Job 15:2
Should a wise man utter vain knowledge, and fill his belly with the east wind?
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(2) Should a wise man utter vain knowledge . . .—Job therefore is not wise, and his words have been vain and windy.

Job 15:2. Should a wise man — Such as thou pretendest to be, utter vain knowledge — Hebrews דעת רוח, dagnath, ruach, knowledge of wind; that is, empty words, without any sense or solidity in them; and fill his belly — Satisfy his mind and conscience; with the east wind — With notions and speeches, which are not only unsubstantial and unprofitable, but also hasty, impetuous, and pernicious; and full as hurtful to the peace of his own mind, and the quiet and comfort of others, as the boisterous, scorching east wind is to fruits and herbs of every kind. The Hebrew is literally, And should the east wind fill his belly — his vain and useless knowledge puff him up with pride and self-conceit?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?Should a wise man - Referring to Job, and to his claims to be esteemed wise; see Job 12:3; Job 13:2, Job 13:6. The argument of Eliphaz here is, that the sentiments which Job had advanced were a sufficient refutation of his pretensions to wisdom. A wise man would not be guilty of "mere talk," or of using language that conveyed no ideas.

Utter - literally, answer. It refers to the replies which Job had made to the arguments of his friends.

Vain knowledge - Margin, "Knowledge of wind." So the Hebrew; see Job 6:26; Job 7:7. The "wind" is used to denote what is unsubstantial, vain, changing. Here it is used as an emblem of remarks which were vain, empty, and irrelevant.

And fill his belly - Fill his mind with unsubstantial arguments or sentiments - as little fitted for utility as the east wind is for food. The image is, "he fills himself with mere wind, and then blows it out under pretence of delivering the maxims of wisdom."

With the east wind - The east wind was not only tempestuous and vehement, but sultry, and destructive to vegetation. It passed over vast deserts, and was characterized by great dryness and heat. It is used here to denote a manner of discourse that had in it nothing profitable.

2. a wise man—which Job claims to be.

vain knowledge—Hebrew, "windy knowledge"; literally, "of wind" (Job 8:2). In Ec 1:14, Hebrew, "to catch wind," expresses to strive for what is vain.

east wind—stronger than the previous "wind," for in that region the east wind is the most destructive of winds (Isa 27:8). Thus here,—empty violence.

belly—the inward parts, the breast (Pr 18:8).

A wise man; such as thou seemest and pretendest to be.

Vain knowledge, i.e. empty words, without any sense or solidity in them.

Fill his belly, i.e. satisfy his own mind and conscience, which being secret is compared to the inwards of the belly; as Job 32:19 Proverbs 20:27 22:18.

With the east wind, i.e. with discourses which are not only flashy and unprofitable, and without any weight, but also boisterous and pernicious, both to himself and others; as the east wind was in those parts, Genesis 41:6 Exodus 10:13 Hosea 12:1. Should a wise man utter vain knowledge,.... As Job had been thought to be, or as he himself thought he was, which he might say sarcastically; or as he really was, not worldly wise, nor merely wise in things natural, but in things divine; being one that had the fear of God, which is the beginning of wisdom, and wisdom itself; believed in Christ, and walked wisely and circumspectly before men; now it is not becoming such a man to utter vain knowledge, or such knowledge as is like the wind, or, as the Targum, windy knowledge; empty, not solid, nor satisfying, but swells and puffs up, and is knowledge falsely so called; but it does not appear that Job did utter such vain and fruitless things as deserved to be compared to the wind:

and fill his belly with the east wind; which is noisy and blusterous, rapid and forcible, bearing all before it, and very infectious in hot countries; and such notions Job, according to Eliphaz, satisfied himself with, and endeavoured to insinuate them into others; which were nothing but great swelling words of vanity, and tended to subvert the faith of men, and overthrow all religion, and were very unwholesome, infectious, and ruinous to the minds of men, as suggested.

Should a wise man utter {a} vain knowledge, and fill his belly {b} with the east wind?

(a) That is, vain words, and without consolation?

(b) Meaning, with matters that are of no importance, which are forgotten as soon as they are uttered, as the East wind dries up moisture as soon as it falls.

2. Should a wise man utter vain knowledge] Or, will a wise man answer with vain, &c., lit., knowledge of wind, i. e. empty and loud, cf. ch. Job 8:2, Job 16:2. The word wise refers back to Job’s claims to superior wisdom, ch. Job 12:3, Job 13:2. Eliphaz asks, Is this the manner of one possessed of wisdom?

fill his belly with the east wind] i. e. puff himself up and then bring out of his mouth violent blasts of mere barren words; cf. Hosea 12:1.17 My transgression is sealed up in a bag,

And Thou hast devised additions to my iniquity.

18 But a falling mountain moveth indeed,

And a rock falleth from its place.

19 Water holloweth out stone,

Its overflowings carry away the dust of the earth,

And the hope of man - Thou destroyest.

The meaning of Job 14:17 is, not that the judgment which pronounces him guilty lies in the sealed-up bag of the judge, so that it requires only to be handed over for execution (Hirz., Ew., Renan), for although פּשׁע (though not exactly the punishment of sin, which it does not signify even in Daniel 9:24) can denote wickedness, as proved and recorded, and therefore metonomically the penal sentence, the figure is, however, taken not from the mode of preserving important documents, but from the mode of preserving collected articles of value in a sealed bag. The passage must be explained according to Hosea 13:12; Deuteronomy 32:34; Romans 2:5, comp. Jeremiah 17:1. The evil Job had formerly (Job 13:26) committed according to the sentence of God, God has gathered together as in a money bag, and carefully preserved, in order now to bring them home to him. And not this alone, however; He has devised still more against him than his actual misdeeds. Ewald translates: Thou hast sewed up my punishment; but טפל (vid., on Job 13:4) signifies, not to sew up, but: to sew on, patch on, and gen. to add (טפל, Rabb. accidens, a subordinate matter, opp. עקּר), after which the lxx translates ἐπεσημήνω (noted in addition), and Gecatilia Arab. ḥftṣt (added to in collecting). It is used here just as in the Aramaic phrase טפל שׁקרא (to patch on falsehood, to invent scandal).

The idea of the figures which follow is questionable. Hahn maintains that they do not describe destruction, but change, and that consequently the relation of Job 14:19 to what precedes is not similarity, but contrast: stones are not so hard, that they are not at length hollowed out, and the firm land is not so firm that it cannot be carried away by the flood; but man's prospect is for ever a hopeless one, and only for him is there no prospect of his lot ever being changed. Thus I thought formerly it should be explained: considering the waw, Job 14:19, as indicative not of comparison, but of contrast. But the assumption that the point of comparison is change, not destruction, cannot be maintained: the figures represent the slow but inevitable destruction wrought by the elements on the greatest mountains, on rocks, and on the solid earth. And if the poet had intended to contrast the slow but certain changes of nature with the hopelessness of man's lot, how many more appropriate illustrations, in which nature seems to come forth as with new life from the dead, were at his command! Raschi, who also considers the relation of the clauses to be antithetical, is guided by the right perception when he interprets: even a mountain that is cast down still brings forth fruit, and a rock removed from its place, even these are not without some signs of vitality in them, יבּול equals (יבוּל) יעשׂהבוּל, which is indeed a linguistic impossibility. The majority of expositors are therefore right when they take the waw, Job 14:19, similarly to Job 5:7; Job 11:12; Job 12:11, as waw adaequationis. With this interpretation also, the connection of the clause with what precedes by ואוּלם (which is used exactly as in Job 1:11; Job 11:5; Job 12:7, where it signifies verum enim vero or attamen) is unconstrained. The course of thought is as follows: With unsparing severity, and even beyond the measure of my guilt, hast Thou caused me to suffer punishment for my sins, but (nevertheless) Thou shouldst rather be gentle and forbearing towards me, since even that which is firmest, strongest, and most durable cannot withstand ultimate destruction; and entirely in accordance with the same law, weak, frail man (אנושׁ) meets an early certain end, and at the same time Thou cuttest off from him every ground of hope of a continued existence. The waw, Job 14:19, is consequently, according to the sense, more quanto magis than sic, placing the things to be contrasted over against each other. הר־נופL is a falling, not a fallen (Ralbag) mountain; and having once received the impetus, it continues gradually to give way; Renan: s'effondre peu peu. Carey, better: "will decay," for נבל (cogn. נבל) signifies, decrease from external loses; specially of the falling off of leaves, Isaiah 34:4. The second figure, like Job 18:4, is to be explained according to Job 9:5 : a rock removes (not as Jerome translates, transfertur, which would be יעתק, and also not as lxx παλαιωθήσεται, Schlottm.: becomes old and crumbles away, although in itself admissible both as to language and fact; comp. on Job 21:7) from its place; it does not stand absolutely, immovably fast. In the third figure אבנים is a prominent object, as the accentuation with Mehupach legarmeh or (as it is found in correct Codd.) with Asla legarmeh rightly indicates שׁחק signifies exactly the same as Arab. sḥq, attere, conterere. In the fourth figure, ספיח must not be interpreted as meaning that which grows up spontaneously without re-sowing, although the Targum translates accordingly: it (the water) washes away its (i.e., the dust of the earth's) after-growth (כּתהא), which Symm. follows (τὰ παραλελειμνένα). It is also impossible according to the expression; for it must have been עפר הארץ. Jerome is essentially correct: et alluvione paullatim terra consumitur. It is true that ספח in Hebrew does not mean effundere in any other passage (on this point, vid., on Habakkuk 2:15), but here the meaning effusio or alluvio may be supposed without much hesitation; and in a book whose language is so closely connected with the Arabic, we may even refer to ספח equals Arab. sfḥ (kindred to Arab. sfk, שׁפך), although the word may also (as Ralbag suggests), by comparison with מטר סחף, Proverbs 28:3, and Arab. sḥı̂qt, a storm of rain, be regarded as transposed from חיפיה, from סחף in Arab. to tear off, sweep away, Targ. to thrust away ( equals רחף), Syr., Talm. to overthrow, subvertere (whence s'chifto, a cancer or cancerous ulcer). The suffix refers to מים, and תּשׁטף before a plural subject is quite according to rule, Ges. 146, 3. ספיחיה is mostly marked with Mercha, but according to our interpretation Dech, which is found here and there in the Codd., would be more correct.

The point of the four illustrations is not that not one of them is restored to its former condition (Oetinger, Hirz.), but that in spite of their stability they are overwhelmed by destruction, and that irrecoverably. Even the most durable things cannot defy decay, and now even as to mortal man - Thou hast brought his hope utterly to nought (האבדת with Pathach in pause as frequently; vid., Psalter ii. 468). The perf. is praegnans: all at once, suddenly - death, the germ of which he carries in him even from his birth, is to him an end without one ray of hope, - it is also the death of his hope.

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