Then answered Eliphaz the Temanite, and said,Job 15:1. Then answered Eliphaz — Eliphaz, not a little incensed that Job should pay no regard to his advice, and should dare to challenge the Almighty to argue the point with him, charges him home with self-conceit in entertaining too high an opinion of his own knowledge; with arrogance in undervaluing the arguments drawn from their experience, whose age was a sufficient voucher for their wisdom; and with impiety, in thus rudely challenging the Almighty to answer for his conduct in afflicting him. He presses home the same argument upon him a second time, to which he adds that of universal tradition; insinuating, that he had yet worse to expect unless he prevented it by a contrary conduct: and then presents him with a picture of the final state of a wicked man; in which he so works up the circumstances as to make it resemble Job and his condition as much as possible; intimating thereby, that he imagined him to be that very wicked man he had been describing, and that he had by that means drawn down God’s judgments on himself: that, therefore, his imaginations of innocence were an illusion; but one, however, of the worst kind; he had deceived himself. — Heath.
Should a wise man utter vain knowledge, and fill his belly with the east wind?Job 15:2. Should a wise man — Such as thou pretendest to be, utter vain knowledge — Hebrews דעת רוח, dagnath, ruach, knowledge of wind; that is, empty words, without any sense or solidity in them; and fill his belly — Satisfy his mind and conscience; with the east wind — With notions and speeches, which are not only unsubstantial and unprofitable, but also hasty, impetuous, and pernicious; and full as hurtful to the peace of his own mind, and the quiet and comfort of others, as the boisterous, scorching east wind is to fruits and herbs of every kind. The Hebrew is literally, And should the east wind fill his belly — his vain and useless knowledge puff him up with pride and self-conceit?
Should he reason with unprofitable talk? or with speeches wherewith he can do no good?Job 15:3. Should he reason with unprofitable talk? — Of what consequence are all his arguments? Do they carry any weight with them? Do they convince and satisfy those with whom he contends? No: they are no better than unprofitable talk. With speeches wherewith he can do no good? — Either to himself or others, but will do much hurt.
Yea, thou castest off fear, and restrainest prayer before God.Job 15:4. Yea, thou castest off fear — Hebrew, Thou makest void fear; the fear of God, piety, and religion, by thy unworthy speeches of God, and by those false and pernicious principles, that God makes no difference between good and bad in the course of his providence, but equally prospers or afflicts both: thou dost that which tends to the subversion of the fear and worship of God. And restrainest prayer — Thou dost, by thy words and principles, as far as in thee lies, banish prayer out of the world, by making it useless and unprofitable to men. Houbigant’s translation of the verse is, Truly, thou loosest the bonds of religion; thou preventest the groans or prayers which are sent up to God. Thy speeches, says Bishop Patrick, “destroy all religion, and discourage men from pouring out their complaint in prayer to God.”
For thy mouth uttereth thine iniquity, and thou choosest the tongue of the crafty.Job 15:5-6. Thy mouth uttereth thine iniquity — Thy words discover the naughtiness of thy heart, and justify my charge against thee, that thou castest off fear, &c. Thou choosest the tongue of the crafty — Thou speakest wickedly and craftily: thou coverest thy impious principles with fair pretences of piety and respect for God, wherewith thou endeavourest to deceive men. Thine own mouth condemneth thee — My condemnation of thee is grounded on thy own words.
Thine own mouth condemneth thee, and not I: yea, thine own lips testify against thee.
Art thou the first man that was born? or wast thou made before the hills?Job 15:7-10. Art thou the first man that was born? — Hast thou lived ever since the creation of the world, and treasured up the experiences of all ages in thy own breast, that thou speakest so arrogantly and magisterially, and with such contempt of other men? Art thou the most ancient and the wisest of all mortal men? Whom dost thou make thyself? S. Jarchi’s comment is, “What, wast thou born before Adam? Wast thou made before the hills? — As wisdom herself was, Proverbs 8:23. Didst thou exist before the earth was created, and distinguished into mountains and valleys? Hast thou heard the secret of God? — Hath God acquainted thee with all his secret counsels, whereby he governs the world, that thou dost pass so bold a censure upon his designs and actions? Dost thou restrain wisdom to thyself? — Art thou the only wise man in the world, and we and all others but fools? What knowest thou that we know not? — He retorts upon Job his own expressions, Job 12:3; Job 13:2. With us are both the gray- headed, &c. — That is, among us; meaning either some of them, or some others with whom they had conversed, and who were of their opinion in this matter. And this they oppose to what Job had expressed, Job 12:12. Very aged men, much elder than thy father — Perhaps all these three friends of Job were elder than he, and therefore they thought he was bound to acknowledge them to be wiser. And many think themselves wiser than others for a similar reason, and are confident they know more, because they have lived more years!
Hast thou heard the secret of God? and dost thou restrain wisdom to thyself?
What knowest thou, that we know not? what understandest thou, which is not in us?
With us are both the grayheaded and very aged men, much elder than thy father.
Are the consolations of God small with thee? is there any secret thing with thee?Job 15:11. Are the consolations of God small with thee? — Are those blessings which we have pro-pounded to thee, on condition of thy repentance, small and inconsiderable in thine eyes? He takes it ill that Job did not value the comforts which he and his friends administered to him, more than, it seems, he did, and that he did not welcome every word they said as the truth of God. And he represents this as a slight put upon divine consolations in general, as if they were of small account with him; whereas, really, they were not: if Job had not highly valued them he could not have borne up as he did under his sufferings. It is true Job’s friends had said some very good things, but in their application of them to him they were miserable comforters. Is there any secret thing with thee? — Hast thou any secret and peculiar way of obtaining comfort, which is unknown to us, and to all other men? some cordial to support thee, that no body else can pretend to, or knows any thing of? Or, perhaps he means, Is there some secret sin harboured and indulged in thy bosom, which hinders thy reception of divine comforts? None disesteem divine consolations but those that secretly, if not openly, are attached to the world, and live after the flesh.
Why doth thine heart carry thee away? and what do thy eyes wink at,Job 15:12-13. Why doth thy heart carry thee away? — Why dost thou suffer thyself to be transported by the pride of thy heart, to use such unworthy and unbecoming expressions, both concerning us and concerning God and his providence? And what do thine eyes wink at? — Why dost thou look with such an angry, supercilious, and disdainful look? But Buxtorf translates the words, Quid collimant oculi tui? What are thine eyes taking aim at? Or, Quid innuunt? Quorsum spectant? What do they intimate? Or, Whither, what way, or toward what, do they look? The Hebrew, ירזמון, jirzmun, properly signifies to wink with one eye, as those that aim at a mark. That thou turnest thy spirit against God? — Opposest thyself to him, and art become his enemy. He thought Job’s spirit was soured against God, and exasperated at his dealings with him, and so was turned from what it had been: and that this was evident from his letting such words go out of his mouth as reflected on God, and his justice and goodness. But Eliphaz wanted candour and charity, otherwise he would not have put such a harsh construction on the speeches of one that had such a settled reputation for piety, and was now sorely assaulted with temptation. This was, in effect, to give the cause on Satan’s side, and to own that Job had done as Satan said he would, curse God to his face.
That thou turnest thy spirit against God, and lettest such words go out of thy mouth?
What is man, that he should be clean? and he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous?Job 15:14-15. What is man? — Hebrew, אנושׁ, enosh, frail, weak, imperfect man; that he should be clean? — That is, that he should pretend to be so; or, that any should expect to find him so: and he that is born of a woman — A sinful woman, from whom he has derived infirmity, corruption, and guilt; that he should be righteous? — Just and holy in his own eyes, or in the eyes of others, and especially that he should be such in the sight of the just and holy God? Behold, he putteth no trust in his saints — That is, in his angels, (see Job 4:18,) who are called his saints or holy ones, Deuteronomy 33:2; Daniel 4:13; Daniel 4:23. Who, though they were created holy, yet many of them fell. Yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight — The angels that dwell in heaven; heaven being put for its inhabitants. None of these are pure, simply, and perfectly, and comparatively to God. The angels are pure from corruption, but not from imperfection.
Behold, he putteth no trust in his saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight.
How much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinketh iniquity like water?Job 15:16. How much more abominable and filthy is man — If saints are not to be trusted, much less sinners. If the heavens are not pure; if heavenly beings, who maintained their allegiance to their Maker, are not free from imperfection, when compared with God, much less is man, who is degenerated, and has rebelled against him. Which drinketh iniquity like water — Who, besides his natural proneness to sin, has contracted habits of sinning; and sins as freely, as greedily, and delightfully, as men, especially in those hot countries, drink up water.
I will shew thee, hear me; and that which I have seen I will declare;Job 15:17-18. I will show thee, hear me — I will prove what I have affirmed, namely, that such strokes as thine are peculiar to hypocrites and wicked men. And that which I have seen I will declare — I will not speak from hearsay, but only from my own observation and experience. Which wise men have told — Who are most able to be witnesses and judges in these matters; from their fathers — Or, ancestors; who diligently observed this, and carefully transmitted their own judgment and experience successively to their posterity. And have not hid it — They judged it to be so certain and important a truth, that they would not conceal it in their own breasts.
Which wise men have told from their fathers, and have not hid it:
Unto whom alone the earth was given, and no stranger passed among them.Job 15:19. Unto whom alone the earth was given — By the gracious gift of God: this he alleges to make their testimony more considerable, because these were no obscure men, but the most worthy and famous men in their ages; and to confute what Job had said, Job 9:24, that the earth was given into the hand of the wicked. By the earth he means the dominion and possession of it. No stranger passed among them — No person of a strange nation and disposition, or religion, passed through their land, so as to disturb or spoil them, as the Sabeans and Chaldeans did thee. God watched over those holy men so that no enemy could invade them; and so he would have done over thee, if thou hadst been such a one. It seems evident, that Noah and his sons, Melchizedeck, Abraham, and others of the patriarchs, who lived before Job, are here intended.
The wicked man travaileth with pain all his days, and the number of years is hidden to the oppressor.Job 15:20. The wicked man travaileth with pain — That is, lives a life of care, and fear, and grief, by reason of God’s wrath, the torments of his own mind, and his outward calamities. The number of his years is hidden — He knows not how short the time of his life is, and therefore lives in continual fear of losing it. To the oppressor — To the wicked man: he names this one sort of them, because he supposed Job to be guilty of this sin; and in opposition to what Job had affirmed of the safety of such persons, Job 12:6, and because such are apt to promise themselves a longer and happier life than other men.
A dreadful sound is in his ears: in prosperity the destroyer shall come upon him.Job 15:21-22. A dreadful sound is in his ears — Even when he feels no evil, he is tormented with perpetual fears and expectations of it, from a consciousness of his own guilt, and a sense of God’s all-seeing eye and righteous judgment. In prosperity the destroyer shall come upon him — In the most peaceable and prosperous time, he is not in safety, nor does he think himself to be so, but he is always fearing some one or other will injure him as he has injured others; and that some enemy will invade and destroy him suddenly and unexpectedly. He knows both heaven and earth are incensed against him; and that he has done nothing to make his peace with either, and, therefore, thinks every one that meets him will slay him. A guilty conscience represents to the sinner a flaming sword turning every way, and himself inevitably running upon it. He believeth not that he shall return out of darkness — When he falls into trouble he despairs of deliverance, by reason of his guilty conscience. And he is waited for of the sword — Besides the calamity which is upon him, he is in constant expectation of greater. The sword is used for any grievous affliction.
He believeth not that he shall return out of darkness, and he is waited for of the sword.
He wandereth abroad for bread, saying, Where is it? he knoweth that the day of darkness is ready at his hand.Job 15:23. He wandereth abroad for bread — His poverty is so great, that he is forced to wander hither and thither to seek for bread, and cannot find it, a just punishment for him that took away the bread and substance of others by violence. He knoweth that the day of darkness is ready at his hand — He is assured, from his own guilty conscience, that the time of his total, and irrecoverable, and everlasting destruction is ready to seize upon him, and arrest him, as an officer of justice arrests a criminal; that it is appointed to him and cannot be put by, that it is hastening on and cannot be put off. The Hebrew נכון בידו, nachon bejado, may be properly rendered, Is prepared by his own hand, that is, by his works or actions. So the sense is, He is conscious to himself that, by his wicked life, he hath prepared and treasured up calamities and destruction for himself. This day of darkness is something beyond death; it is that day of the Lord which, to all the wicked, will be darkness and not light, and in which they will be doomed to utter, endless darkness.
Trouble and anguish shall make him afraid; they shall prevail against him, as a king ready to the battle.Job 15:24. Trouble and anguish shall make him afraid — When trouble comes, instead of trusting and hoping, and comforting himself in God, as good men do in such cases, 1 Samuel 30:6, he is full of torment, dreading the issue of it, and concluding it will end in his utter ruin, as he has great reason to do. They shall prevail against him — Though he would fain shake off his fears, and uses many expedients to free himself from them, he is not able; they overpower him, as a king ready to the battle — With forces too strong to be resisted. He that would keep his peace must keep a good conscience.
For he stretcheth out his hand against God, and strengtheneth himself against the Almighty.Job 15:25. For he stretcheth out his hand against God — He sinned against him with a high and outstretched hand; that is, boldly and presumptuously, as one that neither desired his favour, nor feared his anger. Thus he gives the reason of the fore-mentioned calamities that befell him, which was his great wickedness in the time of his peace and prosperity. And strengthened himself against the Almighty — Putteth his forces in array, as if he would fight with him who is almighty, and therefore irresistible. This aggravates the madness of this weak and contemptible worm, that he should dare to fight against the omnipotent God!
He runneth upon him, even on his neck, upon the thick bosses of his bucklers:Job 15:26. He runneth upon him — That is, the wicked man (of whom, and of whose sin and misery, he speaks in the whole context, both preceding and following) assaults God, and, as it were, rushes swiftly and furiously upon him, as the same phrase, ירצ אלו, jarats eelaiv, signifies, Daniel 8:6. In the former verse he was represented as preparing for the battle, and here as actually and impudently fighting with him. Even on his neck — As a stout warrior who cometh close to his adversary and grapples with him. He acts in flat opposition to God, both to his precepts and providences. Upon the thick bosses of his bucklers — Even where his enemy is strongest. He is not discouraged with his enemy’s thick, and strong, and eminent shields, but boldly ventures to rush upon them, though to his own certain destruction. Every sinner departs, or runs, rather, from God: but the presumptuous sinner, who sins with a high hand, runs upon him, fights against him, and bids defiance to him; and it is easy to foretel what will be the issue.
Because he covereth his face with his fatness, and maketh collops of fat on his flanks.Job 15:27. He covereth his face with his fatness — This is mentioned as the reason of his insolent carriage toward God. because he was fat, rich, potent, and successful, as that expression signifies, Deuteronomy 32:15; Psalm 78:31; Jeremiah 46:21. His great prosperity made him proud and secure, and regardless of God and men. Maketh collops of fat on his flanks — His only care is to pamper and please himself, and satisfy his own lusts, and in defence and pursuance of them he contends with God.
And he dwelleth in desolate cities, and in houses which no man inhabiteth, which are ready to become heaps.Job 15:28-29. And he dwelleth — It should rather be translated, But he dwelleth in desolate places. This is fitly opposed to the prosperity last mentioned, and is the beginning of the description of his misery, which is continued in the following verses. Which are ready to become heaps — Which are ready to fall, and to be turned into heaps of stones. He shall not be rich — He shall not remain rich, but shall become poor. Neither shall his substance continue — He shall lose what he had gotten. Neither shall he prolong the perfection thereof — The perfection of his substance, or that complete estate and glory which he had attained, shall not be continued to him and his posterity. Or, neither shall their perfection (that is, that prosperity, wealth, and power, wherein they placed their perfection or happiness) spread itself, or be spread abroad; but shall be diminished and taken away. It is a metaphor from a tree. See Job 8:16.
He shall not be rich, neither shall his substance continue, neither shall he prolong the perfection thereof upon the earth.
He shall not depart out of darkness; the flame shall dry up his branches, and by the breath of his mouth shall he go away.Job 15:30. He shall not depart out of darkness — His misery shall have no end. The flame — God’s anger and judgment upon him. Shall dry up his branches — His wealth, and power, and glory, wherewith he was encompassed, as trees are with their branches. By the breath of his mouth, &c. — This expression intimates, with how much ease God subdueth his enemies: his word, his blast, one act of his will, is sufficient. Shall he go away — Hebrew, go back: that is, run away from God faster than he ran upon him, Job 15:26. So it is a continuation of the former metaphor of a conflict between two persons.
Let not him that is deceived trust in vanity: for vanity shall be his recompence.Job 15:31. Let not him that is deceived trust in vanity — That is, in the vain and deceitful things of this world, such as power, riches, honour, &c., of which, and of the loss of them, he had been discoursing largely; and now he subjoins a general caution to all men to take heed of running into the same error and mischief with the fore-mentioned persons: and, withal, he secretly intimates what, he judged, had been Job’s great sin, and the cause of his ruin, namely, his carnal confidence in those vain things, his wealth and glory, and the children which God had given him: from which crime Job, therefore, vindicates himself hereafter. For vanity — Disappointment, dissatisfaction, and the loss of all his imaginary felicity; the same word vanity being elegantly repeated in another sense, as is usual in the Scripture, and all authors. Shall be his recompense — Hebrew, תמורתו, temuratho, permutatio vel commutatio ejus; his exchange, Leviticus 27:33; he shall exchange one vanity for another, a pleasing vanity for a vexatious vanity. This verse however may be rendered otherwise, thus: He that is deceived with vanity (that is, with the vain things of this world, wherewith most men are deceived and bewitched) will not believe that vanity (namely, emptiness, disappointment, and misery) shall be his recompense. And thus this is an aggravation of his calamity, that it surprised him when he was confident, and secure from all fears of such an event.
It shall be accomplished before his time, and his branch shall not be green.Job 15:32-33. It shall be accomplished — Namely, that which was last mentioned, that vanity should be his recompense: before his time — When, by the course of nature, and common providence, he might have continued and flourished much longer. And his branch — His glory and prosperity, or his children; shall not be green — Shall not continue to flourish as heretofore. He shall shake off his unripe grapes — The wicked man, who, by his sins, is the author of his own ruin, shall be deprived of his fruit, of his children, and other comforts, before their time; as the vine — Which either of itself drops its tender grapes, or loses them when they are plucked off by a violent hand; and shall cast off his flower as the olive — Which flourishes much about the same time with the vine, and commonly suffers similar injuries.
He shall shake off his unripe grape as the vine, and shall cast off his flower as the olive.
For the congregation of hypocrites shall be desolate, and fire shall consume the tabernacles of bribery.Job 15:34-35. For the congregation of hypocrites — Their children, servants, friends, and dependants; shall be desolate — That is, utterly destroyed; and fire — Some eminent and terrible judgment of God, often expressed by fire: see Isaiah 9:19; Isaiah 26:11; shall consume the tabernacles of bribery — Which were either built or maintained by extortion and bribery, or such unrighteous practises, of which they thought Job guilty, Job 22:8. They conceive mischief — They devise and contrive pernicious enterprises against others; and bring forth vanity — They execute what they had contrived. They produce iniquity, injury, or trouble, either to others, or rather to themselves: for the mischief they designed for others falls upon their own heads, and they reap what they sowed. And their belly — That is, their inward parts, their hearts and minds; prepareth deceit — For others, whom they design to cheat; and especially for themselves, who, while they seek to deceive others, shall find that they themselves are most deceived, as being deprived of all their desires and hopes wherewith they fed themselves, and cast into all those calamities which they thought to prevent by these artifices. This whole description is evidently pointed at the situation of Job. His prosperity was become vanity; his children were all cut off before their time; his family become solitary; and his hopes, to all appearance, an illusion. All the fine prospect with which the wicked man entertained himself, and for which he endured all the anguish here described, produced only a deceit. He hath imposed on himself.
They conceive mischief, and bring forth vanity, and their belly prepareth deceit.