Job 33


Elihu offers himself in God's stead to reason with Job in

meekness and sincerity, 1-7.

Charges Job with irreverent expressions, 8-12.

Vindicates the providence of God, and shows the various methods

which he uses to bring sinners to himself:-By dreams and

visions, 13-15;

by secret inspirations, 16-18;

by afflictions, 19-22;

by messengers of righteousness, 23;

and by the great atonement, 24.

How and from what God redeems men, and the blessings which he

communicates, 25-30.

Job is exhorted to listen attentively to Elihu's teaching,



Verse 3. My words shall be of the uprightness] As God has given

me his Spirit, from that Spirit alone will I speak; therefore all

my words shall be of uprightness, knowledge, and truth.

Knowledge clearly.] daath barur, pure science. I

shall lay down no false positions, and I shall have no false


Verse 4. The Spirit of God hath made me] Another plain allusion

to the account of the creation of man, Ge 2:7, as the words

nishmath, the breath or breathing of God, and techaiyeni,

hath given me life, prove: "He breathed into his nostrils the

breath of lives, and he became a living soul."

Verse 6. I am according to thy wish in God's stead: I also am

formed out of the clay.] Mr. Good, and before him none other that

I have seen, has most probably hit the true meaning:-

"Behold, I am thy fellow.

I too was formed by God out of the clay."

The word kephicha, which we translate according to thy wish,

and which, if Hebrew, would mean like to thy mouth; he considers

as pure Arabic, with a Hebrew postfix, [Arabic] kefoo, signifying

fellow, equal, like. Taken in this way, the passage is very

plain, only lael, by or through God, must be added to the

last clause of the verse instead of the first, as Mr. Good has

properly done.

Verse 7. My terror shall not make thee afraid] This is an

allusion to what Job had said, Job 9:34: "Let him take his rod

away from me, and let not his fear terrify me." Being thy equal,

no fear can impose upon thee so far as to overawe thee; so that

thou shouldst not be able to conduct thy own defence. We are on

equal terms; now prepare to defend thyself.

Verse 8. Surely thou hast spoken] What Elihu speaks here, and in

the three following verses, contains, in general, simple

quotations from Job's own words, or the obvious sense of them, as

the reader may see by referring to the margin, and also to the

notes on those passages.

Verse 11. He putteth my feet in the stocks]

See Clarke on Job 13:27.

Verse 12. In this thou art not just] Thou hast laid charges

against God's dealings, but thou hast not been able to justify

those charges; and were there nothing else against thee, these

irreverent speeches are so many proofs that thou art not clear in

the sight of God.

Verse 13. Why dost thou strive against him?] Is it not useless

to contend with God? Can he do any thing that is not right? As to

his giving thee any account of the reasons why he deals thus and

thus with thee, or any one else, thou needest not expect it; he is

sovereign, and is not to be called to the bar of his creatures. It

is sufficient for thee to know that "he is too wise to err, and

too good to be unkind."

Verse 14. For God speaketh once] Though he will not be summoned

to the bar of his creatures, nor condescend to detail the reasons

of his conduct, which they could not comprehend, yet he so acts,

in the main, that the operation of his hand and the designs of

his counsel may sufficiently appear, provided men had their eyes

open upon his ways, and their hearts open to receive his


Elihu, having made the general statement that God would not come

to the bar of his creatures to give account of his conduct, shows

the general means which he uses to bring men to an acquaintance

with themselves and with him: he states these in the six following

particulars, which may be collected from Job 33:15-24.

Verse 15. I. In a DREAM-when deep sleep falleth upon men] Many,

by such means, have had the most salutary warnings; and to decry

all such, because there are many vain dreams, would be nearly as

much wisdom as to deny the Bible, because there are many foolish

books, the authors of which supposed they were under a Divine

influence while composing them.

II. In a VISION of the night-in slumberings upon the bed]

Visions or images presented in the imagination during slumber,

when men are betwixt sleeping and waking, or when, awake and in

bed, they are wrapt up in deep contemplation, the darkness of the

night having shut out all objects from their sight, so that the

mind is not diverted by images of earthly things impressed on the

senses. Many warnings in this way have come from God; and the

impression they made, and the good effect they produced, were the

proofs of their Divine origin. To deny this would be to call into

doubt the testimony of the best, wisest, and holiest men in all

ages of the Church. Of one of these visions we have a remarkable

account in this book, Job 4:12-21. And this vision seems to have

taken place in the night season, when Eliphaz awoke from a deep

sleep. There is this difference between the accidents of the dream

and the vision: the former takes place when deep sleep falleth

upon men; the latter, in the night, in or after slumberings

upon the bed.

Verse 16. Then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth, &c.]

III. By secret INSPIRATIONS. A dream or a vision simply considered

is likely to do no good; it is the opening of the understanding,

and the pouring in of the light, that make men wise to salvation.

Serious alarms, holy purposes, penitential pangs for past sins,

apprehension of death and judgment, discoveries of God's justice,

of Christ's love, of the world's vanity, of heaven's excellence,

&c., &c., &c., are often used by the Divine Spirit to withdraw men

from their evil purpose, and to hide pride from man, Job 33:17;

and of all these openings of the ear of the heart, and sealing

instructions upon the conscience, we have numerous examples in the

history of the Church, in the experience of good men, and even in

the civil and providential history of all nations.

Verse 18. He keepeth back his soul from the pit] By the above

means, how many have been snatched from an untimely death! By

taking the warning thus given, some have been prevented from

perishing by the pit-some sudden accident; and others from the

sword of the assassin or nocturnal murderer. It would be easy to

give examples, in all these kinds; but the knowledge of the reader

may save this trouble to the commentator.

Verse 19. He is chastened also with pain upon his bed, &c.]

IV.-AFFLICTIONS are a fourth means which God makes use of to

awaken and convert sinners. In the hand of God these were the

cause of the salvation of David, as himself testifies: Before I

was afflicted, I went astray, Ps 119:67, 71, 75.

The multitude of his bones] By such diseases, especially those

of a rheumatic kind, when to the patient's apprehension every bone

is diseased, broken, or out of joint.

Some render the passage, When the multitude of his bones is yet

strong; meaning those sudden afflictions which fall upon men when

in a state of great firmness and vigour. The original,

verob atsamaiv ethan, may be translated, And the strong

multitude of his bones. Even the strong multitude of his bones is

chastened with pain upon his bed; the place of rest and ease

affording him no peace, quiet, or comfort.

The bones may be well termed multitudinous, as there are no less

than 10 in the cranium, or skull; upper jaw, 13; lower jaw, 1;

teeth, 32; tongue, 1; vertebrae, or back-bone, 24; ribs,

24; sternum, or breast-bone, 3; os innominatum, 1; scapula,

or shoulder-blades, 2; arms, 6; hands, 54; thigh-bones, 2;

knee-bones, 2; legs, 4; feet, 54: in all, not less than 233

bones, without reckoning the ossa sethamoides; because, though

often numerous, they are found only in hard labourers, or elderly


Verse 20. His life abhorreth bread] These expressions strongly

and naturally point out that general nausea, or loathing which

sick persons feel in almost every species of disorder.

Verse 21. His flesh is consumed away] As in atrophy, marasmus,

and consumptive complaints in general.

Verse 22. His soul draweth near unto the grave] nephesh,

soul, is here taken for the immortal spirit, as it is

distinguished from chaiyah, the animal life. The former

draws near to the pit, shachath, corruption; perhaps he meant

dissipation, considering it merely as the breath. The latter draws

near lamemithim, to the dead; i.e., to those who are

already buried. Mr. Good translates it the Destinies; and

supposes the same is meant among the HEBREWS by the Memithim, as

among the GREEKS by their μοιραι; the LATINS, by their Parcae; the

GOTHS, by their Fatal Sisters; the SCANDINAVIANS, by their goddess

Hela; and the ARABIANS, by Azrael, or the angel of death. I

think, however, the signification given above is more natural.

Verse 23. If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, &c.]

V.-The MESSENGERS of righteousness; this is a FIFTH method,

im yesh alaiv malach melits, "If there be over him

an interpreting or mediatorial angel or messenger." One among a

thousand, echad minni aleph. "One from the CHIEF,


To show unto man his uprightness] lehaggid

leadam yoshro, "to manifest or cause to be declared to man his

righteousness:" to show unto Adam-men in general, the descendants

of the first man-his purity and holiness; to convince him of sin,

righteousness, and judgment, that he may be prepared for the

discovery of what is next to be exhibited.

Verse 24. Then he is gracious unto him] He exercises mercy

towards fallen man, and gives command for his respite and pardon.

Deliver him from going down to the pit] Let him who is thus

instructed, penitent, and afflicted, and comes to me, find a

pardon; for:-

VI. I have found a ransom.] copher, an atonement. Pay a

ransom for him, pedaehu, that he may not go down to the

pit-to corruption or destruction, for I have found out an

atonement. It is this that gives efficacy to all the preceding

means; without which they would be useless, and the salvation of

man impossible. I must think that the redemption of a lost world,

by Jesus Christ, is not obscurely signified in Job 33:23, 24.

While the whole world lay in the wicked one, and were all

hastening to the bottomless pit, God so loved the world that he

gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him might

not perish, but have everlasting life. Jesus Christ, the great

sacrifice, and head of the Church, commissions his

messengers-apostles and their successors-to show men the

righteousness of God, and his displeasure at sin, and at the same

time his infinite love, which commands them to proclaim

deliverance to the captives, and that they who believe on him

shall not perish, shall not go down to the pit of destruction, for

he has found out an atonement; and that whoever comes to him,

through Christ, shall have everlasting life, in virtue of that

atonement or ransom price.

Should it be objected against my interpretation of aleph,

that it cannot be translated chief or head, because it is without

the vau shurek, alluph, which gives it this signification;

I would answer, that this form of the word is not essential to the

signification given above, as it occurs in several places without

the vau shurek, where it most certainly signifies a chief, a

leader, captain, &c., e.g., Zec 9:7; Jer 13:21, and

Ge 36:30; in the first of which we translate it

governor; in the second, captain; and in the third, duke. And

although we translate alluph an ox or beeve, (and it

most certainly has this meaning in several places,) yet in this

signification it is written without the vau shurek in Pr 14:4;

Ps 8:7; Isa 30:24; and in De 7:13; 28:4, 18, 51; which all

show that this letter is not absolutely necessary to the above


Verse 25. His flesh shall be fresher than a child's] He shall be

born a new creature.

He shall return to the days of his youth] He shall be born

again, and become a child of God, through faith in Christ Jesus.

Verse 26. He shall pray unto God] Being now adopted into the

heavenly family, and become a new creature, he shall have the

spirit of prayer, which is indeed the very breath and language

of the new or spiritual life.

He will be favourable unto him] He shall manifest his good will

to him; he shall live under the influences of Divine grace.

He shall see his face with joy] He shall know that God is

reconciled to him; and this shall fill him with joy,

bithruah, with exultation: for, "being justified by faith, he

has peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom he has

received the atonement; and REJOICES in the hope of the glory of


He will render unto man his righteousness.] So good and gracious

is the Lord, that by his grace he will enable this convert to live

to his glory, to bring forth all the fruits of the Spirit, and

then reward him for the work, as if it were done by his own might.

Verse 27. He looketh upon men] anashim, wretched, fallen

men. He shines into them, to convince them of sin; and if any,

under this convincing light of God, say, I have sinned against

heaven and before thee, and perverted the right-abused the

powers, faculties, mercies, and advantages, which thou didst give

me, by seeking rest and happiness in the creature, and it profited

me not-it was all vanity and vexation of spirit;

velo shavah li, "and it was not equal to me," did not come up to

my expectation, nor supply my wants:-

Verse 28. He will deliver his soul] He will do that to every

individual penitent sinner which he has promised in his word to

do for a lost world-he will deliver his soul from going down to

the pit of hell.

And his life shall see the light.] He shall walk in the light,

as Christ is in the light; always enjoying a clear sense of his

acceptance through the blood of the Lamb. See another mode of

paraphrasing these verses at the end of the chapter.

See Clarke on Job 33:33.

Verse 29. Lo, all these things worketh God] God frequently uses

one, or another, or all of these means, to bring men, gaber,

stout-hearted men, who are far from righteousness, to holiness and


Oftentimes] paamayim shalosh, "three times over;" or

as paamayim is by the points in the dual number, then

it signifies twice three times, that is, again and again; very

frequently. Blessed be God!

Verse 30. To bring back his soul from the pit] Nearly a

repetition of the promise in Job 33:28.

To be enlightened with the light of the living.] An echo of

Ps 56:13: "Thou hast delivered my soul from death, that I may

walk before God in the light of the living;" and probably quoted

from it.

Verse 31. Mark well, O Job] Pay the deepest attention to what I

have said, and to what I shall say.

Verse 32. If thou hast any thing to say] If thou hast any

objection to make against what I have already stated, now answer,

now speak freely; for it is my desire that thou shouldst stand

clear of all charges.

Verse 33. If not] Then I will proceed: listen carefully, keep

silence, and I will teach thee what true wisdom is.

Job was silent; none of his friends chose to intermeddle

farther; and in the next chapter Elihu addresses both Job and


THERE are some various readings in the MSS. and versions on

certain words in the concluding verses of this chapter, which it

will be necessary to mention, as they, if adopted, will lead to a

somewhat different paraphrase to that given, especially of

Job 33:26-28.

Ver. 26. For tsidkatho, HIS righteousness, one MS. and the

Chaldee have ketsidkatho, ACCORDING to his


Ver. 28. For naphsho, HIS soul, which is the keri

reading, and that which our translation has followed, MY soul

is the reading of many MSS., early editions, the Complutensian,

Antwerp, and London Polyglots, the Jerusalem Targum, the

Chaldee, the Vulgate, and Coverdale.

For chaiyatho, HIS life, many MSS., early editions, the

Complutensian, Antwerp, and London Polyglots, the Jerusalem

Targum, Chaldee, Vulgate, and Coverdale, read chaiyathi,

MY life. Both of these are properly the kethib or textual

readings in the best editions, but are directed by the Masora to

be changed for the keri readings, or those inserted in the margin.

For baor tireh, SHALL SEE the light, six of

Kennicott's and De Rossi's MSS. have tihyeh, and

twenty-one have caor, thus caor tihiyeh,

SHALL BE AS the light. The whole verse, by these various readings,

will stand thus:-"He will deliver MY soul from going into the pit,

and MY life SHALL BE AS the light." But if, with the Septuagint,

Syriac, and Arabic, we read padah, in the imperative

mood, then the verse will read thus:-"DELIVER THOU MY SOUL from

going down to the pit, and MY life SHALL BE AS the light."

On the 26th, 27th, 28th, and 29th, verses, the following

paraphrase has been recommended.

Ver. 26. He (Jesus Christ, the head and ransom price) shall

pray unto God, (shall make intercession for the transgressors,

for he is the Mediator between God and man.) And he (God the

Father) will be favourable, ( yirtsehu, will manifest his

good will towards him.) And he shall see his face ( panaiv,

his faces, God the Father, Son, and Spirit) with joy, (

bithruah, with exultation or triumph,) for he will render unto

man his righteousness, ( yasheb leenosh tsidkatho,

"He will restore to wretched man his righteousness;" i.e., he will

create the soul anew, and restore to the fallen spirit that

righteousness and true holiness which it has lost, and bring it

again to its original state of perfection, through the grand

atonement mentioned Job 33:24.)

But when is it that wretched miserable man shall be brought to

this state of salvation? This is answered in

Ver. 27. When God, looking upon men, seeth any of them saying, I

have sinned and perverted that which is right, and it hath

profited me nothing-has afforded nothing equal to my wishes, and

the tribulation which I sustained in seeking happiness in

forbidden things. Redeem my soul from going down to destruction,

and my life shall see the light, or shall be as the light. This is

the prayer of the penitent, which God has promised to hear.

This is one of the best, the deepest, the most spiritual, and

most important chapters which the reader has yet met with in the

Book of Job. It is every way important, and full of useful

information. It is a grand exhibition of the WAY of salvation as

revealed to patriarchs and prophets.

Copyright information for Clarke