|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
12:12-25 This is a noble discourse of Job concerning the wisdom, power, and sovereignty of God, in ordering all the affairs of the children of men, according to the counsel of His own will, which none can resist. It were well if wise and good men, who differ about lesser things, would see how it is for their honour and comfort, and the good of others, to dwell most upon the great things in which they agree. Here are no complaints, or reflections. He gives many instances of God's powerful management of the children of men, overruling all their counsels, and overcoming all their oppositions. Having all strength and wisdom, God knows how to make use, even of those who are foolish and bad; otherwise there is so little wisdom and so little honesty in the world, that all had been in confusion and ruin long ago. These important truths were suited to convince the disputants that they were out of their depth in attempting to assign the Lord's reasons for afflicting Job; his ways are unsearchable, and his judgments past finding out. Let us remark what beautiful illustrations there are in the word of God, confirming his sovereignty, and wisdom in that sovereignty: but the highest and infinitely the most important is, that the Lord Jesus was crucified by the malice of the Jews; and who but the Lord could have known that this one event was the salvation of the world?
Verse 19. - He leadeth princes away spoiled; rather, priests (כהנים), as in the Revised Version. This is the only mention of "priests" in the Book of Job, and a priest-caste, such as that of Egypt or of Israel, can scarcely be meant. The priests are placed among the mighty, on a par with kings (ver. 18), princes (ver. 21), and "the strong" (ver. 21). This context makes us naturally think of those priest-kings whom we hear of in the olden times, such as were Melchizedek (Genesis 19:18-20) and Jethro (Exodus 3:1; Exodus 18:1-27), and the Egyptian kings of the twenty-first dynasty ('History of Ancient Egypt,' vol. 2. pp. 408-415), and Ethbaal of Tyro ('History of Phoenicia,' p. 435), and Sethos (Herod., 2, 141), and others. Job's allusion is probably to persons of this exalted class, who no doubt were sometimes defeated and dragged into captivity, like other rulers and governors. And overthroweth the mighty. Schultens understands by ethanim (איחנים) "great teachers;" but the ordinary meaning of the word is "strong" or "mighty" (see Job 33:19; Micah 6:2).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
He leadeth princes away spoiled,.... Of their principalities and dominions, of their wealth and riches, and of their honour and glory; or "priests" (u), as some choose to render the word, against whom God has indignation for their sins, and leads them into captivity with others; so the Septuagint version, "he leads the priests captives"; for no office, ever so sacred, can protect wicked men, see Lamentations 2:6; and from these sometimes the law perishes, and they are spoiled of their wisdom and knowledge, and made unfit to instruct the people, and so of their credit and reputation among them. Sephorno interprets it of the priests spoiled of their prophesying, they prophesying false things to kings:
and overthroweth the mighty; the mighty angels from heaven when they sinned, and mighty men on earth, kings and princes, whom he puts down from their seats of majesty and grandeur. Sephorno interprets this of kings, whose ways are perverted, by being led by false prophets, as Ahab was. Some (w) understand this of ecclesiastical men, mighty in word and doctrine, well grounded in theology, yet their wisdom being taken away from them, they turn aside into wicked paths, practices, and principles, and fall from their steadfastness in truth and holiness.
(u) "sacerdotes", V. L. Montanus, Tigurine version, Bolducius, Cocceius, Schmidt, Schultens. (w) Schmidt, Michaelis, Schultens.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
19. princes—rather, "priests," as the Hebrew is rendered (Ps 99:6). Even the sacred ministers of religion are not exempt from reverses and captivity.
the mighty—rather, "the firm-rooted in power"; the Arabic root expresses ever-flowing water [Umbreit].
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