Job 2


The sons of God once more present themselves before him; and

Satan comes also, accusing Job as a person whose steadfastness

would be soon shaken, provided his body were to be subjected

to sore afflictions, 1-5.

He receives permission to afflict Job, and smites him with sore

boils, 6-8.

His wife reviles him, 9.

His pious reproof, 10.

His three friends come to visit and mourn with him, 11-13.


Verse 1. Again there was a day] How long this was after the

former trial, we know not: probably one whole year, when, as the

Targum intimates, it was the time of the annual atonement;

which, if so, must have been at least one whole year after the

former; and during which period the patience and resignation of

Job had sufficient scope to show themselves. This appearance of

the sons of God and Satan is to be understood metaphorically-there

could be nothing real in it-but it is intended to instruct us in

the doctrine of the existence of good and evil spirits; that Satan

pursues man with implacable enmity, and that he can do no man

hurt, either in his person or property, but by the especial

permission of God; and that God gives him permission only when he

purposes to overrule it for the greater manifestation of his own

glory, and the greater good of his tempted followers.

Verse 3. To destroy him without cause.] Thou wishedst me to

permit thee to destroy a man whose sins have not called for so

heavy a judgment. This seems to be the meaning of this saying. The

original word, leballeo, signifies to swallow down or

devour; and this word St. Peter had no doubt in view in the

place quoted on verse 7 of the preceding chapter: Job 1:7

"Your adversary the devil goeth about as a roaring lion, seeking

whom he may DEVOUR; ζητωντινακαταπιη, seeking whom he may

SWALLOW or GULP DOWN. See Clarke on 1Pe 5:8.

Verse 4. Skin for skin] That is, A man will part with all he has

in the world to save his life; and he will part with all by

piecemeal, till he has nothing left on earth, and even be

thankful, provided his life be spared. Thou hast only destroyed

his property; thou hast left him his life and his health. Thou

hast not touched his flesh nor his bone; therefore he is patient

and resigned. Man, through the love of life, will go much farther:

he will give up one member to save the rest; yea, limb after

limb as long as there is hope that, by such sacrifices, life may

be spared or prolonged. This is the meaning given to the passage

by the Targum; and, I believe, the true one; hence, Job 2:6, the

Lord says, Save his life.

Verse 5. He will curse thee to thy face.] Literally, If he will

not bless thee to thy face or appearances. His piety to thee

will be always regulated by thy bounty to him.

See Clarke on Job 1:11.

Verse 6. But save his life.] His body thou shalt have permission

to afflict, but against his life thou shalt have no power;

therefore take care of his life. The original, naphsho

shemor, may be translated, keep his soul; but the word also

signifies life; yet in the hands of the destroyer the life of this

holy man is placed! How astonishing is the economy of salvation!

It is so managed, by the unlimited power and skill of God, that

the grand adversary of souls becomes himself, by the order of God,

the preserver of that which the evil of his nature incessantly

prompts him to destroy!

Verse 7. Sore boils] 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, εξωτηςπωλεως,) 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


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.

Verse 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 labours, for whom with anxiety I have laboured 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 labours, and from the griefs which oppress me. Speak therefore some word against God, and die." We translate barech Elohim vamuth, Curse God, and die . The verb 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 berich meymera dayai umith . Bless the word of the Lord, and die . Ovid has such an irony as I suppose this to have been:- Quid vos sacra juvant? quid nunc AEgyptia prosunt Sistra?______ Cum rapiant mala fata bonos, ignoscite fasso, Sollicitor nullos esse putare deos. Vive plus, moriere pius; cole sacra, colentem Mors gravis a templis in cava busta trahet. AMOR. lib. iii., Eleg . ix. ver. 33. "In vain to gods (if gods there are) we pray, And needless victims prodigally pay; Worship their sleeping deities: yet death Scorns votaries, and stops the praying breath. To hallow'd shrines intruding fate will come, And drag you from the altar to the tomb." STEPNEY. Verse 10. Thou speakest as one of the foolish] Thou speakest like

an infidel; like one who has no knowledge of God, of religion, or

of a future state.

The Targum, who calls this woman Dinah, translates thus: "Thou

speakest like one of those women who have wrought folly in the

house of their father." This is in reference to an ancient

rabbinical opinion, that Job lived in the days of the patriarch

Jacob, whose daughter Dinah he had married.

Shall we receive good] This we have received in great abundance

for many years:-

And shall we not receive evil?] Shall we murmur when He afflicts

us for a day, who has given us health for so many years? Shall

we blaspheme his name for momentary privations, who has given us

such a long succession or enjoyments? His blessings are his own:

he never gave them to us; they were only lent. We have had the

long, the free, the unmerited use of them; and shall we be

offended at the Owner, when he comes to reclaim his own property?

This would be foolish, ungrateful, and wicked. So may every one

reason who is suffering from adversity. But who, besides Job,

reasons thus? Man is naturally discontented and ungrateful.

In all this did not Job sin with his lips.] The Chaldee adds,

But in his heart he thought words. He had surmisings of heart,

though he let nothing escape from his lips.

Verse 11. Job's three friends] The first was Eliphaz the

Temanite; or, as the Septuagint has it, ελιφαζοθαιμανων

βασιλευς, Eliphaz the king on the Thaimanites. Eliphaz was one

of the sons of Esau; and Teman, of Eliphaz, Ge 36:10, 11. Teman

was a city of Edom, Jer 49:7-20; Eze 25:13; Am 1:11, 12.

Bildad the Shuhite] Or, as the Septuagint, βαλδαδοσυχεων

τυραννος, Baldad, tyrant of the Suchites. Shuah was the son of

Abraham by Keturah: and his posterity is reckoned among the

Easterns. It is supposed he should be placed with his brother

Midian, and his brother's sons Sheba and Dedan. See

Ge 25:2, 3. Dedan was a city of Edom, see Jer 49:8, and seems to

have been situated in its southern boundary, as Teman was in its

western. Eze 25:13.

Zophar the Naamathite] Or, according to the Septuagint, σωφαρ

μιναιωνβασιλευς, Sophar king of the Minaites. He most probably

came from that Naamah, which was bordering upon the Edomites to

the south and fell by lot to the tribe of Judah, Jos 15:21-41.

These circumstances, which have already been mentioned in the

introduction, prove that Job must have dwelt in the land of

Edom, and that all his friends dwelt in Arabia Petraea, or in

the countries immediately adjacent. That some of those Eastern

people were highly cultivated, we have at least indirect proof in

the case of the Temanites, Jer 49:7:

Concerning Edom thus saith the Lord of hosts, Is wisdom no more

in Teman? Is counsel perished from the prudent? Is their wisdom

vanished? They are celebrated also in Baruch 3:22, 23.

Speaking of wisdom he says: It hath not been heard of in Chanaan;

neither hath it been seen in Theman. The Agarenes that seek wisdom

upon earth, the merchants of Meran and of Theman, the expounders

of fables, and searchers out of understanding, none of these have

known the way of wisdom. It is evident enough from these

quotations that the inhabitants of those districts were celebrated

for their knowledge; and the sayings of Job's three friends are

proofs that their reputation for wisdom stood on a very solid


Verse 12. They rent every one his mantle] I have already had

frequent occasions to point out and illustrate, by quotations from

the ancients, the actions that were used in order to express

profound grief; such as wrapping themselves in sackcloth, covering

the face, strewing dust or ashes upon the head, sitting upon the

bare ground, &c., &c.; significant actions which were in use among

all nations.

Verse 13. They sat down with him upon the ground seven days]

They were astonished at the unprecedented change which had taken

place in the circumstances of this most eminent man; they could

not reconcile his present situation with any thing they had met

with in the history of Divine providence. The seven days mentioned

here were the period appointed for mourning. The Israelites

mourned for Jacob seven days, Ge 50:10. And the men of Jabesh

mourned so long for the death of Saul, 1Sa 31:13; 1Ch 10:12. And

Ezekiel sat on the ground with the captives at Chebar, and mourned

with and for them seven days. Eze 3:15. The wise son of Sirach

says, "Seven days do men mourn for him that is dead;"

Ecclus. 22:12. So calamitous was the state of Job, that they

considered him as a dead man: and went through the prescribed

period of mourning for him.

They saw that his grief was very great.] This is the reason why

they did not speak to him: they believed him to be suffering for

heavy crimes, and, seeing him suffer so much, they were not

willing to add to his distresses by invectives or reproach. Job

himself first broke silence.

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