|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
15:1-16 Eliphaz begins a second attack upon Job, instead of being softened by his complaints. He unjustly charges Job with casting off the fear of God, and all regard to him, and restraining prayer. See in what religion is summed up, fearing God, and praying to him; the former the most needful principle, the latter the most needful practice. Eliphaz charges Job with self-conceit. He charges him with contempt of the counsels and comforts given him by his friends. We are apt to think that which we ourselves say is important, when others, with reason, think little of it. He charges him with opposition to God. Eliphaz ought not to have put harsh constructions upon the words of one well known for piety, and now in temptation. It is plain that these disputants were deeply convinced of the doctrine of original sin, and the total depravity of human nature. Shall we not admire the patience of God in bearing with us? and still more his love to us in the redemption of Christ Jesus his beloved Son?
Verse 14. - What is man, that he should be clean? A vain "beating of the air." Eliphaz had asserted the same truth in his first speech, when he said, "Shall mortal man be more just than God? shall a man be more pure than his Maker? Behold, he put no trust in his servants; and his angels he taxeth with folly: how much less in them that dwell in houses of clay whose foundation is in the dust, which are crushed before the moth?" (Job 4:17-19); and Job had given his full assent to it, when he exclaimed, "I know it is so of a truth: but how should man be just with God? If he will contend with him, he cannot answer him one of a thousand" (Job 9:2, 3). The true question was not whether Job or any other man was" clean," i.e. wholly sinless but whether Job had sinned so deeply and grievously that his sufferings were the natural and just punishment for his sins. And a mere repetition of the statement that all men were sinful and unclean was off the point - nihil ad rem-altogether futile and superfluous. And he that is born of a woman, that he should be righteous? (setup. Job 25:4). The clause is a mere variant of the preceding one.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
What is man, that he should be clean?.... Frail, feeble, mortal man, or woeful man, as Mr. Broughton renders it; since he is sinful, whereby he is become such a weak and dying creature: this question, as well as the following, is put by way of contempt, and as lessening man in a comparative sense, and in order to abate any high conceit of himself; who is not naturally clean, but the reverse, being conceived and born in sin; nor can he be so of himself, nor by any means he is capable of; and however clean he may be in his own eyes, or in the eyes of others, yet is not clean in the sight of God, and still less pure than him, his Maker, as in Job 4:17; and indeed cannot be clean at all, but through the grace of God, and blood of Christ, which cleanses from all sin:
and he which is born of a woman; a periphrasis of man, Job 14:1;
that he should be righteous? as no man is naturally; there is none righteous, no, not one; though man originally was made righteous, yet sinning he lost his righteousness, and all his posterity are without any; nor can they become righteous of themselves, or by any works of righteousness done by them; and though they may trust in themselves that they are righteous, and may appear outwardly so before men, yet by the deeds of the law no flesh can be justified or accounted righteous in the sight of God, and much less be more just than he, as in Job 4:17; nor can any of the sons of men be made or reckoned righteous but by the obedience of Christ, or by that justifying righteousness that is in him: what Eliphaz here says concerning the impurity, imperfection, and unrighteousness of men, are very great truths; but if he aims at Job, as he seems to do he misses his mark, and mistakes the man, and it is in vain with respect to him, or as a refutation of any notions of his; for Job asserts the corruption and depravity of human nature as strongly as it is expressed here, Job 14:4; nor does he ever claim, but disclaims, sinless perfection, Job 9:20; nor did he expect to be personally justified before God by any righteousness of his own, the imperfection of which he was sensible of, but by the righteousness of his living Redeemer, Job 9:30; but what he pleaded for was the integrity and uprightness of his heart in opposition to hypocrisy he was charged with; and the holiness and righteousness of his life and conversation, in opposition to a course of living in sin, or to his being guilty of some notorious sin or sins for which he was afflicted, as was insinuated. Eliphaz here recurs to his oracle, Job 4:17; and expresses it much to the same sense.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
14. Eliphaz repeats the revelation (Job 4:17) in substance, but using Job's own words (see on Job 14:1, on "born of a woman") to strike him with his own weapons.
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