Job 15

CHAPTER XV

Eliphaz charges Job with impiety in attempting to justify

himself, 1-13;

asserts the utter corruption and abominable state of man, 14-16;

and, from his own knowledge and the observations of the

ancients, shows the desolation to which the wicked are exposed,

and insinuates that Job has such calamities to dread, 17-35.

NOTES ON CHAP. XV

Verse 2. Should a wise man utter vain knowledge] Or rather,

Should a wise man utter the science of wind? A science without

solidity or certainty.

And fill his belly with the east wind?] beten, which we

translate belly, is used to signify any part of the cavity of the

body, whether the region of the thorax or abdomen; here it

evidently refers to the lungs, and may include the cheeks and

fauces. The east wind, kadim, is a very stormy wind

in the Levant, or the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea,

supposed to be the same with that called by the Greeks ευροκλυδων,

euroclydon, the east storm, mentioned Ac 27:14. Eliphaz, by

these words, seems to intimate that Job's speech was a perfect

storm or tempest of words.

Verse 3. Should he reason with unprofitable talk?] Should a man

talk disrespectfully of his Maker, or speak to him without

reverence? and should he suppose that he has proved any thing,

when he has uttered words of little meaning, and used sound

instead of sense?

Verse 4. Thou castest off fear] Thou hast no reverence for God.

And restrainest prayer] Instead of humbling thyself, and making

supplication to thy Judge, thou spendest thy time in arraigning

his providence and justifying thyself.

When a man has any doubts whether he has grieved God's Spirit,

and his mind feels troubled, it is much better for him to go

immediately to God, and ask forgiveness, than spend any time in

finding excuses for his conduct, or labouring to divest it of its

seeming obliquity. Restraining or suppressing prayer, in order to

find excuses or palliations for infirmities, indiscretions, or

improprieties of any kind, which appear to trench on the sacred

limits of morality and godliness, may be to a man the worst of

evils: humiliation and prayer for mercy and pardon can never be

out of their place to any soul of man who, surrounded with evils,

is ever liable to offend.

Verse 5. For thy mouth uttereth] In attempting to justify

thyself, thou hast added iniquity to sin, and hast endeavoured to

impute blame to thy Maker.

The tongue of the crafty.] Thou hast varnished thy own conduct,

and used sophistical arguments to defend thyself. Thou resemblest

those cunning persons, arumim, who derive their skill

and dexterity from the old serpent, "the nachash, who was

arum, subtle, or crafty, beyond all the beasts of the field;"

Ge 3:1. Thy wisdom is not from

above, but from beneath.

Verse 7. Art thou the first man that was born?] Literally, "Wert

thou born before Adam?" Art thou in the pristine state of purity

and innocence? Or art thou like Adam in his first state? It does

not become the fallen descendant of a fallen parent to talk as

thou dost.

Made before the hills?] Did God create thee the beginning of his

ways? or wert thou the first intelligent creature which his hands

have formed?

Verse 8. Hast thou heard the secret of God?] "Hast thou

hearkened in God's council?" Wert thou one of the celestial

cabinet, when God said, Let US make man in OUR image, and in OUR

likeness?

Dost thou restrain wisdom to thyself?] Dost thou wish us to

understand that God's counsels were revealed to none but thyself?

And dost thou desire that we should give implicit credence to

whatsoever thou art pleased to speak? These are all strong

sarcastic questions, and apparently uttered with great contempt.

Verse 9. What knowest thou] Is it likely that thy intellect is

greater than ours; and that thou hast cultivated it better than we

have done ours?

What understandest thou] Or, Dost thou understand any thing, and

it is not with us? Show us any point of knowledge possessed by

thyself, of which we are ignorant.

Verse 10. With us are both the gray-headed] One copy of the

Chaldee Targum paraphrases the verse thus: "Truly Eliphaz the

hoary-headed, and Bildad the long-lived, are among us; and Zophar,

who in age surpasseth thy father." It is very likely that Eliphaz

refers to himself and his friends in this verse, and not either to

the old men of their tribes, or to the masters by whom they

themselves were instructed. Eliphaz seems to have been the eldest

of these sages; and, therefore, he takes the lead in each part of

this dramatic poem.

Verse 11. Are the consolations of God small with thee?] Various

are the renderings of this verse. Mr. Good translates the verse

thus: "Are then the mercies of God of no account with thee?" or,

"the addresses of kindness before thee?"

The VULGATE thus:-"Can it be a difficult thing for God to

comfort thee? But thou hinderest this by thy intemperate

speeches."

The SYRIAC and ARABIC thus:-"Remove from thee the threatenings

(Arabic, reproaches) of God, and speak tranquilly with thy own

spirit."

The SEPTUAGINT thus:-"Thou hast been scourged lightly for the

sins which thou hast committed; and thou hast spoken greatly

beyond measure; or, with excessive insolence."

Houbigant thus:-"Dost thou not regard the threatenings of God;

or, has there been any thing darkly revealed to thee."

Coverdale:-Dost thou no more regarde the comforte of God? But

thy wicked wordes wil not suffre the.

Scarcely any two translators or interpreters agree in the

translation, or even meaning of this verse. The sense, as

expressed in the Vulgate, or in our own version, or that of

Coverdale, is plain enough:-"Hast thou been so unfaithful to

God, that he has withdrawn his consolations from thy heart? And is

there any secret thing, any bosom sin, which thou wilt not give

up, that has thus provoked thy Maker?" This is the sense of our

version: and I believe it to be as near the original as any yet

offered. I may just add the Chaldee.-"Are the consolations of God

few to thee? And has a word in secret been spoken unto thee?" And

I shall close all these with the Hebrew text, and the literal

version of Arius Montanus:-

hameat mimmecha tanchumoth el.

vedabar laat immak.

Nonne parum a te consolationes Dei? Et verbum latet tecum?

"Are not the consolations of God small to thee? And does a word

(or thing) lie hidden with thee?"

Now, let the reader choose for himself.

Verse 12. Why doth thine heart carry thee away?] Why is it that

thou dost conceive and entertain such high sentiments of thyself?

And what do thy eyes wink at] With what splendid opinion of

thyself is thine eye dazzled? Perhaps there is an allusion here to

that sparkling in the eye which is excited by sensations of joy

and pleasing objects of sight, or to that furious rolling of the

eyes observed in deranged persons. Rosenmuller translates thus:-

Quo te tuus animus rapit?

Quid occuli tui vibrantes?

"Whither does thy soul hurry thee?

What mean thy rolling eyes?"

Thou seemest transported beyond thyself; thou art actuated by a

furious spirit. Thou art beside thyself; thy words and thy eyes

show it.

None but a madman could speak and act as thou dost; for thou

turnest thy spirit against God, and lettest such words go out of

thy mouth, Job 15:13. This latter sense seems to agree best with

the words of the text, and with the context.

Verse 13. That thou turnest thy spirit against God] The ideas

here seem to be taken from an archer, who turns his eye and his

spirit-his desire-against the object which he wishes to hit; and

then lets loose his arrow that it may attain the mark.

Verse 14. What is man, that he should be clean?] mah

enosh; what is weak, sickly, dying, miserable man, that he should

be clean? This is the import of the original word enosh.

And-born of a woman, that he should be righteous?] It appears,

from many passages in the sacred writings, that natural birth was

supposed to be a defilement; and that every man born into the

world was in a state of moral pollution. Perhaps the word

yitsdak should be translated, that he should justify himself,

and not that he should be righteous.

Verse 15. Behold, he putteth no trust in his saints; yea, the

heavens are not clean in his sight.] The Vulgate has, "Behold,

among his saints, none is immutable; and the heavens are not clean

in his sight."

Coverdale.-Beholde, he hath found unfaithfulnesse amonge his

owne sanctes, yea the very heavens are unclene in his sight.

Eliphaz uses the same mode of speech, Job 4:17, 18; where see

the notes. Nothing is immutable but GOD: saints may fall; angels

may fall; all their goodness is derived and dependent. The heavens

themselves have no purity compared with his.

Verse 16. How much more abominable and filthy is man] As in the

preceding verse it is said, he putteth no trust in his saints, it

has appeared both to translators and commentators that the

original words, aph ki, should be rendered how much LESS,

not how much MORE: How much less would he put confidence in man,

who is filthy and abominable in his natures and profligate in his

practice, as he drinks down iniquity like water? A man who is

under the power of sinful propensities commits sin as greedily as

the thirsty man or camel drinks down water. He thinks he can never

have enough. This is a finished character of a BAD man; he hungers

and thirsts after SIN: on the contrary, the GOOD man hungers and

thirsts after RIGHTEOUSNESS.

Verse 17. I will show thee, hear me; and that which I have seen

l will declare] Eliphaz is now about to quote a whole collection

of wise sayings from the ancients; all good enough in themselves,

but sinfully misapplied to the case of Job.

Verse 19. Unto whom alone the earth was given] He very likely

refers to the Israelites, who got possession of the promised land

from God himself; no stranger being permitted to dwell in it, as

the old inhabitants were to be exterminated. Some think that Noah

and his sons may be intended; as it is certain that the whole

earth was given to them, when there were no strangers-no other

family of mankind-in being. But, system apart, the words seem to

apply more clearly to the Israelites.

Verse 20. The wicked man travaileth with pain] This is a most

forcible truth: a life of sin is a life of misery; and he that

WILL sin MUST suffer. One of the Targums gives it a strange

turn:-"All the days of the ungodly Esau, he was expected to

repent, but he did not repent; and the number of years was hidden

from the sturdy Ishmael." The sense of the original,

mithcholel, is he torments himself: he is a true

heautontimoreumenos, or self-tormentor; and he alone is author

of his own sufferings, and of his own ruin.

Verse 21. A dreadful sound is in his ears] If he be an oppressor

or tyrant, he can have no rest: he is full of suspicions that the

cruelties he has exercised on others shall be one day exercised on

himself; for even in his prosperity he may expect the destroyer to

rush upon him.

Verse 22. That he shall return out of darkness] If he take but a

few steps in the dark, he expects the dagger of the assassin. This

appears to be the only meaning of the place. Some think the

passage should be understood to signify that he has no hope of a

resurrection; he can never escape from the tomb. This I doubt:

in the days of the writer of this book, the doctrine of a future

judgment was understood in every part of the East where the

knowledge of the true God was diffused.

Verse 23. He wandereth abroad for bread] He is reduced to a

state of the utmost indigence, he who was once in affluence

requires a morsel of bread, and can scarcely by begging procure

enough to sustain life.

Is ready at his hand.] Is beyado, in his hand-in his

possession. As he cannot get bread, he must soon meet death.

Verse 24. Trouble and anguish shall make him afraid] He shall be

in continual fear of death; being now brought down by adversity,

and stripped of all the goods which he had got by oppression, his

life is a mark for the meanest assassin.

As a king ready to the battle.] The acts of his wickedness and

oppression are as numerous as the troops he commands; and when he

comes to meet his enemy in the field, he is not only deserted but

slain by his troops. How true are the words of the poet:-

Ad generum Cereris sine caede et vulnere pauci

Descendunt reges, et sicca morte tyranni.

Juv. Sat., ver. 112.

"For few usurpers to the shades descend

By a dry death, or with a quiet end."

Verse 25. He stretcheth out his hand against God] While in power

he thought himself supreme. He not only did not acknowledge God,

by whom kings reign, but stretched out his hand-used his power,

not to protect, but to oppress those over whom he had supreme

rule; and thus strengthened himself against the Almighty.

Verse 26. He runneth upon him.] Calmet has properly observed

that this refers to GOD, who, like a mighty conquering hero,

marches against the ungodly, rushes upon him, seizes him by the

throat, which the mail by which it is encompassed cannot protect;

neither his shield nor spear can save him when the Lord of hosts

comes against him.

Verse 27. Because he covereth his face] He has lived in luxury

and excess; and like a man overloaded with flesh, he cannot defend

himself against the strong gripe of his adversary.

The Arabic, for maketh collops of fat on his flanks, has

[Arabic] He lays the Pleiades upon the Hyades, or, He places

Surreea upon aiyuk, a proverbial expression for, His ambition is

boundless; He aspires as high as heaven; His head touches the

stars; or, is like the giants of old, who were fabled to have

attempted to scale heaven by placing one high mountain upon

another:-

Ter sunt conati imponere Pelio Ossam

Scilicet, atque Ossae frondosum involvere Olympum

Ter Pater extructos disjecit fulmine montes.

VIRG. Geor. i., ver. 281.

"With mountains piled on mountains, thrice they strove

To scale the steepy battlements of Jove;

And thrice his lightning and red thunder play'd,

And their demolished works in ruins laid."

DRYDEN.

To the lust of power and the schemes of ambition there are no

bounds; but see the end of such persons: the haughty spirit

precedes a fall; their palaces become desolate; and their heaven

is reduced to a chaos.

Verse 28. He dwelleth in desolate cities] It is sometimes the

fate of a tyrant to be obliged to take up his habitation in some

of those cities which have been ruined by his wars, and in a house

so ruinous as to be ready to fall into heaps. Ancient and modern

history afford abundance of examples to illustrate this.

Verse 29. He shall not be rich] The whole of what follows, to

the end of the chapter, seems to be directed against Job himself,

whom Eliphaz indirectly accuses of having been a tyrant and

oppressor. The threatened evils are, 1. He shall not be rich,

though he labours greatly to acquire riches. 2. His substance

shall not continue-God will blast it, and deprive him of power to

preserve it. 3. Neither shall he prolong the perfection

thereof-all his works shall perish, for God will blot out his

remembrance from under heaven.

Verse 30. He shall not depart out of darkness] 4. He shall be in

continual afflictions and distress. 5. The flame shall dry up his

branches-his children shall be cut off by sudden judgments. 6. He

shall pass away by the breath of his mouth; for by the breath of

his mouth doth God slay the wicked.

Verse 31. Let not him that is deceived] 7. He has many vain

imaginations of obtaining wealth, power, pleasure, and happiness;

but he is deceived; and he finds that he has trusted

bashshav, in a lie; and this lie is his recompense.

Verse 32. It shall be accomplished before his time] I believe

the Vulgate gives the true sense: Antequam dies ejus impleantur,

peribit; "He shall perish before his time; before his days are

completed." 8. He shall be removed by a violent death, and not

live out half his days. 9. And his branch shall not be green-there

shall be no scion from his roots; all his posterity shall fail.

Verse 33. He shall shake off his unripe grape] 10. Whatever

children he may have, they shall never survive him, nor come to

mature age. They shall be like wind-fall grapes and blasted olive

blossoms. As the vine and olive, which are among the most

useful trees, affording wine and oil, so necessary for the

worship of God and the comfort of man, are mentioned here, they

may be intended to refer to the hopeful progeny of the oppressor;

but who fell, like the untimely grape or the blasted olive flower,

without having the opportunity of realizing the public expectation.

Verse 34. The congregation of hypocrites] 11. Job is here

classed with hypocrites, or rather the impious of all kinds. The

congregation, or adath, society, of such, shall be

desolate, or a barren rock, galmud. See this Arabic

word explained in Clarke's note on "Job 3:7".

Fire shall consume the tabernacles of bribery.] 12. Another

insinuation against Job, that he had perverted justice and

judgment, and had taken bribes.

Verse 35. They conceive mischief] The figure here is both

elegant and impressive. The wicked conceive mischief, from the

seed which Satan sows in their hearts; in producing which they

travail with many pangs, (for sin is a sore labour,) and at last

their womb produces fraud or deception. This is an accursed

birth, from an iniquitous conception. St. James gives the figure

at full length, most beautifully touched in all its parts: When

lust hath conceived it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is

finished, bringeth forth death; Jas 1:15, where see the note.

Poor Job! what a fight of affliction had he to contend with! His

body wasted and tortured with sore disease; his mind harassed by

Satan; and his heart wrung with the unkindness, and false

accusations of his friends. No wonder he was greatly agitated,

often distracted, and sometimes even thrown off his guard.

However, all his enemies were chained; and beyond that chain they

could not go. God was his unseen Protector, and did not suffer his

faithful servant to be greatly moved.

Copyright information for Clarke