Job 1:6
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(6) Sons of God.—Comp. Job 38:7, Genesis 6:2; Genesis 6:4; and for the sense comp. 1Kings 22:19. The phrase probably means the angels; or at all events an incident in the unseen spiritual world is referred to simultaneous with a corresponding one on earth. (Comp. 1Corinthians 11:10.) In the latter sense, a solemn thought is suggested by it to those who join in the public worship of God.

Satan.—The word appears in the Old Testament as the name of a specific person only here and in Zechariah 3:2, and possibly in 1Chronicles 21:1 and Psalm 109:6. If this psalm is David’s, according to the inscription, no reliance can be placed on speculations as to the late introduction of a belief in Satan among the Jews, nor, therefore, on any as to the lateness of these early chapters of Job. Precisely the same word is used, apparently as a common name, in the history of Balaam (Numbers 22:22; Numbers 22:32), also in 1Samuel 29:4, and 1Kings 5:4; 1Kings 11:14; 1Kings 11:23; 1Kings 11:25, where it can hardly be otherwise. Here only and in Zechariah it is found with the definite article “the adversary.” The theory of the personality of the evil one must largely depend upon the view we take of these and other passages of Scripture as containing an authoritative revelation.

Job 1:6. Now there was a day — A certain time appointed by God; when the sons of God came — The Targum says, Troops of angels, the LXX., Angels of God; the holy angels are called sons of God, (Job 38:7, and Daniel 3:25; Daniel 3:28,) because of their creation by God, their resemblance of him in power, dignity, and holiness, and their filial affection and obedience to him. To present themselves before the Lord — Before his throne, to receive his commands, and to give him an account of their ministrations. The verb להתיצב, lehithjatseb, here rendered to present themselves, expresses the attendance and assiduity of ministers appearing before their king to receive his instructions, or give an account of their negotiations. This must be understood as a parabolical representation, similar to that in 1 Kings 22:19. The Scripture speaks of God after the manner of men, condescending to our capacities, and suiting the revelation to our apprehensions. As kings, therefore, transact their most important affairs in a solemn council or assembly, so God is pleased to represent himself as having his council likewise and as passing the decrees of his providence in an assembly of his holy angels. We have here, in the case of Job, the same grand assembly held as was before in that of Ahab, 1 Kings 22 : the same host of heaven, called here the sons of God, presenting themselves before Jehovah, as in the vision of Micaiah they are said to stand on his right hand and on his left: a wicked spirit appearing among them, here called Satan, or the adversary, and there a lying spirit, both bent on mischief, and ready to do all the hurt that they were able, as far as God would give them leave; but, nevertheless, both under the control of his power, and suffered to go as far as might best serve the wise ends of his justice and his providence, and no further. The imagery, in short, is just the same; and the only difference is in the manner of the relation. Micaiah, as a prophet, and in the actual exercise of his prophetic office, delivers it as he received it, that is, in a vision: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, &c. The other, as an historian, interweaves it with the history, and tells us, in the plain narrative style, There was a day, &c. And this parabolical or prophetical way of representing what is a great and most important truth, namely, that God, by his wise and holy providence, governs all the actions of men and devils, is used that it may make a more lively and lasting impression on our minds. At the same time it must not be forgotten that representations of this kind are founded in a well-known and established truth, namely, that there are angels, both good and bad, that they are interested in the affairs of men; a point revealed, no doubt, from the beginning. And that the affairs of earth are much the subject of the counsels of the unseen world, to which we lie open, though that world is in a great measure concealed from us. And such representations may also be intended to discover to us, in part, at least, the causes of many of those things which happen on earth, and which appear to us unaccountable, namely, that they arise from our having some connection with, or relation to, other orders of beings through the universe, on whose account, and through whose ministry, many things may happen to us, which otherwise would not. Thus the dreadful calamities and afflictions which befell Job, in such quick succession, are utterly unaccountable according to the ordinary course of human things, and seem almost without reason, if he were considered merely as a human being, having no connection with, relation to, or influence upon, any world but this, or any order of beings but those among whom he lived; but are easily accounted for if brought on him by invisible agents, through divine permission, and certainly answered a most wise and grand purpose, if intended to show to superior beings, whether good or evil, to what a degree of steady and invincible piety and fidelity to God his grace can raise creatures formed out of the clay, and dwelling in flesh. It is but just to observe here, that some commentators adopt a different interpretation of this verse, understanding by the sons of God presenting themselves before the Lord, the people of God meeting together for religious worship on earth. Dr. Lightfoot’s comment is, “On a sabbath day, when the professors of the true religion were met together, in the public assembly, Satan was invisibly there among them;” namely, to distract and disturb them in their worship, and observe their infirmities and defects, that he might have matter of accusation against them. But what we have stated above seems to be the most probable sense of the passage.1:6-12 Job's afflictions began from the malice of Satan, by the Lord's permission, for wise and holy purposes. There is an evil spirit, the enemy of God, and of all righteousness, who is continually seeking to distress, to lead astray, and, if possible, to destroy those who love God. How far his influence may extend, we cannot say; but probably much unsteadiness and unhappiness in Christians may be ascribed to him. While we are on this earth we are within his reach. Hence it concerns us to be sober and vigilant, 1Pe 5:8. See how Satan censures Job. This is the common way of slanderers, to suggest that which they have no reason to think is true. But as there is nothing we should dread more than really being hypocrites, so there is nothing we need dread less than being called and counted so without cause. It is not wrong to look at the eternal recompence in our obedience; but it is wrong to aim at worldly advantages in our religion. God's people are taken under his special protection; they, and all that belong to them. The blessing of the Lord makes rich; Satan himself owns it. God suffered Job to be tried, as he suffered Peter to be sifted. It is our comfort that God has the devil in a chain, Re 20:1. He has no power to lead men to sin, but what they give him themselves; nor any power to afflict men, but what is given him from above. All this is here described to us after the manner of men. The Scripture speaks thus to teach us that God directs the affairs of the world.Now there was a day - Dr. Good renders this, "And the day came." Tindal." Now upon a time." The Chaldee paraphrasist has presumed to specify the time, and renders it, "Now it happened in the day of judgment (or scrutiny, דדינא ביומא), "in the beginning of the year," that hosts of angels came to stand in judgment before yahweh, and Satan came." According to this, the judgment occurred once a year, and a solemn investigation was had of the conduct even of the angels. In the Hebrew there is no intimation of the frequency with which this occurred, nor of the time of the year when it happened. The only idea is, that "the sons of God" on a set or appointed day came to stand before God to give an account of what they had done, and to receive further orders in regard to what they were to do. - This is evidently designed to introduce the subsequent events relating to Job. It is language taken from the proceedings of a monarch who had sent forth messengers or ambassadors on important errands through the different provinces of his empire, who now returned to give an account of what they had observed, and of the general state of the kingdom. Such a return would, of course, be made on a fixed day when, in the language of the law, their report would be "returnable," and when they would be required to give in an account of the state of the kingdom. If it be said that it is inconsistent with the supposition that this book was inspired to suppose such a poetic fiction, Ireply,

(1) That it is no more so than the parables of the Savior, who often supposes cases, and states them as real occurrences, in order to illustrate some important truth. Yet no one was ever led into error by this.

(2) It is in accordance with the language in the Scripture everywhere to describe God as a monarch seated on his throne, surrounded by his ministers, and sending them forth to accomplish important purposes in different parts of his vast empire.

It is not absolutely necessary, therefore, to regard this as designed to represent an actual occurrence. It is one of the admissible ornaments of poetry; - as admissible as any other poetic ornament. To represent God as a king is not improper; and if so, it is not improper to represent him with the usual accompaniments of royalty, - surrounded by ministers, and employing angels and messengers for important purposes in his kingdom. This supposition being admitted, all that follows is merely in "keeping," and is designed to preserve the verisimilitude of the conception. - This idea, however, by no means militates against the supposition that angels are in fact really employed by God in important purposes in the government of his kingdom, nor that Satan has a real existence, and is permitted by God to employ an important agency in the accomplishment of his purposes toward his people. On this verse, however, see the Introduction, Section 1, (4).

The sons of God - Angels; compare Job 38:7. The whole narrative supposes that they were celestial beings.

Came to present themselves - As having returned from their embassy, and to give an account of what they had observed and done.

Before the Lord - Before יהוה yehovâh. On the meaning of this word, see the notes at Isaiah 1:2. A scene remarkably similar to this is described in 1 Kings 22:19-23. Yahweh is there represented as "sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left." He inquires who would go and persuade Ahab that he might go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead? "And there came forth a spirit and stood before the Lord, and said, I will persuade him." This he promised to do by being "a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets."

And Satan came also among them - Margin, "The adversary" came "in the midst of them." On the general meaning of this passage, and the reasons why Satan is introduced here, and the argument thence derived respecting the age and authorship of the book of Job, see the Introduction, Section 4, (4). The Vulgate renders this by the name "Satan." The Septuagint: ὁ διάβολος ho diabolos - the devil, or the accuser. The Chaldee, סטנא saṭenā', "Satan." So the Syriac. Theodotion, ὁ ἀντικείμενος ho antikeimenos - "the adversary." The word rendered "Satan" שׂטן śâṭân is derived from שׂטן śâṭan "Satan," to lie in wait, to be an adversary, and hence, it means properly an adversary, an accuser. It is used to denote one who "opposes," as in war 1 Kings 11:14, 1 Kings 11:23, 1 Kings 11:25; 1 Samuel 29:4; onc who is an adversary or an accuser in a court of justice Psalm 109:6, and one who stands in the way of another; Numbers 22:22, "And the angel of yahweh stood in the way for an adversary against him" לה לשׂטן leśâṭân lôh, "to oppose him."

It is then used by way of eminence, to denote the "adversary," and assumes the form of a proper name, and is applied to the great foe of God and man - the malignant spirit who seduces people to evil, and who accuses them before God. Thus, in Zechariah 3:1-2, "And he showed me Joshua the priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the Loan said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan;" compare Revelation 12:10, "Now is come salvation - for the accuser ὁ κατηγορῶν ho katēgorōn - that is, Satan, see Revelation 12:9) of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night." - The word does not often occur in the Old Testament. It is found in the various forms of a verb and a noun in only the following places. As a verb, in the sense of being an adversary, Psalm 71:13; Psalm 109:4, Psalm 109:20, Psalm 109:29; Zechariah 3:1; Psalm 38:20; as a noun, rendered "adversary" and "adversaries," 1 Kings 5:4; 1 Kings 11:14, 1 Kings 11:23, 1 Kings 11:25; Numbers 22:22, Numbers 22:32; 1 Samuel 29:4; 2 Samuel 19:22; rendered "Satan," 1 Chronicles 21:1; Psalm 109:6; Job 1:6-9, Job 1:12; Job 2:1-4, Job 2:6-7; Zechariah 3:2; and once rendered "an accusation," Ezra 4:6.

It was a word, therefore, early used in the sense of an adversary or accuser, and was applied to anyone who sustained this character, until it finally came to be used as a proper name, to denote, by way of eminence, the prince of evil spirits, as the adversary or accuser of people. An opinion has been adopted in modern times by Herder, Eichhorn, Dathe, Ilgen, and some others, that the being here referred to by the name of Satan is not the malignant spirit, the enemy of God, the Devil, but is one of the sons of God, "a faithful, but too suspicious servant of yahweh." According to this, God is represented as holding a council to determine the state of his dominions. In this council, Satan, a zealous servant of yahweh, to whom had been assigned the honorable office of visiting different parts of the earth, for the purpose of observing the conduct of the subjects of yahweh, makes his appearance on his return with others.

Such was the piety of Job, that it had attracted the special attention of yahweh, and he puts the question to Satan, whether in his journey be had remarked this illustrious example of virtue. Satan, who, from what he has observed on earth, is supposed to have lost all confidence in the reality and genuineness of the virtue which man may exhibit, suggests that he doubts whether even Job serves God from a disinterested motive; that God had encompassed him with blessings, and that his virtue is the mere result of circumstances; and that if his comforts were removed he would be found as destitute of principle as any other man. Satan, according to this, is a suspicious minister of yahweh, not a malignant spirit; he inflicts on Job only what he is ordered to by God, and nothing because he is himself malignant. Of this opinion Gesenius remarks (Lexicon), that it "is now universally exploded."

An insuperable objection to this view is, that it does not accord with the character usually ascribed to Satan in the Bible, and especially that the disposition attributed to him in the narrative before us is wholly inconsistent with this view. He is a malignant being; an accuser; one delighting in the opportunity of charging a holy man with hypocrisy, and in the permission to inflict tortures on him, and who goes as far in producing misery as he is allowed - restrained from destroying him only by the express command of God. - In Arabic the word Satan is often applied to a serpent. Thus, Gjauhari, as quoted by Schultens, says, "The Arabs call a serpent Satan, especially one that is conspicuous by its crest, head, and odious appearance." It is applied also to any object or being that is evil. Thus, the Scholiast on Hariri, as quoted by Schultens also, says, "Everything that is obstinately rebellious, opposed, and removed from good, of genii, human beings, and beasts, is called Satan." - The general notion of an adversary and an opponent is found everywhere in the meaning of the word. - Dr. Good remarks on this verse, "We have here another proof that, in the system of patriarchal theology, the evil spirits, as well as the good, were equally amenable to the Almighty, and were equally cited, at definite periods, to answer for their conduct at his bar."

Rosenmuller remarks well on this verse, "It is to be observed, that Satan, no less than the other celestial spirits, is subject to the government of God, and dependent on his commands (compare Job 2:1) where Satan equally with the sons of God (אלהים בן bên 'ĕlohı̂ym) is said to present himself before God (לחהיצב lehı̂tyatsēb; that is, λειτουργεῖν leitourgein), to minister. Yahweh uses the ministry of this demon (hujus daemonis) to execute punishment, or when from any other cause it seemed good to him to send evil upon men. But he, although incensed against the race of mortals, and desirous of injuring, is yet described as bound with a chain, and never dares to touch the pious unless God relaxes the reins. Satan, in walking round the earth, could certainly attentively consider Job, but to injure him he could not, unless permission had been given him."

Job 1:6-12. Satan, Appearing before God, Falsely Accuses Job.

6. sons of God—angels (Job 38:7; 1Ki 22:19). They present themselves to render account of their "ministry" in other parts of the universe (Heb 1:14).

the Lord—Hebrew, Jehovah, the self-existing God, faithful to His promises. God says (Ex 6:3) that He was not known to the patriarchs by this name. But, as the name occurs previously in Ge 2:7-9, &c., what must be meant is, not until the time of delivering Israel by Moses was He known peculiarly and publicly in the character which the name means; namely, "making things to be," fulfilling the promises made to their forefathers. This name, therefore, here, is no objection against the antiquity of the Book of Job.

Satan—The tradition was widely spread that he had been the agent in Adam's temptation. Hence his name is given without comment. The feeling with which he looks on Job is similar to that with which he looked on Adam in Paradise: emboldened by his success in the case of one not yet fallen, he is confident that the piety of Job, one of a fallen race, will not stand the test. He had fallen himself (Job 4:19; 15:15; Jude 6). In the Book of Job, Satan is first designated by name: "Satan," Hebrew, "one who lies in wait"; an "adversary" in a court of justice (1Ch 21:1; Ps 109:6; Zec 3:1); "accuser" (Re 12:10). He has the law of God on his side by man's sin, and against man. But Jesus Christ has fulfilled the law for us; justice is once more on man's side against Satan (Isa 42:21); and so Jesus Christ can plead as our Advocate against the adversary. "Devil" is the Greek name—the "slanderer," or "accuser." He is subject to God, who uses his ministry for chastising man. In Arabic, Satan is often applied to a serpent (Ge 3:1). He is called prince of this world (Joh 12:31); the god of this world (2Co 4:4); prince of the power of the air (Eph 2:2). God here questions him, in order to vindicate His own ways before angels.

There was a day, i.e. a certain time appointed by God.

The sons of God, i.e. the holy angels, so called Job 38:7 Daniel 3:25,28, because of their creation by God, as Adam also was, Luke 3:38, and for their great resemblance of him in power, and dignity, and holiness, and for their filial affection and obedience to him.

Before the Lord, i.e. before his throne, to receive his commands, and to give him an account of their negotiations. Compare 1 Kings 22:19 Zechariah 4:14 Luke 1:19. But you must not think that these things were really done, and that Satan was mixed with the holy angels, or admitted into the presence of God in heaven, to maintain such discourses as this with the blessed God, or that he had formal commission and leave to do what follows; but it is only a parabolical representation of that great truth, that God by his wise and holy providence doth govern all the actions of men and devils to his own ends; it being usual with the great God to condescend to our shallow capacities, and to express himself, as the Jews phrase it, in the language of the sons of men, i.e. in such manner as men use to speak and may understand.

Satan came also among them; being forced to come, and give up his account. Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord,.... This is generally understood of the angels, as in Job 38:7 who may be thought to be so called, because of their creation by the father of spirits, and their likeness to God in holiness, knowledge, and wisdom, and being affectionate and obedient to him; as also on account of the grace of election, and confirmation in Christ bestowed upon them, as well as because, in their embassies and messages to men, they represent God, and so may be called gods, and children of the Most High, for a like reason the civil magistrates are, Psalm 82:6 to which may be added, their constituting with the saints the family of God in heaven and earth: these, as they stand before God, and at his right hand and left, as the host of heaven, in which posture Micaiah saw them in vision, 1 Kings 22:19, so they may be said to go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth into the several parts of all the world, to do the will and work of God assigned them, Zechariah 6:5 and then, having done their work, return again, and present themselves before the Lord, to give an account of what they have done, and to receive fresh orders from him, being ready to do his pleasure in everything he shall command them, which is what is here supposed; though some think these were only the company or band of angels which were set as a guard about Job, his person, family, and substance, who now appeared before the Lord, to give an account of him, his affairs, and circumstances, as required of them:

and Satan came also among them; which word signifies an "adversary", as in 1 Kings 11:14 but does not design here a man adversary, as there, or one that envied Job's prosperity, as Saadiah Gaon thinks, but an evil spirit, the old serpent, the devil, as in Revelation 12:9 who is an implacable and bitter enemy to men, especially to Christ and his people; and so has this name from his hatred of them, and opposition to them: Origen (k) observes, that this word, translated into the Greek language, is an "adversary"; but R. Levi (l) derives it from "to decline" or "turn aside"; and so Suidas says (m), Satan, in the Hebrew language, is an apostate; and Theodoret (n) mentions both, that it signifies either an adversary or an apostate; the first derivation is best: knowing the end of the above meeting, that it was with respect to Job, and therefore he came with an intent to contradict what they should say of him, and to accuse him before God; he came among them as one of them, transforming himself into an angel of light, as he sometimes does; or he came, being sent for, and obliged to come to give an account of himself, and of what he had been doing in the world, in order to be reproved and punished: but though the stream of interpreters run this way, I cannot say I am satisfied with it; for, setting aside the passages in this book in question, angels are nowhere called "the sons of God"; for besides, this being denied of them in the sense that Christ is, they are represented as servants, yea, as servants to the sons of God, ministering spirits to the heirs of salvation; they call themselves the fellow servants of the saints, and of their brethren, but do not say that they are sons of the same family, or fellow heirs, or their brethren, Hebrews 1:5, moreover, they always stand in the presence of God, and behold his face, be they where they will, Matthew 18:10 nor is there any particular day assigned them for the service of God; for though they are under the moral law, so far as it is suitable to their nature, yet not under the ceremonial law, to which the observance of days belonged; and besides, they have no rest night nor day, but continually serve God, and glorify him, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty: and if this presentation of themselves to God is supposed to be in heaven, as where else should it be? it is not possible that Satan could come among them; he is fallen from heaven, being cast down from thence, nor can he, nor ever will he, be able to find a place any more there, see Luke 10:18 it seems better therefore to understand this of the people of God, of professors of religion, who, earlier than the times of Job, were distinguished from the men of the world by this character, "the sons of God", Genesis 6:2, such that were truly godly being so by adopting grace, and which was made manifest by their regeneration by the Spirit of God, and by their faith in Christ, and all were so by profession: now these assembled themselves together, to present themselves, their bodies and souls, before the Lord, which was but their reasonable service; as to pray unto him, and praise him, to offer sacrifice, and perform every religious exercise enjoined in those times; the apostle uses the like phrase of the saints' social worship, Romans 12:1 now for this there was a "day"; though I very much question whether any sabbath, or much less a seventh day sabbath, was as yet instituted; but inasmuch as men agreed together to call on the name of the Lord, or to worship him in a social way, Genesis 4:26 as it was necessary that a place should be appointed to meet at, so a time fixed by consent and agreement; even as now, the seventh day sabbath being abrogated, Christians agree to meet on the first day of the week, called the Lord's day, in imitation of the apostles of Christ; and on one of these days thus fixed and agreed on was the above meeting, at which Satan came among them, as he frequently does in the assembly of the saints, to do what mischief he can; by snatching away the word from inattentive hearers, and by directing the eye to such objects, and putting such things into the mind, as divert from the service of God; or by suggesting to the saints themselves, that what is attended to does not belong to them, with many other things of the like kind: the Targum interprets this day of the day of judgment, at the beginning of the year, and the sons of God of angels, as do other Jewish writers.

(k) Contr. Cels. l. 6. (l) In Ioc. (m) In voce (n) In 2 Reg. Quaest. 37.

Now there was a day when the {k} sons of God came to present themselves {l} before the LORD, and Satan {m} came also among them.

(k) Meaning the angels, who are called the sons of God because they are willing to execute his will.

(l) Because our infirmity cannot comprehend God in his majesty, he is set forth to us as a King, that our capacity may be able to understand that which is spoken of him.

(m) This declares that although Satan is an adversary to God, yet he is compelled to obey him, and do him all homage, without whose permission and appointment he can do nothing.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
6. Now there was a day when] lit. now it fell on a day that the sons of God presented themselves … and Satan came. The meaning is not that there was a set time for the sons of God presenting themselves, but that they did on a certain day convene and Satan came among them. He came because one of them—not, although not one of them. The phrase is the same in Job 1:13; Job 2:1; 2 Kings 4:18.

the sons of God] Rather perhaps, sons of the Elohîm, i. e. angels. The word Elohîm usually means God, but this is scarcely its meaning here. The angels are not called “sons of God” as if they had actually derived their nature from Him as a child from its father; nor in a less exact way, because though created they have received a nature similar to God’s, being spirits; nor yet as if on account of their stedfast holiness they had been adopted by grace into the family of God. These ideas are not found here. The name Elohim or sons (i. e. members of the race) of the Elohim is a name given directly to angels in contrast with men. The word means probably “powers,” “mights,” and the name is given to God and angels in common; He is the Elohim preeminently, they are Elohim in an inferior sense. The name describes their nature or standing in contrast to what is human; the name angels, that is, messengers, is descriptive of the duties which they fulfil. The same Beings are called “sons of Elîm,” Psalm 89:6 (“sons of the mighty”), and Psalm 29:1 (“ye mighty”), and there as here they stand in the temple or palace of the Lord, Psalm 29:9; Psalm 89:6-8. Angels are referred to several times in the Book of Job. In Job 5:1 the supposition is put that men might appeal to them for sympathy or a hearing amidst sufferings judged to be undeserved. In Job 33:23 they fulfil the office of interpreter between God and men. They form the Council of God, Job 15:8. They are not said to have been created, but were present when the earth was formed, Job 38:7. They are called the “holy ones,” Job 5:1; Job 15:15, where, however, “holy” is not a moral term, but means attending on God. Though pure like the heavens and all contained in its sphere, in contrast with God they are impure and unwise, Job 4:18; Job 15:15; Job 25:5.

For a scene in heaven similar to that presented in this verse see 1 Kings 22:19 seq.; Comp. Isaiah 6; Psalm 89:6 seq., also Zechariah 3.

and Satan came also] Or, and the Adversary, or Opposer, as in the margin. The Heb. is the Satan, where the presence of the article shews that the word has not yet become a proper name. The word Satan means one who opposes another in his purpose, Numbers 22:22; Numbers 22:32, or pretensions and claims, Zechariah 3:1; 1 Kings 11:14; 1 Kings 11:23; 1 Kings 11:25, or generally. The Satan is that one of God’s ministers whose part it is to oppose men in their pretensions to a right standing before God, Zechariah 3:1, and here; that is, who represents God’s trying, sifting providence. He is one of God’s messengers and presents himself before God to report, or to receive commissions, parts of God’s will which he is to execute.

God’s providence is over all; He doeth whatsoever is done in heaven or on earth. But He makes use of agents in His operations. Hence the same act, such as instigating David to number the people, may be in one place ascribed to God directly, 2 Samuel 24:1, and in another to Satan, 1 Chronicles 21:1. God’s purposes are usually beneficent and gracious, hence the angels are comprehensively designated as “ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for the sake of them who shall be heirs of salvation,” Hebrews 1:14. But He has also purposes of judgment and chastisement, which are executed by those called the “destroyers,” Job 33:22; Exodus 12:23. In all these operations, whether of mercy or of judgment, the angels are simply servants. They do God’s behests. Their own moral character does not come into question. They are neither good nor bad angels. The spirit from the Lord that troubled Saul is called “evil,” 1 Samuel 16:14 seq., not in reference to its own character, but to the effect produced on Saul’s mind. In like manner the spirit that came forth and undertook to delude Ahab to his destruction, was not a false spirit in himself, he merely became a lying spirit in the mouth of Ahab’s prophets, 1 Kings 22:19 seq. In all such cases the spirit is characterized according to the influence which he exerts. Neither is the Satan represented here as a fallen or evil spirit. Yet undoubtedly a step towards this is taken. He shews an assiduity slightly too keen in the exercise of his somewhat invidious function. He rather usurps the initiative in marking out Job for trial, even though he might feel sheltered under his general commission. The Author lets us know that this is his view of him when he puts into God’s mouth the words: Thou didst set me on against him, Job 2:3. And in the parallel passage Zechariah 3 his cold-blooded cruelty in the exercise of his office against the miserable and in a moral sense the somewhat ragged Church of the Restoration stands rebuked before the spirit of Divine compassion: “The Lord rebuke thee Satan, is not this a brand plucked from the burning?” Subsequent revelation made advances on the doctrine of Satan, the discussion of which, however, does not belong here.

6–12. The disinterestedness of Job’s piety brought under suspicion by the Adversary in the Council of Heaven

After the scene of happiness and piety presented by Job’s home on earth, the Poet draws the veil aside and shews us a scene in heaven. The Council of the Most High convenes. Around the throne of the King, whose subject and servant Job is, stand “his ministers that do his pleasure,” Psalm 103:21. Their offices are various. The office of one of them is to try the sincerity of men, and put their religion to the proof. Job’s piety is commended on the part of God, but suspicions regarding its disinterestedness are insinuated on the part of this angel. He receives permission to try Job, with the reservation that he must not afflict him in his person.Verse 6. - Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord. By "the sons of God" it is generally admitted that, in this place, the angels are meant (so again in Job 38:7). The meaning of the phrase is probably different in Genesis 6:2. Angels and men are alike "sons of God," as created by him, in his image, to obey and serve him. Christ, the "Only Begotten," is his Son in quite a different sense. We may gather, perhaps, from this place and Job 2:1 that there are fixed times at which the angelic host, often sent out by the Almighty on distant errands, has to gather together, one and all, before the great white throne, to pay homage to their Lord, and probably to give an account of their doings. And Satan came also among them. The word "Satan" has the article prefixed to it השׂתן here and elsewhere in Job, as in Zechariah 3:1, 2 and in Luke 22:31; Revelation 12:9. Thus accompanied, it is less a proper name than an appellative - "the adversary" (comp. 1 Peter 5:8; ὁ ἀντίδικος). In 1 Chronicles 21:1, without the article, it is undoubtedly a proper name, as in the New Testament, passim. Accusation of men before God is one of the special offices of the evil spirit (see Zechariah 3:1, 2), who is "the accuser of the brethren, he that accuses them before God day and night" (Revelation 12:10). The accusations that he makes may be either true or false, but they are so often false that his ordinary New Testament name is ὁ διάβολος, "the Slanderer." The existence of an evil spirit must have been known to all who read or heard the story of the fall of man (Genesis 3.), and the descriptive epithet, "the Adversary," is likely to have been in use from a very early date. The notion that the Satan of the Old Testament is a reflex of the Persian Ahriman, and that the Jews derived their belief upon the subject from the Persians, is quite untenable. The character and position of Satan in the Hebrew system are quite unlike those of Ahriman (Angro-mainyus) in the religion of the Zoroastrians (see 'Ancient Monarchies,' vol. 3. pp. 104-113). And King Ahashverosh laid a tribute upon the land, and upon the isles of the sea. Esther 10:2. And all the acts of his power and of his might, and the statement of the greatness of Mordochai to which the king advanced him, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia? The Chethiv אחשׁרשׁ is a clerical error for אהשׁורשׁ. The word מס, service, here stands for tribute. As the provinces of the kingdom paid the imposts for the most part in natural produce, which they had reared or obtained by the labour of their hands, their labour (agriculture, cattle-keeping, etc.) was to a certain extent service rendered to the king. The matter of Esther 10:1 seems extraneous to the contents of our book, which has hitherto communicated only such information concerning Ahashverosh as was necessary for the complete understanding of the feast of Purim. "It seems" - remarks Bertheau - "as thou the historian had intended to tell in some further particulars concerning the greatness of King Ahashverosh, for the sake of giving his readers a more accurate notion of the influential position and the agency of Mordochai, the hero of his book, who, according to Esther 9:4, waxed greater and greater; but then gave up his intention, and contented himself with referring to the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia, which contained information of both the power and might of Ahashverosh and the greatness of Mordochai." There is not, however, the slightest probability in such a conjecture. This matter may be simply explained by the circumstance, that the author of this book was using as an authority the book of the chronicles alluded to in Esther 10:2, and is quite analogous with the mode observed in the books of Kings and Chronicles by historians both of Babylonian and post-Babylonian days, who quote from the documents they make use of such events only as seem to them important with regard to the plan of their own work, and then at the close of each reign refer to the documents themselves, in which more may be found concerning the acts of the kings, at the same time frequently adding supplementary information from these sources, - comp. e.g., 1 Kings 14:30; 1 Kings 15:7, 1 Kings 15:23, 1 Kings 15:32; 1 Kings 22:47-50; 2 Kings 15:37; 2 Chronicles 12:15, - with this difference only, that in these instances the supplementary notices follow the mention of the documents, while in the present book the notice precedes the citation. As, however, this book opened with a description of the power and glory of King Ahashverosh, but yet only mentioned so much concerning this ruler of 127 provinces as was connected with the history of the Jews, its author, before referring to his authorities, gives at its close the information contained in Esther 10:1, from the book of the chronicles of the kingdom, in which probably it was connected with a particular description of the power and greatness of Ahashverosh, and probably of the wars in which he engaged, for the sake of briefly intimating at the conclusion whence the king derived the means for keeping up the splendour described at the commencement of the book. This book of the chronicles contained accounts not only of the power and might of Ahashverosh, but also a פּרשׁה, a plain statement or accurate representation of the greatness of Mordochai wherewith the king had made him great, i.e., to which he had advanced him, and therefore of the honours of the individual to whom the Jews were indebted for their preservation. On this account is it referred to. For Mordochai was next to the king, i.e., prime minister of the king (משׁנה, comp. 2 Chronicles 28:7), and great among the Jews and acceptable to the multitude of his brethren, i.e., he was also a great man among the Jews and was beloved and esteemed by all his fellow-countrymen (on רצוּי, comp. Deuteronomy 23:24), seeking the good of his people and speaking peace to all his race. This description of Mordochai's position with respect both to the king and his own people has, as expressive of an exalted frame of mind, a rhetorical and poetic tinge. Hence it contains such expressions as אחיו רב, the fulness of his brethren, טּוב דּרשׁ; comp. Psalm 122:9; Jeremiah 38:4. On שׁלום דּבּר, comp. Psalm 85:9; Psalm 35:20; Psalm 27:3. זרעו in parallelism with עמּו is not the descendants of Mordochai, or his people, but his race. Comp. on this signification of זרע, 2 Kings 11:1; Isaiah 61:9. The meaning of the two last phrases is: Mordochai procured both by word and deed the good and prosperity of his people. And this is the way in which honour and fortune are attained, the way inculcated by the author of the 34th Psalm in Psalm 34:13, when teaching the fear of the Lord.
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