Job 15:14
What is man, that he should be clean? and he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(14) What is man?—This is the ceaseless burden.·(See Job 4:17; Job 9:2; Job 25:4, &c.)

Job 15:14-15. What is man? — Hebrew, אנושׁ, enosh, frail, weak, imperfect man; that he should be clean? — That is, that he should pretend to be so; or, that any should expect to find him so: and he that is born of a woman — A sinful woman, from whom he has derived infirmity, corruption, and guilt; that he should be righteous? — Just and holy in his own eyes, or in the eyes of others, and especially that he should be such in the sight of the just and holy God? Behold, he putteth no trust in his saints — That is, in his angels, (see Job 4:18,) who are called his saints or holy ones, Deuteronomy 33:2; Daniel 4:13; Daniel 4:23. Who, though they were created holy, yet many of them fell. Yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight — The angels that dwell in heaven; heaven being put for its inhabitants. None of these are pure, simply, and perfectly, and comparatively to God. The angels are pure from corruption, but not from imperfection.

15:1-16 Eliphaz begins a second attack upon Job, instead of being softened by his complaints. He unjustly charges Job with casting off the fear of God, and all regard to him, and restraining prayer. See in what religion is summed up, fearing God, and praying to him; the former the most needful principle, the latter the most needful practice. Eliphaz charges Job with self-conceit. He charges him with contempt of the counsels and comforts given him by his friends. We are apt to think that which we ourselves say is important, when others, with reason, think little of it. He charges him with opposition to God. Eliphaz ought not to have put harsh constructions upon the words of one well known for piety, and now in temptation. It is plain that these disputants were deeply convinced of the doctrine of original sin, and the total depravity of human nature. Shall we not admire the patience of God in bearing with us? and still more his love to us in the redemption of Christ Jesus his beloved Son?What is man that he should be clean? - The object of Eliphaz in this is to overturn the positions of Job that he was righteous, and had been punished beyond his deserts. He had before maintained Job 4:7, that no one ever perished being innocent, and that the righteous were not cut off. This was with him a favorite position; and indeed the whole drift of the argument maintained by him and his friends was, to prove that uncommon calamities were proof of uncommon guilt. Job had insisted on it that he was a righteous man, and had not deserved the calamities which had come upon him - a position which Eliphaz seems to have regarded as an assertion of innocence. To meet this he now maintains that no one is righteous; that all that are born of women are guilty; and in proof of this he goes back to the oracle which had made so deep an impression on his mind, and to the declaration then made to him that no one was pure before God; Job 4:He does not repeat it exactly as the oracle was then delivered to him, but adverts to the substance of it, and regards it as final and indisputable. The meaning is, "What are all the pretensions of man to purity, when even the angels are regarded as impure and the heavens unclean?"

He which is born of a woman - Another mode of denoting man. No particular argument to maintain the doctrine of man's depravity is couched in the fact that he is born of a woman. The sense is, simply, how can anyone of the human family be pure?

14. Eliphaz repeats the revelation (Job 4:17) in substance, but using Job's own words (see on [507]Job 14:1, on "born of a woman") to strike him with his own weapons. What is man, Heb. frail, or sick, or wretched man? his mean original and corrupt nature showeth him to be unclean.

Which is born of a woman; from whom he derives infirmity, and corruption, and guilt, and the curse consequent upon it.

Righteous, to wit, in his own eyes, as thou, O Job, art.

What is man, that he should be clean?.... Frail, feeble, mortal man, or woeful man, as Mr. Broughton renders it; since he is sinful, whereby he is become such a weak and dying creature: this question, as well as the following, is put by way of contempt, and as lessening man in a comparative sense, and in order to abate any high conceit of himself; who is not naturally clean, but the reverse, being conceived and born in sin; nor can he be so of himself, nor by any means he is capable of; and however clean he may be in his own eyes, or in the eyes of others, yet is not clean in the sight of God, and still less pure than him, his Maker, as in Job 4:17; and indeed cannot be clean at all, but through the grace of God, and blood of Christ, which cleanses from all sin:

and he which is born of a woman; a periphrasis of man, Job 14:1;

that he should be righteous? as no man is naturally; there is none righteous, no, not one; though man originally was made righteous, yet sinning he lost his righteousness, and all his posterity are without any; nor can they become righteous of themselves, or by any works of righteousness done by them; and though they may trust in themselves that they are righteous, and may appear outwardly so before men, yet by the deeds of the law no flesh can be justified or accounted righteous in the sight of God, and much less be more just than he, as in Job 4:17; nor can any of the sons of men be made or reckoned righteous but by the obedience of Christ, or by that justifying righteousness that is in him: what Eliphaz here says concerning the impurity, imperfection, and unrighteousness of men, are very great truths; but if he aims at Job, as he seems to do he misses his mark, and mistakes the man, and it is in vain with respect to him, or as a refutation of any notions of his; for Job asserts the corruption and depravity of human nature as strongly as it is expressed here, Job 14:4; nor does he ever claim, but disclaims, sinless perfection, Job 9:20; nor did he expect to be personally justified before God by any righteousness of his own, the imperfection of which he was sensible of, but by the righteousness of his living Redeemer, Job 9:30; but what he pleaded for was the integrity and uprightness of his heart in opposition to hypocrisy he was charged with; and the holiness and righteousness of his life and conversation, in opposition to a course of living in sin, or to his being guilty of some notorious sin or sins for which he was afflicted, as was insinuated. Eliphaz here recurs to his oracle, Job 4:17; and expresses it much to the same sense.

What is man, that he should be clean? and he which is born of a woman, that he should {i} be righteous?

(i) His purpose is to prove that Job, as an unjust man and a hypocrite, is punished for his sins, as he did before, Job 4:8.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
14. What is there to justify such passion—thy pretended innocence? What is man that he should be clean? cf. ch. Job 14:1. Eliphaz recurs again to his principles formerly enunciated, ch. Job 4:17 seq., for his former speech is in his mind throughout.

Verse 14. - What is man, that he should be clean? A vain "beating of the air." Eliphaz had asserted the same truth in his first speech, when he said, "Shall mortal man be more just than God? shall a man be more pure than his Maker? Behold, he put no trust in his servants; and his angels he taxeth with folly: how much less in them that dwell in houses of clay whose foundation is in the dust, which are crushed before the moth?" (Job 4:17-19); and Job had given his full assent to it, when he exclaimed, "I know it is so of a truth: but how should man be just with God? If he will contend with him, he cannot answer him one of a thousand" (Job 9:2, 3). The true question was not whether Job or any other man was" clean," i.e. wholly sinless but whether Job had sinned so deeply and grievously that his sufferings were the natural and just punishment for his sins. And a mere repetition of the statement that all men were sinful and unclean was off the point - nihil ad rem-altogether futile and superfluous. And he that is born of a woman, that he should be righteous? (setup. Job 25:4). The clause is a mere variant of the preceding one. Job 15:1414 What is mortal man that he should be pure,

And that he who is born of woman should be righteous?

15 He trusteth not His holy ones,

And the heavens are not pure in His eyes:

16 How much less the abominable and corrupt,

Man, who drinketh iniquity as water!

The exclamation in Job 15:14 is like the utterance: mortal man and man born flesh of flesh cannot be entirely sinless. Even "the holy ones" and "the heavens" are not. The former are, as in Job 5:1, according to Job 4:18, the angels as beings of light (whether קדשׁ signifies to be light from the very first, spotlessly pure, or, vid., Psalter, i. 588f., to be separated, distinct, and hence exalted above what is common); the latter is not another expression for the אנגּלי מרומא (Targ.), the "angels of the heights," but שׁמים is the word used for the highest spheres in which they dwell (comp. Job 25:5); for the angels are certainly not corporeal, but, like all created things, in space, and the Scriptures everywhere speak of angels and the starry heavens together. Hence the angels are called the morning stars in Job 38:7, and hence both stars and angels are called צבא השׁמים and צבאות (vid., Genesis. S. 128). Even the angels and the heavens are finite, and consequently are not of a nature absolutely raised above the possibility of sin and contamination.

Eliphaz repeats here what he has already said, Job 4:18.; but he does it intentionally, since he wishes still more terribly to describe human uncleanness to Job (Oetinger). In that passage אף was merely the sign of an anti-climax, here כּי אף is quanto minus. Eliphaz refers to the hereditary infirmity and sin of human nature in Job 15:14, here (Job 15:16) to man's own free choice of that which works his destruction. He uses the strongest imaginable words to describe one actualiter and originaliter corrupted. נתעב denotes one who is become an abomination, or the abominated equals abominable (Ges. 134, 1); נאלח, one thoroughly corrupted (Arabic alacha, in the medial VIII conjugation: to become sour, which reminds one of ζύμη, Rabb. שׂאר שׁבּעסּה, as an image of evil, and especially of evil desire). It is further said of him (an expression which Elihu adopts, Job 34:7), that he drinks up evil like water. The figure is like Proverbs 26:6, comp. on Psalm 73:10, and implies that he lusts after sin, and that it is become a necessity of his nature, and is to his nature what water is to the thirsty. Even Job does not deny this corruption of man (Job 14:4), but the inferences which the friends draw in reference to him he cannot acknowledge. The continuation of Eliphaz' speech shows how they render this acknowledgment impossible to him.

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