Job 15:16
How much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinks iniquity like water?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) How much more abominable and filthy is man . . .—This strong language, thus couched in general terms, is doubtless intended to reflect on Job, otherwise it would not need to have been so strong.

Job 15:16. How much more abominable and filthy is man — If saints are not to be trusted, much less sinners. If the heavens are not pure; if heavenly beings, who maintained their allegiance to their Maker, are not free from imperfection, when compared with God, much less is man, who is degenerated, and has rebelled against him. Which drinketh iniquity like water — Who, besides his natural proneness to sin, has contracted habits of sinning; and sins as freely, as greedily, and delightfully, as men, especially in those hot countries, drink up water.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?How much more abominable and filthy is man - How much more than the angels, and than the heavens. In Job 4:19, the image is somewhat different. There it is, how can man be the object of the divine confidence since he lives in a house of clay, and is so frail? Here the image is more striking and forcible. The word rendered filthy (אלח 'âlach) means, in Arabic, to be sour, as milk, and then to be corrupt, in a moral sense; Psalm 14:3; Psalm 53:4. Here it means that man is defiled and polluted, and this declaration is a remarkable illustration of the ancient belief of the depravity of man.

Which drinketh iniquity like water - This is still a true, though a melancholy account of man. He loves sin, and is as greedy of it as a thirsty man is of water. He practices it as if it were his very nature - as much so as it is to drink. Perhaps too there may be an allusion, as Dr. Good supposes, to the large draught of water which the camel makes, implying that man is exceedingly greedy of iniquity; compare Job 20:12; Job 34:7; Proverbs 19:28.

16. filthy—in Arabic "sour" (Ps 14:3; 53:3), corrupted from his original purity.

drinketh—(Pr 19:28).

Who, besides his natural proneness to sin, hath contracted habits and customs of sinning, and sinneth as freely and easily, as greedily and delightfully, as frequently and abundantly, as men, especially in those hot countries, used to drink up water. But this did not Job; and therefore though the things delivered by him and the rest be true in the general, yet they commit a great error in misapplying them to Job, for which therefore they are afterwards reproved. How much more abominable and filthy is man,.... In his natural, corrupt, and unregenerate estate; man, as a creature, was not abominable, but becoming sinful he is; he is so in himself, cast out to the loathing of his person, being full of wounds, bruises, and putrefying sores, yea, like a dead corrupted carcass, for he is dead in trespasses and sins, Ephesians 2:1; and he appears to be corrupt by the abominable works done by him, as all the works of the flesh are; yea, he is abominable to himself, when made sensible of his state and case; he then abhors himself, and repents of his sins, he loathes his sins, and himself for them; and must be much more so in the sight of God, who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, as man is nothing else than a mass of sin, and therefore must be "filthy"; for sin is of a defiling nature, it defiles the body and all its members, and the soul with all its powers and faculties: man is naturally and originally filthy, being conceived in sin, and shapen in iniquity; nor can a clean thing be brought out of an unclean; he is internally and universally unclean, his heart is a sink of sin, desperately wicked, and wickedness itself; his mind and conscience are defiled, and there is no place clean; and this appears outwardly in his actions, in his life and conversation, which is filthy also: for if the ploughing of the wicked is sin, and the righteousnesses of men are filthy rags, how impure must the immoral actions of wicked men be? man is so impure, that nothing but the blood of Christ can purify his heart, and purge his conscience from dead works, and make white his outward conversation garment:

which drinketh iniquity like water; it is as natural to him to commit iniquity as it is for a man to drink water when he is thirsty, and he does it with equal gust, delight, and pleasure; as cold water is delightful to a thirsty soul, so is sin to a sinner, a sweet morsel he holds in his mouth; various lusts are various pleasures, though these pleasures are but for a season: sin, like water, is easy to be come at, it is near at hand, it easily besets men, and is all around them, and they easily give into it; everyone turns to his wicked course as readily as the horse rushes into the battle; and the phrase may be expressive of the abundance of sin committed, like large draughts of water greedily taken down by a man athirst, and repeated again and again; moreover, as water drank enters into men, and is taken down as an harmless thing, yet often proves very hurtful and pernicious to them when drank while they are hot, and occasions disorders, which issue in death; so sin, though it may seem harmless, and be pleasing and refreshing, going down like water, yet it works like poison, and is the gall of asps within a man, and ends in eternal death, if grace prevents not. This is the conclusion and application of the whole to man, arguing from the greater to the lesser, and so proving the impurity and imperfection of man, and that he cannot be clean and righteous before God of himself.

How much more abominable and filthy is man, which {k} drinketh iniquity like water?

(k) Who has a desire to sin, as he who is thirsty to drink.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
16. According to the Hebrew punctuation the verse runs,

How much less the abominable and corrupt,

Man, which drinketh in iniquity like water.

The word “corrupt,” only here and Psalm 14:3 (Psalm 53:3), occurs in Arab. in the sense of “turned,” sour, of milk; it is used in Heb. only in a moral sense (A. V. filthy). “Man” here is said, of course, of mankind, not specially of Job, and Eliphaz declares that his greedy avidity for evil is like that of a thirsty man for water. The words strongly indicate to Job the view which Eliphaz takes of him and his sufferings, and thus naturally form the transition to the second half of his speech.Verse 16. - How much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinketh iniquity like water? rather, How much less one that is abominable and impure a man that drinketh in iniquity etc.? It cannot be doubted that Job is individually pointed at. Not mankind generally, but a particular man, is intended; and the particular man can be none other than Job. Thus we see how the progress of the controversy has tended to exasperate the disputants, and change the "comforters" from smooth-tongued friends into open enemies and accusers. 7 Wast thou as the first one born as a man,

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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