Behold, he puts no trust in his saints; yes, the heavens are not clean in his sight.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Behold.—Comp. Job 4:18; Job 5:5.Job 4:18, it is, "in his servants," but no doubt the same thing is intended. The reference is to the angels, called there servants, and here saints קדשׁים qôdeshı̂ym, holy ones; see the notes at Job 4:18.
Yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight - In Job 4:18, "and his angels he charged with folly." The general idea is the same. God is so holy that all things else seem to be impure. The very heavens seem to be unclean when compared with him. We are not to understand this as meaning that the heavens are defiled; that there is sin and corruption there, and that they are loathsome in the sight of God. The object is to set forth the exceeding purity of God, and the greatness of his holiness. This sentiment seemed to be a kind of proverb, or a commonplace in theology among the sages of Arabia. Thus, it occurs in Job 25:5, in the speech of Bildad, when he had nothing to say but to repeat the most common-place moral and theological adages -
Behold even to the moon, and it shineth not;
Yea, the stars are not pure in his sight:
How much less man, that is a worm,
heavens—literally, or else answering to "angels" (see on Job 4:18, and Job 25:5).In his saints, i.e. in his angels, as appears by comparing Job 4:18, who are called his saints or holy ones, Deu 33:2 Psalm 103:20 Daniel 4:13,23 Mt 18:10 24:36; who though they were created holy, yet he could not be confident in them, nor they be confident in themselves that they would continue in their integrity if they were left to themselves, and not upheld by God’s special grace and assistance. See Poole "Job 4:18".
The heavens, Heb. and the heavens, i.e. either,
1. The heavens properly so called; which though they be free from those drossy mixtures which are and appear in heavenly bodies, yet are not absolutely pure, but have some spots and blemishes in them; as philosophers have discovered, and the all-seeing God knoweth. Compare Job 25:5, where the stars are said not to be pure; unless the stars also there be metaphorically put for the angels, as they are Job 38:7, and for other holy ministers of God, as Daniel 8:10 Revelation 1:16,20 12:1,4.
2. The angels that dwell in heaven; heaven being oft put for its inhabitants; either for God, as Psalm 73:9 Daniel 4:26 Luke 15:18,21; or for the angels that dwell in heaven, as Psalm 89:5 148:1,2. So this is a repetition of the same thing in other words. And these are not pure, to wit, simply and perfectly, and comparatively to God; in which and such like respects God only is said to be good, and wise, and immortal. The angels are pure from corruption, but not from imperfection, nor from a possibility of sinning, if God should withdraw his help from them. Revelation 20:8; or this may be understood of the angels, who sometimes are called saints, Deuteronomy 33:2; who though they have been trusted with many things to impart to the sons of men, yet not with the salvation of men, nor even with the secret of it; they were not of God's privy council when the affair was debated and settled; nor with other secrets, as the day and hour of the last judgment, the coming of the Son of Man: or the sense may be, "he putteth no perfection or stability" (d) in them, that is, perfection in comparison of his; for if theirs were equal to his, they would be gods, which it is impossible to be, or for God to make them such; and likewise such stability as to have been able to have stood of themselves, which it appears they had not, since many of them fell, and the rest needed confirming grace, which they have by Christ, the Head of all principalities and powers:
yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight; heaven born men, partakers of the heavenly calling, whose hearts and affections are set on heavenly things, and have their conversation in heaven; yet these, in the sight of a pure and holy God, and in comparison of him, are impure and unholy; or they of heaven, as Mr. Broughton renders it, the inhabitants of heaven; the angels on high, as the Targum paraphrases it; these are charged by him with folly, and they, conscious of their imperfection with respect to him, cover their faces with their wings, while they celebrate the perfection of his holiness, who is so glorious in it; though the natural heavens may be intended, at least not excluded, and the luminous bodies in them, as Bildad seems to explain it, Job 25:5; the stars are reckoned the more dense and thick part of the heavens, the moon has its spots, and by later discoveries it seems the sun is not without them, and the heavens are often covered with clouds and darkness, and the present ones will be purified with fire at the general conflagration, which supposes them unclean, and they shall pass away, and new ones succeed, which implies imperfection in the former, or there would be no need of others; this is the proof Eliphaz gives of what he had suggested in Job 15:14.
(d) "non posuit stabilitatem", Pagninus; "immutabilitatem, sive perfectionem absolutam", Vatablus; "firmum opus non produxit", Tigurine version; "non crediturns esset firmitatem", Junius & Tremellius.Behold, he putteth no trust in his saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)15. his saints] his holy ones, i. e. His angels, cf. on ch. Job 5:1.
the heavens] These are here the material heavens, not the celestial inhabitants, cf. ch. Job 25:5. So Exodus 24:10, “And they saw the God of Israel, and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the very heaven in its clearness”; see also Ezekiel 1:22.Verse 15. - Behold, he putteth no trust in his saints; rather, in his holy ones (see the Revised Version). The word "saint" has in course of time come to be so exclusively attached to holy men' that it can no longer be applied, without danger of being misunderstood, to angels. Eliphaz here, as in Job 5:1, speaks not of holy men, but of the holy angels. Without taxing them with sin, he is strongly convinced of their imperfection - their defective wisdom (Job 5:18), weakness, and untrustworthiness. His views are decidedly peculiar, and not borne out by the rest of Scripture. Yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight. The material heavens are probably intended. That limpid liquid blue in which the human eye sees no stain or speck, to the Divine eye is tinged with uncleanness The idea is that neither animate nor inanimate nature contains any form of being that is absolutely without spot or blemish. In God alone is there perfect purity.
And hast thou been brought forth before the hills?
8 Hast thou attended to the counsel of Eloah,
And hast thou kept wisdom to thyself?
9 What dost thou know that we have not known?
Doest thou understand what we have not been acquainted with?
10 Both grey-haired and aged are among us,
Older in days than thy father.
The question in Job 15:7 assumes that the first created man, because coming direct from the hand of God, had the most direct and profoundest insight into the mysteries of the world which came into existence at the same time as himself. Schlottman calls to mind an ironical proverbial expression of the Hindus: "Yea, indeed, he is the first man; no wonder that he is so wise" (Roberts, Orient. Illustr. p. 276). It is not to be translated: wast thou born as the first man, which is as inadmissible as the translation of אחת מעט, Haggai 2:6, by "a little" (vid., Khler in loc.); rather ראישׁון (i.e., ראישׁון, as Joshua 21:10, formed from ראשׁ, like the Arabic raı̂s, from ras, if it is not perhaps a mere incorrect amalgamation of the forms ראשׁון and רשׁון, Job 8:8) is in apposition with the subject, and אדם is to be regarded as predicate, according to Ges. 139, 2. Raschi's translation is also impossible: wast thou born before Adam? for this Greek form of expression, πρῶτος μον, John 1:15, John 1:30; John 15:18 (comp. Odyss. xi. 481f., σεῖο μακάρτατος), is strange to the Hebrew. In the parallel question, Job 15:7, Umbr., Schlottm., and Renan (following Ewald) see a play upon Proverbs 8:24.: art thou the demiurgic Wisdom itself? But the introductory proverbs (Proverbs 1-9) are more recent than the book of Job (vid., supra, p. 24), and indeed probably, as we shall show elsewhere, belong to the time of Jehoshaphat. Consequently the more probable relation is that the writer of Proverbs 8:24. has adopted words from the book of Job in describing the pre-existence of the Chokma. Was Job, a higher spirit-nature, brought forth, i.e., as it were amidst the pangs of travail (חוללת, Pulal from חול, חיל), before the hills? for the angels, according to Scripture, were created before man, and even before the visible universe (vid., Job 38:4.). Hirz., Ew., Schlottm., and others erroneously translate the futt. in the questions, Job 15:8, as praes. All the verbs in Job 15:7, Job 15:8, are under the control of the retrospective character which is given to the verses by ראישׁון; comp. Job 10:10., where זכר־נא has the same influence, and also Job 3:3, where the historical sense of אוּלד depends not upon the syntax, but upon logical necessity. Translate therefore: didst thou attend in the secret council (סוד, like Jeremiah 23:18, comp. Psalm 89:8) of Eloah (according to the correct form of writing in Codd. and in Kimchi, Michlol 54a, הבסוד, like Job 15:11 המעט and Job 22:13 הבעד, with Beth raph. and without Gaja),
(Note: As a rule, the interrogative He, when pointed with Pathach, has Gaja against the Pathach 2 Samuel 7:5; this, however, falls away (among other instances) when the syllable immediately following the He has the tone, as in the two examples given above (comp. also האל, Job 8:3; הלאל, Job 13:7), or the usual Gaja (Metheg) which stands in the antepenultima (Br, Metheg-Setzung, 23)
and didst then acquire for thyself (גרע, here attrahere, like the Arabic, sorbere, to suck in) wisdom? by which one is reminded of Prometheus' fire stolen from heaven. Nay, Job can boast of no extraordinary wisdom. The friends - as Eliphaz, Job 15:9, says in their name - are his contemporaries; and if he desires to appeal to the teaching of his father, and of his ancestors generally, let them know that there are hoary-headed men among themselves, whose discernment is deeper by reason of their more advanced age. גּם is inverted, like Job 2:10 (which see); and at the same time, since it is sued twice, it is correlative: etiam inter nos et cani et senes. Most modern expositors think that Eliphaz, "in modestly concealed language" (Ewald), refers to himself. But the reference would be obvious enough; and wherefore this modest concealing, which is so little suited to the character of Eliphaz? Moreover, Job 15:10 does not sound as if speaking merely of one, and in Job 15:10 Eliphaz would make himself older than he appears to be, for it is nowhere implied that Job is a young man in comparison with him. We therefore with Umbreit explain בּנוּ: in our generation. Thus it sounds more like the Arabic, both in words (kebı̂r Arab., usual in the signif. grandaevus) and in substance. Eliphaz appeals to the source of reliable tradition, since they have even among their races and districts mature old men, and since, indeed, according to Job's own admission (Job 12:12), there is "wisdom among the ancient ones."
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