|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
23:8-12 Job knew that the Lord was every where present; but his mind was in such confusion, that he could get no fixed view of God's merciful presence, so as to find comfort by spreading his case before him. His views were all gloomy. God seemed to stand at a distance, and frown upon him. Yet Job expressed his assurance that he should be brought forth, tried, and approved, for he had obeyed the precepts of God. He had relished and delighted in the truths and commandments of God. Here we should notice that Job justified himself rather than God, or in opposition to him, ch. 32:2. Job might feel that he was clear from the charges of his friends, but boldly to assert that, though visited by the hand of God, it was not a chastisement of sin, was his error. And he is guilty of a second, when he denies that there are dealings of Providence with men in this present life, wherein the injured find redress, and the evil are visited for their sins.
Verse 9. - On the left hand, where he doth work; literally, in his workshop. There is an ellipse after "workshop" of some phrase like "I look for him." But I cannot behold him; rather, but I apprehend him not - I cannot as it were, lay my hand upon him (LXX., οὐ κάτεσχον). He hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him; literally, and I do not see him.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him,.... The northern part of the world, where his seat is, or the circle of the earth, says Bar Tzemach, and who has stretched out the north over the empty place, Job 26:7. Jarchi's note is, when he created it, he did not make it the place of his throne: God works everywhere in a way of providence, but in some places more eminently than in others; the northern part of the world is observed to be more inhabited than the southern, and the people of it to be more active in war and business than elsewhere; and more and greater things are done by God among them as instruments than among any other; and Mr. Caryl observes, that the Gospel has ever more generally and more clearly been preached here than in the southern parts of the world; and perhaps by the northern chambers in Ezekiel's vision, Ezekiel 42:1, were designed the Protestant churches in the northern parts, as it is well known the Protestant doctrine is called the northern heresy: but what Job meant by God's works in the north is not easy to say; but as this refers to some place where God had been used to work either in the way of providence or grace, it was the most likely one to find him in, and yet Job could not behold him, or get any sight of him, either as on a throne of grace or justice:
he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him; or "he covereth the right hand" (h), the southern parts of the world; he covers the face of the south with his face, that I cannot see him, so Jarchi; this is said because the south is covered with the waters of the ocean, as Bar Tzemach observes; what we call the South sea: or rather the meaning is, that God covered himself on the right hand, or on the south, as with a garment, as the word signifies; wrapped himself up either in light inaccessible, as with a garment, or with clouds of darkness, that he could not be seen; and if he hides himself, as he often does from the best of men, who can behold him? Job 34:29; see Job 9:11.
(h) "operiet dextram", Montanus, Junius & Tremellius; so Cocceius, Drusius, Schmidt, Schultens, & Broughton.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
9. Rather, "To the north."
work—God's glorious works are especially seen towards the north region of the sky by one in the northern hemisphere. The antithesis is between God working and yet not being beheld: as in Job 9:11, between "He goeth by," and "I see Him not." If the Hebrew bears it, the parallelism to the second clause is better suited by translating, as Umbreit, "doth hide himself"; but then the antithesis to "behold" would be lost.
right hand—"in the south."
hideth—appropriately, of the unexplored south, then regarded as uninhabitable because of its heat (see Job 34:29).
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