Job 12:12
With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Job 12:12. With the ancient is wisdom — These words contain a concession of what Bildad had said (Job 8:8-9,) and a joining with him in that appeal; but withal, an intimation that this wisdom was but imperfect, and liable to many mistakes; and indeed mere ignorance and folly, if compared with the divine wisdom, of which he speaks in the following verses. And therefore that antiquity ought not to be received against the truths of the most wise God. 12:12-25 This is a noble discourse of Job concerning the wisdom, power, and sovereignty of God, in ordering all the affairs of the children of men, according to the counsel of His own will, which none can resist. It were well if wise and good men, who differ about lesser things, would see how it is for their honour and comfort, and the good of others, to dwell most upon the great things in which they agree. Here are no complaints, or reflections. He gives many instances of God's powerful management of the children of men, overruling all their counsels, and overcoming all their oppositions. Having all strength and wisdom, God knows how to make use, even of those who are foolish and bad; otherwise there is so little wisdom and so little honesty in the world, that all had been in confusion and ruin long ago. These important truths were suited to convince the disputants that they were out of their depth in attempting to assign the Lord's reasons for afflicting Job; his ways are unsearchable, and his judgments past finding out. Let us remark what beautiful illustrations there are in the word of God, confirming his sovereignty, and wisdom in that sovereignty: but the highest and infinitely the most important is, that the Lord Jesus was crucified by the malice of the Jews; and who but the Lord could have known that this one event was the salvation of the world?With the ancient is wisdom - With the aged. The word ישׁישׁ yâshı̂ysh used here, means an old man, one gray-headed. It is used chiefly in poetry, and is commonly employed in the sense of one who is decrepit by age. It is rendered "very aged" in Job 15:10; "him that stooped for age." 2 Chronicles 36:17; "very old," Job 32:6; and "the aged," Job 29:8 The Septuagint renders it, Ἐν πολλῷ χρόνῳ En pollō chronō "in much time." The sense is, that wisdom might be expected to be found with the man who had had a long opportunity to observe the course of events; who had conversed with a former generation, and who had had time for personal reflection. This was in accordance with the ancient Oriental views, where knowledge was imparted mainly by tradition, and where wisdom depended much on the opportunity of personal observation; compare Job 32:7. 12. ancient—aged (Job 15:10). These words contain a concession of what Bildad had said Job 8:8,9, and a joining with him in that appeal; but withal, an intimation that this wisdom was but finite, and imperfect, and liable to many mistakes; and indeed mere ignorance and folly, if compared with the Divine wisdom, of which he speaks in the next and following verses. And therefore that antiquity which they pretended for their opinion ought not to be received against the oracles or truths of the eternal and most wise God. With the ancient is wisdom,.... Meaning not himself, who was not very ancient; though some think Eliphaz so understood him; hence those words of his, in Job 15:9; rather, as others, Job tacitly wishes that some ancient man, with whom wisdom was, would undertake to examine the affair between him and his friends, and judge of it, and decide the point; or, as others, he has respect to Bildad's advice to search the fathers, and learn their sentiments, and be determined by them; to which he replies, that though it will be allowed that wisdom is with them, for the most part, yet their judgment of things is no further to be regarded than as it agrees with the wisdom of God, and the revelation he has made of his will; though it seems best of all to consider these words as an adage or proverbial sentence generally agreed to, that it often is, as it might be expected it should, though it is not always, that men well advanced in years are wise; that as they have lived long in the world, they have learned much by observation and experience, and have attained to a considerable share of wisdom and knowledge in things, natural, civil, and religious:

and in length of days is understanding; the understandings of men are improved and enriched, and well stored with useful science, having had the opportunity of much reading, hearing, and conversation; by this Job would suggest, that if his friends had more knowledge of hidden and recondite things, beyond common people, which yet they had not, it was not so wonderful, since they were aged men, and had lived long in the world; or rather it may be that this is mentioned, to observe that from hence, seeing it is so among men, that ancient men have, or it may be expected they should have, a considerable share of wisdom and understanding; it may be most easily and strongly concluded, that God, who is the Ancient of days, has the most perfect and consummate wisdom and knowledge, which is asserted in Job 12:13.

With the {g} ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding.

(g) Though men by age and continuance of time attain wisdom, yet it is not comparable to God's wisdom, nor able to comprehend his judgments, in which he answers to that which was alleged, Job 8:8.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
12. As Job 12:11 indicated the instrument, the ear, through which one learned, this verse refers to the source from which the information was to be obtained, viz. the ancients, that is, the aged men.Verse 12. - With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding. Men get their wisdom gradually and painfully by much experience during a long stretch of time, so that it is not until they are" ancient" that we can call them wise or credit them with "understanding." But with God the case is wholly different. 4 I must be a mockery to my own friend,

I who called on Eloah and He heard me;

A mockery - the just, the godly man.

5 Contempt belongs to misfortune, according to the ideas of the prosperous;

It awaits those who are ready to slip.

6 Tents of the destroyer remain in peace,

And those that defy God are prosperous,

Who taketh Eloah into his hand.

The synallage of לרעהוּ for לרעי is not nearly so difficult as many others: a laughing-stock to his own friend; comp. Isaiah 2:8, they worship the work of their (his) own hands (ידיו). "One who called on Eloah (לאלוהּ, for which לאלוהּ is found in lxx at Job 36:2) and He heard him" is in apposition to the subject; likewise תמים צדיק, which is to be explained according to Proverbs 11:5, צדיק (from צדק, Arab. ṣdq, to be hard, firm, stiff, straight), is one who in his conduct rules himself strictly according to the will of God; תמים, one whose thoughts are in all respects and without disguise what they should be-in one word: pure. Most old translators (Targ., Vulg., Luther) give לפּיד the signification, a torch. Thus e.g., Levi v. Gerson explains: "According to the view of the prosperous and carnally secure, he who is ready for falterings of the feet, i.e., likely to fall, is like a lighted torch which burns away and destroys whatever comes in contact with it, and therefore one keeps aloof from him; but it is also more than this: he is an object of contempt in their eyes." Job might not inappropriately say, that in the eyes of the prosperous he is like a despised, cast-away torch (comp. the similar figure, Isaiah 14:19, like a branch that is rejected with contempt); and Job 12:5 would be suitably connected with this if למועדי could be derived from a substantive מעד, vacillatio, but neither the usage of the language nor the scriptio plena (after which Jerome translates tempus statutum, and consequently has in mind the מועדים, times of festal pilgrimages, which are also called ררלים in later times), nor the vowel pointing (instead of which מעדי would be expected), is favourable to this. רגל מועדי signifies vacillantes pede, those whose prosperity is shaken, and who are in danger of destruction that is near at hand. We therefore, like Abenezra and modern expositors, who are here happily agreed, take לפיד as composed of ל and פּיד, a word common to the books of Job (Job 30:24; Job 31:29) and Proverbs (ch. Proverbs 24:22), which is compared by the Jewish lexicographers, according both to form and meaning, to כּיד (Job 21:20) and איד, and perhaps signifies originally dissolution (comp. פדה), decease (Syr. f'jodo, escape; Arab. faid, dying), fall, then generally calamity, misfortune: contempt (befits) misfortune, according to the thoughts (or thinking), idea of the prosperous. The pointing wavers between לעשׁתּות and the more authorized לעשׁתּוּת, with which Parchon compares the nouns עבדוּת and מרדּוּת; the ת, like ד in the latter word, has Dag. lene, since the punctuation is in this respect not quite consistent, or follows laws at present unknown (comp. Ges. 21, rem. 2). Job 12:5 is now suitably connected: ready (with reference to בוז) for those who stumble, i.e., contempt certainly awaits such, it is ready and waiting for them, נכון, ἕτοιμος, like Exodus 34:2.

While the unfortunate, in spite of his innocence, has thus only to expect contempt, the tents, i.e., dwellings and possessions, of the oppressor and the marauder remain in prosperity; ישׁליוּ for ישׁלוּ, an intensive form used not only in pause (Psalm 36:8; comp. Deuteronomy 32:37) and with greater distinctives (Numbers 34:6; Psalm 122:6), but also in passages where it receives no such accent (Psalm 36:9; Psalm 57:2; Psalm 73:2). On אהלים, instead of אהלים, vid., Ges. 93, 6, 3. The verbal clause (Job 12:6) is followed by a substantival clause (Job 12:6). בּטּחות is an abstract plural from בּטּוּח, perfectly secure; therefore: the most care-less security is the portion of those who provoke God (lxx περοργίζουσι);

(Note: Luther takes בטחות as the adverb to מרגיזי: und toben wider Gott thrstiglich (vid., Vilmar, Pastoraltheolog. Bltter, 1861, S. 110-112); according to the Vulg., et audacter provocant Deum.)

and this is continued in an individualizing form: him who causes Eloah to go into his hand. Seb. Schmid explains this passage in the main correctly: qui Deum in manu fert h.e. qui manum aut potentiam suam pro Deo habet et licitum sibi putat quodlibet; comp. Habakkuk 1:11 : "this his strength becomes God to him," i.e., he deifies his own power, and puts it in the place of God. But הביא signifies, in this connection with לידו (not בידו), neither to carry, nor to lead (Gesenius, who compares Psalm 74:5, where, however, it signifies to cause to go into equals to strike into); it must be translated: he who causes Eloah to enter into his hand; from which translation it is clear that not the deification of the hand, but of that which is taken into the hand, is meant. This which is taken into the hand is not, however, an idol (Abenezra), but the sword; therefore: him who thinks after the manner of Lamech,

(Note: [Comp Pentateuch, at Genesis 4:25, Clark's Foreign Theological Library. - Tr.])

as he takes the iron weapon of attack and defence into his hand, that he needs no other God.

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