Job 11:2
Should not the multitude of words be answered? and should a man full of talk be justified?
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Job 11:2. Should not the multitude of words be answered? — Truly, sometimes it should not. Silence is the best confutation of impertinence, and puts the greatest contempt upon it. Zophar means, Dost thou think to carry thy cause by thy long, tedious discourses, consisting of empty words, without weight or reason? And should a man full of talk be justified? — Shall we, by our silence, seem to approve of thy errors? Or, shall we think thy cause the better because thou usest more words than we do? 11:1-6 Zophar attacked Job with great vehemence. He represented him as a man that loved to hear himself speak, though he could say nothing to the purpose, and as a man that maintained falsehoods. He desired God would show Job that less punishment was exacted than he deserved. We are ready, with much assurance, to call God to act in our quarrels, and to think that if he would but speak, he would take our part. We ought to leave all disputes to the judgment of God, which we are sure is according to truth; but those are not always right who are most forward to appeal to the Divine judgment.Should not the multitude of words be answered? - As if all that Job had said had been mere words; or as if he was remarkable for mere garrulity.

And should a man full of talk be justified - Margin, as in Hebrew "of lips." The phrase is evidently a Hebraism, to denote a great talker - a man of mere lips, or empty sound. Zophar asks whether such a man could be justified or vindicated. It will be recollected that taciturnity was with the Orientals a much greater virtue than with us, and that it was regarded as one of the proofs of wisdom. The wise man with them was he who sat down at the feet of age, and desired to learn; who carefully collected the maxims of former times; who diligently observed the course of events; and who deliberated with care on what others had to say. Thus, Solomon says, "In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise;" Proverbs 10:19; so James 1:19, "let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak." It was supposed that a man who said much would say some foolish or improper things, and hence, it was regarded as a proof of prudence to be distinguished for silence. In Oriental countries, and it may be added also, in all countries that we regard as uncivilized, it is unusual and disrespectful to be hasty in offering counsel, to be forward to speak, or to be confident and bold in opinion; see the notes at Job 32:6-7. It was for reasons such as these that Zophar maintained that a man who was full of talk could not be justified in it; that there was presumptive proof that he was not a safe man, or a man who could be vindicated in all that he said.

2. Zophar assails Job for his empty words, and indirectly, the two friends, for their weak reply. Taciturnity is highly prized among Orientals (Pr 10:8, 19). Dost thou think to carry thy cause by thy long and tedious discourses, consisting of empty words, without weight or reason? Shall we by our silence seem to approve of thy errors? or shall we think thy cause the better, because thou usest more words than we do? Should not the multitude of words be answered?.... Zophar insinuates, that Job was a mere babbler, a talkative man, that had words, but no matter; said a great deal, but there was nothing in what he said; that his words were but wind, yea, in effect that he was a fool, who is commonly full of words, and is known by the multitude of them; and whereas he might think to bear down all before him in this way, and to discourage persons from giving him an answer; this Zophar suggests should not be the case, nor would he be deterred hereby from giving one, which he now undertook: some supply it, as Bar Tzemach, "should not a man of a multitude of words" (s), &c. a verbose man, a dealer in many words, and nothing else, should not he be "answered?" if he uses nothing but words, and there is no argument in them, they seem not to deserve an answer, unless it be to show the emptiness of them, expose a man's folly, and pull down his pride and vanity:

and should a man full of talk be justified? or "a man of lips" (t), an eloquent man, or one that affects to be so; a man of a fine speech, who artfully colours things, and makes a show of wisdom and truth, when there are neither in what he says; is such a man to be justified? he would seem to be in his own eyes at least, if not in the eyes of others, if not answered; he would be thought to have carried his point, to have had the better of the argument, and to have got the victory by dint of words and power of oratory; for this is not to be understood of justification before God; for as no man is heard and accepted by him for his "much speaking", as was the opinion of the Heathens, so neither are any justified on account of their many words, any more than their many works; since, in a multitude of words there are often not only much folly and weakness, but vanities and sins, Proverbs 10:19; there is indeed a sense in which a man is justified by his words, Matthew 12:37; when he confesses Christ, and professes to be justified by his righteousness, and believes in that, and pleads it as his justifying righteousness; he is justified by that righteousness; which is contained in the confession and profession of his faith; but this is not here meant.

(s) "an abundans verbis", Beza; "an multus verbis", Mercerus, so Kimchi & Ben Melech; and most Hebrew writers take for an adjective. (t) "vir labiorum", Montanus, Beza, Drusius, Vatablus, Mercerus, Bolducius, Cocceius, Schmidt, Michaelis.

Should not the multitude of words be answered? and should a man {a} full of talk be justified?

(a) Should he persuade by his great talk that he is just?

2. Should not the multitude of words] Or, shall not …? Zophar probably did not demand the parole immediately on Job’s ceasing to speak. A pause was allowed to intervene, and the words with which he commences form his apology for speaking—he replies to Job only lest Job should fancy that by his much speaking he has shewn himself to be in the right, cf. Proverbs 10:19.

should a man full of talk] Or, shall a man full of talk, lit. a man of lips. Zophar insinuates that Job’s words come merely from his lips; they could not come, as the words of the ancients did, from the heart, ch. Job 8:10; they were mere empty phrases, cf. ch. Job 8:2; Isaiah 36:5. Job, it must be confessed, had made a long and in some parts vehement oration.Verse 2. - Should not the multitude of words be answered? A "multitude of words" is often reproved in Scripture, and taken as a sign of either folly (Ecclesiastes 5:8) or sin (Proverbs 10:19). Job had certainly been somewhat unduly verbose, and laid himself open to the taunt here launched against him; but neither had brevity been studied by his other friends in their previous answers (ch. 4, 5, and 8.), nor is it greatly studied by Zophar here. And should a man full of talk be justified? literally, a man of lips which may mean either "a great talker" or "a man who makes many professions." There is a widespread prejudice against a great orator, and a widespread notion that a good cause does net need many words. 18 And wherefore hast Thou brought me forth out of the womb?

I should have expired, that no eye had seen me,

19 I should have been as though I had never been,

Carried from the womb to the grave.

20 Are not my days few? then cease

And turn from me, that I may become a little cheerful,

21 Before I go to return no more

Into the land of darkness and of the shadow of death,

22 The land of deep darkness like to midnight,

Of the shadow of death and of confusion,

And which is bright like midnight.

The question Wherefore? Job 10:18, is followed by futt. as modi conditionales (Ges. 127, 5) of that which would and should have happened, if God had not permitted him to be born alive: I should have expired, prop. I ought to have expired, being put back to the time of birth (comp. Job 3:13, where the praet. more objectively expressed what would then have happened). These modi condit. are continued in Job 10:19 : I should have been (sc. in the womb) as though I had not been (comp. the short elliptical

(Note: כלא is there equals לא כאשׁר, like ללא, Isaiah 65:1 equals לא לאשׁר [vid. Ges. 123, 3], and כּ is used as a conjunction as little as ל (vid., on Psalm 38:14).)

expression, Obadiah 1:16), i.e., as one who had scarcely entered upon existence, and that only of the earliest (as at conception); I should have been carried (הוּבל, as Job 21:32) from the womb (without seeing the light as one born alive) to the grave. This detestation of his existence passes into the wish, Job 10:20, that God would be pleased at least somewhat to relieve him ere he is swallowed up by the night of Hades. We must neither with the Targ. translate: are not my days few, and vanishing away? nor with Oetinger: will not my fewness of days cease? Both are contrary to the correct accentuation. Olshausen thinks it remarkable that there is not a weaker pausal accent to ימי; but such a one is really indirectly there, for Munach is here equivalent to Dech, from which it is formed (vid., the rule in Comm. ber den Psalter, ii. 504). Accordingly, Seb. Schmid correctly translates: nonne parum dies mei? ideo cessa. The Keri substitutes the precative form of expression for the optative: cease then, turn away from me then (imper. consec. with waw of the result, Ewald, 235, a); comp. the precative conclusion to the speech, Job 7:16., but there is no real reason for changing the optative form of the text. ישׁית (voluntative for ישׁת, Job 9:33) may be supplemented by ידו, פניו, עיניו ,פ, or לבו (Job 7:17) (not, however, with Hirz., שׁבטו, after Job 9:34, which is too far-fetched for the usage of the language, or with Bttch., מחנהו, copias suas); שׁית can however, like שׂים, Job 4:20, signify to turn one's self to, se disponere equals to attend to, consequently מן שׁית, to turn the attention from, as מן שׁעה, Job 7:19, Psalm 39:14 (where, as here, ואבליגה follows).


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