Job 11


Zophar answers Job, and reproves him severely for his attempts

to justify himself; charges him with secret iniquity, and

contends that God inflicts less punishment on him than his

iniquities deserve, 1-6.

Shows the knowledge and perfections of God to be unsearchable,

and that none can resist his power, 7-11.

Warns him against vanity of mind, and exhorts him to repentance

on the ground that his acceptance with God is still a possible

case, and that his latter days may yet become happy and

prosperous, 12-20.


Verse 1. Zophar the Naamathite] Of this man and his friends, see

Job 2:11. He is the most inveterate of Job's accusers, and

generally speaks without feeling or pity. In sour godliness he

excelled all the rest. This chapter and the twentieth comprehends

all that he said. He was too crooked to speak much in measured


Verse 2. Should not the multitude of words be answered?] Some

translate, "To multiply words profiteth nothing."

And should a man full of talk be justified] ish

sephathayim, "a man of lips," a proper appellation for a great

talker: he is "a man of lips," i.e., his lips are the only active

parts of his system.

Verse 3. Should thy lies make men hold their peace?] This is a

very severe reproof, and not justified by the occasion.

And when thou mockest] As thou despisest others, shall no man

put thee to scorn? Zophar could never think that the solemn and

awful manner in which Job spoke could be called bubbling, as some

would translate the term laag. He might consider Job's speech

as sarcastic and severe, but he could not consider it as nonsense.

Verse 4. My doctrine is pure] likchi, "my

assumptions." What I assume or take as right, and just, and true,

are so; the precepts which I have formed, and the practice which I

have founded on them, are all correct and perfect. Job had not

exactly said, My doctrine and way of life are pure, and I am clean

in thine eyes; but he had vindicated himself from their charges of

secret sins and hypocrisy, and appealed to God for his general

uprightness and sincerity: but Zophar here begs the question, in

order that he may have something to say, and room to give vent to

his invective.

Verse 5. But O that God would speak] How little feeling,

humanity, and charity is there in this prayer!

Verse 6. The secrets of wisdom] All the depths of his own

counsels; the heights, lengths, and breadths, of holiness. That

they are double to that which is, tushiyah, which we

translate that which is, is a word frequent in Job and in the Book

of Proverbs, and is one of the evidences brought in favour of

Solomon as the author of this book. It signifies substance or

essence, and is translated by a great variety of terms;

enterprise, completeness, substance, the whole constitution,

wisdom, law, sound wisdom, solid complete happiness, solidity of

reason and truth, the complete total sum, &c., &c. See Taylor's

Hebrew and English Concord., under . In this place the versions

are various. Coverdale, following the Vulgate, translates: That he

might shewe the (out of his secrite wissdome) how manyfolde his

lawe is. The Septuagint, οτιδιπλουςεσταιτωνκατασε, that it

is double to what it is with thee. Mr. Good translates, "For they

are intricacies to INIQUITY." This is a meaning never before given

to tushiyah, and a meaning which even his own learned note

will not make generally prevalent. Perhaps Zophar is here, in

mind, comparing the wisdom which has been revealed with the wisdom

not revealed. The perfection and excellence of the Divine nature

and the purity of his law, are, in substance and essence, double

or manifold to the revelation already made.

Less than thine iniquity deserveth.] Mr. Good translates, And

the knowledge hath withdrawn from thee because of thy sins; and

represents Zophar as praying that God would reveal to him the

secrets of wisdom, and the knowledge which he had withdrawn from

him because of his transgressions. That Zophar intends to

insinuate that God afflicted Job because of his iniquities, is

evident; and that he thought that God had inflicted less

chastisement upon him than his sins deserved, is not less so; and

that, therefore, Job's complaining of harsh treatment was not at

all well founded.

Verse 7. Canst thou by searching find out God?] What is God? A

Being self-existent, eternal, infinite, immense, without bounds,

incomprehensible either by mind, or time, or space. Who then can

find this Being out? Who can fathom his depths, ascend to his

heights, extend to his breadths, and comprehend the infinitude of

his perfections?

Verse 8. It is as high as heaven] High as the heavens, what

canst thou work? Deep below sheol, (the invisible world,) what

canst thou know? Long beyond the earth, and broad beyond the sea,

is its measure. These are instances in the immensity of created

things, and all out of the reach of human power and knowledge; and

if these things are so, how incomprehensible must he be, who

designed, created, preserves, and governs the whole!

We find the same thought in Milton:-

"These are thy glorious works, Parent of good!

Almighty! Thine this universal frame:

How wondrous fair! Thyself how wondrous then!"

Verse 10. If he cut off] As he is unlimited and almighty, he

cannot be controlled. He will do whatsoever he pleases; and he is

pleased with nothing but what is right. Who then will dare to find

fault? Perhaps Zophar may refer to Job's former state, his losses

and afflictions. If he cut off, as he has done, thy children; if

he shut up, as he has done, thyself by this sore disease; or

gather together hostile bands to invade thy territories and

carry away thy property; who can hinder him? He is sovereign, and

has a right to dispose of his own property as he pleases.

Verse 11. He knoweth vain men] methey shau, "men of


He seeth wickedness] He sees as well what is in man, as what man

does; and of his actions and propensities he cannot be an

indifferent spectator.

Verse 12. For vain man would be wise] The original is difficult

and uncertain, veish nabub yillabeb, "And shall the

hollow man assume courage," or "pride himself?" Or, as Mr. Good

rather paraphrases it, Will he then accept the hollow-hearted

person? The Chaldee gives two renderings: An eloquent man shall

become wiser in his heart, and the colt of the wild ass is born as

the son of man. Or, The wise man shall ponder it; and the

refractory youth, who at last becomes prudent, shall make a great

man. Coverdale.-A vayne body exalteth him self; and the son of man

is like a wylde asse's foale. Houbigant translates thus:-A man who

hath understanding will become prudent; but he who is as the wild

ass hath no heart, i.e., sense. According to this critic, the

meaning is this:-A man of sense, should he at any time transgress,

will learn wisdom from it; but a man of a brutish mind,

uncultivated and unreflecting, will plunge yet deeper into


Though man be born like a wild ass's colt] Is translated by Mr.

Good, Or shall the wild ass colt assume the man? This is making

a sense, but such as I fear the original will never allow. There

is no end to the translations of this verse, and conjectures

relative to its meaning. I shall conclude with the Vulgate.-Vir

vanus in superbiam erigitur, et tanquam pullum onagri se liberum

natum putat, "Vain man is puffed up with pride; and he supposes

himself to be born free like the wild ass's colt." Man is full of

self-conceit; and imagines himself born to act as he pleases, to

roam at large, to be under no control, and to be accountable to

none for his actions.

Verse 13. If thou prepare thine heart] Make use of the powers

which God has given thee, and be determined to seek him with all

thy soul.

And stretch out thine hands toward him] Making fervent prayer

and supplication, putting away iniquity out of thy hand, and not

permitting wickedness to dwell in thy tabernacle; then thou shalt

lift up thy face without a blush, thou wilt become established,

and have nothing to fear, Job 11:14, 15.

There is a sentiment in Pr 16:1, very similar to that in the

13th verse, which we translate very improperly:-

leadam maarchey leb.

To man are the preparations of the heart:

umeyehovah maaneh lashon.

But from Jehovah is the answer to the tongue.

It is man's duty to pray; it is God's prerogative to answer.

Zophar, like all the rest, is true to his principle. Job must be a

wicked man, else he had not been afflicted. There must be some

iniquity in his hand, and some wickedness tolerated in his family.

So they all supposed.

Verse 16. Because thou shalt forget thy misery] Thou shalt have

such long and complete rest, that thou shalt scarcely remember thy


As waters that pass away] Like as the mountain floods, which

sweep every thing before them, houses, tents, cattle, and the

produce of the field, and are speedily absorbed by the sandy

plains over which they run, so shalt thou remember thy sufferings:

they were wasting and ruinous for the time, but were soon over and


Verse 17. Thine age shall be clearer than the noonday] The rest

of thy life shall be unclouded prosperity.

Thou shalt shine forth] Thou shalt be in this unclouded state,

as the sun in the firmament of heaven, giving light and heat to

all around thee.

Thou shalt be as the morning.] Thus the sun of thy prosperity

shall arise, and shine more and more unto the perfect day. This is

the image which the sacred writer employs, and it is correct and


Verse 18. And thou shalt be secure] Thou shalt not fear any

farther evils to disturb thy prosperity, for thou shalt have a

well-grounded hope and confidence that thou shalt no more be

visited by adversity.

Yea, thou shalt dig] I believe this neither refers to digging

his grave, nor to curiously investigating surrounding

circumstances; but to the custom of digging for water in the

places where they pitched their tents. It was a matter of high

importance in Asiatic countries to find good wells of wholesome

water; and they were frequently causes of contention among

neighbouring chiefs, who sometimes stopped them up, and at other

times seized them as their own. Through envy of Isaac's prosperity

the Philistines stopped up all the wells which Abraham had digged,

Ge 26:12-16. And we find the herdsmen of Gerar contending with

Isaac's servants about the wells which the latter had digged; so

that they were obliged to abandon two of the chief of them, and

remove to a distance in order to dig and find quiet possession.

See Ge 31:17-22. Zophar, in reference to all these sorts of

contentions and petty wars about wells and springs, tells Job that

in the state of prosperity to which he shall be brought by the

good providence of God, he shall dig-find wells of living water;

none shall contend with him; and he shall rest in safety, all the

neighbouring chieftains cultivating friendship with him; see on

Job 5:23, 24; and that this is the meaning of the passage the

following verse shows: Thou shalt lie down, and none shall make

thee afraid; yea, many shall make suit unto thee. Thou shalt be in

perfect security; no enemy shall molest thee, and many shall seek

thy friendship.

Verse 20. The eyes of the wicked shall fail] They shall be

continually looking out for help and deliverance; but their

expectation shall be cut off.

And they shall not escape] They shall receive the punishment due

to their deserts; for God has his eye continually upon them.

umanos abad minnehem, literally, "And escape perishes

from them." Flight from impending destruction is impossible.

And their hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost.]

vethikratham mappach naphesh, "And their hope an

exhalation of breath," or a mere wish of the mind. They retain

their hope to the last; and the last breath they breathe is the

final and eternal termination of their hope. They give up their

hope and their ghost together; for a vain hope cannot enter

into that place where shadow and representation exist not; all

being substance and reality. And thus endeth Zophar the

Naamathite; whose premises were in general good, his conclusions

legitimate, but his application of them to Job's case totally

erroneous; because he still proceeded on the ground that Job was a

wicked man, if not ostensibly, yet secretly; and that the

sufferings he was undergoing were the means by which God was

unmasking him to the view of men.

But, allowing that Job had been a bad man, the exhortations of

Zophar were well calculated to enforce repentance and excite

confidence in the Divine mercy. Zophar seems to have had a full

conviction of the all-governing providence of God; and that those

who served him with an honest and upright heart would be ever

distinguished in the distribution of temporal good. He seems

however to think that rewards and punishments were distributed in

this life, and does not refer, at least very evidently, to a

future state. Probably his information on subjects of divinity

did not extend much beyond the grave; and we have much cause to

thank God for a clearer dispensation. Deus nobis haec otia fecit.

God grant that we may make a good use of it!

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