Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said,
Job 22:1-30. As Before, Eliphaz Begins.
1. Eliphaz shows that man's goodness does not add to, or man's badness take from, the happiness of God; therefore it cannot be that God sends prosperity to some and calamities on others for His own advantage; the cause of the goods and ills sent must lie in the men themselves (Ps 16:2; Lu 17:10; Ac 17:25; 1Ch 29:14). So Job's calamities must arise from guilt. Eliphaz, instead of meeting the facts, tries to show that it could not be so.
Can a man be profitable unto God, as he that is wise may be profitable unto himself?
2. as he that is wise—rather, yea the pious man profiteth himself. So "understanding" or "wise"—pious (Da 12:3, 10; Ps 14:2) [Michaelis].
Is it any pleasure to the Almighty, that thou art righteous? or is it gain to him, that thou makest thy ways perfect?
3. pleasure—accession of happiness; God has pleasure in man's righteousness (Ps 45:7), but He is not dependent on man's character for His happiness.
Will he reprove thee for fear of thee? will he enter with thee into judgment?
4. Is the punishment inflicted on thee from fear of thee, in order to disarm thee? as Job had implied (see on Job 7:12; Job 7:20; and Job 10:17).
will he enter … into judgment?—Job had desired this (Job 13:3, 21). He ought rather to have spoken as in Ps 143:2.
Is not thy wickedness great? and thine iniquities infinite?
5. Heretofore Eliphaz had only insinuated, now he plainly asserts Job's guilt, merely on the ground of his sufferings.
For thou hast taken a pledge from thy brother for nought, and stripped the naked of their clothing.
6. The crimes alleged, on a harsh inference, by Eliphaz against Job are such as he would think likely to be committed by a rich man. The Mosaic law (Ex 22:26; De 24:10) subsequently embodied the feeling that existed among the godly in Job's time against oppression of debtors as to their pledges. Here the case is not quite the same; Job is charged with taking a pledge where he had no just claim to it; and in the second clause, that pledge (the outer garment which served the poor as a covering by day and a bed by night) is represented as taken from one who had not "changes of raiment" (a common constituent of wealth in the East), but was poorly clad—"naked" (Mt 25:36; Jas 2:15); a sin the more heinous in a rich man like Job.
Thou hast not given water to the weary to drink, and thou hast withholden bread from the hungry.
7. Hospitality to the weary traveller is regarded in the East as a primary duty (Isa 21:14).
But as for the mighty man, he had the earth; and the honourable man dwelt in it.
8. mighty—Hebrew, "man of arm" (Ps 10:15; namely, Job).
honourable—Hebrew, "eminent, or, accepted for countenance" (Isa 3:3; 2Ki 5:1); that is, possessing authority. Eliphaz repeats his charge (Job 15:28; so Zophar, Job 20:19), that it was by violence Job wrung houses and lands from the poor, to whom now he refused relief (Job 22:7, 9) [Michaelis].
Thou hast sent widows away empty, and the arms of the fatherless have been broken.
9. empty—without their wants being relieved (Ge 31:42). The Mosaic law especially protected the widow and fatherless (Ex 22:22); the violation of it in their case by the great is a complaint of the prophets (Isa 1:17).
arms—supports, helps, on which one leans (Ho 7:15). Thou hast robbed them of their only stay. Job replies in Job 29:11-16.
Therefore snares are round about thee, and sudden fear troubleth thee;
10. snares—alluding to Job's admission (Job 19:6; compare Job 18:10; Pr 22:5).
Or darkness, that thou canst not see; and abundance of waters cover thee.
11. that—so that thou.
abundance—floods. Danger by floods is a less frequent image in this book than in the rest of the Old Testament (Job 11:16; 27:20).
Is not God in the height of heaven? and behold the height of the stars, how high they are!
12. Eliphaz says this to prove that God can from His height behold all things; gratuitously inferring that Job denied it, because he denied that the wicked are punished here.
height—Hebrew, "head of the stars"; that is, "elevation" (Job 11:8).
And thou sayest, How doth God know? can he judge through the dark cloud?
13. Rather, And yet thou sayest, God does not concern Himself with ("know") human affairs (Ps 73:11).
Thick clouds are a covering to him, that he seeth not; and he walketh in the circuit of heaven.
14. in the circuit of heaven—only, not taking any part in earthly affairs. Job is alleged as holding this Epicurean sentiment (La 3:44; Isa 29:15; 40:27; Jer 23:24; Eze 8:12; Ps 139:12).
Hast thou marked the old way which wicked men have trodden?
15. marked—Rather, Dost thou keep to? that is, wish to follow (so Hebrew, 2Sa 22:22). If so, beware of sharing their end.
the old way—the degenerate ways of the world before the flood (Ge 6:5).
Which were cut down out of time, whose foundation was overflown with a flood:
16. cut down—rather, "fettered," as in Job 16:8; that is, arrested by death.
out of time—prematurely, suddenly (Job 15:32; Ec 7:17); literally, "whose foundation was poured out (so as to become) a stream or flood." The solid earth passed from beneath their feet into a flood (Ge 7:11).
Which said unto God, Depart from us: and what can the Almighty do for them?
17. Eliphaz designedly uses Job's own words (Job 21:14, 15).
do for them—They think they can do everything for themselves.
Yet he filled their houses with good things: but the counsel of the wicked is far from me.
18. "Yet" you say (see on Job 21:16) that it is "He who filled their houses with good"—"their good is not in their hand," but comes from God.
but the counsel … is—rather, "may the counsel be," &c. Eliphaz sarcastically quotes in continuation Job's words (Job 21:16). Yet, after uttering this godless sentiment, thou dost hypocritically add, "May the counsel," &c.
The righteous see it, and are glad: and the innocent laugh them to scorn.
19. Triumph of the pious at the fall of the recent followers of the antediluvian sinners. While in the act of denying that God can do them any good or harm, they are cut off by Him. Eliphaz hereby justifies himself and the friends for their conduct to Job: not derision of the wretched, but joy at the vindication of God's ways (Ps 107:42; Re 15:3; 16:7; 19:1, 2).
Whereas our substance is not cut down, but the remnant of them the fire consumeth.
20. The triumphant speech of the pious. If "substance" be retained, translate, rather as the Septuagint, "Has not their substance been taken away, and … ?" But the Hebrew is rather, "Truly our adversary is cut down" [Gesenius]. The same opposition exists between the godly and ungodly seed as between the unfallen and restored Adam and Satan (adversary); this forms the groundwork of the book (Job 1:1-2:13; Ge 3:15).
remnant—all that "is left" of the sinner; repeated from Job 20:26, which makes Umbreit's rendering "glory" (Margin), "excellency," less probable.
fire—alluding to Job (Job 1:16; 15:34; 18:15). First is mentioned destruction by water (Job 22:16); here, by fire (2Pe 3:5-7).
Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee.
21. Eliphaz takes it for granted, Job is not yet "acquainted" with God; literally, "become a companion of God." Turn with familiar confidence to God.
and be—So thou shalt be: the second imperatively expresses the consequence of obeying the first (Ps 37:27).
peace—prosperity and restoration to Job; true spiritually also to us (Ro 5:1; Col 1:20).
Receive, I pray thee, the law from his mouth, and lay up his words in thine heart.
22. lay up—(Ps 119:11).
If thou return to the Almighty, thou shalt be built up, thou shalt put away iniquity far from thy tabernacles.
23. Built up—anew, as a restored house.
thou shalt put away—rather, "If thou put away" [Michaelis].
Then shalt thou lay up gold as dust, and the gold of Ophir as the stones of the brooks.
24. Rather, containing the protasis from the last clause of Job 22:23, "If thou regard the glittering metal as dust"; literally, "lay it on on the dust"; to regard it of as little value as the dust on which it lies. The apodosis is at Job 22:25, Then shall the Almighty be, &c. God will take the place of the wealth, in which thou didst formerly trust.
gold—rather, "precious" or "glittering metal," parallel to "(gold) of Ophir," in the second clause [Umbreit and Maurer].
Ophir—derived from a Hebrew word "dust," namely, gold dust. Heeren thinks it a general name for the rich countries of the South, on the African, Indian, and especially the Arabian coast (where was the port Aphar. El Ophir, too, a city of Oman, was formerly the center of Arabian commerce). It is curious that the natives of Malacca still call their mines Ophirs.
stones of the brooks—If thou dost let the gold of Ophir remain in its native valley among the stones of the brooks; that is, regard it as of little worth as the stones, &c. The gold was washed down by mountain torrents and lodged among the stones and sand of the valley.
Yea, the Almighty shall be thy defence, and thou shalt have plenty of silver.
Yea—rather, Then shall the Almighty be, &c.
defence—rather, as the same Hebrew means in Job 22:24 (see on Job 22:24)—Thy precious metals; God will be to thee in the place of riches.
plenty of silver—rather, "And shall be to thee in the place of laboriously-obtained treasures of silver" [Gesenius]. Elegantly implying, it is less labor to find God than the hidden metals; at least to the humble seeker (Job 28:12-28). But [Maurer] "the shining silver."
For then shalt thou have thy delight in the Almighty, and shalt lift up thy face unto God.
26. lift up … face, &c.—repeated from Zophar (Job 11:15).
Thou shalt make thy prayer unto him, and he shall hear thee, and thou shalt pay thy vows.
27. (Isa 58:9, 14).
pay thy vows—which thou hast promised to God in the event of thy prayers being heard: God will give thee occasion to pay the former, by hearing the latter.
Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee: and the light shall shine upon thy ways.
When men are cast down, then thou shalt say, There is lifting up; and he shall save the humble person.
29. Rather, When (thy ways; from Job 22:28) are cast down (for a time), thou shalt (soon again have joyful cause to) say, There is lifting up (prosperity returns back to me) [Maurer].
humble—Hebrew, "him that is of low eyes." Eliphaz implies that Job is not so now in his affliction; therefore it continues: with this he contrasts the blessed effect of being humble under it (Jas 4:6; 1Pe 5:5 probably quote this passage). Therefore it is better, I think, to take the first clause as referred to by "God resisteth the proud." When (men) are cast down, thou shalt say (behold the effects of) pride. Eliphaz hereby justifies himself for attributing Job's calamities to his pride. "Giveth grace to the humble," answers to the second clause.
He shall deliver the island of the innocent: and it is delivered by the pureness of thine hands.
30. island—that is, "dwelling." But the Hebrew expresses the negative (1Sa 4:21); translate "Thus He (God) shall deliver him who was not guiltless," namely, one, who like Job himself on conversion shall be saved, but not because he was, as Job so constantly affirms of himself, guiltless, but because he humbles himself (Job 22:29); an oblique attack on Job, even to the last.
and it—Rather, "he (the one not heretofore guiltless) shall be delivered through the purity (acquired since conversion) of thy hands"; by thy intercession (as Ge 18:26, &c.). [Maurer]. The irony is strikingly exhibited in Eliphaz unconsciously uttering words which exactly answer to what happened at last: he and the other two were "delivered" by God accepting the intercession of Job for them (Job 42:7, 8).