Job 15:19
To whom alone the earth was given, and no stranger passed among them.
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Job 15:19. Unto whom alone the earth was given — By the gracious gift of God: this he alleges to make their testimony more considerable, because these were no obscure men, but the most worthy and famous men in their ages; and to confute what Job had said, Job 9:24, that the earth was given into the hand of the wicked. By the earth he means the dominion and possession of it. No stranger passed among them — No person of a strange nation and disposition, or religion, passed through their land, so as to disturb or spoil them, as the Sabeans and Chaldeans did thee. God watched over those holy men so that no enemy could invade them; and so he would have done over thee, if thou hadst been such a one. It seems evident, that Noah and his sons, Melchizedeck, Abraham, and others of the patriarchs, who lived before Job, are here intended.15:17-35 Eliphaz maintains that the wicked are certainly miserable: whence he would infer, that the miserable are certainly wicked, and therefore Job was so. But because many of God's people have prospered in this world, it does not therefore follow that those who are crossed and made poor, as Job, are not God's people. Eliphaz shows also that wicked people, particularly oppressors, are subject to continual terror, live very uncomfortably, and perish very miserably. Will the prosperity of presumptuous sinners end miserably as here described? Then let the mischiefs which befal others, be our warnings. Though no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous, nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruits of righteousness to them that are exercised thereby. No calamity, no trouble, however heavy, however severe, can rob a follower of the Lord of his favour. What shall separate him from the love of Christ?Unto whom alone the earth was given - The land; the land or country where they dwelt. He refers to the period before they became intermingled with other nations, and before they imbibed any sentiments or opinions from strangers. The meaning is, "I will give you the result of the observations of the golden age of the world when our fathers dwelt alone, and it could not be pretended that they had been corrupted by foreign philosophy; and when in morals and in sentiment they were pure." Probably all nations look back to such times of primeval simplicity, and freedom from corruption, when the sentiments on morals and religion were comparatively pure, and before the people became corrupt by the importation of foreign opinions. It is a pleasing delusion to look back to such times - to some innocent Arcadia, or to a golden age - but usually all such retrospections are the mere work of fancy. The world really grows wiser as it grows older; and in the progress of society it is a rare thing when the present is not more pure and happy than its early stages. The comforts, privileges, and intelligence of the patriarchal age were not to be compared with those which we enjoy - any more than the condition of the wandering Arab is to be preferred to the quiet, peace, intelligence, and order of a calm, Christian home.

No stranger passed among them - No foreigner came to corrupt their sentiments by an admixture of strange doctrines. "Eliphaz here speaks like a genuine Arab, whose pride is in his tongue, his sword, and his pure blood." Umbreit. It is possible, as Rosenmuller suggests, that Eliphaz means to insinuate that Job had been corrupted by the sentiments of the Chaldeans and Sabeans, and had departed from the pure doctrines of earlier times.

19. Eliphaz speaks like a genuine Arab when he boasts that his ancestors had ever possessed the land unmixed with foreigners [Umbreit]. His words are intended to oppose Job's (Job 9:24); "the earth" in their case was not "given into the hand of the wicked." He refers to the division of the earth by divine appointment (Ge 10:5; 25:32). Also he may insinuate that Job's sentiments had been corrupted from original purity by his vicinity to the Sabeans and Chaldeans [Rosenmuller]. Unto whom alone the earth was given; either,

1. By the special and gracious gift of God; whereas wicked men invaded their parts of the earth, and took them away by force. Or,

2. By the choice and consent of the people, who for their great and known wisdom and virtue conferred this power and trust upon them. This he allegeth, partly to make their testimony more considerable, because these were not obscure, and mean, and foolish men, whose words are commonly despised, but the most worthy and famous men in their places and ages; and partly to contradict and confute what Job had said, Job 9:24, that the earth was given into the hand of the wicked. By the earth he means either the dominion of the earth, to wit, of that part of the earth in or nigh which Job and his friends lived; or rather, the possession of the earth, i.e. of a great portion of worldly goods; or particularly, the land, or that land, (as the word properly signifies,) to wit, the land of Canaan, which was given by special gift unto Abraham, (from whom it seems most probable that both Job and his friends were descended,) and to Isaac, and to Jacob; who, though they met with some common and ordinary afflictions, yet enjoyed a great measure of comfort, and wealth, and honour, and power in the world, as the fruits of God’s blessing, and of his covenant made with good men, whilst wicked men were exposed to manifold distresses and grievous calamities; all which those holy patriarchs diligently observed, and industriously imparted to their children, to encourage them to continue and proceed in the ways of true piety. But how was the earth or land given to them alone, as is here said?

Answ. Either,

1. Because Noah and his sons (of whom some understand these words) had the sole possession and dominion of the earth. Or,

2. Because Canaan was given to Abraham and to his seed alone; and some of Abraham’s children had the dominion of, or an ample possession in, those parts where Job and his friends lived, who also seem to be in the number of them. Or,

3. Because they only had it either by God’s special and gracious providence, or by the choice and approbation of the people; whereas wicked men took it by rapine and violence, without asking leave either from God or men.

No stranger, i.e. the enemy; for such are called strangers, both in Scripture, as Proverbs 5:10 Isaiah 1:7 Ezekiel 11:9 28:10, and in other authors. No person of a strange nation and disposition or religion.

Among them, i.e. through their land, as this phrase is used, Numbers 20:18, to wit, so as to molest, or disturb, or spoil them, as the Sabeans and Chaldeans did thee. God watched over those wise and holy men so carefully, that no enemy should invade them; and so he would have done over thee, if thou hadst been such a one. Unto whom alone the earth was given,.... Who were intrusted with the government of whole kingdoms and nations; and therefore not mean men, but persons of great consequence, and to be credited; being such as were appointed by God, and by him put into such an high office, for which they were qualified by him; and being observed to be such by men, were made choice of by them to take the government of them: this is not to be restrained to the land of Canaan, and to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to whom it was given, and to their posterity; and who it is very probable at this time did not yet enjoy it; but it respects more and larger tracts of land, and the rulers of them, and at a greater distance of time, and very likely Noah and his sons, to whom the whole earth was given, and by whom it was replenished, and among whom it was divided; this seems opposed to what Job had said, Job 9:24;

and no stranger passed among them; either there was no wicked man among them, a stranger to God and godliness; or an enemy that invaded them, passed through them, disturbed and dispossessed them of their power and substance; which shows how wise and good men are regarded by the Lord, and not distressed and afflicted as wicked men be; as well as serves to strengthen the credit of their character, and the report received and derived from them by tradition, and tacitly glances at Job's distress and disturbance by the Chaldeans and Sabeans; next follows the account of the things either seen by Eliphaz, or handed down from such credible persons now described.

Unto whom alone the earth was {l} given, and no stranger passed among them.

(l) Who by their wisdom so governed, that no stranger invaded them, and so the land seemed to be given to them alone.

19. And it is a tradition pure and uncorrupted by admixture of foreign elements, for it is the moral wisdom of races to whom alone the land has been given, who have dwelt always in the same seats, and never been displaced, and among whom foreign and inferior races have never penetrated.Verse 19. - Unto whom alone the earth was given. The reference is clearly to a very remote time, when men were comparatively few, and lived in quiet possession of their own lands, undisturbed by invasions, wars, or struggles for territory. Professor Lee thinks that the times immediately after, and even those before, the Flood are glanced at; while Schultens regards Eliphaz as alluding to the first settlements of the Joktanidae in Arabia. In either case, the passage tells in favour or, and not against, the antiquity of the Book of Job, since it marks the composer as "living at a time when the memory of an age of patriarchal simplicity was yet fresh in men's minds" (Canon Cook). And no stranger passed among them. Races were not mixed up one with another, and so the purity of primitive doctrine remained undisturbed. 11 Are the consolations of God too small for thee,

And a word thus tenderly spoken with thee?

12 What overpowers thy hearts?

And why do thine eyes wink,

13 That thou turnest thy snorting against God,

And sendest forth such words from thy mouth?

By the consolations of God, Eliphaz means the promises in accordance with the majesty and will of God, by which he and the other friends have sought to cheer him, of course presupposing a humble resignation to the just hand of God. By "a word (spoken) in gentleness to him," he means the gentle tone which they have maintained, while he has passionately opposed them. לאט, elsewhere לאט (e.g., Isaiah 8:6, of the softly murmuring and gently flowing Siloah), from אט (declined, אטּי), with the neutral, adverbial ל (as לבטה), signifies: with a soft step, gently, The word has no connection with לוּט, לאט, to cover over, and is not third praet. (as it is regarded by Raschi, after Chajug): which he has gently said to you, or that which has gently befallen you; in which, as in Frst's Handwrterbuch, the notions secrete (Judges 4:21, Targ. בּרז, in secret) and leniter are referred to one root. Are these divine consolations, and these so gentle addresses, too small for thee (מעט ממך, opp. 1 Kings 19:7), i.e., beneath thy dignity, and unworthy of they notice? What takes away (לקה, auferre, abripere, as frequently) thy heart (here of wounded pride), and why do thine eyes gleam, that thou turnest (השׁיב, not revertere, but vertere, as freq.) thy ill-humour towards God, and utterest מלּין (so here, not מלּים) words, which, because they are without meaning and intelligence, are nothing but words? רזם, ἅπ. γεγρ., is transposed from רמז, to wink, i.e., to make known by gestures and grimaces, - a word which does not occur in biblical, but is very common in post-biblical, Hebrew (e.g., חרשׁ רומז ונרמז, a deaf and dumb person expresses himself and is answered by a language of signs). Modern expositors arbitrarily understand a rolling of the eyes; it is more natural to think of the vibration of the eye-lashes or eye-brows. רוּח, Job 15:13, is as in Judges 8:3; Isaiah 25:4, comp. Job 13:11, and freq. used of passionate excitement, which is thus expressed because it manifests itself in πνέειν (Acts 9:1), and has its rise in the πνεῦμα (Ecclesiastes 7:9). Job ought to control this angry spirit, θυμός (Psychol. S. 198); but he allows it to burst forth, and makes even God the object on which he vents his anger in impetuous language. How much better it would be for him, if he would search within himself (Lamentations 3:39) for the reason of those sufferings which so deprive him of his self-control!

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