Job 27
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Ch. 27. Job protests his innocence

The third speaker, Zophar, fails to come forward; and Job, after a pause, resumes his discourse. This discourse is necessary in order to give this third cycle of speeches the same form as the previous two had. In each case Job in his third speech directly attacks the previous arguments of his opponents. In ch. 22 Eliphaz had made against him plain charges of great wickedness. Job now meets these by a solemn protestation before God of his innocence (ch. Job 27:1-6).

As the chapters are at present arranged Job’s final discourse consists of two parts, one occupying chap. 27–28, and the other ch. 29–31, at the close of which stands the formula, The words of Job are ended. The exposition of ch. 27–28. is beset with difficulty, partly because the line of thought is hard to trace, and partly because the sentiments expressed by Job seem to be in contradiction to the position he has hitherto maintained and which he again resumes in the following chapters. Hence doubts have been entertained by very many writers whether these two chapters ought really to be ascribed to Job, some considering that the discourses in this part of the Book have fallen into disorder and been attributed to the wrong speakers, and others that the main part of the passage ch. 27–28 is an altogether foreign element, which has been introduced into the Book after it left the hand of the original writer. See the Introduction.

Chap. 27 consists of two main parts,

First, Job 27:1-6, a solemn protestation before God by Job of his innocence;

And second, Job 27:7-23, a picture of the condition of the wicked man, in two divisions, (1) his dreary and desolate condition of mind, having no hope in God, when death or afflictions overtake him, Job 27:7-10; and (2) the terrible external destruction that befalls him at the hand of God, Job 27:11-23.

Moreover Job continued his parable, and said,
As God liveth, who hath taken away my judgment; and the Almighty, who hath vexed my soul;
2. my judgment] As above, my right. God has taken this away by afflicting Job unjustly. The state of Job’s mind here is altogether the same as before. He still cleaves to God and swears by His name, and still charges Him with iniquity in His treatment of himself.

vexed my soul] lit. embittered, i. e. by his mysterious afflictions; comp. Ruth 1:20 (“dealt bitterly”).

2–6. Job with the solemnity of an oath by God declares that he speaks in sincerity when affirming his innocence. Till he die he will not admit his guilt; his conscience reproaches him for no part of his life.

Job 27:2-4 read,

2.  As God liveth who hath taken away my right,

And the Almighty who hath made bitter my soul,

3.  (For my life is yet whole in me,

And the breath of God is in my nostrils),

4.  My lips do not speak unjustly,

Neither doth my tongue utter deceit.

All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils;
3. all the while] The sense is rather as given above, according to the parallel passage, 2 Samuel 1:9. The phrase “my life” in the first clause is lit. my breath. The words are parenthetical, and are thrown in to add weight to the affirmation of his rectitude which Job is about to make (Job 27:4); they imply that, though reduced by disease, he is in possession of all his powers, and flings the whole force of his being into his affirmation.

My lips shall not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit.
4. my lips shall not] Rather, do not. These words contain Job’s oath. He swears that he is sincere and speaks truly; comp. ch. Job 6:28. The words refer to his utterances in general, especially in regard to himself, but naturally in the main, as the connexion requires, to his assertions in regard to his innocence of wrong-doing (Job 27:5-6).

God forbid that I should justify you: till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me.
5. should justify you] i. e. concede that you are in the right, viz. in charging me with evil.

remove my integrity] i. e. give up my blamelessness—refrain from asserting my innocence.

My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live.
6. The second clause of Job 27:6 reads,

My heart reproacheth not one of my days,

or, my heart reproaches (me) not since I was alive, i. e. during all my life. Of course the words have reference to the kind of charges laid against Job by his friends (e.g. ch. Job 22:6-9), and not to the sinfulness of nature common to all men, ch. Job 14:2. The “heart” in Heb. is the conscience or consciousness. Luther expresses the meaning vigorously when he translates: “My conscience bites me not in respect of my whole life.” Comp. the whole of ch. 31, which is but an expansion of these words.

Let mine enemy be as the wicked, and he that riseth up against me as the unrighteous.
7. In Job 27:2-6 Job protested his sincerity in affirming his innocence. With Job 27:7 commences a description of the misery of mind, and the outward destruction at the hand of God, which are the portion of the unrighteous. The “wicked” is the subject throughout to the end of the chapter; therefore in the words “let mine enemy be as the wicked” the emphasis falls on “wicked.” The words express the speaker’s abhorrence of the “wicked,” they do not imprecate evil on his “enemy.” It it understood that he wishes his “enemy” ill, and he can wish him nothing worse than that he should be as the “wicked”—so much does he himself shrink from the thought of being as the wicked are. Others (e.g. Delitzsch) put the emphasis on “enemy,” taking that expression to mean “him who accuses me of iniquity”—mine enemy must appear an evil-doer, inasmuch as he charges me falsely. This makes the verse a mere parenthetical imprecation by Job on his friends, for the words taken in this sense have no connexion with Job 27:8-10. The speaker, rather, repudiates the idea of his being one of the wicked, and he does so because he shudders to think that the condition of the mind of the wicked man, who has no hope in God, should be his—his condition of mind is very different (Job 27:8-10). Still even when taken in this, their only natural sense, the words of Job 27:7 have no strict logical connexion with Job 27:2-6. The connexion is: “I will never cease to maintain that I am a righteous man, for how comfortless in calamity is the condition of the wicked!” while strictly it should be: “I will never cease holding on to the way of righteousness, for how comfortless in affliction is the wicked man, having no hope in God!” So far as the mere language of Job 27:5-6 is concerned, the expressions “I will not remove mine integrity from me,” “and my righteousness I hold fast,” might have the meaning “I will continue to live a righteous life” (comp. ch. Job 2:9), but such a meaning is absolutely excluded here by the connexion and general scope of Job 27:2-6.

7–10. The dreary and desolate condition of the mind of the wicked man in affliction.

For what is the hope of the hypocrite, though he hath gained, when God taketh away his soul?
8. The verse most probably means,

For what is the hope of the godless man when God cutteth off,

When he taketh away his soul?

lit. when He cutteth off, when God draweth out his soul. The comfortless state of the ungodly man (A. V. hypocrite, see on ch. Job 8:13), who has no trust in God, is described in three conditions of his history, first, when he is at the moment of death, when God “cutteth (him) off” and “draweth out his soul” (Job 27:8); second, when calamity overtakes him (Job 27:9); and in general, in his whole life (Job 27:10).

Will God hear his cry when trouble cometh upon him?
Will he delight himself in the Almighty? will he always call upon God?
10. will he delight himself?] Or, doth he delight himself? The wicked man has no consolation, no resource, in the manifold conditions of life when men need higher help than their own; he has no pleasure in God nor fellowship with Him, and cannot appeal to Him.

It is manifest that in these verses the speaker means to contrast his own condition of mind with that of the godless man. He has hope in God, in death and in trouble, for he delighteth himself in God at all times. Such words as those in Job 27:8; Job 27:10, are not out of place in the mouth of Job, comp. ch. Job 16:19 seq., Job 19:25 seq., Job 23:10 seq., Job 31:2-6. It is less easy, however, to combine what is implied in the words of Job 27:9, “Will God hear his cry when trouble cometh upon him?” with Job’s repeated complaints that God refused to hear him, e. g. ch. Job 13:24, Job 19:7, and many other passages. The only solution would be to consider that he had fought his way through to an assured trust in God, such as he had cherished during his past life (ch. Job 12:4 seq.), or rather, that such a trust here suddenly broke upon him and filled his mind, and enabled him to look now for release from his calamities and restoration—in a word to anticipate that issue of his afflictions which actually ensued. And such is the construction which some of the ablest commentators (e.g. Ewald) put upon the language. Such a change of view in regard to the issue of his afflictions implies a complete revolution in Job’s mind, for he had hitherto consistently and even pertinaciously (ch. Job 17:1-2; Job 17:10-16) contended that his malady was mortal, and continued to do this even so late as ch. Job 23:14, “For he will perform the thing appointed for me.” Such a revolution, however, may be conceived and admitted, provided Job’s subsequent utterances are in harmony with it. Unfortunately, however, they are not; for in ch. Job 30:20 he exclaims, “I cry unto thee and thou dost not hear me, I stand up and thou gazest at me”; and in Job 27:23 of the same chapter he says, “For I know that thou wilt bring me unto death” (i. e. through his present afflictions). Here he is found again occupying the same position in regard to his malady under the hand of God as he had consistently maintained throughout. It is very hard to reconcile such expressions with ch. Job 27:7-10, on the assumption that the last-named passage really belongs to Job.

I will teach you by the hand of God: that which is with the Almighty will I not conceal.
11. by the hand of God] Rather, concerning the hand of God. In a brief preface Job intimates that he will instruct his friends regarding the hand of God, that is, His operation, His method of dealing with the wicked.

with the Almighty] There is no just ground for restricting the phrase with the Almighty to the meaning, the plans or purposes of the Almighty, the general principles of His government, which continue to be His principles though they may not for a time appear in actual operation. Such a limitation is interpolated into the text, and is contrary to the parallelism of the first clause. In Job 27:13 the same phrase occurs, “the portion of the wicked man with God,” which is interpreted in the next clause as “the heritage which they receive from the Almighty.” The words refer to no ideal of moral government, such as always exists and may always manifest itself; they describe God’s actual treatment of the wicked man, apart from all limitation. This is the doctrine of the three friends; that of Job in ch. 21, and even ch. 24 was very different.

11–23. The disastrous fate of the wicked man at the hand of God.

Job 27:7-10 drew a contrast between the internal state of the mind of the speaker and that of the sinner; in these verses the contrast is pursued in a terrible picture of the external history and fate of the sinner at the hand of God. From Job’s hand such a picture can have no meaning, unless either he now anticipates for himself a happy issue out of his afflictions, and restoration to prosperity, while the calamities that befall the wicked are final; or regards his own afflictions, even though they should bring him unto death, as altogether different in their character and marks from those that bring the wicked man to destruction. Either side of the alternative sets Job in complete contradiction to his position in the chapters that precede and follow this one. On the former side see on Job 27:10. The latter side supposes Job now to take a view of his afflictions entirely opposed to that which he has hitherto taken and continues to take, namely that they are due to the enmity and hostility of God (ch. Job 13:24, Job 16:9, Job 19:11; Job 19:22, but also ch. Job 30:21, and even the present chap. Job 27:2-6)—a view which Elihu severely animadverts upon, ch. Job 33:10 seq. And the idea that to become the prey of pestilence and sword (Job 27:14-15) is a sure mark of a wicked man, while to be the victim of a fatal and loathsome malady is no such proof of wickedness (Delitzsch), is one which it is difficult to treat with seriousness.

Behold, all ye yourselves have seen it; why then are ye thus altogether vain?
12. are ye thus altogether vain?] i. e. wherefore do ye cherish and express opinions regarding me so foolish? “Two things are surprising here,” says Dillmann, “first, that Job should undertake to teach the three friends what they had always affirmed; and second, that he should say the opposite of what he had maintained in ch. 21, and 24 of the prosperity of the wicked even to their death.” A third thing might also seem surprising, namely that Job, while now coinciding with his friends in opinion, should reproach them with folly. To appropriate their sentiments and cover the operation by calling them foolish persons was not generous. The connexion, however, of the two clauses in this verse implies that what the three friends had seen of the fate of the wicked (as now to be described by Job , vv13-23) ought to have prevented them from coming to such conclusions regarding Job’s character as they had expressed or insinuated. Obviously to make such a reproach appropriate there must have been a difference clear to the eye between Job’s case and the fate of the wicked. But wherein lay the difference, in Job’s present condition? The three friends might be excused if they did not perceive it. The words do not seem to fit the condition in which Job still remains at the stage of development which the Poem has up to the present reached.

This is the portion of a wicked man with God, and the heritage of oppressors, which they shall receive of the Almighty.
13–23. The utter destruction of the wicked man is exhibited in three turns: his children and descendants are destined for the sword, and become the prey of famine and pestilence (Job 27:13-15); his wealth and possessions pass into the hands of the righteous, and his home perishes (Job 27:16-18); and he himself is cut off suddenly by awful calamities at the hand of God, and amidst the execrations of men (Job 27:19-23).

If his children be multiplied, it is for the sword: and his offspring shall not be satisfied with bread.
14. With the sentiment of this verse compare Job’s former words in regard to the wicked, “Their seed is established in their sight with them, and their offspring before their eyes. They send forth their little ones like a flock, and their children dance. They spend their days in wealth,” ch. Job 21:8 seq.

Those that remain of him shall be buried in death: and his widows shall not weep.
15. buried in death] “Death” is here, as often (Jeremiah 15:2; Jeremiah 18:21; Jeremiah 43:11) pestilence. Those that sword and famine spare (Job 27:14) become the prey of the pestilence, and their burial shall be such as those so dying receive, without funeral rites and with no accompaniment of lamenting women. This idea is more distinctly expressed in the next clause, “his widows shall not weep”; comp. Psalm 78:64. Comp. Job’s previous words as to the “burial” of the wicked, ch. Job 21:32.

Though he heap up silver as the dust, and prepare raiment as the clay;
16. The “dust” and “clay” or mire are images that express extreme abundance, Zechariah 9:3, 1 Kings 10:27. Great wardrobes of costly garments are a usual element of Oriental wealth, Genesis 24:53, Joshua 7:21, 2 Kings 7:8, Matthew 6:19.

He may prepare it, but the just shall put it on, and the innocent shall divide the silver.
17. When the ungodly are swept away the righteous remain and enter into their possessions, and the meek inherit the earth, Psalm 37:29; Psalm 37:34.

He buildeth his house as a moth, and as a booth that the keeper maketh.
18. The “booth” of the “keeper” referred to is the flimsy hut erected in the vineyard or other gardens as a post for the watchman, who protects the fruit from theft or destruction by wild beasts. As described by Wetzstein (Del. Comm. on Job, Trans, ii. p. 74, 2nd ed. p. 348), it is built of four poles struck into the ground in the form of a square. About eight feet from the ground cross sticks are tied to these poles, over which boards are laid, and thus a couch is formed for the keeper. Some feet higher up other cross pieces of wood are fixed, and over these boughs or matting is thrown to form a roof. Such a booth is called a “lodge” Isaiah 1:8, and its unsubstantial character is indicated when it is said to “swing to and fro,” Isaiah 24:20.

The rich man shall lie down, but he shall not be gathered: he openeth his eyes, and he is not.
19. the rich man shall lie down] “Rich” is equivalent to “wicked,” Isaiah 53:9. The words might be rendered, he lieth down rich.

shall not be gathered] The parallel in the next clause, he is not, suggests the general sense, he shall rise no more. Perhaps the most probable sense is that he shall not “be gathered and buried,” according to the passages, Jeremiah 8:2; Jeremiah 25:33, Ezekiel 29:5; he shall have no funeral solemnities but shall be carried away by a sudden destruction. Others assume (after the Sept.) a different vocalization, he shall do it (lie down) no more. This is rather flat.

he openeth his eyes, and he is not] The words describe the suddenness of his destruction. The phrase is no more remarkable than that in 2 Kings 19:35, “When they arose early in the morning behold they were all dead corpses.” It is hardly necessary to circumscribe the words, “Hardly shall the sinner open his eyes, to view his destruction, when he is swept away.”

Terrors take hold on him as waters, a tempest stealeth him away in the night.
20. The figure of overwhelming waters is a natural one in the East and common in Scripture, Psalm 18:16, Nahum 1:8. Comp. the language of Eliphaz to Job, ch. Job 22:11.

The east wind carrieth him away, and he departeth: and as a storm hurleth him out of his place.
21. The east wind is gusty and tempestuous, ch. Job 38:24, Psalm 48:7. See Wetzstein’s note in Del.

and as a storm hurleth] Or, and in storm hurleth. With this which Job says of the sinner compare what he says of himself, ch. Job 9:17, Job 30:22, “Thou liftest me up to the wind; thou causest me to ride upon it, and dissolvest me in the tempest”; and see his former query regarding the wicked, ch. Job 21:18.

For God shall cast upon him, and not spare: he would fain flee out of his hand.
22. shall cast upon him] i. e. shall shoot down upon him His destroying arrows, Numbers 35:20. Comp. again what Job says of himself, ch. Job 6:4, Job 16:13, “His arrows compass me round about, he cleaveth my reins and doth not spare.

Men shall clap their hands at him, and shall hiss him out of his place.
23. men shall clap their hands] Clapping the hands is a token of malignant gladness, Lamentations 2:15, and “hissing” a token of scorn and dislike, Jeremiah 49:17. See ch. Job 18:18, Job 20:27. Comp. what Job says of his own treatment by men, ch. Job 17:6, Job 30:9-14.

The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bible Hub
Job 26
Top of Page
Top of Page