Job 1

Verse 32. The decree of Esther confirmed these matters] It was

received by the Jews universally with all respect, and they bound

themselves to abide by it.

The Vulgate gives a strange turn to this verse: Et omnia quae

libri hujus, qui vocatur Esther, historia continentur; "And all

things which are contained in the history of this book, which is

called Esther."

The Targum says, And by the word of Esther all these things

relative to Purim were confirmed; and the roll was transcribed in

this book. The Syriac is the same as the Hebrew, and the

Septuagint in this place not very different.



As the time in which Job lived is so very uncertain, (see the

preface, and the observations at the end of the notes on the

first chapter,) Job 1:22 the date found in our common English

Bibles, which is upon the supposition that Moses wrote the book

while among the Midianites, about one thousand five hundred and

twenty years before the commencement of the Christian era, is

inserted in the margin, not because it is the most probable, but

because it is the most generally received.


Character of Job, 1.

His family, 2.

His substance, 3.

Care of has family, 4, 5.

Satan accuses him to God as a selfish person, who served God

only for the hope of secular rewards, 6-11.

Satan is permitted to strip him of all his children and

property, 12-19.

Job's remarkable resignation and patience, 20-22.


Verse 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 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] tam veyashar; COMPLETE as to his

mind and heart, and STRAIGHT or CORRECT as to his moral


Feared God] Had him in continual reverence as the fountain of

justice, truth, and goodness.

Eschewed evil.] 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.

Verse 3. His substance also was seven thousand sheep] A

thousand, says the Chaldee, for each of his sons. Three thousand

camels: a thousand for each of his daughters. Five hundred yoke of

oxen for himself. And five hundred she-asses for his wife. Thus

the Targum divides the substance of this eminent man.

A very great household] abuddah rabbah meod, "a

very great estate.' The word abuddah refers chiefly to

husbandry, including all manner of labour in the field, with

cattle, and every description of servants.

The greatest of all the men of the East.] He was more eminent

than any other person in that region in wisdom, wealth, and piety.

He was the chief emir of that district.

Verse 4. Feasted in their houses, every one his day] It is

likely that a birthday festival is here intended. When the

birthday of one arrived, he invited his brothers and sisters to

feast with him; and each observed the same custom.

Verse 5. When the days of their feasting were gone about] At the

conclusion of the year, when the birthday of each had been

celebrated, the pious father appears to have gathered them all

together, that the whole family might hold a feast to the Lord,

offering burnt-offerings in order to make an atonement for sins of

all kinds, whether presumptuous or committed through ignorance.

This we may consider as a general custom among the godly in those

ancient times.

And cursed God in their hearts.] uberechu Elohim.

In this book, according to most interpreters, the verb barach

signifies both to bless and to curse; and the noun Elohim

signifies the true God, false gods, and great or mighty. The

reason why Job offered the burnt-offerings appears to have been

this: in a country where idolatry flourished, he thought it

possible that his children might, in their festivity, have given

way to idolatrous thoughts, or done something prescribed by

idolatrous rites; and therefore the words may be rendered thus: It

may be that my children have blessed the gods in their hearts.

Others think that the word barach should be understood as

implying farewell, bidding adieu-lest my children have bidden

adieu to God, that is, renounced him, and cast off his fear. To

me this is very unlikely. Mr. Mason Good contends that the word

should be understood in its regular and general sense, to bless;

and that the conjunction vau should be translated nor.

"Peradventure my sons may have sinned, nor blessed God in their

hearts." This version he supports with great learning. I think the

sense given above is more plain, and less embarrassed. They might

have been guilty of some species of idolatry. This is possible

even among those called Christians, in their banquets; witness

their songs to Bacchus, Venus, &c., which are countless in number,

and often sung by persons who would think themselves injured, not

to be reputed Christians. Coverdale, in his translation, (1535,)

renders the passage thus Peradventure my sonnes have done some

offence, and have been unthankful to God in their hertes.

Thus did Job continually.] At the end of every year, when all

the birthday festivals had gone round.

Verse 6. There was a day when the sons of God] All the versions,

and indeed all the critics, are puzzled with the phrase sons of

God; beney haelohim, literally, sons of the God,

or sons of the gods. The Vulgate has simply filii dei, sons of

God. The Septuagint, οιαγγελοιτουθεου, the angels of God.

The Chaldee, kittey malachaiya, troops of angels.

The Syriac retains the Hebrew words and letters, only leaving out

the demonstrative he in the word haelohim, thus,

[Syriac] baney Elohim. The Arabic nearly copies the Hebrew also,

[Arabic] banoa Iloheem; to which, if we give not the literal

translation of the Hebrew, we may give what translation we please.

Coverdale (1535) translates it, servauntes of God. The Targum

supposes that this assembly took place on the day of the great

atonement, which occurred once each year. And there was a day of

judgment in the beginning of the year; and the troops of angels

came, that they might stand in judgment before the Lord. But what

are we to make of this whole account? Expositions are endless.

That of Mr. Peters appears to me to be at once the most simple and

the most judicious: "The Scripture speaks of God after the manner

of men, for there is a necessity of condescending to our

capacities, and of suiting the revelation to our apprehension. As

kings, therefore, transact their most important affairs in a

solemn council or assembly, so God is pleased to represent

himself as having his council likewise; and as passing the decrees

of his providence in an assembly of his holy angels. We have here,

in the case of Job, the same grand assembly held, as was before in

that of Ahab, 1Ki 22:6-23; the same host of heaven, called here

the sons of God, presenting themselves before Jehovah, as in the

vision of Micaiah they are said to stand on his right hand and on

his left. A wicked spirit appearing among them, here called Satan

or the adversary, and there a lying spirit; both bent on mischief,

and ready to do all the hurt they were permitted to do; for both

were under the control of his power. The imagery is just the same;

and the only difference is in the manner of the relation. That

mentioned above, Micaiah, as a prophet, and in the actual exercise

of his prophetic office, delivers, as he received it, in a vision.

I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the HOST of HEAVEN

standing by him, on his right hand and on his left, and there came

forth a LYING SPIRIT, and stood BEFORE the Lord, and said,

1Ki 22:19-22. The other, as a

historian, interweaves it with his history; and tells us, in his

plain narrative style, There was a day when the sons of God came

to PRESENT themselves BEFORE the Lord, and SATAN came also among

them. And this he delivers in the same manner as he does, There

was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job.

"The things delivered to us by these two inspired writers are

the same in substance, equally high, and above the reach of human

sight and knowledge; but the manner of delivering them is

different, each as suited best to his particular purpose. This,

then is the prophetical way of representing things, as to the

manner of doing them, which, whether done exactly in the same

manner, concerns us not to know; but which are really done: and

God would have them described as done in this manner, to make the

more lively and lasting impression on us. At the same time, it

must not be forgotten that representations of this kind are

founded in a well-known and established truth, viz., the doctrine

of good and bad angels, a point revealed from the beginning, and

without a previous knowledge of which, the visions of the prophets

could scarcely be intelligible." See Ge 28:10-15.

And Satan came also] This word also is emphatic in the original,

hassatan, the Satan, or the adversary; translated by the

Septuagint οδιαβολος. The original word is preserved by the

Chaldee, Syriac, and Arabic; indeed, in each of them the word

signifies an adversary. St. Peter, 1Pe 5:8, plainly refers to

this place; and fully proves that hassatan, which he

literally translates οαντιδικος, the ADVERSARY, is no other than

οδιαβολος, the DEVIL, or chief of bad demons, which he adds to

others by way of explanation. There are many διαμονες, demons,

mentioned in Scripture, but the word Satan or devil is never found

in the originals of the Old and New Testaments in the plural

number. Hence we reasonably infer, that all evil spirits are under

the government of ONE chief, the DEVIL, who is more powerful and

more wicked than the rest. From the GREEK διαβολος comes the LATIN

Diabolus, the SPANISH Diablo, the FRENCH Diable, the ITALIAN

Diavolo, the German Teuffel, the DUTCH Duivel, the ANGLO-SAXON

[A.S.], and the ENGLISH Devil, which some would derive from the

compound THE-EVIL; οπονηρος, the evil one, or wicked one.

It is now fashionable to deny the existence of this evil spirit;

and this is one of what St. John (Re 2:24) calls ταβαθητου

σατανα, the depths of Satan; as he well knows that they who deny

his being will not be afraid of his power and influence; will not

watch against his wiles and devices; will not pray to God for

deliverance from the evil one; will not expect him to be trampled

down under their feet, who has no existence; and, consequently,

they will become an easy and unopposing prey to the enemy of their

souls. By leading men to disbelieve and deny his existence, he

throws them off their guard; and is then their complete master,

and they are led captive by him at his will. It is well known

that, among all those who make any profession of religion, those

who deny the existence of the devil are they who pray little or

none at all; and are, apparently, as careless about the existence

of God as they are about the being of a devil. Piety to God is

with them out of the question; for those who do not pray,

especially in private, (and I never met with a devil-denier who

did,) have no religion of any kind, whatsoever pretensions they

may choose to make.

Verse 7. From going to and fro in the earth] The translation of

the Septuagint is curious: περιελθωντηνγηνκαιεμπεριπατησαςτην

υπουρανονπαρειμι; "Having gone round the earth, and walked

over all that is under heaven, I am come hither." The Chaldee

says, "I am come from going round the earth to examine the works

of the children of men; and from walking through it." Coverdale,

who generally hits the sense, translates thus: I have gone aboute

the londe ond walked thorow it. Mr. Good has it, from roaming

round the earth, and walking about it.

St. Peter, as has been already stated, 1Pe 5:8, refers to this:

Be sober, be vigilant; for your ADVERSARY the DEVIL GOETH ABOUT,

as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. I rather think,

with Coverdale, that arets here signifies rather that land,

than the habitable globe. The words are exceedingly emphatic; and

the latter verb hithhallech being in the hithpael

conjugation shows how earnest and determined the devil is in his

work: he sets himself to walk; he is busily employed in it; he is

seeking the destruction of men; and while they sleep, he

wakes-while they are careless, he is alert. The spirit of this

saying is often expressed by the simple inhabitants of the

country: when they perceive a man plotting mischief, and frequent

in transgression, they say, The devil is BUSY with him.

Verse 8. Hast thou considered my servant Job] Literally, Hast

thou placed thy heart on my servant Job? Hast thou viewed his

conduct with attention, whilst thou wert roaming about, seeking

whom thou mightest devour? viz., the careless, prayerless, and

profligate in general.

Verse 9. Doth Job fear God for naught?] Thou hast made it his

interest to be exemplary in his conduct: for this assertion Satan

gives his reasons in what immediately follows.

Verse 10. Hast not thou made a hedge about him] Thou hast

fortified him with spikes and spears. Thou hast defended him as

by an unapproachable hedge. He is an object of thy peculiar care;

and is not exposed to the common trials of life.

Verse 11. But put forth thine hand] Shoot the dart of poverty

and affliction against him.

And he will curse thee to thy face.] im lo

al paneycha yebarechecca, "If he will not bless thee to thy

appearances." He will bless thee only in proportion to the

temporal good thou bestowest upon him; to the providential and

gracious appearances or displays of thy power in his behalf. If

thou wilt be gracious, he will be pious. The exact maxim of a

great statesman, Sir Robert Walpole: Every man has his price. "But

you have not bought such a one?" "No, because I would not go up to

his price. He valued himself at more than I thought him worth; and

I could get others cheaper, who, in the general muster, would do

as well." No doubt Sir R. met with many such; and the devil many

more. But still God has multitudes that will neither sell their

souls, their consciences, nor their country, for any price; who,

though God should slay them, will nevertheless trust in him; and

be honest men, howsoever tempted by the devil and his vicegerents.

So did Job; so have done thousands; so will all do, in whose

hearts Christ dwells by faith.

Verse 12. All that he hath is in thy power] Satan cannot deprive

a man even of an ass, a sheep, or a pig, but by especial

permission of God. His power and malice are ever bounded, and

under control.

So Satan went forth] The Targum adds, with authority from the

presence of the Lord.

Verse 13. There was a day] The first day of the week, says the

Targum. It no doubt refers to one of those birthday festivals

mentioned before.

Verse 14. The asses feeding beside them] athonoth, the

she-asses, which appear to have been more domesticated, as of

more worth and use than the others, both for their milk and their


Verse 15. And the Sabeans fell] The Vulgate alone understands

this of a people. The Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic, understand

it as implying a marauding party. The Chaldee says, "Lilith, queen

of Zamargad, rushed suddenly upon them, and carried them away."

The Sabeans mentioned here are supposed to have been the same with

those who were the descendants of Abraham by Keturah, whose son

Jokshan begat Sheba. The sons of Keturah were sent by Abraham into

the east, Ge 25:6, and inhabited Arabia Deserta, on the east of

the land of Uz. Hordes of predatory banditti were frequent in

those countries and continue so to the present day. They made

sudden incursions, and carried off men, women, children, cattle,

and goods of every description; and immediately retired to the

desert, whither it was in vain to pursue them.

Verse 16. The fire of God is fallen] Though the fire of God may

mean a great, a tremendous fire, yet it is most natural to suppose

lightning is meant; for as thunder was considered to be the voice

of God, so lightning was the fire of God. And as the prince of

the power of the air was permitted now to arm himself with this

dreadful artillery of heaven, he might easily direct the zigzag

lightning to every part of the fields where the sheep were

feeding, and so destroy the whole in a moment.

Verse 17. The Chaldeans made out three bands] The Chaldeans

inhabited each side of the Euphrates near to Babylon, which was

their capital. They were also mixed with the wandering Arabs, and

lived like them on rapine. They were the descendants of Chesed,

son of Nahor and brother of Huz, from whom they had their name

Casdim, which we translate Chaldeans. They divided themselves

into three bands, in order the more speedily and effectually to

encompass, collect, and drive off the three thousand camels:

probably they mounted the camels and rode off.

Verse 19. A great wind from the wilderness] Here was another

proof of the influence of the prince of the power of the air. What

mischief might he not do with this tremendous agent, were he not

constantly under the control of the Almighty! He seems to have

directed four different currents, which, blowing against the four

corners or sides of the house, crushed it together, and involved

all within in one common ruin.

Verse 20. Rent his mantle] Tearing the garments, shaving or

pulling off the hair of the head, throwing dust or ashes on the

head, and fitting on the ground, were acts by which immoderate

grief was expressed. Job must have felt the bitterness of anguish

when he was told that, in addition to the loss of all his

property, he was deprived of his ten children by a violent

death. Had he not felt this most poignantly, he would have been

unworthy of the name of man.

Worshipped] Prostrated himself; lay all along upon the ground,

with his face in the dust.

Verse 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 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,

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

praphrase 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 Covedale, add, The Lord hath done as he pleased.

Verse 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, Le 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." Le 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, Ex 29:42:

"This shall be a continual burnt-offering throughout your

generations." See also Nu 28:3, 6, 10, 15, 24, 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 Ne 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


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

Le 4:1-35; 5:15-19, and particularly Nu 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, De 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 neighbour'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, Ex 20:14, 17: "Thou shalt not commit

adultery: thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife."

Le 20:10: "The man that committeth

adultery with another man's wife shall surely be put to death;"

see De 22:22. And for the

judge's office in such cases, see De 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, 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.

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