Call now, if there be any that will answer thee; and to which of the saints wilt thou turn?Job 5:1. Call now, &c. — Wouldst thou know the reason why I relate to thee this night vision? I do it with an intent that thou mayest apply it to thyself, and thy present circumstances. Thou hast heard how weak and imperfect the best of men must be in comparison with God, but if this does not satisfy thee, if thou dost not believe what has been advanced, thou mayest inquire of others. Try, therefore, if there be any one that will defend thee in these thy bold expostulations with God. Thou mayest find fools or wicked men that will do it, but not one of the children of God. There is no good man but is of my opinion; and if an angel should appear to thee as one did to me, thou wouldst receive no other information but this.
For wrath killeth the foolish man, and envy slayeth the silly one.Job 5:2. For wrath killeth the foolish man, &c. — That is, say some, a man’s wrath and impatience prey upon his spirit, and so hasten his death. But the meaning seems rather to be, as Bishop Patrick observes, that “God in his anger and indignation destroys the wicked, and such as err from his precepts.” It is probable that Eliphaz intended to distinguish Job by the characters of foolish and silly one, to insinuate that all his misfortunes were owing to his folly and weakness, or to his sins and vices. By the foolish is meant the rash and inconsiderate man, who does not weigh things impartially; and by the silly one, the man who, for want of true wisdom, is soon deceived with false opinions, and with appearances of present things.
I have seen the foolish taking root: but suddenly I cursed his habitation.Job 5:3. I have seen the foolish taking root — I have observed the wicked man, whom I term foolish, as being destitute of true, that is, of heavenly, wisdom, not only prosperous for the present, but, as it seemed, firm and secure for the future, being strongly fortified with power and riches, and children too, so that there was no likelihood or apparent danger of a change; but suddenly — In a moment, before any one’s expectation; I cursed his habitation — I saw, by the event which followed his prosperity, that he was a man under a divine curse, and that, notwithstanding the seeming depth and strength in which he vainly promised himself a permanent, unshaken situation for many years, all his hopes were built on a weak and false foundation. Thus Eliphaz answers an objection concerning the present seeming prosperity of the wicked, which he confesses that he himself had sometimes observed, but which, he insists, was of short duration, destructive judgments from God unexpectedly overwhelming them.
His children are far from safety, and they are crushed in the gate, neither is there any to deliver them.Job 5:4. His children — Whose greatness he designed in all his enterprises, supposing his family would be established for ever; are far from safety — Are exposed to dangers and calamities, and can neither preserve themselves, nor the inheritance which their fathers left them. There is no question but he glances here at the death of Job’s children; and they are crushed in the gate — That is, in the place of judicature, to which they are brought for their offences, and where they find severe judges, and few or no friends; because, being wickedly educated, and trusting to their own greatness, they had been insolent and injurious to all their neighbours; as also because those many persons, whom their powerful fathers had defrauded or oppressed, seek for justice and the recovery of their rights, which they easily obtain, against persons who plainly declared, by their actions, that they neither feared God nor regarded man, and therefore were hated by all sorts of people. Neither is there any to deliver them — They can find no advocates or assistants who are either able or willing to help them: for, as their hand was formerly against every man, so now every man’s hand is against them. Justice, therefore, takes hold on them, and will not let them escape.
Whose harvest the hungry eateth up, and taketh it even out of the thorns, and the robber swalloweth up their substance.Job 5:5. Whose harvest — Which they confidently expected to reap after all their cost and labour; The hungry eateth up — The hungry Sabeans, or the poor, whose necessities make them greedy and ravenous to eat it all up; so that he can never recover it, or any thing in recompense of it. As if he had said, They may cultivate their ground with the utmost care, and sow it with the choicest seed, in expectation of reaping, at the usual time, the fruits of their labour; but when once the sentence of the judge is declared against them, behold, instead of carrying in, and filling their barns and store-houses with the great and plentiful increase, their field is laid open to the hungry poor, who soon devour their whole harvest. And take it even out of the thorns — That is, out of the fields, notwithstanding the strong thorn-hedges wherewith it is enclosed and fortified; and in spite of all the dangers or difficulties which may be in their way. They will take it, though they be scratched and wounded by the thorns about it. And the robber swalloweth up their substance — The word צמים, tzammim, here rendered robber, occurs but once more, namely, Job 18:9, where Bildad, taking it for granted that Job must be a wicked man, says the robber, tzammim, shall prevail against him. R. Levi derives it from tzammah, hair, and says it represents a man who suffers his hair to grow long and squalid, and appears with a terrible countenance. It may however signify thirsty, as derived from another root. Either way it points out a set of savage and barbarous plunderers. The word שׂאŠshaaph, rendered swalloweth up, literally means to draw in the air, to pant after, to swallow greedily; and is applied to wild beasts, snuffing up the wind in pursuit of their prey. The sense of the clause is, that these robbers shall hasten with great eagerness, shall greedily pant after and swallow up their entire substance, so as to leave them in the most deplorable condition.
Although affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground;Job 5:6. Although affliction cometh not forth out of the dust — The word
און, aven, here rendered affliction, rather signifies iniquity, and the clause is literally, Iniquity cometh not forth out of the dust; neither doth trouble spring out of the ground — That is, says Dr. Dodd, “As the wickedness of men does not proceed from any natural cause, but from their own free-will; so neither are their miseries to be considered as the effects of natural causes, but as the distributions of a free agent likewise, namely, of a just God, who suits men’s punishments to their crimes; and hence man, being prone to sin, is necessarily born to suffer,” as is signified in the next verse.
Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.Job 5:7. Yet man is born to trouble, &c. — He is so commonly exposed to various troubles, as if he were born to no other end: affliction is become natural to man, and is transmitted from parents to children, as their constant inheritance; God having allotted this portion to mankind for their sins. And therefore thou takest a wrong course in complaining so bitterly of that which thou shouldst patiently bear, as the common lot of mankind. As — As naturally, and as generally, as the sparks of fire fly upward — Why then should we be surprised at our afflictions, as strange, or quarrel with them, as hard? This last clause, literally translated from the Hebrew, is, As the sons of the burning coal raise themselves up to fly. Instead, however, of sparks, or the sons of the coal, the author of the Vulgate writes, Homo nascitur ad laborem, et avis ad volatum, man is born for labour, (or trouble,) and the bird for flying; reading, עוŠ, gnoph, a bird, for gnuph, to fly. To the same purpose is the interpretation of the LXX., Syr. and Arab.
I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit my cause:Job 5:8. I would seek unto God, &c. — If I were in thy condition, instead of accusing the dispensations of Divine Providence, and repining under them, I would apply to God, by a full and free confession of those sins which have drawn this sad calamity upon me, and by sincere repentance, humiliation, and submission to his will: to God, who is able to do wonders, (as he presently adds,) and who can and will restore thee to thy former happy state, if he sees that thou art penitent for thy past transgressions, and hast reformed thy conduct. For this is the whole purport of the following part of his speech, namely, to give him hopes of a happy turn to his condition, if he would do what he thought was absolutely necessary to be done in this case; make a frank confession of those crimes which had brought down this severe chastisement upon him. See Peters and Dodd. And unto God would I commit my cause — Would resign myself and all my concerns to him, and humbly hope for relief from him. And let my cause be what it would, and my own opinion of it ever so favourable, I would commit it wholly to him, and leave him to judge and determine it.
Which doeth great things and unsearchable; marvellous things without number:Job 5:9. Which doth great things and unsearchable — Here Eliphaz enters upon a discourse of the infinite perfection of God’s nature and works; which he does as an argument to enforce the exhortation to seek and commit his cause to God, Job 5:8, because God was infinitely able either to punish him yet far worse, if he continued to provoke him, or to raise him from the dust, if he humbly addressed himself to him: and that, by a representation of God’s excellence and glory, and of that vast disproportion which was between God and Job, he might convince Job of his great sin in speaking so boldly and irreverently of him. Marvellous things — Which (though common, and therefore neglected and despised, yet) are matter of wonder to the wisest men. The works of nature are mysteries: the most curious searches come far short of full discoveries; and the works of Providence are still more deep and unaccountable.
Who giveth rain upon the earth, and sendeth waters upon the fields:Job 5:10. Who giveth rain upon the earth — He begins with this ordinary work of God, in which he implies that there is something wonderful, as indeed there is, in the rise of it from the earth, in the strange hanging of that heavy body in the air, and in the distribution of it as God sees fit; and how much more in the hidden paths of Divine Providence! And sendeth waters upon the fields — When the scorching heat of the sun is so strong and intense as to dry up and consume almost every herb of the field, every green thing upon the face of the earth, God, in great compassion, opens the windows of heaven, and pours down a gracious, refreshing, and long- wished-for rain; by which wonderful supply the springs and rivers, which were much exhausted, and, in a manner, had quite disappeared, do now rise and swell to their usual height; nay, are not only full, but overflow, so as to reach several distant places which waited, as it were, for refreshment from those superabundant treasures.
To set up on high those that be low; that those which mourn may be exalted to safety.Job 5:11. To set up on high those that be low — The consequences which proceed from the fore-mentioned happy change, from God’s sending a refreshing rain upon the earth, after a long drought are inexpressibly great and beneficial. Those who had been reduced to straits and difficulties, and, by the pressing necessities arising therefrom, had been brought very low, and obliged to submit to mean and laborious employments, are now enabled to lift up their heads with joy, and appear in a very different condition. That those who mourn may be exalted to safety — That through the blessings of Providence flowing in upon them, like a plentiful stream of water upon a barren and thirsty land, they may be raised from their former state of extreme poverty and want, and may find themselves placed in a comparatively safe and comfortable situation, without any apparent reason to fear a relapse into their former difficulties and distresses. Thus he gives Job another example of God’s great and wonderful works, to comfort and encourage him to seek unto him, forasmuch as he could easily raise him from the depth of his distress, however great, as he was wont to raise others in the like condition.
He disappointeth the devices of the crafty, so that their hands cannot perform their enterprise.Job 5:12. He disappointeth the devices of the crafty — On the contrary, he defeats the craftiest designs of evil and subtle men to exalt themselves. They may place a great deal of confidence in their own abilities, and, without any regard to the overruling hand of Providence, may imagine that their good or bad success in the world depends wholly on their own wisdom and efforts: they may form deep and secret designs; and, to the utmost stretch of their knowledge and foresight, may contrive and project measures which will have the most plausible appearance of accomplishing their purpose. But after all this dexterous management, should the Almighty once interpose, and throw an obstacle in their way, all their crafty devices are frustrated, and their promising expectations vanish away. So that their hands cannot perform their enterprise — Hebrew, תושׁיה, tushijah, a word of an extensive meaning, implying that which is solid and substantial, or which is wise, good, and virtuous. Instead of executing any thing of moment, any thing advantageous or praiseworthy; instead of having the satisfaction of seeing a prosperous event of their best-formed counsels, they quickly perceive with what weak hands they have been labouring, and that all their aspiring attempts are vain and fruitless.
He taketh the wise in their own craftiness: and the counsel of the froward is carried headlong.Job 5:13-14. He taketh the wise in their own craftiness — Men wise to do evil, or wise in the opinion of the world; he not only deceives their hopes and counsels, but turns those counsels against themselves. And the counsel of the froward — Hebrew, Of the perverse, or wrestlers, such as wind and turn every way, as wrestlers do, and will leave no means untried to accomplish their designs: is carried headlong — That is, tumbled down and broken, and that by their own precipitation and haste. Such is their malice, that they cannot proceed leisurely and wisely, but are eager, and venturous, and rash, and so make more haste than good speed in their wicked designs: or, the meaning may be, The event will show that such deceitful cunning, though never so coolly and sedately digested, will deserve no better name than precipitate rashness and infatuation. They meet with darkness in the day-time — In plain things they run into gross mistakes, and choose those courses which are worst for themselves. Darkness often denotes misery, but here ignorance or error. And grope in the noon-day — Like blind men to find their way, not knowing what to do. They trip in the plainest way, and see not their danger, when it is visible to every body but themselves.
They meet with darkness in the daytime, and grope in the noonday as in the night.
But he saveth the poor from the sword, from their mouth, and from the hand of the mighty.Job 5:15. But he saveth the poor, &c. — According to the order in which the words stand in the Hebrew, the translation is, But he saveth from the sword, from their mouth, and from the hand of the mighty, the poor. Schultens thinks it should be interpreted, from the sword which proceedeth out of their mouth, meaning, their cutting and killing reproaches. A sense this which is approved by Buxtorf, and which receives no small confirmation from divers passages of Scripture, in which reproachful language is stigmatized by the name of a sword. See Psalm 57:4; Psalm 64:3. Dr. Waterland’s translation of the verse is to the same purpose. But he saveth the poor from destruction by their mouth, and from the hand of the mighty. The general sense undoubtedly is, that God saveth such as, being poor, are defenceless, and therefore flee to him for refuge, from the censures, slanders, threatenings, and deceitful insinuations of their enemies; from the false swearing of witnesses, and the unrighteous sentences of corrupt judges, by which things their characters, or estates, or lives, may be exposed to great hazards.
So the poor hath hope, and iniquity stoppeth her mouth.Job 5:16. So the poor, &c. — Hebrews ותהי לדל, vatehi ladal, even to the poor there is hope: Dal signifies one who is deprived of his strength or power, either by poverty or sickness: in Arabic, He who is submissive, and humbles himself in a low, abject manner. Here the interpretation seems to be, Even the abject, contemptible man hath hope; that is, obtains what he hoped for from God, to whom he had committed his cause. And iniquity — Iniquitous men, the abstract term being put for the concrete, as pride, deceit, injustice, are put for proud, deceitful, unrighteous men, Jeremiah 13:9; 2 Peter 3:13. Stoppeth her mouth — They are silenced and confounded, finding not only the poor are got out of their snares, but that the oppressors themselves are insnared in them.
Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty:Job 5:17. Behold — Consider, for what I am saying, though most true and important, will not be believed, without serious consideration. Eliphaz concludes his discourse with giving Job a comfortable hope of deliverance from his troubles, and of restoration to his former, or even a greater state of prosperity, if he humbled himself before God. Happy is the man — Hebrews blessednesses, various kinds and degrees of happiness belong to that man whom God rebukes. The reason is plain, because afflictions are pledges of God’s love, which no man can buy too dear; and are necessary to purge out sin, and thereby to prevent infinite and eternal miseries. Without respect to this, the proposition could not be true. And therefore it plainly shows, that good men in those ancient times had the belief and hope of everlasting blessedness. Despise not — Do not abhor it as a thing pernicious, refuse it as a thing useless, or slight it as an unnecessary thing: but more is designed than is expressed. Reverence the chastening of the Lord: have an humble, awful regard to his correcting hand, and study to answer the design of it. The Almighty — Who is able to support and comfort thee in thy troubles, and deliver thee out of them; and also to add more calamities to them, if thou art obstinate and incorrigible.
For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole.Job 5:18-19. For he maketh sore, &c. — God’s usual method is first to wound and then to heal, first to convince and then to comfort, first to humble and then to exalt. And he never makes a wound too great, too deep, for himself to cure. He will deliver thee — If thou seek to him by prayer and repentance; in six troubles — In distresses, manifold and repeated. Here he applies himself to Job directly. Yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee — Thou shalt have a good issue out of all thy troubles, though they be both great and many.
He shall deliver thee in six troubles: yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee.
In famine he shall redeem thee from death: and in war from the power of the sword.Job 5:20. In famine he shall redeem thee from death — From that terrible kind of death. Eliphaz might think that Job feared perishing by want, as being so poor, that he needed the contributions of his friends for his relief. And in war from the sword — These things he utters with more confidence, because the rewards or punishments of this life were more constantly distributed to men in the Old Testament, according to their good or bad behaviour, than they are now: and, because it was his opinion, that great afflictions were the certain evidences of wickedness; and, consequently, that great deliverances would infallibly follow upon true repentance.
Thou shalt be hid from the scourge of the tongue: neither shalt thou be afraid of destruction when it cometh.Job 5:21-22. Thou shalt be hid — Protected, as in some secret and safe place; from the scourge of the tongue — From false accusations, and virulent slanders and reproaches. Neither shalt thou be afraid of destruction — Thou shalt have no cause to fear it, because God will secure thee in it and from it: when it cometh — Namely, upon others, near or round about thee. Bishop Patrick’s paraphrase on the verse is, “False accusers shall not be able to hurt thee; and when whole countries are depopulated, thou shalt be secure.” At destruction, &c., thou shalt laugh — With a laughter of joy and triumph; arising from a just security and confidence in God’s watchful and gracious providence. Neither shalt thou be afraid of the beasts of the field — The wild beasts, which were numerous and mischievous in those parts. As no apprehensions of fear shall possess thee in other heavy calamities, so neither shalt thou be under any dreadful consternation, should even the most fierce and savage beasts of the earth rise up against and be ready to devour thee. Perhaps it is not possible for that peace of mind, which arises from a good conscience and a confidence in the divine care and protection, to be expressed more elegantly or poetically than it is in this verse. Thus, leviathan, so far from being terrified, is said to laugh at the shaking of a spear, Job 41:29. And God himself, in the same beautiful style, is represented as disdaining the politic intrigues of kings, and the crafty counsels of the rulers of the earth against his church. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh, the Lord shall have them in derision, Psalm 2:4.
At destruction and famine thou shalt laugh: neither shalt thou be afraid of the beasts of the earth.
For thou shalt be in league with the stones of the field: and the beasts of the field shall be at peace with thee.Job 5:23. Thou shalt be in league with the stones of the field — Thou shalt be free from any annoyance thereby, as if they had made an inviolable league with thee. It is a bold metaphor, but such are frequent in the Scriptures, as also in other authors. And the beasts of the field shall be at peace with thee — This is an addition to the former privilege; they shall not hurt thee, Job 5:22. Nay, they shall befriend thee, as being at peace with thee. Our covenant with God is a covenant with all the creatures, that they shall do us no hurt, but serve and be ready to do us good.
And thou shalt know that thy tabernacle shall be in peace; and thou shalt visit thy habitation, and shalt not sin.Job 5:24. And thou shalt know — By certain and constant experience; that thy tabernacle shall be in peace — That is, thy habitation, as it follows, including also the inhabitants, children or friends, and servants. They shall enjoy great safety from all their enemies, and concord among themselves, and prosperity in all their concerns; all which things are comprehended under the sweet name of peace. And thou shalt visit thy habitation — Shalt order and manage thy family, and all thy domestic and worldly affairs, with care and diligence; and shalt not sin — Either by unrighteousness in thy dealings, with thy family or others; or by neglecting God and his service in thy family, or by conniving at any sin in thy domestics, which thou canst hinder. But because Job’s duty does not seem to be the subject of Eliphaz’s discourse here, but rather his privilege, and that in outward and worldly things, the clause is probably better rendered thus: And thou shalt not err, or miscarry, or miss thy way. Thou shalt not be disappointed of thy hopes, or blasted in thy endeavours, but shalt succeed in them. “When thou takest an account of thine estate,” says Bishop Patrick, “all things shall answer thine expectation.”
Thou shalt know also that thy seed shall be great, and thine offspring as the grass of the earth.Job 5:25. Thou shalt know — By assurance from God’s promises, the impressions of his Spirit, and by experience, in due time, that thy seed shall be great — Thy posterity, which God shall give thee, instead of those whom thou hast lost, shall be high, and honourable, and powerful: or, shall be many, as רב, rab, often signifies. And thine offspring — The fruit of thy body; (for he speaks of his natural, not of his spiritual seed, as Abraham’s seed is in part to be understood;) as the grass of the earth —
Both for its plentiful increase, and for its flourishing greenness.
Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in in his season.Job 5:26. Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age: &c. — Heath translates it, In old age shalt thou come to the sepulchre, as the corn is heaped upon the thrashing-floor in its season. Thou shalt die in a mature and old, though vigorous age, as the word implies. It is a great blessing to live to a full age, and not to have the number of our years cut short: much more to be willing to die; to come cheerfully to the grave; and to die seasonably; in the best time, when our souls are just ripe for God.
Lo this, we have searched it, so it is; hear it, and know thou it for thy good.Job 5:27. Lo this, we have searched out — It is not my single opinion, but my brethren concur with me, as thou wilt hear from their own mouths. And it is no rash or hasty conceit, but what we have learned by deep consideration, long experience, and diligent observation. Know thou it for thy good — Know it for thyself, (so the word is,) make application of it to thine own case. That which we thus hear and know for ourselves, we hear and know for our good.