Job 2:12
And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) And knew him not.—Compare the converse statement descriptive of the love of mm who could recognise his lost son under a disguise as great as that of Job, or even greater (Luke 15:20).

Job 2:12. When they lifted up their eyes afar off — Namely, at some convenient distance from him; whom they found sitting upon the ground, probably in the open air. And knew him not — His countenance being so dreadfully changed and disfigured by the ulcers. They lifted up their voice and wept — Through their sympathy with him, and great grief for his heavy affliction. And they rent every one his mantle — As it was usual for people to do in great and sudden calamities. And sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven — Either on the upper part of their heads toward heaven, or threw it up into the air, so that it fell upon their heads, and showed the confusion they were in: all which things were marks of great grief and affliction, and were the usual ways of expressing sorrow in those days.2:11-13 The friends of Job seem noted for their rank, as well as for wisdom and piety. Much of the comfort of this life lies in friendship with the prudent and virtuous. Coming to mourn with him, they vented grief which they really felt. Coming to comfort him, they sat down with him. It would appear that they suspected his unexampled troubles were judgments for some crimes, which he had vailed under his professions of godliness. Many look upon it only as a compliment to visit their friends in sorrow; we must look life. And if the example of Job's friends is not enough to lead us to pity the afflicted, let us seek the mind that was in Christ.And when they lifted up their eyes afar off - "When they saw him at the distance at which they could formerly recognize him without difficulty, disease had so altered his appearance that at first sight they knew him not" - Noyes.

They lifted up their voice - This is a common expression in the Scriptures, to denote grief; Genesis 27:38; Genesis 29:11; Judges 2:4; Ruth 1:9; 1 Samuel 24:16, "et soepe al." We learn to suppress the expressions of grief. The ancients gave vent to their sorrows aloud. - They even hired persons to aid them in their lamentations; and it became a professional business of women to devote themselves to the office of making an outcry on occasions of mourning. The same thing prevails in the East at present. Friends sit around the grave of the dead, or go there at different times, and give a long and doleful shriek or howl, as expressive of their grief.

And they rent every one his mantle - See the notes at Job 1:20.

And sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven - Another expression of sorrow; compare Lamentations 2:10; Nehemiah 9:1; 1 Samuel 4:12; Joshua 7:6; Ezekiel 27:30. Thc indications of grief here referred to, were such as were common in ancient times. They resemble, in a remarkable manner, the mode in which Achilles gave utterance to his sorrow, when informed of the death of Patroclus. Iliad xviii. 21-27.

A sudden horror shot through all the chief,

And wrapp'd his senses in the cloud of grief;

Cast on the ground, with furious hands he spread

The scorching ashes o'er his graceful head,

His purple garments, and his golden hairs,

Those he deforms with dust, and these he tears:

On the hard soil his groaning breast he threw,

And roll'd and grovell'd as to earth he grew.

Pope

Thus far the feelings of the three friends were entirely kind, and all that they did was expressive of sympathy for the sufferer.

12. toward heaven—They threw ashes violently upwards, that they might fall on their heads and cover them—the deepest mourning (Jos 7:6; Ac 22:23). Afar off, to wit, at some convenient distance from him; whom they found sitting upon the ground, either in the open air, or within his own house.

Knew him not; his countenance being so fearfully changed and disfigured by his boils.

Sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven; either upon the upper part of their heads, which look towards heaven; or cast it up into the air, so as it should fall upon their heads, as they did Acts 22:23. See Joshua 6:6 Nehemiah 9:1 Lamentations 2:10. And when they lifted up their eyes afar off,.... Either when at some distance from Job's house, and he being without in the open air, as some think; or as they entered his house, he being at the further part of the room, or in another further on, which they could see into:

and knew him not; at first sight; until they came nearer to him, his garments being rent, and his head shaved, and his body covered all over with boils; so that he was so deformed and disfigured that they could not know him at first, and could scarcely believe him to be the same person:

they lifted up their voice and wept: they wept and cried aloud, being greatly affected with the sight of him, and their hearts sympathizing with him under his afflictions, being his cordial friends, and of that disposition, to weep with those that weep:

and they rent everyone his mantle, or "cloak"; in token of mourning, as Job had done before; see Gill on Job 1:20,

and sprinkled dust upon their heads towards heaven; that is, they took up handfuls of dust from off the ground, and threw it up in the air over their heads, which fell upon them and covered them; which was another rite or ceremony used by mourners, as Jarchi observes, and showed the vehemence of their affections and passions, and the confusion they were in at seeing their friend in such a miserable condition; see Joshua 7:6.

And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled {q} dust upon their heads toward heaven.

(q) This was also a ceremony which they used in those countries as the renting of their clothes in sign of sorrow etc.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
12. knew him not] He was so altered and disfigured by the disease. As Job perhaps lay outside the town they may have seen him at a distance.

sprinkled dust upon their heads] that is, they threw dust upwards towards heaven, which fell upon their heads, the gesture intimating perhaps that they were laid in the dust by a calamity sent from heaven; comp. Joshua 7:6; 1 Samuel 4:12; Lamentations 2:10. See on Job 1:20.Verse 12. - And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not. Job was seated on an ash-heap outside his dwelling (ver. 8). The three friends, who had probably met by agreement at some point near his residence, and drew nigh together, saw the figure at some distance, and looked to see who it was. But Job was so disfigured by the disease that they failed to recognize him. They lifted up their voice, and wept. In the clamorous manner of Orientals (comp. Herod., 2:14; 3:119; 8:99; 9:24; and AEschylus, 'Persae" passim). And they rent every one his mantle (see the comment on Job 1:20), and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven (comp. Joshua 7:6; 1 Samuel 4:12; 2 Samuel 1:2; 2 Samuel 13:19; Nehemiah 9:1; Ezekiel 27:30; Lamentations 2:10; and see also Homer, 'I1,' 18:22-24; Helioder, ' Hist. Æth.; 1.) The Grant of New Power:

6 And Jehovah said to Satan, Behold, he is in thy hand; only take care of his life.

Job has not forfeited his life; permission is given to place it in extreme peril, and nothing more, in order to see whether or not, in the face of death, he will deny the God who has decreed such heavy affliction for him. נפשׁ does not signify the same as חיּים; it is the soul producing the spirit-life of man. We must, however, translate "life," because we do not use "soul" in the sense of ψυχή, anima.

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