Job 11:4
For thou hast said, My doctrine is pure, and I am clean in thine eyes.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(4) Clean in thine eyes is variously referred to God, to mortal men (Job 11:3), and to Job himself (Job 32:1). The first seems most to be preferred, for at all events Job had hypothetically spoken of himself as righteous before God (Job 10:15). (Comp. Job 9:30. &c.) Zophar, therefore, who professes superior wisdom, desires that God would show Job how far short he falls of it: that He would show him the hidden things, the secrets of wisdom; for sound wisdom is manifold: it has many aspects, and lies as it were fold over fold in unexpected complexities, defying the shallow and unscrutinising gaze; and were He to do this, Job would find out to his dismay that God still credited him part of the penalty due to him.

Job 11:4. Thou hast said, My doctrine — Concerning God and his providence; is pure — That is, true and certain. The word לקחי, likchi, according to R. Levi, signifies consuetudo mea, et dispositio mea, my way and manner of life; the same that St. Paul calls η βιωσις μου; my way of life. See Chappelow. And I am clean in thine eyes — I am innocent before God: I have not sinned either by my former actions or by my present expressions. But Zophar aggravates and perverts Job’s words; for he did not deny that he was a sinner in God’s sight; but only that he was a hypocrite or ungodly man, as they thought him to be.

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.My doctrine is pure - The Septuagint instead of the word "doctrine" here reads "deeds," ἔργοις ergois; the Syriac, "thou sayest I have acted justly." But the word used here (לקח leqach) means properly "fair speech" or "taking arguments," that by which one is "taken" or captivated, from לקח lâqach, "to take." Then it means doctrine, or instruction, Proverbs 1:5; Proverbs 9:9. Here it means the views which Job had expressed. Dr. Good supposes that it means "conduct," a word which would suit the connection, but the Hebrew is not used in this sense.

And I am clean in thine eyes - In the eyes of God, or in his sight. This was a false charge. Job had never maintained that he was perfect (compare the notes at Job 9:20); he had only maintained that he was not such a sinner as his friends maintained that he was, a hypocrite, and a man eminent for guilt. His lack of absolute perfection he was ever ready to admit and mourn over.

4. doctrine—purposely used of Job's speeches, which sounded like lessons of doctrine (De 32:2; Pr 4:2).

thine—addressed to God. Job had maintained his sincerity against his friends suspicions, not faultlessness.

My doctrine, concerning God and his providence. Pure, i.e. true and certain.

I am clean in thine eyes; I am innocent before God; I have not sinned, either by my former actions, or by my present expressions. Thou standest wholly upon thy justification. But Zophar aggravates and perverts Job’s words, for he did not deny that he was a sinner in God’s sight, Job 7:20,21 9:2,3 10:14, but only that he was a hypocrite or ungodly man, as they made him.

For thou hast said,.... What follows is produced to support the charge, especially of lying, which seems to be founded on what he had said in Job 6:10,

my doctrine is pure; free from error, unadulterated, unmixed, not blended with Heathenish principles and human doctrines; but tending to purity of heart and life, as every word of God, and doctrine that comes from him, is pure, yea, very pure, like silver purified seven times; and such was Job's doctrine which he "received" from God, "took" (y) up and professed, taught and delivered to others, so far as was agreeable to the will of God, and the revelation he had then made: and it appears that Job had very clear and sublime notions of God, of his being and perfections, of his works of nature, providence, and grace; of Christ his living Redeemer, of redemption and justification by him, and of the resurrection of the dead; and had purer and better notions of divine things than his friends had, and spoke better things of God than they did, God himself being witness, Job 42:7; some interpret this of the purity of his life and conversation: he is further charged with saying:

and I am clean in thine eyes: speaking to God, as Jarchi observes; and indeed so he was, and every believer is, in an evangelic sense; as to the new man, which is created in righteousness and true holiness, is without sin, and cannot commit it; and as washed from all sin in the blood of Christ, and as clothed with his righteousness, in which the saints are faultless before the throne, and are unblamable and irreprovable in the sight of God: but Zophar's meaning is, that Job had asserted that he was entirely free from sin in himself, was wholly without it, and did not commit any; and had appealed to God, as knowing it to be true; and which he seems to have grounded on what he had said, Job 10:7; through a mistake of his sense; which was not that he was free from sin entirely, but from any gross notorious sin, or from a wicked course of living, and particularly from the sin of hypocrisy, his friends suggested he was guilty of; otherwise he confesses himself a sinner, and prays for the pardon of his sins, and disclaims perfection in himself; see Job 7:20; and indeed there is no creature in itself clean in the sight of God, either angels or men; every man is naturally unclean; no good man is without sin, without the being, indwelling, and commission of it; nor will any truly gracious man say he is; he knows otherwise, and acknowledges it; he that says he is must be an ignorant man, or a vain and pharisaical man; yea, must not say the truth: some have suspected the first part of the words to be Job's, "and I am clean": and the other Zophar's explaining them; that is, "in thine eyes" (z); in his own apprehension, as if he had a high and conceited opinion of himself.

(y) "doctrina aut oratio mea et sententia mente accepta", Michaelis; so Cocceius; "id quid ab aliis acceptum", Drusius. (z) Vid. Schultens in loc.

For thou hast said, {b} My doctrine is pure, and I am clean in thine eyes.

(b) He charges Job with this, that he should say, that the thing which he spoke was true, and that he was without sin in the sight of God.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. For thou hast said] Better, and sayest, explaining what his mockery consists in.

My doctrine is pure] Job had not used precisely such words. Zophar gives what he understands as the gist of his contention.

and I am clean in thine eyes] Perhaps rather, I was clean, when plunged into my afflictions. The words are those of Job addressed to God, which Zophar recalls, cf. ch. Job 9:21, Job 10:7. It is probable that this clause explains what Zophar means by the preceding clause, “my doctrine is pure.” Job’s “doctrine,” which Zophar considers an example of “mockery,” is not his general principles, but this particular point, that God afflicts a man whom He knows to be righteous. Zophar quite justly discovers here a novel doctrine to which he certainly had not been accustomed. But connected with this particular assertion of Job’s were his views on human destiny in general, ch. Job 7:1, and on the character of God’s government, ch. Job 9:1-23. The two preceding speakers had assumed that Job’s principles were identical with their own, and anticipated that a few good advices in the line of these principles would bring the man to a right mind. Zophar begins to surmise that they have a more obstinate disease to cure than they had looked for, and that Job’s principles, instead of being identical with theirs, cut clean athwart them. This discovery accounts for the rather unworthy tone of his language. His irritation was natural. He had never met a man with such ideas as those of Job before, and he is driven out of patience and decorum by his new theories. Elihu is even more shocked, and thinks that such another as Job does not exist, ch. Job 34:6.

Verse 4. - For thou hast said, My doctrine is pure. Job had certainly not said this in so many words. In fact, he had not spoken of his "doctrine" (לקח), nor had he called either his doctrine or his conduct absolutely pure (ז). But, no doubt, he had maintained, in a certain sense, his innocency; not, indeed, his entire freedom from sin or guilt, but his honest endeavour to serve God and lead a good life. This was the real point disputed between him and his "comforters;" they argued, from his sufferings, that he must be a "chief sinner;" he maintained, from the testimony of his conscience, that he was free from all heinous sins. And I am clean in thine eyes (see above, Job 9:30; Job 10:7). Job 11:4 1 Then began Zophar the Naamathite, and said:

2 Shall the torrent of words remain unanswered,

And shall the prater be in the right?

3 Shall thy vain talking silence the people,

So that thou mockest without any one putting thee to shame,

4 And sayest: my doctrine is pure,

And I am guiltless in Thine eyes?

5 But oh that Eloah would speak,

And open His lips against thee,

6 And make known to thee the secrets of wisdom,

That she is twofold in her nature -

Know then that Eloah forgetteth much of thy guilt.

When Job has concluded his long speech, Zophar, the third and most impetuous of the friends, begins. His name, if it is to be explained according to the Arabic Esauitish name el-assfar,

(Note: Vid., Abulfeda's Historia anteislamica ed. Fleischer, p. 168.)

continued...

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