Job 15:3
Should he reason with unprofitable talk? or with speeches with which he can do no good?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) Should he reason with unprofitable talk?—Nay, his arguments, though pretentious and apparently recondite, are unprofitable, and can do no good.

Job 15:3. Should he reason with unprofitable talk? — Of what consequence are all his arguments? Do they carry any weight with them? Do they convince and satisfy those with whom he contends? No: they are no better than unprofitable talk. With speeches wherewith he can do no good? — Either to himself or others, but will do much hurt.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 he reason with unprofitable talk? - It does not become a man professing to be wise to make use of words that are nothing to the purpose. The sense is, that what Job said amounted to just nothing. 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).

Either to himself or others, but much hurt; which is implied by the contrary, as is usual. Should he reason with unprofitable talk?.... That is, the wise man, such a man as Job; does it become him to talk such idle stuff? that which is false, and foolish, and frothy, that does not minister grace to the hearer, and is not for the use of edifying; as whatever is untrue, unwise, vain, and empty, must be useless and answer no good end; nothing is profitable but what tends to increase solid wisdom and spiritual knowledge, and to exercise grace, and influence an holy life; wherefore what are profitable to the souls of men are the doctrines of the word of God, and the experiences of the grace of God, communicated by his people one to another; and nothing but these, or what agrees with them, should come out of the mouth of a wise and good man; nor can such an one expect to convince men of their errors, or reprove them for their sins with success, who deals in words of no profit:

or with speeches wherewith he can do no good? but may do a great deal of hurt both to himself and others; but the same thing is here signified in different words,

Should he reason with unprofitable talk? or with speeches wherewith he can do no good?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. Should he reason] Or, will he reason, or better, reasoning with unprofitable talk. The verse is subordinate to the last, carrying out its idea.Verse 3. - Should he reason with unprofitable talk! Such, Eliphaz implies, had been Job's talk, altogether idle and unprofitable. A wise man should have abstained from such profitless arguments. They were speeches wherewith he could do no good. 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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