Job 32


Elihu comes forward, and empresses his disapprobation both of

Job and his three friends-with the one for justifying himself;

and with the others for taking up the subject in a wrong point

of view, and not answering satisfactorily-and makes a becoming

apology for himself, 1-22.


Verse 1. These three men ceased to answer Job] They supposed

that it was of no use to attempt to reason any longer with a man

who justified himself before God. The truth is, they failed to

convince Job of any point, because they argued from false

principles; and, as we have seen, Job had the continual advantage

of them. There were points on which he might have been

successfully assailed; but they did not know them. Elihu, better

acquainted both with human nature and the nature of the Divine

law, and of God's moral government of the world, steps in, and

makes the proper discriminations; acquits Job on the ground of

their accusations, but condemns him for his too great

self-confidence, and his trusting too much in his external

righteousness; and, without duly considering his frailty and

imperfections, his incautiously arraigning the providence of God

of unkindness in its dealings with him. This was the point on

which Job was particularly vulnerable, and which Elihu very

properly clears up.

Because he was righteous tn his own eyes] The Septuagint,

Syriac, Arabic, and Chaldee, all read, "Because he was righteous

in THEIR eyes;" intimating, that they were now convinced that he

was a holy man, and that they had charged him foolishly. The

reading of these ancient versions is supported by a MS. of the

thirteenth century, in Dr. Kennicott's collections; which,

instead of beeinaiv, in HIS eyes, has

beeineyhem, in THEIR eyes. This is a reading of considerable

importance, but it is not noticed by De Rossi. Symmachus

translates nearly in the same way: διατοναυτονδικαιονφαινεσθαι

επαυτων; Because he appeared more righteous than themselves.

Verse 2. Then was kindled the wrath] This means no more than

that Elihu was greatly excited, and felt a strong and zealous

desire to vindicate the justice and providence of God, against the

aspersions of Job and his friends.

Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite] Buz was the second son of

Nahor, the brother of Abram, Ge 22:21.

Of the kindred of Ram] Kemuel was the third son of Nahor; and is

called in Genesis (see above) the father of Aram, which is the

same as Ram. A city of the name of Buz is found in Jer 25:23,

which probably had its name from this family; and, as it is

mentioned with Dedan and Tema, we know it must have been a city in

Idumea, as the others were in that district. Instead of the

kindred of Ram, the Chaldee has of the kindred of Abraham. But

still the question has been asked, Who was Elihu? I answer, He was

"the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the kindred of Ram:" this is

all we know of him. But this Scriptural answer will not satisfy

those who are determined to find out mysteries where there are

none. Some make him a descendant of Judah; St. Jerome, Bede,

Lyranus, and some of the rabbins, make him Balaam the son of Beor,

the magician; Bishop Warburton makes him Ezra the scribe; and Dr.

Hodges makes him the second person in the glorious Trinity, the

Lord Jesus Christ, and supposes that the chief scope of this part

of the book was to convict Job of self-righteousness, and to show

the necessity of the doctrine of justification by faith! When

these points are proved, they should be credited.

Because he justified himself rather than God.] Literally, he

justified his soul, naphhso, before God. He defended, not

only the whole of his conduct, but also his motives, thoughts, &c.

Verse 3. They had found no answer] They had condemned Job; and

yet could not answer his arguments on the general subject, and in

vindication of himself.

Verse 6. I am young] How young he was, or how old they

were, we cannot tell; but there was no doubt a great disparity in

their ages; and among the Asiatics the youth never spoke in the

presence of the elders, especially on any subject of controversy.

Verse 7. Days should speak] That is, men are to be reputed wise

and experienced in proportion to the time they have lived. The

Easterns were remarkable for treasuring up wise sayings: indeed,

the principal part of their boasted wisdom consisted in proverbs

and maxims on different subjects.

Verse 8. But there is a spirit in man] Mr. Good translates:-

"But surely there is an afflation in mankind,

And the inspiration of the Almighty actuateth them."

Coverdale, thus:-

Every man (no doute) hath a mynde; but it is the inspyracion of

the Almightie that geveth understondinge.

I will now offer my own opinion, but first give the original

text: ruach hi beenosh venishmath

shaddai tebinem. "The spirit itself is in miserable man, and the

breath of the Almighty causeth them to understand," How true is it

that in God we live, move, and have our being! The spirit itself

is in man as the spring or fountain of his animal existence, and

by the afflatus of this spirit he becomes capable of understanding

and reason, and consequently of discerning Divine truth. The

animal and intellectual lives are here stated to be from God; and

this appears to be an allusion to man's creation, Ge 2:7: "And

God breathed into man's nostrils the breath of lives,"

nishmath chaiyim, i.e., animal and intellectual, and thus he

became a living soul, nephesh chaiyah, a rational


When man fell from God, the Spirit of God was grieved, and

departed from him; but was restored, as the enlightener and

corrector, in virtue of the purposed incarnation and atonement of

our Lord Jesus; hence, he is "the true Light that lighteth every

man that cometh into the world," Joh 1:9. That afflatus is

therefore still continued to enosh, man, in his wretched,

fallen state; and it is by that Spirit, the Ruach

Elohim, "the Spirit of the merciful or covenant God," that we have

any conscience, knowledge of good and evil, judgment in Divine

things, and, in a word, capability of being saved. And when,

through the light of that Spirit, convincing of sin,

righteousness, and judgment, the sinner turns to God through

Christ, and finds redemption in his blood, the remission of sins;

then it is the office of that same Spirit to give him

understanding of the great work that has been done in and for

him; "for the Spirit itself (αυτοτοπνευμα, Ro 8:16, the same

words in Greek as the Hebrew ruach hi of Elihu)

beareth witness with his spirit that he is a child of God." It is

the same Spirit which sanctifies, the same Spirit that seals,

and the same Spirit that lives and works in the believer,

guiding him by his counsel till it leads him into glory. In

this one saying, independently of the above paraphrase, Elihu

spoke more sense and sound doctrine than all Job's friends did in

the whole of the controversy.

Verse 9. Great men are not always wise] This is a true saying,

which the experience of every age and every country increasingly

verifies. And it is most certain that, in the case before us, the

aged did not understand judgment; they had a great many wise and

good sayings, which they had collected, but showed neither wisdom

nor discretion in applying them.

Verse 11. I waited for your words; I gave ear to your reasons]

Instead of tebunotheychem, your reasons,

techunotheychem, your arguments, is the reading of nine of

Kennicott's and De Rossi's MSS. The sense, however, is nearly

the same.

Whilst ye searched out what to say.] ad tachkerun

millin; "Whilst ye were searching up and down for words." A fine

irony, which they must have felt.

Verse 12. Yea, I attended unto you] Instead of

veadeychem, and unto you, one MS. reads the above letters with

points that cause it to signify and your testimonies; which is

the reading of the Syriac, Arabic, and Septuagint.

Behold, there was none of you that convinced Job] Confuted Job.

They spoke multitudes of words, but were unable to overthrow his


Verse 13. We have found out wisdom] We by dint of our own wisdom

and understanding, have found out the true system of God's

providence; and have been able to account for all the sufferings

and tribulations of Job. Had they been able to confute Job, they

would have triumphed over him in their own self-sufficiency.

God thrusteth him down, not man.] This is no accidental thing

that has happened to him: he is suffering under the just judgments

of God, and therefore he must be the wicked man which we supposed

him to be.

Verse 14. He hath not directed] I am no party in this

controversy; I have no party feeling in it: he has not spoken a

word against me, therefore I have no cause of irritation. I shall

speak for truth; not for conquest or revenge. Neither will I

answer him with your speeches; your passions have been inflamed by

contradiction, and you have spoken foolishly with your lips.

Verse 15. They were amazed] Mr. Good translates: "They (the

speeches) are dissipated; they no longer produce effect; the

words have flirted away from them." Your words, being without

proper reference and point, are scattered into thin air: there is

nothing but sound in them; they are quite destitute of sense. But

I prefer the words as spoken of Job's friends. They took their

several parts in the controversy as long as they could hope to

maintain their ground: for a considerable time they had been able

to bring nothing new; at last, weary of their own repetitions,

they gave up the contest.

Verse 16. When I had waited] I waited to hear if they had any

thing to reply to Job; and when I found them in effect speechless,

then I ventured to come forward.

Verse 17. I will answer also my part] aaneh chelki,

"I will recite my portion." We have already seen that the book of

Job is a sort of drama, in which several persons have their

different parts to recite. Probably the book was used in this way,

in ancient times, for the sake of public instruction. Eliphaz,

Zophar, and Bildad, had recited their parts, and Job had responded

to each: nothing was brought to issue. Elihu, a bystander,

perceiving this, comes forward and takes a part, when all the rest

had expended their materials: yet Elihu, though he spoke well, was

incapable of closing the controversy; and God himself appears, and

decides the case.

Verse 18. I am full of matter] millim, "I am full of

WORDS," or sayings; i.e., wise sentences, and ancient opinions.

The spirit within me constraineth me.] How similar to the words

of St. Paul! The love of Christ constraineth us. Elihu considered

himself under the influence of that Spirit of God which gives

understanding, and felt anxiously concerned for the welfare both

of Job and his friends.

Verse 19. My belly is as wine which hath no vent] New wine in a

state of effervescence.

Like new bottles.] Bottles, or rather bags, made of

goat-skins. The head and shanks being cut off, the animal is

cased out of the skin. The skin is then properly dressed; the

anus and four shank holes properly tied up; and an aperture left

at the neck or in some other place for the liquor to be poured in,

and drawn out. One of these now lies before me, well tanned, and

beautifully ornamented, and capable of holding many gallons. They

are used, not only to carry wine and water, but for butter, and

also for various dry goods. I have mentioned this in another

place. When the wine is in a state of fermentation, and the skin

has no vent, these bottles or bags are ready to burst; and if they

be old, the new wine destroys them, breaks the old stitching, or

rends the old skin. Our Lord makes use of the same figure,

Mt 9:17; where see the note. See Clarke on Mt 9:17.

Verse 20. I will open my lips and answer.] In the preceding

verse Elihu compares himself to a skin-bottle, in which the wine

was in a state of fermentation, and the bottle ready to burst for

want of vent. He carries on the metaphor in this verse: the bottle

must be opened to save it from bursting; I will OPEN my mouth.

Verse 21. Let me not-accept any man's person] I will speak the

truth without fear or favour.

Neither let me give flattering titles] I will not give epithets

to any man that are not descriptive of his true state. I will not

beguile him by telling him he is what he is not. acanneh,

from canah, is generally supposed to signify to surname, to

put a name to or upon a name, as the French word surnom implies.

It means to give proud titles to persons who are worthless. It is

well known that the Arabs make court to their superiors by

carefully avoiding to address them by their proper names, instead

of which they salute them with some title or epithet expressive of

respect.-SCOTT. See below. Titles expressive of office,

ecclesiastical, civil, or military, are always proper, and never

forbidden, because they serve for distinction; but the Asiatic

titles are in general bombastically and sinfully complimentary.

The reader will find several specimens at the end of this chapter.

See Clarke on Job 32:22.

Verse 22. My Maker would soon take me away.] Were I to copy this

conduct while under the influence which I now feel, God might

justly consume me as in a moment. He is my Maker; he made me to

know truth, to tell truth, and to live according to truth;

for he is the God of truth: I shall, therefore through his help,


WE find from the above that vain titles of ceremony, expressive

of the most eminent qualities, were given to worthless men, from

time immemorial; and no wonder, for hypocrisy entered into man at

the same time that sin entered into the world.

Of the flattering titles used in the East, I shall give a few

specimens from the [Arabic] Kooayid us Sultanet SHAH JEHAN, or,

"The Rules observed during the Reign of the Mogul Emperor Shah


Speaking of the emperor, he is entitled,

"The SUN which illuminates the firmament in the universe of

royalty and dominion; the MOON, which irradiates the sky of

monarchy and felicity; the King who in pomp resembles Gem-sheed.

His hand is boundless as the ocean in bestowing bounties, being

the key of the gates of kindness and liberality!" Again:-

"The Sun of the heaven of prosperity and empire, the SHADOW OF

GOD, the Asylum of the Universe, the splendour of whose

instructive front causes light and gladness to the world and to


"The just and vigilant Monarch; the Asylum of Truth, the Refuge

of the World; the Diffuser of Light, the Solver of all human


"The Lord of the Age, who is endowed with such perfect

excellence, both in internal and external qualifications, that on

all occasions he holds fast the thread of good counsel, prudence,

and purity of morals."

"The faculty of apprehension is possessed by him in such a

degree, that before the matter ha s scarcely obtained utterance he

comprehends the purport, and gives answers with the tongue of


Addresses to Persons of Distinction

"Let them convey to the presence of glorious empire, the Sultan,

in pomp like Solomon, the centre of the universe, powerful as


"Let them who kiss the carpet of the palace, in pomp like

heaven, convey this letter to his majesty, whose sight is as

creative as alchymy, king of kings, the asylum of the world!"

"To the exalted presence, which gratifies the desires of all

people, the most beneficent of the age, the vizier, protector of

the universe, may the Almighty perpetuate his fortune!"

"May this letter be dignified in the presence of Naweeb Saheb,

diffuser of benefits, of exalted pomp, the respectable, the

discriminator of ranks! May his power increase!"

"Let them convey this to the perusal of his excellency,

conversant in realities and mysteries, the support of

excellencies, the cream of his contemporaries, and the cherisher

of the poor!"

These are a specimen of the flattering titles given in the East

to persons in eminent stations. Their kings they clothe in all the

attributes of the Deity, when both in their public and private

character they are corrupt and unholy, rascals in grain, and the

ruthless oppressors of suffering humanity.

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