Job 12:17
He leads counsellors away spoiled, and makes the judges fools.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Job 12:17. He leadeth counsellors away spoiled — The wise counsellors, or statesmen, by whom the affairs of kings and kingdoms are ordered, he leadeth away as captives in triumph, being spoiled either of that wisdom which they had, or seemed to have; or of that power and dignity which they had enjoyed. And maketh the judges fools — By discovering their folly, and by infatuating their minds, and turning their own counsels to their ruin.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?He leadeth counsellors away spoiled - Plundered or captive. That is, the counsels of wise and great men do not avail against God. Statesmen who promised themselves victory as the result of their plans he disappoints, and leads away into captivity. The object of this is to show that God is superior over all, and also that people are not dealt with in exact accordance with their character and rank. God is a sovereign, and he shows his sovereignty when defeating the counsels and purposes of the wisest of men, and overturning the plans of the mighty.

And maketh the judges fools - He leaves them to distracted and foolish plans. He leaves them to the adoption of measures which result in their own ruin. He is a sovereign, having control over the minds of the great, and power to defeat all their counsels, and to render them infatuated. Nothing can be clearer than this. Nothing has been more frequently illustrated in the history of nations. In accordance with this belief is the well-known expression:

Quem Deus vult perdere prius dementat.

"Whom God purposes to destroy, he first infatuates."

16. (Eze 14:9). The wise counsellors or statesmen, by whom the affairs of kings and kingdoms are ordered, he leadeth away as captives in triumph, being spoiled either of that wisdom which they had, or seemed or pretended to have; or of that power and dignity which they had enjoyed.

Maketh the judges fools; partly by discovering their folly, and partly by infatuating their minds, and turning their own counsels to their ruin; of which see 2 Samuel 15:31 17:14,23 Isa 19:11 1 Corinthians 1:19. He leadeth counsellors away spoiled,.... Such who have the greatest share of knowledge and wisdom in civil things, and are capable of giving advice to others, and are very useful in commonwealths, in cities, towns, and neighbourhoods; wherefore it is a judgment on a people when such are removed, Isaiah 3:3; these God can spoil at once of all their wisdom and knowledge, and render them unfit to give advice and counsel to others; or he can confound their schemes, disappoint their devices, carry their counsel headlong, and make it of none effect, and so spoil them of their ends and views, and of their fame, credit, and reputation:

and maketh the judges fools; men of great parts, abilities, and capacities, whereby they are qualified to sit upon the bench, preside in courts of judicature, and judge in all matters of controversy that come before them; and it is a happiness to a country to have such persons, as it is a judgment to have them removed, see Isaiah 3:2; yet God can take away the wisdom of such men, deprive them of their natural abilities, and so infatuate them, that they shall not be able to understand a cause, but pass a foolish sentence, to their own shame and disgrace, as well as to the injury of others; see Isaiah 40:23.

He leadeth counsellors away spoiled, and maketh the judges fools.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
17. away spoiled] The word is rendered “stripped” Micah 1:8, the meaning being, deprived of their outer garments, and clothed as slaves and captives. The word might perhaps mean “barefooted” (so Sept. Micah 1:8), also a condition of those in destitution and mourning, 2 Samuel 15:30.

On second clause “maketh judges fools,” turns them into fools, and shews them as fools, cf. Isaiah 44:25; Isaiah 19:11 seq.Verse 17. - He leadeth counsellors away spoiled. The wise of the earth cannot resist or escape him; he frustrates their designs and overthrows them, and, as it were, leads them away captive. And maketh the judges fools; rather, and judges maketh he fools. There is no article, and no particular judges are referred to (comp. Isaiah 44:25). 11 Shall not the ear try sayings,

As the palate tasteth food?

12 Among the ancients is wisdom,

And long life is understanding.

13 With Him is wisdom and strength;

Counsel and understanding are His.

The meaning of Job 12:11 is, that the sayings (מלּין, Job 8:10, comp. Job 5:27) of the ancients are not to be accepted without being proved; the waw in וחך is waw adaequationis, as Job 5:7; Job 11:12, therefore equivalent to quemadmodum; it places together for comparison things that are analogous: The ear, which is used here like αἰθητήριον (Hebrews 5:14), has the task of searching out and testing weighty sayings, as the palate by tasting has to find out delicious and suitable food; this is indicated by לו, the dat. commodi. So far Job recognises the authority of these traditional sayings. At any rate, he adds (Job 12:12): wisdom is to be expected from the hoary-headed, and length of life is understanding, i.e., it accompanies length of life. "Length of days" may thus be taken as the subject (Ewald, Olsh.); but בּ may also, with the old translations and expositors, be carried forward from the preceding clause: ἐν δὲ πολλῷ βίῳ ἐπιστήμη (lxx). We prefer, as the most natural: long life is a school of understanding. But - such is the antithesis in Job 12:13 which belongs to this strophe - the highest possessor of wisdom, as of might, is God. Ewald inserts two self-made couplets before Job 12:12, which in his opinion are required both by the connection and "the structure of the strophe;" we see as little need for this interpolation here as before, Job 6:14. עמּו and לו, which are placed first for the sake of emphasis, manifestly introduce an antithesis; and it is evident from the antithesis, that the One who is placed in contrast to the many men of experience is God. Wisdom is found among the ancients, although their sayings are not to be always implicitly accepted; but wisdom belongs to God as an attribute of His nature, and indeed absolutely, i.e., on every side, and without measure, as the piling up of synonymous expressions implies: חכמה, which perceives the reason of the nature, and the reality of the existence, of things; עצה, which is never perplexed as to the best way of attaining its purpose; תּבוּנה, which can penetrate to the bottom of what is true and false, sound and corrupt (comp. 1 Kings 3:9); and also גּבוּרה, which is able to carry out the plans, purposes, and decisions of this wisdom against all hindrance and opposition.

In the strophe which follows, from his own observation and from traditional knowledge (Job 13:1), Job describes the working of God, as the unsearchably wise and the irresistibly mighty One, both among men and in nature.

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