

Job 8:5. Bildad saw in the fate of Job’s children not only proof that they had sinned but that their sin was deadly. He saw in Job’s afflictions proof equally decisive that he had sinned, but the fact that he was still spared, however severe his afflictions, gave a different complexion to his sin, and also suggested a different meaning for his afflictions. They were chastisements meant for his good, and Bildad is enabled to hope the best for Job, if he will rightly lay his trials to heart.

wouldest seek unto God betimes] Rather, if thou wilt seek earnestly unto God. Thou is emphatic in antithesis to “thy children,” v. 4.

Pulpit Commentary

Job_8:6

If thou wert pure and upright. Job had asserted this, not in so many words, but substantially (Job_6:29, Job_6:30). We have God’s testimony that it was true (Job_1:8; Job_2:3); not, of course, in the sense that he was absolutely free from sin, but in that qualified sense in which “just,” and “righteous,” and “pure,” and “holy” can be properly used of men. Bildad implies, without boldly asserting it, that he does not believe Job to deserve the epithets, either absolutely or in a qualified sense. If he were so, Surely now he (i.e. God) would awake for thee. This is a common anthropomorphism (see Psa_7:6; Psa_35:25; Psa_44:23; Psa_59:4, Psa_59:5; Isa_51:9). And make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous; or, make peaceful the habitation wherein thy righteousness dwelleth; i.e. make peaceful the habitation wherein thou, a righteous man ex hypothesi, dwellest.

Albert Barnes

Job 8:6

If thou wert pure and upright – There is something especially severe and caustic in this whole speech of Bildad. He first assumes that the children of Job were cut off for impiety, and then takes it for granted that Job himself was not a pure and upright man. This inference he seems to have derived partly from the fact that he had been visited with so heavy calamities, and partly from the sentiments which Job had himself expressed. Nothing could be more unjust and severe, however, than to take it for granted that he was a hypocrite, and then proceed to argue as if that were a settled point. He does not make it a supposition that possibly Job might have erred – which would not have been improper; but he proceeds to argue as if it were a point about which there could be no hesitation.

He would awake for thee – He would arouse or excite himself יעיר yā‛ı̂r on thy account. The image is that of arousing oneself from sleep or inactivity to aid another; and the idea is, that God had, as it were, slumbered over the calamities of Job, or had suffered them to come without interposing to prevent them, but that he would arouse himself if Job were pure, and would call upon him for aid.

And make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous – That is, if thy habitation should become righteous now, he would make it prosperous. Hitherto, is the idea of Bildad, it has been a habitation of wickedness. Thy children have been wicked, and are now cut off. Thou thyself hast been a wicked man, and in consequence art afflicted. If now thou wouldest become pure and seek unto God, then God would make thy habitation prosperous. What could more try the patience of a sufferer than such cold and unfeeling insinuations? And what could more beautifully illustrate the nature of true courtesy, than to sit unmoved and hear such remarks? It was by forbearance in such circumstances eminently that Job showed his extraordinary patience.

Cambridge Bible

Job 8:6. if thou wert pure] Or, if thou be pure, cf. subjunctive in ch. 11:15.

surely now he would awake] Rather, surely now he will awake. The words, if thou wilt seek, v. 5, suggest the right point of view from which to look at the words, if thou be pure, &c. The whole passage refers to the conduct which Bildad hopes for from Job. The meaning, therefore, does not seem to be, If thou be pure, as thou sayest, and as we have supposed thee; but rather, If thou become pure, through penitence, and by letting afflictions work the fruits of righteousness, cf. ch. 11:13 seq.

make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous] Or, restore thy righteous habitation, that is, restore the lost prosperity (cf. Joel 2:25) of thy habitation, now become the abode of righteousness. Bildad comes out with his suspicions of Job’s guilt much more explicitly than Eliphaz did; and similarly Zophar, ch. 11:13.

Pulpit Commentary

Job_8:7

Though thy beginning was small; rather, were small. Bildad does not refer to the past, but to the present. Though, if God were now to set to work to prosper Job, his beginning would be slender indeed, yet what the outcome might be none could know. God might prosper him greatly. Yet thy latter end should greatly increase. Here, once mere, Bildad does but follow in the steps of Eliphaz (see Job_5:18-26), prophesying smooth things, as be had done. It is difficult to believe that either comforter put any faith in the prospect which he held out, or imagined that Job would really be restored to prosperity. Rather there is a covert sarcasm in their words. If thou weft indeed so free from guilt as thou claimest to be, then thou wouldst be confident of a happy issue out of thy afflictions. If thou art not confident of such an issue, it is because thou art conscious of guilt.

Albert Barnes

Job 8:7

Though thy beginning was small – On the supposition that the children of Job had been cut off, his family now was small. Yet Bildad says, that if he were to begin life again, even with so small a family, and in such depressed and trying circumstances, if he were a righteous man he might hope for returning prosperity.

Yet thy latter end – From this, it is evident that Job was not now regarded as an old man. He would still have the prospect of living many years. Some have supposed, however that the meaning here is, that his former prosperity should appear small compared with that which he would hereafter enjoy if he were pure and righteous. So Noyes and Rosenmuller interpret it. But it seems to me that the former interpretation is the correct one. Bildad utters a general sentiment, that though when a man begins life he has a small family and little property, yet if he is an upright man, he will be prospered and his possessions will greatly increase; compare Job_42:12 : “Yahweh blessed the latter end of Job more than the beginning.”

Cambridge Bible

Job 8:8. prepare thyself to the search] i. e., give heed to the research, or, to that which their fathers have searched out. By referring to a former age, and then to the fathers of that age or generation, Bildad intimates that his truth was recognised through all antiquity backwards till history loses itself in the beginnings of time.

Albert Barnes

Job 11:6

And that he would show thee the secrets of wisdom – The hidden things that pertain to wisdom. The reference here is to the wisdom of God himself. The sense is this, “you now think yourself pure and holy. You have confidence in your own wisdom and integrity. But this apprehension is based on a short-sighted view of God, and on ignorance of him. If he would speak and show you his wisdom; if he would express his sense of what purity is, you would at once see how far you have come from perfection, and would be overwhelmed with a sense of your comparative vileness and sin.”

That they are double to that which is – Noyes renders this,” his wisdom which is unsearchable.” Dr. Good, strangely enough, “for they are intricacies to iniquity.” The expression, as it stands in our common version, is not very intelligible; and indeed it is difficult, to attach any idea to it. Of the words used in the Hebrew, the sense is not difficult. The word כפלים kı̂playı̂m, “double,” is from כפל kâphal “to fold,”” to double;” and means a doubling Job_41:5; and then two folds, or double folds, and the sense here is, that the wisdom of God is “double-fold;” that is, complicated, inexplicable, or manifold. It is not spread out and plain, but is infolded, so that it requires to be unrolled to be understood. The word rendered “that which is” (תשׁיה tûshı̂yâh), means properly a setting upright, uprightness – from ישׁע yâsha‛. Hence, it means help, deliverance, Job_6:13; purpose, undertaking, see the notes at Job_5:12; and then counsel, wisdom, understanding, Job_12:16; Isa_28:29. It means here, I suppose, “understanding;” and the idea is, that the wisdom of God is “double of understanding;” that is, it is so infolded, so complex, that it greatly surpasses our comprehension. What we see is a small part of it; and the “secrets” of his wisdom – the parts of his wisdom which are not unfolded, are far above our grasp. His wisdom is like a vast roll or volume, only the first and a very small part of which is unrolled so that we can read it. But who can look into that that remains unopened, and penetrate between the involutions, so as to perceive and read it all? It is but little that is now unrolled of the mighty volume – the remainder will be unfolded as years and ages shall pass on, and the entire unfolding of the book will be reserved for eternity.

Know, therefore, that God exacteth of thee less than thine iniquity deserveth – The word here rendered “exacteth” (ישׁה yasheh) more properly means “to forget” – from נשׁה nâshâh. It also means to loan on usury, or to borrow; but the sense here is rather that of forgetting. It is not used in the sense of exacting. The true meaning is, “know, therefore, that for thee God hath caused to be forgotten a part of thy iniquity.” That is, he has treated you as if he had caused a part of your sins to be out of mind, or as if they were not remembered. Instead of treating you, as you complain, with severity, he has by no means inflicted on you the calamities which you deserve. The ground of this unfeeling assertion is the abstract proposition that God is infinitely wiser than human beings; that he has a deeper insight into human guilt than people can have; and that if he should disclose to us all that he sees of the heart, we should be amazed at the revelations of our own sins. This sentiment is undoubtedly true, and accords almost cxactly with what Job had himself said Job_9:19-22, but there is something very harsh and severe in the manner in which Zophar applies it.

CambridgeBible

Job 11:6. shew thee the secrets of wisdom] Wisdom here is God’s omniscience. Its secrets are not the things known to it, such, for example, as Job’s sins, but its own profound depths and insight.

that they are double to that which is] Or, that it (wisdom) is double in (true) understanding. By double or twofold in regard to true understanding is not meant, double of man’s wisdom or that of the creature in general, but rather, twofold what Job conceived of it, in other words, that, in regard to its true insight, it far exceeded all conception. This translation presents the smallest deviation from the A. V. and is simple. It is an objection to it that it makes “understanding” a quality of “wisdom,” while the former word (on which see note on ch. 5:12) would more naturally be but another name for the “wisdom,” as it is in Job’s reply to all this, ch. 12:16, cf. v. 13. Hence others assume that the word twofold means “many folds,” translating: that folds, complications, belong to (true) understanding,—that is, that (God’s) understanding is manifold.

Know therefore] i. e. then shouldst thou know. The imperative is a more vivid way of expressing the future, see on ch. 5:1.

exacteth of thee less, &c.] This gives the general sense, though the translation seems to rest both on a false etymology and a false idea of construction. Literally the words mean: God bringeth into forgetfulness for thee some of thy guilt, that is, remembereth not against thee all thy guilt. Others (e.g. Hitz.): God causeth thee to forget thy guilt. The general meaning is, that if God would appear and speak and reveal His knowledge of Job’s sins, Job would be brought to know that he was guilty—perhaps even that his afflictions were far below his guilt. This is a harder word than has yet been uttered against Job.

Pulpit Commentary

Job_11:13

If thou prepare thine heart. Having indicated God’s righteousness by these general remarks (Job_11:7-12), and implied that Job’s complaints are vain and futile, Zophar, in conclusion, addresses Job once more directly: “If thou (אתּה) prepare thine heart,” cleanse it, that is, of all defilement, direct it, and set it straight (see Psa_78:8) before God, then such and such results (set forth in verses 15-19) will follow. And stretch out thine hands toward him. The outward act of worship must follow the inward movement of the heart, for the turning to God to be complete.

Albert Barnes

Job 11:13

If thou prepare thine heart – Zophar now proceeds to state that if Job even yet would return to God, he might hope for acceptance. Though he had sinned, and though he was now, as he supposed, a hollow-hearted and an insincere man, yet, if he would repent, he might expect the divine favor. In this he accords with the sentiment of Eliphaz, and he concludes his speech in a manner not a little resembling his; see Job_5:17-27.

And stretch out thine hands toward him – In the attitude of supplication. To stretch out or spread forth the hands, is a phrase often used to denote the act of supplication; see 1Ti_2:8, and the notes of Wetstein on that place. Horace, 3 Carm. xxiii. 1, Coelo supinas si tuleris manus. Ovid, M. ix. 701, Ad sidera supplex Cressa manus tollens. Trist. i. 10, 21, Ipsc gubernator, tollens ad sidera palmas; compare Livy v. 21. Seneca, Ep. 41; Psa_63:4; Psa_134:2; Psa_141:2; Ezr_9:5.

Pulpit Commentary

Job_11:14

If iniquity be in thine hand. Zophar assumes this to be probable, nay, almost certain. He has already told Job that God has exacted from him less than his iniquity (און, the same word) deserves (verse 6). Conformably with this view, he now suggests that it would not do for Job to stretch out to God in prayer a hand full of iniquity, and that therefore, previously to making his supplication, he would do well to lay his iniquity aside. In a general way, the advice is excellent; but it was insulting to Job, who denied that he had any definite act of sin on his conscience. Put it far away; i.e. repent of it, confess it to God; if the case admits of it, make reparation or restitution. And let not wickedness dwell in thy tabernacles; or, in thy tents. The insinuation seems to be that Job is a robber chief, and that his tent and the tents of his followers are full of ill-gotten spoils, the fruit of his raids upon the defenceless.

Albert Barnes

Job 11:14

If iniquity be in thine hand – If you have in your possession anything that has been unjustly obtained. If you have oppressed the poor and the fatherless, and have what properly belongs to them, let it be restored. This is the obvious duty of one who comes to God to implore his favor; compare Luk_19:8.

Cambridge Bible

Job 11:14. The reformation which Zophar impresses on Job has several steps: first, the preparation of his heart; then, prayer unto God; then, the putting away of his personal sins; and finally, those of his home. These are enumerated, one after another, but nothing lies in the order of enumeration.

Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown

Job 11:15

Zophar refers to Job’s own words (Job_10:15), “yet will I not lift up my head,” even though righteous. Zophar declares, if Job will follow his advice, he may “lift up his face.”

spot — (Deu_32:5).

steadfast — literally, “run fast together,” like metals which become firm and hard by fusion. The sinner on the contrary is wavering.

Albert Barnes

Job 11:15

For then shalt thou lift up thy face without spot – That is, thy face shall be bright, clear, and cheerful. Thus, we speak of a bright and happy countenance. Zophar undoubtedly designs to show what his appearance would be, contrasted with what it then was. Now his countenance was dejected and sad. It was disfigured by tears, and terror, and long continued anguish. But if he would put away iniquity, and return to God, his face would be cheerful again, and he would be a happy man.

Yea, thou shalt be steadfast, and shalt not fear – The word rendered “steadfast” (מצק mutsaq) is from יצק yâtsaq, to pour, to pour out, and is applied to liquids, or to metals which are fused and poured into a mould, and which then become hard. Hence, it is used in the sense of firm, solid, intrepid. “Gesenius.” Schultens supposes that the reference here is to metallic mirrors, made by casting, and then polished, and that the idea is, that his face would shine like such a mirror. But it may be doubted whether this interpretation is not too refined. The other and more common explanation well suits the sense, and should probably be retained.

Pulpit Commentary

Job_13:4

But ye are forgers of lies. A harsh expression, indicating that Job was thoroughly exasperated. The lies which his friends had forged were, partly, misrepresentations of what he had said, as for example Job_11:4, but mainly statements, more or less covert, which implied that he had brought all his calamities on himself by a course of evil-doing (see Job_4:7, Job_4:8; Job_8:13, Job_8:14; Job_11:11, Job_11:14, Job_11:20). Ye are all physicians of no value. Job’s friends had come to him to “comfort” him (Job_2:11), and act as physicians of his soul. But they had entirely failed to be of the least service. They had not even understood his case.

Albert Barnes

Job 13:4

But ye are forgers of lies – The word lies here seems to be used in a large sense, to denote sophisms, false accusations, errors. They maintained false positions; they did not see the exact truth in respect to the divine dealings, and to the character of Job. They maintained strenuously that Job was a hypocrite, and that God was punishing him for his sins. They maintained that God deals with people in exact accordance with their charactor in this world, all of which Job regarded as false doctrine, and asserted that they defended it with sophistical arguments invented for the purpose, and thus they could be spoken of as “forgers of lies.”

Physicians of no value – The meaning is, that they had come to give him consolation, but nothing that they had said had imparted comfort. They were like physicians sent for to visit the sick, who could do nothing when they came; compare Job_16:2.

Cambridge Bible

Job 13:4

. but ye are forgers of lies] The but in v. 3 had for its background the knowledge of the Divine wisdom (vv. 1, 2); Job knows this well, but for all his knowledge of it he desires to plead his cause before God, he will speak unto the Almighty. This desire and purpose, however, are crossed by the thought of the use which his friends make of the Divine wisdom against him, and he is diverted from his great object to administer a rebuke to them—but ye are forgers of lies. Verses 4–12 are therefore a digression, the main object being resumed in v. 13; the digression, however, is profoundly interesting. In clause one Job tells his friends that their assumptions of his guilt and the application which they made to his case of the Divine omniscience are false; in the second he compares them to ignorant physicians, who take in hand a disease which they are incompetent to treat.

Albert Barnes

Job 13:22

Then call thou, and I will answer – Call me to trial; summon me to make my defense. This is language taken from courts of justice, and the idea is, that if God would remove his calamity, and not overawe him, and would then call on him to make a defense, he would be ready to respond to his call. The language means, “be thou plaintiff in the case, and I will enter on my defense.” He speaks now to God not as to a judge but as a party, and is disposed to go to trial. See the notes at Job_9:33-35.

Or let me speak, and answer thou me – “Let me be the plaintiff, and commence the cause. In any way, let the cause come to an issue. Let me open the cause, adduce my arguments, and defend my view of the subject; and then do thou respond.” The idea is, that Job desired a fair trial. He was willing that God should select his position, and should either open the cause, or respond to it when he had himself opened it. To our view, there is something that is quite irreverent in this language, and I know not that it can be entirely vindicated. But perhaps, when the idea of a trial was once suggested, all the rest may be regarded as the mere filling up, or as language fitted to carry out that single idea, and to preserve the concinnity of the poem. Still, to address God in this manner is a wide license even for poetry. There is the language of complaint here; there is an evident feeling that God was not right; there is an undue reliance of Job on his own powers; there is a disposition to blame God which we can by no means approve, and which we are not required to approve. But let us not too harshly blame the patriarch. Let him who has suffered much and long, who feels that he is forsaken by God and by man, who has lost property and friends, and who is suffering under a painful bodily malady, if he has never had any of those feelings, cast the first stone. Let not those blame him who live in affluence and prosperity, and who have yet to endure the first severe trial of life. One of the objects, I suppose, of this poem is, to show human nature as it is; to show how good people often feel under severe trial; and it would not be true to nature if the representation had been that Job was always calm, and that he never cherished an improper feeling or gave vent to an improper thought.

Cambridge Bible

Job 13:23. Job begins his plea with the demand to know the number of his sins—how many iniquities and sins have I?—and in general to be made aware of them. He means what great sins he is guilty of, sins that account for his present afflictions. He does not deny sinfulness, even sins of his youth (v. 26); what he denies is special sins of such magnitude as to account for his calamities. Job and his friends both agree in the theory that great afflictions are evidence that God holds those whom He afflicts guilty of great offences. The friends believe that Job is guilty of such offences; he knows he is not, and he here demands to know what the sins are of which God holds him guilty.

Pulpit Commentary

Job_13:24

Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and holdest me for thine enemy? What is thy reason for withdrawing from me the light of thy countenance, and behaving towards me as though thou weft mine enemy? Job does not believe God to be his enemy. He knows that God will one day be his Salvation (verse 16); but he recognizes a present alienation, and desires to be made acquainted with the cause of it.

Cambridge Bible

Job 13:24. Wherefore hidest thou thy face] This does not mean, Wherefore dost thou refuse to answer me now? the reference is to God’s severity in afflicting him, as is shewn by the words “holdest me for thine enemy,” cf. ch. 19:5, 35:2 seq.

Albert Barnes

Job 13:25

Wilt thou break a leaf driven to and fro? – Job here means to say that the treatment of God in regard to him was like treading down a leaf that was driven about by the wind – an insigni ficant, unsettled, and worthless thing. “Wouldst thou show thy power against such an object?” – The sense is, that it was not worthy of God thus to pursue one so unimportant, and so incapable of offering any resistance.

And wilt thou pursue the dry stubble? – Is it worthy of God thus to contend with the driven straw and stubble of the field? To such a leaf, and to such stubble, he compares himself; and he asks whether God could be employed in a work such as that would be, of pursuing such a flying leaf or driven stubble with a desire to overtake it, and wreak his vengeance on it.

Cambridge Bible

Job 13:25. Wilt thou break] Or, Wilt thou affright, that is, chase. The “driven leaf” and the “dry stubble” are figures for that which is so light and unsubstantial that it is the sport of every wind of circumstance. So Job describes himself, in contrast with God, and asks, Is thy determination to assail this kind of foe the explanation of my afflictions?

Job Chapter 1: 1-3, 8-11, 20-22; 2:7-10 Antique Commentary Quotes

Adam Clarke

Job 1:1

In the land of Uz – This country was situated in Idumea, or the land of Edom, in Arabia Petraea, of which it comprised a very large district. See the preface.

Whose name was Job – The original is איוב Aiyob; and this orthography is followed by the Chaldee, Syriac, and Arabic. From the Vulgate we borrow Job, not very dissimilar from the Ιωβ Iob of the Septuagint. The name signifies sorrowful, or he that weeps. He is supposed to have been called Jobab. See more in the preface.

Perfect and upright – תם וישר tam veyashar; Complete as to his mind and heart, and Straight or Correct as to his moral deportment.

Feared God – Had him in continual reverence as the fountain of justice, truth, and goodness.

Eschewed evil – סר מרע sar mera, departing from, or avoiding evil. We have the word eschew from the old French eschever, which signifies to avoid. All within was holy, all without was righteous; and his whole life was employed in departing from evil, and drawing nigh to God. Coverdale translates an innocent and vertuous man, soch one as feared God, an eschued evell. From this translation we retain the word eschew.

Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown

Job 1:1

Job_1:1-5. The holiness of Job, his wealth, etc.

Uz — north of Arabia-Deserta, lying towards the Euphrates. It was in this neighborhood, and not in that of Idumea, that the Chaldeans and Sabeans who plundered him dwell. The Arabs divide their country into the north, called Sham, or “the left”; and the south, called Yemen, or “the right”; for they faced east; and so the west was on their left, and the south on their right. Arabia-Deserta was on the east, Arabia-Petraea on the west, and Arabia-Felix on the south.

Job — The name comes from an Arabic word meaning “to return,” namely, to God, “to repent,” referring to his end [Eichorn]; or rather from a Hebrew word signifying one to whom enmity was shown, “greatly tried” [Gesenius]. Significant names were often given among the Hebrews, from some event of later life (compare Gen_4:2, Abel – a “feeder” of sheep). So the emir of Uz was by general consent called Job, on account of his “trials.” The only other person so called was a son of Issachar (Gen_46:13).

perfect — not absolute or faultless perfection (compare Job_9:20; Ecc_7:20), but integrity, sincerity, and consistency on the whole, in all relations of life (Gen_6:9; Gen_17:1; Pro_10:9; Mat_5:48). It was the fear of God that kept Job from evil (Pro_8:13).

Pulpit Commentary

Job_1:1

There was a man. This opening presents to us the Book of Job as a detached work, separate from and independent of all others. The historical books are generally united each to each by the you connective. In the land of Us. Uz, or Huz (Hebrew, עוּץ), seems to have been originally, like Judah, Moab, Ammon, Edom, etc; the name of a man. It was borne by a son of Nahor, the brother of Abraham (Gen_22:21), and again by a son of Dishan, the son of Seir the Horite (Gen_36:28). Some regard it as also a personal name in Gen_10:23. But from this use it passed to the descendants of one or more of these patriarchs, and from them to the country or countries which they inhabited. The “land of Uz” is spoken of, not only in this passage, but also in Jer_25:20 and Lam_4:21. These last-cited places seem to show that Jeremiah’s “land of Uz” was in or near Edom, and therefore south of Palestine; but as Uzzites, like so many nations of these ports, were migratory, we need not be surprised if the name Uz was, at different times, attached to various localities. Arabian tradition regards the region of the Hauran, north-east of Palestine, as Job’s country. The other geographical names in the Book of Job point to a more eastern location, one not far remote from the southern Euphrates, and the adjacent parts of Arabia Sheba, Dedan, Teman, Buz, Shuah, and Chesed (Casdim) all point to this locality. On the other hand, there is a passage in the inscriptions of Asshur-banipal which, associating together the names of Huz and Buz (Khazu and Bazu), appears to place them both in Central Arabia, not far from the Jebel Shnmmar. My own conclusion would be that, while the name “land of Uz” designated at various periods various localities, Job’s “land of Uz” lay a little west of the Lower Euphrates, on the borders of Chaldea and Arabia. Whose name was Job. In the Hebrew the name is “Iyyob,” whence the “Eyoub” of the Arabs and the “Hiob” of the Germans. It is quite a distinct name from that of the third son of Issachar (Gen_46:18), which is properly expressed by “Job,” being יוֹב. Iyyob is supposed to be derived from aib (אָיִב), “to be hostile,” and to mean “cruelly or hostilely treated,” in which ease we must suppose it to have been first given to the patriarch in his later life, and to have superseded some other, as “Peter” superseded “Simon,” and “Paul” superseded “Saul.” According to a Jewish tradition, adopted by some of the Christian Fathers, Job’s original name was “Jobab,” and under this name he reigned as King of Edom (Gen_36:33). But this kingship is scarcely compatible with the view given of him in the Book of Job. The supposed connection of the name of Juba with that of Job is very doubtful. And that man was perfect. Tam (תָּם), the word translated “perfect,” seems to mean “complete, entire, not wanting in any respect,” It corresponds to the Greek τέλειος, and the Latin integer (comp. Horace, ‘Od.,’ 1.22. 1, “Integer vitro, scelerisque purus’). It does not mean” absolutely sinless,” which Job was not (comp. Job_9:20; Job_40:4). And upright. This is the exact meaning of yashar (יָשָׁר). “The Book of Jasher” was “the Book of the Upright” (βιβλίον τοῦ εὐθοῦς, 2Sa_1:18). One that feared God, and eschewed evil; literally, fearing God and departing from evil. The same testimony is given of Job by God himself in verse 8, and again in Job_2:3 (comp. also Eze_14:14, Eze_14:20). We must suppose Job to have reached as near perfection as was possible tot man at the time.

Albert Barnes

Job 1:1

There was a man – This has all the appearance of being a true history. Many have regarded the whole book as a fiction, and have supposed that no such person as Job ever lived. But the book opens with the appearance of reality; and the express declaration that there was such a man, the mention of his name and of the place where he lived, show that the writer meant to affirm that there was in fact such a man. On this question see the Introduction, Section 1.

In the land of Uz – On the question where Job lived, see also the Introduction, Section 2.

Whose name was Job – The name Job (Hebrew איוב ‘ı̂yôb, Gr. Ἰώβ Iōb means properly, according to Gesenius, “one persecuted,” from a root (איב ‘âyab) meaning to be an enemy to anyone, to persecute, to hate. The primary idea, according to Gesenius, is to be sought in breathing, blowing, or puffing at, or upon anyone, as expressive of anger or hatred, Germ. “Anschnauben.” Eichhorn (Einleit. section 638. 1,) supposes that the name denotes a man who turns himself penitently to God, from a sense of the verb still found in Arabic “to repent.” On this supposition, the name was given to him, because, at the close of the book, he is represented as exercising repentance for the improper expressions in which he had indulged during his sufferings. The verb occurs only once in the Hebrew Scriptures, Exo_23:22 : But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak, then “I will be an enemy” אויב ‘ôyêb “unto thine enemies” אויב את ‘êth ‘ôyêb.

The participle איב ‘oyēb is the common word to denote an enemy in the Old Testament, Exo_15:6, Exo_15:9; Lev_26:25; Num_35:23; Deu_32:27, Deu_32:42; Psa_7:5; Psa_8:2; Psa_31:8; Lam_2:4-5; Job_13:24; Job_27:7; Job_33:10, “et soepe al.” If this be the proper meaning of the word “Job,” then the name would seem to have been given him by anticipation, or by common consent, as a much persecuted man. Significant names were very common among the Hebrews – given either by anticipation (see the notes at Isa_8:18), or subsequently, to denote some leading or important event in the life; compare Gen_4:1-2, Gen_4:25; Gen_5:29; 1Sa_1:20. Such, too, was the case among the Romans, where the “agnomen” thus bestowed became the appellation by which the individual was best known. Cicero thus received his name from a wart which he had on his face, resembling a “vetch,” and which was called by the Latins, “cicer.” Thus also Marcus had the name “Ancus,” from the Greek word ανκὼν ankōn, because he had a crooked arm; and thus the names Africanus, Germanicus, etc., were given to generals who had distinguished themselves in particular countries; see Univer. Hist. Anc. Part ix. 619, ed. 8vo, Lond. 1779. In like manner it is possible that the name “Job” was given to the Emir of Uz by common consent, as the man much persecuted or tried, and that this became afterward the appellation by which he was best known. The name occurs once as applied to a son of Issachar, Gen_46:13, and in only two other places in the Bible except in this book; Eze_14:14; Jam_5:11.

And that man was perfect – (תמם tâmam). The Septuagint have greatly expanded this statement, by giving a paraphrase instead of a translation. “He was a man who was true (ἀληθινός alēthinos), blameless (ἄμεμπτος amemptos), just (δίκαιος dikaios), pious (θεοσεβής theosebēs), abstaining from every evil deed.” Jerome renders it, “simplex – simple,” or “sincere.” The Chaldee, שׁלם shālam, “complete, finished, perfect.” The idea seems to be that his piety, or moral character, was “proportionate” and was “complete in all its parts.” He was a man of integrity in all the relations of life – as an Emir, a father, a husband, a worshipper of God. Such is properly the meaning of the word תם tâm as derived from תמם tâmam, “to complete, to make full, perfect” or “entire,” or “to finish.” It denotes that in which there is no part lacking to complete the whole – as in a watch in which no wheel is missing. Thus, he was not merely upright as an Emir, but he was pious toward God; he was not merely kind to his family, but he was just to his neighbors and benevolent to the poor. The word is used to denote integrity as applied to the heart, Gen_20:5 : לבבי בתם betām lebābı̂y, “In the honesty, simplicity, or sincerity of my heart (see the margin) have I done this.” So 1Ki_22:34, “One drew a bow לתמוּ letumô in the simplicity (or perfection) of his heart;” that is, without any evil intention; compare 2Sa_15:11; Pro_10:9. The proper notion, therefore, is that of simplicity. sincerity, absence from guile or evil intention, and completeness of parts in his religion. That he was a man absolutely sinless, or without any propensity to evil, is disproved alike by the spirit of complaining which he often evinces, and by his own confession, Job_9:20 :If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me;If I say I am perfect, it shall prove me perverse.

So also Job_42:5-6 :I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, But now mine eye seeth thee; Wherefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes.

Compare Ecc_7:20.

And upright – The word ישׁר yâshâr, from ישׁר yâshar, to be straight, is applied often to a road which is straight, or to a path which is level or even. As used here it means upright or righteous; compare Psa_11:7; Psa_37:14,; Deu_32:4; Psa_33:4.

And one that feared God – Religion in the Scriptures is often represented as the fear of God; Pro_1:7, Pro_1:29; Pro_2:5; Pro_8:13; Pro_14:26-27; Isa_11:2; Act_9:31, “et soepe al.”

And eschewed evil – “And departed from (סוּר sûr) evil.” Septuagint, “Abstaining from every evil thing.” These then are the four characteristics of Job’s piety – he was sincere; upright; a worshipper of God; and one who abstained from all wrong. These are the essential elements of true religion everywhere; and the whole statement in the book of Job shows Job was, though not absolutely free from the sins which cleave to our nature, eminent in each of these things.

Cambridge Bible

Job 1:1. the land of Uz] This word occurs several times in the Old Testament: (1) as the name of a son of Aram, Gen. 10:23; (2) as the name of the eldest son of Nahor, the brother of Abraham, Gen. 22:21; and (3) as that of a descendant of Seir, Gen. 36:28. These references would point either to Syria on the north-east of Palestine or to the region of Edom, further south. From the Book itself we learn that Job’s flocks were exposed on the east to inroads on the part of the Chaldeans, the tribes between Syria and the Euphrates, 1:17; and in another direction to attacks from the Sabeans, 1:15. The most prominent man among his friends was from Teman, which belonged to Edom, 2:11 (comp. Gen. 36:15; Jerem. 49:7, 20), and he himself is named the greatest of all the children of the East, 1:3. In Lam. 4:21 it is said: Rejoice O daughter of Edom that dwellest in the land of Uz. These words do not imply that Uz is identical with Edom, but they imply that Edomites had possession of Uz, which could not have been the case unless the lands bordered on one another. The land of Uz, therefore, probably lay east of Palestine and north of Edom. This general position is already assigned to it in the Sept. which, in some verses added to the end of the Book, and embodying the tradition of the time, says that the land of Uz lay “on the borders of Edom and Arabia.”

There is nothing in Scripture that defines the position of Job’s home more precisely. An interesting tradition, as old at least as the early centuries of the Christian era, has been investigated by Wetzstein. This tradition places the home of Job in the Nukra, the fertile depression of Bashan at the south-east foot of Hermon. Near the town of Nawa, about 40 miles almost due south of Damascus, a little to the west of the pilgrim route from this city to Mecca, and about the latitude of the north end of the sea of Tiberias, there still exist a Makâm, that is, place, or tomb, and monastery of Job. Wetzstein assigns the building to the end of the third century. See his Excursus at the end of Delitzsch’s Comm. on Job.

whose name was Job] The Heb. form of the name is Iyyôb, which does not occur again in the Bible. There is no play on the name or allusion to its significance in the Book. It does not seem, therefore, to have been coined by the Author of the Poem, but probably came down to him with other fragments of the tradition on which he worked. The way in which Ezekiel alludes to Job, in company with other renowned names such as Noah and Daniel, seems to imply that this prophet drew his information regarding Job from a more general source than the present Book: “Though these three men, Noah, Daniel and Job were in it (the sinful land), they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness,” 14:14. The tradition regarding Job and his sufferings was probably well known in the East, and the name of the suffering hero was part of the tradition. It is of little consequence, therefore, to enquire what the name means of itself. If the word be Hebrew it might mean the “assailed” or “persecuted,” that is, by Satan (or God). In Arabic the form of the word is Ayyûb, and if derived from this dialect the name might mean the “returning,” that is, penitent, or more generally, the “pious.” Job is several times spoken of in the Kor’an. In Sur. 38:44 he is called awwâb, which means “ever returning to God,” i. e. pious rather than penitent, but there seems no allusion in the term to the etymology of his name, for in the same chapter both David and Solomon receive the same epithet.

that man was perfect] The term “perfect” means properly “complete,” without defect. It does not imply that the man was sinless, for Job never puts forward any such pretension, but that he was a righteous man and free from specific sins such as were held to bring down the chastisement of heaven. That he was so is the very foundation of his trial and the first principle of the Book. Job’s “perfection” is affirmed in heaven: “Hast thou considered my servant Job … a perfect and an upright man?” 1:8, 2:3; it is understood by his wife: Dost thou still hold fast thy perfection? 2:9; and it is persistently claimed for himself by Job, not only in moments of excitement when stung by the insinuations of his friends: I am perfect, 9:21 (see notes), but also when the heat of the conflict is over and under the most solemn oaths: As God liveth who hath taken away my right, … I will not remove my perfection from me; my righteousness I hold fast, 27:2, 5, 6. The word occurs again, 31:6, and in another form, 12:4: The just, perfect man is laughed to scorn. Even the three friends admit Job’s perfectness in general, although they are under the impression that he must have been guilty of some serious offences to account for his calamities, and they urge it upon Job as a ground of confidence in his ultimate recovery: Is not thy hope the perfectness of thy ways? 4:6; and again: “God will not cast away a perfect man,” 8:20. One of the objects the writer of the Book had in view was to teach that sufferings may fall on men for reasons unconnected with any sin on their own part; and using the history of Job for this purpose, it was necessary that he should lay emphasis in all parts of the Book upon Job’s perfection. The term “perfect” is used of Noah in the same sense: Noah, a just man, was perfect in his generation; that is, he was righteous and exempt from the sins of his contemporaries, Gen. 6:9.

feared God] Job was not only just and upright, with a high morality, he was also godfearing. These two things are never separated in the Old Testament. For as God was the author of all the movements in the world and human history, so right thoughts of Him and right relations to Him lay at the foundation of all right human conduct. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; and wisdom includes both just thinking and right conduct.

Pulpit Commentary

Job_1:2

And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters. The numbers three and seven, and their product, ten, are certainly sacred numbers, regarded as expressive of ideal perfection. But this does not prevent their being also historical. As Canon Cook observes, “Striking coincidences between outward facts and ideal numbers are not uncommon in the purely historical portions of Scripture”. There are twelve apostles, seventy (7 × 10) disciples sent out by our Lord, seven deacons, three synoptic Gospels, twelve minor prophets, seven princes of Persia and Media, ten sons of Haman, three of Noah, Gomer, Terah, Levi, and Zeruiah, seven of Japhet, Mizraim, Seir the Horite, Gad, and Jesse (1Ch_2:13-15), twelve of Ishmael, twelve of Jacob, etc. Our Lord is thirty (3 x 10) years old when he begins to teach, and his ministry lasts three years; he heals seven lepers, casts out of Mary Magdalene seven devils, speaks upon the cross seven “words,” bids Peter forgive his brother “seventy times seven,” etc. It is thus not only in vision or in prophecy, or in symbolical language, that these “ideal numbers” come to the front far more frequently than ethers, but also in the most matter-of-fact histories.

Albert Barnes

Job 1:2

And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters – The same number was given to him again after these were lost, and his severe trials had been endured; see Job_42:13. Of his second family the names of the daughters are mentioned, Job_42:14. Of his first, it is remarkable that neither the names of his wife, his sons nor his daughters are recorded. The Chaldee, however, on what authority is unknown, says that the name of his wife was דינה dı̂ynâh, Job_2:9.

Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown

Job 1:3

she-asses — prized on account of their milk, and for riding (Jdg_5:10). Houses and lands are not mentioned among the emir’s wealth, as nomadic tribes dwell in movable tents and live chiefly by pasture, the right to the soil not being appropriated by individuals. The “five hundred yoke of oxen” imply, however, that Job tilled the soil. He seems also to have had a dwelling in a town, in which respect he differed from the patriarchs. Camels are well called “ships of the desert,” especially valuable for caravans, as being able to lay in a store of water that suffices them for days, and to sustain life on a very few thistles or thorns.

household — (Gen_26:14). The other rendering which the Hebrew admits, “husbandry,” is not so probable.

men of the east — denoting in Scripture those living east of Palestine; as the people of North Arabia-Deserta (Jdg_6:3; Eze_25:4).

Pulpit Commentary

Job_1:3

His substance also; literally, his acquisition (from קָנָה, acquirere), but used of wealth generally. Seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she-asses. Note, first of all, the absence of horses or mules from this list—an indication of high antiquity. Horses were not known in Egypt till the time of the shepherd-kings, who introduced them from Asia. None are given to Abraham by the Pharaoh contemporary with him (Gen_12:16). We hear of none as possessed by the patriarchs in Palestine; and, on the whole, it is not probable that they had been known in Western Asia very long before their introduction into Egypt. They are natives of Central Asia, where they are still found wild, and passed gradually by exportation to the more southern regions, Armenia, Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine, Arabia. Note, secondly, that the items of Job’s wealth accord with those of Abraham’s (Gen_12:16). Thirdly, note that Job’s wealth in cattle is not beyond credibility. An Egyptian lord of the time of the fourth dynasty relates that he possessed above 1000 oxen and cows, 974 sheep, 2,235 goals, and 760 asses. Further, the proportion of the camels is noticeable, and implies a residence on the borders of the desert (see the comment on verse 1). and a very great household; literally, and a very great service, or retinue of servants. Oriental emirs and sheikhs consider it necessary for their dignity to maintain a number of attendants and retainers (except, perhaps, in feudal times) quite unknown to the West. Abraham had three hundred and eighteen trained servants, born in his house (Gen_14:14). Egyptian households were “full of domestics,” comprising attendants of all kinds—grooms, artisans, clerks, musicians, messengers, and the like. A sheikh, situated as Job was, would also require a certain number of guards, while for his cattle he would need a large body of shepherds, ox-herds, and the like. So that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east. The Beney Kedem, or “men of the east,” literally, sons of the east, seems to include the entire population between Palestine and the Euphrates (Gen_29:1; Jdg_6:3; Jdg_7:12; Jdg_8:10; Isa_11:14; Jer_49:28, etc.). Many tribes of Arabs are similarly designated at the present day, e.g. the Beni Harb, the Beni Suhr, the Bani Naim, the Bani Lain, etc. It would seem that the Phoenicians must have called themselves Beni Kedem when they settled in Greece, since the Greeks knew them as “Cadmeisns,” and made them descendants of a mythic “Cadreus’ (Herod; 5.57-59). The name “Saracens” is to some extent analogous, since it means “Men of the morning.”

Albert Barnes

Job 1:3

His substance – Margin, or “cattle.” The word used here מקנה mı̂qneh is derived from קנה qânâh, to gain or acquire, to buy or purchase, and properly means anything acquired or purchased – property, possessions, riches. The wealth of nomadic tribes, however, consisted mostly in flocks and herds, and hence the word in the Scripture signifies, almost exclusively, property in cattle. The word, says Gesenius, is used “strictly” to denote sheep, goats, and neat cattle, excluding beasts of burden (compare Greek κτῆνος ktēnos, herd, used here by the Septuagint), though sometimes the word includes asses and camels, as in this place.

Seven thousand sheep – In this verse we have a description of the wealth of an Arab ruler or chief, similar to that of those who are at this day called “Emirs.” Indeed the whole description in the book is that which is applicable to the chief of a tribe. The possessions referred to in this verse would constitute no inconsiderable wealth anywhere, and particularly in the nomadic tribes of the East. Land is not mentioned as a part of this wealth; for among nomadic tribes living by pasturage, the right to the soil in fee simple is not claimed by individuals, the right of pasturage or a temporary possession being all that is needed. For the same reason, and from the fact that their circumstances require them to live in movable tents, houses are not mentioned as a part; of the wealth of this Emir. To understand this book, as well as most of the books of the Old Testament, it is necessary for us to lay aside our notions of living, and transfer ourselves in imagination to the very dissimilar customs of the East. The Chaldee has made a very singular explanation of this verse, which must be regarded as the work of fancy, but which shows the character of that version: “And his possessions were seven thousand sheep – a thousand for each of his sons; and three thousand camels – a thousand for each of his daughters; and five hundred yoke of oxen – for himself; and five hundred she-asses – for his wife.”

And three thousand camels – Camels are well-known beasts of burden, extensively used still in Arabia. The Arabs employed these animals anciently in war, in their caravans, and for food. They are not unfrequently called “ships of the desert,” particularly valuable in arid plains because they go many days without water. They carry from three to five hundred pounds, in proportion to the distance which they have to travel. Providence has adapted the camel with wonderful wisdom to sandy deserts, and in all ages the camel must be an invaluable possession there. The driest thistle and the barest thorn is all the food that he requires, and this he eats while advancing on his journey without stopping or causing a moment’s delay. As it is his lot to cross immense deserts where no water is found, and where no dews fall, he is endowed with the power of laying in a store of water that will suffice him for days – Bruce says for thirty days.

To effect this, nature has provided large reservoirs or stomachs within him, where the water is kept pure, and from which he draws at pleasure as from a fountain. No other animal is endowed with this power, and were it not for this, it would be wholly impracticable to cross those immense plains of sand. The Arabians, the Persians, and others, eat the flesh of camels, and it is served up at the best tables in the country. One of the ancient Arab poets, whose hospitality grew into a proverb, is reported to have killed yearly, in a certain month, ten camels every day for the entertainment of his friends. In regard to the hardihood of camels, and their ability to live on the coarsest fare, Burckhardt has stated a fact which may furnish an illustration. In a journey which he made from the country south of the Dead Sea to Egypt, he says, “During the whole of this journey, the camels had no other provender than the withered shrubs of the desert, my dromedary excepted, to which I gave a few handfuls of barley each evening.” Trav. in Syria, p. 451; compare Bruce’s Travels, vol. iv. p. 596; Niebuhr, Reise-beschreibung nach Arabien, 1 Band, s. 215; Sandys, p. 138; Harmer’s Obs. 4:415, ed. Lond. 1808, 8vo; and Rob. Cal.

And five hundred yoke of oxen – The fact that Job had so many oxen implies that he devoted himself to the cultivation of the soil as well as to keeping flocks and herds; compare Job_1:14. So large a number of oxen would constitute wealth anywhere.

And five hundred she-asses – Bryant remarks (Observations, p. 61) that a great part of the wealth of the inhabitants of the East often consisted of she-asses, the males being few and not held in equal estimation. She-asses are early mentioned as having been in common use to ride on; Num_22:25; Jdg_5:10. 2Ki_4:24 (Hebrew). One reason why the ass was chosen in preference to the horse, was that it subsisted on so much less than that animal, there being no animal except the camel that could be so easily kept as the ass. She-asses were also regarded as the most valuable, because, in traversing the deserts of the country they would furnish travelers with milk. It is remarkable that “cows” are not mentioned expressly in this enumeration of the articles of Job’s wealth, though “butter” is referred to by him subsequently as having been abundant in his family, Job_29:6. It is possible, however, that “cows” were included as a part of the “five hundred yoke of בקר bâqâr.” here rendered “oxen;” but which would be quite as appropriately rendered “cattle.” The word is in the common gender, and is derived from בקר bâqar, in Arabic to cleave, to divide, to lay open, and hence, to plow, to cleave the soil. It denotes properly the animals used in plowing; and it is well known that cows are employed as well as oxen for this purpose in the East; see Jdg_14:18; Hos_4:10; compare Deu_32:14, where the word בקר bâqâr is used to denote a cow – “milk of kine,” Gen_33:13 (Hebrew).

And a very great household – Margin, “husbandry.” The Hebrew word here (עבדה ‛ăbûddâh)ambiguous. – It may denote service rendered, that is, work, or the servants who performed it; compare Gen_26:14, margin. The Septuagint renders it ὑπηρεσία hupēresia, Aquila δουλεία douleia, and Symmachus, οἰκετία oiketia; all denoting “service,” or “servitude,” or that which pertained to the domestic service of a family. The word refers doubtless to those who had charge of his camels, his cattle, and of his husbandry; see Job_1:15. It is not implied by the word here used, nor by that in Job_1:15, that they were “slaves.” They may have been, but there is nothing to indicate this in the narrative. The Septuagint adds to this, as if explanatory of it, “and his works were great in the land.”

So that this man was the greatest – Was possessed of the most wealth, and was held in the highest honor.

Of all the men of the East – Margin as in Hebrew “sons.” The sons of the East denote those who lived in the East. The word “East” קדם qedem is commonly employed in the Scriptures to denote the country which lies east of Palestine. For the places intended here, see the Introduction, Section 2, (3). It is of course impossible to estimate with accuracy the exact amount of the value of the property of Job. Compared with many persons in modern times, indeed, his possessions would not be regarded as constituting very great riches. The Editor of the Pictorial Bible supposes that on a fair estimate his property might be considered as worth from thirty to forty thousand pounds sterling – equivalent to some 200,000 (circa 1880’s). In this estimate the camel is reckoned as worth about 45.00 dollars, the oxen as worth about five dollars, and the sheep at a little more than one dollar, which it is said are about the average prices now in Western Asia. Prices, however, fluctuate much from one age to another; but at the present day such possessions would be regarded as constituting great wealth in Arabia. The value of the property of Job may be estimated from this fact, that he had almost half as many camels as constituted the wealth of a Persian king in more modern times.

Chardin says, “as the king of Persia in the year 1676 was in Mesandera, the Tartars fell upon the camels of the king and took away three thousand of them which was to him a great loss, for he had only seven thousand.” – Rosenmuller, Morgenland, “in loc.” The condition of Job we are to regard as that of a rich Arabic Emir, and his mode of life as between the nomadic pastoral life, and the settled manner of living in communities like ours. He was a princely shepherd, and yet he was devoted to the cultivation of the soil. It does not appear, however, that he claimed the right of the soil in “fee simple,” nor is his condition inconsistent with the supposition that his residence in any place was regarded as temporary, and that all his property might be easily removed. “He belonged to that condition of life which fluctuated between that of the wandering shepherd, and that of a people settled in towns. That he resided, or had a residence, in a town is obvious; but his flocks and herds evidently pastured in the deserts, between which and the town his own time was probably divided. He differed from the Hebrew patriarchs chiefly in this, that he did not so much wander about “without any certain dwelling place.”

This mixed condition of life, which is still frequently exhibited in Western Asia, will, we apprehend, account sufficiently for the diversified character of the allusions and pictures which the book contains – to the pastoral life and the scenes and products of the wilderness; to the scenes and circumstances of agriculture; to the arts and sciences of settled life and of advancing civilization.” – Pict. Bib. It may serve somewhat to illustrate the different ideas in regard to what constituted wealth in different countries, to compare this statement respecting Job with a remark of Virgil respecting an inhabitant of ancient Italy, whom he calls the most wealthy among the Ausonian farmers:

Cambridge Bible

Job 1:2, 3. Job’s family and wealth. A first principle in the Oriental Wisdom, which corresponds in part to our Ethics, was, that it is well with the righteous and ill with the wicked, Is. 3:10, 11. This principle is set at the head of the Psalter in Ps. 1, and is reiterated in many shapes as an unalterable law in the Book of Proverbs. According to this principle Job and all acquainted with him would see his piety reflected in his worldly prosperity, and regard this as God’s blessing upon him on account of it. It is not the intention of the writer of the Book to break with this principle absolutely. On the contrary when he lets Job at the end of his trials be restored to a prosperity double that which he enjoyed before, he gives in his adhesion to the principle in general. If he had not done so his position would have been more false than that of Job’s friends, who asserted that the principle prevailed in the world without exceptions. The Author’s design goes no further than to teach that the principle is subject to great modifications, and that sufferings may arise from causes more general than any connected with the sufferer’s own life. His object, however, in teaching this doctrine cannot have been the limited one of correcting a false theory of Providence, he must have had before him the wider purpose of sustaining individuals or most probably his nation under severe and inexplicable trials and encouraging them with brilliant hopes of the future.

The round numbers 7, 3, 5, by which Job’s children and his flocks are described, express, according to the ideas connected with such numbers in the East, their perfection and complete sufficiency. They teach at the same time that what we have before us here is not actual history, but history idealized by the Poet and Teacher, that he may convey by it more vividly the moral lessons which he desires to inculcate. Job’s sons were seven and his daughters three, for sons were more esteemed in the East than daughters, partly for reasons connected with the state of society, one of which is alluded to in the Psalm: “They shall not be ashamed, they shall speak with the enemies in the gate,” Ps. 127:5. Mohammed expresses the feelings of the Arabs when he says: For when any one of them is informed of the birth of a daughter a black shadow falls upon his face and he is wroth, and with-draweth himself from men because of the evil tidings, uncertain whether he shall keep it with disgrace or bury it (alive) in the dust, Kor. 16:60; and even the modern Jew in his prayers gives thanks in this way: Blessed art thou, O king of the universe, who hast not made me a woman.

As a great Eastern Emeer, Job was rich in camels. These were used for riding when the journey was long, and for transporting produce and merchandise to the distant cities. They were also eaten by the Arabs. She-asses, the price of one of which is said to be three times that of a male, were esteemed not on account of their milk, but for the sake of their foals. In a country where wheeled carriages are unknown, they were used not only for riding, but for all purposes of home and agricultural carriage. Oxen were used for labouring the fields, for which the horse is not employed in the East. The amount of arable land was measured by the number of yoke, that is, pairs, of oxen required to cultivate it. Job’s rich and extensive fields were plowed by a thousand oxen, v. 14. Such wide possessions implied a very great “household,” that is, body of servants. And the writer finishes his picture of Job by saying that he “was the greatest of all the men (lit. children) of the East.” His “greatness” did not lie in his wealth alone, but in the respect in which he was held and in his influence. See the pathetic picture which he draws of his own former estate, ch. 29. On the general phrase “children of the East” see Gen. 29:1; Jud. 6:3, 7:12, 8:10; 1 Kings 4:30; Jer. 49:28; Ezek. 25:4, 10.

Albert Barnes

Job 1:8

Hast thou considered my servant Job? – Margin, “Set thine heart on.” The margin is a literal translation of the Hebrew. Schultens remarks on this, that it means more than merely to observe or to look at – since it is abundantly manifest from the following verses that Satan “had” attentively considered Job, and had been desirous of injuring him. It means, according to him, to set himself against Job, to fix the heart on him with an intention to injure him, and yahweh means to ask whether Satan had done this. But it seems more probable that the phrase means to consider “attentively,” and that God means to ask him whether he had carefully observed him. Satan is represented as having no confidence in human virtue, and as maintaining that there was none which would resist temptation, if presented in a form sufficiently alluring. God here appeals to the case of Job as a full refutation of this opinion. The trial which follows is designed to test the question whether the piety of Job was of this order.

That there is none like him in the earth – That he is the very highest example of virtue and piety on earth. Or might not the word כי kı̂y here be rendered “for?” “For there is none like him in the earth.” Then the idea would be, not that he had considered “that” there was none like him, but God directs his attention to him “because” he was the most eminent among mortals.

A perfect and an upright man – See the Notes at Job_1:1. The Septuagint translates this verse as they do Job_1:1.

Pulpit Commentary

Job_1:9

Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Satan insinuates that Job’s motive is purely selfish. He serves God, not for love of God, or for love of goodness, but for what he gets by it. Satan is too shrewd to endeavour, as Job’s friends do later, to pick holes in Job’s conduct. No; that is exemplary. But the true character of acts is determined by the motive. What is Job’s motive? Does he not serve God to gain his protection and blessing? Similarly, in modem times, ungodly men argue that religious and devout persons are religious and devout with a view to their own interest, because they expect to gain by it, either in this world, or in the next, or in both. This is a form of calumny which it is impossible to escape. And bad men, who are conscious to themselves of never acting except from a selfish motive, may well imagine the same of others. It is rarely that such an insinuation can be disproved. In the present instance God vindicates his servant, and covers the adversary with shame, as the other adversaries and calumniators of righteousness will be covered at the last day.

Cambridge Bible

Job 1:9. for nought] Satan does not dispute Job’s piety; only, the devotion of the rich landowner to the Bountiful Giver of all good is not ill to understand! A different estimate of what true religion is and of the things that are difficulties in the way of it was formed by Another, who said: “How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!” A subtle turn is given to the words of Satan by Godet in his Essay on Job, who thinks that while they are openly a slur upon man, they are covertly a sarcasm on the Most High Himself, implying that no one truly loves Him, He is served only for the benefits He confers. The Essayist may do no injustice to Satan, but he does to the Old Testament conception of him. The Satan of this Book may shew the beginnings of a personal malevolence against man, but he is still rigidly subordinated to heaven, and in all he does subserves its interests. His function is as the minister of God to try the sincerity of man; hence when his work of trial is over he is no more found, and no place is given him among the dramatis persona of the poem.

Albert Barnes

Job 1:10

Hast thou not made an hedge about him? – Dr. Good remarks, that to give the original word here its full force, it should be derived from the science of engineering, and be rendered, “Hast thou not raised a “palisado” about him?” The Hebrew word used here (שׂוּך śûk) properly means “to hedge”; to hedge in or about; and hence, to protect, as one is defended whose house or farm is hedged in either with a fence of thorns, or with an enclosure of stakes or palisades. The word in its various forms is used to denote, as a noun, “pricks in the eyes” Num_33:55; that is, that which would be like thorns; “barbed irons” Job_41:7, that is, the barbed iron used as a spear to take fish; and a hedge, and thorn hedge, Mic_7:4; Pro_15:19; Isa_5:5. The idea here is, that of making an enclosure around Job and his possessions to guard them from danger. The Septuagint renders it περιέφραξας periephracas, to make a defense around,” to “circumvallate” or inclose, as a camp is in war. In the Syriac and Arabic it is rendered, “Hast thou not protected him with thy hand? The Chaldee, “Hast thou protected him with thy word? The Septuagint renders the whole passage, “Hast thou not encircled the things which are without him” (τὰ ἔξω αὐτοῦ ta exō autou) that is, the things abroad which belong to him, “and the things within his house.” The sense of the whole passage is, that he was eminently under the divine protection, and that God had kept himself, his family, and property from plunderers, and that therefore he served and feared him.

Thou hast blessed the work of his hands – Thou hast greatly prospered him.

And his substance is increased in the land – His property, Job_1:3. Margin, “cattle.” The word “increased” here by no means expresses the force of the original. The word פרץ pârats means properly to break, to rend, then to break or burst forth as waters do that have been pent up; 2Sa_5:20, compare Pro_3:10, “So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses “shall burst out” פרץ pârats with new wine;” that is, thy wine-fats shall be so full that they shall overflow, or “burst” the barriers, and the wine shall flow out in abundance. The Arabians, according to Schultens, employ this word still to denote the mouth or “embouchure” – the most; rapid part of a stream. So Golius, in proof of this, quotes from the Arabic writer Gjanhari, a couplet where the word is used to denote the mouth of the Euphrates:

“His rushing wealth o’er flowed him with its heaps;

So at its mouth the mad Euphrates sweeps.”

According to Sehultens, the word denotes a place where a river bursts forth, and makes a new way by rending the hills and rocks asunder. In like manner the flocks and herds of Job had burst, as it were, every barrier, and had spread like an inundation over the land; compare Gen_30:43; 2Ch_31:5; Exo_1:7; Job_16:14.

Albert Barnes

Job 1:11

But put forth thine hand now – That is, for the purpose of injuring him, and taking away his property.

And touch all that he hath – Dr. Good renders this, “and smite.” The Vulgate and the Septuagint, “touch.” The Hebrew word used here נגע nâga‛ means properly to “touch;” then to touch anyone with violence Gen_26:11; Jos_9:19, and then to smite, to injure, to strike; see Gen_32:26, 33; 1Sa_6:9; Job_19:21; compare the notes at Isa_53:4. Here it means evidently to smite or strike; and the idea is, that if God should take away the property of Job, he would take away his religion with it – and the trial was to see whether this effect would follow.

And he will curse thee to thy face – He will do it openly and publicly. The word rendered “curse” here ברך bārak is the same as that used in Job_1:5, and which is usually rendered “bless;” see the notes at Job_1:5. Dr. Good contends that; it should be rendered here “bless,” and translates it as a question: “Will he then, indeed, bless thee to thy face?” But in this he probably stands alone. The evident sense is, that Job would openly renounce God, and curse him on his throne; that all his religion was caused merely by his abundant prosperity, and was mere gratitude and selfishness; and that if his property were taken away, he would become the open and avowed enemy of him who was now his benefactor.

Albert Barnes

Job 1:20

Then Job arose – The phrase to arise, in the Scriptures is often used in the sense of beginning to do anything. It does not necessarily imply that the person had been previously sitting; see 2Sa_13:13.

And rent his mantle – The word here rendered “mantle” מעיל me‛ı̂yl means an upper or outer garment. The dress of Orientals consists principally of an under garment or tunic – not materially differing from the “shirt” with us – except that the sleeves are wider, and under this large and loose pantaloons. Niebuhr, Reisebescreib. 1. 157. Over these garments they often throw a full and flowing mantle or robe. This is made without sleeves; it reaches down to the ankles; and when they walk or exercise it is bound around the middle with a girdle or sash. When they labor it is usually laid aside. The robe here referred ire was worn sometimes by women, 2Sa_13:18; by men of birth and rank, and by kings, 1Sa_15:27; 1Sa_18:4; 1Sa_24:5, 1Sa_24:11; by priests, 1Sa_28:14, and especially by the high priest under the ephod, Exo_28:31. See Braun de vest Sacerd. ii. 5. Schroeder de vest. muller.

Hebrew p. 267; Hartmann Ilcbraerin, iii. p. 512, and Thesau. Antiq. Sacra. by Ugolin, Tom. i. 509, iii. 74, iv. 504, viii. 90, 1000, xii. 788, xiii. 306; compare the notes at Mat_5:40, and Niebuhr, as quoted above. The custom of rending the garment as an expression of grief prevailed not only among the Jews but also among the Greeks and Romans. Livy i. 13. Suetonius, in “Jul. Caes.” 33. It prevailed also among the Persians. Curtius, B. x. c. 5, section 17. See Christian Boldich, in Thesau. Antiq. Sacra. Tom. xii. p. 145; also Tom. xiii. 551, 552, 560, xxx. 1105, 1112. In proof also that the custom prevailed among the Pagan, see Diod. Sic. Lib. i. p. 3, c. 3, respecting the Egyptians; Lib. xvii. respecting the Persians; Quin. Curt. iii. 11; Herod. Lib. iii. in Thalia, Lib. viii. in Urania, where he speaks of the Persians. So Plutarch in his life of Antony, speaking of the deep grief of Cleopatra, says, περίεῤῥηξατο τοῦς πέπλους

Albert Barnes

Job 1:21

And said, Naked came I out – That is, destitute of property, for so the connection demands; compare 1Ti_6:7; “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” A similar expression also occurs in Pliny, “Hominem natura tanturn nudism.” Nat. Hist. proem. L. vii. Job felt that he was stripped of all, and that he must leave the world as destitute as he entered it.

My mother’s womb – The earth – the universal mother. That he refers to the earth is apparent, because he speaks of returning there again. The Chaldee adds קבוּרתא לבית lebēyt qebûratā’ – “to the house of burial.” The earth is often called the mother of mankind; see Cic. de Nat. Deor. ii. 26; compare Psa_139:15. Dr. Good remarks, that “the origin of all things from the earth introduced, at a very early period of the world, the superstitious worship of the earth, under the title of Dameter, or the “Mother-goddess,” a Chaldee term, probably common to Idumea at the time of the existence of Job himself. It is hence the Greeks derive their Δημήτνρ Dēmētēr (Demeter), or as they occasionally wrote it Γημήτηρ Gēmētēr (Ge-meter), or Mother Earth, to whom they appropriated annually two religious festivals of extraordinary pomp and solemnity. Thus, Lucretius says,

Linquitur, ut merito materhum nomen adepta

Terra sit, e terra quoniam sunt cuneta creata.

v. 793.

– “Whence justly earth

Claims the dear name of mother, since alone

Flowed from herself whate’er the sight enjoys.”

For a full account of the views of the ancients in regard to the “marriage” (ἱερός γάμος gamos hieros)of the “heaven” and the “earth,” from which union all things were supposed to proceed, see Creuzer’s Symbolik und Mythologie der alt. Volk. Erst. Theil, p. 26, fg.

And naked – Stripped of all, I shall go to the common mother of the race. This is exceedingly beautiful language; and in the mouth of Job it was expressive of the most submissive piety. It is not the language of complaint; but was in him connected with the deep feeling that the loss of his property was to be traced to God, and that he had a right to do as he had done.

The Lord gave – Hebrew יהוה yehovâh. He had nothing when he came into the world, and all that he had obtained had been by the good providence of God. As “he” gave it, he had a right to remove it. Such was the feeling of Job, and such is the true language of submission everywhere. He who has a proper view of what he possesses will feel that it is all to be traced to God, and that he has a right to remove it when he pleases.

And the Lord hath taken away – It is not by accident; it is not the result of haphazard; it is not to be traced to storms and winds and the bad passions of people. It is the result of intelligent design, and whoever has been the agent or instrument in it, it is to be referred to the overruling providence of God. Why did not Job vent his wrath on the Sabeans? Why did he not blame the Chaldeans? Why did he not curse the tempest and the storm? Why did he not blame his sons for exposing themselves? Why not suspect the malice of Satan? Why not suggest that the calamity was to be traced to bad fortune, to ill-luck, or or to an evil administration of human affairs? None of these things occurred to Job. He traced the removal of his property and his loss of children at once to God, and found consolation in the belief that an intelligent and holy Sovereign presided over his affairs, and that he had removed only what he gave.

Blessed be the name of the Lord – That is, blessed be yahweh – the “name” of anyone in Hebrew being often used to denote the person himself. The Syriac, Arabic, and some manuscripts of the Septuagint here adds “forever.” – “Here,” says Schmid, “the contrast is observable between the object of Satan, which was to induce Job to renounce God, and the result of the temptation which was to lead Job to bless God.” Thus, far Satan had been foiled, and Job had sustained the shock of the calamity, and showed that he did not serve God on account of the benefits which be had received from him.

Adam Clarke

Job 1:21

Naked came I out of my mother’s womb – I had no earthly possessions when I came into the world; I cannot have less going out of it. What I have the Lord gave: as it was his free gift, he has a right to resume it when he pleases; and I owe him gratitude for the time he has permitted me to enjoy this gift.

Naked shall I return thither – Whither? Not to his mother’s womb surely; nor does he call the earth his mother in this place. In the first clause of the verse he speaks without a metaphor, and in the latter he speaks in reference to the ground on which he was about to fall. As I came out of my mother’s womb destitute of the earthly possessions, so shall I return שמה shammah, There; i.e., to the earth on which he was now falling. That mother earth was a common expression in different nations, I allow; but I believe no such metaphor was now in the mind of Job.

The Lord gave – The Chaldee has, “The Word of the Lord, מימרא דיי meymera dayai, gave; and the Word of the Lord and the house of his judgment, have taken away!” Word is used here personally, as in many other places of all the Targums.

Blessed be the name of the Lord – The following is a fine paraphrase on the sentiment in this verse: –

“Good when he gives, supremely good; Nor less when he denies;

Afflictions from his sovereign hand, Are blessings in disguise.”

Seeing I have lost my temporal goods, and all my domestic comforts, may God alone be all my portion! The Vulgate, Septuagint, and Coverdale, add, The Lord hath done as he pleased.

Adam Clarke

Job 1:22

In all this Job sinned not – He did not give way to any action, passion, or expression, offensive to his Maker. He did not charge God with acting unkindly towards him, but felt as perfectly satisfied with the privation which the hand of God had occasioned, as he was with the affluence and health which that hand had bestowed. This is the transaction that gave the strong and vivid colouring to the character of Job; in this, and in this alone, he was a pattern of patience and resignation. In this Satan was utterly disappointed; he found a man who loved his God more than his earthly portion. This was a rare case, even in the experience of the devil. He had seen multitudes who bartered their God for money, and their hopes of blessedness in the world to come for secular possessions in the present. He had been so often successful in this kind of temptation, that he made no doubt he should succeed again. He saw many who, when riches increased, set their hearts on them, and forgot God. He saw many also who, when deprived of earthly comforts, blasphemed their Maker. He therefore inferred that Job, in similar circumstances, would act like the others; he was disappointed. Reader, has he, by riches or poverty, succeeded with thee? Art thou pious when affluent, and patient and contented when in poverty?

That Job lived after the giving of the law, seems to me clear from many references to the rites and ceremonies instituted by Moses. In Job_1:5, we are informed that he sanctified his children, and offered burnt-offerings daily to the morning for each of them. This was a general ordinance of the law, as we may see, Lev_9:7 : “Moses said unto Aaron, Go unto the altar, and offer thy sin-offering and thy burnt-offering, and make an atonement for thyself and for the people.” Lev_9:22 : “And Aaron lifted up his hands towards the people, and blessed them, and came down from offering the burnt-offering.”

This sort of offering, we are told above, Job offered continually; and this also was according to the law, Exo_29:42 : “This shall be a continual burnt-offering throughout your generations.” See also Num_28:3, Num_28:6, Num_28:10, Num_28:15, Num_28:24, Num_28:31.

This custom was observed after the captivity, Ezr_3:5 : “They offered the continual burnt-offering: and of every one that offered a freewill-offering.” See also Neh_10:33. Ezekiel, who prophesied during the captivity, enjoins this positively, Eze_46:13-15 : “Thou shalt daily prepare a burnt-offering unto the Lord; thou shalt prepare it every morning.”

Job appears to have thought that his children might have sinned through ignorance, or sinned privately; and it was consequently necessary to make the due sacrifices to God in order to prevent his wrath and their punishment; he therefore offered the burnt-offering, which was prescribed by the law in cases of sins committed through ignorance. See the ordinances Leviticus 4:1-35; Lev_5:15-19, and particularly Num_15:24-29. I think it may be fairly presumed that the offerings which Job made for his children were in reference to these laws.

The worship of the sun, moon, and stars, as being the most prevalent and most seductive idolatry, was very expressly forbidden by the law, Deu_4:19 : “Take heed, lest thou lift up thine eyes to heaven; and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them.” Job purges himself from this species of idolatry, Job_31:26-28 : “If I beheld the sun when it shined, or the moon walking in brightness, and my heart hath been secretly enticed, or my mouth hath kissed my hand: this also were an iniquity to be punished by the judge; for I should have denied the God that is above.”

He clears himself also from adultery in reference to the law enacted against that sin, Job_31:9-12 : “If mine heart have been deceived by a woman, or if I have laid wait at my neighbor’s door; then let my wife grind to another: for this is a heinous crime; yea, it is an iniquity to be punished by the judges.” See the law against this sin, Exo_20:14, Exo_20:17 : “Thou shalt not commit adultery: thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife.” Lev_20:10 : “The man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife shall surely be put to death;” see Deu_22:22. And for the judge’s office in such cases, see Deu_17:9-12 : “Thou shalt come unto the priests and Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days; and they shall show thee the sentence of judgment.” 1Sa_2:25 : “If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him.”

The following will, I think, be considered an evident allusion to the passage of the Red Sea, and the destruction of the proud Egyptian king: Job_26:11, Job_26:12 : “The pillars of heaven tremble, and are astonished at his reproof. He divideth the sea with his power; and by his understanding he smiteth through the proud.” These, with several others that might be adduced, are presumptive proofs that the writer of this book lived after the giving and establishment of the law, if not much later, let Job himself live when he might. See other proofs in the notes.

Albert Barnes

Job 1:22

In all this – In all his feelings and expressions on this occasion.

Job sinned not – He expressed just the feelings and manifested just the submission which he ought to do.

Nor charged God foolishly – Margin, “Attributed folly to God.” Vulgate, “Neither did he speak any foolish thing against God.” The Septuagint renders it, “and he did not impute (or give, ἐδωκεν edōken) folly (ἀφροσύνην aphrosunēn) (indiscretion, ‘Thompson’) to God.” Good renders this, “nor vented a murmur against God;” and remarks that the literal rendering would be, “nor vented froth against God. Tindal renders it, “nor murmured foolishly against God.” The Hebrew word תפלה tı̂phlâh is derived from the obsolete root תפל tâphêl, “to spit out;” and hence, to be insipid, tasteless, not seasoned. The noun, therefore, means properly that which is spit out; then that which is insipid or tasteless; and then folly. Wit and wisdom are represented by Oriental writers as pungent and seasoned; compare the expression among the Greeks of “Attic salt,” meaning wit or wisdom. The word “folly” in the Scriptures often means wickedness, for this is supreme folly. Here it has this sense, and means that Job did not say anything “wrong.” Satan was disappointed and had borne a false accusation before God. He did “not” charge God foolishly, and he did “not” curse him to his face.

From this instructive narrative of the manner in which Job received afflictions, we may learn

(1) That true piety will bear the removal of property and friends without murmuring. Religion is not based on such things, and their removal cannot shake it. It is founded deeper in the soul, and mere external changes cannot destroy it.

(2) When we are afflicted, we should not vent our wrath on winds and waves; on the fraud and perfidy of our fellow-men; on embarrassments and changes in the commercial world; on the pestilence and the storm. Any or all of these may be employed as instruments in taking away our property or our friends, but we should trace the calamity ultimately to God. Storms and winds and waves, malignant spirits and our fellow-men, do no more than God permits. They are all restrained and kept within proper limits. They are not directed by chance, but they are under the control of an intelligent Being, and are the wise appointment of a holy God.

(3) God has a right to remove our comforts. He gave them – not to be our permanent inheritance, but to be withdrawn when he pleases. It is a proof of goodness that we have been permitted to tread his earth so long – though we should be allowed to walk it no more; to breathe his air so long – though we should be permitted to inhale it no more; to look upon his sun and moon and stars so long – though we should be permitted to walk by their light no more; to enjoy the society of the friends whom he has given us so long – though we should enjoy that society no longer. A temporary gift may be removed at the pleasure of the giver, and we hold all our comforts at the mere good pleasure of God.

(4) We see the nature of true resignation. It is not because we can always see the “reason” why we are afflicted; it consists in bowing to the will of a holy and intelligent God, and in the feeling that he has a “right” to remove what he has given us. It is his; and may be taken away when he pleases. It may be, and should be yielded, without a complaint – and to do this “because” God wills it, is true resignation.

(5) We see the true source of “comfort” in trials. It is not in the belief that things are regulated by chance and hap-hazard; or even that they are controlled by physical laws. We may have the clearest philosophical view of the mode in which tempests sweep away property, or the pestilence our friends; we may understand the laws by which all this is done, but this affords no consolation. It is only when we perceive an “intelligent Being” presiding over these events, and see that they are the result of plan and intention on his part, that we can find comfort in trial. What satisfaction is it for me to understand the law by which fire burns when my property is swept away; or to know “how” disease acts on the human frame when my child dies; or how the plague produces its effects on the body when friend after friend is laid in the grave? This is “philosophy;” and this is the consolation which this world furnishes. I want some higher consolation than that which results from the knowledge of unconscious laws. I want to have the assurance that it is the result of intelligent design, and that this design is connected with a benevolent end – and that I find only in religion.

(6) We see the “power” of religion in sustaining in the time of trial. How calm and submissive was this holy man! How peaceful and resigned! Nothing else but piety could have done this. Philosophy blunts the feelings, paralyses the sensibilities, and chills the soul; but it does not give consolation. It is only confidence in God; a feeling that he is right; and a profound and holy acquiescence in his will, that can produce support in trials like these. This we may have as well so Job; and this is indispensable in a world so full of calamity and sorrow as this is.

Adam Clarke

Job 2:7

Sore boils – בשחין רע bischin ra, “with an evil inflammation.” What this diabolical disorder was, interpreters are not agreed. Some think it was the leprosy, and this is the reason why he dwelt by himself, and had his habitation in an unclean place, without the city, (Septuagint, εξω της πωλεως), or in the open air: and the reason why his friends beheld him afar off, Job_2:12, was because they knew that the disorder was infectious.

His scraping himself with a potsherd indicates a disease accompanied with intolerable itching, one of the characteristics of the smallpox. Query, Was it not this disorder? And in order to save his life (for that he had in especial command) did not Satan himself direct him to the cool regimen, without which, humanly speaking, the disease must have proved fatal? In the elephantiasis and leprosy there is, properly speaking, no boil or detached inflammation, or swelling, but one uniform disordered state of the whole surface, so that the whole body is covered with loathsome scales, and the skin appears like that of the elephant, thick and wrinkled, from which appearance the disorder has its name. In the smallpox it is different; each pock or pustule is a separate inflammation, tending to suppuration; and during this process, the fever is in general very high, and the anguish and distress of the patient intolerable. When the suppuration is pretty far advanced, the itching is extreme; and the hands are often obliged to be confined to prevent the patient from literally tearing his own flesh.

Albert Barnes

Job 2:7

So went Satan forth – Job_1:12.

And smote Job with sore boils – The English word boil denotes the well-known turnout upon the flesh, accompanied with severe inflammation; a sore angry swelling. “Webster.” The Hebrew word, however, is in the singular number שׁחין shechı̂yn, and should have been so rendered in our translation. Dr. Good renders it “a burning ulceration.” The Vulgate translates it, “ulcere pessimo.” The Septuagint, ἕλκει πονηρῶ helkei ponērō – “with a foul ulcer.” The Hebrew word שׁחין shechı̂yn means a burning sore; an inflamed ulcer, a bile. “Gesenius.” It is derived from שׁכן shâkan, an obsolete root, retained in Arabic, and meaning to be hot or inflamed. It is translated “bile” or “boil,” in Exo_9:9-11; Lev_13:18; 2Ki_20:7;: Isa_28:21, (see the notes on that place), Lev_13:19-20; Job_2:7; and “botch,” Deu_28:27, Deu_28:35. The word does not occur elsewhere in the Scriptures. In Deu_28:27, it means “the botch of Egypt,” some species of leprosy, undoubtedly, which prevailed there.

In regard to the disease of Job, we may learn some of its characteristics, not only from the usual meaning of the word, but from the circumstances mentioned in the book itself. It was such that he took a potsherd to scrape himself with, Job_2:8; such as to make his nights restless, and full of tossings to and fro and to clothe his flesh with clods of dust, and with worms, and to break his flesh, or to constitute a running sore or ulcer, Job_7:4-5; such as to make him bite his flesh for pain, Job_13:14, and to make him like a rotten thing, or a garment that is moth eaten, Job_13:28; such that his face was foul with weeping, Job_16:16, and such as to fill him with wrinkles, and to make his flesh lean, Job_16:8; such as to make his breath corrupt, Job_17:1, and his bones cleave to his skin, Job_19:20, Job_19:26; such as to pierce his bones with pain in the night, Job_30:17, and to make his skin black, and to burn up his bones with heat, Job_30:30.

It has been commonly supposed that the disease of Job was a species of black leprosy commonly called “elephantiasis,” which prevails much in Egypt. This disease received its name from ἐλέφας elefas, “an elephant,” from the swelling produced by it, causing a resemblance to that animal in the limbs; or because it rendered the skin like that of the elephant, scabtons and dark colored. It is called by the Arabs judhām (Dr. Good), and is said to produce in the countenance a grim, distorted, and “lion-like” set of features, and hence has been called by some “Leontiasis.” It is known as the black leprosy, to distinguish it from a more common disorder called “white leprosy” – an affection which the Greeks call “Leuce,” or “whiteness.” The disease of Job seems to have been a universal ulcer; producing an eruption over his entire person, and attended with violent pain, and constant restlessness. A universal bile or groups of biles ever the body would accord with the account of the disease in the various parts of the book. In the elephantiasis the skin is covered with incrustations like those of an elephant. It is a chronic and contagious disease, marked by a thickening of the legs, with a loss of hair and feeling, a swelling of the face, and a hoarse nasal voice. It affects the whole body; the bones as well as the skin are covered with spots and tumors, at first red, but afterward black. “Coxe, Ency. Webster.” It should be added that the leprosy in all its forms was regarded as contagious, and of course involved the necessity of a separation from society; and all the circumstances attending this calamity were such as deeply to humble a man of the former rank and dignity of Job.

Cambridge Bible

Job 2:7. with sore boils] It is generally agreed that the disease of Job was the leprosy called Elephantiasis, so named because the swollen limbs and the black and corrugated skin of those afflicted by it resemble those of the elephant. It is said by ancient authors, as Pliny, to be peculiar to Egypt, but it is found in other hot countries such as the Hijâz, and even in northern climates as Norway. It is said to attack the limbs first, breaking out below the knees and gradually spreading over the whole body. We are probably to consider, however, that Job was smitten “from the sole of his foot unto his crown” all at once. Full details of its appearance and the sensations of those affected may be gathered from the Book, though, being poetically coloured, they will hardly bear to be read like a page from a handbook of Pathology. The ulcers were accompanied by an itching so intolerable that a piece of potsherd was taken to scrape the sores and remove the feculent discharge, 2:8. The form and countenance were so disfigured by the disease that the sufferer’s friends could not recognise him, 2:12. The ulcers seized the whole body both without and inwardly, 19:20, making the breath fetid, and emitting a loathsome smell that drove every one from the sufferer’s presence, 19:17, and made him seek refuge outside the village upon the heap of ashes, 2:8. The sores, which bred worms, 7:5, alternately closed, having the appearance of clods of earth, and opened and ran, so that the body was alternately swollen and emaciated, 16:8. The patient was haunted with horrible dreams, 7:14, and unearthly terrors, 3:25, and harassed by a sensation of choking, 7:15, which made his nights restless and frightful, 7:4, as his incessant pains made his days weary, 7:1–4. His bones were filled with gnawing pains, as if a fire burned in them, 30:30, or as if his limbs were tortured in the stocks, 13:27, or wrenched off, 30:17. He was helpless, and his futile attempts to rise from the ground provoked the merriment of the children who played about the heap where he lay, 19:18. The disease was held incurable, though the patient might linger many years, and his hopelessness of recovery made him long for death, 3:20 and often. Delitzsch and Dillmann refer to various treatises on the subject, in particular, to one published at the cost of the Norwegian Government, Danielsen et Boeck, Traité de la Spédalskhed ou Éléphantiasis des Grecs (with coloured plates), Paris, 1848.

Albert Barnes

Job 2:8

And he took him a potsherd – The word used here חרשׁ chârâsh means a fragment of a broken vessel; see the notes at Isa_45:9. The Septuagint renders it ὄστρακον ostrakon – “a shell.” One object of taking this was to remove from his body the filth accumulated by the universal ulcer, compare Job_7:4-5; and another design probably was, to “indicate” the greatness of his calamity and sorrow. The ancients were accustomed to show their grief by significant external actions (compare the notes at Job_1:20), and nothing could more strongly denote the greatness of the calamity, than for a man of wealth, honor, and distinction, to sit down in the ashes, to take a piece of broken earthen-ware, and begin to scrape his body covered over with undressed and most painful sores. It does not appear that anything was done to heal him, or any kindness shown in taking care of his disease. It would seem that he was at once separated from his home, as a man whom none would venture to approach, and was doomed to endure his suffering without sympathy from others.

To scrape himself withal – The word used here גרד gârad has the sense of grating, scraping, sawing; or to scrape or rasp with an edged tool. The same word identically, as to letters, is used at present among the Arabs; meaning to rasp or scrape with any kind of tool. The idea here seems to be, that Job took the pieces of broken pottery that he found among the ashes to scrape himself with.

And he sat down among the ashes – On the expressions of grief among the ancients, see the notes at Job_1:20. The general ideas of mourning among the nations of antiquity seem to have been, to strip off all their ornaments; to put on the coarsest apparel, and to place themselves in the most humiliating positions. To sit on the ground (see the note at Isa_3:26), or on a heap of ashes, or a pile of cinders, was a common mode of expressing sorrow; see the note at Isa_58:5. To wear sackcloth to shave their heads and their beards and to abstain from pleasant food and from all cheerful society, and to utter loud and long exclamations or shrieks, was also a common mode of indicating grief. The Vulgate renders this “sedates in sterquilinio,” “sitting on a dunghill.” The Septuagint, “and he took a shell to scrape off the ichor (ἰχῶρα ichōra) the “sanies,” or filth produced by a running ulcer, and sat upon the ashes “out of the city,”” implying that his grief was so excessive that he left the city and his friends, and went out to weep alone.

Cambridge Bible

Job 2:8. and he sat down among the ashes] Rather, as he sat among. By the “ashes” is possibly meant (as the Sept. already understands, which translates ἐπὶ τῆς κοπρίας) the Mázbalah, the place outside the Arabic towns where the zibl, that is, dung and other rubbish of the place is thrown. “The dung which is heaped up upon the Mezbele of the Hauran villages is not mixed with straw, which in that warm and dry land is not needed for litter, and it comes mostly from solid-hoofed animals, as the flocks and oxen are left over night in the grazing places. It is carried in baskets in a dry state to this place before the village, and usually burnt once a month … The ashes remain … If the village has been inhabited for centuries the Mezbele reaches a height far overtopping it. The winter rains reduce it into a compact mass, and it becomes by and bye a solid hill of earth … The Mezbele serves the inhabitants for a watchtower, and in the sultry evenings for a place of concourse, because there is a current of air on the height. There all day long the children play about it; and there the outcast, who has been stricken with some loathsome malady, and is not allowed to enter the dwellings of men, lays himself down, begging an alms of the passers-by by day, and by night sheltering himself among the ashes which the heat of the sun has warmed. There too lie the village dogs, perhaps gnawing a fallen carcase, which is often flung there.” Wetzstein in Delitzsch, Comm. on Job, 2 Ed. p. 62 (Trans, vol. II, p. 152).

Adam Clarke

Job 2:9

Then said his wife – To this verse the Septuagint adds the following words: “Much time having elapsed, his wife said unto him, How long dost thou stand steadfast, saying, ‘Behold, I wait yet a little longer looking for the hope of my Salvation?’ Behold thy memorial is already blotted out from the earth, together with thy sons and thy daughters, the fruits of my pains and labors, for whom with anxiety I have labored in vain. Thyself also sittest in the rottenness of worms night and day, while I am a wanderer from place to place, and from house to house, waiting for the setting of the sun, that I may rest from my labors, and from the griefs which oppress me. Speak therefore some word against God, and die.” We translate ברך אלהים ומת barech Elohim vamuth, Curse God, and die. The verb ברך barach is supposed to include in it the ideas of cursing and blessing; but it is not clear that it has the former meaning in any part of the sacred writings, though we sometimes translate it so. Here it seems to be a strong irony. Job was exceedingly afflicted, and apparently dying through sore disease; yet his soul was filled with gratitude to God. His wife, destitute of the salvation which her husband possessed, gave him this ironical reproof. Bless God, and die – What! bless him for his goodness, while he is destroying all that thou hast! bless him for his support, while he is casting thee down and destroying thee! Bless on, and die. The Targum says that Job’s wife’s name was Dinah, and that the words which she spake to him on this occasion were בריך מימרא דיי ומית berich meymera dayai umith. Bless the word of the Lord, and die. \

Albert Barnes

Job 2:9

Then said his wife unto him – Some remarkable additions are made by the ancient versions to this passage. The Chaldee renders it, “and “Dinah” (דינה dı̂ynâh), his wife, said to him.” The author of that paraphrase seems to have supposed that Job lived in the time of Jacob, and had married his daughter Dinah; Gen_30:21. Drusius says, that this was the opinion of the Hebrews, and quotes a declaration from the Gemara to this effect: “Job lived in the days of Jacob, and was born when the children of Israel went down into Egypt; and when they departed thence he died. He lived therefore 210 years, as long as they were into Egypt.” This is mere tradition, but it shows the ancient impression as to the time when Job lived. The Septuagint has introduced a remarkable passage here, of which the following is a translation. “After much time had elapsed, his wife said unto him, How long wilt thou persevere, saying, Behold, I will wait a little longer, cherishing the trope of my recovery? Behold, the memorial of thee has disappeared from the earth – those sons and daughters, the pangs and sorrows of my womb, for whom I toiled laboriously in vain. Even thou sittest among loathsome worms, passing the night in the open air, whilst I, a wanderer and a drudge, from place to place, and from house to house, watch the sun until his going down, that I may rest from the toils and sorrows that now oppress me. But speak some word toward the Lord (τι ῥῆμα εἰς κύριον ti rēma eis kurion) and die.”

Whence this addition had its origin, it is impossible now to say. Dr. Good says it is found in Theodotion, in the Syriac, and the Arabic (in this he errs, for it is not in the Syriac and Arabic in Waltoh’s Polyglott), and in the Latin of Ambrose. Dathe suggests that it was probably added by some person who thought it incredible that an angry woman could be content with saying so “little” as is ascribed in the Hebrew to the wife of Job. It may have been originally written by some one in the margin of his Bible by way of paraphrase, and the transcriber, seeing it there, may have supposed it was omitted accidentally from the text, and so inserted it in the place where it now stands. It is one of the many instances, at all events, which show that implicit confidence is not to be placed in the Septuagint. There is not the slightest evidence that this was ever in the Hebrew text. It is not wholly unnatural, and as an exercise of the fancy is not without ingenuity and plausibility, and yet the simple but abrupt statement in the Hebrew seems best to accord with nature. The evident distress of the wife of Job, according to the whole narrative, is not so much that she was subjected to trials, and that she was compelled to wander about without a home, as that Job should be so patient, and that he did not yield to the temptation.

Dost thou still retain thine integrity? – Notes Job_2:3. The question implies that, in her view, he ought not to be expected to mantles, patience and resignation in these circumstances. He had endured evils which showed that confidence ought not to be reposed in a God who would thus inflict them. This is all that we know of the wife of Job. Whether this was her general character, or whether “she” yielded to the temptation of Satan and cursed God, and thus heightened the sorrows of Job by her unexpected impropriety of conduct, is unknown. It is not conclusive evidence that her general character was bad; and it may be that the strength of her usual virtue and piety was overcome by accumulated calamities. She expressed, however, the feelings of corrupt human nature everywhere when sorely afflicted. The suggestion “will” cross the mind, often with almost irresistible force, that a God who thus afflicts his creatures is not worthy of confidence; and many a time a child of God is “tempted” to give vent to feelings of rebellion and complaining like this, and to renounce all his religion.

Curse God – See the notes at Job_1:11. The Hebrew word is the same. Dr. Good renders it, “And yet dost thou hold fast thine integrity, blessing God and dying?” Noyes translates it, “Renounce God, and die,” Rosenmuller and Umbreit, “Bid farewell to God, and die.” Castellio renders it, “Give thanks to God and die.” The response of Job, however Job_2:10, shows that he understood her as exciting him to reject, renounce, or curse God. The sense is, that she regarded him as unworthy of confidence, and submission as unreasonable, and she wished Job to express this and be relieved from his misery. Roberts supposes that this was a pagan sentiment, and says that nothing is more common than for the pagan, under certain circumstances, to curse their gods. “That the man who has made expensive offerings to his deity, in hope of gaining some great blessing, and who has been disappointed, will pour out all his imprecations on the god whose good offices have (as he believes) been prevented by some superior deity. A man in reduced circumstances says, ‘Yes, yes, my god has lost his eyes; they are put out; he cannot look after my affairs.’ ‘Yes, ‘ said an extremely rich devotee of the supreme god Siva, after he had lost his property, ‘Shall I serve him any more? What, make offerings to him! No, no. He is the lowest of all gods? ‘“

And die – Probably she regarded God as a stern and severe Being, and supposed that by indulging in blasphemy Job would provoke him to cut him off at once. She did not expect him to lay wicked hands on himself. She expected that God would at once interpose and destroy him. The sense is, that nothing but death was to be expected, and the sooner he provoked God to cut him off from the land of the living, the better.

Cambridge Bible

Job 2:9. Then said his wife] The incident related of Job’s wife is not introduced for her sake, but for the purpose of exhibiting through it the condition of Job’s mind, around which the drama turns. The author did not indicate the impression which Job’s personal affliction produced upon him. What thoughts he had are concealed; he is represented as sitting silent in his seclusion. The full impression of his miseries is brought home to him reflected from the mind of another, that other being the one fitted to influence him most powerfully. It is probable that the episode of Job’s wife is brought in with a double purpose, first, to shew how all around Job, those nearest to him, gave way under the severity of his trial, and thus by contrast to enhance the strength of his faith and the grandeur of his character; and second, to shew how, though subjected to the keenest trial from the example and representations of his wife, he still remained true.

The name Dinah given to Job’s wife by the Targum or Chaldee Translation most probably rests on no tradition, but is a mere child’s fancy. The Sept. introduces her speech, which it gives in a greatly amplified form, with the words “when a long time had passed.” The amplification is not unsuitable to the circumstances, but the curt phrases of the original are truer to art and nature, for grief is possessed of few words. Much animated dispute has taken place over the character and conduct of the woman. The Ancients were not favourably impressed by her. Augustine calls her roundly Diaboli adjutrix. The Geneva Version discerns a sad and universal principle in her conduct, “Satan useth the same instrument against Job as he did against Adam.” As was to be expected the present age has espoused her cause, and labours hard to put a face upon her words. The only question of importance is, what sense the Author intended her words to convey; and the key to this is found in the way in which her husband takes them up. He does not directly call her a “fool,” that is, a godless person (Ps. 14:1), but with mild circumlocution says that she speaks as one of the foolish women speaks. The Eastern writer lets the woman act in character (Eccles. 7:26 seq.). He would have probably smiled at the elaborate analysing of the female mind to which Westerns devote themselves, thinking it a waste of time. As the weaker Job’s wife fell first into the snare of the Devil, and used her influence, as in the beginning of history, to draw her husband after her. Her story, however, is not told for her sake, but to shew how those around Job fell away, and to set in a strong light the strain to which his faith was put by such an example and the solicitations that accompanied it.

curse God, and die] Rather as before, renounce God and die. From a modern point of view many extenuations may be pleaded for Job’s wife, but her religion is represented here as precisely of the kind which Satan said Job’s was of. She wonders that Job still maintains his pious resignation; and counsels him, as he gets no good from God but only evil, even the extreme evil of death, to renounce an unprofitable service, and die, as he must, for nothing else awaits him. This is probably the meaning of the words “and die.” The words might have a different meaning. When two imperatives come together the second often expresses the consequence of the first, as do this and live. And, “renounce God and die” might mean, renounce Him and bring down His final stroke of death at once. The other is more probable.

Albert Barnes

Job 2:10

As one of the foolish women speaketh – The word here rendered “foolish” נבל nâbâl from נבל nâbêl, means properly stupid or foolish, and then wicked, abandoned, impious – the idea of “sin” and “folly” being closely connected in the Scriptures, or sin being regarded as supreme folly; 1Sa_25:25; 2Sa_3:33; Psa_14:1; Psa_53:2. The Arabs still use the word with the same compass of signification. “Gesenius.” The word is used here in the sense of “wicked;” and the idea is, that the sentiment which she uttered was impious, or was such as were on the lips of the wicked. Sanctius supposes that there is a reference here to Idumean females, who, like other women, reproached and cast away their gods, if they did not obtain what they asked when they prayed to them. Homer represents Achilles and Menelaus as reproaching the gods. Iliad i. 353, iii. 365. See Rosenmuller, Morgenland, “in loc.”

What shall we receive good at the hand of God – Having received such abundant tokens of kindness from him, it was unreasonable to complain when they were taken away, and when he sent calamity in their stead.

And shall we not receive evil? – Shall we not expect it? Shall we not be willing to bear it when it comes? Shall we not have sufficient confidence in him to believe that his dealings are ordered in goodness and equity? Shall we at once lose all our confidence in our great Benefactor the moment he takes away our comforts, and visits us with pain? This is the true expression of piety. It submits to all the arrangements of God without a complaint. It receives blessings with gratitude; it is resigned when calamities are sent in their place. It esteems it as a mere favor to be permitted to breathe the air which God has made, to look upon the light of his sun, to tread upon his earth, to inhale the fragrance of his flowers, and to enjoy the society of the friends whom he gives; and when he takes one or all away, it feels that he has taken only what belongs to him, and withdraws a privilege to which we had no claim. In addition to that, true piety feels that all claim to any blessing, if it had ever existed, has been forfeited by sin. What right has a sinner to complain when God withdraws his favor, and subjects him to suffering? What claim has he on God, that should make it wrong for Him to visit him with calamity?

Wherefore doth a living man complain,

A man for the punishment of his sins?

Lam_3:39.

In all this did not Job sin with his lips – See the notes at Job_1:22. This remark is made here perhaps in contrast with what occurred afterward. He subsequently did give utterance to improper sentiments, and was rebuked accordingly, but thus far what he had expressed was in accordance with truth, and with the feelings of most elevated piety.

Cambridge Bible

Job 2:10. one of the foolish women] The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. “Wise” is less an intellectual than a moral term; and its opposite “foolish” means godless, Ps. 14:1. To “work folly in Israel” is to infringe any of the sacred laws of natural or consuetudinary morals, Judg. 19:23; 2 Sam. 13:12.

what? shall we receive] Or, we receive good … and shall we not also receive (i. e. accept) evil? Job’s words might mean, we receive much good at the hand of God, shall we not also out of thankfulness for the good, accept evil when He sends it? But this hardly goes to the root of the counsel given by his wife. Therefore rather: we receive good from God, not due to us, but in which we see the gift of His sovereign hand (1:21), shall we not also do homage to His absoluteness when He brings evil upon us? Here Job reaches the utmost height of the religious feeling. He is in danger of drifting away from this feeling under the irritation of his friends’ misdirected counsels, but he is led back again to it with a deeper peace through the appearance and words of the Lord (ch. 38. seq.). The Author lets us know what in his view true religion is, whether in a man or in a nation, and doubtless amidst the troubles and perplexing darkness of his time he had seen it exemplified both in individual men and in that godly kernel of the nation which kept up the true continuity of Israel and conserved its true idea.

The Writer adds his emphatic testimony to Job’s sinlessness. In all this, under this severe affliction of body, and exposed to this searching temptation on the part of his wife, Job did not sin with his lips, that is, in any particular. Thinking and speaking hardly differ in the East, and the words mean, let no sinful murmur escape him; comp. Ps. 17:3.

Though the Writer professedly paints the sufferings and mental troubles of an individual, and though it may be certain that he has the sorrows of individuals before his mind, it is scarcely possible to doubt that he is writing history also on a large scale. He has his nation with its calamities and the various impressions these made upon the religious mind in his view. The national calamity could be nothing less than deportation or exile. As not one but several successive and diverse waves of feeling pass over Job’s mind in regard to his afflictions, we may assume that the Writer did not stand close behind the great blow that fell upon his people, but lived at a considerable distance from it. The people had not only been stripped of their possessions, but subjected to severe treatment themselves, and the apostasy of many was a sore trial to the faith of those who remained constant, and the evil had lasted long enough to produce various impressions on men’s minds and give rise to many attempts to solve the problem which it raised. These solutions are reflected in the debate between Job and his friends. The Author has a solution which is new, to the effect, namely, that the calamity is not a punishment or chastisement on account of sin, as others held, but a trial of righteousness. This view he invests in all the dramatic splendour that distinguishes the Prologue. Though living long after the calamity had befallen his fellow-citizens, the Author must have written previously to the happy turn of affairs that restored them to prosperity and to a higher plane of religious life. This restoration was the great hope he desired to inspire. Such a hope was the counterpart of the other half of his theory of evil. If suffering be the trial of righteousness, the trial, if patiently borne, must bring an accumulation of spiritual gain. This part of the theory was necessary also in another view, in order to justify the ways of God in subjecting the innocent to trial.

2 Timothy Chapter 3:1-17 Antique Commentary Quotes

John Calvin

2 Timothy 3:1

1But know this By this prediction he intended still more to sharpen his diligence; for, when matters go on to our wish, we become more careless; but necessity urges us keenly. Paul, therefore informs him, that the Church will be subject to terrible diseases, which will require in the pastors uncommon fidelity, diligence, watchfulness, prudence, and unwearied constancy; as if he enjoined Timothy to prepare for arduous and deeply anxious contests which awaited him. And hence we learn, that, so far from giving way, or being terrified, on account of any difficulties whatsoever, we ought, on the contrary. to arouse our hearts for resistance.

In the last days Under “the last days,” he includes the universal condition of the Christian Church. Nor does he compare his own age with ours, but, on the contrary, informs Timothy what will be the future condition of the kingdom of Christ; for many imagined some sort of condition that would be absolutely peaceful, and free from any annoyance. In short, he means that there will not be, even under the gospel, such a state of perfection, that all vices shall be banished, and virtues of every kind shall flourish; and that therefore the pastors of the Christian Church will have quite as much to do with wicked and ungodly men as the prophets and godly priests had in ancient times. Hence it follows, that there is no time for idleness or for repose.

Cambridge Bible

1. This know also] Lit., ‘take notice of this,’ the present tense. Our Lord in Luk_12:39 has the same formula.

in the last days] ‘Not only the very last days, towards the end of the world, but in general (according to the Hebrew phrase) the days to come, or the future time, whether nearer or afar off. He supposeth this would begin to happen in the age of Timothy, ver. 5 from such do thou (thou, Timothy) turn away and avoid them,’ Bp Bull, Serm. xv. init. So Calvin, ‘universum Ecclesiae Christianae statum.’

perilous times shall come] Lit. ‘difficult,’ grievous; the meaning is well seen from the only other place where it occurs in N.T. Mat_8:28, ‘two possessed with devils exceeding fierce,’ i.e. difficult to deal with, ‘so that no man could pass by that way.’ ‘Shall come,’ lit., will set in. Vulg. ‘instabunt,’ ‘will be upon us,’ ‘will be present.’ In Gal_1:4 the perfect participle is used, ‘this present evil world.’

John Calvin

2 Timothy 3:2

2For men will be It is proper to remark, first, in what he makes the hardship of those “dangerous” or “troublesome” times to consist; not in war, nor in famine, nor in diseases, nor in any calamities or inconveniences to which the body is incident, but in the wicked and depraved actions of men. And, indeed, nothing is so distressingly painful to godly men, and to those who truly fear God, as to behold such corruptions of morals; for, as there is nothing which they value more highly than the glory of God, so they cannot but suffer grievous anguish when it is attacked or despised.

Secondly, it ought to be remarked, who are the persons of whom he speaks. They whom he briefly describes are not external enemies, who openly assail the name of Christ, but domestics, who wish to be reckoned among the members of the Church; for God wishes to try his Church to such an extent as to carry within her bosom such plagues, though she abhors to entertain them. So then, if in the present day many whom we justly abhor are mingled within us, let us learn to groan patiently under that burden, when we are informed that this is the lot of the Christian Church.

Next, it is wonderful that those persons, whom Paul pronounces to be guilty of so many and so aggravated acts of wickedness, can keep up the appearance of piety, as he also declares. But daily experience shows that we ought not to regard this as so wonderful; for such is the amazing audacity and wickedness of hypocrites, that, even in excusing the grossest crimes, they are excessively impudent, after having once learned falsely to shelter themselves under the name of God. In ancient times, how many crimes abounded in the life of the Pharisees? And yet, as if they had been pure from every stain, they enjoyed a reputation of eminent holiness.

Even in the present day, although the lewdness of the Popish clergy is such that it stinks in the nostrils of the whole world, still, in spite of their wickedness, they do not cease to arrogate proudly to themselves all the rights and titles of saints. Accordingly, when Paul says that hypocrites, though they are chargeable with the grossest vices, nevertheless deceive under a mask of piety, this ought not to appear strange, when we have examples before our eyes. And, indeed, the world deserves to be deceived by those wicked scoundrels, when it either despises or cannot endure true holiness. Besides, Paul enumerates those vices which are not visible at first sight, and which are even the ordinary attendants of pretended holiness. Is there a hypocrite who is not proud, who is not a lover of himself, who is not a despiser of others, who is not fierce and cruel, who is not treacherous? But all these are concealed from the eyes of men.

To spend time in explaining every word would be superfluous; for the words do not need exposition. Only let my readers observe that φιλαυτία, self-love, which is put first, may be regarded as the source from which flow all the vices that follow afterwards. He who loveth himself claims a superiority in everything, despises all others, is cruel, indulges in covetousness, treachery, anger, rebellion against parents, neglect of what is good, and such like. As it was the design of Paul to brand false prophets with such marks, that they might be seen and known by all; it is our duty to open our eyes, that we may see those who are pointed out with the finger.

Cambridge Bible

2 Tim 3:2. For men shall be lovers of their own selves] ‘The article is generic; the men who shall live in those times,’ Alford. Self-lovers, money-lovers; the first pair of adjectives in the description go naturally together; the first of the words occurs only here in N.T., the second only in Luk_16:14, ‘the Pharisees also who were lovers of money.’ The first and an almost exact synonym of the second occur together in Ar. Pol. ii. v. where Plato’s question is being discussed whether there ought to be private property or not. ‘It is clear then that the better plan is for the property to be held separately while the produce is common. Besides even for the pleasure of the thing it makes an unspeakable difference to regard a piece of property as one’s own. Indeed it is probably no mere chance that makes each of us hold himself first in his regard. It is human nature. But being a self-lover is rightly blamed. By this is not meant loving oneself, but doing so too much; just as we speak of the man who is a money-lover, since all love what belongs to them. But to support and succour friends or guests or comrades is a very delightful thing and this requires our having property of our own. The “community” idea robs us of the virtue of generosity in the use of property.’ See note on 1Ti_6:10.

boasters, proud, blasphemers] R.V. better, boastful, haughty, railers. Theophrastus (Characters c. 23) describes (‘boastfulness’ to be ‘an endeavour to pass for a man of greater consequence than one really is.’ In the next chapter he describes ‘haughtiness’ to be ‘a contempt for every one but a man’s self.’ The climax is (1) a spirit of vain glory in themselves, (2) an overweening treatment of others, (3) actual abuse and reviling of others. The first word describes a man who sins against truth, the second a man who sins against love, the third a man who sins against both. Cf. Rom_1:30; 1Jn_2:16 (and Westcott’s note); Trench, Syn. § 29. For this general meaning of ‘railers’ rather than ‘blasphemers,’ cf. 1Ti_6:4 ‘envy, strife, railings.’

disobedient to parents] Or, in one word, unfilial; this with ‘unthankful, unholy,’ makes another triad: breakers of the fifth commandment go on to be breakers of the tenth; and thus throwing aside the second table go on to throw aside also the first, ‘unfilial, unthankful, unholy.’ The word for ‘unthankful’ occurs elsewhere only Luk_6:35 in the Sermon on the Mount. For ‘unholy’ see notes on 1Ti_1:9.

2 Timothy 3:2

2. ἔσονται γὰρ οἱ ἅνθρωποι κ.τ.λ., for men will be &c., sc. (as the presence of the article shews) the generality of men, the members generally of the Christian communities. The adjectives which follow are not arrayed in any exact logical sequence; but, nevertheless, as in the somewhat similar catalogue of Rom_1:29-31, connexion may be traced between certain of the vices which are enumerated.

φίλαυτοι, lovers of self. The word does not occur elsewhere in the LXX. or N.T. In Greek thought of an earlier age φιλαυτία had a good sense, and was expressive of the self-respect which a good man has for himself (see Aristotle Nic. Eth. IX. 8. 7). But a deeper philosophy, recognising the fact of man’s Fall, transferred the moral centre of gravity from self to God; once the sense of sin is truly felt, self-respect becomes an inadequate basis for moral theory. So Philo (de Prof. 15) speaks of those who are φίλαυτοι δὴ μᾶλλον ἢ φιλόθεοι, in a spirit quite like that of St Paul.

φιλάργυροι, lovers of money. The adjective only occurs again at Luk_16:14. See the note on φιλαργυρία, 1Ti_6:10.

ἀλαζόνες, ὑπερήφανοι, boastful, haughty, the former term referring specially to words, the latter to thoughts. The words are coupled again in the catalogue at Rom_1:30 (also by Clem. Rom. § 16); Trench (Synonyms § 29) has an admirable essay on the difference between them, and on the usage of both words in Greek literature.

βλάσφημοι, railers, or evil-speakers, in reference to their fellow men rather than to God. This is the regular force of βλάσφημος and the cognate words in the Pastoral Epistles.

γονεῦσιν ἀπειθεῖς, disobedient to parents, a characteristic also mentioned in Rom_1:30. Cp. what St Paul had said about duty to a widowed parent in 1Ti_5:8.

ἀχάριστοι, without gratitude. This follows naturally from the last mentioned characteristic, for the blackest form of ingratitude is that which repudiates the claim of parents to respect and obedience. The adjective ἀχάριστος only occurs again once in N.T., at Luk_6:35.

ἀνόσιοι. See note on 1Ti_1:9.

Marvin Vincent

2 Timothy 3:2

Lovers of their own selves (φίλαυτοι)

Better, lovers of self. N.T.o. lxx. Aristotle, De Repub. ii. 5, says: “It is not loving one’s self, but loving it unduly, just as the love of possessions.”

Covetous (φιλάργυροι)

Better, lovers of money. Only here and Luk_16:14. For the noun φιλαργυρία love of money, see on 1Ti_6:10. Love of money and covetousness are not synonymous. Covetous is πλεονέκτης; see 1Co_5:10, 1Co_5:11; Eph_5:6. See on Rom_1:29.

Boasters (ἀλαζόνες)

Or swaggerers. Only here and Rom_1:30. See on ἀλαζονείαις boastings, Jam_4:16.

Proud (ὑπερήφανοι)

Or haughty. See on ὑπερηφανία pride, Mar_7:22.

Blasphemers (βλάσφημοι)

See on 1Ti_1:13. Better, railers. See also on, βλασφημία blasphemy, Mar_7:22.

Unthankful (ἀχάριστοι)

Only here and Luk_6:35.

Unholy (ἀνόσιοι)

Only here and 1Ti_1:9 (note).

Cambridge Bible

2 Tim 3:3. without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers] Or, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, another triad which starts from another breach of the same fifth commandment, the rending of the family ties of love, and advances to a breach of the sixth commandment in a refusal to make peace, and further of the ninth commandment in calumnious attacks and slanders. The threefold contrary spirit is in the same Sermon on the Mount, Luk_6:27, ‘love your enemies, do good to them that hate you, bless them that curse you.’ The word for ‘unloving’ occurs only in Rom_1:31, the other similarities of which seem to suggest that St Paul may have it in his mind, and be sadly tracing the decline and fall of Christian men back to the old heathen state. The word for ‘unforgiving,’ means ‘unwilling to make a truce,’ the opposite of ‘peacemakers,’ Mat_5:9. It has been wrongly introduced in Rom_1 from this place where only in N. T. it is found, though an ordinary classical word.

incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good] Vicious or uncontrollable, unapproachable, unkindly to all good, a descending triad, in which the characters of the libertine, the churl, the worldling are painted. The three words occur nowhere else in N.T. But the exact opposites are found together in Tit_1:8, ‘temperate, a lover of hospitality, a lover of good.’

Adam Clarke

2 Timothy 3:3

Without natural affection – Αστοργοι· Without that affection which parents bear to their young, and which the young bear to their parents. An affection which is common to every class of animals; consequently, men without it are worse than brutes.

Truce-breakers – Ασπονδοι· From α, negative, and σπονδη, a libation, because in making treaties libations both of blood and wine were poured out. The word means those who are bound by no promise, held by no engagement, obliged by no oath; persons who readily promise any thing, because they never intend to perform.

False accusers – Διαβολοι· Devils; but properly enough rendered false accusers, for this is a principal work of the devil. Slanderers; striving ever to ruin the characters of others.

Incontinent – Ακρατεις· From α, negative, and κρατος, power. Those who, having sinned away their power of self-government, want strength to govern their appetites; especially those who are slaves to uncleanness.

Fierce – Ανημεροι· From α, negative, and ἡμερος, mild or gentle. Wild, impetuous, whatever is contrary to pliability and gentleness.

Despisers of those that are good – Αφιλαγαθοι· Not lovers of good men. Here is a remarkable advantage of the Greek over the English tongue, one word of the former expressing five or six of the latter. Those who do not love the good must be radically bad themselves.

Pulpit Commentary

2Ti_3:3

Implacable for truce breakers, A.V.; slanderers for false accusers, A.V.; without self-control for incontinent, A.V.; no lovers of good for despisers of those that are good, A.V. Without natural affection (ἄστοργοι); as in Rom_1:31, where in the T.R. it is coupled with ἄσπονδοι, as here. The verb στέργω is “to love,” used primarily of the natural affection of parents to their children and children to their parents. And στοργή is that natural love. These persons were without this στοργή, of which Plato says, “A child loves his parents, and is loved by them;” and so, according to St. Paul’s judgment in 1Ti_5:8, were “worse than infidels.” Implacable (ἄσπονδοι); only here according to the R.T., not at all in the LXX., but frequent in classical Greek. Σπονδή was a solemn truce made over a libation to the gods. Ἁσπονδος at first merely expresses that anything was done, or any person was left, without such a truce. But, in a secondary sense, applied to a war, it meant an internecine war admitting of no truce; and thence, as here, applied to a person, it means “implacable,” one who will make no truce or treaty with his enemy. The sense “truce breakers” is not justified by any example. Slanderers (διάβολοι); as 1Ti_3:11 and Tit_2:3. The arch-slanderer is ὁ διάβολος, the devil, “the accuser of the brethren (ὁ κατήγορυς τῶν ἀδελφῶν)” (Rev_12:10; see Joh_6:70). Without self-control (ἀκρατεῖς); here only in the New Testament, not in the LXX. but frequent in classical Greek, in the sense of intemperate in the pursuit or use of anything, e.g. money, the tongue, pleasure, the appetite, etc., which are put in the genitive case. Used absolutely it means generally “without self-control, as here rendered in the R.V. The A.V. “incontinent” expresses only one part of the meaning (see ἀκρασία, Mat_23:25). Fierce (from ferns, wild, savage); ἀνήμεροι; only here in the New Testament, and not found in the LXX., but frequent in the Greek tragedians and others, of persons, countries, plants, etc.; e.g. “Beware of the Chalubes, for they are savage (ἀνήμεροι), and cannot be approached by strangers”. It corresponds with ἀνελεήμονες, unmerciful (Rom_1:31). No lovers of good (ἀφιλάγαθοι); only here in the New Testament, and not at all in the LXX. or in classical Greek. But φιλάγαθος is found in Wis. 7:22, and in Aristotle, in the sense of “lovers of that which is good;” and in Tit_1:8. The R.V. seems therefore to be right in rendering here “no lovers of good,” rather than as the A.V. “despisers of those which are good,” after the Vulgate and the new version of Sanctes Pagninus.

Albert Barnes

2 Timothy 3:3

Without natural affection – see the notes at Rom_1:31.

Trucebreakers – The same word in Rom_1:31, is rendered “implacable;” see the notes at that verse. It properly means “without treaty;” that is, those who are averse to any treaty or compact. It may thus refer to those who are unwilling to enter into any agreement; that is, either those who are unwilling to be reconciled to others when there is a variance – implacable; or those who disregard treaties or agreements. In either case, this marks a very corrupt condition of society. Nothing would be more indicative of the lowest state of degradation, than that in which all compacts and agreements were utterly disregarded.

False accusers – Margin, “makebates.” The word “makebate” means one who excites contentions and quarrels. Webster. The Greek here is διάβολοι  diaboloi – “devils” – the primitive meaning of which is, “calumniator, slanderer, accuser;” compare the notes at 1Ti_3:11, where the word is rendered “slanderers.”

Incontinent – 1Co_7:5. Literally, “without strength;” that is, without strength to resist the solicitations of passion, or who readily yield to it.

Fierce – The Greek word used here – ἀνήμερος anēmeros – does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament. It means “ungentle, harsh, severe,” and is the opposite of gentleness and mildness. Religion produces gentleness; the want of it makes men rough, harsh, cruel; compare the notes at 2Ti_2:24.

Despisers of those that are good – In Tit_1:8, it is said of a bishop that he must be “a lover of good men.” This, in every condition of life, is a virtue, and hence, the opposite of it is here set down as one of the characteristics of that evil age of which the apostle speaks.

Cambridge Bible

2 Tim 3:4. traitors, heady, highminded] The last triad again descending, false and forward and full of conceit, the spirit of one who ‘with a light heart’ (1) betrays old friends, and (2) rushes headlong on new faiths, and (3) remains to the end impenetrably wrapped in clouds of self-esteem. The second word only occurs Act_19:36, ‘to do nothing rash’; the third has been explained 1Ti_6:4; cf. 1Ti_3:6; a purely ‘pastoral’ phrase in N.T., though thoroughly classical. Note the weight and force of the perfect participle closing the list of epithets. Cf. 2:25. The A.V. ‘highminded’ has entirely changed its meaning, as Rom_11:20 shews, ‘be not highminded, but fear.’ Cf. Lightfoot, Revision of N. T. p. 175; and see note on 1Ti_6:17.

lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God] Both compounds only occurring here, like the similar compounds ‘self-lovers’ and ‘money-lovers’ with which the passage opens. The word for ‘pleasures’ is always in a bad sense in N.T., Luk_8:14 ‘choked with … pleasures of this life.’ So Jam_4:1, Jam_4:3; 2Pe_2:13.

Albert Barnes

2 Timothy 3:4

Traitors – This word is used in the New Testament only here and in Luk_6:16; Act_7:52. It means any one who betrays – whether it be a friend or his country. Treason has been in all ages regarded as one of the worst crimes that man can commit.

Heady – The same word in Act_19:36, is rendered rashly. It occurs only there and in this place in the New Testament. It properly means “falling forwards; prone, inclined, ready to do anything; then precipitate, headlong, rash.” It is opposed to that which is deliberate and calm, and here means that men would be ready to do anything without deliberation, or concern for the consequences. They would engage in enterprises which would only disturb society, or prove their own ruin.

High-minded – Literally, “puffed up;” compare the notes at 1Ti_3:6, where the same word is rendered “lifted up with pride.” The meaning is, that they would be inflated with pride or self-conceit.

Lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God – That is, of sensual pleasures, or vain amusements. This has been, and is, the characteristic of a great part of the world, and has often distinguished even many who profess religion. Of a large portion of mankind it may be said that this is their characteristic, that they live for pleasure; they have no serious pursuits; they brook no restraints which interfere with their amusements, and they greatly prefer the pleasures to be found in the gay assembly, in the ball-room, or in the place of low dissipation, to the friendship of their Creator.

John Calvin

2 Timothy 3:5

5From those turn away. This exhortation sufficiently shows that Paul does not speak of a distant posterity, nor foretell what would happen many ages afterwards; but that, by pointing out present evils, he applies to his own age what he had said about “the last times;” for how could Timothy “turn away” from those who were not to arise till many centuries afterwards? So then, from the very beginning of the gospel, the Church must have begun to be affected by such corruptions.

Cambridge Bible

2 Tim 3:5. having a form of godliness] The word for ‘form’ is strictly ‘formation,’ its ending implying process rather than result, the producing of the form; hence in Rom_2:20 ‘thou hast the ideally perfect presentation of knowledge and truth.’ ‘The Jew believed that he had in the law the sole embodiment, the forming, of knowledge and truth, that he could give to knowledge and truth their right form, and so was the proper teacher of the world.’ Gifford. So here holding to a presentment of godliness; full ‘profession’ though there is little enough of the substance; ‘still making out that there is the real nature of godliness.’ The stress lies on the making out, the representation, whether as here the inner reality is absent or as Rom_2:20 present. Similarly ‘a professor of divinity’ is credited with exhibiting real truth and knowledge; not so ‘a religious professor.’ Compare too our Lord’s ‘I will profess to you I never knew you,’ Mat_7:23, with the account of ‘the defiled and unbelieving’ who ‘profess that they know God, but by their works they deny him,’ Tit_1:16. The Greek word for ‘form,’ of which our word is the causative process, means ‘embodied substance,’ standing between ‘unclothed essence’ and ‘unsubstantial appearance’; see Lightfoot, Revision of N.T. p. 77.

denying the power thereof] The power lies in the production of ‘works’ as in Tit_1:16. Cf. Bp Bull ‘to deny the power of godliness is for a man by indecent and vicious actions to contradict his outward show or profession of godliness’ Serm. xv. p. 376 (Oxf. 1846). The force of the perfect pass, participle is noted 2:25 living in denial of its power.

from such turn away] The conjunction emphasises the ‘such,’ but not without affecting also the verb turn away,’ cf. ver. 9; ‘offenders of the first degree try to win back; but from these men, hardened in error, make it your habit to turn away,’ see ver. 1. In harmony with this direction is the conduct of St John at Ephesus some 10 or 15 years later, according to the tradition. ‘John, the disciple of the Lord, going to bathe at Ephesus, and perceiving Cerinthus within, rushed out of the bathhouse without bathing, crying out, “Let us fly, lest even the bathhouse fall on us, because Cerinthus the enemy of the truth is within” (Iren. iii. iii. 4). Epiphanius substitutes Ebion for Cerinthus. Both Cerinthus and the Ebionites denied the reality of the Incarnation.’ Plummer, St John (Gosp.), Introduction, p. 15.

Albert Barnes

2 Timothy 3:5

Having a form of godliness – That is, they profess religion, or are in connection with the church. This shows that the apostle referred to some great corruption in the church; and there can be little doubt that he had his eye on the same great apostasy to which he refers in 2 Thes. 2:, and 1 Tim. 4: All these things to which he refers here have been practiced and tolerated in that apostate church, while no body of men, at any time, have been more zealous in maintaining “a form of godliness;” that is, in keeping up the forms of religion.

But denying the power thereof – Opposing the real power of religion; not allowing it to exert any influence in their lives. It imposes no restraint on their passions and carnal propensities, but in all respects, except in the form of religion, they live as if they had None. This has been common in the world. The most regular and bigoted adherence to the forms of religion furnishes no evidence in itself that there is any true piety at heart, or that true religion has any actual control over the soul. It is much easier for people to observe the forms of religion than it is to bring the heart under its controlling influence.

From such turn away – Have no contact with them as if they were Christians; show no countenance to their religion; do not associate with them; compare 2Jo_1:10-11; see the notes at 2Co_6:17.

John Calvin

2 Timothy 3:6

6Of those are they who creep into families You would say, that here Paul intentionally draws a lively picture of the order of monks. But without saying a single word about monks, those marks by which Paul distinguishes false and pretended teachers are sufficiently clear; creeping into houses, snares for catching silly women, mean flattery, imposing upon people by various superstitions. These marks it is proper to observe carefully, if we wish to distinguish between useless drones and faithful ministers of Christ. These former are here marked by so black a coal, that it is of no use for them to shuffle. To “creep into families” means to enter stealthily, or to seek an entrance by cunning methods.

And lead captive silly women laden with sins Now, he speaks of “women” rather than men, because the former are more liable to be led astray in this manner. He says that they “are led captive,” because false prophets of this sort, through various tricks, gain their ear, partly by prying curiously into all their affairs, and partly by flattery. And this is what he immediately adds, “laden with sins;” for, if they had not been bound by the chain of a bad conscience, they would not have allowed themselves to be led away, in every possible manner, at the will of others.

By various sinful desires I consider “sinful desires” to denote generally those foolish and light desires by which women, who do not seek God sincerely, and yet wish to be reckoned religious and holy, are carried away. There is no end of the methods adopted by them, when, departing from a good conscience, they are constantly assuming new masks. Chrysostom is more disposed to refer it to disgraceful and immodest desires; but, when I examine the context, I prefer the former exposition; for it immediately follows —

Pulpit Commentary

2Ti_3:6

These for this sort, A.V.; that for which, A.V.; take for lead, A.V.; by for with, A.V. Creep into (ἐνδύνοντες); here only in the New Testament. It has the sense of “sneaking into,” “insinuating themselves into,” as in Xenophon, ‘Cyrop.,’ 2. 1. 13. Take captive (αἰχμαλωτεύοντες); as in Eph_4:3. The other form, αἰχμαλωτίζοντες which is that of the R.T., is in Luk_21:24; Rom_7:23; 2Co_10:5. The word well describes the blind surrender of the will and conscience to such crafty teachers. Silly women (τὰ γυναικάρια, diminutive of γυνή); nowhere else in the New Testament or LXX., but is used by some late Greek authors. It is a term of contempt—he will not call them γυναῖκας—they are only γυναικάρια. In the passages quoted by Alford from Irenaeus and Epiphanius, the women made use of by the later Gnostics are called γυναικάρια. See, too, the striking quotation in the same note from Jerome, specifying by name the women whom Nicolas of Antioch, Marcion, Montanus, and others employed as their instruments in spreading their abominable heresies. So true is St. Paul’s forecast in the text. Laden with sins (σεσωρευμένα ἁμαρτίαις); elsewhere only in Rom_12:20, “heap coals of fire.” It occurs in Aristotle and other Greek writers in the sense of heaping one thing upon another, and heaping up anything with something else. The last is the sense in which it is here used. It seems to convey the idea of passive helplessness. Led away (ἀγόμενα); with a strong intimation of unresisting weakness. Lusts (ἐπιθυμίαις); all kinds of carnal and selfish desires (see Mat_4:19; Joh_8:44; Rom_1:24; Rom_6:12; Rom_7:7, Rom_7:8; Gal_5:24; Eph_2:3; Eph_4:22; Col_3:5; 1Ti_6:9; 2Ti_2:22; 2Ti_4:3 : Tit_2:12; fit. 3; 1Pe_1:14, etc.; 2Pe_2:18; 1Jn_2:16, etc.).

John Calvin

2 Timothy 3:7

7Always learning, while yet they never can come to the knowledge of the truth That fluctuation between various desires, of which he now speaks, is when, having nothing solid in themselves, they are tossed about in all directions. They “learn,” he says, as people do who are under the influence of curiosity, and with a restless mind, but in such a manner as never to arrive at any certainty or truth. It is ill-conducted study, and widely different from knowledge. And yet such persons think themselves prodigiously wise; but what they know is nothing, so long as they do not hold the truth, which is the foundation of all knowledge.

Albert Barnes

2 Timothy 3:7

Ever learning – That is, these “silly women;” for so the Greek demands. The idea is, that they seeM to be disciples. They put themselves wholly under the care of these professedly religious teachers, but they never acquire the true knowledge of the way of salvation.

And never able to come to the knowledge of the truth – They may learn many things, but the true nature of religion they do not learn. There are many such persons in the world, who, whatever attention they may pay to religion, never understand its nature. Many obtain much speculative acquaintance with the “doctrines” of Christianity, but never become savingly acquainted with the system; many study the constitution and government of the church, but remain strangers to practical piety; many become familiar with the various philosophical theories of religion, but never become truly acquainted with what religion is; and many embrace visionary theories, who never show that they are influenced by the spirit of the gospel. Nothing is more common than for persons to be very busy and active in religion, and even to “learn” many things about it, who still remain strangers to the saving power of the gospel.

John Calvin

2 Timothy 3:8

8And as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses This comparison confirms what I have already said about the “last times”, for he means that the same thing happens to us under the gospel, which the Church experienced almost from her very commencement, or at least since the law was published. In like manner the Psalmist also speaks largely about the unceasing battles of the Church.

“Often did they fight against me from my youth, now let Israel say. The wicked ploughed upon my back, they made long their furrows.” (Psa_129:1)

Paul reminds us, that we need not wonder if adversaries rise up against Christ to oppose his gospel, since Moses likewise had those who contended with him; for these examples drawn from a remote antiquity yield us strong consolation.

It is generally believed; that the two who are mentioned, “Jannes and Jambres,” were magicians put forward by Pharaoh. But from what source Paul learned their names is doubtful, except that it is probable, that many things relating to those histories were handed down, the memory of which God never permitted to perish. It is also possible that in Paul’s time there were commentaries on the prophets that gave more fully those narratives which Moses touches very briefly. However that may be, it is not at random that he calls them by their names. The reason why there were two of them may be conjectured to have been this, that, because the Lord had raised up for his people two leaders, Moses and Aaron, Pharaoh determined to place against them the like number of magicians.

Cambridge Bible

2 Tim 3:8. Now as Jannes and Jambres] And like as; the conjunction should be translated ‘now’ only when there is more of a fresh departure; the present is only a small additional paragraph. Jannes and Jambres are nowhere else mentioned in Scripture. The Targum of Jonathan inserts their names in Exo_7:11, Mambres which the Vulgate reads here being sometimes a later form for Jambres in the Jewish Commentaries. They were held to be the magicians who first imitated the wonders wrought by Moses and Aaron (see ver. 13 ‘impostors’ or ‘magicians’) but afterwards failing confessed that the power of God was with those whom they had withstood. Pliny, Hist. Nat. xxx. i. 2, mentions their story ‘est et alia magices factio a Mose et Jamne et Jotape Judæis pendens.’ He could not have derived his information from St Paul. There must have been an oral tradition or a lost book of Israelitish early history. Mr Poole (Art. Dict. Bib. from which this account is mainly taken) inclines to the latter supposition as more likely to preserve the exact names. That they are exact he thinks probable; since (1) the termination in Jambres or Mambres is like that of many Egyptian compounds ending with ra “the Sun,” as Men-kau-ra, (2) Jannes appears to be a transcription of the Egyptian name Aan, that of a king of the 15th dynasty who was probably the second predecessor of Joseph’s Pharaoh, and the most prevalent names among the Egyptians were those of kings then reigning or not long dead. The Rabbins state that Jannes and Jambres were sons of Balaam, and prophesied to Pharaoh the birth of Moses, and were authors of much mischief, subsequently perishing either in the Red Sea or in the tumult over the golden calf.

resist the truth] Rather, withstand, keeping the word.

of corrupt minds] Implies too much a natural viciousness; the perfect passive participle implies ‘having come to a corrupt state and remaining in it’ as above. In itself the word ‘corrupt’ from the Latin participle (cf. the Vulg. ‘corrupti mente)’ should have just this force, but in usage it is a mere adjective; render corrupted in mind.

reprobate] Just as in Tit_1:16, where see note.

Pulpit Commentary

2Ti_3:8

And like for now, A.V.; withstand for resist, A.V.; corrupted in mind for of corrupt minds, A.V. And; but would be better. Jannes and Jambres; the traditional names of the magicians who opposed Moses; and, if Origen can be trusted, there was an apocryphal book called by their names. But Theodoret ascribes their names to an unwritten Jewish tradition. Their names are found in the Targum of Jonathan on Exo_7:11; Exo_22:22; and are also mentioned, in conjunction with Moses, with some variation in the name of Jambres, by Pliny (‘Hist. Nat.,’ Exo_31:2), who probably got his information from a work of Sergius Paulus off magic, of which the materials were furnished by Elymas the sorcerer (Act_13:6-8). Withstood (ἀντέστησαν); the same word as is used of Elymas in Act_13:8 (so Act_4:15 and elsewhere). Corrupted in mind (κατεφθαρμένα τὸν νοῦν); elsewhere only in 2Pe_2:12, in the sense of” perishing,” being “utterly destroyed,” which is the proper meaning of καταφθείρομαι Here in a moral sense κατεφθαρμένοι τὸν νοῦν means men whose understanding is gone, and perished, as διεφθαρμένος τὴν ἀκοήν means one whose hearing has perished—who is deaf. In 1Ti_6:5 St. Paul uses the more common διεφθαρμένων. Reprobate (ἀδόκιμα); as Tit_1:16, and elsewhere frequently in St. Paul’s Epistles. It is just the contrary to δόκιμος (2Ti_2:15, note).

Albert Barnes

2 Timothy 3:8

Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses – The names of these two men are not elsewhere mentioned in the Bible. They are supposed to have been two of the magicians who resisted Moses (Exo_7:11, et al.), and who opposed their miracles to those of Moses and Aaron. It is not certain where the apostle obtained their names; but they are frequently mentioned by the Hebrew writers, and also by other writers; so that there can be no reasonable doubt that their names were correctly handed down by tradition. Nothing is more probable than that the names of the more distinguished magicians who attempted to imitate the miracles of Moses, would be preserved by tradition; and though they are not mentioned by Moses himself, and the Jews have told many ridiculous stories respecting them, yet this should not lead us to doubt the truth of the tradition respecting their names. A full collection of the Jewish statements in regard to them may be found in Wetstein, in loc.

They are also mentioned by Pliny, Nat. Hist. 30:7; and by Numenius, the philosopher, as quoted by Eusebius, 9:8, and Origen, against Celsus, p. 199. See Wetstein. By the rabbinical writers, they are sometimes mentioned as Egyptian magicians who opposed Moses in Egypt, and sometimes as the sons of Balaam. The more common account is, that they were the princes of the Egyptian magicians. One of the Jewish rabbins represents them as having been convinced by the miracles of Moses, and as having become converts to the Hebrew religion. There is no reason to doubt that these were in fact the leading men who opposed Moses in Egypt, by attempting to work counter-miracles. The point of the remark of the apostle here, is, that they resisted Moses by attempting to imitate his miracles, thus neutralizing the evidence that he was sent from God. In like manner, the persons here referred to, opposed the progress of the gospel by setting up a similar claim to that of the apostles; by pretending to have as much authority as they had; and by thus neutralizing the claims of the true religion, and leading off weak-minded persons from the truth. This is often the most dangerous kind of opposition that is made to religion.

Men of corrupt minds; – compare the notes at 1Ti_6:5.

Reprobate concerning the faith – So far as the Christian faith is concerned. On the word rendered “reprobate,” see the Rom_1:28 note; 1Co_9:27 note, rendered “cast-away;” 2Co_13:5 note. The margin here is, “of no judgment.” The meaning is, that in respect to the Christian faith, or the doctrines of religion, their views could not be approved, and they were not to be regarded as true teachers of religion.

John Calvin

2 Timothy 3:9

9But they shall not proceed further He encourages Timothy for the contest, by the confident hope of victory; for, although false teachers give him annoyance, he promises that they shall be, within a short time, disgracefully ruined. Yet the event does not agree with this promise; and the Apostle appears to make a totally different declaration, a little afterwards, when he says that they will grow worse and worse. Nor is there any force in the explanation given by Chrysostom, that they will grow worse every day, but will do no injury to any person; for he expressly adds, “deceived and deceiving;” and, indeed, the truth of this is proved by experience. It is more correct to say, that he looked at them in various aspects; for the affirmation, that they will not make progress, is not universal; but he only means, that the Lord will discover their madness to many whom they had, at first, deceived by their enchantments.

For their folly shall be manifest to all When he says, to all, it is by a figure of speech, in which the whole is taken for a part. And, indeed, they who are most successful in deceiving do, at first, make great boasting, and obtain loud applause; and, in short, it appears as if nothing were beyond their power. But speedily their tricks vanish into air; for the Lord opens the eyes of many, so that they begin to see what was concealed from them for a time. Yet never is the “folly” of false prophets discovered to such an extent as to be known to all. Besides, no sooner is one error driven away than new errors continually spring up.

Both admonitions are therefore necessary. That godly teachers may not despair, as if it were in vain for them to make war against error, they must be instructed about the prosperous success which the Lord will give to his doctrine. But that they may not think, on the other hand, that they are discharged from future service, after one or two battles, they must be reminded that there will always be new occasion for fighting. But on this second point we shall speak afterwards; at present, let it suffice us, that he holds out to Timothy the sure hope of a successful issue, that he may be time more encouraged to fight, And he confirms this by the example which he had quoted; for, as the truth of God prevailed against the tricks of the magicians, so he promises that the doctrine of the gospel shall be victorious against every kind of errors that may be invented.

Albert Barnes

2 Timothy 3:9

But they shall proceed no further – There is a certain point beyond which they will not be allowed to go. Their folly will become manifest, and the world will understand it. The apostle does not say how far these false teachers would be allowed to go, but that they would not be suffered always to prosper and prevail. They might be plausible at first, and lead many astray; they might, by art and cunning, cover up the real character of their system; but there would be a fair development of it, and it would be seen to be folly. The apostle here may be understood as declaring a general truth in regard to error. It often is so plausible at first, that it seems to be true. It wins the hearts of many persons, and leads them astray. It flatters them personally, or it flatters them with the hope of a better state of things in the church and the world. But the time will always come when men will see the folly of it. Error will advance only to a certain point, when it will be “seen” to be falsehood and folly, and when the world will arise and cast it off. In some cases, this point may be slower in being reached than in others; but there “is” a point, beyond which error will not go. At the reformation under Luther, that point had been reached, when the teachings of the great apostasy were seen to be “folly,” and when the awakened intellect of the world would allow it to “proceed no farther,” and aroused itself and threw it off. In the workings of society, as well as by the direct appointment of God, there is a point beyond which error cannot prevail; and hence, there is a certainty that truth will finally triumph.

For their folly shall be manifest unto all men – The world will see and understand what they are, and what they teach. By smooth sophistry, and cunning arts, they will not be able always to deceive mankind.

As their’s also was – That of Jannes and Jambres. That is, it became manifest to all that they could not compete with Moses and Aaron; that their claims to the power of working miracles were the mere arts of magicians, and that they had set up pretensions which they could not sustain; compare Exo_8:18-19. In regard to the time to which the apostle referred in this description, it has already been observed (see the notes at 2Ti_3:1), that it was probably to that great apostasy of the “latter days,” which he has described in 2 Thes. 2: and 1 Tim. 4: But there seems to be no reason to doubt that he had his eye immediately on some persons who had appeared then, and who had evinced some of the traits which would characterize the great apostasy, and whose conduct showed that the great “falling away” had already commenced. In 2Th_2:7, he says that the “mystery of iniquity” was already at work, or was even then manifesting itself; and there can be no doubt that the apostle saw that there had then commenced what he knew would yet grow up into the great defection from the truth. In some persons, at that time, who had the form of godliness, but who denied its power; who made use of insinuating arts to proselyte the weak and the credulous; who endeavor to imitate the true apostles, perhaps by attempting to work miracles, as Jannes and Jambres did, he saw the “germ” of what was yet to grow up into so gigantic a system of iniquity as to overshadow the world. Yet he consoled Timothy with the assurance that there was a point beyond which the system of error would not be allowed to go, but where its folly must be seen, and where it would be arrested.

John Calvin

2 Timothy 3:10

10But thou hast followed In order to urge Timothy, he employs this argument also, that he is not an ignorant and untaught soldier, because Paul carried him through a long course of training. Nor does he speak of doctrine only; for those things which he likewise enumerates add much weight, and he gives to us, in this sentence, a very lively picture of a good teacher, as one who does not, by words only, train and instruct his disciples, but, so to speak, opens his very breast to them, that they may know, that whatever he teaches, he teaches sincerely. This is what is implied in the word purpose He likewise adds other proofs of sincere and unfeigned affection, such as faith, mildness, love, patience Such were the early instructions which had been imparted to Timothy in the school of Paul. Yet he does not merely bring to remembrance what he had learned from him, but bears testimony to his former life, that in this manner he may urge him to perseverance; for he praises him as an imitator of his own virtues; as if he had said, “Thou hast been long accustomed to follow my instructions; I ask nothing more than that thou shouldst go on as thou hast begun.” It is his wish, however; that the example of his “faith, love, and patience” should be constantly before the eyes of Timothy; and for that reason he dwells chiefly on his persecutions, which were best known to him.

Cambridge Bible

2 Tim 3:10. But thou hast fully known my doctrine] The ms. authority on the whole favours the aorist, which suits also the aorists of ver. 14 and does not assert, as the perfect would, the certainty of Timothy’s settled continuance in ‘following.’ The perfect may have come in from 1Ti_4:6, where it is more appropriate in connexion with the present participle ‘being continuously nourished.’ On the meaning of the word see note there: thou didst closely follow.

my doctrine; manner of life] Again, teaching; cf. 1Ti_1:10. ‘Manner of life’ is a word occurring here only in N.T., a substantive derived from the verb used above ‘led’ ver. 6 and Rom_8:14, which shews how conduct is the natural derived sense; cf. Gifford’s note ‘all who are moved and guided by the Spirit and follow His guidance.’ The word is classical in the general sense of ‘guidance,’ ‘course,’ ‘training’; and occurs Ar. Eth. N. x. vii. 3, as here.

purpose] In 1:9, and wherever else it is used in St Paul’s epistles, refers to God’s purpose and plan of salvation. It occurs four times in N.T. to render’ the shew-bread.’ But in Act_11:23 it is used of Barnabas who ‘exhorted them all that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord,’ and this is exactly the force here.

faith] In the same general and usual sense as in 2:22; 1Ti_6:11, where ‘love’ and ‘brave patience’ also occur; for this last see also note on 2:10.

longsuffering] Occurs with ‘brave patience’ or ‘endurance’ in Col_1:11, where Lightfoot distinguishes thus: ‘While “endurance” is the temper which does not easily succumb under suffering, “long-suffering” is the self-restraint which does not hastily retaliate a wrong. The one is opposed to cowardice or despondency, the other to wrath or revenge (Pro_15:18).’ In 1Ti_6:11 this ‘endurance’ is coupled with ‘meekness of heart’ which is rather the opposite of ‘rudeness,’ ‘harshness.’ See 2:25, and note.

charity] As throughout N.T., love.

Pulpit Commentary

2Ti_3:10

Didst follow my teaching for hast fully known my doctrine, A.V. and T.R.; conduct for manner of life, A.V.; love for charity, A.V. Didst follow (παρηκολούθησας, which is the R.T. for παρηκολούθηκας, in the perfect, which is the T.R.). The evidence for the two readings is nicely balanced. But St. Paul uses the perfect in l Timothy 2Ti_4:6 (where see note), and it seems highly improbable that he here used the aorist in order to convey a rebuff to Timothy by insinuating that he had once followed, but that he was doing so no longer. The sentence, “thou didst follow,” etc., is singularly insipid. The A.V. “thou hast fully known” gives the sense fully and clearly. Timothy had fully known St. Paul’s whole career, partly from what he had heard, and partly from what he had been an eyewitness of. My teaching. How different from that of those impostors! Conduct (ἀγωγῇ); here only in the New Testament, but found in the LXX. in Est_2:20 (τὴν ἀγωγὴν αὐτῆς, “her manner of life”—her behaviour towards Mordecai, where there is nothing to answer to it in the Hebrew text); 2 Macc 4:16 (τὰς ἀγωγάς); 6:8; 11:24. Aristotle uses ἀγωγή for “conduct,” or “mode of life” (‘Ethics’), and Polybius (4:74, 14), quoted by Alford, has ἀγωγὴ and ἀγωγαὶ τοῦ βίου, “way” or “manner of life.” The A.V. “manner of life” is a very good rendering. Purpose (πρόθεσιν); that which a person sets before him as the end to be attained (Act_11:23; Act_27:13; 2Ma Act_3:8; and in Aristotle, Polybius, and others). Used often of God’s eternal purpose, as e.g. 2Ti_1:9; Eph_1:11, etc. In enumerating these and the following,” faith, long suffering, charity, and patience,” St. Paul doubtless had in view, not self-glorification, which was wholly alien to his earnest, self-denying character, but the mention of those qualities which he saw were most needed by Timothy. Long suffering (τῇ μακροθυμίᾳ); as 1Ti_1:16, of the long suffering of Jesus Christ towards himself, and elsewhere frequently of human patience and forbearance towards others. Patience (τῇ ὑπομονῇ). This is exercised in the patient endurance of afflictions for Christ’s sake. It is coupled, as here, with μακροθυμία, long suffering, in Col_1:11.

John Calvin

2 Timothy 3:11

11But out of them all the Lord delivered me It is a consolation which mitigates the bitterness of afflictions, that they always have a happy and joyful end. If it be objected, that the success of which he boasts is not always visible, I acknowledge that this is true, so far as relates to the feeling of the flesh; for Paul had not yet been delivered. But when God sometimes delivers us, he testifies, in this manner, that he is present with us, and will always be present; for from the feeling, or actual knowledge, of present aid, our confidence ought to be extended to the future. The meaning, therefore, is as if he had said, “Thou hast known by experience that God hath never forsaken me, so that thou hast no right to hesitate to follow my example.”

Cambridge Bible

2 Tim 3:11. afflictions, which came unto me] It is better to make the ‘afflictions’ go with the preceding, and make a new clause commence with the relative. So R.V. sufferings; what things befell me; what persecutions.

The Antioch meant is that in Pisidia, originally planted by the Magnesians. Seleucus the son of Antiochus re-settled it, and called it Antioch after the name of his father: which name it kept, though under Augustus made a colony with the additional name of Cæsarea. Plin. N.H. v. xxvii. 24 ‘Pisidæ … quorum colonia Cæsarea, eadem Antiochia.’ Its ruins are still to be seen, one of the most striking objects being a very perfect aqueduct of twenty-one arches. See Lewin, Life of St Paul, i. 137. For the work and sufferings at Antioch see Act_13:14-50. The place usually understood by Antioch would be the large and important city of Antioch in Syria; but in writing to Timothy, whose home was in that district, St Paul would use the word with its well-known local meaning.

Iconium lies S.E. of Antioch at a distance of sixty miles, on the dusty highroad connecting Ephesus with Antioch of Syria. It is still called Cogni, and, like Damascus, is an oasis in the desert, by the dry plains of Lycaonia. See Act_13:51-6.

Lystra lies about forty miles to the south of Iconium, on the same road, in a hollow, on the north side of which rises Kara Dagh or the Black Mountain. Its ruins remain and are called ‘the thousand and one churches,’ it having been an episcopal see under the Byzantine emperors. This was Timothy’s birth-place. See Act_14:6-20.

St Paul mentions these places and his sufferings there, (1) because they were the first, in his first period of ministry, (2) they were well known to Timothy and may well have led him to cast in his lot with the Apostle. See Introduction, pp. 57, 59, 62.

but out of them all] Rather, and, yet with an ascending force which marks a contrast, so that ‘and yet’ is hardly too strong; though the more exact rendering is to lay stress on ‘all’ and on ‘delivered,’ cf. Winer, iii. § 53, 3.

Adam Clarke

2 Timothy 3:11

Persecutions – which came unto me at Antioch – The Antioch mentioned here was Antioch in Pisidia, to which place Paul and Barnabas came in their first apostolic progress, and where Paul delivered that memorable discourse which is preserved in the 13th chapter of Acts, Acts 13:16-43. In this city, it is said, the Jews stirred up the devout and honorable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts; but they shook of the dust of their feet against them, and came to Iconium, Act_13:50, Act_13:51. Here there was an assault made both of the Gentiles and also of the Jews with their rulers, to treat them despitefully, and to stone them, and they fled unto Lystra and Derbe; and there came thither certain Jews, who persuaded the people, and having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead. The historian informs us that his life was miraculously restored, and that he departed thence, and came to Derbe, and afterwards returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, where they had lately been so grievously persecuted. See Act_14:5, Act_14:6, Act_14:19-21. These are the persecutions, etc., to which the apostle alludes; and we find that he mentions them here precisely in the same order in which, according to the relation of St. Luke, they occurred. Now it is said here that Timothy fully knew all these things; and we may naturally suppose they could not be unknown to him, when it is evident he was either a native of, or resided in, those parts; for when the apostle, sometime after the above, visited Derbe and Lystra, behold, a certain disciple was there named Timotheus, well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium; Act_16:1, Act_16:2. As these things happened in his own neighborhood, Timothy must have known them; for a person who had such a religious education as he had could not be unacquainted with these persecutions, especially as we may believe that his mother and grandmother had been converts to Christianity at that time. See several useful remarks in Dr. Paley’s Horae Paulinae, on these circumstances, page 312.

John Calvin

2 Timothy 3:12

12And all who wish to live a godly life Having mentioned his own persecutions, he likewise adds now, that nothing has happened to him which does not await all the godly. And he says this, partly that believers may prepare themselves for submitting to this condition, and partly that good men may not view him with suspicion on account of the persecutions which he endures from wicked persons; as it frequently happens that the distresses to which men are subjected lead to unfavorable opinions concerning them; for he whom men regard with aversion is immediately declared by the common people to be hated by God.

By this general statement, therefore, Paul classes himself with the children of God, and, at the same time, exhorts all the children of God to prepare for enduring persecutions; for, if this condition is laid down for “all who wish to live a godly life in Christ,” they who wish to be exempt from persecutions must necessarily renounce Christ. In vain shall we endeavor to detach Christ from his cross; for it may be said to be natural that the world should hate Christ even in his members. Now hatred is attended by cruelty, and hence arise persecutions. In short, let us know that we are Christians on this condition, that we shall be liable to many tribulations and various contests.

But it is asked, Must all men be martyrs? for it is evident that there have been many godly persons who have never suffered banishment, or imprisonment, or flight, or any kind of persecution. I reply, it is not always in one way that Satan persecutes the servants of Christ. But yet it is absolutely unavoidable that all of them shall have the world for their enemy in some form or other, that their faith may be tried and their steadfastness proved; for Satan, who is the continual enemy of Christ, will never suffer any one to be at peace during his whole life; and there will always be wicked men that are thorns in our sides. Moreover, as soon as zeal for God is manifested by a believer, it kindles the rage of all ungodly men; and, although they have not a drawn sword, yet they vomit out their venom, either by murmuring, or by slander, or by raising a disturbance, or by other methods. Accordingly, although they are not exposed to the same assaults, and do not engage in the same battles, yet they have a warfare in common, and shall never be wholly at peace and exempt from persecutions.

Albert Barnes

2 Timothy 3:12

Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution – Paul takes occasion from the reference to his own persecutions, to say that his case was not unique. It was the common lot of all who endeavored to serve their Redeemer faithfully; and Timothy himself, therefore, must not hope to escape from it. The apostle had a particular reference, doubtless, to his own times; but he has put his remark into the most general form, as applicable to all periods. It is undoubtedly true at all times, and will ever be, that they who are devoted Christians – who live as the Saviour did – and who carry out his principles always, will experience some form of persecution. The “essence” of persecution consists in “subjecting a person to injury or disadvantage on account of his opinions.” It is something more than meeting his opinions by argument, which is always right and proper; it is inflicting some injury on him; depriving him of some privilege, or right; subjecting him to some disadvantage, or placing him in less favorable circumstances, on account of his sentiments.

This may be either an injury done to his feelings, his family, his reputation, his property, his liberty, his influence; it may be by depriving him of an office which he held, or preventing him from obtaining one to which he is eligible; it may be by subjecting him to fine or imprisonment, to banishment, torture, or death. If, in any manner, or in any way, he is subjected to disadvantage on account of his religious opinions, and deprived of any immunities and rights to which he would be otherwise entitled, this is persecution. Now, it is doubtless as true as it ever was, that a man who will live as the Saviour did, will, like him, be subjected to some such injury or disadvantage. On account of his opinions, he may be held up to ridicule, or treated with neglect, or excluded from society to which his attainments and manners would otherwise introduce him, or shunned by those who might otherwise value his friendship. These things may be expected in the best times, and under the most favorable circumstances; and it is known that a large part of the history of the world, in its relation to the church, is nothing more than a history of persecution. It follows from this:

(1) That they who make a profession of religion, should come prepared to be persecuted. It should be considered as one of the proper qualifications for membership in the church, to be willing to bear persecution, and to resolve not to shrink from any duty in order to avoid it.

(2) They who are persecuted for their opinions, should consider that this may be one evidence that they have the spirit of Christ, and are his true friends. They should remember that, in this respect, they are treated as the Master was, and are in the goodly company of the prophets, apostles, and martyrs; for they were all persecuted. Yet,

(3) If we are persecuted, we should carefully inquire, before we avail ourselves of this consolation, whether we are persecuted because we “live godly in Christ Jesus,” or for some other reason. A man may embrace some absurd opinion, and call it religion; he may adopt some mode of dress irresistibly ludicrous, from the mere love of singularity, and may call it “conscience;” or he may be boorish in his manners, and uncivil in his deportment, outraging all the laws of social life, and may call this “deadness to the world;” and for these, and similar things, he may be contemned, ridiculed, and despised. But let him not infer, “therefore,” that he is to be enrolled among the martyrs, and that he is certainly a real Christian. That persecution which will properly furnish any evidence that we are the friends of Christ, must be only that which is “for righteousness sake” Mat_5:10, and must be brought upon us in an honest effort to obey the commands of God.

(4) Let those who have never been persecuted in any way, inquire whether it is not an evidence that they have no religion. If they had been more faithful, and more like their Master, would they have always escaped? And may not their freedom from it prove that they have surrendered the principles of their religion, where they should have stood firm, though the world were arrayed against them? It is easy for a professed Christian to avoid persecution, if he yields every point in which religion is opposed to the world. But let not a man who will do this, suppose that he has any claim to be numbered among the martyrs, or even entitled to the Christian name.

John Calvin

2 Timothy 3:13

13But wicked men and impostors This is the most bitter of all persecutions, when we see wicked men, with their sacrilegious hardihood, with their blasphemies and errors, gathering strength. Thus Paul says elsewhere, that Ishmael persecuted Isaac, not by the sword, but by mockery (Gal_4:29.) Hence also we may conclude, that in the preceding verse, it was not merely one kind of persecution that was described, but that the Apostle spoke, in general terms, of those distresses which the children of God are compelled to endure, when they contend for the glory of their Father.

I stated, a little before, in what respect they shall grow worse and worse; for he foretells not only that they will make obstinate resistance, but that they will succeed in injuring and corrupting others. One worthless person will always be more effectual in destroying, than ten faithful teachers in building, though they labor with all their might. Nor are there ever wanting the tares which Satan sows for injuring the pure corn; and even when we think that false prophets are driven away, others continually spring up in other directions.

Again, as to the power of doing injury, it is not because falsehood, in its own nature, is stronger than truth, or that the tricks of Satan exceed the energy of the Spirit of God; but because men, being naturally inclined to vanity and errors, embrace far more readily what agrees with their natural disposition, and also because, being blinded by a righteous vengeance of God, they are led, as captive slaves, at the will of Satan. And the chief reason, why the plague of wicked doctrines is so efficacious, is, that the ingratitude of men deserves that it should be so. It is highly necessary for godly teachers to be reminded of this, that they may be prepared for uninterrupted warfare, and may not be discouraged by delay, or yield to the haughtiness and insolence of adversaries.

Cambridge Bible

2 Tim 3:13. But evil men and seducers] The word ‘seduce’ in A.V. occurs nine times in Old and New Testament always in the general sense of ‘lead astray’; everywhere except here it is used to represent the Greek word for this cognate to the English word ‘planet’ ‘the wanderer,’ (cf. Jude’s ‘wandering stars’) and almost immediately following here ‘deceiving,’ cf. 1Ti_4:1 and note. R.V. in these places varies between ‘seduce’ and ‘lead astray.’ The word so rendered here is properly ‘enchanter,’ from the cries of incantations used. So ‘magicians,’ and more generally ‘impostors.’ Compare for the general sense, the most probable here, the use of the verb by Plato, Phæd. 81, 13, ‘the soul having served and loved the body and been bewitched by it through desires and pleasures.’ Some think there may be a reference to the magic arts, such as those of Jannes and Jambres; and certainly Ephesus had an evil repute in this respect itself, cf. Act_19:13, Act_19:10. ‘Ephesian letters’ was a common expression for charms made up of magic words and worn as amulets.

shall wax worse and worse] The same verb as in ver. 9. The ‘progress’ is a ‘rake’s progress,’ step after step leading and being led astray. Compare Rev_18:23, ‘with thy sorcery were all the nations deceived,’ 2Jn_1:7, ‘many deceivers are gone forth into the world … this is the deceiver and the antichrist.’

Albert Barnes

2 Timothy 3:13

But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse – That is, it is the character of such men to do this; they may be expected to do it. This is the general law of depravity – that if men are not converted, they are always growing worse, and sinking deeper into iniquity. Their progress will be certain, though it may be gradual, since “nemo repente turpissimus.” The connection here is this: that Timothy was not to expect that he would be exempt from persecution 2Ti_3:12, by any change for the better in the wicked men referred to. He was to anticipate in them the operation of the general law in regard to bad men and seducers – that they would grow worse and worse. From this fact, he was to regard it as certain that he, as well as others, would be liable to be persecuted. The word rendered “seducers” – γόης  goēs – occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It means, properly, a “juggler, or diviner;” and then, a “deceiver, or impostor.” Here it refers to those who by seductive arts, lead persons into error.

Deceiving – Making others believe that to be true and right, which is false and wrong. This was, of course, done by seductive arts.

And being deceived – Under delusion themselves. The advocates of error are often themselves as really under deception, as those whom they impose upon. They are often sincere in the belief of error, and then they are under a delusion; or, if they are insincere, they are equally deluded in supposing that they can make error pass for truth before God, or can deceive the Searcher of hearts. The worst victims of delusion are those who attempt to delude others.

John Calvin

2 Timothy 3:14

14But as for thee, continue in those things which thou hast learned Although wickedness prevail, and push its way forward, he advises Timothy nevertheless to stand firm. And undoubtedly this is the actual trial of faith, when we offer unwearied resistance to all the contrivances of Satan, and do not alter our course for every wind that blows, but remain steadfast on the truth of God, as on a sure anchor.

Knowing from whom thou hast learned them This is said for the purpose of commending the certainty of the doctrine; for, if any one has been wrong instructed, he ought not to persevere in it. On the contrary, we ought to unlearn all that we have learned apart from Christ, if we wish to be his disciples; as, for example, it is the commencement of our pure instruction in the faith to reject and forget all the instruction of Popery. The Apostle therefore does not enjoin Timothy to defend indiscriminately the doctrine which has been delivered to him, but only that which he knows to be truth; by which he means, that he must make a selection. Besides, he does not claim this as a private individual, that what he has taught shall be reckoned to be a divine revelation; but he boldly asserts his own authority to Timothy, who, he was aware, knew that his fidelity and his calling had been proved. And if he was fully convinced that he had been taught by an Apostle of Christ, he concluded that therefore it was not a doctrine of man, but of Christ.

This passage teaches us, that we ought to be as careful to guard against obstinacy in matters that are uncertain, (such as all the doctrines of men are,) as to hold within unshaken firmness the truth of God. Besides, we learn from it, that faith ought to be accompanied by prudence, that it may distinguish between the word of God and the word of men, so that we may not adopt at random everything that is brought forward. Nothing is more inconsistent with the nature of faith than light credulity, which allows us to embrace everything indiscriminately, whatever it may be, and from whomsoever it proceeds; because it is the chief foundation of faith, to know that it has God for its author.

And which have been intrusted to thee When he adds, that the doctrine had been intrusted to Timothy, this gives (αὔξησιν) additional force to the exhortation; for to “commit a thing in trust” is something more than merely to deliver it. Now Timothy had not been taught as one of the common people, but in order that he might faithfully deliver into the hands of others what he had received.

Pulpit Commentary

2Ti_3:14

Abide for continue, A.V. Abide thou, etc. Be not like these juggling heretics, blown about by every wind of doctrine, and always seeking some new thing, but abide in the old truths which thou hast learnt from thy childhood. Hast been assured of (ἐπιστώθης); only here in the New Testament, but found in 2Ma 7:24 and 1Ki_1:36. In classical Greek it has the same sense as here (among others), “to be made sure of a thing.” Of whom thou hast learned them (παρὰ τίνος ἔμαθες, or, according to another reading of nearly equal authority, παρὰ τίνων). If τίνος is the right reading, it must refer either to God or to St. Paul. In favour of its referring to God is the expression in the Prophet Isaiah commented upon by our Lord in Joh_6:45, where παρὰ τοῦ Πατρὸς answers to παρὰ τίνος; the promise concerning the Comforter, “He shall teach you all things” (Joh_14:26, etc.); and the very similar reasoning of St. John, when he is exhorting his “little children” to stand fast in the faith, in spite of those that seduced them: “Let that therefore abide in you which ye have heard from the beginning;” for “the anointing which ye have received of him, abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things,…and even as it hath taught yon, abide in him” (1Jn_2:24-28); and other similar passages. There would obviously be great force in reminding Timothy that he had received the gospel under the immediate teaching of the Holy Spirit, and that it would be a shameful thing for him to turn aside under the influence of those impostors. If τίνων does not refer to God, it must refer to St. Paul. If, on the other hand, τίνων is the true reading (which is less probable), it must refer to Lois and Eunice, which seems rather feeble.

Albert Barnes

2 Timothy 3:14

But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of – To wit, the truths of religion. Timothy had been taught those truths when a child, and he had been confirmed in them by the instructions of Paul. Amidst the errors and seductions of false teachers, Paul now exhorts him to hold fast those doctrines, whoever might oppose them, or whatever might be the consequence; compare the notes at 2Ti_1:13.

Knowing of whom thou hast learned them – To wit, of his mother 2Ti_1:5, and of Paul; 2Ti_1:13. The reference seems to be particularly to the fact that he had learned these truths first from the lips of a mother (see 2Ti_3:15); and the doctrine taught here is, “that the fact that we have received the views of truth from a parent’s lips, is a strong motive for adhering to them.” It is not to be supposed, indeed, that this is the highest motive, or that we are always to adhere to the doctrines which have been taught us, if, on maturer examination, we are convinced they are erroneous; but that this is a strong reason for adhering to what we have been taught in early life. It is so, because:

(1) A parent has no motive for deceiving a child, and it cannot be supposed that he would teach him what he knew to be false;

(2) A parent usually has had much more experience, and much better opportunities of examining what is true, than his child has;

(3) There is a degree of respect which nature teaches us to be due to the sentiments of a parent.

A child should depart very slowly from the opinions held by a father or mother; and, when it is done, it should be only as the result of prolonged examination and prayer. These considerations should have the greater weight, if a parent has been eminent for piety, and especially if that parent has been removed to heaven. A child, standing by the grave of a pious father or mother, should reflect and pray much, before he deliberately adopts opinions which he knows that father or mother would regard as wrong.

John Calvin

2 Timothy 3:15

15And that from (thy) childhood This was also no ordinary addition, that he had been accustomed, from his infancy, to the reading of the Scripture; for this long habit may make a man much more strongly fortified against every kind of deception. It was therefore a judicious caution observed in ancient times, that those who were intended for the ministry of the word should be instructed, from their infancy, in the solid doctrine of godliness, that, when they came to the performance of their office, they might not be untried apprentices. And it ought to be reckoned a remarkable instance of the kindness of God, if any person, from his earliest years, has thus acquired a knowledge of the Scriptures.

Which are able to make thee wise unto salvation It is a very high commendation of the Holy Scriptures, that we must not seek anywhere else the wisdom which is sufficient for salvation; as the next verse also expresses more fully. But he states, at the same time, what we ought to seek in the Scripture; for the false prophets also make use of it as a pretext; and therefore, in order that it may be useful to us for salvation, it is necessary to understand the right use of it.

Through faith, which is in Christ Jesus What if any one give his whole attention to curious questions? What if he adhere to the mere letter of the law, and do not seek Christ? What if he pervert the natural meaning by inventions that are foreign to it? For this reason he directs us to the faith of Christ as the design, and therefore as the sum, of the Scriptures; for on faith depends also what immediately follows.

Cambridge Bible

2 Tim 3:15. from a child] Lit. from a babe; the word occurs four times in St Luke’s ‘Gospel of the Infancy,’ ch. 1 and 2, and again 18:15; Act_7:19.

thou hast known] Lit. ‘thou knowest,’ the perfect having this present force, and the Greek idiom in a phrase like this using the present where we use the perfect definite. The meaning is that there has been a continued knowledge present always ‘from a babe’ and present now. So in Joh_15:27, ‘ye are, i.e. have been, with me from the beginning,’ cf. Winer, iii. § 40.

the holy scriptures] Lit. ‘the sacred writings’ of the Old Testament. It was a requirement of the Rabbis that a child should begin to learn the Law by heart when five years old. ‘Raf said to Samuel, the son of Schilath, a teacher, “Do not take the boy to be taught before he is six years old, but from that year receive him, and train him as you do the ox, which, day by day, bears a heavier load.” Philo, a contemporary of our Lord, says, “They are taught, so to speak, from their very swaddling clothes by their parents, masters and teachers, in the holy laws, and in the unwritten customs, and to believe in God, the one Father and Creator of the world,” (Legal. ad Caium, § 16). At the age of thirteen he became a “son of the Law,” and was bound to practise all its moral and ritual requirements.’ Geikie, Life of Christ, i. 173.

The original word for ‘scriptures’ is used of Moses’ writings Joh_5:47, where Westcott well points out that it ‘appears to mark the specific form rather than the general scope of the record’ which is denoted by the word used in ver. 16.

which are able] Present participle, in harmony with the present sense of ‘thou hast known,’ and marking the abiding continuous power of the Holy Scripture.

to make thee wise] The verb occurs here only in N.T.; its participle in 2Pe_1:16, ‘cunningly devised’; the tense is aorist according to the proper use of the aorist, to give the idea of the verb in its most general form, ‘the scriptures have this capacity of making wise.’

through faith which is in Christ Jesus] See note on 1Ti_3:13; the clause belongs to the verb ‘make wise,’ not to the noun ‘salvation.’ The doctrine and scheme of Christianity is required to illuminate the precept and history of the Old Testament. ‘In vetere Testamento latet novum, in novo vetus patet.’ Ellicott quotes Hooker, Eccl. Pol. i. 14. ‘The Old did make wise by teaching Salvation through Christ that should come, the New by teaching that Christ the Saviour is come.’ Cf. also Art. vii. in the English Prayer Book, ‘The Old Testament is not contrary to the New; for both in the Old and New Testament everlasting life is offered to mankind by Christ.’

Marvin Vincent

2 Tim 3:15. From a child (ἀπὸ βρέφους). Mostly in Luke. oP. Only here in Pastorals. See on 1 Pet. 2:2. Comp. Mk. 9:21, ἐκ παιδιόθεν from a child.

The holy Scriptures (ἱερὰ γράμματα). Note particularly the absence of the article. Γράμματα is used in N. T. in several senses. Of characters of the alphabet (2 Cor. 3:7; Gal. 6:11): of a document (L. 16:6, take thy bill): of epistles (Acts 28:21): of the writings of an author collectively (J. 5:47): of learning (Acts 26:24, πολλά γράμματα much learning). In LXX, ἐπιστάμενος γράμματα knowing how to read (Isa. 29:11, 12). The Holy Scriptures are nowhere called ἱερὰ γράμματα in N. T. In LXX, γράμματα is never used of sacred writings of any kind. Both Josephus and Philo use τὰ ἱερὰ γράμματα for the O. T. Scriptures. The words here should be rendered sacred learning. The books in the writer’s mind were no doubt the O. T. Scriptures, in which Timothy, like every Jewish boy, had been instructed; but he does not mean to designate those books as ἱερὰ γράμματα. He means the learning acquired from Scripture by the rabbinic methods, according to which the O. T. books were carefully searched for meanings hidden in each word and letter, and especially for messianic intimations. Specimens of such learning may be seen here and there in the writings of Paul, as 1 Cor. 9:9f.; 10:1f.; Gal. 3:16f.; 4:21f. In Acts 4:13, the council, having heard Peter’s speech, in which he interpreted Ps. 118:22 and Isa. 28:16 of Christ, at once perceived that Peter and John were ἀγράμματοι, not versed in the methods of the schools. Before Agrippa, Paul drew the doctrine of the Resurrection from the O. T., whereupon Festus exclaimed, “much learning (πολλὰ γράμματα, thy acquaintance with the exegesis of the schools) hath made thee mad” (Acts 26:24). To Agrippa, who was “expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews” (Acts 26:3), the address of Paul, a pupil of Hillel, was not surprising, although he declared that Paul’s reasoning did not appeal to him. In J. 7:15, when Jesus taught in the temple, the Jews wondered, and said: “How knoweth this man letters?” That a Jew should know the Scriptures was not strange. The wonder lay in the exegetical skill of one who had not been trained by the literary methods of the time.

To make thee wise (σε σοφίσαι). Only here and 2 Pet. 1:16. See note there on cunningly devised. To give thee understanding of that which lies behind the letter; to enable thee to detect in the O. T. books various hidden allusions to Christ; to draw from the O. T. the mystery of messianic salvation, and to interpret the O. T. with Christ as the key. This gives significance to the following words, through faith which is in Christ Jesus. Jesus Christ was the key of Scripture, and through faith in him Scripture became a power unto salvation. The false teachers also had their learning, but used it in expounding Jewish fables, genealogies, etc. Hence, their expositions, instead of making wise unto salvation, were vain babblings; profane and old wives’ fables (1 Tim. 4:7; 2 Tim. 2:16). Const. through faith, etc., with make wise, not with salvation.

Albert Barnes

2 Timothy 3:15

And that from a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures – That is, the Old Testament; for the New Testament was not then written; see the notes at Joh_5:39. The mother of Timothy was a pious Hebrewess, and regarded it as one of the duties of her religion to train her son in the careful knowledge of the word of God. This was regarded by the Hebrews as an important duty of religion, and there is reason to believe that it was commonly faithfully performed. The Jewish writings abound with lessons on this subject. Rabbi Judah says, “The boy of five years of age ought to apply to the study of the sacred Scriptures.” Rabbi Solomon, on Deu_11:19, says, “When the boy begins to talk, his father ought to converse with him in the sacred language, and to teach him the law; if he does not do that, he seems to bury him.” See numerous instances referred to in Wetstein, in loc. The expression used by Paul – “from a child” (ἀπὸ βρέφους  apo brephous) – does not make it certain at precisely what age Timothy was first instructed in the Scriptures, though it would denote an “early” age. The word used – βρέφος brephos – denotes:

(1) A babe unborn, Luk_1:41, Luk_1:44;

(2) An infant, babe, suckling.

In the New Testament, it is rendered “babe and babes,” Luk_1:41, Luk_1:44; Luk_2:12, Luk_2:16; 1Pe_2:2; “infants,” Luk_8:15; and “young children,” Act_7:19. It does not elsewhere occur, and its current use would make it probable that Timothy had been taught the Scriptures as soon as he was capable of learning anything. Dr. Doddridge correctly renders it here “from infancy.” It may be remarked then,

(1) That it is proper to teach the Bible to children at as early a period of life as possible.

(2) That there is reason to hope that such instruction will not be forgotten, but will have a salutary influence on their future lives. The piety of Timothy is traced by the apostle to the fact that he had been early taught to read the Scriptures, and a great proportion of those who are in the church have been early made acquainted with the Bible.

(3) It is proper to teach the “Old” Testament to children – since this was all that Timothy had, and this was made the means of his salvation.

(4) We may see the utility of Sunday schools. The great, and almost the sole object of such schools is to teach the Bible, and from the view which Paul had of the advantage to Timothy of having been early made acquainted with the Bible, there can be no doubt that if Sunday-schools had then been in existence, he would have been their hearty patron and friend.

Which are able to make thee wise unto salvation – So to instruct you in the way of salvation, that you may find the path to life. Hence, learn:

(1) That the plan of salvation may be learned from the Old Testament. It is not as clearly revealed there as it is in the New, but “it is there;” and if a man had only the Old Testament, he might find the way to be saved. The Jew, then, has no excuse if he is not saved.

(2) The Scriptures have “power.” They are “able to make one wise to salvation.” They are not a cold, tame, dead thing. There is no book that has so much “power” as the Bible; none that is so efficient in moving the hearts, and consciences, and intellects of mankind. There is no book that has moved so many minds; none that has produced so deep and permanent effects on the world.

(3) To find the way of salvation, is the best kind of wisdom; and none are wise who do not make that the great object of life.

Through faith which is in Christ Jesus; – see the Mar_16:16 note; Rom_1:17 note. Paul knew of no salvation, except through the Lord Jesus. He says, therefore, that the study of the Scriptures, valuable as they were, would not save the soul unless there was faith in the Redeemer; and it is implied, also, that the proper effect of a careful study of the “Old” Testament, would be to lead one to put his trust in the Messiah.

John Calvin

2 Timothy 3:16

16All Scripture; or, the whole of Scripture; though it makes little difference as to the meaning. He follows out that commendation which he had glanced at briefly. First, he commends the Scripture on account of its authority; and secondly, on account of the utility which springs from it. In order to uphold the authority of the Scripture, he declares that it is divinely inspired; for, if it be so, it is beyond all controversy that men ought to receive it with reverence. This is a principle which distinguishes our religion from all others, that we know that God hath spoken to us, and are fully convinced that the prophets did not speak at their own suggestion, but that, being organs of the Holy Spirit, they only uttered what they had been commissioned from heaven to declare. Whoever then wishes to profit in the Scriptures, let him first of all, lay down this as a settled point, that the Law and the Prophets are not a doctrine delivered according to the will and pleasure of men, but dictated by the Holy Spirit.

If it be objected, “How can this be known?” I answer, both to disciples and to teachers, God is made known to be the author of it by the revelation of the same Spirit. Moses and the prophets did not utter at random what we have received from their hand, but, speaking at the suggestion of God, they boldly and fearlessly testified, what was actually true, that it was the mouth of the Lord that spake. The same Spirit, therefore, who made Moses and the prophets certain of their calling, now also testifies to our hearts, that he has employed them as his servants to instruct us. Accordingly, we need not wonder if there are many who doubt as to the Author of the Scripture; for, although the majesty of God is displayed in it, yet none but those who have been enlightened by the Holy Spirit have eyes to perceive what ought, indeed, to have been visible to all, and yet is visible to the elect alone. This is the first clause, that we owe to the Scripture the same reverence which we owe to God; because it has proceeded from him alone, and has nothing belonging to man mixed with it.

And is profitable Now follows the second part of the commendation, that the Scripture contains a perfect rule of a good and happy life. When he says this, he means that it is corrupted by sinful abuse, when this usefulness is not sought. And thus he indirectly censures those unprincipled men who fed the people with vain speculations, as with wind. For this reason we may in the present day, condemn all who, disregarding edification, agitate questions which, though they are ingenious, are also useless. Whenever ingenious trifles of that kind are brought forward, they must be warded off by this shield, that “Scripture is profitable.” Hence it follows, that it is unlawful to treat it in an unprofitable manner; for the Lord, when he gave us the Scriptures, did not intend either to gratify our curiosity, or to encourage ostentation, or to give occasion for chatting and talking, but to do us good; and, therefore, the right use of Scripture must always tend to what is profitable.

For instruction Here he enters into a detailed statement of the various and manifold advantages derived from the Scriptures. And, first of all, he mentions instruction, which ranks above all the rest; for it will be to no purpose that you exhort or reprove, if you have not previously instructed. But because “instruction,” taken by itself, is often of little avail, he adds reproof and correction

It would be too long to explain what we are to learn from the Scriptures; and, in the preceding verse, he has given a brief summary of them under the word faith. The most valuable knowledge, therefore, is “faith in Christ.” Next follows instruction for regulating the life, to which are added the excitements of exhortations and reproofs. Thus he who knows how to use the Scriptures properly, is in want of nothing for salvation, or for a Holy life. Reproof and correction differ little from each other, except that the latter proceeds from the former; for the beginning of repentance is the knowledge of our sinfulness, and a conviction of the judgment of God. Instruction in righteousness means the rule of a good and holy life.

Cambridge Bible

2 Tim 3:16. All scripture] The word for ‘Scripture’ occurs fifty-one times in N.T., always, except 2Pe_3:16, of the recognised Old Testament Scriptures, the Law, the Prophets, and the Hagiographa, or of one or more of them; in 2Pe_3:16 the reference is to St Paul’s epistles and to ‘the other Scriptures.’ The A.V. of a.d. 1611 is therefore not wrong (though many printed copies have altered it) in rendering the word as ‘Scripture’ with a capital S; for it is by itself the recognised technical term.

We should translate Every Scripture probably, as is the proper rendering when there is no article. The word ‘Scripture’ is without the article also in Joh_19:37; 1Pe_2:6; 2Pe_1:20. Those who retain the rendering ‘All Scripture’ with A.V. would lay stress on the technical use of the word shewn above, so that it may be treated as a proper name, comparing Act_2:36, ‘all (the) house of Israel.’ But this is unnecessary, especially as the three places where the word occurs without the article in the singular have the meaning ‘a Book or passage of Scripture’ and they are in date as late as or later than this Epistle.

given by inspiration of God] One word in the original, a passive verbal, occurring only here in N.T., and meaning ‘filled with the breath of God’ so as to be ‘living oracles,’ Act_7:38. Cf. 2Pe_1:21, ‘holy men of God moved by the Holy Spirit.’ Compare also the following passage written about a.d. 95, at the same time as the last N.T. book, St John’s Gospel: ‘Search the Scriptures, the true Scriptures, the Scriptures of the Holy Ghost: ye know that there is nothing unrighteous, nothing counterfeit written in them.’ Clem. Rom. ad Cor. c. 45.

There are two ways of taking this adjective, either as an attribute (so R.V.) or a predicate (so A.V.); either ‘Every Scripture, inasmuch as it is inspired of God, is also useful &c.’ or ‘Every Scripture is inspired and is profitable &c.’ In the latter case the second predicate comes in tamely. In the one case inspiration is assumed, in the other it is asserted.

profitable for doctrine] For teaching.

for reproof] The noun occurs only Heb_11:1, ‘the proving of things not seen.’ The corresponding verb is used five times by St Paul in these epistles, e.g. 4:2.

correction] Only here in N.T. though a good classical word, cf. Dem. c. Timocr. 707, 7 ‘they shall lose their promotion to the Areopagus for putting down the amendment of the laws.’

for instruction in righteousness] Lit. discipline which is in righteousness; the verb ‘disciplining’ has occurred, 1Ti_1:20; 2Ti_2:25, where see notes. It occurs with ‘reprove’ in the letter to the church at Laodicea, Rev_3:19, where R.V. ‘chasten.’ ‘Which is in righteousness’ just as ‘faith which is in Christ Jesus’ above; the definite article indicates the definite sphere of exercise for the discipline and the faith. See note on 1Ti_1:2, where without the article the preposition and its case are shewn to be very nearly equivalent to an adjective. Ellicott well sums up the meaning ‘that Holy Scripture teaches the ignorant, convicts the evil and prejudiced, corrects the fallen and erring, and trains in righteousness all men, especially those that need bringing to fuller measures of perfection.’

Pulpit Commentary

2 Tim 3:16Every Scripture inspired of God is also profitable for all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable, A.V.; teaching for doctrine A.V.; which is in for in, A.V. Every Scripture, etc. There are two ways of construing this important passage:

(A) As in the A.V., in which θεόπνευστος is part of the predicate coupled by καὶ with the following ὠφέλιμος; (B) as in the R.V., where θεόπ́ευστος is part of the subject (as πᾶν ἒρλον ἒπλον ἀγαθόν “every good work,” 2 Cor. 9:8, and elsewhere); and the following καὶ is ascensive, and to be rendered “is also.”

Commentators are pretty equally divided, though the older ones (as Origen, Jerome (Vulgate), the versions) mostly adopt (B). In favour of (A), however, it may be said

(1) that such a sentence as that which arises from (B) necessarily implies that there are some γραφαὶ which are not θεόπνευστοι, just as Πᾶν ἒργον ἀγαθόν implies that there are some works which are not good; ρᾶσα εὐλογία πνευματική (Eph. 1:3), that there are some blessings which are not spiritual; πᾶν έρλογία πνευματική (2 Tim. 4:18), that there are some works which are not evil; and so on. But as γραφή is invariably used in the New Testament for “Scripture,” and not for any profane writing; it is not in accordance with biblical language to say, “every inspired Scripture,” because every Scripture is inspired.

(2) The sentence, taken according to (B), is an extremely awkward, and, as Alford admits, harsh construction, not supported in its entirety by one single parallel usage in the whole New Testament.

(3) The sentence, taken according to (A), is a perfectly simple one, and is exactly parallel with 1 Tim. 4:4, Πᾶν Θεοῦ καλόν καὶ οὐδέν ἀπόβλητον, “Every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused.”

(4) It is in perfect harmony with the context. Having in the preceding verse stated the excellence of the sacred writings, he accounts for that excellence by referring to their origin and source. They are inspired of God, and hence their wide use and great power

(5) This interpretation is supported by high authority: Chrysostom, Gregory of Nyssa, etc., among the ancients (Alford); and Bengel, Wiesinger, De Wette, etc., among modern. The advocates of (B), as Bishop Ellicott, Dean Alford, etc., speak very doubtfully. With regard to the rendering of πᾶσα γραφην no doubt, strict grammar, in the absence of the article, favours the rendering in the R.V., “every Scripture,” rather than that of the A.V., “all Scripture.” But Alford’s remark on Matt. 1:20 applies with full force here: “When a word or an expression came to bear a technical conventional meaning, it was also common to use it without the article, as if it were a proper name, e.g. Θεός, νόμος, υἰὸς Θεοῦ,” etc. Therefore, just as πᾶσα Ἱεροσόλυμα (Matt. 2:3) means “all Jerusalem,” not “every Jerusalem,” so here πᾶσα λραφή means “all Scripture.” What follows of the various uses of Holy Scripture is not true of “every Scripture.” One Soripture is profitable for doctrine, another for reproof, and so on. Examples of γραφή without the article are 2 Pet. 1:20 and Rom. 1:2; and of πᾶς not followed by the article, and yet meaning “all,” are in Eph. 2:21 and 3:15. Inspired of God, etc. (θεόπνευστος); here only in the New Testament or LXX, but occasionally in classical Greek, as Plutarch. For teaching, etc. The particular uses for which Scripture is said to be profitable present no difficulty. Teaching, of which Holy Scripture is the only infallible source. Reproof (ἒλεγχον or ἐλεγμόν); only here and Heb. 11:1; but in classical Greek it means “a proof,” specially for the purpose of “refutation” of a false statement or argument. Here in the same sense for the “conviction” or “refutation” of false teachers (comp. Titus 1:9, 13), but probably including errors in living (compare in the ‘Ordering of Priests,’ “That there be no place left among you, either for error in religion or for viciousness in life”). Correction (ἐπανόρθωσιν); only here in the New Testament, but occasionally in the LXX, and frequently in classical Greek, as Aristotle, Plato, etc., in the sense of “correction,” i.e. setting a person or thing straight, “revisal,” “improvement,” “amendment,” or the like. It may be applied equally to opinions and to morals, or way of life. Instruction which is in righteousness. There is no advantage in this awkward phraseology. “Instruction in righteousness” exactly expresses the meaning. The Greek, τὴν ἐν δικαιοσύνη merely limits the παιδεία to the sphere of righteousness or Christian virtue. By the use of Holy Scripture the Christian is being continually more perfectly instructed in holy living.

Albert Barnes

2 Timothy 3:16

All Scripture – This properly refers to the Old Testament, and should not be applied to any part of the New Testament, unless it can be shown that that part was then written, and was included under the general name of “the Scriptures;” compare 2Pe_3:15-16. But it includes the whole of the Old Testament, and is the solemn testimony of Paul that it was all inspired. If now it can be proved that Paul himself was an inspired man, this settles the question as to the inspiration of the Old Testament.

Is given by inspiration of God – All this is expressed in the original by one word – Θεόπνευστος Theopneustos. This word occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It properly means, God-inspired – from Θεός Theos, “God,” and πνέω pneō, “to breathe, to breathe out.” The idea of “breathing upon, or breathing into the soul,” is that which the word naturally conveys. Thus, God breathed into the nostrils of Adam the breath of life Gen_2:7, and thus the Saviour breathed on his disciples, and said, “receive ye the Holy Ghost;” Joh_20:22. The idea seems to have been, that the life was in the breath, and that an intelligent spirit was communicated with the breath. The expression was used among the Greeks, and a similar one was employed by the Romans. Plutarch ed. R. 9:p. 583. 9. τοὺς ὀνείρους τοὺς θεοπνεύστους tous oneirous tous theopneustous. Phocylid. 121. τῆς δὲ θεοπνεύστου σοφίης λόγος ἐστὶν ἄριστος  tēs de theopnoustou sophiēs logos estin aristos.

Perhaps, however, this is not an expression of Phocylides, but of the pseudo Phocylides. So it is understood by Bloomfield. Cicero, pro Arch. 8. “poetam – quasi divino quodam spiritu inflari.” The word does not occur in the Septuagint, but is found in Josephus, Contra Apion, i. 7. “The Scripture of the prophets who were taught according to the inspiration of God – κατὰ τὴν ἐπίπνοιαν τὴν ἀπὸ τοῦ Θεοῦ kata tēn epipnoian tēn apo tou Theou. In regard to the manner of inspiration, and to the various questions which have been started as to its nature, nothing can be learned from the use of this word. It asserts a fact – that the Old Testament was composed under a divine influence, which might be represented by “breathing on one,” and so imparting life. But the language must be figurative; for God does not breathe, though the fair inference is, that those Scriptures are as much the production of God, or are as much to be traced to him, as life is; compare Mat_22:43; 2Pe_1:21. The question as to the degree of inspiration, and whether it extends to the words of Scripture, and how far the sacred writers were left to the exercise of their own faculties, is foreign to the design of these notes. All that is necessary to be held is, that the sacred writers were kept from error on those subjects which were matters of their own observation, or which pertained to memory; and that there were truths imparted to them directly by the Spirit of God, which they could never have arrived at by the unaided exercise of their own minds. Compare the introduction to Isaiah and Job.

And is profitable. – It is useful; it is adapted to give instruction, to administer reproof, etc. If “all” Scripture is thus valuable, then we are to esteem no part of the Old Testament as worthless. There is no portion of it, even now, which may not be fitted, in certain circumstances, to furnish us valuable lessons, and, consequently, no part of it which could be spared from the sacred canon. There is no part of the human body which is not useful in its place, and no part of it which can be spared without sensible loss.

For doctrine – For teaching or communicating instruction; compare the notes on 1Ti_4:16.

For reproof – On the meaning of the word here rendered “reproof” – ἐλέγγμος  elengmos – see the notes on Heb_11:1. It here means, probably, for “convincing;” that is, convincing a man of his sins, of the truth and claims of religion, etc.; see the notes on Joh_16:8.

For correction – The word here used – ἐπανόρθωσις epanorthōsis – occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It means, properly, “a setting to rights, reparation, restoration,” (from ἐπανορθόω  epanorthoō, to right up again, to restore); and here means, the leading to a correction or amendment of life – “a reformation.” The meaning is, that the Scriptures are a powerful means of reformation, or of putting men into the proper condition in regard to morals. After all the means which have been employed to reform mankind; all the appeals which are made to them on the score of health, happiness, respectability, property, and long life, the word of God is still the most powerful and the most effectual means of recovering those who have fallen into vice. No reformation can be permanent which is not based on the principles of the word of God.

For instruction in righteousness – Instruction in regard to the principles of justice, or what is right. Man needs not only to be made acquainted with truth, to be convinced of his error, and to be reformed; but he needs to be taught what is right, or what is required of him, in order that he may lead a holy life. Every reformed and regenerated man needs instruction, and should not be left merely with the evidence that he is “reformed, or converted.” He should be followed with the principles of the word of God, to show him how he may lead an upright life. The Scriptures furnish the rules of holy living in abundance, and thus they are adapted to the whole work of recovering man, and of guiding him to heaven.

John Calvin

2 Timothy 3:17

17That the man of God may be perfect. Perfect means here a blameless person, one in whom there is nothing defective; for he asserts absolutely, that the Scripture is sufficient for perfection. Accordingly, he who is not satisfied with Scripture desires to be wiser than is either proper or desirable.

But here an objection arises. Seeing that Paul speaks of the Scriptures, which is the name given to the Old Testament, how does he say that it makes a man thoroughly perfect? for, if it be so, what was afterwards added by the apostles may be thought superfluous. I reply, so far as relates to the substance, nothing has been added; for the writings of the apostles contain nothing else than a simple and natural explanation of the Law and the Prophets, together with a manifestation of the things expressed in them. This eulogium, therefore, is not inappropriately bestowed on the Scriptures by Paul; and, seeing that its instruction is now rendered more full and clear by the addition of the Gospel, what can be said but that we ought assuredly to hope that the usefulness, of which Paul speaks, will be much more displayed, if we are willing to make trial and receive it?

Cambridge Bible

2 Tim 3:17. the man of God] As in 1Ti_6:11.

perfect] In the sense in which, for example, Confirmation is sometimes said to make ‘a perfect Christian,’ i.e. one perfectly equipped and supplied with the full measure of gifts and graces through the Holy Spirit. The word for ‘perfect’ here occurs nowhere else in N.T. It is derived from an adverb meaning ‘exactly,’ and so occurs in Homer, Il. xiv. 92, of speaking ‘exactly to the purpose,’ in Theophrastus H. P. 2. 5. 5, of being ‘full-grown.’ Complete, then, as R.V. renders, is more correct than A.V. So when the word is compounded with hand, foot, mind, we get ‘perfect of hand,’ ‘of feet,’ ‘sound of mind,’ &c.

throughly furnished] The perfect participle again expressing the resulting and abiding state; the verb is from the same root as the adjective; hence R.V. rightly preserves the play upon the words by rendering furnished completely. It only occurs again in Act_21:5, ‘we had accomplished,’ completely finished, the days. Another compound occurs Luk_6:40, ‘Every one, when he is perfected, shall be as his master.’

Pulpit Commentary

2Ti_3:17

Complete for perfect, A.V.; furnished completely for throughly furnished, A.V.; every good work for all good works, A.V. Complete (ἄρτιος); only here in the New Testament, but common in classical Greek. “Complete, perfect of its kind” (Liddell and Scott). Furnished completely (ἐξρτι σμένος, containing the same root as ἄρτιος); elsewhere in the New Testament only in Act_21:5 in the sense of “completing” a term of days. It is nearly synonymous with καταρτίζω (Ma Act_21:16; Luk_6:40; 2Co_13:11; Heb_13:21; 1Pe_5:10). In late classical Greek ἐξ ρτίζω means, as here, “to equip fully.” As regards the question whether the man of God is restricted in its meaning to the minister of Christ, or comprehends all Christians, two things seem to decide in favour of the former: the one that “the man of God” is in the Old Testament invariably applied to prophets in the immediate service of God (see 1Ti_6:11, note); the other that in 1Ti_6:11 it undoubtedly refers to Timothy in his character of chief pastor of the Church, and that here too the whole force of the description of the uses and excellence of Holy Scripture is brought to bear upon the exhortations in 1Ti_6:14, “Continue thou in the things which thou hast heard,” addressed to Timothy as the Bishop of the Ephesian Church (see, too, 1Ti_4:1-5, where it is abundantly clear that all that precedes was intended to bear directly upon Timothy’s faithful and vigorous discharge of his office as an evangelist).

Albert Barnes

2 Timothy 3:17

That the man of God may be perfect – The object is not merely to convince and to convert him; it is to furnish all the instruction needful for his entire perfection. The idea here is, not that any one is absolutely perfect, but that the Scriptures have laid down the way which leads to perfection, and that, if any one were perfect, he would find in the Scriptures all the instruction which he needed in those circumstances. There is no deficiency in the Bible for man, in any of the situations in which he may be placed in life; and the whole tendency of the book is to make him who will put himself fairly under its instructions, absolutely perfect.

Thoroughly furnished unto all good works – Margin, “perfected.” The Greek means, to bring to an end; to make complete. The idea is, that whatever good work the man of God desires to perform, or however perfect he aims to be, he will find no deficiency in the Scriptures, but will find there the most ample instructions that he needs. He can never advance so far, as to become forsaken of his guide. He can never make such progress, as to have gone in advance of the volume of revealed truth, and to be thrown upon his own resources in a region which was not thought of by the Author of the Bible. No new phase of human affairs can appear in which it will not direct him; no new plan of benevolence can be started, for which he will not find principles there to guide him; and he can make no progress in knowledge or holiness, where he will not feel that his holy counsellor is in advance of him still, and that it is capable of conducting him even yet into higher and purer regions. Let us, then, study and prize the Bible. It is a holy and a safe guide. It has conducted millions along the dark and dangerous way of life, and has never led one astray. The human mind, in its investigations of truth, has never gone beyond its teachings; nor has man ever advanced into a region so bright that its light has become dim, or where it has not thrown its beams of glory on still far distant objects. We are often in circumstances in which we feel that we have reached the outer limit of what man can teach us; but we never get into such circumstance in regard to the Word of God.