Job 1:5
And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.
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(5) Job sent and sanctified them . . .—The earnest records of society exhibit the father of the family acting as the priest. This is one of the passages that show Job was outside the pale and influence of the Mosaic law, whether this was owing to his age or his country. His life in this respect corresponds with that of the patriarchs in Genesis more nearly than any other in Scripture.

Cursed God.—The word used here and in Job 1:11 and Job 2:5; Job 2:9, and also in 1Kings 21:10; 1Kings 21:13, of Naboth, is literally blessed; that in Job 3:1, e.g., &c., being quite different. The contrast in Job 1:22; Job 2:10 snows the Authorised Version to be substantially right, however this contradictory sense is obtained Many languages have words which are used in opposite senses. (Comp. e.g., our “cleave to” and “cleave.”) The use of bless in the sense of curse may be a euphemism, or it may arise from giving to it the meaning of saluting or bidding farewell to, and so dismissing. This use is not elsewhere found than in the passages cited above.

Job 1:5. When the days of their feasting were gone about — When each of them had had his turn, and there was some considerable interval before their next feasting-time; or, as the Hebrew כי הקופו ימי, chi hikkipu jemee, may be rendered, As the days went about, Job sent and sanctified them — Exhorted and commanded them to sanctify themselves, not merely by changing or washing their clothes, (Genesis 35:2; Exodus 19:14,) and performing other ablutions, and acts of ceremonial purification then in use; but by examining their own consciences, repenting of every thing that had been amiss in their feasting, and composing their minds for employments of a more solemn nature. And rose up early in the morning — Thereby showing his ardent zeal in God’s service. And offered burnt- offerings according to the number of them all — Well knowing himself, and hereby teaching them, that all sin, even secret unbelief, ingratitude, and vanity of mind, merited condemnation from God, and could only be expiated by the shedding of blood, and offering of sacrifice, in a spirit of true penitence, and humble, lively faith. It may be my sons have sinned — His zeal for God’s glory, and his love to his children, made him jealous; for which he had sufficient cause, from the corruption of human nature, the frailty and folly of youth, the many temptations which attend feasting, and men’s proneness to slide from lawful to forbidden delights. And cursed God — Not in a gross manner, which it was not probable either that they should do, or that Job should suspect concerning them, but despised or dishonoured God; for both the Hebrew and Greek words which signify cursing, are sometimes used to denote only reviling, or setting light by a person. Thus, what is called cursing one’s father or mother, Exodus 21:17, is elsewhere called setting light by them, as Deuteronomy 27:16; Ezekiel 22:7. In their hearts — By slight and low thoughts of God, or by neglecting to give him the praise of the mercies which they enjoyed. It may be proper to observe, that the word ברךְ, barack, here rendered to curse, usually signifies to bless; but it is evident it is here to be understood in a bad sense, as it is 1 Kings 21:10, where Naboth is accused of cursing or blaspheming God and the king, as it is also Job 2:5; Job 2:9, of this book. It has been thought by some, that it was substituted instead of the word ארר, arar; קבב, ka-bab; or קלל, kalal, (one or other of which is usually put for cursing, or vilifying,) out of reverence for God, when he is spoken of. But, “It is most certain,” says Selden, as quoted by Leigh, “that the verb barak signifies to execrate or to curse, as well as to bless; and this, as I think, not by antiphrasis, as some will have it; but almost from the very idiom of the sacred language it may signify either way, according to the connection in which it is used, as among the Latins sacrare and imprecari. For as the first signifies sometimes to devote any one by curses to destruction, and at others, to consecrate any thing to God; and as we call for either good or evil upon others; so barak denotes what a man wishes or calls for, with an ardent mind, whether it be salvation or perdition. And when applied to the Deity, it either signifies addressing him by praises and thanksgivings, (which is more common,) or with revilings and reproaches; and the difference is to be collected from the nature of the case and from the context.” What Dr. Dodd observes here is also worth attention. “The Hebrew word,” says he, “signifies to bless; but it here implies to renounce or bid adieu to, or take our leave of those things which we abandon or renounce. It is therefore used with great elegance in this sense, to signify, they renounced God; and this signification is still softened and rendered more elegant by the addition of the words, in their hearts.” Thus did Job continually — It was his constant course, at the end of every feasting-time, to offer a sacrifice for each of his children. Parents should be particular in their addresses to God, for the several branches of their family; praying for each child, according to his particular temper, genius, and disposition.1:1-5 Job was prosperous, and yet pious. Though it is hard and rare, it is not impossible for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven. By God's grace the temptations of worldly wealth may be overcome. The account of Job's piety and prosperity comes before the history of his great afflictions, showing that neither will secure from troubles. While Job beheld the harmony and comforts of his sons with satisfaction, his knowledge of the human heart made him fearful for them. He sent and sanctified them, reminding them to examine themselves, to confess their sins, to seek forgiveness; and as one who hoped for acceptance with God through the promised Saviour, he offered a burnt-offering for each. We perceive his care for their souls, his knowledge of the sinful state of man, his entire dependence on God's mercy in the way he had appointed.And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about - Dr. Good renders this, "as the days of such banquets returned." But this is not the idea intended. It is, when the banquets had gone round as in a circle through all the families, "then" Job sent and sanctified them. It was not from an anticipation that they "would" do wrong, but it was from the apprehension that they "might" have sinned. The word rendered "were gone about" (נקף nâqaph) means properly to join together, and then to move round in a circle, to revolve, as festivals do; see the notes at Isaiah 29:1 : "Let the festivals go round." Here it means that the days of their banqueting had gone round the circle, or had gone round the several families. Septuagint "When the days of the entertainment (or drinking, πότου potou) were finished." A custom of feasting similar to this prevails in China. "They have their fraternities which they call the brotherhood of the months; this consists of months according to the number of the days therein, and in a circle they go abroad to eat at one another's houses by turns. If one man has not conveniences to receive the fraternity in his own house, he may provide for them in another; and there are many public houses well furnished for this purpose." See Semedo's History of China, i chapter 13, as quoted by Burder in Rosenmuller's Morgenland. "in loc."

That Job sent - Sent for them, and called them around him. He was apprehensive that they might have erred, and he took every measure to keep them pure, and to maintain the influence of religion in his family.

And sanctified them - This expression, says Schultens, is capable of two interpretations. It may either mean that he "prepared" them by various lustrations, ablutions, and other ceremonies to offer sacrifice; or that he offered sacrifices for the purpose of procuring expiation for sins which they might actually have committed. The former sense, he remarks, is favored by the use of the word in Exodus 19:10; 1 Samuel 16:5, where the word means to prepare themselves by ablutions to meet God and to worship him. The latter sense is demanded by the connection. Job felt as every father should feel in such circumstances, that there was reason to fear that God had not been remembered as he ought to have been, and he was therefore more fervent in his devotions, and called them around him, that their own minds might be affected in view of his pious solicitude. What father is there who loves God, and who feels anxious that his children should also, who does not feel special solicitude if his sons and his daughters are in a situation where successive days are devoted to feasting and mirth? The word here rendered "sanctified" (קדשׁ qâdash) means properly to be pure, clean, holy; in Pihel, the form used here, to make holy, to sanctify, to consecrate, as a priest; and here it means, that he took measures to make them holy on the apprehension that they had sinned; that is, he took the usual means to procure for them forgiveness. The Septuagint renders it ἐκάθαριζεν ekatharizen, he purified them.

And rose up early in the morning - For the purpose of offering his devotions, and procuring for them expiation. It was customary in the patriarchal times to offer sacrifice early in the morning. See Genesis 22:3; Exodus 32:6.

And offered burnt-offerings - Hebrew "and caused to ascend;" that is, by burning them so that the smoke ascended toward heaven. The word rendered "burnt-offerings" (עולה ‛ôlâh) is from עלה ‛âlâh, "to ascend" (the word used here and rendered "offered"), and means that which was made to ascend, to wit, by burning. It is applied in the Scriptures to a sacrifice that was wholly consumed on the altar, and answers to the Greek word ὁλόκαυστον holokauston, "Holocaust." See the notes at Isaiah 1:11. Such offerings in the patriarchal times were made by the father of a family, officiating as priest in behalf of his household. Thus, Noah officiated, Genesis 8:20; and thus also Abraham acted as the priest to offer sacrifice, Genesis 12:7-8; Genesis 13:18; Genesis 22:13. In the earliest times, and among pagan nations, it was supposed that pardon might be procured for sin by offering sacrifice. In Homer there is a passage which remarkably corresponds with the view of Job before us; Iliad 9:493:

The gods (the great and only wise)

Are moved by offerings, vows, and sacrifice;

Offending man their high compassion wins,

And daily prayers atone for daily sins.


According to the number of them all - Sons and daughters. Perhaps an additional sacrifice for each one of them. The Septuagint renders this, "according to their numbers, καί μόσχον ἕνα περὶ ἁμαπτίας περὶ τῶν ψυχῶν αὐτῶν kai moschon hena peri hamartias peri tōn psuchōn autōn - a young bullock for sin or a sin-offering for their souls."

It may be that my sons have sinned - He had no positive or certain proof of it. He felt only the natural apprehension which every pious father must, that his sons might have been overtaken by temptation, and perhaps, under the influence of wine, might have been led to speak reproachfully of God, and of the necessary restraints of true religion and virtue.

And cursed God in their hearts - The word here rendered curse is that which is usually rendered "bless" ברך bārak. It is not a little remarkable that the same word is used in senses so directly opposite as to "bless" and "to curse." Dr. Good contends that the word should be always rendered "bless," and so translates it in this place, "peradventure my sons may have sinned, "nor" blessed God in their hearts," understanding the Hebrew prefix ו (v) as a disjunctive or negative participle. So too in Job 2:9, rendered in our common translation, "curse God and die," he translates it, "blessing God and dying." But the interpretation which the connection demands is evidently that of cursing, renouncing, or forgetting; and so also it is in Job 2:9. This sense is still more obvious in 1 Kings 21:10 : "Thou didst "blaspheme" ברך bārak God and the king." So also 1 Kings 21:13 of the same chapter - though here Dr. Good contends that the word should be rendered "bless," and that the accusation was that Naboth "blessed" or worshipped the gods, even Moloch - where he supposes the word מלך melek, should be pointed מלך môlek and read "Molech." But the difficulty is not removed by this, and after all it is probable that the word here, as in Job 2:9, means to "curse." So it is understood by nearly all interpreters. The Vulgate indeed renders it singularly enough, "Lest perhaps my sons have sinned, and have blessed God (et benedixerint Deo) in their hearts." The Septuagint, "Lest perhaps my sons in their mind have thought evil toward God" - κακὰ ἐνεόησαν πρὸς Θεόν kaka enenoēsan pros Theon. The Chaldee, "Lest my sons have sinned and provoked yahweh (יהוה וארגיזדקדם) in their hearts." Assuming that this is the sense of the word here, there are three ways of accounting for the fact that the same word should have such opposite significations.

(1) One is that proposed by Taylor (Concor.), that pious persons of old regarded blasphemy as so abominable that they abhorred to express it by the proper name, and that therefore by an "euphemism" they used the term "bless" instead of "curse." But it should be said that nothing is more common in the Scriptures than words denoting cursing and blasphemy. The word אלה 'âlâh, in the sense of cursing or execrating, occurs frequently. So the word גדף gâdaph, means to blaspheme, and is often used; 2 Kings 19:6, 2 Kings 19:22; Isaiah 37:6, Isaiah 37:23; Psalm 44:16. Other words also were used in the same sense, and there was no necessity of using a mere "euphemism" here.


5. when the days of their feasting were gone about—that is, at the end of all the birthdays collectively, when the banquets had gone round through all the families.

Job … sanctified—by offering up as many expiatory burnt offerings as he had sons (Le 1:4). This was done "in the morning" (Ge 22:3; Le 6:12). Jesus also began devotions early (Mr 1:35). The holocaust, or burnt offering, in patriarchal times, was offered (literally, "caused to ascend," referring to the smoke ascending to heaven) by each father of a family officiating as priest in behalf of his household.

cursed God—The same Hebrew word means to "curse," and to "bless"; Gesenius says, the original sense is to "kneel," and thus it came to mean bending the knee in order to invoke either a blessing or a curse. Cursing is a perversion of blessing, as all sin is of goodness. Sin is a degeneracy, not a generation. It is not, however, likely that Job should fear the possibility of his sons cursing God. The sense "bid farewell to," derived from the blessing customary at parting, seems sufficient (Ge 47:10). Thus Umbreit translates "may have dismissed God from their hearts"; namely, amid the intoxication of pleasure (Pr 20:1). This act illustrates Job's "fear of God" (Job 1:1).

When the days of their feasting were gone about; when each of them had had his turn, which peradventure came speedily, though not immediately one after another; and there was some considerable interval before their next feasting time.

Job sent and sanctified them, i.e. he exhorted and commanded them to sanctify themselves for the following work, to wit, by purifying themselves from all ceremonial and moral pollution, as the manner then was, Exodus 19:10, and by preparing themselves by true repentance for all their sins, and particularly such as they had committed in their time of feasting and jollity, and by fervent prayers to make their peace with God by sacrifice.

Rose up early in the morning; thereby showing his ardent zeal in God’s service, and his impatience till God was reconciled to him and to his children.

It may be that my sons have sinned: his zeal for God’s glory, and his true love to his children, made him jealous; for which he had cause enough from the corruption of man’s nature, the frailty and folly of youth, the many temptations which attend upon feasting and jollity, and the easiness of sliding from lawful to forbidden delights.

And cursed God; not in the grossest manner and highest degree, which it is not probable either that they should do, now especially when they had no provocation to do it, as being surrounded with blessings and comforts which they were actually enjoying, and not yet exercised with any affliction, or that Job should suspect it concerning them; but despised and dishonoured God; for both Hebrew and Greek words signifying cursing, are sometimes used to note only reviling, or detracting, or speaking evil, or setting light by a person. Thus what is called cursing one’s father or mother, Exodus 21:17, is elsewhere called setting light by them, as Deu 27:16 Ezekiel 22:7. See also 2 Peter 2:10 Judges 1:8, and many other places.

In their hearts; by slight and low thoughts of God, by neglecting or forgetting to give God the praise and glory of the mercies which by his favour they enjoyed, by taking more hearty delight in their feasts and jollity than in the service and fruition of God; for these and such-like distempers of heart are most usual in times of prosperity and jollity, as appears by common experience, and by the many Divine cautions we have against them, as Deu 6:11,12 Ho 2:8, and elsewhere. And these miscarriages, though inward and secret, Job calls by such a hard name as usually signifies cursing, by way of aggravation of their sin, which peradventure they were too apt to slight as a small and trivial miscarriage.

This did Job continually, i.e. it was his constant course at the end of every feasting time. And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about,.... When they had been at each other's houses in turn; when the rotation was ended: something like this is practised by the Chinese, who have their co-fraternities, which they call "the brotherhood of the month"; this consists of thirty, according to the number of days therein, and in a circle they go every day to eat at one another's house by turns; if one man has not convenience to receive the fraternity in his own house, he may provide it at another man's, and there are many public houses very well furnished for this purpose (e): Job's sons probably began at the elder brother's house, and so went on according to their age, and ended with the younger brother; so when they had gone through the circuit, as the word (f) signifies, and the revolution was over, and they had done feasting for that season, or that year:

that Job sent and sanctified them; not that he did or could make them holy, by imparting grace, or infusing holiness into them; at most he could only pray for their sanctification, and give them rules, precepts, and instructions about holiness, and exhortations to it; but here it signifies, that being at some distance from them he sent messengers or letters to them to sanctify and prepare themselves for the sacrifices he was about to offer for them; either by some rites and ceremonies, as by washing themselves, and abstinence from their wives, which were sometimes used as preparatory to divine service, Genesis 35:2, or by fasting and prayer; or, perhaps, no more is intended by it than an invitation of them to come and attend the solemn sacrifice which he, as the head of the family, would offer for them; so, to sanctify people, is sometimes to invite, to call and gather them to holy service, see Joel 2:15 and so the Targum renders it. "Job sent and invited them:"

and rose up early in the morning of the last of the days of feasting; he took the first opportunity, and that as early as he could; which shows the eagerness of his spirit for the glory of God, and the good of his children, losing no time for his devotion to God, and regard for his family; this being also the fittest time for religious worship and service, see Psalm 5:3, and was used for sacrifice, Exodus 29:39,

and offered burnt offering according to the number of them all either of his ten children, or only his seven sons, since they only are next mentioned, and were the masters of the feast: this was before the law of the priesthood was in being, which restrained the offering of sacrifice to those in the office of priests, when, before, every head of a family had a right unto it; and this custom of offering sacrifice was before the law of Moses, it was of divine institution, and in use from the time of the fall of man, Genesis 3:21, and was by tradition handed down from one to another, and so Job had it; and which was typical of the sacrifice of Christ, to be offered up in the fulness of time for the expiation of sin; and Job, no doubt, by faith in Christ, offered up those burnt offerings for his sons, and one for each of them, thereby signifying, that everyone stood in need of the whole sacrifice of Christ for the atonement of sin, as every sinner does:

for Job said, it may be that my sons have sinned; not merely as in common, or daily sins of infirmity; for Job so full well knew the corruption of human nature, that a day could not pass without sin in thought, word, or deed; but some more notorious or scandalous sin; that, in the midst of their feasting and mirth, they had used some filthy, or frothy, and unsavoury and unbecoming language; had dropped some impure words, or impious jests, or done some actions which would reflect dishonour on God and true religion, and bring an odium on themselves and families: now Job was not certain of this, he had had no instruction or intelligence of it; he only surmised and conjectured it might be so; he was fearful and jealous lest it should: this shows his care and concern, as for the glory of God, so for the spiritual welfare of his children, though they were grown up and gone from him, and is to be considered in favour of his sons; for by this it is evident they were not addicted to any sin, or did not live a vicious course of life; but that they were religious and godly persons; or, otherwise Job would have had no doubt in his mind about their conduct and behaviour: the particular sin he feared they might have been guilty of follows:

and cursed God in their hearts; not in the grossest sense of the expression, so as to deny the being of God, and wish there was none, and conceive blasphemy in their hearts, and utter it with their lips; but whereas to bless God is to think and speak well of him, and ascribe that to him which is his due; so to curse him is to think and speak irreverently of him, and not to attribute to him what belongs unto him; and thus Job might fear that his sons, amidst their feasting, might boast of their plenty, and of the increase of their substance, and attribute it to their own diligence and industry, and not to the providence of God, of which he feared they might speak slightingly and unbecomingly, as persons in such circumstances sometimes do, see Deuteronomy 32:15. Mr. Broughton renders it, "and little blessed God in their hearts" not blessing him as they should was interpretatively cursing him; the Hebrew word used properly and primarily signifies to bless (g), and then the meaning is, either that his sons had sinned, but took no notice of it, nor were humbled for it, but blessed God, being prosperous and successful, as if they had never sinned at all, see Zechariah 13:1, Sanctius adds the negative particle "not", as if the meaning was, that they sinned, and did not bless God for their mercies as they should, Deuteronomy 8:10, but this is too daring and venturous to make such an addition; though this is favoured by the Targum, as in some copies, which paraphrases it,

and have not prayed in the name of the Lord in their hearts: and because the word is used at parting, and taking a farewell of friends, Cocceius thinks it may be so used here, and the sense to be, that they sinned, and took their leave of God, and departed from him; but rather, as the word Elohim is used of strange gods, of false deities, Exodus 18:11. Job's fears might be, lest his sons should have been guilty of any idolatrous action, at least of blessing the gods of the Gentiles in their hearts, since feasting sometimes leads to idolatry, Exodus 32:6, but the first sense seems best, with which the Septuagint version agrees,

"it may be my sons in their mind have thought evil things against the Lord:''

thus did Job continually; or "all those days" (h); that is, after every such circuit and rotation of feasting, or after every feast day kept by them, he offered sacrifices for them; or every year (i), as some interpret the phrase, the feasts, and so the sacrifices, being annual; all this is observed, partly further to describe the piety of Job, his affection for his family, and concern for their spiritual good, and the glory of God, and partly as a leading step to an later event, Job 1:18.

(e) Semedo's History of China, par. 1. c. 13. (f) "cum circulssent, vel circulum fecissent", Vatablus; "circulum absolverent", Bolducius. (g) "benedixerint Deo", V. L. Piscator. (h) "cunctis diebus", Pagninus, Montanus; "singulis diebus illis", Junius & Tremellius; "omnibus diebus illis", Piscator, Cocceius. (i) "Singulis annis", Schmidt, Schultens; see 1 Samuel 20.7.

And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and {f} sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and {g} offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and {h} cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job {i} continually.

(f) That is, commanded them to be sanctified: meaning, that they should consider the faults that they had committed, and reconcile themselves for the same.

(g) That is, he offered for each of his children an offering of reconciliation, which declared his religion toward God, and the care that he had for his children.

(h) In Hebrew it is, blessed God, which is sometimes taken for blaspheming and cursing, as it is here and in 1Ki 21:10,13.

(i) While the feast lasted.

5. sent and sanctified them] that is, most likely, sent for them. The sanctification or purification consisted probably in washings and change of garments, Genesis 35:2, and similar rites, and was preparatory to the sacrifice or religious service immediately to be engaged in, as Samuel said to the family of Jesse, “Sanctify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice,” 1 Samuel 16:5. The act of worship was the sacrifice. As was customary in the Patriarchal age, to which Job belonged, and even far down in the history of Israel, the father was priest of the family, and the sacrifice offered was the burnt-offering. This offering contained in it the germs which afterwards expanded into the various distinct kinds of sacrifice, such as the sin-offering. Job used it as a sacrifice of atonement.

number of them all] Whether Job offered ten burnt-offerings, including his daughters in his atoning sacrifice, which would seem likely, or only seven, one corresponding to each feast day, is a point that cannot be settled with certainty.

sinned, and cursed God in their hearts] Rather, sinned and disowned God, that is, sinned by disowning or renouncing God in their hearts. Job himself was not present at the youthful festivities. He did not any longer care for such things, but he did not wish to impose his own gravity upon those whose years it did not suit. His desire was to see his children happy, provided their happiness was innocent. What he feared in them was not any open excess, or outbreak into coarse vice, but a momentary turning away of the heart from God in the midst of social enjoyment, as if they felt that this enjoyment was better than religion or might fill its place in one’s life.

The word translated “curse” means in usage to bless, hence to salute, 1 Samuel 25:14, either at meeting or parting, as the Oriental wishes the peace (salâm) or blessing of God upon one whom he meets or parts from, Genesis 47:7; Genesis 47:10. From this use of the word in taking leave it may have come to mean, to bid farewell to, and hence to disown or renounce. A similar secondary use is found in our own and the classical languages. Thus:

Valeat res ludicra.

Good bye the stage. Hor.

Farewell faint-hearted and degenerate King,

In whose cold blood no spark of honour bides.

K. Henry VI.

Si maxime talis est Deus, ut nulla gratia, nulla hominum caritate teneatur, valeat. Cic. Nat. Deor. 1. 44. See Aesch. Agam. 572; Plat. Phaedr. 58. These and other examples will be found in the commentaries. Others, assuming that the radical sense of the word is to kneel, Psalm 95:6, have supposed that the sense of curse might arise from a person’s kneeling to imprecate evil. But this is a far-fetched idea. Besides, the sense of curse is unsuitable in this passage as well as in the other places where the word occurs. Some such sense as “renounce” suits all the passages in Job and the only other passage where the sense of the word must be similar, 1 Kings 21:10.

It is curious that the sin which Job feared in his children as the consequence of drinking too deeply of the joys of life was the sin to which he himself was almost driven by the acuteness of his misery. So surrounded are we of God on every side.Verse 5. - And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about; rather, when the days of the feasting had come round; i.e. whenever one of the birthdays had arrived in due course, and the feasting had taken place. That Job sent and sanctified them. In the old world, outside the Mosaic Law, the father of the family was the priest, to whom alone it belonged to bless, purify, and offer sacrifice. Job, after each birthday-feast, sent, it would seem, for his sons, and purified them by the accustomed ablutions, or possibly by some other ceremonial process, regarding it as probable that, in the course of their feasting, they had contracted some defilement. It would seem by the next clause that the purification took place at the close of the day of festivity. And rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings. Burnt offerings were instituted soon after the Fall, as we learn from Genesis 4:4, and were in common use long before the Mosaic Law was given (see Genesis 8:20; Genesis 22:8, 13; Genesis 31:54; Exodus 18:12; 'Records of the Past,' vol. 2. pp. 20, 21; vol. 12. pp. 49, 71, etc.). The practice was common, so far as appears, to all the nations of antiquity, except the Persians (Herod., 1:132). According to the number of them all One, apparently, for each child, since each might have sinned in the way suggested. The offerings were clearly it. tended as expiatory. For Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts. Two wholly different meanings are assigned by good Hebraists to the expression בר אחים. According to some, בר has its usual sense, "to bless," and אלהים signifies "false gods," or "idols;" according to the others, who form the great majority, אלהים has its usual sense of "God," and בר has the unusual sense of "curse" (so Buxtorf, Rosenmuller, Schultens, (Cook, Stanley Leathes, among moderns, and among ancient authorities, the Septuagint and the Vulgate). How the same word comes to have the two wholly opposite senses of "to bless" and "to curse" has been differently explained. Some think that, as men blessed their friends both on receiving them and on bidding them adieu, the word בר got the sense of "bidding adieu to," "dismissing," "renouncing." Others regard the use of בר for "to curse" as a mere euphemism, and compare the use of sacer and sacrari in Latin, and such expressions as "Bless the stupid man!" "What a blessed nuisance!" in English. The maledictory sense seems to be established by Job 2:9 and 1 Kings 21:10. By "cursing God in their hearts" Job probably means "forgetting him," "putting him out of sight," "not giving him the honour which is his due." Thus did Job continually; literally, as in the margin, all the days; i.e. whenever one of the festival-days occurred. And King Ahashverosh laid a tribute upon the land, and upon the isles of the sea. Esther 10:2. And all the acts of his power and of his might, and the statement of the greatness of Mordochai to which the king advanced him, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia? The Chethiv אחשׁרשׁ is a clerical error for אהשׁורשׁ. The word מס, service, here stands for tribute. As the provinces of the kingdom paid the imposts for the most part in natural produce, which they had reared or obtained by the labour of their hands, their labour (agriculture, cattle-keeping, etc.) was to a certain extent service rendered to the king. The matter of Esther 10:1 seems extraneous to the contents of our book, which has hitherto communicated only such information concerning Ahashverosh as was necessary for the complete understanding of the feast of Purim. "It seems" - remarks Bertheau - "as thou the historian had intended to tell in some further particulars concerning the greatness of King Ahashverosh, for the sake of giving his readers a more accurate notion of the influential position and the agency of Mordochai, the hero of his book, who, according to Esther 9:4, waxed greater and greater; but then gave up his intention, and contented himself with referring to the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia, which contained information of both the power and might of Ahashverosh and the greatness of Mordochai." There is not, however, the slightest probability in such a conjecture. This matter may be simply explained by the circumstance, that the author of this book was using as an authority the book of the chronicles alluded to in Esther 10:2, and is quite analogous with the mode observed in the books of Kings and Chronicles by historians both of Babylonian and post-Babylonian days, who quote from the documents they make use of such events only as seem to them important with regard to the plan of their own work, and then at the close of each reign refer to the documents themselves, in which more may be found concerning the acts of the kings, at the same time frequently adding supplementary information from these sources, - comp. e.g., 1 Kings 14:30; 1 Kings 15:7, 1 Kings 15:23, 1 Kings 15:32; 1 Kings 22:47-50; 2 Kings 15:37; 2 Chronicles 12:15, - with this difference only, that in these instances the supplementary notices follow the mention of the documents, while in the present book the notice precedes the citation. As, however, this book opened with a description of the power and glory of King Ahashverosh, but yet only mentioned so much concerning this ruler of 127 provinces as was connected with the history of the Jews, its author, before referring to his authorities, gives at its close the information contained in Esther 10:1, from the book of the chronicles of the kingdom, in which probably it was connected with a particular description of the power and greatness of Ahashverosh, and probably of the wars in which he engaged, for the sake of briefly intimating at the conclusion whence the king derived the means for keeping up the splendour described at the commencement of the book. This book of the chronicles contained accounts not only of the power and might of Ahashverosh, but also a פּרשׁה, a plain statement or accurate representation of the greatness of Mordochai wherewith the king had made him great, i.e., to which he had advanced him, and therefore of the honours of the individual to whom the Jews were indebted for their preservation. On this account is it referred to. For Mordochai was next to the king, i.e., prime minister of the king (משׁנה, comp. 2 Chronicles 28:7), and great among the Jews and acceptable to the multitude of his brethren, i.e., he was also a great man among the Jews and was beloved and esteemed by all his fellow-countrymen (on רצוּי, comp. Deuteronomy 23:24), seeking the good of his people and speaking peace to all his race. This description of Mordochai's position with respect both to the king and his own people has, as expressive of an exalted frame of mind, a rhetorical and poetic tinge. Hence it contains such expressions as אחיו רב, the fulness of his brethren, טּוב דּרשׁ; comp. Psalm 122:9; Jeremiah 38:4. On שׁלום דּבּר, comp. Psalm 85:9; Psalm 35:20; Psalm 27:3. זרעו in parallelism with עמּו is not the descendants of Mordochai, or his people, but his race. Comp. on this signification of זרע, 2 Kings 11:1; Isaiah 61:9. The meaning of the two last phrases is: Mordochai procured both by word and deed the good and prosperity of his people. And this is the way in which honour and fortune are attained, the way inculcated by the author of the 34th Psalm in Psalm 34:13, when teaching the fear of the Lord.
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