Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Then Job answered the LORD, and said,Ch. Job 42:1-6. Job’s reply to the Lord’s Second Address from the Storm
The Lord’s words make Job feel more deeply than before that greatness which belongs to God alone, and with deep compunction he retracts his past words and repents in dust and ashes.
I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.2. do every thing] Or, canst do all.
no thought can be withholden] That is, no purpose. The meaning is that there is no purpose which the Almighty cannot carry out. Though literally the words seem merely an acknowledgement of power, they are also an admission of wisdom, the plans or purposes of which may be beyond the understanding of man (Job 42:3). Job does not, as might have been expected, acknowledge the Divine righteousness. His confession corresponds to the Almighty’s address to him. That address did not insist on any one Divine attribute, but rather presented God in the whole circle of His attributes, power and wisdom but also goodness, for He refreshes the thirsty ground where no man is. He feeds the ravens, and presides over the birth-pangs of the goats of the rock; and His omnipotence goes hand in hand with His moral rule (ch. Job 40:9 seq.). The Divine nature is not a segment but a circle. Any one Divine attribute implies all others. Omnipotence cannot exist apart from righteousness. Similarly Job’s reply reflects the great, general impression of God now made on him. The exhibition of the Divine wisdom as it operates in nature has led him to feel that within his own history also there is a divine “thought” or “counsel,” though he is unable to understand it. It can hardly, however, be the Author’s purpose to teach the general principle that the “counsel” of God is incomprehensible, because he gives an explanation of it in the Prologue. He is not teaching general principles here, but shewing the position which just thoughts of God will induce a man to take, even when God’s dealings may be beyond his understanding.
Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.3. who is he that hideth] That is, that obscures counsel. The words of the Almighty (ch. Job 38:2) echo through Job’s mind, and he repeats them, speaking of himself. The rest of the verse expands the idea of “obscuring counsel,” or states its consequence. As one that obscured counsel Job had uttered that which he understood not. The reference is to his former judgments regarding God’s operations in the world, and the rashness of his own language.
Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me.4. hear, I beseech thee] Or, hear now, and I will speak. The words are not an entreaty on the part of Job that the Almighty would further instruct him; they are a repetition of the words of the Lord (ch. Job 38:3, Job 40:7). The verse is closely connected with Job 42:5, which suggests under what feeling Job repeats the words of God to him. He recites the divine challenge and puts it away from him—“Declare unto thee! (Job 42:4) that be far from me; I had heard of thee with the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee” (Job 42:5). This is more natural than to suppose Job 42:4 uttered with a kind of self-irony, as if Job, in repeating the words of the divine challenge, also entered into the ironical spirit of it. In either case Job 42:5 has a half-apologetic meaning, accounting for Job’s former rashness.
I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.5. I have heard] Rather perhaps, I had heard. Job’s former knowledge of God, though he had prided himself upon it (ch. 12–13), seems to him now only such a knowledge as one gets by hearsay, confused and defective. His present knowledge is that of eyesight, immediate and full (Isaiah 52:8).
Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.6. The effect of this deeper knowledge of God upon Job’s heart.
I abhor myself] The word myself is not expressed; what has to be supplied as the object of “abhor” is rather it, that is, my former language and demeanour. The word means, I retract, or repudiate.
And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words unto Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath.7. the thing which is right] The Lord blames the three friends for not speaking that which was right concerning Him, not concerning Job; He also commends Job for speaking what was right concerning Him. It is obvious that the three friends spoke many just and profound things concerning God, and that Job on the other hand said many things that were both blameworthy and false, things for which he was both rebuked by the Almighty, and expressed his penitence. The reference cannot be to such things as these. Neither can the charge made against the friends here be merely that brought against them by Job, that they did not speak in honesty and sincerity (ch. Job 6:25, Job 13:7), though this may be included. Rather, the friends are blamed for speaking in regard to God that which was not right, or true, in itself; and the reference must be to the theories they put forth in regard to God’s providence and the meaning of afflictions. On this point the friends spoke in regard to God what was not right, while Job spoke that which was right (ch. Job 21:23-24). The Author puts the Divine imprimatur on his own theory of the meaning of suffering, or at least on Job’s attacks on the theories advocated by the three friends.
The three friends “had really inculpated the providence of God by their professed defence of it. By disingenuously covering up and ignoring its enigmas and seeming contradictions, they had cast more discredit upon it than Job by honestly holding them up to the light. Their denial of its apparent inequalities was more untrue and more dishonouring to the divine administration, as it is in fact conducted, than Job’s bold affirmation of them. Even his most startling utterances wrung from him in his bewilderment and sore perplexity were less reprehensible than their false statements and false inferences” (Green, Book of Job, p. 219).
Ch. Job 42:7-17. Job, having humbled himself before God, is restored to a prosperity two-fold that which he enjoyed before
7–9. Job is commanded to intercede for his three friends lest Jehovah should visit their folly upon them, because they spoke not that which was right concerning Him.
Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job.
So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went, and did according as the LORD commanded them: the LORD also accepted Job.
And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.10. turned the captivity] The metaphorical use of the phrase would readily arise in a state of society like that in the East. The expression means that Job’s afflictions were removed and his prosperity restored.
10–16. Job is restored to a prosperity double that which he formerly enjoyed; his former friends gather around him; he is again blessed with children; and dies, old and full of days.
Then came there unto him all his brethren, and all his sisters, and all they that had been of his acquaintance before, and did eat bread with him in his house: and they bemoaned him, and comforted him over all the evil that the LORD had brought upon him: every man also gave him a piece of money, and every one an earring of gold.11. Comp. Job’s sorrowful lamentations over the alienation of all his friends and acquaintances, ch. Job 19:13 seq.
piece of money] The Heb. is Kesita, probably an uncoined piece of silver, of a certain weight, Genesis 33:19; Joshua 24:32.
So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses.12. The exact doubling of Job’s former possessions shews that we are not reading literal history here.
He had also seven sons and three daughters.13–15. The former number of Job’s children is restored to him. The name Jemima probably means dove, comp. Song of Solomon 6:9; Song of Solomon 5:2; Kezia is cassia, the aromatic spice, Psalm 45:8, Song of Solomon 1:3; and Kerenhappúch means horn (or box) of eye-paint, puch being the paint or powder used by Oriental women to add lustre to the eye. The Sept. curiously renders horn of Amalthea, cornu copiœ, horn of plenty. A French commentator considers it important to remark that “les trois noms sont destinés à relever les grâces de ces filles, et pas le moins du monde leur coquetterie” (Reuss).
And he called the name of the first, Jemima; and the name of the second, Kezia; and the name of the third, Kerenhappuch.
And in all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job: and their father gave them inheritance among their brethren.15. inheritance among their brethren] The Hebrew practice was that the daughters inherited only when there was no son, Numbers 27:1 seq. The disposition of his property made by Job would retain the sisters in the midst of their brethren even after marriage, and allow the affectionate relations existing among Job’s children to continue.
After this lived Job an hundred and forty years, and saw his sons, and his sons' sons, even four generations.
So Job died, being old and full of days.17. Job dies, old and full of days. “Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy” (James 5:11).