Job 22


Eliphaz reproves Job for his attempts to clear his character

and establish his innocence, 1-4.

Charges him with innumerable transgressions; with oppressions

towards his brethren, cruelty to the poor, hard-heartedness

to the needy, and uncharitableness towards the widow and the

orphan; and says it is on these accounts that snares and

desolations are come upon him, 5-11.

Speaks of the majesty and justice of God: how he cut off the

ante-diluvians, the inhabitants of Sodom and the cities of

the plain, 12-20.

Exhorts him to repent and acknowledge his sins, and promises

him great riches and prosperity, 21-30.


Verse 2. Can a man be profitable unto God] God does not afflict

thee because thou hast deprived him of any excellency. A man may

be profitable to a man, but no man can profit his Maker. He has no

interest in thy conduct; he does not punish thee because thou hast

offended and deprived him of some good. Thy iniquities are against

justice, and justice requires thy punishment.

Verse 3. Is it any pleasure to the Almighty] Infinite in his

perfections, he can neither gain nor lose by the wickedness or

righteousness of men.

Verse 4. For fear of thee?] Is it because he is afraid that thou

wilt do him some injury, that he has stripped thee of thy power

and wealth?

Verse 5. Is not thy wickedness great?] Thy sins are not only

many, but they are great; and of thy continuance in them there

is no end, ein kets.

Verse 6. Thou hast taken a pledge] Thou hast been vexatious in

all thy doings, and hast exacted where nothing was due, so that

through thee the poor have been unable to procure their necessary


Verse 7. Thou hast not given water] It was esteemed a great

virtue in the East to furnish thirsty travellers with water;

especially in the deserts, where scarcely a stream was to be

found, and where wells were very rare. Some of the Indian devotees

are accustomed to stand with a girbah or skin full of water, on

the public roads, to give drink to weary travellers who are

parched with thirst.

Verse 8. But as for the mighty man, he had the earth]

ish zeroa, the man of arm. Finger, hand, and arm, are all emblems

of strength and power. The man of arm is not only the strong man,

but the man of power and influence, the man of rapine and


The honourable man] Literally, the man whose face is accepted,

the respectable man, the man of wealth. Thou wert an enemy to the

poor and needy, but thou didst favour and flatter the rich and


Verse 9. The arms of the fatherless] Whatever strength or power

or property they had, of that thou hast deprived them. Thou hast

been hard-hearted and cruel, and hast enriched thyself with the

spoils of the poor and the defenceless.

Verse 10. Therefore snares] As thou hast dealt with others, so

has God, in his retributive providence, dealt with thee. As thou

hast spoiled, so art thou spoiled. Thou art taken in a net from

which thou canst not escape. There is an allusion here to the

hunting of the elephant: he is driven into an inclosure in the

woods, passing from strait to strait, till brought into a narrow

point, from which he cannot escape; and then his consternation is

great, and his roaring terrible. God hath hunted thee down, as men

hunt down those wild and dangerous beasts. See on Job 18:21

Verse 11. Or darkness, that thou canst not see] The sense of

this passage, in the connection that the particle or gives it with

the preceding verse, is not easy to be ascertained. To me it seems

very probable that a letter has been lost from the first word; and

that o which we translate OR, was originally or

LIGHT. The copy used by the Septuagint had certainly this reading;

and therefore they translate the verse thus: τοφωςσοιειςσκοτος

απεβη; Thy LIGHT is changed into darkness; that is, Thy prosperity

is turned into adversity.

Houbigant corrects the text thus: instead of o

chosech lo tireh, or darkness thou canst not see, he reads

chosech lo or tireh, darkness, not light, shalt thou

behold; that is, Thou shalt dwell in thick darkness. Mr. Good

translates: "Or darkness which thou canst not penetrate, and a

flood of waters shall cover thee." Thou shalt either be enveloped

in deep darkness, or overwhelmed with a flood.

The versions all translate differently; and neither they nor the

MSS. give any light, except what is afforded by the Septuagint.

Coverdale is singular: Shuldest thou then send darcknesse?

Shulde not the water floude runne over the? Perhaps the meaning

is: "Thou art so encompassed with darkness, that thou canst not

see thy way; and therefore fallest into the snares and traps that

are laid for thee."

Verse 12. Is not God in the height of heaven?] It appears, from

this and the following verses, that Eliphaz was attributing

infidel and blasphemous speeches or sentiments to Job. As if he

had said: "Thou allowest that there is a God, but thou sayest that

he is infinitely exalted above the heavens and the stars, and that

there is so much dense ether and thick cloud between his throne

and the earth, that he can neither see it nor its inhabitants."

These were sentiments which Job never held, and never uttered; but

if a man be dressed in a bear's skin, he may be hunted and worried

by his own dogs. Job's friends attribute falsities to him, and

then dilate upon them, and draw inferences from them injurious to

his character. Polemic writers, both in theology and politics,

often act in this way.

Verse 14. He walketh in the circuit of heaven] He confines

himself to those infinitely exalted regions and cares nothing for

the inhabitants of the earth.

Verse 15. Hast thou marked the old way] This is supposed to be

another accusation; as i! he had said, "Thou hollowest the same

way that the wicked of old have walked in." Here is an evident

allusion to the FLOOD, as is particularly noted in the next verse.

Verse 16. Whose foundation was overflown with a flood] The

unrighteous in the days of Noah, who appear to have had an

abundance of all temporal good, (Job 22:18,) and who surpassed

the deeds of all the former wicked, said in effect to God, Depart

from us. And when Noah preached unto them the terrors of the Lord,

and the necessity of repentance, they rejected his preaching with,

What can the Almighty do for us? Let him do his worst; we care not

for him, Job 22:17.

For lamo, to THEM, the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic

have evidently read lanu, to US. This reading quotes their own

saying; the former reading narrates it in the third person. The

meaning, however, is the same.

Verse 18. But the counsel of the wicked is far from me.]

Sarcastically quoting Job's words, Job 21:14, 16. Job, having in

the preceding chapter described the wicked, who said unto the

Almighty, "Depart from us," &c., adds, But the counsel of the

wicked is far from me. Eliphaz here, having described the impious,

among whom he evidently ranks Job, makes use of the same

expression, as if he had said, "Thank God, I have no connection

with you nor your companions, nor is my mind contaminated by your


Verse 19. The righteous see it, and are glad] They see God's

judgments on the incorrigibly wicked, and know that the Judge of

all the earth does right; hence they rejoice in all the

dispensations of his providence.

Verse 20. Whereas our substance is not cut down] We, who fear

the Lord, still continue in health and peace; whereas they who

have departed from him are destroyed even to their very remnant.

Mr. Good thinks that kimanu, which we translate our

substance, is the same as the Arabic [Arabic] our people or tribe;

and hence he translates the clause thus: "For our tribe is not cut

off; while even the remnant of these a conflagration consumed."

The reference here is supposed to be to the destruction of the men

of Sodom and Gomorrah. A judgment by a flood took off the world of

the ungodly in the days of Noah. Their remnant, those who lived in

the same ungodly way, were taken off by a judgment of fire, in the

days of Lot. Eliphaz introduces these two examples in order to

terrify Job into a compliance with the exhortation which

immediately follows.

Verse 21. Acquaint now thyself with him] Perhaps the verb

hasken should be translated here, treasure up, or lay up. Lay

up or procure an interest now with him, and be at peace. Get the

Divine favour, and then thou wilt be at peace with God, and have

happiness in thy own soul.

Thereby good shalt come unto thee.] bahem, "in them,"

shall good come unto thee. That is, in getting an interest in the

Divine favour, and in having thy soul brought into a state of

peace with him; thereby, in them, that is, these two things, good

will come unto thee. First, thou wilt have an interest in his

favour, from which thou mayest expect all blessings; and,

secondly, from his peace in thy conscience thou wilt feel

unutterable happiness. Get these blessings now, for thou knowest

not what a day may bring forth. Reader, hast thou these blessings?

Verse 22. Receive, I pray thee, the law from his mouth] Some,

who wish to place Job before the law given by Moses, say that this

means the Noahic precepts; others, that the law of nature is

intended! Stuff and vanity! The allusion is plainly to the law

given by God to the children of Israel, called here by way of

emphasis, torah, the LAW, which contained amaraiv,

his WORDS, the words or sayings of God himself; consequently, it

is not the Noahic precepts, nor the law of nature, neither of

which were ever written or registered as the words of God's mouth.

Verse 23. Thou shalt be built up] God will restore thee to thy

wonted state of prosperity; and thou shalt again have a household,

not only of servants, but of children also. So much may be Implied

in the words, Thou shalt be BUILT UP. See my sermon on

Job 22:21-23.

Verse 24. Then shalt thou lay up gold as dust] The original is

not fairly rendered in this translation, veshith

al aphar batser, which Montanus renders: Et pone super pulverem

munitionem, "And fix a tower upon the dust;"

ubetsur nechalim Ophir, et in petra torrentes Ophir, "and in the

rock, the torrents of Ophir."

The Vulgate is widely different: Dabit pro terra silicem, et pro

silice torrentes aureos, "He will give thee flint for earth: and

torrents of gold for flint;" which Calmet thus paraphrases:

"Instead of brick thou shalt build with solid stone; and for

ornaments, instead of stone as formerly, thou shalt have massive


All the versions are different. Mr. Good translates: "Then count

thou treasure as dust: then shall he make fountains to gush forth

amidst the rocks."

Coverdale is different from all: We shal give the an harvest

which, in plenty and abundance, shal exceade the dust of the

earthe, and the golde of Ophir like ryver stones.

Verse 25. Thou shalt have plenty of silver.] Here again the

versions and critics vary. The critics may disagree; but the

doctrine of Eliphaz is sufficiently plain: "To those whom God

loves best he gives the most earthly good. The rich and the great

are his high favorites: the poor and the distressed he holds for

his enemies."

In the above verses there seems to be a reference to the mode of

obtaining the precious metals: 1. Gold in dust; 2. Gold in streams

from the hills and mountains; 3. Silver in mines;

keseph toaphoth, "silver of giddiness," of mines so deep as to

make one giddy by looking into them. See Mr. Good.

Verse 26. For then shalt thou have thy delight] Thou shalt know,

from thy temporal prosperity, that God favours thee; and for his

bounty thou shalt be grateful. How different is this doctrine from

that of St. Paul and St. John! "Being justified by faith, we have

peace with God, through our Lord Jesus." "Because ye are sons, God

hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying,

Abba, Father!" "The Spirit himself beareth witness with our

spirits that we are the children of God." "We glory in tribulation

also, knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience,

experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed,

because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy

Ghost, which is given unto us." "We love him because he first

loved us." Tribulation itself was often a mark of God's favour.

Verse 27. Thou shalt make thy prayer unto him] tatir, thou

shalt open or unbosom thyself. And when the heart prays, God

hears; and the person, being blessed, vows fidelity, prays on, is

supported, and enabled to pay his vows.

Verse 28. Thou shalt also decree a thing] Whatsoever thou

purposest in his strength, thou shalt be enabled to accomplish.

Verse 29. When men are cast down] There is a great difficulty in

this verse; the sense, however, is tolerably evident, and the

following is nearly a literal version: When they shall humble

themselves, thou shalt say, Be exalted, or, there is exaltation:

for the down-cast of eye he will save. The same sentiment as that

of our Lord, "He that exalteth himself shall be abased; but he

that humbleth himself shall be exalted."

Verse 30. He shall deliver the island of the innocent] The word

ai, which we translate island, is most probably the Arabic

particle [Arabic] whosoever, whatsoever, any, whosoever he may be,

as [Arabic] ai rajuli, whatsoever man he may be. And it is most

probable that both words are Arabic, [Arabic] or [Arabic] any

innocent, chaste, pure, or holy person; for the word has the same

meaning both in Hebrew and Arabic. The text may therefore be

translated, He shall deliver every innocent person: He, the

innocent person, shall be delivered by the pureness of thy hands;

i.e., as thou lovest justice, so thou wilt do justice. Instead of

cappeyca, thy hands, the Vulgate, Syriac, and Arabic

have read cappaiv, his or their hands. Mr. Good thinks

that ai signifies house, as [Arabic] and [Arabic] in Arabic

signify to reside, to have a home, &c.; and therefore translates

the passage thus: "The house of the innocent shall be delivered;

and delivered by the pureness of thy hands." The reader may adopt

which he pleases; but the word island must be given up, as it

cannot make any consistent sense.

THUS ends Eliphaz the Temanite, who began with a tissue of the

bitterest charges, continued with the most cruel insinuations, and

ended with common-place exhortations to repentance, and promises

of secular blessings in consequence: and from his whole speech

scarcely can one new or important maxim be derived. Blessed be God

for Moses and the prophets! for Jesus, the evangelists and the

apostles! Their trumpet gives no uncertain sound: but by that of

Job's friends who can prepare himself for the battle?

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